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The Christian’s Purpose in this Life

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Probably the most renowned book regarding one’s purpose in life is The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren, in which he devotes five sections comprised of forty chapters and nearly a thousand quotations from various translations of Scripture in an effort to assist the reader in finding and understanding his purpose in this life.  The book concludes with (1) an encouragement to formulate a five-fold “Life Purpose Statement” as one considers “Life’s Five Greatest Questions;” and (2) with Acts 13:36a, a verse that “forever altered the direction” of Warren’s life some thirty years in the past, a portion of Scripture that he understands should be translated “David served Gods purpose in his generation.”

 

Aside from the rather involved matrix presented in Warren’s book, one which appears to be directed to both believers and unbelievers, and the possible misinterpretation of the verse in Acts about David’s life, the book offers a great deal of spiritual truth and direction.  But for the Christian, there needs to be a more fundamental and simplified (focused) understanding regarding the issue of divine purpose for his life, which is herein presented.

 

As Warren initiates his intricate thesis of one’s purpose in life by stating in the first chapter that “it all starts with God,” he is not wrong.  But in reality it “all starts, proceeds, and ends with God.”  And this total concept is what must be understood in Acts 13:36a.

 

For David, after he had served his own generation by the will [Greek: boules, “counsel”] of God . . . . (Acts 13:36a)

 

At this juncture, it should be noted that the Bible, the 66 books that compose the Old and New Testaments, is a divinely inspired (God-breathed) blueprint intended for the person who is no longer (spiritually) “dead in trespasses and sins” but who has experienced the new (spiritual) birth by faith alone in Christ alone, one who (1) has been baptized into the body of Christ and sealed by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and (2) is thereby in a position to receive spiritual truth under the Spirit’s tuition (John 7:39; 14:26; 15:13, 14; Romans 5:5; Ephesians 2:1; 4:30; 1 Corinthians 2:13-15; 3:16; 6:19; 12:13; 2 Corinthians 1:22; Hebrews 4:12; 2 Peter 1:20, 21).

 

The Bible represents the “whole counsel of God,” which was exactly what Paul confirmed to the Ephesian elders that he had “taught publicly and from house to house”— both “the gospel of grace of God” and “the (coming) kingdom of God” (Acts 20:17-27).  And it was this “whole counsel of God” by which David “had served his own generation,” a definitive principle regarding a Christian’s purpose in this life.

 

A review of the “whole counsel of God” reveals that a Christian’s purpose in this life is comprised of a present requirement; which foreshadows a future goal that was originally stated by God when He created man.  And these two aspects of a Christian’s purpose are inextricably linked, the latter not being realized without the former.

 

The Present Requirement

 

God’s present requirement for Christians in this life is stated immediately following one of the most notable passages in Scripture pertaining to the gospel of grace (Ephesians 2:8, 9), which passage clearly defines the sole means whereby a person who is “[spiritually] dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1) may transition “out of [spiritual] darkness into His [Christ’s] marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9; Acts 26:18) by means of spiritual birth (John 1:13; 1 Peter 1:23) — that means being faith alone in Christ alone.

 

[8] For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, [9] not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8, 9; cf. John 1:12; 3:16-18; Acts 16:30, 31; 26:18)

 

The verse that immediately follows this passage in Ephesians makes clear God’s expectation regarding those whose faith in His Son have transformed them into a “new creation” by being placed “in Christ” through the baptism of the Holy Spirit, i.e., born into the family of God as His children (1 Corinthians 12:13; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 3:26; 1 John 3:1, 2).  In verse ten of chapter two in Ephesians, God declares that He expects His children [Christians] to walk in “good works,” which He has “prepared beforehand.”

 

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)  

 

It is important to note that the “good works” in which Christians are expected to “walk do not originate by and/or emanate from Christians themselves (i.e., they are not “human good works,” which are unacceptable to God [Isaiah 64:6]); rather, they are designed by God (i.e., they are “divine good works”) and were originated “beforehand.”

 

“Human good works” are those works that emanate from any source other than God.  Individuals who are “lost” [without Christ], as well as “carnal” Christians, are capable of such good works.  On the other hand, “divine good works” emanate strictly from God through Christians who are under the leadership [fullness] of the Holy Spirit.

 

A companion verse to Ephesians 2:10 would be Colossians 2:6, which verse, “comparing spiritual things with spiritual [a primary interpretative principle]” (1 Corinthians 2:13), illuminates the subject at hand.

 

As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord [i.e., by faith], so [in this manner] walk in Him. (Colossians 2:6)

 

To “walk in Christ” is to “walk in good works” prepared beforehand by God the Father.  They are equivalent expressions, and one cannot be accomplished without the other. 

 

The True Vine Analogy

 

This “walk” in Christ/good works is illustrated by Christ in His “true vine” analogy recorded in John 15:1-8.

 

[1] I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. [2] Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. [3] You are already clean because of the Word that I have spoken to you. [4] Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. [5] I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. [6] If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. [7] If you abide in Me, and My Words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. [8] By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. (John 15:1-8)

 

This passage has nothing to do with the gospel of grace, the good news of the free gift of eternal salvation based solely upon the work of Another — which would be Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross in which He alone paid the penalty for the sin of mankind when God “made Him [Christ] who knew no sin to be sin for us [mankind], that we might become the righteousness of God in Him [Christ] (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24).

 

The passage does have everything to do with the gospel of glory, i.e., the word of the kingdom (Matthew 13:19), which was first proclaimed by John the Baptist, then Christ Himself, and eventually by Christ’s disciples, the good news that, provided a certain requirement was meant on the part of Israel (i.e., repentance), the heavenly aspect of the foretold Messianic Era (1,000 year reign of the Messiah) would be established.  But the message of this gospel of glory, due to Israel’s continued unbelief in Christ was eventually taken from the nation of Israel “and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it” (Matthew 21:43), i.e., the Church (1 Peter 2:9).

 

Whereas the gospel of grace is exclusive to the salvation of the spirit of man with eternal verities in view, the gospel of glory is centered on the salvation of his soul with only millennial verities in view — a discussion, because of its immensity throughout Scripture, can only be briefly delineated, as follows[1]:

 

The salvation of the soul is one of the most misunderstood subjects in Scripture. And it is misunderstood because of the way most Christians view salvation.

 

Contrary to common belief, the salvation of the soul has nothing to do with man’s eternal destiny. Biblical teachings surrounding eternal salvation are always related to the spiritual part of man, never the soulical, and are centered in one realm alone — in Christ’s finished work at Calvary.

 

And the salvation message, having to do with Christ’s finished work at Calvary and one’s eternal destiny, is very simple: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved [made possible through that which Christ has done on man’s behalf] . . .” (Acts 16:31).

 

But the salvation of the soul is dealt with after an entirely different fashion in Scripture. Rather than Christ’s past work at Calvary being in view, His present work as High Priest is in view; and rather than the unsaved being in view, only Christians are in view.

 

Christ is presently performing a work as High Priest, on the basis of His shed blood on the mercy seat, to effect a cleansing from sin for the kingdom of priests that He is about to bring forth. And Christ’s present work in this respect relates to Christians and to the saving of the soul.

 

Scripture deals with the salvation of the soul in relation to the present faithfulness of Christians, and this salvation will be realized only at the end of one’s faith (1 Peter 1:9). And a realization of this salvation is associated with rewards, Christ’s return, and His kingdom (cf. Matthew 16:24-17:5; Hebrews 10:35-39).

 

Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted Word, which is able to save your souls [the souls of Christians, those who have ‘passed from death unto life,’ the only ones in a position to received ‘the implanted Word’]” (James 1:21).

 

Christians talk about soul-winning in connection with the unsaved. And soul-winning conferences are held with this same end in view. But this is not the way Scripture deals with soul-winning at all.

 

Soul-winning, as seen in Scripture, has to do with reaching those who already possess eternal life (those who have a redeemed spirit, those who have “passed from death unto life”), not with reaching those who are still “dead in trespasses and sins.” Soul-winning, rather than having to do with the free gift of eternal life, has to do with the faithfulness of the saved (resulting in works), a just recompense of reward, and life in the coming kingdom of Christ.

 

Soul-winning is reaching Christians with the Word of the Kingdom, reaching those who have already believed on the Lord Jesus Christ with the message concerning the purpose for their salvation. . . .

 

[8] For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, [9] not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8, 9)

 

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)

 

Are they [angels] not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit [lit. “for the sake of the ones about to inherit”] salvation? (Hebrews 1:14)

 

Salvation in the Word of God is spoken of in three tenses — past, present, and future:  (1) Christians have been saved, (2) Christians are being saved, and (3) Christians are about to be saved.  The previously quoted verses provide examples of how Scripture deals with each of these three tenses or aspects of salvation.

 

In Ephesians 2:8, 9, salvation is a past, completed act; in 1 Corinthians 1:18, salvation is a present, continuous work; and in Hebrews 1:14, salvation is a future, inherited possession.  Since the Word of God presents salvation in a framework of this nature, it is vitally important in Scriptural interpretation to first ascertain to which of these three aspects of salvation any given passage pertains.

 

In the first aspect of salvation, dealt with in Ephesians 2:8, the words, “you have been saved,” which is a correct translation, are a translation of two Greek words that form, what is called in the Greek, a “periphrastic perfect.”  The “perfect” tense refers to action completed in past time, with the results of this action extending into the present and existing in a finished state.  The “periphrastic” construction places additional emphasis on the present, finished state and refers to the persistent results during present time of the past, completed work.

 

Salvation in this verse is wrought by grace through faith, accomplished completely in past time, and is the present possession of every believer.  This present possession, in turn, constitutes an active, continuing, ever-abiding salvation.  The eternal security of the believer cannot be expressed in stronger terms than the periphrastic construction of the perfect tense in Ephesians 2:8, for the present results of the past action, in this case, can only continue unchanged forever.

 

However, in 1 Corinthians 1:18, dealing with the second aspect of salvation, things are presented in an entirely different light than seen in Ephesians 2:8.  Rather than the tense in the Greek text referring to a past, completed act, the tense refers to a present, continuous work.  The former has already been completed, but the latter has yet to be completed.

 

Then, in Hebrews 1:14, dealing with the third aspect of salvation, matters are presented yet in a completely different light.  The wording in the Greek text of this verse refers to something that is about to occur.  Nothing is past or present; the reception of this salvation, in its entirety, is placed in the future.

 

Further, the salvation referred to in Hebrews 1:14 is not only to be realized in the future, but it is also an inherited salvation.  And the thought of inheritance further distinguishes the salvation in this verse from the salvation previously seen in Ephesians 2:8, for the salvation that Christians presently possess is not an inherited salvation.

 

Rather, our present salvation was obtained as a free gift during the time we were alienated from God.  And, as aliens (outside the family of God), we were in no position to inherit salvation, for inheritance in Scripture is always a family matter.

 

In the Old Testament, “sons” were first in line to receive the inheritance, with “daughters” next.  If there were no sons or daughters in the immediate family, the inheritance was passed on to the nearest family member or members, designated by the law of inheritance (Numbers 27:8-11).

 

Consequently, an individual must first be a family member before he can be considered for the inheritance, which, during the present dispensation, is restricted to “children” or “sons” of the Owner.  That’s why the statement is made in Romans 8:17, “If children, then heirs . . . .”  And that’s also why, in Hebrews 1:14, that an inherited salvation pertains to those who have already been saved, those who are no longer alienated from God but are presently family members.

 

In this respect, the complete scope of salvation — past, present, and future — has a beginning point, with an end in view.  It involves the Spirit of God breathing life into the one having no life and thereby effecting the birth from above.  And this has been done with a purpose, with an end in view.  This has been done so that the Spirit can take the one who now has spiritual life and perform a work in the life of that individual, with a view to an inheritance that will be realized at a future time.

 

Thus, one should immediately be able to see the importance of proper distinctions being drawn and observed in the realm of these three aspects of salvation.  And depending on how one approaches and deals with the different salvation passages in Scripture, either difficulty can be avoided on the one hand or insurmountable problems can result on the other.

 

Suffice it to say that Christ in His “true vine” analogy is speaking solely to saved individuals who are already “clean [eternally saved] because of the Word” that had been “spoken to” them (John 15:3), and its focus is centered on their ability to “bear fruit” (i.e., “walk” in good works).  The expressed way in which this can be accomplished is by “abiding in Christ” (i.e., walking in Christ).

 

The important lesson that must be taken from the true vine analogy is that each branch of the vine is wholly dependent upon the sustenance of the vine in order to bear fruit.  Without the vine’s life-giving nutrition, the branches can only whither and die.  And this would be the same in a Christian’s life as it relates to his purpose of walking in good works.  Walking in Christ is indeed being in a position of allowing Christ to live in and through the believer to the accomplishment of this end.

 

The Example of Christ

 

To further understand this principle of living out one’s divine purpose in this life, one needs look no further than the example left by Christ Himself.

 

[20b]. . . But when you do good [i.e., walk in Christ/good works] and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. [21] For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps. (1 Peter 2:20b, 21

 

Christ’s entire earthly existence, His entire earthly ministry, was administered not by the human aspect of His character, but by the divine.  He freely admitted that it was not His (human) will He came to reveal or implement, but it was to implement the will of His Father that He lived.  And furthermore, it was by allowing His Father to do the work through Him that this was done (Matthew 26:39; Luke 22:42; John 4:34; 5:19, 30; 6:38; 7:16; 8:28; 9:4; 12:49; 14:10).

 

His very sustenance and reason for living is best expressed in His own words to His disciples and others:

 

My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. (John 4:34b)

 

As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me. (John 5:30b)

 

For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. (John 6:38)

 

He freely admitted “I can of Myself do nothing” (John 5:30a).  But the manner in which He executed His Father’s will and work was best expressed to Philip:

 

The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. (John 14:10b)

 

And the reason Christ could speak with such authority on this matter was due to His unity with the Father (John 10:38; 14:10a, 11; 17:21a), a relationship that would characterize Christians during the Church dispensation (John 14:20; 17:21b-23, 26) — a result of the indwelling and sealing of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19; 2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 4:30).

 

Jesus Christ is the Christian’s “example;” and in doing the will of God, which in effect is fulfilling his purpose in this life (his walk in Christ/good works), the Christian is to “follow His [Christ’s] steps.”  As Christ did not live His life utilizing His own power, but rather, allowed the Father to live and work through Him; so, in like manner, each Christian, in order to accomplish his purpose in this life, must deny all self-effort and allow God through the Holy Spirit to live and work through him.

 

Paul’s Explanation in Romans

 

The apostle Paul to the Christians in the Roman church put it this way:

 

[1] 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. . . . [4] that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. [5] For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. [6] For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. [7] Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. [8] So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:1, 4-8)

 

And though there are misguided individuals who attempt to twist this passage to make it represent eternal (spirit) salvation, the grace-gift of God based upon Christ’s penalty-payment for sin on the Cross, thereby corrupting the gospel of grace with the insertion of works; this is most definitely not the thrust of Paul’s message.  Here he is speaking of the soul-salvation; which frankly is the predominate theme throughout the New Testament.

 

In this Roman passage Paul’s message is uniquely to Christians regarding the proper way they are to conduct their lives.  A Christian is to avoid walking in the flesh and, instead, walk according to the Spirit.  And this would be walking in Christ, walking in good works that God has prepared beforehand.  It is just another way of stating the same.  For it is the Spirit of God that not only unites the believer to God but also resides within the believer to provide the means for bearing divine fruit.

 

Paul’s Charge in Ephesians 

 

Walking in Christ/good works would also be the same as being “filled with the Spirit,” which is the charge of Paul to the saints in Ephesus.

 

And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation [lack of self-control]; but be filled [controlled] with [by] the Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18)

 

In this verse Paul contrasts the behavior of being controlled (influenced) by alcohol with being controlled (influenced, empowered) by the Holy Spirit.  As one’s behavior may be altered by the internal influence of alcohol to the “bad,” so can one’s behavior may be altered by the internal influence of the Holy Spirit to the “good.”  And it is to the latter that enables the Christian to fulfill his purpose in this life, which is the equivalent to walking in Christ/good works.

 

It is important for the Christian to fully realize that the Holy Spirit is a Person — the third Person of the Triune God — who resides within, and his body is thereby the “temple of God” (1 Corinthians 3:16).  And because the Spirit is a Person, He can be “grieved” (Ephesians 4:30) and “quenched” (1 Thessalonians 5:19).  To put it in other words, the Spirit can be disappointed and emotionally hurt by the choices a Christian makes in his life; and, such limits the influence the Spirit will have in that Christian’s life.  When a Christian chooses to conduct his walk “according to the flesh” instead of “according to the Spirit,” this is exactly what happens — disabling the Christian from walking in Christ/good works and thereby immobilizing him from his purpose in this life.

 

The apostle Paul fully realized this and so chose to live out God’s purpose for his life by giving Christ (through the Spirit) full sway in all his activities, a fact that he expressed to the believers in Galatia.

 

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)

 

Making it Practical

 

All three expressions, “walk in good works,” “walk in Christ,” and be “filled with the Spirit,” are the same.  All express the Christian’s purpose in this life.  But how does a Christian affect this walk, this filling, on a practical scale?  Does he do penitence for it?  Does he agonize for a period of time, begging God for it?  What are the key elements that will transform his life from walking “according to the flesh” to walking “according to the Spirit”?

 

There appears to be three key elements in the achievement and maintenance of this pursuit.  They follow:

 

1.  Exercising Faith

 

The first key is that to walk in Christ/good works (being filled with the Spirit) one must do it using the same means in which he apprehended his eternal (spirit) salvation.  This is made clear in Colossians 2:6, “As (by faith) you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so (in the same manner) walk in Him.”  Faith being a key element to a successful walk in Christ is reinforced by Paul’s statement in Galatians 2:20, “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.”  And then there is the clear record of many of those who achieved this walk, as seen in the eleventh chapter of book of Hebrews:

 

[1] Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. [2] For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. [3] By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. [4] By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks. [5] By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, “and was not found, because God had taken him”; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. [6] 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 11:1-6)

 

The passage goes on through the end of the chapter honoring Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and others for their walk of faith; but, the one verse in the chapter that exemplifies the walk of faith is verse 6, “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.”  Faith is simply taking God at His Word and ordering one’s life accordingly.

 

2.  Consuming the Word

 

The second key element that contributes to the walk in Christ/good works (being filled by the Spirit) is one’s association with God’s revealed Word.  By comparing (1 Corinthians 2:13) two companion passage of Scripture, Ephesians 5:18-20 with Colossians 3:16, whereby one interprets the other, it is clear that “being filled with the Spirit” is equivalent to “letting the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.”

 

[18] And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, [19] speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, [20] giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:18-20)

 

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (Colossians 3:16)

 

It is unfortunate that many charismatic Christians believe the filling of the Spirit, often called the “baptism of the Holy Spirit,” is a second optional act of grace, which is based on the Christian meeting certain spiritual conditions.  This is simply not the case.  The baptism has only to do with the permanent unification of a person with God by placing him “in (the body of) Christ,” the certain and immediate result of that person placing his faith in Christ for his eternal salvation.  Quite the contrary, the filling of the Spirit is directly related to one’s association with the Word of God, as it permeates and changes one’s life.

 

Furthermore, a close examination of Christ’s “true vine” analogy indicates that “abiding in Christ,” which results in the bearing of “much fruit” (v. 4, 5), has a distinct correlation with the “Words of Christ” abiding in the Christian (v. 7).   In fact, Jesus Christ is “the Word” who “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:1, 14).  Jesus Christ was the physical manifestation of God’s Word; and, the written Word in the hands of Christians today, directly represents Jesus Christ.  To “walk” in the Word is to “walk” Christ.

 

God’s Word is living and inextricably associated with Christian growth.  It is the only spiritual food that can feed a spiritual being.  Yet, it is unfortunate that so many Christians treat this God-ordained sustenance so lightly.  Instead of going on to the meat of the Word (the “word of the kingdom,” “the gospel of glory”), they insist on staying with the milk of the Word.

 

[12] For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. [13] And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:12, 13)

 

In this passage the written Word and Christ are seen as one and the same.  Note that the passage is set within the context of the children of Israel who were delivered on the right side of the blood in Egypt but failed to enter their rest in the Promised Land due to their unbelief, a fact that can apply to every Christian during this dispensation.  One may be saved, but without proper spiritual growth, an outcome that is in direct proportion with the consumption of the Word and which results in a life of faithfulness, he too may miss his portion of the inheritance in the coming Millennial Kingdom.

 

There is probably no better passage of Scripture that indicates the necessity of going on to spiritual maturity through the application of the Word then Hebrews 5:12-14:

 

[12] For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. [13] For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the Word of righteousness, for he is a babe. [14] But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

 

It is absolutely essential that the Christian give himself to the study the Word, since it is the only God-given means that will save his soul (which again has nothing to do with his eternal destination, but only his part in the Messianic Era [a result of issues, decisions, and determinations at the Christian’s appearance before the Judgment Seat of Christ]).

 

Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted Word, which is able to save your souls. (James 1:21)

 

3.  Christ’s Present High Priestly Ministry[2]

 

The third key in achieving one’s purpose in this life is to understand and take advantage of Christ’s present High Priestly ministry.  Christ is presently exercising the office of High Priest on behalf of Christians.  He is ministering in the heavenly sanctuary, on the basis of His own blood, for Christians who sin.  Christians presently reside in a body of death; they still possess the old sin nature.  And Christians, falling into sin, must have a High Priest to effect cleansing from their sins.

 

The high priestly ministry of Christ is for the heirs of the kingdom.  It has nothing at all to do with the issue of our presently possessed eternal salvation.  In the camp of Israel, the ministry of the Levitical priests was for those who had already appropriated the blood of the paschal lambs.  It was for the cleansing of a people destined to become “a kingdom of priests” (Exodus 19:6; cf. Hebrews 9:1-7).  And in Christendom, the work of Christ as High Priest, typified by the work of the high priest in the camp of Israel, is for the same purpose.  It is for the cleansing of a people destined to be “kings and priests” (Revelation 5:10; cf. Hebrews 9:11, 12, 24).

 

God would have His people clean for both present and future purposes.  According to the epistle of First John, God desires to have a present reciprocal fellowship with a cleansed people.  Cleansing makes fellowship possible, and the entire matter is with a view to the return of Christ and attendant events.  Christians have been instructed:  “. . . abide in Him [i.e., live in a state of continuous, close fellowship ‘with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ’]; that, when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming” (1:3-2:2, 28; cf. 3:6-9; 4:16, 17).  In this respect, Christ’s high priestly ministry is a vital present provision for the future heirs of the kingdom.

 

Christ gave Himself for the Church,

 

That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word,

that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing;  but that it should be holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5:26, 27)

 

This aspect of Christ’s present ministry is possibly best illustrated by the incident in John chapter thirteen where Christ girded Himself, took a basin of water, and began to wash the disciples’ feet (13:4ff).  Peter, not at all understanding the significance of that which was happening, refused to allow Christ to wash his feet.  Upon his refusal, Jesus responded, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me(v. 8).  Then Peter, comprehending at least the gravity of the latter part of Christ’s statement, said, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head” (v. 9).

 

In other words, if a washing is what it would take in order to have a part with Christ, Peter didn’t want the washing limited to just his feet.  Rather, he wanted his entire body washed.  However, Jesus replied, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you” (v. 10).

 

In the Greek text of John 13:8-10, there are two different words used for “wash.”  The word used in verse eight (in both occurrences) and in the latter part of verse ten is nipto, referring to “washing a part of the body”; and the word used in the first part of verse ten is louo, referring to “washing the complete body.”  Further, the word louo in verse ten appears in a perfect tense, showing a past, completed action with the results of this action existing during present time in a finished state.  Such an act reveals a washing that occurred in the past, with the person washed continuing in the present as a cleansed person on the basis of that which occurred in the past.  Thus, any thought of the cleansed person undergoing another washing of this nature would be completely out of place, for he presently exists in a continuing state as cleansed.

 

Peter’s entire body had already been washed; but now, in order to have a part with Christ, he must avail himself of the partial washing to which Christ referred.

 

The entire matter is highly symbolic of a “complete washing” that Christians received in the past and “partial washings” that Christians receive during the present.  The complete washing results in eternal salvation, but the partial washings are necessary if one is to have a part “with Christ” in His kingdom.  The complete washing — viewed from the perfect tense usage of louo in John 13:10 — is a one-time, past occurrence, which can never be repeated.  But the partial washings, set forth by the word nipto, are something else altogether.  Subsequent partial washings have to do with a present, continuing cleansing made possible because of the one-time, past cleansing.

 

On the basis of the past, finished work of Christ, redeemed man has been saved by grace through faith.  In Ephesians 2:8, the words “are you saved [lit. ‘you have been saved’]” are the translation of a perfect tense in the Greek text, the same as the word louo in John 13:10.  Redeemed man possesses a salvation, based on a past, completed act (Christ’s work on Calvary), which presently exists in a finished state.  Everything has already been done on his behalf.  He had nothing whatsoever to do with the matter simply because there was nothing he could do.

 

He has been washed completely (louo) by another Person, and presently stands justified before God.  This is an act performed once.  It can never be altered or nullified.  It is just as secure as the finished work of Christ on Calvary, for it is based entirely upon this work; and Christ, in John 19:30, said of His work, “It is finished [lit. ‘It has been finished’ (another perfect tense usage in the Greek text)].”

 

Teachings in the realm of complete and partial washings, as set forth in John 13:8-10, are drawn from the experiences of the Levitical priests in the camp of Israel.  Upon their entrance into the priesthood, a washing of the entire body occurred (Exodus 29:4; cf. Exodus 40:12-15); then, after they had entered the priesthood, washings of parts of the body had to occur (Exodus 30:21; cf. Exodus 40:30-32).

 

The Septuagint (Greek version of the Old Testament) uses the words louo and nipto respectively in these passages, in perfect accord with John 13:8-10 and corresponding teachings throughout Scripture relative to complete and partial washings of the people of God.  The hands and feet of the Levitical priests became soiled in their ministry between the brazen altar and the Holy Place of the tabernacle, and a necessary cleansing occurred at a brazen laver in the courtyard.

 

This laver was located part way between the brazen altar and the Holy Place and had upper and lower basins filled with water to wash the hands and feet of the priests.  Levitical priests, carrying on their ministries, had to wash these parts of their bodies before ministering at the brazen altar and before their entrance into the Holy Place.  This is the partial washings in the type and the partial washings in view in John 13:8-10.

 

The washing of parts of the bodies of the Old Testament Levitical priests is highly typical of the relationship that Christ, in His high priestly ministry, has to New Testament priests (Christians).  This is the teaching brought out in 1 John 1:6-2:2;  and these verses must be understood in the light of the Old Testament type, also taking into account events occurring on the Day of Atonement when the high priest placed blood on the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies (cf. Hebrews 9:1ff).

 

A Christian walkingin the light” (1 John 1:7) is one who has availed himself of the antitype of cleansing at the laver.  Cleansing occurs as we confess our sins, on the basis of Christ’s blood on the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies of the heavenly tabernacle (v. 9; cf. 2:1, 2).  The cleansed person is able to “walk in the light” (in the Holy Place) and have “fellowship . . . with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.” 

 

The Christian walkingin darkness” (v. 6) though is one who has not availed himself of the antitype of cleansing at the laver.  He remains in the darkened courtyard outside the Holy Place.  He remains on the wrong side of the laver, leaving him estranged from the experience of “fellowship.”

 

Christians have a “great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God” (Hebrews 4:14); and if Christians would have a part with Christ in that coming day*, they must avail themselves of His present high priestly ministry.  They must allow Christ to wash their feet; they must avail themselves of the laver; they must keep themselves clean through confession of sin.

 

The Future Goal

 

As previously mentioned, the immediate requirement associated with the Christian’s purpose in this life also foreshadows (has a direct correlation with) a future goal.  It is in fact this future goal that reflects the original purpose for mankind as established at his creation — to have “dominion” over the earth (Genesis 1:26-28).  It is only during the Messianic Era that this “original purpose” for mankind will be restored.  When the immediate requirement is successfully executed by a Christian in this life, he then is assured his future goal during the coming kingdom age.

 

This attainable future goal hinges on the Christian’s efforts to digest the meat of God’s Word, which assimilation will invariably produce spiritual maturity that will result in the loss of his soul (life) now to be found (gained) in the coming Messianic Era (Matthew 16:24-27).  No one explains it any better than Chitwood, as follows:

 

The Implanted Word[3]

 

Of His own will He brought us forth by the Word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.

 

Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted Word, which is able to save your souls. (James 1:18, 21)

 

“Redemption” is the central issue throughout all Scripture, but redemption includes far more than the salvation that we presently possess.  Redemption begins with unredeemed man who, because of sin, is both alienated from God and dwelling on an earth that is under a curse; and redemption terminates with redeemed man dwelling as a joint-heir with his Messiah, ruling over an earth removed from the curse.

 

In this respect, God’s revealed purpose for man’s redemption is to ultimately place him in the position for which he was originally created:  “Let them have dominion . . . .”  And when this has been accomplished, restored man will occupy a regal position over a restored earth, removed from the curse (cf. Genesis 1:26, 28; Acts 3:21; Colossians 1:20).  Anything short of this revealed goal is short of Gods purpose for His redemptive work surrounding man.

 

The Hebrew word translated “dominion” in Genesis 1:26, 28 is radhah, which means “to rule.”  This is the same word translated “rule” in Psalm 110:2, referring to Christ ruling the earth in the coming age as the great King-Priest “after the order of Melchizedek.”  Christ, however, is not to rule alone.  He will have many “companions” (Hebrews 1:9; 3:14) ruling as joint-heirs with Him, and Gods purpose for His past and present redemptive work surrounding man is to ultimately bring him into this regal position — a culmination of God’s redemptive work, to be realized at a future date.

 

The text in James 1:18, 21 encompasses the complete scope of redemption — past, present, and future.  The word translated “brought us forth” [“begat us” in other translations] in verse eighteen is a medical term in the Greek text that refers to the actual birth itself.  The individuals in this passage (the writer included himself) had been begotten from above, realizing the salvation of their spirits.  And through the birth from above, these individuals had been placed in a position (possessing spiritual life) where they could ultimately be brought into a realization of the salvation of their souls through following that which is outlined in verse twenty-one.

 

In the preceding respect, the issue surrounding redemption in relation to alienated, unredeemed man has to do with the salvation of his spirit; and the issue surrounding redemption in relation to redeemed man, who possesses a right relationship with God, has to do with the salvation of his soul.  Thus, relative to the salvation of both the spirit and the soul, man has been saved (salvation of the spirit) in order to bring him into a position where he can be saved (salvation of the soul).

 

The former has to do with eternal verities and the latter with millennial verities.  Through the salvation of man’s spirit, he comes into possession of eternal life; but only through the salvation of his soul does he come into possession of the inheritance awaiting the faithful, to be realized during the Messianic Era.

 

Therefore lay aside . . . receive . . .

 

In James 1:21, there is really only one command in the wording of the Greek text.  The verse should literally read,

 

Therefore, putting away all filthiness and all prevailing wickedness, in meekness receive the implanted Word, which is able to save your souls. (James 1:21)

 

Following the salvation of one’s spirit, an individual (Christian) is commanded to “receive the implanted Word,” for this Word alone is able to effect the salvation of his soul.

 

However, a Christian is to receive this Word only after he has set aside the things which would hinder the reception of this Word.  The words “filthiness” and “wickedness,” though appearing to refer basically to the same thing in the English text, set forth two entirely different thoughts in the Greek text.

 

The word translated “filthiness” comes from a root word that, relative to the human ear — the channel through which “the implanted Word” is received — could have to do with earwax.  In a metaphorical manner of viewing the matter, the thought set forth through the use of this word has to do with the possibility that these Christians’ ears, so to speak, were filthy.  There were possibly obstructions — having to do with a dulled spiritual perception — that prevented the Word of God from flowing through the auditory canals in a proper manner; and, if so, they were to remove these obstructions.

 

Then, after these Christians had removed any obstructions that could prevent them from hearing the Word of God properly, they were to put away all “wickedness” in their lives.  This is simply a general term that carries the thought of “anything opposed to purity.”   These Christians were to put away any impurity in their lives that could hinder the reception of the Word of God.  And receiving the implanted Word in this fashion would then allow them to “grow thereby unto salvation” (1 Peter 2:2, ASV), i.e., through spiritual growth they would ultimately realize the salvation of their souls.

 

The word “implanted” has to do simply with that which is placed on the inside.  This Word is to be firmly fixed within a persons mind, within his thinking process.  The channel, as we have seen, is the ear.  According to Romans 10:17, “. . . faith comes by [‘out of’] hearing, and hearing by [‘through’] the Word of God.”  The Word is to flow through unobstructed auditory canals into a saved human spirit, for a revealed purpose.

 

Once the Word has been received in this manner, the indwelling Holy Spirit can then perform a work in the individual.  As all hindrances (all impurities) are set aside and the spiritual man is allowed to exert full control, the Holy Spirit, using “the implanted Word,” can then effect spiritual growth.  And, as this process continues over time, spiritual growth of this nature will lead from immaturity to maturity.

 

The teaching in James 1:21, or for that matter the book of James as a whole, must be understood in the light of the subject matter at hand — the salvation of the soul.  In order to properly understand the Word of God at this point, one must not only have an understanding of the salvation that he presently possesses, but he must also have an equally good understanding and comprehension of the salvation that he is about to possess.

 

Teachings surrounding the salvation of the soul are, in reality, the central subject matter in all of the epistles — both the Pauline and general epistles, from Romans through Jude.  Each epistle is different, containing its own peculiarities; and each has been written to provide a different facet of revealed truth, with all of the epistles together forming a complete body of revealed information and instructions for Christians relative to present and future aspects of salvation.  In this respect, apart from an understanding of the salvation of the soul, it is not possible to properly understand the central message of the epistles.  An understanding of the salvation of the soul, which is introduced in the Old Testament and continued in the gospels and the book of Acts, is the key that will open the epistles to ones understanding.

 

Thus, the importance of understanding that which Scripture reveals about the salvation of the soul cannot be overemphasized.  And this importance can be shown by the goal, which the writer of Hebrews dealt with near the beginning of his epistle, referring to this salvation as “so great salvation” (Hebrews 2:3; cf. Hebrews 1:14; 2:5; 6:13-19; 10:35-39; 1 Peter 1:9).  It is the greatest thing God could ever design for redeemed man, for it includes joint-heirship with His Son over all things during the coming age.

 

Growing unto Salvation

 

Putting away therefore all wickedness, and all guile, and hypocrisy, and envies, and all evil speaking,

 

As newborn babes, long for the spiritual milk that is without guile, that you may grow thereby unto salvation. (1 Peter 2:1, 2, ASV)

 

The American Standard Version (ASV) of the Bible has been quoted rather than the King James Version (KJV) because it includes the translation of two important and explanatory Greek words in verse two (ref. also NASB, NIV, Weymouth).  These two words, eis soterian, appear at the end of the verse and actually sum up and conclude the thought of the entire verse, for within these two words lie the revealed reason for growth towards maturity.

 

Eis soterian should be properly translated either “unto salvation” or “with respect to salvation” (ref. NASB).  Then the question naturally arises, “What aspect of salvation is in view?”  It can only be the salvation of the soul, for not only is this the subject matter dealt with in 1 Peter (cf. 1:9, 10) but Christians do not grow “unto” or “with respect to” the salvation that they presently possess.

 

The salvation of the spirit was effected in past time completely apart from any accomplishment, effort, etc., of man.  Nothing can ever be added to or taken from this salvation, for it is based entirely on the finished work of Christ at Calvary.  And this finished work can never be changed or altered in any fashion.

 

All Christians remain on an equal plain within the scope of this salvation.  A newborn babe in Christ, a carnally immature Christian, and a spiritually mature Christian all occupy identical positions insofar as the salvation of the spirit is concerned.  Christian growth is brought to pass on the basis of the salvation of the spirit, but there is no such thing as growing “unto” or “with respect to” this salvation.

 

The command in 1 Peter 2:2, although applicable only to newborn babes, parallels and has to do with the same central thought as the command in James 1:21:  “. . . long for the spiritual milk that is without guile, that you may grow thereby unto salvation,” and “. . . receive with meekness the implanted Word, which is able to save your souls.”  Both begin at the same point (a reception of the Word of God into man’s saved human spirit), progress in the same manner (spiritual growth), and end at the same point (salvation).

 

The commands to receive the Word of God in both James 1:21 and 1 Peter 2:2 are preceded by parallel statements:

 

Therefore lay aside [lit. Therefore laying aside] all filthiness and overflow of wickedness . . . . (James 1:21a)

 

Putting away therefore all wickedness, and all guile, and hypocrisy, and envies, and all evil speaking. (1 Peter 2:1)

 

Nothing must be allowed to interfere with the reception of the Word of God as Christians mature day by day.  This is the reason Christians are exhorted over and over in the New Testament to separate themselves from the things of the world, the flesh, and the devil.  Sin in one’s life will impede the reception of the Word of God; and sin harbored in one’s life will impede the reception of this Word to the extent that the individual may fail to grow “unto salvation.”

 

The problem of sin in the Christian’s life today, in view of the coming salvation of the soul, is the reason Christ is presently exercising a high priestly ministry in the heavenly sanctuary.  Christians reside in a body of death with the ever-present sin nature; and, in this condition, they reside in a world under the control and dominion of Satan and his angels.  Residing in the present world system after this fashion, Christians come under constant attack from the archenemy of their souls; and failure in the pilgrim walk, producing defilement in their lives, can and does occur.

 

Because of present conditions and circumstances, Christ, as High Priest, is performing a work in the heavenly sanctuary.  He is performing a present, continuous cleansing for Christians, accomplished solely on the basis of His shed blood on the mercy seat (Hebrews 9:11, 12).  And forgiveness and cleansing from “all unrighteousness” occur as Christians “confess” their sins (1 John 1:5, 6, 9; 2:1, 2).

 

The reason for Christ’s present ministry has to do with the salvation of the soul, as the reason for His past ministry had to do with the salvation of the spirit.  God’s complete purpose for man cannot be realized apart from the salvation of both, i.e., the salvation of man as a complete being (which, in that coming day, will include his body as well).

 

Milk . . . Meat . . . Strong Meat

 

In the terminology of Scripture itself, milk is for babies, and meat is for those who have experienced sufficient growth to leave the milk and partake of solid food.  Both milk and meat (solid food) are indispensable elements as one progressively grows from an immature infant into a mature adult, and nourishment to produce proper growth in both the physical and spiritual realms must come from the correct source.

 

1.  In the Physical Realm

 

The analogy concerning a newborn Christian’s spiritual needs for the “milk which is without guile” is drawn from the physical needs and desires of a newborn baby.  Almost immediately following birth the baby instinctively begins seeking nourishment from his mother.  His needs are very basic:  food, warmth, and security.

 

These are all satisfied at his mother’s breasts, as he longs for his mother’s milk.  This milk is pure, easily digested, and contains all the necessary components for the early growth of the entire body, especially the brain and nervous system.  The mother’s milk is a living organism that cannot be duplicated.  Man’s best efforts to reproduce this milk are described by the terms “most like,” or “near to.”

 

A child in his early physical growth does not continue on milk indefinitely.  The child’s growth always moves toward a day when he is able to leave the milk and continue on solid food.  The solid food that the child first begins taking is a type that is more easily masticated and digested.  But as the child grows, the teeth become more firmly entrenched, the digestive system matures, and the day arrives when the child becomes physically mature enough to handle any type of solid food.

 

2.  In the Spiritual Realm

 

God revealed Himself to Abraham as “El Shaddai [‘Almighty God’]” (Genesis 17:1).  El is the singular form of the plural Hebrew word for “God” (Elohim), and Shaddai is a derivative of the word shad, which means “breast.”  In this respect, God literally revealed Himself to Abraham as the “All-Powerful, Breasted God,” i.e., the All-Powerful God who nourishes, gives strength, and satisfies.  This appears to be the primary thought behind the words El Shaddai when used with God’s own people in view.

 

God’s revealed Word to man, derived from the “All-Powerful, Breasted One,” is the means through which God nourishes, strengthens, and satisfies His people throughout their pilgrim walk.  The newborn Christian, because of his new nature, is to instinctively long for the “spiritual milk which is without guile”; and the more mature a Christian becomes, the more he, in like manner, is to instinctively move on into the “meat” and “strong meat” of the Word.

 

This Word is “quick [‘alive’], and powerful” (Hebrews 4:12) and contains everything necessary for Christian growth unto maturity.  The weaning process in Christian growth pertains only to the “milk,” not the source.  It is not possible for any Christian to receive nourishment apart from the “All-Powerful, Breasted God.”

 

Proper Christian growth begins with “milk,” progresses to meat,” and then moves on to strong meat.”  In Hebrews chapter five, the writer of this book severely rebuked certain Christians for their inability to handle anything but “milk.”  They had been saved for a sufficient length of time that they should not only have progressed from milk to meat, and then to strong meat, but they should also have progressed to the point where they could teach the Word to other Christians.

 

However, because of a lazy, careless manner of conducting their spiritual lives over time, these Christians had not experienced proper growth in their understanding of the Word.  They were still on the milk of the Word and had not progressed in their Christian growth beyond the point of themselves needing to be taught.

 

The subject matter at hand in relation to “strong meat” in Hebrews chapter five is the Melchizedek priesthood.  The writer of this book had “many things” he would like to have said concerning this priesthood; but these things had to do with a realm of biblical doctrine beyond that which these Christians, because of their immaturity, were able to comprehend.

 

The things associated with the Melchizedek priesthood had to do with strong meat, and these Christians were still on milk.  They were unable to partake of meat, much less strong meat drawn from teachings surrounding the Melchizedek priesthood.

 

(Note that both “milk” and “meat” have an association with that which is living in both the physical and spiritual realms.  Man may attempt to duplicate both; but, in reality, he can duplicate neither.  Life of this nature — physical or spiritual — comes only through breath, which comes from God.

 

This whole overall thought will explain what is meant in John chapter six by partaking of Christ as the Bread of life, or eating His flesh and drinking His blood [vv. 33-35, 48-58].  There is the living Word, and there is the written Word [which is living as well].  The two are inseparably related; and an individual partakes of the former through an intake, assimilation, and digestion of the latter.

 

Everything is alive.  It is a partaking of the living Word through a partaking of the written Word [which, again, is living as well].  It is a progression from living milk, to living meat, to living strong meat.  Only through this means can spiritual growth for the man now possessing spiritual life occur.)

 

The Christians in Hebrews chapter five were said to be “dull of hearing” (v. 11).  The thought from the wording of the text is that they didn’t necessarily begin this way as newborn babes.  This is something that had resulted from the careless manner in which they had governed their spiritual lives. 

 

Before they had grown to the point where they could leave the milk of the Word, they had become sluggish in hearing the Word of God.  They, as brought out in James 1:21, had possibly allowed wax to build up in their ears.  Their spiritual perception had been dulled, preventing them from hearing properly.

 

The Word of God was not being allowed to travel in a proper and natural manner through the auditory canal into their saved human spirits.  There was no proper exercise of faith because there was no proper exercise of hearing the Word of God (cf. Romans 10:17; Hebrews 11:6).  And, apart from the reception of this Word, there could, consequently, be no growth toward maturity.

 

The only way to rectify an existing situation of this nature is clearly outlined in James 1:21 and 1 Peter 2:1, 2.  It requires removing any obstructions from the auditory canals, laying aside everything opposed to purity, and receiving “with meekness [in a favorable manner] the implanted Word . . . .

 

The word translated “dull” in Hebrews 5:11 is from the same word in the Greek text translated “become sluggish” in Hebrews 6:12:

 

That you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

 

The Christians referred to in chapter six where exhorted to not be like the ones previously referred to in chapter five; and the given purpose had to do with faith, patient endurance, and a future inheritance (vv. 13ff).

 

The word “patience” is the translation of a Greek word that has to do with patiently enduring over a long period of time.  In this case, the entire Christian life is in view.  These Christians were to receive the Word of God in a continuing manner throughout their entire pilgrim walk

 

The reception of this Word would, in turn, produce a walk by faith and progressively result in Christian maturity. And, while patiently enduring trials and tests during the pilgrim walk after this fashion, they were to look ahead to the inheritance that would be realized at the end of their faith, in connection with and at the time of the salvation of their souls (cf. Hebrews 6:14-19; 1 Peter 1:4-9).

 

The Neshamah

 

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath [the Neshamah] of life; and man became a living soul. (Genesis 2:7)

 

The roots of all biblical doctrine have been established in the book of Genesis.  This is the book of beginnings; and all Scripture beyond this point must, after some fashion, reach back and draw from this book.

 

In the account of the creation of man, insight is given into certain truths concerning “life” derived from God.  These truths will, in turn, provide light on the subject matter at hand — the reception of the Word of God (which is alive, and powerful [Hebrews 4:12]) in relation to the salvation of the soul/life.

 

The creation of Adam from the dust of the ground, and the removal of a rib from Adam’s side, occurred on the sixth day of the restoration account in Genesis chapter one.  But the methods that God used to bring about both Adam’s creation and the formation of Eve from a portion of Adam’s body were not revealed in the recorded account until following the seventh day in chapter two.

 

Most of the second chapter is taken up with certain specifics concerning that which had previously occurred on the sixth day in the preceding chapter, and this account is rich beyond degree in biblical study.  The second chapter of Genesis (just as in the first chapter) is the point where the origin of numerous biblical doctrines can be traced, and these doctrines cannot be properly understood apart from this chapter.

 

The means that God used in both man’s creation and the subsequent impartation of life into His new creation are given in Genesis 2:7.  There first existed a lifeless form that had previously been fashioned from the dust of the ground.  Creation itself did not produce life in this form.  Rather, God imparted life to man following his creation.  This life was produced by means of the breath of God, and it is here that “life” in relation to man is first mentioned in Scripture.

 

The Hebrew word translated “breath” in Genesis 2:7 is Neshamah.  The Neshamah of God produced “life.”  The word “God” in this verse is a translation of the plural noun, Elohim, indicating that not only the Father, but also the Son and the Holy Spirit were instrumental in producing this life.

 

Thus, man’s life in the beginning was derived from the triune God through what is called the Neshamah.  And Genesis 2:7 provides insights into things far beyond the simple fact that God created man and then imparted life into man.  This verse provides insights into things surrounding man’s salvation today — both the salvation of the spirit and the salvation of the soul.

 

First, the impartation of life to unredeemed man, who is “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1, 5), must follow the pattern (type) established in Genesis.  He, as Adam prior to the Neshamah of God, is lifeless; and his life must be derived through the same means as Adam’s life.

 

Second, once this life has been imparted, it must be continued and sustained; and, as will become evident, Scripture teaches that life is not only imparted through the Neshamah of God, but life is also continued and sustained through the Neshamah of God as well.

 

A first-mention principle has been established in Genesis 2:7, and life that man derives from God must always be in complete keeping with that set forth in this verse.  God alone initially “imparts” and subsequently “continues” and “sustains” life; and this entire sequence, having to do with God’s revealed work as it pertains to life, is always accomplished, in its entirety, through the Neshamah of God.

 

1. Impartation of Life to the Unsaved (Salvation of the Spirit)

 

Unregenerate man today comes into a right relationship with God solely through the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit on the basis of Christ’s finished work at Calvary.  The Spirit breathes life into the one having no life, and through this work of the Spirit man passes “from death to life” (John 5:24).

 

(The word “Spirit” in the Greek text is pneuma, a word that also means “breath.”  It is used in the latter sense in the New Testament to show life being produced through a “breathing in,” or death being wrought through a “breathing out.”  In Luke 8:55, life was restored to a young girl by her “spirit [breath]” returning; and in Luke 23:46, Christ terminated His life on the Cross by giving “up the spirit [lit. from the wording of the Greek text, He ‘breathed out’].”)

 

Thus, the Holy Spirit is the One who generates life in lifeless man (on the basis of Christ’s finished work at Calvary), and the expression used in both the Hebrew and Greek texts relative to the Spirit generating life in this manner is a “breathing in.”  God, through the instrumentality of the Holy Spirit, “breathes life into” unregenerate man, which results in man passing “from death to life.”

 

Or, in James 2:26, the same principle is seen relative to the physical body, as previously seen in Genesis 2:7:  “. . . the body without the spirit [‘breath’] is dead.”

 

Since type and antitype must agree in exact detail, the impartation of life to Adam in Genesis chapter two must, of necessity, have occurred in the same fashion that the impartation of life to unredeemed man occurs today.  Lifeless man during the present time derives life from God through the work of the Holy Spirit, and lifeless Adam in the Genesis account could only have derived life from God in this same manner.

 

Teachings drawn from the original type in relation to man’s redemption necessitate this same conclusion.  The original type is found in the first chapter of Genesis (vv. 2b-5), with Genesis 2:7 being a subsequent type, providing additional details.  And the latter verse, providing the first mention of “life” in relation to man, must be in complete agreement with and understood in the light of revelation in the former verses, in the original type.

 

The portion of the original type under consideration at this point is Genesis 1:2b, 3:

 

. . . darkness was upon the face of the deep.  And the Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters.  And God said, Let there be light:  and there was light.

 

These verses outline the beginning of the restoration of a creation that was brought into a ruined state through an act of Satan (the earth, the province over which Satan ruled [and still rules today], becoming a chaos because of his aspirations to be “like the most High” [Isaiah 14:12-14]).

 

Then these verses, in turn, set forth in type the beginning of the restoration of a creation that was brought into a subsequent state of ruin through another act of Satan (causing man to fall [becoming a ruin, a chaos] through deceiving the woman into believing that she could be “as God” [Genesis 3:5, 22]).

 

The established pattern (type) relative to the restoration of a ruined creation is set in the first chapter of Genesis.  Once God establishes a pattern of this nature, no change can ever occur.  The restoration of any subsequent ruined creation must occur in exact accord with the established pattern.  Thus, God’s work in the restoration of fallen man today — a subsequent ruined creation — must follow the established pattern, in exact detail.

 

The Spirit of God moved in the first chapter of Genesis, effecting a beginning of the earth’s restoration.  And the first thing recorded immediately following the Spirit’s movement was the placement of light alongside the previously existing darkness, with a division established between the light and the darkness.

 

The Spirit of God, in like manner, moves today, effecting a beginning of man’s restoration (the salvation of his spirit).  And the first thing that God does for man is to place light alongside the previously existing darkness — place a new nature alongside the old nature, a new man alongside the old man — with a division established between the two (cf. Hebrews 4:12).

 

But in the Genesis account, complete restoration was not accomplished through God’s work on the first day.  Rather, the earth, through this divine work accomplished on the first day, was brought into a state where a continued work could be accomplished.  And, over time, this continued work would complete the earth’s restoration.

 

And restoration for ruined man occurs exactly the same way.  Complete restoration is not accomplished through the birth from above.  Rather, the person, through the birth from above, is brought into a state where a continued work can be accomplished.  And, over time, this continued work will complete man’s restoration.

 

Note the words of the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:6; 5:17 in this respect:

 

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ . . .

 

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature [‘new creation’] . . . .”

 

These verses in 2 Corinthians chapters four and five can only be a direct allusion to the account of the restoration of the ruined creation in Genesis chapter one — light shining out of darkness, associated with a new creation being brought into existence in both instances, with the former foreshadowing the latter.  And Genesis 2:7, a subsequent type concerning unregenerate man (life produced in that which is lifeless), is an account portraying exactly the same truth from a different perspective, providing additional details.  The Spirit of God wrought order out of chaos in Genesis chapter one; the Spirit of God — the Neshamah — produced life in Genesis chapter two; and the Spirit of God brings order out of chaos, produces life in unregenerate man today, exactly the same way.

 

The Spirit of God today moves upon the ruined creation, upon ruined man (chapter 1).  That is, He breathes life into the one having no life (chapter 2).  Only then does “light” shine out of what was only darkness before that time (allowing for a continued divine work), with everything being done in complete accordance with the revealed Word of God — “And God said . . .” (cf. Genesis 1:2b ff; 2 Corinthians 4:6).

 

Then, to complete the type, note the septenary structure of this opening section of Genesis, establishing, at the very beginning, a septenary structure upon which the whole of subsequent Scripture rests.  The six days of work used to restore the earth in Genesis point to the six days (6,000 years [cf. 2 Peter 1:15-18; 3:1-8]) of work that God is presently using to restore man; and the Sabbath rest following the six days in the Genesis account points to the Sabbath rest, the 1,000-year Messianic Era, which will follow the present six days, the present 6,000 years of work (cf. Exodus 31:12-17; Hebrews 4:1-9).

 

2. Impartation of Life to the Saved (Salvation of the Soul)

 

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

 

Once life has been generated, life must then be continued and sustained.  Life is generated through “breathing in” (initial work of the Spirit), retained through “the breath remaining” (a subsequent work of the Spirit), and sustained through a “continued breathing in.”  Sustenance for life, “a continued breathing in,” is what is involved in 2 Timothy 3:16.  This verse, studied in the light of Genesis 2:7, is the key that will 1) unlock the door concerning the Neshamah of God in relation to saved man (past or present), 2) demonstrate the power of the Word of God, and 3) reveal the reason Christians are commanded to “receive the implanted Word.”

 

The word “God-breathed” in 2 Timothy 3:16 is a translation of the compound Greek word theopneustos, which is simply the word for “God” (theos) and the word for “breath,” or “Spirit” (pneuma) added.  Thus, the translation “God-breathed” is not only a very literal translation, but, in the light of Genesis 2:7, it can only be the best of all possible translations.

 

The “Word of God,” through comparing Genesis 2:7 and 2 Timothy 3:16, is identified with the Neshamah of God — the breath of God.  The Word of God was given through the instrumentality of the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21), and is the element — the living organism — that the indwelling Holy Spirit uses to sustain the life that He Himself originally imparted and presently continues.

 

Thus, in a full Scriptural respect, the Neshamah of God can only refer to both the Spirit and the Word.  “Life” emanates from both (2 Corinthians 3:6; Hebrews 4:12; James 2:26), and they are inseparably linked through one common denominator — Breath.

 

The Word of God, because of its very origin and nature, is the only thing that the Holy Spirit, who gave the Word, can use to effect man’s spiritual growth toward maturity.  The Neshamah of God (the Holy Spirit) who imparted life uses the Neshamah of God (the implanted Word) to feed, nourish, and properly develop this life.

 

The Word of God alone is able to make one “wise unto salvation” (2 Timothy 3:15).  That is to say, the Word of God alone can be used by the Holy Spirit to bring about the Christian’s walk by faith (cf. Romans 10:17), ultimately resulting in the salvation of his soul.

 

The Breath of God[4]

 

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath [neshamah] of life; and man became a living being. (Genesis 2:7)

 

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

 

(Background material for “the breath of God” can be found in chapter 3.)

 

Man’s “life” following his creation in the beginning was produced by “the breath [neshamah] of God” (Genesis 2:7).  This establishes a first-mention principle in Scripture concerning “life” in relation to man, and this principle remains unchanged throughout all subsequent Scripture.  Man’s life throughout time and eternity, as in the Genesis account, must emanate from God; and this life cannot be generated, continued, or sustained apart from the neshamah of God.

 

In scriptural terminology, the neshamah is identified with both the “Holy Spirit” of God and the “Word” of God.  Life, which comes from God alone, is always produced through “breathing in.”  Remaining within basic teachings drawn from the types in Genesis 1:2-5; 2:7, God, through the instrumentality of the Holy Spirit, “breathes life into” unredeemed, lifeless man today.  Once imparted, with the man possessing spiritual life (having been redeemed), this life is then continued and sustained through the same principle — the breath of God remaining with man (past dispensation) or remaining in man (present dispensation), and the breath of God continuing to be breathed into man.

 

Through the abiding presence of the breath of God (which, during this present dispensation, is through the Spirit indwelling the one in whom He had previously breathed life), the believer remains secure in his positional standing before God; and through a continued impartation of the breath of God (the Word of God flowing into man’s saved human spirit, with the indwelling Holy Spirit leading the individual “into all truth”), the believer receives living nourishment for spiritual growth unto maturity.

 

“Scripture,” unlike any other writings, is alive:

 

For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword . . . . (Hebrews 4:12a).

 

“Life” can be attributed to Scripture only on the basis of the fact that the “oracles of God” emanated from the Giver and Sustainer of life.  Scripture is “God-breathed.”  It is the neshamah, the “breath” of God.

 

This is what sets Scripture apart from all other writings.  That which God has to say in His Word is alive, not subject to error, and will endure forever.  But that which man has to say is, on the other hand, lifeless, subject to error, and will endure only for time.

 

Thus, the Holy Spirit today initially imparts life to man who is “dead in trespasses and sins,” continues this life through His abiding presence, and sustains this life via the living Word of God flowing into man’s saved human spirit.  The indwelling Holy Spirit takes the Word of God received into man’s saved human spirit, and, through man’s spiritual perception, changes the water to wine (cf. John 2:1-11).  A continued process of this nature — revealing the things of the Spirit to the man of spirit through man’s spiritual perception — progressively results in growth unto maturity.

 

The great difference between redeemed man and unredeemed man is possession or non-possession of spiritual life derived from the “breath” of God.

 

Unregenerate man, who is spiritually dead, is alienated from everything associated with the “breath” of God in this respect, for that which has no life is completely incompatible with that which has life.  Thus, the living Word of God is not for him; it is alien to his fallen nature, the only nature that he possesses.

 

Regenerate man, on the other hand, possesses spiritual life that was “breathed in.”  He possesses a new, non-alienated nature; and, on this basis, there can now be a continuance of life “breathed in.”  Thus, the living Word of God, because it is the very life-giving “breath” of God, is for redeemed man alone.

 

Redeemed individuals are divided into two classes in Scripture — “spiritual,” and “carnal” (1 Corinthians 3:1, 2).  Both possess spiritual life that was “breathed in,” both are capable of spiritual discernment, and both are in a position to allow God to continue “breathing in” life.

 

The carnal Christian though rejects the leadership of the Spirit.  He follows the fleshly man rather than the spiritual man; and, although his eternal salvation remains secure through the “breath” of God remaining in him (based on Christ’s finished work at Calvary), he experiences no growth.  He does not allow God to continue “breathing in” life.

 

But the spiritual Christian governs his life in an entirely different manner.  He follows the leadership of the Spirit; He allows God to continue “breathing in” life; and, through his spiritual discernment, as led by the Holy Spirit, he is able to begin grasping the great spiritual truths of the Word of God, progressively growing from immaturity to maturity.

 

A continued inflow of the breath of God into man’s saved human spirit in this manner, following his salvation, will result in what Scripture calls “the filling of the Spirit” and “be transformed” (“the metamorphosis”).  These are actually two different experiences in the lives of Christians that occur in a progressive, concurrent manner.  These experiences, however, are so closely related that one cannot occur without the other, and neither can occur apart from the Word of God and the Spirit’s work in the life of a believer in relation to this Word.

 

The remainder of this chapter will be taken up with “the breath” of God producing a Spirit-filled Christian and, at the same time, working the metamorphosis in his life.

 

Filled with the Spirit

 

Being filled with the Holy Spirit is an experience that occurs after one has been born from above.  At the time of the new birth, an individual is immersed (baptized) in the Holy Spirit, and, through this immersion, becomes part of the “one body,” the “one new man,” in Christ (cf. Matthew 3:11; Acts 1:5; 1 Corinthians 12:13 [“with” and “by” should be translated “in”]; Ephesians 2:15).  The Holy Spirit, from this point forward, indwells the believer, forming a “temple of God” — an earthly tabernacle in which deity dwells (1 Corinthians 3:16, 17; 6:19, 20).

 

But the Spirit filling the tabernacle is an experience in the life of a Christian that occurs subsequent to the Spirit indwelling the tabernacle.  Christians, ones in whom the Spirit dwells, are commanded to be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18); and the biblical manner in which this is accomplished is clearly revealed to be in connection with life continuing to be “breathed into” man following the initial “inbreathing” that generated life at the beginning.

 

Scripture reveals an inseparable relationship between being filled with the Spirit (the neshamah) and dwelling deeply in the Word of God (the neshamah).  This is clearly taught by comparing “scripture with scripture” in Ephesians and Colossians — companion epistles, which parallel one another in a number of places.

 

One such parallel can be seen in the section in Ephesians where Christians are commanded to be filled with the Spirit and in the section in Colossians where Christians are commanded to let the Word of Christ dwell in them richly in all wisdom.

 

In Ephesians, Christians are told:

 

And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,

speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:18-20)

 

In Colossians, Christians are told:

 

Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.  And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Colossians 3:16, 17)

 

Note the contextual parallel between the commands, “Be filled with the Spirit” in Ephesians and “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom” in Colossians.  Both have to do with the same thing.  One is substituted for the other in its respective, parallel counterpart.  And the clear inference from this parallel, in conjunction with related scripture, leads to only one conclusion:  A Christian who is filled with the Spirit is one who has allowed the Word of Christ to dwell in him richly in all wisdom.

 

The indwelling of the Spirit is consummated at the time God initially “breathes life into” an individual, and the filling of the Spirit is progressively accomplished through God subsequently continuing to “breathe life into” that individual.  The “God-breathed” scriptures flowing into man’s saved human spirit — a continued impartation of life into man — progressively produces, through the work of the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 16:13), a Spirit-filled Christian.

 

Relative to the filling of the Spirit, note further the relationship to one another of husbands and wives, children and parents, and servants and masters in the verses immediately following these two sections in Ephesians and Colossians.

 

Wives show that they are filled with the Spirit through their submission to their husbands, “as to the Lord” (cf. Ephesians 5:22-24; Colossians 3:18).

 

Husbands show that they are filled with the Spirit through their love for their wives, “even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it” (cf. Ephesians 5:25-33; Colossians 3:19).

 

Children show that they are filled with the Spirit through their obedience to their parents, “in the Lord” (cf. Ephesians 6:1, 2; Colossians 3:20).

 

Fathers show that they are filled with the Spirit through not provoking their children to anger, but bringing “them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (cf. Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:21).

 

Servants show that they are filled with the Spirit through being obedient to their masters according to the flesh, “with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as to Christ” (cf. Ephesians 6:5-8; Colossians 3:22-25).

 

And masters show that they are filled with the Spirit through treating their servants just and equal, “knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with Him” (cf. Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 4:1).

 

God desires that all Christians be filled with the Spirit, and the manner God uses to bring this to pass is clearly revealed in His Word.  There must be a continued “breathing in” of life into the one who has initially been given life through the “breath” of God, and this cannot be accomplished apart from the “God-breathed” Oracles.

 

In view of this, it is no wonder that the living Word of God — the neshamah — remains under constant attack by Satan, his emissaries, and those who do his bidding.

 

The Word of God is either what it claims to be or there can be no continued “inbreathing” of life into redeemed man.  And, apart from this continued “inbreathing” of life, redeemed man can not grow spiritually, for only that compatible with spiritual life can provide nourishment for this life, resulting in growth.  Apart from the God-breathed Word, every Christian, throughout his entire pilgrim walk, would remain in a carnally immature state rather than grow in a spiritual manner to maturity.

 

Such a Christian would be indwelt by the Spirit, but, apart from the living Word, he could not be filled with the Spirit.  He would remain carnal, immature, and powerless.  Nor could he ultimately realize the salvation of his soul, for there would be no continued inbreathing of life to bring this to pass.

 

Consequently, apart from this continued “inbreathing” of life, God could not ultimately bring “many sons” unto glory to occupy the numerous positions of power and authority as joint-heirs with Christ in the coming kingdom.  The “many sons” whom God will bring “to glory” are those who will be adopted — placed as firstborn sons — at the end of the present age.  And occupying positions of this nature as sons — occupying positions as firstborn sons, with “sonship” implying rulership will be entered into only by those Christians who realize the salvation of their souls.

 

(Adoption in connection with the salvation of the soul is dealt with in a more extensive manner at the end of this chapter.  Refer to the parenthetical data at the end.)

 

The Metamorphosis — Present

 

And do not be conformed to this world [‘age’], but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2)

 

In this verse there is a negative command followed by a positive command:  “Do not be conformed . . . but be transformed . . . .

 

1.  Be Not Conformed

 

The Greek word translated “conformed” is sunschematizo.  This is a compound word with the preposition sun (“with”) prefixed to the verb form of the word schema (“outline,” “diagram”).  The English word “scheme” is an Anglicized form of the Greek word schema.  The word has to do with a schematic outline, and the thought inherent in this compound Greek word along with its negative command is to not outline or diagram your life in accordance with the present age.

 

During the present age there is a world kingdom in which the Gentile nations rule the earth under the control and dominion of Satan, the “god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4).  Fallen man is ruling the earth, which is under a curse, directly under the one who has disqualified himself to rule (Satan, along with his angels — ruling from a heavenly sphere over the earth through the Gentile nations [cf. Ezekiel 28:14; Daniel 10:13-20; Luke 4:5, 6; Ephesians 6:11, 12]).

 

Everywhere one looks there’s something wrong with the structure of the present kingdom:  The Gentile nations are out of place, Israel is out of place, Satan and his angels are out of place, and Christ and His co-heirs (those destined to occupy regal positions with Him in the kingdom) are out of place.  These conditions have continued unchanged, in part, for the past 6,000 years (since the fall of Adam, which resulted in the entire creation coming under the curse produced by sin); and they have continued unchanged in their entirety for the past 2,600 years (since the beginning of the “times of the Gentiles” [Luke 21:24], with Israel being scattered among the nations).  And no change will occur until Christ returns and takes the kingdom.

 

The rightful place for Satan and his angels is in the abyss and ultimately in the lake of fire; the rightful place for Christ and His co-heirs is ruling (from the heavens over the earth) in the stead of Satan and his angels; the rightful place for Israel is dwelling in the land covenanted to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, within a theocracy, at the head of the nations; and the rightful place for the Gentile nations is dwelling in their respective lands, out from under the dominion and rule of Satan, in a position subservient to and blessed through Israel.

 

When Christ returns and takes the kingdom, He and His glorified followers, rather than Satan and his angels, will rule from the heavens over the earth.  Satan and his angels (cast out of the heavens slightly over three and one-half years prior to this time) will be chained and imprisoned in the abyss (awaiting consignment to the lake of fire 1,000 years later), the curse will be lifted, and Israel will be placed in her own land at the head of the nations.  And all the Gentile nations entering the kingdom will then occupy subservient positions to Israel and be under the dominion of Christ and those who rule as joint-heirs with Him.

 

Presently, “the whole world lies in wickedness [lit. ‘in the evil one’]” (1 John 5:19b).  The positional standing of the believer is “in Christ,” and the position occupied by the world is “in the evil one.”  These positions are diametrically opposed, one to the other.  Scripture clearly commands the believer, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world . . . .” (1 John 2:15a).  Why?  Because the world lies “in the evil one.”

 

The entire present system is under Satan’s control and sway; and, whether the world realizes it or not, the programs, aims, ambitions, and aspirations of the incumbent ruler are being carried out within the present system.  All of this will one day reach an apex under the reign of the “man of sin,” during the coming Tribulation.  And, from that apex, it will come to a sudden and climactic end.  Then, in conjunction with this end, Satan and his angels will, by force, be removed from their present position — that of ruling the earth through the Gentile nations.

 

Thus, it does not become Christians to involve themselves in the affairs of this present world system, during the present age.  By so doing, they are, in effect, defiling their high calling “in Christ” through stepping down into an arena occupied by those “in the evil one.”

 

Christ, rejected by the world, is in a place removed from the world.  And Christians are to share this rejection by and separation from the world with Christ.  It is not possible for Christians to involve themselves in the affairs of this present world system, during the present age, and, at the same time, share Christ’s rejection by and separation from the world.

 

(The preceding is dealt with at length in the books of 1 & 2 Samuel, in the typology surrounding Saul and David.  Refer to the author’s book, Judgment Seat of Christ [revised edition], chapter 12, “Crowned Rulers,” for a discussion of this type in the light of the antitype.)

 

2.  Be Transformed

 

Following the command in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this age,” the Christian is commanded to be “transformed by the renewing of your mind.”  The Greek word translated “transformed” is metamorphoo.  This is the word from which the English word “metamorphosis” is derived.  This word refers to an inward change brought about completely apart from the power of the individual himself.  The individual Christian is powerless to bring about this metamorphosis.

 

In 2 Corinthians 11:13-15, Satan is said to be “transformed into an angel of light” and his ministers “transformed as the ministers of righteousness.”  In the Greek text the word “transformed” is not the same in 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 as it is in Romans 12:2.  The word used in 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 is metaschematizo, referring to an outward change; and, textually (v. 13), this change is brought about through an individuals own power.

 

Satan, thus, seeks to counterfeit the work of the Spirit by substituting an outward change in place of the inward change.  And the nature and source of this pseudo change often go unrecognized.

 

Christians who seek to bring about the change of Romans 12:2 themselves will always effect a metaschema (outward change) rather than a metamorphosis (inward change).  At the time of the birth from above the Spirit of God began a work in the Christian that He will continue “until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).  No effort on the part of Christians can help the Spirit of God effect this change.

 

Man’s way finds man actively involved, seeking spirituality through either quitting certain things or doing certain things, subsequently producing a metaschema.  But God’s way finds man passive, and God performs a work in the individual, ultimately producing the metamorphosis.

 

The endless list of “do’s” and “do not’s,” taboos formed by Christian groups; invariably have to do with a metaschema, not a metamorphosis.  Any effort on the part of Christians to help the Spirit of God bring about the transformation of Romans 12:2 will always result in pseudo-spirituality.  God’s way is an inward change accomplished through the power of the Spirit, not an outward change accomplished through the power of the individual.

 

3.  The Renewing of Your Mind

 

Note according to the text how this inward change, the metamorphosis, takes place:  “. . . be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”  The word “renewing” is a translation of the Greek word anakainosis; and the action of the preceding verb (“transformed”) directs attention to a continuous renewing process, one which is to keep on taking place.  In 2 Corinthians 4:16 we are told that “the inward man is renewed [lit. ‘is being renewed’] day by day.”  This renewing process is to keep on taking place day in and day out for the entire duration of the pilgrim walk here on earth.

 

Then, Colossians 3:10 reveals how the renewing of the mind is accomplished:

 

And have put on the new man, which is renewed [lit. ‘is being renewed’] in knowledge after the image of Him that created Him.

 

Note the word “knowledge” in this verse.  The regular Greek word for “knowledge” is gnosis, but the word used in Colossians 3:10 is epignosis.  This is the word gnosis (knowledge) with the prefix epi (upon).  Epignosis, thus, means “knowledge upon knowledge,” i.e., “a mature knowledge.”  The word translated “renewed” is a past participle of anakainoo (the same word used in Romans 12:2 and 2 Corinthians 4:16) and could be better translated, “being renewed.”  The only way a Christian can acquire this mature knowledge, which allows the Spirit of God to work the metamorphosis in his life, is through receiving the living Word of God into his saved human spirit.

 

Christians must allow God to continue “breathing in” life.  The living, God-breathed Word must be allowed to flow into man’s saved human spirit or there can be no metamorphosis.  The renewing of the inward man “day by day,” through receiving “the implanted Word,” producing the metamorphosis in one’s life, is the manner in which the salvation of the soul is presently being effected.

 

As previously seen, receiving “the implanted Word” in James 1:21 and 1 Peter 2:2 is preceded by “laying aside” everything opposed to purity (ref. chapter 3).  It is the same with the metamorphosis in Romans 12:2.  The words, “do not be conformed to this age [lit. ‘stop being conformed to this age’],” appear prior to the words, “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”  Those “in Christ” are commanded to remove themselves from that which lies “in the evil one” prior to receiving “the implanted Word,” which will effect the metamorphosis in their lives.

 

Thus, Romans 12:2; James 1:21; and 1 Peter 2:2 all teach the same thing relative to laying aside everything opposed to purity prior to receiving “the implanted Word, which is able to save your souls.”

 

The Metamorphosis — Future

 

Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.

 

Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves;

 

and He was transfigured before them.  His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.

 

And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.

 

Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

 

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 16:28-17:5)

 

The change presently taking place in the lives of Christians is inward.  But within the culmination of the work of the Spirit in that future day of Jesus Christ, the change will include the outward also.  The metamorphosis actually cannot be completed apart from this culmination, outward change.  The Spirit of God “who has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).

 

The day will come when we will put off “the body of this death” (Romans 7:24).  That will be the day when He will “fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of His glory” (Philippians 3:21a, ASV).  The work of the Spirit in this part of the metamorphosis is set forth in Matthew chapter seventeen.

 

That which occurred on the Mount, when Jesus was transfigured, is a fore-view of things that are yet to occur.  The same Greek word translated “transformed” in Romans 12:2 (metamorphoo) is translated “transfigured” in Matthew 17:2.  As Peter, James, and John appeared with Jesus on the Mount, Jesus was transfigured before them; and Moses and Elijah appeared and stood in His presence.

 

In Matthew 16:28, Christ had revealed that certain disciples would not die until they had seen “the Son of man coming in His kingdom.”  Then, in Matthew 17:1-5, after six days, on the seventh day, certain disciples (Peter, James, and John) saw “the Son of man coming in His kingdom.”

 

Peter, as he wrote years later concerning this experience, said:

 

. . . we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty [His greatest regal magnificence — a superlative in the Greek text]. (2 Peter 1:16)

 

Peter then went on to state that the time this eyewitness account occurred was “when we were with Him on the holy mountain” (v. 18).  Biblical revelation leaves no room to question or wonder exactly what is being foreshadowed by the events on the Mount, recorded in Matthew 17:1-5.

 

The “six days” (Matthew 17:1) foreshadow the entire time comprising Man’s Day.  “Six” is mans number.  These six days extend from the creation of Adam to the beginning of the Messianic Kingdom.  Each one of these days is 1,000 years in length (2 Peter 3:1-8).  This 6,000-year period comprises Man’s Day, and at the end of Man’s Day the Lord’s Day will begin.

 

The seventh 1,000-year period dating from the creation of Adam comprises the Lord’s Day.  “Seven” is Gods number.  It will be “after six days” — after 6,000 years, at the end of Man’s Day — that the Son of man will be seen “coming in His kingdom,” beginning the Lord’s Day on the earth.

 

The “high mountain” (Matthew 17:1) foreshadows the coming kingdom.  A “mountain” in Scripture, when used in this sense, refers to a kingdom (cf. Psalm 2:6; Ezekiel 28:14; Daniel 2:35).  And, in this section of Scripture, the coming kingdom of our Lord is not referred to by just any mountain, but by a “high mountain.”

 

Jesus appeared in a transfigured body.  Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus, also in transfigured bodies.  Moses had died, and had been raised from the dead.  Elijah had never died, but had been removed from the earth alive.  Peter, James, and John, out from the nation of Israel, appeared in natural bodies and were elevated above all those at the foot of the mount.  And “a bright cloud,” the Glory of God (cf. Luke 9:31, 32), overshadowed them all.

 

In the coming kingdom, Jesus will appear in this same transfigured body.  Just as Moses (who was raised from the dead) and Elijah (who was removed from the earth without dying) appeared with Christ in transfigured bodies, so will Christians in that future day appear with Christ in transfigured bodies like unto the body of Christ.

 

When the Lord Himself descends from heaven to take His Church out of the world, “. . . the dead in Christ shall rise first:  then we that are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in clouds, to meet the Lord in the air . . . .” (1 Thessalonians 4:16b, 17a).

 

Christians associated with Christ in the kingdom will possess bodies like unto the body of Christ (a spiritual body — a body of flesh and bone, with the life-giving, animating principle being the Spirit of God).  These Christians will be comprised of resurrected believers (typified by Moses) and believers who have never died (typified by Elijah).  And these Christians will rule from the heavens over the earth as co-heirs with Christ.

 

Then, the nation of Israel (typified by Peter, James, and John) will be here on earth.  And the individuals comprising this nation will be present in natural bodies (soulical bodies — bodies of flesh, blood, and bone, with the life-giving, animating principle being the blood [cf. Leviticus 17:11]).  As Peter, James, and John were elevated above all those at the foot of the mount, the nation of Israel will be elevated above all other nations.  And the Glory of God, the “bright cloud” that overshadowed those on the mount (cf. Matthew 17:5; Luke 9:32), will be restored to Israel (cf. Isaiah 2:1-4; 6:1-10; Joel 2:27-32).

 

One day when the Lord returns for His Church, the Holy Spirit will complete the metamorphosis.  Christians will be delivered from “the body of this death” and will receive bodies that will possess an entirely different life-giving, animating principle than the bodies that Christians possess today.  The Neshamah of God — the Holy Spirit Himself — will provide this life in the completion of the metamorphosis (1 Corinthians 15:40-45).

 

All Christians will be changed in the outward manifestation of the metamorphosis, for the resurrection and rapture, with the accompanying change of the body, are not contingent upon the inward change during the present time.  The outward change is conditioned upon one’s positional standing (“in Christ”) alone.

 

But Christians experiencing the outward change apart from the prior inward change will realize the loss of their souls/lives.  They will enter into the presence of the Lord with redeemed spirits, changed bodies, but forfeited lives.  Consequently, they will occupy no position among the many sons who will be brought unto glory.

 

(At the end of the present dispensation, Christians will be resurrected, or removed from the earth without dying, in the same type body in which Christ was raised from the dead.  Christ was raised in a spiritual body, not a natural [soulical] body [cf. 1 Corinthians 15:42-44].  He was raised in a body of flesh and bones, with the life-giving, animating principle of the body being the Spirit of God rather than the blood [which He had previously “poured out” (Isaiah 53:12)].

 

Christ though was not raised in a glorified body.  He was raised in a type of body that possessed capabilities outside the scope possessed by a natural [soulical] body [e.g., He could appear at a certain place and disappear from that place, moving to another place, at will (Luke 24:31, 36)].  But there was no Glory connected with His resurrection body until “a cloud” received Him out of the disciples’ sight at the end of His forty-day post-resurrection ministry, when He was “received up into glory” [Acts 1:9; 1 Timothy 3:16].

 

This can be easily seen, for example, through noting the differences in two of Christ’s post-resurrection appearances.  He appeared to the two disciples on the Emmaus road later on the same day that He was raised from the dead [appearing apart from His Glory (Luke 24:13-31)], and He appeared a few years later to Paul on the Damascus road [in connection with His Glory (Acts 9:1-5; 26:12-15)].  At Christ’s former appearance, it is apparent that there was nothing visibly different about His overall appearance that distinguished Him from any other man.  However, at His latter appearance, there was a major difference in this respect.  There was a brightness surrounding His appearance that was above that of the noon-day sun [Acts 26:13; cf. Revelation 1:16].

 

When Christians are removed from the earth at the end of the present dispensation, they will receive bodies like unto Christ’s body at the time of His resurrection — a spiritual body of flesh and bones, apart from the Glory.  The “redemption of the body will then occur at a later time, in connection with “the adoption” [Romans 8:23], not in connection with the removal of Christians from the earth at the end of the present dispensation.

 

The adoption of Christians can occur only following events surrounding the judgment seat of Christ, for the adoption has to do with the placement of sons in a firstborn status — something that cannot be done preceding a separation of Christians [the overcomers from the non-overcomers], based on decisions and determinations rendered at the judgment seat.  Christians having been shown faithful at the judgment seat, realizing the salvation of their souls/lives, will be adopted as firstborn sons.  But such will not be, for it cannot be, the case for unfaithful Christians, those having forfeited their souls/lives.

 

According to Romans 8:18-23, adoption as firstborn sons is in connection with rulership [in the human realm, only firstborn sons can rule in this manner within the theocracy].  And the unfaithful, though possessing spiritual bodies of flesh and bones, will be in no position to rule and cannot be adopted into a firstborn status.  They can only appear as the ones seen in Hebrews 12:8 — as individuals who had previously rejected God’s child-training [vv. 5-7] and cannot now be His sons [the sons seen in Romans 8:19, adopted into a firstborn status in v. 23].

 

[The word “chastisement” (KJV) or “chastening” (NKJV) in Hebrews 12:5-8 is from the noun and verb forms (paideia, paideuo) of a Greek word that means “child-training.”  Then, the word translated “bastard” (KJV) or “illegitimate” (NKJV) in v. 8 is nothos in the Greek text.  The word, contextually refers to those who reject Gods child-training and cannot be His sons.

 

“Sonship,” with a view to rulership, is in view.  And only those capable of spiritual perception, only those “born from above,” would be in a position to reject God’s child-training.  Thus, the unsaved cannot be in view; nor is eternal salvation even the subject at hand.]

 

Only following the adoption can the Glory be connected with the body, with man brought back into a full realization of that which Adam forfeited at the time of the fall [at the end of six days, at the end of 6,000 years].  Man, following the adoption and the corresponding restoration of the Glory will once again be enswathed in a covering of Glory and in a position to be further clothed in regal garments [refer to the text in parenthesis on page six in chapter one of this book for additional information in this realm].

 

Thus, the redemption of the body in Romans 8:23 can have nothing to do with the change in the body that will occur when Christians are removed from the earth at the end of the dispensation.  As shown by the context, the redemption of the body in this verse can only be a reference to that future time when “the glory . . . shall be revealed in us,” in Christians; it can only be a reference to that future time when “the sons of God,” a new order of Sons — Christ with His co-heirs [overcoming Christians, adopted and properly arrayed] — will be manifested for all to behold [vv. 18, 19].)

 

Approval, Goal of Your Faith[5]

 

That the genuineness [approval] of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire [but being approved through fire], may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,

 

whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,

 

receiving the end [goal] of your faith — the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:7-9)

 

In the Greek text of verse seven the word translated “genuinenss” is dokimion, and the word translated “tested” is dokimazo.  These are, respectively, noun and verb forms of the same word.  In either form, this word means to be “tested with a view to approval, if found worthy”; or, if the text so indicates, the word can refer to “approval” itself at the termination of testing.

 

James 1:3, where dokimion is used, provides a good example of testing during present time with a view to future approval.  But 1 Peter 1:7, contextually, moves beyond the point of a present-day testing.  Approval at a future date is in view, and the translation of both dokimion and dokimazo should reflect this fact.  This verse should correctly be translated,

 

That the approval of your faith . . . but being approved through fire . . . .

 

Verse nine, continuing this same thought, refers to obtaining something because of the outcome of one’s faith — “Receiving the end of your faith . . . .”  The word translated “end” is telos in the Greek text, which literally means “goal,” “consummation,” “full development” of that which is in view.  “Faith,” the subject matter at hand in verses seven through nine, is that which is in view.  In verse seven, “faith” must be approved in order to realize “praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ”; and in verse nine, “faith” must be brought to full development, reach its goal, in order to realize “the salvation of your souls.”

 

At the Judgment Seat

 

The approval and goal of one’s “faith” await the coming issues of the judgment seat of Christ.  The evaluations and determinations of this judgment will be based on “works” that emanate out of faithfulness to one’s calling.  The book of James teaches that faithfulness to one’s calling will result in works of a particular nature, and these works alone (works that God has outlined for each individual Christian to accomplish) will result in faith being brought to the place where it can be approved, realizing its proper goal (reference chapter 5 of this book).

 

Each ones work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each ones work, of what sort it is.

(1 Corinthians 3:13)

 

The trial of “every mans work” in fire at the judgment seat of Christ will be with a view to approval, if found worthy.  The Greek word translated “test” in 1 Corinthians 3:13 is dokimazo, the same word used in 1 Peter 1:7.  “Works” are approved through fire in 1 Corinthians 3:13 and “faith” is approved through fire in 1 Peter 1:7.  Both scriptures refer to that future time when the approval of works at the judgment seat will reveal an approved faith as well.

 

“Works” of a nature that can be approved will have emanated out of faithfulness to one’s calling, resulting in “a faith” that can also be approved.  During the present time, faith is being brought to its goal (into the place where it can be approved) through works; and at the judgment seat, the approval of faith will be based upon the approval of works.  The former cannot be realized apart from the latter, and the relationship between faith and works after this fashion is such that Scripture reveals both being approved “through fire.”

 

However, there is another side to the judgment seat of Christ, for Scripture reveals that a Christian’s works may be found unworthy of approval.  The “genuineness” will be with a view to approval, but such will not be the case if the fire reveals works that are not worthy of approval — works emanating from other than a faithfulness to one’s calling.

 

And disapproved “works” can only result in a disapproved “faith.”  A faith of this nature will not have been brought to its proper goal, and individuals possessing works unworthy of approval will “suffer loss.”

 

Then, using the inverse of that which is taught in 1 Peter 1:7-9 about approved faith brought to its goal (shown through approved works), an individual possessing a disapproved faith (shown through disapproved works) will not only be deniedpraise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (v. 7), but his suffering loss will have to do with the loss of his soul (v. 9).

 

The book of James refers to Christians being “approved” prior to receiving a crown:

 

Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

(James 1:12)

 

The word translated “approved” is dokimos in the Greek text.  This word, from the same root form as dokimios in 1 Peter 1:7, refers specifically to being “approved at the end of testing.”  In 1 Corinthians 3:13, it is the approval of an individual’s “works”; in 1 Peter 1:7, it is the approval of an individual’s “faith”; but in James 1:12, it is the approval of the individual “himself.”

 

The approval of works, as has been shown, will result in and reveal the approval of faith.  This will, in turn, result in the approval of the individual, for it is a physical flesh and bone entity who.

 

In First Corinthians Paul states that the Christian is in a race with a crown in view, which will be acquired only after the runner has been approved at the conclusion of the race:

 

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it [prize].

 

And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.

 

Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.

 

But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified [literally: be disapproved].

(1 Corinthians 9:24-27)

 

The word translated “disqualified” (v. 27) is adokimos in the Greek text.  This is the same word translated “approved” in James 1:12, but with the prefix “a,” which negates the word.  Adokimos, thus, means “disapproved.”

 

Studying 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; James 1:12; and 1 Peter 1:7-9 in the light of one another will produce one clear, uniform teaching: Christians are enrolled in a race, with crowns to be won or lost at the termination of this race.  And how well Christians run the race depends upon their “faithfulness.”  Faithfulness to ones calling is the key, for only through faithfulness can works ensue; and works are necessary to produce a “living” faith, resulting in fruit-bearing, which can, in that coming day (at the judgment seat), be approved (cf. James 2:14-26).

 

Only in this manner will individuals be approved for crowns, allowing the recipients of crowns the privilege of occupying positions as joint-heirs with Christ in His coming kingdom.

 

The Primary, Fundamental Type

 

A Christian’s disapproval for the crown referred to in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 has its contextual parallel in the verses immediately following (1 Corinthians 10:1-11), which record Israel’s disapproval for entrance into the land of Canaan.  These eleven verses reiterate certain experiences of the Israelites under Moses following the death of the paschal lambs in Egypt.  Israel’s experiences (within the scope of the type) begin in Egypt, move through the Red Sea passage, and terminate in the wilderness wanderings.

 

The verses outlining these experiences are divided into two sections (vv. 1-6 and vv. 7-11).  The first section outlines in general terms the experiences of the Israelites under Moses, and this section is concluded in verse six with the statement:

 

Now these things became our examples [literally: these things happened as types for us], to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted.

(1 Corinthians 10:6)

 

Then, the second section outlines in more specific terms four sins of the people that characterized the wilderness journey, and this section is concluded in verse eleven with the statement:

 

Now all these things happened to them as examples [literally: ‘as types’]: and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages are come.

(1 Corinthians 10:11)

 

Thus, there is a type-antitype treatment of Israelites under the leadership of Moses with Christians under the leadership of Christ.  This same type-antitype treatment of Israelites with Christians also forms the basis for the first four of the five major warnings in the book of Hebrews (1:14-2:5; 3:1-4:16; 6:1-12; 10:19-39), apart from which these warnings cannot be properly understood.

 

Just as a proper understanding of the first four of the five major warnings in Hebrews is built around a type-antitype treatment of the Israelites under Moses with Christians under Christ, a proper understanding of 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 is built around this same type-antitype treatment.  These verses logically lead into chapter ten, and this chapter forms the basis for explaining what is meant by being approved or disapproved at the conclusion of the race.

 

Scripture is to be interpreted in the light of Scripture, and the approval or disapproval of an individual at the judgment seat of Christ must be understood in the light of Old Testament typology — namely the experiences of the Israelites under the leadership of Moses following the death of the paschal lambs in Egypt.  This is the primary, fundamental type that God uses in His Word to teach Christians great spiritual truths concerning dangers strewn along their present pilgrim pathway as they, under the leadership of Christ, traverse the only route that will culminate in the realization of the salvation to be revealed — the salvation of their souls.

 

Type — Israel in the Wilderness

 

On the night of the Passover in the land of Egypt, God established a distinction “between the Egyptians and Israel.”  This distinction was established on the basis of death and shed blood — the death and shed blood of the paschal lambs — and involved the birth and adoption of a nation (Exodus 4:22, 23; 6:6, 7; 11:4-7; 12:1-13; Hosea 2:15).  Israel’s birth and adoption were for definite, specific purposes — namely the establishment of Gods firstborn son in the land covenanted to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, at the head of the nations, within a theocracy.

 

Not only was the “Feast of the Passover” instituted at this time but the “Feast of Unleavened Bread” was also instituted at the very beginning of Israel’s national existence.  Immediately following the Passover, Israel — the newly established nation, God’s firstborn son — was to eat “unleavened bread” for a period of seven days.  All leaven was to be put out of the house (house of Israel) during this period.

 

“Leaven,” in Scripture, always, without exception, portrays that which is evil, corrupt.  “Seven” is the number of perfection, indicating the completeness of that which is in view.  And regardless of the time or place — in Egypt before the Red Sea passage, in the wilderness after the Red Sea passage, or in the land of Canaan realizing the purpose for the nation’s calling — “evil,” typified by leaven, was to be put out of the house of Israel.  The penalty for not so doing was spelled out in no uncertain terms:

 

For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. (Exodus 12:15b).

 

Thus, God’s dual truth concerning “blood” and “leaven” was established at the very beginning of Israel’s existence as a nation.  The appropriation of the “blood” of slain lambs placed those who had come out of Egypt, forming the nation of Israel, in a particular relationship with God from which they could never be removed.  This, however, was only the beginning.  The entire purpose for Israel’s existence lay ahead; and after the appropriation of the blood of these slain lambs, everything associated with leaven was then to be put out of the house for the period specified.  Only in this manner could the nation realize the purpose for her removal from Egypt, the very purpose of her calling.

 

What though did Israel do relative to the Feast of Unleavened Bread following the appropriation of the blood of the slain paschal lambs?  Israel kept the feast in the sense of the seven literal days required by Exodus 12:15 (cf. Exodus 12:34, 39; 13:1-10).  But did Israel keep the feast in the sense of that which it portrays must be done in the camp beyond this time?  Did Israel put sin out of the house during her pilgrim journey in the wilderness?

 

The answer of course, according to Scripture, is “No.”  Israel committed trespass after trespass against the Lord, climaxing the leavening process at Kadesh-Barnea.

 

Had Israel put leaven out of the house and followed the leadership of the Lord, the nation would have realized the purpose for her calling.  Israel would have exhibited faithfulness and entered into the land at Kadesh-Barnea, overthrown the inhabitants, and ruled over all the Gentile nations as God’s firstborn son within a theocracy, with the nations being blessed through Israel.

 

However, instead of exhibiting faithfulness, the Israelites exhibited unfaithfulness.  The entire accountable generation (save Caleb and Joshua, who possessed a different spirit) was overthrown in the wilderness.  Of the 600,000 fighting men who came out of Egypt, all but two were overthrown in the wilderness.  They were cut off from the house of Israel.  They were overthrown on the right side of the blood — cut off from Israel, not from God — and they fell short of the goal of their calling.

 

In this respect, according to the account of the wilderness journey of the Israelites in Hebrews chapter three, because of “unbelief [‘unfaithfulness’],” the nation failed to enter into the land at Kadesh-Barnea (v. 19).  The Israelites under Moses rejected that which God had to say concerning entrance into the land set before them.  They believed the false report of the ten spies rather than the true report of Caleb and Joshua.  At this point they fell away; and, as set forth in the antitype of Hebrews 6:4-6, it was then impossible to renew them again unto repentance.”

 

(In the type, it was impossible for God to change His mind concerning that which He had previously stated would occur if the Israelites did not obey His voice; and, in the antitype, in like manner, it will be impossible for God to change His mind concerning that which He has previously stated will occur if Christians do not obey His voice.)

 

Why did the Israelites “fall away”?  What brought about such unbelief, unfaithfulness, on their part?  The answer can be found by comparing their attitude in two realms:  (1) their attitude toward both “the food” (the manna) that God had provided and “the land” (the land of Canaan) that lay before them with (2) their attitude toward both “the food” (fish, etc.) that they had previously enjoyed in Egypt and “the land” (the land of Egypt) that they had left.

 

According to Numbers chapter eleven, they had rejected “the manna” and had longingly looked back to the food that they remembered in Egypt; and, almost immediately following, in Numbers chapters thirteen and fourteen, they had rejected “the land of Canaan” and had longingly looked back to the land of Egypt.

 

In each instance, their look was away from the things of God and the land set before them and back to the things of the world and the god of this present world system (cf. Luke 9:62) — back to the things associated with the leavening process that had been working for almost eighteen months in the camp (“Egypt” in Scripture is always a type of the world, with its fleshly allures; and “Satan” is the god of this present world system).

 

Israel’s attitude concerning the manna preceded the nation’s attitude concerning the land.  Their refusal to go in and take the land could have been anticipated by their previous reaction to and rejection of the manna.  That is, because they had previously preferred the food in Egypt to the manna that God had provided, at Kadesh-Barnea they could only be expected to prefer the land of Egypt to the land of Canaan.  This fact can be clearly seen in the antitype.

 

Antitype — Christians in the Wilderness

 

As a distinction was established “between the Egyptians and Israel” in the land of Egypt the night of the Passover, a distinction has been established between the world and Christians during the present day.  As the distinction during Moses’ day was established on the basis of death and shed blood, so has the distinction during the present day been established on the basis of death and shed blood.  Almost thirty-five hundred years ago in Egypt the distinguishing factor was the blood of the slain paschal lambs, and today the distinguishing factor is the blood of the slain Paschal Lamb.  Since Adam’s sin in Eden, the distinguishing factor has always been death and shed blood — something which never changes in Scripture (cf. Genesis 3:21; Hebrews 9:22).

 

As Israel was called into existence for definite and specific purposes, so has the Church been called into existence for definite and specific purposes.  Israel (“a prince” possessing “power with God and with men” [Genesis 32:28]) was called into existence to rule as God’s firstborn son within a theocracy, and the Church has also been called into existence to rule as God’s firstborn son within a theocracy.  Israel was called into existence to rule on the earth at the head of the Gentile nations with God dwelling in Israel’s midst; and the Church has been called into existence to rule from the heavens over the Gentile nations with God’s firstborn Son, Jesus.

 

As Israel was commanded to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days immediately following the Passover, so have Christians been commanded to keep this feast for the same length of time immediately following that to which events of the Passover point (the birth from above, a passing “from death unto life”):

 

Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?

 

Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.

 

Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:6b-8)

 

The feast is to be kept for a period of “seven days,” indicating the completeness of that which is in view.  The entire Christian life from the point of salvation forward is in view.  During the present dispensation Christians reside in bodies of death, possessing the old sin nature; but during the coming dispensation (the Messianic Era) Christians will reside in sinless, deathless bodies like unto the body of Christ (cf. Romans 7:24; 1 John 1:8; 3:2).

 

During the coming dispensation the removal of leaven from the house will no longer be an issue, for it will have been put out once and for all.  Thus, the issue of Christians keeping the feast (in accordance with 1 Corinthians 5:6ff) and the dangers inherent in not keeping the feast are for the present dispensation alone, as it was for the Israelites during the past dispensation.

 

Israelites who failed to keep the feast were cut off from the house of Moses; and Christians who fail to keep the feast will fare no better, for they will be cut off from the house of Christ (Hebrews 3:1ff).

 

Thus, God’s dual truth concerning “blood” and “leaven, “ established at the very beginning of Israel’s existence as a nation, is the same dual truth presently seen in Christendom today.  Through the appropriation of the blood of the slain Paschal Lamb — allowing for the immersion in the Spirit, forming the one new manin Christ” — Christians form “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people” (1 Peter 2:9).  Christians occupy a positional standing “in Christ,” from which they can never be removed.

 

This, however, as in Israel’s case, is only the beginning.  The entire purpose for the Christians’ very existence lies ahead.  After the appropriation of the blood, everything associated with leaven is then to be put out of their lives for the period specified.  Only in this manner will Christians realize the purpose for their present positional standing “in Christ,” the very purpose for their calling.

 

Keeping the Feast of Unleavened Bread, outlined for Christians in 1 Corinthians chapter five, is not synonymous with Christians living sinless lives, living above sin.  Nor was this the case for those in Israel in the type.  This is by no means what is being taught in this passage, for since “sin entered into the world” through Adam (Romans 5:12), it has always been impossible for saved individuals to live apart from sin in such a manner, residing in bodies of death with the old sin nature.

 

The fact that the Israelites could and did sin following events surrounding the death of the firstborn was the reason for Aaron’s past high priestly ministry in the earthly tabernacle.  And the fact that Christians can and do sin is the reason for Christ’s present high priestly ministry in the heavenly tabernacle.

 

Christ is ministering today in the antitype of Aaron, on the basis of His shed blood on the mercy seat, on behalf of Christians who sin.  The sins committed by Christians are forgiven through confession of these sins on the basis of the shed blood of Christ that “cleanses [‘keeps on cleansing’] us from all sin.”

 

In this respect, Christians keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread today in a twofold manner; abstention from every appearance of evil on the one hand, and confession of sins when overtaken by evil on the other hand (1 Corinthians 5:6b-8; 1 Thessalonians 5:22; 1 John 1:7-10).  All leaven is to either be put out or kept out of one’s life in this twofold manner; and Christians conducting their lives in this fashion, correspondingly, keep the feast.

 

However, as Israel failed to keep the feast in the type (in the preceding twofold manner), so are Christians failing to keep the feast in the antitype (in the same twofold manner).

 

The Israelites committed trespass after trespass against the Lord, disregarding that which God had commanded; and they climaxed their sins by rejecting the manna and rejecting the land of Canaan.  They looked back to the things of Egypt in both instances.

 

And Christians are doing exactly the same thing.  The Church has become so enmeshed in the things of the world that it is becoming increasingly difficult to tell where the world ends and the Church begins.  The sins of Christians, as the sins of Israel — disregarding, as well, that which God has commanded — have led them down a path where they are rejecting the things typified by both the manna and the land of Canaan.

 

The manna was that bread from heaven that God had provided to sustain the Israelites while on their pilgrim journey.  This bread contained everything necessary for the sustenance and health of the physical body throughout the wilderness journey, as the Israelites looked ahead to an inheritance in the land set before them (an earthly inheritance and land).

 

And the counterpart for Christians today is the Bread from heaven, “the Word of God.”  This Word contains everything necessary for the sustenance and health of the spiritual man throughout the pilgrim journey (cf. John 6:30-58; Luke 4:4), as Christians look ahead to an inheritance in the land set before them (a heavenly inheritance and land).

 

The Israelites, remembering the food that they had while in Egypt and tried to change the manna.  They “ground it in mills, or beat it in a mortar, and baked it in pans, and made cakes of it.”  Through this process they ruined the manna, for the taste was like “fresh oil [a bland taste, made with olive oil]” (Numbers 11:4-8).

 

Christians today have done exactly the same thing with the Word of God; and, according to the type, it is because of their carnal desires for the food served in Egypt, i.e., it is because of their carnal desires for the nourishment that the world provides.  Christians have tried to change the Word of God to conform to the things of the world, seeking to make this Word palatable to both the world and themselves. 

 

And emanating out of this process are such things as the paraphrased versions of the Bible that are supposed to help us better understand the Scriptures, and the shortened, compressed versions that are for individuals who don’t have time to read the Word as given through Moses and the prophets.  Or, the Word is often interpreted in a manner that allows worldly palatability for carnally minded Christians.

 

God revealed Himself, His plans, and His purposes to man in “pure words, likes silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times”; and God has magnified His Word above His name (Psalm 12:6; 138:2). 

 

Beyond that, God has made this revelation known after a certain fashion (history, prophecy, types interwoven within history, antitypes, metaphors, parables, etc.).  And for finite man to make changes after any fashion, which would include refusing to recognize the manner in which God has made this revelation known, can result in only one thing, seen in the type:  Changing the manna during Moses day ruined that which God had provided for the people, and changing the Manna today serves only to accomplish this same destructive end.

 

The importance of recognizing this whole thing for what it really is, no matter what form it may take — a Satanic attack upon the Word of God — becomes evident when one understands the proper place that the Word occupies in the life of a Christian.  God has breathed life (the Neshamah [initial work of the Spirit]) into man, effecting the birth from above (cf. Genesis 1:1-3; 2:7; John 3:3). 

 

He then continues this life through the indwelling presence of His Breath (the Neshamah [indwelling of the Spirit; 1 Corinthians 6:19]), and nourishes and sustains this life through a continued breathing in (the Neshamah/Theopneustos [the God-Breathed, Living Word; 2 Timothy 3:16; James 1:21]).  The indwelling Holy Spirit (the Neshamah), in this manner, takes the Word of God (the Neshamah) received into man’s saved human spirit and effects spiritual growth to maturity (reference: chapters 3 & 4 of this book).

 

That which God delivered to man through Moses and the prophets constitutes the Neshamah — the God-Breathed Oracles — not that which carnal man has changed by seeking to make it palatable to himself and the world.  And the Holy Spirit (the Neshamah) uses the God-Breathed Oracles (the Neshamah) alone to effect a Christian’s spiritual growth unto maturity. 

 

That which is not the Word of God (not the Neshamah) substituted for the Word of God (the Neshamah) can only produce spiritually anemic, sick Christians, for the Holy Spirit cannot use that which is not the Breath of God to effect spiritual growth.  The Holy Spirit cannot use that which is lifeless to nourish and sustain life, which He (through the Neshamah) brought into existence.

 

In this respect, that which man has changed today approximates the living Word of God to the same degree that the manna that the Israelites changed approximated the manna that God delivered to them from heaven.  The Israelites, through changes, ruined the manna; and Christians (also the unsaved in certain instances, for monetary gain), through changes, have ruined the Word of God.

 

Thus, it is easy to understand why the Israelites under Moses preferred the things of Egypt to the things of the land set before them (their earthly inheritance [cf. Numbers 14:12; Hebrews 11:8]), and why innumerable Christians today prefer the things of the world to the things of the land set before them (their heavenly inheritance [cf. Hebrews 1:14; 3:1; 1 Peter 1:4]).  The Israelites desired to feast on the things of Egypt rather than the manna that God had provided, and Christians today are exhibiting exactly the same attitude and are doing exactly the same thing relative to the things of the world and the Word of God.

 

The spirituality of the Israelites, brought about through their association with Egypt, was at such a low ebb that they didn’t believe it was possible for them to go in and conquer the inhabitants of the land.  Thus, they sought to appoint a new leader and return to Egypt (Numbers 14:1-4) — completely overcome by the enemy before ever engaging the enemy in battle. 

 

The spirituality of many Christians today, brought about through their association with the world, is at such a low ebb that they, in like manner, refuse to believe it is possible for them to go in and conquer the inhabitants of the land (cf. Ephesians 6:10-17).  Thus, they, as the Israelites under Moses, seek their place in the world, under the sun — completely overcome by the enemy before ever engaging the enemy in battle.

 

Concluding Thoughts:

 

The importance of feasting on the Manna from heaven cannot be overemphasized.  A Christian must receive “the implanted Word [Neshamah]” or he cannot realize the salvation of his soul.  The reason is very simple:  Apart from the reception of this Word there can be no spiritual growth to maturity.  And without spiritual growth, wrought through a continued inbreathing of “life” into man, there can be no movement of the spiritual man, producing “works” emanating from “a living” faith.

 

The race will have been run in no certain manner, with no fixed goal, as one beating the air.  And, as revealed in 1 Corinthians 9:24-10:11, a race run in this manner will result in the individual being disapproved, for he will have been overcome and thus overthrown in the wilderness.

 

Accordingly, such an individual at the judgment seat of Christ will have his works tried, with a view to approval; but these works will be shown to be “dead [barren]” works, emanating from unfaithfulness, producing nothing but “wood, hay, and straw.”  These will all be burned in the fire, leaving the individual in the position, “saved [salvation of his spirit]; yet so as through fire” (1 Corinthians 3:12-15).

 

His works will be disapproved; and works of this nature will have failed to bring faith to its proper goal.  Consequently, the individual’s faith will also be disapproved, and he will “suffer loss” — the loss of his soul.

 

((End of Chitwood’s commentary))

 

Summarization by Christ

 

It is the execution of this defined purpose for the Christian in this life (i.e., “walking in Christ/good works,” “abiding in the True Vine [Christ]” by means of the “filling [control] of the Holy Spirit”) that will end in the reward of future glory for the Christian in the soon-to-come literal kingdom, which will be established upon Christ’s Second Advent.  All of which was well summarized by Christ Himself in His statement to His disciples immediately after His rebuke to Peter in Matthew 16 for “not [being] mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”

 

[24] Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. [25] For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. [26] For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? [27] For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.” (Matthew 16:24-27)

 

This passage has nothing to do with one’s eternal (spirit) salvation.  It has everything to do with one’s soul-salvation (already well discussed above).  Nevertheless, it should be noted that it is the same Greek word (psuche) that is translated both “life” and “soul” in this passage.  And it clearly outlines the means in which a person may achieve it.

 

To “come after Christ,” one needs only to understand and employ the requirements that Christ outlines in this passage.  And Chitwood offers excellent commentary regarding the matter, as follows:[6] 

 

The text from Matthew 16:24-26, dealing with the saving or the losing of the soul, has been removed from its context by numerous individuals over the years and erroneously used relative to the unsaved and the message of salvation by grace.  These verses, however, have nothing to do with the unsaved or the message of salvation by grace.  Truths brought out in these verses relate to the saved alone, those already in possession of eternal life.

 

Within the text, Jesus is speaking to His disciples.  The words, “If anyone,” in verse twenty-four could be better translated, “If any of you [disciples].”  The disciples were saved individuals, and the message concerning denying himself, taking up one’s cross, and following Christ (things not possible for the unsaved to accomplish) was directed to them.

 

This thought surrounding the disciples in verse twenty-four leads into verses twenty-five and twenty-six, which refer to the saving or the losing of the soul, with a view to being recompensed as stewards in the Lord’s house (reward according to works) in the coming kingdom (vv. 27ff).  The word “For” connects verse twenty-five with verse twenty-four, and the same word again connects verse twenty-six with both preceding verses.  Denying himself, taking up one’s cross, and following Christ in verse twenty-four is the manner in which the salvation of the soul is brought to pass (vv. 25b, 26b).  And the inverse of this would be true concerning the manner in which the loss of the soul is brought to pass (vv. 25a, 26a).

 

Within the context, as previously shown, Jesus is dealing with things relating to the kingdom of the heavens (v. 19).  He being the Messiah (vv. 13-16, 20), the Church (vv. 17-19), the Cross (allowing the Church to be brought into existence [vv. 21-23]), and the salvation of the soul in relation to the coming kingdom (vv. 24-27) constitute the subject matter at hand.  One thought leads into another, with the latter, the salvation of the soul in relation to the coming kingdom, being the end or the goal toward which everything moves.

 

Note how plainly and unmistakably the salvation of the soul (vv. 24-26) is connected with the coming kingdom (vv. 27ff) rather than with eternal life.  The word “For” (same word that begins vv. 25, 26) appears once again, connecting verse twenty-seven with the preceding verses.  Thus, verses twenty-four through twenty-seven can only be looked upon as an indivisible unit in scriptural interpretation, with one thought leading into another and with all things moving toward a revealed goal.

 

(Note that Matthew 16:28-17:5 forms an additional explanation and provides commentary for v. 27, explaining that which is in view through the Son of Man coming “in the glory of His Father with His angels.”

 

And the thought of reward according to works is dealt with in related scripture, seen both in connection with the kingdom [Luke 19:12ff] and the salvation of the soul [Hebrews 10:35-11:1, 23-26; James 2:5, 14-26].)

 

1.  Deny Himself

 

For a person to “deny himself” is to deny the fleshly impulses of the soul — the self-life.  The unredeemed soul housed in an unredeemed body is to be kept under subjection through the instrumentality of man’s redeemed spirit.  Through the impartation of the Word of God into man’s redeemed spirit, individuals, under the leadership of the indwelling Holy Spirit, progressively grow into spiritually mature Christians; and, through the power of the Holy Spirit, Christians growing in such a manner are able to deny the fleshly impulses of the soul, keeping their bodies under subjection.

 

This subjective state of the soul in relation to the spiritual man can be graphically illustrated from Old Testament typology in the lives of Sarah and Hagar.  Hagar (the bondwoman), despised in the eyes of Sarah (the freewoman), had fled into the wilderness.  But the angel of the Lord finding her by a spring of water gave the command, “Return to your mistress [Sarah], and submit yourself under her hand.” (Genesis 16:4-9).

 

If a Christian is to be victorious over the fleshly impulses of the soul, that which is under the bondage of sin must be made submissive to that which has been removed from this bondage.  This is the clear teaching of Scripture, and there is no alternate way that this can be accomplished.

 

Sarah’s and Hagar’s sons (Isaac and Ishmael) are set forth in both Genesis and Galatians as typifying respectively the man of spirit (Isaac) and the man of flesh (Ishmael).  The soul (self-life) of man (in association with the flesh) must be made submissive to the spiritual man.  Hagar was blessed, but only subsequent to her submission to Sarah (Genesis 16:10); and man in his self-life will be blessed, but only subsequent to the submission of the soul to the man of spirit, empowered and controlled by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

 

Accordingly, blessings relating to the self-life (soul) can occur only in connection with the saving of the soul.  Thus, the great issue centers around the man of flesh and the man of spirit both striving for control of the Christian’s life (soul), with the salvation of the soul hanging in the balance and being realized only through control of the self-life by the spiritual man.

 

(Blessings in connection with man’s self-life though are not as one may be led to think — having the best of both worlds, for such is impossible.  Blessings in connection with the self-life are inseparably connected with dying to self.  One has to die in order to live [John 12:24, 25].  The section that follows deals with this aspect of the matter.)

 

2. Take up Ones Cross, and Follow Christ

 

The “cross” was the instrument of death, and taking up one’s cross is dying to self, dying to the self-life.  Christians are told,

 

For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” (Romans 8:13)

 

The man of flesh, the deeds of the body, exhibited through one’s self-life must be kept in a constant state of dying.  The old man, so to speak, is to be affixed to the cross and not be allowed to move about.  If mortification after this fashion occurs, the man will live (he will experience the salvation of his soul); however, if mortification after this fashion does not occur, the man will die (he will experience the loss of his soul).

 

The words “take up” and “follow” in verse twenty-four appear in two different tenses in the Greek text.  The first has to do with a one-time act, but the latter has to do with continuous action.  That is, Christians are to “take up” the cross at the beginning of their pilgrim walk, never laying it down; and, in this manner, they are to “follow” Christ continuously throughout the pilgrim walk.

 

(The translation of the parallel passage in Luke’s gospel, “. . . and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (9:23b), would seemingly militate against the preceding.  This though is not the case at all.

 

First, there is some question concerning the validity of the word “daily” in the text.  The word is not found in a number of the better manuscripts.  But, if the word is to be considered part of the text, this part of the verse should be translated and understood in a similar manner to the way Wuest has it in his Expanded Translation:  “. . . let him at once and once for all pick up and carry his cross day after day.”)

 

The same basic thought is set forth in Romans 12:1, where Christians are told: “. . . present your bodies a living sacrifice.”  The word “present” has to do with a one-time act to be performed at the beginning of the pilgrim walk, never to be repeated.  As the Old Testament priest placed the sacrifice upon the altar and left it there, the New Testament priest (a Christian) is called upon to do the same with his body. 

 

The body is to be placed upon the altar through a one-time act, and the body is then to remain upon the altar in a continuous state of sacrifice, never to be removed.  “Continuous dedication” in the Christian life is the correct biblical perspective.  “Rededication” — as men often use the term — is, on the other hand, completely out of place, for such cannot exist within the biblical framework of the pilgrim walk.  A Christian cannot rededicate his life for the simple reason that he doesn’t have a life to rededicate.  He has a life that can be given over to “continuous dedication” alone (whether or not he does so), and faithfulness or unfaithfulness among Christians will have to be understood and dealt with in this biblical respect.

 

3.  For Whosoever . . . .

 

The word “whoever” in verse twenty-five refers directly back to verse twenty-four.  The thought is, “Whoever of you [disciples]…”  Verses twenty-five and twenty-six further amplify that which has already been stated in verse twenty-four, and, along with verse twenty-seven, form the Lord’s own commentary on this verse.  The word translated “life” twice in verse twenty-five and “soul” twice in verse twenty-six is from the Greek word psuche, which means either “soul” or “life.”  A number of other translations (e.g. KJV, NASB, NIV) render the word psuche “life” in verse twenty-five and “soul” in verse twenty-six

 

Since “soul” and “life” are synonymous terms, translating psuche as “life” in one verse and “soul” in the next verse cannot really be considered incorrect.  But not everyone has access to the Greek text or understands that “soul” and “life” are synonymous terms; and an inconsistent translation of this nature has, over the years, served to foster confusion in the interpretation of these verses. 

 

Any Christian who refuses to “deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow” Christ during the present day (v. 24) — synonymous with “whosoever will save his life” (v. 25a) — “shall [in that coming day] lose it” (v. 25a), i.e., he will experience the loss of his soul/life.  On the other hand, any Christian who will “deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow” Christ during the present day (v. 24) — synonymous with “whosoever will lose his life for my sake” (v. 25b) — “shall [in the coming day] find it” (v. 25b), i.e., he will realize the salvation of his soul/life. 

 

The inverse of the place that the soul/life is allowed to occupy during the Christian’s present pilgrim walk will be true during the coming reign of Christ.  A Christian who saves his soul/life today (allows his self-life to gain the ascendancy, allows his soul to rule) will experience the lose of his soul/life in that coming day; and a Christian who loses his soul/life today (keeps his self-life under subjection, refuses to allow his soul to rule) will realize the salvation of his soul/life in that coming day.

 

Profit . . . Exchange

 

The words “profit” and “exchange” in verse twenty-six have to do with building or refusing to build upon an initial investment.  Christians alone are in view.  Only the saved are in possession of this initial investment and, thus, in a position to profit.

 

The very ultimate in man’s goals, aims, ambitions, and aspirations — gaining the entire world in the self-life — is set over against forfeiting one’s life (his self-life) for the sake of Christ.  And profit is accrued only in the latter.  There can be no profit in the former, for the initial investment cannot be used in this realm.  The initial investment can be used in the realm where the man of spirit alone is operative.  And an accrual of profit on the initial investment will result in the salvation of one’s soul, but no accrual of profit on the initial investment will result in the loss of one’s soul.

 

The combination of “profit” and “exchange” is the subject of several parables on stewardship that the Lord gave during His earthly ministry, and a brief review of two of these parables, the parable of the pounds and the parable of the talents, will illustrate what is meant by these expressions in Matthew 16:26.

 

In the parable of the pounds (Luke 19:11-27), a certain Nobleman (the Lord), before departing into “a far country,” delivered “ten pounds” unto His “ten servants” and commanded them, “Occupy till I come.”  “Ten” is the number of ordinal completion, signifying all of the Lord’s business delivered to all His servants.  “The pound” is a monetary unit of exchange, and all the Lord’s servants were to trade and traffic in all of the Lord’s business during His time of absence.  And they were to continue in this manner until their Lord returned.

 

Christ’s clear statement to His household servants before His departure was, “Occupy till I come” (Luke 19:13b).  Those who followed their Lord’s instructions and used the initial investment realized a profit, but the servant who refused to follow his Lord’s instructions and use the initial investment realized no profit at all.

 

Then, upon the Lord’s return, the servants profiting from the initial investment were rewarded, but the servant who realized no profit suffered loss.

 

The parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) presents another picture of this same truth.  A certain “man” (again, the Lord) called “his own servants,” delivered unto them “his goods [talents],” and then departed into “a far country.”  “The talent,” as the pound, is a monetary unit of exchange, pointing to the Lord’s business.  The Lord’s servants, as in the parable of the pounds, were to trade and traffic in the Lord’s business during His time of absence.

 

And, as in the parable of the pounds, those servants who exercised faithfulness and used the talents entrusted to them realized a profit from the initial investment; but the servant who refused to exercise faithfulness and use the initial investment entrusted to him realized no profit at all.  Then, upon the Lord’s return, the servants profiting from the initial investment were rewarded, but the servant who realized no profit suffered loss.

 

Concluding Thoughts:

 

The salvation of the soul is clearly set forth in Matthew 16:24-27 as emanating from works following the salvation of the spirit and has to do with rewards in the coming kingdom.  Salvation completely apart from works applies to the “spirit” alone, and salvation in connection with works applies to the “soul” alone.  The former must first be realized before the latter can come into view at all.

 

Through the salvation of the spirit (Ephesians 2:8, 9), Christians have been “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

 

 


 

[1] Salvation of the Soul by Arlen L. Chitwood, The Lamp Broadcast, Inc., 2003, pages vii to 3

[2] Judgment Seat of Christ, Arlen L. Chitwood, The Lamp Broadcast, Inc., pp. 198-201

[3] Salvation of the Soul by Arlen L. Chitwood, The Lamp Broadcast, Inc., 2003, pages 35-50

[4] Salvation of the Soul by Arlen L. Chitwood, The Lamp Broadcast, Inc., 2003, pages 51-66

[5] Salvation of the Soul by Arlen L. Chitwood, The Lamp Broadcast, Inc., 2003, pages 95-108

[6] Salvation of the Soul by Arlen L. Chitwood, The Lamp Broadcast, Inc., 2003, pages 28-34