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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Do All Believers "Inherit the Kingdom?"

We've recently dipped our toes into the subject of rewards, prizes and crowns. In previous studies, we had looked at the different hopes in scripture. Some are hoping for the promised kingdom in the land, some are looking for the hope of the New Jerusalem, and some look for the hope which is reserved in the far above the heavens.

Without going back over all these hopes, let's just look at the idea of "inheriting" the kingdom. This idea is connected with the idea of rewards. That is, it is something earned.

In John, the Lord lays out the wide open offer of resurrection life to "whosoever" will believe (John 3:16; 5:24; etc.). There he speaks of those given the authority to become the "children" of God. Unfortunately, the KJV translates "téknon" as "sons." Better translations use "children." (Compare John 11:52)

Conversely, in Galatians 3:26 "huiós" is translated as "children" (KJV) when "sons" should be used. As those who inherit are sons, but not all children are sons.

So, just as we saw that some will be "ashamed" at the Judgment Seat of Christ (suffering loss) and some "ashamed" at his coming, some will not inherit their promise.

Consider:

"Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God."
-1 Cor 6:9-10

The context is clearly believers. 1 Corinthians addresses many sins of beloved saints. The book is full of correction and discipline and warnings. He is addressing those separated by faith.

"I am writing to God’s church in Corinth, to you who have been called by God to be his own holy people. He made you holy by means of Christ Jesus, just as he did for all people everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours."-1 Cor 1:2

The warning in chapter 6 is not that one can lose a free gift. That's impossible. But in that age, with the promise of the Kingdom of God in view (Acts 1:6; 26:7; etc.). Those who follow the flesh will not inherit the kingdom. Again, this is not a loss of free resurrection life.

John 3:16 stands.

I don't have the space to post the entire context, but let's look at couple of things leading to verses 9 and 10:

v.5 I say this to your shame...
v.8 But you yourselves wrong and defraud...

Followed by, "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?"

The warning is for those believers in that age. They can live in shame. They can do wrong and defraud other believers. They can be unrighteous.

Many fall back into their old lifestyles ("such were some of you, but you were washed...") and will suffer loss and be ashamed as we have seen. The warning is not to fall back into an old life. Otherwise it makes no sense. Warn UNBELIEVERS about not inheriting the kingdom then write "such were some of YOU?" It must be the same group.

This is why the great Apostle Paul models:

"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."
-1 Cor 9:26-27

Is Paul worried about losing the free gift? Never! He is concerned with being "disqualified" (Gk: adókimos = worthless). Again, going on to PERFECTION (maturity) versus falling back into PERDITION (waste).

The focus of these studies is twofold: 
  1. Provide a backdrop as we enter into the parables of Matthew 25 and 
  2. Encourage us to love God, seek his will, build each other up, encourage unto good works... that we might find reward.

The Path to Reward

We've been looking at the Christian life and the rewards and the prize to be attained. We now look at how the Lord is helping us on this journey. The health, wealth and prosperity preachers will not be happy.

We always start with the sure foundation which is Christ. Nothing can move this foundation. It is freely given by grace through faith. But we cannot spend the rest of our lives simply resting on that foundation. Don't worry. It will forever be there. But what we build on it is up to us.

Scripture teaches us that some will "suffer" loss when what we build is tried in the fire (1 Cor 3). 

If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

Scripture also teaches us that some Christians will be ashamed.

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
-2 Tim 2:15
 
And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.
-1 John 2:28
Our ship of faith may end in "shipwreck" (1 Tim 1:19) and some teach others, but themselves will be "disqualified" (1 Cor 9:27).
So many of the warning passages we throw at unbelievers are meant for Christians. But we must take heed and be aware of how God is shaping us and building us up in the faith that we may have a "better resurrection."
The health, wealth and prosperity teachers don't want us to choose to suffer with the Lord. They don't want us to be content in poverty or in riches. They don't want is to take up the cross and identify with him in his sufferings. They are thus the enemies of the cross of Christ (Phil 3).
It is a consistent biblical principle that God allows trials into our lives to produce faith. For it is faith that drives us to stand for the Lord and suffer for his namesake.
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect [mature] and complete, lacking nothing.
-James 1:2-4
Jacob and 11 of his sons suffered a famine to drive them to Joseph. Joseph suffered in prison on a false charge to move him into Pharaoh's house. When the children of Israel escaped the bondage of Egypt, the first place the Lord brought them was to the bitter waters of Marah. Upon entering the promised land, the chosen people of God were met by enemies and had to conquer many cities before they found peace.

In all these (and in many others) the way of wisdom was through testing, trial and suffering.
We look again at Hebrews 12 where we saw previously that we need to lay down the sin that so easily ensnares us and worldly desires that weigh us down; run the race and remember Christ suffered before us:
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.-Heb 12:1-2

The way to glory is the way of the cross.


We are either moving towards Perfection (maturity) or Perdition (waste). He loves you. The more we get to know him, the more we trust him. The way to increase this trust and knowledge? "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God." (Romans 10:17) To this we add:
[G]iving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.
-2 Pet 1:5-9

You can have Your Best Life Now or Your Best Life Later.


Some Christians are truly saved, yet never learn to thoughtfully and carefully handle the Word of God and thus end up in shipwreck.

We know Satan wants to devour us with religion and slavery to sin (these two feed each other). But we must also recognize the lure of the world and the weakness of our flesh.

Know your enemies, understand your flesh and the world:
  1. The lust, greed and covetousness of the flesh
  2. The lust, greed and covetousness of the eyes
  3. Our pride and selfishness
(1 John 2:16)



Key to the Christian Walk: Knowing Him

We recently discussed trusting the Lord and walking in obedience to his revealed will in our home Bible study. We looked at the great love chapter (1 Cor 13) where we learn that love is greater than faith or hope (while all essential). We do and should apply faith and our hope to our Christian walk, but love is central to our success.

Love is the greatest motivator. If I love my neighbour, I will not steal his things, seek to harm him, lie against him in court, envy his good fortune or put a move on his wife. Similarly, if I love the Lord, I won't put other gods (material or spiritual) before Him, I won't mock Him with idols or words.

Sheep do not need a fence (the law), they hear and heed the voice of the Shepherd. I do not need a law to tell me not to harm those I love, I need only allow the Lord to increase my love for them and for others.

And a true love of God will be evident in a growing love for others (especially those of the household of faith).But how do we move in that direction?

Have you ever considered this verse in its context?

"When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me." -Paul

The context is the great love chapter, 1 Cor 13. If we are to truly love, our love must move towards perfection (maturity). If not nurtured it will head towards perdition (waste) and childish selfishness.

To understand how to do this, I quote a small excerpt from a tremendous work, "The Christian's Greatest Need" by E.W. Bullinger (DBG). We must not just be "willing" to trust the Lord, for we will never truly trust him until we truly love him, and we can only do so by understanding his infinite love for us.
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"Those who are in the still lower condition; not 'willing,' but 'willing to be made willing,' do not see that his condition arises from not knowing God; not knowing how infinite is His love, how vast is His wisdom, how blessed and how sweet is His will. If they did but know something of this, they would yearn for His will. It would be the one great earnest desire and longing of their hearts for Him to do exactly what is pleasing in His own sight, in us, and for us, and through us."
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We must KNOW God. If we understood his love and his wisdom, we would never doubt him.

In a recent post, we looked at the goal of attaining the "resurrection out from among the dead." Here is the context:

"I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him..."
Phil 3:8
 
"I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death."
Phil 3:10

To know him, we must put aside everything that hinders. We must put aside the works of the flesh (Gal 5) and the things which so easily weigh us down (Heb 12). We must also put aside ritual, superstition and mysticism (Col 2). But these cannot be attained in the flesh, we must learn to walk in the Spirit. That involves knowing scripture (the Spirit is our teacher) and rightly dividing it (not being careless with it).

And when the Spirit convicts us, we must rest in his wisdom and his leading.

Let us search our hearts. We know what occupies its wants and desires. We know what hinders our walk. God knows too. Confess your weaknesses and declare dependence on Him. He loves you. He wants to free you. He wants to fill you with his love, and when we do this, we trust him more, we worry less, we love others more, we love the world less.

As the hymn states:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

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"And what is the secret of our being able to glory in our Lord, and to enjoy His blessing in this day of our visitation? It is given in Jer. 9:23,24: 
`Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom
Neither let the mighty man glory in his might,
Let not the rich man glory in his riches:
But let him that glorieth, glory in this,
THAT HE UNDERSTANDETH AND KNOWETH ME.'

[Excerpt ibid]

Monday, April 16, 2018

Your Best Life Later (Prizes, Rewards, & Resurrection)

I heard a verse of scripture yesterday which came from a modern, paraphrased translation. I am not opposed to these translations. They can be great commentaries and help with understanding the gist of a verse of a passage. But they really shouldn't be used as the main source for interpretation or for word studies.

The verse in question is from Philippians 3. Here it is from the paraphrased New Living Translation:
I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!-Phil 3:10-11 (NLT)
It could be read into this that Paul is saying that resurrection is conditional. Unfortunately, the King James version is even murkier:
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.-Phil 3:10-11 (KJV)
This really looks like Paul is stating that resurrection is in question and that Paul may not qualify.

The gift of eternal life, resurrection, is a gift. It is free. It is wholly by grace through faith. So to what is Paul referring when he speaks of attaining "the resurrection of/from the dead?"

For every hope in the resurrection, we have rewards and prizes beyond the free gift. We see this in the book of Hebrews where men and women hoped to "obtain a better resurrection" (v.35).

In Philippians, the words "from the dead (nekrós)" are used. Is Paul being redundant? No. The translators are thus trying to express the Greek word "ek-anástasis" or "εξαναστασιν" (only used here). The word for resurrection is "anástasis," this is a special resurrection "out from among the rest of the dead."

"The resurrection from the dead" fails us. Literally we have "the out of resurrection, out from among the dead."

We only have this idea in one other place, Mark 9: εκ νεκρων αναστη is used by the Lord to speak of his own resurrection. In verse 9 he speaks it to his disciples, in verse 10 they ponder what it could mean.

Now, no Jew would wonder what "resurrection" meant. They were puzzled at what "resurrection out from the dead" meant. But this is what Paul teaches us to seek in Phil 3.

Phil 3:8-9 emphasizes that we have no righteousness apart from Christ 
"Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord... that I suffered the loss all things... [to] be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith"
The gift of life (Rom 6:23; etc.), resurrection, is free.

What we need to "attain" is the "better resurrection" the special resurrection "out from among the rest of the dead." Remember, the great resurrection chapter (1 Cor 15) teaches us that there is no common resurrection, resurrection shall be by "order" or "rank."
"For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming." -1 Cor 15:22-23 (NKJV)

In the Revelation we see different resurrections as well.

When Paul warns of those who are "the enemies of the cross of Christ," these may very well be those who preach the gospel, but deny the need for personal sacrifice to attain a "better resurrection." As we covered in a recent TTotD, some of Paul's enemies were those who preached Christ.

So, when a man tells you to have "Your Best Life Now" he's telling you to forsake a far better (unimaginably better) life in the age to come.

There is a prize for those who suffer with Christ in this life. That prize is ruling and reigning with him. On this, we can miss out if we settle for comfort in the present age.
"For if we died with Him,We shall also live with Him. [FREE GIFT]If we endure,We shall also reign with Him." [CONDITIONAL]-2 Tim 2:11-12

And if you are having Your Best Life Now, you might not be looking for his Appearing either:
"Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing."-2 Tim 4:8
We need to stop seeking our Best Life Now, that we might attain a greater life to come.
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NOTES: Rom 8: "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together." The Spirit will confirm that one is a child of God, but not every child is an heir of the glory. Heirs of eternal life? Yes. We become heirs of his glory only if we suffer with Him.

The next verse, "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" assumes suffering.

The verse in Heb 11 in regard to the "better resurrection" notes the condition, "Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection." They endured these things (such as Moses forsaking the Better Life Now in Egypt) so they could OBTAIN a better resurrection.