The stage was perfectly set….. The altars fervently filled….. The scene, my friends, has become all too familiar! With message complete and invitation made, down the plushly carpeted aisle ways, advanced dozens upon dozens toward the designated space near the front of the room. As the assembled choir harmonized and orchestra softly played, the poised minister of music effortlessly directed, as the remaining seated congregants sang the familiar final stanza to Elliot's "Just as I am". "Would you come? Would you come?" asked the Senior Pastor, as he intently overlooked the morning proceedings. From alcoholics and prostitutes, to daily drug addicts and plain old average folk, all stand teary eyed, as they eagerly await his voice for the next directive set of life-changing instructions. Within seconds, as the momentary delay comes to its predetermined close, the latest rendition of the familiar sinner's prayer is carefully recited in unison. With guilt now released, and consciences finally cleared, up the carpeted aisle ways walked the reconciled saints to their softly-cushioned pews waiting empty throughout the room. Little did they know, however, that the masquerader himself, was about to suddenly make an advancement with his first subtle strike! No sooner had the redeemed been seated, than the following words quickly erupted from behind the polished wooden pulpit: "THEREFORE IF ANY MAN BE IN CHRIST, HE IS A NEW CREATION: OLD THINGS ARE PASSED AWAY, BEHOLD ALL THINGS ARE BECOME NEW…" (II COR. 5:17)
With four articles of prep-work now complete, and a sure foundation clearly laid, the time has finally come to get to the "root of the matter"! Why, my friends? BECAUSE THERE'S ONLY ONE ANSWER TO THE CURRENT, SPIRITUAL DILEMMA OF THE CHURCH! The statement that I am about to make here, to the casual reader, may at first sound like an oxymoron; however, for those of you who are willing to patiently await its explanation, the next three to four articles could be absolutely life changing, and that could be an understatement! Are you ready, beloved? First, I'll simply make the statement, but then, with the remaining time in this article and the several articles to come, I will then begin to validate it. Here we go. "The most exciting statement that an apostolic/prophetic voice could ever possibly make to the restless masses of present-day christendom, is the following: there's more to getting fully "INTO CHRIST" than the initial salvation experience"! Now, before I begin to explain this statement, I must first make one other remark. The church's current belief that they get fully "INTO CHRIST" (and I do emphasize "fully") at the initial salvation experience does carry a partial truth; however, until I have the opportunity to further explain this initial statement, I cannot yet reveal what that partial truth actually is. As I said in the last article, patience is definitely a virtue!
With that now said, however, before I even ask, I can already anticipate your next looming question: "What's so exciting about a believer finding out that they have not yet gotten fully "INTO CHRIST", brother Don? Listen very carefully, my friends, PLEASE! Within the reach of every believer, lies the greatest book of promises ever known to mankind: The Word of God… THE BIBLE! Within that book, God the Father, who cannot lie, swears by both his name and blood to fulfill each and every one of those promises. However….. To whom is it that he swears to fulfill these promises? Anyone? Keep listening, my friends! "…for all the promises of God IN HIM are yea, and IN HIM are amen, unto the glory of God by us" (2 COR.1:20). Have you caught on yet, beloved? Listen, if God has sworn to fulfill all of his promises to those who are "IN CHRIST", then the answer to the churches current dilemma is simply this. Lay down your tradition that has told you that this completely took place at the initial salvation experience, and find out what is actually necessary to get fully "INTO CHRIST"! KEEP LISTENING! Sickness, Poverty, Death, Broken Marriages, Shattered Relationships, Guilt, Condemnation, etc. are all running ramped throughout the present-day church-world, and yet we have become terribly inconsistent when it comes to overcoming these issues! Think about it, church! No, really, think about it! God has not suddenly become unwilling to fulfill his great and precious promises; and he cannot lie! The problem has been, that the church has been trying to manifest these promises, not realizing, that they have not yet gotten fully into a covenantal position: that is fully "INTO CHRIST"! Now that's exciting, beloved; because now, the only thing that the church really needs to do, is figure out how to get completely "INTO CHRIST"! Once this happens, my friends, EVERYTHING CHANGES! EVERYTHING! The failure to consistently manifest his great and precious promises will become nothing more than a thing of the past! As a result, all of the phony substitutes for replacing his glory will also dissipate! The need to have the largest, fanciest church facility will become a thing of the past! The endless struggle to develop enticing, crowd luring programs and ministries become a thing of the past! Why? Because when traditions are removed, the word of God becomes effective! And wherever God is moving, the multitudes will always follow! If Jesus himself drew multitudes by the thousands, what do think will happen when his many-membered body arises in the same glorious pattern? Selah!
This is not an opinion, my friends; it's the answer! It's the only answer! Just for clarity's sake, let's review one more time before we move onward. For years now, we've routinely been told that salvation is progressive (and it is!): first the spirit, then the soul, and finally the body, right? But for some unknown reason, we've placed the "IN CHRIST" label on only the initial part of the process; and then, we've sat back and wondered why we can't seem to consistently manifest the promises! So if God can't lie (and he can't), and "ALL" of the promises have already been said "YES" to (and they have), then there only remains but one possible answer to our dilemma. Somewhere along the line, a tradition has crept in concerning the "IN CHRIST" message, that's clearly making the Word of God of "no effect"! Selah!
The "central issue" of what it means to get fully "INTO CHRIST" revolves exclusively around one major concept: spiritual maturity! Sadly to say, today's seeker friendly church-world has absolutely no idea about what the scriptures truly have to say concerning this highly important subject matter. Spiritual maturity has nothing to do whatsoever with one's age, position, church title, or the amount of time that he or she has been a believer. The word of God clearly outlines the pathway to spiritual maturity, and as we will soon discover in our next article, we must follow the pattern! For now, however, we will only begin to set the scene! Let's quickly take a look at an often overlooked principle: The Word of God's description of us as believers, at the moment of the initial salvation experience. "… he came unto his own, and his own received him not. but as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God…" (JOHN 1:11-12). Most believers have never been taught that there is more than one word in the Greek language for the English word "son/s", for once they find this out, they immediately realize, that they might just have a problem! The Greek word for "sons" here is "tek'-non", which simply means a "child". Seventy-seven other times throughout the New Testament alone, it's used in this way. So what's the problem you might ask? Aren't we all his children? Let me answer that question with a couple of my own, and then we will look into another passage. As a parent, would you ever give the keys to your automobile to your three-year-old son? Of course not! And neither then will God hand the keys of "dominion over the earth" to his immature sons!
Let's take a look now at ROMANS 8:19. "For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God." Do you see that word "sons" there? It's an entirely different word than the word "sons" in JOHN 1:11-12! The word here is the Greek word "huios" (hwee-os'), which comes from a root word meaning a mature son! Do you wish to be a manifested son of God, my friend, and experience dominion on the earth? If so, then we must definitely find out what the scriptures truly have to say about the pathway to spiritual maturity! We must be changed from a "teknon" to a "huios": from a child to a mature son! For as long as you remain in the same condition that you were in when you first came into the Kingdom, the Scriptures clearly say one thing about you: "…Now I say, that the heir, as long as he remains a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all…"(Gal.4:1) Do you see that, beloved? Paul just said the exact same thing that I earlier described as the church's problem in the above paragraph! He tells us here, that all of the promises belong to us (as heir and lord of all), but as long as we remain a child, we can't manifest the promises! Selah!
Let's take a look now at the passage of scripture which we began this article with: "…Therefore if any man be "IN CHRIST", he is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new…" (2 COR. 5:17). Now, with that passage clearly stated, could I please ask one simple question here? Where does this scripture say that you get "INTO CHRIST" at the initial salvation experience? Anyone? Let me answer that for you: Nowhere, my friends! Absolutely nowhere! In fact, it says just the opposite when you fully break it down! Let's take a closer look! According to this verse, we are told that "if" we are "IN CHRIST", then we are a "new creation", and "if" we are a "new creation", then "all things have become new". So I now have another question for you. At the initial salvation experience, what happens to you soul, my friend? Again, let me answer that one as well: absolutely nothing! At the moment you were born again, God ignited a fire within your spirit: ("For the spirit of man is the candle of the Lord…" PROV. 20:27). Can you see that, beloved? Man's spirit is God's place of choice for rekindling our flame with him! Therefore, at the initial salvation experience, the soul remains just as carnal as it was before you accepted Christ as your Savior! If this is so (and it absolutely is!), then your soul has not been made new yet, and if that's the case, my friends, then all things have not yet been made new! Therefore, if all things have not yet been made new, then you are not yet a new creation! And if you are not yet a new creation, then according to this passage, you are not yet fully "In Christ"! Selah!
THE SALVATION OF THE SOUL
At this point in our article, we've now discovered a couple of things. First of all, we discovered that there is more to getting fully "INTO CHRIST" than the initial salvation experience (and remember, we will see once the proper foundation has been laid, that it is not that we are not yet "IN CHRIST" at all at that point, for the spirit has indeed been saved, but we are simply showing here, that there is more to it than that initial experience). Secondly, we discovered that getting fully "INTO CHRIST" revolves around the biblical concept of what the scriptures call spiritual maturity. And now, we are about to find out, that spiritual maturity is all about the "salvation of the soul"! Let's turn over to the BOOK OF JAMES for a moment. In the first chapter, James tells us exactly who it is that he's writing to in this letter; he's writing to the Jews who had become Christians and had been scattered abroad due to religious persecution. In other words, they had already accepted Christ as their savior! With that in mind, look what he tells them in CHAPTER 1, VERSE 21: "…wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, WHICH IS ABLE TO SAVE YOUR SOULS." Do you see that? The salvation of your soul is an experience separate from, and beyond, the initial salvation experience. And, as we will soon find out, it is the gateway into spiritual maturity, and the gateway "INTO CHRIST"!
Week after week, ministers stand proudly behind their pulpits and proclaim to their congregations how many "souls" have just been saved. Nothing could be further from the truth, and it's this misconception which has caused the church to become absolutely stagnant! For if there soul has already been saved, then they have absolutely no reason to move any deeper into the things of the Lord! All they must do now, is keep their eyes on the Eastern Sky until their Lord returns! Remember: "Everybody wants to go up, but nobody wants to grow up!" – Keith Dudley. Any five-fold minister, who is fulfilling their God-given calling, will first and foremost be absolutely faithful at doing one common thing: bring the people whom the lord has placed under their ministry into spiritual maturity! EPHESIANS 4:11-15, clearly bears this out: "…And he gave some apostles; and some prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers; FOR THE PERFECTING OF THE SAINTS, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: THAT WE HENCEFORTH BE NO MORE CHILDREN, tossed to and fro , and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness , whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, MAY GROW UP INTO HIM in all things, which is the head, even Christ…". In the Thayer and Smith Greek Lexicon, the word "perfecting" in verse 12 means: "The perfecting of the soul"! It's the job of the five-fold ministry, therefore, to bring everyone whom God places under them unto the "salvation of their soul"! Also, in VERSE 15, Paul says: "…may grow up into him…" Did you catch that? He says that in order to get "INTO HIM", we must "grow up"! In fact, Paul says in GALATIANS 4:19 that the burden of an "apostle", is to see that "CHRIST" is "formed in a people"!
Nothing in scripture could be written any more clearly: our Heavenly Father wants a mature son in the earth whom he can hand the keys of dominion over to! But, after 2000 years of church history, they still remain "asleep in Adam"! How will they ever be awakened? Though the answer to this question will surely not come for another few articles yet, one thing is definitely clear. The Image of Adam has taken them absolutely nowhere; they must get "INTO CHRIST"! The only answer for the church's current spiritual dilemma: is to get fully "INTO CHRIST"! The question which arises though, beloved, is How's this going to happen? And for that answer, my friends, we must go all the way back to the Garden of Eden!
…TO BE CONTINUED