Salvation through Jesus Christ
‘I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.’ John 14:6
This article explores the terms on which God has sought to engage with man-kind and in particular the significance of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. It explains the undeniable link between Christ’s sacrifice and the necessity to receive God’s Holy Spirit for salvation.
The Bible as God’s written Word
We believe that the Bible is the self-contained written ‘Word of God’ and that it communicates God’s plan for mankind. The verses of the Bible are like the brushstrokes that combine to form a painting. When we view the ‘painting’ in its entirety – the whole Bible – we see a detailed and consistent picture of God’s plan and the relationship between God and mankind. When we focus on any one area of the ‘painting’ – for example a Bible chapter, or a collection of verses, or an individual verse – we should keep in mind how it contributes to the whole picture, and be careful not to interpret it in isolation or out of context. No article can paint the full picture of God’s plan in all its richness and detail. Therefore, in this article broad ‘brushstrokes’ are often used and many themes and details are necessarily omitted, while care has been taken to maintain faithfulness to the overall picture.
God’s desire for a relationship with mankind
The book of Genesis states that God created mankind in His own image or likeness (Genesis 1:26). The Genesis account of Adam and Eve (Chapters 2 and 3) demonstrates that a significant God-like characteristic of mankind is the in-built desire to determine right and wrong for himself rather than accept God’s determination of it (Genesis 3:4–6). Adam and Eve acted in a manner representative of all mankind resulting from free will. Adam and Eve’s disobedience fractured their idyllic relationship with God and disqualified them –and their descendants – from partaking of the ‘tree of life’ and living forever (Genesis 3:22–24). The patriarchs described in the early chapters of Genesis had a relationship with God and communicated with God (for example Noah – Genesis Chapters 6 to 9), but they were still subject to mortality brought about by disobedience in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:17; Romans 5:12). God’s plan to re-build a relationship with the descendants of Adam and Eve was revealed more explicitly at the time of Abraham, to whom far reaching and unconditional promises were made (e.g. Genesis 12:1–3; 17:1–9; 22:15–18). God ordained that Abraham’s grandson Jacob and his descendants were to be God’s own people with a land of their own, and changed Jacob’s name to Israel, meaning ‘he will rule with God’ (Genesis 35:9–12).
God’s dealings with Israel in the Old Testament
Famine drove Jacob to Egypt, and the number of his descendants grew so dramatically that the Egyptians considered them a threat and enslaved them. The book of Exodus describes how, after 430 years in Egypt (Exodus 12:40-41), the Israelites were delivered miraculously under Moses’ leadership. God gave Israel commandments and laws to enable them to have a satisfying relationship with Him– a further opportunity for God’s people to exercise their free will and be ‘saved’ by doing things God’s way. God spelled out the blessings for obedience (e.g. Deuteronomy 28:1–14) and the dire consequences of disobedience (Deuteronomy 28:15–68). A fundamental principle of God’s law for Israel was that a sacrifice involving blood was necessary for their sin (transgression of the Law) to be forgiven by God (Leviticus 17:10–12; Hebrews 9:22) ‘For the life of the flesh is in the blood… for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul’ (Leviticus 17:11). God decreed that specific animal sacrifices be made for the atonement of both inadvertent and willful transgressions (e.g. Leviticus 4:1 to 6:7). Much of the Old Testament records how Israel, over a period of hundreds of years, fell well short of the expectations laid down by God. While God’s love for Israel was clearly evident through His patience and mercy, Israel experienced the dire consequences for disobedience set out in the Law (Deuteronomy 28). Israel’s history was characterised by brief periods of blessing interspersed with conflict, failure, death and mourning. The Israel kingdom was divided (into two components named The House of Israel and The House of Judah) and ultimately both factions were taken captive by neighbouring heathen nations. Despite the apparent demise of Israel in a collective sense due to Israel breaking the covenant with their Creator, God’s grace was always extended to individuals who worshipped Him without compromise (Ezekiel 18). Israel was in disarray, but not forgotten or forsaken by God (Jeremiah31: 35–37).
God’s plan for a Saviour
If God’s unconditional promises were to be fulfilled, Israel’s dereliction of duty – their unwillingness to walk in God’s ways – needed a solution. We are told in the New Testament, that ‘no man is justified by the law in the sight of God’ (Galatians 3:11). God’s plan for a radical solution became clear through prophecies recorded in the Old Testament. Some were quite general (e.g. Genesis 22:18; Psalm 16:8-11; 118:22-23) while others clearly described characteristics of the Saviour to come (e.g. Isaiah 7:13–16; 9:6–7; 11:1–5, 53:1–12). The Saviour was to be a descendent of Abraham (Genesis 22:15-18), Abraham’s grandson Jacob (Genesis 28:10-15) and of David (Isaiah 7:13-16; 9:6–7; 11:1–5; Jeremiah 33:17-22). Isaiah foretells the Saviour’s destiny as taking up the throne of his ancestor David and establishing an everlasting kingdom (Isaiah 9:6-7). Many Old Testament prophecies came to pass with the arrival of the Son of God in human form, and the events that followed. Just as prophesied, the New Testament describes the arrival of Jesus, born to a virgin named Mary: ‘When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost’ (Matthew 1:18). Mary was a descendant of Abraham, Jacob and David. Her ancestry is detailed in Luke Chapter 3 (verses 23–38). At verse 23, ‘And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli’, reference notes in study Bibles explain that the words ‘the son’, inserted by the translators, should in fact read ‘the son-in-law’ in this instance; therefore this is the ancestry of Mary. Joseph was also a descendant of Abraham, Jacob and David, through a different son of David, as detailed in Matthew Chapter 1 (verses 1–16). Verse 16 is interesting in that it identifies Joseph as the husband of Mary rather than the father of Jesus. Also interesting is the Biblical fact that God disinherited the line of Joseph due to the extreme rebellion of King Jehoiakim (Jeremiah36:27-30: ‘Therefore thus saith the LORD of Jehoiakim king of Judah; He shall have none to sit-upon the throne of David…’). Jehoiakim (or ‘Jechonias’) is a forefather of Joseph (Matthew 1:11). Therefore, if Joseph was the biological father of Jesus, then Jesus could not possibly be the expected Saviour and could not possibly be King of Kings and take up the throne of his ancestor David. In actuality, Jesus was born of a virgin made pregnant by the Holy Spirit, and Jesus’ father is God. Jesus said of himself ‘I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel’ (Matthew 15:24). Yet, God’s promise to Abraham was one of blessing for all nations, not just Israel. The book of Galatians makes it clear that when God said to Abraham ‘And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed’ (Genesis 22:18), the ‘seed’ was to be Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:16). It is also clear that God only had one Son to give (John 1:18; 1 John 4:9–10).
The sacrifice of Jesus Christ
The story of Jesus Christ (‘Christ’ meaning ‘anointed’) is widely known and told – His introduction by John the Baptist and commission by the Holy Spirit, His revolutionary teaching, wonderful miracles, disciples, conflict with the religious leaders of the day, betrayal by Judas Iscariot and death by crucifixion followed by resurrection. The book of John says of Jesus ‘He came unto his own, and his own received him not’ (John 1:11). In those days, the fragment of Israel present in Palestine – called ‘Jews’ – religiously adhered to distortion of the Old Testament Law, and they were divided over whether Jesus was, in fact, the Messiah (e.g. John 7:40–44). Jesus’ teaching and practices were revolutionary. For example, Jesus distilled the Old Testament Law into two fundamental commandments, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” and “thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself’ (Matthew 22:35-40). The Old Covenant principle of sacrifice holds true in Jesus’ case: ‘almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission’ (Hebrews 9:22). The sacrifice of Jesus was like no other sacrifice before it. The book of Hebrews explains that ‘it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins (Hebrews 10:4) – such sacrifices were required to be performed repeatedly (verse 11), underlining their limited effect. The only begotten Son of God was, and is, a perfect sacrifice (e.g. 1 Peter 1:18–19; Hebrews 9:13–14) with unlimited and eternal impact on the relationship between mankind and God. We read in Hebrews (10:12–14) ‘But this man [Christ], after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God … For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified’. God’s love and desire to free mankind from the clutches of sin was so great that He was prepared to see His only Son separated from Him in death (Matthew 27:46; John 1:29, John 3:14–17; 1 John 4:9–10). The Bible account of Jesus Christ’s life, death, resurrection and subsequent events bears record of how a perfect sacrifice made it possible for God’s Holy Spirit to indwell human beings – wonderful new phase in the relationship between God and mankind.
Personal ‘Baptism with the Holy Spirit’ made possible through Jesus Christ
The Father, Son and Holy Spirit have always existed as one (John 1:1–18; 8:57–58; Ephesians 3:9–12; 2 Timothy 1:8–14). The Holy Spirit is the executive power of God, first mentioned in the second verse of the Bible (Genesis 1:2). Throughout the Old Testament we read how the Spirit of the Lord was ‘upon’ God’s representatives. We read in the gospel of John (14: 16–17) how Jesus himself told the disciples that that the Spirit ‘…dwelled with you, and shall be in you’. Jeremiah’s prophecy of the Holy Spirit (Jeremiah 31:31–34) emphasized that, under the Old Covenant, a personal experience of the Spirit of God was available to a small proportion of God’s people, and that this would be different under the New Covenant. Likewise, Joel’s prophecy (Joel 2:28–32) announced that a great outpouring of God’s Spirit would occur. The New Testament has much to say about the link between the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the subsequent availability of the Holy Spirit. For example, as recorded in Matthew 3:11 John the Baptist said, ‘I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost…’ John, in chapter 7, explains, ‘In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified’) (Verses 37–39). Later, in John’s gospel chapters 14 to 17, Jesus Himself explains the necessity of His own departure and what would happen as a consequence (the terms ‘Comforter’, ‘Spirit of truth’ and ‘Holy Ghost ‘are all equivalent:• ‘If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.’ (John 14:15–17)• ‘These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things…’ (John14: 25–26)• ‘But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:’ (John 15:26)• ‘Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, thee Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:’ (John 16:7–8). After Jesus Christ’s resurrection, He appeared to His chosen apostles (and up to five hundred others) over a period of forty days prior to re-joining the Father (Acts 1:2–3; 1 Corinthians 15:3–6). During this time He gave His followers specific instructions: ‘And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence’ and ‘but ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.’ (Acts 1:4–5, 8). The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost is described in Acts Chapter 2: ‘And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance (verse 4). To the observers in the crowd, seeing and hearing 120 people ‘speaking in tongues’ – languages not known to the speakers – was somewhat disconcerting. Peter stood up and explained what had happened: ‘This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.’ (Verses 32–33) and ‘Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.’ (verses36–39).
The way of Salvation made clear on the Day of Pentecost
Peter not only provided historical background, he explained the way for others to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). This involves repentance (a personalrecognition of not being right with God and a desire to be forgiven and to do things God’s way),baptism in the name of Jesus Christ for remission of sins (an act of burial of the old life giving wayto the new, and always by full immersion in water as is the meaning of the actual Greek word), andreceiving of the Holy Spirit. In the Bible, the phrase ‘Baptised with the Holy Ghost’ has the same meaning as ‘receiving’ or being ‘filled with’ the Holy Ghost, and the terms Holy Ghost, Holy Spirit and Spirit are all equivalent. The Bible account is clear that when a person receives the Holy Spirit, there is an outward manifestation as well as an inward change in outlook and ability. The first four books of the New Testament (the ‘Gospels’) describe times before the Holy Spirit was freely available to people as a New Covenant experience. The Epistles (from Romans to Jude) are letters written by apostles to people who had already received the Holy Spirit (and the Book of Revelation is also written to Spirit-filled people). Only the book of Acts describes the Pentecostal event of people receiving the Holy Spirit – the beginning of a new era of God’s plan for the reconciliation of mankind. With that in mind, it is helpful to consider the accounts, in the Book of Acts, of people receiving the Holy Spirit. • The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, is described in Acts 2; the recipients spoke in tongues. • Acts 8:14–20, describes further spreading of the Holy Spirit experience. The Samaritans had not yet received the Holy Spirit despite them having ‘received the word of God’ (verse 14) and being ‘baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus’ (verse 16). When Peter and John prayed for them to receive the Holy Spirit, an outward experience followed. Although ‘speaking in tongues’ is not mentioned, the passage records that Simon, an ex-sorcerer, offered the apostles money and said ‘Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.’ (Verse 19). This brings to mind the earlier account when, of the Day of Pentecost, Peter explained that Jesus had ‘shed forth this, which ye now see and hear’ (Acts 2:33). • When Saul received the Holy Spirit in the presence of Ananias as described in Acts 9:17–18, it is reasonable to assume that he had the same experience as everyone else. He was baptised immediately. It was Saul, re-named Paul, who later said to the Corinthian church ‘I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:’ (1 Corinthians 14:18). • Acts 10:37–48 describes how Peter preached Jesus Christ to the Gentiles at the house of Cornelius, and they received the Holy Spirit with the sign of speaking in tongues, to the astonishment of the Jews present. Peter then commanded those who had received the Holy Spirit to be baptised in the name of the Lord. • Acts 19:1–7 describes how Paul came across a group of ‘believers’ at Ephesus and asked them ‘Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?’ (verse 2). As it happens, they had not heard anything about the Holy Spirit, and had only been baptised by John the Baptist. Paul cleared up their misunderstanding, and they were then baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus, ‘And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.’ (verse 6). All these instances underline the absolute importance of receiving the Holy Spirit. Ephesians chapter 1 (verses 12–14), written to those already Spirit-filled, reinforces the pattern: ‘That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.’ The role of faith is pivotal throughout this process i.e. the need to trust in, believe upon and obey the Word of God. Furthermore, ‘trusting in’ Jesus Christ and ‘believing’ cannot be viewed as adequate for salvation, without being ‘sealed with that holy Spirit’. Instances where the Holy Spirit or ‘speaking in tongues’ are not explicitly mentioned should be viewed in the context of the instances referenced above. For example, when Paul and Silas were miraculously freed from prison in Macedonia, the prison-keeper asked ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ and Paul and Silas replied ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.’ (Acts 16:30–31). As explained above, believing in Christ is a prerequisite for receiving the Holy Spirit, and baptism is also a commandment. The passage continues: ‘And they [Paul and Silas] spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway…’(verses 32-34). In this passage, we aren’t told exactly what was said and whether the repentance and baptism of the prison-keeper and his household was followed by them receiving the Holy Spirit, although this would have been commonplace based on the other accounts referenced above. The New Testament outpouring of the Holy Spirit demonstrates a pattern ordained by God that the receiving of the Holy Spirit is accompanied by ‘speaking in tongues’. This will not normally involve an identifiable language, but it will occur under the influence of the Spirit (1 Corinthians14:2). In his letter (1 Corinthians 14:22–33), Paul makes it clear that everyone in the church had the ability to ‘speak with tongues’ (verse 23), although when used in church meetings ‘…tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not’ (verse 22). It is not for our minds to question God’s choice of ‘sign’, but rather to trust Him and believe! While Jesus Christ initially came to the Jews, their rejection of Him opened up God’s salvation plan to everyone. In chapters 10 and 11 of Paul’s letter to the Romans it is clear that although there is still a future for the Israel people, salvation is available to all (the Bible word ‘Gentiles’ simply means non-Jews). This fulfills the promises to Abraham that all nations would receive the blessing available through Jesus Christ (Genesis 22:18; Galatians 3:16). Salvation: truth and compromise The Bible clearly conveys that Jesus Christ’s sacrifice made it possible for people to be ‘baptized with the Holy Ghost (e.g. Acts 1:5 and other scriptures previously referenced). It is also clear that the Holy Spirit could not possibly have been made available to mankind without the sacrifice of the Son of God (e.g. John 1:29; 7:39; 16:7).Some people and church organisations claim that salvation can be achieved by just ‘believing’ in Jesus Christ, and that receiving the Holy Spirit is an ‘optional extra’. However, as demonstrated above, receiving the Holy Spirit is inextricably linked to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit is the ‘full measure’ of what His sacrifice has made available to the believer. When reading the Bible, one must remember that the Epistles (books of the Bible from Romans to Jude) are letters written to people in early Christian churches who had all already received the Holy Spirit. To say that a person can be ‘saved’ by any means that falls short of receiving the Holy Spirit is like saying they can be saved without the death of Jesus Christ. It would seem to imply that a badly bleeding or ‘half dead’ Christ would have been sufficient for salvation – an obvious untruth. When it comes to answering the question ‘what must I do to be saved?’ unscriptural doctrines abound throughout the ‘Christian’ world. There is no justification for telling people they can be saved by settling for less than what Christ died to give them. Indeed, the apostle Paul made it very clear to the early Christian churches that anyone who preached a different way of salvation to the one Godhead ordained, was guilty of a very serious offence (2 Corinthians 11:3–4; Gal 1:6–10).
Living in the Spirit’: a complete relationship with God
Receiving the Holy Spirit is the start of a wonderful journey as an adopted son or daughter of the living God (Romans 8:14–16). Having been freed from sin and its deadly consequences, an eternal future is available through Jesus Christ (Romans 6:22–23). Romans chapter 8 describes what it means to ‘walk in the Spirit’ (or ‘live in the Spirit’, as translated in the New International Version).The Epistles describe the God-given capability of Spirit-filled people to think differently (e.g. Romans 12:1–2; 1 Corinthians 2:12–16; Eph 4:22–24), exhibit and develop the ‘fruit of the Spirit ‘in their lives (e.g. Galatians 5:22–26) and overcome the tribulation brought by circumstances (e.g. Romans 8:31–39; 2 Corinthians 4:5–11). Spirit-filled people become members of the universal Church, the ‘Body of Christ’, and in their local assembly/fellowship they receive support, ministry and guidance (e.g. Ephesians 4:4–16; 1 Corinthians 12:12–26; 1 Peter 5:1–3).God’s people commit their circumstances to God (e.g. Philippians 4:6–7; Hebrews 4:14–16; 1 John5:14–15), pray to be healed from illness (e.g. James 5:14-16), care and pray for others (e.g. Philippians 2:1–8; James 5:14–16) and share their experience (e.g. 1 Peter 3:15–17; 2 Tim 4:2–4).God’s people know that they are ‘sanctified’ – set apart for God’s purposes (e.g. 1 Corinthians 1:1-9; Romans 12:1-2), and while they live overcoming lives in the light of the Holy Spirit, they are righteous in God’s sight. They know that their sins have been forgiven, and can be forgiven (e.g. 1John 1:5-10).In the Old Testament, God, through Jeremiah, painted a vivid picture of the New Covenant relationship to follow (Jeremiah 31:31-34): ‘Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more’. It is clear from this description that God’s intent with the New Covenant is to ‘cut out the middle man’ by enabling His Spirit to indwell human beings directly. This passage is quoted in Hebrews chapters 8 and 10 as the writer elaborates the New Covenant privileges won through Jesus Christ, whereby every believer can enjoy a direct relationship with God – the kind of relationship that was not available under the Old Covenant.
The return of Jesus Christ and the ages to come
In Acts 2 we read that the promise of the Holy Spirit is made ‘…unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.’ (verse 39). We understand from the Bible that the current ‘age’ will end with the return of Jesus Christ in a manner that will be obvious to all inhabitants of the earth (Matthew 24:1–31; Revelation 1:4–8). The Bible says to Spirit-filled believers: ‘And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise’ (Galatians 3:29). When Christ returns, Spirit-filled believers both living and dead –those who ‘overcame’ and were faithful to their calling to the end – will be transformed, exchanging their corruptible human body for one that is incorruptible and everlasting, enjoying eternal life and participation in God’s continuing plan for the ages to come (1 Corinthians 15:12–23; 1 Corinthians 15:49–58; 1 Timothy 6:12–19; 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18; Revelation 3:21;Revelation 20:6). Isaiah prophesied of Jesus Christ that (Isaiah 9:7): ‘Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever.’ The Bible conveys that there will be much to be accomplished in the ages to come, according to God’s eternal plan and purpose (e.g. Romans chapter 11; 1 Corinthians 15:24–28; Ephesians 3:9–11). The Bible acknowledges that in the present age, Spirit-filled believers have only partial knowledge, however, all will be made known to them in the transformation to occur when Christ returns: ‘Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.’ (1 Corinthians 13:12, New International Version).
God’s ‘big picture’ plan, revealed through the pages of the Bible, conveys the central themes of God’s love for mankind and His desire for a willing and co-operative relationship with His creation This is consistent with God’s original intent expressed in the Garden of Eden. Mankind has been redirected to the ‘Tree of Life’ through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the infilling of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:32–39; 1 John 3:23–24; 1 John 4:12–13; Revelation 2:7).God did not keep anything in reserve. There will be no other ‘Son of God’ and no other ‘Christ’. Jesus Christ’s sacrifice was perfect and complete. Similarly, the relationship with God afforded by Christ’s sacrifice is designed to be perfect and complete. People who have received the Holy Spirit have the capacity for such a relationship with God and are ‘connected’ to God every minute of every day. God’s people look forward to the return of the Lord Jesus Christ and an eternal inheritance.
October 23, 2018
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