We are continuing to look at the relationship between our position in Christ and our condition in time, PHI 3:9-10. God uses natural facts in order to teach the deepest spiritual truths. He first teaches us about our natural, Adamic life (the old sin nature) before we can understand and appreciate our new spiritual life in Christ. This principle is found in GEN 5:1-3, where we note that Adam was created in the “likeness of God,” but his descendants were “born in his [Adam’s] likeness,” for we read in verse three that Adam “became the father of a son in his own likeness, after his image.” Therefore, all men born of Adam and his descendants are the “sons of men,” and it is only by being born again that they can become the “sons of God” in union with Christ in the Church Age. This is an important principle, because when it comes to positional truth, we need to differentiate between the first and last Adam (or the old and new man).
1CO 15:22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.
Every believer needs to learn that he was born in Adam. ROM 5:19a For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, As we go through our failures and struggles, and He teaches us about the natural, we will become ready to learn about the spiritual.
ROM 5:19b Even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. This is how we begin to progress in the spiritual life. Progress is only advancing in the spiritual knowledge of what we already possess at the outset. Our part is not production, but reception of our life in Christ and learning from passages like 1PE 1:23, “For you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God” The key word here is “seed.” Embodied in a seed, in full, is the reproduction of the life from which it came. The seed has been implanted within us, and therefore the entire in our Christian walk is one of growth and maturity. This alone will bring forth the fruit that abides within the seed. 1JO 3:9 addresses this – “No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin], because he is born of God.” That seed (the new life of Christ, the new species, the new creature, and the new nature) will live with God forever, and can never sin. All the powers of omnipotence, which have already worked together in the accomplishment of the first part of God’s eternal purpose, which was the revealing of His likeness in The Lord Jesus Christ, are equally working to accomplish the second part, conforming His children to His image.
Therefore, there are two essentials in living the spiritual life.
1. To see what is already ours in Christ.
2. To be aware of our need for it.
On these two factors rests the ability to appropriate that which belongs to us in our Lord Jesus Christ. You must simply seize for yourself that which has already been given to you freely. In dealing with the first essential, while writing the book of Ephesians, the apostle Paul does not ask a thing of the believers at Ephesus in the first three chapters, except to listen, while he proclaims a wonderful series of great principles concerning their eternal blessings and privileges. Not until he has completed this list, which reveals the true reality about their lives, does he ask them to do anything at all.
The privileges of Eph 1-3.
1. Spiritual blessings for time and eternity and escrow blessings.
2. Sanctification, predesti-nation, and election.
4. The sealing ministry of God the Holy Spirit.
5. The Indwelling of Christ
6. The Portfolio of Invis-ible Assets.
7. Equal Assets in Christ
8. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit
9. Positional Truth.
10. Church-age Problem Solving Devices
11. The doctrine of the New Species.
12. The Unique Assets of the Church Age Believ-er.
13. The Doctrine of Recon-ciliation.
14. The Great Power Experiment.
15. Invisible heroes and the Doctrine of the Mystery.
16. The Angelic Conflict.
It is not until Paul has completed this list of fantastic doctrinal realities that he does the following two things.
1. He prays that they would receive these blessings in EPH 3:14-21.
2. He asks them to do one thing in EPH 4:1, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called.”
Once we see that which is ours in Christ Jesus, practical need will cause us to appropriate and receive the answer to that need. The need is to discover truths like JOH 15:5, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
If we don’t understand positional truth and its details, it is easy to get our eyes upon ourselves and off Christ. Therefore, the Lord advises us in REV 3:18c “to get eye salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see.” The eye salve repre-sents the ability derived from doctrine in your soul to understand and discern what is really going in the spiritual realm. Paul said in EPH 1:18, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened.” Bible doctrine gives us the ability to discern properly. This doctrine, or “eye salve,” heals the eyes of the soul, so that you are no longer blind to what is happening in the spiritual life. This is another reason the importance of understanding positional truth in all of its details. There is a battle that we face daily that needs to be understood. In Rom 7 Paul was still teaching about and struggling with the indwelling old sin nature twenty-eight years after his salvation, so it should be no surprise to us when we struggle with it. Remember, the first problem solving-device God gave us is rebound.
God has designed life to bring in a series of discoveries of our need of Christ, and with every discovery the way is opened for a new inflow of the supply or provision of the Holy Spirit. Life is designed by God to make this need known. This explains so much that we cannot otherwise understand, when we are plunged into new tests and situations where only the power of the Spirit, the power options, the spiritual skills, and the problem solving devices will meet our need.
As our need is met and as we realize the sufficiency of the power of Christ to meet our need, a new showing forth of His life takes place within us. We are being transformed into His image from glory to glory, 2CO 3:18, from faith to faith, ROM 1:17, and because of grace upon grace, JOH 1:16.
Therefore, these two realities of seeing who we are in Adam and who we are in Christ and then needing the grace of God bring us from meandering and wandering into a responsible, disciplined walk of faith. Seeing who we are in Adam and then who we are in Christ takes us from the “help me” attitude to that of giving thanks from begging to approp-riation. This is why appropri-ation, or simply believing, is so important.
From time to time the Holy Spirit will bring to our attention simplistic principles of the Word of God in a striking manner. Every day God has a plan to reveal to us that we have needs, and when we see them and rest in Him, all that remains to be done is to appropriate what He has taught us. The sad truth is that when God reveals our needs and our weaknesses and faults, we have a tendency to think that there is something wrong with us. Therefore, we miss the lesson because we are too self-centered and introspective, and we want to justify ourselves. Let’s face it — no one likes to be corrected or rebuked. Yet we must be careful not to make excuses for that which God has chosen to reveal to us about ourselves. When we do, we miss the boat and have to go through the whole thing all over again. In most instances of appropriation there is a waiting period between the acceptance and the receiving (or experiencing) of it, often years. Our responsibility is to patiently wait on Him and the time necessary for Him to work into our character and our life that which we have appropriated in Christ, in this instance His rest, steadfastness, assurance, and security, ISA 64:4; HEB 10:35-39; HEB 11:1-6.
PHI 3:9 reveals grace orientation in phase one (at salvation), “And that I may be found in Him, not having my own righteousness derived from the source of the Law, but that [righteousness] which is acquired by means of faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from the source of the God at the point of faith.” Then Paul continues with phase two (grace orientation after salvation) in PHI 3:10, “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.”
This verse continues with the thought pattern of identifying with the Lord Jesus Christ and God’s plan for your life. This means understanding divine power (the omnipotence that allows us to be changed experientially and to be more like our Lord and Savior and our position in Christ). This means, first of all, knowing the power of God the Father who raised Christ from the dead. The following verses teach that God the Father raised our Lord from the dead by His power: 1TH 1:10, 1PE 1:2, EPH 1:20, COL 2:12, Rom 6:4, and 1PE 1:21. Do we know and under-stand that power? Scripture also says the Holy Spirit raised Him from the dead in ACT 2:24, Rom 1:4, ROM 8:11, and 1PE 3:18. God the Holy Spirit is also the agent of the resurrection. Therefore, it is this power to which Paul is referring inPHI 3:10. It is not the doctrine of resurrection that Paul is teaching here; it is the power behind the resurrection that Paul wants us to focus on. The same power that raised Christ from the dead is now available to us (the omni-potence of the Father, which in eternity past created a portfolio of invisible assets for every Church Age believer). The second power in view is the function of the omnipotence of the Holy Spirit who has provided an unprecedented delegation and distribution of divine power inside the predesigned plan of God and your very own personal sense of destiny. It all begins with knowing Him! Once we begin to know Him, we can then begin to know ourselves. We cannot trust anyone further than we know them. We must not only learn the doctrines involved, but, even more importantly, we must come to know Him more intimately as the One who presents and upholds those doctrines, for Bible doctrine is His mind.
Knowing Him all begins with one very simplistic word, simplistic but valuable. It is something that is very precious to all of us — Time! It is something that we cherish, especially if we love life. Time is very interesting when you think about the fact that the future can influence the present just like past. We learn from the past, and we have hopes regarding the future!
Time is especially important to us in two realms.
1. Sanctified time, or time set apart to learn about Him.
2. The ability to wait on the timing of God as He works within us.
God is not on a timetable, and He is not in a hurry in His development of our Christian life.
So many feel they are not making any spiritual progress unless they are swiftly and constantly forging ahead. The new believer often begins and continues growing for some time at a very fast rate. However, this will not continue if there is to be a healthy spiritual growth and ultimate spiritual maturity. God Himself will modify and control the pace. Always re-member, when seeming stagna-tion begins to set in, it is not, as so many think, a matter of backsliding, or losing your love, or apostasy or reversion-ism. It is a matter of God at work in us in His timing and His ways.
PHI 3:10 is our main verse: “That I may come to know Him and the power of His resurrection.” “That I may come to know Him” refers to occupation with Christ.
The purpose of a personal sense of destiny is to parlay it into an intimate occupation with Christ. This demands the understanding of the adult spiritual life. As a believer, you will always be disillusioned and disappointed in life unless you attain occupation with Christ. To know Christ is not to be skilled in theological knowledge; it is to know Him with such intimacy that we release that we are more united with him than we are with those whom we love on earth.
Occupation with Christ is personal love for our Lord Jesus Christ through metabolized doctrine in the soul by means of the filling of the Holy Spirit. It is the absence of garbage in the subconscious. It results from perception, metabolization, and application of Church-age mystery doctrine as the number one priority in your life.
1PE 1:8; “And even though you have not seen Him, you love Him [occupation with Christ]; and though you do not see Him now but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with inexpressible happiness and full of glory.
Those who truly love the Lord Jesus Christ have made Him a role model. These are the believers who are truly happy, and are spiritually self-sustained. The happiness from occupation with Christ and the utilization of the problem solving devices is something that belongs to the privacy of your own soul. The believer who is occupied with Christ is full of glory, invisible to man, but very visible to God and the angelic creatures. The mystery doctrine of the Church-age is described as the thinking or the mind of Christ.
1CO 2:16; “For who has known the thinking of the Lord that he should instruct Him? But we [Church-age believers] have the thinking of Christ.”
You cannot love Jesus Christ until you know how He thinks. Having the thinking of Christ results in occupation with Christ in contrast to preoccupation with people.
There are two divine commands with regard to occupation with Christ. The first is HEB 12:2; “Be concentrating on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our doctrine, who because of the exhibited happiness, He endured the Cross and disregarded [by use of the problem solving devices] the shame [imputation of our sins], and He sat down at the right hand of God.” The second is 1PE 3:15; “But sanctify [set apart as more important than anything else] the Lord Christ in your hearts.” God makes a direct positive demand on our will and volition to be occupied with Christ, which is a mandate to be consistent in the metabolization of doctrine.
Occupation with Christ is also defined as fellowship with the Son.
1CO 1:9; “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
The call of God occurs between common and efficacious grace when God the Father invites the unbeliever to change his mind about Jesus Christ and believe in Him for salvation.
Fellowship with the Holy Spirit is necessary for the execution of these mandates. Another way of describing the filling of the Spirit found in 2CO 13:14; “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love for God [the Father] and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.”
PHI 2:1-2; “Since therefore there is encouragement in Christ, since there is comfort from virtue-love, since there is fellowship of the Spirit, since there is tendernesses and compassions, bring to completion my inner happiness by thinking the same things, maintaining the same virtue-love, united in soul, concen-trating on the same objective.”
PHI 2:5; “Keep on thinking this [doctrine] within yourselves which was also resident in Christ Jesus.”
These verses teach that our spiritual life depends upon encouragement in Christ and this is dependent on learning doctrine. As we grow spiritually, our dependence on people shifts to dependence on God. Occupation with Christ does not depend upon emotionalism or any human work. This occupation is actually structured entirely upon your perception of Bible doctrine. When we go through suffering, disaster, shock, and pressure, the problem-solving devices are the only solution. When we see how these problem-solving devices work, we will experience encouragement in Christ. Comfort comes from knowledge of the personal love that God the Father has for the believer and the believer’s personal love for God the Father. This gives us comfort in times of adversity as well as times of prosperity. The “tendernesses and compasssions” of PHI 2:1 are based upon the function of impersonal love for all mankind and grace orientation as two of the problem solving devices. The “inner happiness”of PHI 2:2 results when you attain occupation with Christ. It is then that you attain +H or sharing the happiness of God, and that you are prepared to meet and face any circumstance. This is why occupation with Christ is often mentioned with sharing the happiness of God in Scripture.
We are to think the same as God thinks; thought is the basis for happiness, love, and virtue. Having the thinking of Christ is occupation with Christ rather than with people. “United in soul” (PHI 2:2) means we have reached the point of regarding the predesigned plan of God for our life in the same manner that our Lord did.
From PHI 2:1-2 we see that Occupation with Christ results in God emphasis taking precedence over people emphasis. We see that fellowship with God is infinitely more important than fellowship with people. We also see that God must come first in our life in order for us to execute God’s plan. This can only be done by learning doctrine on a daily basis. You cannot grow spiritually and execute the predesigned plan of God unless you have epignosis knowledge (wisdom, rather than mere knowledge) circulating in the right lobe of the soul, called the “heart” in the Bible. However, the attainment of occupation with Christ is gradual. It starts with the command in EPH 3:19; “And to come to know the love for Christ which goes beyond gnosis that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
We must reach the point where we understand that we need help. Occupation with Christ means getting to the point where the Lord Jesus Christ becomes our best friend. Therefore, occupation with Christ becomes the ultimate problem-solving device of life.
Occupation with Christ is one of three problem-solving devices related to virtue-love. The seventh problem-solving device is personal love for God the Father, the motivational virtue in life. The eighth is impersonal love for all mankind, the functional virtue in the Christian life. The tenth is occupation with Christ, the priority solution, and ultimately the answer to any adversity in life, as well as the basis for having capacity for happiness and prosperity. All three of these problem-solving devices function with maximum efficiency in the three stages of spiritual adulthood. They begin in spiritual self-esteem, continue in spiritual autonomy, and reach their peak in spiritual maturity. All three of these concepts of love are the subject of 1Co 13:13; “And now abides faith, hope, and virtue-love, these three; but the greatest of these is virtue-love.”
Occupation with Christ is the greatest motivator in life. As we begin to grow spiritually, we have a stronger motivation in our relationship with the Lord, and we grow from dependence on people to dependence on the Lord. False motivation leads to false doctrine and wrong priorities, and produces garbage in the subconscious, which results in false experience. Occupation with Christ is structured completely upon metabolized doctrine, 2CO 5:14-15. The key is that we no longer live for ourselves but for Christ, for God does all the work. The only way we can ever have a marvelous life is to no longer live for ourselves. Once we have occupation with Christ, we live for Christ and we are happier than ever. In providing eternal life, God also provided for us a way to have ourselves changed, but not to change others. When we try to change others, we become bitter and hardened. Wrong fellowship with God results in wrong relationship with people. Right fellowship with God results in right relationship with people. God must come first.
When you give doctrine number one priority in your life, two things occur.
1. You come to have personal love for God the Father, and therefore fellowship with the Father.
2. You come to have occupation with Christ, and therefore fellowship with God the Son.
Occupation with Christ eliminates the human viewpoint of life. Human viewpoint makes you miserable and makes you argue with others about everything in life. The greater your motivation in life, the greater your capacity for life, love, and happiness, and the greater you are as a person. Occupation with Christ results in God emphasis taking precedence over people emphasis, because fellowship with God is infinitely more important than fellowship with people. As unbelievers, we were ignorant of Jesus Christ for we knew Him only from the human viewpoint. However, with cognitive self-confidence in spiritual self-esteem and cognitive independence in spiritual autonomy, we no longer regard Christ from the human viewpoint of ignorance. Only the new spiritual species is qualified to have fellowship with God. The new spiritual species is capable of using the omnipotence of God for the execution of His plan. The people priority and lust lose their power once we reach spiritual self-esteem. The power of another individual to hurt us is gone. We must always remember that we can’t be motivated by people and advance in the Christian life.
Occupation with Christ is revealed by our dedication and devotion to Him and His plan. Only God can mature us, 1CO 3:1-8. In these verses we see the principle that God causes the growth, and each of us will receive his own reward according to his own labor. We are never fully grown until we reach the point of occupation with Christ. It is here that we handle life magnificently and glorify God. However, always remember that true spiritual growth involves pain as well as joy, suffering as well as happiness, failure as well as success, inactivity as well as service, and death as well as life. The temptation to try to take a shortcut is especially strong unless we see the value of the time element and believe that God is at work. We must rest in God’s hands, and trust that He is at work within us and that He is responsible for our spiritual growth. We must realize that someone truly does care about us — the Lord Jesus Christ.
As Christians, we need to see the necessity of going beyond the love motive to the life motive.
PHI 1:21; “For to me to live is Christ.”
The presalvation assumption that if you are right in your relationship with people you are right in your relationship with God is wrong, as was demonstrated in the Garden of Eden. The priority of the new spiritual species is occupied with Christ. Even though the old things have lost their power, we are not impeccable; we continue to possess an old sin nature.
The “new things [that] have come” include the following:
1. The precedence for the Church Age, the great power experiment of the Hypostatic Union.
2. The baptism of the Spirit, which creates a new spiritual species.
3. The 100% availability of divine power to every believer in the Church-age.
4. A new divine plan for the glorification of God by the unique royal family of God, the predesigned plan of God, which leads us to our personal sense of destiny.
5. The indwelling of all three persons of the Trinity in the body of every Church-age believer.
6. The two royal commissions (the royal priesthood and the royal ambassadorship).
7. The dispensation of equality (equal privilege and equal opportunity under the principle of election).
8. The unique problem solving devices.
9. The unique portfolio of invisible assets.
10. The dispensation of invisible heroes.
There is only one true and adequate motivating power for living the Christian life, and that is the very life of the Lord Jesus Christ, ministered within by the Spirit of Life Himself. This is not a motivation of love, but the empowerment of life.
PHI 1:21; “For me, living is Christ, likewise dying is profit.”
The truth is not “Only what is done for Christ will last,” but rather, “Only what is done by Christ will last.” This is the turning point, usually years in the making, where the growing Christian begins to be centered in Christ rather than in himself (“not I, but Christ,” GAL 2:20).