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Grace Bible Church
The Tree of Life
A Weekly Review
Week ending 01/30/11
The Doctrine of the Riches of His Glory upon Vessels of Mercy. Part 2.

 

We are now ready to look at our second point in The Doctrine of the Riches of His Glory upon Vessels of Mercy.
Point 2. Vessels are used to provide an analogy between Bible doctrine and not putting the cart before the horse.

We begin with the fact that in ACT 9:20, after Paul’s eyes were open both in the natural and the spiritual realm that we read:

And immediately he {began} to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.”
(ACT 9:20)

Paul was a prepared vessel for this because he was a master of the Old Testament passages.

And all those hearing him continued to be amazed, and were saying, “Is this not he who in Jerusalem destroyed those who called on this name, and {who} had come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?” (ACT 9:21)

They were utterly astounded for two reasons. Saul of Tarsus had a world-wide reputation as a ruler among  his people and he was famous for his persecution of Christians. Now they hear this one who has been so vigorous in the earliest persecutions of Christians Paul declaring that he himself is a captive of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that Jesus Christ is the unique person of the universe.

But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that this {Jesus} is the Christ - the Messiah. (ACT 9:22)

Somewhere, between verse 22 and verse 23, we have 3 or more years of preparation where Paul learned and lived under the principle of not putting the cart before the horse.

And when many days had elapsed, the Jews plotted together to do away with him, (ACT 9:22)

Now, first of all, we need a background as to where the apostle Paul went and what did he do?

In GAL 1:11-12 the apostle Paul wrote, For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

The phrase nor was I taught - is the aorist tense, the point when the gospel was presented; the passive voice: he received the gospel. Paul was not taught by other apostles but he got it by means of revelation, which implies direct communication from God. In verses 13-14 - Paul had an hostile past. To know just exactly what happened we need to read GAL 1:13-24For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure, and tried to destroy it;

This is ACT 9:1-2 we are told that Saul was breathing down the necks of the Lord's  disciples, and out for the kill. Insofar that he went to the Chief Priest and got arrest warrants to go to Damascus so that if he found anyone belonging to the faith, men or women, he could arrest them and bring them to Jerusalem. Paul had a hostile past. Before his salvation Paul was very hostile to the Church. But the moment that he heard the gospel he responded. God didn't try to persuade him. God simply gave him the facts and he responded to them and welcomed them with open arms as a host would welcome an honored guest.

Paul learned the value of waiting on the Lord and not putting the cart before the horse. All that is required is to be a prepared vessel, make the information clear and people will respond in the own time. Even our Lord operated under this principle of preparation when He said in JOH 14:2, “In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.”

In our main passage concerning that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, we are told which He prepared beforehand for glory, ROM 9:23, And {He did so} in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,

As vessels we need to be prepared and as we have seen recently personal suffering is an important part of that preparation. This is true concerning salvation and it's also true after salvation, in learning, living, and loving the spiritual life.

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, (COL 2:6)

And how did you receive Christ Jesus?

by grace, through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast. (EPH 2:8-9)

and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions. (GAL 1:14)

Notice the description of religion - ancestral tradition or religion and tradition from our ancestors is the criterion or the rule.

But when He who had set me apart, even from my mother's womb, and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood,
(GAL 1:15-16)

On his way to Damascus, he was dazed by a blinding flash of light and As he fell to the ground, he heard a voice: “Saul, Saul, why are you out to get me?” In ACT 9:5, Paul said, “Who are you, Master?” “I am Jesus, the One you're hunting down. and I want you to get up and enter the city. In the city you'll be told what to do next.”

Notice after salvation.....what? You need to be told what to do and how to do it.

But when He who had set me apart, even from my mother's womb, and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood,
(GAL 1:15-16)

Notice, the purpose: To reveal his Son in me. This was God's purpose for Paul, this is God's purpose for every believer. It is God's purpose to reveal the Lord Jesus Christ in every Christian - GAL 4:19, My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you‑‑

This indicates that there are variations within the framework of the different stages of spiritual growth. We use this phrase to simply to illustrate the three different phrases of spiritual growth but those are simply categories used to define where a person basically is in their spiritual walk. We use this term until Christ is formed in you to illustrate three different phrases of spiritual growth but those are simply categories used to define where a person basically is in their spiritual walk.

You can call these stages anything that you want to.
You can call them spiritual self-esteem, spiritual autonomy and spiritual maturity. You can call them spiritual self-esteem, spiritual independence and spiritual maturity. If you really want to be technical, you could call them Christ formed in you, GAL 4:19, Christ at home in your hearts, EPH 3:17, or Christ exalted in your body, PHI 1:20. Whatever you want to call these different stages of spiritual growth is fine providing you understand that there are many different stages of spiritual growth that these terms signify.

What the apostle Paul is dealing with in Gal 1:-15-16, is that God wanted to reveal His Son in him as a vessel of mercy and in doing so he would this through what Paul described in three different ways;

Category 1 = Christ being formed in you = SSE.
Category 2 = Christ at home in your hearts = SA.
Category 3 = Christ being glorified in your body = SM.

These are all experiences of the believer who lives and remains in the PPOG and prepares himself as a vessel of mercy for God to make known the riches of His glory. In each stage of spiritual growth there is a different experience. In GAL 4:19, the PPOG is related to the first stage of spiritual growth, spiritual self-esteem. Paul writes to the Galatians and says in GAL 4:19, My children,

This is a reference to the believers in Galatia who were still in spiritual childhood or immature.

GAL 4:19, My children, with whom I am again in labor

Because the Galatians have been so long in spiritual childhood, Paul is saying that he is like a mother who has the pain from labor all over again. The Galatians were still in spiritual childhood because they were involved with legalism and religion. Legalism is degeneracy. It is a system of moral degeneracy.

Religion is defined in ISA 29:13, the Lord said, “Because this people draw near with their words And honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their hearts far from Me, And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote”

Rote actually is a memorizing process using routine or repetition, often without full attention or comprehension: It is a mechanical routine. So Paul says in GAL 4:19My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you.

Paul is again in the pains of labor and childbirth. That's because they allowed the Judaizers to come in and they were now legalistic and they went back to their spiritual childhood. Being children this long, they became spiritual morons. So he said I am in the labor pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you.

Until Christ is formed in you is a reference to spiritual self-esteem, which is the first stage of spiritual growth. Christ being formed in you is a reference to His thinking being inside of your soul! The word formed is the aor-pass-subj of the verbmorphote which is morphothe meaning to fashion, to shape, to form, it refers to a progressive inward transformation.

It speaks of Christ being formed in the soul of the believer and therefore an edification complex or a soul structure to think with God.

The next stage is category 2, where Christ is said to be at home in your hearts and the believer is at spiritual autonomy or spiritual  independence. In EPH 3:14For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, 

All prayer is directed toward the Father.

EPH 3:15-16, From whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name [the body of Christ universal, on earth and in heaven], That He would grant you, or graciously give to you according to the riches of His glory to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man!

This means that you might become strong or grow up by means of His power! Power refers to the power that God makes available to you in His pre-designed plan. And in the inner man refers to your new man or the new spiritual species.

EPH 3:17, So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith [doctrine]; and that you, being rooted and grounded in virtue-love, 

The phrase so that is a result clause and the result is that Christ may be dwell or be at home in your hearts.

And this is a very important phrase because we live in an apostate generation of believers telling everyone that they must ask Jesus into their heart for salvation. And there is not one verse in the entire Bible that says to do that. Here is a verse which is directed toward believers that actually says that “Christ may not be dwelling or at home in the hearts”!

The verb for to dwell is an aor-act-inf of katoikeo which means to dwell, to live, to be at home. It means to be in a place that makes you feel like you're at home, if however, you have a happy home and a place you like.

EPH 3:17, So that Christ may dwell or be at home in your hearts through faith.

The phrase through faith is the preposition dia plus the definite article tes and then the genitive singular feminine noun pisteoswhich means through the means of doctrine. And when will Christ be at home in your hearts? When you are rooted and grounded in impersonal unconditional agape love.

What kind of love must the believer be rooted and grounded in if Christ is going to be at home in their hearts? It must be authentic and without hypocrisy!

In MAT 5:44, it is a love that loves your enemies, and prays for those who persecute you!

In JOH 14:15, it is the type of love that motivates the believer to stay with doctrine, “If you love Me, you will keep My commands.”

It is the type of love that stays with doctrine, not putting aside your doctrinal differences!

In 1CO 13:4, it is the type of love that is patient, gracious, not jealous; does not brag and is not arrogant,

In 1CO 13:5, it is the type of love that does not act improper, is never selfish, is not resentful, does not think evil,

In 1CO 13:6, it is the type of love that does not gloat over other men's sins, but rejoices with doctrine;
In 1CO 13:7, it is the type of love that overlooks faults, believes the best, hopes all things, endures all things.
In 1PE 4:8, it is the type of love that covers a multitude of sins.
In 1JO 2:5, it is the type of love that can only be developed from the intake of doctrine, But whoever keeps His doctrine, in that believer the love of God has truly been matured.
In 1JO 4:20, it is the type of love that has respect for the Royal family of God, If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.

In 1JO 5:2, it is the type of love that motivates love for doctrine, By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His doctrines.

2JO 1:6, And this is virtue-love that we walk according to His doctrines. This is the command, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it [PPOG].

All of these principles are related to the type of love that we must be rooted and grounded in for TLJC to be at home in our hearts! Therefore, in EPH 3:17, when it says that Christ may dwell or be at home in your hearts it is referring to spiritual autonomy. This takes place, as vs 17 says, when you are rooted and grounded in virtue-love.

Finally, the third stage of spiritual growth, category 3 is spiritual maturity related to TLJC being glorified in your body, PHI 1:20-21, According to my earnest expectation and hope, that I shall not be put to shame or embarrassed in anything, but that with all boldness or confidence, Christ shall even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

There are variations within the framework of all three stages. There may be three stages of spiritual growth but those are simply categories used to define where a person basically is in their spiritual growth. This is why the ultimate goal of the spiritual life is to become a ROM 9:23 believer, in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,

Is God really who He says He is?
Will He really do what He says He will do?
Will He really keep His promises?

Our trials are not random persecutions. Heaven is not in a panic and where we are and what we are going through is no surprise to God. We may be knocked down and kicked around by life, but if we have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, we will not be destroyed. Our lives are filled with excess baggage and waste - a cherished sin we refuse to relinquish or an addiction to which we are enslaved.

What about the emotional garbage that weighs us down or our unforgiving spirit that holds us prisoner? Fiery trials come to burn away the guilt of sin and then purify our heart. From those ashes of freedom, the Father then creates a work of beauty. Only God can exchange the ashes of our sin for the beauty of His forgiveness and grace. God alone can replace our despair with His peace that passes all understanding.

Hope can only be found in Him. Our purpose in life is to know and become more like Jesus ... and act just like our Father.

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