The TREE OF LIFE weekly teaching summary from THE WEEK ENDING: March 19, 2000
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.
(For more information, pick up last week's tapes, Philippians series, 0190-780 10 0190-784.)