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Grace Bible Church
Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries

The Tree of Life is a weekly teaching summary.
The Tree of Life from the week ending 06/18/06
What it means to be initiated into the secret of the mystery. Part 34.
The mystery of the Pre-designed Plan of God.
We noted the sealing ministry of the Holy Spirit, a part of the mystery doctrine of the Church-age which all believers should be initiated into. This is the signature guarantee from God the Father, 2CO 1:21-22, Now He who establishes us with you in Christ [predestination] and anointed us [baptism of the Holy Spirit plus the sealing of the Holy Spirit], is God [the Father], who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit [filling of the Spirit] in our hearts as a pledge [down payment].

Eph 1:13 says, In Whom also, when you heard [common grace] the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, in whom also, when you believed, you were sealed by the Holy Spirit with reference to the promise.

There are four meanings to this signature guarantee of the Holy Spirit: 1) The sealing of the Holy Spirit is a guarantee of the validity of common and efficacious grace. 2) It is a guarantee of eternal salvation. 3) It is a guarantee of eternal security. 4) It is the guarantee of your very own portfolio of invisible assets, including your escrow blessings for time and eternity. The word forsealed is the noun sphragizo which means to set a seal upon something or to mark with a seal. Sphragizo was used in the ancient world for business transactions or business contracts. Signet rings were placed over wax and the transaction was finished. Sealing as a signature was used as a guarantee of transactions, authentication of invoices, contracts, laws, directives, orders, policies of kings or rulers. In the spiritual realm, the sealing of the Spirit is God's final stamp of approval. The work for salvation is totally finished according to as JOH 17:4, “I glorified Thee on the earth, having accomplished the work which Thou hast given Me to do.” Joh 19:30, When Jesus therefore had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And He bowed His head, and gave up His spirit.

God the Holy Spirit indwells us and seals us because God the Father signed a contract with us and He doesn't change, MAL 3:6,“For I, the Lord, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.” We change toward Him, but he never changes toward us. 1SA 15:29, And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind.

            Sphragizo or the seal was also used for a sign of ownership upon horses and chariots and other things. The sealing of tombs, libraries, treasuries, etc, indicated ownership. Now, who owns you now? The answer of course is God, 1CO 6:19-20, Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

You belong to Him, you have been branded, and you can't erase it or remove it. Sphragizo was also used for a signature for cashing checks; the individual’s seal or signet on would be put on paper. This, of course, reminds us of all the resources that belong to God which He has made available to us. Sphragizo was also the king’s seal which would be placed upon the treasury and the library to indicate the protection and security of what was inside. No one would mess around with that which belonged to the King! The spiritual analogy is that as believers we are of infinite value to God. The O.T. saints were called the apple of His eye in ZEC 2:8. In MAL 3:17 We [born-again Jews] are His jewels. Isa 62:3 We [true Israel] are His crown of glory. As believers in the Church-age, we are His children, His sons, His heirs, royal priests, ambassadors etc.

Sphragizo was also used to seal fruit as a sign of approval. The last thing to be done before delivery was the sealing and the stamp of approval; the spiritual analogy is the sealing of the Holy Spirit is God's stamp of approval. He has presented us holy and unblamable, a glorious church in EPH 5:27 not having spot or wrinkle.

2Ti 2:19, Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, "The Lord knows those who are His," and, "Let everyone who names the name of the Lord abstain from evil."

So, sealing is a reminder of the fact that God loves us with an infinite love and will never change. Nothing you can do can break the seal. God did all the work. God drew up the contract; all we did was sign on the dotted line when we believed. Since sealing was used in the ratification of treaties, it becomes analogous to the doctrine of reconciliation, in which man is reconciled to God through the death of His Son. Living in the dungeon of the cosmic system is incompatible with the sealing ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Hence, Paul said in EPH 4:30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit, by Whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

Being sealed for the day of redemption means every believer, through the signature guarantee of the Holy Spirit at salvation, is guaranteed eternal security, whether he is a winner or loser in the PPOG. This is a guarantee of eternal life and eternal security through that one-shot decision to believe in Christ. The soul is redeemed in salvation, but the body is redeemed in resurrection. The day of redemption is the Rapture of the church.

There are two guarantees of our portfolio of invisible assets: the sealing ministry of the Holy Spirit at salvation and the indwelling of Christ as the Shekinah glory.

So, that completes this category of mystery doctrine, the baptism of the Spirit and its results and implications. The next category is the unique Pre-designed Plan of God (PPOG) taking its precedence from the dispensation of the Hypostatic Union. We begin with a very simple but profound  statement among believers in our day and age: As members of the Royal Family of God, there is an exact, precise, and accurate plan for us to follow. The Church-age believer does not have to wonder what the Christian life requires of him. The entire PPOG is available to learn and master. The Church-age believer belongs to a spiritual dynasty founded by TLJC in which his standard of living follows the pattern that the Lord clearly established when He was on earth. This is why we are told, EPH 5:1-2, Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; And walk in virtue love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.

Or 1JO 2:6, The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.

This simply means that we receive our directions and guidance not from the Old Testament, but from the dispensation of the Hypostatic Union. God has given us directions to fulfill the divine commands in the Bible, and those directions are basically found in the Epistles. God has an exact code to follow; this exact code for the Royal Family expresses His own perfection. Therefore, God has one way of doing something and that is the right way.

            Only a right thing done in a right way is right. Giving is a right thing, but it must be done in the right way. Praying is a right thing, but it must be done in the right way. Serving is a right thing, but it must be done in the right way. Only a right thing done in a right way is right. The right thing is the PPOG; the right way is operating under the power of God the Holy Spirit. Therefore the most basic concept of the Christian way of life is learning how to reside, function, and be properly motivated in this divine plan.

The Mosaic Law was never given to the Church; we have a higher code in the Royal Family honor code.

In the early church, a crisis erupted in Antioch when believers from Judea (known as Judaizers) taught the brethren salvation by circumcision, as in ACT 15:1, And some men came down from Judea and {began} teaching the brethren, Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.

The first great challenge in church history had to do with an attack on the grace of God. In Jerusalem, at the time the apostle Paul was on his first missionary journey, the legalistic believers had taken over the church. Many of these believers had been converted from Phariseeism, so they were filled with legalism from their past. Legalism therefore controlled the local church in Jerusalem. Remember that the church started in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, but legalism destroyed its evangelism. In Jerusalem we have some very moral, sweet, kind, and very sincere people; however, they were living under a false system of spirituality. They observed not only the Mosaic Law but added hundreds of commandments. These converted Pharisees considered themselves superior to all other people. They resisted Bible doctrine and replaced it with outward behavior, and so they taught the Gentiles that they must be circumcised and live under the Mosaic law. So a council of the apostles and elders was convened in Jerusalem to resolve the issue. Among those attending were Paul, Barnabas, Peter, and James, who was the pastor of the Jerusalem church. A decision was handed down by the council, and the church broke away from the binding legalism of Judaism. Grace versus legalism is the major issue in Christianity.

Act 15:2-3, And when Paul and Barnabas had great dissension and debate with them, {the brethren} determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders concerning this issue. Therefore, being sent on their way by the church, they were passing through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and were bringing great joy to all the brethren. Doctrinal teaching and evangelism cause joy to the brethren. Legalism causes misery.

Act 15:4-5, And when they arrived at Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they reported all that God had done with them. But certain ones of the sect of the Pharisees who had believed, stood up, saying, "It is necessary to circumcise them, and to direct them to observe the Law of Moses."

Notice what they said, two things: It is necessary to circumcise them, and to direct them to observe the Law of Moses.

They are saying that the circumcision is necessary for salvation and the Christian way of life is a system of ritual and morality, just like many say today.

Act 15:6-7, And the apostles and the elders came together to look into this matter. And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, "Brethren, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe.

Peter is revealing that the Gospel has nothing to do with the Mosaic Law. The Gospel is the good news, a statement that seems to be foreign to many "so-called evangelists" in our day and age.

Act 15:8-10, And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?

“Putting God to the test” means you are tempting Him to blast you and your legalism. “To put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples” means that legalism is a yoke. These legalistic born-again Pharisees were trying to superimpose a system of bondage on Christianity starting with circumcision. Legalism always adds to salvation. Legalism always promotes morality in place of spirituality.

Act 15:11-12, "But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are. And all the multitude kept silent, and they were listening to Barnabas and Paul as they were relating what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.

So you can see how circumcision was distorted in the beginning of the Church-age. They completely missed out on what the Abrahamic circumcision was all about, ultra-supergrace. There is a circumcision for every Church-age believer called the true circumcision of the Church-age, found in COL 2:11-14. COL 2:11-14, And in Him [positional truth and sanctification] you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh or by the renunciation of the essence of the body [old sin nature] by the circumcision of Christ [retroactive positional truth], having been buried with Him by means of the baptism [of the Spirit], by which also you were raised up with Christ [current positional truth]through faith in the operational power of God who raised Him from the dead. And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him [positional sanctification], having forgiven you all of your transgressions, having cancelled out the IOU [note of indebtedness] consisting of decrees against us which was hostile to us.  He has removed it permanently; He nailed it to His cross."

In other words, just like circumcision was the sign of the new racial species in the Old Testament, now being entered into union with Christ is the sign of the new spiritual species, "circumcision made without hands." This "circumcision made without hands" means that it is a spiritual reality and not a physical ceremony. Physical circumcision was a putting off of a part of the flesh as a symbol of a covenant relationship with God and His people. In COL 2:11, Christian circumcision is "removal of" not a part, but the entire “body of the flesh,” which is the physical body controlled by the old sin nature that everyone possesses.

The "removal of it" is positional truth, the truth that arises as a result of the believer being placed in Christ by the Spirit's baptizing work.

Because the sin nature was judged by Christ in His death, so the believer by virtue of his union and identification with Christ shares that "removal" that Christ accomplished, just as he shares Christ's fullness and is declared to be "complete" in Him, COL 2:10.

So the believer's circumcision is not only a spiritual reality consisting in the putting off of the body of the flesh; it is more precisely Christ's circumcision, effected by Him and imputed to the believer.

As COL 2:11 says In Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ;  Our Lord's circumcision mentioned in this passage has no reference to His physical circumcision when He was eight days old, but is a meaningful term the apostle applies to Christ's death to the sin nature.

So of course you should be able to make some correlation between natural circumcision and spiritual circumcision. Spiritual circumcision applies to every member of the body of Christ, and the spiritual circumcision is for all believers.

At the moment of salvation the believer has been circumcised with a spiritual circumcision which has cut away the foreskin of the flesh or the old sin nature. Therefore, the believer has been delivered from the power and the authority of the flesh, the old sin nature.

At the moment of our spiritual circumcision we were all dead in our trespasses and sins and needed supernatural help from God,EPH 2:1, And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,

Also, circumcision not only revived Abraham's sexual ability, but was the moment when God established the new race of the Jew. Before circumcision, Abraham was Semitic, an Akkadian; after circumcision he became the first Jew. Our spiritual circumcision was the moment when God established the new spiritual species, the church, the Royal Family of God, 2CO 5:17, GAL 6:15. Circumcision, therefore, represented the ultimate expression of spiritual growth in the life of Abraham. Because he had grown up spiritually, he was ready to become the father of the Jewish race.

The comparison to our spiritual circumcision is the fact that we do not have to wait to become a mature believer like Abraham did, we are in union with Christ and we share in His circumcision.

In the Old Testament, circumcision commemorates the new race on earth, the perfect plan, and the glory of God. The new race was the Jew. The new plan would be the ritual plan of God. And God would be glorified through the Jewish people.

Our spiritual circumcision commemorates the new spiritual species, the PPOG, and the resultant glorification of God. The reality behind the ritual of circumcision is the fact that it is a picture of Abraham's dynamic faith function and doctrinal rationale of a mature believer, ROM 4:16-21. To mature Abraham, the word of God provided a far greater reality than the discouraging status quo of being sexually dead.

Our spiritual circumcision is the result of the fact that our Lord became a mature believer and we are in union with Him. Circumcision became the ritual sign not of a spiritual thing, but of a physical thing, the new racial species. Our spiritual circumcision is not a physical thing, but a spiritual thing, the baptism of the Spirit and the new spiritual species or the new creation. So the distortion and mutilation of ritual has been one of the satanic means of turning people away from doctrine and getting the soul filled with evil for the satanic policy as the ruler of the world.

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