Firstborn Sonship of Christ
PARTAKING OF CHRIST, A PROMISE OF DIVINE BIRTH
1. It requires a divine birth for the human body of the first Adam to be changed from a mere human body into the divine body of the Second Adam, 1Co 15:44-50. The human body cannot evolve and grow into a divine body. We must be born again.
2. It requires a divine birth for the natural body of the first Adam to be changed from a mere natural body into the spirit body of the Second Adam, 1Co 15:44-50. The natural body cannot evolve and change itself into a spirit body. We must be born again.
3. It requires a divine birth for the earthy body of the first Adam to be changed from a mere earthy body into the heavenly body of the Second Adam, 1Co 15:44-50. The earthy body cannot evolve through some earthy metamorphosis into a heavenly body. We must be born again.
4. It requires a divine birth for the physical body of the first Adam to be changed from a mere physical body into the glorified body of the Second Adam, 1Co 15:44-50. The physical body cannot undergo a biological and chemical change into a glorified body. This requires a divine birth from above. We must be born again.
5. It requires a divine birth for the enslaved body of the first Adam to be changed from an enslaved body into the free body of the Second Adam, 1Co 15:44-50. This enslaved earthy body cannot emancipate itself from the law of sin and death nor from the physical laws of the universe. It must undergo a divine birth. We must be born again.
6. It requires a divine birth for the "life of the flesh is in the blood" body to be changed into a body where the life source is the divine life of God, 1Co 15:44-50. Scientific research, technological advance, the application of drugs, nor religious spiritualism – these cannot produce a divine birth. We must be born again by the Spirit of God in the resurrection.
7. It requires a divine birth for this body of the first Adam that is laboring under the laws of the physical universe to be changed into the seventh day (seventh millennium) divine "rest" of the Second Adam, 1Co 15:44-50; Heb 3:14 (3:6—4:11. Partaking of Christ by faith daily in this life produces a metamorphosis in our daily lifestyle. This constant and persevering daily metamorphosis of our manner of life will qualify us for that divine birth from above into the likeness of Christ's resurrection when Christ returns.
The resurrection of the bodies of the faithful saints (firstborn sons) into the resurrection likeness of Christ's deified body will require a resurrection birth like Christ's resurrection birth. Christ's body was born once in His virgin birth, and was born again in His resurrection birth, Col 1:15,18; Rev 1:5; Act 13:30-33; Heb 1:5,6; 5:5; 1Co 15:44-50. We were born once of our earthly parents, and if we endure God's chastening and hold fast to the end by grace through faith, we will be born again in the future resurrection birth with all the faithful covenant people, 1Co 15:1-2, 44-50; Heb 3:14 (3:6—4:11); 1Pe 1:4; Mt 5:43-45; Lk 6:35; 2Co 6:18; Rev 21:7; et al.
This frail, mortal, corrupt, dying, enslaved human body must be born again to become a divine body, filled with all the fullness of God, Jn 3:3-8; 1Pe 1:3-5; Eph 1:22-23; 3:19; Col 1:19; 2:9-10. It must be born from above as Christ's body was, 1Co 15:44-50. It must be born of the Spirit in order to be a spirit body as Christ's body was and is (Col 1:15,18; Act 13:30-33; 1Co 15:44-50), because flesh and blood cannot enter and inherit God's kingdom of divine beings, Jn 3:1-10; 1Co 15:44-50; 6:15-17; Gal 5:25; Rom 6:4; 7:6; 8:1-25.
A BRIEF REVIEW
1. Saved people who do not have the doctrine of Christ, do not have the Father nor the Son: "Whoever is transgressing and is not abiding in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who is constantly abiding in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son," 2Jn 9.
What does it mean to "have" the Father and the Son? Does it not mean sharing what the Father and the Son are, receiving of Their divine fullness (of all the divine attributes of God), and being ">"one" divine entity "in the Father and in the Son"? Eph 1:22-23; 3:19; Col 1:19; 2:9-10; Jn 10:30-36; 14:8-11; 17:21-23; et al.
2. Saved people who do not have John's baptism have rejected the counsel of God against themselves (Lk 7:29-30), they do not have the circumcision of Christ (Col 2:11-12), are thereby rejecting the doctrine of Christ, and do not have the Father nor the Son, 2Jn 9.
3. Saved people in false churches who baptize by sprinkling or pouring and those who baptize unbelievers (babies or otherwise) do not have the doctrine of Christ (Rom 6:4 (2-6); Mt 28:19-20; Mk 16:16; Act 2:38), and therefore do not have the Father nor the Son.
4. Saved people in true churches who fellowship spiritually with saved people in false churches are not continuing in the doctrine (teaching) of Christ, and will therefore lose the Father and the Son, 1Jn 9-11. Spiritual fellowship with those who do not have the doctrine of Christ is strictly forbidden on penalty of losing (not having) the Father and the Son, 2Jn 9-11.
5. Divine life is in the Father, in the Son, and in the Spirit (1Jn 2:23-26; 5:6-13), and we must continue in the doctrine of Christ in order to have the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, and thereby have Their life, 1Jn 2:23-26; 5:6-13; 2Jn 9-11.
6. Continuing in what we have properly heard from the beginning 1Jn 1:1; 2:7,23-26; 3:11; 2Jn 5-6) is the same as continuing in the doctrine of Christ, 2Jn 9-11. By continuing in what we have heard properly from the beginning and thereby continuing in the doctrine of Christ, we continue in the Father, in the Son, and in the Spirit, and thereby have their divine life, (1Jn 2:23-26; 5:6-13; 2Jn 9-11).
7. In order to abide (continue) in Christ and bear the proper fruit (Jn 15:1-6; Gal 5:104; 2Pe 5-11), we must abide in the love of the Father and the Son, which we do by keeping Their commandments and thus continuing in the doctrine of Christ, Jn 13:34-35; 15:1-12; 1Jn 2:23 thru 5:3; 2Jn. These passages teach that we must continue in what we have properly heard from the beginning (in the doctrine of Christ – not Protestant universal church doctrine) in order to have the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and thereby have Their divine fullness. This requires the new birth in Christ's resurrection likeness when Christ returns.
THESE THREE AGREE IN ONE
"This is He who came by water and blood -- Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth.
7 "For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one (agree in the same testimony).
8 "And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one," 1Jn 5:6-8.
Jesus came by water and blood: the water refers to the many washing ceremonies of the Old Testament and to John's baptism in the New Testament, while the blood refers to the animal sacrifices and the sprinkling of the blood in the Old Testament and to the Lord's Supper in the New Testament. The Spirit refers to the working of the Holy Spirit through the prophets and otherwise on behalf of the covenant people of the Old Testament and in the life of Christ. All three have their same testimonial working within the New Covenant through water baptism, the Lord's Supper, and the indwelling working of the Holy Spirit in and through the church.
All three of these bear testimony of the entire ministry of Christ in a human body from His virgin birth to His resurrection birth, as well as His current and future ministry, as will be shown in continuing articles from the Old Testament. The witness or testimony of all three is the same as the three witnesses in heaven.
There are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Son, and the same Holy Spirit. Observe in the following scriptures the repeated emphasis the Scriptures put on two or three witnesses: "in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established," Deu 17:6; 19:15; Mt 18:16; 2Mt 13:1; 1Ti 5:19; Heb 10:28; 1Jn 5:6-13.
That is precisely what the Scriptures have in mind here with this double emphasis of three witnesses (whether we accept the KJV manuscripts or not, the fact that these five witnesses are real is without controversy). These five witnesses (the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, the water, and the blood) did not witness just one time, but have been witnessing constantly throughout both Old and New Testaments, and the testimony of all five agree in one and is the same eternally enduring testimony.
THIS IS THE RECORD
"If we are constantly receiving the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son," 1Jn 5:9.
We are influenced by whatever we hear, think, feel, say, and do, but the witness of God (God's Word) is greater. God has given us an extensive and explicit testimony of His Son – His firstborn Son, and we will benefit immensely and eternally by giving our utmost attention to what God is saying right here in these verses. Review the strong emphasis put on this testimony from verse 6 through verse 13.
10 "He who is constantly believing into the Son of God has the witness (the Holy Spirit and His testimony) in himself; he who is not believing God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed into the testimony that God has given of His Son," 1Jn 5:10.
This is not one act of faith, and it is not the faith of a saved person outside the body of Christ. This is a daily believing into Christ – into a oneness with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, a divine oneness. Our entire Christian life is a "believing into Christ" – a progressive coming into the divine oneness of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. If we are not constantly believing into Christ by being constantly transformed into His image (2Co 3:17-18), we are giving the testimony that God is a liar and that His testimony is not true. What we do speaks louder than what we say or profess.
11 "And this is the testimony: that God has given us age life (divine life), and this life is IN His Son," 1Jn 5:11.
Saved people who do not have the doctrine of Christ do not have the Father, nor the Son, nor the Holy Spirit, and therefore they do not have His divine life. Having the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, is to have Their divine life, which is one of Their divine attributes and is generic for all the divine attributes. This divine life (all the fullness deity) dwells in the human, now divine, body of Christ. The church is called that body of Christ. This is a metaphor, and in this metaphor, our bodies are called the members of Christ (of the body of Christ). Our bodies are therefore credited as having been crucified, having died, been buried, and raised in deified form (born again) together with Christ, when all this happened to the human body of Christ, Rom 6:2-6-13; 7:4-6; Gal 2:20; 5:24; 6:13; Col 2:20; 3:1. Being thus joined to the body of Christ, we are credited as being one deified spirit body with Him, 1Co 5:7; 6:15-17; Eph 5:28-32.
This divine life is IN the Son, which means the saved person must have the Son to have His divine life, and one must have the doctrine of Christ and continue in that doctrine in order to have the Son. The saved person cannot have the doctrine of Christ and therefore cannot continue in Christ while outside the body of Christ, which is a true local church. All saved people seeking to serve God outside a true local church have a perverted gospel. They have rejected the counsel of God (Lk 7:29-30), they have rejected the circumcision of Christ (Col 2:11-12), and have thereby rejected the commandments of God and Christ, which means they cannot walk in the light as God and Christ are in the light and cannot receive daily forgiveness of sins, 1Jn 1:5-7. They do not have the doctrine of Christ and therefore do not have the Father and the Son, 2Jn 9. This is the "record," the testimony that God has given of His Son. To deny it by word and or deed is to testify that God is a liar.
12 "He who is having the Son is having life; he who is not constantly having the Son of God is not having life," 1Jn 5;12.
Constantly continuing in the doctrine of Christ is having the Father and having the Son, and vice versa. Saved covenant people who cease continuing in the doctrine of Christ cease having the Father and the Son, and will eventually commit the unpardonable sin, Heb 3:6-19; 6:4-8; 10:25-31; 12:15-17; et al. Those professing Christ outside true local churches are making a big showing, but the Bible filled testimony of the above five witnesses stands firm now and will stand firm in the resurrection when only the faithful covenant people will receive the new birth.
13 "These things I have written to you who are constantly believing into the name (authority and divine covenant relationship) of the Son of God, that you may know that you are having eternal life, and that you may continue to (progressively) believe into the name of the Son of God," 1Jn 5:13.
Believing into Christ means believing into the body of Christ (by John's baptism, Mt 28:19) where the name and authority of Christ reside; and this is only in a true local church, one that has John's baptism. Furthermore, "believing into Christ" does not mean one act of faith, but rather means a firm habitual believing, an "of faith" mind-set, a life-long process. This is the testimony that God has given of His Son through five divine witnesses.
THERE REMAINS A "REST" FOR THE COVENANT PEOPLE
"Again He designates a certain day, saying in David, ‘Today,' after such a long time, as it has been said: ‘Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts.'
8 "For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day.
9 "There remains therefore a rest for the people of God," Heb 4:7-9.
We observe four major points of emphasis from this passage and its context, Heb 3; 4:1-11.
THOSE WHO RECEIVE THE REST
The recipients of the "rest" are the faithful covenant people of both Old and New Testaments, who will be one and the same covenant people after the Lord returns, as Heb 11 demonstrates. The Bible is a book of sacred covenants entrusted to a specific covenant people (Deu 4:7-8; 29:29; Ps 147:19-20; Rom 3:1-2; Heb 11), which lastly is a true local church as God's Israel in the New Testament, Rom 11:11-22; Mt 17; 1Pe 2:5,9-10; 2Co 6:16; Eph 2:11-22; Heb 3:6; 10:21.
The book of Hebrews was written to holy brethren (Heb 3:1) who were (and are) the house of God (Heb 3:6; 10:21) and who met (and still meet) together regularly in one place for worship (Act 2:41-47; Heb 10:25-31), for mutual edification, (Eph 4:11-32; Col 3:1-25), and for spreading the Gospel into all the world, Mt 28:18-20; Lk 24:46-49; Act 1:8.
WHAT IS THE REST?
The essence of the "rest" is partaking of Christ's divine nature in a deified body by the faithful covenant people; that is, partaking of what Christ became in His resurrection. In a wider scope, this also includes what Christ became initially in His virgin birth. Without the virgin birth Christ would not have had a human flesh body of the first Adam to be made into a divine body of the Second Adam in His resurrection. It was necessary for Christ to become a human, a seed of the first Adam in a flesh, earthy body in order for Him to create the new and divine man (the Second Adam) in His resurrection.
It was necessary for Christ to live a perfect, sinless life in a human body as the seed of the first Adam, in order to perfectly fulfill all the stipulations of the Law Covenant and create in Himself (Eph 2:15) (in His human body) a similar but very different divine race of mankind. This was the major intent in God's creating man in the first place: the most minute details of the on-going process as well as the final state of all things were predestined by God in the beginning. God is omniscient, and His knowledge has always been infinite.
God's purpose in creation included all that transpired in the birth, life, death, burial, resurrection, the present mediatory ministry of Christ, and throughout an eternity that has neither beginning nor end. The major goal, however, for the first seven thousand years of man's existence was and is set before us in God working six days and resting the seventh day, Gen 2 & 3; Heb 4:3-4. The seven days of Gen 1 & 2 will complete the first major cycle in the life of mankind, Heb 4:3-4. This seventh day of "rest," emphasized in Heb 3 and 4, refers to the Millennium when Christ will reign over the earth, Heb 4:3-4; Rev 20:4-6.
Partaking of Christ is partaking of what Christ became in His resurrection, here expressed as the "rest," and is otherwise expressed in many ways, one of which is "the fullness of God:"
9 "For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;
10 "And you are in Him made that fullness...," Col 2:9-10.
19 "For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell," Col 1:19.
16 "And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace," Jn 1:16.
22 "And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church,
23 "Which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all," Eph 1:22-23.
19 ".....that you may be filled with all the fullness of God," Eph 3:19.
The church is here called "the fullness of God," (Eph 1:22-23), which means sharing in all the attributes of God, Eph 3:19; Col 2:9-10.
The "rest" is also expressed as being "ONE with and in the Father and the Son," Jn 10:30-36; 14:8-11; 17:21-23. Again, the "rest" is expressed as having the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (2Jn 9; 1Jn 2:23-25; 5:10-13), thereby sharing Their life, glory, righteousness, love, knowledge, telepathic power, etc., in the full range of Their divine attributes. Observe in the above verses how the church, the body of Christ, and the fullness of God are associated together as one entity, Jn 17:21-23.
All the attributes of deity dwell in the human, now deified, body of Christ, Col 2:9. As the members (metaphorically) of the deified human body of Christ, our bodies are reckoned (counted, credited) as being filled with that same divine fullness. This means that the faithful covenant people are destined to receive of the same fullness that Christ received in the resurrection of His human body – all the attributes of deity, 1Co 15:44-50; Col 1:19; 2:9-10; Eph 1:22-23; 3:19; Jn 17:21-23.
This is the "rest" of Heb 3 & 4. This is partaking of Christ, Heb 3:14; 1Co 10:16-18. This is receiving of His fullness, Jn 1:16; Eph 1:22-23; 3:19; Col 2:9-10. This is being transformed into the image and likeness of Christ's resurrection, 2Co 3:18; Rom 12:1-2; Col 3:1-10. This is being made "one" with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit Jn 17:21-23. This is being made "free" within the firstborn sonship of Christ, Jn 8:31-32; Gal 4:19-31; 5:1-5; 2Co 3:17-18.
THE APPLICATIONS OF THE REST
The application of the rest" is in the resurrection when Christ returns. There are, however, two applications of the time factor of the "rest," and both applications also have two progressively enriching phases:
1a. The bodies of the faithful covenant people are already metaphorically counted as being glorified members of the glorified body of Christ, 1Co 6:15-17; Rom 6:2-13; Gal 2:20; 5:24. In this way, we have already been born again. We have already received of Christ's fullness, Jn 1:16; Col 2:10. We have already been made free (Gal 5:1), but we must stand fast in that freedom or we will be cut off from Christ and forfeit that divine sonship and its freedom, Gal 5:1-4; Jn 15:1-6; 1Co 10:1-12; 15:1-2; Heb 5:8-9; 12:1-29.
1b. We have entered into that "rest" to the degree of the strength of our faith – an opportunity to progressively gain a more abundant fullness of God. This is a grand and rich opportunity, but it is offered on a requirement or contingency basis. We are commanded to "give all diligence" to obtain a more abundant entrance into God's divine kingdom, 2Pe 1:4-11; Ph 2:12; 1Th 4:1,10; Mt 13:23; 25:14-30; Jn 6:27-67; 10;10; 1Co 10:1-13; et al.
By grace through faith-obedience (through scriptural baptism) we entered into (believed into) the crucified, dead, buried, raised, and deified body of Christ (a true church). And now, according to the intensity of our faith (our constant feeding on the flesh and blood of Christ; that is to say, on the Word of God), we are currently and hopefully gaining a greater measure of that "rest" for eternity.
2a. The real "rest" for the faithful covenant people will come with the new birth in the resurrection when Christ returns. "We are made partakers of Christ IF we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end," Heb 3:14.
1 "Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it," Heb 4:1.
9 "There remains therefore a rest for the people of God," Heb 4:9.
11 "Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience," Heb 4:11.
Each of these passages with the whole context emphasizes the future aspect of the "rest," and bases the acquisition of the "rest" on faithful endurance under God's disciplinary training. The Israelites failed because they were not able to endure under God's disciplinary training in "the day of trial in the wilderness," Heb 3:8. The inspired writer of Hebrews presses the issue that unless we greatly "fear," we will also fail to enter that divine "rest" of partaking of Christ's resurrection likeness when Christ returns.
2b. This "rest" will be eternally more abundant for those who are the more diligently dedicated and sacrificial in this current life – "let him who thinks he is standing take heed lest he fall," 1Co 10:1-12. The attributes of God are cumulative, that is, divine life can be obtained more abundantly (Jn 10:10; 1Th 3:8; 2Co 4:7-12), divine glory can be obtained more abundantly (2Co 4:17; 1Co 15:40-41), divine righteousness can be obtained more abundantly (2Co 9:10), and so we can demonstrate with most of the other attributes of God.
Not only in this life but also after the resurrection, the glorified covenant people will continue to grow in at least many of the attributes of God. For instance, they will continue to grow in divine knowledge as God reveals more of Himself in the ages to come. They will continue to grow in divine love, admiration, and worship toward God as He demonstrates more of His mighty works in the ages to come. They will continue to grow in divine joy and happiness and power and glory, etc., as they continue to grow and share in God's creative powers.
Though the faithful covenant people will grow and increase in all the attributes of God, it appears none of them will ever reach infinity in any of the divine attributes, otherwise God would not be infinite.
FAILURE TO ENTER THE REST
Failure to enter the "rest" is an ever-present liability in this life. "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall," 1Co 10:1-12. Since the apostle Paul painfully disciplined himself to avoid becoming disapproved in the pursuit of the firstborn sonship of Christ, it is obvious that the rest of us should give "the more earnest heed" to our own liability of failure to be approved. Moses will be accepted into the firstborn sonship, but in the wilderness he became a type of great leaders who fall and fail to make their calling and election sure, Ex 20:12; Mt 17:1-4; 2Pe 1:5-10. There is therefore an ever-present two-fold danger lurking before us that: 1) we will lose (gain less of) rather than gain more of that fullness, 2) we will forfeit all the fullness of God.
THE FIRSTBORN SON COULD LOSE HIS BIRTHRIGHT
"If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, a sin offering is crouching at the door. And his (Abel's) desire will be for you, but you should rule over him," Gen 4:7(4-7).
This verse can be translated in other ways, but this is accurate and best fits the immediate context as well as the whole of the inspired Scriptures. Abel brought of the firstborn lambs for blood sacrifices. This is what God obviously had instructed Adam and his descendants to sacrifice. Abel demonstrated the proper understanding and revealed a heart of faith-obedience.God was pleased with Abel's offering, and credited His own divine righteousness to Abel, Heb 11:4; Mt 23:35. There are only two kinds of righteousness: God's righteousness and man's righteousness, and all of man's righteousnesses are as filthy rags, Isa 64:6. Abel was credited with performing the works of God, which are the works of grace through faith, 1Co 15:10; Phi 2:12; Mt 10:19-20; Heb 4:16; 12:28; et al.
Though Cain was the firstborn, he demonstrated deliberate disregard for God's specific manner of worship. God's rejection of Cain and His offering, was demonstrated in some observable way, perhaps by fire coming down and consuming Abel's offering, while Cain's offering was left openly rejected by God. Cain became very angry, which increased the need for verses 6 and 7. Verses 4 and 7 reveal that the firstborn sonship and its birthright were of primary significance both in the initial offerings and in God's instructions to Cain.
Cain was always the firstborn of Adam and Eve, but he forfeited the firstborn sonship and its treasured birthright. Many things happened in the lives of Cain and Abel before Cain murdered Abel, but this is placed in the sacred writings to emphasize the firstborn sonship of Christ and its divine birthright. God is the Author of the firstborn sonship and its birthright, and kept it going through Seth on down to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Israel as God's covenant people, and now the church as God's Israel and covenant people.
The firstborn sonship and the birthright in the emphasized cases of Ishmael and Isaac, Esau and Jacob, of Israel and now the church, all give promise of the future, and find their fulfilment in the resurrection birth of Christ as the Firstborn of every creature (Col 1:15), and the Firstborn from the dead among many firstborn brethren whom He will bring into His divine firstborn sonship, Ex 4:22-23; Rom 8:29; Heb 12:23; Ja 1:18; Rev 14:1-5.
Cain lost his firstborn sonship because of his disregard for God's requirements, and his vengeful hatred of his brother, Gen 4;4-12. Ishmael was Abraham's firstborn son, but was a slave son and could not therefore qualify (in type and in lineage, Gal 4:21-31) for the firstborn sonship of Christ and the birthright of divine freedom, Gal 4:21-31. Esau was the firstborn of Isaac, but forfeited his sonship and birthright because he loved earthy things and then hated his brother, Gen 25:29-34; 27:27-37; Heb 12:15-17. Israel forfeited the firstborn sonship of Christ and its birthright by failing to pursue after God's righteousness with a persevering faith, Rom 4:12; 9:30-33; 11:11-22. This was also true with Cain, Ishmael, and Esau.
We, like Cain, like Ishmael, like Esau, like Israel over fourteen hundred years, and like the church for two thousand years, are in the proper position of the firstborn sonship of Christ. We are in a qualifying status, and are being severely tested in the arena of our minds and emotions, where the struggle is constantly against our own exceedingly deceptive, sinful nature, 2Co 10:3-6; Gal 5:17. The Bible reveals that most covenant people under this disciplinary training are disapproved and fail to qualify for the firstborn sonship of Christ, 1Co 9:24-27; 10:1-12; Heb 3:7-19; Jn 6:60-67; Rom 11:11-22; et al.
When the preacher preaches this fact, it sounds as though he is exaggerating. But read and study the above scriptures. What do they really say? We are to work out this firstborn sonship covenant salvation with fear and trembling, Phi 2:12-13. It is God who is working in us, but He is requiring us to choose by His grace whether we will be submissive to His working in us, or faint under His wilderness-like, covenant testing, Heb 12; 3:6-19; 1Co 10:1-12.
The firstborn sonship of Christ and its birthright provide for the faithful covenant people to inherit all things jointly together with Christ, and rule over the nations which will be made up of the other than firstborn sons, Heb 1:2;Rom 4:13,16; 8:17,32; 1Co 3:21-23. This will be true only with those who endure God's severe covenant chastening and are approved after being severely tested.
HUNGERING AND THIRSTING
"Blessed are those who are constantly hungering and constantly thirsting for righteousness, For they shall be filled," Mt 5:6.
Again, there are only two kinds of righteousness as far as mankind is concerned: 1) The righteousness of God, which is one of His divine attributes, and 2) our righteousness, which in God's sight is as filthy rags, Isa 64:6. We are to be constantly hungering and thirsting after God's righteousness (Mt 6;33), which is generic for all the attributes of God's divine nature.
33 "But be you seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you," Mt 6:33.
10 "Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits (harvest) of your (God's) righteousness," 2Co 9:10.
5 "For we through the Spirit are eagerly waiting for the hope of (God's) righteousness by faith," Gal 5:5.
9 "And be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the Law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is from God (God's righteousness) by the faith," Phi 3:9.
11 But you, O man of God, be fleeing these things and be pursuing (God's) righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness," 1Ti 6:11.
22 "Be fleeing also youthful lusts; but be pursuing (God's) righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart," 2Ti 2:22.
8 "Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of (God's) righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing," 2Ti 4:8.
7 "'Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.'
8 "And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints," Rev 19:7-8.
17 "No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is from Me," says the LORD," Isa 54:17.
10 "I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels," Isa 61:10.
15 "In those days and at that time I will cause to grow up to David a Branch of righteousness; He shall execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.
16 "In those days Judah will be saved, And Jerusalem will dwell safely. And this is the name by which she will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS," Jer 33:15-16.
The righteous acts of the saints refer to the divine righteousness of God worked in and through the saints by the Holy Spirit. The saints have no righteousness except the righteousness worked in us by the Holy Spirit, which righteousness we are diligently pursuing, and are waiting for it to be received in the new birth when Christ returns. At that time, the saints who have been approved as faithful in God's disciplinary chastening will be born of the Spirit into that divine life.
BLESS THOSE WHO CURSE YOU
43 "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'
44 "But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,
45 "That you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust," Mt 5:43-45.
35 "But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil," Lk 6:35.
Our sin nature is to curse those who curse us, but God's disciplinary training says we must bless those who curse us and do good to those who wrong us, and thereby qualify and be approved for the new birth in the resurrection.
WHOEVER SHALL DO THE WILL OF MY FATHER
"While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him.
47 "Then one said to Him, ‘Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.'
48 "But He answered and said to the one who told Him, ‘Who is My mother and who are My brothers?'
49 "And He stretched out His hand toward His disciple sand said, "Here are My mother and My brothers!
50 "For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother," Mt 12:46-50.
This passage reveals and emphasizes God's covenant requirement that we must do the will of the Father (as His disciples were doing) in order to be born again in the resurrection and thereby share in the firstborn sonship of Christ.
IN THE REGENERATION
"Then Peter answered and said to Him, ‘See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?'
28 "So Jesus said to them, " Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration (in the new birth ), when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel," Mt 19:27-28.
There will be a renovation of the earth and of all living creatures on the earth at the end of God's wrath following Christ's return. Only the nations of mankind will be left in corrupt bodies with man's sinful nature. The curse of Gen 3 will be removed (Rom 8:19-22; Isa 11:1-9; 65:25), and all other living organisms will be reconciled to a perfectly harmless, peaceful, and productive life process – a perfect utopian state of existence, except for the sinful nature of mankind in the nations for one thousand years. All creation is waiting for this new birth of the firstborn sons, Rom 8:18-25.
COME OUT FROM AMONG THEM
"Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?
15 "And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?
16 "And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people."
17 "Therefore ‘Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you,"
18 "'I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty,'" 2Co 6:14-18.
The church in Corinth was the temple of the living God (verse 16), but they had some undesirable problems with submitting to the discipline of God's training manual, as indicated in verses 14 and 15. We are to be holy as God is holy (1Pe 1:15-16), and to love God with all our heart, our life, our mind, and our strength, Lk 10:27. We are to constantly seek God first, and every time we love anything or any pleasure more than God it becomes idolatry, without exception, Mt 6:33; 10:37-39; Lk 14:26-27; 2Co 6:14-16.
This passage, of course, is addressed to those in "the temple of the living God" where God dwells through the Holy Spirit. They are therefore in covenant relationship with God, which is also evidenced by the words, "and I will be their God, and they will be My people." This is a covenant expression designating the covenant people, Gen 17; Ex 26:11-13 (1-46).
We must therefore separate ourselves from the sinful things of the world and be holy as God is holy, 1Pe 1:15-16. God's ways are holy and we are not to love the unholy ways of the world, Lk 16:15; Rom 12:1-2; Gal 1:4; Ja 4:1-5; 1Pe 4:2-5; 1Jn 2:15-17. If that is our lifestyle, we will forfeit the firstborn sonship of Christ and will not be born again in the resurrection into the likeness of Christ's resurrection, 2Cor 6:14-18.
WE MUST LOVE ONE ANOTHER
"We know that we have passed from death to life, because we are loving the brethren. He who is not constantly loving his brother is abiding in death.
15 "Whoever is constantly hating his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer is having eternal life constantly abiding in him," 1Jn 3:14-15.
Hate does not require red hot temperatures. It exists below the boiling point. An abiding mind-set of anger, hostility, ill will, vindictiveness, bitterness, animosity, spite, tale bearing, vengefully doing someone in or fixing someone up, etc., will disqualify us in the pursuit of the firstborn sonship of Christ. We must remember that sin, even hate, is "exceedingly sinful" and equally as "deceitful," Rom 7:13; He 3:12-13.
Let us fear and tremble lest we have an attitude of ill will toward some brother or sister, or misjudge who hates whom. The Pharisees were not aware that they possessed ill will to the point of maliciously murdering their promised Messiah. They justified themselves, but were blind and unaware that they were overwhelmed with hate toward the only One who was righteous in all points. Jesus proved His Messiahship by His many great miracles and in every phase of life, but their blindness caused them to interpret the words and works of Jesus negatively.
As Landmark Baptists we believe and teach that passing "from death to life" is a once for all thing and cannot be reversed. We are blind leading the blind. Paul warned the Romans that the mind which is set on the flesh is death, and those who walk after the flesh will die, Rom 8:5-6,13. Paul also warned the Corinthians that they were carnally minded (minding the flesh), and that this would lead to eternal loss and destruction, 1Co 3:1-17.
We must take heed to the fact that we are "in Christ" (the body of Christ) metaphorically. We suddenly go blind to the fact that the church being the body of Christ is a metaphor. We are made alive in Christ (in the body of Christ) only in the figure of a metaphor. If we refuse to comply with the disciplinary chastening (training) of the Lord, we will be cut off from the body of Christ – that means "death" from the body Christ, Jn 15:-6; Gal 5:1-4. If we say we cannot be cut off from the body of Christ, we deny the Scriptures, make God a liar, and make the church a universal invisible church that cannot exclude anybody. And we are in high gear practicing that kind of no church discipline and by an unscriptural "inactive church roll." We refuse to purge out the "old leaven," Mt 18:15-18; 1Co 5; Gal 6:1; 2Th 3:6-15.
As a result, the whole church is being vomited out of the Lord's mouth, is passing from life back to death, and are losing the life source which we metaphorically have as the body of Christ, or, as individuals, being deified members of the deified body of Christ. The church that is vomited out of the Lord's mouth (Rev 3:16; Heb 2:6), the individuals who are cut off from the Vine (Jn 15:1-6), those branches who are cut off from the olive tree (Rom 11:11-22). and those whom Christ will profit nothing (Gal 5:1-4) – all of these pass from life back to death in the metaphor. The efficacious benefits of scriptural water baptism and true local church membership are all wiped out. The firstborn sonship of Christ is thereby aborted. Our bodies will be redeemed (born again) into the firstborn sonship of Christ IF we hold fast to that "living hope," Rom 8:23-25; 1Pe 1:3-5. That "living hope" will no longer be a "hope," but a living reality.
"He who is constantly overcoming shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son," Rev 21:8.
These are covenant statements made specifically to the faithful covenant people – to those in the covenant position and are qualifying for the firstborn sonship of Christ. These words have no application to saved people (the slave, illegitimate, non-covenant sons) outside the covenants (which covenants belong to God's Israel in true local churches), Rom 2:28-29; 9:4; 11:11-22; Mt 18:17; 2Co 6:16-18; 1Pe 2:5,9; Eph 2:11-22; 1Co 15:1-2,44-50.
These servant sons are not born of the divine nature: they are not free sons but servant sons. They do not overcome, do not make their calling and election sure (2Pe 1:3019), and will not escape the corruption that is in the world through lusts (2Pe 1:4; Gal 6:7-9) – they will be slaves of the material universe in sinful bodies during the Millennium, though freed from sin in mere flesh bodies on the new earth after the Millennium.
1 "Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the Gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand,
2 "By which also you are being saved, IF you hold fast that word which I preached to you -- unless you believed in vain," 1Co 15:1-2.
We emphasize again that the contents and the salvation of 1Co 15 are applicable to the faithful covenant people who are overcomers by grace through faith. We are "being saved" only as we "hold fast," otherwise we thrust from us a good conscience and thereby make shipwreck concerning the faith, 1Ti 1:19; 2Jn 9; 1Jn 2:23-25; 5:1-13. "The faith" requires perseverence in "the faith" which is in "the body of Christ," Gal 2:16,20; 3:23-29.
29 "Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead?
30 "And why do we stand in jeopardy every hour?
31 "I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.
32 "If, in the manner of men, I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantage is it to me? If the dead do not rise, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!'
33 "Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits.'
34 "Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame," 1Co 15:29-34.
What does being baptized for the dead means? Study the context as indicated above, and observe the following:
1. A good part of the chapter (1Co 15) affirms that there will be a resurrection of the bodies of the dead. John's baptism, a scripturally required ordinance for the covenant people, is a perpetual testimony of our faith that there will be a resurrection of all who have died, both saved and unsaved.
2. John's baptism is a part of "the doctrine of Christ," and we must have John's baptism and live the testimony of that baptism in order to share in the counsel of God and qualify for the divine (new birth) resurrection addressed in the Gospel in this chapter (1Co 15:44-50), and throughout the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. Not only does a faithful Christian life require John's baptism (Lk 7:29-30; Col 2:11-13), but John's baptism requires a faithful life, Rom 6:3-6; 1Co 12:12-27; Gal 3:26-30.
3. In God's covenant purpose, baptism is a transitional ordinance. Before baptism the believer is not in the body of Christ, but after baptism the believer is metaphorically counted (Rom 4:17;6:3-14; 1Co 6:15-17) as a deified (alive to God) member of the deified body of Christ. The church, as the body of Christ, is leavened in our sinful bodies and we must purge out the leaven, 1Co 5:7. This same verse says we are both leavened and yet unleavened. This unleavened state of being is a metaphor of the church being the body of Christ. Metaphorically, we are deified members of the deified body of Christ, having metaphorically been crucified, having died, been buried, raised out of the grave, and born again in that resurrection as members of the body of Christ. Actually we are still dead in our sinful bodies, and only metaphorically counted as alive from the dead and born again members of the born again body of Christ, Rom 6:2-23; Gal 2:20; 5:24. We cannot literally put off the old man and put on the new man, yet in our minds by the grace of God (by the Spirit of God) we put off the old man and put on the new man. This is done by looking into the Word of God, and believing and obeying what it says, Rom 12:1-2; 2Co 3:18; 4:7-12,17 thru 5:21; Col 3:1-10; et al.
4. Baptism also has a perpetual benefit for the faithful dead. We are constantly building each other's eternal reward so long as we stand fast in the Lord. Jesus said, "...I have come that you may have life, and that you may have it more abundantly," Jn 10:10. The faithful covenant people are continuing to lay up treasures in heaven (in God's record books), Mal 3:16-17. However, by our sins of commission and omission, we are eroding those divine treasures, 2Jn 8; Rev 3:11. Those heavenly treasures are more abundant life (Jn 10:10), more abundant glory (2Co 4:17), more abundant divine righteousness (2Co 9:10; Rev 19:7-8), and a greater abundance of all of God's divine fullness, Lk 16:9-12; Eph 1:22-23; 3:19; 4:11-16,24; Col 2:9-11; 2Pe 1:11; et al.
Paul said, "For now we are living, if you are standing fast in the Lord," 1Th 3:8. Paul and his faithful companions would live and continue to live (in the Vine, in Christ) even if the Thessalonians all made shipwreck of faith. However, Paul and his companions would live more abundantly in Christ with a greater abundance of the fullness of God if their converts also stood fast. Abel, through his righteous faith-obedience, continues to preach through us and his reward continues to build up. The more we influence others and establish them in the productivity of the faith, the greater our entrance into the kingdom will be. After the faithful die, their reward will continue in accordance to their productivity before they died. There is no such help or benefit for the unfaithful or the unsaved.
57 "But thanks be to God, who is constantly giving us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ," 1Co 15:57.
There is no victory for the unsaved, and there is no victory for the unfaithful saved – only a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries, Heb 10:27; 3:11; 12:15-21,29.
QUESTIONS AND WORK TASKS FOR CHAPTER FOUR
1. Describe in some detail the divine (glorified) body the faithful saints will receive when Christ returns.
2. Define why it requires a divine birth to pass from a mere human body to a divine body.
3. Identify the basic principles of the doctrine of Christ which we have heard (or should have heard) from the beginning.
4. Specify what happens when the Lord's people persist in transgressing the doctrine of Christ.
5. How did Jesus come by water, by blood, and by the Holy Spirit?
6. State explicitly what the record is which God has given us. This record is discussed in 1Jn 2:23-25; 5:9-13; and 2Jn 9-11.
7. What is the "rest" of Heb 3 and 4? Express how it requires a divine birth.
8. Clarify the empahsis on the birthright in Gen 4:1-7.
9. We are to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness first. Identify what the kingdom of God and the righteousness of God are.
10. We are to bless those who curse us. What does God promise to those who do so? Blessing our enemies consists in praying for and working toward their salvation. What happens to us if we do not bless our enemies and persist in that kind of unchristian attitude?
11. What does God promise to those who come out from among those who live worldly lives and transgress the doctrine of Christ?
12. Do some saved church members hate their brother? What are some of the common ways that brethren in the Lord do not love each other?
13. Those who have the hope of 1 John 3:3 purify themselves as Christ is pure. Define what this requires.