The Good News - Home
All Spiritual Blessings In Christ
By David A. DePra
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who works all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom you also trusted, after that you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that you believed, you were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. (Eph. 1:3-14)
Many Christians have never realized that salvation in this life is UNTO a greater purpose in the next age. Some of us never think in any other terms except, "receiving Christ and going to heaven." But the Bible reveals that our life in Christ NOW, is UNTO a greater life in Christ THEN – salvation is all unto a purpose to be worked out through the eternal ages.
It was the great desire of the apostle Paul, and certainly of God Himself – who inspired his words – it was his desire that Christians would understand the PURPOSE for which we have been called.
I…cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints. (Eph. 1:16-18)
You can see that Paul not only wanted everyone to know the purpose for which God has called them, but you can also see that Paul himself already DID know that purpose. In fact, not only does Paul mention that purpose in this passage, but he has already done so in the opening words of this epistle. Having told them the purpose of God, Paul is simply saying that he prays that they would come to truly see this purpose, and to enter fully into it.
What is the purpose of God for His people? In a nutshell, that purpose is CHRIST. But there are many ways in which God has of revealing this Truth. One of those ways – the one Paul uses in this epistle – is to tell us that Christians are a people of eternal INHERITANCE. God has blessed us with ALL spiritual blessings IN CHRIST.
Complete In Christ
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. (Eph. 1:3)
There is nothing God has for us except it be contained IN CHRIST. In other words, God doesn’t have THINGS for us. He has Christ for us. But if we are IN CHRIST, then we have all that God desires to give us.
Now, the conclusion here is inescapable: If you are saved, then you have CHRIST IN YOU. This means that if you are saved, then you already have IN YOU everything that God desires to give you for this age. You don’t need to look for ANOTHER blessing. You don’t need to look for another source of life, Truth, or wisdom. No. You have Christ in you, and in Christ God has blessed us with ALL spiritual blessings.
To some people, this might not seem like a big deal. But it IS a big deal. In fact, most Christians today don’t seem to realize that God has blessed them with all spiritual blessings IN CHRIST – indeed, many try to obtain the blessings of God as ADDITIONS to Christ. This is exactly the error against which Paul warned the Colossians, not once, not twice, but FOUR times:
In whomare hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words. (Col 2:3-4)
Rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (Col 2:7-8)
And you are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power…Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days: (Col 2:10, 16)
Which are a shadow of things to come; but the substance is of Christ. Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, (Col 2:17-18)
Paul is getting at something here. When we are born again, we receive Jesus Christ. At that point, Christ is in us – that is, we are made ONE with Him through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. According to Paul, we are, at that point, COMPLETE IN HIM. We do not receive, "a piece of Jesus." No. We receive ALL of Him. Neither are we, "partially born again." No. We are fully a new creature IN CHRIST. And if these Truths mean anything, they mean that if Christ is in us, we have ALL that is in Christ! And -- IN CHRIST is everything. God really HAS blessed us with all spiritual blessings IN CHRIST!
Now, you will notice that I did not say that we are ready, or able, simply because we have all of Christ in us, to experience all of Christ. No. In the beginning of our new birth, Christ in us carries all potential -- but we must grow to where we can experience Him. It is one thing to possess an inheritance, but it is another to actually be able to LIVE IN IT. The Christian life is a matter of Christ being progressively unfolded to you and I. As we yield to God – and only if we do – all the spiritual blessings that God has for us in Christ come into our actual experience through our RELATIONSHIP WITH CHRIST.
You must be rightly related to Christ -- unconditionally committed to HIS will and HIS glory -- to be able to experience Christ or the blessings found in Him. You cannot live in your spiritual inheritance unless you are living in harmony with Christ. Much of the Christian life is intended to get us there.
We might liken salvation to receiving a SEED of life. That seed IS Christ – and consequently, contained in that Seed is all the potential for fullness of life. All the blessings of God are in that Seed, who is Christ in us. There is nothing outside of Him to be added. But He cannot grow in us, or be enlarged in us, or be revealed to us, let alone live through us, except WE pass through a process. We must be made compatible with Him -- become committed to HIS will and HIS glory. Thus, we have to lose OUR lives in order for His life in us to come forth. We have to carry our Cross if His life in us is to be enlarged. Again – this is not a matter of God adding to us MORE OF CHRIST. No. All of Christ is in us. It is a matter of Him becoming LORD OF US, and a matter of Christ being unfolded to us.
This is why Paul is able to say we are COMPLETE IN CHRIST. It is why He must warn us against any teaching that would suggest that we are NOT complete in Christ, or that we might ADD to Christ. No. Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. (John 14:6) Christ is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. (see I Cor. 1:30) These are not THINGS God gives us, and they are not THINGS that happen to us. They are CHRIST IN US, coming to fruition through us. All the potential for them are given to us in the Seed, who is Christ, at salvation. But from that point, He must grow to be made manifest in and through us.
Thus, if we want to have wisdom, Paul tells us that all wisdom is hidden IN CHRIST. (Col. 2:3) In other words, get to know Jesus, and you will have wisdom. If you want to be righteous, then grow to where the righteousness that is in Christ shines forth through you. Same for sanctification. But note: This is not about YOU being made LIKE Jesus. Neither is it about you getting MORE of Jesus. No. It is about Christ living through you – using you.
Can we now see why it is impossible for Christ to live through us, or for us to have much fellowship with Him, unless we are committed to His will and His glory? If we are not committed, then we are going to live contrary to the work of the Holy Spirit. We will not be able to experience Christ.
Adding to Christ
If we don’t believe what Paul is telling us, or know that we are complete in Christ, then we are going to be open to teachings and practices that claim to offer us MORE of Jesus. There have always been many of those around. But today, I cannot think of any teaching that is more widespread along this line than that of the charismatic teaching of the, "second blessing" -- which they call, "the baptism with the Holy Spirit."
This false teaching demands that when we receive Christ, we do NOT receive all that God has for us. Thus, they make the baptism with the Holy Spirit a SECOND experience that ADDS to Christ many vital blessings that we do not receive at salvation. What the charismatics say that you end up with are many Christians who have received Christ for salvation, but who don’t have this second blessing – and therefore do NOT have much of what God wants to give them.
Of course, the Bible clearly teaches a baptism with the Holy Spirit. But the Bible does not teach that it is a second experience that ADDS to Christ. Rather, it teaches that it is the means of our receiving Christ. It is, if you will, the ONE and ONLY salvation experience in which we receive Christ -- in which we receive all that God has for us. This would include all of the spiritual gifts, power for service, and really, all else. All of these are IN CHRIST. They are not added through a second experience.
Can we see that the doctrine of the second blessing is absolutely contrary to what Paul says to the Colossians in Colossians 2, and to what he says in Ephesians 1? It is contrary to his statement, "You are complete in Him," and ignores the warnings Paul gives against any teaching that suggests you must add to Christ. Furthermore, in the entirety of the NT you will not find a single suggestion that it is possible to have Christ in you, but lack anything God wants to give you – in fact, this condition is exactly what Paul is saying can NEVER BE. Indeed, he is warning against anyone who would suggest it!
Do we actually believe that if it were possible to have Christ in us, but to still lack a second blessing – do we actually believe that this problem would not be addressed in the NT epistles? But it is NOT addressed, suggested, or even hinted at. It is never mentioned as the source of problems, or even as a possible condition for ANYONE. Instead, Paul says, "you are COMPLETE IN CHRIST." He says, "God has blessed us with all spiritual blessings IN CHRIST."
One time I had a phone conversation with a fellow who was absolutely sold on the charismatic teaching of the second blessing. He stated that the reason he was certain that we needed a second blessing was that everyone he knew who believed they had received a second blessing was mature in Christ, and everyone he had known who didn’t believe they needed a second blessing simply lived in dead religion. He stated, "I cannot get by the facts." So when I told him that when we receive Christ, we receive ALL, His exclamation to me was this: "How can you say that when we receive Christ we receive everything God has for us? Experience proves otherwise."
Well, I can say it because the Bible teaches it. But if you won’t look at what the Bible says, and this fellow would not, I suppose you are going to be left to your interpretation of experiences. However, even if you put the Bible aside, what this fellow believes doesn’t add up.
I am fully aware of the possible experiences in the charismatic movement. I am also fully aware of all of the scriptures used to try to prove the second blessing. I may be more aware of them than most charismatics. I have attended thousands of charismatic meetings. I have personally seen people baptized with the Holy Spirit -- or what they thought was this second blessing. I believe in all the spiritual gifts being possible for today. But the question is -- have people received everything in Christ, or have they received MORE through a second blessing? The Bible teaches that IN CHRIST God has blessed us with all spiritual blessings. So it doesn't matter what your experience seems to indicate. Unless you agree with the Bible, you are interpreting it in error. All things must be taken to scripture.
If you believe there is a second blessing, you might be a mature Christian. It depends on whether your life is focused in Christ, and whether Jesus is being made your personal Lord. The fact that you are dead wrong about when you received the fullness of the Spirit may not matter. Or it might -- depending upon what other error you have bought. But either way, the Bible says you did not receive a second blessing. You may have had an experience. But it did not add to Christ. You received all when you received Christ.
Think about it. the fellow to whom I spoke said that those who believe, and supposedly receive, this second experience, are mature in Christ – and those who haven’t received it are not. His conclusion is, of course, that this second experience is what made maturity in Christ possible. But even if you believe that IN this second experience you receive something that makes maturity possible, the question is this: Does this second experience itself make you mature? Does God ACT UPON US and make us mature? The answer is obviously NO. So what does make you mature? Carrying your Cross. Obeying God. Submitting to Jesus as Lord. But if that is so, then are we to say that only those who have received a second blessing can carry a Cross, obey God, or submit to Jesus as Lord? Or, are we to say that those who receive the supposed second blessing could NOT refuse to do so? Is this second blessing a guarantee of Christian maturity?
Well, I have to tell you, if you look at the charismatic movement today, you will find MORE ERROR in it than in almost any other movement. Is THAT the result of a second blessing? I think I've made my point. We still have to surrender to God, don't we?
Most of those who promote the second blessing do agree – and this fellow did – that if you have received Christ you are saved. They believe that Christ is in you, and they do believe He is in you through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. But they also believe that you LACK much of what has for you unless you receive what you otherwise lack through a second blessing. Thus, they are really saying that such a one is NOT complete in Christ. They are saying that you can have Christ in you, be saved, but have no means by which you can become mature in Christ. They are saying you might be IN CHRIST, but God has not yet blessed you with all spiritual blessings IN CHRIST -- not ALL of them -- unless you ADD TO CHRIST with a second blessing.
When I began to ask this fellow a few questions, the obvious error in his thinking was exposed. I asked, "Why do you believe that those who have received the second blessing have gone on with Christ, and have become mature Christians?" He said, "Because they have submitted to Him as Lord." So then I asked, "Then why do they need a second blessing? Are saved people in whom Christ dwells UNABLE to submit to Him as Lord? Do you need to add to Christ with a second blessing to do that?" He was not able to answer.
Really, what I am getting at is this: When we receive Christ, we receive ALL that God has for us. But we only mature, and we are only able to enter into the fullness of what God has for us IN CHRIST, as we submit to Christ as Lord. But you don’t need a supposed second blessing to submit to Jesus as Lord. No. All you need to be able to submit to Jesus as Lord is CHRIST IN YOU. And it is dangerous error to teach otherwise.
The key to being, "filled with the Spirit," or, "fullness in the Spirit," is NOT a second blessing. The key is to submit to Jesus Christ as Lord. Do that and the Holy Spirit can invade you, flow in you, and flow through you. In short, you don’t need a second blessing that will ADD to you more of God’s blessings. Rather, you need to submit to Christ – and if you do, all the blessings that are already IN CHRIST will be released in you, because HE is in you!
When I asked the fellow, "Why do people need a second blessing, if maturity in Christ is the result of submitting to Christ?," he could not answer. But his silence simply affirmed what he believed – that the second blessing was the cause of Christian maturity. He believed that with it you could become mature in Christ, but without it you could not. That is why he had earlier objected and exclaimed, "How can you say that when we receive Christ we receive ALL that God has for us?" Sure. This fellow did not believe that. He believed you had to add to Christ with a second blessing to receive all that God has for us.
One would hope that those who teach the error of the second blessing realize that if you receive the supposed second blessing, but do NOT submit to Jesus as Lord – one would hope that they would admit that in that case the second blessing would do you no good. But if they do admit that, then they are admitting that it is not the second blessing that is the key, but submitting to Jesus as Lord. And what are we to say – that someone could have Christ in them, and not be able to submit to Him – because they don’t have a second blessing?
But of course, today many are not even addressing these questions at all. Most charismatic teachers today are not telling people that they must submit to Jesus Christ as Lord at all – certainly they are not teaching that this is necessary for us to experience the fullness of what God has for us. Rather, we are being told that power with God, and maturity in Christ, and all the blessings of God, are the products of a thing called, "an anointing." We are being told that all of these things belong to us – not because Christ is in us, and not because we submit to Him as Lord – but we are being told that they are given through the second blessing, and that we are free to live in them no matter what. In other words, there is no need to submit to Christ as Lord to live in the fullness of the Spirit. You can live in it regardless.
The truth is, the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer is to make Jesus Lord of us. That is the bottom line. Therefore, if Christ is in you, then you don’t need a second blessing. No. You are already in Christ through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. What you need is to submit to Jesus as Lord – which is what the Holy Spirit will lead you to do. And if you submit, you will experience a release of the Spirit in you wherein you will know all of the blessings that God has given you in Christ.
This is what I was trying to get across to this guy on the phone. I was trying to tell him that if he knows people that really are mature in Christ, that this is not because of a second experience in addition to Christ. It is because they have submitted to Christ.
What we can see here is that even if a person thinks that maturity in Christ is the sole result of a second blessing, they are wrong – but it does nothing to invalidate their maturity, their spiritual gifts, or necessarily any of their spiritual experiences, or any of their relationship with Christ -- it does nothing to invalidate them if they are REAL. No. But it does reveal that the second blessing is not the source. Christ is the source. They may have been taught error – but they can still submit to Jesus Christ as Lord.
Now, this is a lot of discussion on this one matter. But it is necessary to emphasize that God has blessed us with ALL spiritual blessings IN CHRIST. We need to see this because later we are going to see that our understanding of inheritance depends on this Truth – that IN CHRIST are we given all things, and that IN CHRIST – and solely IN CHRIST -- are we heirs according to the promise of the Father.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he has made us accepted in the beloved.
The word, "predestined," here, demands a mention of Calvinism. Calvinism is heresy because it errs on virtually every truth about the foundation of Christianity – the Redemption of Jesus Christ. It errs on how we are saved, who is saved, who Christ died for, what Christ made possible, man’s accountability to God, and most importantly, Calvinism completely represents the nature and character of God Himself. On what subjects could error be more serious? But despite the fact that we must discuss a few things about Calvinism in passing through the above passage, I am not going to take up space here with an extensive discussion about the errors of Calvinism. Most Calvinists have already made up their mind anyways. There really is no point.
The lead-in thought of this passage is that God has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. Note that, "heavenly places," is not heaven, the throne of God. No. Heavenly places means, "in the spiritual realm." In other words, every corner of your relationship with Christ carries the spiritual blessings of God. Sure. Those blessings are all IN CHRIST. It could be any other way.
Paul then says that we have been chosen FOR these blessings in Christ. THAT is the purpose for which God has called us. He says, "God has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ – that is why He has chosen us in Him – that we should be holy and without blame before Him."
Again – here we see God’s purpose. It is the PURPOSE for which God has, "predestined," us – in other words, it is the, "destination," for which God has, "pre-ordained," us. Predestination refers to the PURPOSE of God. Not to the people called TO that purpose.
God has always intended to have a BODY – the church. And for that church, He has always had a purpose. God has predestined His church to be holy and blameless before Him. He has predestined that church to be blessed with all blessings in Christ. But in order to be part of the Body of Christ, you have to come to Christ once God calls. And the fact is, some won’t.
Predestination is a word that refers to God’s purpose for you and I. It is not a word that demands that God includes only some people, but excludes others, as Calvinism teaches. No. The purpose is predestined FOR the people who come to Christ. But it is our choice as to whether to come to Christ – once God calls or elects us. Whether we come to Christ is not predetermined by God.
The doctrine of unconditional election – of Calvinism – states that God has elected out of the mass of humanity certain ones unto salvation. Their number is certain, and God has elected them by name from the foundation of the world. They alone will come to Christ BECAUSE God has elected them to come, indeed, Christ died ONLY for them. By default, God has therefore elected everyone else to damnation, and this is so certain, that Christ never died for them. Calvinism teaches that salvation is an act of God UPON the individual, and that only those God elects can be saved and will be saved – and that it is for ONLY those God elects that Christ died.
This passage from Ephesians has NOTHING to do with such error. We will see this in a moment. Paul is simply saying that God has a purpose that He has ordained from the foundation of the world – that He would have a people holy and blameless, to whom He would give Christ. He does not say God unconditionally elects anyone. The only thing unconditional is God’s PURPOSE, not the calling of specific people to that purpose.God has one purpose, not two. So when Paul adds, "Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself," he is still talking about the same purpose. And once Paul begins to talks about being adopted as children by Jesus Christ, the idea of inheritance begins to come into view.
In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; wherein he has abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;
You cannot get away from Paul’s continual teaching that everything we have, we have IN CHRIST. He says, "In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins." Jesus Himself said, "No one comes to the Father except by Me." The notion that there is salvation in any other name under heaven is heresy.
But note: Jesus is the ONLY way to the Father. But God invites ALL to come through Jesus, that ONE way! In this day and age, there are movements about, even in Christian ministries, that suggest that God will accept people who come through another savior, or through another way – if that is all the light they have. This is NOT true. First of all, coming to God through another way than Jesus is not, "coming through the light they have." They don’t have light! That’s the problem. All they have is darkness if they don’t have Jesus. The fact is, if someone who never heard of Christ actually came to God with all the sincerity they could muster, the first thing God would do is point them to Christ.
In Christ alone has God bound up all that He has done in the way of redemption. Only Christ was God become man. Only Christ alone bore the sin of the world. Only Christ alone was raised from the dead with victory over death. Thus, in Christ alone is salvation.
All Things in Christ
According to the riches of His grace, wherein he has abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he has purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him.
Paul again alludes to the PURPOSE of God. He then states that purpose: "That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him."
But if that purpose, "to gather together into one all things in Christ," includes US, then it ought to open our perspective. Think about it. If you are saved, you are already IN CHRIST. In a very real sense, you are already, "being gathered together into Christ." So here we see that this purpose of God is ALREADY being fulfilled. The dispensation of the fullness of times is upon us. God IS gathering together all things in Christ. It began in Acts 2, and will continue until God is satisfied.
Of course, the purpose of God is being worked out in this age, but will be released into fullness in the next. But again, here we see the fact of Christ in us being talked about in terms of inheritance:
In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who works all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
If you have CHRIST IN YOU, you have already obtained an inheritance. Sure. God has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in CHRIST – and therefore if He is in us, all those blessings are in us through Him. That is inheritance in Christ. "Blessing," is often synonymous with the idea of inheritance. It is certainty that here in Ephesians 1.
Thus, we see that God has predestined His church unto a purpose. In the above verse, that purpose is restated – that we should be the praise of His glory. But of course, you cannot divorce the purpose FROM the inheritance. In fact, the inheritance is the means by which the purpose comes to pass. It is because we have received Christ, and thus, all that is in Him, that we are able to come into the purpose of God – that we are able to become the praise of His glory.
What we see here is quite simple. When we receive Christ, we receive all that is IN Christ. And the fact is, all that is in Christ is our inheritance. But we must still grow. We must still come under Jesus as Lord – and experience Christ; experience our inheritance. If we do, then we will be on course to become the praise of God’s glory, to become holy and without blame, as children of God through Christ. Sure. We will be on course in the purpose for which God has called us – we will be included in the purpose God has predestined for His church.God’s predestined purpose is Christ. He intends to gather up all things in Christ. This purpose is going to come to pass – and right now IS coming to pass. To accomplish this purpose God is calling out of this world individuals to be part of His predestined purpose. Those who come to Christ receive Christ – and in Him all of the inheritance of God. The result of this inheritance is that we will be the praise of His glory.
AFTER You Believed
That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom you also trusted, after that you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that you believed, you were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
When you add up the five points of Calvinism, what you are forced to is a conclusion that Calvinists gladly proclaim: Salvation BEFORE faith in Christ. Some simply say, "regeneration precedes faith." But any way you put it, Calvinism demands that you cannot surrender to Christ UNTIL God first regenerates you. Indeed, it teaches that faith in Christ is the REUSLT of the new birth, not the means thereunto.
Of course, this is just another way of denying the need for the sinner to come to the Cross. How so? Because if you must be saved BEFORE you can come to the Cross, then you got saved without coming to the Cross. It means you were raised in Christ – regenerated – before coming to the only means by which you can be regenerated, the Cross. This is why Calvinism, when all the shouting is over, is heresy.
Paul makes it clear – right at the start of Ephesians. Read the above passage again. Could there be anything written that is more clear as to what comes first – salvation or faith in Christ? Let’s cut and paste. Paul says:
In whom you also trusted
You heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.
In whom also AFTER you believed
You were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promiseThe progression is clear: First, hear the Truth, then AFTER you hear the Truth, trust in Christ. And then AFTER you trust in Christ, you are sealed with the Holy Spirit. Thus, regeneration does not precede faith. Faith precedes salvation, and because it does, the entire system of Calvinism is exposed as error.
But hey, I’m wasting my time. Today people simply don’t care, don’t usually turn to the Truth, or open themselves to God. They just dig their trenches deeper and try to come up with more clever arguments to defend their position.
I wonder why God inspired Paul to make sure we understand HOW we came to be saved – indeed, HOW we came to possess what he calls, "the earnest of our inheritance?" There has to be a reason. Central to that reason is that He wants us to understand that our inheritance is not a THING added to Christ. No. Our inheritance is IN CHRIST. He is saying, "The same Christ that was preached to you, and the same Christ in whom you trusted, and the same Christ in whom you were sealed, this is the same Christ in whom is your inheritance." In short, the Holy Spirit in us is the means by which Christ is in us. And HE is the earnest of our inheritance.
Christ In Us Through the Holy Spirit
Many Christians continue to think that Christ in us is one thing, but the Holy Spirit in us is another. In fact, the error of the second blessing that we discussed earlier teaches exactly that. But the Bible says otherwise. Read for instance, this one passage from Romans, and note the many terms that Paul uses to describe the reality of Christ in us.
So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwells in you. (Rom. 8:8-11)
In the Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, Christ in you, the Spirit of life, the Spirit of the Father, and His Spirit that dwells in you – these are all terms referring to the SAME Christ who is in us. In short, Christ in us is not different from the Holy Spirit in us. Rather, Christ is in us through the Holy Spirit in us.
Paul says that AFTER we believed, we were SEALED with the Holy Spirit of promise. And then he described that Holy Spirit of promise: "Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory."
The word, "sealed," here is a Greek word denoting OWNERSHIP, and also designation. The meaning is that through the Holy Spirit we are designated as belonging to God, and because of that, we are designated unto His purpose – that we might be holy and blameless, unto the praise of His glory, etc. But as the passage states, there is a difference between that full purpose being realized THEN, in the eternal ages, and the level upon which that purpose is experienced NOW. This is expressed by saying that NOW we have, "the earnest of our inheritance" – UNTIL the redemption of the purchased possession. But THEN, when that possession is fully redeemed, the earnest of our inheritance will give way to the fullness of that inheritance.
The Earnest of Our Inheritance
The word, "earnest," means DOWN PAYMENT. An EARNEST was a deposit on an item made by one who has purchased an item. So, in other words, if you are saved, God has put a deposit of Christ in you through the Holy Spirit. This is for life NOW. But contained in that deposit are possibilities that are intended for, and can only be experienced, in the eternal ages.
The limitation here is not with Christ. It is with us. In our present state, living in a physical body, living in a fallen creation, we cannot experience but a deposit or earnest. And yet it is our faithfulness over the deposit that determines whether we will be faithful over the fullness.
Imagined being released from this body and this realm. Imagine having no limitation as to our ability to experience Christ. Well, that is what awaits us. However, our ability to experience Christ is not determined by time or space alone. The biggest determinant is our relationship with Christ Himself. To the extent that we are faithful to Him now, over the deposit, we are determined to be faithful over the fullness. The issue here is not the deposit or the fullness – no – the issue is the faithfulness. The issue is how we are to Christ, and who Christ is to us.
The notion that we can neglect Christ NOW, and live to the disregard of Him – but that THEN we will be faithful to Him -- is nonsense. In fact, so many parables told by Jesus were intended to wake us up to the fact that there is a relationship between NOW and THEN. Don’t think that your death is going to change who you are to Christ. No, it will SEAL it and set the stage for the next age.
Everything in the plan and purpose of God relates to Jesus Christ. All things are to be gathered up in Him. That includes US, and any reward. Thus, our eternal reward relates to Jesus Christ – it relates to who we are to Him, and who He is to us. In other words, if you want a reward in the eternal ages, you must come under Jesus as Lord. Only as you relate to Him, will you be able to live in a reward, for God has blessed us with all spiritual blessings – IN CHRIST.
Some have taught that we need to hurry up and, "build character," or, "make points," with God – through serving and doing – and then if we do, we will be given a greater reward. No. I am absolutely convinced that every saved person receives essentially the SAME reward – for we have all received CHRIST. But our ability to experience the fullness of that reward varies – because that ability is directly tied to our relationship with Christ.
We can see this even NOW. Aren’t some Christians more mature in Christ than others? Don’t some Christians seem to be living in Christ to a greater fullness than others? Sure. But is this because they have MORE of Christ? No. Is it because God has rewarded them? No. Rather, they are living in a greater fullness of Christ because their surrender to Christ is FULLER. It just works that way. If you want more of Christ, then give Him more of yourself. God will bring those choices. But we have to yield.
Now, lest there be a misunderstanding, let me explain what I mean by, "give Christ more of yourself." I am not talking about DOING THINGS for God! I’m talking about losing your life – indeed, about losing yourself to Christ – for His sake. God doesn’t just want our sin, or our service. He wants our SELF. He wants to make us into an expression of Himself. We cannot do this. God will do it by bringing us to crisis points of surrender. We will know.
But what IS the reward? First of all, stop thinking in terms of REWARD in the conventional sense. We tend to think of a reward as a something God adds to us because of our meritorious works. But this is wrong. If you want God to reward you according to your works, then the Bible teaches that you must expect Him to take ALL of your works into that determination. Thus, for every imperfect thought, word, or deed, God must subtract from your reward. For every perfect thought, word, or deed, God must add to your reward. Does that sound right to you? And do you really want God to determine a reward for you on that basis? If you do, God will, "reward you according to your works." How much of a reward do you think you will get?
The idea that God would be so grateful to us that He would reward us for anything we do is rather abhorrent. The Bible doesn’t teach it. What the Bible does teach is this: God has given us a deposit of Himself through Christ. This is a deposit of something greater that is to be released in the ages to come. But how we live in accordance with the deposit NOW prepares us to live in the fullness THEN. The reward – or recompense – is not the fullness. The reward is our ability to live in the fullness through Christ.
You cannot experience the fullness of inheritance in Christ unless you are surrendered to Christ. You cannot possess the things of God unless God possesses YOU. You cannot experience fullness of the inheritance unless you are faithful over the deposit – unless you are rightly related to Christ by faith.
If you submit to Jesus as your Lord, your reward is going to be Jesus as your Lord – and everything that is carried in Christ as Lord. Your reward cannot be divorced from who you are to Christ Himself. Thus, your reward is Christ Himself, but then everything that results from being rightly related to Him as your Lord. This would include reigning and ruling with Him.
It cannot be overemphasized: The reward you receive isn’t a THING you get that is divorced from Jesus as Lord. No. The reward is first Christ Himself, and then, by extension, everything that is contained IN Jesus as Lord, and results from Jesus as YOUR Lord.
For example, if you allow God to have His way in your finances NOW, those finances are not going to pass through into the eternal ages. But what YOU have become in relationship to Christ -- through that surrender to Him over your finances – YOU WILL pass through. Who you are to Christ – indeed, who you are IN CHRIST – is what passes through into the eternal ages. Your relationship to Him is what is eternal. We see only bits and pieces of it here, as it is worked out over temporal issues. But once released into fullness, who we are to Christ – set free from the shackles of this age – will be EVERYTHING. Thus, if we have been faithful to Him over little HERE, God will have a faithful person with whom He can fellowship THERE.
God is after FAITHFULNESS TO HIM. But what does that mean? The true definition of, "faithfulness," is that I refuse to take ownership over my own life – and commit my life to God’s will for His glory. That is faithfulness.
In this we see that faithfulness is only indirectly seen in what I do for God. Real faithfulness is seen in who I AM TO GOD. It is quite possible to do much, "for God," but to do it FOR a reward, for myself, and all with the wrong motivation. No. Again – I am truly faithful over anything when I relinquish my ownership over it, and become committed only to God’s will for His glory.
Can we see that a person who is truly faithful is one that God can trust? Can we see that faithfulness to God is the mark of a relationship with God that has no limits? If I am unconditionally committed to God’s will for His glory – rather than mine – then God can entrust me with His possessions, His kingdom, and I can reign and rule with Christ. Is this not INHERITANCE? – is this not inheritance being fully possessed and experienced?
Well, God tells us that right NOW we have been entrusted with a DEPOSIT. Are we being faithful over that which God has given us in this life? That is going to determine how faithful we are – and consequently, will determine what God can entrust us with in the eternal ages.
You will notice that faithfulness over the deposit is the issue – rather than faithfulness over THINGS. If you are faithful to CHRIST IN YOU – faithful to the life of God in you – you will be faithful to God over, "things." It will come out that way. But if you try to be faithful over things – to the disregard of Christ in you – you will be deceived. No. Jesus is first Lord of YOU. And if He is Lord of YOU, He will also be Lord of the things in your life.
The Purchased Possession
In whom also after that you believed, you were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
The Holy Spirit in us – by which Christ is in us – is the EARNEST or deposit of our inheritance UNTIL the redemption of the purchased possession. But what is this, "purchased possession?" Certainly – US. The Bible says, "You are not your own, you have been bought with a price." So the picture is that we have been bought with a price, but until the resurrection of the body, the fullness of what the inheritance means cannot come to pass. So until then, we are sealed with the deposit of the Spirit.
Note again that the Holy Spirit is a down payment of the inheritance – but represents or carries the fullness of the inheritance. It is simply not possible for anyone to experience the fullness of Christ NOW – even though we have received all of Him. We are too limited. But eventually, we will be able to experience the fullness – when we are released from this limitation of the physical realm.
Christ has insured the redemption of all creation, and all of those who receive Him. The victory that makes this certain is finished. But through the invasion of the Holy Spirit, God is now bringing people under His Redemption – and we are sealed by the down payment that designates us as God’s property. At some point, however, God will be done with His work for this age, and will release all who are sealed into the fullness of His inheritance – into the fullness of Christ.
The question is, "What have we done with Christ – with our inheritance – NOW?" Have we allowed Jesus to be our personal Lord? Have we sought FIRST the kingdom of God? Have we lived as if we belong to God?
The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
In order for God to have His way with us, it will require suffering. The suffering is not a thing unto itself, but the suffering is the inevitable result of losing my life to find it in Christ. And yet this is exactly what is necessary if I am reign and rule and experience that which is IN CHRIST. You cannot actually live in your inheritance as a joint-heir with Christ unless you have lost your life for the sake of Christ and found your life IN HIM. Indeed, find your life IN CHRIST, and you will find your inheritance. This is about Christ and our relationship to Him as Lord. It is a relationship that will last forever.
And yet these sufferings are unto a great eternal end:
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waits for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. (Rom. 8:16-23)
Can we now see that there is more to the plan of God than just getting saved and going to heaven? No. We are to live and fellowship with God forever. How can this be possible unless we are faithful to Him NOW? All of this is what is wrapped up in the Holy Spirit that is in us.
Who has also sealed us, and given the earnest WHICH IS the Spirit in our hearts. (2 Cor. 1:22)
The Good News - Home