(One of many Bible articles on the "Wielding the Sword of the Spirit" web site at www.matthewmcgee.org)
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What happened to us when we believed the Gospel?

Matthew McGee

When we believed the gospel, we became part of the body of Christ. Since we are in His body, we are counted as crucified with our Lord Jesus Christ. We died with Him, were buried with Him, and rose from the dead with Him. We are part of His body, having been baptized into His body. We are seated with Him in heaven. Our citizenship is in heaven, and we are ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:18-20) on this earth, just as if we were living in a foreign country.

We were baptized into the body of Christ. "For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body ..." (1 Corinthians 12:12-13). Note that this passage does not speak of baptism into water, but rather of baptism into the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit. "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Galatians 3:27).

"Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in the newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him ..." (Romans 6:3-8). Again, note that we are baptized not into water, but into Jesus Christ, and thereby into His death, and we are risen from the dead with Him.

In Romans 7:4 Paul says, "... ye are become dead to the law by the body of Christ that ye should be married (joined) to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God." Since we are "dead to the law", Paul teaches us in Colossians 2:20-22 to avoid carnal ordinances and rituals. "Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?" This picks up on what Paul had written a few verses earlier in Colossians 2:8, "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."

From there, Paul continues in Colossians 2:9-11 saying, "For in him (Christ) dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ ...." All the completeness of the Godhead (the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit) dwells bodily in Jesus Christ. And we, being in Christ, are complete in Him. Furthermore, we are circumcised in our hearts.

Paul continues in saying that we are, "Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses ..." (Colossians 2:12-13). Thus we are made alive in Christ, and have been forgiven of all our sins.

This is as Paul wrote in the previous chapter in Colossians 1:13-14, that the Father "... hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins ...." For Christians, forgiveness of sins is something that "we have".

The fact that we have been forgiven of all our sins is confirmed in other passages to encourage us to forgive others. For example, in Colossians 3:13, Paul writes that we should be, "Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye." Notice how one can easily recall these three verses showing that we have been forgiven by remembering Colossians 1:13, 2:13, and 3:13. Likewise, he writes in Ephesians 4:32, "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." Being in Christ, we died with Him, were buried with Him, have risen from the dead with Him, and been forgiven of all our sins.

"If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things of the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory" (Colossians 3:1-4). Our life is in Christ, on the right hand of God.

"Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son ..." (Colossians 1:13). Notice how our deliverance and translation are so certain that they are spoken of as if they have already happened. In this same way God spoke to Abraham in Genesis 15:18 when He said, "... unto thy seed I have given this land ...", even though it would still be over 400 years before the children of Israel would cross over Jordan.

"For our conversation (citizenship) is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself" (Philippians 3:20-21). We are not citizens of this world, but rather, ambassadors in it from our home in heaven.

Ephesians 2:5-6 tells us that God, "Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus ...."

God's gift of faith

Our salvation is by grace, through faith. Our works play no role in our salvation. In Romans 5:15-18 alone, Paul refers to our salvation as a "the gift" three times and as "the free gift" three additional times. Without this gift from God of salvation, no one could be saved. Therefore, in John 6:65 Jesus said, "... no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father."

In fact, Paul makes it clear in Ephesians 2:8-10 that even our very faith is given to us by God. "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them". Notice that it says the faith is "... not of yourselves: it is the gift of God ...." This is also confirmed in Philippians 1:29, "For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake ...." And the Lord not only "before ordained" our walk in good works, but the Lord also ordained us to eternal life. As Acts 13:46-48 says, "... lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed." So we have nothing about which to boast, but so much for which to be thankful.

We are a new creation of God

Notice how in the Ephesians 2:8-10 passage quoted above that we are God's workmanship, and He created us in Jesus Christ. We did not get into Jesus Christ by our own works. "Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus ....".

We are a new creature. That is, a new creation. "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17). "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration (rebirth), and renewing (receiving) of the Holy Ghost ..." (Titus 3:5).

In 1 Corinthians 1:25-29, Paul explains that, "... the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence." So God chose us, and not for our greatness, but quite the opposite.

Verses 30-31 continue, "But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord." Thus we see in verse 30 that it is by God's doing that we are in Jesus Christ. Thus the praise and glory are due not to ourselves but unto God, who created us in Jesus Christ.

We are sealed by the Holy Spirit

We are God's purchased possession and are sealed by the Holy Spirit, a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance. In ancient times, instead of signing one's name when property was purchased, one would press one's personal signet ring into wax or clay as a seal on the deed of purchase. Jeremiah 32:7-16 provides an example of this. Jeremiah has "the right of redemption" of a piece of land in verse 7. The evidence (or deed) of the purchase is "sealed according to the law and custom" in verse 11. It is then three times referred to as the "evidence of the purchase" in verses 12, 14, and 16. The NIV and NAS translations refer to it as "deed of purchase".

Paul tells us about this in Ephesians 1:13-14. "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest (deposit of guarantee) of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession (you), unto the praise of his glory."

Notice that we are not sealed just "until we sin again" or "until we really mess up" but until we, "the purchased possession", are redeemed.

Paul tells us again in Ephesians 4:30, "And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption."

"... God; who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts" (2 Corinthians 1:22).

God has effectually signed His name and put down the earnest money on us. Thus we know where we are going when we leave this earth. "For we know that if our earthly house (our mortal bodies) of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, not made with hands, eternal in the heavens" (2 Corinthians 5:1). Continuing on to 2 Corinthians 5:5-8 "Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Therefore we are always confident knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord."

Though our salvation is sure, God has not given us a license to sin, "For we must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ ..." (2 Corinthians 5:10). "For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another" (Galatians 5:13).

God's Foreknowledge, Predestination, Calling, and Justification

In Romans 8:28-30 Paul wrote, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn of many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified." Here we see that those whom God foreknew, He also glorified.

Do you see that? Let us break it down just to make sure this point is clear.
Is there anyone whom God foreknew whom He did not predestinate? No, "... For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate ...."
Is there anyone whom God predestinated whom He did not call? No, for "... whom he did predestinate, them he also called ...."
Therefore there is no one foreknown who was not also called.
Is there anyone whom God called whom He did not justify? No, for "...whom he called, them he also justified ...."
Therefore, there is no one foreknown who was not also justified.
Is there anyone whom God justified whom He did not glorify? No, for "... whom he justified, them he also glorified."
Therefore there is no one foreknown whom He did not also glorify.
Or to say the same thing another way: Everyone whom God foreknew, "... them He also glorified."

God proclaims our glorification with such certainty that He states it in past tense. It is as good as done. As we saw earlier in this article, this is like Genesis 15:18 where, "... the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates ..." even though Abram was still childless at that time!

In contrast with God foreknowing us is God not foreknowing the lost, "... then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me ..." (Matthew 7:23).

The fact that God glorified everyone He foreknew (Romans 8:28-30) is confirmed again in the very next chapter. Right after Paul tells of the Potter who has power over the clay to make vessels as He sees fit, Paul writes in Romans 9:23-24, "And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, Even us, whom he hath called ...." We are the "vessels of mercy", and we were "afore prepared unto glory". That is, we were prepared for glory long ago, in the ancient past. Note also that we are "called", and as we saw in Romans 8:28-30 above, there is no one called that God does not also justify and glorify.

So then quite naturally, "... If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31). No one. Then going on to Romans 8:33-34, "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us." There is no one who can convict us since we have our Lord Jesus Christ as our advocate in heaven.

For these reasons, our Apostle Paul could say in Romans 8:38-39, "... neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is Jesus Christ our Lord." Praise God!

Paul also wrote in Ephesians 1:3-5, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath 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 ...." Then further down in Ephesians 1:11, "In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will ...." How could anyone hear these words and then determine that we can lose our salvation? It just simply cannot happen.

In Isaiah 55:9 God said, "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts ...." In eternity past, God knew the names of everyone who would be saved. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 1:9 that God "... hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began ...."

Summary

We have been resurrected and forgiven: "And you, being dead in your sins ... hath he quickened (made alive) together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses ..." (Colossians 2:13). God "... hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son ..." (Colossians 1:13), and "... hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ ..." (Ephesians 1:3). Therefore, we should always be so thankful for our position in Christ.

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