This Biblical Christianity website encourages people to know and to live, God’s Word; thus enabling us to live now as God intended for us to live, and preparing us for eternal life in God’s kingdom.
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Jesus, in His earthly ministry, lived and taught us about spiritual life, but He never got around to explaining what we must do to make it effective or a living reality in our lives; but He did make special preparations for this to occur, and the following material explains the process. We have waited until this 3rd part of Dwelling In Christ to put some of the people and dates into perspective regarding the spiritual development of the Body of Christ. The three people, their ministries, and the time period involved concerning Jesus, John and Paul are what we wish now to consider.
John, the fourth Gospel, is absolutely unique, priceless, and most precious among all the literature of the world. Unger, in his Bible Dictionary, claims that some people have called it "the greatest book in the world." Jesus’ great discourses on who He is and our great privilege to dwell in Him, are not recorded in the other three Gospels, but are only found in the Gospel of John and some of the epistles. The synoptic Gospels present the historical Jesus, His teachings and life. The Gospel of John presents the deep spiritual aspects of the person of Jesus and what that can mean to us. John wrote his Gospel after many long years of prayer, devotion and fellowship with the risen Lord (1 Jn. 1:1-3). John wrote so that we might know Jesus as he did, and experience and enjoy the same spiritual fellowship (1 Jn. 1:1-4).
Polycrates mentions Ephesus as the place of John’s burial. It was probably there that John penned his writings: the Gospel of John, his three letters, and the book of Revelation, near the end of the first century. His books then, were probably the oldest writings and the last to be added to the canon of Scripture. John undoubtedly knew all the other books of what we now call the Bible, and was very familiar with them. Therefore, he had the advantage of all that had been written, his own personal experience during his two or three years of discipleship, and many years of personal fellowship afterwards. John was probably the other disciple of John the Baptist mentioned in Jn. 1:37, and therefore one of the earliest followers of Christ. He was one of the three most intimate disciples of Jesus and called himself the disciple whom Jesus loved, the other two being Peter and James. No writer of the Bible knew Jesus better, nor had the time to evaluate his experiences before he wrote. John had about sixty years to formulate his convictions concerning the teachings and person of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to put them into the written form that we have in the Bible. He was therefore given the privilege of adding the capstone and putting the finishing touches to God’s revelation, and the faith "once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3). It was therefore complete, and all those who desire to, can be saved from their sins and may know the Lord as John did!
Many of the dates concerning Jesus and the early church are not known, but have been derived from various sources and accounts, as has been the dates that I have recorded here and use in order to be consistent throughout my publications. The chronology in the encyclopedia below gives the date of Jesus’ birth as B.C. 6, but I usually use the date of B.C. 4 and reckon from there.
Jesus’ birth, according to our calendar, was about B.C. 4 and His crucifixion and resurrection about A.D. 33, making Him 36 or 37 years old. Paul, traditionally was about 2 years younger than Jesus, and was converted to Christ on the Damascus Road about two years after Christ’s resurrection or about A.D. 35. If Paul was martyred in A.D. 68, he would have been about 70 years of age, and have lived about 33 years as a Christian. The book of Galatians seems to have been his first, written about A.D. 48 – 13 years after his conversion.
CHRONOLOGY, NEW TESTAMENT (taken from the International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, Electronic Database Copyright (c)1996 by Biblesoft) Summary of Dates: (1) Birth of Jesus, 748/6; (2) Death of Herod the Great, 750/4; (3) Baptism of Jesus, 779/26; (4) First Passover of Jesus' ministry, 780/27; (5) Death of Jesus, 783/30. (End of quote)
Luke 1:1-4 and Acts 1:1 identify Luke as the writer of the book of Acts, the account of the thirty plus years of Church history following our Lord’s resurrection. Much emphasis is giving to the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Peter is the central figure through the first twelve chapters, covering a period of about 13 years. Paul becomes the prominent figure through the rest of the book, covering about 20 more years and bringing the date to about A.D. 65. It is about this time that Luke probably wrote the book of Acts.
So, it will help us to understand spiritual progression if we keep in mind the above information in the following way. (1) It was Jesus that first introduced new spiritual life and how it should develop in the normal Christian; (2) It was the apostle John that faithfully recorded the words of Jesus, about sixty years after the resurrection of Christ, in the book that we call the Gospel of John; (3) it was to the Apostle Paul that Jesus, about two years after His resurrection, personally revealed Himself to and began to explain, over a period of several years, more details of how further spiritual development should take place in the Body of Christ (Gal. 1:11-18). No other writer of the New Testament speaks of the Church as the Body of Christ, and the many other details concerning spiritual life as does Paul. Therefore, the logical places for us to look for information about spiritual life are the books of the Apostles John and Paul, and the person we should appeal to, to guide us, is the Holy Spirit.
ROMANS 5:1-21.... THEREFORE, SINCE we are justified ( acquitted, declared righteous, and given a right standing with God) through faith, let us [grasp the fact that we] have [the peace of reconciliation to hold and to enjoy] peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed one). Through Him also we have [our] access (entrance, introduction) by faith into this grace (state of God's favor) in which we [firmly and safely] stand. And let us rejoice and exult in our hope of experiencing and enjoying the glory of God. Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance. And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity). And character [of this sort] produces [the habit of] joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation. Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God's love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us.
We need to keep in mind that the subject we are pursuing is that by dwelling in Christ we grow spiritually. One of the ingredients to growth is exercise, which the above paragraph tells us can involve hardships and difficulties that God allows to come against us, and which we then have to resist or strain against. Two other growth ingredients are good food and rest, so as we feed upon the instructions in God’s Word and rest in confidence upon what He has said, we can be assured that growth is taking place.
6While we were yet in weakness [powerless to help ourselves], at the fitting time Christ died for (in behalf of) the ungodly. Now it is an extraordinary thing for one to give his life even for an upright man, though perhaps for a noble and lovable and generous benefactor someone might even dare to die. But God shows and clearly proves His [own] love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed one) died for us. Therefore, since we are now justified ( acquitted, made righteous, and brought into right relationship with God) by Christ's blood, how much more [certain is it that] we shall be saved by Him from the indignation and wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, it is much more [certain], now that we are reconciled, that we shall be saved (daily delivered from sin's dominion) through His [resurrection] life. Not only so, but we also rejoice and exultingly glory in God [in His love and perfection] through our Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom we have now received and enjoy [our] reconciliation. [Jer. 9:24.]
Through repentance, faith, trust and reliance upon Jesus as our Savior, we have been accepted as God’s born-again sons and daughters; also, we have been delivered from the power of sin, the world and the devil, all of which will be more fully developed as we progress through these chapters in Romans.
12Therefore, as sin came into the world through one man, and death as the result of sin, so death spread to all men, [no one being able to stop it or to escape its power] because all men sinned. [To be sure] sin was in the world before ever the Law was given, but sin is not charged to men's account where there is no law [to transgress]. Yet death held sway from Adam to Moses [the Lawgiver], even over those who did not themselves transgress [a positive command] as Adam did. Adam was a type (prefigure) of the one Who was to come [in reverse, the former destructive, the Latter saving]. [Gen. 5:5; 7:22; Deut. 34:5]
15But God's free gift is not at all to be compared to the trespass [His grace is out of all proportion to the fall of man]. For if many died through one man's falling away (his lapse, his offense), much more profusely did God's grace and the free gift [that comes] through the undeserved favor of the one Man Jesus Christ abound and overflow to and for [the benefit of] many. Nor is the free gift at all to be compared to the effect of that one [man's] sin. For the sentence [following the trespass] of one [man] brought condemnation, whereas the free gift [following] many transgressions brings justification ( an act of righteousness). For if because of one man's trespass (lapse, offense) death reigned through that one, much more surely will those who receive [God's] overflowing grace (unmerited favor) and the free gift of righteousness [putting them into right standing with Himself] reign as kings in life through the one Man Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed one).
Though we may only be a humble dishwasher, through dwelling in Christ by faith we become "... more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us" (Rom. 8:37). Thereby, we reign as kings in the life that really matters – our new spiritual life in Christ. "For [as far as this world is concerned] you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God" (Col. 3:3).
18Well then, as one man's trespass [one man's false step and falling away led] to condemnation for all men, so one Man's act of righteousness [leads] to acquittal and right standing with God and life for all men. For just as by one man's disobedience (failing to hear, heedlessness, and carelessness) the many were constituted sinners, so by one Man's obedience the many will be constituted righteous (made acceptable to God, brought into right standing with Him). But then Law came in, [only] to expand and increase the trespass [making it more apparent and exciting opposition]. But where sin increased and abounded, grace (God's unmerited favor) has surpassed it and increased the more and superabounded, so that, [just] as sin has reigned in death, [so] grace (His unearned and undeserved favor) might reign also through righteousness (right standing with God) which issues in eternal life through Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed one) our Lord.
ROMANS 6:1-23.... WHAT SHALL we say [to all this]? Are we to remain in sin in order that God's grace (favor and mercy) may multiply and overflow? Certainly not! How can we who died to sin live in it any longer? Are you ignorant of the fact that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by the baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious [power] of the Father, so we too might [habitually] live and behave in newness of life. For if we have become one with Him by sharing a death like His, we shall also be [one with Him in sharing] His resurrection [by a new life lived for God].
There should be no doubt in our hearts and minds that God means exactly what the Holy Spirit moved Paul to record here, this is all part of what we must be convince of to really and truly dwell in Christ as we are privileged to do.
6We know that our old (unrenewed) self was nailed to the cross with Him in order that [our] body [which is the instrument] of sin might be made ineffective and inactive for evil, that we might no longer be the slaves of sin. For when a man dies, he is freed (loosed, delivered) from [the power of] sin [among men]. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, because we know that Christ (the Anointed one), being once raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has power over Him. For by the death He died, He died to sin [ending His relation to it] once for all; and the life that He lives, He is living to God [in unbroken fellowship with Him].
11Even so consider yourselves also dead to sin and your relation to it broken, but alive to God [living in unbroken fellowship with Him] in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore rule as king in your mortal (short-lived, perishable) bodies, to make you yield to its cravings and be subject to its lusts and evil passions. Do not continue offering or yielding your bodily members [and faculties] to sin as instruments (tools) of wickedness. But offer and yield yourselves to God as though you have been raised from the dead to [perpetual] life, and your bodily members [and faculties] to God, presenting them as implements of righteousness. For sin shall not [any longer] exert dominion over you, since now you are not under Law [as slaves], but under grace [as subjects of God's favor and mercy].
Even though Christ has freed us from the Law and sin, it does not automatically become our daily experience without our cooperation with the Holy Spirit. Paul was writing to the Romans to alert them of these great truths that they needed to be convinced of if they expected these things to be true of them. Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection effectively put to death our old sinful nature, making it possible for us to live uprightly before Him by the indwelling Holy Spirit – when we trust and rely upon Jesus in this way. We will see this more fully developed in the 8th chapter of Romans – we are to refuse to think about those things that displease the Holy Spirit, and set our minds upon the things that do, and then He will empower us to live uprightly before God and men.
15What then [are we to conclude]? Shall we sin because we live not under Law but under God's favor and mercy? Certainly not! Do you not know that if you continually surrender yourselves to anyone to do his will, you are the slaves of him whom you obey, whether that be to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience which leads to righteousness (right doing and right standing with God)? But thank God, though you were once slaves of sin, you have become obedient with all your heart to the standard of teaching in which you were instructed and to which you were committed. And having been set free from sin, you have become the servants of righteousness (of conformity to the divine will in thought, purpose, and action).
Therefore, it is imperative that we are properly taught the truth of God and live by this method that God has provided, if we hope for all the things we have already seen to be true of us – this is the way that spiritual growth is accomplished.
19I am speaking in familiar human terms because of your natural limitations. For as you yielded your bodily members [and faculties] as servants to impurity and ever increasing lawlessness, so now yield your bodily members [and faculties] once for all as servants to righteousness (right being and doing) [which leads] to sanctification. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But then what benefit (return) did you get from the things of which you are now ashamed? [None] for the end of those things is death. But now since you have been set free from sin and have become the slaves of God, you have your present reward in holiness and its end is eternal life. For the wages which sin pays is death, but the [bountiful] free gift of God is eternal life through (in union with) Jesus Christ our Lord.
JAMES 4:6-8a.... But He gives us more and more grace ( power of the Holy Spirit, to meet this evil tendency and all others fully). That is why He says, God sets Himself against the proud and haughty, but gives grace [continually] to the lowly (those who are humble enough to receive it). [Prov. 3:34.] So be subject to God. Resist the devil [stand firm against him], and he will flee from you. Come close to God and He will come close to you.