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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We want to enlarge upon our previous article, The Origin Of Christian Denominations, to show the major reason that the Church lacks the ability to function properly in either this world or God’s kingdom; which is, a failure to increasingly understand and appropriate the grace of God that is extended unto us through the many facets included in the mystery of God that Paul explained to us, and we considered in our previous article TOCD. We could think of this issue in regards to the two uppermost policies for kingdom of God functionality – the centrality and preeminence of Christ, and our dwelling in Him by faith.
About fifty years ago I was setting in an adult Sunday School class, and our memory verse for that week was Gal. 2:20: "I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me." As I sat there in class, I was made keenly aware that ‘I didn’t have the slightest idea what that verse meant, but that some day I would'; that was about 50 years ago and I am still learning. The apostle Paul had this to say about what God had revealed to him: "[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope] that if possible I may attain to the [spiritual and moral] resurrection [that lifts me] out from among the dead [even while in the body]. Not that I have now attained [this ideal], or have already been made perfect, but I press on to lay hold of (grasp) and make my own, that for which Christ Jesus (the Messiah) has laid hold of me and made me His own. I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward" (Phil. 3:10-14). (Amplified version)
This awareness, this determination does not come to us through any ability of our own, but only through Christ and our union with Him! Or as Jesus said, "Dwell in Me, and I will dwell in you. [Live in Me, and I will live in you.] Just as no branch can bear fruit of itself without abiding in (being vitally united to) the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in Me. I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing. If a person does not dwell in Me, he is thrown out like a [broken-off] branch, and withers; such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire, and they are burned. If you live in Me [abide vitally united to Me] and My words remain in you and continue to live in your hearts, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. When you bear (produce) much fruit, My Father is honored and glorified, and you show and prove yourselves to be true followers of Mine" (John 15:4-8).
The Word of God is filled with additional evidence to prove the centrality of Christ and our need to live or dwell in Him in order that we may receive from Him the spiritual graces required to produce the fruit He desires. The Church is in the pitiful condition that it is in because it has neglected to, "grow in grace (undeserved favor, spiritual strength) and recognition and knowledge and understanding of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18). Instead of realizing that Jesus is our only source of supply for all of life, we have neglected to follow His instructions to grow in grace and have looked to human reasoning and understanding that God calls foolishness and is going to destroy – as we briefly considered in TOCD.
This dwelling in Christ by faith is far different from mere head knowledge about Christ; it is a firmly held conviction, that we no longer need to try to convince ourselves of, that "Christ (the Messiah) lives in me" by His Holy Spirit and I live in Him by having been baptized into Him by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13). This firmly held conviction and assurance becomes ours as we progress or continue in His Word; "So Jesus said to those Jews who had believed in Him, If you abide in My word [hold fast to My teachings and live in accordance with them], you are truly My disciples. And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free" (John 8:31-32). If we neglect to daily feed upon God’s Word we weaken ourselves to destructive worldly influences and gradually become conformed to this world (Rom. 12:2) and deceived by Satan; then we will find ourselves relying more and more upon our own understanding and that of others instead of Christ. That’s the way that the Church has been lead astray by the enemy, as will become increasingly apparent as we proceed through this article.
Let’s take a look at Satan’s original appeal, and draw some conclusions. "Now the serpent was more subtle and crafty than any living creature of the field which the Lord God had made. And he [Satan] said to the woman, Can it really be that God has said, You shall not eat from every tree of the garden? [Rev. 12:9-11] And the woman said to the serpent, We may eat the fruit from the trees of the garden, except the fruit from the tree which is in the middle of the garden. God has said, You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest you die. But the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die, [2 Cor. 11:3] for God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing the difference between good and evil and blessing and calamity" (Gen. 3:1-5).
The first thing that Satan suggests is that we have a right to question God and what He has declared; we should think, reason and come to our own conclusions instead of relying upon God. The second thing that he suggests or states is that God is not trustworthy, you can’t depend upon what God says – you’re not really going to die. The third thing that Satan states is that God is withholding from you the opportunity to become as He is – a god. This was the beginning of humanistic reasoning apart from and in opposition to God. This was the beginning of this world’s wisdom that God calls foolishness and is about to destroy. And this is what Jesus came to "rescue and deliver us from": "Grace and spiritual blessing be to you and [soul] peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah), Who gave (yielded) Himself up [to atone] for our sins [and to save and sanctify us], in order to rescue and deliver us from this present wicked age and world order, in accordance with the will and purpose and plan of our God and Father – to Him [be ascribed all] the glory through all the ages of the ages and the eternities of the eternities! Amen (so be it)" (Gal. 1:3-5).
We are living in what is perhaps the most momentous and at the same time the most depressing and difficult time in history; the majority, of even people who call themselves Christians, have been so conditioned by this evil world system to think and live according to Satan’s advice to Eve, that it is almost impossible for them to believe and except the truth of God’s Word. It is as Jesus told His disciples; "As He passed along, He noticed a man blind from his birth. His disciples asked Him, Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind? Jesus answered, It was not that this man or his parents sinned, but he was born blind in order that the workings of God should be manifested (displayed and illustrated) in him. We must work the works of Him Who sent Me and be busy with His business while it is daylight; night is coming on, when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the world's Light" (John 9:1-5). In the light of what Jesus said, I think we can make the following comments: (1) Jesus said that there was a time coming, and I think that we are presently living in it, when it would be nearly impossible for God’s faithful servants to persuade sinners to repent and believe the Gospel; (2) that the world and those living in it would be so darkened and blind to God’s truth that it would take a miracle to open their blind eyes; and (3) the only true light that can open the eyes of those blind to the truth is Jesus!
I believe that being conformed to this world in the way pointed out is the basic and primary issue facing the Church, and that the majority of the churches have compromised the truth of God’s Word by joining in with the world (many without even knowing it) instead of confronting and opposing it.
If we can see, understand and believe what we have considered so far, the darkness that is all about us, and the depression and hopelessness it creates, will begin to dissipate as we learn to disregard or throw off the foolish wisdom of this world, and begin to take God at His Word and trust Him more fully; for He truly is in charge and full control of all His creation and will surely bring to pass everything He has declared in His Word!