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ZAB
May 5th 2009, 01:58 PM
Hi everyone,

We all know that we are to "grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ" (2 Pet 3:18), and that we should "desire the sincere milk of the Word, that ye may grow thereby" (1 Pet 2:2).

But I want to pose a question: At what point does this growth culminate? What is involved in the climax of spiritual growth? And when will it occur?

Is it heaven? Is is on the earth?

And finally, what is the purpose of being "fully grown"?

Any thoughts?

TrophyofGrace
May 5th 2009, 08:54 PM
I think our spiritual growth culminates in perfection - being conformed to Christ and perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect and as such it's not something we attain on earth, but in Heaven. For example:

1Co 13:10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
1Co 13:11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
1Co 13:12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.


Eph 4:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
Eph 4:14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
Eph 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

Sojourner
May 5th 2009, 09:01 PM
What Every Christian Should Know About Spiritual Growth!

By David Wilkerson
August 23, 1999
__________

"We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth" (2 Thessalonians 1:3).
What a great compliment Paul paid the Thessalonian Christians! Here's the full essence of what he was saying: "It's incredible to see how much you've grown, both in your faith in Christ and in your love for one another. Everywhere I go, I brag to others about your spiritual growth. How I thank God for you!"
In this short passage, Paul gives us an amazing picture of a body of believers who were growing in unity and love. The Greek phrase Paul uses for "groweth exceedingly" means "growth over, above and beyond that of others." Both individually and corporately, the Thessalonians' faith and love outshone that of all other churches.
Obviously, these Thessalonian Christians weren't just trying to hang onto their faith till Jesus returned. They were learning, moving, growing -- and their lives offered evidence to that fact. According to Paul, they were the talk of every church in Asia.
Apparently, the preaching these people heard was provoking them into an ever deeper walk with Christ. It was melting their fleshly ambitions and convicting them of un-Christlike habits. And the Holy Ghost in them was tearing down all ethnic barriers and color lines. They were discovering how to embrace any person, whether rich or poor, educated or uneducated. And they offered great care to each other, preferring one another in love.
Moreover, the Thessalonian believers weren't easily drawn into error. They didn't allow false teachers to come into their midst and lead people away with fancy, new religious fads. They highly honored and revered God's word.
At the time, these Christians were under intense persecution. But that didn't stop other believers from visiting their extraordinary church. People descended on them by the droves. Yet these visitors didn't come to be dazzled by signs and wonders, or to be awed by powerful preaching. No, they came to witness the great miracle of a church moving together as one body in the love of Christ. They wanted to see firsthand how a strong, steadfast gathering of believers was growing in the grace and knowledge of God.
Now, if Paul can compliment the church at Thessalonica, I believe I'm allowed to compliment our congregation at Times Square Church (http://www.tscpulpitseries.org/tsc.html). I see and hear things among our body of believers that make me truly believe we're growing in the Lord "exceedingly."
Our church is twelve years old, with some 103 nationalities worshipping among us. Yet there are no ethnic lines here. We all know we're one blood with Christ. And the love in our church is a marvelous thing to experience. Visitors tell me, "As soon as I walked through the door, I felt the love of Christ saturating this place."
At various times, I've seen the following expressions of Christ's love in our midst:
* A black usher hugs a white usher, telling him, "I sure see Jesus in you, brother." The white usher answers, "I'm so glad I know you, friend."
* Before the services, our ushers meet together to sing, clap and worship together. Their bond of love is evident to all.
* Our Rhodesian pastor, Neil, hugs our Filipino pastor, Cesar -- fellow ministers who deeply love and respect one another.
* Members of our choir -- singers of immense talent -- embrace the chosen soloists in true admiration and love. They tell them, "Your singing was truly anointed. I thank God for your gift -- and for you."
Recently, our church body gathered in love around one of the women on our staff. This dear, faithful woman lost her son in a car accident. Yet she didn't have to grieve alone. Scores of believers from our church rallied around her at the funeral. People had to line up down the street just to get into the chapel. And they all came for a simple reason: they love their sister deeply.
Like Paul, I look upon our congregation and see people who are strong in the Lord. Yet, not too long ago, these same people sought counseling every week. They were constantly up and down in their walk with Christ. One week they were full of joy, singing praises to God. But the next week their spirits were so low, they couldn't even lift their heads.
Today, I see a steadfastness taking hold in them. They soak up God's word, letting it mold their lives from day to day. And their faith is slowly taking root. Like Paul, I believe their exceeding growth can be seen by everyone around them!
In my opinion, there are three important things every Christian should know about spiritual growth. I trust these three things will both challenge and edify you:


1. Every Christian Should Be
Growing and Thriving Spiritually,
If He's Filled With Holy Ghost Truth.

If you're being watered and fed by God's word, you should have continual spiritual growth in your life. It should be happening automatically.
Now, I don't know if everyone in our congregation is "growing exceedingly," as Paul knew about the church at Thessalonica. Yet I believe it is true for many of our people. Why? The anointed preaching of the pure word of God always produces growth. And the apostle Peter says that all who desire the pure milk of the word will grow.
Paul describes our spiritual growth as a work of the Holy Ghost. He says the Spirit is ever at work, changing us from glory to glory. He's constantly renewing our minds, mortifying our flesh and bringing forth purity in our inner man. He works in our hearts to put off anger, bitterness, resentment and evil of all kinds. And he produces in us kindness, tenderness and forgiveness toward one another. He's growing us up in Christ -- teaching us that everything we say and do has to be worthy of our Lord!
Paul further urges us, "Let a man examine himself..." (1 Corinthians 11:28). "Examine yourselves...prove your own selves..." (2 Corinthians 13:5). The Greek word for "examine" here means "scrutinize, test yourself." The apostle is saying, "Test yourself -- see if you're walking according to God's word." We're to constantly ask ourselves, "Am I changing? Am I becoming more loving and tenderhearted? Am I treating my family and friends with godly respect? Is my conversation becoming more righteous? Or am I still participating in dirty jokes? Am I still complaining, or am I speaking edifying words of faith?"
I take this matter of self-examination very seriously. If you're a Christian, yet you're still apathetic about your spiritual growth, then you haven't allowed God's Spirit to do his work in you. Ask yourself -- are you growing more excited about Jesus and his church each day? Or do you still hold onto grudges, resentments, roots of bitterness, despite God's warnings? Are you growing spiritually -- or has your growth been stunted?
It's possible for us to experience "exceeding growth" in many areas of our lives, and yet remain childish in one area. Paul says, "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things" (1 Corinthians 13:11). Let me illustrate Paul's statement with a personal story.
Years ago, I was driving with my wife, Gwen, and her mother through the parking lot of a Dallas mall. Suddenly, a young woman zoomed her car out in front of us. I had to slam on the brakes to avoid an accident. Immediately, I started fuming. When the driver looked up and saw my angry expression, she panicked and sped away.
At that point, I lost control. I hit the gas and sped after her. In seconds, I was way beyond the speed limit. I had no idea what I'd do if I caught up with her. All I knew was, I was angry!
Gwen was white with fear. She cried, "David, what are you doing? Stop the car!" I fumed, "Didn't you see what that woman just did? We could've had a wreck!" Gwen answered, "If you keep driving this way, you're going to have a bigger wreck!" Suddenly the fear of God came over me, and the Holy Ghost spoke clearly: "Stop now, David -- while you still can!"
After that incident, I allowed God's Spirit to deal with my short temper. And I can honestly say I don't indulge in that kind of childish behavior anymore. Through the power of the Holy Ghost, I've striven to mortify all un-Christlike attitudes and impulses.
I believe most Christians are like me. Their lack of spiritual growth isn't due to some gross sin. More often, it's a character flaw -- a predominate weakness they've never dealt with. They may not think it's serious. But in reality, it's a huge obstruction to their spiritual growth.
I challenge you to finish the following sentence: "My single biggest problem is..." (I wonder how your spouse or coworkers might fill in that blank!) Is your weakness flying off the handle? Is it pouting when things don't go your way? Are you a touchy, nagging spouse? Do you have a hard time forgiving someone for a hurt he caused you? Or is your problem a besetting lust or habit?
Show me a Christian who's always getting miffed...who's always complaining and murmuring...who's never thankful...who's unteachable, always having to be right...who's mean-spirited and cutting...and I'll show you someone whose spiritual life is stunted. That person is withering, becoming dry and barren. The precious life of Christ in him is dying!


2. Some Christians Are Growing,
But They Don't Know It.

Some believers can tell you all about their spiritual growth. And you can clearly see the changes in their lives. They testify to you about how the Holy Ghost has vanquished the enemy for them, and you rejoice with them in their victory.
Yet these kinds of Christians are the exception. Most believers are totally unaware of any spiritual progress in their lives. They're diligent to walk in holiness and in the fear of God. They pray, read the Bible and seek the Lord with all their hearts. And they've forsaken all besetting lusts and habits. There's no obstruction to spiritual growth in them. In short, the life of Christ is thriving in these saints.
But they can't discern any growth in themselves. They don't sense that anything spiritual is taking place at all. I'm an example of this type of Christian. I know I walk in the righteousness of Christ, yet I never feel holy. I never sense I'm making progress. In fact, I occasionally get down on myself whenever I do or say something un-Christlike. It causes me to wonder, "I've been a Christian for years. Why don't I ever learn?"
We all judge others to be so much purer and holier than ourselves. Yet we aren't aware of the wonderful, exceeding spiritual growth that God is causing in us!

Sojourner
May 5th 2009, 09:02 PM
[Continued from previous post]

I think the Thessalonian Christians were stunned when they heard Paul's glowing assessment of them. They probably thought, "Me, growing exceedingly? Paul must be kidding. Doesn't he know I'm still far from what I ought to be? On most days, I struggle badly. He may see growth in me, but I certainly don't."
Yet Paul knew that spiritual growth is a secret, hidden thing. Scripture likens it to the unseen growth of flowers and trees: "I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon. His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon" (Hosea 14:5-6).
God is telling us, "Go to the lilies! Just try to watch them grow. Take your watch, and be prepared to stay all day long. I'm telling you, by day's end you won't be able to see any growth whatsoever. But know this: I water the lily every morning with the dew I send -- and it's going to grow.
"Or, try to measure the growth of the cedar tree. Camp under it for a month, and tell me how far you see it grow. Even after six months, you probably won't notice any growth. Yet that tree is putting down deep roots! You see, I water the tree with my rain. And any tree that's watered properly is going to grow. Yet such growth is not discernible to the human eye. It grows, but in secret!"
The same is true of most spiritual growth. It's imperceptible to the human eye!
Some Christians may object, "I've been a believer for ten years, and I still don't feel like I've grown spiritually." To those people, I point to the book of Isaiah. God promises, "I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground..." (Isaiah 44:3). He also calls his repentant people "trees of righteousness" (61:3). The Lord himself says we're his trees and flowers, his carefully tended plants. And he sends down his dew and rain upon us daily!
Let me give you an easy test that will reveal whether spiritual growth is taking place in you. Simply ask yourself, "Am I thirsty? Do I want more of Jesus and his holiness?" If the answer is yes, you can know you're growing. Why? He promises to pour out his living water on all who thirst for him: "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled" (Matthew 5:6).
Simply put, God judges your spiritual growth by how much you hunger and thirst for him. So, if you're sincere about your walk with Christ, and you're open to his leading and correction, you mustn't be discouraged by any perceived lack of growth. True spiritual growth is taking place in you, whether you can see it or not!
I received a pitiful letter recently from the godly wife of a minister. She suspected something was wrong in her husband's life, because he suddenly grew distant from her. In fact, over the course of a few months, he totally changed into another man.
This man's preaching lost all its life, and his sermons grew increasingly permissive. His mind wandered in the pulpit, until finally he made no sense at all. The congregation could tell something in him had changed. Their shepherd was no longer growing spiritually. In fact, he was dying before their eyes!
His wife prayed for God to give her a clue about what was happening. Soon, she noticed her husband was spending hours shut in his office. He had forbidden her to bother him while he was supposedly studying. But finally, with the Spirit's leading, she pushed open the door to see what he was doing.
What she saw shocked her. Her husband sat drooling over internet pornography! When he turned and saw her, he said without emotion, "I'm hooked -- addicted to this stuff." There was no sign of sorrow in him, no hint of remorse, no plea for help. He was totally given over to his lust!
I know a young minister who had worked with this man in a former pastorate. I called up the young man to find out what the pastor had been like in his earlier ministry. The young man told me, "In all honesty, that dear brother never had a hunger for the Lord. He had a lot of other interests, but he didn't care much about the things of God. And he was a legalist. To him, everything was about works. Yet what I remember most was that he was incredibly mean to his wife. She could never do enough to please him."
In twenty years' time, there hadn't been any spiritual growth in this man. He was still a selfish, pouting child! The water he drank wasn't from heaven at all -- but from the devil's poisonous cesspool!
Yet God promises that all who hunger and thirst after him will be filled by his own hand. He'll water us from heaven. And he'll feed us all the nutrients needed to produce abundant life in us -- whether we see it happening or not!


3. Many Christians Who Are
Growing Think They're Failing.

When some people get saved, they never again struggle with a besetting sin. They testify, "The moment I came to Jesus, the Lord took that temptation out of me. And I've been free ever since." I know many former drug addicts who've had this experience. They were saved in our ministry over the past thirty-five years, and they haven't had an addiction problem since. In fact, some serve as ministers and social workers today.
But for multitudes of Christians, it's a different story. Years after their conversion, they still battle a powerful, perplexing temptation. An old corruption has broken loose in them -- something they hated and never wanted to see again. And that bondage is the one thing that's kept them from fullness in God. It brings guilt and reproach into their life. And if it were to be exposed, it could ruin them.
Yet no matter how hard they struggle, that one remaining lust simply won't let go. Over time they grow discouraged. Their soul cries out, "How long, Lord? When will this chain ever be broken?" And eventually the devil comes to them, saying, "You'll never make it. Your sin is in you for good! You've struggled with this thing for years now. You know there's no way you could grow spiritually in this kind of condition."
Take heart, friend -- I've got good news for you. You're growing in the midst of your struggle! In fact, you may be growing by leaps and bounds because of your struggle.
Ask any sailor who's had to navigate through hurricanes and great storms. The waves may toss his ship around like a cork. The winds may shake the masts. And the storm may even seem to push the ship backward. But even the most skilled sailor often can't discern whether his ship is making any headway. The same winds that threaten to take the ship down may actually be speeding it on its way!
Rest assured -- if you have the fear of God in your heart, you're going to emerge from the storm much stronger. You see, when you're doing battle with the enemy, you're exercising and calling forth all the graces and powers of God. And even though you may feel weakened, those graces and powers are strengthening you. For one, you're becoming more urgent in your praying. And, second, you're being stripped of all pride. So, the storm is actually putting you on "spiritual guard" in every area of your life!

When You Cooperate With the
Holy Spirit in the Battle to Mortify Your Sin,
You're Growing in Your
Knowledge of the Spirit's Work!

Whenever opposition arises, God's grace thrives in us. Think about what happens to a tree when a great storm beats violently against it. The wind threatens to uproot the tree and carry it away. It breaks off its branches and blows away its leaves. It loosens its roots and blows off its buds. And when the storm is over, things look utterly hopeless.
Yet, look closer: the same storm that opened crevices in the earth around the trunk of the tree has helped the roots to go deeper. The tree now has access to new, deeper sources of nutrition and water. And it has been purged of all its dead branches. The buds may be gone, but others will grow back more fully. I tell you, that tree is now stronger, growing in unseen ways. And just wait till harvest -- because it's going to bear much fruit!
Maybe you're in a storm right now. The wind is blowing hard, shaking you violently, and you think you're going down. Beloved, don't panic! You've got to know that in the midst of the tempest, you're putting down deep spiritual roots. God is developing in you a deepening humility, a greater mourning and sorrow for sin, a heightened hunger for his righteousness.
Other Christians who haven't known spiritual warfare may look down their noses at their brothers and sisters who struggle in ways they don't. But you no longer have that attitude. Now, because of your own struggles, you're more tenderhearted toward the weaknesses and failings of others. Though you haven't been aware of it, the Lord has used the storm to deepen in you the roots of Christ's compassion.
In short, God is making you a seasoned soldier of the cross -- battle-scarred, but battle-smart and courageous. You may get down on yourself at times -- but the Lord never does. The fact is, he could have acted sovereignly at any time to pluck out your struggle. But he didn't -- because he saw it producing in you a greater thirst for him!
Think about it all: Your new humility, your new sorrow for sin, your new hunger for Christ -- none of these things was present in you when you weren't engaged in spiritual warfare. And now you're growing ever stronger, in spite of your ongoing battle. You've resisted by faith alone. And although you've stumbled, you always get back up and return to the cross. You're holding onto a promise of covenant power. And in the process, you're growing holier, more humble -- more like Jesus!
Yet the devil wants to convince you that your sin-struggle proves you're wicked and hell-bound. No -- he's a liar! And he has trapped countless Christians with this hellish lie!
Just a few weeks ago our ministry received a call from a pastor's wife who was obviously inebriated when she called. With a shaky voice she said, "I just want to let you know there are thousands of pastors' wives out there who drink to cover their pain. That's what I do. I drink in secret to dull the ache. I also want to thank you for your lovely messages. Good day."
My heart goes out to this woman and to countless other ministers' wives like her. Some endure cold marriages that are slowly destroying their souls. And they secretly turn to drugs and alcohol to dull their inner pain. Yet they're only descending further into the depths and torments of hell.
Scripture says God will not break a bruised reed. And that's what this poor minister's wife is right now -- a reed that's been battered and bruised. I believe God's Spirit is going to reach her and minister to her.
The Bible also says God won't quench a smoking flax. This word applies particularly to the pastor who's hooked on internet pornography. God is saying, "Wherever I see even a small spark remaining, I won't extinguish it. In fact, I'll continue to fan that spark until it catches fire and flames up again!"
Do you want to grow spiritually? If so, ask the Holy Ghost to shine his light on your one area of weakness or sin. And cry out to him, "Lord, I want to measure up to your word. And I know only you have the power to accomplish that in me. Please -- help me to grasp by faith that you're at work in me, growing me up spiritually!"
God wants you to know that right now, in the midst of your storm, he stands beside you. He's watering your spirit, feeding your soul, putting down his strong roots in you. So, let the winds of struggle blow hard. Your father is preparing you for a great harvest!
---
Used with permission granted by World Challenge, P. O. Box 260, Lindale, TX 75771, USA.

ZAB
May 6th 2009, 12:12 PM
If you're being watered and fed by God's word, you should have continual spiritual growth in your life. It should be happening automatically.
Now, I don't know if everyone in our congregation is "growing exceedingly," as Paul knew about the church at Thessalonica. Yet I believe it is true for many of our people. Why? The anointed preaching of the pure word of God always produces growth. And the apostle Peter says that all who desire the pure milk of the word will grow.


So what about the rest of the people who do not "desire" the sincere milk of the Word? Will they ever reach a place of perfection? There are believers that fall into this category: Laodicea for example (Rev 3). Paul told the Hebrews "let us go on unto perfection, not laying again the foundation..." (Heb 6). So what happens if we neglect his admonishment? We indeed have a choice right? That's what "let us" means.


If you're a Christian, yet you're still apathetic about your spiritual growth, then you haven't allowed God's Spirit to do his work in you. Ask yourself -- are you growing more excited about Jesus and his church each day? Or do you still hold onto grudges, resentments, roots of bitterness, despite God's warnings? Are you growing spiritually -- or has your growth been stunted?

So then what? I don't believe that person's salvation is at stake, but what is the fruit of stunted growth? Loss of reward maybe? I believe there are indeed differing levels of reward: "But that sown on the good ground is this: he who hears the Word and understands; who also bears fruit and produces one truly a hundredfold; and one sixty; and one thirty" (Matt 13:23 with Rev 22:12). Matthew also talks about a "great" reward (5:12). The Bible also speaks of a "full reward" (2 Jn 1:8).

9Marksfan
May 6th 2009, 12:32 PM
So what about the rest of the people who do not "desire" the sincere milk of the Word? Will they ever reach a place of perfection?

No - they will prove to have been false professors.


There are believers that fall into this category: Laodicea for example (Rev 3).

It's questionable whether most of them were actually true believers - a church, yes, but saved? Doesn't look like it....


Paul

Sure about that?! :hmm:


told the Hebrews "let us go on unto perfection, not laying again the foundation..." (Heb 6). So what happens if we neglect his admonishment? We indeed have a choice right? That's what "let us" means.

I believe the writer to the Hebrews knew that he was writing to a mixed bunch of folks - professing Christians all of them, but not all true "possessing" ones - he didn't know who was and who wasn't, but he both gives them the benefit of the doubt (treating them all as genuine believers), yet warning them that if they fall away, they should not expect to be among the redeemed but instead will be condemned with the world.

We MUST make our calling and election sure - if we don't - how can we say we're called and chosen? We need to be FAITHFUL!!!!!

ZAB
May 6th 2009, 12:56 PM
No - they will prove to have been false professors.


It's questionable whether most of them were actually true believers - a church, yes, but saved? Doesn't look like it....

So, you're saying it's impossible to be lukewarm and a Christian at the same time? You're either a fiery believer or a false professor?


Sure about that?! :hmm: Haha, that's funny. I knew someone would say something about "who" wrote the epistle to the Hebrews. Forgive me, let me correct myself: "Paul or whomever it may have been..."




I believe the writer to the Hebrews knew that he was writing to a mixed bunch of folks - professing Christians all of them, but not all true "possessing" ones - he didn't know who was and who wasn't, but he both gives them the benefit of the doubt (treating them all as genuine believers), yet warning them that if they fall away, they should not expect to be among the redeemed but instead will be condemned with the world.

We MUST make our calling and election sure - if we don't - how can we say we're called and chosen? We need to be FAITHFUL!!!!!

So you don't believe in differring rewards? What about all of the Scriptures referring to "a prophet's reward", a righteous man's reward (Ps 58:11), a "full reward" (Ruth 2:12, etc), a "great reward" (Ps 19:10-11), an "exceedingly great reward" (Gen 15:1), a "reward to the proud" (Ps 94:2), etc, etc. I can't just lump all these "rewards" together as heaven. The Bible says our reward is great IN heaven (Matt 5:12). The Lord told Abraham that He was his exceeding great reward. Jesus said His reward was with him (Rev 22:12). Could our reward for true faithfulness be marriage to the Lamb (Matt 25:1-13)? And what about the Scripture in 1 Corinthians 15:41-42 when it deals with the differring levels of glorification in the resurrection? Just a thought ;).
Thanks for your reply.

9Marksfan
May 6th 2009, 01:31 PM
So, you're saying it's impossible to be lukewarm and a Christian at the same time? You're either a fiery believer or a false professor?

I believe that being lukewarm and apathetic is a hugely dangerous position to be in. For sure, true Christians can go through spells of this - I know I have - but we never know when our lives will end - and if we end lukewarm, He will spit us out of His mouth - we will show ourselves to have been false professors. Not one of us can afford the luxury to be lukewarm... "Let him who THINKS he stands take heed - lest he fall".


Haha, that's funny. I knew someone would say something about "who" wrote the epistle to the Hebrews. Forgive me, let me correct myself: "Paul or whomever it may have been..."

OK - I'll let you off the hook with that Freudian slip!


So you don't believe in differring rewards?

I didn't say that - there will be degrees of glory and differing rewards, for sure - but for those who have once professed and have not finished but given up somwhere along the line, that Day will be the most dreadful of all, for they will find that Jesus never knew them - they never did the will of God but practised lawlessness - they didn't endure to the end...


What about all of the Scriptures referring to "a prophet's reward", a righteous man's reward (Ps 58:11), a "full reward" (Ruth 2:12, etc), a "great reward" (Ps 19:10-11), an "exceedingly great reward" (Gen 15:1), a "reward to the proud" (Ps 94:2), etc, etc. I can't just lump all these "rewards" together as heaven.

Why not? Differing levels of appreciation? Nearer to the Throne than others? Greater usefulness?


The Bible says our reward is great IN heaven (Matt 5:12). The Lord told Abraham that He was his exceeding great reward.

There you have it - the LORD is our reward!


Jesus said His reward was with him (Rev 22:12). Could our reward for true faithfulness be marriage to the Lamb (Matt 25:1-13)?

Indeed - but who will be in Heaven and NOT married to the Lamb?


And what about the Scripture in 1 Corinthians 15:41-42 when it deals with the differring levels of glorification in the resurrection? Just a thought ;).
Thanks for your reply.

None of that contradicts what I have said. I see you didn't quote the classic passage from 1 Cor 3 - but note that even those who have the wood hay and stubble of their works burnt up and are saved as through fire have STILL BUILT ON THE FOUNDATION! Those who do nothing for Christ and drift away show their faith was never real - the same goes for hypocrites and false teachers and those who lead a double life of outward, "Christian" respectability yet never give up their "private" sins...

ZAB
May 6th 2009, 02:28 PM
I believe that being lukewarm and apathetic is a hugely dangerous position to be in. For sure, true Christians can go through spells of this - I know I have - but we never know when our lives will end - and if we end lukewarm, He will spit us out of His mouth - we will show ourselves to have been false professors. Not one of us can afford the luxury to be lukewarm... "Let him who THINKS he stands take heed - lest he fall".
I see what you mean. I don't think being "spit" out of his mouth refers to losing our salvation, however. I believe that seed is incorruptible (1 Pet 1:23), i.e. unable to be corrupted or altered. No offense, but I think the whole argument that people use saying, "well, I guess he never was truly saved" is a cop-out. I think this too is referring to rewards. In the epistle to the Hebrews, the same basic thing is adressed: Heb 10:26-31 "For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." Note that they are still HIS people, albeit they may have lost their reward.



OK - I'll let you off the hook with that Freudian slip!
Bless you! haha




I didn't say that - there will be degrees of glory and differing rewards, for sure - but for those who have once professed and have not finished but given up somwhere along the line, that Day will be the most dreadful of all, for they will find that Jesus never knew them - they never did the will of God but practised lawlessness - they didn't endure to the end...
So then what determines levels of glory amongst believers? Isn't is sanctification?



Why not? Differing levels of appreciation? Nearer to the Throne than others? Greater usefulness?
sure.




Indeed - but who will be in Heaven and NOT married to the Lamb? Well, that was my point. We talk of differing levels of glorification and reward, but couldn't being married to Jesus for eternity be the highest level of reward? Revelation refers to the overcomers that they will be set with Jesus IN His throne (Rev 3:21), but then mentions a multitude that are "before" the throne of God (Rev 7:9). Isn't there a disctinction there? Maybe. Also, in the parable of the wise and foolish virgins (Matt 25), I believe them all to be believers. That was the context of Jesus' words. He was speaking to His people. After all, it says, "the kingdom of heaven" shall be likened to 10 virgins. Unbelievers are not in the kingdom of heaven. This parable does not determine justification, but rather, rewards. The whole distinguishing factor was "oil", i.e. the oil of intimacy. You can easily be a Christian, and yet not be intimate with the Lord Jesus. We grow into intimacy.

Teke
May 7th 2009, 01:58 PM
There is not different "levels", God sees us all equally. Or to put it another way, just as we are not to see the Trinity as three individual persons, humanity is viewed as a whole. Joe is Joe, Sue is Sue and so forth, but all are human although in their individual identity (glory?).

Ie. 1Cr 15:38 But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.

1Cr 15:39 All flesh not the same flesh: but [there is] one [kind of] flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, [and] another of birds.

1Cr 15:40 [There are] also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial [is] one, and the [glory] of the terrestrial [is] another.

1Cr 15:41 [There is] one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for [one] star differeth from [another] star in glory.

1Cr 15:42 So also [is] the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:

1Cr 15:43 It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:

1Cr 15:44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.


[i]Gal 5:26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

Mat 20:1 For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man [that is] an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.

Mat 20:2 And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.

Mat 20:3 And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace,

Mat 20:4 And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way.

Mat 20:5 Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.

Mat 20:6 And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?

Mat 20:7 They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, [that] shall ye receive.

Mat 20:8 So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them [their] hire, beginning from the last unto the first.

Mat 20:9 And when they came that [were hired] about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.

Mat 20:10 But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.

Mat 20:11 And when they had received [it], they murmured against the goodman of the house,

Mat 20:12 Saying, These last have wrought one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.

Mat 20:13 But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?

Mat 20:14 Take [that] thine [is], and go thy way:[B] I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.


Rom 3:22 Even the righteousness of God [which is] by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

ZAB
May 7th 2009, 03:26 PM
There is not different "levels", God sees us all equally. Or to put it another way, just as we are not to see the Trinity as three individual persons, humanity is viewed as a whole. Joe is Joe, Sue is Sue and so forth, but all are human although in their individual identity (glory?).

Ie. 1Cr 15:38 But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.

1Cr 15:39 All flesh not the same flesh: but [there is] one [kind of] flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, [and] another of birds.

1Cr 15:40 [There are] also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial one, and the [glory] of the terrestrial another.

1Cr 15:41 [There is] one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for [one] star differeth from [another] star in glory.

1Cr 15:42 So also the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:

1Cr 15:43 It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:

1Cr 15:44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.

Hello Teke, thanks for joining our discussion!

As far as these Scriptures are concerned, the apostle Paul is answering a plausible objection against the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead.
1 Corinthians 15:35 describes the objection: "[I]Some man will say, How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?" The objection is plainly two-fold. How are they raised up? that is, "By what means? How can they be raised? What power is equal to this effect?" It was an opinion that prevailed much among unbelievers, and the Sadducees seem to have been in the same sentiment, that it was not within the compass of divine power to make mortal men immortal, or revive and restore the dead. Such sort of men those seem to have been who among the Corinthians denied the resurrection of the dead, and object here, "How are they raised? How should they be raised? Is it not utterly impossible?" The other part of the objection is about the quality of their bodies, who shall rise: "With what body will they come? Will it be with the same body, the same shape, and form, and stature, and members, and qualities, or will it be various?" This is the context of Paul's statements.

To this question, Paul replies by telling them this was to be brought about by divine power, that very power which they had all observed to do something very similar, year after year, in the death and revival of the corn; and therefore it was an argument of great weakness and stupidity to doubt whether the resurrection of the dead might not be effected by the same power: Verse 36 says, "Thou fool! that which thou sowest is not quickened unless it die". It must first corrupt, before it will quicken and spring up. It not only sprouts after it is dead, but it must die that it may live. And why should any be so foolish as to imagine that the man once dead cannot be made to live again, by the same power which every year brings the dead grain to life?

Paul then begins to describe the appearance of the resurrected saints.
He begins by observing that there is a change made in the grain that is sown: It is [I]not that body which shall be that is sown, but bare grain, of wheat or barley, etc. God gives it such a body as he will, and in such way as he will, only so as to distinguish the kinds from each other. Every seed sown has its proper body, and is constituted of unique materials. This is plainly in the divine power, though we no more know how it is done than we know how a dead man is raised to life again. It is certain the grain undergoes a great change, and it is intimated in this passage that so will the dead, when they rise again, and live again, in their bodies, after death.

He then concludes by explaining the variety that will be present.
In bodies of flesh: [I]All flesh is not the same; that of men is of one kind, that of beasts another, another that of fishes, and that of birds another, (1 Cor 15:39). There is a variety in all the kinds, for the purpose of making distinction. In celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies, there is also a difference. There is a variety of glory even among heavenly bodies themselves: [I]There is one glory of the sun, and another of the moon, and another of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory (1 Cor 15:41). All this is to intimate to us that the bodies of the dead, when they rise, will be so far changed, that they will be fitted for the heavenly regions (so drastically different than that of earth), and that there also will be a variety of glories among the bodies of the dead, when they shall be raised, as there is among the sun, and moon, and stars, even among the stars themselves (note Dan 12:3). Does that make sense?


The degree of glory we individually possess is determined by our personal choice towards sanctification. Note Ps 116:12-16; Lk 13:34; 2 Pet 3:14; Ps 101:2; 131:2; Gal 5:16; etc. Observe the personal choices that are involved in all of these verses. I believe such choices towards obedience will render a greater and more glorious glorification. This is how it was with Jesus; He is our example: Philippians 2:5-11 “5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” And again, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit" (Jn 12:24). This is what it means when Jesus said, "if any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all" (Mk 9:35).


Gal 5:26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

The Greek word for "glory" used here is "kenodoxos" and means, "self conceited; eager for empty glory; glorying without reason". The word used for the glorification I am referring to is "doxa" and means, "dignity, honor, splendor and brightness, exalted state." Also, "doxazo" which means, "to render glorious".


Mat 20:1 For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man [that is] an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.

Mat 20:2 And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.

Mat 20:3 And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace,

Mat 20:4 And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way.

Mat 20:5 Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.

Mat 20:6 And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?

Mat 20:7 They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, [that] shall ye receive.

Mat 20:8 So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them [their] hire, beginning from the last unto the first.

Mat 20:9 And when they came that [were hired] about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.

Mat 20:10 But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.

Mat 20:11 And when they had received [it], they murmured against the goodman of the house,

Mat 20:12 Saying, These last have wrought one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.

Mat 20:13 But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?

Mat 20:14 Take [that] thine [is], and go thy way:[B] I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.

Primarily, this is referring to both Jew and Gentile given access into the kingdom of heaven, even though the Jews thought they should be especially priviledged and rewarded simply because of the length of their stay. The amount of time has nothing to do with eternal rewards. It's the sort of work, not the size of the work: "Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is" (1 Cor 3:13).
There are countless Scrpitures that refer to small and great rewards, we must compare Scripture with Scripture. No prophecy of Scripture is of it's own private interpretation (2 Pet 1:20). You can find some of these Scriptures in the above posts; I can go deeper if need be.


Rom 3:22 Even the righteousness of God [which is] by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

This is referring to justification, not to sanctification.
Salvation is three-fold: justification, sanctification, and glorification (2 Cor 1:10; Rom 5:9). Justification is our initial redemption (Heb 12:23). Sanctification is the salvation of our souls, it must be daily walked out and lived (Jn 17:17; Eph 5:26; Phil 2:12; etc). Paul said, "let us" go on unto perfection (Heb 6:1). Jesus said, "in your patience, possess ye your souls" (Lk 21:19).

God bless you.

Teke
May 7th 2009, 07:14 PM
Z alan, I guess neither of us is going to address this in the same manner. I am an eastern trinitarian Christian (to be up front with you). We don't divide up salvation into a system such as your example, justification, sancification, and glorification. We sum it up in the Greek term theosis.

Also, in the eastern church only God is given glory (doxa). IOW we glorify Him, He doesn't glorify us. To do God's will is to be a son of God, not a servant. Sons don't get paid or rewarded to be sons. Their reward could only be found in being good sons of the Father.

The good son is the elder son of the parable of the prodigal son, who became jealous of his brother when his father made a feast for him. The father in the parable said to the elder son, "And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine." So our goal is to be good sons and not prodigals. Our only reward would be to please the Father.

Thank you for your post, it clarifies your beliefs. I know it took some time for you to type out. I appreciate your clarity. And I do understand the Greek, it is used in the eastern churches always, just not the way the western church uses it.

Peace be with you,
Eve

ZAB
May 7th 2009, 07:47 PM
Z alan, I guess neither of us is going to address this in the same manner. I am an eastern trinitarian Christian (to be up front with you).

Hi again, I have never heard of eastern trinitarian before. Maybe you could explain a bit more about the denomination? I would be intersted.


We don't divide up salvation into a system such as your example, justification, sancification, and glorification. We sum it up in the term theosis.

I don't mean to "divide" it up either necessarily; I mean to say that there is a facet of salvation for each part of tripartite man. Justification (salvation of spirit), sanctification (salvation of soul) and glorification (salvation of body).
Psalm 130:7 "...with Him is plenteous redemption".
Hebrews 2:3 "...so great salvation". Great here means, "vast, of so great a size; of great magnitude".


Also, in the eastern church only God is given glory (doxa). IOW we glorify Him, He doesn't glorify us. To do God's will is to be a son of God, not a servant. Sons don't get paid or rewarded to be sons. Their reward could only be found in being good sons of the Father.

I just want to quote a few Scriptures:

Romans 8:16-17 "The Spirit itself beareth 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."

2 Timothy 2:10 "Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory."

Romans 2:6-7 "will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:"

Romans 8:18 "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."

Romams 9:23 "And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,"

2Co 4:17 "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;"

1 Peter 5:10 "But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you."

Hebrews 11:6 "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."

He is our reward (Gen 15:1).




The good son is the elder son of the parable of the prodigal son, who became jealous of his brother when his father made a feast for him. The father in the parable said to the elder son, "And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine." So our goal is to be good sons and not prodigals. Our only reward would be to please the Father.

I can assure you, being glorified as the bride of Christ would definitely please the Father! That is why Jesus went to Calvary (Eph 5:25-27; Gal 3:13-14; Heb 12:2).

God bless you.

Teke
May 7th 2009, 09:05 PM
Hi again, I have never heard of eastern trinitarian before. Maybe you could explain a bit more about the denomination? I would be intersted.

I use the term "eastern trinitarian" so as not to sound as though I am prosletyzing on the board, it is against the board's rules. However, because you have plainly asked me, I can tell you that I am of the ancient faith of Eastern Orthodoxy.


I don't mean to "divide" it up either necessarily; I mean to say that there is a facet of salvation for each part of tripartite man. Justification (salvation of spirit), sanctification (salvation of soul) and glorification (salvation of body).
Psalm 130:7 "...with Him is plenteous redemption".
Hebrews 2:3 "...so great salvation". Great here means, "vast, of so great a size; of great magnitude".

My anthropic view is not one of "tripartite man". It is my understanding that we commune with God through His energies, ie. grace, mercy, love. In eastern Christianity we observe/study things like,nature, energy, and essence and thereby differentiate that which is of God and that which is of man. We formulate from that within Christology. ie. Jesus the God-Man partook of our nature, by the Incarnation. We all share in God's energies, exemplifed in the Greek word for "one another" in scripture ( a synergy). But God's essence is unknowable for us.

So, the only way for us to know God is through our experience, which happens through our five senses. In numerics, five is a number representive of grace, an idivisible number. As in the senses we are not divided but are agreeably unified.


I just want to quote a few Scriptures:

Romans 8:16-17 "The Spirit itself beareth 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."

2 Timothy 2:10 "Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory."

Romans 2:6-7 "will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:"

Romans 8:18 "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."

Romams 9:23 "And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,"

2Co 4:17 "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;"

1 Peter 5:10 "But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you."

Hebrews 11:6 "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."

He is our reward (Gen 15:1).




Indeed He is our reward. Jesus summed up the eastern theological viewpoint when He said, "Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?"
Thus meaning there is the potential for theosis. Theosis is communing with God though His uncreated divine energies, such as grace. Not His essence, because that would be equating with God.

Grace is where the eastern and western church differ. The western church, beginning with the Roman church, make statements that implicate that grace is created. The eastern church disagrees, specifically because of Jesus statements, as well as His being/person. As the Incarnation exemplifies that nature also can be shared. Scripture proves this also to be true in it's wording "likeness and image" (Genesis), "like Him" (1 John 3:2). And Jesus is an icon ("image" in English)of the invisible God (Col. 1:15)


I can assure you, being glorified as the bride of Christ would definitely please the Father! That is why Jesus went to Calvary (Eph 5:25-27; Gal 3:13-14; Heb 12:2).

God bless you.

Indeed a spotless bride does glorify God.

Not only by Jesus crucifixion, but also His Incarnation, Transfiguration, and Resurrection. He assumed our humanity to heal us and bring us into fellowship with God. "What is not assumed is not healed" Aka, transfiguration by grace (Eph. 2) Begin at the beginning to get the fulness. ;)

I hope not to confuse you. Just clarifying my understanding a bit.:)

Peace be with you,
Eve

ZAB
May 7th 2009, 10:26 PM
Thanks for your input. Those are interesting viewpoints :)

9Marksfan
May 7th 2009, 10:31 PM
I see what you mean. I don't think being "spit" out of his mouth refers to losing our salvation, however.

If that isn't THE most graphic picture of COMPLETE REJECTION, I don't know what is!


I believe that seed is incorruptible (1 Pet 1:23), i.e. unable to be corrupted or altered.

Agreed - but it begs the question whether they were truly born again of that incorruptible seed in the first place...


No offense, but I think the whole argument that people use saying, "well, I guess he never was truly saved" is a cop-out.

Why? "I never knew you" is pretty clear, don't you think? Do you think that 100% of people who CLAIM they "made a decision for Christ" at some point - but have never gone on, have got back into sin - often WORSE than before - and no longer believe - are just gonna "lose their reward"?!? Were NONE of them fake?!?


I think this too is referring to rewards.

No - why do you "free grace"ers only look at rewards? The language is abundantly clear - these people are GOING TO HELL!!!!!!


In the epistle to the Hebrews, the same basic thing is adressed: Heb 10:26-31 "For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,

In other words, no atonement for those sins - so what happens to unatoned for sins? We have to bear the punishment for them ourselves - what do we read next?


But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

In other words, they're gonna be SMOKED! How can this apply to ANYONE who will be in Heaven?!? Or do you believe in purgatory?!?


He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." Note that they are still HIS people, albeit they may have lost their reward.

Who are His people? Well, we could say "the Jews" - but we know that only those Jews who have believed in Christ will be saved. I know some commentators interpret this passage as referring to them and that their rejection of Christ is going back to Judaism. I'm prepared to accept that that is ONE possible and probably valid interpretation - but not the ONLY one. The people of God is the church - believing Jew and Gentile - the ones for whom Christ died (Eph 5:25) - "He shall save His people from their sins".

But don't forget that there is the visible church - those that we can see here and now, made up of real and false Christians - sheep and goats, wise and foolish builders/virgins, good and bad fish/servants, wheat and tares - and the invisible church, ie all true believers - this is known 100% only to God, but there will be evidences that they belong to God - by their fruits you shall know them. Just as they are not all Israel who are Israel, so they are not all the church who are the church. Israel was a mixed body, so is the visible church.


So then what determines levels of glory amongst believers? Isn't it sanctification?

There's no such thing as an unsanctified Christian - without holiness NO ONE will see the LORD. It's faithfulness that determines levels of glory. And every Christian is faithful to some extent.


Well, that was my point. We talk of differing levels of glorification and reward, but couldn't being married to Jesus for eternity be the highest level of reward?

No - because the church IS the bride - so EVERY believer will be at the marriage supper!


Revelation refers to the overcomers that they will be set with Jesus IN His throne (Rev 3:21), but then mentions a multitude that are "before" the throne of God (Rev 7:9). Isn't there a disctinction there? Maybe.

Agreed. But they will all have persevered to the end. All will have been faithful. All will have run the race, finished the course, kept the faith.


Also, in the parable of the wise and foolish virgins (Matt 25), I believe them all to be believers. That was the context of Jesus' words. He was speaking to His people. After all, it says, "the kingdom of heaven" shall be likened to 10 virgins. Unbelievers are not in the kingdom of heaven.

But false believers are. This is why your view is just untenable from Scripture. As you may have seen in other threads, there are basically three views of perseverance, nicknamed OSAS (your view), NOSAS (you can lose your salvation view) and POTS (Perseverance of the Saints - my view). While I disagree with NOSAS, I can see how the view can be argued from Scripture. But I believe OSAS with its "you'll just lose your reward" answer to every apostate is HUGELY dangerous and GROSSLY unbiblical.


This parable does not determine justification, but rather, rewards.

There we go again. Jesus says to the foolish virgins that he does not know them - and they don't get in! How much clearer do you want?!?!


The whole distinguishing factor was "oil", i.e. the oil of intimacy.

Where do you get that from? Oil represents the Holy Spirit. The foolish virgins are Heb 6:4-6 people - they have only "partaken" of the Holy Spirit - they have never truly been born of the Spirit and received Him following repentance and FAITH (the one thing not mentioned in Heb 6:4-6).


You can easily be a Christian, and yet not be intimate with the Lord Jesus.

You might like to think so, but that's an oxymoron - what IS a Christian but someone who has an intimate relationship with Jesus? One who KNOWS Him, and He knows THEM?


We grow into intimacy.

No - we ARE intimate with Christ - we grow into DEEPER intimacy. What is the basis of Jesus' rejecting those who come to him on the Day of Judgement, relying on their great confession of Him as LORD and their powerful ministries? "I never KNEW you". What is the basis for His closing the door to the foolish virgins? "I do not KNOW you". What is eternal life? KNOWING God and His Son Jesus Christ. What kind of people will Jesus come to judge in 2 Thess 1? Those who do not KNOW God.

You are creating an utterly false dichotomy between Christians that are supposedly going to get a (great) reward and those (who never bother to make any progress in their so called "faith") who will not. ALL Christians will get a great reward (albeit some greater than others), because ALL Christians will overcome! How do we overcome? By our faith! Now, if a person dies without faith, how can we say he or she was ever a Christian.......? :hmm:

Teke
May 8th 2009, 02:05 PM
I believe the parable of the ten virgins represents preparedness or lack of it, "while the bridegroom was delayed" (v5). The OT prophets portray the covenant between God and Israel as a marriage covenant. The marriage will finally be consummated when the Bridegroom returns at the end of the age and the righteous form a wedding party to go forth to meet Him. The Bridegroom represents Christ in His Passion, who dies out of love for His church (Eph. 5:25-27).

That the wise virgins also "slumbered and slept" (v5) suggests that once prepared, a person rests as needed. Their refusal to give oil to the foolish ones is not lack of love. It portrays the fact that spiritual preparedness cannot be conveniently given or borrowed. This parable encourages the proper use of God's gifts to bear fruit. Some interpreters say "lamps" indicate the gift of purity and holiness, and "oil", works of mercy-the grace of the Holy Spirit. Traditionally, virginity has been considered a special "lamp", and almsgiving or help to the poor a special "oil".

Bearing in mind that Jesus is speaking to Jews. The foolish virgins did good works, and by this obeyed God, but they did not care beforehand if they had reached or received the grace of God's Spirit. The oil of the Holy Spirit is what they lacked. Their called foolish because they forgot about the fruit of virtue, the grace of the Holy Spirit, without which no one is saved.

It is by the Holy Spirit that any soul is vitalized and exalted in chastity. Being lit by the Trinitarian unity of holy mystery.

This parable comes in a series of parables. The previous ones being on watchfulness and loyalty. This one on preparedness, and the following one on being good stewards. Ending with 25:31's judgement of works.

2 Peter 1:3-8 gives our directions for spiritual growth. Peter assures us we have no need for anything other than what we have received. God has given us everything we need to grow. His energy (life) and His personal presence (godliness, or piety, devotion) in which we grow. Being renewed by God's power, we become "partakers of the divine nature". This doesn't mean we become divine by nature. It means we participate in God's divine energy, described by a number of terms in scripture, such as glory, life, love, virtue, and power.

How do we who know Christ gorw in our participation in the divine nature through grace? By the cultivation of a progression of spiritual qualities. As in verse 3 of 2 Peter 1. Virtue refers to the vigor and crouage behind attaining moral excellence. Love (v7) is adjoined to brotherly kindness (affection among Christians), for love of God cannot be perfected except through love of one's neighbor.

This "knowledge" (Gr. epignosis) is not primarily mental but spiritual and personal. It is experienced as we have faith and bear good fruit in the Lord.

Gnostics claimed to know God without becoming godlike. Peter makes it plain this is not Christian, for we reach participation with God through the increase of spiritual virtues, not the absence of them. Admittance to God's Kingdom is conditional upon a faith which exhibits perseverance and holiness.

ZAB
May 8th 2009, 03:49 PM
If that isn't THE most graphic picture of COMPLETE REJECTION, I don't know what is!

Agreed - but it begs the question whether they were truly born again of that incorruptible seed in the first place...

Why? "I never knew you" is pretty clear, don't you think? Do you think that 100% of people who CLAIM they "made a decision for Christ" at some point - but have never gone on, have got back into sin - often WORSE than before - and no longer believe - are just gonna "lose their reward"?!? Were NONE of them fake?!?

Hi again 9Marksfan. Thankyou for your continued response. I look forward to continuing our conversation.

I agree with you to an extent. I do not think that every single man, woman and child that has called upon the name of the Lord has done it in utter sincerity. I of course don't know the percentage, but it doesnt matter really. I do believe there are indeed "fake" Christians.
However, I also believe that there are genuine, sincere Christians who struggle with sin and apathy. The great apostle Paul even said, the things I want to do, I don't do, and the things I don't want to do, those things I find myself doing! You are right, we cannot lump them all together as "losing their reward", but we also cannot lump them all together as "fake". A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is His delight (Prov 11:1).

If a person is truly born again, then God will never cast them off (Rom 11:2), no matter how gross the sin (Heb 13:5; Ps 94:14; 1 Sam 12:22), for His great name's sake. I don't believe in "once saved always saved", I believe in what the Bible calls "eternal salvation" (Heb 5:9), and an "everlasting covenant" (Jer 32:40). I don't know what category that statement falls under (OSAS, NOSAS, POS?), but that is what I believe. We are saved by grace, and not by works, lest we could boast.
The Bible says, "Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me" (Ps 139:7-11).





In other words, no atonement for those sins - so what happens to unatoned for sins? We have to bear the punishment for them ourselves - what do we read next? In other words, they're gonna be SMOKED! How can this apply to ANYONE who will be in Heaven?!? Or do you believe in purgatory?!?

No, I do not believe in purgatory.

I think those who sin wilfully and are truly born again will be definitely judged. But I think the purpose of "fiery indignation" (for God's people) is to devour the "adveraries", i.e. the sin in the people, not the people themselves (1 Cor 3:13; Jer 23:29; Zech 13:9).
While those who never were justified (false converts) will be consumed: "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."



Who are His people? Well, we could say "the Jews"

Not necessarily - Romans 11:2 says he will not cast off His people, whom He foreknew.



The people of God is the church - believing Jew and Gentile - the ones for whom Christ died (Eph 5:25) - "He shall save His people from their sins".

yes.



wise and foolish builders/virgins

I think this parable of the virgins in particular is dealing with levels of glory in the resurrection. They were all virgins. They were all in the Kingdom of heaven. Virgins are symbolic of believers (God's people) in the Bible (e.g. "virgin daughter of Israel"). To the foolish virgins he says, I never knew you (as a husband knows His bride, i.e. Adam "knew" Eve). We must realize that ALL 10 virgins had a lamp and went forth to meet the bridegroom. The only difference was the oil. They hadn't "bought" enough. Why is it so hard to believe there exists foolish virgins? Yes there are false converts, of course, but there are also foolish virgins. It's not always black and white. There are differing levels of devotion and comittment in the body of Christ (Lk 7:47; Phil 3:12-14; etc). The whole Song of Solomon describes the bride of Christ, who emerges out of the body of Christ (Song 2:2; 6:8-9; 8:5). And why so? Becasue she made choices the "daughters of Jerusalem" did not. But were they saved? Of course they were (Song 1:3-4). However, the shulamite alone prayed Song 4:6 and 16 (we can dive into this further if you want to). Some people simply are not willing to give Jesus everything. They are satisfied with going to heaven. Paul had to continually exhort believers to press on to "know" Him. Not a shallow "knowing", but a knowing in fullness. I believe the foolish virgins didn't know Him in this manner. They knew him as savior, but not as husband (Hos 2:16). A quick glance around the body of Christ will prove this truth. Jesus had the multitudes (who were content with a meal and a quick word, then they go home). He had the 70. Then He had the 12 disciples (the committed). Then He had the 3 (Peter, James and John) who followed Him everywhere He went. Even amongst the 3, He had one man: John. He was the only one the Bible says who laid his head on the bosom of Jesus. He was intimate with the Lord. The others simply were not.



There's no such thing as an unsanctified Christian - without holiness NO ONE will see the LORD. It's faithfulness that determines levels of glory. And every Christian is faithful to some extent.

I agree that faithfulness is part of it, but not all. Our individual response to God and His dealings will ultimately determine our degree of sanctification. If we had no part to play, then why is the Bible full of admonitions and exhortations towards this end? We don't make these choices in and of ourselves or of our own ability, but it's a response to the grace of God. While we must consciously choose to be justified, and accept God’s free gift, so we must choose, and choose daily, to be sanctified and responsively upheld by His grace. Most people desire to be sanctified and holy, but will we allow God’s purging processes to bring it forth (Heb 12:5-11)? Not only are we to desire, but that desire must also birth a responsive seeking: Psalms 27:4“One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after…” Jesus said, “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” (Mark 10:38, NKJV). He is offering the means to be seated in a higher level of glory; to be found as His bride, seated at His right hand (Psalm 45:9), but will you respond to His grace today? The Psalmist has well said, “My soul is continually in my hand…” (Psalm 119:109), and again, “Unto thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul” (Psalm 25:1), speaking of one’s conscious choice to lift or not to lift up his soul; to yield or not to yield his own nature and carnality to the purifying fire of God. Clearly this is evident. Man has the free choice to, after justification, declare, “I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free…” (Exodus 21:5). There are innumerable believers who, for whatever reason, choose not this narrow way before the Lord, refusing the counsel of Scripture. The flesh is a powerful enemy of the spirit, for they are at war with one another (Galatians 5:17). It is our personal choice whether or not to allow this said flesh to be crucified.

Some might say that any true Christian will eventually press into this purpose. They would argue that it is impossible not to fulfill God’s perfect will for your life, for there is no permissive will. If this be true, then why does the Divine record testify of such who have “rejected the will of God for themselves” (Luke 7:30). This word rejected also means, “to frustrate; to neutralize; to set aside; to disregard”. How many believers today fit this profile!? I fear it remains as it was in Jesus’ day: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not” (Luke 13:34). Of the prodigal’s brother, it is recorded, “And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. And he was angry, and would not go in…” (Luke 15:27-28 with Hebrews 4:6). Sadly, many believers today refuse likewise to enter in; many refuse to hearken to the call of God: “But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me” (Psalm 81:11). And if this act of disregard excludes any from the family of God, then why does He yet call them “my people”? Indeed, why does the flaming Sword of God continually instruct and/or rebuke Christians for sin and complacency: “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12) ; and again, “Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless” (2 Pet 3:14). The believer is to individually press towards the mark of the "high" calling of God in Christ Jesus. Did not the Shulamite herself refuse such a seemingly burdensome ascent? “Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved, and be thou like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether [separation]” (Song 2:17). So how can one say with assurance that such refusal cannot be so? Does not the Psalmist also continually utter such certainties: “I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O when wilt thou come unto me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart” (Psalm 101:2)? This said Psalmist in surely a believer, right? For again is it not “my people” who are lacking true substance? “The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider” (Isaiah 1:3). And were they not Levites “who went far from Me, when Israel went astray”, yet were still permitted to be “ministers of the house” (Ezekiel 44:10-11)? Does not the Christian have the conscious choice to quiet and wean one’s soul (Psalm 131:2), and incline one’s heart to perform God’s statutes always (Psalm 119:112)? Must not the believer choose, each for himself, to walk in the Spirit that he doesn’t fulfill the lusts of the flesh (Gal 5:16)?
The inworking of holiness determines the outworking of glory. We are weaving a holy tapestry that will be worn throughout the ages.
Ps 45:13 "The king's daughter is all glorious within [inworking]: [thus] her clothing is of wrought gold [outworking]". This is why there exists ranks of glory in the resurrection.



No - because the church IS the bride - so EVERY believer will be at the marriage supper!

Song 2:2 "As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters."

However, I do believe that the ministry of the manifested sons of God will usher those apathetic and struggling into fullness (Rom 8:18-20; Song 8:8-10; 2 Cor 4:11; etc). But that's a whole different topic all together :).

God bless you.

ZAB
May 9th 2009, 12:57 PM
I think alot of the difficulty lies in our understanding of people's hearts, motives, etc. We don't understand why someone wouldn't live for Jesus with abandonment! So, rather than try and wrap our heads around it, and discern where they're coming from, we just tend to lump them all together as "false converts". But then what is the point of levels and ranks of glory? What is the point of rewards? If all believers were going to receive the same reward, then this Scripture in 1 Cor 15 is obsolete. If all believers were going to receive the same reward, then why should we heed Paul's advice:

"But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil 3:7-14).

He was writing to Christians, and saying there was yet more to press towards and attain, even though they were already saved.

We are attaining, even now, to our places of glory in the resurrection.

God bless you, friends.

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