Why were you born? Ask scientists. Ask scholars, Ask religious leaders: Is there any purpose for human life? Why are we here? Where are we going, and what will be doing when we get there?
Most people will freely admit they don’t know the answers. They assume there are none. But these basic questions of life have plagued and puzzled philosophers from time immemorial.
Famous historian Hendrik Van Loon frankly states in his book Story of Mankind: “We live under the shadow of a gigantic question mark. What are we? Where did we come from? Whither are we bound?” His answer to these vital questions? “We still know very little but we have reached the point where (with a fair degree of accuracy) we can guess at many things.”
Historians cannot authoritatively answer these questions. They can only “guess.”
Today the commonly accepted, but unproved theory of evolution purports to show the “pre-history” of mankind and how we came into being. But this theory - and it is only a theory -- has failed utterly to show any purpose for human life!
Astronomers scan the heavens with telescopes and marvel at the fantastic universe with its incredible order and precision. They stand in awe of the fact that man possesses an intelligence powerful enough to penetrate deeply into the vast universe. But they haven’t the smallest clue as to why man has this ability, nor the slightest hint of man’s potential destiny!
Like the rest of mankind, scientists yearn to fill that yawning emptiness, to understand the purpose of life! Brilliant scholars have been unable to answer the most vital question of all time. The tools of science have not revealed the purpose of human existence. But does religion, then, have the answers?
MINISTERS CONFESS IGNORANCE
When it comes to answering these vital questions, most of today’s religious leaders admit ignorance. An English minister confessed: “One of the most awkward questions that I have been asked by young people is: ‘Why did God create the universe?’
“To this I am tempted to give the slick-reply: ‘God only knows!” But clearly this is no real answer, and perhaps there is no answer that we as finite human beings can give to such a question.
“If we believe that God exists then it is very natural for us to ask: “Why did He make us and what is the purpose of man’s life here on earth?” “Why God created us I don’t know.”
What an astonishing confession! Why do men who profess to believe in God admit they don’t comprehend His plan and purpose for mankind?
The answer is simple. They don’t really understand what is plainly revealed in the Bible. Consequently most read doctrines into the Bible which are not there!
Many religions have promised heaven as the “reward” of the saved, a heaven of idleness and ease. And so millions of people believe they were born to go to heaven when they die. But most have never given much thought to what they will do when they get there! Eternal life is presented as a virtual nirvana awaiting those who pass the “pearly gates” – a never ending rest, with nothing to occupy their time except to sing hymns and look upon the face of God.
If the reward of the saved is indeed eternal retirement, thousands of elderly men and women already know its boredom and unhappiness. Few realize that eternal life with so little to do would be an eternity of utter boredom, a terrible kind of punishment! So we again ask, why were you born?
In Rev. 21:7, the apostle John was inspired by God to write of man’s destiny: “He that overcomes shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be MY Son.”
Paul wrote to the Romans of this awesome destiny: “The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then, heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:16-17). God intends that you should co-inherit the universe with Jesus Christ!
Think of it! Unbelievable? With the help of this lesson, you are going to see the proof made absolutely plain in your Bible!
CO-RULERS WITH JESUS CHRIST
Because Jesus Christ overcame during His human life and was “born again” by a resurrection, where is He presently seated (Rev. 3:21)? Have all angels, authorities and powers been made subject to Him under His Father (I Peter 3:22; Eph. 1:20-22; I Cor. 15:27)?
What will be Christ’s official title when He returns to rule the nations of earth (Rev. 19:16)? Will there ever be an end to the increase of His glorious government (Isa. 9:6-7)?
Just how great is the authority which Christ has already inherited (Heb. 1:1-2; Matt. 28:18)?
COMMENT: Notice how the Moffatt translation renders the original Greek of Hebrews 1:2:”But in these days at the end he has spoken to us by a Son – a Son whom he has appointed heir of the Universe.”
Will Christ be the lone inheritor and ruler of this earth and the vast universe? Or will there be co-rulers – “joint-heirs” with Him to share His great inheritance and responsibility (Rom. 8:16-17)? What further training will they receive after Christ returns (Rev. 2:26-27; 5:10; 20:4)?
COMMENT: If we have become true Christians we are now the spirit-begotten “children of God. We are heirs –joint-heirs -- with Jesus Christ to inherit everything God has created!
Notice also the second chapter of Hebrews. Beginning with verse 6, the apostle Paul quotes Psalm 8:4-6: “What is man, that thou (God) art mindful of him?” Yes, why should the great God be concerned about us mortals? Why were we born?
Here is the answer: “Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not (to be) put under him” (Heb. 2:8). Do you grasp that? Absolutely nothing God has created is excepted. The awesome destiny of mankind is rulership of the entire vast universe with Jesus Christ! But not until we have qualified and been “born again, as sons of God. Thus far only Jesus Christ, the “firstborn among many brethren” (Rom. 8:29), has received this power. Can your mind begin to grasp the magnitude of these sure promises of God?
In what capacity is Christ now serving true Christians (Heb. 4:14-16)?
COMMENT: As the “High Priest” of all spiritual-begotten children of God, Christ is supervising their spiritual development – preparing them so they one day can inherit “all things” with Him.
CERTAIN OFFICES ALREADY FILLED
As our Savior and elder brother – “the firstborn among many brethren” – Jesus Christ has already qualified for the highest office under God the Father in the coming New World. No one else can ever receive the position of rulership the Father has promised Him. Certain other individuals have also been promised particular positions of responsibility in God’s Kingdom. Let’s notice who they are and what jobs they will hold.
Do Romans 4:13 and Gal. 3:7-9. 29 indicate that Abraham – the “father” of the faithful (Rom. 4:11) will rule over the whole world as a direct assistant of Jesus Christ?
After Saul rebelled, whom did God make king over ancient Israel (II Sam. 7:8)? How long would David’s throne be established (vs. 16,17)? In the Millennium who does God promise will rule over Israel and Judah (Ezk. 37:21-22, 24)?
COMMENT: God first selected Saul to rule over Israel (I Sam. 10:24; 12:13) because the people wanted a human king over them. Had he yielded to God and kept His commandments and conquered the temptations of his flesh, he would have qualified to exercise that same office in the Kingdom of God during the Millennium. But Saul rebelled against God and would not repent, thus disqualifying himself from maintaining his high office.
Then God chose David, a man after His own heart, to rule instead of Saul. David made some serious mistakes too, and even sinned grievously against God. But his repentance was deeply sincere, and he sought to obey God with all his heart. He strove to overcome himself. And so no one else can receive the office of king over Israel, because David is promised that job!
What positions of rulership did Jesus promise to give each of His twelve apostles (Matt. 19:27-28; Luke 22:29-30)?
COMMENT: The apostles will rule over each of the twelve tribes of Israel under David. Judas Iscariot failed to qualify for his position, and so Christ chose another man, Matthias, to replace him (Acts. 1:15-26). Many other overcomers mentioned in the Bible have qualified for specific responsibilities in God’s ruling Family, but God has not definitely revealed their positions to us in His Word. Now, where do Christians today fit in?
Are God’s children to be learning to rule and judge (I Cor. 6:1-3)?
COMMENT: Each one of God’s spirit-begotten children today is qualifying for a position of great responsibility with Jesus Christ in the Kingdom of God. These positions are “rewards” which God wishes to bestow on us in addition to the “gift” of eternal life (Rom. 6:23). But to receive a reward, each of us must be overcoming ourselves and developing our abilities now!
Now to avoid any possible confusion regarding the “rewards” and the “gift” God promises to give His children, let’s notice carefully the difference between a gift and a reward.
WHAT IS A “REWARD”?
No one misunderstands the word “reward” when an employee is “rewarded” with a bonus for outstanding service, or when a citizen earns a “reward” for supplying information to the police which leads to the arrest of a criminal. And no one misunderstands when a parent gives a child a “gift.”
But when it comes to the Word of God, confusion regarding these terms reigns supreme! Why? Because Satan the devil has deceived the whole world (Rev.12:9). Since the devil first led astray Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, he has diligently propagandized the world about God’s plan and purpose for mankind, deceiving all nations about the truth!
Today the vast majority of professing Christians confuse the “gift” of eternal life with the “rewards” Christ will bring to His saints at His second coming. Therefore, it is imperative that we correctly distinguish the difference between the two.
What is the gift God has for us (Rom. 6:23), last part? Can we “earn” God’s gift of eternal life (Eph. 2:7-9)?
COMMENT: A “gift” is something granted as a favor, something given freely. God’s gift of eternal life comes by His grace and favor. It is unmerited. There is absolutely nothing we can do to “earn it.”
How then does one qualify for grace – God’s mercy, favor, pardon (Acts. 2:38)? And how do you remain within it (Rom. 6:14-16; I John 3:22; Eph. 2:10)?
COMMENT: The terms and conditions for coming within and remaining in God’s grace by which He makes the precious “gift” of eternal life available are that we repent of sin, accept Christ’s sacrifice for our sins, and live a life of obedience to His spiritual laws which are the way to true happiness.
What promise has God made to His spirit-begotten children (Heb. 9:15)?
COMMENT: As we learned in detail in a previous lesson, God has promised New Testament Christians, along with the patriarchs to whom the promise was originally made, the eternal inheritance of this earth, its real estate, its wealth. And as we learned before, eternal inheritance obviously presupposes the gift of eternal life.
But what about your station and occupation, your office, or position, or rank in the New World to come? It is a matter of “reward.” Notice.
What did Jesus tell His disciples (Matt. 16:27)?
COMMENT: Your “reward” depends on the zeal and effort you put forth during this present life, during your Christian life after receiving God’s Holy Spirit! Your reward, your future position in God’s Kingdom will be determined by your spiritual works!
Exactly how does the “rewards” God has in store for His children differ from His “gift” (I Cor. 3:8, 13-15; Rom. 4:4)?
COMMENT: Notice first that each man will be “rewarded” according to his own labor. Our reward, then, is something we earn. In fact, the Greek word originally used by the apostle Paul and translated “reward” means pay for service, hire, or wages. It is payment for doing something. A reward is given to the man who earns it by his work.
Second, notice that a man might even lose most of his reward and still receive, by God’s grace, the gift of eternal life (I Cor. 3:15).
The “reward” of the saved, therefore, is not the same thing as the “gift” of eternal life. It is entirely different! Rewards will be given, or paid, to those who will have already received the “gift” of eternal life! So clearly what we want is not grace or works, but grace and works.
The “grace” will get us into God’s Kingdom; give us immortality as God’s gift. The “works” will earn us, or qualify us for a better office, an opportunity for greater service, for doing more good once we are born into God’s Family.
REWARDS CAN BE GOOD OR BAD
Did Jesus promise to bring a reward with Him when He comes (Rev. 22:12)? Again, does the exact reward depend on each man’s individual works –same verse?
What else did the Apostles Peter and Paul say to show that God will reward (or pay) each man on the basis of his own deeds, whether good or bad (I Peter 1:17; II Tim. 4:14; Rom. 2:6)? Will some receive good rewards and some bad (Rom. 2:7-10)? (The Greek expression for “well doing” in verse 7 is literally “doing a good work.”) Will some even receive the ultimate punishment as their reward? What are the wages for sin, which is the transgression of God’s law (I John 3:4) and (Rom. 6:23)?
COMMENT: Everyone has “works” either good or bad! Those who do good works will receive good rewards. Those who do evil works will be punished, unless their evil works are repented of and covered by the blood of Jesus Christ. Unrepentant sinners will receive the “wages” or “reward” or “payment” for sin which they have earned – death for all eternity -- complete disintegration and total oblivion, as we learned in a previous lesson. How important it is, then, to obey God and to depart from sin!
Is this principle of being rewarded for good and bad works also revealed in the Old Testament (Isa. 3:9-11)? Will God reward everyone with complete fairness (Rom. 2:11)?
DEGREES OF REWARD
Every person who is born of God will receive exactly the same gift – eternal life and eternal inheritance -- but there will be different degrees of rewards meted out to the saved. Let’s notice how the Bible speaks of those differences.
Has God promised to give rewards to the small and the great (Rev. 11:18)?
COMMENT: Some saints are worthy in God’s sight of greater rewards than others because they have produced greater spiritual works.
Does the parable of Jesus recorded in Matthew 13:3-8 show that some bring forth much more “fruit” than others (vs. 8, 22-23)? Does Christ want us all to bring forth “much fruit” (John 15:1-8)?
COMMENT: Bearing good fruit involves spiritual works, and overcoming the works of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21). It involves letting Christ – by means of His Spirit -- live in us to empower us to bear spiritual “fruit” – to perform spiritual “works.”
What is one of the greater rewards Christ will give to those who overcome to the end? Is it rulership over the nations (Rev. 2:26-27)?
COMMENT: In the Kingdom or Family of God there will be individuals having greater or lesser positions of authority and degrees of glory (Compare I Cor. 15:41-42).But every individual will have a great responsibility, a tremendous job to do, for an entirely new civilization must be built on earth (to say nothing of the universe beyond) - built this time to God’s specifications. It will take many different, vital jobs to recreate world society as it ought to be. But exactly how will Jesus determine who will receive the greater and lesser rewards?
HOW REWARDS ARE DETERMINED
In being apportioned these jobs, each Christian will be rewarded according to how much he grew and overcame spiritually in this life – how much “good fruit” he produced by his spiritual works. Each will receive a job in God’s Kingdom commensurate with the level of spiritual character he has developed in this physical mortal life! The parable of the pounds recorded in Luke 19 helps to explain it. In this parable Christ pictures Himself as a young nobleman going to a far land (Heaven) to receive a kingdom and to return (to earth) (Luke 19:11-12). But before He left, He delegated certain responsibilities to each of His ten servants (v. 13).These servants represent every converted true Christian to whom God has given His Holy Spirit.
At His return, having obtained the Kingdom, how will Christ judge his servants (v. 15)? Notice the words “that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.”
COMMENT: Each “pound” (Greek, mina) was an amount of silver worth several dollars in today’s money. This “money” (Greek argurion, “silver”) is used as a symbol of spiritual value and represents the spiritual capabilities and opportunities God has given to each Christian to be used to serve others, to develop spiritual character and to accomplish the Work of God.
Is the actual degree each servant develops and overcomes – “gains by trading” (or use) still considered small in Christ’s sight, even though multiplied as much as ten times over (vs. 16-17)? Will each servant’s reward be much greater than the “pound” temporarily entrusted to him, and directly proportional to the degree of his growth (vs. 18-19)? Compare with verses 16-17.
COMMENT: True Christians are the servants of Jesus Christ (I Cor. 7:22-23). Some overcome more than others, accomplish more spiritual works with what they have been given, make more use of their opportunities, and develop more spiritual character than others. Therefore, some, after they are born into God’s Family, will be given rulership over many cities during the Millennium, while others will have qualified to rule only a few cities. Each is rewarded “according to his works” according to what he does with what he is given to do it with. Those who accomplish much will be given much authority and responsibility. Those who do less will receive less authority in God’s Kingdom.
Whether your reward is great or small depends on you! It depends on your works! It depends on how much effort you expend in overcoming and growing spiritually. It depends on whether you always willingly let God mold you into His character image, or whether you tend to resist His correction!
What will happen to those who fail to overcome and grow even a little – who fail to increase their spiritual usefulness and effectiveness (Luke 19:20-24)?
COMMENT: The one who gained nothing in this present mortal life, the one who had no good “works” who did not grown and overcome spiritually, not only was not given any position, but even had that which was previously entrusted to him taken away! God gives us salvation so we may serve others, and if we do not qualify to serve, we may have taken away even the salvation we thought we had!
What will be done with the wicked servant’s “pound” (v. 24)? Does this seem unjust to some (v. 25)? But what does Christ say? What is one principle by which each person’s reward will be determined (v. 26)?
COMMENT: The servant who overcomes much is more capable of ruling one additional city for the good of its inhabitants than either the servant who did not overcome at all, or the one who qualified to rule over only five cities.
Now turn to the parable of the talents recorded in Matthew 25. In this parable Christ compares himself to a rich man traveling to a far country (v. 14). In what way did the rich man (Christ) divide up His goods (v. 15)?
COMMENT: The Greek word translated “talent” was originally a measure of weight by which gold or silver was valued.
This time are all the quantities equal, or did He give responsibilities according to each man’s natural aptitude or ability – same verse?
COMMENT: Not everyone has the same natural inherent abilities. Some have more education, more intelligence, more leadership, more physical strength or natural inherited capacity to work with than others.
In His wisdom, God knows each one of us far better than we can know ourselves. He knows where our strengths lie, and what our weaknesses are. He also knows that for us to be really happy, our responsibilities must challenge us, yet not be a burden. So in this life He gives all spirit-begotten Christians spiritual responsibilities in accordance with their natural abilities, and gradually adds to them as they become increasingly more capable of directing them rightly and wisely, as they grow and overcome spiritually.
In this parable, how did the servants deal with the talents given to them to develop before Christ came back to “reckon” with them, or judge their works (vs. 16-19)?
Does this parable, like the parable in Luke 19, reveal that each servant who is faithful “over a few things” – that is, over the limited “talents” and opportunities given him or her in this life, will be rewarded with “many things” (vs. 20-23)? Isn’t it clearly rulership which Christ promised (vs. 21, 23)?
COMMENT: Notice how fair God really is. In verses 21 and 23, even though each man was originally given responsibility based on his natural abilities, both of the first two servants increased their responsibilities one hundred percent! Christ therefore puts them both essentially on an equal level in rewarding them. The Bible here reveals the principle that God will judge and reward us according to how well we do with what we have to do with!
What about the third servant? Out of fear and laziness, did he hide his one “talent” instead of working with it (vs. 24-25)? What will Christ say to such a person (vs. 26-27)? What will happen to those who fail to do good works, which didn’t make any spiritual progress after their initial conversion (vs. 28-29)? Does verse 30 indicate they may even lose out on receiving God’s gift – eternal life itself?
WHY OVERCOMING IS SO IMPORTANT
The Bible speaks a great deal about “overcoming.” Let’s understand exactly why overcoming is so important in living the Christian life, and what bearing it has on our ultimate reward.
Did Jesus become perfect (Heb. 2:9-10)? Notice especially the last part of verse 10. Does Christ command His followers, true Christians, to become perfect also (Matt. 5:48)?
COMMENT: The word “be” in Matthew 5:48 should properly be translated “become.” Christ spoke of becoming perfect in character, a process which takes time.
Even though Christ was the very Son of God, did He have to learn obedience (Heb. 5:8-9)? Did Christ “overcome” (John 16:33)? Did He resist temptation (Matt. 4:1-10; Heb. 4:15)?
COMMENT: Jesus Christ became perfect through the trials and tests of human experience. He overcame the temptations of the devil, His flesh and the world around Him. In spite of opposition and temptation, He kept God’s commandments perfectly. In so doing He developed the perfection of spiritual character which enabled Him to become our Savior and elder brother.
Does God expect Christians to overcome the same influences Christ overcame (Rom. 12:21)? Just how important is overcoming to your salvation and reward (Rev. 21:7; 2:7, 11, 17, 26-27; 3:5, 12, 21)?
COMMENT: No one can overcome for you. Overcoming is something each person must do himself with the help of Jesus Christ living in him through the Holy Spirit. And just as with Christ, our overcoming involves “good works” – obedience to God, service to others, personal sacrifice, struggle against sin, fighting the good fight of faith. It requires putting forth effort to become the kind of spiritually minded and motivated person God can use to rule the universe!
To put it in a nutshell, overcoming is vitally important to God because that is the only way the character necessary in a son and co-ruler of God’s ruling Family can be developed.
Does Matt. 24:46-47 emphasize that it is those who overcome to the very end, those who are still growing in character at Christ’s return (or at the end of their physical life, if that comes first) who shall inherit God’s Kingdom and receive a reward?
COMMENT: Christ will not be satisfied with just a little overcoming now and then, He desires continual, constant overcoming and the obedience it entails. There is never a time to let down, to grow fainthearted.
Does II Peter 1:5-9 also show there is need for continual growth in the Christian virtues of character as long as a person lives? Does verse 10 imply that those who don’t continue to grow and overcome will not make it into God’s Kingdom?
ABRAHAM QUALIFIED TO RULE
Let’s take another look at the life of Abraham to see what a tremendous example he set for us.
What does the Bible say about Abraham’s faith in God (James 2:23)? But must faith in God be accompanied by “works” (v. 20)? What supreme test of faith did God require of Abraham (v. 21)? Did Abraham prove his faith in God by his works (vs. 22-4)?
COMMENT: Abraham was willing to sacrifice his only son, although he knew that only through his son could God’s promises to him be fulfilled. By stepping out and acting on the Word of God Abraham proved his faith in God. Abraham has already qualified to receive a high position of rulership when born into God’s Family because he was willing to do whatever God said.
God wants each one of us to have the same kind of steadfast obedient faith that was demonstrated by righteous Abraham. Before anyone can be allowed to govern others in God’s Kingdom, God must know that he will submit himself to God’s rule now!
Even before Abraham’s supreme test, did he show by his actions that he was willing to give up his old ways, customs and surroundings in order to perform God’s commands (Gen. 12:1 and the first ten word of verse 4)? Note the word “departed” in verse 4.Did Abraham do this by faith (Heb. 11:8-9)?
By faith did Abraham also look forward to dwelling in God’s heavenly city when it descends to earth after the Millennium (v. 10; Rev. 21:2, 10-14)? And did his son and grandson come to exhibit the same kind of faith and obedience (Heb. 11:9; Luke 12:28)?
COMMENT: Abraham “departed” from his old ways. He yielded himself to his Creator, gave up his own way, and kept all of God’s commandments (Gen. 26:5). Isaac and Jacob, since they will be in God’s Kingdom, also came to this same point in surrender to God’s government. This is exactly the kind of submissive attitude God requires of Christians today, as we shall now see!
“KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS”
What did Christ tell the young rich man who wanted to know what he must do to receive eternal life (Matt. 19:16-17)? Did Jesus enumerate enough of the commandments to make it clear He was indeed talking about the Ten Commandments (vs. 18-19)? What is one very good reason why we must “keep” God’s Law (Rom. 2:13)?
COMMENT: It must be noted at this point that God does not require the “works” of animal sacrifices, rituals, washings, or various other carnal ordinances of Old Testament times (see Heb. 9:9-10).
How can we know that we truly “know” God (I John 2:3)? What does God call us if we claim to know him but don’t keep His commandments (v. 4)? Is the truth of God in such individuals – same verse?
If we do not obey God’s Law, what do we commit (I John 3:4)? And what has God decreed to be the penalty of sin (Rom. 6:23)?
What is the first step one must take to escape this penalty and come within God’s grace, His unmerited free pardon (Mark 1:14-15; Acts 3:19)?
COMMENT: To “repent” means to turn around and go the other way, to forsake your way which is contrary to God’s law, and turn to God’s way which is the way of His law. To “believe the gospel” means to believe the very message Jesus brought, the good news of the coming Kingdom of God, which includes belief of Him as personal Savior.
God makes it very plain that no one who practices sin will ever be born into His universe-ruling family (Gal. 5:19-21). All who want to become born-again sons of God and co-rulers with Jesus Christ in the Kingdom of God must stop sinning – stop breaking His laws. All must repent of rebellion against God, must desire and actually begin to literally obey His Word, submitting to His authority over their lives, keeping all His commandments!
SYMBOL OF SUBMISSION
After belief and sincere, heartfelt, deep repentance of sin, what is the next step toward becoming a Christian – a spirit-begotten co-heir with Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38)?
Is that what was done to 3,000 people who believed the Gospel and desired to obey God (vs. 39-41)?
COMMENT: They were baptized – immersed in water. That’s what the Greek word baptizo means, to immerse or plunge into water!
What does baptism picture? Read and study carefully Romans 6:3-7.
COMMENT: Baptism symbolically pictures the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But it has a dual meaning, as many things in God’s plan are dual. Baptism also pictures our voluntary crucifixion or putting to death of our old sinful self (vs. 6-7). Our coming up out of this watery grave pictures a changed person, one “resurrected” to a new, righteous, obedience life dedicated to God (vs. 4, 11-13).
To be baptized in water is a command of Christ. By being baptized we express our faith in Him as our Savior, we show our acceptance of His death for our sins, and our belief in His resurrection to eternal life. For it is by His life that we are saved (Rom. 5:8-10).
Baptism is also an outward symbol of our repentance of our old sinful, disobedient life, of our willingness now to obey God in every way and of our complete departure from our old sinful way of living!
What is the gift God promises to give to every repentant believer upon baptism (Acts 2:38)? What is one reason it is so vital to receive God’s Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5; 13:10)?
COMMENT: God’s Holy Spirit is His very own life which comes into you as the begettal of eternal life. You become then an heir of God, a joint-heir, a co-heir with Christ to inherit the entire universe when He returns! The Holy Spirit imparts to you the characteristics of God (Gal. 5:22-23).First of these is love, not carnal or human love, but divine love, God’s love. It is the love that enables us to keep God’s law, for only God’s spiritual love can keep His spiritual laws (Rom. 7: 14).
God’s Spirit also imparts to you spiritual comprehension, power to understand spiritual truth, as well as wisdom and patience. All these are imparted to you from God, by His Holy Spirit, as His gift! But they are given to you to use, in order to grow spiritually, to serve others and to overcome.
Once we have truly repented, been baptized and received the miraculous begettal of God’s Holy Spirit, do we automatically become part of a “body” (I Cor. 12:13)? What body is Paul talking about (v. 27; Eph. 1:22-23)? Be sure to read all of I Cor. 12.
COMMENT: In I Cor. 12, the apostle Paul has drawn an analogy between the human body and God’s church. We cannot become a part of the true body of Christ, the Church of God, by simply making a decision to “attend” a church service. The stamp of a member of God’s true Church is the begettal of the Holy Spirit. Those who have not received the Holy Spirit are simply not a part of the true body of Christ; they are not real Christians (Rom. 8:9). God promises His Spirit only to those who repent of sin and are baptized (Acts 2:38).
But after we are baptized and begotten by God’s Spirit – then what?
WE MUST GROWN SPIRUTALLLY
What are we commanded to do once we become Spirit-begotten Christians (II Peter 3:18)?
COMMENT: Once we have repented and have received God’s Sprit, divine life has been begotten in us. But we are not yet spirit-born divine sons of God. We are only “begotten.” Our spiritual life has begun as a very small “seed” which must then grow. To grow spiritually, we must take in spiritual nourishment. This we receive from Bible study. We also absorb this spiritual nourishment through personal, intimate, daily contact with God in prayer, through meditation on God’s Word, and through regular Christian fellowship with God’s people in His Church.
Spiritual growth is the development of the very character of God in us. We must gradually become more and more like God in the way we think, act and do things (Matt. 5:48).
But what is the character of God? It is the ability to discern what is right, choose what is right, and then do it regardless of pressures and circumstances to the contrary. Character is the ability in a free moral agent to determine and to direct one’s own actions always in the right direction, which is the way of righteousness, the way of obedience to God, of giving, serving, helping others. It is the way which produces real – and eternal happiness.
What did Christ commission His ministers to do for those in His Church (Matt. 28:19-20; John 21:15-17; I Peter 5:2)? Notice the last three words of each of the three verses in John 21. For what purpose are God’s ministers to “feed” Christ’s sheep (Eph. 4:11-15)?
COMMENT: God has set His called and chosen ministers in His Church to feed the flock: “For the perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ (the Church of God); till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect (fully mature, full grown) man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:12-13).
Just as a human mother feeds her begotten child within her womb through the placenta and umbilical cord, God’s children are nourished with spiritual food within His Church. The parallel is exact. Spiritually, God’s Church is the “mother” of all who have been begotten by His Holy Spirit. Christ’s ministers instruct, teach and counsel the members of the Church (Heb. 13:17). And as the human mother carries her unborn baby in that part of her body where she can best protect it from physical harm, the function of God’s true Church is to also protect the begotten children of God from false doctrines and false ministers.
Through this “feeding” process, each Christian receives the nourishment necessary to “grow” until he is ready to be actually born as a very son of God in the ruling Family of God!
Did Jesus promise that His Church, the “mother” of all true Christians would continue to exist through the ages (Matt. 16:18)?
COMMENT: On the day of Pentecost in 31 A.D. (Acts 2), Christ sent the Holy Spirit to inaugurate His Church. And the “gates of the grave” (hell) have never prevailed against it through the centuries. Since that time the Church, however small, has continued to exist just as Jesus promised it would.
ARE YOU PREPARING TO RULE?
You were born to rule – to have a part in governing, teaching, guiding this world in the Millennium-- and after that, to help rule the entire creation of God for all eternity. That is the awesome destiny God offers to mankind!
But how are you progressing toward this goal? Analyze your own life and character. Have you begun obeying God? Are you growing spiritually? Are you developing, growing in self-control? In the ability to restrain wrong desires, selfish motives or vanity?
If you suddenly had some really great power thrust into your hands to direct, perhaps a major department of a city, perhaps a vast manufacturing concern with many subsidiaries – would you be able to direct and exercise that power as you know God would have it used?
Well, the test is this: If you are now rightly directing the little powers in your control, such as your temper, your voice, your passions and emotions, or your present, possibly small income, then you probably could be entrusted to properly control at least a slightly larger power.
But if you have not yet learned to control and constructively guide even these little powers God has permitted you to use, then how could God entrust you to handle awesome responsibilities in the Kingdom of God? If you don’t learn to be faithful even in the use of your present income, who will entrust to your care the true riches, and the great powers of God?
Strive to learn to be faithful over what God has already given you, so that one day you will hear Christ say to you: “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much”(Matt. 25:21).
This life is the training ground. We must learn to rule by performing our responsibilities faithfully and by learning to rule over ourselves. We must come to submit to God’s authority, keeping His commandments. Preparing to rule in God’s Kingdom begins with submission to His rule now!
God will never save any person He does not govern. So learn God’s laws. Study them. Mediate on them. Live by them. And with the help of God’s Holy Spirit, overcome your human nature, pulls of the world, and the wiles of Satan the devil. Change! Grow spiritually until death, or until the moment Jesus Christ returns, when God will instantly change our vile bodies into sinless, glorified spirit bodies (Phil 3:20-21; I John 5:18). Then you will be fully qualified to rule the nations according to God’s laws. To help rule the earth and the universe beyond as a member of the God Family is our destiny!
It’s a breathtaking, exciting, incredible calling! A glorious, wonderful future! Have you begun to qualify for it? It is up to you.