Origins and Destinies

  The Truth Which Sets Free - Destiner Press

Back to Home

For free online reading simply click on the Chapters listed below.

CHAPTERS

1. Church or Elect?

2. Wrong Place, Name & Body

3. The House of God?

4. Right Word, Right Place

5. Early Church Fathers

6. Early Christian Councils

7. Christians?

8. Clergy & Saints

9. Creeds, Confessions, Catechisms

10. Church Sacraments

11. Authority & Confirmation

12. Church Sabbath

13. Church Festivals

14. Sheep & Goats

15. Church Gospels

16. Christian Books, Music, Film

17. Church Rapture?

18. Church Planting or Assembly?

19. Church Assurance

20. Unity or Ecumenism?

21. Church Judgment

22. Separation & Destruction

ADDENDUM

God & Evil

An exposure of the false teaching of Christianity concerning the reason for evil and suffering. This is one of the most challenging and deepest areas in the Word of God.

The following four booklets are now also included in the Addendum of The Truth Which Sets Free.

Raising the Dead

Spirit of the Living God

Amazing Grace

Harlot Babylon

Acknowledgements and Sources

Back to Top

   

Now revised and included here in this Addendum of The Truth Which Sets Free

Original booklet published by the Olive Press

Spirit of the Living God

Copyright by Peter Dunstan

1. THE SPIRIT AND THE LORD

2. THE SPIRIT AND REVELATION

3. THE SPIRIT AND TRUTH

4. THE SPIRIT AND NEW BIRTH

5. THE SPIRIT AND CONVERSION

6. THE SPIRIT AND BAPTISM

7. THE SPIRIT AND OBEDIENCE

 

"Repent and be baptized every one of you

in the name of Jesus Christ for

the forgiveness of your sins; and you

Shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

For the promise is to you and your children

And to all that are far off, every one

whom the Lord our God calls to Himself.

(Acts 2:38,39)

 

Scripture quotations from the

King James Version (KJV) of the Bible

Revised Standard Version of the Bible

Copyright Div. of Education,

Nat. Council of Churches of Christ in U.S.A. 1946,1952,1971,1973.

Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

1. THE SPIRIT AND THE LORD

The Scriptures tell us that "God is light" and that "God is love." (1 John 1:5; 1 John 4:8) God does not simply radiate light, He is light. God does not simply radiate love; He is love. Jesus further explained that "God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth." (John 4:24) When the Bible speaks of the Holy Spirit it does not mean some impersonal divine force which comes from God, but the very Spirit of God Himself. He is a Person. He is no less than the Lord Himself. When the false disciple Ananias "lied to the Holy Spirit" he was told, quite clearly that "you have not lied to men but to God," and it cost him his life. (Acts 5-3,4) "Now the Lord is the Spirit," explained the apostle Paul to the disciples in Corinth, "and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another: for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit." (2 Corinthians 3:17,18)

This is the same Spirit of God (the Hebrew word means "wind") who was active in the Creation, "moving over the face of the waters," (Genesis 1:2) the same Spirit by whose power God "formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life" so that man became "a living being." (Genesis 2:7) When man rebelled against God it was from the life-giving Spirit that he was cut off. That same day man died to God (Genesis 2:17) and became mere flesh, doomed to return to dust, a worldly creature following his own will, "devoid of the Spirit." (Jude 19)

From the very beginning God had mercifully planned a way of rescue through One who would appear in history to bear the death penalty for man’s disobedience, and the Spirit of God revealed the news of this coming Messiah to the Hebrew prophets. Indeed, the Spirit of God who inspired the prophets was the Spirit of Jesus Christ himself. "The prophets who prophesied of the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired about this salvation; they inquired what person or time was indicated by the Spirit of Christ within them when predicting the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glory." (1 Peter 1:10,11) The Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ and the Spirit of the Lord are one and the same Being, One Lord, one God and yet three Persons. All three are named in the predicted coming of Christ in the flesh of a single man. "To us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called, ‘Wonderful Counselor (the Spirit), Mighty God the Everlasting Father (the Father), the Prince of Peace’ (the Son)." (Isaiah 9:6)

Christ was conceived in the flesh by the power of the Spirit and he was to be called Jesus ("Savior") and Emmanuel ("God with us"). (Matthew 1:18-23) At Christ’s baptism the Holy Spirit was seen descending upon him in the form of a dove, and a voice from above (the Father) said, "Thou art my Beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased." (Luke 3:22) Through his perfectly sinless and God-pleasing life Jesus defeated the powers of sin and death. He raised flesh back into living fellowship with God and he possesses the power to restore the Spirit of God to men. He promised his apostles that after he had returned to heaven the Counselor would come to them "whom I (the Son) will send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth..." (John 15:26,27)

When the apostles received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost they had no doubt who had sent him. Jesus had already breathed on them while he was still with them saying, "Receive the Holy Spirit" (John 20:22) and now, having received the promised authority, they confidently declared to others, "This Jesus God raised up, and of that we are all witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this which you see and hear." (Acts 2:32,33) Just as the Father had sent the Son, so also the Father and Son sent the Spirit, and therefore Jesus sent his followers into the world to make the one true God known "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." (Matthew 28:19) 

 

2. THE SPIRIT AND REVELATION

Although the Creator of this universe is an unseen Spirit, He is a God who reveals himself to man. In fact, try as they may, people will never be able to invent an acceptable excuse for their unbelief, "for what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse..." (Romans 1:19,20) But more than this, God has disclosed himself in the very special revelation of Himself, the Word made flesh (Jesus Christ) and the written Word (Scripture inspired by the Spirit).

Jesus was the full revelation of God in human form, for "the Word was God" and "in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell." (John 1:1; Colossians 1:19) The whole Bible reaches its climax in his appearance. "In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he has appointed the heir of all things; through whom also he created the world. He reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature, upholding the universe by his word of power." (Hebrews 1:1-3) So complete was this revelation that Jesus could say to his perplexed disciples, "He who has seen me has seen the Father." (John 14:9)

The Spirit of God is the One who revealed the Word of God to the prophets and apostles. Indeed, without the Holy Spirit there would be no Bible. Jesus confirmed that Scripture is the infallible Word of God which "cannot be broken" (John 10:34) not because the writers were perfect but because the Spirit who breathed through them is the all-powerful Lord. In fact it is not possible for us to come to knowledge of the truth unless we accept the Scripture as the Word breathed from God’s mouth and written by men under the direction of the Holy Spirit. "First of all you must understand this," emphasized the apostle Peter, "No prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God." (2 Peter 1:20,21) Likewise the apostle Paul writes, "All Scripture is inspired by God" (literally "God-breathed") and is therefore essential to faith and conduct. (2 Timothy 3:16)

In the early days, before the New Testament was completed by the apostles, the Spirit of God poured out special revelation in many ways upon the disciples of Christ, inspiring them with visions and prophecies to encourage them in the faith and enabling them to speak in unlearned tongues so that unbelievers and foreigners could hear the gospel in their own language. (Acts 2:8; 1 Corinthians 14:22) But whereas Paul predicted that "prophecies will fade away" and "tongues will cease" (1 Corinthians 13:8) the Word of God remains forever. "My words," explained Jesus, "will not pass away." (Matthew 24:35) The Spirit sealed those words into Scripture. The Bible is the Holy Spirit’s perfect gift of revelation to God’s people for all time. It is trustworthy, it is sufficient, and it is complete. This does not mean, however, that all the Spirit’s work of revelation ceased with the Bible. Far from it! Without the ongoing, revealing work of the Spirit no one would ever see the Light of the Truth. 

 

3. THE SPIRIT AND TRUTH

Men may know about God by looking at Creation (enough even to condemn their unbelief) but they cannot come to know God in a saving way simply by observing nature. It is the Scriptures "which are able to instruct you for salvation," (2 Timothy 3:15) but even scriptural knowledge does not necessarily mean that men are saved. After all, the churchmen who rejected Christ knew the Scriptures very well. "You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have life…but I know that you do not have the love of God within you." (John 5:39-42) What is also required is a powerful and effective conviction of the Word in men’s hearts. Men may persuasively present this message to others but only the Spirit of God can actually convince them of its truth and give them saving faith in Christ. The gospel is "the power of God for salvation" but only "to those who are being saved" and "to every one who has faith." To those who are being lost it is not power but "foolishness." (Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 1:18) Unless the Spirit convinces a person of the truth there is no possibility of their being saved by the message alone. "For we know, brethren beloved by God," explains Paul to early disciples, "that He has chosen you," (How?) "for our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction." (1 Thessalonians 1:4,5)

Jesus explained the vital work of the Holy Spirit over and over again to his apostles. "These things I have spoken to you, while I am still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you...when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me... and when he comes he will convince the world of sin and of righteousness and of judgement; of sin because they do not believe in me, of righteousness because I go to the Father and you will see me no more; of judgement, because the ruler of this world is judged…When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into the truth…he will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you." (John 14:25,26; 15:26; 16- 8-11,13,14)

The Spirit of God is therefore the One who truly convicts us of sin, that is, our unbelief. He convinces us of the righteousness of Christ, the sinless One, and the only Man whose life so satisfied God that he rose into heaven to sit at God’s right hand. He convinces us that the judgement of God is a reality, because Satan himself has been judged and condemned. He teaches us the facts and leads us into the truth. He glorifies and bears witness to the Person and work of Jesus Christ, and He inspires God’s elect to do the same. 

 

4. THE SPIRIT AND NEW BIRTH

The natural man (the carnal man or the man of flesh) is not able to receive God’s revelation, nor does he wish to hear the things of God. "The natural man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthians 2:14) The natural man is not able to obey God’s commands or do His will, because "those who are in the flesh cannot please God." (Romans 8:8) So it is impossible for the natural man to be saved unless a miracle takes place which enables him to see the light. Jesus explained this to a churchman named Nicodemus, who could not grasp it. The vast majority of Christians have no understanding whatsoever of this either. "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew he cannot see the kingdom of God." And again Jesus said to him, "You must be born anew." (John 3:3,7)

The new birth, or regeneration, is not something that happens by human effort, because flesh cannot cause spiritual life. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of Spirit is spirit." (John 3:6) The new birth is the work of the Spirit of God. It is not a work shared by man but belongs to God alone. God gives this gift to whoever he wishes. No one deserves it. Quite simply, He gives it to whom He will. "The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." (John 3:8) Regeneration is solely an act of God’s grace, purely according to his good pleasure. "For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will." (John 5:21)

Since the natural man is "dead in sin" he is not capable of causing his own spiritual birth. It depends entirely on God’s grace. "But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)," explained Paul to the disciples at Ephesus. (Ephesians 2:5) Again Paul writes, "He saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit which he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life." (Titus 3:5-7) The new birth is not something which man actively grasps by his own will or effort, but something that happens to him, something he receives through Christ. "But to those who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood (not through natural parents), nor of the will of the flesh (not by self-decision), nor of the will of man (not by the persuasion of others) but of God (solely by grace)." (John 1:12,13)

This cannot be emphasized enough. The natural man is utterly unable to move towards Christ and does not truly thirst for God’s salvation because his very carnal nature is at war with the Spirit of God and by disposition will always resist the call of God. We need a new inner character that desires to please God. This was the great promise given to God’s people through the ancient Hebrew prophets. "A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances." (Ezekiel 36:26,27) "1 will give them a heart to know that I am the LORD; and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart." (Jeremiah 24:7)

Without this new heart no one can truly return to God or know that He is the Lord or walk in His ways. This can be imitated, yes, and billions have attempted it, and are persuaded to do so by "evangelists," but all that has produced is a horde of devout churchmen. All such endeavors to do these things in the energy of the flesh, all such efforts will profit absolutely nothing. "It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail," explained Jesus, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father." (John 6:63,65) We must be born anew by the power of God’s Spirit, and that is a decision entirely in His hands. Churchmen, clergy and laity gnash their teeth at this core truth that God is absolutely sovereign, that His design for salvation is not their plan at all.

 

5. THE SPIRIT AND CONVERSION

Conversion is the direct and immediate consequence of the new birth. The new birth is the seed; conversion is the first instant of growth. Conversion is a work of the Holy Spirit that involves two things in life: repentance (turning away from sin and self) and faith (towards God and Christ). Both repentance and faith are essential in salvation. "Repent therefore and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out," and "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved," were the foremost commands of the New Testament apostles. (Acts 3:19; 16:31) Jesus said the same thing, "Unless you turn...you will never enter the kingdom of heaven," and "You will die in your sins unless you believe that I am he." (Matthew 18:3; John 8:24) Repentance and faith are the fruits of the truly regenerated person. Faith that does not involve repentance (turning from sin) is not saving faith. Unless both these fruits appear there is no scriptural reason to assume that a person has been born of the Spirit of God.

In regeneration humans are passive but in conversion they are made active by the power of the Holy Spirit. Conversion is a work in which we share. We repent. We believe. But we cannot put forth these fruits unless we are first born anew. The tree must be made good, right from the root, before it can bear good fruit. Faith is thus a fruit of the indwelling Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22) Both saving faith and true repentance are gifts that must be granted. The natural man cannot generate them. "It has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake," explained Paul to those already saved. Of the lost he says "God may perhaps grant that they will repent and come to know the truth, and they may escape the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will." (Philippians 1:29; 2 Timothy 2:25,26)

Since the natural man cannot receive the things of the Spirit or please God it is clear that he cannot repent, nor does he really desire to believe. All the same, God commands the man of flesh to repent. John the Baptist told even the Pharisees to "bear fruit that befits repentance." (Matthew 3:8) Indeed, God "commands all men everywhere to repent." (Acts 17:30) A landlord has every right to demand the rent owed to him even if his tenant is not able to pay. We are likewise indebted to our Creator and Lord, and we owe God faith and repentance. He has every right to demand it of us even if we cannot produce. His very request shows us that we are lacking. A gracious work of the Holy Spirit is therefore necessary if anyone is to be saved. Through undeserved new birth the Spirit authorizes God’s people to be converted, to repent and believe in Christ. 

 

6. THE SPIRIT AND BAPTISM

John the Baptist prophesied, "I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." When he saw Jesus he said, "This is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. And I have seen and borne witness that this is the Son of God." (Matthew 3:11; John 1:33,34) Understand this clearly if you are to escape the snares of the church, God is One. The Father, the Son and the Spirit are One Lord. The Spirit of God is the Spirit of Christ. Therefore Jesus is the One who baptizes his people with the Holy Spirit, and into Himself. "If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth...If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him." (John 14:15,16,17,23) It is not possible to receive the Son without the Spirit, or the Spirit without the Father, or the Father without the Son. This baptism is the one baptism of the One God.

In order to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit a person must be perfect, absolutely righteous in the eyes of God, because God does not indwell unclean temples. In ourselves we can never reach this holy standard. We fall short. We are all sinfully flawed. How then can we possess such righteousness? The Word teaches that we possess this righteousness by faith in Jesus Christ. It is called, "the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe." (Romans 3:22) It is not a righteousness of our own making possessed in our own selves. It is the righteousness of Christ put to our account through faith. His righteous life is reckoned, imputed, or credited to those who believe, whose faith is "reckoned as righteousness." (Romans 4:5; Galatians 3:6) Therefore Jesus Christ is the believer’s righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6; 1 Corinthians 1:30) and the believer possesses this righteousness by faith alone, not by personal holiness. We cannot be perfectly righteous through our personal efforts, obedience or works, so we cannot receive the Spirit by such personal works. "He who through faith is righteous shall live…that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." (Galatians 3:11,14) Whoever truly believes in Jesus Christ with the faith given to him by the Sovereign Spirit is therefore counted as righteous in God’s eyes, and whoever God counts as righteous he also indwells by His Spirit. Believing in Jesus and receiving the Spirit cannot be divided. Again, God is One. Most churchmen do not know this truth, which is astonishing, because even the demons know it very well, and shudder. (James 2:19)

There were some very special exceptions to this during the days of the apostles in the Book of Acts. Firstly, a significant gap appears between the apostles believing in Christ and receiving the Spirit’s authoritative baptism at Pentecost. (Acts 2) Why? The Scripture tells us the reason. Jesus had said, "‘ He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, ‘out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.’ Now this he said about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive; for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified." (John 7:38,39) Not until the Son had returned to the right hand of His Father would the apostles receive this baptism in full.

Secondly, the apostles, on hearing that the Samaritans had received the Word, "came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Spirit; for it had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus." (Acts 8:15,16) The Samaritans were a breakaway religious group who despised the Jews and considered themselves to be the real people of God. The Jews likewise hated Samaritans and "had no dealings with Samaritans." (John 4:7) The Samaritans needed to recognize the authority of the apostles of Christ. The apostles needed to see that Samaritans were really elect, chosen by grace, who qualified for the baptism of the Spirit.

Thirdly, the apostles needed to see that, after God’s special favor to the Jews for thousands of years, the Gentiles were also to receive His mercy. The apostle Peter appreciated that it was illegal "for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation," but as he spoke to certain Gentiles about Jesus "the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word." (Acts 10:28,44) This was a hard thing for proud Jews to accept, but after Peter had been thoroughly questioned by the rest of the apostles they had to admit that "to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance unto life." (Acts 10:18) Finally, the apostle Paul found a remainder of the disciples from the band of John the Baptist who had not yet received the Spirit because they had only received John’s water baptism for repentance, a baptism eclipsed by Christ. (John 3:25-30) They did not yet know the teachings of Jesus, nor had they even heard of the Holy Spirit. On hearing about Jesus, "the Holy Spirit came on them," and their salvation was sealed. (Acts 19)

Now let this be stated as strongly as possible. These cases were not usual; they were extraordinary cases that occurred only at the very beginning of the spread of Christ’s Word. Such circumstances never occurred again. There is no mention of any gap between faith in Christ and the baptism of the Spirit after this, not anywhere in all the New Testament letters that were written to instruct the elect in the essentials of the faith. Quite the opposite is stressed. "Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him." (Romans 8:9) It is not possible to belong to Christ and be without His Spirit. The idea of a "second baptism" or "higher blessing" is utterly false and belongs only in the church and its imagined divisions and hierarchies, not in the gathering of God’s elect. To accept such a grave error would not only deny the oneness of the body of the chosen (since all are equally accounted with Christ’s righteousness) but also deny the true oneness of God. "There is one body and one spirit...one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all." (Ephesians 4:4-6)

 

7. THE SPIRIT AND OBEDIENCE

The Spirit of God is the Holy Spirit. He indwells His people to sanctify them and cleanse them, to produce holiness in them. This is one of the great purposes God has for those He has chosen for salvation. The Scripture says to the elect, "God chose you from the beginning to be saved through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth." (2 Thessalonians 2:13) Again the Bible describes believers as, "chosen and destined by God the Father and sanctified by the Spirit for obedience to Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 1-2) "You did not choose me," explained Jesus to the twelve, "but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit." (John 15-16) "He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy," writes the apostle Paul. (Ephesians 1:4) Those whom God has selected he has also "predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son." (Romans 8:29) Becoming holy is a process of being conformed by the Holy Spirit to God’s perfect standard. "You shall be holy," says the Father, "for I am holy." (1 Peter 1:16)

Holiness is not simply an optional extra for God’s elect. They are commanded with the words, "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure," and instructed to strive for "the holiness without which no one will see the Lord." (Philippians 2:12,13; Hebrews 12:14) No holiness, no obedience, no salvation. The Word utterly opposes the churchmen’s teaching that it is possible to "know Jesus as Savior but not as Lord" or to know him as "Resident but not President." Those branches that do not bear the fruits of holiness (such as repentance, faith and obedience) deceive themselves if they imagine they belong to God; their destiny is to be cast into the fire and burned. (John 15:4-6) For this very reason God bypasses churchmen and saves another people for Himself. (Matthew 3:7-12)

While our own obedience is therefore absolutely essential it is equally important to know that it is not our own holiness which saves us, either now or at the final judgement throne. In order to be saved by our own obedience we would have to reach a point where we were without sin in this life. That is not possible, because the Holy Spirit’s work in us is never complete in this life, no matter how any churchman tries to deceive you otherwise. "And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." (Philippians 1:6) Believers always have a war within them between the Spirit and the flesh. The redemption of their bodies is not yet complete so they are "groaning" within themselves. (Romans 8:23) This feeling of incompleteness within themselves will not be satisfied in this world by any churchman’s promise of a "second blessing" or "sinless perfection." The elect must resist such fables and wait patiently for their completion at the Second Coming of Christ.

It is true that some believers are more spiritual than others, and some more carnal than others by degree, but never does Scripture teach that believers can be divided by class into two separate kinds of holiness or sainthood. All the elect are to some extent carnal. Only Jesus Christ has ever been completely spiritual while in the flesh. He was the only man ever to have all areas of his life under the control of the Holy Spirit and that is why he alone is the Savior. Even the mature apostle Paul confessed, "I am (not I was, but I am) carnal, sold under sin...For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh...wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Christ Jesus our Lord!" Paul was groaning at his carnality within and yet rejoicing at the same time because he realized that while he was in bondage in himself he was set free in Christ. Until he died he would never possess that perfect freedom from sin throughout his own body; it would be held for him as for all the elect, in his Savior by faith. "So then," Paul continues with his explanation of the inner warfare, "I of myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin." (Romans 7:14-25)

He goes on to say, "there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1) because Christ has set them free from the death penalty for sin and from the power of sin. They are therefore enabled to "walk according to the Spirit" (Romans 8:4; Galatians 5:25) and to live a completely new life, but not a completely sinless life. The Spirit-filled disciple will be the first to admit at the end of the day, no matter how obedient his life has been, that he is an "unworthy servant" whose righteousness is in fact no better than "dirty rags" compared to the perfection of Christ and God. (Luke 17:10; Isaiah 64:6) A churchman or devotee of any religion who tells you otherwise is a pretender.

Only in the Substitute, in the Lamb of God who takes the place of His chosen people and suffers for their sin, and who now sits at God’s right hand in heaven, can the holiness be found which perfectly satisfies God’s standard. God ultimately saves His children by crediting them with the infinite work of Christ from start to finish, "who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God," (Hebrews 9:14) and not because of their own Spirit-filled achievements which are paltry and flawed by comparison. The only saving holiness, the only real perfection the elect have is the righteousness worked out for them by the life and death of Jesus Christ. "We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all...for by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified." (Hebrews 10:10,14)

The salvation of the elect is therefore absolutely secure because the infinite treasure of Christ’s holiness is safely kept for them in heaven until the Last Day. We cannot possess this perfection in our own finite flesh but receive a small portion or down payment of it when we are chosen by God and "sealed with the promised Holy Spirit which is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it." (Ephesians 1:14) This security does not encourage God’s people to be careless but to be all the more willing and able to incline towards obedience. "Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God," warns Paul, and he adds confidently, "in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." (Ephesians 4:30)

Amazing Grace

Back to Top