In the previous part of our conversation you read a fictitious conversation with some of the individuals who wrote a majority of the text we call the New Testament. Even though the conversation was fictitious the scripture is real, valid and a reliable testimony to us today who wish to serve and put our faith in the Lord. I felt this was the best way to bring to light the differences in the gospel they had written about and what we preach on Sundays and in the highway and byways. I believed it would be helpful to stimulate our thinking as we realized these men wrote some pretty amazing things about the salvation they say we hope for, but we say we already posses.
This conversation with the gospel writers brings into sharp contrast the difference between the gospel they preached and the gospel we have received. How can anyone continue in their relationship with the Lord without doing some searching of their own? How can any of us continue this walk of faith without asking, what gospel have I put my faith in?
How many of us went down to the altar, said the sinners prayer only to get up and hear the pastor tell us we have been saved into a hope? I know I didn’t. I got told I got saved, that I had passed from death to life and that I had received eternal life. Isn’t this what happened to you too? Have we then heard sermon after sermon concerning our hope of salvation and our need to endure to the very end to make our hope sure so we don’t miss our hope of salvation? Or do we mostly hear sermons inviting others to receive their eternal life by having their sins forgiven, sermons on being moral beings, sermons on interpersonal relationships and receiving God’s blessings, or understanding God’s love and plan for our lives.
Our belief of what scripture teaches us is passed down to us from our pastors, priest and teachers. This doctrine of belief is reinforced at the Bible collage and at the Seminary level. But what is it that scripture is really saying to us? If we truly want to be Biblical in our faith shouldn’t we let our beliefs match what scripture teaches? Some may argue their doctrine and beliefs already match up to scripture. However my experiences have shown me there are thoughts and beliefs we profess as scriptural that conflict with scripture. These thoughts and beliefs are passed to the body of Christ as truths when in actuality they do not match up to scripture.
As we continue to look at some of these issues where the hope presented in scripture contradicts our understanding of spiritual things let us remember it is the Lord we serve. Let us remember it is the Lord we must please and give account to. We are not accountable to our teachers but to the Lord for what we believe. On the day we stand before the Lord our teachers will not be our advocate. The only advocate we will have is Jesus. So I would argue, let us believe what Jesus has had men write down for us to put our faith in concerning His salvation message.
If as believers we have a dusty Bible at home we are without excuse before the Lord if we do not know His word in which we say we put our trust. How much more is this true for those of us who won’t even go to church without our Bible? For those of us who have several Bibles cluttering our shelves yet we haven’t caught the hope held out in the gospel, what is our excuse for not knowing what scripture teaches?
I am not asking anyone to check their beliefs at the door in this conversation but I do ask us to check our beliefs with what the Bible teaches. Is this fair enough? May we yearn for the pure Word of God and scriptural doctrine. Let us reason together as believers as we discover what scripture teaches. Let us be willing to believe the written Word of God over any and all man’s opinions on scripture and the doctrines that come from it. Let us be willing to change our beliefs to match the written scripture. This is my challenge to you. Let us ask God to open our understanding of His word as we continue.
We have learned the gospel did not have its start in the book of Matthew. We have learned the promises given in our gospel wasn’t only preached to those who heard Jesus and those of us after. We have learned the gospel was announced in advance to Abraham and our gospel was preached to those at Mount Sinai.
But in fact this promise is even older than Abraham. For just as Jesus said,
“I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”[i]
The Word of God, I am sure I do not have to remind you of whom the Word is, declares the promise was made before Abraham. He is our promise and He is our hope and He was before Abraham.
Some may argue that yes Jesus was before Abraham but it doesn’t mean that He was promised before Abraham. As if He was only latter pronounced promise by some prophet latter in Jewish history. Again I must ask what does scripture teach on this subject?
For many in our pews believe that God made Adam and Eve and everything was perfect and wonderful. Then Adam by giving in to Eve ruined everything. We are left imagining what it would be like to be as God had originally made man without his fallen nature. We wonder what it would be like if Adam would not have ruined everything by sinning. As it is we are left with the reality that Adam had blown it big time and now God had to make the ultimate choice to send His Son to die for our sins. So we are left as believers with the impression God had his original plan interrupted by man’s sinfulness. That it wasn’t in His original plan to send His Son. We assume His original plan was for everything to remain as He created it.
I know I have believed for years and heard from the mouth of teachers of scripture the words Plan A and Plan B or something very similar to this. God created His Plan A but Adam had to do things his own way so now God had to come up with Plan B. But what does scripture teach? What should we as believers believe about Plan A and Plan B?
Shockingly Paul speaks of a secret wisdom that has been hidden. And this wisdom is that God predestined for us a glory through the gospel. God destined before time began for us to receive this glory. Do we comprehend before God created time we were in His mind. Before the creation of the world scripture teaches we were destined for glory. And this before Adam sinned.
No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.[ii]
Does this sound like God switching to Plan B or does it sound like Plan A just might be broader than we thought in its scope?
We in the body of Christ and myself included have for some reason assumed we received our promise of salvation after Adam had sinned. For many of us we can not imagine God promising before Adam sinned our hope of eternal life. Why would He have to? It causes a conflict with our doctrine. We assume when God made Adam He made Adam in the highest form of man. And this highest form of a perfect sinless man is the glory that we are predestined to receive. Since we believe this is what scripture teaches we struggle to accept God would make man knowing man would sin or even permitting man to sin. But isn’t this what happened?
Our church gospel is God made man perfect and sinless. Adam introduced sin into the world and we were separated from God. God then promised His son so that we may be saved and put things back the way they were. When Jesus comes back and sets up His kingdom we will once again be made perfect like Adam was. And from then on for all eternity we will be the way God originally created man as God intended us to be. I too have believed this. But this is not what scripture teaches. Put up with me a little while longer as we discover what the gospel really says. Let us confront how our church gospel isn’t quite the gospel according to the gospel.
Paul the servant of the living God was very clear about a promise being from before Abraham’s time when he repeated this truth in another place. Not only was Paul again pointing out we had promises that were pledge to us before time began, he elaborates on the promises.
Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God’s elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness– a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, and at his appointed season he brought his word to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior,[iii]
That’s right, even our hope of eternal life was promised before the beginning of time.
Paul’s testimony to us is we have received a gospel that leads to godliness. We have knowledge of a hope of eternal life and we put our faith in this hope. He doesn’t speak of an assurance of the hope of eternal life. He speaks of our knowledge of it. Our understanding of this hope comes from a promise. Not a promise promised sometime after Adam sinned as so many assume in the body of Christ today. Paul speaks of our hope of salvation being promised to us before the beginning of time. Long before Adam came on the scene you and I had been given the promise we would have the hope of eternal life. Amazing isn’t it!
Let me digress here a little bit for we will cover this subject more in depth later. But did you notice that Paul didn’t say, at His appointed season God fulfilled this promise of eternal life through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior. No he didn’t. He said God at a certain place in time brought His word to light through Paul’s preaching. This word is a hope of eternal life that Paul is entrusted with and even commanded to preach by God our Savior. Paul wasn’t commanded to preach our church gospel of come to the altar and be saved. Nor come to the altar to receive eternal life. He was commanded to preach of the hope of eternal life brought to light in God’s word. Do we understand he was commanded to preach this and not our gospel of today?
Paul affirms this gospel of hope when he wrote to a different church. He repeats the idea of God bringing to light this gospel of hope in due season by saying it was not revealed to men in other generations but has now been revealed. He speaks of a promise we share that is in Christ Jesus. We share in this promise with none other than the people who already had the hope of grace and a righteousness not their own. We share this promise with Israel, God’s chosen people of the covenant.
In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power.[iv]
If you would like Paul to be a little more blunt about this, here it is.
Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.[v]
Speaking of the elect, he says he endures everything for them so that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus. And with what? And with eternal glory, the same glory promised us before time began. The same promise of the hope of eternal life, our salvation before the creation of the world. And we in the church invite people to make a commitment to the Lord by saying a sinner’s prayer and then tell them because they are now saved and have eternal life they are part of the elect. Boy do we have that all wrong! Paul says as part of the elect we too may obtain salvation and glory that is in Christ. Not do or did obtain salvation and glory that is in Christ but may. We become the elect when we put our hope in the promise of eternal life and share in the promises with Israel. We are not part of the elect because we got saved! We get saved when Christ brings our inheritance with Him at His return.
Doesn’t this make the following verse all the more real, alive and applicable to us all?
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.[vi]
Remember all of Gods promises are still yes and amen even our hope of eternal life. Even this promise that was promised before time began, even our hope of salvation. We who put our faith in the gospel according to the gospel put our faith in a promise that God made before He created time and space.
This faith Paul speaks of is fixing our eyes on what is unseen. For we have not seen our day of salvation yet as we have already discussed. By putting our faith in the hope of eternal life we fix our eyes on what is eternal. Our salvation is not temporal but eternal and it as of yet is unseen. We have a hope that was promised before the beginning of time. Our hope in the gospel started in the heart of God before the beginning of time. How many times have we read the following?
All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast–all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world. He who has an ear, let him hear.[vii]
Yes let him who has an ear hear! The Lamb was slain from what, from the creation of the world. Scripture does not teaches that He was slain around thirty two AD as we teach it, but from the creation of the world. He was already slain when it says in scripture,
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.[viii]
Doesn’t this just blow you away?
The testimony is true and consistent. Not only has Paul and John testified that our hope and our promises from God are from before the creation of the world, Peter confirms this testimony.
He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.[ix]
Can it be explained any clearer? We have hope because Christ was chosen before the creation of the world. God did not choose His Son some time between the fall of man and the manger. He was chosen before time and revealed in these last days and in whom we put our hope. What a tremendous gospel we do have when we look at the gospel according to the gospel.
We have Paul, John and Peter who have taught us that we have a promise of eternal life because Jesus was chosen before the creation of the world to be the Lamb that would be slain from the foundation of the world. Before God created us He chose His son to die on a cross for us. Before Geneses 1:1 God promised we would have the hope of eternal life. So now through Christ we believe in God who has made this promise of eternal life. Now through Christ we put our faith and hope in this promise of eternal life. As we have already discovered this promise has not yet been fulfilled. It will be accomplished with the return of Jesus. Again this is why we put our hope and faith in God to fulfill this promise even as Peter taught the church.
How can we not be moved to worship the one true God who is worthy to receive all praise, honor and glory? Is He not a great King? God who does not lie promised before the beginning of time our hope of eternal life.
“I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”[x]
And this promise still stands even though it is eternal and unseen. But that is ok because we have a faith in the hope of our unseen. Doesn’t this truth presented in the gospel just make you want to bow down to Him and cast down your crowns?
We preach on Sundays and Wednesdays that we have received grace because of the cross. Don’t we realize God has been giving us His grace before the beginning of time? Just because He chose to reveal it in these last days through Christ doesn’t mean that He hasn’t already given it to us before time began. Why else would Paul write,
who has saved us and called us to a holy life–not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher.[xi]
What a great hope we have! What a great hope in the unseen eternal we have. Jesus through whom all things were made didn’t make man and declare oops when Adam sinned. We didn’t wreck His Plan A as so many in the church think and teach, so that He had to quickly think of a Plan B. No we are not on His Plan B. God is not trying to fix what was broken as if this was something He did not understand or anticipate. No, we are on Plan A, we were always on Plan A and for ever will be on Plan A.
How blessed now to understand that we have been given a grace and destined for glory in Christ Jesus before time began. Doesn’t it help us to understand how our father Abraham has been given this same grace and like us was credited a righteousness that he did not deserve? Not only was this grace and righteousness given to him it was given to his descendants who lived in the covenant as well. For most of us in the church it is unthinkable that Abraham and his offspring received the same grace and righteousness by faith we have in the church. But why should this surprise us. This grace was given before the beginning of time. What a small thing to make this gospel of hope made know in advance to Abraham that we now get to participate in along with Israel.
Praise the Lord God for He is faithful to show us in His word how true the statement is.
Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.[xii]
We in the church assume God had to change His plan after Adam sinned. We wrongly conclude that God moved from Plan A to Plan B. And this when scripture clearly teaches us that God does not change. Let us rejoice for our God does not change. He didn’t even change when He promised us the hope of eternal life before the beginning of creation. Our God truly is the same yesterday, today and forever more. Even to the promise of our savior that was not only promised but slain from the foundation of the earth. How can we look at the following scripture the same anymore?
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.[xiii]
What a gospel of hope we have! Our savior was slain for us yesterday and today and for all eternity.
And why should this surprise us. Don’t we remember what the psalmist wrote?
But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children–with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.[xiv]
As a people who say of God, He is our God and we are His people, we are loved from everlasting to everlasting. Everlasting is before time began and long after it shall cease to be. Rejoice saints! Our gospel does not change. Nor does God’s love towards us or His promise to us of eternal life. It is all from the beginning of time in Christ.
So we have a love from everlasting to everlasting expressed to us through a savior who was slain from the foundation of the world and promised to us before time began. We have been given a grace in Christ Jesus before time began for He chose us in Him before the creation of the world.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will–[xv]
We were chosen not at birth or when we first heard the gospel. No! Scripture teaches we were chosen before the creation of the world and God through Jesus has in love predestined us to be adopted as His sons. An adoption that will take place when Jesus comes back to give us our eternal life when our bodies are transformed just as scripture teaches.
When the day comes when Jesus who is unchanging sits on His throne then we will not only be the recipients of a gospel promised before time began, by a savior slain from the foundation of the world because we are loved from everlasting to everlasting. We will be given an inheritance promised from the creation of the world to top it all off.
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.[xvi]
Truly the gospel that was announced in advance to Abraham was promised long before it was ever announced to mankind. Why? Because our God is unchanging. Our savior is unchanging. Our hope is unchanging. Rejoice with me all you saints who put your hope in the gospel according to the gospel! Our gospel is not a response to an oops. It is a demonstration of God’s grace given to us before time ever ticked away its first second. Our gospel is eternal from everlasting to everlasting.
Not only have we misunderstood what scripture says about our gospel and how our gospel isn’t the result of God scrambling to find an answer to man’s sin. We have not understood the true eternal beginning of our gospel, and we have completely failed to realize what God is doing with His gospel, His Plan A.
But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.[xvii]
So what is God doing with His gospel, His Plan A you ask. Great question.
There are those amongst us who teach the highest order of man was Adam in the garden before he sinned. That this is what God had intended for mankind. They presume to teach that when this age is done and over we will be like Adam in the new age to come being made perfect again. As if we are to be made in the likeness of Adam all over again. Really?
For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight.[xviii]
Scripture teaches God made us for a purpose. This purpose is to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling. I see no place in scripture where it says that Adam was clothed with a heavenly dwelling when he was created. Do you? We and even Adam have this hope because of Christ our new Adam. Doesn’t the promises and inheritance prepared in advance before time began and since the creation of the world apply to Adam too? Of course it applies to Adam too.
Did you notice when the scripture says we live by faith and not by sight. Isn’t scripture consistent when it says we look to what is unseen and eternal? Isn’t scripture consistent when it says our faith is hope in what is unseen? Are we to explain this scripture away too? Is this scripture only speaking of those unanswered prayer request or does it speak of so much more? Yes it speaks of more, it speaks of our hope of salvation. The salvation that Jesus will bring to us not the salvation we say we receive at the altar.
It is baffling to me that we have those amongst us who boast of the Holy Spirit in their lives seeking manifestation after manifestation and yet they think we will become like Adam again in the age to come. Scripture teaches the Holy Spirit is a deposit guaranteeing what is to come. And what is coming? Our very purpose, to be clothed in our heavenly dwelling our salvation and our eternal life.
Some profess on one hand the Holy Spirit in their lives who is the deposit of better things to come, even better than that of Adam. And in the other say our highest order is that of Adam in the garden, concluding we will return to this state. Truly we are an amazing creature. On one had we have those amongst us professing the Holy Spirit and His power in their lives. He is our deposit guaranteeing we will be clothed with our Heavenly dwelling. And on the other hand with the Holy Spirit in us we say we will be like Adam. Is this our idea or is the Holy Spirit who in us as a deposit guaranteeing what is to come contradicting the Word of God? I think it would be us contradicting the word of God with this teaching.
I am sure you brothers already understand that Jesus is our new Adam.
So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being” ; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.[xix]
Scripture does not teach we will become like Adam. The gospel according to the gospel teaches we will become like the man form heaven. I don’t know about you but I expect to be like the new Adam in the coming ages not the old Adam. This is my hope. What do you hope in? The gospel according to whom?
After all where in scripture are we taught of the old Adam he was ever promise the right to sit with God on His throne? Anybody? Yeah I can’t find it either. But we have this promise, this hope, that in the ages to come under the new Adam clothed in our heavenly dwelling, promised from before time began and the creation of the world, we will have the right to sit with Him on His throne.
To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”[xx]
What a great hope we have! What a promise that has been given. What love that has been demonstrated in the announcement of salvation before time began. That the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world. And we will be like the new Adam and not the old one. We are not on Plan B but on Plan A. What a gospel we have, what a hope to put our faith in. Like Abraham we can put our hope in the promises from God and that He will do as He promises. We rest in what is eternal and unseen not what is seen and temporary. We are to live by faith and not by site.
We are a very strange people indeed. We profess faith yet we hope for nothing. We conduct ourselves as if we already posses the eternal, when Paul himself teaches we do not live by sight but by faith. We carry ourselves about as if we already posses what is unseen. Do we teach confessing believers, they have a hope of being adopted as sons or do we teach they are adopted sons already? Do we teach confessing believers they have a hope of eternal life or that they already have it? Do we teach confessing believers they have a hope for their day of salvation or do we teach that day came when they said the sinner’s prayer?
You know where I am going with this. How can we profess faith in anything if we say we already have it? How can we wait patiently as Paul says if we profess we already have it? How can we say we have that which is unseen? To what are we walking by faith and not by sight? We in the church don’t make any sense to me. Remember we fix our eyes on what is unseen not seen. We fix our eyes on the eternal not the temporal. Doesn’t it make more sense and follow scripture if we realize we have a hope of these things? Isn’t this more inline with what Paul has said?
If you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.[xxi]
Paul is a servant of the hope held out in the gospel promised before time began and his teachings still proclaim to us today the gospel he preached and the hope he declared. He clearly speaks of continuing firmly in our faith and not being moved from the hope held out in the gospel. There is a hope presented in the gospel that we need to hold fast to. Abraham had to hold fast to his hope in the promises of God. Moses, the prophets and all Old Testament saints were required to hold fast to the hope held out to them in the Law of Moses and the Prophets. Now we too are to hold fast to that same hope held out to us today in the same gospel that was announced to Abraham in advance. That is why it is said,
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.[xxii]
Doesn’t this make sense to us? Doesn’t the gospel according to the gospel flow perfectly in unison?
Think about it. We as God’s people, because of the hope held out in the gospel wait for our adoption as sons. Our hope is built on the sure foundation of the apostles and prophets. Jesus Himself is the cornerstone of this hope. On one side we have the prophets and on the others side we have the apostles with Christ in the center of history. Both the message of the prophets and the apostles speak of the hope we have in God’s promises to us in Christ. Why should we make the mistake of only understanding our gospel from the New Testament only?
Paul in his letters speaks of a hope. He even at one point called it the hope held out in the gospel. So what hope was it that Paul was so eager to share with those to whom he had written the letter?
The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.[xxiii]
We hope because we eagerly wait as scripture says. We do not eagerly wait for what we already have. We eagerly wait for what we do not have. Sound familiar? So what is it that we are in hope eagerly waiting for? We have a hope we will be adopted as sons.
We must realize this adoption of sons is what we hope for. Scripture teaches that all creation itself has this hope. Its liberation is tied to our liberation. Creation to be free from bondage and decay and we to loose this old body for our new redeemed bodies. We eagerly wait and hope that our bodies will be redeemed as taught when Christ returns. And creation is waiting for the sons of God to be revealed in our new redeemed bodies.
It has been my experience the common thought in Christianity is we have already been adopted as sons of God. I have sat through numerous sermons teaching the saints that we have been adopted into God’s family. It is so ironic to me that we as believers hold firmly to the teaching we have already been adopted as God’s children yet we all know and have to acknowledge that our bodies have not been redeemed. Scripture teaches our adoption will not take place until our bodies are transformed. Who amongst us has put away this old tent and put on our heavenly dwelling? Since the answer is no one, should our response be nor have we been adopted as sons. That is if we still want to profess the gospel that Paul preached. Shouldn’t our confession be we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons?
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.[xxiv]
Paul’s own confession is that we have not been clothed with our heavenly dwelling. In fact he says we groan, we long to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling. So who amongst us can say the body I now dwell in is not the same body I first came to believe Christ in. If Paul’s own confession was we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, are we now going to say we now see what Paul could not. So let us consider again our adoptions as sons, are we adopted or do we have a hope of adoption?
We wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
We know we will have been adopted as sons when our bodies have been redeemed. That is if we say we believe the gospel Paul preached.
Let us not listen to this nonsense that we have been saved and have received our eternal life. Let us not believe the lie we have already been adopted as God’s children the day we got “saved”. That is unless we want to believe contrary to what was written by those who where entrusted with the gospel. That is if we don’t want to believe in the gospel according to the gospel. But let that not be our case.
So what happens when Christ returns? We will have our bodies redeemed and the sons of God will be adopted. For the result of our adoption as sons is the redemption of our bodies. For scripture says,
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends![xxv]
If our lowly bodies will be transformed when He returns, how can we with a clear understanding of scripture now say we have already been adopted as sons? As for me I would rather be like Paul who fixes his eyes not on what is seen but unseen. I would rather be obedient to the teachings of the scriptures that God has given us so that we may have a hope of eternal life.
We await our savior the Lord Jesus because He will transform our lowly bodies so we will be like Him. The transformation of our bodies will not happen until He returns. Then and only then will we be adopted as His children. As Paul says, because of this we need to stand firm and this to the end in the Lord. This is why we need to hear sermon after sermon of our need to endure to the end to make our hope sure. This is why we need to hear more and more from our teachers about enduring so we can be like Jesus’ glorious body when He returns.
In light of all we have been learning, what does it mean to have faith? We have a gospel and a savior promised from the beginning of creation. We have a hope of eternal life. We have a hope of being adopted as God’s children and have our bodies transformed. We have a hope of a kingdom prepared for us since the creation of the world. We have a hope of being like the new Adam. And all of this is God’s Plan A and not Plan B. So again I ask what does it mean to have faith? What do you think, is faith going to be as different from what you believe it means as the church gospel is different from the gospel of scripture? Lets’ find out.
[i] John 8:58
[ii] I Corinthians 2:7
[iii] Titus 1:1-3
[iv] Ephesians 3:4-7
[v] II Timothy 2:10
[vi] II Corinthians 1:20
[vii] Revelations 13:8-9
[viii] Genesis 1:1
[ix] I Peter 1:20-21
[x] John 8:58
[xi] II Timothy 1:9-11
[xii] James 1:16-17
[xiii] Hebrews 13:8
[xiv] Psalms 103:17-18
[xv] Ephesians 1:3-5
[xvi] Matthew 25:31-34
[xvii] Psalms 33:11
[xviii] 2 Corinthians 5:4-7
[xix] I Corinthians 15:45-49
[xx] Revelations 3:21-22
[xxi] Colossians 1:23
[xxii] Ephesians 2:19-20
[xxiii] Romans 8:19-23
[xxiv] II Corinthians 4:18-5:5
[xxv] Philippians 3:20-4:1