Biblical Principles for Christian Maturity

John H. Stoll, Th.M., Ph.D

Copyright 1996, John H. Stoll

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Chapter 8 - By God's Will

In the providence of God, there are four aspects of His complete plan for us His children, that are all encompassing from eternity past to eternity future. Though they are found in various aspects of scripture, there is a summation of them in Hebrews 10:10-18. In Chapter 2 we saw the three aspects of life for ourselves that we need to be aware of: 1) The entrance and problem of Sin; 2) The need for and way of Salvation; and 3) The way of Sanctification (i.e. Holy living) of life. In this chapter our lives are seen from God's perspective, and what He has done to bring reconciliation of mankind to Himself.

I. By God's Will We Have Been Sanctified - Heb. 10:10: This cares for the believer's Position in sin. God set apart all those who would accept His son as their Savior, before the foundation of the world was even laid. This was a positional setting apart. In Romans 8:29 it says, "For whom He did foreknow (i.e. God's omniscience) He also did predetermine to be conformed to the image of His son". Then in I Peter 1:2, it tells us that we have been, "Elected according to the foreknowledge of God the Father".

God brought His plan to fruition in Christ's redemptive work on the cross, as seen in this verse, "By the will of God we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all". The Greek present tense denotes a present condition, based on a past action.

Christ's offering dealt with the believer's position in sin. Since sanctification by Christ's sacrifice is judicial, God set the believers apart unto Himself, positionally putting us into a holy class before He could do anything for us personally. To illustrate, an adopted child must be legally adopted (i.e. he must have a position as a child of the new parents) before they are able to do anything about raising him as their own. So, God had to set us apart unto Himself, through Jesus Christ, before He could begin the life transforming power in us. Therefore, Christ's offering was once for all sanctifying (i.e. setting us apart as God's own possession) the believer, past, present, and future, once for all.

II. By God's Will We Have Been Justified - Heb. 10:11-13: This act of God cares for the believer's Penalty for sin. This too is a judicial act of God, because mankind is incapable of paying the penalty for his sins. Since God is infinite, our sins against Him are infinite in cost, and we would be all infinity paying for them. But, God now is able to declare the believer righteous (i.e. Justified) through the work Christ did on the cross.

Romans 3:24-26 explains that God justifies us through the redemptive work of Christ (v.24), and then enlightens us by noting that Christ was a propitiation (i.e. to actually care for our sins) for our sins, which we accept by faith. It is important to note in verse 25,26 that Christ did not make atonement (i.e. a covering over) for our sins, but propitiated (i.e. actually cared for) our sins. The word "Atonement" is strictly an Old Testament concept, since the sacrifice of animals didn't care for the sins of the people (see Heb. 10:4,11). It only covered them over until Christ came who actually cared for (i.e. propitiated, which is strictly a New Testament concept) the sins of both Old and New Testament believers. Under the Old Covenant God "Forebore" (v.25) the sins of the Old Testament saints until Christ came. Now, in v.26 it tells us that God is now able to be just (His holiness is exercised) and the justifier (declarer righteous) of him who believes in Jesus. It is worthy of note that the word "Atonement" is never used in the New Testament for it is strictly an Old Testament (Covenant) concept. Conversely, the word "Propitiation" is never used in the Old Testament, for it is strictly a New Testament (Covenant) concept.

Then in Hebrews 2:14,15 we see that Christ became flesh and blood. In other words He came into the realm of life in which we participate, in order to meet sin head on and conquer it, since sin was committed in the realm of flesh and blood. Christ's resurrection conquered death and Satan, so that all believers, past, present, and future could be delivered from the bondage of sin. On the basis of Christ's propitiatory work on the cross as well as His resurrection, God is able to justify the believer in Jesus Christ. Hebrews 10:13 looks forward to the culmination of this victory

III. By God's Will We Have Been Regenerated - Heb.10;15,16; This cares for the believer's Power over sin.

In verse 15 we see the Holy Spirit doing the work of regeneration and also indwelling the believer, to give him power to overcome sin. In verse 16 we see the two aspects of sin: 1) Volitional and 2) Intellectual.

The volitional is understood by, "I will put my law into their hearts", which provides for the believer a new nature that overcomes the old disposition or set of the human will (i.e. selfishness). Philippians 2:12,13 explains to us that we are to "work out your own Salvation with fear and trembling". The Salvation we have through regeneration is a gift of God, for which we can do no work, but what is meant here is that we are to work out in a maturing of our spiritual life, what God has given to us through the gift of eternal life. We don't fear God in the sense of being afraid, but in the sense of awe or respect to God for who He is. Verse 13 explains that it is the indwelling Holy Spirit within us that provides a willingness as well as an enablement to carry out our spiritual maturation.

The intellectual aspect of our new nature is seen in, "I will write my laws into their minds". This provides moral and spiritual discernment for the Christian (Heb.8:10). In John 14:16-26 Christ taught His Disciples of His return to Heaven, and He promised them "another Comforter" whom He said would be the Holy Spirit, to continually indwell them and abide in them. Then in John 16:7-14 Christ instructed the Disciples concerning the Holy Spirit by saying that "He will guide you into all the truth". The work of the Holy Spirit in the life of every Christian is to give us moral and spiritual discernment. In I Cor. 2:9- 14 we see that only the Christian has what the Bible states is "spiritual discernment". This enables us to comprehend the truth of the Bible in our understanding, and then as we allow the Holy Spirit to apply these truths to our development we become more spiritually mature. This is primarily what God wishes for His children (See I Peter 2:2; II Peter 3:18).

Regeneration brings a new life, a new heart, and a new will. Only the Christian has all these by the power of the Holy Spirit. The person of the world has intellectual understanding, but the Christian has the discernment of God's principles for wholeness of life.

IV. By God's Will We Have Been Glorified - Heb.10:14,17,18: This deals with the very Presence of sin.

Today, in the life of every Christian, there is a progressive transformation into God's likeness, that is taking place, but in these verses that God-likeness in us is seen as already completed, in God's mind. Since God does not operate in a time/space world as we do, everything in His plan is in the present, so that all that God has/is/will do for us is already completed by Him, ages ago.

This is why Romans 8:28-33, which follows through from eternity past to eternity future, is said that, "All things work together for good, to them that love God". It has not only been planned in eternity past, it is and will be carried out by God's sovereignty and omnipotence. On this we can rely.

In Heb. 10:14 it says that we are "perfected forever", which means "bearing through to the end". Then in Phil. 1:6, the Apostle Paul said, "I am confident of this very thing, that the Holy Spirit who has begun a good work in you through regeneration, will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ". I John 3:2 tells us that, "We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is". I Thess. 5:24 notes that, "Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it".

This is why Heb. 10:17 states, "Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more". For every child of God there is only a looking forward to that great day of eternity with our heavenly Father. Therefore, by God's will, from eternity to eternity, we have been, Sanctified/Justified/Regenerated/Glorified.

"I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene,
And wonder how He could love me, a sinner, condemned, unclean.
How marvelous, how wonderful, & my song shall ever be;
How marvelous, how wonderful, is my Savior's love for me.

When with the ransomed in glory, His face I at last shall see,
'Twill be my joy through the ages, to sing of His love for me.
How marvelous, how wonderful, & my song shall ever be;
How marvelous, how wonderful, is my Savior's love for me."

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