God’s Family #7

Friday, February 7, 2014

“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19 KJV).

How enjoyable it is to fellowship with other members of God’s family!

In the future, we, the Church the Body of Christ will accomplish God’s will for the heavenly places: “And [God] hath raised us up [ascended] together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (verses 6,7). God already considers us Christians as though we were in heaven now!

Why are we Christians still on earth? Why did God not take us to heaven the moment we trusted Christ? Until this the Dispensation of Grace closes, a portion of the Body of Christ must remain on earth in order to evangelize, to teach the lost world the Gospel of God’s Grace, and then, after unbelievers are saved, to see them mature in sound Bible doctrine. When no one else wants to trust Jesus Christ alone as personal Saviour, the Body of Christ will be completed, and the Christians remaining on earth will be taken up into the air, to meet the Lord Jesus Christ and to reunite with their brothers and sisters in Christ (now resurrected bodily) (1 Corinthians 15:51-55; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

When all members of the Church the Body of Christ are assembled in heaven, Ephesians 1:22,23 explains: “And [God] hath put all things [the governments of heaven] under his [Jesus Christ’s] feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” All the offices of heaven’s government that Satan and his angels have polluted, will be purged (Revelation 12:7-12), and we will be installed in those positions of government (cf. Colossians 1:16-20)!

Via us, God will fill all of heaven with the life of His Son, Jesus Christ, and it will truly be a family enterprise, one that will literally transcend the endless ages to come!

NOTE: A companion (albeit, advanced) devotionals arc is “in the works,” and should be published soon! Stay tuned!

God’s Family #6

Thursday, February 6, 2014

“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19 KJV).

How enjoyable it is to fellowship with other members of God’s family!

The Bible’s first verse says, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). God needs a body of individuals to execute His will in both realms (originally, these agencies were angels and mankind, respectively). When Lucifer/Satan polluted heaven with sin, and when Adam joined Satan and corrupted earth with sin, God began His two-fold plan to restore heaven and earth to Himself. Most of the Scriptures discuss God creating the nation Israel to function as His earthly people, but what about His restoration of the heavenly places? God kept His plan for heaven secret until the Apostle Paul’s ministry (Ephesians 3:1-11).

God already had the nation Israel’s believing remnant as His people, but that was just part of His will. Why is God forming the Church the Body of Christ? God the Holy Spirit through Paul wrote in today’s Scripture and its context: “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit(verses 19-22).

Now, God has revealed His secret will—heaven’s restoration (Ephesians 1:9,10). In Paul’s epistles alone, Romans through Philemon, we learn that God is currently creating a body that will fulfill His will in heaven (as Israel will fulfill His will in earth; note Matthew 6:10). God is forming the Body of Christ to be His dwelling-place, a body through which His life is to be lived now and forever (Ephesians 2:21,22)! Just as Jesus Christ will live His life in and through Israel on earth (Jeremiah 31:33,34; Matthew chapters 5-7; John 1:12; 2 Peter 1:3,4; et cetera), our grand reunion with our deceased brothers and sisters in Christ in heaven is just the beginning of God’s will for heaven….

God’s Family #5

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19 KJV).

How enjoyable it is to fellowship with other members of God’s family!

Prior to our Dispensation of Grace, and previous to our trusting Paul’s Gospel—Christ’s finished crosswork as sufficient payment for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3,4)—we were “strangers and foreigners” from God’s nation Israel, His covenants, His purpose and His plan (today’s Scripture; cf. verses 11,12). “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ” (verse 13). “For through him [Jesus Christ] we both [Jew and Gentile] have access by one Spirit unto the Father” (verse 18). According to Ephesians 3:15, God has the “whole family in heaven and earth,” a family that encompasses the Church the Body of Christ (heaven) and believing Israel (earth), all of whom are the children of God the Father (Galatians 3:26).

Now, as God’s children, we can, by faith in His Word to us, cooperate with Him in accomplishing His will (which is delineated in His Word to us, Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon). When we realize that the Church the Body of Christ is God’s vessel on earth while the Dispensation of Grace operates, and then remember that it becomes His vessel in the heavenly places when this dispensation closes (Ephesians 2:6,7), we understand that we will be reunited with our brothers and sisters in Christ who have died, to continue God’s work up there by ruling and reigning with Him (Ephesians 1:20-23; 2 Timothy 2:10-13; 2 Timothy 4:18)!

Moreover, the context of today’s Scripture says that God is building a “holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (verses 21,22). God wants to fill us with His life now, and in the heavenly places, it will still be His life (albeit without our sinful flesh in the way, and the context will be the whole universe, not just earth like today!). Just imagine a local church assembly free from all doctrinal error and all sin. It will be the greatest family reunion ever….

God’s Family #4

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19 KJV).

How enjoyable it is to fellowship with other members of God’s family!

The Bible says: “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself” (Philippians 3:20,21). Interestingly, the Greek word here translated “conversation” is politeuma (note the Greek prefix poli–, “city,” as in “politics”). As today’s Scripture says, we are really citizens of heaven, “the kingdom of [God’s] dear Son” (Colossians 1:13). Philippians 3:20 means that our behavior should reflect heavenly values, God’s Word and doctrine (cf. Colossians 3:1-3), just as one’s beliefs and actions reflect one’s nationality.

We who trusted alone in Jesus Christ’s blood shed, death, burial, and resurrection as the fully-satisfying payment for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3,4), we also look to heaven to receive physical redemption (Romans 8:22), when Jesus Christ comes to give us new bodies like His (Philippians 3:21). Then, He will take us up into heaven where our true citizenship is, where He will then live His life in and through us in those heavenly places (the life He wants to live in and through us on earth now!).

Paul discussed in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 that the souls and spirits of those who died in Christ, Jesus Christ will bring with Him back to earth, give them and us new bodies (1 Corinthians 15:51-55), and take us Christians living on earth, home. Within a split second, all Christians, living and deceased, will be reunited, caught up (“raptured”) in the clouds, “to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (verse 18). With the years of Christian training on earth complete, the Church the Body of Christ is removed from earth, the Dispensation of Grace closes, Israel’s program resumes, and we are reunited with our Christian siblings, liberated to be vessels of God’s grace in the heavenly places….

God’s Family #3

Monday, February 3, 2014

“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19 KJV).

How enjoyable it is to fellowship with other members of God’s family!

Save the Bereans in Acts 17:10-12, the Thessalonians were the most spiritually mature assembly of Christians recorded in Scripture. The Apostle Paul wrote two brief epistles to them, commending their sound testimonies, encouraging their endurance under intense persecution, and urging them to grow even more in Christ. The Thessalonians “received the word [of God] in much affliction” (1 Thessalonians 1:6): they had “persecutions and tribulations,” great sufferings (2 Thessalonians 1:4-7), and 1 Thessalonians 2:14 indicates their fellow Greeks (albeit unsaved/pagans) were responsible for their distresses.

The language of 1 Thessalonians 4:13—“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope”—indicates some of the Thessalonian Christians were being martyred, killed by their pagan neighbors. The Holy Spirit, working in and through Paul, addressed the Thessalonians’ concerns: “What happened to our brothers and sisters in Christ who were killed? Will we ever see them again?” (Being former pagans themselves, their Greek philosophy denied bodily resurrection, so Paul affirmed the doctrine.)

Paul continues, “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him” (verse 14). The verb “sleeping” describes the appearance of their physical bodies, not the state of their souls and spirits (cf. Daniel 12:2; Revelation 6:9-11). Our brothers and sisters who have died in Christ, their physical bodies are here, buried on earth, yet Paul wrote “will God bring [them] with Him.” To wit, the “real” them—their souls and spirits—are in the third heaven! Just as Paul heard some fantastic words and sounds in heaven (2 Corinthians 12:1-4), the saints in heaven are enjoying fellowship with other Christians and Jesus Christ (being “far better with Christ” [Philippians 1:23], they are unaware of how long they have been there!).

If you think Christian fellowship on earth is enjoyable, just wait until heaven….

God’s Family #2

Sunday, February 2, 2014

“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19 KJV).

How enjoyable it is to fellowship with other members of God’s family!

Recently, I ministered to a dear Christian brother via phone, a man who enjoyed our blog. Little did either of us know, in just a few days (yesterday), he would lose his battle with cancer. His absence genders sadness, yet joy fills our hearts because we know that he is free from his pain and suffering, and finally at peace. He saw his Lord Jesus Christ!

More recently, I ministered to a dear Christian brother who, some months ago, lost his wife of 55 years to prolonged illness. This brother and I, still saddened by her passing, nevertheless rejoiced in that she too is free from her pain and suffering, and finally at peace as well. She saw her Lord Jesus Christ!

The Bible likens Christians of this the Dispensation of Grace unto a body, what it calls “the Church the Body of Christ.” Just as our physical bodies are made of many body parts, the Body of Christ has many members. Both bodies function as one because their members are so intricately connected. Thus, when one Christian cries, we should cry with him or her. When one member rejoices, we should rejoice with him or her. This is what family does.

“That there should be no schism [division] in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular” (1 Corinthians 12:25-27).

As biological brothers and sisters look after one another, so should members of the Body of Christ. Even in the grimmest of circumstances, meeting with and conversing with like-minded believers in Christ is very encouraging and refreshing. While we can no longer converse or fellowship with those Christians who have passed on, we anticipate the great day when we fellowship with them again….

-IN MEMORIAM-
Mr. G. F.

God’s Family #1

Saturday, February 1, 2014

“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19 KJV).

How enjoyable it is to fellowship with other members of God’s family!

Recently, I met an out-of-state individual who was distributing Gospel tracts on my university’s campus. Although we had never met before, and there was a considerable age difference between us, this Christian brother and I had such wonderful fellowship around the King James Bible rightly divided. It was very edifying for both of us, so I was sorely disappointed that I could not stay longer. Beloved, this is exactly how Christian fellowship should be, since the same Holy Spirit indwells us both.

The Bible says, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10). As in any family, we should be especially kind to and caring for fellow saints (our spiritual siblings). Unfortunately, as in any family, there is petty bickering, immaturity, sibling rivalry, and even more serious issues in the Body of Christ, so this fellowship can be greatly hindered or even impossible.

In the context of today’s Scripture, the Apostle Paul is reminding us that, when God was dealing with the nation Israel, we Gentiles were “without Christ… without God in the world” (verses 11,12). As lost people headed for eternal hellfire, we were “of [our] father the devil” (John 8:44), we “walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2), and we were under “the power of darkness” (Colossians 1:13).

That all changed when the Dispensation of Grace began and when we realized our lost estate. We decided to trust exclusively in Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork as sufficient payment for our sins. The day we were saved unto eternal life, God became our Father (Galatians 3:26), and other people who had trusted Christ prior, whether living or deceased, became our spiritual brothers and sisters (today’s Scripture; cf. Ephesians 3:15).

Saints, let us remember to get to know each other now, because we, as God’s family, are living together, both now and forever….