The Spirit of God through Paul tells us those who are in the flesh cannot please God (Rom. 8:8). If we are spiritually wise we will realize that this is not describing the behavior of a man from moment to moment, or day to day. Rather, it is identifying one of two possible spiritual positions that any man can be found in. The following verse verifies this statement as the truth by identifying the second and alternate position – that of being ‘in the Spirit.’
Rom. 8:9 (NKJV)
“But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.”
‘In the Spirit’ is the true Christian position. It is having been sealed by the Spirit, by which in fact, the Spirit of God dwells in you, the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry, “Abba, Father.” (Rom. 8:15). True believers have been sealed by God’s seal of authenticity, and He knows, in divine simplicity, those who are His (II Tim. 2:19). All true believers are ‘in the Spirit’because the Spirit of God dwells in them. This is the believer’s position before God.
Paul does say, ‘if indeed.’ It is not overtly obvious to Paul or any man as to who has been sealed by the Spirit. We may see evidence of this position in some people if we can follow them around long enough. The simple truth is that man cannot see this seal. It is obvious to God and all in the unseen spirit realm – angels and demons – but not something obvious to man. The fact remains, if you do not have the Spirit of Christ, you are not a believer, you are not a true Christian (I John 4:13).
Those who do not possess the Spirit have a position of ‘in the flesh.’ This position is one and the same as being ‘in Adam,’ the first man. This position is the state of all men by physical birth. The only exception to this reality was the virgin birth of Jesus. Through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, the believer is now ‘in the Spirit,’ or also known as ‘in Christ,’ the second Adam. This is the position of all true believers.
The Christian has a heavenly calling (Heb. 3:1). The believer has a citizenship in heaven (Phil. 3:20). We presently have been made to sit in heavenly places in Christ (Eph. 2:6). We have been blessed already with every spiritual blessing in these heavenly places in Christ (Eph. 1:3). Can the believer have any doubt that we will be physically brought into the heavens one day as the body of Christ? What would be the point of our citizenship being in heaven, if our habitation is on the earth?
The Son of Man is risen and is in the glory of His Father. He has entered the glory already. Yet it is clear, from the Scriptures, He went ahead of the believer as the forerunner for us (Heb. 6:19-20). If He is the forerunner, it is because the believer will follow Him there, behind the veil, into the very presence and glory of God. The believer’s hope is both sure and steadfast, and presently this hope enters in behind the veil with the forerunner. This is because we will physically enter there as well. All these truths are due to the believer’s true position ‘in Christ’ and the privilege that this position affords.
This book should be a blessing for all believers to read. It is the use of Scripture in proving the absolute validity of the doctrine of the rapture of the church as part of the counsels and plan of God. For the professing church world this book should be a last minute re-awakening. In one sense it is part of a midnight cry that has already been sounded (Matt. 25:6). Yet I fear it is a cry which has already been taken for granted and discarded by many. But we do what we can by the grace God has given us.
For the believer there are three views of Christ of great significance, to which all our thoughts and doctrines must answer. First, there is Christ on the cross. This is the foundational work of all God’s counsels and it is the purchased redemption of all believers, His blood and His death being the price and propitiation for all grace given to us. The second is Christ sitting at the right hand of God. This is the reason the Holy Spirit was sent down, and that the Holy Spirit gathers a body. The church doesn’t exist until the Head of the body was exalted in glory (Eph. 1:20-23). The doctrine of the church – what it is, how it was formed, what its calling is, where it is going – is not revealed until Paul is called and fashioned by the sovereign working of God. The third view is Christ coming for the church. This is the Church’s true hope. Jesus will come and receive all the saints to Himself. From that point on we will experience unhindered access to both the Father and the Son. We will be in the Presence (Heb. 6:19). We will be in the glory (Rom. 3:23, Col. 1:27).
ON A PERSONAL NOTE: This book, ‘The Blessed Hope of the Church,’ was written differently than the first book in the series, ‘The Son of Man Glorified.’ In the first book I chased many rabbits around in the text of the chapters. However in this book, in each chapter, I use ‘endnotes’ to present related thoughts and teaching that do not properly fit in the flow of the text. These references are numbered in the text and the endnotes are found at the end of each chapter.
The first book was a broad based work on biblical theology. It was designed to show the biblical principles needed to understand the counsels of God. As a believer, if you know the plan of God and the biblical principles that order that plan, what more do you need? This plan will not change. And Jesus said, “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what the master is doing.” (John 15:15).
Some may say it is more important that we know God rather than know His counsels and principles. But this would be a misconception. It is by what God has said and all that He has done that He is revealed to us. Only by the work of the cross do we know and see the love of God for us (Rom. 5:5-11). By this same work we understand that God is a holy and righteous God without measure, condemning His own Son for us (Rom. 3:23-26). When we see what Jehovah does for a Jewish remnant in the end, we know that our God is faithful, beyond any doubt, to fulfill all that He has promised. Through the revelation of God’s counsels for the church, existing before the foundations of the world, we see and know the one true living God as the Sovereign.
1 Corinthians 2:9-10
“But as it is written:
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
(10) But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.”
The true believer has been sealed by His Spirit. We have been given the Spirit of truth and have the ‘mind of Christ.’ God has done so for us through our redemption in Christ so that we would be His friends and confidantes. He wants the believer to know His thoughts, His mind, His counsels and purposes. When we read the entire passage from which the above comes (I Cor. 1:17-2:16), it becomes evident the Spirit isn’t referring to theological seminaries, dependence on clergy, or a mastery of the Hebrew and Greek languages. These things may serve some place, and often are highly regarded in the eyes of men, but the Spirit doesn’t give them mention in the passage. The truth is simple – for the believer it is the given Spirit of God that teaches the mind and thoughts of God, and reveals all the things God has prepared for us.
This book is about one of those things of God that ‘eye has not seen, ear has not heard, and it hasn’t entered into the heart of natural man.’ This thing of God’s can only be known by the church through His Word taught by the Holy Spirit. This second book is written to prove from the Scriptures a specific doctrine – the rapture, the blessed hope of the church. Again, you will need your Bible by your side, for there are many quoted and referenced Scriptures. Hopefully your Bible is a sound and reliable translation. In this book I use, almost exclusively, the New King James translation for quotes.
God bless you in your studies. May the Spirit of God use this book to show you many valuable understandings. Always seek the thoughts of God rather than the teachings of men. The failure to do so has been the ruin of the church world. Always pursue sound doctrine, which can only come from the Word of God taught by His Holy Spirit. Jesus is coming soon. His last words spoken to the church are these, “Surely I am coming quickly.”
The true church then responds, “Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”