The Kingdom of God Pt 1

Some people believe the church is the kingdom of God, others that it is the ethical rule of God set up in ones heart. Some that it will come gradually by growth and development, whilst other’s believe it is waiting for us up in heaven. But what did Jesus and the apostles teach, and what does the bible say about the kingdom of God?

Those familiar with Rudyard Kipling’s writings may remember his ‘six honest serving men’:

“I keep six honest serving men, they taught me all I knew,
Their names are What and Why and When, and How and Where and Who,”

In this study we will utilize these ‘six serving men’ to find out what the scriptures say about the kingdom of God.

WHAT is the kingdom of God?

The first thing to recognise is that after almost six weeks of teaching about the kingdom of God by Jesus (between his resurrection and his ascension to heaven), the kingdom of God was very real to the apostles and they fully expected it’s arrival – Jesus did not correct them in this but only commented on the timescale involved:

Acts 1:3-6 NRSV
After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. 4 While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. “This,” he said, “is what you have heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” 6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?”

The second thing to notice is that it is God himself (Yahweh) who gives kingdoms and rulership where He wills:

Daniel 2:37 WEB
You, O king, are king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, and the strength, and the glory;

We see from the interpretation and explanation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in the second chapter of Daniel, that it concerns a succession of world governments or kingdoms:

Daniel 2:38-39 WEB
and wherever the children of men dwell, the animals of the field and the birds of the sky has he given into your hand, and has made you to rule over them all: you are the head of gold.
2:39 After you shall arise another kingdom inferior to you; and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth.

Eventually the final world ruling system is brought down and replaced by a kingdom set up by God himself, which will never be destroyed – the kingdom of God:

Daniel 2:44 WEB
In the days of those kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor shall the sovereignty of it be left to another people; but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.

Is this interpretation from Yahweh God, and is it certain and sure to happen?

Daniel 2:45 WEB
Because you saw that a stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God has made known to the king what shall happen hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation of it sure.

Sometime later Daniel has a dream and visions, and again is given the meaning of it:

Daniel 7:2 WEB
Daniel spoke and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the sky broke forth on the great sea.

Daniel 7:16 WEB
I came near to one of those who stood by, and asked him the truth concerning all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things.

This is also concerning these world ruling governments:

Daniel 7:17 WEB
These great animals, which are four, are four kings, who shall arise out of the earth.

Did it depict one like ‘the son of man’ (Jesus Messiah – this was his favourite term to refer to himself) receiving authority and a commission from Yahweh to rule as king of the kingdom of God over all the earth:

Daniel 7:13-14 WEB
I saw in the night-visions, and, behold, there came with the clouds of the sky one like a son of man, and he came even to the ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.
7:14 There was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

Did John the Baptist look forward to the coming of this kingdom and preach concerning it?

Matthew 3:1-3 NRSV
In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming,
2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
3 This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’ “

Is this also what Jesus himself preached about?

Matthew 4:17 NRSV
From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

When questioned did Jesus tell Pilate that he was to become a king, but not of this present age/world, implying that it will be in the age/world to come later?

John 18:36 NRSV
Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.”

Did Jesus also tell his disciples that he would rule in the new world or new age (referring to himself as the son of man)?

Matthew 19:27-28 NRSV
Then Peter said in reply, “Look, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?”
28 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man is seated on the throne of his glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Does Paul also speak about this ‘world to come’?

Hebrews 2:5 NRSV
Now God did not subject the coming world, about which we are speaking, to angels.

Does Isaiah prophecy of this reign of Yahweh through His Messiah Jesus?

Isaiah 52:7 WEB
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of good, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, Your God reigns!

Does the book of Revelation refer to the time when the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of God and of His Christ (Messiah)?

Revelation 11:15 NRSV
Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign forever and ever.”

Does Jesus say that he has been given power from the Father to rule over the nations?

Revelation 2:26-27 NRSV
To everyone who conquers and continues to do my works to the end, I will give authority over the nations;
27 to rule them with an iron rod, as when clay pots are shattered—
28 even as I also received authority from my Father. To the one who conquers I will also give the morning star.

So we can now see that the kingdom of God is nothing less than the new world government of God (Yahweh, our Father) ruling over all the nations and peoples of the earth under the kingship of Jesus his Messiah.

In order to understand what makes this is necessary let’s use our next ‘serving man’ WHY.

WHY is the kingdom of God coming?

In the garden of Eden Adam and Eve effectively rejected God’s rule over them through unbelief and disobedience, instigated by Satan. They, and all mankind thereafter unwittingly came under the rule of Satan.

Is this confirmed in Ephesians, referring to Satan as ‘the prince of the power of the air’ (an unseen spirit being influencing all mankind without our knowing it)?

Ephesians 2:1-3 NRSV
You were dead through the trespasses and sins
2 in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient.

Does Paul in the book of Romans say we are either slaves of sin (Satan) or of righteousness (God & Christ)?

Romans 6:16-19 NRSV
Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?
17 But thanks be to God that you, having once been slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted,
18 and that you, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.
19 I am speaking in human terms because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness for sanctification.

What does Jesus say about it?

John 8: 34 NRSV
Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.

Does Jesus identify who (generally) mankind’s current ‘father’ is, and that he influences them to carry out his desires?

John 8:44 NRSV
You are from your father the devil, and you choose to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Satan claimed to be able to give Christ all the kingdoms of the world, which he could not do unless he owned them – Christ did not deny this. In fact Satan holds the whole world in bondage, though few realise it.

Matthew 4:8-9 NRSV
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor;
9 and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”

Is the whole creation awaiting the kingdom of God and the children of God?

Romans 8:18-23 NRSV
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us.
19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God;
20 for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope
21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now;
23 and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.

Moses, sent by Yahweh to bring the children of Israel out of Egypt freeing them from bondage to Pharaoh, was a type of Christ being sent by the Father to free mankind from Satan’s bondage (you may like to look at Acts 7:35-37 and John 8:31-38).

This will happen dramatically and universally with the inauguration of the kingdom of God.

This has resulted in horrendous sufferings for all mankind – wars, famines, diseases, pestilences, death, to name but a few – and these will increase dramatically as the return of Christ approaches:

Matthew 24:6-8 NRSV
And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet.
7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places:
8 all this is but the beginning of the birth pangs.

People are lied to and led astray, and wickedness will increase:

Matthew 24:11-12 NRSV
And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.
12 And because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold.

It will get so bad that all of mankind is in danger of be wiped out unless God intervenes to put an end to it:

Matthew 24:22 NRSV
And if those days had not been cut short, no one would be saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.

But thankfully Yahweh God is merciful:

Ephesians 2:4 NRSV
But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us

Our God sends His Messiah son Jesus to put an end to Satan’s rule and man’s disobedience, and to usher in a new world government run according to Yahweh’s laws and love nature, to save mankind and to release us from Satan’s bondage and deception:

Matthew 19:28 NRSV
Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man is seated on the throne of his glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Revelation 20:1-3 NRSV
Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain.
2 He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years,
3 and threw him into the pit, and locked and sealed it over him, so that he would deceive the nations no more, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be let out for a little while.

The wicked will be subdued, and righteousness and peace will abound:

Isaiah 11:1-10 WEB
There shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots shall bear fruit.
11:2 The Spirit of Yahweh shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Yahweh.
11:3 His delight shall be in the fear of Yahweh; and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither decide after the hearing of his ears;
11:4 but with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and decide with equity for the humble of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; and with the breath of his lips shall he kill the wicked.
11:5 Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins.
11:6 The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them.
11:7 The cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
11:8 The sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.
11:9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of Yahweh, as the waters cover the sea.
11:10 It shall happen in that day, that the root of Jesse, who stands for an ensign of the peoples, to him shall the nations seek; and his resting-place shall be glorious.

All will learn to worship the one true God, Yahweh:

Zechariah 14:16 WEB
It will happen that everyone who is left of all the nations that came against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, Yahweh of Hosts, and to keep the feast of tents.

Micah 4:1-4 WEB
But in the latter days, It will happen that the mountain of Yahweh’s temple will be established on the top of the mountains, And it will be exalted above the hills; And peoples will stream to it.
4:2 Many nations will go and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of Yahweh, And to the house of the God of Jacob; And he will teach us of his ways, And we will walk in his paths.” For out of Zion will go forth the law, And the word of Yahweh from Jerusalem;
4:3 And he will judge between many peoples, And will decide concerning strong nations afar off. They will beat their swords into plowshares, And their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, Neither will they learn war any more.
4:4 But they will sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; And no one will make them afraid: For the mouth of Yahweh of Hosts has spoken.

There will be universal peace, prosperity and blessings:

Isaiah 2:4 WEB
He will judge between the nations, And will decide concerning many peoples; And they shall beat their swords into plowshares, And their spears into pruning-hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, Neither shall they learn war any more.

All this will fulfil the promises Yahweh made to Abraham – keeping His word perfectly:

Genesis 22:15-18 WEB
The angel of Yahweh called to Abraham a second time out of the sky,
22:16 and said, “I have sworn by myself, says Yahweh, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son,
22:17 that in blessing I will bless you, and in multiplying I will multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is on the seashore. Your seed will possess the gate of his enemies.
22:18 In your seed will all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”

Galatians 3:16-18 NRSV
Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring; it does not say, “And to offsprings,” as of many; but it says, “And to your offspring,” that is, to one person, who is Christ.
17 My point is this: the law, which came four hundred thirty years later, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise.
18 For if the inheritance comes from the law, it no longer comes from the promise; but God granted it to Abraham through the promise.

So we start to see WHY it is necessary for Christ (Messiah) to return and introduce the government of Yahweh in the kingdom of God.

In the next study we will continue to use the ‘six serving men’ to examine the kingdom of God by looking at WHEN it will happen and HOW it will be brought about. The third study in the series will consider WHERE these things will take place and WHO will be involved.

What does it mean to be created in the image of God? Pt 4

Previously we have seen that God created us in his image. Christ is the perfect image. Messiah has the fulness of God as we also are to have that fulness. Through the indwelling of the Father’s spirit we are to be in him and in Christ and that he will bear much fruit through us.

In this study we will discover that we will be perfected through many trials and temptations.

Yahweh God pictures himself as a potter and we as the clay

Isaiah 64:8 WEB
But now, Yahweh, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you our potter; and we all are the work of your hand.

Isaiah 45:9 WEB
Woe to him who strives with his Maker — a potsherd among the potsherds of the earth! Shall the clay ask him who fashions it, “What are you making?” or your work, “He has no hands?”

The end result of Yahweh’s workmanship is that Christ is formed in us.

Galatians 4:19 NRSV
My little children, for whom I am again in the pain of childbirth until Christ is formed in you,

Galatians 2:20 RSV
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

We are to be purified

Titus 2:14 NRSV
14 He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.

Whatever happens to us, will it work out for our good?

Romans 8:28 NRSV
We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:35-39 NRSV
35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

From the above scripture, it can be seen that nothing will be able to separate us from God.

Are we promised that trials and tests will come our way and indeed, we should not be surprised at these fiery ordeals?

Acts 14:22 NRSV
There they strengthened the souls of the disciples and encouraged them to continue in the faith, saying, “It is through many persecutions that we must enter the kingdom of God.”

As it says in the above verse, it is through many persecutions that we enter the kingdom of God.
Are the ordeals we experience designed to test us?

1 Peter 4:12-13 NRSV
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed.

James 1:2-4 NIV
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

1 Peter 1:6-7 HCSB
You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to be distressed by various trials 7 so that the genuineness of your faith-more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire-may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:1-5 HCSB
1 Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Also through Him, we have obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, 4 endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. 5 This hope does not disappoint, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

1 Peter 1:3-7 NRSV
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, 7 so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed

Are we even admonished to be joyful, rejoice and even leap for joy? See above and below.

Romans 12:12 NCV
Be joyful because you have hope. Be patient when trouble comes, and pray at all times.

Matthew 5:12 NRSV
“Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Luke 6:20-23 NRSV
Then he looked up at his disciples and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.
22″Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man.
23Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.

Acts 5:41-42 NRSV
and when they had called in the apostles, they had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 As they left the council, they rejoiced that they were considered worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name. 42 And every day in the temple and at home they did not cease to teach and proclaim Jesus as the Messiah.

Colossians 1:24 CEB
Now I’m happy to be suffering for you. I’m completing what is missing from Christ’s sufferings with my own body. I’m doing this for the sake of his body, which is the church.

It’s through God’s power via Messiah that we are able to accomplish whatever the Father desires do through us.

2 Corinthians 12:9 NRSV
but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

Ephesians 3:18-20 NRSV
I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine,

Colossians 1:8-13 NRSV
8 and he has made known to us your love in the Spirit.
9 For this reason, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,
10 so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God.
11 May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully
12 giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light.
13He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son,

2 Timothy 4:7 NRSV
But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.

Romans 15:13 NRSV
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

2 Corinthians 6:4-11 NRSV
but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, 7 truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8 in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9 as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see—we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything. 11 We have spoken frankly to you Corinthians; our heart is wide open to you

2 Corinthians 13:4 NRSV
For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God.

No one can snatch us out of the hand of God

John 10:28-30 NRSV
I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. 30 The Father and I are one.”

Messiah has firsthand experience of being tempted and tested and is able to help us.

Hebrews 5:8 NRSV
Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered;

Hebrews 2:18 NRSV
Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.

Messiah Jesus was tempted in all points

Hebrews 4:15 NIV
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.

Hebrews 5:7
In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.

As a result Messiah was made perfect.

Hebrews 5:9 NRSV
and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him,

Being made perfect, Jesus became the source of eternal salvation.

Does all this testing result in us becoming blameless in holiness before God?

1 Thessalonians 3:11-13 NRSV
Now may our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you. 12 And may the Lord cause you to increase and overflow with love for one another and for everyone, just as we also do for you. 13 May He make your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints. Amen.

Summary

In part one of this series the question was asked “What does it mean to be created in the image of God?” We saw that Messiah Jesus is that perfect image of God.

In part two we saw that Messiah Jesus has the fulness of the Father and we are also to have the fulness of the Father and Messiah.

In part three we saw that we are to be in the Father and in Jesus. This is pictured for us in the analogy of the vine and the branches and that through the indwelling of the Father’s spirit we bear fruit.

In this final part we have seen that we must experience many trials. The net result of all the testing and the temptations we experience is that we will be perfected and have the fulness of Yahweh God and messiah. We will become the exact representation of our Father just as our gold standard perfect example Christ is.

The testing of our faith produces perseverance – the end result of which is maturity and completeness in Christ. Enduring the trials and tests produce proven character which produces hope – this hope will not disappoint.

The end result of our life in Christ is to become the perfect image of God.

How does salvation by grace work?

Some believe that we must keep God’s laws and requirements in order to please Him and qualify to be saved by Him. Others believe that ‘Jesus has done it all’ and that everyone is already saved, and ‘once saved, always saved’. But what do the scriptures say about salvation and God’s grace?

Chapter 2 in the book of Ephesians, verses 1 to 10 describes for us an order, a process in part for salvation. Does verse 17 of chapter 1 tell us that it is the God of Jesus, the Father who is doing (has done) all of this in, through and by Jesus the Christ?

Ephesians 1:17 NRSV
I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him,

Ephesians 1:20 NRSV
God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,

Did He make us alive (spiritually) when we were dead (spiritually) because of sins and trespasses?

Ephesians 2:1-2 NRSV
You were dead through the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient.

Have we all previously been following our own human passions and desires, of the body and the mind, just exactly like the rest of mankind?

Ephesians 2:3 NRSV
All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else.

Even when we were in this state of being dead (spiritually), did the Father in His perfect love save us (make us alive spiritually with Christ) by His grace?

Ephesians 2:4-5 NRSV
But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us 5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ —by grace you have been saved—

This grace of God is His unmerited favourable intervention on our behalf, when we don’t deserve it at all.

Has the Father effectively raised us up with Christ and sees us as sat with him?

Ephesians 2:6 NRSV
and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

In the ages to come will this grace become beyond measure towards us?

Ephesians 2:7 NRSV
so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Is it through ‘faith’ that we are saved by this grace of the Father?

Ephesians 2:8 NRSV
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—

(We will look more deeply at this faith in future studies, to see exactly how this fits in).

So to this point we have not contributed any works of our own, why is that?

Ephesians 2:9 NRSV
not the result of works, so that no one may boast.

So that none of us can boast, we cannot claim credit for any of it in any way! Does it say that we are His workmanship?

Ephesians 2:10 NRSV
For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.

So why are we saved and created (anew, alive spiritually) in Christ? Same verse 10 above.

To do good works, prepared for us to do beforehand by God!!

So we see that it is not ‘do these works to get saved’, but because ‘we have been saved graciously by God, we can do the good works that have been prepared for us to do’. Being saved comes before the works that God requires of us.

Yes there are good works to be done, but as a result of being saved, not before, trying to ‘earn it’. It is the fruit that proves we have the dynamic, active presence of the Father living and working in us!

In the New Testament salvation is described and referred to in the past, present and future tenses.

Notice that it reads ‘saved’ in the past tense here – we have been, or were, saved when Christ died for our sins and when we, through our own personal decision of faith in him, were joined to him in God’s eyes. (That faith, believing what God says is true and real, we need to allow to work in us rather than quashing it with denial or unbelief).

At that moment our sins were forgiven, we were justified or accounted righteous before God, and we were “born again” by the power of God’s holy spirit presence.

1 Corinthians 15:3 NRSV
For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures,

1 Peter 3:18 NRSV
For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit,

John 3:3-5 NRSV
Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.

1 Peter 1:3 NRSV
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

Salvation in the present tense describes us as justified believers, we are “being saved” day by day, as we walk with the Lord and let His spirit work in us and through us to do His will. Grace does not rule out the need for our active cooperation with God, but it is He who makes it possible for us to will and to do.

Philippians 2:12-13 NRSV
Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

2 Peter 1:10-11 NRSV
Therefore, brothers and sisters, be all the more eager to confirm your call and election, for if you do this, you will never stumble. 11 For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly provided for you.

Salvation in the future tense points to when we “shall be saved” at the return of Christ, when our mortality and carnal nature will be taken away completely and we will be resurrected to be “like Him”—sinless, immortal, and glorious.

1 Peter 1:5 NRSV
who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

1 John 3:2-3 NRSV
Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. 3 And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

Some believe and teach that ‘grace’ takes away the need to obey God. Since salvation is by grace, they teach that believers can do what they want and ‘grace’ will cover their deliberate disobedience. What does Paul think about this idea?

Romans 6:1-2 NRSV
What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it?

Paul explains further:

Romans 6:3-4 NRSV
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

This new life we are raise to is intended to be a life of righteousness and obedience to God. A life of walking in the good works that God has prepared for us to do by means of the power He has provided for us through His holy spirit dwelling and working in us. It is meant to be a life of transformation – into the very likeness and image of Christ.

Summary
We have seen that by His unmerited favourable intervention for us, our Father graciously does for us what we cannot do for ourselves – He saves us from our sins by grace through faith, through actually believing what God says He has done and will do for us.

We are actually saved to be involved in the good works that God has planned and prepared for us to do – we are able to do them because we are saved and have His indwelling power and life in us.

We cannot earn salvation by our own efforts, we need to accept God’s grace and trust Him for it, with that saving faith. Once we are saved we do not continue in the old life of sin, but move forward in the new life in Christ, albeit not yet perfectly.

In a future study we will look at if it is possible to lose salvation once we have been saved.