Before we continue our Kingdom, Power and Glory series on the “Security of our Salvation,” Chuck and I would like to share with you some incredible responses we have received from pastors, students and brothers and sisters in the Lord who have read the book. We have been so touched by their letters, e-mails and comments. Here are a few samples:
“This book, more than any other, has revolutionized our viewpoint and attitude about the importance of our Christian commitment and service to the Lord with each and every moment that we have been blessed with.” (John & Denise P., Minneapolis, Minn.)
“The Kingdom, Power and Glory is indeed the most important book Nan and Chuck have ever put together. It is fantastic just how it is changing the way I think. It is crucial for all of us to read and apply the message given.” (Rob N., New Zealand)
“In one book, you explain the weighty subject of a Christian’s future accountability in the Millennial Kingdom, the way God gives us to live an overcoming life, and the way to be delivered from the world, the flesh and the devil. I plan on handing it out to every brother and sister I can think of.” (Brian W., e-mail)
“Surely the complacency in the contemporary church is at least in part due to the absence of this kind of teaching from the pulpits of our land. Unless our experience with Christ does more than just alter the place we spend eternity, the hope of being like Him when He appears (1 John 3:2-3) has no meaning. The transformation of the soul [sanctification] is the most critical component of the Gospel once a person is born from above. When we live in the light of eternal destinies, it makes all the difference in the world.” (Pastor G.A., pastoring in Penn. & Romania)
A dear woman recently commented: “After reading your book, I will absolutely never be the same again!” Another couple called and said, “After being Christians for 31 years, this material is stirring up the depths of our souls to seek the Lord as we never have before.” And another woman wrote last week, “The Bible makes total sense to me now for the first time since becoming a Christian in 1974.”
These comments have been such a blessing.
On the other hand, we have also received some very negative responses. These seem to involve two main issues:
1) The first issue is: “...the Misslers imply that the carnal Christian must pay for something that the blood of Christ did not cover.” (D.H., Oregon)
Let us clarify this: The Kingdom, Power and Glory asserts that if we have believed in the Name of Jesus Christ (John 3:16), then we are assured that God has already imputed His righteousness to us by means of His shed Blood. The penalty for our sins has already been paid for and there is nothing more we can do to add to it. (See pages 39-40 of KPG) What the book touches on is the coming Judgment Seat of Christ, whose focal point is not “sin” (either past or present), but our “works” (our “fruit”) since becoming a believer. (2 Corinthians 5:10)
Ephesians tells us this is one of the main reasons God chose us in the first place: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10) As believers (because of the shed Blood of Christ), we may repent of our sins (both past and present) and, as a result, Christ’s Life—His Love, wisdom, etc.—will flow from our hearts out into our lives producing the “works” (or the fruit) that Ephesians talks about.
Conversely if we sin and don’t choose to repent, Christ’s Life (His Spirit) in our hearts will become quenched (1 Thessalonians 5:19) and as a result, no Love or wisdom of God can come forth; i.e., no fruit. This believer is still saved, he still has the imputed righteousness of Christ and he still will go to heaven at the Rapture. But, he will have very little “fruit” to show at the Bema Seat for his time here on earth. Therefore, sin is not the issue in the book. The book mainly focuses on “how” are we able to produce the fruit that the above Ephesians Scripture encourages.
2) The second controversy seems to revolve around the pas-sages in Matthew (which speak about the coming “kingdom of heaven”) that use the term “outer darkness.”
There is a whole chapter on the “outer darkness” and its related issues in the book (pages 139-148 of KPG). Briefly, the “outer darkness” is defined by several prominent theologians, including Kenneth Wuest, Dr. Spiros Zodhiates, Erwin Lutzer and Charles Stanley (page 89, KPG), not as “hell,” but as “the darkness outside.”
As Stanley puts it: “The outer darkness refers to being thrown outside a building into the dark.” He goes on to say that the point of the three parables in Matthew that use the term “outer darkness” is that “in God’s future kingdom (the Millennium), those who were faithful in this life (those who produced “fruit” for the kingdom) will be given more privileges than those who were not.” [Parentheses mine.]
Consequently, the “outer darkness” is not a description of hell or a place of punishment, like the Catholic’s use of the term “purgatory” (see pages 63-64, KPG), but a place of restoration, renewal and reinstruction in the ways of the Lord. God does not punish His own; His desire is that all His children be reestablished in holiness. The Millennium is the time the Lord will accomplish this. (We’ll speak more about this chastening in a moment.) The Bible does not say how long an individual might be in this place of restoration, but this certainly does encourage us to be wise and heed our accountability here and now. “Fruit” does matter to the Lord.
Again, the “salvation of our spirit” happens at our new birth where God imputes His righteousness to us by His shed Blood. This assures us that no matter how we live our Christian lives here and now, we will go to be “with Him,” either at death or when the Rapture occurs. At the Bema Seat in heaven, how-ever, our lives here on earth will be examined and our future role and position established. Those that have learned sanctification and how to produce Godly “fruit” in this lifetime will be used in a greater capacity than those who have not. (Revelation 3:21)
God’s Love and Justice
The question at hand then is: Where will we spend our Millennial Kingdom days? Will we be rejoicing and fellowshipping with each other in the presence of the King of Kings, or will we be in some other separate region or “separate place” experiencing profound regret and remorse as we look back on a life full of lost opportunities.
John Greenleaf Whittier once wrote, “Of all the words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: It might have been.”
Charles Stanley added this thought: “God’s grace is extended to the worst sinner, but His justice moves Him to keep a record not only of those who are faithful, but also of those who are not... God’s Love is such that He accepts us just the way we are, but loves us too much to leave us that way.”1
Speaking of God’s grace and justice, Psalm 89:14 tells us that justice and judgment are the habitation of God’s Throne but mercy and truth always go before Him. (Romans 11:22) Consequently, just because we are “eternally secure” and are going to heaven, does not mean we have a license to sin. “Behold, therefore, the goodness and the severity of God: on them which fell severity; but toward thee, goodness if thou continue in His goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.” (Romans 11:22)
Therefore, being born again is not all that matters, because the Judgment Seat in heaven is just a stop-over. We are all coming back to earth for 1000 years one way or another. And, everything we will be assigned to do in the future kingdom will have everything to do with what we have done here! In other words, we have a choice here and now what it will be like for us there. It will not be the same for every believer (Matthew 25:14-30); Someone is watching and Someone is taking detailed notes. Malachi tells us there is a “Book of Remembrance” that records everything we say and do. (Malachi 3:16)
God’s motive in all that He allows in our lives is Love; but His Love is always based upon His holiness and His justice. Love without justice is partiality, and justice without Love is despotism. So yes, everything God does in regards to us is based upon His Love, but incorporated into that Love is His justice.
Revelation 3:19 confirms this: “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.” Now, chastening is different than punishing. As we’ve said before: God does not punish His own, He simply disciplines us. And, there’s a huge difference between these two. “To punish” means: to inflict harm; whereas “to chasten” means something that is done for our profit and for our benefit.
So, no discipline from God will involve our destruction. Yes, the Lord scourges (Strong’s #3164; lays open or examines) every son whom He receives as Hebrews 12:6 tells us He must! His absolute justice demands a review of all of our lives. This is what the Bema Seat of Christ is all about. We are sinners “saved by grace” who need to be made holy. His holiness compels Him to disassociate Himself from the sinner, but His Love prompts Him to restore and establish him. Sin results in separation, but God promises that He will never take away His Love. (See Psalm 89:30-33)
So, there will be no godly wrath towards those who have been justified through faith. Yes, we can expect chastening and discipline, but God’s motive in this will always be Love.
Chastisement seems to be God’s highway to perfection. Psalms 94:15 validates this: “judgment [from God] shall return unto righteousness.” That’s His plan from the very beginning.
Once we have made a commitment to believe in Jesus Christ (affirming what He did for us on the Cross, and have asked the Holy Spirit to come into our lives), we are eternally saved—eternally justified. (John 3:15-16) At that point, we receive a new Spirit and Christ’s eternal Life in our hearts. “Eternal Life” simply means the very life of God Himself—His Love, His wisdom and His power residing in us!
As 1 John 5:13 says, “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” As a result, all believers will receive an entrance to the Millennial Kingdom. (John 5:24)
If, however, we choose to quench the Spirit and are not sanctified here on earth, we will run the risk of jeopardizing our place and our position in the coming kingdom. We will be a part of the Rapture; we will participate in the Millennium; and we will go to heaven. But, if we don’t learn holiness “here,” we will forfeit the possibility of holding positions of authority in the coming kingdom. (Galatians 5:19-21)
Complete “salvation,” therefore, means not only receiving God’s Life in our spirit at our new birth (justification), but also renewing every part of our soul and body as well (sanctification) (1 Peter 1:9).
Now, we won’t be sanctified perfectly (only Jesus did that), but at least we will be faithful to try. Many Christians, how-ever, take only the first step of salvation (justification) and stop there. Like the Israelites, they put Christ’s Blood on the doorposts of their homes (Exodus 12:22), but they forget to purge the leaven from their lives. They trust God for the salvation of their spirits, but they fail to declare war on their flesh.
Consequently, they prevent the power of God from doing the work of sanctification in their lives, which would entitle them to future positions of responsibility alongside Christ.
The Three Tenses of “Salvation”
In conclusion, “salvation” is a term which includes a paradigm of three distinct tenses. Confusing these is what leads to error.
Past Tense: Separation from the Penalty of sin:
• This has been done, completely and sufficiently, by Christ alone. Tetelestai, “It is finished.” (John 19:30)
• For us to attempt to add to it is blasphemy.
• This is called Justification. (Rom 4:25; 5:16, 18; Eph 2:8)
Present Tense: Separation from the Power of sin:
• The unbeliever is in bondage to sin.
• The believer, however, can call upon the indwelling Spirit which has the power to deliver him from the bond-age to sin. This is an ongoing, continuing, process.
• This is called Sanctification. (1 Thess 5:23; 2 Thess 2:13; Rom 6; Rom 12:1,2; Heb 12:1,2; Eph 4:22-24).
Future Tense: Separation from the very Presence of sin:
• This is called our Glorification. (1 John 3:2)
Now you can see why having a “kingdom perspective” at the present time is so very important. It will not only affect how we live our lives here and now (making us stop before we react, think before we respond and pray before we move), it will also affect our kingdom position there.
We will continue next month with an article excerpted from Chuck and Nan’s new book The Kingdom, Power and Glory.