Over the past couple of months, we have been exploring the real reason for our salvation, which is ruling and reigning with the King of Kings in the future Millennial Kingdom and, after that, for eternity. Our life here and now is simply the training ground, the proving ground and the testing ground for that next life.
Our purpose with these articles and with our book has been and will be to integrate the “sanctification process” (actually living Christ’s Life and learning to be overcomers) here on earth with the “reward of inheritance” (co-reigning with Christ) in the kingdom. In order to do this, there are three important questions we want to address: Why are we here? Where are we going? And, what do we have to do to get there?
The first question we want to explore then is: Why are we here?
Genesis tells us that man was originally called into existence to reign over the whole earth with the King of Kings. “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth...And God blessed them, and God said unto them, be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the air and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” (Genesis 1:26-28)
Man was created in the image of God so that one day he could become a “servant-king” and rule the world alongside the true king, the King of Kings.1
There was just one problem: Lucifer. Ezekiel 28 explains: “Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering...thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou was perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.” (Verses 13-15)2
Lucifer was determined to thwart God’s plan in any way he could. He came up with a scheme to deceive Adam and Eve, the first Mr. and Mrs. Man. At his prompting, Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s rule (they ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil) and as a result, three things happened: 1) they died spiritually (i.e., they became separated from God); 2) they forfeited their right to rule and reign; and 3) Lucifer (Satan) became their own mortal enemy. (Genesis 3:23-24)
Because of their sin, all mankind has inherited those same three consequences: 1) We are all born naturally separated from God; 2) God’s future plans for us to rule and reign along-side of Him have been forfeited; and, 3) We have the same mortal enemy as Adam had, Satan.3
These consequences have been passed down through every generation. The Epistle of Romans tells us that every person since Adam is born with a “sin nature,” not a spiritual nature, and thus, has automatically “fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) In other words, without Christ’s intervention, all of us are born “guilty” of sin, the penalty of which is “death” (eternal separation from God). Consequently, not only was man’s fellowship with God broken because of Adam’s sin, we also have forfeited our future rulership in the coming kingdom.
God Inaugurated a New Program
God, however, loved man so much that He inaugurated a new program to bring his sin marred creation back into the blessings of a future glorious reign. (Psalm 8:5-6) He chose a way of deliverance from man’s inevitable destiny (death) and set about to reclaim the kingdom for us.
He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to bridge the gap and make it possible for us to once again have fellowship with Him and par¬ticipate in the future kingdom.4 Christ’s mission is to deliver us out of the authority of darkness into the kingdom of the Son’s Love. (Colossians 1:13) Jesus (who knew no sin) be-came sin on our behalf and voluntarily gave His Life as a ransom so that we could: 1) be reconciled back to the Father, 2) be trained as companions of Christ to rule and reign with Him in the future, and 3) be given the author¬ity and power to overcome the enemy.5
John 3:17 says, “For God sent His Son into the world not to condemn the world; but that the world though Him might be saved.”
This is what “salvation” is all about.
What Is Salvation?
The word salvation actually means “to liberate, to set free or to loose.” It literally means to deliver from bonds (chains or shackles) by a payment or a ransom. (A “ransom” is something that is given in exchange for a life.) Matthew 20:28 tells us that Christ paid that ransom for us.6 He exchanged His Life for ours by shedding His Blood on the Cross.7 He freed us from our sins by His blood and “loosed us from the pangs of death.”
“Salvation” then is a free gift that Christ wants everyone in the world to have.8 All that’s needed is for us to believe in what Christ did on the Cross (for the redemption of all mankind) and choose to be obedient to His commandments. By believing in Him, He promises that we will not perish, but have everlasting life.9 Romans 10: 9 says: “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” This simple act of belief is what makes one “declared not guilty” (or justified) before God. (Romans 3:26; 4:5-6)
By accepting what Christ has done for us on the Cross, five things occur: 1) we are set free from our bonds of sin and reconciled to Him; 2) we are delivered from the penalty of death; 3) we are guaranteed an entrance to the Millennial Kingdom (and to heaven); 4) we are given the gift of a brand new spirit (which is like a “down payment,” a pledge or a seal that assures us His promises are true) (Ephesians 1:13-14); and finally, 5) we are given His eternal Life (His Love, wisdom and power) in our hearts. (Colossians 1:27; Romans 5:5)
Christ’s death on the Cross signified the end of the Old Covenant (old covenant with Israel) and the beginning of a new one, which provides regeneration and the forgiveness of sin through faith in Christ.10 Consequently, our salvation does not depend upon us, but rather upon Christ and His faithfulness. Our salvation, in fact, is actually guaranteed by the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 1:4-6, 11-12)
When we first come to Christ and are “born again,” we are declared righteous and holy just like Romans 10:9 tells us. This is called justification, which is a judicial term meaning, “to be declared not guilty before God.” The word “justification” (Strong’s #1344, dikaioo) means to be acquitted, to render just, innocent or righteous. (2 Corinthians 5:21) In other words, Christ has already paid the penalty for us and there is nothing more we can do to add to it. (Romans 3:24) It’s a free gift! (Titus 3:5) The price has already been paid. God uses the instrument of “grace” to accomplish this justification.11
Being “justified” also means that we are guaranteed an entrance to the Kingdom of Heaven on the basis of what Christ has already done. He is the righteous and holy One, and He has imputed that righteousness and that holiness to us. The “down payment,” or the pledge or seal of this future redemption is the gift of His Spirit indwelling our own. (Ephesians 1:13) In other words, at our new birth, our “spirit” is saved. (Ephesians 1:13-14; 2:8)
Even though at our new birth, we are “positionally” (an approved fact) reconciled to God, justified and declared not guilty before God, “experientially” (in our life actions), our character, our disposition and our temperament really haven’t changed a bit! Mentally, emotionally and spiritually, we are still the same! Christ has simply imputed (or accredited) His righteousness to us by means of a new spirit. It’s at this point that we must begin the long road toward true “life transformation” and this process is called “sanctification.” Therefore, being justified before God is really just the first step to¬wards our total salvation. Because the completed work of “justification” is what introduces the complimentary work of “sanctification,” and eventually, “glorification.” It works something like this:
Our spirit (which is the energy source or power source of our lives) is saved at our new birth. (Ephesians 2:8-9) This, as we said, is called “justification.”12 Our soul (which is made up our own natural thoughts, emotions and desires) is in the process of being saved through the “sanctification process” that we are all in now. (James 1:21; 1 Peter 1:8-9)13 And our bodies will be saved in the future at the resurrection which is called “glorification.”14 In other words, “complete salvation” is really a life-long process. (1 Thessalonians 5:23)
To be continued next month: “Salvation is a Life-long Process.” This article has been excerpted in part from Chuck and Nan’s new book The Kingdom, Power and Glory.