Spiritual Life in the Church Age
God's Plan for the Ages – Dispensations Lesson #20
August 12, 2014
"Father, we are so very grateful we have immediate access to Your throne of grace through Jesus Christ our Lord, who gave Himself for our sins. And Father, we are thankful that we can bring these request that we have brought before You this evening in prayer meeting and know that You knew of them from eternity past. We continue to pray for George and for the seminary. We pray for George's health and pray that You would intercede and that he would recover his strength to be able to lead the seminary, Father; but if now, we know that Your plan marches forward and we pray for guidance and direction for the men on the Board of Chafer Seminary. We thank you for the provision that You've given us for so many positive things that are taking place, which indicate that there is a future and a plan and a purpose for the seminary. We pray that we might be steadfast in pursuing that. Father, we thank you for this church and the congregation here and their support for the teaching of Your Word. Father, as we continue our study on dispensations we pray that You would help us to see how Your plan intersects in the Word of God so many different ways from age to age, from dispensation to dispensation, and the outworking of Your plan and purposes in human history. And we pray this in Christ's Name, Amen."
XV. Dispensation of The Church continued
J. The Unique Spiritual Life of the Church Age
Slide #3: Biblical Dispensations Chart
We are continuing our study on God's Plan for the Ages. This is a study on dispensations, how God administers human history through the different periods of time that designate His plan. All of which revolve around revelation. Tonight we are going to look at the spiritual life of the church age, but as we go forward I want to go back and look at this basic chart on dispensations. We have two basic ages in the Old Testament (OT). Age is distinct from dispensation because an age contains or may contain multiple dispensations. We have the age of the Gentiles and the age of Israel. Under the age of the Gentiles, the first dispensation is that of perfect environment. It is based on a creation covenant mentioned in Genesis 1:28-30; Hosea 6:7. Their responsibility was to fulfill the covenant the failure was that they disobeyed God and they ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Then the penalty was spiritual death.
That began a new dispensation of Conscience. You have the Adamic covenant. The responsibility is animal sacrifice, substitutionary sacrifice. The failure was evil and the increase of wickedness in Genesis 6:5-6; and the punishment, the judgment, was the Flood in Genesis 6-9. Then we have the dispensation of human government established by the Noahic covenant. The responsibility was that they were to fill the earth. Their failure was that they gathered together to make a name for themselves against God and they built the tower of Babel. And the judgment was the confusion of languages. That is all in the age of the Gentiles. At that point the only group you have on the earth is Gentiles. And they don't have a canon of Scripture that we know of; all we know of that there might have been is some tradition handed down through father to son. There is an indication through the terminology in Genesis, "these are the records of" and that might indicate that there was some form of revelation, but nothing that we know of for sure.
Then God determines He is no longer going to work through the human race as a whole, through the Gentiles. He will work through Israel. So we have the age of Israel. The age of Israel is also divided into three dispensations. You have the dispensation of the patriarchs established by the Abrahamic covenant. They were to stay distinct peoples, separate from the pagans around them. They assimilated, Genesis 34. Then you have the Egyptian bondage in order to forcibly keep them separate from the nations around them. Then we have the Mosaic Law and they were to obey the Law, but they failed to obey the Law so they are scattered and taken out. The Mosaic Law ends with the Coming of the Messiah, the messianic age. Jesus appears as the LOGOS, the ultimate revelation of God. The new revelation demands a new message. They are to accept Him as the Messiah. They reject Him as the Messiah and the result is that there is a judgment of Christ from the cross and the fifth cycle of discipline takes place in AD 70.
Slide 4: Romans 6:3-4
Then we have the church age. This is what we are studying right now. This is an application of the New covenant, but the New covenant is not yet in effect. The message is faith alone in Christ alone. It is the Gospel. Most will reject Christ and the judgment that comes is the Tribulation period. The church age ends with the rapture of the church and this will be followed by the Tribulation although the rapture doesn't begin the Tribulation it just precedes it. We don't know how much time is there. I pointed out last time that a key verse and a key chapter for understanding the church age is Romans 6. In Romans 6:3-4 we read: "Do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death." This baptism into Christ is the baptism by the Holy Spirit. This never occurred in history before the beginning of the Church. No one in the OT was baptized into Christ because He had not come yet and died on the cross. The baptism is into His death. So if He hasn't died yet there can be no baptism of the Holy Spirit into His death. We are buried with Him through baptism into death and just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so, we should walk in newness of life. That new life that we are supposed to walk in should characterize our Christian life.
Slide 5: Eternal and Temporal Realities Chart
That is our Christian way of life is built upon what? What does the Text say? It is built upon the baptism by the Holy Spirit, identification with Christ in His death. This never happened before. It didn't happen to Adam; it didn't happen to Abraham; it didn't happen to Moses; it didn't happen to David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, nobody in the OT had this. But at the moment you and I were saved we were identified with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection so that we can walk in newness of life. Nobody else in history, no believer in history prior to AD 33 and the day of Pentecost could walk in this new kind of new life. That is why this next section we are looking at in dispensation theology is on this spiritual life of the church age. It is totally distinct from anything that went before. Last time I pointed this out in the diagram that on the left side in terms of the eternal realities; that we are identified with Christ. We are baptized by the Holy Spirit. This is the foundation. The Baptism by the Holy Spirit starts the Church Age in Acts 2 and when the rapture occurs, the Holy Spirit as the Restrainer, and we will study that, is removed and this is why there is nothing like this afterward. Tribulation saints are Tribulation saints. They are not church age believers because they don't have the Holy Spirit like we do. They are not baptized into Christ. Their situation is part of the final seven years of the age of Israel. It is not the same spiritual life as the OT because they are after the cross. But it is not the same as the church age either. So there is a progress in revelation and a progress in God's plan of salvation so that they have a distinct type of salvation that is based on faith on the cross that completed salvation, but they don't become part of the church. If they were baptized into Christ they would become part of the Church. So the church is gone. So this has to be understood.
Slide 6: The Unique Spiritual Life of the Church Age
1. So what we see in terms of the characteristics of this unique spiritual life of the church age is the Holy Spirit does five things for every believer at the moment of salvation. There are some distinctions here. Now there was regeneration in the OT, but it doesn't carry with it all of the facets that we now have in this newness of life that is mentioned in Romans 6:3. They move from spiritual death to spiritual life, but they don't have all of the assets that come with regeneration in the New Testament (NT).
Titus 3:5, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit.
Now the Holy Spirit was still involved in regeneration in the OT, but there is nothing else in terms of a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit in the OT.
Slide 7: The Unique Spiritual Life of the Church Age
John 3:6, that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is Spirit is spirit.
Jesus has just told Nicodemus that unless he is born again he can't enter into the kingdom of God. And then Nicodemus says, well, how to you get born again? Do you go back into your mother's womb? And Jesus then distinguishes between a material birth, that which is flesh is flesh, and a spiritual rebirth, that which is born of Spirit is spirit.
So Jesus says, John 3:7-8 "Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows were it wishes, and you hear the sound of it." You do not see the wind, you see what it produces. You see its consequences. You see what it causes. In the same way "everyone who is born of the Spirit." You do not see the Spirit, but you see the consequences of what the Spirit has done in terms of regeneration.
Slide 8: The Unique Spiritual Life of the Church Age
b. The second thing that the Holy Spirit does is the indwelling of God the Holy Spirit. This is seen in passages like 1 Corinthians 6:19; 2 Timothy 1:14; Romans 8:9 and Romans 8:11.
1 Corinthians 6:19 states that the Holy Spirit is in us, our "body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you."
Slide 9: The Unique Spiritual Life of the Church Age
2 Timothy 1:14 That good thing that was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit Who dwells in us.
Slide 10: The Unique Spiritual Life of the Church Age
Then we have Romans 8:9 and Romans 8:11; Paul says, "you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you."
That personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit never occurred in the past. In the OT the Holy Spirit came upon the Judges; it came upon to the Judges, but the Holy Spirit doesn't enter in in this indwelling sense of creating a dwelling place for the indwelling for God the Son. So this is another distinguishing factor in the spiritual life of the church age. The Holy Spirit in the OT came upon the leaders of Israel to enable them to fulfill their role as a theocratic leader, as a leader in the kingdom, so that Saul could lead well, but Saul disobeyed God and so the Holy Spirit was removed from him. The Holy Spirit was given to David so that he could rule well. The Holy Spirit was given to Deborah, was given to Gideon, was given to Japheth, and was given to Samuel, but not in an indwelling sense; but to enable them to have military victory over the enemies of Israel. So it is never in the OT for a sanctifying purpose. It was always for the purpose of fulfilling their function as a theocratic leader.
Romans 8:11, if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
Slide 11: The Unique Spiritual Life of the Church Age
c. So there again emphasizing the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Then we have the sealing ministry of God the Holy Spirit. Again, this never occurred in the OT. Key passages are Ephesians 1:13 and Ephesians 4:30.
In Ephesians 1:13 we read, in Him, that is in Christ, you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.
So the Holy Spirit seals us; and that seal in the ancient world was a signet ring that a man would have that would indicate his signature. And so if he had to sign a document they would put a wax seal on the document and then they would put the impression from that signet ring on the seal and this shows a sign of ownership. It is like a brand. If you are from Texas that might communicate a little better in terms of the old west. Today we use the term branding in terms of the identification, the label, and the name of a particular company. So the branding of Campbell's is always related to soup. The branding of many of things; Hershey's is related to candy and chocolate bars. And we know their logo and we know what that means. In the old west when they would brand a cow, they would tie the cow and hold it down and then heat up the branding iron and burn that brand into the hide of the cow. Now there may be rustlers that would come along later and they might modify that brand somehow so that it would look from the outside as if it had a different owner. For example, you might have something simple like an O bar. You'd have a circle with a bar over the top and then somebody might put an additional circle there and it would be a two circle bar and it would indicate that it was owned by somebody else. The only way that you could really tell if the brand had been changed was that you would have to kill the animal and skin it. Then when you reversed the hide you could see that the brand had been changed.
There are a lot Christians who are like that. They become saved and then they never really follow The LORD. They get away into sin and carnality the rest of their life and they look like they are still an unbeliever. And it is only when they die that you realize that actually Satan had tried to change the brand, but the original seal was from God the Holy Spirit. So I thought that y'all would like that. That is a great illustration. We are branded by the Holy Spirit and even through your own carnality or volition you might try to change it, but you can't change it. We are sealed forever by the Holy Spirit Who is called the Holy Spirit of promise because the promise is that we will be saved; we will be resurrected and go to heaven after we die. And so this is the promise with which we are sealed.
Ephesians 4:30, we are told "not to grieve the holy spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." The day of redemption is when we ultimately realize our glorification.
Slide 12: The Unique Spiritual Life of the Church Age
d. Now the fourth thing that the Holy Spirit does that is unique for the church age believer is the one we mentioned already, which is the baptizing or the baptism by means of God the Holy Spirit. When Paul wrote 1 Corinthians somewhere in the early 50s, around probably AD 52 or AD 53, some twenty years after the cross, after the day of Pentecost, when the church began. He wrote:
1 Corinthians 12:13 "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body."
It is a past tense indicating that "we", including himself and the carnal, arrogant, reprobate, Corinthians. He is not talking to a bunch of mature believers in that Epistle. He is talking to a bunch of spiritual losers who are operating on their sin nature in carnality. So he says to them, "we" were all baptized, past tense, into one body. Whether we are Jew or Greeks, slaves or free; we've all been made to drink, to imbibe of one Spirit.
Slide 13: The Unique Spiritual Life of the Church Age
Now in Acts 1:5, this was predicted by Jesus, "John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized…"
Now this is right before the Day of Pentecost, about ten days before the Day of Pentecost, so this is in AD 33, which is twenty years before Paul's letter to the Corinthians. So in AD 33 Jesus is saying that this is future. Of course He is talking about what would happen on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2.
Slide 14: The Unique Spiritual Life of the Church Age
In Acts 11:15 says, "as I began to speak", this is Peter describing what happened with the Gentiles at Cornelius's house. Peter says, "I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning."
At the beginning of what? "Us" could only mean those who were gathered in this room where Peter is giving the report, which would be the Apostles. "At the beginning" of what? At the beginning of Jesus' ministry? No that wouldn't work because at the end of Jesus' time on the earth, just before the ascension, He said this coming of the Spirit was yet future. So it can't be the beginning of the ministry with Jesus. It has to be the beginning of the church on the day of Pentecost.
Slide 15: The Unique Spiritual Life of the Church Age
And then in Acts 11:17 he quotes from what Jesus said in Acts 1:5. So in these situations we know that the Holy Spirit has done these four things and one more, the giving of spiritual gifts.
Acts 11:17 Peter said, "If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?"
So he says what Cornelius and the Gentiles received was identical to what they received at the beginning on the day of Pentecost.
Slide 16: The Unique Spiritual Life of the Church Age
e. Now the fifth thing that the Holy Spirit gives us is spiritual gifts, 1 Corinthians 12-14; 1 Corinthians 12:7; 1 Corinthians 12:11. These are distributed to every believer at the instant of salvation. You may be three years old or four years old and you get the spiritual gift of pastor-teacher or evangelism or giving or helps or administration, and this develops only as you develop and grow in your spiritual life. And as you grow and mature this will begin to manifest itself. But if you don't grow and mature it doesn't show up. There is a big trend among certain church growth promoters that you have to get people to know their spiritual gift before they can grow; and that is just putting the cart before the horse. As we grow our spiritual gifts become manifest. We are all suppose to function in all these different areas, encouraging one another, teaching one another, praying for one another, giving, all of these things are part of everybody's spiritual life. But some people just have enhanced abilities in specific areas where they are gifted.
Slide 17: The Unique Spiritual Life of the Church Age
And so this is part of the spiritual life for the church age believer. So this gives us these five elements (the Holy Spirit does for every believer at the moment of salvation):
a. Regeneration, Titus 3:5; John 3:6-8
b. Indwelling, 1 Corinthians 6:19; 2 Timothy 1:14; Romans 8:9; Romans 8:11
c. Sealing, Ephesians 1:13; Ephesians 4:30
d. Baptizing, 1 Corinthians 12:13; Acts 1:5; Acts 11:5-17
e. Giving spiritual gifts, 1 Corinthians 12-14; 1 Corinthians 12:7; 1 Corinthians 12:11
These distinguish the church age believer from any other believer in history. This is not present for the Tribulation saints, not present for the OT saints. It distinguishes us. God gives us more than He has given any other believer in all of history.
Slide 18: Eternal and Temporal Realities Chart
Going back to our chart we have our eternal realities and our temporal realities. At salvation we are baptized by the Holy Spirit and we are in Christ no matter what decisions we make; we continue to be in Christ. That defines and describes also our potential because the power of the sin nature has been broken. We are regenerated; we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. We are sealed by the Holy Spirit and then we are initially filled by the Spirit. But when we sin we lose that filling. When we are filled by the Spirit it is also referred to as "walking by the Spirit." But we sin, we quit walking by the Spirit or walking in the light, and we are then out of fellowship and walking in darkness. So let's look at the next section. The first thing we covered already that is just the distinctives of what the Holy Spirit does for every believer in the church age.
Slide 19: The Unique Spiritual Life of the Church Age:
2. The second point related to the life of the church age believer is that spirituality and carnality are mutually exclusive.
This is such an important point. If you study reformed theology, which is the theology of Calvinism, the theology that is consistent with covenant theology. They believe that because they don't emphasize the role of God the Holy Spirit in the life of the church age believer, they are really emphasizing a life of morality. They are going back to the Mosaic Law as the precedent for the church age believer. This is what gives them a foundation really for legalism. We live in a world today where the younger generation, I am talking about 20 somethings and 30 somethings, are being called "reformed and restless." This is a big trend. They are very much attracted to reform theology. This has some unintended consequences in terms of that generation's support of Israel. But that is beside the point of what I am talking about tonight. They are very attracted to reformed theology.
Reformed theology has always been very antagonistic to the charismatic movement, but the trend among the "reformed and restless" is that they are trying to find more meaning in their Christian life, so they are open to the spiritual gifts. That means the sign gifts, speaking in tongues, and that kind of a thing. So this goes together. And because of the influence of post-modernism, which says there are no absolutes, they don't like dogmatic theology in the sense that they don't like hard and fast answers saying the tongues movement is wrong. They reject that, "well, we have to be open." That is the influence of the culture on their theology. So they believe that when it comes to the spiritual life because of the "reformed" view of the spiritual life they will say, well you do a lot of things and you know you have mixed motives, part of it is you want to serve the Lord, part of it is that you know that it is good for you. So it is partly selfish and partly to serve the Lord.
Well remember, Jesus said a little leaven leavens the whole lump. So if you are doing it for mixed motives it is carnality. But they will say, no, it can be a little bit for the Lord and a little bit you are serving yourself. And so you can be spiritual and carnal at the same time. And they don't have a distinction between walking by the Spirit and walking by the flesh, which is what Galatians 5:16-18 emphasizes. Paul says walk by the Spirit and it will be impossible for you to fulfill the lust of the flesh. He makes a very clear distinction; it is one or the other, but that is not how that approached that.
Paul also talks about walking in the light or walking in darkness. It is one or the other. It doesn't take a whole light to illuminate a room. There are many places now, but I remember when I was a kid, the biggest cavern that people talked about was Carlsbad Caverns. If you were from Texas you would go to Longhorn Caverns up by Marble Falls. They would always take you into some big room deep down in the bowels of the earth; and they would turn off all the lights and see if you could see your hand in front of your face. It is so dark you cannot see anything in front of your face. Then the guide would usually light a match. It is amazing when you are in that deep a darkness that if you light a match how much it illuminates even a large chamber underground and how much you can see from that one match. You know it is either light or it is darkness. A little bit of light means that it is no longer in darkness. It is now illuminated. So these metaphors that the scriptures use are very clear in teaching its one or the other.
Slide 20: 1 Corinthians 3:1-3
So we have these passages like 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 where Paul is telling the Corinthians that they are still carnal; they are still living on their sin nature. So he is not able to talk to them as spiritual, those who are walking by the Spirit; he has to talk to them as carnal, as to "babes in Christ." In the English translation it doesn't come across real well, and so a lot of people think well, if they are carnal that means a spiritual baby. It is really talking about spiritual immaturity. But the Greek word there that is translated "a babe in Christ" is the word NEPIOS. Now NEPIOS in some places is used as a straightforward term, but it is usually a term that in English we might say a "crybaby." It is a pejorative term. He is not talking about a BREPHOS or a TECHNON in Christ. He is talking about a NEPIOS. You are just a little whiny baby who hasn't figured it out yet. So he is being a little bit sarcastic, maybe a lot sarcastic. And he talks about how he has fed them with the milk of the word, not solid food, but they are not able to receive that even to this point because they are out of fellowship. They can't receive the Word. It is very clear that is what he is saying. "Even now you are still not able to receive it" because you are not walking by the Spirit.
That is what 1 Corinthians 3:3 indicates, "for you are still carnal." Carnal is from the Latin word CARNE meaning "meat."
And if you know Spanish and you talk about Chili Con Carne, it is chili with meat. I went to a great Mexican restaurant last night in Albuquerque by the way; very good. I love New Mexican Mexican food.
1 Corinthians 3:3 "for you are still carnal." You are still fleshly. That would be the better modern translation. You are still walking according to the sin nature. "where there is envy, strife, and divisions among you." And the next three chapters he delineates all the divisiveness, all the divisions, all the envy, all the mental attitude sins that are going on in the Corinthian congregation. And so he says were these things are taking place, "are you not carnal and behaving like mere men" or only men? That is without the Holy Spirit. You are just living on your own power and your own resources. So it is very clear that Paul is talking here about the distinction that you don't just operate in the Christian life of the church age on your own energy, your own effort, your own power. You have to walk by the Holy Spirit.
Slide 21: 1 John 1:6-7
It says the same kind of thing in 1 John 1:6, "If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness…" This is not the kind of darkness you have in your house at 3 o'clock in the morning because you can still see a little bit. This is the kind of darkness that you have deep in the bowels of Longhorn Cavern or Mammoth Caves or something like that. You are in darkness and you lie and you don't do the truth.
1 John 1:7, "But if we walk in the light as He is in the light," perfect light, brilliant light, not a shadow in that light, "we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin." The foundation for cleansing is the death of Christ.
3. The third point in terms of our unique spiritual life is that the Christian is no longer subject to the Mosaic Law, but is under the higher law of spirituality.
In the OT they didn't have the Holy Spirit to strengthen and enable them in their Christian life. They hadn't been baptized by the Holy Spirit, so there is not a break with the power of the sin nature. But in the Christian life we have this higher law. It is not just morality. A lot of unbelievers can be moral. It goes beyond that. It is supposed to be produced by the Holy Spirit, walking by the Holy Spirit. So we are under the higher law of spirituality as described in: Galatians 5:18; Galatians 5:23; Romans 6:14-15; Romans 8:2-4; Romans 10:4; 1 Corinthians 9:21. All of these passages indicate that we are to live our life by the Holy Spirit.
4. The result of this is that the Holy Spirit produces in the believer the character of the incarnate Christ. Notice, it is not the character of the divine Jesus because those are divine attributes. It is the character of the humanity of Christ, Who is the One Who lives as a man facing the problems that you and I face. So the character of the incarnate Christ produced in us, Galatians 5:22-23 lists the fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, against such things there is no law.(Also Galatians 4:19; 1 John 2:5-6.)
5. The Holy Spirit is God and cannot sin, therefore the believer who is filled with the Spirit, walking by the Spirit, cannot sin under the status of spirituality apart from human volition or ignorance.
Now let's turn to this first passage, 1 John 3:9. For a lot of people this is one of the passages that just stumps them in Bible study, but that is because we don't know how to read 1 John.
1 John 3:9, John said, "Whoever has been born of God does not sin; for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God."
I am not going to ask for a show of hands here, but I would suggest from knowing everyone here that we all believe we were regenerate. But I would also suggest that within the last two hours we have all committed some sin, at least one. If the surface meaning here is what this verse means, then none of us are regenerate because we have sinned. So either that is not the meaning of the text or we are all unsaved. Now hold your place there and go back to 1 John 1. John says in 1 John 1:8, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." Well wait a minute; in 1 John 1 he is saying that we can't say that we have no sin, obviously, because we continue to sin; and in 1 John 3:9 he says, whoever has been born of God does not sin. See, John contradicts himself. The Bible isn't in agreement. Let's close our Bibles and go home and give it up.
No; that is because we need to understand how John writes. And when John writes and he uses this phrase, "Whoever has been born of God", he is not meaning simply 'whoever is regenerate.' What he means, if you do a list of all the things he says about "whoever has been born of God", it becomes apparent that whatever he is saying is whoever is living in light of their regeneration. They are walking in the light. They are walking consistent with their new nature in Christ. If you are not walking in the light you are walking in darkness. You are walking like you are a child of the devil. You are not walking as if you have been regenerate. So when you are living as if you have been born again by God and a child of God you don't sin.
This is the same thing that Paul says in Galatians 5:16 when he says, "walk by the Spirit, and you won't fulfill the lust of the flesh." So if you are walking by the Spirit that is tantamount to abiding in Christ. See we have that same terminology here in 1 John 3:9 where it says, "for His seed remains in him." That is the same word that is translated abide. It should be translated "abide" for consistency here because it is used that way down through this section. For example in 1 John 3:6, "Whoever abides in Him does not sin." That is what he is talking about.
The principle is laid down in 1 John 1:6. If you are abiding in Christ you don't sin. If you are not abiding, if you are out of fellowship you are going to sin. If you are walking by the Spirit you don't sin. But if you are walking by the flesh you do sin. So that the person who is "born of God" and the way he is using that is the person who is living as if they are regenerate, they don't sin because the one who is "born of God" is living as one who abides in Christ. And so that is what 1 John 3:9 is emphasizing. So when you are filled with the Spirit, when you are walking by the Spirit, you can't sin in that relationship. It is only when you chose to quit walking by the Spirit that you default to the sin nature and then start sliding down that whole path of different sins.
6. The sixth thing that we see is characteristic of the Christian life of the church age believer is that any kind of production, any kind of works in the Christian way of life depends on the filling of the Holy Spirit.
It is not just morality. That is why it is difficult to assess what we've done that really has eternal value and what doesn't because sometimes we are not sure if we are in fellowship when we did something. We can pray and fellowship. We can pray when we are out of fellowship. Psalm 66:18 says, "If I regard iniquity in my heart the LORD will not hear me." If you pray when you are out of fellowship it doesn't go any higher than the ceiling, but if you confess your sin and God forgives you and cleanses you and then you pray, then it is in the power of the Holy Spirit and God hears you. So there is a distinction. You can witness to somebody in the power of the flesh and they might even get saved because God knows how to use even the truth of His word because the truth of His word isn't dependent upon whether you are in fellowship or out of fellowship. You can teach the Bible in the power of the flesh and God can still use it because it is the power of the Word not the power of the preacher, not whether he's in fellowship or out of fellowship. But if I am out of fellowship it doesn't accrue; it is not divine good. It doesn't accrue to my spiritual life or have value for eternity, but if I am walking by the Spirit then it does.
So the issue in the church age is that we have to live our life in dependence upon the Holy Spirit and He is the one who produces the works that are described as gold, silver, and precious stones in 1 Corinthians 3. When we are out of fellowship it is described as wood, hay, and straw. It doesn't become evident which is which until the Judgment Seat of Christ.
7. Now under the seventh point we see the results of the filling of the Spirit:
a. When we are walking by the Spirit and the Spirit is filling us with His word then we learn to imitate Christ, Ephesians 5:1; Galatians 4:18; Philippians 1:20. We imitate Christ. God is trying to build Christ character in you. That is why we are being conformed to the image of Christ, Romans 8:28-30.
b. We are to glorify Christ. Glorify Him. He is the One Who ultimately gets the credit for what takes place in our life, John 16:14; John 7:39; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. We do all things for the glorification of God.
That is why Christians above everybody else should do everything that they do in life with excellence; that we should have a work ethic that surpasses everybody else. We live in a culture today where in a lot of businesses employers are pulling their hair out because they want their workers there at 6 o'clock and they drift in at 6:30 or 7:00 or later. They are not dependable; they are not consistent; and if you are a believer and you are there every day at 6 o'clock, you are the one who is going to get promoted and everybody else is going to be irritated at you because you get promoted because you have a good work ethic. You show up; you go to work; you do your job; you don't get distracted; you are not on Facebook most of the time during the day. You are not tweeting everybody about what you are doing during the day; you are focused on the job and doing what you need to do and that glorifies God. We work to glorify Him, not to glorify our employer.
c. Another result of the filling of the Holy Spirit is we come to understand the Word, John 14:26; John 16:12-14; 1 Corinthians 2:9-16.
We can't just understand the Word on our own. You can understand the Word to a certain level on your own, but in terms of fully understanding it and putting it together with other scriptures so that it really fills out in your soul that has to take place under the filling ministry of God the Holy Spirit. He fills us with His word.
d. The fourth thing is He gives us the power for witnessing, Acts 1:8.
Jesus told the disciples that when the Holy Spirit came, you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria and to the uttermost part of the world (earth). The Holy Spirit would empower them in their witnessing. This is also described in 2 Corinthians 3-5.
e. He gives us assurance of our salvation, Romans 8:14-16; Galatians 4:5-6.
Now He is not verbally communicating. He is not whispering in our ear. He is not saying you're saved and you need to know that. But He gives us that assurance through the Word of God that sense of confidence that we are saved. We are God's child and we cannot lose that salvation. It is an inner sense of confidence. It is not new revelation.
f. He strengthens our worship. He enables our worship, Philippians 3:3; John 4:24.
Jesus predicted a time would come when we would worship by means of the Spirit and by means of truth. So we need to be in fellowship. It is why we always start Bible class with confession so that we know that we are rightly related to God the Holy Spirit so that our time has value, spiritual value for eternity.
g. Prayer, Ephesians 6:18 compared with Psalm 66:18.
Ephesians 6:18 talks about we are to pray and this is empowered by God the Holy Spirit.
h. We help other Christians, Galatians 6:1.
This is done through encouraging others by those who are spiritual, those who are in right relationship to God the Holy Spirit.
i. We fulfill the righteousness demanded by the Law, Romans 8:2-4, Romans 10:4; Romans 13:8.
Walking by the Spirit, the Holy Spirit produces experiential righteousness inside of us.
j. Then lastly, it produces transformed character described as "fruit" in Galatians 5:22-23. All of that emphasizes that the Holy Spirit has a distinct and unique role in the church age.
8. Emotion and ecstatics are not characteristic of the filling of the Spirit, 2 Corinthians 6:11-12; Romans 16:17-18. Tongues in 1 Corinthians 12:13; 1 Corinthians 12:30.
You often see this today in our quasi mystical evangelical movement, especially in the charismatic branch. They want to use their emotions as a barometer for their spirituality. And emotion and ecstatics where you are so called prophesying in the Spirit or speaking in tongues. This is not characteristic of the filling of the Spirit during the church age or any other dispensation. It is never ecstatics. In the OT, when a prophet was empowered by the Holy Spirit and spoke that is not ecstasy. Ecstasy is what happens to the prophets of Baal, the prophets of the Ashtoreth; that is paganism. Paganism always operates on emotion. Ecstatics is basically emotion driving mentality. But in the gift of prophesy God communicates to the intellect, to the mentality of the prophet, and then the prophet communicates to his audience, so when we have dreams and visions this isn't ecstatics. This is how God is communicating truth to the one who is going to be the mouthpiece for truth.
9. The last part is the culmination of the spiritual life for the church age believer comes at the Judgment Seat of Christ when we are purified in preparation for the wedding ceremony, the marriage of the Lamb. So as the bride, we are the bride of Christ, as we are prepared we are purified at the Judgment Seat of Christ in preparation for the marriage of the Lamb.
Revelation 19:7 says, "Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready."
And so there is going to be the marriage feast at the beginning of the Millennial Kingdom.
Revelation 19:8 "And to her" that is the to the Bride of Christ "it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen," because she is purified at the time of the Judgment Seat of Christ, "arrayed in fine linen," linen was how the priest were garbed in the OT, "arrayed in fine linen" this emphasizes our priestly role in the coming millennial kingdom, "arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine line is the righteous acts of the saints." We have been purified. Talking not about Tribulation saints, but church age believers who are the bride of Christ.
Revelation 19:9, "Then he said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!'" And he said to me, "These are the true sayings of God."
So this brings us to an end in understanding this unique spiritual life of the church age. Nothing like it before, nothing like it afterward. Now next time when we come back we will look at the end of the church age to the rapture and how that takes place looking at three key passages for the rapture. Then we will conclude with the church age and its relationship to the angelic conflict and that sets up for going into the Tribulation period. So we will start getting into prophecy and prophetic studies starting next time as we move out of the church age and into the Tribulation period.
Question: Can you please provide some verses showing OT saints were regenerated?
Answer: I will have to look at a few. I think that there is one. I cannot come up with a reference right off the top of my head; but Saul is transformed into a new man. I think that is in 1 Samuel 10. You also have the recognition that if we are born spiritually dead; I mean the basic definition of regeneration is that you are made spiritually alive. So if we become spiritually dead because of Adam's sin, then in order to enter into life we have to solve the sin problem, then we become spiritually alive. That would be the theological argument. The third example is Nicodemus. Jesus tells Nicodemus, and they are in the age of the Law, they are in the messianic dispensation, but it is still before the cross, and He tells Nicodemus that if he wants to enter the kingdom of God he has to be born again. So Nicodemus at that point would be an OT saint because you don't have anything else until after the Cross. So those would be the three basic reasons why you have regeneration in the OT.
That was a good question. When we look at progressive dispensation; I don't know where they have all ended up, but I know that when I was taking a doctrinal seminar under Craig Blazing, and he was one of the three architects of progressive dispensationalism back in the 1980s, that he kept trying to float this idea before the class that there wasn't any regeneration in the OT. But if there is no regeneration in the OT then that means that every person in the OT that is a believer is still spiritually dead. That is a huge theological problem. And also you have a problem because Nicodemus is still in that dispensation and Jesus tells him you ought to understand these things; you have to be born again. So Nicodemus is expected by Jesus to understand regeneration at that point.
Let's close in prayer.
"Father, thank you for this opportunity to study these things and reflect upon them to realize what a unique thing we have in the spiritual life you have given us and that we dare not squander it or waste it because you've given us such tremendous privileges and assets; and that all of this only learned through the study of God's Word. And if we don't study Your Word then we don't know what we have and if we don't know what we have we don't utilize it and this is an act of experiential blasphemy by just ignoring and denying what You have given us. So Father, challenge us to be more faithful students of Your Word and more faithful in our implementation and application of these principles. We pray this in Christ's Name, Amen."