The Philosophy of Christianity
by Ernest L. Martin, Ph.D.
Read the accompanying Newsletter for May 2001
The Philosophy of Christianity is a way of life. It involves the reason for human life, why human life was created and sustained by God and nourished by His Spirit, and lastly, to where our human life is destined to lead us in the future. The word "life" by which Christianity is denominated is interpreted by its profound and expansive usage as promoted and detailed by the apostle John in his Gospel. He writes: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome itÖ. [Christ Jesus is] the true light, which enlightens everyone" (John 1:1-9 NRSV). This is the true "life" that mankind must adopt. Its acceptance by humanity makes Christianity to be a Philosophy of Life. It is our emulating and living that particular "Life" that enlightens us with unlimited truth and in an inseparable way it unites us with the personality and the bodily presence of Christ Jesus.
The apostle Paul gave an example for himself and all people on earth to follow. He said: "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ" (I Corinthians 11:1). This is the first principle of Christianity. It is the perfect example that we should all be following in our manner of life and in setting our standards of conduct. That individual who is center stage to the whole issue is Christ Jesus. No one can improve on the principles of life that governed the whole behavior of Christ. We are told that He pleased the Father in ALL things that He did (Matthew 3:17), and we are commanded to devote our way of living along a similar path that is constantly glorifying God and Christ Jesus. "Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" (I Corinthians 10:31). So, the life that each of us should lead, should be the same type of life that existed in Christ Jesus. By walking in that path, we will be promoting and exercising proper principles of life that will be well-pleasing to the Father in heaven. Their application is not a religion of outward devotions that embrace ritualistic maneuvers within a mere physical environment. They go much farther than that. It is to mimic and to exalt the kind of philosophy of life that motivated all the spiritual actions of Christ while he was on earth. The life of Christ is our example ó and our only example. It is the measurement of righteousness that we should set to follow and to promote. Walking in the footsteps of Christ has the effect of elevating the teachings of Christianity out of the realm of outward religion and places it squarely with the confines of a proper spiritual philosophy ó a real Philosophy of Life that brings us within the community of the divine.
We Christians are intrinsically connected by a type of spiritual umbilical chord to Christ. The Scriptures show that the lives that we lead are phased into a conscious and intimate existence with Christ himself. The apostle Paul on numerous occasions referred to all Christians as being personally "in Christ." Indeed, Paul went on to state that each of us has his and her origins "in Christ." We thus emanate from him, we are sustained through him, and we are constantly guided to him as he sits on his divine throne in heaven (Romans 11:36, where the three prepositions are emphasized). Thatís right. We are reckoned in the Fatherís eyes to be sitting on the same throne in heaven that Christ now occupies and that throne is located directly on the right side of the Father (Ephesians 2:6; Colossians 3:1). We are exalted so much to be "in Christ" that the Father acknowledges us as having merged into the same type of divine personality as if we represent a renewed "Christ-like" personality who is judicially reckoned as being co-bodied with Christ Jesus himself. Yes, so much are we accounted to be "in Christ," that though the Holy Scriptures make it certain that Christ is the only Firstborn of all things in a biological and chronological sense. All of us Christians (individually and collectively) are also awarded the same recognition in being called the firstborn ones of God (see Hebrews 12:23 where the word "firstborn" is plural). In a legal sense, each of us in Godís eyes is the microcosm of the singular Christ, while the singular Christ is the macrocosm of the totality of the human race which has existed within all the periods of chronological time from the foundation of the world. Each of us was actually chosen to be saved "in Christ" before the creation of the world (II Timothy 1:9). This was long before any of us came into human existence within the past century of time.
Our whole life is centered around and through the actual life of Christ that he lived on this earth and that he now lives in heaven. In truth, Christ has lived a life of substitution for each of us humans so that we may inherit the same righteousness and ascend to the same glory that Christ now has with the Father (and also to be sitting on the Fatherís right hand governing the entirety of the universe).
The real meaning of Christianity is the fact that the New Testament shows each of us as having been attached to Christ in a co-bodied way from before the foundation of the world (II Timothy 1:9). And even now we are connected to him, and we will always be wrapped up in him in a co-bodied manner throughout the rest of eternity. This fact may be difficult for people to understand and to believe, but this is the precise teaching of the New Testament. This exalted position we now have in Christ is plainly stated by Paul when he said we are already "co-heirs and co-bodied and co-sharers of the promise in Christ" (Ephesians 3:6 Greek). This august position of exaltation has the effect of making us to be "co-citizens with the saints and members of the family of God" (Ephesians 2:19 Greek). We are not to simply populate heaven. We will be active participants in the Godhead!
This is the exact legal or symbolic description that the apostle Paul gave for each one of us. We are "joint-bodied," or "co-bodied" ó thoroughly immersed in Christ in an inseparable manner. We have an accurate biblical illustration to show this. The apostle Paul said that a husband and wife are "one flesh" and are legally attached to each other while they are married and in the flesh (Ephesians 5:31,32). Like an ideal husband and wife are in thorough accord and harmony with one another (in the vast majority of points), Paul taught that we are legally co-bodied with Christ in every way while we are humans on this earth (socially, religiously, politically and in holy righteousness). We are even now co-bodied with Christ. This status shows there can be no blame attached to us in a legal sense in the eyes of the Father throughout all periods of future time. It is not what we do (or not do), but to whom we are joined. This union of ours with Christ Jesus is as certain and as solid as an immovable and non-decaying fortress of strength. This attachment to Christ makes us in the eyes of the Father as being a "Christ-like" personality on the same level of firstborn status in the Family of God as is Christ Jesus himself. Nothing can separate us from this majestic and glorious position that we have by being reckoned to be "in Christ" (Romans 8:38,39). Maintaining this love relationship between Christ and each of us is not dependent on us. It is on Him!
Since all of us are legally reckoned as being in Christ before this world system came into existence, it follows that we were also in Christ when Christ Jesus entered this world almost two thousand years ago. The apostle Paul stated that Christ, "being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a slave, and was made in the likeness of men. And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" (Philippians 2:6-8). Christ Jesus had the rank of God on him when he was formerly in heaven, and so he has it now.
Now note this point. When Christ entered this world in the flesh and performed the task of being perfectly righteous in all things that he did, so did you (and all those in Christ) do the same thing because you are reckoned by the Father as being co-bodied with Christ at that time. In a legal sense, you entered the world at the same time Christ did though you were not yet born nor did you have any existence whatever at the time. His birth into the world is YOUR spiritual birth by substitution. The principal teaching of Christianity is one of substitution.
Notice what this substitutionary role involves. The apostle Paul carried this theme of substitution further by stating that when Christ was circumcised in the temple eight days after his birth, you also were acknowledged as having been circumcised at the same time. This is because you, even then, were co-bodied with Christ. "In whom [in Christ] also you are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ" (Colossians 2:11). Yes, by Christ being circumcised, you also became circumcised at the same event. This was a symbol of that divine unity with Christ that you inalienably possess as your inheritance. Being co-bodied with Christ means that when he was circumcised as a substitute for you, God reckoned you as circumcised at the same instant (whether male or female makes no difference in this case because we are talking of legal and symbolic matters only, and not a physical ritual of itself). You were then accounted as being legally circumcised and worthy of receiving all the promised inheritance given to Abraham, Moses and the children of Israel who got their rewards through circumcision. This relationship was an initial one with God.
But our co-bodied relationship with Christ became more mature. Our oneness with Christ did not end with the initial ritual of circumcision performed upon Christ. The apostle Paul went on by stating that you and other humans were "buried with him [Christ] in baptism, and also co-raised in him [Christ]" (Colossians 2:12 Greek). When John the Baptist raised Christ out of the water in the River Jordan, that same ritual of baptism was reckoned to you and all Christians because we were "in Christ" and Christ was performing an act of substitution for us.
Indeed, our co-bodied relationship with Christ didn't stop even with his circumcision and baptism. It carried on throughout the total period of Christ's ministry and finally, as the apostle Paul spoke of himself: "I have been co-crucified with Christ" (Galatians 2:20 Greek). When Christ was crucified, all Christians were reckoned by the Father (no matter in what period of time they were alive) as having died with Christ on the tree of crucifixion. Paul clearly stated that Christians "died with Christ" when Christ died in Jerusalem (Colossians 2:20 Greek).
But our co-bodied relationship with Christ didn't stop with the crucifixion. Paul went on to show that we were also legally "co-quickened together with him [Christ]" when Christ was resurrected from the dead (Colossians 2:13 Greek), or, in a simple way of expressing it, Paul said we were "co-raised with Christ" (Colossians 3:1 Greek). Paul even went further in Ephesians by saying that we have not only been "co-raised" with Christ at the time of Christís resurrection from the dead, but we were then "co-seated with Christ in the heavenlies" (Ephesians 2:6 Greek). We are legally (in the eyes of the Father) already seated in Christ on a throne at the right hand of God the Father in heaven (Colossians 3:1). This position is secure for us through our oneness with Christ.
In this legal and symbolic sense, each of us is presently equal unto Christ himself (in the eyes of the Father) because we are in a co-bodied relationship with him that the Father fully recognizes as proper and right. And since Christ is the firstborn son of the Father, by our being "in Christ" and co-bodied with Christ, we are also designated as firstborn children who are destined to inherit all the possessions and authority of the firstborn himself. Of course, the Father will always be the Father and in supreme authority over us, and Christ will always be reckoned as our Elder Brother in the sense that he performed the works that make our being in Christ a living reality. Consequently, we are destined to assume the same bodily characteristics and the spiritual attributes (and eventually, the divine power and glory) as those faculties now enjoyed by the Father and Christ.
And note this point. When we are literally resurrected from the dead at Christ's second advent, we will then assume our position of rank as a firstborn child of God just as Christ now exercises that exalted power and supreme authority. "Beloved, now are we the children of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he [Christ] shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is" (I John 3:2). Christ is now an Elohim (the Hebrew word for God)! And we are destined to become in bodily shape and composition, as well as spiritual attitude and righteousness, the same type of divine being that Christ now represents. We are already reckoned by Christ as being Elohim (gods) in human form (John 10:34,35), and soon we are going to become just like the Father and the Son in spiritual composition and in righteous character. That will come at our resurrections from among the dead. It is obvious that in this human life we are weak, but then we will be strong.
At the very beginning of the Bible we are told that humans are made in the image and likeness of God [Hebrew: Elohim]. "And Elohim said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness" (Genesis 1:26). Notice the plurality in the meaning of the word Elohim. The word Elohim itself is plural, but it can take singular verbs to qualify it. This makes the word similar to what we call a "collective noun" or a "uni-plural word" The word "family" is such a word. Almost always we understand that a singular family is understood to have several members. This is precisely what the word Elohim means in Hebrew. It is like the word "Headquarters" (plural with a singular use).
There is one divine Family in heaven (and none other) that is ruled by one Father (called Yahweh), but that one Family is made up of the Father and his firstborn Son. There are other "Sons of God" in the singular divine Family (Genesis 6:1,4; Job 1:6; 2:1; Psalm 82:6). In the Scriptures the individual personalities representing these "Sons of God" are not detailed. As prime personalities, we only have the Father, Christ and the possible inclusion of "Wisdom" in Proverbs 8:22-31 that may show a feminine counterpart to the Father. The apostle Paul certainly knew that there would be the feminine side of the Children of God since he referred to both "Sons" and "Daughters" (II Corinthians 6:18). Lesser powers (such as angels or even humans at the present time) who represent the divine Family called Elohim may also be called Elohim when they speak on behalf of the divine Family. Thus, angels are generically called Elohim (Exodus 20:1; Acts 7:30-32). Angels, however, are NEVER called "Sons of God." This is the express teaching of the apostle Paul in Hebrews chapter one. Sonship is never associated with angels. In this regard, they can never be raised to the status of being "Children of God" as can all humans. Indeed, humans can be called Elohim even now, and in our flesh. Moses was called Elohim (Exodus 4:16). The kings who represented the House of David were called Elohim since they exercised the rule of Elohim (Zechariah 12:8), and this also included the human judges in the Israelite commonwealth (Exodus 22:8,9). The apostle John calls all of us "the Children of God" (I John 3:1). Humans are in the image of Elohim (Genesis 1:26).
Most remarkably, however, is the fact that the Old Testament refers to human beings in general as now being Elohim. "I have said, You are gods [Elohim]; and all of you are children of the most High" (Psalm 82:6). Christ Jesus even used this very text to assure the erring Jewish authorities in his time that human beings can legitimately be called "gods" (John 10:34). And, that is exactly what human beings are. We are non-glorified "gods" in human form. "You are gods, and children of the most High" (Psalm 82:6). That is not a trite evaluation by Christ, nor is it mere allegory. In Paulís view, this was a practical fact based upon our being "in Christ."
The early Israelites clearly understood that there was only one divine Family called Elohim that is headed by one divine father named Yahweh (Isaiah 45:5). There is also one divine firstborn in that family and his name is Christ Jesus. He was the firstborn of Yahweh's creation and it was he who was the divine instrument who created the heavens and the earth (Colossians 1:15-22). He was an Elohim, and while on earth he was reckoned as being Emmanuel (which means in Hebrew: "God With Us"). The New Testament also acknowledges Christ as being "God" (John 1:1). He can assume the name Yahweh when he adopts the role of the Father (e.g. Zechariah 14:3,4). Also note John 14:8,9: "Philip said unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it suffices us. Jesus said unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet have you not known me, Philip? He that has seen me has seen the Father." The word Elohim in Hebrew really refers to a singular Family (or, Headquarters) that is composed of several members of whom humans can become an integral part. Indeed, the act of salvation is to usher humans into the divine Family of God. That Family has singularly created, it governs and it sustains the entirety of the universe. We are destined to be intimate members of that divine Household on the royal throne of God.
This means the Father is called Elohim, the Son is called Elohim, and you and I (as well as the rest of the human race) are also called Elohim. "You are gods and children of the most High." The purpose of the Father before the foundation of the world was to reproduce Himself so that there would eventually be billions of redeemed humans (who would be saved through the efforts of Christ Jesus) to become members of the divine Family in heaven with Yahweh as its head. That is the purpose for our existence. We were all created to become the Children of God.
Even now we are in the image and likeness of Elohim, save in the fact that we are made of flesh and they are made of spiritual substance. We are non-glorified Elohim, and we do not yet have the spiritual virtues of righteousness that the Father and Christ possess. But we are soon to have those characteristics too. Even now we are Elohim, but we do not yet have the power and authority to exercise universal dominion over the creation as do the Father and Christ because we do not yet have the spiritual qualifications nor experience to do so. But soon, we will inherit all of the characteristics of the Father and Christ because we are destined in the resurrection to be presented with the same spiritual attributes now enjoyed by the Father and Christ. How we assume those awesome responsibilities is the central teaching of what Christianity is about in the first place.
This divine plan or purpose begun by the Father and Christ before the foundation of the world system was to acquaint us with experiences involving good and evil so that we can in the future become full fledged members of the divine Family that has the role of experiencing and even creating such things (Isaiah 45:7). And when God set out to accomplish his purpose in reproducing himself, there is not the slightest doubt that he will be victorious.
To assure the success of his divine purpose, the Father accounts all of us as now being in a co-bodied relationship with Christ (we were legally placed "in Christ") before the creation of Adam and Eve. And Christ's job is to bring each one of us into the divine Family of Elohim without the slightest failure in his task. As Christ said: "All that the Father gives me shall come to me; and him that comes to me I will in no wise cast out.... And this is the Father's will which has sent me, that of all which he has given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day" (John 6:37,39). If Christ could fail, that would show he was not supremely powerful. He cannot fail!
When the apostle Paul and the other apostles came to see this legal (and theological) position that Christians have had "in Christ" from the foundation of the world, it became clear why all the rituals and ordinances that God formerly commanded for humans to observe were no longer necessary to perform (since we have always been co-bodied with Christ). We performed them all when Christ characteristically did them all in a perfect manner as our divine substitute. Yes, we have not only been co-circumcised with Christ when he was circumcised, but we have been co-baptized, co-crucified, co-raised from the dead, and finally co-seated with Christ on his throne on the right hand of God. We are presently co-family members of the divine Household of Elohim with firstborn rank from the Father. We can never be anything else but having this exalted rank and status.
This means we have died (in a legal sense) to all religious requirements that God imposed upon Adam and Eve, upon Abraham and Moses, upon John the Baptist and upon the early apostles. We have even died to the ritualistic teachings which governed the early ekklesia [translated as "church" in many translations] before the revelation of "the Mystery" when this new knowledge came to the attention of the apostles. Take physical baptism for an example. Since the baptism that John the Baptist performed on Christ in the Jordan is now reckoned as being the baptism that counts for us (since we have had a continual co-bodied relationship with Christ), that is why Paul emphasized that there is now only "one baptism" that applies to us (Ephesians 4:5) ó and that is the baptism Christ underwent for us in the River Jordan. This means that John has symbolically baptized each of you.
This is the simple reason why Paul told the Colossians that they did not any longer have to pay attention to the keeping of weekly Sabbaths, new moons (calendar matters) and holy day observances (Colossians 2:16). This means that all the decrees or ordinances given to Moses or to the early ekklesia regarding foods, drinks and other religious customs are no longer necessary for us to observe because we have kept them perfectly in Christ when he observed them. This is because these commandments were made strictly for some of mankind to observe (especially, the nation of Israel). But we are now reckoned (since the revelation of "the Mystery" in A.D. 63) as being co-raised from the dead with Christ and to be co-seated with Christ on the throne at the right hand of the Father. Our citizenship is now in heaven and the Father no longer recognizes us as merely having some human citizenships on this earth. Thus, we are no longer subjected to religious laws and ritualistic commandments designed by the Father for humans on the earth (whether Jew or Gentile). Of course, we are still humans and live within our human societies. This is a fact, and the apostle Paul demanded that we observe all laws and standards of behavior regulated by our human societies (Romans13:1-8), as long as those rules of conduct do not violate greater teachings of God (Acts 5:29). That means to pay our taxes cheerfully and perform other civic duties that society requires. But our real citizenship is of a divine origin and authorization. Our present citizenship on earth is a temporary one that we share with all humans. But we legally sit (even now) on the right hand of God in heaven.
Since you and I are accounted as being co-bodied with Christ, when he kept the weekly Sabbath perfectly until his death on the tree, we are acknowledged by the Father as having already kept the weekly Sabbath perfectly in him. When he paid tithes to the Levites in a perfect way, we paid tithes in him and no longer need we pay tithes to anyone else. And when Christ kept the Lord's Supper on the eve of his crucifixion, we kept it with him. And since he told his disciples that he would not keep it again until he returns, we don't have to keep it either until that time. True, until the revelation of "the Mystery" in A.D.63 (that revealed our continual co-bodied relationship with Christ), it was accepted as needful to observe the Lordís Supper (I Corinthians 11:20-34). But that ordinance is no longer necessary for us who sit on the right hand of the Father "in Christ." We symbolically have Christ now in our midst. In other words, we have already made it (through Christ) into the divine and holy habitation of God.
What the real teaching of Christianity means is that we have met all the religious requirements of the Father in all phases of human life and that we are no longer subjected by the Father to perform such religious practices. All such religious matters are superfluous and irrelevant to us who are now co-bodied with Christ. Indeed, it goes further than that. Since divine scripture states it is appointed unto men once to die and then comes the judgment (Hebrews 9:27), Christ also had to pass that necessary Judgment Seat of the Father. And Christ did pass that trial with perfection in our place. Since we were co-bodied with Christ at the time, we also underwent the same Judgment and passed it triumphantly. This substitution of Christ applies to all humans because all are destined to stand before the throne of God to give an account of the things done in this life (both good and bad) (see II Corinthians 5:10,11). But Christ as our substitute has now accomplished that for us. This is because of our co-bodied relationship that we have with Christ. So, since we are now reckoned as co-crucified with Christ, co-quickened and co-raised from the dead with Christ, we were also co-bodied with Christ when he stood before the judgment seat of God when he went to the Father in heaven after his resurrection. And what was Christ's judgment? The demerit side of Christ's personal ledger was clear of any sins or imperfections (because he committed no sins) while his credit side was filled with a perfect righteousness. Christ was thus ordered by the Father to sit on his own right hand in power and authority. Christ passed the Judgment of God against sin and death with flying colors and God has granted to each of us the victory of that same Judgment since Christ was our substitute. This is the central core teaching of what the Gospel of Christ is all about. You are fully assured of your certain salvation. Christ grants it as an absolute and inalienable possession that we cannot lose (John 6:37).
Since we are now reckoned as being co-bodied with Christ from the foundation of the world until our glorification in Christ at our resurrections, we are also given the same rewards as those given to Christ. That is why Paul could so confidently state that the Father has "raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:6,7). Our life in Christ has just begun. We have the rest of eternity to live in him.
The Philosophy of Christianity shows that our lives are centered "in Christ." It is not a matter of what we do or what we do not do in a religious sense that makes the difference. The key to the whole thing is: Who is it who lives in us? Who are we a part of? Who is co-bodied with us? If Christ does indeed live in us (as we are assured by the Holy Scriptures that he does), then we are even now reckoned by God the Father to be as holy, altogether righteous and absolutely worthy in His eyes as is Christ Jesus himself. We are gracefully endowed with such righteousness in Godís eyes (not that we are actually righteous of ourselves), that when the Father looks on Christ at the present in heaven, He sees US IN HIM. And even more wonderful in one way of viewing it, when the Father sees us now on earth, He see CHRIST IN ALL OF US! In a word, we have already been saved "in Christ" and we will always be saved. Christ saves all humans in particular time periods known to Him (II Timothy 2:4-6).
The truth is, we are not here on earth to live by outward religious rules and regulations (like Israel was formerly expected to do ó but they were unable to do because of their weakness of the flesh), but we are to live by the divine principles of life. We are to be motivated by the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit working in our lives (Galatians 5:22,23). Indeed, it is God the Father who places in us HIS VERY WILL to do the things that He approves. "For it is God which worketh in you both TO WILL and TO DO [to perform] of his good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13). Christianity is truly a Philosophy of Life (Christís Life) that leads us in our everyday walk. It has NOTHING TO DO with keeping religious rules and regulations that God once used to govern men and women. Our new Philosophy of Life is governed by unwritten principles that Paul catalogued as the nine fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22,23. This is why real Christianity remains a Philosophy of Life. It is not a religion of denominationalism with rules of does and doníts made up by human leaders. Humanity was not created to be in "church" for all our periods of existence. No, indeed. We are destined to partake of an intimate Family position equivalent to that of "firstborn." This will allow us to rule and to enjoy the totality of this universe with God in the eons of time that await the glorious manifestation of us as His Children
Ernest L. Martin
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