What About Hell Fire?
If Christ has rescued all mankind from having to bear their own sins, what happens to all the scriptures (and there are many) that speak about the dangers of hell fire that await all those who sin and fail to repent? No, hell fire and the punishments for sins are not in any way done away. Hell fire as a place of destruction is a reality and it is a place designed by God for the punishment of sinners. For anyone to say different is to deny the plain teachings of the Holy Scriptures.
There are many sections of Scripture that warn people that their sins will cut them off from God and that they will not make it into the presence of God if they continue in their sins. The scriptures that teach these things are true! Let us look at some of these important teachings. And once we see the principles that God has established for the forgiveness of sins as well as the means for punishing people for sins, then the matter of those punishments for sin can be understood in an intelligent and satisfactory way and the fact of universal salvation will still be completely recognized.
Let us look at some of those scriptures that teach about hell fire and the punishments for sin. For example, Christ said that all people who call others "You fool" (Matthew 5:22), will undergo the pangs of "gehenna fire." Note that Christ gave this proper teaching before he died for mankind to pay the penalty for all mankind. Christ was plainly telling people that such a sin as calling a fellow human being "You fool," would indeed subject such persons in the Day of Judgment (which was to occur after their deaths at the end of the age) to the pangs of gehenna fire. He taught this as a true fact, and it was! If oneís right eye or hand caused one to sin, then it was better to cut them off to keep one from sinning rather than suffer the pangs of gehenna fire for the judgment for such sins would place them without doubt in the midst of gehenna fire (Matthew 5:29Ė30). This same warning is also given in Matthew 18:7Ė9. Indeed, both the body and soul of mankind can be utterly destroyed by God in gehenna fire (mankind, you see, is not immortal) if mankind is not rescued (delivered or saved) from such destruction in gehenna fire which God has prepared for sinners (Matthew 10:28). Since the fires of punishment are created by God for sinners to undergo after death (after their judgments at the end of the age), such punishment would result in the thorough destruction of their bodies and their souls (Matthew 10:28).
Man Is Not Immortal
We can be assured that the souls of mankind are not immortal and live forever. They can be destroyed in gehenna fire (Matthew 10:28). And since humans who die must remain dead until their resurrections from the dead (because they are mortal, and not immortal like God is), then the account of Christ about Lazarus and the Rich Man being alive after their deaths as recorded in Luke 16:19Ė31 must be a parable. And indeed it is. Christ never spoke to the multitudes unless it was in the form of parables (Matthew 13:34Ė35). Parables were intended to hide the true teachings of God from spiritual babes. This is precisely what Christ taught (Matthew 13:13Ė17). For a full explanation of the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man see my book 101 Bible Secrets that Christians Do Not Know.
While it is clear that the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man is a parable, there are still several score of scriptures (like the ones given above) which speak of the future punishment of sinners in the fires of gehenna or the Lake of Fire. They are found in various parts of the New Testament, and especially in the concluding parts of the Book of Revelation. Without doubt, these sections of scripture should be taken seriously because God means precisely what he states in all of them. There is very definitely a gehenna fire that all sinners must undergo if they have the slightest sin in their bodies, their souls or their spirits after they are judged for their sins and found guilty. In the judgment that all persons must undergo after death (2 Corinthians 5:10; Hebrews 9:27), the outcome is already determined if one has sins on his or her person. Gehenna fire awaits every single individual who has sin on him or her! That is the clear teaching of God and all should believe it.
Though gehenna fire is the absolute and certain destination for all people who have sinned in this life (from the time of Adam and Eve onward), this is where the substitutionary role of Christ Jesus comes into play. The full teaching of the Gospel shows that Christ Jesus took on his back all the sins of ALL MANKIND and paid the penalty for all those sins when he died on the tree of crucifixion. And, when Christ appeared at the judgment seat of God (where all humans must appear after their deaths and after their resurrections from the dead at the end of the age ó Hebrews 9:27), Christ stood before God as a substitute for man ó for all mankind. He stood there free of any sins whatever. The fact is, Christ had already died for all the sins of the world three days earlier on the tree of crucifixion. Since there were no sins recorded on Christís own life while he was on earth, God the Father then judged Christ as being sinless. Instead of Christ going into the gehenna fire that is prepared for all sinners and the rebelling angels, the Father told his firstborn Son to come forward and sit next to him at the Fatherís right hand. What a glorious thing this was.
But note this. Not only was Christ doing these works for himself, he was also being a substitute FOR ALL MANKIND. This is what the Gospel is all about. This is why the word "Gospel" means "Good News," because it is good news to all mankind what Christ Jesus has done for them. By Christís actions during his life on earth, by his death on the tree of crucifixion, and by him having passed the judgment triumphantly as a substitute FOR ALL MANKIND, we can be assured that no human will ever have to go to gehenna fire and burn to pay for their sins since Christ has already paid the full penalty of all the sins for mankind. The truth is just that simple and it ought to be taught.
When you read the numerous scriptures threatening mankind with the punishment of "hell fire" (that is, gehenna fire, the Lake of Fire or any other punishments for sins that people must suffer if found guilty on the Day of Judgment), you can know that they are all true and they are all certain for sinners. But you can also know with assurance that Christ Jesus has paid for the sins of all mankind and there will not be a single human who has ever lived who will have to undergo those prophesied punishments for sin. And though gehenna is a very real place and is a place for the punishing of sinners, Christ Jesus has already paid the penalty of sin for all mankind (which was his death as a substitute for all humans ó Romans 6:23). This means that all mankind will, thankfully, escape the fires of gehenna (hell). This is what all people on earth ought to be taught by the preachers, evangelists and priests. Christ paid the penalty for sins so that mankind would NOT have to undergo those ordained punishments, which were created by God for sinners. This is the real truth of God.
But are there no punishments for sins at all that mankind has to suffer? The truth is, there are many, many punishments for sins that mankind has to endure, but all of them are suffered by mankind in this life, with the exception of one thing. I will explain what that "one exception" is in a moment, but before I do, we need to know how mankind can and do suffer for the sins that they do.
Now, what Christ did for us on the tree of crucifixion was to pay for all our sins so that we will pass the future Day of Judgment with flying colors. What he did not do at that time was to pay for the sins you commit in this life that cause you to suffer in this life. Believe me, if a person robs, rapes and murders people in this life, the authorities in this life (whom God calls "his ministers" ó Romans 13:1Ė8) can cause such people to suffer very much by putting them in prison or even executing them for their crimes. Christís death on the tree got rid of such crimes in the eyes of the Father in the Day of Judgment, but he did not pay for those sins for one to be exonerated during this life. The atonement of Christ has to do with getting a person to be innocent of sins on the Day of Judgment, but Christís atonement does not cover present punishments on earth. We all have to suffer wrongs that we do in this life, and sometimes they are very unpleasant things to suffer. God can also give us physical punishments now because of our evil ways.
The Bible shows that God has judged many persons and even whole nations for their sins during this age by bringing on them calamities (the evils that God creates). The Bible shows in truth that it is "a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Hebrews 10:31). God can judge people severely in this life for their sins they commit, even while they continue to live in this life. Paul even told the Corinthians to hand the sinning fornicator over to Satan the Devil for the destruction of his physical life during this age (this was a major punishment), yet Paul stated that the person himself would still be saved in the future (1 Corinthians 5:5). Paul knew that Christ had paid for all the sins of the world and that all people would be free of sins in the Day of Judgment because of what Christ as a substitute did for them.
We can and do suffer, however, for the wrongs that we do in this life, but the sufferings are confined to this life! There is, however, "one exception." What a person does in this life can determine one major thing that is to occur AFTER our deaths. That "one thing" is whether we are allowed to be resurrected at Christís Second Advent to experience the Kingdom phase of salvation, or whether we must wait until after the Kingdom is over and be resurrected at the Dispensation of the Fullness of Times (which Paul called the telos in Greek ó the end). Mankind can miss out on experiencing a beautiful future period of the earthís history by their sinning ways at the present. This is especially if those sinning ways are looked upon by sinners without any conscience of guilt and without them wanting to repent and actually repenting of those sins. That "one exception" is to miss out on the Kingdom of God phase of salvation!
If people know to do good (even knowing the teachings of the Gospel of what Christ has done for them and the whole human race) and yet they continue in their sins with abandon and without the slightest desire to repent of their ways, then such people will not be resurrected by Christ at his Second Advent to experience with the saints of God the one thousand years of rule of Christ called the Kingdom of God (Ephesians 5:1Ė5). God will not reward such unrepentant sinners with the privilege of experiencing this wonderful time in the history of the world. Those sinners will have to learn their lessons that sin does not pay in the Great White Throne Judgment period, which is an age when God will bring on them special situations to make them want to repent of their ways ó and they finally will!
With us it should be very different. By doing good works here and now, and joyfully accepting the responsibilities and the trials that we all go through that the Father places on his children (to teach us to be good stewards of his household), the Father as a reward to us will resurrect us at Christís Second Advent to experience with Christ the Kingdom phase of salvation. This is what the apostle Paul wanted. He was a faithful worker in proclaiming the Gospel and he saw his responsibilities and trials as reasons for God to allow him to be in the first resurrection at Christís Second Advent. After citing the works that he did for Christ and the ekklesia (Philippians 3:1Ė10), Paul said he did those things,
[Greek: the out-resurrection, that is, the first resurrection] of the dead."
"If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection
Paul knew that he was saved and would one day be resurrected to enjoy the fruits of a salvation in Christ, but he wanted to have the extra blessing of being a part of the out-resurrection (the first resurrection of Revelation 20:1Ė5) at Christís Second Advent.
The apostle Peter referred to the "fiery trials" (1 Peter 4:12) that Christians sometimes have to go through on this earth to remain true to their faith in Christ and the Gospel, and he said these trials and our success in overcoming them with Godís help represent the judgment concerning whether we will be in that first resurrection or have to wait until the Dispensation of the Fullness of Times when all receive their salvations. Peter called these trials "the judgment which begins at the house of God" (1 Peter 4:17 adapted). But we must remember Godís promise that he will not subject us to any trial in this life that is above our ability to endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13). He will make a way of escape for us all. If we come through with flying colors, and with the help of God the vast majority (1 Corinthians 1:8; Philippians 1:6), we will be among those who receive their salvation at the out-resurrection at Christís Second Advent (Philippians 3:11) and we will experience the Kingdom phase of the salvation we have in Christ. All other people will not be resurrected until the Dispensation at the Fullness of Times (Ephesians 1:10) and they will then receive their salvations. This is the simple teaching of the Gospel and it is a glorious and wonderful message for all mankind.
Christ Jesus came into this world to save the world, and he was completely successful in his efforts. All mankind have been destined by God the Father to be saved and this was made plain by the apostles in their writings. Even before the foundation of the world it was determined that mankind would be saved. What preachers, evangelists and priests ought to do is to abandon their false teachings about what they think mankind must do in order to get saved, and they should start a campaign of telling mankind how they GOT saved through the efforts of Christ Jesus and God the Father.
And remember, while so many Christians have memorized John 3:16 showing how God so loved the world (all individuals in the whole world) that He gave His only begotten Son to save the world (all persons in the world), the next verse in John shows that this salvation results in Godís non-condemnation because,
"God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved."
Yes, the whole world will be saved. Indeed, it is predestined that all persons MUST be saved (Acts 4:12). Of course, all humans must believe in Christ (have faith in him) before they can be saved, but even belief and faith that each person expresses is a gift from God,
"For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake."
Even the will that you personally express to accept Christ and to believe on Him (which you may erroneously think are exclusively YOUR will and YOUR belief) are virtues that are given to you by the grace of God. God works in you to give you the necessary will to accept Him.
"For it is God which works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."
It is up to the Father to call each individual to accept Christ and His teachings. Godís call for people to accept Christ is a miracle-action that He inspires within every person in an individual way (John 6:44, 65). God has programmed some people to be called in this age, and the vast majority not to be called at this time. As far as I know, God did not inspire Nero Caesar, Genghis Khan or Adolph Hitler to accept Jesus Christ and His teachings in this life. If they did obtain such inspiration (which only the Father can dispatch to a person), those persons would have responded to the teachings of the Gospel in this life, and as far as I know they did not. True enough, though such persons were saved like each of us before the foundation of the earth (2 Timothy 1:9), they were not given the privilege by God the Father of understanding about their salvation in this life which they GOT in Christ before they were born. Remember, the apostle Paul stated that there are allotted "time periods" for salvation (1 Timothy 2:6 see original Greek wording) in which the Father will dispense the knowledge of the truth to all who had never had it given to them.
[God] will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth."
1 Timothy 2:4
True, all people will eventually obtain the full knowledge of what Christ did for them on the tree of crucifixion, but that knowledge (and the power to respond to it) is something that the Father reserves to Himself.
God the Father has willed that the vast majority of people in this life do not understand what Christ Jesus has done for them to get them saved for the rest of eternity, but in the Great White Throne judgment period when they are resurrected from the dead, they will be taught these vital truths and the Father will give them the willpower and the utter desire to accept and to believe in what Jesus Christ has done for them to get them saved. God will not lose a single soul of all the people He has created since the time of Adam and Eve. Christ said,
"This is the Fatherís will which has sent me, that of all which he has given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day."
And how many in the world will have their sins taken away from them?
[takes away] the sins of the world [the whole world]."
"Behold, the Lamb of God which takes away
God will be completely successful in His quest to save the whole world and bring all persons ever born (of all races and societies) into being members of His divine family. When God sets out to do a task, He will be completely successful. God never fails in any work that He does!
Indeed, since we are told that "all Israel" will eventually be saved, and only Israel was given the promise and covenant of salvation in the Old Testament (Romans 11:26 with Ephesians 2:11Ė12), the apostle Paul at the first recognized that it was necessary to get all Gentiles in the world to become "Israelites" so that Gentiles could be saved too. What the Father told Paul to teach was that all the Gentiles would be spiritually placed "in Christ," and since Christ Jesus was the "perfect Israelite," then the Gentiles who were "in Christ" were then reckoned to be spiritual Israelites (see Romans 11:12Ė25). However, the apostles soon discovered that is was not necessary for the Gentiles to perform all the religious ceremonial laws and commandments in order to be recognized as "Israelites."
Those physical rituals that Israelites were commanded to perform (such as circumcision in the flesh, keeping the Sabbaths and Holydays and observing the Clean Food Laws) were rescinded for Gentile converts to Christ. They were plainly told by Paul that such ritualistic performances were not necessary for the Gentiles who were now "in Christ." Paul showed that such ceremonial laws were not essential for the Gentiles to observe in order to he reckoned as "Israelites" by the Father (Galatians 4:10; Romans 14:1Ė6). All that the Gentiles had to do in the flesh to be considered proper and spiritual "Israelites" were the four Israel normally observed, they were still reckoned by the Father to be proper "Israelites" and authorized to receive all the convenant promises of salvation that were given to Israel because all Gentiles were then "in Christ" who was the perfect Israelite.
So, the Father reckoned Gentiles as being proper Israelites along with the biological Israelites who would accept Christ and his teachings. This meant that the Gentiles and the converted Israelites were in a New Covenant relationship with the Father and that He would account all their physical and spiritual actions as being in conformity with His laws and commandments that all the New Covenant were reckoned to be doing (Jeremiah 31:31Ė34). So, spiritual Israel was made up of converted Israelites and converted Gentiles who became "spiritual Israel" or "the Israel of God" (Galatians 6:16). All of them were "perfect Israelites" because they were all reckoned to be "in Christ" who was acknowledged by the Father to be the "perfect Israelite." Christ Jesus became a substitute for all people who would accept him and his efficacious act of atonement. Christ and his actions of faith and sinlessness were accounted by the Father to be "on their behalf." He was our substitute in our place.
A New Role For Christians
In 63 C.E., the apostle Paul and others received a new and advanced teaching from the Father and Christ that further illustrated what it meant for people to be "in Christ." The truth is, Christ was not only the "perfect Israelite" but he also had the high position of being the firstborn Son of Almighty God. Christ was also a member of the Godhead. What Paul and the others learned with the further knowledge called "the Mystery" which was revealed in Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians was that being "in Christ" also meant to be attached to Christ in his role of being a member of the Godhead. Now, to be "in Christ" meant not only to be a "perfect Israelite," but it also meant to be a "perfect God" (that is, to be a real and actual member of the Godhead itself since each Christian is reckoned by the Father to be "in Christ"). After the revelation of "the Mystery," which was first revealed in 63 C.E. when Paul was in Cadiz, Spain, to be "in Christ," also meant to be "in the Godhead."
With this new revelation which showed the expanded teaching of what it meant to be "in Christ," all converted people are now exalted into the position of being placed at the right hand of the Father in heaven because that is where Christ Jesus is at the present time and where each of us is positioned "in Christ" (Ephesians 2:6; Colossians 3:1Ė4). Though we are still in the flesh and actually residents of this earth (like all other humans), the Father now recognizes us as being members of the divine Family in heaven because we are all "in Christ," and He is the firstborn Son of that Family. The fact that each of us is now "in Christ," also places each of us in the same "firstborn position" in the divine Family, as is Christ Jesus at the present (see Hebrews 12:23 which shows that we are all considered as "firstborn" children ó the word "firstborn" in that verse is plural in the Greek).
The real meaning of Christianity is the fact that the New Testament shows that each of us has been attached to Christ in a co-bodied way from before the foundation of the world ó we have been in that "firstborn position" since that time (though none of us has known it). And even now we are attached to Christ, and we will always be attached to 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 see 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 now citizens of heaven, and better yet, we are now reckoned to be full members of the Godhead itself because we are all "in Christ" who is a full member of the divine Family (indeed, he is the Firstborn of the Family and we are "in him"). The actual and true "Trinity" that properly explains the Godhead is this: There is God the Father, there is God the Son, and there is God the Us (all of Us are also members of that divine Family by virtue of our being "in Christ"). The false "Trinity" doctrine places the Holy Spirit in our place. This is wrong. The Holy Spirit is the power of God that the Family of God uses to do the will of the Father, but the Holy Spirit is not a personality such as the Father, the Son, or the Us who make up the rest of the Godhead. (See my work Essentials of New Testament Doctrine for a complete explanation of this important subject.)
We are reckoned by the Father to be members of the same Family as in Christ Jesus himself. This is the exact description that the apostle Paul gave for each one of us. We are "joint-bodied" or "co-bodied" with 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 the two separate personalities are legally attached to each other (Ephesians 5:31Ė32). Like a husband and wife are reckoned to be "one," Paul taught that we are in our present existence in the flesh legally co-bodied with Christ in every way (socially, religiously, politically, righteously, gloriously). Since we are co-bodied to Christ, there is not the slightest blame attached to us in a legal sense in the eyes of the Father throughout all periods of future time. This union is as solid as a rock.
Since Christ was considered by the Father to be the sinless Son of God (and Christ was sinless in everything that he did as far as the Father was concerned), then we are also considered to be sinless in the eyes of the Father. And though Christ was certainly sinless in every way (1 Peter 2:21Ė22), Christ was not reckoned to be sinless by what he did or what he did not do. He was sinless because of who he was. He was the living Son of God, and no member of the Godhead can be reckoned to be a sinner. This even applies to each of us in the eyes of the Father. Since we are attached to Christ and are new creatures "in Christ" (we are now acknowledged to be "in Christ"), then we have a scripture that applies to each of us,
[Godís divine seed or nature] remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God."
"Whosoever is born of God does not commit sin: for his seed
1 John 3:9
Of course, this is only a legal recognition of "sinlessness" (because we are looked on as being "in Christ" who is sinless in the Fatherís eyes), but it is an actual and literal fact as far as God the Father is concerned. This legal recognition does not mean that we are actually "sinless" by the actions we do while in the flesh. The apostle John also tells us (in the same book),
"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."
1 John 1:8
Indeed, we are commanded to do good works and to practice righteousness as best we can (Ephesians 2:10), but in the eyes of the Father we are legally reckoned to be "sinless" because each of us is now accounted as being "in Christ." Since Christ is the second member of the Godhead (and we are "in Him") then it means we are also accorded the same divine status in the eyes of the Father and are legally as "sinless" as is Christ himself. This is a wonderful position to be in. This is how the Father now looks upon each of us because of our attachment to Christ. So, we are like Christ in the eyes of the Father. Christ was reckoned to be sinless (not because of what he did or did not do) because of who he was (he was a member of the Family of God), so we are also reckoned in the eyes of the Father to be sinless (not because of what we do or do not do) but because of who we are (we are also members of the Family of God by being "in Christ"). That is what it means to be saved in Christ. Being co-bodied with Christ means that we are now the very children (sons and daughters) of the divine Family of God in heaven because Christ is the second member of that Divine Family.
We have been co-bodied with Christ and saved "in Christ" throughout all periods of time ó from before creation of the world (2 Timothy 1:9). 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."
And since we are also "in Christ," we can also be on the same level of esteem in the eyes of the Father as is Christ Jesus himself.
Now note this point very carefully. When Christ entered this world in the flesh and performed the task of being perfectly righteous in all things that he did or did not do, 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. In a legal sense, you entered the world at the same time Christ entered the world though you were not yet born nor did you have any existence whatever at the time. Yet, you were in the Fatherís eyes co-bodied with Christ even then.
The apostle Paul carried this theme 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 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."
The "circumcision of Christ" becomes your own "circumcision" in the eyes of the Father. Being co-bodied with Christ means that when he was circumcised, you were reckoned as circumcised (whether male or female makes no difference in this case because we are talking of legal matters only, not physical). 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 by circumcision. You became a proper Israelite.
But our co-bodied relationship with Christ did not end with the 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 brought up Christ out of the water in the River Jordan, that same ritual of baptism was reckoned to you and to all Christians because we were also "in Christ" at that time. These ceremonial rites of righteousness that Christ performed for us (on our behalf) made all of us to be considered as "perfect Israelites," since Christ was a "pure Israelite," we also became "pure Israelites."
Indeed, our co-bodied legal relationship with Christ didnít stop with his circumcision and baptism which made us "perfect Israelites." It carried on throughout the total period of Christís ministry and finally, as the apostle Paul (speaking of himself) "I have been co-crucified with Christ" (Galatians 2:20 see Greek). When Christ was crucified, the apostle Paul and 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 there is more.
Our co-bodied relationship with Christ did not 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 another way of expressing it, Paul said were "co-raised with Christ" (Colossians 3:1, see Greek). When Christ was actually resurrected from the dead, we were also accounted as having been resurrected (in a legal sense) because we were then "in Christ." Paul even went further in Ephesians by saying that we have not only been "co-raised" with Christ, but we are even "co-seated with Christ in the heavenlies" (Ephesians 2:6 Greek). This teaching now takes us from being considered a "perfect Israelite," to now becoming a "perfect member of the Family of God."
We are no longer simply a "perfect Israelite" and a citizen of the top nation on earth. We are now a "perfect member of the Godhead" and a citizen of heaven (a direct and actual member of the Family of God). Since we are attached to Christ, when he presented himself to the Father after his resurrection, we were legally presented to the Father as well since we were then reckoned to be "in Christ." And when the Father seated his firstborn Son on His right hand, we were legally (in the eyes of the Father) also seated "in Christ" on the same throne at the right hand of god the Father in heaven (Colossians 3:1). We are no longer simply "perfect Israelites." We are now considered divine beings in the eyes of God, as the early Fathers of the Christian community said salvation entailed. We are now deified by being "in Christ." What a glorious position we now have by being reckoned as being "in Christ." You are presently a Son and Daughter of God yourself because God the Father and Christ have placed you there. And in resurrection, you will assume the actual position that you now legally possess as an inheritance.
In a legal sense, each of us in the eyes of the Father is presently equal unto Christ himself because we are in a co-bodied relationship with Christ (we are "in Christ") which 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 (Hebrews 12:23, "firstborn" is plural) who are destined to inherit all the possessions and authority of the firstborn himself. God now sees us as a firstborn child by our being "in Christ."
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 makes our being "in Christ" a practical proposition. But nonetheless, we are destined to assume the same bodily characteristics and spiritual attributes as those now enjoyed by the Father and Christ
And note this point. When we are literally resurrected from the dead at Christís second advent, we will then take our position of rank as a firstborn child of God just as Christ now exercises that power and supreme authority.
[Christ] shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is."
"Beloved, now are we the children of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he
1 John 3:2
Christ is now an elohim ó God! And we are destined to become the same thing in bodily shape and composition, as well as having a perfect spiritual attitude and righteousness. We will become the same type of being as is Jesus Christ at the present. We are already reckoned by Christ as being elohim (gods) in human form (John 10:34Ė35), and soon we are going to become just like God the Father and God the Son in spiritual composition and righteous character. That will come at our own resurrections from among the dead.
This means that the final revelation of God called "the Mystery" now elevates each of us to that divine status that is presently enjoyed by the Father and Christ. Throughout the rest of eternity (after we are resurrected from the dead) we will be members of that divine Family to rule and to build up the universe into a place that is wonderful and awe-inspiring. Each of you is now a prince and princess of God the Father in heaven. You are already members of the divine Family, but you have not yet been given the power of the Father and Christ simply because you do not yet know how to exercise that power and authority property. That is true, but we are still at this time on Godís right hand in heaven. We are now higher in authority ("in Christ") than all the angels in heaven. Though our position is a legal one, it is still very real. You are very important to God.
Remember who you are. Your position is glorious indeed. Hang on to your position and your inheritance, and do not let any man take your position away from you. You are no less than a divine Child of God the Father "in Christ." You are even now a part of the Godhead. Donít let any man take away your inheritance. God expects you to hang on to it with vigor and firm conviction. Godís holy word states,
"Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him."
1 Corinthians 2:9
For a much more detailed exposition on what our salvation in Christ actually entails, you should purchase from A.S.K the 550 page book titled: Essentials of New Testament Doctrine (2nd revised edition, ASK Publications, 2001). This book is filled with essential information that each of you needs to know if you want to realize what our salvation in Christ is all about.
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