This month we are looking at "Salvation". The first two weeks were spent addressing certain foundational concepts that will help us understand Salvation in-depth. Last week, we began bringing Resolution to the Doctrine of Salvation by separating out Reward, sinning against people, and the Salvation process under the Law. Today, we will begin filling in more of the Doctrine of Salvation according to the New Testament.
Remember, we are going in depth on the Doctrine of Salvation in order to bridge the gap between January's series on the Book of Romans and next month Series on I Corinthians. This week we will be referencing several passages from I Corinthians because they give some of the deepest perspectives on Salvation. For example, at the end of the penultimate chapter (15) of I Corinthians, Paul built to this point:
"42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:
43 it is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:
44 it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.
45 So also it is written, The first man Adam became a living soul. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
46 Howbeit that is not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; then that which is spiritual.
47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is of heaven.
48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.
49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption." (I Corinthians 15:42-50, ASV)
"earthy" was Strong's #5517 and every usage of this word in the New Testament occurred in this passage. The Greek word was choikos - "from 5522; dusty or dirty".
Strong's #5522 was choos - "a heap (as poured out), i.e. rubbish; loose dirt: - dust."
Paul was saying that we are both natural and spiritual. Paul referred to the natural as "earthy" or "dust". The point of this passage was to let us know that our flesh (dust) is not going to be saved...only the spiritual Mind/Soul. We are going to see during the I Corinthians study that Paul wanted everyone to actively remove the dust from their life and let the Spirit direct more of their life. God wants this too...and the implications are alarming.
Paul mentioned "the first man"...
"7 And Jehovah God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." (Genesis 2:7, ASV)
Adam was made of dust...earthy material.
Our job is to get rid of the dust from our lives and convert it to the spiritual...God wants this to happen. How does God "help" us do this? There are two ways:
1). Understanding - From the inside
God brings information to the inside of the individual...to the heart. This information ALWAYS benefits the individual. This is grace. In our dispensation, this is "the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life".
2). Experience - From the outside
Tough circumstances come on the individual. The source of these circumstances can be due to people, the enemy, and even God. Why would God bring circumstances on the individual that are difficult? Think about what God wants the individual to do. He wants them to push inside themselves and hear His Voice: grace. God can bring circumstances from the outside in response to Justice with the goal of causing the individual to pursue grace.
We have already covered how people can cause dust to be removed from our lives. Both negatively (Sinning Against People) and positively (Fellowship).
God uses the enemy. We saw this in the Book of Job series. We saw this in the mini-series on Peter being sifted as wheat. However, let's look at a passage that showed this was the way it was from the beginning...
"14 And Jehovah God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, cursed art thou above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:
15 and I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." (Genesis 3:14-15, ASV)
The enemy has a legal right to eat your dust. The enemy can eat your dust so that it forces you inside to be directed by grace.
God can also bring circumstances from the outside. Notice, Jesus told us to pray to Our Father that:
"13 And bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one." (Matthew 6:13, ASV)
James clarified this process. First he stated:
"5 But if any of you lacketh wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all liberally and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." (James 1:5, ASV)
We have covered this before. Wisdom is the ability to make good decisions. We can get wisdom by asking God to tell us the decision to make. This is grace. This is from the inside. Then James goes on to tell us how this can happen from the outside and how this isn't God's fault:
"13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempteth no man:
14 but each man is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed.
15 Then the lust, when it hath conceived, beareth sin: and the sin, when it is fullgrown, bringeth forth death." (James 1:13-15, ASV)
James was saying that God is not to be blamed if someone sins because of what God has brought from the outside. James was bringing Resolution to what it meant to be tempted of God. He was stating that God HIMSELF does NOT cause the temptation. The ACTUAL tempting is caused by man's own lust. To say this passage proved that God does NOT bring things that are tempting to man would contradict The Lord's Prayer. God does lead us towards things that could tempt us, but God HIMSELF does NOT tempt us, we do that with our own lust...our own dust.
This leads us to realized another characteristic of grace: It removes dust!
When God directs you from the inside, the goal is to remove dust...to convert you from an earthy person to a spiritual person. This means grace is always uncomfortable to our flesh. When we choose to let this divine influence upon our heart, reflect in our lives, we are choosing to do something against our flesh...we are choosing Salvation. The result is Righteousness.
We already saw that grace is going to tell you what to do...more specifically, grace is going to tell you to give and not expect anything in return...to love. Again, this goes against our flesh.
The ONLY way you can remove dust and love others is to have God doing it through you...this is the OBJECTIVE proof of your Salvation. Are you being led to do things that are love and makes your flesh uncomfortable? Over time, are you growing in your ability to take direction from God to love MORE and do things that make your flesh MORE uncomfortable? There was another analogy Jesus used that was akin to dust...
"15 And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod." (Mark 8:15, ASV)
Jesus used the term "leaven" for the source of sin from people outside the apostles. As you probably already suspected, Paul used the same analogy in I Corinthians:
"6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?
7 Purge out the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, even as ye are unleavened. For our passover also hath been sacrificed, even Christ:
8 wherefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." (I Corinthians 5:6-8, ASV)
Next month, we will see that Paul was saying that a person inside the church is going to spread sin to the rest of the community if he isn't removed from community. Paul's analogy was that this person was like "leaven".
The Process of Salvation will continually cause you to remove dust. If dust is not continuously removed, it spreads like leaven...like cancer. This brings us to one of the more popular verses from Paul about Salvation:
"12 So then, my beloved, even as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;
13 for it is God who worketh in you both to will and to work, for his good pleasure." (Philippians 2:12-13, ASV)
"work" was Strong's #2716 katergazomai - "from 2596 and 2038; to work fully, i.e. accomplish; by impl. to finish, fashion; - cause, do (deed), perform, work (out)."
Strong's # 2596 kata - "down (in place or time)"
Strong's #2038 ergazomai - "to toil"
"out" was Strong's #1537 ek - "denoting origin (the point whence motion or actions proceeds)"
Paul was saying that Salvation is something that begins from a specific point inside of you (heart) and requires us to toil in order to get a specific result (place or time). As we saw in the Book of Romans series, Paul was very specific within the same sentence so that people would not take his words off track: God is the one who works this because it is His Will. So, we have a responsibility to worked it out, but it is ultimately God who gets the credit. The ONLY way this is possible is if our responsibility is to choose to let God do it through us...to choose to be humble (go against the flesh) so that it is God that gets the credit and the result is Righteousness. This is grace.
This is something we CONTINUALLY work on and grow in...one result that ought to occur is that over time more and more dust is removed from the life of the believer. This is also known as the Sanctification Process. The dust (flesh) is always spreading like leaven (or cancer). We cannot maintain a level of dust. Either we are growing in grace (which removes dust) or we are growing in the flesh (dust). We saw from the Book of Romans study that Paul considered this the CAUSE within the individual: taking more direction from God (walking according to the Spirit) or taking more direction from the flesh (walking according to the flesh).
Let's look at one more application of "dust" before we close this post:
"14 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, as ye go forth out of that house or that city, shake off the dust of your feet.
15 Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city." (Matthew 10:14-15, ASV)
Jesus said that we ought to shake off the dust from the unbelieving world that we encounter. In order to reach unbelievers, we have to interact with them. Next month we will see that Paul said we ought to become like them in order to reach them. How much like them?
"9 Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.
10 Jesus saith to him, He that is bathed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all." (John 13:9-10, ASV)
Our feet are the only thing that ought to touch the world. We ought to be clean everywhere else.
Jesus recognized that in order to reach people, we are going to get dusty. However, He told us that we ought to limit how much we come in contact with the world (feet) and that we ought to intentionally shake off the influence we get in the areas we come in contact (shake off the dust) and then make sure we intentionally wash this specific area with water...which we have seen is "grace".
God wants us to grow from the dusty person to the spiritual person.
Biblical grace is always uncomfortable to our flesh because it helps us to continually remove dust and results in Salvation.