Christ in You the Hope of Glory
To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27)
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me . . . . (Galatians 2:20a)
My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you. (Galatians 4:19)
Christ in You — a Position of Redemption
The above statements by the apostle Paul, which he made to “the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse” represents God’s complete gospel (good news) message — that of the comprehensive plan of redemption — to man, a tripartite (spirit, soul, body) being made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26, 27; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 4:12).
To reiterate, the statement incorporates “the complete gospel message,” one that refers to:
1. A person’s spiritual birth, i.e., becoming a Christian by being “born again (Gk: anothen, ‘from above’)” solely by faith in Christ (the salvation of one’s spirit — an event that is eternal in nature, one that can never be revoked or nullified by man or God).
Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”. . . For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. . . . He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. (John 3:3, 16, 17, 36; cf. John 6:47; 20:31)
And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
(Acts 16:30, 31)
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8, 9; cf. Romans 3:20; 11:6; Galatians 2:16; 2 Timothy 1:9)
2. And then as a “babe in Christ” proceeding (maturing) through proper nourishment (i.e., consumption of the Word of God) to spiritual maturity, the salvation of one’s soul.
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the Word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted Word, which is able to save your souls. (James 1:21)
It is unfortunate that within various Christian circles there is such confusion and conflict over how a person who is “dead in trespasses and sins” is “made [spiritually] alive” (Ephesians 2:1). Granted, a surface review of Scripture appears to support a clash between “salvation solely by faith” and “salvation by faith plus works” with passages apparently unique to each position.
Yet, there is clarity regarding this issue. For a thorough understanding of God’s comprehensive plan of redemption for man, the reader is advised to read treatments on the subject, which are at the following Internet links:
http://bibleone.net/SGF.htm (Salvation by Grace through Faith)
http://bibleone.net/SOS.htm (Salvation of the Soul)
Christ in You — a Position of Unity
A Christian should understand that at his/her very inception as a child of God something uniquely occurs. And that is each person who comes to Christ by faith is immediately and eternally unified with (fused to, a part of) the “body of Christ,” i.e., is baptized into the body (also referred to as the Church in Scripture) by the Holy Spirit.
Furthermore, Christians should understand that their secular heritage as a Jew or Gentile or their financial or political position or their gender in this life no longer matters from a spiritual perspective for in that realm all are “one” in Christ.
And as a unique part of Christ’s body, each Christian has a most important role to play, to affect growth of the body and to enrich it with love.
For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. (Romans 12:4, 5)
For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free — and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. . . . Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.
(1 Corinthians 12:12, 13, 27)
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation . . . and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. (Ephesians 2:13, 14, 16)
From whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:16)
Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all. (Colossians 3:9-11)
Christ in You — a Position of Hope
Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. (Titus 2:13)
The Greek word for “hope” (elpis) essentially refers to “a desire for good with an expectation of obtaining it.” For the Christian, it’s a word that refers to an expectation of achieving one’s inheritance during the coming Messianic Era, which is different from what is often referred to as the “birth from above.”
This position of hope is described in Scripture as a “living hope,” an energetic expectation that generates excitement and wholesome activity within Christians. The remainder of this section will be excerpts taken from Arlen L. Chitwood’s book, Salvation of the Soul.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved [‘preserved’] in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5)
Peter in his epistles, as James in his epistle (or any of the other writers in their epistles), directs his message to the regenerate, not to the unregenerate. Peter’s message is for the “elect,” those who have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, those in a position to receive the Word of God into their saved human spirits, those who have been called “out of darkness into His marvelous light,” those who have “obtained mercy,” those who are “sojourners and pilgrims” on the earth, those who have “obtained like precious faith with us” (1 Peter 1:2, 3, 23; 2:1, 2, 9-11; 2 Peter 1:1).
The epistles of 1, 2 Peter have been written to encourage Christians, who are being tried and tested, by holding up before them prizes, rewards, compensations. The subject matter in these epistles, set forth at the very beginning, concerns a present “living hope,” a future “inheritance,” and a future “salvation”; and encouragement for proper conduct in trials and tests is derived from a “knowledge” of God’s revelation concerning these things (cf. 1 Peter 1:2-9; 2 Peter 1:2-8).
Christians have been “begotten” from above to “a living hope” through “the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Christ lives, and Christians will live with Him. But this fact is not the object of one’s hope. Hope is described as “living” because of Christ’s resurrection, but a Christian’s hope lies in things beyond His resurrection. And these things are revealed in the text to be an “inheritance” and a “salvation.”
“Hope,” “inheritance,” and “salvation” are inseparably linked in Scripture. It is only because we are saved (past, salvation of the spirit) that we can possess a “hope.” And this hope looks ahead to the reception of an inheritance within a salvation (future, salvation of the soul) to be revealed.
Christians are commanded,
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.”
(1 Peter 3:15)
Since this hope pertains to a future inheritance and salvation, one’s “reason” for this hope must also be futuristic in scope. Thus, to respond in accordance with 1 Peter 3:15, Christians must be knowledgeable concerning scriptural teachings pertaining to present and future aspects of salvation (ref. Chapter 1), for their hope is inseparably linked with the salvation of their souls.
The Christian’s hope is a subject found numerous places throughout the Pauline and general epistles (Hebrews being included in the general epistles). Two of the best books to help Christians understand exactly what is involved in the hope that they possess are the books of Titus and Hebrews. Both books deal with the same subject matter as 1, 2 Peter, or any of the other epistles.
1) “Hope” in Titus
The epistle of Titus centers on the Christian’s relationship to both “hope” and “the coming age,” for it is in the coming age that the hope of our calling will be realized. Hope in Titus 2:13 is called “that blessed hope” and is further described in this verse as the “appearing of the glory of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ” (ASV).
The structure of the Greek text shows that the “appearing of the glory” is a further description of that referred to by “blessed hope” (through both “blessed hope” and “appearing” being governed by one article, with the words connected by the conjunction, kai [and]). Christians are the ones who possess this hope, as they are the ones who are to be partakers of Christ’s glory when it is revealed. In this respect, participation in the coming glory of Christ (not the rapture, as is commonly taught) will be the realization of the Christian’s present hope, for one cannot be separated from the other.
The word hope is also used in this same framework within its two other appearances in Titus (1:2; 3:7). In Titus 1:1, 2, hope is associated with a “mature knowledge of the truth [‘acknowledging’ (v. 1) is epignosis (mature knowledge) in the Greek text],” and with “eternal [Greek: aionios] life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began” (v. 2). Then, in Titus 3:7, this “hope” is reserved for the justified alone, and it has to do with a future inheritance:
that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal [aionios] life.
The Greek word aionios appearing in Titus 1:2; 3:7, translated “eternal” in most English versions, does not itself mean “eternal.” The Greek language actually contains no word for “eternal.” Aionios can be, and many times is, used in the sense of “eternal”; but this meaning is derived from its textual usage, not from the word itself. Aionios refers to “a period of time,” usually thought of as “an age.”
The only way the Greek language can express “eternal,” apart from textual considerations, is by using the noun form of aionios (aion) in the plural (“ages” [e.g., Luke 1:33; Hebrews 13:8]), or by using aion twice in the plural (“to the ‘ages [aionas]’ of the ‘ages [aionon]’” e.g., Revelation 1:6, 18; 4:9, 10; 5:13, 14; 7:12; 10:6; 11:15; 14:11; 15:7; 19:3; 20:10; 22:5). A person using the Greek language thinks in the sense of “ages,” with eternity being thought of in the sense of “endless ages,” i.e., “aeons,” or “the aeons of the aeons.”
Aionios life in Titus 1:2; 3:7 — a hope associated with an inheritance set before the believer — must be understood contextually to mean “age-lasting,” referring to the coming age, the Messianic Era. “Eternal life” cannot be in view at all. Neither “hope” nor “inheritance” is used pertaining to eternal life that Christians presently possess; but both words are used numerous times concerning Christians and their relationship to the coming kingdom (with its glory), which is what is in view in the book of Titus.
The hope (the blessed hope) set before every Christian is simply that he/she may, at the judgment seat of Christ, be found qualified to occupy one of the numerous, proffered positions with Christ in His kingdom. A Christian — already in possession of eternal life — may or may not realize this hope, for such depends entirely upon one’s faithfulness during his present pilgrim walk.
2) “Hope” in Hebrews
In Hebrews 6:11, 12 a Christian’s hope is associated with “faith,” “patience [‘patient endurance’; a lengthy waiting during the pilgrim walk for postponed promises],” and “the inheritance” set before Christians. This hope is to be held with “diligence” until “the end,” with a “full assurance” that the hope of one’s calling will be realized. “The end [Greek: telos]” in this passage is the same “end” set forth in 1 Peter 1:9: “receiving the end [Greek: telos] of your faith — the salvation of your souls.” The end in both instances has to do with “faith” brought to perfection, brought to maturity, brought to its goal, by “works” (cf. James 2:22).
In Hebrews 6:18-20 “the hope” set before Christians is stated to be “an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil.” Christ Himself presently resides beyond the veil in the Holy of Holies; but His future ministry, “after the order of Melchizedek,” rather than His present ministry (after the order of Aaron), is in view in Hebrews chapter six (v. 20; cf. Hebrews 5:6-11).
An anchor, firmly secured, will moor a ship that it might withstand the movements of currents, winds, etc., and remain in a certain place; and the anchor of our souls, firmly secured in the very presence of Christ beyond the veil, provides protection from the onslaught of the enemy in order that we might be “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58). The salvation of our souls is in view; and just as a ship in mooring is continually being drawn toward the place where its anchor lies, we are continually being drawn toward the place where our anchor lies — to Christ and His Melchizedek priesthood.
Christ in You — a Position of Temporal Dynamics
Christian life is never stagnant. That is to say that once a person becomes a Christian he will experience changes in his Christian experience (i.e., knowledge, practice, involvement) throughout the remainder of his temporal life. Even though his eternal destination has been secured by the “work of Christ on the cross,” his temporal Christian success, which pertains to his “soul-salvation,” will either be secured or neglected by his “works on earth for Christ.”
And the only destination associated with his works as a Christian will be reflected in his assigned position within the coming Millennial Kingdom of Christ, a period of one thousand years. The remainder of this doctrinal presentation will reflect much of what is contained in Arlen L. Chitwood’s book, Salvation of the Soul.
In order to effect man’s eternal redemption, the Spirit of God deals with unsaved man on one basis alone. The Spirit deals with unsaved man solely on the basis of Christ’s finished work at Calvary.
But once an individual has believed on the Lord Jesus Christ and has been dealt with on the basis of Christ’s finished work, realizing the birth from above — the salvation of his spirit — the salvation issue then shifts from the salvation of his spirit to the salvation of his soul. The salvation of the spirit becomes a past, completed work and is never dealt with as an issue beyond this point. The Spirit of God, from this point forward, deals with the individual solely on the basis of present and future aspects of salvation. The individual, from this point forward, is dealt with in relation to the salvation of his soul.
Thus, all scriptures dealing with carnality or unfaithfulness of Christians, resulting in forfeiture or loss, must pertain to issues surrounding the salvation of the soul and NEVER to issues surrounding the salvation of the spirit.
Once the salvation of the spirit has been effected, making it possible for the indwelling Spirit of God to impart spiritual truth into and to control an individual’s life through his own spirit, then man’s unredeemed soul occupies the center of attention. The salvation of the soul, unlike the salvation of the spirit, is conditional. The salvation of the soul is dependent on the life one lives after his spirit has been saved. It is dependent on the individual allowing the Spirit of God to impart spiritual truth into and to control his life through his own spirit.
An individual allowing the Spirit of God to impart spiritual truth into and to control his life through his own spirit progressively grows from immaturity to maturity. He progressively grows into a spiritually mature Christian. Growing in this manner, he exerts control over his emotions, feelings, and desires pertaining to his man-conscious (soulical) existence. And, through this means, he will ultimately come into a realization of the salvation of his soul (life).
On the other hand, an individual who refuses to allow the Spirit of God to impart spiritual truth into and to control his life in the preceding manner can only remain as a carnally immature Christian. Apart from the assimilation of spiritual truth, resulting in spiritual growth, he cannot help but be controlled by his emotions, feelings, and desires pertaining to his man-conscious (soulical) existence. And, accordingly, such a person will ultimately suffer the loss of his soul (life), which can have no bearing whatsoever on his eternal salvation (for that is a past, finished matter that has already been dealt with).
The shift of the salvation issue from the spirit to the soul at the time of the birth from above necessitates a corresponding shift from the salvation message that is to be proclaimed to the unsaved (which concerns the salvation of the spirit) to the salvation message that is to be proclaimed to the saved (which concerns the salvation of the soul). This must ever be the case, for that which is past ceases to be the issue, and that which is present and future becomes the issue.
The only message to be carried to the unsaved is the gospel of grace. This is the good news that “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.” This message alone forms the basis upon which the Spirit can breathe life into the one having no life (1 Corinthians 15:3; cf. 1 Corinthians 2:1, 2).
But once the unsaved individual has believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, experiencing the birth from above, the message must then change, for the goal of the message will have been realized. The Spirit must then deal with the individual on an entirely different plane, with the issue at the forefront no longer being the salvation of the spirit, but the salvation of the soul.
Thus, a minister with a congregation placed under his care has been charged with a tremendous responsibility. His central ministry is among the saved, among those capable of grasping spiritual truth; and he is to disseminate spiritual truth to these individuals as it relates to things surrounding present and future aspects of salvation, not to things surrounding the past aspect of salvation. He, in this manner, is to “feed the flock of God,” looking ahead to Christ’s appearance in all His glory (1 Peter 5:2-4).
This individual is responsible, under the leadership of the Spirit of God, to provide proper spiritual nourishment to and for those Christians placed under his care. And the only thing that God has provided for him to use as he feeds the flock of God is the Word of God.
As a minister in charge of a flock, he is to expound this Word under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. And Christians placed under his care are to receive this proclaimed Word into their saved human spirits. Then the Spirit of God can take this “implanted Word” and effect spiritual growth to maturity, with the end result being the salvation of their souls (James 1:21).
The tragedy in Christian circles today is the light regard that pastors of churches have for fulfilling the very purpose of their ministry. And, the end result of pastors failing to properly “feed the flock” entrusted to their care will be the entrance of innumerable carnal, immature Christians into the Lord’s presence at the end of the present dispensation with redeemed spirits, changed bodies, but wasted and thus unredeemed souls — forfeited lives. Their eternal salvation will remain unaffected; but, with the forfeiture or loss of their souls, they will be unable to realize the inheritance presently “reserved in heaven” for the faithful (1 Peter 1:4). Consequently, they will occupy no position among the “many sons” who will be brought to glory (Hebrews 2:10).
Failure to understand and distinguish between the salvation that we presently possess and the salvation, to be revealed when our Lord returns, has caused untold confusion in Christian circles.
Many Christians take scriptures dealing with the salvation to be revealed and seek to apply them to the salvation that we presently possess. And misapplying scriptures in this manner, these individuals arrive at the erroneous conclusion that it is possible for a saved person to be lost, which not only casts reproach upon the sufficiency of the finished work of Christ at Calvary, but also does violence to numerous portions of the Word of God.
Then, on the other hand, there are those Christians who recognize that the loss of one’s eternal salvation is not possible, but still fail to understand distinctions between the salvation of the spirit and the salvation of the soul. Most from this group take many of these same verses and seek to either apply them to the nation of Israel or to unregenerate individuals, whether Jew or Gentile. And applications of this nature not only remove the Spirit’s exhortations and warnings to redeemed individuals, but erroneous interpretations in one area of Scripture will often, for the sake of consistency, lead to erroneous interpretations in other areas.
Thus, the importance of understanding distinctions between the salvation of the spirit and the salvation of the soul becomes self-evident.
Let it be forever stated: Redeemed man has come into a position from which he can never be removed. But this same redeemed man, in this position, is directly responsible to his Creator; and, at a future date, he will either inherit as a joint-heir with his Lord or suffer loss in the presence of his Lord. The former will be realized through the salvation of his soul, or the latter will, instead, be realized through the loss of his soul.
Today in even the most evangelical-conservative local churches, ignorance of the “meat” of God’s Word prevails. Even though most Christians will admit that the Word teaches they are to live holy lives, they fail to understand the very real consequences for not doing so. They have little concept of the coming judgment they most assuredly will face at Christ’s judgment seat and how the decisions and determinations at this judicial setting will affect their lives during the Millennial Kingdom — for one thousand years!
Their view of what is to come appears to be focused on only the mere fact of gaining or losing of rewards with little regard to any suffering due to the loss. There is little wonder that the fact of a sure and coming judgment, a most unpopular topic, is glossed over or completely disregarded by most pastors as they ignore their God-assigned position as pastor-teacher (literal rendering of Ephesians 4:11; cf. 2 Timothy 4:1-5) and attempt to seek popular support with sermons that emanate out of the “milk” of God’s Word (1 Corinthians 3:1-3; Hebrews 5:12-14).
Scripture leaves no doubt that as a Christian you are indeed within the “body of Christ” (the “Church”- the assembly of all believers in Christ), a position that encompasses tremendous attributes and responsibilities. As such, you can rest in the assurance of irreversible eternal life, an abode based solely on the work of Christ on the cross of Calvary. Additionally, you have an expectation of coming glory, a distinct possibility of ruling and reigning with Christ as part of His bride during the coming Messianic Era, but such will be based on your life for Christ now.
Be thankful….and be diligent.
My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you. (Galatians 4:19)