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Worshipping God





Worshipping God, as a concept, is vastly different and superior to that which is recognized in Christian circles today.  This study will outline and document this difference, and, hopefully, it will result in more biblical worship within these circles.


In today’s Christendom, which is prophetically portrayed by the church of Laodicea in the book of Revelation (3:14-22) and by the parable of the leaven in Matthew 13:33, the observance of worship is largely understood as being confined to a building and in execution of specified religious activities.  This is the manner in which most Christians understand the notion of worship, as participation in a “worship service” that takes place one or more times a week in a local church’s “sanctuary.”


Additionally, many within and without the charismatic movement equate worship with various forms of behavior, demonstrable acts and gyrations thought to reflect one’s inner devotion and praise of God.  Such exhibitions appear to be in direct conflict with the teachings of Christ who encouraged His disciples to perform their Christian activities not before man but privately before God (Matthew 6:1-8, 16-18).


Unfortunately, just as most of Christendom, evangelical and otherwise, is confused in its understanding of God’s complete redemptive plan for man (past [spirit], present [soul], and future [body]), it is also disoriented regarding the concept of worship as presented in God’s Word.  


Most of what takes place in a local church’s “worship service” (e.g., administrative announcements, financial solicitations and collections, public praying, singing, and preaching), is not taught as “worship” in the Word of God.  Granted, worship by individuals may occur within a local church service; but, simply taking part in these activities is not biblical worship.


The phrase “worship service” is a misnomer.  Nevertheless, in any service associated with a local church, participants may worship.  But then this is true in or outside of church facilities.  Biblical worship is a spiritual exercise relative to an individual’s frame of mind (heart) and demeanor, not a ceremony or event.


Defined by Christ 


The Samaritan woman in chapter four of the book of John, when she met Christ at Jacob’s well, believed that worship was associated with a place, i.e. Jerusalem (v. 21).  But Jesus quickly corrected her and by doing so, He revealed two essential elements of biblical worship.  He said:


 Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father . . . But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship HimGod is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. (John 4: 21-24).


If the truth be known, God always required worship to be exercised apart from any established facility and in “spirit and truth.”  One might argue that the sanctuary (tabernacle) as seen in Exodus 25-28, which was established by God through Moses and the children of Israel in the wilderness, was a place of worship; but, this was not the case.  The tabernacle was a grace-gift by God to the children of Israel as a physical location where God would “dwell among them” (25:8; 29:45), and which furnishings and priestly service as connected with the sacrificial system were to serve as symbol of God’s grace-gift of salvation through Christ Jesus, the coming Messiah (Hebrews 9, 10).


The furniture of the holy place pictured Christ’s work as Mediator between God and man.  The table of showbread symbolized Christ as the bread of life (John 6:29-38; 12:24-33).  By the golden lampstand He is shown to be the light of the world (John 8:12) as well as the light “who lights every man who comes into the world” (John 1:9), in the sense that He is God’s final and ultimate revelation (Hebrews 1:1, 2).  Finally, the altar of incense portrayed Christ as our Intercessor (John 17:1-26; Hebrews 7:25).  It is through Him that our prayers ascend to God (Hebrews 13:15).


(Wycliffe Bible Dictionary, Hendrickson Publishers, 2000)


Extensive symbolism is also seen in the priesthood and the sacrificial system connected with the tabernacle, some of which is revealed in the chapter ten of the book of Hebrews.


God has always sought man to worship Him in “spirit and truth.”  Christ stated that “God is Spirit,” not that He is a spirit, indicating that God’s nature resides strictly within the spiritual realm, apart from all that man deems natural.  Therefore biblical worship must be exercised in the spiritual realm, the realm of connectivity between God and man.  And this spiritual realm of connectivity can only exist within a person when he is no longer “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1), when his spirit is “born from above” (John 3:3, 6-8) through faith alone in Christ alone (John 3:16; Acts 16:30, 31).  Individuals who are without Christ in this world, no matter how intricate or ornate are their ceremonial endeavors, cannot function in the spiritual realm and therefore cannot exercise biblical worship.  It is only through Jesus Christ a person may come to God the Father in any capacity.


He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. (John 5:23b)


Jesus said to him, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)


Additionally, biblical worship must be exercised in truth, which is to say that God has always looked at the heart of man, requiring that all who approach Him do so in genuine faith, with pure (selfless) motives, and of his own free will.  Even the offerings by the children of Israel for the building of the tabernacle could only be accepted by Moses if they were given by a person “willingly with his heart” (Exodus 25:2).  This aspect of worship cannot be disguised because Scripture is clear that God sees and knows each person’s heart (motives).


For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7b)


I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind. (Jeremiah 17:10a)


But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man. (John 2:24, 25)


(Proverbs 23:7; Psalms 7:9, 10; 1 Kings 8:39; 1 Chronicles 28:9; 29:17; 2 Chronicles 6:20; Jeremiah 11:20; 20:12; Acts 1:24; 15:8; Revelation 2:23)


Keeping the above in mind, there are at least three additional essential elements of biblical worship.  One is rooted in the meaning of the two primary words, one Hebrew and one Greek, which are translated “worship” in the Bible; and two are seen in Scriptures first-mention of the word “worship.”


Linguistic Consideration


There are two primary words translated “worship” in the Bible.  One is the Hebrew word shachah and the other is the Greek word proskuneo, which mean:


  • Shachah


A primitive root; to depress, i.e. prostrate (especially reflective [denoting an action by the subject on himself] in homage to royalty or God): — bow (self) down, crouch, fall down (flat), humble beseech, do (make) obeisance, do reverence, make to stoop, worship.


  • Proskuneo


To fawn or crouch to, i.e. (literally or figuratively) prostrate oneself in homage (do reverence to, adore): — worship.


The underlying meaning of both words is a recognition of the type of relationship that exists between man and his Creator.  Man is finite and totally subordinate while God is infinite and totally superior; man is limited to time and space while God is subject to no such limitations; and man is totally dependent upon God while God is autonomous.  If man fails to understand this relationship, he can never truly worship God.


The recognition of this relationship, which lies at the root of worship, is an insight (spiritual truth) that can only come through spiritual discernment.  And such discernment comes only by the Spirit of God, which unredeemed man will not receive.


But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

(1 Corinthians 2:14)


Chitwood’s comments pertaining to this matter are germane:


The Greek word translated “soul” throughout the New Testament is psuche.  This word has to do with “the natural life” of the individual.  The soul is the seat of a person’s emotions, feelings, and desires pertaining to his man-conscious existence.


The Greek word translated “natural” in 1 Corinthians 2:14 is psuchikos, a form of the word psuche.  Psuchikos is the “natural” or “soulical” life (self-life) that man has in common with the animal kingdom.  The soulical man is dominated or ruled by his soul, which includes all the experiences, desires, emotions, sensations, likes, and dislikes within the personal life of the individual.  Such likes, dislikes, etc. will vary from individual to individual, but all emanate from the soul-life of man.  The soulical man is alienated from God and thus possesses no way to grasp spiritual truth.  A man must be born from above — made alive spiritually — before he can possess spiritual discernment.


(Salvation of the Soul by Arlen L. Chitwood, The Lamp Broadcast, Inc. 2003)


Additionally, the recognition of the proper God-man relationship, which comes only through spiritual discernment, is an exercise of faith on the part of man.  It goes without saying that the spiritual realm is untouchable by man’s scientific endeavor.  It cannot be accessed by his physical properties, i.e. touch, taste, hear, or smell.  It may only be accessed by the commodity of faith, a product that God has allowed in man over the animal kingdom, if in fact man is willing to use this grace-given faculty.


An example of a person who by faith recognized her proper place before God may be found in Matthew 15:25-28.  In this passage a Gentile woman recognized that her position before the Son of God was no better than that of a little dog before a master. 


Then there was the experience of Christ’s apostles in the boat who, before Him, came to truly recognize that they were in the presence of the One who could command nature, Almighty God (Matthew 14:33).


Although natural man from time immemorial has attempted to worship various forms of deity in various ways, all such endeavors have been futile in light of the Word of God.  All such righteous acts, which stem from natural man, are but filthy rags before God (Isaiah 64:6); indeed, such worship expressed in and by various sacrifices is an abomination to Him (Jeremiah 32:35). 


This most certainly applies to the myriad religions, sects, and cults of today, who refuse to believe in the one true God who reveals Himself in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  In particular, they refuse to believe in God the Son, Jesus Christ, to their condemnation (John 3:18).


First-Mention Principle of Interpretation


If a Christian is to understand the biblical significance and composition of worship, he must go to where the subject is introduced by God in His Word, a principle of biblical interpretation called the principle of first-mention.  This principle has to do with unchangeableness, and it centers on the unchangeable structure of the Word given by the unchangeable God.  Because of the inherent nature of the Word, the first time a subject is mentioned in Scripture, a pattern, a mold is established at that point that remains unchanged throughout the remainder of Scripture.


This principle is born out in various doctrinal issues.  For instance the first use of the “breath of God” in Scripture is in Genesis 2:7 when He breathed a very special life into newly formed man.  Man not only possessed soulical life, a product he shared with the animal kingdom, but because of God’s breath he possessed spiritual life.  So it seen that in the very beginning of God’s restoration of earth in the early chapters of Genesis that His breath is inextricably associated with spiritual life.


Remaining within this principle as it relates to God’s breath, confirmation is seen in various New Testament passages.


All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16)


Chitwood’s comments on this follow:


The words, “given by inspiration of God,” are a translation of the one Greek word, theopneustos, meaning “God-breathed.”  This is a compound word comprised of Theos (“God”) and pneuma (“breath” in this particular usage [this is also the word used for “Spirit” in the New Testament — the Holy Spirit, man’s spirit, and the use of spirit in general; also “wind” in John 3:8]).

That which is meant by and the implications of Scripture being God-breathed are given in a somewhat simple manner in Scripture, but one has to look at and compare related parts of both Testaments before he can really begin to see and understand that which is involved.  A person has to reference passages in one Testament, then passages in the other. He has to compare Scripture with Scripture, i.e., he has to compare “spiritual things with spiritual [another principle of biblical interpretation, 1 Corinthians 2:13].”

Note first of all Hebrews 4:12:


For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword. . . .


Now, the question: Why is the Word of God “living,” “powerful,” and “sharper than any two-edged sword”?  The answer: Because of its origin.  The Word is “theopneustos”; the Word is “God-breathed.”

But, what does that mean?  And why is the Word “living” because of its origin?  This is where one has to go back to beginning points in the Old Testament and find the first mention in Scripture of God bringing a matter to pass through the use of His breath.

(The Study of Scripture by Arlen L. Chitwood, The Lamp Broadcast, Inc., 2005)


Thus, at the very beginning of the creation of man, the unchangeable connection between God’s breath and spiritual life is established and set.  Only God can produce life, soulical, by speaking it into existence; or spiritual, by means of His breath (Spirit).  Any time soulical life is produced beyond its point of origin, as seen in chapter one of Genesis, it must always be through the laws of nature as established by His Word.  And any time spiritual life is produced beyond its point of origin, as seen in chapter two of Genesis, it must always be through the one means set forth at that point of origin, i.e. by means of His breath (Spirit).


Chitwood continues:


Then there is the inseparable connection between the Spirit (the Pneuma) and the Word:


For prophecy [referring to written revelation (v. 20)] never came by the will of man, but holy [set apart] men of God spoke as they were moved [borne along] by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:21)


The Word is “God-breathed,” and thus “living,” because of the Spirit’s inseparable connection with the Word.  He is the One who gave the Word to man through man, and He is the One presently in the world to guide man “into all truth” through the use of this Word (John 16:13).

The Pneuma (Spirit/Breath) is not only the One who gave the Word after this fashion in past time, but He is also the One who affects man’s regeneration after a similar fashion during the present time.  It is the present work of the Pneuma (Spirit/Breath) in man’s regeneration that produces life (there must be breathing in for man to pass “from death to life” [cf. Genesis 1:2; 2:7; John 3:6-8; 5:24]).   And the Pneuma (Spirit/Breath) not only produces this life (based on Christ’s finished work at Calvary), but He presently indwells the one to whom He has imparted life in order to lead and guide that person into an understanding — from immaturity to maturity — of the God-breathed Word that He Himself previously imparted to man through man.

Thus, it is the breath of God producing life in unregenerate man today, through the instrumentality of the Spirit, based on the Son’s finished work.  And that new life is nurtured and sustained by a continued work of the Spirit, through the use of that which is itself the breath of God, and, accordingly, living.

The Holy Spirit uses only that which is living to nourish and nurture that which has been made alive.  Spiritual growth from immaturity to maturity requires spiritual nourishment, which is derived from only one source.  There’s no other way for spiritual growth to occur.


That’s why pastor-teachers have been exhorted to “Preach the Word,” and that’s why Christians have been exhorted to “study” this same Word (2 Timothy 2:15; 4:2).  A persons ability to function in the spiritual realm is inseparably connected with that persons knowledge of and ability to use the Word of God.

Its the WORD, the WORD, the WORD Christians have been given nothing else; nor do they need anything else.


(The Study of Scripture by Arlen L. Chitwood, The Lamp Broadcast, Inc., 2005)


To Chitwood’s excellent commentary, note that Christ clearly stated that it was the Word that was “spirit, producing spiritual “life;” as well as that which makes man “free” and is the means of “sanctifying” (setting apart to holiness) a Christian.


It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The Words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. (John 6:63)


If you abide in My Word, you are My disciples indeedAnd you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:31b, 32)


Sanctify them by Your truth. Your Word is truth. (John 17:17)


First-Mention of Worship


Just as the principle of first-mention governs the function and efficacy of the breath of God, it also governs the significance and composition of biblical worship.  And the first use of the word worship in the Bible is found in Genesis chapter twenty-two verse five.


And Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.” (Genesis 22:5)


The context of this verse illustrates two distinct and critical elements of worship beyond the underpinnings of “spirit and truth” mentioned by Christ and the linguistic self-evident faith-based recognition of relationship previously discussed.  Both of which must emanate from man’s will, which is to say that man must act appropriately in order for worship to be realized.


The events of chapter twenty-two of Genesis take place after Abraham had made a covenant with Abimelech, the king of Gerar (a Philistine), concerning the rights to a well, its location being named Beersheba (“Well of the Oath” or “Well of the Seven”), where Abraham planted a tamarisk tree and “called on the name of the Lord, the Everlasting God (Genesis 21:33) — an expression of genuine faith-based dependence not unlike that which is mentioned in Romans 10:13.


God had instructed Abraham to go with his son Isaac to the land of Moriah and there offer him as a burnt offering on a mountain, whereupon he followed God’s instructions precisely.  Upon arriving near the location, Abraham then informed the two young men that had accompanied him and his son that they were to remain some distance from the mountain with the donkey while he and Isaac would go there to worship (v. 5).  And it is noteworthy that Abraham concluded that both he and his son would return to them, which was a faith-based expression of profound confidence in God that even if Isaac was offered as a burnt offering, God would “raise him up even from the dead” (Hebrews 11:19). 


Why was Abraham so confident that this would be the case?  It was because he fully believed God’s prior promise that “in Isaac [his] seed shall be called” (Genesis 21:12).  He knew that Isaac was the son of God’s promise (Genesis 15:4; 18:14) from whom would come forth his descendants as the “stars in the heavens” (Genesis 15:5), the one with whom God would establish His covenant as “an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him” (Genesis 17:19).


So with faith in God and His Word, Abraham and Isaac went to the mountain where Abraham bound his compliant (another act of faith) son and placed him upon the altar.  But before Abraham could slay Isaac with a knife, “the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham . . . Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him: for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me” (Genesis 22:11, 12). 


God then provided a ram for the sacrifice and soon thereafter reaffirmed to Abraham the following: “By Myself I have sworn, says the LORD, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemiesIn your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice” (Genesis 22:16, 17).


From this awe-inspiring “first-mention” account of worship in the Bible the following two distinct and critical elements of worship are evident.


  1. Obedience


Abraham obeyed God implicitly.  He held nothing back.  If God commanded it, he would do it.  It was as simple and as complex as that.  The basis of Abraham’s obedience was his deep and abiding faith in God’s Word.  If God said it, there could be no doubt, defiance, or noncompliance.  No matter what man or natural perception would or could say to the contrary, God’s Word would always be paramount in Abraham’s decisions and actions.



  1. Sacrifice


God required a sacrifice as authentication of Abraham’s devotion.  And the sacrifice of his son was dearest to Abraham’s heart.  It was his son, his only son, whom he loved.  It was a sacrifice of such significance that it eclipsed the sacrifice of Abraham’s position, his wealth, his influence, or his own life.  There could be no greater sacrifice on Abraham’s part, for Isaac was truly the nucleus of Abraham’s world.


This then completes the vital components of worship as seen in its “first-mention” occurrence within God’s Word.  Two are foundational, embodied in Christ’s words: “spirit and truth.”  One is embedded in the linguistic meaning of the word “worship” itself, which is recognition of the proper relationship between God and man.  And the last two are obedience to the Word of God and sacrifice of that which is dearest to one’s heart.


Biblical Worship Reviewed


Bringing these vital fundamentals of worship forward, with application as seen through the spectrum of the New Testament, the following parallels and conclusions of these essential elements of worship are worthy of sincere and dutiful attention:


1.  Element of Spirit


This foundational element has been covered; but it cannot be over emphasized.  Worship of God is only legitimate when exercised from a person who is born from above (John 3:3, 5-7), i.e. a Christian.  And this is because man alone embodies a spirit, which when made alive by means of faith alone in Christ alone (John 36-18; Acts 16:30, 31; Ephesians 2:8, 9), this then enables him to connect with God.  Prior to this union with Christ, biblical worship is impossible for one who is “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1) and thereby unable to comprehend that which is spiritual (1 Corinthians 2:14).


A comprehensive treatment of the tripartite nature of man, along with the aspect of God’s full redemptive plan that is associated with each, follows the conclusion of this article.  It is taken from *chapter one of Arlen L. Chitwood’s book, Salvation of the Soul, and a reading of it is highly recommended if one is to understand all Scripture with clarity.


2.  Element of Truth


This element has previously been adequately covered.  Needless to say, God sees man far different than how man sees man.  There is no condition of one’s heart or mind that He does not fully understand.  Every motive, emotion, and preference is completely exposed to His probing eye.  And He never rests in this regard.  He is “on the job” 24-7.


What Christians generally do not comprehend is that most scriptural passages that pertain to the subject of God’s all-seeing eye relate to their coming judgment.  And it is the awareness of and the preparation for this judgment that is most critical in the Christian life (e.g. 1 Corinthians 3:12-15; 4:5; 2 Corinthians 5:10, 11; Romans 2:6; 14:10; Galatians 6:7; Colossians 3:24, 25; Revelation 22:12).  Indeed, the book of Hebrews, a book written to Christians (not the unsaved), through its warning passages (2:1-4, 3:7-4:13; 6:3-8; 10:26-31, 38; 12:12-29), details how horrific it will be for those Christians, who have turned their back on Christ in this life, when they appear before Him at His Judgment Seat.  Although they will not lose their eternal salvation, there existence during the thousand years of Christ’s Millennial Kingdom will be something altogether unexpected and shocking.  For a comprehensive understanding of that which lies ahead for the Christian on this matter, a serious reading of the book, Judgment Seat of Christ by Arlen L. Chitwood, which may be obtained verbatim from the home page of, is recommended.


3.  Element of Relationship


Again, this element has been previously addressed.  Such a relationship is embedded in the meaning of the two primary words translated “worship” throughout the Bible.  Recognition of the colossal gulf existing between finite man and infinite God must exist before biblical worship can take place.  It is imperative that a Christian realize his far inferior position before Almighty God, and by which he must possess a totally subservient frame-of-mind.  Only then will God accept his worship.


4.  Element of Obedience


The example of Abraham taking his only beloved son to be a burnt-offering sacrifice in accordance with God’s command is, second only to that of Christ (Romans 5:19; Hebrews 10:9), the most significant model of obedience to God in Scripture.  And although in this case the issue of obedience involved the discharge of a sacrifice, the former not only superceded the latter, but it is the underpinning of a proper relationship with God.


Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.

(1 Samuel 15:22b)


This attitude or willingness to obey God regardless of cost is paramount for the Christian.  It is in fact a principle of Bible interpretation, i.e. one of the keys to spiritual knowledge (doctrine):


If anyone wants (wills) to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority. (John 7:17)


Christ affirmed that obedience to God authenticates one’s love for God (John 14:31), one’s relationship with Christ (Matthew 12:50), and one’s position of love for Christ (John 15:10).


Obedience is a product of the will, i.e. the power to choose (determine one’s direction), one of the few abilities God has consigned to man that is independent of (not determined by) God.  It is in fact part of the image (of God) in which man was created.  It is a faculty that comes to play when an unbeliever is confronted by the Holy Spirit, is convicted of one’s sinful condition and plight, and is enlightened as to the only remedy for this condition.  At this point, the unbeliever may either trust (place one’s faith, confidence) in Christ and His sacrifice for his personal eternal salvation; or, he may not.  The decision is totally up to the individual.


And upon becoming a child of God by faith alone in Christ alone, the issue of willful obedience loses none of its significance.  It is in fact the deciding factor relative to one’s Christian life upon earth, at his appearance before the Judgment Seat of Christ, and his position (or lack of it) during the coming thousand-year millennial reign of Christ on earth.


To answer the charge that this amplifies works over grace, let it be understood that God’s salvation, be it spirit-salvation or soul-salvation, has always depended upon works.  A Christian’s eternal (past, spirit) salvation is the result of the “work of Christ” upon Calvary, and his present (soul) salvation, which comes to play at Christ’s Judgment Seat and affects his position in the Millennial Kingdom, is the result of his faith-based works upon earth prior to his death or the rapture, whichever comes first.


Both categories of work involve the willingness of the person (lost or saved) to make a decision of faith.  He must of his “own free will” accept the work of Christ by faith over any personal endeavor or confidence in order to receive permanent eternal life.  And upon the recipient of this grace-gift of eternal life, he must of his “own free will” obey God’s Word relative to all aspects of his life.


This then is one of the most significant ways in which a person worships God.  It is not the Christian’s participation in an organized service (i.e. the ceremonial aspects aligned with the Christian faith) that pleases and honors God.  Rather, it is one’s willingness to believe God’s Word by obeying all that God says pertaining to the Christian life, which brings honor and pleasure to Him.  This is a factor of worship that is apart from any outward show or ceremony; and, which should be continuously performed 24-7 throughout a Christian’s life.


5.  Element of Sacrifice


But just as obedience was a primary aspect of Abraham’s act of worship, so was sacrifice.  In fact, it was the sacrifice that authenticated and demonstrated Abraham’s faith-based obedience.  To avoid the sacrifice would have shown that Abraham’s faith was insincere; and, he then would have been disobedient.


It is the same with the Christian today.  To believe and to be obedient to the revealed Word (i.e. God) will always result in sacrifice.  The two are inseparable.  But of course, animal sacrifice is not the issue for the Christian.  Then, what is?  It is a sacrifice of the highest significance to him.  Paul makes it clear with the following passage of Scripture:


I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

(Romans 12:1)


It is the Christian’s reasonable service to willingly offer his own body (i.e. his total life) as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God.  And why should a Christian offer such a personal sacrifice.  Again, Paul’s words:


Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are Gods.

(1 Corinthian 6:19, 20)


It is because the Christian’s body no longer belongs to him.  It was purchased with the highest and most valuable payment throughout all eternity, the separation (spiritual death) between two of the Persons of the Triune Godhead (Father and Son) upon the cross of Calvary.


Then again, how is one to present this sacrifice?  Paul explains:


And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

(Romans 12:2)


This verse follows Paul’s plea to the saints in Rome to present their bodies a living and holy sacrifice to God, which essentially defines how such a presentation is to be made.  Just as in the Old Testament Noah offered only “clean” animals and birds as burnt offerings as a sacrifice to God (Genesis 8:20) and just as God required the children of Israel when offering one of their livestock as a burnt offering sacrifice to the Lord to bring only an animal “without blemish” and to offer it “of his own free will” (Leviticus 1: 3), so the Christian is to freely of his own will offer his body that is “not conformed to this world” as a “living and holy sacrifice” to God, which offering is his “reasonable service.”


This is the continuous sacrifice of a person who walks not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit (Romans 8:1), a life that may only be achieved when one understands that within himself there is no power for such accomplishment and further understands that it is only through a the willful exercise of faith while “looking to Jesus the Author (Originator) and Finisher (Perfecter) of our faith” that such can be done (Proverbs 3:5, 6; Colossians 2:6; Galatians 2:20; Hebrews 10:38-12:2).


Yet Paul continued by linking such a life of nonconformity to the world with being “transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”  And herein is the key to how a Christian may increase in faith so that he may indeed walk “in Christ,” which is the equivalent to being “filled with the Spirit,” a command of God versed by Paul in Ephesians 5:18.  Faith “comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God,” which transforms the Christian by the renewing of his mind so that he “may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”


The continuous study (absorption, consumption) of God’s Word is the most critical aspect of Christian (spiritual) growth.  It is in fact directly linked and proportional to being “filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18-20, cf. Colossians 3:16).  Frankly, no Christian is able to live a faith-based life of being filled (influenced, controlled) with the Spirit without being rooted in the Word of God.


This then is one of the most significant ways in which a person worships God.  It is not the Christian’s participation in an organized service (i.e. the ceremonial aspects aligned with the Christian faith) that pleases and honors God.  Rather, it is one’s willingness to continuously absorb the Word to the transformation of one’s mind in order that the “good and acceptable and perfect will of God” may be known, and so that one’s faith may be strengthened in order that walking in Christ — not the flesh — (being filled with the Spirit) is the norm.  This is the living and holy sacrifice that is expected of each Christian, which is his “reasonable service.”  This is what brings honor and pleasure to God, and is indeed a factor of worship that is apart from any outward show or ceremony; and, which should be continuously performed throughout one’s Christian life.




Biblical worship is not an individual act; although, it may be part of such an act.  It is not participation in a ceremony or local church service; although, it may be part of such a ceremony or service.  It is not a “performance” before others.  Rather it is, or should be, a continuous way of life — one which takes place in the spiritual realm, one which originates from a genuine heart, one which is anchored in the realization of one’s true relationship with God, one which emanates from a life of obedience, and one which offers living and holy bodily sacrifice.


When one achieves this state of existence before God, a product of the continuous absorption of the meat of God’s Word, which process alone produces spiritual growth (Hebrews 5:12-14), only then one truly worships God.  This “condition of worship” should be continuous throughout one’s Christian life.  To achieve this, will not be without great reward.


And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. (Revelation 22:12)




*Salvation of the Soul

Saving of the Life

By Arlen L. Chitwood


Chapter One


Salvation — Past, Present, Future


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)


For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18)


Are they [angels] not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit [lit. “for the sake of the ones about to inherit”] salvation? (Hebrews 1:14)


Salvation in the Word of God is spoken of in three tenses — past, present, and future:  1) Christians have been saved, 2) Christians are being saved, and 3) Christians are about to be saved.  The previously quoted verses provide examples of how Scripture deals with each of these three tenses or aspects of salvation.


In Ephesians 2:8, 9, salvation is a past, completed act; in 1 Corinthians 1:18, salvation is a present, continuous work; and in Hebrews 1:14, salvation is a future, inherited possession.  Since the Word of God presents salvation in a framework of this nature, it is vitally important in Scriptural interpretation to first ascertain to which of these three aspects of salvation any given passage pertains.


In the first aspect of salvation, dealt with in Ephesians 2:8, the words, “you have been saved,” which is a correct translation, are a translation of two Greek words that form, what is called in the Greek, a “periphrastic perfect.”  The “perfect” tense refers to action completed in past time, with the results of this action extending into the present and existing in a finished state.  The “periphrastic” construction places additional emphasis on the present, finished state and refers to the persistent results during present time of the past, completed work.


Salvation in this verse is wrought by grace through faith, accomplished completely in past time, and is the present possession of every believer.  This present possession, in turn, constitutes an active, continuing, ever-abiding salvation.  The eternal security of the believer cannot be expressed in stronger terms than the periphrastic construction of the perfect tense in Ephesians 2:8, for the present results of the past action, in this case, can only continue unchanged forever.


However, in 1 Corinthians 1:18, dealing with the second aspect of salvation, things are presented in an entirely different light than seen in Ephesians 2:8.  Rather than the tense in the Greek text referring to a past, completed act, the tense refers to a present, continuous work.  The former has already been completed, but the latter has yet to be completed.


Then, in Hebrews 1:14, dealing with the third aspect of salvation, matters are presented yet in a completely different light.  The wording in the Greek text of this verse refers to something that is about to occur.  Nothing is past or present; the reception of this salvation, in its entirety, is placed in the future.


Further, the salvation referred to in Hebrews 1:14 is not only to be realized in the future, but it is also an inherited salvation.  And the thought of inheritance further distinguishes the salvation in this verse from the salvation previously seen in Ephesians 2:8, for the salvation that Christians presently possess is not an inherited salvation.


Rather, our present salvation was obtained as a free gift during the time we were alienated from God.  And, as aliens (outside the family of God), we were in no position to inherit salvation, for inheritance in Scripture is always a family matter.


In the Old Testament, “sons” were first in line to receive the inheritance, with “daughters” next.  If there were no sons or daughters in the immediate family, the inheritance was passed on to the nearest family member or members, designated by the law of inheritance (Numbers 27:8-11).


Consequently, an individual must first be a family member before he can be considered for the inheritance, which, during the present dispensation, is restricted to “children” or “sons” of the Owner.  That’s why the statement is made in Romans 8:17, “If children, then heirs . . . .”  And that’s also why, in Hebrews 1:14, that an inherited salvation pertains to those who have already been saved, those who are no longer alienated from God but are presently family members.


In this respect, the complete scope of salvation — past, present, and future — has a beginning point, with an end in view.  It involves the Spirit of God breathing life into the one having no life and thereby effecting the birth from above.  And this has been done with a purpose, with an end in view.  This has been done so that the Spirit can take the one who now has spiritual life and perform a work in the life of that individual, with a view to an inheritance that will be realized at a future time.


Thus, one should immediately be able to see the importance of proper distinctions being drawn and observed in the realm of these three aspects of salvation.  And depending on how one approaches and deals with the different salvation passages in Scripture, either difficulties can be avoided on the one hand or insurmountable problems can result on the other.


The Tripartite Nature of Man


Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(1 Thessalonians 5:23)


Man is a tripartite being comprised of spirit, soul, and body; and the salvation of man within its complete scope (past, present, and future) pertains to the salvation of man with respect to his complete being.  In the study of Scripture it is revealed that each of these three parts of man is subject to salvation at different times.  Thus, to understand salvation in its complete scope, one must first understand certain things about man’s tripartite nature.  Then, salvation in relation to this tripartite nature becomes the issue.


Chapter one of Genesis reveals that man was created in the “image” and “likeness” of God.  The word translated “God” in the Hebrew text of this statement is Elohim.  This is a plural noun, which, in complete keeping with related Scripture, would include all three members of the Godhead — God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (e.g., cf. John 1:1-3).


Since Elohim is a trinity, for man to be created in the “image” and “likeness” of God, he too must be a trinity.  Unlike the dichotomous animal kingdom (created apart from the “image” and “likeness” of God) possessing only bodies and souls, trichotomous man (created in the “image” and “likeness” of God) is a triune being.  Man not only possesses a body and a soul, but he also possesses a spirit as well.


Jesus is Elohim manifested in the flesh; and having been made in the “likeness” of man (but apart from man’s fallen nature), He, as man, must also be a trinity (John 1:14; Philippians 2:7).  This tripartite nature of Christ, in whom “dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9), was clearly revealed at the time of His death.  At this time Jesus yielded up His spirit, which went back into the presence of His Father in heaven (Luke 23:46; cf. Ecclesiastes 12:7; Acts 7:59); His soul went into Hades, the place of the dead, housed inside the earth at this time (Acts 2:27); and His body was removed from the cross and placed in Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb (Matthew 27:57-61).  This threefold separation persisted until the soul and spirit re-entered the body at the time Christ was raised from the dead.


Thus, God, Elohim, is a trinity; Jesus, Elohim, manifested in the flesh, is likewise a trinity; and man, created in the “image” and “likeness” of Elohim, can only be a trinity as well.  Accordingly, a complete redemption provided by the triune God must, of necessity, pertain to man as a complete being.  Mans complete redemption must encompass spirit, soul, and body.


1. Past, Present, Future . . . Spirit, Soul, Body


When man sinned in the garden in Eden, the complete being of man — spirit, soul, and body — became in a fallen state.  God had commanded Adam concerning the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, “you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17).  After Satan had deceived Eve into eating of the fruit of this tree, she then “gave to her husband with her; and he ate.”  Immediately following this, “the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings” (Genesis 3:1-7).


At the time of the fall, Adam and Eve lost something; and it is clearly stated in Scripture that both immediately recognized this fact.  That which they lost could only have been a covering of pristine glory that had previously clothed their bodies; for they, following the fall, found that they were in a twofold condition:  1) naked and 2) separated from God.


God is arrayed in a covering of “light,” connected with “honor and majesty.”  And man, created in the “image” and “likeness” of God, could only have been arrayed in a similar manner prior to the fall.


Bless the LORD, O my soul! O LORD my God, You are very great: You are clothed with [You have put on] honor and majesty,


who cover Yourself with light as with a garment, who stretch out the heavens like a curtain.” (Psalm 104:1, 2)


Recognizing the loss of this covering, realizing that they were naked, explains why Adam and Eve immediately sought to clothe themselves following the fall.  They tried to replace the covering that had been lost with a work of their own hands, with fig leaf aprons.  And then, apparently realizing the utter inadequacy of this covering, they, in their fallen state, sought to hide from God.


God, finding Adam and Eve in this condition, completely rejected the works of their hands.  God completely rejected their feeble efforts to atone for their own sin by seeking to replace the covering of pristine glory with fig leaves.  Then, to bring His fallen creature back into a right relationship (although not in complete keeping with their previously unfallen state — something still future even today), God provided a covering consisting of animal skins (Genesis 3:21).  This necessitated death and the shedding of blood; and herein lays basic, unchangeable truths concerning the state of fallen man and the means that are necessary to effect his redemption. 


Unredeemed man is a fallen creature, alienated from God; and two things are necessary to effect his redemption:  1) divine intervention, and 2) death and shed blood.  These truths have forever been set forth in the opening chapters of Genesis and can never change.


(Two different words are used for “naked” in the Hebrew text of Genesis 2:25 [before the fall] and Genesis 3:7 [after the fall].  In the latter [3:7], the word has to do with absolute nakedness, but not so in the former [2:25].


Remaining within the way a person dressed in the East at the time Moses wrote Genesis, and at later times as well, the word used relative to nakedness pertaining to Adam and Eve preceding the fall [2:25] could be used to describe a person clothed in a tunic [inner garment] but lacking the mantle or cloak [outer garment].  In the preceding respect, prior to the fall, Adam and Eve were clothed in the Glory of God but had yet to possess the regal outer garments worn by kings [fulfilling the reason for man’s creation — to rule the earth (Genesis 1:26-28)].


Then, following the fall, no longer clothed in the Glory of God, Adam and Eve were no longer in a position to be further clothed in regal garments, realizing the purpose for their creation.  They, apart from the inner garment [the Glory] could not wear the outer garments [royal apparel].  Adam, prior to the fall, never wore regal garments or held the scepter.  In this respect, he never moved beyond the description given in Genesis 2:25 — a “naked” condition, “naked in relation to the reason for his creation [lacking the outer regal garments].


Thus, if man, now separated from the Glory, is to ever fulfill the purpose for his creation, God must act.  Redemption has to occur; and this, of necessity, has to include the complete man — spirit, soul, and body — with a view to not only a restoration of the Glory but to regality beyond this restoration.)


a) Spirit


Man’s sin in the garden in Eden produced death.  Man died the day he ate of the forbidden fruit.  Since his body continued to live, revealing that his soul — the life-giving principle in the blood (Leviticus 17:11; cf. Genesis 9:4) — remained unchanged with respect to life (natural life), it is evident that it was his spirit that died.


The spiritual nature is that part of man that links him directly with God.  “God is spirit,” and man’s worship of God must be “in spirit and truth” (John 4:24).  The death of Adam’s spirit separated him from God (establishing the primary meaning of “death” in Scripture — separation from God), and this death (this separation from God) “passed upon all men” (Romans 5:12).


Scripture speaks of an unsaved person as being “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1).  With an unredeemed, inanimate spirit (spiritually dead), he is alienated from God, separated from God (Ephesians 2:12).


But once the person has been born from above, he is then spoken of as having passedfrom death unto life,” as having beenquickened” (John 5:24; Ephesians 2:5).  Possessing an animate spirit, possessing spiritual life (having been made alive spiritually), he is no longer separated from the One who Himself is “Spirit” (John 4:24).


This aspect of salvation is brought to pass through the Spirit of God breathing life into the one having no life, based on Christ’s finished work at Calvary; and once this has been accomplished, everything surrounding the work effecting this aspect of salvation has been completed, with this work existing in a finished state (as previously seen through the use of the perfect tense in Ephesians 2:8).  Thus, the salvation experience that man enters into at the time of the birth from above is a work of the Spirit, based on a previous work of the Son.  It is a spiritual birth and has to do with man’s spirit alone:  “. . . that which is born of the Spirit is spirit (John 3:6b).


b) Soul


The salvation of the soul, on the other hand, should never be associated with the past aspect of salvation.  Scripture carefully distinguishes between the soul and the spirit, never using the words interchangeably in this respect (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 4:12).  And Scripture also carefully distinguishes between salvation in relation to the spirit and salvation in relation to the soul.  Salvation in relation to the spirit is always dealt with in a past sense, but not so with the salvation of the soul.  Rather, the salvation of the soul is always dealt with in a future sense:


Receiving the end of your faith — the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:9)


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)


But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe [are faithful] to the saving of the soul. (Hebrews 10:39)


The statements and exhortations in these verses pertain to Christians alone — those whose spirits have already been saved and whose souls are in the process of being saved, with the salvation of the soul being realized only at a future time.


c) Body


The salvation of the body presents very few problems for the majority of Christians.  Very few Christians contend, contrary to Scripture, that the body has either already been redeemed or is in the process of being redeemed.  Scripture places the redemption of man’s body entirely in the future (Romans 8:23).


The Christian’s body is presently in a continuous state of deterioration.  The body grows old and weakens with time; and the body is subject to sickness, disease, and eventually death.  This must ever remain the case as long as the body remains unredeemed.  The “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), and the unredeemed body must pay the price that sin requires.


Within this unredeemed body are two opposing entities, each seeking dominion — a redeemed spirit, and an unredeemed soul.  The unredeemed soul is housed in an unredeemed body, and the two are mutually compatible.  But the redeemed spirit housed alongside an unredeemed soul in an unredeemed body experiences no compatibility with either of the other two at all.  Compatibility is not possible, for “what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness, and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14).  This heterogeneous union is what produced the cry of the Apostle Paul in Romans 7:24:


O wretched man that I am!  Who shall deliver me from this body of death?


2. Soulical, Spiritual, Carnal


According to the Word of God, every man can be categorized as being soulical, spiritual, or carnal.  The word “soulical” pertains to all non-Christians, and the words “spiritual” and “carnal” pertain to two classes of Christians.


a) Soulical


But the natural man [the “soulical” man] does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are [can only be] spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)


The Greek word translated “soul” throughout the New Testament is psuche.  This word has to do with “the natural life” of the individual.  The soul is the seat of a person’s emotions, feelings, and desires pertaining to his man-conscious existence.


The Greek word translated “natural” in 1 Corinthians 2:14 is psuchikos, a form of the word psuche.  Psuchikos is the “natural” or “soulical” life (self-life) that man has in common with the animal kingdom.  The soulical man is dominated or ruled by his soul, which includes all the experiences, desires, emotions, sensations, likes, and dislikes within the personal life of the individual.  Such likes, dislikes, etc. will vary from individual to individual, but all emanate from the soul-life of man.  The soulical man is alienated from God and thus possesses no way to grasp spiritual truth.  A man must be born from above — made alive spiritually — before he can possess spiritual discernment.


b) Spiritual


And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual . . . . (1 Corinthians 3:1a)


The Greek word translated “spirit” throughout the New Testament is pneuma.  This word is used in the New Testament referring to the Holy Spirit, man’s spirit, angels (both fallen and unfallen), a state of mind or disposition, wind, and breath.  Examples in Scripture of the last four are Luke 8:55; John 3:8; 1 Corinthians 4:21; 2 Timothy 1:7; Hebrews 1:7; 1 Peter 3:19.


Man’s spirit is the seat of the higher divine life pertaining to his God-conscious existence.  The Greek word translated “spiritual” in 1 Corinthians 3:1a is pneumatikos, a form of the word pneuma.  The spiritual man is one who is controlled by the Spirit of God acting through his own spirit (through a spirit made alive by the birth from above).


The spiritual man, unlike the soulical man, controls his emotions, feelings, and desires pertaining to his still-present, man-conscious existence.  He brings his unredeemed body under subjection and exerts control over the soulical man.  This, of course, is not performed within his own power, but within the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.  This is an experience open to redeemed man alone, to an individual who has been made alive spiritually.


Unredeemed man, on the other hand, although a trichotomous being, fails to rise above the dichotomous animal kingdom in his natural or soulical existence.  He lacks a redeemed spirit with the accompanying, indwelling Holy Spirit.  He, with an inanimate spirit, is spiritually dead.  And, consequently, he remains alienated from God.  Thus, for unredeemed man, an existence outside the soulical (natural) state is not possible.


c) Carnal


. . . but as to carnal, even as to babes in Christ. (1 Corinthians 3:1b)


The Greek word translated “carnal” is sarkikos.  This is a form of the word sarx, which means “flesh.”  Sarkikos (fleshly) is the opposite of pneumatikos (spiritual).  The carnal Christian is “fleshly” as opposed to “spiritual.”  He is one who allows himself to be controlled by his soul rather than by the indwelling Holy Spirit.  He, as the soulical man (the unsaved man), follows his personal emotions, feelings, and desires.


He, however, unlike the soulical man, has been born from above and is capable of grasping spiritual truth.  But, unlike the spiritual man, this truth is not being received.  Thus, the carnal Christian, without an impartation of spiritual truth flowing into his saved human spirit, remains immature and fleshly, following the fleshly impulses of the soul.


(The use of “flesh” or “fleshly” in the preceding respect would be a direct allusion back to that which occurred in Eden at the time of the fall.  Man, following his fall, possessed a body that was no longer enswathed in a covering of Glory, with the exposed flesh openly demonstrating this fact.  This is what is meant by Christ coming “in the likeness of sinful flesh” [Romans 8:3].  Christ came to earth in a body not enswathed in the Glory of God.


This was the crux of the ignominy and shame surrounding the events of Calvary.  Not only was Christ’s body of flesh [apart from the covering of Glory] arrayed in a mock regal manner [with a robe and a crown of thorns], but He hung on the cross without even His Own garments to cover His body, for all to behold that which had been wrought by sin 4,000 years earlier — nakedness, and death [Matthew 27:27-36].


There is nothing wrong with “flesh” per se.  Man was created in a body of flesh, Christ presently has a body of flesh, and both God’s Son and man will live in bodies of flesh forever.


But, though there is nothing wrong with a body of “flesh,” there is something wrong with a body of flesh that is not enswathed in the Glory of God.)


Within the scope of that which God reveals about the impartation of spiritual truth to redeemed man alone lies the great lesson concerning unredeemed man’s relationship to the Word of God.  It is utterly futile for unredeemed man to either himself attempt to understand the Word of God or for redeemed man to attempt to teach him the Word of God.  Scripture is “spiritually discerned,” and a man must be born from above — be made alive spiritually, which places him in a position where he can exercise spiritual discernment — before he can understand the things of the Spirit of God.  The soulical (unredeemed) man, completely alienated from God — spiritually dead and in no position to exercise spiritual discernment — cannot understand spiritual things, and they appear to him as no more than “foolishness” (1 Corinthians 2:14).


Herein also lies the reason why the things of the Spirit have been hidden from the “wise and prudent,” but revealed unto “babes” (cf. Matthew 11:25).  Certain Christian intelligentsia of the present dispensation, even though saved and in a position to understand the Word of God, too often seek spiritual discernment in the light of worldly wisdom rather than through comparing “scripture with scripture” and looking to the indwelling Spirit to lead theminto all truth” (John 16:13; 1 Corinthians 2:9-13).


And, although those Christians who seek spiritual discernment in this manner may often be looked upon as great spiritual leaders, theologians, expositors, etc., they, in the final analysis, cannot understand these things.  Such individuals can only be sadly lacking in the very realm where they are held in high esteem.


While at the same time, “babes” (Greek: nepios, those who are still on the milk of the Word and have not grown enough to even partake of solid food), through the leadership of the Spirit of God — as they compare “scripture with scripture” and look to the Spirit to lead theminto all truth” — can invariably be brought into an understanding of these things. 


They, through turning to the Word and looking to the Spirit for discernment and leadership, can understand more about these same spiritual truths than the “wise and prudent” who turn to places other than the Word and either ignore or reject the Spirit’s discernment and leadership.


Redeemed Man


Redeemed man, through a past and finished work of the Spirit, based on a past and finished work of Christ, has been brought from a dead to a living state spiritually.  He has passed “from death to life.”  And in this living state, he is now in a position to realize the purpose for his salvation — the salvation of his soul.


One aspect of salvation is past.  The individual presently possesses eternal life, and nothing can ever change or nullify this fact.  But the individual has been saved for a purpose, which will be brought to pass only within the framework of his realizing present and future aspects of salvation.


And this complete panorama of the salvation message, with a purpose in view, must be recognized.  Redeemed man must recognize that there is not only a past aspect to salvation but present and future aspects as well. 


And the present and future aspects of salvation are inseparably connected with man one day being brought into a realization of the purpose for which he was created in the beginning — “. . . let them have dominion” (Genesis 1:26-28). 


Present and future aspects of salvation have to do with man occupying regal positions following the time when he, in that coming day, is brought into a realization of the salvation of his soul.


1.  The Complete Salvation Issue


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).


2. The Complete Salvation Message


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 “engrafted [‘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.  Consequently, they will occupy no position among the “many sons” who will be brought unto glory.


(The subject surrounding pastor-teachers and their having been entrusted with a flock, with a view to the salvation of not only the souls of the pastor-teachers but the souls of those in the flock, is developed more fully in chapter 8.)


Concluding Thoughts:


Failure to understand and distinguish between the salvation that we presently possess and the salvation, to be revealed when our Lord returns, has wrought 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.