God’s Original and Ultimate Purpose for Man
Charles F. Strong
Rick Warren, the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, in around 2002 wrote probably his most popular book, The Purpose-Driven Life, which has sold multi-millions of copies in some twenty different languages throughout the world. It is a book in which Pastor Warren endeavors to help man find and live the life of purpose for which God has created him. And within its pages there is a great deal of biblical truth and guidance. Unfortunately, the book, while attempting to explain how man should be living his life, does not reveal God’s original and ultimate purpose for man, an understanding of which is absolutely necessary if a person is to truly live a “God-driven” life that will lead to a realization (fulfillment) of this purpose.
Pastor Warren is correct in his first chapter that “It All Starts with God” (page 17), even though the verse he quotes (Colossians 1:16) to support his theme is specifically about the second Person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ (not the Father). And this of course may be considered a trivial point to make, seeing that the Father and the Son are One (John 10:30, 38). But in this present day when on every hand the mention of Jesus Christ either takes second or no place to the mention of God or the Virgin Mary, in both religious and secular realms; it certainly is not.
Although Pastor Warren does attempt to present rationale encouraging his readers to seek the purpose-driven life and eventually gets around to mentioning Christ in the context of the topic of salvation, along with a convoluted means in which to obtain it, he fails to cast sufficient light on the biblical reason for man’s need of it, i.e., because he is “dead in trespasses and sin”— a condition that has spiritual death as its ultimate and permanent end, which is eternal separation from God in the Lake of Fire (Ephesians 2:1; Revelation 20:14, 15).
By the word “convoluted” in the above sentence it is meant that Pastor Warren advocates “Lordship Salvation,” which in his words, is to “Receive Jesus into your life as your Lord and Savior” (page 58) — a means of obtaining salvation not supported in Scripture. Rather, the means by which a person can obtain salvation, and here it is meant “salvation of the spirit” with eternal verities in view, is contingent upon only one thing, i.e., exercising faith alone in Christ alone (John 3:16, 18; Acts 16:30, 31). A person who is “dead in trespasses and sin” cannot make Jesus Lord of his life, a sanctifying process and goal that only one who has “passed from death to life” (John 5:24) can and may achieve. This involves the “salvation of the soul” with only millennial verities in view (1 Peter 1:9; James 1:21; Hebrews 10:39), but more on this later.
Pastor Warren is correct though in stating that “to discover [one’s] purpose in life [one] must turn to God’s Word” (page 20). And throughout his book he endeavors to proffer various reasons, physiological and biblical, why it is important to achieve a purpose-driven life. The path he eventually outlines leads to the goal of Christian service, relative to which he makes three statements, i.e., in his words, “The apostle John taught that our loving service to others shows that we are truly saved,” and “A saved heart is one that wants to serve” and “A ‘non-serving Christian’ is a contradiction in terms” (pages 228, 229) — all of which are contrary to Scripture. The New Testament makes it quite clear that Christians can live carnal lives, which do not, can not show a truly salvation state — lives void of service (fruit-bearing), which will one day result in no rewards whatsoever, but only the possibility of being “saved, yet so as through fire” (1 Corinthians 3:15).
And without understanding this as a distinct possibility, one will miss completely the original and ultimate purpose of one’s life. And although no pleasure is taken in criticizing Pastor Warren and his book, which is championed by millions around the globe, it is done in the hope of inciting a spirit of “proving this thesis wrong” in and by the multiple thousands who completely support Pastor Warren and his work.
Original and Ultimate Purpose — its Source
It should go without saying that if a person is to know God’s purpose for which man was created he must learn of it from God’s Word. But to do so, he should adhere to a few basic principles of biblical interpretation, one of which is, for lack of a better expression, the Principle of Beginning Where God Began; i.e., begin the study of Scripture where God began Scripture, the book of Genesis — the book of “beginnings.” Although this basic principle of biblical interpretation, which is perpetually and distinctly linked to several other basic biblical principles of the same ilk (to follow), is often ignored. It is quite customary to encourage new Christian converts to start their familiarization with God’s Word in other areas, e.g., the book of John. But this is not how God has composed His Word or introduced doctrine within it.
It is true that all Scripture is “living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword” (Hebrews 12a), which is “given by inspiration of God [the translation of the one Greek word theopneustos, meaning ‘God-breathed’], and is profitable for doctrine [‘teaching’], for reproof [‘conviction’], for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). And this being so, one may ponder how it matters where to begin a study of Scripture. It matters only if one believes that both the substance and the structure of Scripture were given according to divine plan.
This brings forth another basic principle of biblical interpretation, which is the Principle of Recognizing the Animate Nature of the Word, i.e., it is alive. But it is important to know why the Word of God is “alive,” powerful,” and “sharper than any two-edged sword”? The answer is found in its origin, which determines its nature. The Word is “theopneustos”, God-breathed. Yet one cannot know what this means without going to the first mention in Scripture of God bringing a matter to pass through the use of His breath.
And this involves another basic principle of biblical interpretation called, the Principle of First-Mention. This principle is based on the unchangeable nature of God (Malachi 3:6; James 1:17) and the unchangeable way He has structured His Word. The inherent nature of God’s Word reveals that the first time a subject is mentioned in Scripture, there is a pattern (mold) established at that point, which will remain unchanged throughout the remainder of Scripture.
Keeping this principle in mind, the first mention of God’s breath in Scripture is in Genesis 2:7, where it imparts life to man. At this “beginning point,” life is connected with the breath of God after an unchangeable fashion, i.e., the unalterable connection between God’s breath and life is established and set. And the determination is that only God can produce life; and any time life is produced beyond this point, it must always be by the one means set forth at the beginning, revealed in Genesis chapter two and verse seven.
This is also illustrated in the prophetic passage of the “vision of the valley of dry bones” in Ezekiel chapter thirty-seven, which deals with the future day when Christ returns and [spiritual] life is restored to the whole house of Israel [both those [naturally] alive at that time and resurrected Old Testament saints (Exodus 13:19; cf. Ezekiel 36:24-28). In this passage the bones are “very dry” or lifeless (v. 2), and they can only come to life when the Lord causes His breath to enter into them (v. 5). And before breath comes upon them, “sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over” (v. 8); and then “breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army” (v. 10) — illustrative of another basic principle of biblical interpretation, to follow.
The Greek word that is translated both breath and spirit in the New Testament is pneuma. And it is due to this inseparable connection between the Spirit (Pneuma) of God who is the Breath (Pneuma) of God that the Word of God is “God-breathed,” and thus “alive.”
For prophecy [referring to written revelation in verse 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 Pneuma (Spirit/Breath) of God is the One who gave the living Word to man, through man; and He is the One who presently guides man “into all truth,” and in doing so, “glorifies” not Himself, but only Christ — all through the use of the Word (John 16:13, 14). And as a side note, it is unscriptural that so many supposedly “evangelical” denominations focus on the Holy Spirit (and a “second anointing”), rather than on Christ, when in fact the whole of Scripture (both Testaments) has as its thesis and dominant focus the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Pneuma (Spirit/Breath) of God is also, in keeping with the Principle of First Mention relative to the “breath of God” in Genesis 2:7, the One who effects man’s regeneration; which is to say that upon a person’s faith-acceptance of Jesus Christ, there is a breathing in for that person to pass “from death to life” (cf. Genesis 1:2; 2:7; John 3:6-8; 5:24; 1 Corinthians 15:45). 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 (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19) in order to guide that person into an understanding — from immaturity to maturity — of the living (God-breathed) Word (the only means by which a believer can be cleansed and sanctified, i.e., set apart in an ever increasing state of spiritual maturity [John 17:17; Ephesians 5:26; 2 Timothy 3:16, 17; Hebrews 4:12]).
And in so doing, it is important to not that the Pneuma (Spirit/Breath) of God 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, the living Word of God. This is why “pastor-teachers” (a correct translation of the latter part of Ephesians 4:11) have been exhorted to “preach the Word,” i.e., “sound doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2, 3), and all Christians have been exhorted to “study” the Word (2 Timothy 2:15). As Arlen L. Chitwood* so aptly put it,
A person’s ability to function in the spiritual realm is inseparably connected with that person’s knowledge of and ability to us the Word of God. It’s the WORD, the WORD, the WORD! Christians have been given nothing else; nor do they need anything else.
The natural following to the above three principles of biblical interpretation is the principle, for lack of a better expression, the Principle of Building on the Foundation, which is illustrated by the prophetic passage in Ezekiel chapter thirty-seven. Just as the sinews, flesh, and skin are methodically (in-turn) added to the bones; it is important for the student of God’s Word to compare Scripture with Scripture in order to build upon introductory (founding) doctrinal issues. Such will result in a complete and unified doctrinal structure.
This assumes another basic principle of biblical interpretation, the Principle of Comparing Scripture with Scripture, which is stated in First Corinthians chapter two:
These things we also speak, not in words that man’s wisdom teaches but that which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things [scriptures] with spiritual [things/scriptures]. (1 Corinthians 2:13)
This principle is clearly seen in 1 Corinthians chapter ten where the apostle Paul uses the comparison of the Israelites under Moses as “examples” (vv. 6, 11) in order to teach spiritual truth, as well as throughout the book of Hebrews and other select-portions of the New Testament.
And this principle of “comparing Scripture with Scripture,” is fundamental in another basic principle of biblical interpretation, the Principle of Comparing Types to Antitypes. It is indisputable that all Scripture was written for the believer’s benefit, i.e., to show him how to live a spiritual (Spirit-filled) life (Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 9:10; 2 Timothy 3:16, 17; compare Ephesians 5:18-20 with its counterpart, Colossians 3:16, 17), but often the method in which the Holy Spirit accomplishes this is through the introduction of types in the Old Testament from which clarity of truth may be gleaned when comparing them to the antitypes in the New Testament.
The use of types is confirmed by Scripture:
Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type [Greek: tupos meaning figure, picture, pattern, or mold] of Him who was to come. (Romans 5:14)
Now these things became our examples [tupos], to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. . . . Now all these things happened to them as examples [tupos], and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. (1 Corinthians 10:6, 11)
Chuck Missler* may have this in mind when he often says, “the New Testament is concealed in the Old Testament while the Old Testament is revealed in the New.” Actually, all doctrine found in the New Testament has its origin, in explicit prose or in type, in the Old.
Chitwood in his book, The Study of Scripture, makes the following statements regarding this basic principle of biblical interpretation in association with his discussion of the mystery (dispensation of grace) Paul mentions in Ephesians chapter three verses two and three:
But why bother with the Old Testament Scriptures once the matter to which this foundational material refers has, at a later time, been revealed (as, for example, the mystery)? The answer is very simple. The later revelation opens the earlier after a fashion that the earlier will shed additional, necessary light on the later. And, aside from that, the unchangeable basics are set forth in the earlier revelation. Both must be viewed together in order to grasp the complete picture after a correct fashion.
(A “mystery [Greek: musterion, meaning, ‘a hidden thing,’ ‘a secret’]” in the New Testament is usually defined as something previously hidden but now revealed [cf. Romans 16:25; Ephesians 3:4, 5]. This definition though should not be thought of along the lines of something not found in previous revelation, for there is nothing in the New Testament that does not have its roots somewhere in the Old Testament. Rather, a “mystery,” in reality, pertains to something previously revealed [seen mainly in the types] but not opened up [or fully opened up] to one’s understanding until a later point in time.
The making known of a mystery requires divine action [e.g., Christ, in time past, opened previously revealed revelation surrounding mysteries to His disciples’ understanding (cf. Matthew 13:10, 11; Ephesians 3:2, 3); and the indwelling Spirit, today, leads individuals “into all truth” surrounding mysteries (cf. John 16:13-15; 1 Corinthians 13:2)]. Such a making known takes something in the Scriptures that cannot be understood [or fully understood] in and of itself and, through divine leadership [using additional revelation that casts light on the earlier revelation (today, comparing Scripture with Scripture under the leadership of the indwelling Spirit)], the matter is opened to one’s understanding.)
And in another section of the same book Chitwood states the following:
The manner in which God revealed Himself, His plans, and His purposes in His Word (a God-breathed revelation, penned as the Spirit moved men to write) is what makes Scripture different from all other writings. Scripture stands in a category solely by itself,
completely alone; and all other writings stand in a completely separate category.
Then, in the process of giving to man, through man, the God-breathed Word, at the very outset God set forth a skeletal structure covering the whole panorama of revelation that was to follow, along with foundational building material. And if a person would understand Scripture aright, he must begin where God began and follow that which God has set forth, after the manner in which He Himself established the matter.
The person must follow the skeletal structure and build upon this structure after the manner in which God Himself began and set matters forth, establishing them in a particular manner at the outset. At any point in the whole of Scripture, any teaching must have a connection with and be in complete agreement with the God-established skeletal structure and subsequent foundational material set forth at the beginning.
Then, beyond that, God structured His revelation to man after a particular fashion, alluded to in Luke 24:25-27, 44 and stated in so many words in 1 Corinthians 10:6, 11. Scripture not only deals with a completely accurate history of certain events surrounding God’s dealings with the earth, angels, and man, but biblical history has been recorded after such a fashion that it is highly typical as well. God has established His primary means of teaching, not through history per se, but through inherent types (seen in past history) pointing to antitypes (seen in later history and/or prophecy).
The manner in which God revealed Himself to man is as stated in 1 Corinthians 10:11a:
Now all these things happened to them for examples [Greek. tupos, for ‘types’] . . . . (1 Corinthians 10:11a)
The reference is to events during Moses’ day, drawing from the wilderness journey of the Israelites. But the reference would, of necessity, have to go far beyond simply the specific events listed in verses one through ten, preceding the statement in verse eleven. In the light of other Scripture, as becomes increasingly evident when one views the whole of Scripture, the reference would have to be enlarged to encompass not only all biblical history during Moses’ day but all biblical history beginning with Genesis 1:1.
That would be to say, God has structured His revelation to man after a fashion in which not only true, correct history is presented but this history is presented in such a manner that it is highly typical in nature. God, within His sovereign control of all matters, brought things to pass after such a fashion (within the history of the earth, angels, and man) that He could, at a later time, have these events to draw upon in order to teach His people the deep things surrounding Himself, His plans, and His purposes. And this would be accomplished mainly through types and corresponding antitypes.
Thus, God draws not so much from history per se as He does from the spiritual content set forth in the historic accounts — the great spiritual lessons, taught mainly from types pointing to corresponding antitypes.
Anyone can understand facts within revealed biblical history (saved or unsaved man). This would pertain more to the letter of the matter. But only saved man can go beyond the letter to the spirit of the matter (2 Corinthians 3:6-16). Only the saved can understand the spiritual lessons drawn from history. Only the saved can look within biblical history and see spiritual content (1 Corinthians 2:12-16).
For the unsaved, things beyond the simple, historical facts are completely meaningless. They can’t see these things; nor can they know them. Spiritually, they are dead; and these things are “spiritually discerned.” They can view Scripture only from a “natural [‘soulical’]” standpoint (1 Corinthians 2:14).
But for the saved, the matter is entirely different. They, through believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, have been made alive spiritually. The Spirit has breathed life into the one having no life, and they have “passed from death to life.” And they have this same Spirit — the One who gave the Word to man through man — indwelling them to lead them “into all truth” (John 16:13-15; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19, 20; 2 Corinthians 1:22; and 1 John 3:24). Accordingly, the saved possess the ability to see beyond the facts of history and view the spiritual lessons inherent therein.
This is what is meant by “comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” It is within this facet of Scripture that man can see the things that “eye has not seen, nor ear heard . . . .” It is within this facet of Scripture that “God hath revealed them to us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:9-13).
And it is within this complete, overall thought that one finds the whole of biblical history fraught with types and meanings. This is the manner in which God has structured His Word. It has been given to man after this fashion, and if man would properly understand that which God has revealed in His Word, he must study it after the fashion in which it was given.
Needless to say, to understand doctrine correctly as it is positioned in the New Testament, the student of God’s Word must avail himself of that which is in the Old. Just as a parable (the Anglicized form of the Greek word parabole, a compound word comprised of para [alongside] and bole [to place or cast]) is additional truth placed alongside of previously revealed truth in order to provide light concerning the prior truth, the historical accounts within the Old Testament embody types that signify, forecast, cast light on, and clarify the doctrines surrounding antitypes in the New Testament.
Unquestionably, Christ used the Old Testament to reveal truth (doctrine) throughout the gospel accounts (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10; 5:17, 21, 27, 31, 33, 38, 43; 12:3-5, 7, 40-42; 19:4, 5, 8; 21:13, 16, 42; 22:44; 26:31; cf. Mark, Luke, and John) and to reveal Himself (Luke 24:25-27). Furthermore, the writings of the apostles throughout the New Testament are prolific with illustrations taken from the Old — a method prolific in the book of Hebrews, but also used liberally in the Pauline epistles.
Putting all of this together, the student of God’s Word, in order to rightly interpret it, must (1) recognize that Scripture is God-breathed, (2) begin where God began, and (3) study Scripture after the fashion in which it was written — recognizing its foundational structure, particularly when an issue is first mentioned and then building upon the foundational revelation by comparing “Scripture with Scripture” paying particular attention to comparing the types in the Old Testament to the antitypes in the New Testament. All this must be done while depending totally upon the Holy Spirit as the One who reveals “all truth.”
Original and Ultimate Purpose — its Introduction
By studying Scripture in the fashion previously mentioned, one comes to God’s original and ultimate purpose for man in the opening chapters of Genesis. Specifically, the purpose for which God created man is found in verse 26 and then repeated in verse 28, which was (and is) to “have dominion” over the earth, i.e., to rule and reign over that portion of God’s creation.
Here, the following should be noted, since such will later furnish light (further understanding) relative to Christ (of whom Scripture specifically notes that Adam is a type [Romans 5:14]) and His bride:
God has never changed His mind regarding the matter. Not only is this purpose for which man was created addressed prolifically throughout the Old Testament, but it was the gospel proclaimed by Christ while on earth and a major emphasis of the New Testament writers. This purpose for man will be realized in the coming Kingdom Age, the coming millennium when the Bride of Christ will rule and reign with Him, as is seen in Revelation chapter twenty verse four.
Certainly man was created to please and serve God, as Pastor Warren points out in his book; but, man cannot fully please and serve God without recognizing and accepting the purpose for which God made him. Furthermore, until a Christian both recognizes, understands, and accepts the purpose for which he was created, which involves other spiritual issues; he will be subject to gross errors of interpretation throughout God’s Word, particularly in the New Testament, and will be unable to advance from spiritual immaturity to maturity — all to his detriment at the Judgment Seat of Christ and into the Messianic Era that follows.
The way to honor God is to take Him at His Word. Man must accept from God the mission to which he was assigned; to understand its origin in Genesis where God first established it and to understand its development throughout both Testaments with its prophetic fulfillment in the last book of the Bible, Revelation. To fully please and serve God, one must start at the foundation — where God began — in Scripture and then build a strong scriptural (doctrinal) superstructure upon this foundation by comparing Scripture with Scripture, paying particular attention to the type-antitype structure of Scripture. As Chitwood notes in chapter four of his book, The Study of Scripture:
Scripture begins with the creation of all that exists (1:1), the ruin of one part of that creation (1:2a), the restoration of that one part (1:2b-25), the creation of man to rule the restored domain (1:26-31), and then God resting (2:1-3).
These opening verses of Genesis provide not only one complete section of Scripture but also the foundational structure upon which the whole of all subsequent Scripture is built and must be understood. There is a creation, a ruin of a part of that creation, a restoration of the ruined portion occurring over six days of time, and then God resting on a seventh day.
And to illustrate how these verses establish the foundation for the whole of Scripture, note events surrounding man’s creation, his ruin, the time that God takes to restore man, and that which will occur following man's restoration.
It has all been set forth at the very beginning.
God took six days to restore the ruined material creation (ruined because of the sin of the incumbent ruler, Satan [Isaiah 14:12-17; Ezekiel 28:14-19]); and God, in accord with the pattern that He Himself established at the very beginning, is presently taking six days to restore two subsequent ruined creations — man and the material creation once again (both ruined because of the sin of the one created to take the scepter, ruined because of man’s sin [Genesis 3:1-7, 17, 18; Romans 8:20]). And then, in accord with the pattern established at the beginning, there will be a seventh day that will be a day of rest (Genesis 2:1-3; Hebrews 4:4, 9).
Each day in the former restoration and rest was twenty-four hours in length, but each day in the latter restoration and rest is one thousand years in length (Genesis 1:14-19; Matthew 17:1-5; 2 Peter 1:15-18; 3:5-8). Just as God restored the ruined creation at the very beginning in six days comprised of twenty-four hours each, He is going to restore the two subsequent ruined creations in six days comprised of one thousand years each. Then, just as God rested for one twenty-four-hour day at the completion of his restoration work in Genesis, He is going to rest for a one-thousand-year day at the completion of His subsequent restoration work.
Accordingly, the whole of the latter restoration and rest is set forth in foundational form at the very beginning. The six days of work and one day of rest foreshadow six thousand years of work and a thousand years of rest. And this covers the whole of God’s revelation to man (save for several brief instances of events either preceding or following the 7,000 years, given so man can place events occurring during the 7,000 years within their proper perspective).
Thus it is easy to see and understand how all Scripture following Genesis 1:1-2:3 must relate to this opening section of Scripture, which forms the foundation. The whole of Scripture, as this opening section, covers events relating to restoration and rest during six and seven days (six and seven thousand years). The latter is patterned after the former; and to properly understand the latter, one must have a proper understanding of the former.
A solid foundation must first be laid (Genesis 1:1-2:3) before a stable superstructure can be built (Genesis 2:4ff). And note that any stable structure must always rest on its foundation.
God didn’t place Genesis 1:1-2:3 at the very beginning of His revelation to man and structure the material in these verses after a certain fashion for man to ignore; nor would God expect man to begin his study of Scripture elsewhere. Rather, the opposite is true. God structured His revelation to man after a particular fashion for a reason, and man is to begin where God began.
Chitwood continues on in this chapter to show how when “the whole” of God’s plans and purposes (as seen in skeletal form in the opening two chapters of Genesis, “with the remainder of Scripture as simply clothing”) is ignored or improperly understood, doctrinal error will then be the end result. He maintains that all error in biblical doctrine can ultimately be traced back to either this point or the point of ignoring or improperly understanding subsequent essential-material built immediately and directly on the foundation itself. He illustrates this fact by discussing three doctrinal examples: (1) Soteriology, i.e., doctrinal teachings surrounding the topic of salvation, (2) Anthropology, i.e., doctrinal teachings surrounding the topic of man, and (3) Eschatology, i.e., doctrinal teachings surrounding the topic of last things (future events/prophecy).
With regards to Soteriology, he explains that the Bible is a book of redemption, and the basic, unchangeable teachings surrounding redemption are set forth in the first chapter of Genesis, revealing a purpose in view. God does this by establishing an unchangeable manner (type, pattern) in restoring a ruined creation, which is entirely through divine intervention. And in accordance with this unalterable pattern, God reveals how any subsequent ruined creation would of necessity have to be restored after this established order, entirely through divine intervention. And this pattern of restoration would apply to both salvation of the spirit and salvation of the soul.
Relative to the salvation of the spirit, first one must understand that the whole of man is composed in the image and likeness of Elohim (Genesis 1:26). Elohim is the Hebrew name for God that specifies plurality (the tripartite nature — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — of the one and only God). As God is a tripartite Being, so is man. This fact is born out in several passages in the Old Testament, as well as the New (1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 4:12), in which man is seen as having a spirit, a soul, and a body.
It is pointed out that “Hebrews 4:12 reveals a division being effected by the Word of God between the “soul and spirit” of man, which “is a teaching drawn from the very opening verses of Genesis.” In relation to man’s salvation, the movement (v. 2b) and the speaking (v. 3) of God in Genesis chapter one (the foundational type) reveals the division that is made between man’s “soul and spirit” (the antitype). In Chitwood’s own words:
In the type, the Spirit of God moved, God spoke, and light came into existence. Genesis 1:2b, 3 records the initial act of the Triune Godhead in bringing about the restoration of the ruined material creation, an act in which the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit each participated (note that nothing can come into existence apart from the Son [John 1:3]).
In the antitype, within the framework of man’s salvation experience, the matter is identical. There must be an act of the Triune Godhead, for this is how God worked to restore a ruined creation in the Genesis account, establishing an unchangeable pattern for a later work. The Spirit of God moves, God speaks, and light comes into existence. The matter is that plain and simple.
Everything is based on the Son’s finished work at Calvary. The Spirit moving and God speaking are both based on that which occurred almost 2,000 years ago.
When the Son cried out from the Cross, “It is finished,” He meant exactly that [a perfect tense is used in the Greek text, referring to action completed in past time and existing during present time in a finished or completed state — lit., “It has been finished”] (John 19:30; cf. Luke 23:46); and when the Word of God reveals that we have a salvation of divine origin, based entirely on the Son’s finished work, the Word of God means exactly that as well.
When man sinned in the garden, he died spiritually; and when unregenerate man, “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1), is made alive today, he is made alive spiritually. The movement of the Spirit (Genesis 1:2b) and God speaking (Genesis 1:3) in order to restore the ruined creation are seen, in relation to ruined man, as simultaneous events.
It is the Spirit using the God-breathed Word to effectually perform a supernatural work in unredeemed man. It is at this point — through the inbreathing of God — that life is imparted to the one previously having no life. God breathes into dead man (the Spirit using the God-breathed Word, based on the finished work of the Son, the living Word), and man is “quickened [‘made alive’]” (Ephesians 2:1, 5).
At this point, light shines “out of darkness” (2 Corinthians 4:6), a division is made between the light and the darkness (Genesis 1:4), and the darkness has no apprehension or comprehension of that which is light (John 1:5; cf. 1 Corinthians 2:14).
It is at this point in man’s salvation that the spirit is separated from the soul. The “spirit” in unsaved man is dead. It is a part of the totally depraved man, with his “body of . . . death,” in which there dwells “no good thing” (Romans 7:18, 24). With the movement of the Spirit, using the God-breathed Word, man’s spirit is made alive and, at the same time, separated from his soul.
The “soul” remains within the sphere of darkness, which is why “the natural [Greek: psuchikos, ‘soulical’] man” cannot understand “the things of the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:14). That which remains in the sphere of darkness can have no apprehension or comprehension of that which has shined out of darkness. There is a God-established division between the spirit and the soul that cannot be crossed over (cf. Luke 16:26).
Relative to the salvation of the soul, it is shown that when a person’s spirit has been delivered from sin and thereby becomes alive, communication with God and spiritual comprehension is restored. It is now possible for the one who has “passed from death to life” to spiritually progress from immaturity to maturity by the continued work of the (indwelling) Holy Spirit, to ultimately occupy the position for which God has decreed for him “at the end of six days, i.e., at the end of six thousand years”— during the Messianic Era (the coming “day of rest”).
Within the type-antitype structure of Scripture, as day one of God’s restorative work to His creation (type) pertains to the salvation of man’s spirit (antitype), days two through six (type) pertain to the salvation of man’s soul (antitype). In Chitwood’s own words:
The salvation of the spirit is an instantaneous event where one passes “from death to life,” but not so with the salvation of the soul. It is a progressive event. It is an event that begins at the point one is made alive spiritually, and it will not be realized until the end of the six days of restorative work (the end of six thousand years of restorative work).
(The issues of the judgment seat of Christ at the end of the present dispensation — that will occur at the end of the six days, the end of the 6,000 years — will have to do with issues surrounding the salvation [or loss] of the soul/life. It will be here — not before — that the man will realize [or fail to realize] the salvation of his soul/life.)
Since the salvation of the spirit cannot occur apart from an exact duplication in the antitype of that which occurred in the type during day one of the restoration in Genesis, how could the salvation of the soul, in relation to that which occurred on days two through six, be looked upon after any different fashion? It couldn’t. The latter must follow the pattern to the same degree as the former. There can be no difference in this respect.
The discussion then follows how one’s soul (life) is to be progressively delivered — from spiritual immaturity to spiritual maturity — by examining each day of the foundational passage (type) in Genesis, days “two through six,” showing how the activities relative to them relate to the salvation of the soul (antitype) of the believer. Days “one through three” show divisions. Days “four through six” depict things beyond the divisions previously established, e.g., placement of lights in the heavens, creation of birds, creation of marine life, and the creation of land animals. In Chitwood’s own words:
And the whole of God’s restorative work relative to the material creation in Genesis foreshadows the whole of God’s restorative work relative to man. After man has “passed from death to life,” wherein the spirit is separated from the soul — wrought entirely through divine intervention — man finds himself in a position and condition where a continued divine work not only can occur but is vitally necessary. And only through this continued divine work can the whole of God’s restorative work, as it pertains to man, be realized.
(As seen in God’s initial restorative work surrounding the material creation, man must be completely passive in relation to the salvation of the spirit [he is dead, rendering him incapable of acting]. But man, as the material creation [“And the earth brought forth . . . .”] must then be active. He must be active in relation to the salvation of the soul [he now has life, allowing him to act]. But, as in the restoration of the material creation, the entire salvation process [spirit and soul, and ultimately the body] is a divine work.
It has to be a divine work, for that is the manner in which it is set forth in the opening type. It must be as Jonah stated immediately prior to deliverance: “Salvation [deliverance, restoration] is of the Lord” [Jonah 2:9].)
Events occurring during the first three days in Genesis, chapter one would point to elementary things or the basics in one’s spiritual life and growth. Events occurring during day one would point to a division having to do with the impartation of life. Then events occurring during days two and three would point to divisions, distinctions as one begins to progressively grow within the framework of the new life brought into existence on the first day. One would learn to distinguish between the soulical and spiritual, spiritual and carnal (fleshly), Jew, Gentile, and Christian, the dispensations, etc.
Only when one learns the distinctions, divisions depicted by that which was brought to pass on days two and three is he in a position to move on into the things depicted by that which was brought to pass on days four through six. On these three days, light was restored to the sun and moon (day four, vv. 14-19); sea life and the birds of the air were created (day five, vv. 20-23); and then God created all the living creatures that roam the earth, followed by His creation of man (day six, vv. 24-27).
That depicted by the work of the Triune Godhead during these three days points to things beyond elementary truths in the antitype. After one has passed “from death to life” and has been instructed in the elementary truths (days one through three) — after he has been “born from above” and has grown to a degree in his Christian life — he can then begin to view with understanding deeper spiritual truths of the Word. He can then begin to view with understanding those things in the Word depicted by events on days four through six of Genesis, chapter one.
An individual in this position can then begin to sink deep shafts down into the Word and mine its treasures. He can look into the Word and understand that depicted by the lights in the heavens. He can in the true sense of the Word, “mount up with wings as eagles . . . run, and not be weary . . . walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31), as he scales the heights; or he can scale the depths of the Word as the sea creatures plunge to the depths of the sea; or he can roam through the Word as the land creatures roam the earth.
In short, the more a person progresses from immaturity to maturity the more he comes into a position where he becomes unlimited in that which he can mine from the God-breathed Word in his possession. And the whole matter is with a view to man, at the end of six days (at the end of six thousand years), being in a position to realize the purpose for his very existence: “Let them have dominion . . . .” (Genesis 1:26, 28).
And to tie it all together in order to show the connection between maturity in the faith (present) and occupying a position as co-heir with Christ in the kingdom (future) is very simple. The salvation of the soul — allowing Christians to have the dominion for which man was created — will be realized by those who, during the present time, patiently endure, by faith (Hebrews 6:12ff; 10:36ff), the trials and testing of life as they keep their eyes fixed upon the same thing Christ kept His eyes fixed upon as He endured the sufferings of Calvary — the joy “set before him” (Hebrews 12:1, 2; cf. Matthew 25:19-23). And this cannot be successfully accomplished apart from some element of maturity in the faith.
. . . faith comes by [Greek: ek, ‘out of’] hearing, and hearing by [Greek: dia, ‘through’] the Word of God. (Romans 10:17)
“Faith” is simply believing that which God has to say about a matter. Thus, walking by faith is walking in accordance with that which God has said; living by faith is living in accordance with that which God has said, etc.
And it all comes down to this:
To act, “by faith,” in any realm of life, one must know and understand that which God has said relative to the matter at hand. In other words, such a person must be conversant with the Word of God; and the more conversant he is with this Word, the better equipped he will be to act “by faith.”
The pilgrim walk is a walk solely “by faith,” never by sight. There is only one hope for victory, and that is a continuous walk by faith with one’s eyes fixed on the goal out ahead. There will be attacks by Satan time after time after time throughout the Christian life, and the only recourse that Christians possess to assure victory is a knowledge of the Word of God, an ability to use the Word, and an adherence to that which the Word states. Otherwise defeat can only be inevitable, with the Christian being overcome by the enemy rather than overcoming the enemy.
And that’s why the salvation of the soul — having to do with a participation with Christ as co-heir in events occurring on the seventh day — cannot be realized apart from a realization in one’s life of that portended by events on days two through six in the Genesis account. The journey from day one to day seven can be successfully accomplished only by traveling through days two through six.
Days two through six lie between days one and seven in a parallel respect to the Red Sea and the Wilderness lying between Egypt and Canaan. No route exists that carries one directly from the beginning point to the end point without passing through that which lies between. All six of the days must be passed through to reach the seventh day, and the route extending from the death of the Passover Lamb in Egypt through the Red Sea and the Wilderness must be traversed in order to reach the land wherein one’s inheritance lies. This is the revealed way that God has outlined for man to travel. And as there is only one revealed way of eternal salvation (man made alive spiritually), there is only one revealed way in which redeemed man can traverse the pilgrim path if he would one day realize the salvation of his soul.
With regards to Anthropology, it is explained that the origin and reason for man’s existence are set forth in Genesis chapter one (vv. 26-28). Additional details concerning man’s creation are set forth in chapter two (vv. 7, 21-25). Man’s fall is covered in chapter three, along with the provision of redemption by divine intervention (vv. 1-21). The remainder of chapter three (v. 22ff), covering 6,000 years of time, deals with God’s restoration of the ruined creation for a revealed purpose.
His primary point, in Chitwood’s own words:
The purpose for man’s redemption cannot be separated from the purpose for his creation. He was brought into existence to rule and reign. God created man, He put the man to sleep, He removed from the man that part of his being that was used to bring the woman into existence, and He then presented the woman back to the man in order that the man might be complete (Genesis 2:7, 21-25).
And this was done (setting forth great foundational truths surrounding Christ and His bride) in order that the man and the woman might rule the restored domain together — the King, with his consort queen. And all these things provide God’s unchangeable foundational revelation surrounding man:
a) Man’s creation (the man and the woman — the woman created in the man and then removed from the man).
b) God’s purpose for bringing man into existence (to ascend the throne and rule the earth [the King with his consort queen]).
c) Satan’s purpose for bringing about man’s fall (to disqualify man [through sin, as he himself had previously been disqualified]) and, resultantly, retain his position on the throne.
d) God’s purpose surrounding man’s redemption (to ultimately place man on the throne, in the stead of Satan, allowing man to hold the scepter and realize the purpose for his creation in the beginning).
And any later revelation concerning man cannot be understood in its proper perspective apart from beginning where God began — at the beginning — and understanding the Word in this light, for that is where God has placed the unchangeable foundational material upon which His later revelation rests.
(A principle of biblical government necessitates that an incumbent ruler, though disqualified, continue to hold his position until his God-appointed successor is not only on the scene but ready to ascend the throne. Only at that time will God remove one ruler from the throne [the first] and establish the other [the second] on the throne, in accord with Daniel 4:17, 23-25. Refer to the account of Saul and David in the books of 1, 2 Samuel, foreshadowing that which has happened, is happening, and will happen relative to Satan and Christ.)
With regards to Eschatology, Chitwood maintains that for a person to have a proper grasp of future events (prophecy), he must understand that “the whole of the eschatological framework [in Scripture] is set forth within the foundational framework surrounding that which God has revealed about the seven days in Genesis 1:1-2:3.”
The seven-day pattern that God introduces in the opening chapters of Genesis, serves as a type (a structure), to which further study of Scripture must be compared, building upon this foundation until full clarity is achieved. He covers this argument in chapter two of his book, The Study of Scripture, in a comprehensive manner. The following excerpt is taken from this chapter, “The Septenary Arrangement of Scripture”:
Teachings drawn from the opening two
chapters of Genesis form the key to the entire matter,
and a correct understanding and interpretation of these opening
chapters is not something that should be taken lightly. Scripture
is actually built upon a structure that is laid down in these two
chapters, and an individual's understanding and interpretation of
numerous things throughout the remainder of Scripture will be
governed by his or her understanding and interpretation of this
opening section of Scripture.
Chitwood affirms that “within that which is taught in the framework [established in the opening chapters of Genesis], a person can begin to move forward and see any biblical doctrine (doctrine of man, salvation, angels, etc.) within its correct perspective. In his words:
In eschatology, everything moves toward that coming seventh day; but it begins on the first day. And a person works his way toward that seventh day in Scripture by moving through the previous six, viewing man’s fall and God’s redemptive work throughout the six days (throughout 6,000 years of redemptive work), with a view to the seventh day (the coming 1,000 years of rest).
(Eschatology in relation to man begins on the first day. Scripture though reveals a few things occurring prior to the events of day one, in eternity past, which must be understood if all things in Genesis 1:1-2:3 are to, in turn, be properly understood. These things would include God placing Satan over this earth as its first provincial ruler, Satan seeking to exalt his throne, and the ruined kingdom that resulted [over which Satan continued to rule, which he continues to rule today].
And a person, by understanding these things, is then in a position to begin in Genesis 1:2 [where the kingdom is seen falling into this ruined state] and move forward.)
Starting at the beginning within the foundational structure, following man’s creation and fall, two days pass, 2,000 years pass, and Abraham appears (allowing the nation of Israel to later appear); then two more days pass, 2,000 additional years pass, and Messiah appears (followed by His death, burial, and resurrection, allowing the Church to be brought into existence [a Scriptural truth that has its foundational teachings within God’s action in Genesis 2:21-25 and Adam’s action in Genesis 3:6]). And events surrounding Messiah’s appearance all rest on the foundation established in Genesis chapter one, with a view to realizing that which is foreshadowed by events on the seventh day in chapter two.
And that’s the way it is with soteriology, anthropology, eschatology, or any other biblical doctrine (Ecclesiology [doctrine of the Church], Christology [doctrine of Christ], Pneumatology [doctrine of the Holy Spirit], etc.). The foundational teachings for all biblical doctrine can be found in the opening chapters of Genesis, and particular attention has been called to three (soteriology, anthropology, and eschatology) only to illustrate the point.
And in the fourth chapter of his book, Chitwood covers an array of differences in biblical interpretation resulting from not paying proper attention to and understanding the foundational structure set in Scripture, reflected in the opening chapters of Genesis, as well as not building upon this structure by “comparing Scripture with Scripture.” In Chitwood’s own words:
There exists in the world today every conceivable difference in biblical interpretation that man can possibly imagine. This ranges all the way from what might be considered minor differences existing among Christians in the various denominational and independent groups to major differences exhibited by the cults.
But, viewing these differences as a whole, things often become clouded. A sharp line in doctrinal thought between the cults and the denominational or independent groups (usually considered to be generally sound) is not always so evident.
In fact, the absence of sharp distinctions in various types of unsound doctrinal thought proclaimed by different groups of this nature is far more prevalent than many may realize. The leaven that the woman placed in the three measures of meal in Matthew 13:33, apparently very early in the dispensation, is no respecter of names or any other type divisions among Christian groups; and this leaven, which has been working since possibly the very inception of the Church, is going to continue doing its damaging work until “the whole” has been leavened, i.e., until “the whole” has been corrupted.
One of the best examples of the outworking of the leaven within the mainstream of Christendom today would be the widely accepted Lordship Salvation teaching, a teaching that has infiltrated practically all denominational and independent groups. And a high percentage of those holding to this line of thought today are to be found in the so-called fundamental circles.
The teaching itself though undermines the whole of God’s restorative work throughout Man’s Day, for it not only corrupts the gospel of the grace of God (negatively reflecting on the foundation set through events of day one in Genesis chapter one) but it obscures the gospel of the glory of Christ (negatively reflecting on the foundation set through events of days two through six in Genesis chapter one).
Then another example would be the lack of (and, really, “aversion to” in many instances) teachings dealing with the salvation of the soul within the same so-called fundamental circles (again, negatively reflecting on the foundation set through events of days two through six in Genesis chapter one).
This is the message that Satan hates, and he will do everything within his power to prevent its proclamation or understanding (cf. Matthew 13:3-7, 18-22; 2 Corinthians 3:3-6).
(“So-called fundamental circles” because the name fundamentalism portends a return to the fundamentals of the faith, which, in turn, portends a return to the foundational truths in Genesis. Such a return would be true fundamentalism, in which the manifested errors among many using this name today would not — they could not — exist.)
So that’s where we are today. Men have gone astray because they have ignored that which God established, after one fashion, at the beginning. There has been a departure from the established foundation and subsequent preliminary foundational truths, which has resulted in the manifested error.
And that’s it! The matter is that simple. If you want to remain correct as you work your way through Scripture, then it is absolutely necessary that you start out in a correct manner at the beginning.
Begin at the beginning, find out how God structured His Word, study it after that fashion, and you will not go wrong.
Original and Ultimate Purpose — its Realization through Selection & Sanctification
Although the original and ultimate purpose for man has been previously covered to some extent, it is important at this juncture to eliminate any ambiguity regarding the matter. Man was created for a specific purpose, to have “dominion” over God’s restored earth. Man was to rule and reign, to take the place of the then ruler (Satan) of this domain. He was in preparation (in training, so to speak) to take this position of regality (a kingdom) when he died spiritually through disobedience to God’s instructions pertaining to the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:16, 17). And this “fall” also brought about another ruination of earth (its first ruination evident in Genesis 1:2a).
But God’s purpose for man to rule over the earth would not change, necessitating God’s grace-plan of redemption for man and earth, so that eventually the kingdom could be established upon earth in and over which man would exercise dominion.
Through a unilateral covenant made with Abraham, God promised that his purpose for man would extend through Abraham and his progeny (the nation Israel) in both an earthly and a heavenly realm (Genesis 15; 22:16-18). But, again, because of disobedience, Israel was not permitted to realize this purpose. Still, God’s purpose for man would not, could not change.
Through Jesus Christ, God would offer to Israel the possibility of realizing His purpose for man, the establishment of a kingdom over which they would rule. This offer would be extended through the preaching of John the Baptist in the wilderness of Judea, which was “Repent for the kingdom of the heavens [the Greek text always has the plural form] is at hand” (Matthew 3:1, 2), and later, through the ministry of Christ (Matthew 4:17) and His twelve disciples (Matthew 10:5-7). But because Israel would not repent of (turn around from) their disobedience; and finally, due to Israel’s ultimate denial (leading to the crucifixion) of Christ as Messiah, as represented by and under the leadership of their religious representatives as seen in Matthew chapter twelve, God through Christ withdrew the offer of the heavenly aspect of the proffered kingdom, to offer it to another “nation bearing the fruits of it” (Matthew 21:43; 1 Peter 2:9, 10).
In Matthew chapter twelve, Israel’s denial of Christ as the Messiah culminated in the religious leaders of Israel (Pharisees) accusing Christ of casting out demons that were within the “blind and mute man” by “Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons” (v. 24). This amounted to what is often referred to as the “unpardonable sin,” which was indeed “blasphemy against the Spirit” (v. 32) — a sin that Christ stated would not be forgiven “in this age [from creation to Christ’s Second Advent] or in the age [Messianic Era] to come” (v. 32). In effect, Israel (represented by their religious leaders) had crossed the final line (the point of no return) in their rejection of Messiah. As Chitwood states:
It was on “the same day” in which this occurred that “Jesus went out of the house [a reference to the house of Israel], and sat by the seaside [a reference to the Gentiles]” (Matthew 13:1; cf. Daniel 7:2, 3; Matthew 23:38; Revelation 13:1). It was also on this same day that He began to speak in parables, something new in His ministry. Then it was shortly after these things occurred that the Church was first mentioned and the ministry of Christ moved more toward the thought of the Cross rather than the Crown (cf. Matthew 16:17-23; 17:22, 23; 20:17-19).
And then, anticipated by all the preceding, the announcement was finally made by Christ in Matthew 21:43 that the kingdom (the proffered heavenly sphere of the kingdom that had been rejected) would be taken from Israel and be given “to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.”
Starting at Pentecost, God sent the Holy Spirit for the specific purpose of procuring a bride for Christ (the “Second Man,” the antitype) in fulfillment of the foundational structure as seen in the opening chapters of Genesis relative to Adam (the “First man,” the type). And as typified in Adam’s bride, the purpose for the Bride of Christ, which will be removed from the Body of Christ (i.e., those who are shown to be overcomers) at the Judgment Seat of Christ, will be to make Christ complete relative to a revealed purpose, that of reigning and ruling with Him during the Messianic Era (the seventh day of rest as typified in Genesis, specifically mentioned in the book of Hebrews, and clearly revealed in the book of Revelation).
Concerning this matter, Chitwood’s book, Search for the Bride, is revealing. He presents this important doctrinal issue, which is illustrated (typified) throughout the scriptures of the Old Testament, in an overview contained in the book’s foreword, as follows:
The Spirit of God is in the world today performing a work related to a new dispensation. Israel has been set aside, and an entirely new entity, a new nation — the one new man “in Christ”— has been brought into existence (cf. Ephesians 2:12-15; 1 Peter 2:9, 10).
Why has God sent His Spirit to deal with new household servants (this new nation, this new man)? One thing is crystal clear about the matter. God has not sent His Spirit into the world to deal with unsaved man relative to eternal salvation, for two very evident reasons: First, the Spirit was sent to the saved, to do a particular, revealed work (cf. John 16:7-15; Acts 1:5; 2:1); and second, the Spirit was already present in the world doing a work among the unsaved, a work that He has been performing since Adam’s fall.
Fallen man, because of Adam’s sin, is spiritually dead; and the Spirit has been in the world throughout Man’s Day breathing life into the one having no life. And He has done/does this on the basis of death and shed blood, allowing man to pass “from death to life” (John 5:24; Ephesians 2:1).
The foundational basic teachings for the Spirit’s work in this respect are set forth in the first four chapters of Genesis. And these foundational basics, set forth at the very beginning, can never change at any point throughout Scripture. Man’s eternal salvation, necessitated by Adam’s fall, remains exactly the same throughout Man’s Day. And this necessitates the Spirit performing a work relative to man’s restoration, beginning with man’s fall, and continuing today.
Yet, God sent His Spirit into the world on the day of Pentecost in 33 A.D., though the Spirit was already in the world performing a work having to do with unsaved man. Thus, since the Spirit was already in the world dealing with man relative to his spiritually dead state, it is quite evident that God sending His Spirit into the world on the day of Pentecost could have nothing to do with man’s eternal salvation. The Spirit was already here doing a work in this respect, effecting the birth from above; and nothing could be added to or taken from this continuing work of the Spirit through a work of the Spirit that began on the day of Pentecost.
Rather, God sending His Spirit on this day had to do with a special and particular work among those in whom He had already breathed life (on the basis of Christ’s death and shed blood). It had to do with a work subsequent to man passing “from death to life.” And, consequently, everything relating to this special and particular work (e.g., the immersion in the Spirit, the new creation “in Christ,” the one new man, the sealing of the Spirit, the earnest of the inheritance, etc.) can have nothing to do with salvation by grace.
And that should be simple enough to understand, for salvation by grace could only remain unchanged at the time when these things having to do with a work of the Spirit peculiar to the dispensation were brought into existence. That is to say, the Spirit, at the time of and following events on the day of Pentecost in 33 A.D., simply continued His work relative to salvation by grace (unchanged); but the Spirit began a new work on this day, peculiar to the dispensation (for those in whom He had already breathed life).
Why is the Spirit performing a work of this nature, a work peculiar to the present dispensation? Where is the line to be drawn between His work relative to salvation by grace (which continues unchanged throughout Man’s Day) and His work peculiar to the present dispensation (which began on the day of Pentecost in 33 A.D. and will end when the work has been completed)?
That’s what this book, Search for the Bride, is about. God has brought into existence an entirely new dispensation; and, in connection with this new dispensation, God has brought into existence the one new man “in Christ.” And God has sent the Holy Spirit into the world to do a particular, revealed work among those comprising this new man.
This book covers all aspects of the matter, drawing from both the Old and New Testaments. And this book deals with that which Scripture alone, not man, has to say about the matter.
To reiterate, the specific work of the Holy Spirit during this dispensation of grace is to deal with those who have “passed from death to life,” who now compose the Body of Christ (the “Church”); to bring any willing individuals within this “Body,” through progressive sanctification — from immaturity to maturity — a spiritual process that encompasses the knowledge of God’s original and ultimate purpose for man (identified by Christ as the “word of the kingdom” in Matthew 13:19) and which centers on the “salvation of the soul.”
Original and Ultimate Purpose — its Realization through Self-Works
The realization (fulfillment) of God’s original and ultimate purpose for which He created man is depicted most graphically in the book of Revelation — a book specifically devoted to “end time” events, starting with the Judgment of the Body of Christ (the “Church”) and selection of the “Bride of Christ” in its initial chapters; and followed by the redemption of the inheritance (the taking back of earth by dealing with Israel and the nations), the marriage ceremony of Christ and His Bride, the Second Advent of Christ with His army of angels to establish His kingdom, the Kingdom Age (Messianic Era), the destruction of Satan and his rebellion at the end of the Kingdom Age, the Great White Throne Judgment (of the lost), and the ages beyond.
But what is most crucial for the believer is how this realization described in the book of Revelation is achieved. It can only be achieved by the salvation of the soul of one who has already “passed from death to life” (John 5:24) when he “believed on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 16:31), his spirit being irrevocably saved by the grace-gift of God that is based solely upon the work of Christ on the Cross. But without the further salvation of one’s soul, a person will not realize God’s original and ultimate purpose for which he was created.
And so that there will be no mistake concerning this most critical component of God’s redemptive plan relative to tripartite man, which is a “salvation of self-works,” the following review of God’s full redemptive plan (tripartite salvation), drawn form Chitwood’s book, Salvation of the Soul, follows:
Salvation in the New Testament is spoken of in three tenses — Past, Present, and 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)
In Ephesians 2:8, 9, salvation is a past, completed act. In this first aspect of salvation, dealt with in verse eight, the words in the corrected text, “you have been saved,” 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.
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)
In 1 Corinthians 1:18, salvation is a present, continuous work. This verse deals with the second aspect of salvation, and 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.
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)
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 implementing the birth from above, the salvation of his spirit. And this is done with an end in view — so that the Spirit can take the one who now has spiritual life and perform a work in his life, 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 understanding the distinctions in God’s threefold redemption plan, i.e., the three aspects of salvation previously mentioned. And depending on how one approaches and deals with the various salvation passages in Scripture, some applying to spirit salvation and some to soul salvation, either difficulties can be avoided on the one hand or insurmountable problems can result on the other.
Salvation in the New Testament deals with 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)
For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)
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 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 of man 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 that time (Acts 2:27); and His body was removed from the cross and placed in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea (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. Man’s complete redemption must encompass spirit, soul, and body.
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 passed “from death to life,” as having been “quickened” (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).
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. Hebrews 4:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:23).
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.
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 has righteousness with unrighteousness, and what communion has 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?
Salvation in the New Testament is concerned with man in three different states — as Soulical, as Spiritual, and as 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.
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.
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.
. . . . 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 to “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 them “into 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 them “into 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, 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.
The Complete Salvation Issue
In order to implement man’s eternal redemption, the Spirit of God deals with unsaved man on one basis alone — 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 implemented, 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 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 produce 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 to glory.
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.
Original and Ultimate Purpose — its Acknowledgment at Judgment
One of the most difficult doctrines for any believer to face in God’s Word centers on the Judgment Seat of Christ, a judgment that will involve only Christians (1 Corinthians 3:12-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10, 11; Romans 14:10; Galatians 6:7; Colossians 3:24, 25; Revelation 22:12); and from which Seat will emanate findings, decisions, and determinations that will separate believers in Christ into two groups — those in a position of honor and glory and those in a position of shame and disgrace. And those occupying such positions will remain in these states for one thousand years during the coming Messianic Era.
It is unfortunate that commentary exists pertaining to the Judgment Seat of Christ, which endeavors to define it as only a place for the issuance of rewards (or lack thereof) with no possibility of punitive action. The argument of such commentary is that the translation of the Greek word, bema, as “judgment seat,” is a mistranslation. This view is based on the word bema used in secular Greek that referred to the place during the Greek sport games where a judge would issue prizes for the winners in each contest. Those who hold to this view argue that in earlier translations of the New Testament the phrase, “judgment seat,” used to later translate the Greek word, bema, was not used; instead, only “bema seat” was mentioned. In other words, the word was not translated, just carried over as a transliteration of the Greek word.
But it is a fallacy to determine the interpretation of a word as used in Scripture by the secular use of such a word, i.e., “in words that man’s wisdom teaches.” Rather, the only correct way to determine the meaning of a specific word as used in Scripture is by “comparing Scripture with Scripture” (1 Corinthians 2:13). This is the only way the Holy Spirit can bring forth its true meaning.
As for “judgment seat” being a “bad translation” of the Greek word, bema, it is not. Regardless of how one sees the bema, in or out of the “sports arena,” it was in fact a place of judgment. The only question is whether or not it administered negative as well as positive judgments.
By “comparing Scripture with Scripture, one will find that bema is used in the New Testament only twelve times in ten verses of Scripture (Matthew 27:19; John 19:13; Acts 18:12, 16, 17; 25:6, 10, 17; Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10), all of which referring to a place of judgment from which both rewards and punishment were dispensed. Study each application. And, in fact, when it comes to the Judgment Seat (bema) of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10), it is associated with the “terror of the Lord” (v. 11), a phrase that can’t apply only to “loss of rewards.” No, the “Bema of Christ” is most definite a place from which both rewards and punishment will be dispensed to Christians. Note Hebrews 10:30, 31 — although the bema seat is not mentioned, that which is associated with it is mentioned, i.e., the Lord’s judgment of “His people,” and the conclusion is “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
It will be at this judgment, which follows the rapture of the entire Body of Christ (the “Church”) from earth where a “further resurrection” will take place that will separate (1) those believers who during their life brought forth fruit from a position of faith, resulting in the salvation of their souls, from (2) those believers who bore no fruit, resulting in the loss of their souls. This resurrection is referred to by the apostle Paul in Philippians 3:11 as his expressed goal for living a life of self-denial in order to “gain Christ,” to gain His righteousness (vv. 8, 9), a personal and accrued righteousness obtained by Christ living through him (Galatians 2:20; Colossians 2:6), a righteousness that brings forth soul-saving works (fruit), such as is mentioned throughout the book of James and which is the righteousness that is mentioned in Revelation 19:8 — the composition of the Bride’s attire — a righteousness different from the imputed “righteousness of God” permanently received by one’s initial faith in Christ that is mentioned in 2 Corinthians 5:21.
Paul indicates this “further resurrection” in verse eleven with his use of a particular Greek word, exanastasia, used only this one time in the New Testament: “If, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection [exanastasia] from the dead.” The normal Greek word, used forty-two times in the New Testament, for “resurrection” is anastasia. By adding the prefix “ex,” the word then means “out-resurrection,” which is purposely used by Paul to indicate another or further resurrection out from those who have been raised from the dead.
And those whose souls have been saved, who then obtain the adoption of “firstborn status” (inheritance) and who then become the Bride of Christ (and eventually married to Him), will be privileged to rule and reign with Him during the Messianic Era. But those whose souls have not been saved will face dire consequences in “outer darkness” throughout the Messianic Era.
For a comprehensive treatment of the “judgment seat of Christ,” before which all Christians will stand (2 Corinthians 5:10), the following books are recommended: Judgment Seat of Christ, by Arlen L. Chitwood; and Shock & Surprise Beyond the Rapture, by Gary T. Whipple. To most Christians, these books will be startling “eye-openers.”
Original and Ultimate Purpose — its Realistic Benefits
To come to grasp with God’s purpose for man is to gain certain spiritual benefits that are quite practicable in one’s Christian life, not the least of which is the approval of God for honoring His Word. But from a personal point-of-view, the following benefits are briefly discussed.
By this is meant the achievement of real purpose (direction and meaning) in one’s spiritual life. No longer will a Christian entertain an aimless (cloudy, or mysterious) future heavenly goal — one that provides no specific meaning and direction in his present life. When asking most Christians what will happen to them after physical death, one is usually faced with blank and quizzical stares, accompanied by ambiguous replies that have no basis in Scripture.
Man was created to have a definite purpose, a definite direction in life. This is easily seen in secular life. When there is no strong goal or direction, man sinks into despair, emptiness, and a feeling of useless remorse. Such a state of mind often brings the body to death.
This is easily seen in individuals who have held positions of distinct responsibility during their lifetime, when they retire. Unless they are able to establish new purpose and direction in their lives, they often age and enter death’s door prematurely.
Man’s nature requires direction, meaning, purpose to live!
When Christians fail to progress spiritually from immaturity to maturity, a condition that is inextricably connected to one’s understanding of God’s original and ultimate purpose for man, resulting in the salvation of their souls, they quickly lapse into a state of carnality, whether in church or not, which is the antithesis of a true “purpose-driven” life.
Without the knowledge of their ultimate destination (goal), they lack spiritual direction. As in Second Timothy chapter three, they have a “form of godliness” but deny its power (v. 5), and who are “always learning [but] never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (v. 7) — verses within a passage of Scripture that is often ascribed to the lost; but, in reality is applicable to believers.
But when a believer comes to an understanding of his ultimate goal, set by God at the very beginning of Scripture (Genesis), seen in its fulfillment at the very end of Scripture (Revelation), and with all it entails as seen by copious passages of Scripture in between, he is imbued with direction and purpose. For the first time, he is able to see the realistic connection between his actions in this age with the age to come. For the first time he will see where he is going and will be inspired to get there. He will graphically understand the implications and impact of the actions within his present spiritual life relative to his God-planned future. For the first time, he will actually achieve a “purpose-driven” life — a life of true meaning.
By this is meant the ability to achieve compatibility between all passages of Scriptures within God’s Word, e.g., passages dealing with spirit-salvation (based solely on the work of Christ and which is non-conditional) with passages dealing with soul-salvation (based solely on self-works and is conditional).
Such confusion of various passages of Scripture dealing with both aspects of salvation, which comes from the inability to recognize the difference as to their application, often results in the false doctrine of the “insecurity of the believer.”
Or it will result in flagrant misinterpretations of numerous passages of Scripture, e.g., believing that the warnings in the book of Hebrews apply to what is termed “professing [meaning not true] Christians” rather than “true Christians,” or that the book of James speaks of spirit-salvation rather than soul-salvation.
Further misinterpretation is seen in biblical commentary on the “kingdom of the heavens” message preached throughout the Bible by John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, and His apostles. Corruption of Scripture in this regard is further extended into most all the parables within the New Testament, with the incorrect notion that the “kingdom of the heavens” is a spiritual state in which all believers presently participate.
But when a Christian comes to the understanding of God’s ultimate purpose and goal of man, which is inextricably connected to the salvation of the soul, he immediately is placed into a position in which the Holy Spirit can lead him “into all truth” — a position that will allow him to finally see the compatibility of all Scripture.
By this is meant that for the first time, a Christian who comes to an understanding of God’s ultimate purpose and goal of man will truly experience biblical “hope,” that which is often spoken of by the writers of the New Testament (1 Corinthians 15:19; Ephesians 1:18; 4:4; Colossians 1:5, 27; 1 Timothy 1:1; Titus 1:2; 2:13; 3:7; Hebrews 6:18; 1 John 3:3), which will transform his life from one of spiritual senselessness and meritocracy to one of God-directed function and supremacy. For the first time, he will experience a life of fantastic spiritual excitement as he eagerly anticipates the appearing of Christ in the clouds.
These three benefits and more awaits the Christian who will honestly come to God’s Word, who will study it using the biblical principles previously discussed, and will look solely to the Holy Spirit to lead him “into all truth.” Without fail, this process will bring one to a true understanding of the original and ultimate purpose for man. And by knowing this, it will transform him to his spiritual benefit, in this age…..and in the one to come.
Arlen L. Chitwood, a pastor-teacher and author of many books, pamphlets, and periodicals, several of which are quoted from in this document, may be found and obtained without charge from the website www.lampbroadcast.org. Many of his works may also be freely obtained in Microsoft Word format from www.bibleone.net.
Chuck Missler is a long-time expositor of the Word and who is the founder of www.khouse.org.