Life-Altering Bible Truths for the Believer
All doctrines contained in the Bible, God’s inerrant Word to mankind, are life-altering. The Bible is composed of 66 individual books written under holy inspiration by 40 different human authors over a period of several thousand years, all of which are centered on a central theme, God’s Redemption for Man. The Bible focuses through fact and typology on one central event of all history, the Death, Burial and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God (God in human form) who is the Creator of the universe.
In carrying out this theme and in centering on this event, the Bible reveals a wealth of knowledge about the Person of God, the creation of the universe, the creation and spiritual fall of man, God’s dealings with mankind through various forms and peoples (the Jewish nation, the Church) and earth’s and mankind’s eventual destiny. But the most important feature of the Bible is man’s eternal redemption, how he may be saved from an eternal wrath apart from God and be assured of eternal bliss with his Creator. And the second most important feature of it is how man may eventually become joint-heirs with Jesus Christ during the Messianic Era (Kingdom Age).
This topical study is concerned with four of the prime movers toward holiness taught in the Bible for the believer, the Christian, the person who is a child of God. But before a “lost person” (one who is without Christ as his personal Savior) may lay claim to this grace-position in the family of God, he needs to understand how to make it applicable to himself. The next paragraph will provide the necessary information for anyone to be saved—to become a child of God.
The Bible is explicit regarding the condition of natural man; therefore the remainder of this paragraph in outlined steps will be directed, grammatically in the first person, to the reader of this study, which, should he need to know, is God’s Plan of Salvation.
1. You are a sinner.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)
But the Scripture has confined all under sin that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. (Galatians 3:22)
2. Because of your sin you are spiritually dead and destined to an eternity separated from God.
For the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23a)
3. God loves you and desires to give you eternal life as a grace-gift through His Son, Jesus Christ.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16)
4. God’s Son, Jesus Christ, died and paid your sin-debt, in your place, on the cross so that you would have no need to suffer an eternity separated from God. He did not remain physically dead, but rose alive from the grave and is presently at the right hand of God the Father in heaven.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8)
For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all (1 Timothy 2:5, 6)
5. There is nothing that you can personally do in the way of good-works or self-effort in order to obtain God’s salvation.
For by grace you are 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)
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us . . . . (Titus 3:5a)
6. You can be saved right now by faith alone in Christ alone, which means that if you will turn from self-effort to Jesus Christ and wholeheartedly receive (place your complete faith or trust in) Him and His payment for your sins on the cross for your personal salvation, you will instantly receive the gift of eternal life. Upon your genuine decision to believe only in Christ and His sacrifice on Calvary, He will immediately save you—a position that is eternal.
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name (John 1:12)
For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God (John 3:17, 18)
But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:31)
And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16:30, 31)
By faith alone in Christ alone instantly and spiritually transforms a person by the “new birth” into a child of God, which salvation is totally permanent, i.e., never to be retracted. After a person becomes a believer (Christian), he then faces the remainder of his earthly sojourn with numerous choices in the face of numerous situations to either live in or outside the will of God.
Four Bible truths, if taken to heart, will motivate and assist the believer in making right choices throughout his life. They are (1) The Suffering on the Cross, (2) The Indwelling and Presence of the Holy Spirit, (3) The Imminence of the Rapture, and (4) The Judgment at the Seat of Christ. They follow:
The Suffering on the Cross
The single most important event in the history of this world was when Jesus Christ paid for the sins of mankind on the cross of Calvary about two thousand years ago. The significance of His sacrifice in light of His personal suffering as God, the Creator of the universe, is both overwhelming and totally humbling to the Christian mind. To ponder it is to solicit the deepest dedication and extract unfathomable emotion from the heart and mind of a believer. The question is, “What price did He pay?”
To gain a modicum of appreciation for the price that Jesus Christ paid on the cross of Calvary, one must first understand that Jesus Christ was truly God in human form. The fact that God humbled Himself to take on a form of His creation and live among His creatures should have been payment enough, but by God’s decree it was not. God’s plan to satisfy His holy nature meant that a truly holy (Divine) sacrifice alone could satisfy His judgment against sin. Because of this Jesus Christ went to the cross and paid a most horrifying price for all man’s sins. The Bible teaches that He went to the cross to die and suffer for man’s sins, as the following scriptural passages (underlining by author for emphasis) indicate.
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5)
Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree") (Galatians 3:13)
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone (Hebrews 2:9)
So Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many (Hebrews 9:28a)
Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed (1 Peter 2:24)
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit (1 Peter 3:18)
But what does all this truly mean? It of course means that Jesus Christ suffered physical death as a direct result of man’s sins, but it means much more. The fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden brought more than just physical death to man. Adam’s sin brought both physical and spiritual death to Adam and through him to all mankind. Natural man faces both physical death (separation) from this life and, once this occurs to a person without God’s salvation, the eternal continuation of spiritual death, separation from God.
It was then quite necessary for Jesus Christ to pay the “penalty of spiritual death” (separation from God the Father) in order to become the ransom-Savior of mankind. Spiritual death as a payment for all mankind was something that only infinite God could do in the Person of Jesus Christ. But for this to happen He needed to do more than just bear man’s sins on the cross. He needed to be made sin for man, thereby mandating God the Father’s separation from Him. Indeed, this is what occurred on the cross. The human mind is utterly unable to comprehend how this was done and may never understand it throughout eternity. The following scriptural passages (with underlining by the author for emphasis) afford light on this most excruciating and horrifying price that the Son of God transacted on the cross of Calvary.
Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors (Isaiah 53:12)
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21)
This is the reason that from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness throughout the land. During this three hour period of time God the Father forsook (turned away, separated from) God the Son. (Matthew 27:45) This price paid by infinite God was sufficient in quality and degree to pay for the sins of all mankind for eternity. This is why Jesus Christ cried out to the Father, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46) And upon completing the payment for sin Jesus Christ cried out, “It is finished!” (Gk: “It has been paid”) and bowing His head, He gave up His Spirit. (John 19:30)
For the believer to ponder the reality that infinite God not only bore his sin, but was made his sin, and suffered the physical and spiritual consequences thereof, is to in utter and absolute humility bow before God in true and total appreciation for God’s grace-gift of salvation; and, by so doing, the believer can never be the same while upon this earth. This indeed is a life-altering truth for the believer.
The Indwelling and Presence of the Holy Spirit
The God of the Bible is vastly different than the gods of the religions of the world. Whereas they are capricious, the God of the Bible is both knowable and predictable. The God of the Bible has gone to extensive efforts to make Himself known to His creation. In fact, the God of the Bible has even taken the inconceivable step of personally entering and becoming a part of His creation so that He may be fully known and His creation truly blessed. He did this in two distinct ways.
Firstly, some two thousand plus years ago God became flesh (took on human form) as Jesus Christ the Son of God. In an earthly body He walked among men, He became the example of perfect life without sin and He died on an old Roman rugged cross in order to provide mankind eternal life. But God didn’t stop His entrance into His creation there.
Secondly, the Bible explicitly teaches that when a person by faith alone in Christ alone becomes a child of God the Holy Spirit, who is God, the third Person of the Holy Trinity, permanently indwells (enters into) that person, baptizing (submerging) him into the Body of Christ (the spiritual union of all believers). From that moment on the body of that person is viewed by God as a “temple of God” (Holy Spirit), which indeed is true. The following scriptural passages (with underlining by the author for emphasis) express this doctrine.
At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you (John 14:20)
And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness (Romans 8:10)
Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
(1 Corinthians 3:16)
Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! (1 Corinthians 6:15)
Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? (1 Corinthians 6:19)
And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” (2 Corinthians 6:16)
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me (Galatians 2:20)
In whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit (Ephesians 2:21, 22)
To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27)
This action by the Holy Spirit establishes a spiritual but very real union between the believer and every other believer, a union that is also linked intrinsically with Jesus Christ. Therefore, in addition to Almighty God coming in human form in the Person of Jesus Christ to die on Calvary, He now comes to every believer in the form of the Holy Spirit to indwell the believer for all eternity. This bona fide union which can never be broken is seen in the following scriptural passages (underlining by author for emphasis).
So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another (Romans 12:5)
Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? (1 Corinthians 6:15a)
From a purely practical standpoint this means that God is personally in and along side the believer in every thought he thinks, in every place he travels and in every action he takes throughout his life here upon earth. Whatever a believer thinks, says or does he must know that he exposes Almighty God to the same.
For the believer to ponder this reality that he is spiritually linked with every other believer and with God Himself, to understand that God in all His purity resides within him by means of the Holy Spirit no matter where he is or what he does, should make him become utterly aware of the gravity of his every thought, word and deed while he remains upon earth. This indeed is a life-altering truth for the believer.
The Imminence of the Rapture
Probably the most exciting belief that motivated early Christians to live godly lives was the eager anticipation of the return of Jesus Christ. This expectancy spread like wildfire from the original Apostles when they witnessed Christ ascend into heaven from the mount called Olivet, as is recorded in Acts 1:9-11. It was then that two men in white clothing (angels) said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”
This expectancy was of major concern to early Christians. It was a doctrine, which came to be known as “the rapture,” that was made clear to early believers by the Apostle Paul in two key passages of Scripture; although there are many other New Testament passages applicable to it. They follow.
Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed--in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-54)
But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17)
Although the word rapture is not found specifically in the Bible, it comes from a fourth century Latin vulgate translation of the Greek word harpadzo (in the above passage it was translated as “caught up”). The word actually means to be snatched up; therefore, the word rapture was found to be the best single word to express the event so described. It is a doctrine distinctively for the Church, the Body of Christ, and is found only in the New Testament. The Old Testament has numerous references to the Second Coming of Christ when He will return back to earth and shall rule a thousand years. This period is known as the Messianic Era or the Millennial Reign of Christ (Kingdom Age). But immediately prior to the Millennial Kingdom a most horrific period of seven years will take place on earth in which God’s judgments will rule. This will be the Great Tribulation., and there are many passages concerning this event. But prior to this seven year period of havoc, mayhem and devastation Jesus Christ will return in the sky and snatch up His Church in a “twinkling of an eye.” To Christians then, as now, this is the “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13) that he is always to be mindful of and look forward to (expect at any time).
Although there are conflicting views regarding when the rapture will take place, or if there’ll even be a rapture at all, this study is not the format to address what can be a most marvelous and comprehensive exposition of the Word of God dealing with this, one of the most exciting subjects or doctrines in the Bible. Suffice it to say that if one accepts a literal, as opposed to allegorical, interpretation of the Bible there is no difficulty in coming to the firm conclusion that (1) the rapture will indeed take place, (2) subsequent to the rapture grave tribulation will occur upon earth, (3) the second coming of Jesus Christ will immediately follow this period of tribulation, (4) Christ will set up His kingdom for 1,000 years upon His return to earth, (5) the Millennial Kingdom will be terminated by a battle in which God totally overwhelms the forces of evil, (6) after this the Great White Throne Judgment will take place where all without Christ will be judged by their works and when not found in the Book of Life will be cast into the Lake of Fire and (7) the new heaven and new earth and new Jerusalem will be established.
For this study the important issue is that the early Christians, as well as Christians down through the centuries and especially today, anticipate that Jesus Christ will return at any moment to snatch them up to be with Him. And it is this imminency that makes this truth a life-altering concept.
The Bible clearly teaches that Jesus Christ may come back at any time. There is nothing that has to be fulfilled or accomplished prior to Christ coming back to rapture out His Church from the world. Jesus Himself informed His disciples of the rapture.
Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. (John 14:1-3)
A few other, but not all, key passages follow:
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. (Philippians 3:20, 21)
When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. (Colossians 3:4)
And to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. (1 Thessalonians 1:10)
For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? (1 Thessalonians 2:19)
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)
Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. (2 Thessalonians 2:1, 2)
So Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation. (Hebrews 9:28)
Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. (James 5:7, 8)
And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away. (1 Peter 5:4)
And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. (1 John 2:28)
Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. (1 John 3:2, 3)
But hold fast what you have till I come. (Revelation 2:25)
The key motivating aspect of the Rapture is that there is nothing standing in the way of it happening today. Jesus taught that it will be sudden, it will be unexpected and it will catch many by surprise. He said, “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Matthew 24:44) Once a Christian fully understands that Jesus Christ can come at any second of any minute of any hour on any day, and this perception becomes a vivid reality within his mind, heart and soul; his life can never be the same. He knows then that when Christ returns, which can be at any minute, he must not be in any compromising position—in thought, word or deed.
For the believer to ponder the reality of the Rapture and the fact that it is truly imminent is to become utterly aware of the gravity of his every thought, word and deed while he remains upon this earth. This indeed is a life-altering truth for the believer.
The Judgment at the Seat of Christ
Although this is a judgment relevant to Christians, nothing pertaining to man’s eternal salvation can come into view here, since a person’s eternal (“spirit”) salvation is based entirely upon that which Christ did on the cross. On the cross God already judged sin in the person of His Son and God is totally satisfied with His Son’s sacrifice. Thus, all judgment relative to eternal salvation is past and can never again be an issue for the person who has believed in Christ.
He who believes in Him is not condemned [Gk. krino; lit., “is not judged,” i.e.., the one who has believed in Christ can never be brought into judgment (for judgment has already occurred)] . . . .” (John 3:18a)
Yet the Christian will face a judgment before Jesus Christ at His judgment seat (Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10, 11; Hebrews 10:26-31) for an entirely different matter. The judgment of the cross had to do with God’s judgment upon sin, based upon His Son’s sacrifice, which pertains strictly to man’s eternal (“spirit”) salvation. The judgment at the seat of Christ has to do with God’s subsequent judgment upon believers relative to their faithfulness (“soul salvation”) as servants in the Lord’s house, with the Messianic Era in view.
The cross-judgment has to do with unsaved man, his “spirit” salvation, and eternal truths; the seat-judgment has to do with saved man, his “soul” salvation, and millennial truths. Once must not be confused with the other. Once a person has believed in Jesus Christ—has passed “from death unto life”—he comes into an entirely new relationship with God. He is born from above, becomes part of the family of God; and he then finds himself among household servants, who are being dealt with accordingly and who will one day have to answer for his service in God’s household.
Numerous Christians fail to recognize this truth, that they are directly responsible to God as servants within God’s household for their conduct. And, as household servants, they will one day stand before their Savior (to whom God has committed all judgment) to give a detailed accounting relative to their faithfulness or lack thereof in the Lord’s house.
The decisions emanating from the findings at the Judgment Seat of Christ will result in either rewards (good/positive) or loss of rewards (bad/negative), but both will have to do with the Messianic Era (Kingdom Age), not with eternal life. And within both there will be a just recompense (Hebrews 2:2; 11:26) in which every believer will receive exactly what he deserves, which will be exactly commensurate with the believer’s faithfulness or unfaithfulness as a servant in the Lord’s house (cf. Luke 12:42-46).
In this study the terms “spirit salvation” and “soul salvation” have been used. It may be well at this juncture to define them.
Spirit vs. Soul Salvation
Since every human being is composed of body, soul (life), and spirit; it stands to reason that all three aspects are addressed in God’s salvation of mankind. Although “body salvation” is rather easily understood, there is some confusion when it comes to “spirit” and “soul” salvation. The following definitions of these follow:
Once these two aspects of the salvation process are understood, clarification of many passages within God’s Word will follow. And many of the misinterpretations assigned to the parables of Christ as recorded in the gospels can be eliminated.
A partial list of “soul salvation” scriptural passages that are most often misunderstood as referring to “spirit salvation: follows:
Matthew 19:27-30; 20:20-28 (Mark 10:35-45)
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Galatians 5:19-21; 6:7, 8
Ephesians 1:17, 18
1 Timothy 6:11, 12
2 Timothy 4:7, 8
Titus 2:12, 13
Hebrews 10:30, 31 (2 Corinthians 5:10, 11)
James 2:14-16, 22; 5:19, 20
1 Peter 1:4-9
2 Peter 1:10, 11
Revelation 19:8; 22:12
A comprehensive examination of this subject is not intended in this format. But for the reader who would like to pursue it, the following is recommended:
Judgment Seat of Christ by Arlen L. Chitwood, The Lamp Broadcast, Inc., 2001, which may be viewed and acquired “free of charge” from the following Internet link: http://lampbroadcast.org/index.html or possibly by purchase from The Lamp Broadcast, Inc., 2629 Wyandotte Way, Norman, OK 73071.
In fact the following comments from the back cover of this most insightful book will conclude this fourth inspiring truth.
Issues of the judgment seat will involve the activities of two dispensations—the present dispensation and the coming dispensation.
The present dispensation is one filled with trials, tests, and preparation. Issues of the judgment seat will be based entirely upon Christian involvement in these activities, with a view to the coming dispensation.
And in the coming dispensation—the Messianic Era—findings, decisions, and determinations previously made at the judgment seat will be brought to pass.
In the coming Messianic Era, every Christian will find himself in one of two major positions. He will either occupy a position of “honor and glory” or he will occupy a position of “shame and disgrace.” And there will be no equality among Christians in either position, for the previous findings, decisions, and determinations at the judgment seat will have resulted in a “just recompense.”
One acting as a servant in the Lord’s house, on the Lord’s behalf, during the present dispensation will be recompensed for his services at a future date. There will be “exact payment for services rendered”; there will be a “reaping in exact accord with the sowing.”
Every Christian will “receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done . . .” This is the reason why some Christians will occupy higher positions in the kingdom than other Christians. And this is also the reason why, while some Christians will be given territorial authority, other Christians will be denied any authority at all (cf. Matt. 25:14-30; Luke 19:12-27).
“Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire . . . “
Thus, there are these four life-altering truths that can change a Christian’s tepid life into one of fire for his Savior. Knowing the cost of his redemption, the reality of the Spirit’s indwelling, the imminency of Christ’s return for him, and the sure consequences for his actions during this life at the Judgment Seat of Christ and throughout the Messianic Era, are all strongly motivating and life-altering Bible truths for the believer.