The Divine Outline of History # 4
THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
A NEW SPIRITUAL SPECIES IN CHRIST
At the moment of Salvation, God the Holy Spirit places every Church Age believer into union with Christ. (Gal 3:1-5; Gal 3:14; Gal 3:26-27; Eph 4:4-5; 2Th 2:13) This instantaneous ministry of God the Holy Spirit is called the baptism of the Spirit, (1Co 12:13) because Christ was glorified, (Heb 10:12-17) and we are in the New Covenant Age; (The Church, Tribulation, and Millennium) “If any man is in Christ, he is a new [Spiritual] species.” (2Co 5:17; Gal 6:15) In this verse the Greek word kainos does not mean “new” as in recent, current, or new in time, like a new coat that replaces an old one of the same type. Kainos means new in kind, new in species, describing something remarkable that has never existed before — a totally unprecedented relationship with God. (Eph 1:22-23; Eph 5:22-32) The new Spiritual species is the royal family of God. By placing the Church Age believer “in Christ,” the baptism of God the Holy Spirit also links the Spiritual life of the hypostatic union (The God-man — Christ) and the New Covenant Spiritual life of the Church Age. In union with Christ, the believer can utilize the power system designed for the humanity of Christ. In fact, so great is the Spiritual life, that union with Christ is absolutely a prerequisite for its use. Jesus Christ prophesied the baptism of God the Holy Spirit during the Dispensation of the Hypostatic Union. (John 14:20; Acts 1:5) The fulfillment of this Prophecy marked the beginning of the New Covenant Church Age. (Acts 2:1-4; Acts 11:15-17) Throughout the New Covenant Age, the baptism of God the Holy Spirit forms the royal family of God, also called the Body of Christ.
For even as the [Human] body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit [God the Holy Spirit performs the action] we were all baptized into one body, [Of Christ] whether Jews or Greeks, [Gentiles] whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. (1Co 12:12-13)
The baptism of the Holy Spirit sets the Church Age believer apart from unbelievers. Every Church Age believer is “sanctified in Christ” (1Co 1:2, (1Co 1:30) for the “glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2Th 2:13-14) The Greek verb hagiazo means “to set apart, to make holy, to consecrate, to sanctify.” (To gain the Spiritual maturity of Christ) When applied to the Church, sanctification means that God has created a new species of Spiritual royalty, set apart for the maximum glorification of Jesus Christ.
CONFORMED TO THE IMAGE OF CHRIST
The Doctrine of sanctification teaches that God’s purpose is to make each Church Age believer like the humanity of Christ. Each is “conformed to the image [Thinking and Virtue] of His Son,” the glorified Lord Jesus Christ. (Rom 8:29) God accomplishes the Church Age believer’s sanctification in three stages: Positional, Experiential, and Ultimate.
Positional sanctification and positional death is the Church Age believer’s union with Christ, accomplished by the baptism of God the Holy Spirit. Permanently identified with Christ from the moment of faith in Him, the Christian retroactively shares in the victory of our Lord’s Spiritual death on the Cross (Rom 6:3; Col 2:12) and currently shares His exalted position in heaven “crowned with glory and honor.” (Psa 110:1; Rom 6:4; Heb 1:13; Heb 2:9-11; Heb 10:12) The phrase “in Christ,” found throughout the New Testament Epistles, is a technical term for the Church Age believer’s astounding, absolutely unprecedented union with Christ. (John 14:20) In Christ each Church Age believer is positionally superior to all angels, including the chief fallen angel, Satan. (Heb 1:4, Heb 1:13-14; Heb 2:9-12)
Experiential sanctification and experiential death (John 12:24-26; (2Co 4:10-12) is residence, function and Spiritual momentum in the Spiritual life during the believer’s life on earth.
Set your mind on the things [Divine Thoughts] above, not on the things[Human realities] that are on earth. For you have died [Positional death] and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, [Experientially by the Mind of Christ] is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. Therefore consider [Think] the members of your earthly body as dead [Experiential death, to our thoughts, desires, words and will] to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. [Idolatry is putting our thoughts, above God's Thoughts] (Isa 55:6-9) For it is because of these things [Thoughts] that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, [Unbelievers and believers living out of fellowship] and in them [Thoughts] you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, [And thoughts] and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge [The Thinking of God] according to the image [Thinking] of the One who created him-- (Col 3:2-10)
Living in the Spiritual life, which the Holy Spirit energizes, fulfills the protocol plan of God. (John 17:17; (2Ti 2:21; Heb 9:13-14) Because we are in union with Christ, we now are able to be sustained, nourished, and empowered by the post-Salvation ministry of God the Holy Spirit. (John 7:37-39; John 14:15-17; John 16:13-14) Thus we become “partakers of the Divine nature” in experience just as we are in position. (2Pe 1:4) God the Holy Spirit’s post-Salvation ministry is called the filling of the Spirit, (Eph 5:18) which enables us to “walk by means of the Spirit” (Gal 5:16) in a manner “worthy of our station in life.” (Spiritual Royalty) (Eph 4:1) United with Christ and granted the same power system in which His humanity constantly lived, we are equipped to be “imitators of God and to walk . . . just as Christ walked.” (Eph 5:1-2; Gal 5:16; 1Jn 2:6) He functioned in the prototype Spiritual life; we can function in the operational-type Spiritual life. (John 14:11-12) In fellowship we live “through the Spirit, by faith.” [What is believed — and or the Spiritual life] (Gal 5:5) The Mind of Christ in the soul; is the material the Spirit uses to manufacture the Virtues of Christ in our lives. (Rom 13:13-14) In a different comparison, Truth is the nutrient that the Holy Spirit uses to produce the “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal 5:22-23)
Therefore, Experiential sanctification has both absolute and progressive aspects. The filling of God the Holy Spirit is an absolute status. At any given time, the believer is either one hundred percent filled with the Spirit or he is not filled with the Spirit at all. Either he is in fellowship with God, or he is out of fellowship. If he has confessed his sins to God, the believer is entirely inside the Spiritual life, (1Jn 1:9) but when he sins, and as long as he does not confess (Admit being out of fellowship) (1Co 11:31) to God, he is entirely outside the Spiritual life. Outside the Spiritual life he “grieves” or “quenches” God the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:30; (1Th 5:19) and resides instead in Satan’s cosmic system. This absolute but invisible status — in or out — has a building effect. (Mark 4:24) The power of the Spiritual life is essential for Spiritual growth. Only in the Spiritual life can the believer learn Truth or accurately Think with Truth. What is the dominant trend of his decisions at any given time? Has he been consistently obedient to God’s Thoughts that constitute the Spiritual life, or has he neglected these Divine Commands? Is he more often in or out of fellowship with God? Spiritual growth comes from consistency, and as the believer grows, this consistency in executing God’s protocol plan becomes a stronger and stronger force of motion in his life. Every day he learns and applies Truth; his inner person is renewed day by day. (Isa 58:2; (2Co 4:16) Our thinking is renovated according to Truth, the pattern of Divine Thinking! (Rom 12:2; Eph 4:23) He gradually acquires the Thinking and Virtues of Christ. As growth continues, the filling of God the Holy Spirit produces more of the fruit of the Spirit whenever the believer is in the Spiritual life. For example, a novice believer can be just as filled with God the Holy Spirit as the Spiritually mature believer. But the mature believer understands a great deal more Spiritual Thinking. When the mature Christian is filled with the Spirit, he manifests the “newness of life” more than the beginner who is equally filled with God the Holy Spirit but understands less of the Mind of Christ. A greater understanding and application of Truth in the believer’s Thinking causes greater manifestations of the filling of God the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life. Add to this the fact that as a Christian grows, he spends a greater proportion of his time filled with God the Holy Spirit. In other words, both quantity and quality improve: more time is spent in the Spiritual life with a greater depth of Doctrinal resources for God the Holy Spirit to use. This explains the increasing effect of Divine dynamics within a Christian’s life. Experiential sanctification is called “godliness.” (1Ti 3:16; (1Ti 4:7-8; (2Pe 1:3; (2Pe 3:11) True godliness (Defined: as God would have it) runs far deeper than shallow legalism. Genuine godliness is abiding in the sphere of Christ’s love, which He equated with obedience to His Commandments. (John 15:10; Eph 5:2) The sphere of Christ’s love is the bottom circle — the Spiritual life.
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The Commandments of the Christian way of life coalesce as one consistent system, a single complex of interrelated and mutually supporting Spiritual Thoughts, an integrated sphere of Divine power. This Divine system of love and power is the place of Virtue. The Christian way of life is life in harmony with God and His Thoughts. Here, in Principle, is the answer to the question, “After Salvation, what?” Experiential sanctification is potential for the believer, Commanded but not guaranteed. God provides the resources, opportunities, instructions, encouragement, and even the Divine discipline, but the believer himself chooses to execute the protocol plan of God or not. (John 15:4-10) Volition remains THE central issue in the Church Age, as in every dispensation throughout the angelic conflict. (Job 1:8-12) But God’s faithfulness is also a consistent theme. The believer’s failure to live by the Commands of Experiential sanctification never cancels Positional sanctification which is guaranteed by the very essence of God. (2Ti 2:13)
After our post-Salvation lives on earth have ended, God will achieve our Ultimate sanctification and death (Of the sin nature) at the resurrection. In that future moment He will provide the resurrection body, making us physically like Christ. (1Co 1:8; Eph 1:4; Php 3:21; (1Th 5:23; (1Jn 3:2)
MISCONCEPTIONS OF THE BAPTISM OF GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT
The Doctrine of the baptism of God the Holy Spirit is widely distorted today. We must state what the baptism of the Spirit is not. The baptism of the Spirit is not the same as the filling of the Spirit, as just noted. The baptism of the Holy Spirit also is not an experience or a “second work of grace” after Salvation. It is not, and never was, speaking in tongues. The idea that Spirit baptism involves speaking in tongues fails to distinguish the Doctrine of the baptism of God the Holy Spirit from the Doctrine of Spiritual gifts. The baptism of the Spirit occurs at the instant of Salvation for all Church Age believers; the gift of tongues formerly operated only in the post-Salvation experience of a few first-century Christians. The phenomenon of tongues was a temporary Spiritual gift designed, as Isaiah prophesied, to warn Israel of impending national judgment. (Isa 28:11; (1Co 14:21-22) Jews were evangelized in gentile languages understood by the listeners, but not the speakers. This ironic gift exercised by certain early Christians dramatized the Jews’ failure to evangelize the Gentiles. Because the gift of tongues was a miraculous sign to alert Israel to her decay, no one has legitimately spoken in tongues since A.D. 70, when Jerusalem fell and the purpose for this temporary gift expired.
...If there are tongues, they will cease... (1Co 13:8)
The dramatic gift of tongues ceased long ago, but the baptism of God the Holy Spirit occurs in every generation of the New Covenant. And never does this instantaneous work of God the Holy Spirit involve ecstatics or emotion. Indeed, the baptism of the Holy Spirit has absolutely no relation to feelings. The believer may be elated or feel nothing at the moment of Salvation. He may even feel horrible, but regardless of how he feels, in that initial instant of faith in Christ, God the Holy Spirit unites him with Christ. (Col 2:12) No one senses or detects the baptism of the Spirit in any way. Neither sight, hearing, smell, taste, nor touch confirms this Doctrine. Nor does any so-called sixth sense or intuition. God the Holy Spirit’s ministry at Salvation is known only through Spiritual Thoughts which the believer learns after Salvation. (Eph 4:5) The baptism of the Spirit is never earned nor deserved by the believer. God gives this fabulous gift by grace, totally without regard for human merit or human works. Union with Christ is complete at the instant of Salvation, accomplished entirely by the grace of God before any believer has a chance to achieve Spiritual growth, perform any Christian service, or even learn about these things. The baptism of God the Holy Spirit is not progressive and cannot be improved.
SHARING ALL CHRIST HAS AND IS
As the mechanics of Positional sanctification, the baptism of God the Holy Spirit causes the Christian to share in all Christ has and IS. Every member of the royal family of God shares Christ’s election, (Eph 1:4) His destiny, (Eph 1:5; Rom 8:28; Rom 8:30) His Son-ship, (Gal 3:26; (1Jn 3:1-2) His heir-ship, (Rom 8:16-17) His priesthood, (Heb 5:5-10; Heb 10:10-14) His sanctification, (1Co 1:2; (1Co 1:30) His royalty, (1Pe 2:9) His righteousness, (2Co 5:21) and His eternal life. (1Jn 5:11-12)
Divine righteousness and eternal life are necessary for a relationship with God. To live with perfect God forever, man needs God’s Own righteousness and God’s Own life. These blessings, therefore, are inherent in Salvation in every dispensation. Old Testament believers were given the righteousness of God and eternal life through imputation rather than through union with Christ. (Gen 15:6; Psa 23:6) In the Church Age every believer receives Divine righteousness and eternal life by imputation and by union with Christ. (2Co 5:21; (1Jn 5:11) This double portion belongs to Spiritual royalty alone. One vivid description of the baptism of God the Holy Spirit contrasts the Church and Israel. To teach the Church Age believers position in Christ, Paul draws an analogy to the custom of “adoption” practiced by the Roman aristocracy. Roman adoption officially designated someone as an heir, whether or not that person was related by blood. The Caesars usually adopted successors who were not their sons. Often, however, a father would adopt his own son, granting him the full privileges and responsibilities of the family name. The ceremony also marked the boy's transition into adulthood, traditionally at age fourteen. Paul depicts Israel as an immature son, (Gal 3:23) the Church as an adult son and heir. (Gal 3:25-26) At a dramatic moment in the Roman ceremony of adoption, the new heir is clothed with the magnificent toga virilis, the garment of manhood.
For all of you who were baptized into Christ [The baptism of God the Holy Spirit] have clothed yourselves with Christ. (Gal 3:27)
Christians wear the Spiritual equivalent of the toga virilis from the moment of Salvation, when the baptism of the Spirit occurs. Through the merits of Christ, Church Age believers are adopted as adult sons of God and joint heirs with Christ at the first instant of faith in Him. (Rom 8:16-17; Eph 1:5) Although a Spiritual infant in experience; every Church Age believer is a Spiritual adult in position. He is granted the full privileges and responsibilities of an adult son of God because he is in union with the Lord Jesus Christ.
THE PROTOCOL PLAN OF GOD
Union with Christ opens the door to an extraordinary post-Salvation way of life for the royal family, called the protocol plan of God. Royalty lives by protocol — Spiritual royalty, no less than temporal royalty. The refined behavior and high standards of Thought and conduct in a vigorous aristocracy are supported by a system of protocol. Each individual is thoroughly familiar with the manner in which various activities are conducted. He knows his place in these activities. Protocol enables everyone to know what to Think and do in a given situation and thus creates an environment of poise and graciousness. Protocol resolves routine questions and frees the individual to devote his energies to substantial issues or to enjoying the event at hand. The Church Age believer need never wonder what the Christian life requires of him. He need not stumble or feel awkward in any aspect of his relationship with God. The entire royal protocol is available for him to learn and master. He belongs to a Spiritual dynasty founded by the Lord Jesus Christ in which the standard of conduct follows the precedent clearly established by the humanity of Christ on earth. In the Church Age, the protocol plan of God (John 4:21-23) for the Church supersedes the ritual plan of God for Israel. (Lev 23:1-44) Protocol is defined as a “rigid long-established code of Thinking and conduct, prescribing complete submission to superior rank; and strict adherence to due order of precedence; and precisely correct procedure.” The several phrases of this definition illustrate God’s plan for the royal family on earth. Although new to history; at the beginning of the Church Age, the protocol plan is “long-established” in the Mind of omniscient God. He has always known the way of life He would unveil for the New Covenant Church Age. He has known the mystery Doctrines from eternity past, (Eph 3:9-11) and in historical terms these Doctrines have been in force now for nearly two thousand years. The exactness of God’s code for Spiritual royalty expresses His Own perfection: He decreed one way of doing something, and that way is the right way. We cannot define the Christian way of life in any way we please. God “prescribes complete submission” to the ends and the means of His plan. The very Concept of protocol means that even a right thing becomes wrong when done in a wrong way. And a wrong thing is still wrong though done in a right way. Obviously a wrong thing done in a wrong way is wrong. Only a right thing done in a right way is right. This is “precisely correct procedure.” The right thing is the protocol plan of God. The right way demanded by protocol is life in the Spiritual life. Therefore, the most basic Concept of the Christian way of life is residence, function, and momentum inside the Spiritual life. The Spiritual life is the royal believer’s personal, invisible palace. God is eternally and infinitely perfect. Perfect God can devise only a perfect plan. However, the protocol plan of God, like His post-Salvation plans for other dispensations, is designed for imperfect believers. Because the Christian retains his old sin nature throughout his mortal life on earth, (Rom 7:24-25) his contribution to the plan of God would only corrupt the plan. The believer cannot execute God’s protocol plan through human ability, human dynamics, human personality, human intelligence, human talent, or human works. (Exo 20:25; John 6:63) If the plan of God depended on man’s merit for a single instant, the plan would immediately become imperfect. God allows no weak links in the chain. He guards the integrity of His plan. This is grace. Man enters God’s perfect plan exclusively on the merits of Christ, and the Principle of grace remains in force after Salvation as well. The believer lives the Christian life on Divine resources only. (Gal 3:1-3; Eph 4:20-24) Perfect God has provided His perfect Truth (Eph 4:21) and His Own power (Eph 4:30) for the execution of His protocol plan. Truth and falsehood do not mix without becoming false. Therefore, Divine Viewpoint from Truth must replace human viewpoint. Likewise, Divine power and human power are mutually exclusive. Observing Divine protocol must take precedence over the expression of human abilities. (1Co 2:4-5) Human innovation must remain within bounds of the system God has ordained. The Truth and the power of God the Holy Spirit, on which the humanity of Christ relied during the hypostatic union, define the only correct approach to life for every believer during the Church Age. Contradictions cannot exist in the protocol plan of God. Either a believer will utilize the available omnipotence of God and execute the protocol plan, or he will use human energy in an attempt to execute an inferior plan of his own. (Gen 4:3-5) Many people presumptuously call their own plans the plan of God or the will of God, when in fact these schemes may be satanic counterfeits designed to entangle believers in the evils of religion. (1Ti 4:1) Faithful intake and application of Divine Thinking will protect the believer from such contradictions. The Christian who is ignorant of Church Age Doctrine, however, lacks discernment. He is incapable of grace Thinking. He cannot be true to his Spiritual heritage. Ignorance mixed with negligence cannot avoid the trap of arrogance. He assumes he is doing God’s will even as he falls into Satan’s cosmic system and becomes a loser in the Church Age. Losers do not lose their eternal life, but in failing to execute the post-Salvation protocol plan of God, they lose blessing and impact in time and eternity. (Luk 12:45-48) At physical birth man is born ignorant of life. Likewise, at Spiritual birth believers are “born again” ignorant of the protocol plan of God. Human opinion or philosophy, despite its occasional brilliance, never determines the Christian way of life. (1Co 1:19-31) What matters is what God has Revealed in the Word of God for the Church Age. No believer can execute the protocol plan, or reach Spiritual maturity without learning and applying a maximum amount of Truth! (Psa 1:2-3)
We have noted already that the Greek noun musterion originally referred to the secret doctrines of ancient religious organizations. Only those persons initiated into the cult of Dionysus, for example, knew its mysteries. Nothing was disclosed to outsiders. Paul borrowed this well-known pagan term to communicate the meaning of mystery to the royal family of God. In Paul’s usage of musterion, the initiates are Church Age believers, and the Doctrines are those Spiritual Thoughts concerning the New Covenant Age. (Luk 8:10) God did not disclose the New Covenant Doctrines to the writers of Old Testament Scripture, but now all these marvelous Truths are revealed throughout the New Testament Epistles. (Acts 3:18-24; (Rom 1:2; Rom 16:25-26; Eph 3:1-9)
But we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, [Spiritual Thoughts for the New Covenant Age] the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory [Spiritual growth] (1Co 2:7)
But holding to the mystery [Keeping and Thinking with the New Covenant Spiritual Thoughts] of the faith [Spiritual life] with a clear conscience. (1Ti 3:9)
Mystery Doctrine reveals all the politeuma privileges of the Church Age believer, which set the Church Age apart from other dispensations. The Command to “keep holding the mystery” identifies the most vital function of the royal family: to continually learn, retain, and Think with the Doctrines of the New Covenant. Hearing Truth, meditating on Truth, living by Truth — this is the highest form of worship!
THE PORTFOLIO OF INVISIBLE ASSETS
THE BELIEVER’S WEALTH TAUGHT BY ANALOGY
We have discussed three politeuma privileges. (Mystery Doctrines) The baptism of God the Holy Spirit places the Church Age believer into union with Christ. The protocol plan of God sets forth the royal way of life that God expects of the Christian because of his exalted position in Christ. Mystery Doctrine unveils the Church Age with all of its Divine assets and Commands which define the Christian’s way of life. These three tremendous benefits of our heavenly citizenship are parts of a larger picture. They belong to a portfolio of invisible assets that God the Father designed in eternity past for every Church Age believer. “Portfolio” is a term for the holdings of an investor, a synonym for his riches. God has lavished upon us the riches of His grace. (Eph 1:6-8; Eph 1:18; Eph 3:8; Eph 3:16; Php 4:19; Col 1:27; Eph 2:7) Every Church Age believer is fabulously wealthy.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every Spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. (Eph 1:3)
Not only is the Church Age believer a citizen of heaven but that citizenship implies extreme wealth. “Our politeuma is in heaven” (Php 3:20) and our portfolio is described as including “every Spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” (Eph 1:3) Ephesians 1:3 emphasizes the source of these blessings (God the Father) and the mechanics of receiving them, (From Christ). We will explain these mechanics shortly. The believer’s portfolio of invisible assets can be categorized.
(Eph 1:3-6) identifies the primary assets. The secondary and personnel assets will be identified from other passages of Scripture.
1. Primary assets
a. Escrow blessings
b. Computer assets
2. Secondary assets
a. Volitional assets
b. Production assets
c. Assets for undeserved suffering
3. Personnel assets
We will adopt two analogies to help communicate the Christian’s primary assets, escrow blessings and computer assets. In (Eph 1:3) the phrase “every Spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” describes escrow blessings. In verses 4 through 6, election and predestination constitute the computer assets. The Church Age believer’s exalted destiny and vast riches are “abundantly beyond all that we ask or think.” (Eph 3:20) The Bible reveals them in many glimpses and increments; they must be explained in numerous ways and from various points of view. Therefore, analogy plays an important role in teaching the Christian way of life. Already we have approached the subject from the standpoint of citizenship, Roman adoption, parts of the body, aristocratic protocol, the secret Doctrines of an exclusive religion, and an investment portfolio. Now add the perspectives of an escrow contract and an electronic computer. These analogies are teaching aids and are not intended to perfectly mesh with one another. Each serves to communicate a specific aspect of the Truth. The Truth itself is what perfectly meshes.
INHERITANCE RESERVED IN HEAVEN
Three parties are identified in, (Eph 1:3). The relationships between God the Father, Jesus Christ; and the Church Age believer; in this passage suggest the functions of a grantor, a depositary; and a grantee in an escrow contract. What is an escrow contract? It is a binding agreement in which one party gives another party something valuable. Instead of giving it directly, however, the grantor places the item in the custody of a third party, called the depositary or the escrow officer. The escrow officer keeps the item secure and distributes it to the grantee only after certain conditions are met, which have been set forth in the escrow agreement. The very definition of escrow means there are conditions to be fulfilled by the grantee before the item will be conveyed to him. An escrow agreement gives us a clear picture of our situation before God and our purpose in life. In eternity past God the Father prepared special blessings for each Church Age believer. He deposited those blessings with Christ “before the foundation of the world.” (Eph 1:4) Just as an escrow contract is irrevocable from the date of the contract, so also the believer’s blessings belong to him irrevocably from eternity past. God has given every Church Age believer a private account in heaven, which He cannot cancel or close. God cannot take back His blessings. This account is filled with exceptional blessings — some for time, some for eternity. God designed escrow blessings exclusively for each individual believer, an “inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.” (1Pe 1:4) Escrow blessings far exceed everyday logistical blessings like food, shelter, clothing, protection, transportation, and a source of Bible teaching. God supplies logistical grace constantly and unconditionally to every believer — positive or negative, winner or loser. (Matt 6:25-34; Luk 6:35; Php 4:19) Escrow blessings, however, are reserved for Spiritual maturity. So extraordinary are these “greater grace” blessings (Jas 4:6) that every recipient must possess a mature capacity to appreciate them and benefit from them! Without sufficient capacity of soul, a believer would not know what to do with these Divine bounties. If he received delivery of his escrow blessings while still Spiritually immature, he would distort them, misuse them, and make himself miserable. Here, then, we find the condition set forth in the escrow contract: before Jesus Christ will distribute escrow blessings, the believer must attain Spiritual maturity. (Or it is false prosperity) (Luk 13:23-30; Rev 3:17) Again, Spiritual maturity comes through perception and application of the Word of Truth as part of living consistently inside the Spiritual life. (Matt 7:14) A Spiritually mature relationship with God is by far the most valuable escrow blessing for the Christian’s life on earth! (Rev 3:4) Awe and gratitude toward God animate the Spiritually mature believer’s attitude in everything he does. In his soul he has capacity to be happy, capacity to understand and benefit from Divine blessings, capacity to endure suffering, capacity to maintain the initiative in his own life. He has a personal sense of destiny. Worship becomes a profound responsiveness; in a soul inculcated with Truth and filled with God the Holy Spirit. (John 7:38) Personal love for God becomes Occupation with the Person of Christ. (Gal 2:20; Php 1:21) But “every Spiritual blessing” involves more than even these marvelous, intangible benefits. “Spiritual” in, (Eph 1:3) points to God as the source of escrow blessings, which also include many tangible material blessings, tailor-made for the individual. (John 21:21-22)
BLESSINGS FOR TIME AND ETERNITY
Every believer has escrow blessings for time and escrow blessings for eternity. As the escrow officer Jesus Christ will begin to distribute escrow blessings for time when the believer reaches Spiritual maturity. Our Lord will award companion escrow blessings for all eternity, at the Judgment Seat of Christ. (1Co 4:5; (2Co 5:10)
Believers who fail to reach Spiritual maturity and do not receive their escrow blessings for time also will not receive their escrow blessings for eternity. (1Co 3:12-15) The criterion is human volition — each believer’s consistent positive or negative response to God’s plan for the Christian life. After Salvation, what? This great question has eternal consequences. In the escrow contract, the precondition for receiving escrow blessings for eternity is that the believer must have received escrow blessings in time.
Now if anyone really competes in the athletic games, [An analogy to the Christian way of life] he does not receive a winner’s wreath [Escrow blessings for eternity] unless he trains according to the rules. [Adheres to the protocol plan of God in Time] (2Ti 2:5)
I have fought that honorable fight, [Advanced through the stages of the Spiritual life] I have finished the course, [Attained Spiritual maturity] I have guarded the Truth. [As first priority in the soul] In the future a wreath of righteousness [Escrow blessings for eternity] is reserved for me, [On deposit since eternity past] which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award me on that day [At the Judgment Seat of Christ] and not only to me but to all those who love His appearing. [Reached Spiritual maturity] (2Ti 4:7-8)
Blessed [Happy] is the man who perseveres under testing, [Successfully passes the tests that accelerate Spiritual growth] he will receive the wreath of life [Escrow blessings for eternity] which God has promised to those constantly loving Him. [Spiritually mature believers] (Jas 1:12)
These passages describe desire for Truth, love for God, strength of essence, remarkable stability, perseverance, motivation, momentum and happiness. Such qualities of the inner person; are escrow blessings for time! They are escrow blessings supported by the basic capacities of soul developed on the way to Spiritual maturity. Invariably these traits — these escrow blessings for time — belong to the believers whom Scripture identifies as recipients of eternal rewards or “crowns” — escrow blessings for eternity. (1Co 9:24-27; Php 4:1; (1Th 2:19-20; (1Pe 5:1-4; Rev 2:10) Distribution of both categories of escrow blessings — for time and for eternity — depends on the believer’s execution of the protocol plan of God in time. The precondition for receiving escrow blessings dramatizes God’s objective for the Church Age believer on earth: Learn Truth, gain Spiritual momentum, grow up, attain Spiritual maturity! In other words, come to love and glorify Christ.
UNDISTRIBUTED BLESSINGS AND THE GLORY OF GOD
At this moment each believer has an escrow account in heaven with his name on it. But not every believer takes distribution of those blessings. Ignorance of Truth means ignorance of Divine assets, which guarantees failure to use those assets. Failure to consistently utilize Divine assets constitutes failure to execute the protocol plan of God, which means the believer cannot reach Spiritual maturity. No Spiritual maturity, no capacity for blessings. Therefore, no escrow blessings for time and no escrow blessings for eternity. (1Co 3:11-15) This does not affect his eternal life, but his neglect or rejection of Truth makes him a Spiritual loser. There is no excuse for failure to execute the protocol plan of God. God faithfully supplies logistical grace to winner and loser alike, (Luk 6:35) providing more than ample opportunity for the loser to recover his momentum and renew his advance. Equal privilege and equal opportunity are facts of the Christian way of life, and the escrow blessings themselves are irrevocable and imperishable Realities. If a believer is a Spiritual loser, he is so by his own volition. A loser stops being a loser when he starts using rebound and begins to learn, or relearn Truth. Recovery of Spiritual momentum is not easy, but it will never be easier than at present. Recovery can begin in any Spiritual condition in which the loser finds himself. There is no reason to wait. There is nothing to wait for and much to lose. If the loser does not recover, his personal inheritance of escrow blessings, they will remain undistributed, un-received, on deposit in heaven forever. (Rom 11:29) At the resurrection they will remain on deposit forever as a monument to lost opportunity and as undeniable evidence of God’s grace in spite of man’s negative volition. (Eph 1:3; Eph 3:10; (1Pe 1:3-4) God was glorified by irrevocably giving escrow blessings to each believer “before the foundation of the world.” (Eph 1:4; Col 3:24; (1Pe 1:4) God is glorified to the maximum by the distribution of these escrow blessings to the Spiritual winner in time and eternity. (John 15:8; John 17:4) Describing God at the beginning of (Eph 1:3) is the Greek adjective eulogetos is translated “blessed,” but this word actually means “worthy of praise and glorification.” In the same verse the verb is eulogeo, “to bless.” Furthermore, the cognate noun eulogia is used for the believer’s “blessings.” Blessed, bless, blessings: this dramatic use of Greek cognate words indicates an essential interconnection. These blessings are the means of God’s glorification. He is glorified by blessing us. Principle: The first thing God did for us — placing special blessings in escrow — established the means of glorifying Him. God’s desire that we receive our escrow blessings could not be expressed more emphatically.
What do we conclude? Obviously, asceticism is not the Christian way of life. (Col 2:20-23) But neither is aimless, undisciplined lawlessness. (2Ti 2:5) The Church Age believer has a destiny. He glorifies God by utilizing Divine assets so that he grows Spiritually and acquires capacity to enjoy his escrow blessings. God created escrow blessings for every believer of every dispensation, but the greater extent of the Church Age believer’s portfolio makes even his escrow blessings unique. We come now to an exceedingly valuable item in the royal believer’s portfolio that sets his blessings apart from those of all other dispensations.
A MODERN ANALOGY
Again, the Christian’s portfolio of invisible assets includes two categories of primary assets. We have described escrow blessings; we now turn our attention to computer assets. I use this term to describe the Church Age believer’s election and predestination.
He [God the Father] chose us in Him [In union with Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love [In fellowship; God’s purpose in election includes Positional and Experiential sanctification on earth and Ultimate sanctification in heaven] He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, [As in the Roman custom of adoption] according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. [In union with Christ] (Eph 1:4-6)
What are “election” and “predestination”? How do they affect us? In brief, God has established a plan and has supplied us with all assets needed to execute that plan. Computers are becoming a familiar part of daily life. A simple analogy to a computer might help to make this passage clear. Scientific breakthroughs have dramatically reduced the size of computers. Complex functions can now occur in tiny electrical circuits built into a microchip of silicon no larger than the head of a pin. Different microchips perform specialized functions in the computer. Two common types of these powerful chips illustrate how liberally sovereign God has blessed Church Age believers without nullifying their volition. In fact, this computer analogy helps explain how God Himself establishes human free will. A computer has a certain number of microchips in it. Some chips are completely programmed at the factory; others are designed at the factory to be programmed by the user — according to what he wants his computer to be able to do. Both the ROM chips (Read-Only Memory, programmed at the factory) and the PROM chips (Programmable Read-Only Memory, built at the factory to be programmed by the user himself) cannot be altered once they are programmed. And both are necessary for the effective function of the computer. Like the computer, the believer’s life involves both Divine sovereignty (Comparable to the ROM chips programmed in advance at the factory) and human free will; (Volition) (Comparable to the PROM chips that are programmed by the user’s own decisions). Just as a particular computer would not operate without both types of programmed microchips, so also human Spiritual Thought and action cannot occur without the function of both Divine sovereignty and human volition. Indeed, God is the One who makes our volition free. He gave man free will, just as the factory designs the computer’s PROM chips specifically to let the user determine how the computer will function. The user’s programming of his own PROM chip works only because of the designer’s plan: the factory design of the PROM chip takes the user’s programming and makes it effective. In a similar way, God sovereignly makes man’s free choices real, certain and unalterable once they are made. According to the analogy, each person is like a computer. His ROM chip (Programmed entirely by the sovereignty of God) is programmed with his “computer assets.” He has no choice in this matter. Long before human history began, God chose to give the Church Age believer certain characteristics. He chose to make the Christian Spiritual royalty — as it were, to make him the most powerful computer ever created. This means that the computer assets of election and predestination include tremendous benefits, which God gave in eternity past. We are now studying these benefits as the unique characteristics of the Church Age. The ROM chip contains God’s plan and gives every Church Age believer the status and assets required to carry out this demanding protocol. The PROM chip (Programmed the way human volition chooses) gives us the freedom to use those powerful assets if we so desire. The PROM chip makes us Spiritual winners or losers, according to our decisions to use Divine assets and fulfill God’s plan — or to ignore our Spiritual destiny in Christ.
DIVINE SOVEREIGNTYAND CHRISTIAN FREEDOM
The computer analogy helps us understand what the sovereignty and omniscience of God accomplished in eternity past, in behalf of the Church Age believer. The blessings mentioned in (Eph 1:5-6) are some of the unique characteristics of the Church Age that we have already discussed. In eternity past God determined that sanctification and adoption would be given to the royal family through union with Christ. As also noted, we have no choice in this matter: at the moment of faith in Christ, these blessings are ours and we are new creatures in Christ, a new Spiritual species. The mechanics by which God established these and other characteristics of the Church Age believer involved election and predestination. Election expresses the sovereign right of God over His creation. Election can be described in terms of individuals and in terms of historical categories of believers. God elected for Salvation every human being who would ever believe in Jesus Christ. Election is not the cause of Salvation. Instead, God sovereignly chose to accomplish all the work for man’s Salvation and to institute non-meritorious faith in Jesus Christ as the sole remaining Criterion for obtaining Salvation. (Acts 4:12) Because Divine omniscience is not limited by time, God knew in eternity past who would believe in Christ and in eternity past chose each believer to be the recipient of eternal Salvation. (2Th 2:13) In other words, He chose to make Salvation a Reality in the soul of anyone who actually would believe in Christ. Therefore, every believer of every dispensation can be described as elect in regard to Salvation. Election is also a Biblical term that carries additional significance for particular bodies of believers. Here is yet another category of Doctrine that reflects dispensational distinctions. Election to Salvation gives every believer the necessities for living with God forever — including eternal life and Divine righteousness. But added to these identical provisions, further blessings are bestowed upon specified groups of believers at the moment of Salvation. These are designed to fulfill God’s purpose beyond Salvation. The position and assets bestowed at the moment of Salvation upon members of the royal family are more extensive than the blessings given to believers of other dispensations. God elected Church Age believers for a unique, corporate purpose beyond Salvation. The special destiny of the royal family in both time and eternity is to glorify God to the maximum in union with Jesus Christ. The election of the Church is one of several corporate Divine elections, three of which are pertinent to our study.
1. The election of Israel (Deut 4:37; Deut 7:6; Isa 45:4; Rom 11:5-7)
2. The election of Christ (Isa 42:1; Matt 12:18; Acts 3:26; (1Pe 2:6)
3. The election of the Church (Eph 4:1; (1Th 1:4; (2Th 2:13; (2Pe 1:3)
A thread of continuity runs through these three expressions of Divine sovereignty, but the differences also are real and significant. These three unique elections express God’s purpose in three distinct dispensations. The election of Israel: God called out the Jews as a new racial species to bless all the nations of the earth. The election of Christ: God called Christ as the Savior to purchase the Salvation of the entire human race and to be exalted above all creation. The election of the Church: God called out a royal family as a new Spiritual species to glorify the newly-won royalty of Jesus Christ forever. (Rev 17:14) As part of our politeuma privileges, therefore, election is the sovereign expression in eternity past of God’s will for the Church Age believer. Under election, God the Father willed His highest and best for every Church Age believer, having previously deposited His highest and best for us with Christ. In short, God’s will for our lives is that we receive what belongs to the glorified Christ. (Isa 53:12)
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power [The Spiritual life] toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, [Investing Christ with “battlefield” royalty for His victory at the Cross] far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. [The permanent resolution of the angelic conflict] And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. (Eph 1:18-23)
This is the purpose for which God called us out and set us apart: to exalt the royalty of Christ to the maximum. Our election creates the special privileges and opportunities necessary for us to receive the blessings of Spiritual royalty which glorify Christ. Election and predestination are two sides of the same coin. God chose us to glorify Christ to the maximum and chose to accomplish this purpose according to a definite plan. The election of the Church is the expression of the sovereign will of God for every believer of the Church Age; predestination is the provision of His sovereign will. In time this Divine provision is classified as “the protocol plan of God,” but when discussed in the context of eternity past, this provision is called “predestination.” Long before human history began. God sovereignly established a supernatural way of life for the New Covenant Church Age believer and provided the supernatural means of execution. Predestination implies that the only way to fulfill the plan of God for our lives is to properly utilize the assets He has given us. We are free to make good use of the computer or to ignore its great potential, but the computer works God's way only. We must learn how to use it, and then must use it properly. A Principle summarizes the Church Age believer’s computer assets: The Christian is designed to live the Christian way of life. From the believer’s functional perspective this means that a right thing must be done in a right way. The human solution is no solution! The Divine solution is the only solution! (The filling of the Spirit and Truth) (John 4:23)
ENLARGING THE PORTFOLIO WITH SECONDARY ASSETS
The believer’s use of his computer assets actually enlarges his portfolio. In eternity past God the Father established the Church Age believer’s primary assets. (Escrow blessings and computer assets) Then God added secondary assets to the portfolio corresponding to the positive response of the believer in time. How does this work? In eternity past omniscient God looked down the corridors of time, as it were, and saw how each believer would use his volition: positive or negative, for or against the protocol plan of God. Without interfering with human freewill, (In fact, because of free will) God included secondary assets in the positive believer’s portfolio based on his use of his primary assets. “Secondary assets” are not second in importance or quality. They simply come after primary assets in the sequence in which man understands them, and they involve human volition. But they are blessings from God just as certainly as the primary assets. In terms of our analogy that compares a believer with a computer, primary assets are on ROM chips, and secondary assets are on PROM chips. Primary assets originate from the sovereignty of God and represent His design for the believer’s life. Secondary assets also originate from the sovereignty of God, but rather than representing God’s will alone they reflect the individual believer’s own consistent positive response to the grace of God. The sovereignty of God and the free will of the believer coexist in the dynamics of the Christian way of life. The secondary assets, which we are about to study, exist because God saw to it in eternity past that the powerful computer of the Church Age believer would work. He programmed it exactly as decided by both His Divine sovereignty and the believer’s free will. Only the advancing believer receives secondary assets, which are God’s response to his positive volition. For the indifferent or recalcitrant believer, the counterpart to secondary assets is Divine discipline, which is God’s response to his negative volition. (Rev 3:15-22) By giving us freedom of choice, God has also given us the effects and consequences of our decisions. If our decisions had no effect, we would not have freewill. (Gal 6:7-9) But God did indeed decree that the results of our decisions actually would take place. He made our volition efficacious. He made us responsible for our own lives. This means that a positive response to the plan of God has a real effect. He made the consistently positive believer a winner! A negative response also has a real effect, this is grace. Two important lessons are found in the very existence of secondary assets. First, no matter how hopeless a believer’s situation may seem, making good decisions is never an exercise in futility. Learning and relying upon Truth, and consistently residing in the Spiritual life, does make a difference, a difference that God established in eternity past in the form of secondary assets. (Matt 25:29) There is yet another lesson. By giving the Commands of the protocol plan of God — and thus directing our free will along the lines of His sovereign purpose — God makes it possible for our lives to accomplish His will. Our obedience to His plan has the real effect of achieving His objective. God in His infinite superiority does not simply go about His affairs without us. The effects and consequences of our decisions can be magnificent, eternally reward-able demonstrations of His glory. This gives our lives genuine meaning, purpose, and definition. God knows all things at once. Omniscient and eternal, He knows the end from the beginning, the causes and results as a single whole. He knows about time and the progression of events, but time does not restrict His knowledge. He comprehends all things as one complete and total picture. The logic of all things is in Him; He needs no time in which to deliberate. Before He created time, God established the future Reality of both primary and secondary assets in one all-comprehensive decree. Limited human faculties require believers to Think of primary and secondary assets in increments, as a succession of cause and effect. For us something becomes real when we experience it or do it, but for God all things became certain in eternity past when He decreed them to be Reality. Thus infinite God knew each of us and worked in our behalf long before we existed. This means we belong to a plan that extends far beyond the circumstances of the moment. Not only is God near — and an ever-present help in time of need, (Heb 4:16) — but He has woven His help into the very fabric of our lives as we unfold our lives in time. God provided all categories of assets in eternity past, but they are delivered at various points in time. The Christian receives his computer assets at Salvation. He takes delivery of escrow blessings as he moves into Spiritual maturity. Between these two points he begins to receive secondary assets as he grows Spiritually. Three kinds of secondary assets should be noted.
1. Volitional assets
2. Production assets
3. Assets for undeserved suffering
How are secondary assets different from other Divine blessings? One outstanding difference is that secondary assets are tangible. Many advantages in the Christian way of life are intangible. Some lie beyond human perception. (Like union with Christ or the filling of God the Holy Spirit) Some are abstract. (Like Doctrinal Concepts) Others are reserved for the future (Like dying grace and escrow blessings for eternity) All these invisible blessings are nonetheless real. The believer’s secondary assets are also real, but these blessings related to volition, production, and suffering are advantages that the advancing believer begins to experience in his everyday life. These are the assets that James has in mind when he encourages believers to grow up — to be “doers [Thinkers] of the Word and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” (Jas 1:22) In other words, intangible advantages [Operation Z] mixed with positive volition [Freewill] produce tangible results! [Imputed blessings]
GOOD DECISIONS FROM A POSITION OF STRENGTH
Positive volition is an active desire to know God. It is love for Truth, which expresses itself in persistently learning the Word of God and consistently living by its Precepts. All secondary assets result from the believer’s positive volition toward Truth, and one of these secondary assets is the strengthening of positive volition itself. Knowledge builds on knowledge. (Isa 28:10) The more Truth a believer knows, the greater his frame of reference for comprehending additional Truth. Thus, good decisions to learn the Word of God create options for further good decisions to keep learning. As the believer’s capacity for Doctrine expands, his love for Truth increases because God's Thoughts are absolutely worthy of love. (Prov 8:30-36) This sharpened receptivity to Truth rests upon an invisible foundation. The growing believer’s keener discernment and stronger desire for Truth may seem to be only a natural result of broadening his Doctrinal frame of reference. However, the Christian should appreciate the invisible work of God and recognize that even the maturing of his own positive volition is from God. Spiritual growth itself is a gift of grace. Advancement to Spiritual maturity requires a consistent pattern of good decisions made from a position of strength. “Good decisions” are those that obey the Commands of Divine protocol — for example, decisions to listen to Bible teaching or to utilize Divine problem-solving devices.
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This is the tangible, or conscious, aspect of the believer’s positive volition. The “position of strength” is the Spiritual life, in which the Holy Spirit makes Truth understandable and uses the believer’s store of Truth to fuel his Spiritual momentum. The Holy Spirit supplies the intangible, unfelt effectiveness of the believer’s positive volition. This invisible dimension, which the Christian does not experience, is disclosed only in the content of Truth. Knowledge of the Spirit’s unseen role gives the Christian a sense of gratitude, increases his comprehension, his desire for Truth and his Personal love for God, all of which he does experience!
THE VISIBLE AND THE INVISIBLE
This duality stands out dramatically in Salvation and continues after Salvation in God’s grace policy for growth, for the royal family. (1Co 2:4-5; (1Co 2:10) Man gains Salvation through faith in Christ. However, the one who believes in Christ for Salvation is Spiritually dead; (Eph 2:1) he is totally depraved, totally separated from God, and totally helpless to establish a relationship with God. Faith originating from a Spiritually dead person has no power in itself to produce so great a result as Salvation. The apparent cause (Non-meritorious faith) and the actual effect (Eternal Salvation) are completely out of proportion with one another. Obviously, an invisible factor is at work. God Himself — not a Spiritually dead man’s momentary act of faith — is the real cause of Salvation. (John 6:44-45) The entire Trinity was involved in Christ’s death and resurrection, and God the Holy Spirit specifically is the agent of Salvation. He Reveals the Gospel (Gen 6:3) and makes man’s faith in Christ effectual (Eph 1:13) so that the believer’s “faith should not rest on the wisdom of men but on the power of God.” (1Co 2:5) Thus the believer is saved “...by grace through faith...” (Eph 2:8-9) His faith is made effective by the power of God the Holy Spirit. After Salvation, the believer is no longer Spiritually dead, or separated from God. (Eph 2:4-5) The Church Age believer possesses fabulous advantages, but his positive volition still lacks the power in itself to advance him Spiritually. (Gal 3:3; Eph 4:20-24) Spiritual growth is a marvelous Divine achievement. Simply desiring to grow does not produce growth, nor does slavish adherence to some religious formula — including rigid, unthinking, legalistic attendance to hear Bible teaching. (Eccles 5:1) Growth comes not by hoping or striving but as a result of learning, Thinking and solving problems with Truth, which is the power of God. (Rom 1:16; Heb 4:12) But even the keenest human intellect cannot penetrate God's Own Thoughts! (1Co 3:19-20) How, then, can we grow? Once again the grace of God meets the helplessness of man. He places us in an invisible position of strength. (Php 4:13) The power of God the Holy Spirit operates after Salvation in the Spiritual life. The Spirit’s communication ministry aids in comprehension, assimilation, and application of the Truth.
1. The Christian chooses to reside in the Spiritual life, and read Truth. God the Holy Spirit makes Truth comprehensible. (1Co 2:12-13)
2. The Christian chooses to Think about Truth, to believe the Truth he hears, to integrate new information with the Truth he already knows. God the Holy Spirit converts academic knowledge of Truth into genuine Spiritual understanding. (1Co 2:16)
3. The Christian chooses to Think with Truth in the circumstances of his life. God the Holy Spirit aids in the recall of the Truth so that the believer “walks by means of the Spirit.” (Gal 5:16) In every stage of learning, meditating upon, and thinking with the Truth, the believer provides the nonmeritorious positive volition, but God the Holy Spirit provides the unseen power — the Spiritual IQ — for comprehending, assimilating and applying Truth. So that every believer; can reach Spiritual maturity regardless of human IQ. (1Co 2:13-14)
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