These subjects are directly related to defining what precisely are the promised gift and reward given to man. They also may clear up some mistaken assumptions about faith, works, trust and hope that will lead to man’s salvation.
Because of confusing teachings, it becomes a responsibility for those in search of the truth, like the Bereans(Acts 17:11), to study these subjects together, in love, knowing fully well that no one has a monopoly on wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit. As complex and all -encompassing the breath and depth of these subjects are, one is advised to read through and meditate on all the quotes, verses and references provided, to gain utmost understanding as the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to the truth.
As the taproot of these terms came about because of the “promise“, whether gift or reward, let us then begin with the question, to whom that promise was made and extended, what exactly was promised, when did it begin to attain fulfillment and its finality? When was the promise initiated and completed?
Who are the children of Abraham?
From what the scriptures say, only Abraham and his children were given these promises. As to whether the promise was extended to others could not immediately be known at that time, although subsequent era alluded to that. Who then are his descendants?
While genealogy defines who are the children of Abraham, God specifically defined them (through Paul), as “children of faith” and children of promise(1). They were not Isaac, Jacob and their descendants nor Ishmael and his offsprings because they were all children of Jerusalem on “earth” at that time, not “Jerusalem above” which is future (2Peter 3:13; Rev. 21).
The children of God are “children of promise”, “children by faith”, no matter what race, genealogy, sex etc, they are all heirs according to the promise. God by his Holy Spirit has written his laws in the mind and heart of those in the “book of life” that were “called” and their eyes opened to “believe “(Matt. 22:14; Isaiah 69:28; Rev. 3:5; Rev. 22:19). In contrast to Israel of “Sinai”, those with the Holy Spirit have “circumcision of the heart”(Rom. 2:29; 9:24-29) as the sign of the New Covenant to receive, in the future, immortality and to live forever on earth and the universe. This is extent of what the promise covers. They are brothers and sisters who are not children of the bondwoman, tethered “under the Law” (Rom. 6:14; Gal. 5:18) given in Sinai in “tables of stone” (Ex. 31:18; 34:4; 2Cor. 3:3) but of the free. Having been freed from eternal death (exacted by the Law given at Sinai attributed to one man-Adam’s sin in the garden of Eden),through the death also of one man-Jesus, the “pioneer and perfecter”, we are now free to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit to bring “ fruits of the Spirit”, against such there is no law (Gal. 5:22-23).
Having established to whom the promise was given, identified the “seed “ and who the “children of Abraham” are, we can now take up the following terms.
Justification and Reconciliation
To start with, why do we need justification and reconciliation? What really justifies us? Is justification for our individual past and future sins? What got us justified and reconciled. What are we justified by faith for and whose faith is referred to? Is it subsequently our faith, too?
Remember that sin “entered the world” (Rom. 5:12-21) because of Adam’s sin in the garden of Eden. All of humanity’s sin are imputed or counted towards one man’s sin so that one man-Jesus’ “righteousness of faith and works” can be assigned (counted, but not swapped) to all(2).
Moreover, even man’s righteous deeds are as filthy rags to God as in:
Isaiah 64:6 (NIV) “We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.”
Paul zoomed into the very core of preceding questions in:
Romans 3:23-27 (ESV)
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith”
Gal. 2:16 “...no one is justified by the works of the law but by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by the faithfulness of Christ * and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.
Gal. 3:6-14 “Just as Abraham believed God , and it was credited to him as righteousness , so then, understand that those who believe are the sons of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, proclaimed the gospel to Abraham ahead of time, saying, “All the nations will be blessed in you ” So then those who believe are blessed along with Abraham the believer. For all who rely on doing the works of the law are under a curse, because it is written, “ Cursed is everyone who does not keep on doing everything written in the book of the law .” Now it is clear no one is justified before God by the law, because the righteous one will live by faith . But the law is not based on faith, but the one who does the works of the law will live by them . Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us (because it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree ”) in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles, so that we could receive the promise of the Spirit by faith.”
I Cor. 5:8 (NIV)
“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:”
Rom. 5:10 (NIV) “For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life”
That being said, through Paul, notice what James’ additional testimony is:
James 2:14-26 “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.”
Beginning and fulfillment of the promise to Abraham
Paul and James gave us verses to understand the full and correct message about faith and works. What on the surface appears contradictory testimony can be harmonized and squared away by taking the “righteousness of faith” and “justified by faith” initiated or began the gift and reward for the promise made by the Father. Essentially, the gift which was initiated by the righteousness of the faith of Jesus was demonstrated, activated or completed through action, by “righteousness of works“ and “justified by works”. These promises would begin fulfillment through man-Jesus, the “beginner/author and finisher”(Heb. 12:2) of faith, the “pioneer” (originator/trailblazer) towards our salvation.
Sanctification and Glorification
How are we saved (Rom. 5:10)through his life? This is the very essence of what sanctification is. Sanctification or holiness comes from the Greek word “hagiasmos/hagiazo”.
Remember that Jesus died and was resurrected, not by himself but (Acts 2:32; 5:30; Gal. 1:1; Rom. 6:4), by the Father. Without him alive (John 14:16;16:7)he would not have received the Holy Spirit from the Father for us (Matt. 3:11;Mk 1:8;Luke 3:16).
This is the Holy Spirit of power that dwelt in man-Jesus at river Jordan ( Matt. 3:16; Luke 3:22) and will dwell (3) in the “Holy of Holies” of our body (temple as in I Cor. 3:16) to guide and help our spirit (the spirit of man; Gen. 2:7) to bring forth “fruits of the Holy Spirit” (Gal. 5:22-23). As man-Jesus followed the Holy Spirit, so should any human so imbued with this power.
We are required to bring forth fruits, to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit, not our will but the will of God (Mk. 14:36; Luke 22:42). Only those who endure/persevere/overcome (Matt. 24:13;Rev. 2:7,11,17, 26-28; 3:5,12, 21)to the end will be given the reward of immortality, salvation,i.e., eternal life, our glorification. Man-Jesus, as a pioneer/precursor/forerunner/beginner/trailblazer, indeed followed the guidance of the Holy Spirit instead of his own will.
Gifts vs Reward
Both are secondary to actions taken due to promises made. Both required a provider/giver and a recipient. However, gifts are given because of action from a belief that are evidenced-based (faith) thereby leading to trust. They are not given because of action that are “works of the flesh”, whether good or evil. Justification, reconciliation and imputation of sin of Adam to Jesus, are secondary to Christ’s belief and trust in the Father, having been with him from the beginning; of faith that is evidence-based. What the Father promised, Jesus trusted he will fulfill.
Contrariwise, reward is provided because of actions done by the recipient that are “fruits of the Holy Spirit”, not “fruits or works of the flesh”. This action does not even originate from any man and has to come, as a gift of the Father, through the Holy Spirit of power that was given because of the initiating “faith of Jesus”. The Holy Spirit sanctifies the recipient and he/she that “endures to the end” (Matt. 24:13; Heb. 3:7-19) the “overcomer” (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 26-28; 3:5, 12, 21) will be glorified as “son of God”. The rewards for those that “endure to the end” are resurrection to immortality and eternal life.
Because of the sin of one man Adam, to which all sins were imputed (whether Jews/Gentiles, pre/post-Adamic, pre/post-Abrahamic), similarly, one man-Jesus has to justify all sinners through imputation of his “righteousness of faith”. This justification is initiated, according to Paul, (Rom. 5:1; Gal. 2:16) by the “faith of Jesus”, and not his “works”, so no man( even Jesus) can boast (I Cor. 1:29; Eph. 2:9).
However, as “faith without works is dead” like the “body is dead apart from the spirit” it has to be demonstrated,!activated or completed by works (James 2:14-26), with the power of the Holy Spirit in him (Matt. 3:16; Luke 3:22). So Jesus had to sacrifice his life as a Passover Lamb (I Cor 5:7) by crucifixion (a curse Gal. 3:13) thus reconciling us to the Father by his “faith and works”.
It is the belief that is evidence-based(faith) leading to trust that initiated the “gift of righteousness” to all. But, it is the demonstration/activation/completion of faith “through works” that led to “reward” of reconciliation”.
With the gift of the Holy Spirit of power given to us, through faith, directly by Jesus as Son of God, we will then have to become overcomers to reach sanctification and eventual glorification.
1. Promise made to seed of Abraham and his children. Retrieved 4/28/18 from http://fact-s.net/2018/04/28/promise-made-to-theseed-of-abraham-and-his-children/
2. First Human, What difference does it make? Retrieved 5/1/18 from http://fact-s.net/2014/07/18/adam-the-first-human-what-difference-does-it-make/
3. Kingdom of God in Human Anatomy. Retrieved 5/1/2018 from http://fact-s.net/2016/12/21/kingdom-of-god-in-human-anatomy/
Original post: 5/1/2018