"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."
The "sin" of Adam created a spiritual breach the relationship that man initially had with God in the Garden of Eden. Sin changed the way God related to man as well as how man would relate to God. The effects of sin was felt throughout all of creation. It also prevented God from resting on the 7th day, (Sabbath) after the 6 "creative" days God used to complete the creative process described in Genesis Chapter 1 and expounded on in Genesis chapter 2. This "sin", the sin of disobedience caused "a death curse" to be passed down every generation of man. The Apostle Paul reminded us in Romans 5:12 :Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned (NIV) As a result of Adam's disobedience that sinful act has caused us all to be “born in sin and shaped in iniquity”. We all have that "sin" gene within our being, imputed upon all of us because of what Adam and Eve did in the garden.
Adam literally brought “moral ruin” on all of us along with the propensity to sin.Sin affected us all on 3 levels: First, Sin is present all around us and has marred this world's system. Second, because there is a spiritual disconnect between the unrepentant man that is living in sin and God, who is sovereign and holy and despises, in fact literally hates sin. and the Third, the "penalty" God set forth as that "wages" that sin pays death. Because the Lord loves man but hates sin, God devised a way that man could be reconciled with him and be both forgiven and restored back in the good graces of the Lord.
The Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 2: 8- 9 that salvation is a free gift from God. God has fixed it so that anybody can claim their salvation by faith if they will accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and personal Savior. By accepting Jesus Christ, the person has accepting the fact that Jesus shed his precious blood on Calvary’s cross to bring remission for the sin of Adam and reconciliation back to the good graces of God. Everybody must remember is that there is nothing that anyone of us can do on our own merits to save ourselves. We can’t do enough “good works” to earn it. The bible says that all of our “works” are considered “filthy rags” in the sight of Almighty God.
Concerning God and Peace: How many ways can we experience the Peace of God?
There are 4 ways that God brings peace to us.
A. The First way peace is experienced is by bringing man together.
Through Jesus Christ, all barriers between the Jews and Gentile people have been broken through his blood. All of us as people whether Jewish or Gentile are outside the arc of safety and stands as sinners before a Holy God. Because of that "sin nature" we inherited from Adam, we all need to be saved. We all must accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord in order to be saved. Paul reminds us in Romans 10: that there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek (or Gentile) because the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call on him. We all must come to Jesus and accept Him to be saved. The need for man as a whole to be saved through Jesus puts us all on “equal footing” in the same manner that being all “born in sin” does since all mankind is born in sin and shaped in iniquity.
B. God broke down all barriers.
Through the death on the cross of Jesus Christ, the shedding of his blood brought remission of all of our sins, whether Jew or Non-Jew. As stated in the first reason, we all are on common ground pertaining to our personal relationship with God through Jesus. Jesus said that none of us could have access to the “Father” (God) except by (through our acceptance) of me (himself). From a historic perspective, a vivid example is given through the schematic of the Temple. The temple consisted of 4 courts. Each court separated men from the presence of God. The Gentiles nations were not allowed to advance past the outer court. There were tablets hanging around the Gentile court that warn them that they would face death if they strayed or walked into another courtyard of the temple. When Jesus died, the bible says that the veil in the temple that separated the Holy Place from the “Holy of Holies” supernaturally tore from top to bottom. The tearing of the veil symbolized that there was now “direct access” to God and no separation of the Jew from the rest of the Gentile nations.
C. God wiped out the Law of Enmity.
Before the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, all of mankind had to approach God through the Mosaic Law. Unfortunately for us, the Law actually revealed that we were condemned in the eyes of God and there was no way that we could be acceptable by God. Not only this, but the more we measured our lives up against the Law, the more the Law revealed that we were far away from God. Adam’s sin broke the law of obedience and passed the penalty of his disobedience (death) down the corridor of all of man’s geneology. Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross at Calvary’s Hill paid the debt (penalty) Adam passed to us by breaking the Law. Jesus wiped out the “enmity” of the Law as well as fulfilled all of the requirements of the Law. Jesus came to fulfill and not abolish the Law. Thus, Jesus is the only way for all of mankind to have a personal relationship with Almighty God. Because of Jesus Christ, the “only” way that there will still be enmity between God and man is if mankind never accepts Jesus Christ as savior and Lord before he dies.
D. God created a “new” man
Whenever man accepts Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord, God immediately changes the spiritual nature of that person and seals them with the Holy Spirit of promise.. The Apostle Paul tells us that if any man is in Christ (accepts Jesus Christ as savior), that man is a “new creation”. The Bible states in 2 Corinthians 5:17-19
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation". (NKJV)
The “old nature” (nature that caused man to sin) of that man is considered “passed away”. That is; God no longer holds the sins of that man at the point of his acceptance of Jesus against him toward the “wages” of those sin, which would have been death. That person is said to be “born again” in his relationship to God and has been given another chance at life to live the rest of his life the way God directs him to. With this “new nature”, man has to develop a relationship with God through Jesus Christ on a daily basis, since this new life in Jesus Christ is a “new beginning in the life of that man. Not only this, but all of those who accepts Jesus Christ have been “reconciled” into “one” new body (Body of Christ) and a position in the household of God.The “old nature” (nature that caused man to sin) of that man is considered “passed away”. That is; God no longer holds the sins of that man at the point of his acceptance of Jesus against him toward the “wages” of those sin, which would have been death. That person is said to be “born again” in his relationship to God and has been given another chance at life to live the rest of his life the way God directs him to. With this “new nature”, man has to develop a relationship with God through Jesus Christ on a daily basis, since this new life in Jesus Christ is a “new beginning in the life of that man. Not only this, but all of those who accepts Jesus Christ have been “reconciled” into “one” new body (Body of Christ) and a position in the household of God.
Concerning the Church: 6 Pictorial Expressions the Church
The Church has been illustrated by 6 different examples or pictures. Those “pictures” are:
A. A New Nation
All believers who have accepted Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord make up the formation of a “new nation”. The believers are no longer strangers or foreigners in their relation to God, but God has considered all believers as fellow citizens having the “spirit of God”. In Romans 10: 12, the Apostle Paul tells us that this is the reason that God said that there is no difference between the Jew nor the Greek, but the same Lord unto all is rich unto all that call on him. This means that God treats us all the same as far as our personal relationship with him is concerned. As a “new nation”, we make up a “royal priesthood”, a “peculiar people” and “holy” as a new nation. Our "new relationship" (restored through Jesus Christ) with God replaces the relationship status we had as estranged heathens and considered foreigners. We are now fellow citizens with the rest of the saints.
B. God’s Family Members
The Church is pictured as the family of God, and we have been adopted into his family because of our salvation in Jesus Christ. We are classified as “sons and daughters” of God. Jesus told us in John 14 that he was preparing a place for us and one day he will come back to “receive” us to spend eternity with him. It means that we have a home in the “New Jerusalem”. Being members of God’s family, we now have access to all of the “fruits and gifts” of the Holy Spirit, along with the “personal” care of God himself.
C. God’s Building
Within the church, according to verse 20 each believer is viewed as an "individual building stone". When each member is cooperating with one other and everybody does their part in building the structure (based on the 4 Pillars ; Fellowship...Stewardship... Evangelism...Doctrine) of God’s program for this world, the church as a whole can do “greater works” for the Lord. The “key” to the success of the church in building up the saints and the execution of God’s assignments is Jesus Christ. He must be the “chief cornerstone” of every assignment. When rightly fitted together with Jesus, there’s absolutely nothing that we can’t do for God. We know that according to Philippians 4:13, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. Also, we know that according to Philippians 4:19, God will supply all of our needs according to all of his riches in glory that come through Jesus Christ. Jesus, being the "Chief Cornerstone" is and must be the "first stone" that is laid in the church's foundation. Jesus is sought first because he is the "first stone" in God’s movement. Afterwards, we as individual building stones are to “follow suit” in walking in obedience to God's principles, precepts and truth. We are to always look to Jesus for guidance, support and direction. Because Jesus is the chief cornerstone, Jesus undergirds us and we are to completely “rest” upon him. Jesus said to us in Mathew 11: 28 “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest”.
We must depend on him alone for salvation and should depend on him for everything else if we are to live the abundant life promised by Him to those who are faithful.. In truth, Jesus is the only firm foundation that we can build on. That alone should be compelling enough for us to surrender all to him. He is the only firm foundation that we all can build our lives on. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. Nobody can approach God unless they do it through me”. If we as servants of God chose to follow anyone else but Jesus, God will replace us with someone else who will follow him and do his will. In essence, we as the servants of this present age, we must follow the foundation laid out by Jesus and all of the apostle and prophets before us in history.
D. A Growing Organism
The church is more than a mere "Christian organization". It can’t be compared to in the same light as an organization say the Y.M.C.A.,.or the Rotary Club. No, the church is a "living and growing organism". The church is founded on the principle of “one get one”. This means that as an organism, we as servants and Christians are to witness to others who don’t know Jesus in the free pardon of their sins. God is constantly adding to the church on a daily basis those who wish to be saved and accepts Jesus as their personal savior. God will continue to do so until the end of this dispensation (Time of the Gentiles). Each new convert represents not only a “living stone”, but also as a “growing organism” that must be attached to the “Living Stone”, Jesus Christ. By attaching himself to the “Living Stone”, the convert’s spiritual sacrifice is accepted and honored by God.
The Apostle Peter said in 1 Peter 2: 4- 5 that we are "living stones”. We are built up to be a “spiritual house” and a “holy priesthood”. We are to offer up “sacrifices” that are truly accepted by God through Jesus Christ.
The church as a “living organism” has two awesome responsibilities. First of all, the church must grow spiritually and she must carry out the mission of evangelism by preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world, offering salvation by faith in Jesus to everyone who will believe it and accept it. Secondly, every member must have an evangelistic mindset and be willing to go out and make disciples for Jesus. In short, the church members individually and collectively must preach (witness), teach, reach out to the unsaved and as a living testimony live the Gospel out in their lives. This is the way that God adds members to the institutional church (the building). We are all expected to be public witnesses for Christ.
E. A World Wide Temple
From a larger scope or perspective, all believers make up the "Holy Temple of God". for that reason we are to be holy in the way we live because Jehovah God who we serve is HOLY. Each and every believer make up what is called the “Universal Church”. Since the church comprises people from all generations, and denominations, all of them make up the worldwide temple in the “New Heaven” and the “New Earth”. The “Worldwide Temple of God” is still accepting members worldwide and is increasing on a daily basis. Every time a person accepts Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord, the church increases by one more convert. It is said that all of Heaven rejoices every time a new convert is added to the Kingdom of God. The “doors” of this church will remain open to the unsaved public until "the rapture" of the church and the end of the Gentile reign in world leadership.
F. A Local Temple
This "temple" that I speak of is represented by the local assembly (your membership church) and the place or building that houses that assembly of believers. Every member of their local church is essential stones that have been placed and fitted into that building. The stability of the assembly of believers in that local church hinges upon their “professed faith” being rooted and grounded in the Lord Jesus Christ for everything and need, as well as the ability of the local assembly to carry out the mission of the Church as each member adheres to the Church's Covenant and Creed.
The Local Church exists to provide a "community habitat" for the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit indwells in every believer to help each believer deal with their individual troubles and trials as well as empowers, educates, energizes and gives them enthusiasm in their living for Jesus. Jesus said in John 14: 26-27 the Holy Spirit, also called the Spirit of truth was sent to us to guide us into all truth concerning what we need to know about Jesus and what he expects from us in conduct, character and stewardship. Jesus said the Holy Spirit will teach us all things and will bring back to our remembrance every thing Jesus ever said to us.
From a corporate perspective, the church as an institution needs the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to carry out the principles of Gods mission here on earth and to project the “true image” of what God want the church to portray concerning what God is really about.For this reason, there are 4 "Essential Character Traits every Christian church must exemplify:
First the foundation and the infrastructure of the church must be "Bible based". Second the church must be "centered" on Jesus Christ. If the church is not built the "rock" (Faith in the belief that Jesus Christ is the Messiah and the only way anybody can be saved) it is not one of God's churches. Third, all activities of that church congregation as it pertain to training and mission work (including evangelism) must be led by the Holy Spirit. Fourth and final, the church must be "mission bound". This means the church must carry out the "Great Commission" Jesus mandated in Matthew 28:19-20. The congregation must go out from the assembly and share the "Good News" of the Gospel to compel others who are unsaved to repent and accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Personal Savior.
Dr. William Edward Boddie