The Gospel Age Agreement
Some feel that the elect of God who have been called to salvation after the advent of Christ (i.e., those called during the gospel age) are under the new agreement with national Israel. However, this is not entirely true, because the agreement that was established on Pentecost in 30 A.D. is not the agreement that will be made with national Israel after the return of Christ; it is a special version of that new agreement. One of the more notable differences is that the agreement with the elect has a testament attached to it and the promise of a better resurrection:
"After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do you, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me" (1.Cor.11:25 KJV).
"Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection" (Heb.11:33-35 KJV).
It is during the gospel age that God began to call all people to have equal status with an Israelite in regard to the call to salvation, regardless of their race or national origin:
"Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of individuals: But of every nation he that fears him, and does righteously, is acceptable to him" (Acts 10:34-35 Para.).
"For you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you be Christ's, then are you Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Gal.3:26-29 KJV).
"Wherefore remember, that you being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus you who sometimes were far off are made near by the blood of Christ" (Eph.2: 11-13 KJV).
"For through him we both have access by one spirit to the Father. Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God" (Eph.2:18-19 KJV).
Through the sacrifice of Christ, it is possible for those who are called to salvation during the gospel age to have access to God the Father and receive tremendous blessings above and beyond those that are offered under the new agreement with national Israel and the rest of humanity after the return of Jesus Christ.
THE AGREEMENT WITH THE ELECT OF GOD
Much of what is written by the apostles about the agreement between the Father, Jesus Christ and those called to salvation during the gospel age is written in the context of the new agreement with national Israel. Moreover, it is within the framework of the agreement with national Israel that many of the terms and conditions of the agreement with the elect are stated. However, the agreement that the Father makes with those who are called to salvation during the gospel age and others who will participate in the first resurrection is unique and it is different from the first and second covenant with national Israel in many ways.
The apostle Paul understood the uniqueness of this agreement with those who are called during the gospel age. Notice what he says while speaking of those who had seen Christ and been personally taught by him:
"And last of all, even as one born out of time, he was seen of me. For I am least of the apostles" (1.Cor.15:8-9 Para.).
When Paul says that he was born out of time (i.e.,prematurely), he was not speaking of his physical birth; he was speaking about his spiritual birth and the second agreement that God had made with national Israel. Paul knew that the second agreement with regathered Israel would go into effect after the return of Jesus Christ as King of kings and that his calling to salvation during the gospel age was a special gift, which was not given to all Israelites at that time.
Paul was taken out of his former life and given the awesome opportunity to be an apostle of Christ. If this had not happened, he would have died and been resurrected in the great resurrection of national Israel after the return of Christ (Ezk. chp.37). And he would have had his opportunity for salvation under far different circumstances.
A NEW AGREEMENT THROUGH CHRIST
"Then said he, Lo, I come to do your will, O God. He takes away the first, that he may establish the second. By which we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (Heb.10:9-10 Para.).
Although what the writer to the Hebrews is speaking about pertains primarily to the new agreement with national Israel, it also pertains to the agreement that is made with those who are called to salvation during the gospel age.
First the writer to the Hebrews reveals that through Christ's perfect sacrifice, the first agreement with national Israel is canceled in favor of a far better one. Then he says that those whom the Father calls to salvation during the gospel age are set apart through the sacrifice of Christ for a holy purpose, and the need to perform animal sacrifices to atone for spiritual sin has been eliminated by the sacrifice of Christ.
"For by one offering he has perfected forever them that are sanctified" (Heb.10:14 KJV).
A BETTER RESURRECTION
In the Book of Hebrews, chapter eleven, there is a long list of righteous individuals who died without receiving God's promises:
"Who [these people] through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection" (Heb.11:33-35 KJV).
The entire eleventh chapter of Hebrews chronicles these righteous individuals and their deeds of faith as they lived and died in obedience to God. Verse 35 shows that they did all this in order to obtain a better resurrection.
Is one resurrection better than another? The answer is YES! The reason that these individuals are promised a better resurrection than other people is because their agreement with God is different from the agreements with national Israel. The thing that makes their agreement unique has to do with the awesome opportunity that they have been given in regard to the responsibilities and rewards that they have been called to participate in. When one reviews the rewards and opportunities for service to humanity that will exist in God's kingdom for those called to participate in the first resurrection, it becomes obvious that the first resurrection is the best and most desirable one.
"And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect" (Heb.11: 39-40 KJV). See also Heb.11:13.
There are people who will participate in the first resurrection who were called to salvation before and during the first agreement with national Israel as well as people who are called after the advent of Christ.
THE CALL TO PARTICIPATE
There are four basic reasons why God called people before the advent of the Messiah to participate in the first resurrection. Moreover, these same reasons apply to those he calls after the advent of the Messiah to participate in the first resurrection.
- They are to prepare a people to help Jesus Christ rule the world upon his return:
- "And has made us to our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth" (Rev.5:10 KJV). See also 1.Thes.3:13; Rev.3:21; 20:4-6.
- They are to preach the good news of the soon-coming Kingdom of God:
- "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations; and then shall the end come" (Matt. 24:14 KJV).
- They are to preach the message of repentance:
- "Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy spirit: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you . . ." (Matt.28:19-20 KJV).
- They are to grow in grace and knowledge (2.Pet.3:18) and learn to perfect the ways of God in order to be able to fulfill the purpose for which they were called:
One of the major responsibilities of those in the first resurrection is to assist in the conversion of humanity. God the Father and Jesus Christ want everyone to obtain salvation (1.Tim.2:4; 2.Pet.3:9). For this task, some are called to be trained and prepared through trials, tests, study of God's word, and prayer in order to grow in grace and knowledge, so that they will be able to fulfill an office of a king-priest to rule and teach God's truth to those who have never heard or understood the way to salvation.
Those in the first resurrection (i.e., the elect of God of all ages) will be the examples, leaders, and teachers of the ways of God for the rest of humanity who have never had an opportunity for salvation.
Those who participate in the first resurrection are also the inheritors of the Kingdom of God and many other blessings that are not available to the rest of humanity:
"When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King [Jesus] say to them on his right hand, Come, you blessed of my Father [God the Father], inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Matt. 25:31-34 KJV). See also Jms.2:5.
Those in the first resurrection will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven as a part of their reward: "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt.5:3 KJV, see also v5).
The elect of God will inherit his Kingdom and receive many other rewards for their faithfulness and obedience to God.
Inherit all Things
Not only will the righteous inherit the Kingdom, but also they will inherit all things. What a tremendous reward to inherit the Kingdom and to be joint-heirs with Jesus of all that will ever exist.
"He that overcomes shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son" (Rev.21:7 KJV). See also Heb.1:1-2, 5-8.
HOW TO BECOME AN HEIR
What are the requirements necessary to become an heir, and what does a person have to do to acquire the inheritance?
"Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent you, and believe the gospel" (Mk.1:14-15 KJV).
The first thing that must happen before a person can become an heir is that a person must be called of God to become an heir (Jn.6:44,65). After this call, a person must believe the gospel concerning Christ and the Kingdom of God, ask the Father for forgiveness for violating his law, and stop violating it.
"Then Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you have no life in you" (Jn.6:53 KJV).
This verse shows that we must go through Jesus Christ to receive eternal life at the resurrection.
Acts 2:38 tells us that after one repents, one must be baptized for the forgiveness of sin and the receiving of the holy spirit. Therefore, a person must believe in Christ, repent of one's sin, be baptized, and then receive the holy spirit. When one accomplishes these things one becomes a son and heir of God and is authorized to receive an inheritance at the resurrection of the just (Rom.8:11-14).
"Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the holy spirit" (Acts 2:38 KJV).
During the gospel age of salvation, the baptismal ceremony and its various steps is the process by which people make and ratify an eternal agreement between themselves, God the Father, and Jesus Christ. Upon completion of the final ritual of the baptismal ceremony, a person receives the holy spirit and becomes a son of God the Father and a brother of Jesus Christ in the holy and divine Family of God.
The baptized person is then committed to an endeavor that will then lead to eternal life as a member of the family and government of God (Rev.3:5,21; 5:10; 20:4-6). However, it will lead them to eternal death if this commitment is not kept (Lk.9:62; Heb.6:4-6; 10:26-27; Rev.20: 13-15; 21:8). God the Father and Jesus Christ have committed themselves to help the newly begotten son with the very power that sustains the universe and all that exists. See Matt.6:25-34; Heb.13:5-6; Jn.14: 12-14.
Romans 6:1-9 KJV
Paul reminds the elect at Rome of their baptism and their sinless condition before God:
"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know you not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?" (vs.1-3).
"Therefore we are buried with him by baptism to death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:" (vs.4-5).
When a person is raised out of the baptismal water, that person is symbolically and literally raised to a new life. The repentant person has become pure and sinless and is no longer under the penalty of death for violating God's law. The spirit and body have been purged of all sin and defilement:
"Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dies no more; death has no more dominion over him" (vs.6-9).
DEAD TO SIN
"For in that he died, he died to sin once: but in that he lives, he lives to God. Likewise reckon you also yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom.6:10-11 Para.). See also Rom.7:6; Heb.9:13-14.
As Christ is dead to sin, so are those who have God's spirit dwelling within them. They are free from sin and its penalty and they can look forward to being an immortal spirit-being that can never die:
"For in baptism you see how your old, evil nature died with him and was buried with him; and then you came up out of death with him into a new life because you trusted the Word of the mighty God who raised Christ from the dead. You were dead in sins, and your sinful desires were not yet cut away. Then he gave you a share in the very life of Christ, for he forgave all your sins, and blotted out the charges proved against you, the list of his commandments which you had not obeyed. He took this list of sins and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ's cross" (Col.2:12-14 LBP). See also Col.3:14.
SINS WASHED AWAY
Although baptism is symbolic of a physical death and a resurrection to a new life, it is much more. During this ceremony, the person being baptized is washed clean and purged of all sin by the power of God's spirit through the sacrifice of Christ. And the baptized person becomes devoid of sin and stands righteous before God.
Under the first agreement with national Israel, the washing with water was as an act of purification. During the gospel age, it is the baptismal water and the blood of Jesus Christ that picture and perform this purification. In fact, it is through the sacrificial blood of Jesus that we are washed clean and forgiven of our sins and purged of all defilement that would prevent us from coming before the Father to receive his spirit.
The following scriptures mention the washing away of sin through pure water, the blood of Jesus, and the cleansing power of the holy spirit as an integral part of the process of becoming one of God the Father's earthly children:
"Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water" (Heb.10:22 KJV).
"Or do you not know that the unjust ones will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Do not be led astray, neither fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, abusers, homosexuals, thieves, covetous ones, drunkards, revilers, or plunderers shall inherit the Kingdom of God. And some of you were these things, but you are washed; but you were sanctified; but you were justified in the nature of the Lord Jesus, and in the spirit of our God" (1.Cor.6:9-11 Para.).
"But when the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works in righteousness which we had done, but according to his mercy he has saved us, through the washing of regeneration and the renewal of the holy spirit, which he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ, our Savior" (Tit.3:4-6 Para.).
"And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. To him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood" (Rev.1:5 KJV). See also Rom.5:9; Eph.2:13; Heb.13:12; 1.Jn.1: 1-7; 3:5-6; Rev.5:9; 7:13-14.
Under the first agreement with national Israel, the priesthood, the people, and all things that came into close contact with God had to be purified and kept clean, because God will not dwell where there is sin (Lev.19:2; 1.Pet.1:15-16) or impurity (Ex.29:36-46; Deut.23:14; 1.Cor. 3:17).
God has not changed. Under the new agreement, he still requires that all things that come into close contact with him be free from all sin and impurity:
"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 in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be you separate, says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty" (2.Cor.6:16-18 KJV).
Why Purify the Body
God the Father will not allow his spirit to inhabit an impure place—a physical, as well as a spiritual change takes place during the baptismal ceremony. In the baptismal water, God purifies the body through the power of his spirit so that his holy spirit can dwell within the person's physical body (See 1.Tim.5:22; Tit.1:15-16; Heb.10:14-22; 1.Pet.1:22; 1.Jn.3:1-3; 4:4):
"Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple" (1.Cor.3:16-17 NIV).
"Haven't you yet learned that your body is the home of the holy spirit God gave you, and that he lives within you? Your own body does not belong to you. For God has bought you with a great price. So use every part of your body to give glory back to God, because he owns it" (1.Cor.6:19-20 LPB).
The body of a child of God is a temple of God; it is God's holy place where his spirit dwells.
God will not allow his spirit to inhabit a sinful person; therefore, the first step toward salvation is to repent in order to rid one's mind (God's Holy Place) of all sin. The second step is to sincerely ask God the Father to forgive our sins through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The third step is to be immersed in water for the washing away of sin through the blood of Christ and for the purifying of the physical body, which will become a temple where God will place his spirit.
BAPTISM OF THE SPIRIT
After people are made sinless and pure through Christ's sacrifice, God the Father can ratify his agreement with them by placing his spirit within them.
Upon receiving the holy spirit, the baptized person becomes a son of God and an eternal agreement between the person, God the Father, and Jesus Christ has been ratified and sealed. See Rom.8:16-19; Jer.31: 31-33; Heb.8:8-11.
Notice what John the Baptist says about being baptized with the spirit:
"I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the holy spirit" (Mk.1:8 KJV).
"And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said to me, Upon whom you shall see the spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizes with the holy spirit" (Jn.1:33 KJV). See also Lk.3:16; Acts 11:15-16.
THE INDWELLING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
"If you love me, keep my commandments. And I will petition the Father, and he will give you another comforter that he may remain with you forever the spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it does not see him, nor know him. But you know him, for he abides with you, and shall be in you" (Jn.14:15-17 Para.). See Jn. 16:13-14.
"For as many as are led by the spirit of God, they are the sons of God" (Rom.8:14 KJV).
Paul also says that only those who have the spirit of God are his sons. The holy spirit is so important that having or not having it is the difference between having or not having salvation. See Rom.8:9; Jn.14: 21-24.
The Father's And Christ's Spirit
Under the terms and conditions of the agreement with the elect of God during the gospel age, the children of God are given the Father's holy spirit, which imparts various attributes and powers. The elect of God also have the spirit of the Father and Christ dwelling within them.
Those called to salvation prior to the advent of the Messiah did not have the Father's or Christ's spirit placed in them, because the Father had not been revealed (See Matt.11:27; Lk.10:22; Jn.8:19), and the Creator God had not yet become the Messiah. Moreover, these people did not receive the spirit of sonship (Rom.8:14-15) nor did they have the law of God placed within their minds and spirits (See Jer.31:33; Heb.8:8-10).
Under the new agreement, those to whom the Father gives the holy spirit (his spirit-power), his spirit, and the spirit of Christ are in a condition of sinlessness and purity as they live out their physical lives.
THE LAW PLACED WITHIN
"But this shall be the covenant [agreement] that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, says the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people" (Jer.31:33 Para.). See also Ezk.36:27.
"For this is the covenant [agreement] that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people" (Heb.8:10 KJV).
Those called to salvation after Christ's death and resurrection are the first to have the law of God placed within their very being through the power of the Father's holy spirit.
"Forasmuch as you are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the spirit of the living God; not on tables of stone, but in the fleshly tables of the heart" (2.Cor.3:3 KJV).
When people receive the holy spirit, the laws of God are made a part of their very nature and being, which makes it possible to be conscious of the difference between righteous and unrighteous concepts and behavior. Having these laws as a constant part of the consciousness alerts a child of God to the right spiritual path that should be followed as one experiences life with its various trials and temptations.
THE SPIRIT OF ADOPTION
Another important function of the holy spirit is to transform a person into a son of God. When this function of the spirit of God is applied to a person, that person is transformed into a son of God and made a member of the Family of God. This transformation places a person at the starting point of eternal and immortal life. This is the time of spiritual conception from which we can grow toward spiritual maturity and perfection into an immortal spirit-being.
In his letter to the Church at Rome, Paul draws upon the example of the Roman adoption system to illustrate how a person becomes a son of God:
"For as many as are led by the spirit of God, these are the sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery again to fear, but you received a spirit of adoption by which we cry, Abba! Father! The spirit itself witnesses with our spirit that we are the children of God" (Rom.8:14-16 Para.).
Roman adoption was extremely difficult to accomplish, because the Roman father was the absolute controlling power over the family. No matter how old a son became, he was still the absolute possession and under the absolute control of his father. This made adoption into another family a very serious and difficult thing to accomplish. Moreover, even when a father did agree to an adoption, there were a number of symbolic ceremonies and rituals, which required the presence of many witnesses, that had to take place before any adoption was considered legal and binding under Roman law.
Once a son was legally adopted into his new family, he lost all rights to his old family and gained the rights of a legitimate son in his new family. By law, his old life was completely wiped away (e.g., all debts were canceled). He was regarded as a completely new and different person who was entering a new life upon which the old life had no meaning or importance. Under Roman law, he was considered the son of his new father.
Paul says the holy spirit is the witness of the adoption into the Family of God whereby the past life is wiped away—it is gone. All debts are canceled, and the new son of God begins a new life in the God family with all the rights of sonship.
TRANSFORMATION INTO A SON OF GOD
Upon receiving the spirit of God, a person is transformed from the original human creation into a new and different being. The old person, which only had the spirit of man, ceases to exist and a new person who has the spirit of God dwelling within is born. See Jn.3:3-7; 2.Cor.5:17.
Although a child of God still appears to be human, a transformation has taken place. Anyone who has received the holy spirit is different from other humans. A person with the holy spirit is a son of God, with the genetic imprint of the God family. Although a child is not yet an immortal spirit-being, they are still a child of God and a member of the Father's spiritual family, and at some time in the future they will shed the body of flesh and receive an immortal spirit body. See 1.Cor.15: 51-54; 1.Thes.4:13-17; Rev.20:6. Those who respond to God's call to salvation, repent, are baptized, and receive his spirit can look forward to tremendous rewards and happiness forever as an immortal being in the Family of God.
SEALING THE AGREEMENT
"And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord has made with you concerning all these words" (Ex.24:8 Para.).
"When Moses had proclaimed every commandment of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. He said, 'This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.' In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness" (Heb.9: 19-22 NIV).
The formal ratification of the first agreement between God and the nation of Israel was sealed with the blood of an animal. This ratification and sealing of the agreement with blood is important to note, because the second agreement is also ratified and sealed with blood—the blood of the Creator God in human form. See Matt.26:26-28; 1.Cor.11:25; Heb.13: 20.
Just as the Creator God sealed his agreements with the Patriarchs and the Israelites with blood, he has sealed the new agreement with blood. However, the new agreement is not sealed with the blood of an animal; the new agreement is sealed with the blood of the Creator God himself who became Jesus Christ.
THE PERSONAL AGREEMENT
Contrary to what many believe, baptism is not for the purpose of binding a person to a group of people or to one particular physical organization or another. Baptism is a person's acceptance of the terms and conditions of the new agreement between God the Father, his chosen people, and the God Family.
Baptism is the making of an agreement between a person, God the Father, and Jesus Christ. Baptism is the induction of a person into the holy and divine Family of God. Baptism is a step toward becoming a god-being in the Kingdom and Family of God. No earthly organization of humans can offer this grand and awesome privilege—only the Father can bind a person to himself and place a person into his Family (Jn.6: 44-45).
The allegiance one makes at baptism is to God the Father and Jesus Christ, not to any other. Baptism is a very serious step to take. From the moment one is baptized and receives the holy spirit, a commitment of gigantic proportions has been made by the baptized person, by God the Father, and by Jesus Christ.
At Christ's death, his will and testament began to go into effect, and after his resurrection he commissioned his followers to execute and administer his will and testament:
"Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy spirit: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world [age]. Amen" (Matt.28:19-20 KJV).
This is the most important job the Father has ever given to anyone other than his Son Jesus Christ. The Father's children are the administrators of Jesus Christ's will and testament today and they will continue to administer it after his return, when the Kingdom of God is established on earth.
Every time a child of God explains the hope of the salvation that is in the meaning of Jesus Christ's life, crucifixion, and resurrection to anyone, that person is having the will of Christ administered to them. However, it is the responsibility of each person who receives this knowledge to respond in a positive manner in order to become an heir of Christ's will and testament.
Yes, it is true that if you will believe in Christ (believe that his sacrificial blood will remove sins), repent from breaking God's law, be baptized, and live according to God's laws and ways of life, you can also become an heir of Christ and receive eternal life.
The apostle Paul also tells us that the administrators of the new and better agreement of God are the elect children of God:
2.Corinthians 3:6-11 NIV
"He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the spirit; for the letter kills, but the spirit gives life" (v6). See also 1.Cor.15:3.
The old way of obtaining salvation—by trying to perfectly keep the law—ends in death, because everyone has sinned (Rom.3:23; Gal.3:22). However, through a new agreement, the holy spirit imparts life because it is through the power of the holy spirit that one can have the desire and help required to successfully obey God. See Rom.8:11.
"Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was" (v7).
The old way to obtain salvation under the first agreement with national Israel began with such glory that the people could not bear to look at Moses' face as he repeated the laws of God to them.
"Fading though it was, will not the ministry of the spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness!" (vs.7-9). See Ex.34:27-35.
The glory that is made possible under the new agreement is much greater than the glory that radiated from Moses' face after he had been with God. The glory that can be secured through this new agreement is similar to the glory that emanates from God the Father and Jesus Christ. The reason adherence to the new agreement will result in this type of glory is that, under the new agreement, the children of God have the necessary tools (i.e., the holy spirit) to do the Father's will.
"For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!" (vs.10-11).
The laws of God showed people their sins; however, the people who lived before the advent of Christ had great difficulty keeping the law perfectly because of the weakness of the flesh. Therefore, to them the law led to death, because the penalty for breaking the law of God is death (Rom.6:23).
The new agreement is much more glorious because it has Jesus Christ, the Righteous, to offer as its atoning power. If we claim the promise of forgiveness of sin through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and truly believe that we are forgiven for our sins through his sacrificial blood, we are justified or declared righteous in the eyes of God the Father—our sins are forgiven and forgotten. We are then justified and put in contact with the Father by the death of his Son, Jesus Christ (Rom. chp.5):
"In fact, that first glory as it shone from Moses' face is worth nothing at all in comparison with the overwhelming glory of the new agreement. So if the old system that faded into nothing was full of heavenly glory, the glory of God's new plan for our salvation is certainly far greater, for it is eternal" (2.Cor.3:10-11 LPB).
Why was the glory of the first agreement worth nothing when compared to the new agreement? The first agreement has no value because it only revealed what sin was and there was no way found under the first agreement to forgive sins.
When the first and second agreements with national Israel are compared, the second one has an overwhelming glory, because it contains the tools necessary for success that the first one did not have. These tools are as follows:
- The perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ
- A spiritual High Priest who is able to understand human imperfections (Heb. chp.2)
- The holy spirit placed within the child of God, which creates the desire to obey God's commandments, statutes, and judgments
AFTER REPENTANCE AND BAPTISM, WHAT DOES GOD EXPECT?
The majority of people who attempt to follow God today believe that all or most of the law of God was canceled by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, although he says,
"Do not think that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill" (Matt.5:17 Para.).
Christ says the same thing today that he said to the professing righteous of his day concerning his Father's law:
"You do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God"
Most people do not understand the truth of God because they refuse to obey the laws that he created for their benefit. Obedience to these laws will bring an understanding of God's mind and purpose for humanity:
"O how love I your law! It is my meditation all the day. You through your commandments have made me wiser than my enemies: for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers: for your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep your precepts" (Psa.119:97-100 Para.).
A careful study of the scriptures will reveal that all of the terms and conditions that were in the old agreement with national Israel are a part of the new agreement. The only exception is those items specifically changed or superseded by Christ's sacrifice (among these are the Passover observance, and the temple worship system). Many other things, such as the commandments, the annual observances and festivals, and the health laws are still a part of the new agreement and are binding upon the people of God today.
The rewards of the new agreement are far superior to the old one, and the penalties for non-compliance of the new agreement are more severe:
"For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the holy spirit, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again to repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. For the earth which drinks in the rain that comes often upon it, and brings forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receives blessing from God: But that which bears thorns and briers is rejected, and is near to cursing; whose end is to be burned" (Heb.6:4-8 KJV).
Once this agreement is entered into by God and an individual, there is no turning back.
Hebrews 10:26-31 KJV
"For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries" (vs.26-27).
"He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose you, shall he be thought worthy, who has trodden under foot the Son of God, and has counted the blood of the covenant [agreement], wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and has done despite to the spirit of grace?" (vs.28-29).
"For we know him that has said, Vengeance belongs to me, I will recompense says the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (vs.30-31).
If people willfully refuse to honor their contract with God, he cannot bless them, but he must instead curse them under the terms and conditions of the contract. See Deut.30:15-19.
Today, before Christ's return, the new agreement brings with it an opportunity to be among the first of humanity to be made a part of the Family of God as a son of God the Father, just as Jesus Christ is. The new agreement offers immortality and an eternal inheritance of the earth and the universe, and a spiritual inheritance so incredible that it cannot even be comprehended by the human mind. All of this and more is offered by God the Father to those he calls and offers an agreement to in this age of human existence.
By B. L. Cocherell and Vernon O. Jones b4w16