Attainment versus Obtainment
Apart from the privilege accorded proselytes of joining the congregation of Israel—which seemed to bear little fruitage, entrance into the right to share in the covenants of blessing designed for the earthly people (Israel—NC) was and is by physical birth.
The national blessings of Israel are recorded thus: “Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came” (Rom 9:4, 5).
Though they went down into Egypt a family, they came out a nation and Jehovah redeemed them as a nation unto Himself both by blood and by power (the Blood-sacrifices were the antitype of Christ which did not wash away sin but established forgiveness and salvation - Num 15:25-31—NC). It was not an individual redemption since it was not restricted to that generation (but to all Jewish generations believing in God, even now - Jn 14:1; but Israel remains a redeemed nation throughout all her history and is always in union with Him, just not in fellowship with Him, being without Christ—NC).
On the human side, the Passover lamb saved the physical life of Israel’s first-born (Ex 12:21-23—NC). On the divine side, the lamb, as an anticipation of God’s perfect Lamb, gave Jehovah freedom to redeem a nation forever. That Israel was already in Jehovah’s favor is revealed in Exodus 8:23; 9:6; 10:23. The redeemed nation became Jehovah’s abiding treasure (Ex 19:5; Deu 4:32-40; Ps 135:4).
What Jehovah has covenanted to His elect nation is one thing, and what He covenants to individuals within that nation is quite another thing. The national entity has been and will be preserved forever according to covenant promise (Isa 66:22; Jer 31:35-37; Gen 17:7, 8). The individual Israelite, on the other hand, was subject to a prescribed and regulated conduct which carried with it a penalty of individual judgment for every failure (Deu 28:58-62; Eze 20:33-44; Mat 24:51; 25:12, 30).
The national standing of each Israelite was secured by physical birth. Some of the nation did by faithfulness attain to more personal blessing than others of the nation (cf. Luke 2:25, 37), and some gloried in their tribal relationship (cf. Phl 3:5); but these things added nothing to their rights within their covenants, which rights were secured to each and every one alike by physical birth.
The heavenly people, whether taken individually from either Jewish or Gentile stock, obtained immediately by faith a standing as perfect as that of Christ (Col 1:28; Eph 4:13; Heb 10:14; 1Jo 4:17—NC), which position is secured by a spiritual birth and all the saving operations of God which accompany it. They are individually redeemed by the Blood of Christ; born of the Spirit into a relationship in which God becomes their Father and they become His legitimate sons and heirs—even joint-heirs with His Son.
Through the regenerating work of the Spirit they have Christ begotten in them (Col 1:27), and receive the divine nature (“new man”—NC) which is eternal life (Rom 6:23; 2Pe 1:4). They are “forgiven all trespasses” to such a degree that they will never come into condemnation (Col 2:13); Jn 3:18; Rom 8:1), and justified forever (Rom 3:21-5:11). They died in Christ’s death unto sin (Rom 6:1-19); they rose in His resurrection (Col 3:1-3); and they are now seated in Christ in the heavenlies (Eph 2:6).
By the baptizing work of the Spirit they are “joined to the Lord” (Rom 6:1-7), and being thus in Christ, their standing before the Father is no less than the perfection of His Son in whom they are accepted (2Co 5:21; Eph 1:6). Being in Christ, they are one with each other in a union which is both incomparable and incomprehensible—a unity like that within the blessed Trinity (Jn 17:21-23 – Christians are as one like the Trinity is One, by the Spirit. It’s one in the sense of being in the same accord with one another concerning everything—NC).
They are already constituted citizens of heaven (Phl 3:20). These blessings are not only as exalted and spiritual as heaven itself and eternal, but they are secured apart from all human merit at the instant one believes on the Savior as “to the saving of the soul.” Any Bible student can verify the assertion which is here made that not one of these distinctive characteristics of a Christian, and the list here presented could be greatly expanded, is ever said to belong to Israel as any such either as individuals or nationally; and almost none of these spiritual blessings are predicated of any individual before the death and resurrection of Christ. The Upper Room Discourse (Jn 13:1-17:26), though spoken before the death of Christ, is nevertheless a record in anticipation of all that would be after His death and even after Pentecost.
The heavenly people, by the very exalted character of their salvation being “made” to stand in all the perfection of Christ, have no burden laid upon them of establishing personal merit before God since they are “perfected forever” in His Beloved Son (Heb 10:14); but they have the new responsibility to “walk worthily” of their high calling (Eph 4:1). No system of merit, such as was the law, could possibly be applied to a people who by the riches of divine grace have obtained a perfect standing, even every “spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph 1:3; 2:6).
It is to be expected that the injunctions addressed to a perfected heavenly people will be as exalted as heaven itself, as they are (Rom 6:11-13; 2Co 10:3-5; Gal 5:16; Eph 4:30; 5:18). Similarly, as these requirements are spiritual and yet the doing of them is most essential, the Father has provided that each individual thus saved shall be indwelt by the Holy Spirit to the end that he may, by dependence upon the Spirit and by His enablement, live a spiritual, God-honoring life—not, indeed, to be accepted, but because he is accepted in the Beloved (Eph 1:6).
Those who would intrude the Mosaic system of merit into this heaven-high divine administration of super-abounding grace either have no conception of the character of that merit which the law required, or are lacking in the comprehension of the glories of divine grace.
The essential elements of a grace administration—faith as the sole basis of acceptance with God, unmerited acceptance through a perfect standing in Christ, the present possession of eternal life, and absolute security from all condemnation—are not found in the kingdom administration (i.e. the millennial kingdom is not the perfect place as the new heaven will be—NC). The kingdom injunctions, though suited to the conditions that will then be obtained, could perfect no one as men in Christ are now “perfected” (Heb 10:14), nor are they adapted as a rule of life for those already complete in Christ Jesus.
—Lewis Sperry Chafer (1881-1952)
MJS daily devotional for November 1
“That which we most dread—weakness and failure—are the very means by which our Father turns us from self-reliance to full dependence upon the Holy Spirit.” -MJS
“Walking in dependence upon the Holy Spirit, He leads up our hearts to where we are in the Lord Jesus. The new man finds delight in Him, and nowhere else. The Spirit is the living link between us and the Son in glory. He causes us to gaze upon Him, and we become changed into the same image, from glory to glory. This is true Christianity—the heart drawn off things here, and lovingly occupied with the One who is our Christian life.”
“As the believer grows, and his path becomes more involved, he is taught more about the Holy Spirit’s ministry, for he needs this doctrine increasingly for his comfort and rest in trial. His faith is not so strong and unwavering as he imagined; the ardor of his love soon vanishes; the power of sin, which at first he fancied was utterly broken, makes itself felt again, prayer becomes languid, and joy seems to have taken flight.
“In other words, the Father leads him into the valley, and lest he should make an idol of his faith, and a well-spring of a cistern, he is taught something of himself. Who does not know of this second stage of the Christian life, at first so painful, so humiliating, and filling the soul with perplexity? It is thus that we learn that the Spirit who has renewed our spirit must also sustain our new life; that we depend entirely on divine grace and strength, not merely to bring us to the Lord Jesus, but to keep us abiding in Him where He is.” –Andrew Murray (1828-1917)