IX. THE GREAT COMMISSION: STEP TWO

Why did the Creator command baptism? Baptism in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit is not an empty form—it is a very rich and meaningful commandment.  It is much more than “an outward sign of an inward Grace,” as some have described it. Baptism is part of that form of doctrine the Romans obeyed. “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you” (Rom. 6:17). What was this form of doctrine the Romans had obeyed?

First, he describes baptism in the epistle to the Roman Christians as one part of the form of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.  He describes baptism as a burial—the same way Christ was buried.  Like Christ was crucified, there must be a crucifixion and death of the old man before there can be a burial in baptism.  Like Christ was raised from the dead, the child of God is raised from baptism “through the faith of the operation of God” to “walk in newness of life.”

Second, each part of the death burial and resurrection takes place “with him.”  “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” (Rom. 6:6).  We note that they were crucified “with him.”  “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death” (Rom. 6:3-4).  We note that they were buried “with him” in baptism.  “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead” (Col. 2:11-12).  Again we note that the child of God rises “with him.”

Third, each part of the crucifixion, burial and resurrection specifically relates to the old man or the new man.  Crucifixion puts the old man to death, while burial destroys the old man.  “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed” (Rom. 6:6).  After the old man is destroyed, then the new man must be resurrected from the dead.  He told the Galatian Christians, “. . .seeing ye have put off the old man with his deeds;  And have put on the new man” (Col. 3:9, 10). After the old man is put off by being crucified, and buried, then the new man is put on by being resurrected from the dead.

Fourth, the crucifixion and burial are a part of “the circumcision of Christ.” “In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:  Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead” (Col. 2:11-12). New Testament circumcision is not a cutting off by man. It is a “circumcision made without hands.”  God is the one who does the circumcising. Old Testament circumcision is a cutting off of the flesh.  New Testament circumcision is a cutting off of the old man. Immediately after describing the circumcision of Christ, he refers it to being “buried with him in baptism.” They were raised “through the faith of the operation of God.” God is the one who circumcises his children by cutting off their old man. When the old man dies, he dies from the rudiments of the world. “Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?” (Col. 2:20-22). Thus the old man is killed by crucifixion, cut off, and destroyed in burial.

Fifth, being resurrected with Christ is being born from the dead. When the old man is crucified with Christ, he is cut off with Christ’s circumcision. At that point the child of God is without any “man.” He must be made “alive from the dead.” The Roman disciples had been made alive from the dead. He told them that they should, “…yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead…” (Rom. 6:13). Those who are alive from the dead begin a new life. He stated “…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” (Rom. 6:3-4). They were raised like Christ was raised.  How was Christ raised from the dead?

Jesus was not only raised from the dead but he was also “born from the dead.” “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence” (Col. 1:18). If they were raised “… like as Christ was raised up from the dead,” then they must have been—not only made alive from the dead—but they must have been born from the dead. God’s children must be born from the dead for he commanded his children that they should, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:” (1 Pet. 2:2).  They were new born babies when they rose up from the dead like Christ was raised from the dead. Jesus informed Nicodemus of the same thing.  “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).  At the same time they were born into God’s family, they were born into the kingdom of God and became citizens, and members of His household.  “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Eph. 2:19).

When were they born from the dead? They could not be alive from the dead until they had been crucified with Christ and the old man was dead.  They could not be raised with him until the old man had been buried and destroyed in the grave.  Thus their burial (baptism) had to precede their resurrection (birth) from the dead.  Their new birth could not take place without being raised in the likeness of Jesus’ resurrection (birth) from the dead.

NEW TESTAMENT CHILDREN OF GOD

The same principle discussed in the last lesson applies to being children of God under the New Covenant.  God’s children will walk in the steps of God.  He returns good for evil in causing His sun to shine on the evil as well as the good (Matt. 5:43-45).  Those who do good to those who are evil, walk in the spiritual steps in which God walks, and are thus true children of God.  Returning good for evil makes it possible “…that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven (Matt. 5:44, 45).  When we walk in this kind of love, we are “followers of God, as dear children” (Eph. 5:1, 2).  If we do not love our enemies we are not God’s children.  Jesus was a true child of God in that he watched to see what his Father did, and then did the same thing (John 5:19, 20).  If we walk in the steps of Christ, and do only what we see Christ doing, we will be walking in the steps of God and be his children also.  This is not talking about the physical steps of the Nazarene that walked the dusty roads of Jerusalem.  This is walking in the spiritual steps of Jesus, some of which were humility (Phil. 2:5-8), meekness (Matt. 11:28-30), growing in wisdom and in favor with God (Luke 2:52), sanctifying oneself (John 17:19), suffering for having done right (1 Pet. 2:18-23), etc. .

Though God’s children can see the spiritual kingdom and the world of that kingdom, they can lose their spiritual sight, after they have been born. He told the Christians in Galatia etc., “But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins” (2 Pet. 1:9).  Some Christians were so blind they did not see even the first principles (Heb. 5:11, 12).  The Laodiceans had lost their spiritual sight and did not know it (Rev. 3:17). God will take His sight back again if a man is not careful how he hears (Luke 8:18).  This spiritual birth is a birth strictly by and from God (John 1:10-13).  These souls “. . . were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13).  This is not to say Calvinism is true. Unless man does his part, God will not give birth to him.  There is an essential qualification before one can even have power to become a child of God (John 1:12).  We will study more on that later.

VIII. GOD’S SPIRITUAL CHILDREN: Old Testament and New

Entering the kingdom of God is to become a citizen or child of God.  Those who are not children of God are not in the kingdom.  Who are the children of God and how can we recognize them?  The Lord recognizes at least two different kinds of children.

Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:  Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.  That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed  (Rom. 9:6-8).

The Lord discerns between two very different kinds of children—fleshly and spiritual.  Not all of the Israelites were circumcised in heart.  All physical Israel is of Israel physically; however, not all of Jacob’s physical descendants are spiritual children of Israel.  Jesus describes those who are children of Abraham in heart as well as in the flesh. (John 8:37-44).  He acknowledged that the Jews were physically descended from Abraham, as his seed (John 8:37); however, he shows a difference between Abraham’s seed and Abraham’s children.  Jesus acknowledged that the Jews were Abraham’s seed (John 8:37) but denied that they were Abraham’s children.

They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.  But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham  (John 8:39-40).

Abraham’s children are those who do the works of Abraham.  They walk in the steps of the faith of Abraham.  Only those who walk in Abraham’s steps are his children (Rom. 4:12).  The Jews who had the heart of Abraham could do the works of Abraham (Matt. 12:35).  The Jews (with some exceptions) in Jesus’ time did not have a heart like Abraham.  Their heart was more like the Devil’s heart, because they were seeking to kill God’s Son (John 8:44).  Abraham did not kill the prophets like these Jews were trying to do to Jesus (John 8:40). John the Baptist chided the Jews when he said: “And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham” (Matt 3:9).  God could not raise physical children of Abraham out of the stones.  A physical child of Abraham must descend from Abraham’s fleshly body; however, God could easily create “a body” out of stones, and put a soul in that body which had the faith of Abraham (Matt. 3:9) who would do the works of Abraham from “the abundance of a heart” of faith like Abraham.  Unless we do the works of Abraham, we are not children of Abraham.

Similarly, those women who walk in the steps of Sarah, will do the works of faith which Sarah did.  For example: she trusted the One who gave her husband authority over her and obeyed the Lord by obeying Abraham, calling Abraham Lord (1 Pet. 3:6

Seeing the Spiritual Kingdom

The Pharisees were blind.  They could not see spiritually (Matt. 23:16-28).  Nicodemas could not get his mind off of a physical birth (John 3:1-8). Some have sight but not others (Matt. 13:13-16).  God opens the eyes of the humble and shuts the eyes of the proud (Matt. 11:25,26). The blind can not see the entrance to the kingdom because it is a birth of the spirit, not of the flesh (John 3:6-8). “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).  Without being born of God the person remains a natural man and can not see spiritually (1 Cor. 2:14).  He describes the initial seeking after God as feeling after Him like blind men (Acts 17:26).  One reason that not everyone who seeks to enter will be able (Luke 13:24) is that they can not see it.  Jesus told them apostles “But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear” (Matt. 13:16).  God sends a strong delusion when a man does not love his truth (2 Thess. 2:10-12).  Thus not everyone can see it.  The kingdom is spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:14).  It is not possible to see a spiritual birth with physical eyes.  No one would be able to say Lo the kingdom is here! or, lo the kingdom is there!  Why?  Because Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20, 21).  God’s kingdom is a spiritual kingdom, not a physical one.  And so today, as then, there are many who are not able to see the spiritual kingdom because they are spiritually blind.

ALL KINGDOMS HAVE FOUR ESSENTIAL PARTS

Every kingdom must have four parts to be a kingdom – It must have 1) a King, 2) a Law, 3) Citizens and 4) a Place to reign.  If it lacks any of these parts, it is not a kingdom.  In physical kingdoms all of these parts are physical.  For example, King James was the king who translated the King James version of the Bible.  During his reign the law was the British Commonwealth law, the citizens were the British people, and the place was England.  This kingdom was not eternal, for when king James died he was no longer king and when the people died they were no longer in that kingdom.  That kingdom was then left to other people – the next generation.

The spiritual kingdom of God consists of these four parts but they are all spiritual: namely  1) a spiritual King,   2)  a spiritual law,   3) spiritual citizens, and 4). a spiritual territory.  The king: is Christ.  He is not on earth and does not have a physical form.  He is a spiritual king in a spirit form (John 4:24).  He is at the right hand of his Father in his throne at this time (Rev. 3:21).  Its citizens: The kingdom is made up of souls, not bodies, for Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21).  The Colossians were delivered “from the power of darkness” and translated “into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Col. 1:13).  Being translated into the kingdom made them citizens (Eph. 2:19).  The law: the kingdom is governed by an eternal law that will never pass away (Matt. 24:35) which deals primarily with spiritual laws for hearts and minds (Heb. 8:8-10).  (For example, the beatitudes deal with purity, meekness, righteousness, peace, etc.). Place: Jesus rules in the heart, a spiritual place (1 Cor. 13:1-3).  If he does not reign in our hearts he will not accept us.  Thus  the laws of the kingdom of God are laws governing the inner man – the eternal nature of man. The kingdom was cut out of the mountain, without hands, because it is a spiritual kingdom.