|Conclusion of the New Testament, The (Msgs. 099-113), Chapter 6|
THE CONCLUSION OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
MESSAGE ONE HUNDRED FOUR
THE BELIEVERS—THEIR STATUS
In this message we shall cover the three remaining aspects of the believers’ status after being saved: co-kings of Christ, partakers of the Holy Spirit, and heavenly citizens.
12. Co-kings of Christ
We have seen that the believers are priests of Christ. Now we need to see that they are also co-kings of Christ. Those believers who live in the reality of the kingdom in this age will be co-kings with Christ in the millennium.
a. In Resurrection
It is in resurrection that the believers are co-kings of Christ. Speaking of the overcoming believers, Revelation 20:4c says, “They lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” Here the word “lived” means that they were resurrected.
Revelation 20:6 says, “Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection: over these the second death has no authority; but they shall be priests of God and of Christ and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” The first resurrection here is the best resurrection. The Greek word translated “first” is the same word rendered “best” in Luke 15:22, where the father commanded that the best robe be put on the returned prodigal. Hence, the first resurrection in Revelation 20:6 may actually be translated “the best resurrection.” Those who are co-kings of Christ will enjoy this resurrection. The first resurrection is also the out-resurrection, for which Paul sought (Phil. 3:11). This is a resurrection that is set apart from the common resurrection; it is a resurrection with honor. This is a resurrection of kingship as a reward to the overcoming believers. Hence, the first resurrection is also the resurrection of reward.
Revelation 20:6a says, “Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection.” This must be the highest blessing—to inherit the kingdom manifested on earth and even to be co-kings of Christ in it.
b. In the Consummation of Their Maturity in the Divine Life
Being co-kings of Christ is in the consummation of the believers’ maturity in the divine life. Until we reach maturity in the divine life we are like young princes, those who are too young to be kings. A king must be a matured person. Before a prince can be a king, he needs to grow and mature in the kingly life. Then he will be qualified to be a king. Likewise, we need to grow in the resurrection life. Eventually, this growth will reach the consummation of maturity in the divine life. Once we have reached this maturity we shall be qualified to be co-kings of Christ.
Second Timothy 2:12a says, “If we endure, we shall also reign with Him.” This verse implies being a co-king of Christ in the consummation of maturity in the divine life. If we endure in this age, we shall reign with Christ in the coming age.
c. Reigning Over the Nations and Shepherding Them on Earth
Those who are co-kings of Christ will reign over the nations and shepherd them on earth. Revelation 2:26 and 27 say, “He who overcomes, and he who keeps My works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will shepherd them with an iron rod, as vessels of pottery are broken in pieces, as I also have received from My Father.” Reigning with Christ over the nations is a prize to the overcoming believers. As they reign over the nations, they will shepherd them, for in the millennial kingdom the ruler is the shepherd.
In Psalm 2:9 God gave Christ authority to rule over the nations. Here in Revelation 2:26 and 27 Christ gives the same authority to the overcoming believers.
Two other verses that speak of the believers reigning over the nations on earth are Revelation 12:5 and 5:10. Revelation 12:5 says that the man-child will “shepherd all the nations with an iron rod.” This man-child signifies the stronger part of God’s people. The fact that the man-child will shepherd the nations with an iron rod indicates that the man-child consists of the overcoming believers, as mentioned in Revelation 2:26 and 27. Furthermore, Revelation 5:10 says that the believers will reign on the earth.
d. In the Millennial Kingdom
It will be in the millennial kingdom that the believers will be co-kings of Christ. Revelation 20:4 and 6 both speak of the overcoming believers reigning with Christ “a thousand years,” referring to the coming age of the millennial kingdom.
13. Partakers of the Holy Spirit
Hebrews 6:4 reveals that the believers are partakers of the Holy Spirit. As such partakers, we share in the Holy Spirit and enjoy Him. The Holy Spirit is what God promised to give man in His gospel (Gal. 3:14). In His gospel God has called us from the heavens to the heavenly things that we may partake of His Holy Spirit. Now by the Holy Spirit we taste the heavenly gift, partake of the divine holiness, and live a heavenly life on earth. As partakers of the Holy Spirit, we partake of the Triune God as our enjoyment.
The book of Hebrews reveals that the all-inclusive Christ is superior to the angels, Moses, Aaron, and the old covenant. In our practical experience, however, this all-inclusive Christ is the Spirit. Hebrews does not tell us that we are partakers of the all-inclusive Christ, but that we are partakers of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the consummation of the Triune God and also the reaching to us of the Triune God. This Spirit is much superior to the angels, Moses, and Aaron, and He is the reality of the new covenant, which is much superior to the old covenant. Now we are partakers of this Spirit. As partakers of the Spirit, we partake of and enjoy the processed Triune God with all His riches.
a. Having Been Enlightened
Those who are partakers of the Holy Spirit have been enlightened by the Spirit. Hebrews 6:4 speaks first of being enlightened and then of becoming partakers of the Holy Spirit. In Luke 15:8 the Spirit is symbolized by the fine woman lighting a lamp, sweeping the house, and carefully seeking a lost silver coin until she finds it. As portrayed by the parable of the seeking woman, the Spirit works to enlighten us inwardly. Little by little, in a fine, careful way, the Spirit enlightens our inner being. Before we were saved, we were in the darkness of sin. Therefore, the Spirit came to enlighten us that we might wake up, repent, and turn to God. Having been enlightened by the Spirit, who is able to penetrate the depths of our being, we have become partakers of the Holy Spirit.
b. Having Tasted of the Heavenly Gift
Hebrews 6:4 tells us that we have also tasted of the heavenly gift. The heavenly gift includes the heavenly things given to us by God at the time of our salvation. This means that the heavenly gift is actually an aggregate of a number of items. The first of these items is forgiveness. Because God forgives us from the heavens, the forgiveness of sins is part of the heavenly gift. Other aspects of this gift are the washing of the blood, justification in Christ, reconciliation, and redemption. Regeneration is also a crucial aspect of the heavenly gift. Furthermore, this gift includes the divine life and sonship. The heavenly gift even includes the Holy Spirit.
As believers in Christ, we surely have tasted of the heavenly gift. For instance, we have tasted the sweetness of God’s forgiveness of our sins. We have also tasted the sweetness of Christ’s washing through His precious blood. Formerly, we were under the burden of our sins. But now that we have been washed in the blood of Christ we have been released. We also enjoy justification, reconciliation, redemption, regeneration, the divine life, and the divine sonship. Today we continue to enjoy these matters in our daily life. In addition to all this, we enjoy the Holy Spirit. As partakers of the Holy Spirit, we certainly have tasted of the heavenly gift.
c. Having Tasted the Good Word of God and the Works of Power of the Coming Age
Hebrews 6:5 says that we “have tasted the good word of God, and the works of power of the coming age.” In Greek “word” here is rhema, the instant word of God. The good word of God in 6:5 refers to the word of the beginning of Christ mentioned in Hebrews 6:1, which is the milk the Hebrew believers tasted (Heb. 5:12-13) when they believed in the Lord. The good word of God as the word of the beginning of the Christ is elementary and includes repentance, faith in God, baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection, and eternal judgment, all of which are related to Christ’s earthly ministry. Without His earthly ministry we would have had no way to repent, receive baptism, lay hands on others, receive resurrection, or escape eternal judgment. Any word concerning Christ’s earthly ministry is the word of the beginning of the Christ in the primary stage. This is surely the good word because it is glad tidings, good news.
In particular, the good word of God is the good word of the gospel. The New Testament says that God loves the world, that Christ is our Savior, and that Christ died on the cross for our sins and even for us. These are good words. The New Testament also tells us that God is willing to forgive us and receive us. To be sure, these are good words. In the New Testament there are a great many verses that may be considered the good word of God tasted by us. When we read the Bible, often these verses become our enjoyment. As partakers of the Holy Spirit, we have tasted the good word of God.
According to Hebrews 6:5, we have even tasted “the works of power of the coming age.” We have been enlightened and we have tasted of the heavenly gift, the good word of God, and the works of power of the coming age. Here we have three kinds of tastes—of the heavenly gift, of the good word of God, and of the works of power. The enlightenment, the heavenly gift, and the good word of God belong to the present age, the age of grace. The works of power, which in the New Testament are synonymous with miracles, belong to the coming age, the age of the kingdom. Therefore, the enlightenment, the heavenly gift, and the good word of God are fully destined for us in this age, but the works of power of the coming age are not destined for us in this age of grace.
Miracles, works of power, and wonders and signs are not part of God’s central testimony of the incarnated, crucified, resurrected, and ascended Christ. Neither are they part of God’s full salvation. The Lord borrowed the miraculous things from the coming age to show that what the apostles preached and ministered and how they acted were absolutely of God, not of man (Acts 2:43; Heb. 2:3-4). God will not perform miraculous things all the time in this age of grace.
Between eternity past and eternity future there are basically three ages: the age of the old creation, the age of the new creation, and the age of restoration. From God’s creation of the heavens and the earth in Genesis 1:1 to the beginning of the age of grace is the time span of the age of the old creation. The age of grace is the age of the new creation. In the age of the old creation God created mankind and the entire universe. When what He created became fallen, He came in to restore it, that is, to recover and maintain it. In the age of grace God is doing neither a work of creation nor a work of restoration. Whereas the old creation is merely the creation without God in it, the new creation is the old creation born of God with God as its new element. Therefore, through the addition of the element of God the old creation becomes the new creation. Now the new creation, the believers born again of God, has the divine nature (John 1:13; 3:15; 2 Pet. 1:4). Therefore, the believers are a new creation (Gal. 6:15), not according to the old nature of the flesh but according to the new nature of the divine life. The work of God in the age of grace is to produce the new creation. In the coming age, the millennium, God will neither create nor will He produce the new creation. Rather, through the works of power, He will do a work of restoring the old fallen creation.
In the age of God’s old creation God did the work of creation and also some work of restoration. The work of restoration involved miracles. It is crucial for us to see that miracles, works of power, do not belong to God’s new creation but to the restoration of God’s old creation. In New Testament times there were cases of healings. In the age of the kingdom all people will be healed miraculously. We must be clear, however, that no miracle belongs to God’s new creation. Therefore, we should not expect the Lord to perform miracles for His chosen people all the time during the age of grace. However, during the age of grace, the age of the new creation, for certain purposes the Lord may borrow the works of power from the coming age.
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