These are the three steps by which we are to reach “the prize of our high calling“–glory, honor and immortality. Not one of these steps can be omitted by those who win the great prize, nor can they be taken in any way but their order as directed in the Scriptures.
Justification comes first as a necessity, because, all the human race being sinners, as such God could not either sanctify or glorify them; therefore, by some means, they must be “made free from sin” (brought to a condition of sin-less-ness) in order that they might “have their fruit unto holiness” (sanctification), and eventually receive “the end thereof– eternal life” (redemption). Rom. 6:22.
As sinners, men “are not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can they be.” (Rom. 8:7). We are “made free from sin” by faith; that is, we are told of God that a ransom has been given for our sin, and that if we by faith accept the ransom, he no longer regards or treats us as sinners, but as perfect and sinless beings. This cleansing from sin is a complete work. You are justified–reckoned of God just and perfect, but it cannot be seen with the natural eye. You cannot realize that physically you are any more perfect than before you believed yourself justified. It is entirely by the eye of faith that you know yourself now as a being, justified freely from all things. God’s word declares it and you believe Him.
We need not fear that our justification is incomplete, for Jehovah Himself is the justifier, as we read, God is “just and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Rom. 3:26), and again, “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifies.”
Upon what grounds does God reckon human sinners as justified or righteous persons?
Because the ransom for our sins has been paid by Jesus, who “Himself bare our sins in His own body on the tree.” (1 Pet. 2:24). For “Christ suffered, the just for the unjust (sinners), that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet. 3:18) as justified beings. Jesus was treated as a sinner on our behalf, and we are now treated as just persons on His behalf. As we read again, “Ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (1 Cor. 6:11). And again, “Being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” (Rom. 5:9).
But ONLY BELIEVERS ARE JUSTIFIED during this Gospel age. They who do not believe that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that “He rose again the third day,” for our justification (1 Cor. 15:14; Rom. 4:25), are not justified: “Ye are yet in your sins.” So we read, God “is the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” Again, “All that believe are justified from all things” (Acts 13:39), and “A man is justified by faith.” (Gal 2:16; 3:24).
When we believe the “good news” of our justification, it causes us joy and peace to realize that we may now come to God; and we no longer dread but now love God, because we see His goodness and love, for “herein is the love of God manifested.” (1 John 4:9).
We are thus brought into fellowship with God as justified human beings –“Being justified by faith, we have peace with God.” (Rom. 5:1). Few, very few, lay hold upon justification fully; few believe God that they “are justified from all things” and are in God’s sight clothed in the spotlessness of Jesus, in whom was no sin; consequently very few have the joy and peace which spring from believing. And it is no uncommon thing to hear, in church meetings of all denominations, men and women tell God that they know themselves to be “miserable sinners.” Poor creatures, no wonder they agonize and daily ask the forgiveness of those sins which God’s word declares are (already) forgiven. 2 Pet. 1:9. They know not that they partake of the justification by believing. If they would only believe God, they would have the realization of forgiveness, and consequently joy and peace. “For without faith it is impossible to please God.” Beyond this point of rejoicing in a consciousness of forgiveness of sins, and acceptableness in God’s sight, few Christians go.
The foregoing represents the “First Step” which is symbolized by passing beneath the “Entrance Curtain” into the Tabernacle courtyard. The entrance curtain or “gate” as it is likewise referred represents Christ Jesus our Lord. This was the only entrance, the only gateway in which to enter the Courtyard; the type thus testifying to the antitype that there is but one way of access to God—one “gate” Jesus. “I am the way and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
Did you ever think why God has made known to us our justification now, but keeps it hidden from the great mass of the race until the millennial age, though the ransom price is eventually to release all mankind from sin and its penalty, and bring them to the same condition of acceptance –sinlessness–perfection which we now enjoy by faith? It is because God has a plan which He is working out according to the counsel of His own will, and a part of that plan is that He will select from among mankind a number who will eventually be transferred from the earthly conditions and human nature to spiritual conditions and the “divine nature“–to be “heirs of God, joint heirs with Jesus Christ our Lord.”
God’s object in the development of this “little flock” is two-fold: first, He will make them everlasting monuments of His goodness, to be known and read of angels and men. As Paul expresses it (Eph. 2:7), God’s plan in the development of the Gospel church of overcomers, is, “That in the ages to come, He might show the exceeding riches of His grace, in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” The second part of God’s plan, in which we are directly associated, is, that He purposes to use us during the next–millennial–age as kings (rulers) and priests (teachers, instructors), when we shall reign with Christ a thousand years. (Rev. 5:10, 20:6). Thus shall the “seed,” of which Jesus is the head, bless all the families of the earth. (Gal. 3:29).
No sinners are called to have part in this “high calling, which is of God in Christ Jesus.” True, Jesus called “sinners to repentance“–so does the word of God and all his children seek to bring men to repentance and faith in Christ and consequent justification. But only the justified ones are called to be “kings and priests unto God, and to reign on the earth.” It is worse than useless to present the grand prize (the “heavenly calling”) for which we run to the attention of sinners–the unjustified. For the natural man receives not the things of the spirit of God, neither can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned–they are foolishness unto him. Therefore, “cast not your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”
This being true, that none are called to the high calling except the justified ones, the fact that you know of your justification may be the proof to you that you are one of those whom God has “called” to spiritual life and joint-heirship with Jesus.
What a blessed privilege to be called with such a high calling. Now do you realize that you are called to be a member of the Bride of Christ? Then remember who called you– God; and that “Faithful is He that calls you, who also will do it.” (1 Thess. 5:24). Our Father mocks none with a call which they cannot attain to. His grace is sufficient for us.
Nevertheless it is important to understand that simply being called does not the new creature make, you still have something to do in this matter, after having first “counted the costs” and accepting the terms you must enter into covenant relationship with the Father (Psa 50:5) i.e. follow through with a full consecration of yourself, presenting your body (the justified human nature) a living sacrifice. (Rom 12:1)
This is the “Second Step”, which few take, mostly because they had no idea there was a second step in the first place. Having been misled by the blind guides of Christendom they have been assured of their heavenly reward simply upon a confession of faith, alas the majority of these poor souls will awaken in the earthly phase of the kingdom, having missed their opportunity to experience a change of natures and a heavenly reward, this simply because they placed too much confidence in their ministers, rather than in the Word of the Lord.
This is the “gate” of which our Lord spoke that few there be that find, the Straight gate which leads to life (life inherent, immortality), by means of the narrow way of death by sacrifice (Matt 7:14) “So narrow (is this “gate“) that it admits only the Lord’s plan, the Lord’s way and only to those willing to conform to it.” (R5045:3)
The “Second Step” is likewise symbolized in the Tabernacle picture; here it is represented by passing beneath the “First Vail” depicting the surrender or death of ones will for that of the Lord’s and entering into the “Holy” condition wherein the individual receives special light provided by means of the “Golden Lamp-stand” representing the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. This light shines upon the “Table of Show-bread” in which special food, spiritual food is provided for the growth and encouragement of the new creature. The “Holy” of the Tabernacle could be said to be a testing or schooling ground for the new creature.
This “Second Step” is also pictured in the Great Pyramid by the “Step” at the end of the Grand Gallery; the Grand Gallery similar to the “courtyard” of the Tabernacle depicts the upward path of the believer leading him to the point of full consecration. After he ascends this step he must first bow beneath the “granite leaf” err he enter the “Ante-chamber” which likewise pictures the holy condition or school of Christ.
We will continue with this study in our next post.