Position & Practice
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (NASB) Ephesians 2:4-6
It was the day after Christmas at a church in San Francisco. The pastor of the church was looking over the nativity scene and noticed that the baby Jesus was missing. Earlier a little boy had been standing nearby. So the pastor hurried outside and found him with a red wagon, and in the wagon was the figure of the infant Jesus. Then the pastor walked over to the boy and said, “Well, where did you get your passenger?” The little boy replied, “I got him from the church.” “And why did you take him?” The boy said, “Well, before Christmas I prayed to the little Lord Jesus; I told him that if he would bring me a red wagon for Christmas I would give him a ride around the block in it.”
The Gift We Expect
The little boy received a wonderful Christmas gift and kept his promise. A man or woman who has his/her sins forgiven by God receives a tremendous gift, too! One such young man was Sam. Sam was a high school student when he started attending a Bible study called Theta Chi. The Bible study was a ministry to young people. It included worship, the teaching of God’s Word, and a social time. Sam started attending when the group was studying the book of Revelation. He showed an interest in spiritual things by asking many questions about God and the Bible. Finally, one day he asked how he could have his sins forgiven and go to heaven. It was a great day for Sam and the young people in the study. There was rejoicing and excitement that Sam became a saint just like the rest of them.
1. If you had been in the Theta Chi study and Sam had approached you about having his sins forgiven, what would you have told him that he needed to do? If Sam had been told the wrong thing, that would have been a tragic mistake. What is necessary to have one’s sins forgiven? Read Mark 1:15: Luke 8:12; John 1:12; and Acts 16:31.
2. What is one mark of a real Christian, according to Romans 10:9?
What is Baptism?
Some time later Sam was baptized along with some other young people. Baptism is an important event to Christians. It is an act of obedience that should occur after a person starts believing and depending on Jesus for the forgiveness of his/her sins. Some Christians are baptized by immersion into water. Others are sprinkled with water. However it is practiced, baptism does not forgive sins. It is only an outward evidence of an inward change. Baptism was a key part of John the Baptist’s ministry. Mark 1:4 tells us that John’s baptism was about repentance (admission and regret over one’s sin). Those who wanted to be baptized were indicating that they desired to live a holy life. They longed to have their sins forgiven by God. The Apostle Paul tells us that John’s baptism was about repentance. It did not forgive sins. It was a call or a public declaration that one believed in the Messiah – Jesus Christ.
Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” (NASB) Acts 19:4
3. Some teach that baptism is necessary in order to have one’s sins forgiven. If this is true, then God should repeatedly remind us that this is necessary. If we look at passages such as Mark 1:15; John 3:16; John 20:30-31; Rom. 3:22 and 1 Tim. 1:16, what is missing? How do these and other verses like these indicate that baptism is not necessary for the forgiveness of our sins?
The forgiveness of our sins is called salvation because God rescues us from eternal punishment. Salvation is not about actions or deeds such as baptism, repentance, or confession of sins, but about believing in a person – Jesus Christ. In response we repent over our sins and are baptized as a sign to others that we have believed in Jesus. Salvation is about trusting. It is about depending on a person – Jesus. It is also about submission to Him.
God’s Act of Love
Sam did not feel sorrow over his sins or long to be at peace with God, or choose to believe in Jesus Christ on His own. They were miracles. God was working in his heart and mind to make it happen. God the Holy Spirit worked in Sam and motivated him to seek God.
4. Why did the Holy Spirit need to motivate Sam to desire to be forgiven according to Romans 3:10-12?
5. What did the Holy Spirit do to Sam according to John 16:8-10?
6. What does Acts 10:43 say happens to a person who believes in Jesus Christ?
7. In the study “The Rescue,” we discovered that Jesus came to this earth for the purpose of dying in order to forgive our sins. God planned all of this. Why did God do all of this according to John 3:16?
Position and Practice
At the moment Sam believed in Jesus, he became a new Christian. Sam knew very little about God. He did not know the Bible. He was eager to learn while he was still struggling with sin in his life. The New Testament tells us that every new Christian enters into a new life and yet there are old parts of him/her that have not changed. We still sin and are incomplete. Yet, in Jesus Christ we are perfect. That is, we are declared to be “positionally” perfect and complete. That is, God considers us to be perfect and complete, even though He knows that we still sin. For example, God declares us to be saints (1 Cor. 1:2) or holy ones and yet, we still sin and need forgiveness (1 John 1:9). So He calls us to live up to our holy position. Positionally we are holy, but by our behavior, experience, or practice we are not holy. Positionally we are holy, but by our practice we are sinners.
8. The position that God has given to you is listed below followed by your everyday experience. Your position in Jesus is listed first. However, we do not always act according to our position. Therefore, what do I need to do?
|Position in Jesus||What Do I Need to Do?|
|Spiritually Alive||Eph. 2:4-5||Rom. 8:12-14||I need to act as if the flesh is dead|
|Dead to Sin||Rom. 6:11||Rom. 6:12-13||I need to stop sinning.|
|Forgiven||1 John 2:12||1 John 1:9|
|New Life||2 Cor. 5:17||Rom. 6:4|
|Seated in heaven||Eph. 1:3||Col. 3:1-2|
|Light to the world||Matt. 5:14||Eph. 5:8|
|Holy and blameless||Eph. 1:4||1 Pet. 1:15-16|
|Freedom||John 8:32||Gal. 6:1|
|Secure in Christ||1 Pet 1:5||2 Pet. 1:10|
|We Have Unity||Eph. 4:4-6||Eph. 4:3|
|Saints are in grace||Rom. 5:2||2 Pet. 3:18|
|Live in the Spirit||Gal. 5:25||Gal. 5:25|
|Empowered to serve||Eph. 3:20||Eph. 3:16|
|Saints are in love||Rom. 5:5||1 Pet. 1:22|
The Unexpected Gift
When anyone believes in Jesus, he/she has been given an amazing gift. It is an unexpected gift. The gift is simply this: we are already in heaven with Jesus,
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus . . . (NASB) Eph. 2:4-6
Wow, this is a great positional truth. While we are still living here on earth, God has positionally or symbolically placed every saint in heaven. God considers each saint – each person who believes in Jesus – to be worthy of heaven. You are already there! He has already placed each saint in heaven. Death is the door to home. Now that is spiritual security! We are saved only once. Glory be to God!
Path to Spiritual Growth
Our practice does not match our position. Therefore, God wants to change us so that we match the position He has given us. Just like any family, we cannot grow in maturity by ourselves. Children need parents to guide, teach, encourage, and nurture them. It is not possible to mature well by ourselves. So God has given His children, His holy ones, those whom He has seated in the heavenly places, three key areas that should be part of their growth.
9. Christians are a family – a spiritual family. We are the children of God. One of the most important aspects of any family is mutual support. Hebrews 10:24-25 explains how we are to support one another. How does God want us to support the saints? Why is it necessary to meet together? What is the advantage?
10. 1 Corinthians 12:14-25 and Hebrews 6:10 tell us what the saints should be doing with one another. What did you discover in these verses?
11. Hebrews 5:11-14 tells us that some Christians are drinking milk and others are eating solid food. Are you on a diet of milk or solid food? Are you a spiritual baby or a maturing Christian? How do you know?
12. What are the marks of a maturing Christian according to Heb. 5:11-14 and 1 John 2:12-14?
13. There is one area that some saints miss. It is encouragement that is found in Heb. 12:1 and Heb. 13:7. Hebrews 13:7 is the key passage. It encourages us to be mentored or discipled by someone. What are the criteria for the mentor that a saint should select?
14. What should be the goal of every saint? The answer is found in 1 John 2:12-14.
Things to Ponder
1. What is the goal in the Christian life according to Jer. 9:12-13 and 1 John 2:12-14?
2. What “position and practice” in Jesus had the greatest meaning for you?
3. Which of these marks are evident in your life? Are you sure that you are a saint?
Fruit of the Spirit Gal. 5:22-24
Understand spiritual things 1 Cor. 2:14
Confessing your sins 1 John 1:9
You obey Jesus Luke 6:46
Love for others1 John 4:8, 18-20
Grow spiritually 1 John 2:12-14
Desire to read His Word 1 Pet. 2:2
4. What does it feel like to know that you are forgiven and already seated in heaven?
5. What area of spiritual growth is missing in your life?