|By: John G. Weldon, PhD, DMin; ©2011|
|Phrases in scripture that God particularly wants us to know, because He intentionally emphasizes what He is saying by using these phrases. For example, when Jesus said “Truly, truly,” He clearly wanted us to understand that what He is saying is absolutely true, and really important.|
As I have read through the Scriptures, I have often noticed three phrases that have taken on special meaning for me, as they should for all believers, and even unbelievers who will take them to heart.
This involves knowledge that God particularly wants us to know, because He intentionally emphasizes what He is saying by using these phrases. For example, when Jesus said “Truly, truly,” He clearly wanted us to understand that what He is saying is absolutely true, and really important.
When the inspired apostle Paul used the phrase “We know,” he wanted believers to understand that this was common knowledge (certainly, it should be among believers), and completely true knowledge.
When the Holy Spirit used the phrase “How much more,” by using a comparison of the lesser to the greater, He wanted to emphasize the major importance of what was being declared.
We can often see the force of these phrases by noting how some translations render them. For example, the International Standard Version translates “Truly, truly” as follows: “Truly, I tell all of you with certainty…” (Emphasis added) The NLT translates “we know” as “proof.”
These Scriptures give us but the smallest foretaste of what is ours in Christ and in the eternal world to come, that is, the new heavens and new earth wherein righteousness dwells eternally and God will be with His people forever. (We close Part 2 with a brief look at Heaven, which shouldn’t be missed.)
As you read through the following brief list of scriptural illustrations, you might ask the Lord to show you how important these verses are for you personally. (Scriptures from NIV, ESV, NASB, NLT, ISV, God’s Word, emphasis added.)
These wonderful Scriptures (yes, full of wonder) can be read profitably if they are read slowly, pondered, and savored.
“Jesus answered him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see [or enter, v.5] the kingdom of God.’” (Jn. 3:3) “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.” (John 6:47) “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me haseternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” (John 5:24) [Note the NLT: “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will neverbe condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life. Or observe “God’s Word” translation: “I can guarantee this truth: Those who listen to what I say and believe in the one who sent me will have eternal life. They won’t be judged because they have already passed from death to life.”]
As a result of these and similar statements, the Apostle John could declare the following with full assurance: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 Jn. 5:13; Cf. Matt. 9:6)
The plain meaning of these last three verses is that true believers in Christ currently have eternal life as an unending present tense possession. Think about that for a minute. Eternity is a very long time (to be sure) and yet God declares that the genuine believer in Christ already possesses eternal life – now, in this life, at this moment, forever. True believers possess eternal life in this life because, as the apostle Paul so frequently emphasizes, they are “in Christ,” (united to Him), mysteriously raised up and seated with Him in the heavenly places (Eph. 2:6; Col. 3:1). Because believers are spiritually and organically united to Christ (Phil. 2:1; Eph. 1:11; 2:13), they enjoy His life. When we were born again, God raised us up and seated us with Christ, produced in us a new, God-like nature and as we have seen, imparted eternal life to us. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Cor. 2:17) Or, consider God’s Word translation: “Whoever is a believer in Christ is a new creation. The old way of living has disappeared. A new way of living has come into existence.” (2 Cor. 2:17) “It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation.” (Gal. 6:16) “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:6) “If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God.” (1 John 4:15) “… being united with Christ…” (Philippians 2:21) “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ,..” (Colossians 3:1) “… because we are united with Christ” (Ephesians 1:11, NLT)
In other words, from the moment of genuine faith in Christ, Christians, being “in Christ,” possess eternal life. They possess eternal life at this instant and, because it is eternal, they possess it from this point on, forever. (And, it would seem obvious that if believers now possess eternal life, they should certainly enjoy the freedom and knowledge of that possession.)
For example, how can Christians inherit eternal life after they die, when they already possess it now? Obviously, if they enjoy it now, and it’s eternal, when did they lose it? Put another way, if they were “chosen in Him before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4, emphasis added), at what point did they lose their salvation? “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He hasgiven us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice,…” (1 Peter 1:3-6) “Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of His purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” (Hebrews 6:17-19)
There are many other Scriptures which speak of the believer currently possessing eternal life. Consider a few of them: “And this is what He promisedus—even eternal life.” (1 John 2:25). Eternal life is both a gift and a promise of God, certainties that can fail in neither case. As to promises: “For God’s way is perfect. All the LORD’s promises prove true.” (Psalm 18:30) As to gifts: “The gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” (Rom. 11:29) Other translations render the term “without repentance” as: “irrevocable,” “can never be withdrawn,” and “never change.” “And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. The person who has the Son has this life. The person who doesn’t have the Son of God doesn’t have this life.” (1 John 5:11-12) “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:40) “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life,…” (John 3:36) “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:28-30)
One of my favorite passages of Scripture is Romans 8:30-33 which presents a “Golden Sequence” which carries the believer logically from predestination to glorification along an unbroken chain from one state of glory to another, and then informs us of the implications: And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified [declared righteous]; those he justified [declared righteous], he also glorified. What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies [declares righteous].” (Romans 8:30-33)
If God has legally declared the believer eternally righteous in Christ (the doctrine of justification), then rewards (gain or loss) are still at stake, but the issue of our sin is settled once and forever. Jesus “offered for all time one sacrifice for sins…” (Hebrews 10:12) Thus, “by one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” (Hebrews 10:14)
As senior pastor and best-selling author Erwin W. Luther correctly observes (emphasis added): “Justification means that I have been declared as righteous as Christ Himself and will be considered as such for all eternity.” “Looked at from His [God’s] point of view, we are already in heaven… Neither Satan nor they themselves [believers] can cause God to withdraw His love and faithfulness. He will bring them to where he says they already are.” “[The believer is] declared just as righteous as God.” “There is no legal [or other] loophole by which God is able to get out of His pledge to save those who have believed on His beloved son. He can’t, and He won’t.… We are “in Christ,”… We cannot be thrown out of heaven unless Christ Himself were to be thrown out.”
Perhaps we may close this section by saying “Truly, truly, Christians are blessed beyond measure.
Consider some examples of the “We know” Scriptures, which are just as exhilarating as the “Truly, truly” verses:“We know, dear brothers and sisters, that God loves you and has chosen you to be His own people.” (1 Thess. 1:4) [“… for the Father Himself loves you dearly…” (John 16:27)] “For we know how dearly God loves us…” (Rom. 5:5) “We know that we havepassed from death to life, ….” (1 Jn. 3:14) “And we know that the Son of God has come, and He has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and He is eternal life.” (One John 5:20) “We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.” (1 Jn. 5:19) “We know that we live in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.” (1 John 4:13) [NLT: “And God has given us His Spiritas proof that we live in Him and He in us.”]
As a result, consider the following Scriptures… “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” (2 Cor. 1:21-22) And, “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in Him [Christ] with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of His glory. (Eph. 1:13-14), And, “Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” (2 Cor. 5:5) As a result, “Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.” (2 Cor. 5:1)
The above reference to Heaven is appropriate because we will close Part Two of our article with a brief discussion of its amazing wonders. Indeed, perhaps the strongest Scriptures of all (if that were possible) are the “how much more” Scriptures, since they argue from a lesser to a greater. If it were possible to use the expression, “the best is yet to come” with Scripture, we would do that. Consider the following arguments carefully…
- ↑ Theologically, this is the doctrine of our union with Christ, something often neglected but truly worthy of further study. Most Systematic Theology’s have a section on this topic.
- ↑ This is the doctrine of regeneration, which involves the creation within us of a new, God-like nature and the imparting of eternal life; it is especially worthy of further study since it, like many other classic doctrines of the Christian faith (adoption, union with Christ, imputation, justification, glorification, etc.), helps inform us who we now are as believers in Christ.
- ↑ “… partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4);”God’s life is in them” (1 John 3:9 NLT); “when He appears, we shall be like Him,…” (1 John 3:2). Of course, the Creator-creature distinction must always be maintained.