The New Testament Believer's
Position In Christ (Pt. 3)
Rock of Offence Commentary
This is Part 3 of a three-part Bible study.
Click on the link below to continue.
Return To Home Page
The Disturbing Truth About Why
the Believer’s Position 'in
Christ' is Often Ignored by
Modern-Day Bible Teachers and
Some readers might ask; why don't we
hear about the "In Christ" teaching
more often in our churches?
In the following paragraphs we will
attempt to answer this rather
difficult and divisive question
that is connected to one of the
strongest warnings found in the
In many of our bible studies and commentaries, we include a warning from Scripture that may offend many readers. Our Lord Jesus Christ spoke about it in His parables and teachings. The Apostles Peter, Paul and John gave this same warning from different perspectives in their New Testament writings. Yet, most church leaders consider it a subject to avoid because it interferes with Christian unity and various church growth initiatives. It's this avoidance of a crucial spiritual truth that motivates us to include it in our various writings - at the risk of appearing obsessive or redundant.
In the last fifty years the Christian Church has fallen into a deep state of apostasy. Out of the many causes and influences we could list for this failure - there is one that stands out above all the rest.
Many are familiar with the existence of counterfeit money and the problem it creates for various governments. One tactic used by an enemy in time of war is to collapse the economy of a country by flooding it with well made (and difficult to detect) counterfeit money. The public unknowingly receives this imitation currency - thinking that it’s authentic - and then spends it on goods and services. If the government fails to detect this criminal activity quickly, the damage to the country’s economy and infrastructure could be irreversible.
A vast majority of Christians fail to realize that their enemy, the devil, uses this exact same strategy. He creates a ‘nearly’ indistinguishable counterfeit church - then seeks to replace the real Church with the counterfeit. If God’s people fail to understand the devil's strategy, they will be fooled. Similar to the destructive use of counterfeit money, there are unthinkable spiritual consequences for professing Christians who are trapped in this scheme. These consequences often exist without their knowledge.
According to the New Testament Scriptures, the difference between the real Church and the counterfeit church is the kind of gospel they preach. All other outward appearances can look the same ... but if the grace-based principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ - the gospel of our salvation - has been changed from the way God originally intended; you're dealing with a counterfeit church. In this unfortunate situation, the loving nature or godly intentions of the leadership has no affect on the outcome. Also, this test isn't just restricted to church organizations, but applies to individuals - or anyone who professes to be a Christian.
There are many who claim to have faith in Christ, yet have unknowingly embraced a counterfeit gospel. Two of the clearest examples are found in the book of Acts and later in the writings of Saint Paul. We hope you will find the following material helpful.
Did You Know that the New Testament
Condemns a Popular First Century
Theology that Modern-Day Christianity
Acts chapter 15 provides the details about what Bible scholars often call, “The First Jerusalem Council”. It was an official apostolic meeting that was held in Jerusalem in the first century to settle a serious dispute about Bible doctrine. The council was led by James, our Lord's half-brother ... and consisted of all the leading elders and apostles of the Church.
The dispute involved some “believing Pharisees”, who insisted - that in addition to Grace - obedience to Old Testament Law must also be a requirement for a anyone seeking to obtain and keep salvation. These “believing Pharisees”, as they were called, were not like the earlier ones that persuaded the Roman government under Pontius Pilate to crucify Christ. These Pharisees had repented of their previous religious dogma and placed their faith in Christ, which is a very notable miracle in itself. They had believed in Christ ... which is why Scripture refers to them as “believing Pharisees”. Yet, despite the faith these pharisees claimed to possess, the apostolic council rejected their brand of “pharisaical theology” and proceeded to inform the Church that they were not subject to the authority of Old Testament Law (with a few clearly defined minor exceptions). In a strongly worded letter to the churches, the council declared that believers in Christ were free from the Old Testament Law (often called Judaism today), which also included the laws of circumcision. They instructed the Church that the principles of the Grace of Christ, as taught by Paul was correct.
However, despite the fact that their doctrine was rejected and condemned by the apostolic council, these 'Jewish evangelists' (as some theologians call them) proceeded to spread their teachings everywhere the Apostle Paul had planted a church. They successfully infiltrated the Galatian Church and persuaded its members to embrace their law-based gospel of Christ, which Paul referred to as "a different gospel". Paul wrote his Epistle to the Galatians in an effort to expose the error and reverse the damage.
This is why some modern-day Bible
scholars refer to the doctrine of
these Jewish evangelists as;
The Galatian error
The Galatian heresy
Readers should understand that this is about a rejected first century theology that has now been adopted by various major denominations within the world-wide institutional Christian Church. The name 'Galatian religion or Galatianism' was chosen because it represents the same (or similar) teaching that nearly destroyed the faith of an entire fellowship and motivated Paul to write his “Epistle to the Galatians”.
Galatianism, in all its countless expressions, is a counterfeit “Old Testament brand of Christianity” - that seeks to replace authentic “New Covenant-based Christianity” as taught in the Epistles of Saint Paul. Its chief characteristic is mixing the program of Old Testament Law with Christ’s program of New Covenant Grace. As a result, it teaches that the way God deals with sin and the sinner before the cross (under the previous Old Testament program of the Law) – remains essentially the same after the cross. The teaching appears to come from the pages of the Bible, yet subtly denies the redemptive work of Christ that permanently takes away our sin.
Due to its deceptive and counterfeit
characteristics - what many modern-day
Christians, but thankfully not all,
refer to as 'the gospel' or 'their
Christian faith' is actually some
brand of ...
Galatian religion fools inexperienced Christians into believing that God says things – He does not actually say. This is accomplished by lifting Bible verses from their original context and teaching them in a way that God never intended. Some modern-day journalists have successfully used this tactic - as a way to manipulate public opinion. However, when the Bible's context is ignored or abused by ministers in the church, it can result in unthinkable eternal consequences. Paul warned about the danger by saying ...
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
"I do not frustrate the Grace
of God: For if righteousness
come by the Law, then Christ
is dead in vain."
Note: The word “vain” means that
Christ’s sacrificial death becomes
"You have become estranged (separated and cut-off) from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from Grace." (Galatians 5:4)
Any theology that mixes Old Testament
Law (including the Ten Commandments)
with New Testament Grace cancels
out or redefines Grace while
maintaining the illusion of looking
and sounding 'Biblical'.
Galatian religion is an anti-grace
religious counterfeit that seeks to
replace true faith in Christ, which
is why the Apostle Paul exposed and
strongly condemned this theology
in his Epistles.
The believer's position 'in Christ' is only made possible by God's Grace as revealed through the New Testament writings of Saint Paul. It did not and could not exist under the program of Old Testament Law that governed before the dispensation of Grace began (Ephesians 3:1-7).
As a result, when Galatian religion
is allowed to either redefine or cancel
Grace - the believer's position
'In Christ' becomes invalid and
Many Bible teachers, church leaders
and evangelists ignore the teaching
about the believer's position
'In Christ' because they have
unknowingly been taught (most likely
in Seminary) to embrace the counterfeit
of Galatian religion, rather than
authentic Grace-based New Testament
Popular Evangelist Billy Graham
Describes the True and Counterfeit
Church in a Slightly Different Way
I have a friend who was called to be the pastor of a rather large church. When I asked him how he liked his new responsibility, he replied, “I haven’t found the church yet. And if I don’t find it within a year, I am going to leave.”
Almost every minister will agree that there is a church within the church - that group of people, often a minority, in almost every congregation who have personally met the living Christ and can never be the same again. The word church comes from a Greek word, ecclesia. This is from a verb meaning “to call out.” The church is composed of all those true believers from Pentecost onward who are united together in Christ. The Bible teaches that we are the Body of Christ, of which He is the Head (Ephesians 1:22-23). As such, the true church is a holy temple for the habitation of God through the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:21-22).
Therefore, within the vast complexities, bureaucracies, organizations and institutions of Christendom there exists the true Body of Christ. The members of this true Body are, for the most part, known only to God. They are the ones who have their names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Revelation 21:27). They are scattered in all denominations, and many are in no denomination at all. They are the “called-out” ones. It is this church within the church against which Christ promised the gates of hell would never prevail (Matthew 16:18).
Quoted from BGEA Decision Magazine's
Article; "Billy Graham’s Challenge for
a Floundering Church". Complete article
is available HERE
Fair Use Disclaimer
Due to the non-profit research and educational
nature of the Rock of Offence website, we qualify
under Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 of the “fair use”
clause for copyrighted materials. For this reason,
any copyrighted work on this website is provided
under the “fair use” provision without profit or
payment for non-profit research, educational and
discussion purposes only.
We need to keep these things firmly in mind as we continue our study about one of the most amazing truths in the New Testament ...
The Believer's Position 'In Christ'.
The New Covenant Provides the
Legal Basis for Our Liberty
"Examine yourselves as to whether
you are in the faith. Test yourselves.
Do you not know yourselves, that
Jesus Christ is in you? -- unless
indeed you are disqualified."
(2 Corinthians 13:5)
Why does the apostle Paul ask believers to perform a self-evaluation? The crucifixion of Christ initiated a "New Covenant", which treats sin and the sinner in a totally different way than the previous Old Covenant program of the Law. Yet, both of these covenant programs are recorded in the Bible - and most Christians are wrongly taught by their church, to live under the laws of the old program rather than embrace the principles of the new. This is why the self-examination is necessary.
As stated throughout this study; under
the New Covenant God reckons the believer
to be "in Christ". The previous covenant
(the Law of Moses) in the Old Testament
had no such provision.
When Christ died on the cross, we (as believers) also died because God now reckons us to be "in Him" (or "In Christ"). God treats Christ's execution as if we were the ones being executed as punishment for our sins. Christ's New Covenant states;
"For ye are dead, and your life
is hid with Christ in God."
The power of the Law, which gives sin its authority over us, is only valid while we are alive - and terminates upon our death in Christ.(Romans 7:4-11) This is one of the core principles of the New Covenant. It is rarely taught correctly in most church services. God will never ignore or change His mind concerning this legal act that His righteous Son performed on our behalf. It stands in God's heavenly court forever. He considers the death that Jesus suffered at the crucifixion as an overwhelmingly sufficient payment for all our sin. The fact that Christ paid the price for us does not minimize, in any way, the power of God's judicial decision. That's why our Heavenly Father can now give the benefits of salvation to us freely as "a prepaid gift" (Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8-9)). For the one receiving the gift - it seems to be free, but the purchase price was paid, in bloood, by Christ.
Various theologians, denominations
and churches work to undermine this
New Covenant truth by replacing it
with a religious counterfeit
(usually Galatian religion) that God
condemns and refuses to honor. The
purpose of the self-examination is to
discover this skillfully made
counterfeit before it can destroy
Under the New Covenant, the Bible reveals that God "does not impute sin to believers" (2 Corinthians 5:17-19). This refusal to impute sin is not because we have somehow disciplined ourselves not to sin (sometimes called 'sinless perfection'). Some denominations and churches actually teach this impossible way of living to their congregations.
The New Testament reveals that all have sinned - and suggests that the sin will continue in various ways ... and also includes Christians. When sin ocurred in the Old Testament it was charged to the sinners account and was dealt with through certain works of the Law invovling repentance. But, after the cross, when anyone who is "In Christ" sins, God no longer charges (or imputes) it to their account.
Jesus as "The Lamb of God" paid the price to permanently end the Old Testament program where sin is charged (or imputed) to the sinner's life. That's what John the Baptist meant when he said that "Jesus is the Lamb of God that "takes away the sin of the world".
If He truly "takes sin away" then it
can never be charged to us again,
even if we foolishly abuse the
blessings of God's Grace.
If sin can be put back on us - God lied about taking it away and the sacrifice of the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world becomes nonsensical. Today, various church leaders are essentially calling God a liar, while claiming to preach His Word. These kinds of religious contradictions sow massive confusion and unbelief throughout the Church. Both Peter and Paul stated that this practice of redefining the gospel - actually comes from our enemy, Satan. The devil is the one standing in the shadows and empowering this false religious agenda behind the scenes. Jesus established a New Covenant based on His blood that does not impute (charge) our sin and trespasses to us. This is the very foundation of the freedom we now enjoy in Christ.
There is one compelling reason Grace is so viciously attacked in the modern church. Jesus took away the sin (and the eternal punishment that goes with it) that many preachers use to manipulate and control their congregations. This is why so many redefine the gospel in a way that places the sin that Christ took away - back on the shoulders of the Christian. Sin and the punishment that goes with it, gives them a very powerful "fear-based tool" that they can't afford to lose. Catholics, Protestants, Pentecostals, Charismatics, Independents - and even Messianic Jewish congregations routinely use this tool. It's been around for hundreds, even thousands of years.
Can some Christians abuse God's Grace and continue to claim the label of 'Christian'? The Bible says they can ... but God will only let this behavior continue for a while. He didn't give us His Grace as a way to justify the continuance of a sinful lifestyle (Romans 6:1-4). At some point our Heavenly Father will deal with this problem in His own way - but not necessarily in our way.
One thing is certain: God will never
change the principles that guarantee
our liberty in Christ because some
members of the Church abuse His Grace
(or unmerited favor).
All Christians can take comfort in
this fact. Contrary to popular church
teachings, God never gives us His
gift of eternal life, and then
changes His mind when we misbehave.
"For God's gifts and His call are irrevocable. [He never withdraws them when once they are given, and He does not change His mind about those to whom He gives His Grace or to whom He sends His call.]" (Romans 11:29 Amplified Bible)
Critics often draw attention to misbehaving Christians who abuse God's Grace ... as a way to persuade us that our understanding of Grace is incorrect. They often say something like; "No Christian is allowed to have 'a license to sin'". Arguments such as this are commonly used to introduce the 'merit-based gospel' found in 'Galatian religion'. It works exceedingly well against those who reverence the Bible; but fail to understand the rules of context that govern its writings. When you go fishing, bait is placed on a hook to catch a fish. False theology always uses some "truth" as bait. Yet, most people fail to see the hidden "hook".
In the case of "the truth of the gospel", the end never justifies the means. The practice of modifying (or redefining) Christ's Gospel as a way to frighten Christians into not sinning (by telling them they will lose eternal life) creates something Saint Paul called "a different gospel". Paul warned that anyone who taught this gospel was accursed (Galatians 1:6-9). When Paul uses the word "accursed", he is connecting these 'Christian ministers' who preach a different gospel, to Satan - the Christian's enemy.
Paul said it this way ...
"But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his (Satan's) ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works." (2 Corinthians 11:12-15)
Paul's words were not necessarily
directed at the popular cults that
occasionally show up at our door.
By using the phrase "false apostles"
and "apostles of Christ" - he was
warning about a religious influence
that comes from trusted sources and
"ecclesiastical offices of authority"
that operate from within the
The Apostle Peter deliberately used strong and offensive words to warn believers about what he called "damnable heresies". Very few Christians can detect these teachings that could occur in their own Bible-believing fellowship. It's a covert attack on the truth of the Gospel by subtly changing its underlying principles by abusing or ignoring the Bible's context. Yet, Christendom often accommodates these beliefs as just a "different interpretation of Scripture" or a need to "walk in love" or to be "seeker sensitive" to avoid offending church members.
Peter obviously doesn't agree with our
modern methods of compromise to avoid
offending people ... when He said:
"But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of." (2 Peter 2:1-2)
Important Note: Peter's use of the phrase "denying the Lord that bought them", is actually means a rejection of Christ's Grace-based principles of redemption, involving our free justification and God's unmerited gift of eternal life. God's Grace (or unmerited and undeserved favor) is made possible through Christ's 'purchase' of the beleiver ... where He used His own blood to complete the transaction. (Note: The word purchase in this instance means 'to redeem') Peter is warning that redefining the New Covenant by replacing Christ's blood-bought redemption with 'a salvation achieved through works and merit' is a damnable heresy. It is not just a difference of opinion as some claim.
The next time you hear anyone attempt to discredit God's Grace by using the term "license to sin" - know that their concern about the issue of abusing Grace is certainly valid. But, their attempt to redefine or discredit the Grace-based Gospel of Christ as a way to deal with this problem is not only condemned by our Heavenly Father - but also carries serious eternal consequences.
Many believe that everything and everyone that carries the label 'Christian' is of God. Yet, the Bible reveals that this is a dangerous misconception. We hope the information in this Bible study about 'The Believer's Position in Christ' ... and the disturbing reason why it's often left out of most teaching in the Church will be helpful in your walk with our Lord Jesus Christ.
Rock of Offence Ministries
This is Part 3 of a three-part Bible study.
Click on the link below to continue.
Return To Home Page