Scripture teaches that the resurrected saints will share in the glory of Christ! “…we are God’s children; and if children, then also heirs, heirs of God and fellow-heirs with Christ — if in reality we share His sufferings, so that we may share his glory too” (Romans 8:16-17, Williams Translation). What does it mean to have glory or to be glorified in the Biblical sense? The glory of God signifies the divine splendor, honor and majesty of his person, and the showing forth of his attributes. The glorified saints will share in the divine nature of God (II Peter 1:4), receiving the gift of eternal life (Romans 2:5-10). Yes, unbelievable as it may seem, given our fragile and transitory nature, like a “vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14), we created and limited beings may be given his eternal life.
William Barclay in his book New Testament Words in discussing eternal life remarks. “…the word aionios [eternal] is the word of eternity in contrast with time, of deity in contrast with humanity, and…therefore eternal life is nothing less than the life of God himself” (p. 37, italics in original). The life that God offers us, God life, his life, is quantitatively different from our temporary physical existence. Unlike the latter, eternal life is without beginning and without end, as God is, and he shall share that never ending, self- inherent life with the children of his kingdom. But eternal life is also qualitatively different from mere human life, else how could we bear it? The saints shall live eternally in sublime joy and peace. They shall be “in the presence of His glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 24). David wrote of God, “In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). As Barclay put it, “Life is only of value when it is nothing less than the life of God — and that is the meaning of eternal life” (p. 41).
Though forever remaining subject to the Father and Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:24-28), the glorified saints shall share many of God’s attributes, his power, his honor and splendor, his brilliance. Daniel 12:3 and Philippians 4:21 show that the bodies and faces of the glorified saints will shine forth with supernatural brilliance, just as that of the resurrected, glorified Christ, symbolically described in Revelation 1. There are not a few who might consider such a teaching blasphemous, but that nevertheless is the true teaching of Scripture. David wrote, “As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness” (Psalm 17:15). John wrote, “…we know that when he [God] is revealed, we shall be like Him…” (I John 3:2). Your destiny, if you’re a true Christian, and if you remain faithful, is to become like God, sharing in his glory for all eternity.
What assurance do you have that this magnificent, astounding purpose will be fulfilled in you? What is the basis for your hope of glory in God’s Kingdom? Paul said he was made a steward of “the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:26-27).
As this Scripture points out, the purpose of God is largely hidden from the world. To most it is a mystery in the sense that the term is commonly used in English. But the Greek term musterion, as used in the Scriptures, actually means spiritual truth hidden from the world in general but revealed to the elect of God. Musterion comes from the word mueo which means to initiate into the mysteries, or secret knowledge. (See Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, p. 424). The secret of God’s purpose for mankind, hidden from the world through unbelief and disobedience (Proverbs 1:7, 23; Isaiah 66:4-5; Romans 1:18-22; 2 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12), is revealed to his special people, his chosen ones.
Both one’s destiny as a true Christian, and the means of its accomplishment, is reflected in the phrase, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Your destiny, if you are a true Christian, is to be glorified with God. And that can be accomplished only by Jesus Christ living in you through the Spirit of God. If Christ is living in you, and as long as Christ continues to live in you, you have the hope and the promise of glory with God.
To receive the Holy Spirit, one must surrender to God’s will, believe the gospel, God’s word, genuinely repent of sin, and begin to strive diligently to obey God. This includes obeying the command to be baptized upon repentance (Mark 1:15; Acts 2:38; 5:32).
Assuming you have believed the true gospel, repented and received the Holy Spirit, what can you do to assure that Christ will abide in you, dwell in you, to the end, so that the hope you presently have is fulfilled? I want to discuss briefly just two things you can do to assure that your hope of glory is fulfilled. Jesus Christ does not now dwell in everyone. There are certain conditions to his dwelling in a person. This does not mean that we — through our own efforts — “qualify” ourselves for salvation. We are to give “thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through the blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:12-14). Salvation is a gift which we could never “earn” regardless of how much effort we might expend. Nevertheless, effort is required to fulfill our part in the covenant with God. We must “fight the good fight of faith” to “lay hold on eternal life” (1 Timothy 6:12, 19). Lacking that effort we become subject to sin and deception, and may become disqualified for the inheritance reserved for the faithful (compare 2 Corinthians 13:5; Titus 1:16; 2:11-15; 3:8).
There are more tools to help us remain steadfast than the two I will discuss. But they will point you in the right direction and help assure that Christ remains in you. They are: study and obedience. The Rabbis taught that “it is in the power of each wholly to overcome sin, and to gain life by study and good works” (See The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, 2.5). Standing by itself, this assuredly is misleading. Without Christ, without God’s Spirit, all the study and good works in the world are to no avail, as far as eternal salvation is concerned. At the same time, Christ will not continue to abide in someone who never studies or hears his word and does not obey it.
To assure that Christ continues to dwell in you, study God’s word diligently, daily, consistently. One need not be a great Biblical scholar to be a Christian. Most of what one needs to know is plain enough to anyone willing without reservation to believe and act on God’s word (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 15:32).
Bible study of itself does not produce true spirituality. But it can produce spiritual literacy. It can provide necessary food for nurturing the spirit. The Scriptures are a “who, what, how, and why” book for the works of God. They are also a “how to” book for real Christians. Bible study can make a difference in salvation, but only if we practice what the Scriptures teach. James wrote that “the implanted word…is able to save your souls.” The word of God is like a “mirror” that can show us what we look like spiritually, and what we need to become (James 1:21-25). God communicates his will to us through the Scriptures, Jesus Christ having loved the Church and given himself for it, “that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word” (Ephesians 5:26).
You can’t be like Christ if you don’t know what Christ is like. Study the Scriptures to learn what God is like, and strive to imitate him, to follow his thinking, his teaching, his way of acting. You can’t have real, genuine faith and belief in God if you don’t know him and what he’s about. You can’t follow Christ’s teachings unless you know what they are. You can’t obey God if you don’t know what he requires. So study God’s word to learn who he is, what he is like, what he is doing for you and with you, what he wants you to do. Jesus Christ will live in you only if his words live in you. Jesus said, “The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). He said, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32). If you want to indeed be a disciple of Christ — a real Christian — and not one in name only, you must abide in God’s word, and it in you (compare John 15:7). Study God’s word with the view in mind of making it a part of you, the guide to your thoughts, your words, your deeds.
Obey God’s Commandments
Another thing you can do to assure your hope to the end is commit yourself to obeying God’s commandments. Many who claim to be Christian have stumbled at the commandments of God, either collectively, thinking the law of God is done away, or individually, thinking they can selectively obey God, keeping some commandments but rejecting ones they don’t like, such as the Sabbath, or tithing, or perhaps other commandments.
“This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it. For many deceivers have gone out into the world who
do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist” (2 John 6-7). Notice that love is walking in the Father’s commandments. God is love (1 John 4:8). That is, love is the epitome of his nature and character. The commandments of God are intended to give practical definition to God’s way of love. Jesus said the “first and great commandment” is, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” And the second, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” All the law hangs on, or is summed up in, these two commandments (Matthew 22:34-40). Jesus also said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). Love towards God is expressed through spiritually motivated obedience to his commandments (compare Deuteronomy 11:13, 22; 13:3-4; Joshua 22:5; Nehemiah 1:5; Daniel 9:4). Love is the motive force behind God’s law, and it in it’s full intent and purpose shows us how to love. Hence, love should be our motive for obedience.
Next we find in 2 John 6-7 a very interesting statement. Those who do not confess Jesus Christ coming in flesh are deceivers and anti, against or in place of (the meaning of the Greek prefix), Christ. What does this mean? It’s much deeper than one might think, and goes to the very heart of our subject.
The Greek word translated “confess” is homologeo. It means much more than an empty statement of belief. One might think that just “confessing” or stating that Christ came in the flesh makes one a Christian. But that is emphatically not what John is teaching. The original meaning of the word, as pointed out in Vine’s Expository Dictionary (under “confess,” p. 120) is “being identified in thought or language.” Homologeo literally means to same-think (by the concept of thought as internal speech) or same-speak.
In this verse both the Greek word for “confess,” or as we have learned to “same-think, same-speak,” and the Greek word for “coming” are in the form of the present participle. The present participle in this instance implies present and continuing action. As the Greek scholar A. T. Robertson notes, the sense of the phrase is that of “treating the Incarnation as a continuing fact” (Word Pictures in the New Testament, vol. VI, p. 253). The meaning is that deceivers are not now and continually thinking the same and speaking the same Jesus Christ who is right now and continually coming in flesh. The flesh being spoken of is the flesh of every true Christian now living.
This thought is repeated in a slightly different form in 1 John 4:1-3. There it says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world” (1 John 4:1-3). The New King James, as other translations of these verses, does a rather poor job of reflecting their real meaning. First, the translators have added some words not in the Greek which tend to somewhat distort the meaning. “Jesus Christ” appears twice in these verses and in both instances the translators have misleadingly preceded the name with “that.” “The” is supplied before the word “flesh,” leaving a narrower implication than John intended. Most importantly, the English translations I have consulted do not effectively reflect the full implications of certain perfect participles used in the Greek. And there are some other nuances of the Greek which enrich the meaning when properly understood.
The Greek perfect indicative and perfect participle as a general rule (there are exceptions) emphasize an existing state. The perfect is called the “long tense” because it commonly expresses past action with results extending into the present. Often the sense expressed by the perfect tense is virtually indistinguishable from that of the present tense (see remarks on the tenses in the Analytical Greek Lexicon, p. xii).
With this background let’s consider the verses in question. “Confesses” (homologeo) is in the present tense, implying present and continuing action. “Come” (erchomai), with respect to Jesus Christ being in the flesh, is in both instances in the form of the perfect participle (the most accurate translation of which is “having come”). The emphasis is not on the past, but on the present, here and now.
The true Spirit of God inspires one to think the same thoughts — speak the same words — and by implication — do the same deeds — as Jesus Christ dwelling in the flesh. Because the true Spirit of God is Jesus Christ dwelling in our flesh! But the spirit of anti-Christ does not believe, speak and act according to Jesus Christ dwelling in the flesh. The “confession” John and other writers of the New Testament speak of is not a mere acknowledgment — but a conviction compelling commitment, surrender, and obedience.
True Christians think the same, speak the same, act the same as Jesus Christ, because Jesus Christ — through the Spirit of God — dwells in their flesh. This is the message of God’s word. Paul wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me…” (Galatians 2:20). Yes, those of genuine faith have been justified — that is, deemed free of guilt — through the blood of Christ. But having been thus reconciled to God, “we shall be saved by His life” (Romans 5:9-10). Christ living in us is the key to salvation and eternal life! (compare for illustration Galatians 2:20; Isaiah 8:20; Matthew 10:38; Ephesians 5:1-7; 1 Peter 2:21; 4:11; 1 John 2:3-6; 3:1-4). Churches, ministers, people who do not think, speak and act as Christ are of another spirit, the spirit of deception and anti-Christ. If then, Christ agreed with God’s law — and he did (John 4:34; 5:30; 8:29) — if he taught God’s law — and he did (Matthew 19:16-19; Luke 10:25-27) — and if he obeyed God’s law — and he did (John 14:31; 1 Peter 2:22) — then he is now doing the same thing in the flesh of the people of his Church. He is the same “yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 10:8).
How can one know for sure if Christ is living in him? Scripture answers: “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked” (1 John 2:3-6).
Christ dwelling in you empowers you to obey his law (Romans 8:4, 13; Philippians 2:13; 4:13; Ephesians 3:14-21). As long as we are in the flesh we will have to contend with its sinful nature. But Christians do not reject God’s commandments. They are no longer hostile to them. They don’t try to reason around them. They hold fast to them and struggle to obey them in the faith of Jesus (Revelation 14:12). And as they grow spiritually they exercise through Christ’s power greater control over their minds and actions, and become more like him as they mature spiritually (Colossians 3:1-11; Philippians 4:13; Galatians 5:16-25; Romans 13:11-14; 2 Corinthians 10:1-6; Ephesians 4:13-24). When they sin Christians will in heartfelt repentance acknowledge their sin and sinfulness, and they will be forgiven and cleansed by our merciful God (1 John 1:8-10). We can’t, of ourselves, obey God’s law (Romans 8:7). Only Christ dwelling in us can! — if we constantly submit to his will and earnestly seek his help to obey. Study God’s word, and obey him. Let Christ live in you, your hope of glory.
This article is also available in pdf format
Unless otherwise noted Scripture taken from the New King James VersionTM
Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.