Today’s selected reading is found in the second epistle written by the apostle Peter unto “them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” More specifically today’s passages is found in the first and second chapters of this New Testament book. “Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord”(2 Peter 1:1-2).
“According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and holiness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to holiness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:3-11).
“Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. Yeah I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; k bowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me. Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance. For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to Him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day stair arise in your hearts: knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:12-21).
“But there were false prophets also among the people, even there shall be false teachers among you, you 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. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment. Now of a long time lingereth riot, and their damnation slumbereth not. For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; and spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; and turning the cites of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overflow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; and delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: but chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, self-willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord. But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken an destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption; and shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceiving while they feast with you; having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; curse children : which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbid the madness of the prophet. These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserve for ever. For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wanton ness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have. Known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire” (2 Peter 2:1-22).
When you come to the second epistle written by the apostle Peter you will find the apostle writing unto a very specific group of people. Scripture doesn’t make it clear who the audience of the apostle Peter was actually writing to and the epistle itself begins and opens with the apostle revealing his name and that he was a bondservant and an apostle of Jesus Christ. Immediately following this the apostle Paul goes on to reveal who his audience was—namely “Those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.” If you turn to the first epistle written by the apostle Peter you will find him describing himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ and then revealing his audience. The audience of the first epistle written by the apostle Peter was indeed “the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia—those who were elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” There is a distinct difference between how the apostle Peter opened the first epistle and how he opened the second epistle for the audience and recipients of these epistles seem to be different and yet the same. The audience to whom each of these epistles were written are incredibly unique when you take the time to think about it for in the first epistle the apostle Peter was writing unto pilgrims who were scattered abroad as a result of the dispersion—perhaps the dispersion of the Christians when the persecution broke out against the early church in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. You will recall that in the eighth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts there was a great persecution which broke out in Jerusalem against the Christians after the death of Stephen after he had been wrongly and falsely accused in the presence of the religious Sanhedrin of that day.
It’s necessary that we recognize the audience(s) to whom the apostle Peter was writing for although they might appear to be different I would dare say they were intrinsically linked and connected to each other. The first epistle finds the apostle Peter writing unto the pilgrims of the Dispersion who were the elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father in sanctification of the Spirit and for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. In the second epistle written by the apostle Peter you will find him writing unto those who have obtained like precious faith with “us” by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. In the opening verses of the second epistle written by the apostle Peter you will find find him emphatically speaking the grace and peace of the living God be multiplied to them in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. That which the apostle Peter does in the first chapter of this second epistle is actually quite intriguing when you take the time to think about it for after speaking grace and peace being multiplied to them he would then write and speak to them of His divine power. What’s more is the apostle Peter doesn’t merely speak of the divine power of the living God but also that which the divine power of the living God had wrought within their lives. There is something truly astonishing and wonderful about the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for the apostle Peter sought to convey unto his readers and audience the incredible witness and testimony of the divine power of the living God within the lives of those who believe and are the called according to the purpose of the living God. This is something worth considering as it brings us face to face with the witness and testimony of the power of God within our lives.
You will recall in the opening chapter of the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Philippian saints that he emphatically declared and spoke of the confidence he had that He who began a good work would be faithful to complete it until the time of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Moreover the apostle Paul would also say in another place that it is God who works in us both to will and to do for His good pleasure. This the apostle Paul would write after admonishing the Philippian saints to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling. When writing unto the saints which were at Philippi the apostle Paul not only declared unto them that He who began a good work in them would be faithful to complete it until the day of Jesus Christ but it was also God who worked in them both to will and to do for is His own good pleasure. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful and powerful truth surrounding the involvement of the living God within our lives. There is a great need for us to pay close attention to this and how absolutely incredible it is when considering how active and how involved the living God is within our lives. We know that we are to present our bodies a living sacrifice holy and acceptable in the sight of God which is our reasonable service and that this is our reasonable service or spiritual act of worship, however, we must also recognize that the underlying purpose of this is that we might prove what is that good, and perfect and acceptable will of the Father who is in heaven. There is something truly astonishing and powerful about the involvement and working of the living and eternal God within our lives for Scripture makes it very clear the living and eternal God enjoys and takes great pleasure in being involved within our lives.
If you turn and direct your attention to the first and second chapters of the Old Testament book of Genesis you will find the account of the creation of man. It would be in the first and opening chapter of this Old Testament book Moses writes and describes how God called for the creation and formation of man to be created In His image and after His likeness. What’s more is in the first chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis we find Moses not only speaking of the creation and formation of man in the image and after the likeness of the living God but we also find him writing and speaking of the call for dominion and the call for multiplication within the earth. This is something worth thinking about and considering for the same mandate given unto man at his creation at the beginning is the same mandate that was and has been given to Christians and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. Just as man as a whole was created in the image and after the likeness of the living God so also have believers been called to exercise dominion and authority upon the earth. Not only have the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ been called to exercise dominion and authority upon the earth but they have also been called to multiply upon the earth. In fact if you read the twenty-fourth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts as well as the first chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will find the description of the dominion and authority the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ were called to exercise within and upon the earth.
Before I delve into the words which are found in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke as well as the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts also written by Luke I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the first, second and third chapters of the Old Testament book of Genesis. It is in these chapters where we not only find the creation and formation of man in the image and after the likeness of the living God but we also find their placement in the garden and ultimately their sin in the garden which led to their banishment from the garden and a transference of dominion and authority within and upon the earth to the adversary. Consider if you will the following words which are found in these chapters and how they serve as a tremendous foundation for what we find in the New Testament gospel written by Luke as well as the New Testament book of Acts written by Luke as well:
“Then God said, Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness: let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth. And God said, See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. Also, to every beats of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given green herb for food; and it was so. Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day” (Genesis 1:26-31).
“And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the LORD God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four river heads. The name of the first is Piston; it is the one which skirts the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. And the gold of that land is good. Bdellium and the onyx stone are there. The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one which goes around the whole land of Cush. The name of the third river is Hiddekel; it is the one which goes toward the east of Assyria. The fourth river is the Euphrates. Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die. And the LORD God said, It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him. Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said: This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man. Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:7-25).
“Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, Has God indeed said, You shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said to the serpent, We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die. Then the serpent said to the woman, You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husbands with her, and he ate. Then the yes of both of them were opened, and they knower that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, Where are you? So he said, I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself. And He said, Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat? Then the man said, The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree and I ate. And the LORD God said to the woman, What is this you have done? The woman said, The serpent deceived me, and I ate. So the LORD God said to the serpent: Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beats of the field; on your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. To the woman He said, I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children; your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you. Then to Adam he said, Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, You shall not eat of it: Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return. And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. Also for Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them. Then the LORD God said, Behold, the man has become like one of us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever—therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life” (Genesis 3:1-24).
Please pay close attention to the words which are found in the first chapter of this Old Testament book for within it you will find something that is also found in the New Testament gospel written by Luke as well as the book of Acts which was written by the same author. In the first chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis we find and discover the LORD God desiring to create and form man in His image and after His own likeness. Moses writes how the LORD God did indeed and did in fact create man in His image and after His likeness and then revealed three distinct realities concerning man whom He had created upon the earth. In the final verses of the first chapter you will find that after the LORD God created and formed man in His image and after His likeness He gave them dominion over and upon the earth, He provided for them within and upon the earth and He gave them the command to be fruitful and multiply upon the earth. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for you will recall the apostle Paul emphatically declared that the living God has indeed given us everything we need pertaining to life and godliness. In fact it is in the first chapter of the epistle written unto the Ephesian saints by the apostle Paul writes and speaks of that which the living God has indeed blessed us with in this life. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the first chapter of the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Ephesian saints beginning with the third verse:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as he chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to eh good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He hade to abound toward us in all wisdom. And prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchases possession to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:3-14).
This is incredibly important when you consider the words which are found in the first and opening chapter of the second epistle written by the apostle Peter for within it we find him emphatically declaring that the divine power of God has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness. These words are in direct alignment with that which the apostle Paul would written unto the saints which were at Ephesus for within the opening chapter of that epistle we find the apostle Paul describing everything we as the saints of God and disciples of Christ have indeed been blessed with. What makes this all the more intriguing is when you consider the words which are found in the first and opening chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis. It is in the final verses of the first chapter of the book of Genesis we find Moses recounting for us the formation and creation of man in the image and after the likeness of God within and upon the earth. Directly linked and connected to the creation and formation of man in the image and after the likeness of the living God was the command to be fruitful and multiply upon the earth, the provision for their sustenance and life and the release of authority and dominion unto and upon them. If you read and study the formation and creation of man upon the face of the earth you will clearly see that when Moses wrote of this in the opening chapter of the book of Genesis he spoke of dominion, of multiplication and of provision. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of when considering the presence of the spiritual body of Christ within and upon the earth. There is not a doubt in my mind that just as man was created and formed in the image and after the likeness of the living God upon the earth and given dominion over every thing that moves upon the earth, just as man was given provision for sustenance upon the earth and just as man was given the command to be fruitful and multiply so also has the spiritual body been given the same reality and truth within their own existence upon the earth. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the eighth chapter of the Old Testament book of Psalms beginning with the first verse:
“O LORD our Lord, How excellent is your name in all the earth, who have set your glory above the heavens! Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants you have ordained strength, because of your enemies, that you may silence the enemy and the avenger. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have ordained, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you visit him? For you have made him a little lower than the angels, and you have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen—even the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea that pass through the paths of the seas. O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is your name in all the earth” (Psalm 8:1-9).
There is something incredible unique and powerful about the words which we find in this passage of Scripture for within it David speaks of man and how man was created to be a little lower than the angels and crowned with glory and honor. With this being said David also described how although man was made a little lower than the angels they were made to have dominion over the works of the hands of the living God. The psalmist David writes of m an that he was given domino over all the sheep and the oxen—even the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea that pass through the paths of the seas. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the creation and formation of man and how man was indeed created in the image and after the likeness of the living God. Man was indeed and was in fact created in the image and after the likeness of the living God and was given dominion over everything that moves upon the earth, was given the command to be fruitful and multiply upon the earth and was given provision for their needs within the earth. We cannot afford to miss and lose sight of this for when we think about the spiritual body of Christ we must recognize that these same principles were in fact put in place. The fundamental difference between the spiritual body of Christ versus the formation and creation of man in the beginning is that what was true in the physical realm of man in the physical sense at the beginning is true of the spiritual man in the spiritual sense as it pertains to the body of Christ. There is a great need to recognize and pay attention to this, however, before we get into it I am convinced we need to examine the Lord Jesus Christ who is the head of the body.
Before we get into the formation and creation of the spiritual body of Christ in the image of the head of the body which is Christ it is necessary to recognize the truth surrounding Christ and His presence upon the earth. Within the fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by Luke as well as the words which are found in the second chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews and the first chapter of the gospel written by the apostle John we get a true and powerful picture of the movement and manifestation of Christ upon the earth. It was the Lord Jesus Christ who was made a little lower than the angels for the purpose of suffering in the flesh, however, it was in the flesh where the Lord Jesus exercised the dominion and authority that was greatly needed to demonstrate and manifest the kingdom of heaven upon the earth. In the physical sense the Lord Jesus Christ was never fruitful and multiplied as in He never married and never had children, however, we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he manifested and multiplied Himself in His disciples and those who walked with and followed Him. The early church—those who were present in the upper room—were essentially the manifestation of Christ multiplying Himself in them during those three and a half years. On the day of Pentecost there were about one-hundred and twenty who were present in the upper room and it would be those one-hundred and twenty in the upper room who would indeed be the result of a spiritual multiplication of the Lord Jesus within and upon the earth. The provision which the Lord Jesus had while He was present upon the earth was to do the will of the Father for when speaking to His disciples you will find Jesus declaring that His meat was to do the will of the Father. It was Jesus who spoke unto His disciples and declared that He had meat they knew nothing of and would then reveal that His meat was to do the will of His Father who was in heaven. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the second chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews, the fourth chapter written in the gospel narrative written by Luke as well as the first and opening chapter of the gospel written by the apostle John:
“For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels. But one testified in a certain place, saying: What is man that you are mindful of him, or the son of man that you take care of him? You have made him a little lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, and set him over the works of your hands. You have put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that He put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that he, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying: I will declare your name to my brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to you. And again: I will put my trust in Him. And again: Here am I and the children whom God has given me. Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy Him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted” (Hebrews 2:5-18).
“IN the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true light which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, This was He of whom I said, He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me. And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law as given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared Him” (John 1:1-18).
“So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, because He has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD. Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your heart. So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, Is this not Joseph’s son?” (Luke 4:16-22).
All of this is incredibly important to think about and consider for when we think about the Church we must understand that it is the spiritual body of Christ. What we read of concerning Christ in the midst of the earth is incredibly similar to what we understand and recognize concerning the church which is His body in the midst of the earth. The spiritual body of Christ is indeed the extension of His ministry which He engaged in during those three and a half years He walked upon the earth as the Word made flesh. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth concerning the spiritual body of Christ and how it is made up of those in the earth who have not only been given dominion over and upon the earth, not only those who have provision made for them by the living God but who have also been instructed to multiply upon the earth. If you take the time to read the words which are found in the New Testament gospel written by Luke as well as the New Testament book of Acts you will find Luke revealing the mystery of the spiritual body of Christ and the person and presence of the Holy Spirit. It is the person, the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit that enables the spiritual body of Christ which is the church to do exactly what the Lord Jesus Christ did while He was present upon the earth. You will recall that while the Lord Jesus was present upon the earth He emphatically declared that we would do greater works than these because He went to His Father. These words don’t mean that the works we do will be greater in quality than those which He wrought while on the earth but rather greater in quantity because those works would be performed by the members of the spiritual body of Christ. A glimpse of this is seen and evidenced when Jesus sent the twelve out as ambassadors and apostles as well as the seventy whom Christ sent out in addition to the apostles. Consider if you will the following words which describe the sending out of the twelve, the sending out of the other seventy, the words which are found in the final chapters of the New Testament gospel narratives written by the apostle Matthew, Luke and John Mark as well as the words which are found in the first and eighth chapters of the New Testament book of Acts:
“And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, he gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, Judas Iscariot , who also betrayed Him. These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, nor bad for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food” (Matthew 10:1-10).
“Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to curse diseases. He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. And He said to them, Take nothing for the journey, neither staffs nor bags nor bread nor money; and do not have two tunics apiece. Whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. And whoever will not receive you, when you go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet as a testimony against them. So they departed and went through the towns preaching the gospel and healing everywhere” (Luke 9:1-6).
“After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go. Then He said to them, The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves. Carry neither money bag, knapsack, nor sandals; and greet no one along the road. But whatever house you enter, first say, Peace to this house. And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest on it; if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such tings as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you. And heal the sick there, and say to them, The kingdom of God has come near to you. But whatever city you enter, and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, The very dust of your city which clings to us we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near you. But I say to you that it will be more tolerable in that day for Sodom than for that city” (Luke 10:1-12).
“Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. When they saw Him, they worshipped Him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen” (Matthew 28:16-20).
“Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. And He said to them, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: IN my name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink any thing deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover. So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen” (mark 16:14-20).
“Then He said to them, These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning me. And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things. Behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high. And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. And they worshipped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen” (Luke 24:44-53).
“The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after He though the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. And being assembled together with them, he commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, which, He said, you have heard from me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now. Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? And He said to them, It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:1-8).
“When the day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:1-4).
“Now Saul was consenting to his death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison” (Acts 8:1-3).
Please pay close attention to the words which are found in these passages of Scripture for they call and draw our attention to the tremendous mandate, mission and assignment of the church within and upon the earth. I am absolutely convinced that just as man was created in the image and after the likeness of the living God and was given dominion and authority upon the earth, given the command to be fruitful and multiply and given provision to sustain them so also the same is true of the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ. What must be recognized and understood concerning the spiritual body of Christ is the incredible need to be those who acknowledge that they have been given dominion and authority upon the earth. Jesus walked in authority and dominion while He was upon the earth and exercised dominion and authority over demons and unclean spirits, over all manner of sickness and disease and even over death itself. What’s more is that within the Synoptic gospels we find that Jesus sent out His twelve disciples and gave them power and authority and dominion to exercise in the earth over unclean spirits, over sickness and disease and even to cleanse the lepers. When sending out the other seventy Jesus would give them power and authority over unclean spirits and over all manner of sickness and to preach the gospel. Between the twelve apostles and the seventy others the Lord Jesus sent out eighty-two individuals as ambassadors of the kingdom whom He sent out two by two. Perhaps one of the questions I can’t help but think about it is whether or not each and every one of us was destined to have at least one other person whom we can go out in pairs of twos exercising dominion and authority upon the earth. Just as the apostles and the other seventy were sent out two by two is there another member of the spiritual body of Christ whom we have indeed and have in fact been called to connect to that we might work in tandem together with them to exercise dominion and authority upon the earth?
I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in these passages of Scripture and I am brought face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding the spiritual body of Christ and how the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ has indeed and has in fact been given dominion and authority upon the earth. It did not end with the apostles, nor did it end with the other seventy whom Jesus sent, nor did it end with the early church. There would be those who would like to lead others to believe that we have not been called to exercise the same dominion and authority within and upon the earth. The spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ has indeed been given dominion and authority upon the earth—dominion and authority over sickness and disease, dominion and authority over unclean spirits and demons, dominion and authority over death, and dominion and authority over anything and everything that would seek to ensnare and enslave the people of God and those who were present in the midst of the earth. Jesus exercised dominion and authority within and upon the earth and He would send out eighty-two others with dominion and authority upon the earth in the same manner in which He Himself went forth.
If you think about and study the spiritual body of Christ you must needs recognize and understand that the spiritual body of Christ was indeed formed in the image and after the likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ. As such the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ has indeed been called to be those who exercise dominion and authority within and upon the earth. The spiritual body of Christ has been given all manner of provision to sustain their life in the midst of the earth—something the apostle Paul emphatically wrote and declared when writing unto the Ephesian saints. In addition to this the spiritual body of Christ has been called to be fruitful and multiply upon the earth which simply put means they have been called to increase in number upon the earth. If there is one thing we must needs recognize when reading the New Testament book of Acts it’s that the spiritual body of Christ continued to grow and increase in size and number within the earth. From the second chapter all the way through the final chapter we find the living and eternal God adding to the number of the early church such as should be saved. Daily there were those who were added to the number of those who believed—such as should be saved. It was on the day of Pentecost we find three thousand souls believing, being baptized and being added to the number of the spiritual body of Christ which was already present upon the earth. At one point Luke writes of there being five thousand souls who believed within the early church while the Lord would add daily to the church such as should be saved. This is something we dare not and must not miss nor lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the manifestation of the spiritual body of Christ within and upon the earth. The spiritual body of Christ has indeed and has in fact been called be fruitful and multiply upon the earth just as man who was created in the image and after the likeness of the living God was called to be fruitful and multiply upon the earth.
One of the greatest truths we must needs recognize when considering the fact that we are the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ is that the divine power of the living God has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness. The divine power of the living God has given to us all things pertaining to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue. What’s more is that when we read the words found in this passage of Scripture we find that it is not only the divine power which has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness but we have also been given exceedingly great and precious promises. It is through these promises we might be partakers of the divine nature having escape the corruption that is in the world through lust. Oh please don’t miss nor lose sight of this for there is something truly remarkable about this when you take the time to think about it. There is something we must needs understand and acknowledge when thinking about the truth surrounding the divine power of God and the divine promises of the living God. The underlying purposes of the divine power is life and godliness while the great and precious promises have been given to us that through them we might be partakers of the divine nature having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. Please don’t move past this too quickly for there is something we must needs recognize concerning the words which the apostle Peter wrote in this passage of Scripture. The apostle Peter sought to write unto these saints who had obtained like precious faith with them by the righteousness of God and of the Savior Jesus Christ. These saints had indeed and had in fact been given everything pertaining to life and godliness for the living and eternal God had indeed provided for them and supplied everything they needed. This is something which warrants strong consideration on our part for it calls land draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the life we have in fact been called to in this world. We were made a little lower than the angels for the purpose of exercising dominion and authority upon the earth.
If you continue reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find that we must ensure that we give all diligence to add to our faith. Perhaps one of the greatest realities we must needs understand concerning faith is that it is not only the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen but it is also something we must add to. It was written in the epistle unto the Hebrews that without faith it is impossible to please God and here in this epistle written by the apostle Peter we were admonished to add to our faith. What makes this all the more intriguing when you take the time to think about it is when you consider the fact that the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews declared that faith was the substance—something we must needs acknowledge within our hearts and lives. I am absolutely convinced that not only is faith the substance but faith must also have substance. Not only this but we must ensure that we add to the substance of our faith that we might be those who walk in a manner that pleases the living and eternal God. Moreover it was James who declared that faith without works is dead—a reality that bears understanding within our lives as those who profess to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Not only must faith have substance, not only must faith have demonstration but faith must also be something we add to. If we are truly going to be those who walk in and exercise dominion and authority upon the earth we must be those who acknowledge and understand this concerning our lives. If we are going to be those who truly recognize the tremendous power that we have been called to be fruitful and multiply upon and within the earth as the spiritual body of Christ then we must indeed be such who add to our faith such as what is needed to be men and women who please the living and eternal God.
In the opening chapter of this epistle we are brought face to face with the need to add to our faith—and not only add to our faith but to add to our faith specific things. What we must needs recognize is that not only must faith have substance but faith must also grow and increase within our lives. It was the apostle Paul who declared that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God which underscores the fact that the more we hear the Word of God the more our faith can and will increase within the earth the way we were designed, intended and created to. The apostle Peter wrote unto these saints to have obtained like precious faith—faith that is worth more than gold and is tried in the fire—that they are to give all diligence that they add to their faith. That which they were to add to their faith was virtue, and to virtue knowledge, and to knowledge self-control, and to self-control perseverance, and to perseverance godliness, and to godliness brotherly kindness and to brotherly kindness love. Moreover the apostle Peter goes on to declare that if these things are ours and abound then we will neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Consider the words which the apostle Peter used in this passage for he used the words “barren” and “unfruitful”—words which describe that which we have indeed and have in fact been called to in this life. We as the saints of God have indeed been called to add to our faith that our faith might grow and increase in great measure within the earth. We have indeed and have in fact been called to exercise our faith in this world and must needs exercise dominion and authority as our Lord Jesus Christ did in his generation. Moreover we have indeed and have in fact been called to be those who are fruitful and multiply in the earth as we bring about the exponential growth and increase of the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ. We must needs be those who understand that we have indeed been called to be such who recognize this call to add to our faith for if we are going to truly be those who walk in a manner which pleases and honors the Lord we must be those who exercise dominion and authority, those who are fruitful and multiply and those who recognize the provision that has been given that we might be sustained within the earth.
As I bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call your attention to the words the apostle Peter wrote in this first and opening chapter. It is in this first and opening chapter the apostle Peter calls on his readers and audience to make their calling and election sure. Not only this but the apostle Peter goes on to declare that if they do these things they will not stumble for an entrance will be supplied to them abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The apostle Peter admonished them to heed as a light which shines in a dark place until the day dawns and the morning star rises in their hearts knowing that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation. Prophecy never came by the will of man but as holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Spirit. Oh that we would recognize and understand that we have been those who have been called as such who have like precious faith—faith which is worth more than gold despite the fact that it is tried in fire. We as the saints of God have indeed and have in fact been called to be such who acknowledge and understand that we must needs add to our faith the character and nature of Christ in whose image and likeness we are being created and conformed to. Oh that we would be men and women who truly do recognize and understand that we have indeed and have in fact been called as such who exercise dominion and authority upon the earth, such who demonstrate and manifest the kingdom of God upon the earth, such who are fruitful and multiply the spiritual body of Christ in the earth knowing that we have been given the provision of God, the power of God and the promises of God to sustain us as His saints and people within the earth.