A Thriving Christian Civilization is Inevitable – it’s Our Destiny: Part 3
We must interpret the Bible from a corporate perspective, not only an individual perspective.
Here are the Bible verses we’re looking at today:
1 Cor. 3:16
2 Cor. 6:16
1 Pet. 2:12
In the first two articles of this series we talked about heaven coming to earth and the invisible becoming visible. In this article we’ll take it to the final step of moving from inward to outward.
It should be understood that while there is some overlap when talking about the invisible and visible, along with the inward to outward, there are also some differences in understanding concerning them that are important to consider.
For example, the invisible is a reference to that which is of God dwelling within a person, while that which is inward is the working of it within for the purpose of it coming out into the world to be seen.
Or to put it another way, the invisible is of God, while the inward working of that is the influence it has upon God’s people. Under the influence of that work within, it is to be worked from within to without in a practical manner by individual Christians and the church, with the help of the Holy Spirit.
The invisible starts with God Himself, while the inward working is how it impacts and transforms the Christian to the point it must come forth.
God dwelling within us
1 Cor. 3:16
16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
2 Cor. 6:16
16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
In 1 Cor. 3:16, the verse above is preceded by Paul talking about the wroks of God being tested by fire as to whether or not they’re built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ.
The point Paul is making is those that have the Spirit of God dwelling in them are built upon the foundation he laid long ago, and their works will be represented as gold, silver, and precious stones. Those that build on the foundation of Jesus Christ will have their works remain, and will be rewarded in the age to come.
On the other hand, those whose works are burnt by the fiery trial, “he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
The significance of this is the works we are to perform in this world are tied to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and building on the foundation of Jesus Christ.
Ultimately, when we are working those things that are within to without, that is the foundation we are to build upon and from. Taking into consideration the city of God and kingdom of God, that is the way we build a lasting civilization on earth. Anything other than that will collapse under the weight of a false and weak foundation.
As Phil. 2:12 says, “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” This is to done at the individual and corporate levels.
One of the stranger things that continue to plague the body of Christ is the idea that good works is some form of legalism that generates pressure upon God’s people. This is totally wrong.
Here’s what the Bible says about that:
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
1 Pet. 2:12
Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.
Where the confusion or outright rebellion comes from is some of those that proclaim they are Christians attempt to compare salvation without works to walking in obedience to God’s moral laws, which aren’t the means of salvation, but the standard of righteousness we are to live by.
This is easy to understand, but apparently there are false Christians living ungodly lives, and they attempt to justify it by attempting to mingle these two together, giving the impression that salvation by works is being talked about, rather than the fruits that accompany salvation.
We are the image bearers of God. We are made to visibly display the heavenly, invisible things that come down and take up residence in us by the Holy Spirit, and are worked from within to without so people may see our good works and glorify God.
God is glorified by our good works, as the Scriptures above confirm.
To bear the image of God is to take on His character (not His divinity), obey His laws and commands, and to have dominion over the earth. These are the works that are to be worked from within to without.
Again, this is confirmed in the Scriptures, where Hebrews chapters 8 and 10 declare, “I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts.”
Obedience starts from within and works its way out. This is why Jesus talked about lust and hate can lead eventually to adultery and murder. He stated that to lust and hate is to already commit adultery and murder in the heart. The laws of God written in our hearts and minds are to cut that out from under us in order to keep us from engaging in those types of actions. Obviously this refers to all laws.
Human action and interaction
Quite a long time ago an economist named Ludwig von Mises wrote a book on human action, which he called praxeology. While he was primarily taking the concept and relating to economics, it’s readily apparent this applies to all interactions people have with one another in the myriads of ways we have contact with each other.
My purpose in bringing that up is we as God’s people, in whatever we put our hands to, will to one degree or another have contact with people, whether digitally or physically.
That’s important to know because when thinking in terms of heaven to earth, invisible to visible, and inward to outward, that which comes forth from within us will determine the fruit of our words and work.
Human action is inevitable; even someone that prefers to be alone most of the time will have some contact with the world outside of himself.
The key to effective work is that we bear the image of God in the areas mentioned above, where the human action we partake in will have a strong impact on the people living on planet earth. It’s what ultimately will lead to a sprawling Christian civilization across the earth, and possibly, across the universe.
The full impact and effect of what we’ve talked about in these three articles will only be met by the people of God responding to these things en masse over time. It’s not something any one individual will be able to bring about.
For that reason, while it’s important to work out our individual salvation with fear and trembling, it’s far more important that believers all over the world and in all generations embrace and live out the invisible things coming down from heaven, having them first change and transform them, and through cooperation and interaction with others via our unique gifts and callings, build a civilization that reflects the person and glory of God in a way that our good works will be seen, and God glorified in them.
The clear elements of this civilization are revealed in the last two chapters of the Bible, where we see that Lamb in the midst of the throne, and everything else centered in and flowing out from that.
Jesus personifies all that Christian civilization is meant to be, and as those that are made in His image, we are called to bear His image – both within and without, building the kingdom of God on earth, reflecting the civilization of the Godhead from before the foundation of the world.
Links to other articles in three-part series: