We believe that if we are to attain to truth, we must
distinguish most clearly between :
Otherwise, by confusing things that differ we shall
give no certain sound in our witness, and
have no certainty in our work or walk.
2. Scriptural grounds.
'It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with Him,
we shall also live with Him. If we suffer,
we shall also reign with Him: if we deny Him, He also
will deny us. If we believe not, He abideth
faithful: He cannot deny Himself' (2 Tim. 2:11-13).
' ... Made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance
of the saints in light' (Col. 1:12)
'Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward
of the inheritance: for ye serve the
Lord Christ' (Col. 3:24).
'In the body of His flesh through death, to present
you holy and unblameable and
unreproveable in His sight' (Col. 1:22).
' ... warning every man and teaching every man in all
wisdom; that we may present every
man perfect in Christ Jesus' (Col. 1:28).
'In Whom we have boldness and access with confidence
by the faith of Him' (Eph. 3:12).
' ... Work out your own salvation with fear and
trembling' (Phil. 2:12).
' ... I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life,
nor angels, nor principalities ... shall be able
to separate us from the love of God, which is in
Christ Jesus our Lord' (Rom. 8:38,39).
'Know ye not that they which run in a race run all,
but one receiveth the prize? So run, that
ye may obtain ... I keep under my body, and bring it
into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have
preached (heralded) to others, I myself should be a
castaway (disapproved)' (1 Cor. 9:24-27).
'Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but
this one thing I do, forgetting those
things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those
things which are before, I press toward the
mark for the prize of the high calling of God in
Christ Jesus' (Phil. 3:13,14).
'I have fought a good fight, I have finished my
course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there
is laid up for me a crown of righteousness' (2 Tim.
3. An expansion and application of these
Much mischief is wrought among the children of God by
teachers failing to distinguish
between those things which belong to the believer in
Christ as a free gift of grace, and those things
which are held out to him as a reward in connection
with his service.
Such words as prize, crown, reward, win and gain have
no place in a salvation that is by
grace, through faith, without works. It is impossible
for the same believer at the same time and
connected with the same thing to be confident and yet
in fear and trembling. It is specially harmful to the
truth of the One Body to attempt to teach from
Philippians 3 that membership of that Body is held out
as a prize to be won. It is equally untrue to speak of
the prize of Philippians 3 as the hope of the church;
for if we do, then we must also teach that Paul, when
he wrote Philippians, had not then attained membership
of the One Body, and was not certain of the blessed
hope of resurrection. Leave Philippians 3 as the
record of an added prize that may be won, associated
with perfection and the high calling, and all is
Let us examine some of the scriptural grounds for this
distinction, taking as an example 2 Timothy 2:11-13.
The subject here is twofold: living and reigning.
Living is one thing; reigning is
another. Now living with Christ depends upon our
having died with Him, but reigning with Him
depends upon suffering and enduring. In the realm of
life -- none can pluck us out of His hand; 'once in
Him, in Him for ever'. No member of the One Body can
ever forfeit his membership. The whole standing is by
grace. We are chosen by God alone and assured of
eternal security, so that it can even be said :
'If we are unbelieving, yet He abideth faithful; He
cannot deny Himself' (2 Tim. 2:13,
Once having died with Him, there can be no forfeiture
'Who died for us, that, whether we be watchful or
sleepy, we should live together with Him'
(1 Thess. 5:10, Author's translation).
Reigning, however, is quite another matter, and
depends upon enduring. In this sphere, we
can lose or forfeit. 'If we deny Him, He also will
deny us'. These words must not however be made to
contradict what follows in verse 13. The contradiction
may be avoided if we distinguish the two spheres. Set
out in line with the subject, the verses appear as
A v. 11. If we died with Him, we shall live.
Life and free grace.
B v. 12. If we endure, we shall reign.
B v. 12. If we deny Him, we shall be
denied. Endurance and reward.
A v. 13. If we are faithless, He abideth
faithful. Life and free grace.
Another passage that demands the same discernment is 1
Corinthians 3:10-15. The
foundation, Christ Himself, once laid is unalterable.
No 'if' can be admitted there. What a man
builds, however, on that foundation is subject to
quite a different principle. He may receive a reward
or he may suffer loss; but even if he should suffer
loss: 'He himself shall be saved: yet as by fire'.
The same principle of distinction obtains in 1
Corinthians 9:27. Paul had no thought that he
could ever be a 'castaway' from grace or from Christ,
but in respect of the prize he realized that the
flesh was a danger to his hopes of winning it. He kept
under his body, lest he should be disqualified
regarding the prize, but no amount of keeping under of
the body would ever save Paul or anyone else from the
wages of sin.
The next chapter in the epistle (verses 1-5), with its
contrast between 'all' and 'many',
emphasizes the lesson. Moses was a man of God; he
appeared on the mount of transfiguration, but he
forfeited entry into the promised land. Every one of
the Israelites whose carcases fell in the
wilderness had been redeemed by the Passover lamb.
So when we come to Philippians let us remember to keep
it in its place. Referring to the
structure given above of 2 Timothy 2:11-13, A.A.
correspond to Ephesians, where we have boldness,
confidence, acceptance. Philippians corresponds to B.B.
of the same structure, where we have fear and
trembling. Here we have an 'if' -- 'if by any means'.
Paul reaches out to attain the prize which God has
attached to the high calling. Sir Robert Anderson has
pointed out that those who quote Philippians 3:14 as
'the on-high calling', meaning thereby a summons that
will call them up to glory, do not regard the
implications of the whole verse. The words, 'the high
calling of God in Christ Jesus', do not fit a future
summons. The ano calling is the calling of the church
of the One Body, and attached to it, but quite
distinct therefrom, is a prize. This prize may or may
not be attained, but in no case can the hope be
forfeited or membership of the One Body lapse.
So with the two references to the inheritance in
Colossians 1 and 3, already quoted in this
section. In the first case God has made us meet;
nothing remains for us to do to qualify for it. In the
second it is the reward of the inheritance for
faithful service. So with the two 'presentings'. In
the first case we are presented through the death of
Christ holy and unblameable, yet Paul warns and
teaches that he may present every man perfect in
Christ. Paul could not and did not touch here the
presenting of Colossians 1:22.
It is most important that these things that differ
should be clearly defined. Those who do not
thus rightly divide the truth are preparing for
disapproval and shame in that day (2 Tim. 2:15).