Let’s begin with a definition.
A spiritual opportunity is an event or set of circumstances in which an individual can choose to glorify God.
Here in the Church Age, the first time a soul receives the opportunity to glorify God is when he is presented with the Gospel Message, affording him the opportunity to be born again (John 3: 5, 7).
Q. How important is to be born again?
A. “Jesus answered, “Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born of the water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
In the creation process (Gen. 2: 7) and in the reproduction process (John 3:6), the body was/is formed first and then the soul is created and placed in the body. The soul (that lives on) departs the body at the moment of physical death (Luke 23: 46).
In contest, being born of the water refers to natural birth when the body receives the soul that is created by God (John 3: 6) and placed in the body when the body is brought forth at birth (Gen. 2: 7/John 3: 6).
Water baptisms were the means of i-d-e-n-t-i-f-y-i-n-g oneself with a group of believers. The water baptisms of Scripture involved adults who had already been born again by having believed in the Gospel Message.
The baptism of the Spirit, refers to one being “sealed (Eph. :30 NASB),” i-d-e-n-t-i-f-y-i-n-g the a-l-r-e-a-d-y born again believer as a child of God.
Being a member of any local church or denomination is of NO value if one has not been born again. Note that this teaching is taken from John 3, which in part, is a conversation between the Lord Jesus Christ and Nicodemus, a very religious man of his day.
Being a Pharisee, Nicodemus undoubtedly had gone through and continued to practice all religious requirements of his day. Never-the-ess he still needed to understand the need to be born again.
The baptism of/by the Spirit automatically that takes place at the moment of salvation, and is the Work of God the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4; 30).
“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption (Eph. 4: 30 NASB).”
Once born again, the believer then has daily spiritual opportunities to glorify God through the production of divine good in his own life and in the lives of others.
Rather or not one seizes the moment is a choice that he has to make at the time his/her spiritual opportunities present themselves.
There are consequences (Loss of rewards and privileges) for not producing post (after) salvation divine good, but the integrity of a born-again believer’s salvation is NEVER being jeopardy (1Cor. 3: 15).
However, just because the loss of salvation is not on the table, this does not mean that there aren’t other consequences (1Cor. 3: 15) if a born- again believers chooses not to respond to the call to a life of discipleship.
The life of discipleship and the production of divine good go hand in hand.
For an advancing disciple, the production of divine good is NOT a burden. It is a privilege and becomes the primary reason that he/she gets up every morning of his/her post(after) salvation spiritual life.
Every born-again believer has “a” post (after) salvation spiritual life, but only advancing disciples develop “the” post salvation spiritual life of discipleship.
Are you an advancing disciple, or have you been sidetracked by the cares and issues (Matt. 13: 22) of the here and now?
The production of divine good is the purpose and primary function of the post (after) salvation spiritual life.
The post (after) salvation spiritual life does not even begin until one is born-again (John 3: 5, 7), having already received and will forever retain, his/her salvation.
Divine good is symbolized as gold, silver, and precious stones in the 1Cor. 3: 12-15 passage.
Divine good is the Work of God (John 15:5/1Cor. 3: 7), but is produced through (John 15: 5) Spirit-filled born again (John 3: 5, 7), believers.
The same Spirit that produced the recorded miracles of the earliest apostles (Acts 14., etc.), is the same Holy Spirit that indwells (1Cor. 3: 16), gifts (1Cor. 12), and enables (John 15: 5) each and every born again, Church Age, believer to participate in the production of divine good.
God desires to continue his miraculous activity through each and every born-again believer. As in the case of the crucifixion, God’s greatest miracles (salvation/edification) often take place with no overt evidence of it at the time. The fruit of such miracles appears later.
Every time a soul is saved (receives salvation), a miracle (Titus 3: 5/Eph.4: 30) takes place. Every time there is spiritual growth (1Cor. 3: 6,7/2Pet. 3: 18) in the lives of born again believers, be it our own or others, miraculous activity is taking place.
Because divine good is the work of God, it is God who is glorified.
When divine good is in view, souls are evangelized, edified, and/or enabled.
As of the Fall of Man, we all come into this world as spiritually dead, unbelievers. The soul of an unbeliever is e-v-a-n-g-e-l-i-z-e-d when he/ she is presented with the Gospel Message,
Upon hearing and placing one’s full trust and confidence in a presentation of the Gospel Message, he is converted from being a spiritually dead unbeliever, to a spiritually regenerated (Titus 3: 5), born again believer (John 3: 5, 7).
It is God the Holy Spirit who enables the recipient to understand the Gospel Message, that he/she would otherwise be unable (Romans 8: 7) to do. Unless God the Holy Spirit is actively involved, an unbeliever is NOT going to understand, let alone believe, in a presentation of the Gospel Message.
Having been presented with the Gospel Message, and being given the ability to understand it, it is then up to the recipient to either believe (place his full confidence and trust) in it, or to disbelieve (reject) it.
Note that the ONLY part that the disciple plays in the process, is to convey the Gospel Message and make the blessings (John 3: 16) or consequences (Rev. 20: 15) of the recipient’s response known to him/her (John 3: 16, 18).
It is the rejection of this pre-salvation ministry of God the Holy Spirit that amounts to the committing of the unpardonable sin of disbelief (John 3: 18).
Presenting the Gospel Message is serious business, as the response to it is what determines where the recipient of it will spend all of eternity.
The soul of a born-again believer is e-d-i-f-i-e-d through the daily intake of the Word of God.
Every day our souls take in information that either promotes and reinforces human viewpoint and divine viewpoint.
Of the 1, 440 minutes each day, even devoting up to an hour for the readings and/or meditation of God’s Word, leaves the devil with a lot of remaining time to bombard our soul structures with all kinds of evil, ungodly, and misleading information.
Even in our sleep, our subconscious minds are processing all the information, good or evil, that we allowed into our minds each and every day.
The devil has unlimited means to speak his mind, such as (but not limited to) the mouths of worldly-oriented individuals, gossips, gab shows, sit-comms, movies, DVD’s, CD’s, books, music, etc., etc., etc.
The more “garbage” we expose ourselves to, the less the stench we will detect until it comes to the point that we aren’t even offended by what at one time greatly disturbed us.
In a morally declining society, the evil that one generation tolerates, the next will condone, and the next will promote. An abbreviated version of the same process can take within the soul structure of any given individual, as well.
The spiritual edification of a soul structure is an ongoing and never-ending process. This involves taking in new information; refining the information he/she already has, and purging all the false information that we have allowed to become a part of our soul structure.
Growing in the knowledge of God is only half of the life of discipleship. One must not only obtain and maintain the information, but apply it (James 1: 22) to ALL that he/she thinks, says, and does.
It is common for newly born-again believers to initially grow in leaps and bounds in the amount of information that he/she is taking in, whereas for the more advanced disciple, it is usually more of refining and better applying of the information he/she already has obtained.
I say usually because there will never come a time here on Earth when anyone has learned or is applying all that the Word of God has to offer. To read or listen to the reading of Scripture (in our outside of Church) once a week in the spiritual realm is like eating a good meal once a week in the natural realm and expect to be in good health.
It is our own spiritual growth that can God can use to attract the attention of others, and motivate others to inquire (1Pet. 3: 15) of us what it is that makes us different from most folks here in the devil’s (Luke 4: 6) world.
This is what provides us with the spiritual opportunities to spiritually minister (serve) others, and in doing so, glorify God.
Initially, discipleship is for one’s own spiritual growth, but with the long-term objective of taking part in the producing divine good (that glorifies God) in the lives of others.
IF and when the presented Gospel Message is believed, then God the Holy Spirit regenerates (Titus 3: 5) what was the dead spirit of the individual, causing him/her to be born again.
For virtually everything that God establishes in the spiritual realm, the devil promotes an alternative. These alternatives appeal to the fallen nature in Man, as they appear to afford Man the opportunity to make oneself “right” with God. They key word here is appear. Like all counterfeits, they must appear to be the real thing if the deception is going to work.
In the case of divine good, the devil’s alternative is to promote religious rituals and human good in the place of what God requires.
Man-made religion accomplished NOTHING in the spiritual realm. The deceptive part about human good is that it does accomplish a form of good, here on Earth, but fails to accomplish anything, in of itself, in the spiritual realm.
Human good, symbolized as wood, hay, straw, is the works of Man. Human good has value for the here and now, but is of no account in eternity. Atheists and unbelievers can produce as much human good as born-again believers, but are NOT involved in the production of divine good.
Gold, silver, and precious stones (divine good) will endure the fire (judgment/evaluation) of 1Cor. 3: 15, whereas wood, hay, and straw (human good) will not.
Satan promotes the production of human good. It provides him with a win-win situation. His world (Luke 4: 6) benefits from its production, and Man (as opposed to God) receives the glory.
Satan opposes the production of divine good, as this is what brings glory to God.
Glorifying God via the production of divine good is what the post (after) salvation spiritual life is all about.
The issue of one’s salvation has already been forever settled BEFORE the post salvation spiritual life even begins.
Most Man-made religions promote some forms of rituals shortly after birth, during, and after one’s life span here on Earth. Within the Christian Community, religious authority has created positions and assigned functions that God has never given to any man.
The ONE ritual that all Church Age believers are commanded to participate in is the celebration of the Lord’s Supper (Communion). Even that has come under satanic attack with its alternatives.
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Apart from God, and to the extent that God allows, Man can produce great human good in the natural realm, and much human activity in the religious realm, but neither one has any spiritual content.
The saving and/or improving of the natural body health and function-ability that takes place in the operating rooms every day, is the classic example of great human good being produced by Man. Such human good can be produced by both born again and unbelieving surgeons.
It is not unlike God to use the authority and human good of unbelievers, as well as believers, to ultimately accomplish His objectives.
However, even the top level of human good, such as the saving or improving of the body (that eventually dies) is not what saves or edifies the soul that is going to live on forever.
If God intended for fallen Man to live on in the devil’s world (Luke 4: 6) indefinitely, He would not have banned Man from access to the tree of life (Gen. 3: 22-24).
“In as much it is appointed (part of the plan) for Man to die once, and after this comes judgment (Heb. 9: 27 NASB italics mine).”
The judgment for the unbelievers (Rev. 20: 13, 15) results in them being cast into what the Bible Rev. 20: 15) calls the, “lake of fire (Rev. 20: 15 NASB).”
Eternal life will be experienced by all born again believers (John 3: 16), regardless of their level of participation in the post salvation spiritual life.
The “just getting in (to Heaven) is good enough” viewpoint is a popular attitude among self-centered, and not Christ-centered individuals.
The judgment for the born-again believers results in either receiving or forfeiting the additional rewards and privileges that are reserved for the born-again believers who choose to identify and to execute the post salvation spiritual life of discipleship.
All of the benefits that the producer and or the benefactors receive from the production of human good are left behind when we depart this earth, and are of no eternal value.
It is on the production of divine good that the advancing disciple will receive heavenly reward (1Cor. 3: 14) and privileges (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 26/Rev. 3: 5, 12, 21) in addition to eternal life that will be experienced by all born again believers.
The production of human good, for most of us, is the means through which we receive the logistical necessities while here on Earth.
The only spiritual significance that human good has in the plan of God is that it serves as ONE of the many areas in our earthly walk with the Lord that the advancing disciple is called to serve as Christ’s ambassador (2Cor. 5: 20).
The daily spiritual opportunities that one has while producing human good is what give spiritual meaning and purpose to his/her area of labor, be it at home or out in the devil’s world.
On the days when we are not given the spiritual opportunity to verbally share the Gospel Message (with unbelievers) or to share an edifying principle of Scripture with a fellow believer, one still has the opportunity to engage in the unspoken testimony of his/her personal life. This is what God can use to set the stage for future spiritual opportunities to present themselves.
To this extent, every day laboring at home or out on the job has spiritual significance in the life of an advancing disciple.
An ambassador is one who has full knowledge of the policies of the kingdom that he/she represents while functioning in a foreign land. For the advancing disciple, the Kingdom he/she represents in the Kingdom of God, and the foreign land is the devil’s world (Luke 4: 6), here on Earth.
Substituting or elevating human good to equality with divine good has been a part of the devil’s long-standing strategy in his interaction with Man. Being deceived, Man is led to believe that it is through his good works, good behavior, and religious activity that Man obtains and retains salvation.
If that were true, then the Lord Jesus Christ’s incarnation (taking on bodily form) and suffering on the cross was not necessary, and therefore one of the cruelest acts that God the Father required of the innocent, God the Son, in all of eternity.
The incarnation and suffering of the Lord Jesus Christ was not an act of cruelty, but the greatest demonstration of the love that God has for the souls of the human race (John 3: 16).
Man is NOT saved by what he overtly does (or doesn’t do) to please God, but by believing (placing his full trust and confidence) is what God has done, is doing, and will do for Man.
This is what distinguishes Christianity from Christian religion. This is what distinguishes Christianity from the all the other Man religions of the world.
Once saved, it is the production of divine good that glorifies God and is what determines what rewards and privileges (if any) a born -again believer will receive in addition to his/her home in Heaven.
In order to produce divine good, one must become aware and take advantage of the spiritual opportunities that cross our paths on a daily basis. Failing to do results is what makes ANY of our daily activity spiritually meaningless. Doing so is what makes all of our activities spiritually meaningful.
Failure to produce divine good results in the forfeiture of rewards and privileges that the same born-again believer would have otherwise received in addition to the eternal life that all born again believers will receive.
As each and every day passes, there is the spiritual opportunity to engage in personal Bible study, as well as many opportunities to apply what we are learning to how we think, and to what we do and say.
As each and every day passes, there is the spiritual opportunity to engage in prayer. As one spiritually matures, his/her prayers will be less and less about what we want, and more and more about what God wants to take place.
It is with the enabling power of God (John 15: 5), that divine good (gold, silver, and precious stones) is produced in our own lives and in the lives of others. The production of divine good is what God is what glorifies God and is what sets the stage for the believer to be rewarded.
We do not serve God to be rewarded, but God has revealed to us that He desires to reward (in Heaven) those who choose to glorify Him what here on Earth.
Practicing made-made religion does NOT glorify God, no matter how many times a day, a week, a month, a year, or a lifetime it is entertained.
Many s0-called Christians would be shocked to see what would be left if all the “religious” activity were to be removed from many of the “worship” services that are taking place in this period of prophesied (1Tim. 4: 1) apostacy WITHIN the “Christian” Community at large.
Identifying and participating in the post (after) salvation spiritual life, outlined in Scripture, is a 24-7 lifestyle.
It goes w-a-y beyond “checking in” for an hour or so once a week with a local assembly.
One hour out of the 168 hrs. we are given each week to glorify God only accounts for 0.005 % of the 168 hours we are given each week to engage in the production of divine good.
God is just as interested in what we are doing (or not doing) for the remaining 99.995% of the time that we are given each week to glorify Him through the production of divine good.
On the personal level, divine good can be produced as one obeys the command (not an option) of 2Pet. 3: 18 to, “grow in the grace and the knowledge of the Lord (2Pet. 3: 18).
Especially in a politically free and a technologically advanced society, there is little (if any) excuse for not spending daily time in the Word of God under a Biblically qualified pastor teacher.
At the very least, one can read his/her own Bible and then seek clarification on issues that one does not understand. If you understand it all on your own, then congratulations for being the first person (outside of the Lord Jesus Christ) to have done so!
If so-called Christians spent as much time listening to the voice of God via daily Bible Study, as they do spend listening to the voice of the devil through the media, ungodly entertainment, and gossip, the Christian Community would be a lot better off.
The truth is that many so-called Christians have a hunger for much of what the devil’s world as to offer, with little desire to hear the voice of God. Such Christians either dismiss the significance of the Word of God, or fear the challenges that learning the truth will bring to them.
The first time that God is glorified by an individual soul is the moment that he/she is born again, as a result of having chosen to believe in a presentation of the Gospel Message.
Anything else, including going to Church and participating in the alternative rituals of religion, that takes place prior to being born again, is of no spiritual or eternal value.
Just as a naturally dead man can do nothing in the natural realm, a spiritually dead man can do nothing in the spiritual realm.
Until one is born again, he is as spiritually dead as he was on the day he came into this world, as a result of the spiritually dead status being passed down from one generation to the next.
Other than being one of many places where a soul might be presented with the Gospel Message (and be given the opportunity to be saved), going to Church is a post (after) salvation activity.
I say “might” be, because there are many so-called Christian Churches that do not promote the true Gospel Message, but do promote the religious alternatives of Man instead. In this the devil is well-pleased.
The Church that God commissioned (Matt. 28: 19, 20) proclaims the Gospel Message to unbelievers and reiterates it to believers. The Church that God commissioned teaches accurate Bible Doctrine for the making of disciples out of those who have already been born again.
The Church that the devil promotes false Gospels, and religious alternatives to those who follow its lead.
To some degree, the devil’s “fingerprints” are present in virtually every “Christian” denomination out there.
A disciple is a life-long student (1Pet. 3: 18/Matt. 7: 24-27) and applier (James 1: 22) of the Word of God. Discipleship is for the immediate edification of oneself, but with the long- term objective of being used of God to evangelize (announce the Gospel Message) and to edify (share/teach Bible Doctrine) others.
The fulfilling of the Great Commission and the celebrating of the Lord’s Supper (Communion) was and remains to be the mission and purpose of gathering together (Heb. 10: 25) for corporate worship services throughout the course of the Church Age.
The devil, through false religious teaching and practices has had considerable success in steering much of the Christian Community at large off its assigned course.
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Once (if) a soul has been born again, then he/she has the enabling (John 15: 5) Spirit of God indwelling his/her body (1Cor. 3: 16), providing (Phil. 4: 19) him/her with all that he/she needs to identify and to execute the true post salvation spiritual life, centered on the production of divine good.
It remains to be, however, the daily choice of the born-again believer to identify and respond to the spiritual opportunities that each day brings to him/her.
ALL born again believers are Heaven bound, but not all born again believers engage in the post salvation spiritual life of discipleship. One cannot be used of God to share with others what he/she has not first received for him/herself.
Many born again believers remain as self-centered as they naturally (Romans 8: 5) were prior to being born again.
Salvation is immediate and complete, but the post salvation spiritual life is a life-long process. The process begins the day one is born again and ends the day he/she departs the body and goes home to be with the Lord (2Cor. 5: 8).
The integrity of one’s salvation can never be improved nor can it be diminished, but rather or not one is progressing to regressing in the execution of the post salvation spiritual life is based on one’s chosen response to the spiritual opportunities of each day. There is no neutrality in the spiritual realm. One is either moving forward or slipping backwards at any given time.
The dead spirit in a Man is completely regenerated (Titus 3: 5) at the moment of salvation, but one is edified in-a life-long process over the course of his post salvation life. It is only as one spiritually matures that he/she will become less and less -self-centered, and more and more Christ- centered, being more and more conformed to the likeness of Christ (Romans 8:29/).
One becomes Christ-centered (Romans 8) through discipleship.
The “interest” of self-centered believers in the things of God is limited to only what they have to gain for themselves, here on Earth and in Heaven.
The advancing disciple becomes less and less self-centered (John 3: 30), as he/she becomes more Christ-centered, with God and the things of God becoming their top priority.
One’s commitment to the post salvation spiritual life will be put the test when personal sacrifice enters the picture (Luke 22: 42).
Note that these tests are NOT for God to see how well we are getting along. God already knows that. These tests are for US to see how well we are getting along.
Especially in politically- free and technologically advanced nations, the born-again believer has many opportunities to grow in the knowledge of the Lord.
The ability and the willingness of the advancing disciple to perceive and to respond to the spiritual opportunities that he/she is given is equal to his/her level of spiritual growth.
Weak believers will know what they could or should have done, whereas advancing disciples will be known by what they do.
In summary, a spiritual opportunity is an event or circumstances in which an individual can choose to glorify God.
One’s first spiritual opportunity comes when he/she is presented with the Gospel Message.
If born again, then he/she will have daily spiritual opportunities to grow in God’s grace and knowledge, and eventually, be given the spiritual opportunities to participate in the salvation and edification