Follow the Colors

Follow the Colors
The literary below is the exact, complete transcription of R. B. Thieme, Jr.’s advanced doctrine book “Follow the Colors.”
 
© 2002, 3rd impression 2015
Other Format Available
Diagrams
Left and Right Lobes of the Soul Edification Complex of the Soul

THE CHALLENGE TO FOLLOW THE COLORS

SINCE THE DAWN OF CIVILIZATION, warfare has played a major role in the affairs of mankind. The Bible testifies to this fact, not only through prophecy (Matt. 24:6-8; Rev. 6:2-4), but also through historic commentary. The Old Testament recounts Israel’s military preparations and advance into the Promised Land, defense of the Land, and divine judgment on apostate Israel executed by invading armies. A great number of the inspired writers of the Canon utilized martial idioms and metaphors to express doctrinal truths. It is significant, therefore, that the pursuit of the epitome of spiritual maturity should be described in the Scripture in terms of military terminology.

    Down through the ages, military organizations have employed various types of regimental standards or flags by which soldiers could recognize their unit amidst the confusion of combat. For example, emblazoned on the ancient Roman standard was a proud, silver, spread eagle with a bolt of lightning in its beak, the initials SPQR (Senatus Populusque Romanus) and the number of the particular legion prominently displayed. Napoleon’s regimental flags, which can still be seen hanging in the Invalides in Paris, also boasted the eagle on the red, white, and blue French Tricolor with a wreath in the white area that contained the number of the fighting unit. Every regiment in the War Between the States possessed its own colors, and under the earlier system of close-order battle a single standard was borne in front of the entire regiment.

    With the introduction of the modern military tactics of extended order of battle and wide dispersion of troops, the army developed the guidon system. These were small, swallow-tailed flags bearing the color, insignia, number, and letter of each company or troop. The crossed saber emblem graced the yellow cavalry streamer; crossed muskets, the blue and white infantry guidon; and crossed cannons, the red artillery flag.

    Guidons not only served as an aid to organizational identification, but kept the military unit together under fire. They were the tactical means for rallying the troops in the heat of battle. The attacking force that followed the guidon was able to maintain unit integrity while exploiting the breakthrough. The battle cry, “Follow the colors!” became the command to join the fray and strike a mortal blow against the enemy, to fight to attain the high ground—the place of victory.

    Victory in ancient warfare, as well as in more recent times, was always related to the following of the colors. During the War Between the States, the Twenty-sixth North Carolina, a crack regiment commanded by a twenty-one-year-old full colonel, Henry King Burgwyn, was ordered to charge the famed Iron Brigade, composed of the Second and Seventh Wisconsin, the Nineteenth Indiana, and the Twenty-fourth Michigan Regiments. After an inspiring speech, Colonel Burgwyn concluded, “Since you will be unable to receive any commands from me during the noise of battle, I am issuing one order right now—Close in on the colors!” The new regimental colors, just issued by the State of North Carolina, were then unfurled and placed before the regiment. “Now,” he commanded, “all you men have to do is to follow the colors!”

    J. B. Mansfield stepped smartly forward four paces to the front of the line, proud to be the first standard-bearer though knowing full well he would not be the last. Inevitably, color-bearers suffered a high mortality rate, and true to form, eight color guards and ten standard-bearers were shot down by the time the North Carolina reached the main Federal line.

    Shortly after the Twenty-sixth North Carolina Regiment had reached and taken the main Federal line, a staff officer, Captain W. W. McCreery, brought the order to continue the advance. Then, inspired by the fervor of those gallant standard bearers, he picked up the fallen colors and dashed to the front of the line to urge on the regiment. He advanced only a short distance when he collapsed, five bullet wounds in his chest.

    Lieutenant George Wilcox rushed forward and pulled the blood-covered flag from under McCreery’s body. He advanced only a few steps with the flag before he too was killed. The regiment wavered, but Colonel Burgwyn seized the colors and shouted, “Dress to the colors!” As he moved forward, a young private, Frank Honeycutt, sprang from the ranks to relieve the colonel—too late. Colonel Burgwyn was struck in the chest, mortally wounded. Honeycutt was also cut down.

    Although the colors changed hands thirteen times, the dauntless regiment, outnumbered two to one, carried the hill and drove back the powerful Iron Brigade. The North Carolinians suffered 71.7 percent casualties—the third highest loss of any regiment in the Confederacy; but they had one order—follow the colors, and follow they did to the death!

    During the Boxer Rebellion of 1900, one of the last men to carry the colors was a young trumpeter in Company E of the Fourteenth Infantry. He carried the American flag over the walls of Peking and planted it atop the rampart. For this courageous ascent, trumpeter Calvin P. Titus won the Congressional Medal of Honor.

    In a very real sense the command to follow the colors is issued to every believer by Jesus Christ, the Supreme Commander of the heavenly host. The Church Age believer’s salvation and subsequent regeneration1 have enlisted him permanently in the ranks of the royal regiment of the family of God. Whether he so desires or not, the Christian finds himself in enemy territory, in cosmos diabolicus (Satan’s world system). He is locked in invisible but deadly combat with an unseen, mighty foe—the devil and his demonic army (Eph. 6:12). This invisible warfare in which he fights, called the angelic conflict,2 will terminate only at the end of time. Therefore, the royal combat soldier needs instructions, leadership, and logistics for the long road to victory.

The Strategy and Tactics of Our Spiritual Warfare

    The term “strategy” is defined as the most advantageous deployment of troops over an extensive geographical area for the purpose of attaining the best possible position from which the enemy can be attacked and annihilated. The term “tactics” refers to the specific movement of soldiers on the battlefield.

    In the angelic conflict Jesus Christ won the strategic victory by His substitutionary death on the cross. Upon the resurrection, ascension, and session of Jesus Christ, the Father proclaimed: “SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I MAKE THINE ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR THY FEET” (Heb. 1:13b, NASB). This was the announcement that the strategic victory had been accomplished. To Satan and his demons, the bruising of the Savior’s heel (Gen. 3:15) signaled the inevitable destruction of every fiendish plan since Eden (1 John 3:8), as well as their ultimate doom (Matt. 25:41b). To the believer, the cross meant a share of the spoils of victory (1 Cor. 15:57; Eph. 4:8). When Jesus Christ was judged on Calvary for the sins of the entire world (1 John 2:2), He provided not only eternal redemption for all mankind, but also the most advantageous tactical position for defeating the believer’s greatest antagonists: the world (1 John 2:16), the flesh (Gal. 5:16-17), and the devil (1 Pet. 5:8).

    Now, we have the opportunity to achieve tactical victories in our spiritual combat. As we once exploited the strategic victory of the cross by personal faith in the Son of God (Acts 16:31), so we are now exhorted to follow the colors by a consistent intake of Bible doctrine. By means of that same doctrine resident in our souls we advance to the high ground of spiritual maturity. Once we have seized the high ground we are commanded to hold that position by continued positive volition toward Bible doctrine and consistent application of the divine viewpoint to every circumstance and decision in life. This book is, therefore, intended to challenge the Christian soldier to follow the colors to the objective—the tactical victory of the supergrace life.3

OUR LORD’S DYING COMMAND TO FOLLOW THE COLORS

    In order that we might understand our mission on earth, the Lord Jesus Christ presented to the royal family of God4 its regimental colors and issued the command to follow the colors and seize and hold the high ground of the supergrace life. While Bible doctrine forms our regimental colors, we can advance only through the residency of doctrine in our souls. This advance demands a positive attitude toward the Word of God and a consistent function of the grace apparatus for perception.5 Jesus Christ Himself followed the colors to the high ground during the Incarnation, which culminated in the most dramatic and significant event in history—the cross. From there, He passed the colors on to us. This heritage of doctrine for the royal family of God can be discovered by studying four verses of Scripture, three from the synoptic Gospels and one from the Old Testament. Each Gospel writer placed a special emphasis on some phase of the subject.

Jesus, when he had cried [κράζω, krazo] again with a loud voice, yielded up [ἀφίημι, aphiemi] the ghost [dismissed His spirit]. (Matt. 27:50)6

    The aorist active participle of krazo, “cried,” is a constative aorist that views the action of the verb as the moment in time when our Lord shouted His dying words. “Yielded up” is the culminative aorist of aphiemi and views the event from its existing results—His physical death. However, Matthew does not give the content of the shout uttered by Jesus. Mark sheds further light on the concept of the constative aorist.

And Jesus cried [aphiemi] with a loud voice, and gave up [ἐκπνέω, ekpneo] the ghost [expired]. (Mark 15:37)

    Here, “cried” is the aorist active participle of aphiemi, again a constative aorist. Matthew used this verb to emphasize the physical death of Christ, but Mark uses it to emphasize His breath control. The constative aorist describes the moment of the last breath of our Lord; literally, “And Jesus, having exhaled with a loud voice, expired [by His own volition].” Mark indicates that Jesus exhaled these words by an act of His own volition and did not inhale again. He demonstrates that when Jesus uttered His last words, He was fully conscious and lucid. Had Jesus bled to death, He would have fainted; yet He was in perfect control of all His faculties to the end, a fact also established by John in his account: “and he [Jesus] bowed his head” (John 19:30b). His head remained erect until He finished His mission.

    Neither Matthew nor Mark revealed the content of the message. But Luke reveals Jesus’ last sentence on the cross by giving a partial quotation.

And when Jesus had cried [φωνέω, phoneo] with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend [παρατίθημι, paratithemi] my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up [ekpneo, expired] the ghost. (Luke 23:46)

    The word “cried” appears a third time. This time however it is the constative aorist active participle of the verb phoneo and means “to enunciate.” By using this Greek verb Luke emphasizes content. The next phrase reveals the actual words spoken by Jesus. From the three Gospel writers we conclude that what the Lord said was important as indicated by His loud voice, His perfect breath control, and His clearly enunciated words. “Commend,” paratithemi, means “to deposit.”

    Where each of the four Gospels have significant information concerning Christ’s physical death, the culminative aorist is used. Matthew said, “aphiemi,” meaning the sound was discontinued at the point of His last exhale. Mark and Luke used ekpneo to indicate that at the close of His words Christ did not inhale again. John emphasized the sixth cry of Christ on the cross and used yet another word for His physical death—παραδίδωμι, paradidomi—which means “to deliver over” (John 19:30). This word stressed that Jesus had no further need for breath or physical life once His work was completed. He therefore delivered over His human spirit to God the Father. His spiritual death provided for our eternal salvation; His physical death provided for our spiritual sustenance in time. Consequently, what Jesus said just before He died physically is so vital that no member of the royal family of God can afford to miss it. The completed message is stated prophetically in the Psalms.

Into thine hand I commit [פָּקַד, paqad] my spirit:
Thou hast redeemed [delivered] me, O LORD God [אֵל, el] of truth [אֶמֶת, emet]. (Ps. 31:5)

    Like paratithemi in the Greek, paqad in the Hebrew also means “to deposit.” The Tetragrammaton יהוה (YHWH or Yahweh),7 “Lord,” refers here to a specific Person in the Trinity—the Father. “Lord” is followed here by an unusual word for God—el—which directs attention to His power and sovereignty. Next, the Psalmist states the source of deliverance: emet, “truth.” Emet is a specific reference to Bible doctrine. This Hebrew word designates the source of our Lord’s deliverance and refers specifically to Bible doctrine. Thus Christ literally addressed the Father as “Yahweh, God of doctrine!”

    What sustained our Savior on the cross? What preserved Him and gave Him strength to bear our sins? What kept His mind clear and alert? Bible doctrine resident in His soul! He had matured spiritually and physically with maximum doctrine in His soul (Luke 2:40, 52). The means of our sustenance in phase two by which we may fulfill the Father’s plan is that very same strength which sustained our Lord throughout His ministry and His deaths on the cross. In His dying breath, Jesus Christ passed on the colors to the royal family. It is our mission to follow Bible doctrine to the high ground of the supergrace life!

ENLISTMENT INTO THE ROYAL COMBAT BATTALION

    The primary purpose of the Church Age is the formation of the royal family of God. Upon an act of personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, each believer becomes a son who is brought unto glory (Heb. 2:10). You may well ask, “Why, then, am I left on earth after salvation?” The answer is that your transfer from the kingdom of Satan to the kingdom of God is a spiritual transfer and does not in any way imply an immediate PCS (permanent change of station). Rather, upon your regeneration and consequent enlistment in the Royal Combat Battalion, your life has taken on a special meaning. In the tactical disposition of His royal troops, the omniscience of God has allotted every believer a specified portion of time and a place on earth where he can best serve the Lord.

    Lack of sound doctrinal teaching has spawned many misconceptions regarding the believer’s purpose in the Christian way of life. Among these are the garbled opinions that for the remainder of your life, you must ‘gut it out’ or ‘suffer for Jesus.’ Nothing could be further from the truth. Your continued presence upon the earth is never a matter of what you can do for God, but what He can do for you. However, God’s continuous provision of your daily necessities is only a part of His design. The real reason why God has left you here is so that He can be glorified by blessing you in the devil’s world. In order that you might fully realize these blessings, you must understand the separate paragraphs in the very special plan God has for your life.

    The entire plan can be summed up in one word—grace.8 Since God is perfect, His plan is perfect and complete. He needs no help from believers in its execution; and because grace is the issue, the plan depends solely on who and what God is. The plan of grace falls into five general categories.

Saving Grace

    Saving grace, “phase one,” encompasses all that the Trinity has accomplished for our salvation: the Father’s design, the Son’s work, and the Holy Spirit’s revelation of the plan. While He hung between heaven and earth, Jesus Christ died twice. His first death was a substitutionary spiritual death in which all of the sins of the world—past, present, and future—were poured out on Him and judged. This was the three-hour period when Jesus was forsaken by God the Father. Upon its completion, Jesus cried, “Τετέλεσται” (tetelestai)—“It is finished” (John 19:30).9 Salvation was provided in toto; nothing can or need be added.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Eph. 2:8-9)

    The shadows of what was to come, the Old Testament sacrifices and rituals, had become reality. Once, a heavy curtain or veil barred entrance into the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle to all but the Levitical high priest (Heb. 9:7-9). Now, the way into the literal Holy of Holies—the very presence of God—has been opened for all mankind (Heb. 10:19-20). We enter by faith in Jesus Christ.

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6)
 
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved. (Acts 16:31b)

Living Grace

    Living grace, “phase two,” includes all that the Trinity must do in order to keep the believer alive in the devil’s world. Phase two begins immediately after salvation and continues until either death or the Rapture occurs.10 Since God has assigned each believer a certain span of time on this earth, no person, no angel, nor any circumstance can remove him from this life until his allotted time has expired. For this phase of the plan of grace, God supplies the ‘beans and bullets,’ the necessities for the physical and spiritual lives of His family. There are the daily needs, such as food, shelter, transportation, and clothing; but more important, He has provided the drill manual for the Christian soldier—Bible doctrine—and the grace apparatus for perception. These sustain his spiritual life and enable him to reach the objective of spiritual maturity and the tactical victory of the angelic conflict.

    Upon the resurrection, ascension, and session of Jesus Christ, the Father proclaimed, “SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I MAKE THINE ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR THY FEET” (Heb. 1:13b, NASB). In effect, this was the announcement that the strategic victory of the angelic conflict had been accomplished: Satan and the fallen angels were condemned, their sentence pending final execution following the Millennium. Jesus Christ now needed a royal family to celebrate and commemorate the strategic victory. Thus at the moment of salvation as a part of the plan of grace, every believer is placed by the Holy Spirit into union with Christ—positional truth,11 given forty absolutes,12 and made a member of the royal family of God forever.

    God the Father attached such high value to the strategic victory of the cross, resurrection, ascension, and session that He interrupted the Jewish Age, which still had seven years to run, and instituted a complete change in the spiritual history of the human race. A new dispensation13 was ushered in—the Church Age. The royal family of God became heirs to the strategic victory of Christ and were given the means to attain tactical victory in the angelic conflict. Just as royal offspring in the human realm receive special grooming for their eventual function as royalty, so nobility in the spiritual realm must also be educated in a certain way. Consequently, an entirely new system has been delineated in this dispensation for the communication of divine will and doctrine.

    No longer is there a specialized Levitical priesthood. No longer is there an extensive system of ritual portraying the great doctrines of the faith. No longer are there prophets ordained of God to proclaim the Word, either in writing or verbally. No longer is the nation Israel the custodian of the canon of Scripture; this is now the heritage of the Church. In order that every member of the royal family of God might receive his portion of the Word on a consistent basis, a new classroom has been established—the local church—and a new communicating vehicle—the gift of pastor-teacher.

Supergrace

    Supergrace, the “greater grace” of James 4:6 (NASB), is the tactical victory in the angelic conflict, the high ground, the objective of the Christian life. This is the place of maximum utilization of grace in both adversity and prosperity and the area of reaping what God sows. God gives this “abundance of grace” (Rom. 5:17) to any believer who exploits the divine provisions of living grace. For the believer who has maximum doctrine in his soul, the supergrace life is the road to glory.

    Special blessings are the bounties of supergrace. They include spiritual blessings, temporal blessings, blessings by association, historical blessings, blessings connected with undeserved suffering, and eventually, dying blessings. These are the remarkable advantages bestowed upon the mature believer in phase two who is consistent in the intake and application of Bible doctrine. In giving these special blessings to the believer mature enough to appreciate them without being distracted by them, God demonstrates His love and perfect wisdom. God so desires to bless the believer in special and unusual ways that Isaiah wrote:

And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you,
And therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you:
For the LORD is a God of judgment [justice]:
Blessed are all they that wait for him. (Isa. 30:18)

    The spiritual blessings of supergrace include occupation with Christ; sharing the happiness of God; a total appreciation for grace; contentment in any and every personal situation (Phil. 4:11-12; 1 Tim. 6:8-9); the ability to interpret contemporary history; supergrace capacities for life, love, and freedom.

    These spiritual blessings give capacity for the other five categories of supergrace blessings: Temporal blessings, designed uniquely for each mature believer, may include wealth, success, promotion, mental and cultural enrichment, leadership dynamics, improved health, stimulating social life, and romantic love (1 Pet. 5:6-7). Blessings by association overflow to family, friends, and associates as God prospers the supergrace believer through blessing those in his periphery. Historical impact is blessing by association extended to the believer’s community, state, and nation. Undeserved suffering is blessing for the mature believer, as it demands intensified application of Bible doctrine, accelerates spiritual growth, and increases the believer’s appreciation of the Lord (Rom. 8:17b-18). Dying grace is the mature believer’s final, glorious experience of divine grace on earth (Ps. 116:15).

Dying Grace

    Except for the Rapture generation, God has assigned to each of us a certain type of death. Just as He has supplied our needs for living, so He has made provision for dying. Dying grace constitutes the transfer of the supergrace believer into heaven under conditions of special blessing whereby dying becomes even greater than living. Dying grace is the golden bridge between the supergrace blessings of time and the surpassing-grace blessings of eternity (2 Tim. 4:7-8; Heb. 11:13).14

Surpassing Grace

    Surpassing grace, “phase three,” embodies the special blessings and rewards that belong to the supergrace believer in eternity. If you have claimed your supergrace paragraph of blessing in time, God has even more superabundant blessings for you in eternity, called “surpassing riches” in Ephesians 2:7 (NASB). Above and beyond the normal blessings of heaven such as those described in Revelation 21:4, these are reserved for those believers who seize and hold the high ground of the supergrace life in time.

    The issue is, how can a believer advance from the status of buck private in the rear ranks, spiritual infancy, to that of field grade officer, supergrace maturity, in a minimum amount of time so that he can fulfill his purpose in phase two and receive maximum blessing? The answer lies in following the regimental colors of Bible doctrine. How this is accomplished is the subject of five passages of Scripture: Hebrews 10:32-39; 11:1-3; 12:1-3; and Philippians 3:4-8, 12-14.

TAKING THE HIGH GROUND: HEBREWS 10:32-39

Beginning the Advance

But call to remembrance [ἀναμιμνῄσκω, anamimnesko] the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured [ὐπομένω, hupomeno] a great fight of afflictions. (Heb. 10:32)

    The particle δέ (de), “but,” is used in the Greek language for continuity of thought. Here it sets up a contrast between the previous six verses concerning the unbeliever, whose life has little purpose or definition and whose destination is the lake of fire, and the believer in Jesus Christ, whose objective is the high ground of the supergrace life.

    In the preparation for the advance, the Christian soldier must expect commands: Consequently, the verb anamimnesko, “call to remembrance,” is in the imperative mood. Anamimnesko, here in the iterative present tense, means to recall something again and again; to remember a moment of happiness, a loved one, some triumph, or an event that you have enjoyed in your life. You do not spend every waking moment remembering, but memories will recur at successive intervals all your life.

    What are the mechanics of remembering again and again? The function of memory resides in the soul. The soul, which is divided into two lobes, contains self-consciousness (awareness of your own existence), volition, conscience (norms and standards), and mentality. The right lobe is the dominant lobe of the soul, and is designated in the Greek by the word καρδία (kardia), translated “heart” in the English Bible. However, heart is never used in a physical sense; it always refers to the thinking part of the mentality. Doctrinal information in the left lobe, called in the Greek γνῶσις (gnosis), is merely “academic knowledge,” but in the right lobe doctrine is ἐπίγνωσις (epignosis), “full knowledge.”15

    When you are filled with the Holy Spirit, the influence of the sin nature is neutralized.16 The initial doctrinal information in the left lobe is accepted and transferred by faith through the power of the Spirit to

Left and Right Lobes of the Soul

the right lobe, where it is processed in the frame of reference, memory center, and vocabulary storage. This is the function of GAP. As you begin to put doctrinal words together, your vocabulary increases and you develop doctrinal categories. The greater your vocabulary, the better you can think and the more capacity you have for life. The right lobe also contains a ‘launching pad’ for the application of doctrine to experience, producing wisdom.

    You must be equipped in order to advance. Many times in warfare the lack of equipment has neutralized a military operation. At the Battle of Shiloh, the Confederates had Grant’s army cornered at Pittsburgh Landing. Just as they were on the verge of a great victory, the Southerners ran out of ammunition. The Federals with plenty of ammunition rallied and overcame the weaker bayonet charge of the Confederates. If, as believers, we are going to take the high ground, we need sufficient ammunition on the launching pad in the right lobe; hence, the importance of transferring doctrine from the Bible into the right lobe of the soul. Doctrine on the printed page has no value to you until it becomes resident in your soul. It must permeate the frame of reference and the memory center, form vocabulary and categories and be moved onto the launching pad. Here in the right lobe is the area where you fulfill the command to “call to remembrance.”

Holding Ground in Prosperity or Adversity

    What is it that must be remembered over and over again? The Jews were commanded to “recall the former days in which after you had become enlightened [doctrine resident in the soul], you held your ground in a great conflict of sufferings” (Heb. 10:32, corrected translation). The phrase “former days” is the key to interpreting this passage. The Book of Hebrews was originally addressed to believers in Jerusalem in 67 A.D. They had the advantage of sitting under some of the greatest Bible teachers of all time. These Jews had begun to advance spiritually; they had been following the colors, as demonstrated by the next phrase, “ye were illuminated.” Even though they were advancing into the enemy fire of persecution, they remained positive to doctrine. This is brought out by the verb “endured,” hupomeno, which means “to remain, to stay under pressure.” In military vernacular, they held their ground!

    In the ancient world, the method of advance involved moving for a short distance, then holding the position; moving again, and holding. At one time the Jewish believers were following this principle, just as many of you may have been. But what stopped your advance? You may have had a shock; perhaps you discovered that believers have sin natures; someone rubbed you the wrong way or said something that shocked you. You became disturbed and bitter and rebelled against Bible doctrine. As a result, you no longer exposed yourself to the teaching of the Word, and you became a casualty in the conflict.

    What happened to the Hebrew believers who had been advancing so well? When God began to send blessing their way and they became prosperous and successful, they failed to pass the prosperity test. The greatest danger in prosperity is to lose track of the Source and to assume you had something to do with your promotion or success (Deut. 8:11-14). When you lose the grace perspective, you neglect Bible doctrine. Neglect and rejection of doctrine go hand in hand and lead to reversionism.17 This was the case with the believers in Jerusalem. What was the result of their reversionism?

    In 67 A.D., the believers in Jerusalem had drifted back into the Temple where the veil had been replaced and the old ritual worship of the previous dispensation had been resumed. In their reversionism they preferred to stand before a veil which proclaimed, “Keep Out,” rather than to enjoy the privileges of living in the real Holy of Holies beyond the veil. God Himself had ripped the veil apart from top to bottom when Christ was on the cross; but many of these Jewish believers did not recognize the significance of the torn veil because they had retreated and fallen away from Bible doctrine. This passage is designed to warn you as it did those Jews in Jerusalem.

    There is no temple today and no one offers animal sacrifices. To do so would be, as Hebrews 6:6 says, to “crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh.” There are, however, believers who cannot endure the teaching of the Word day after day. They peel off because they prefer entertainment, a program for the young people, an emotional high, or church social life to Bible doctrine. This is characteristic of so many in evangelical Christianity. The majority are no longer sticking with doctrine; they have gone AWOL from following the colors. Instead, they pursue many forms of allurements and emotional experiences that exhibit their negative volition to Bible doctrine. They have fallen by the wayside.

    This is why the believer is commanded to “call to remembrance” (Heb. 10:32). He must remind himself over and over again that Bible doctrine is more important than anything else in life. There are many barricades and cul-de-sacs that hinder the advance. When these arise, it is necessary to stop momentarily and hold the ground. No believer can afford to retreat by getting caught up in some system of human good works18 or succumbing to emotionalism or other outside pressures and thus fall into carnality or reversionism.19

    Your purpose as a believer is related completely and totally to Bible doctrine. Your capacity for life, your happiness and blessing, the glorification of God, and the nobility of the Christian life are linked to Bible doctrine. All service and function in the Christian life is a matter of guidance based on doctrine. This does not mean that everyone must pass out tracts on the street corner, knock on doors, witness to a specified number of people, or spend an hour a day in prayer. Certainly, the production of divine good is a definite part of the Christian life, but it is not the means of spiritual maturity.

    What is the means by which we receive our colors? Just as the colors of the military represents authority in battle, so God provides a system of authority by which we are to take in the Word—the gift of pastor-teacher. In the royal family of God,20 two systems of authority must be recognized: the inner authority—Bible doctrine which is the highest authority; and an outer authority—the pastor-teacher. No one can learn from a teacher unless he respects his authority. It is the pastor-teacher’s responsibility, as the commanding officer, to pick up the standard and to lead his congregation to the high ground of the supergrace life.

    In warfare it is absolutely essential that commanding officers issue distinct orders. Accurate knowledge based on good reconnaissance, relative to the situation, the terrain, the enemy, the supporting forces, and the ultimate objective must be transmitted before the troops move out. Obscure and ambiguous orders lead to confusion and needless casualties on the battlefield and often result in tactical defeat. History is strewn with the wreckage of mismanaged warfare. One of the most famous instances occurred during the Crimean War at the Battle of Balaclava in 1854. The poet, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, graphically describes the tragic episode in his epic poem, The Charge of the Light Brigade.

“Forward, the Light Brigade!”
Was there a man dismayed?
Not though the soldier knew
    Some one had blundered.
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die.
Into the valley of Death
    Rode the six hundred.

There would be no more major cavalry actions in that war after the Light Brigade was plummeted into disaster by a series of quixotic orders.

    There is an even greater need for clear-cut orders in the spiritual realm to avoid tactical defeat in the angelic conflict. The Apostle Paul, drawing a military metaphor from the first century, states the importance of explicit instructions.

For if the bugle produces an indistinct sound, who will prepare himself for battle? (1 Cor. 14:8, NASB)

God has never left any believer in the dark with regard to the exact plan for his life. Because of His perfect essence, the divine Commander in Chief has all the facts on which to issue His orders for the spiritual life. Divine instruction is never obscure where the Word of God is accurately interpreted. It is the mission of the pastor-teacher, therefore, to relay the orders from headquarters to his ‘battalion’ through the clear teaching of the Word of God.

Combat Support

    The success of all military operations requires the joint action of the fighting units and their combat support organizations. Modern combat support is multifaceted. It involves the personnel whose duty is to provide sustainment to all operating forces on the battlefield—the ‘beans and bullets’ concept. Theirs is the responsibility to supply the fighting men’s equipment, ammunition, arms; to repair and keep in working order all machinery; to handle all transports, clothing, and field kitchens; to furnish medical, personnel, legal, financial support—in short, to render the services needed to maintain a mobile and efficient fighting force. Although these support elements may not be actively engaged in battle, they are nevertheless critical to the soldiers on the battlefield.

    In the spiritual sense, effective combat support is equally vital to the royal family’s advance to the high ground of supergrace. The believer behind the lines in prayer support can no more afford to desert his post than the believer who spearheads an assault in the forefront of the angelic conflict. Once combat support breaks down, the team can no longer function as it should. This was the case among believers in Jerusalem in 67 A.D.—a serious situation that had to be rectified. The unknown writer of the Book of Hebrews subtly braced the recipients of his letter by reminding them of their former status.

Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock [θεατρίζω, theatrizo] both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions [sharers] of them that were so used. (Heb. 10:33)

    While these Jewish believers had followed the colors of Bible doctrine, they had emerged victorious from the fires of persecution and had, in turn, given combat support to others who suffered even greater affliction. Then, having tasted success and prominence, they made friends outside the periphery of the royal family of God and became casualties to a barrage of flattery. Consequently, they were immobilized by approbation lust and neutralized by reversionism.

    In a superb expression of sanctified sarcasm the writer resorts to the classical Greek. Its unexpected use provides an eloquent contrast and aptly conveys the writer’s point. Spirit-filled sarcasm is a legitimate weapon when its use becomes necessary in the local church. The effectiveness of sarcasm lies in its indirect attack, in the subtle way it jabs its unsuspecting victims. When sarcasm is introduced as a change of pace for contrast, it gets the undivided attention of the reader.

    This tack is pursued in the phrase, “whilst ye were made a gazingstock.” The verb theatrizo means “to be put to shame, to be publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, to be embarrassed.” The Jewish believers in Jerusalem who were under great pressure and ridicule had become a source of embarrassment to some of their fellow believers. Yet, who were the detractors? Were they vital to the plan of God? No! They were inconsequential and petty individuals providing testing for the reversionistic Jewish believers who needed to be reminded to depend on the Lord.

    Embarrassment reflects a lack of poise, a lack of concentration on who and what Christ is. If you are ashamed of your church, of your Christian friends, or of carrying a Bible, it is a sure indication you are not following the colors. You are bogged down in a ditch and not advancing in the Christian life.

    The second “partly” introduces the problem of the believer's social life. Pressure had been brought to bear on these Christians to follow the religious crowd instead of following the colors of Bible doctrine.21 The same problem exists in churches today.

    If you discover that you are more attracted to unbelievers outside the periphery of your church than you are to believers, or if you are embarrassed by certain believers who find themselves in a period of adversity, then you have lost your grace perspective. Has it ever occurred to you that some Christians around you may be under persecution for taking a stand for the Lord? Yet, by taking in doctrine these very persons may be steadily advancing toward the high ground while you stand still. Are you going to align yourself with them, or will you slink off in cowardly retreat toward reversionism?

    The specific lesson derived from these two verses is the concept that you are in the same ranks with other members of the royal family. Only by closing ranks can you stand together under the pressures and persecutions which all believers undergo at one time or another in the devil’s world. You become support units to one another in your tactical advance to the higher ground.

But keep remembering again and again to yourselves the former days in which after you had become enlightened [doctrine resident in the soul], you held your ground in a great conflict of sufferings; partly when being publicly abused, both by verbal insults and by other pressures, and partly when having become partners with those who were being treated in this manner. (Heb. 10:32-33, corrected translation)

Team Discipline and Authority

For ye had compassion [συμπαθέω, sumpatheo] of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing [γινώσκω, ginosko] in yourselves that ye have [ἔχω, echo] in heaven a better and an enduring substance. (Heb. 10:34)

    The word “compassion,” sumpatheo, “to show sympathy,” has a slightly different connotation in the Greek than in the English. Compassion to most people implies tenderness or sweetness, but sumpatheo is actually a term which expresses the principle of group discipline. Sumpatheo says, in effect, that the dynamics and capacity for life reside in the function of discipline. There can be nothing of value in this world without discipline in every area of life. The reason you enjoy freedom is that someone else submitted to discipline, responded to authority, and allowed himself to be molded along with thousands of others into one well-trained team, ready to cope with any exigency in the national entity. A military organization cannot function successfully without group discipline and authority. Raw recruits must suffer with their fellow soldiers under a ‘beast-barracks’ system of discipline and authority. No matter how they may chafe under its severity or disagree with its method, they keep their minds on the objective. When finally they are whipped into a perfectly coordinated unit, they will have the ability to advance in unbroken, disciplined ranks to victory.

    This principle of compassion was best expressed to me by a young lieutenant who graduated first in his Ranger class at Fort Benning, Georgia, one of the toughest training schools in the army. He related that, upon completion of this rigorous course, the commanding officer of his group said that he loved them too much not to train them adequately for battle. That is compassion—the development of self-disciplined individuals being merged into a disciplined team. Whatever the system involved, no one can advance toward the goal unless he first recognizes authority.

    The Jews were reminded of the fact that they had once submitted to the authority of Bible doctrine. This may also be true of many of you. You have been taking in doctrine every day and, as you are well aware, this requires self-discipline, concentration, and respect for both the authority of the Word and the authority of the pastor-teacher. There are times when you may not enjoy a certain passage because the concepts delineated ‘step on your toes.’ But if you remain objective, learn the principles, and store them in your frame of reference, you will advance to the high ground of spiritual maturity. By so doing, you have manifested true compassion for other believers as well as for your nation, for the supergrace believer is truly a patriot and a contributor to the preservation of his country (Matt. 5:13).

    “Of me in my bonds” is not found in the original text of Hebrews 10:34. This phrase actually says, “For you even demonstrated compassion to those in the embarrassing position of being prisoners.” Many of the believers in Jerusalem were being cast into prison because they refused to renounce their testimony for Jesus Christ and Bible doctrine. Let’s face it, a prison sentence, no matter how unjust, carries with it a stigma. Yet the Jews who were free were not ashamed to be associated with these victims of persecution. Why not? Because they were not ashamed of their Lord.

    Not only did they team up with those who were unjustly imprisoned, but they also “accepted to [themselves] with happiness the plunder of [their] material possessions.” Scores of wealthy and successful believers had been dispossessed of money, homes, and livelihood; yet their mental attitude had remained stabilized. Why? They lived by the principles of Bible doctrine, and these they would always have. Thus their scale of values was fixed, and the norms and standards of the recipients of this epistle placed Christ above all else. The details of life—materialistic possessions or people—can be removed or lost, yet as long as doctrine is the sentry of your soul, you will always be on top of life. No fiery dart of the enemy will be able to demolish your inner fortifications.

    You see, these early Christians knew something. “Knowing” is the present active participle of the verb ginosko. This retroactive progressive present denotes what had occurred in the past and continued to the time of their reversionism. Notice where the knowledge is located: “in yourselves”—not in a book. It is always what you know that counts. By the time adversity strikes, the knowledge must have already been transferred from the Bible to the right lobe.

    A Ranger may carry a manual on a field exercise, but once he is under fire, it is too late to pull out his manual and find the page that outlines the correct procedure. His reactions must be instinctive and automatic; the instructions must be ingrained in his soul before he ever goes into combat. This is developed through persistent training, study, and discipline. So it is with believers: It is not what is in the Bible that will see you through the emergency situations; it is the doctrine resident in your soul.

    What did the Hebrew believers know? “That you have [echo, “to have and to hold”] a better possession [Bible doctrine], and one which is constantly enduring” (“in heaven” is not in the original text). Believers have something now and in the future that is absolutely perfect—a possession that cannot be lost—Bible doctrine. Doctrine is permanent just as God is permanent. Through doctrine, you have the opportunity now to anticipate heavenly riches. Although the glories of eternity are future, you can begin to prepare for them in time. Just as military victory is achieved through aggressive action, so it is in the Christian life: by moving out on the offensive with positive volition, by taking in doctrine through the daily function of GAP, you will obtain spiritual victory and have heaven on earth.

    Once doctrine permeates your soul, you have the world by the tail. Neither adversity nor success can defeat you. You have but one enemy to fear—your own negative volition toward Bible doctrine. When you reject doctrine, you will destroy your own soul as surely as these Jews eventually did. They succumbed to the pressure and assault of legalism.22 Consequently, the moment that first barrage hit them, they turned tail and ran.

For you even demonstrated compassion to the prisoners, and you accepted to yourselves with happiness the plundering of your material possessions, knowing that in yourselves [resident in your souls] you have a better possession [Bible doctrine], and one which is constantly enduring. (Heb. 10:34, corrected translation)

    Only this side of heaven do we have the opportunity to be tried under fire. Why do I say “opportunity”? Because to pass adversity or testing in time glorifies God. Remember that this was written to a group of people who had almost captured the high ground, but who had allowed themselves to be routed by default. Now they were bogged down in the morass of failure; only three years and a stern warning to recover from reversionism lay between them and certain destruction. Yet even though they did not pass the test, they were still saved (John 10:28). Failure in time does not keep any member of the royal family of God out of heaven. Salvation does not depend on who and what we are but on who and what Christ is—and that is grace.

Pressing the Attack

Cast not away [ἀποβάλω, apoballo] therefore [οὖν, oun] your confidence [παρρησία, parresia], which hath great [μέγας, megas] recompense of reward [μισθαποδοσία, misthapodosia]. (Heb. 10:35)

    The armor which God designed and issued to the members of His royal combat team provides the Christian soldier with all that is essential for both offensive and defensive action in the unseen conflict (Eph. 6:11-17). It does not, however, permit retreat. With his back to the enemy, the believer is most vulnerable. Despite the crescendo of demonic assaults launched against us, we are commanded to keep advancing, to keep pressing the attack. One of the most important tactics of warfare is putting pressure on the enemy.

    “Cast not away,” the aorist active subjunctive of apoballo, means “to throw away as worthless.” The inferential particle oun calls for a conclusion and indicates that the believers involved did exactly that—they lost all interest in Bible doctrine. Other activities and celebrities became increasingly fascinating to them and eventually crowded out the Word of God entirely. But to neglect doctrine for even a day is to invite disaster.

    At some time or another, every believer is faced with the temptation of throwing away the opportunity to take in doctrine. You may fall in love with someone who will lead you astray, just as Samson did with that tantalizing creature, Delilah, who took him to the cleaners. Any distraction, such as promotion, social life, involvement with attractive or prominent people, often becomes more important than learning the Word. You must come to the place where your life revolves around Bible doctrine, and this requires self-discipline. You must keep pressing every day, no matter how tired, worn out, or distracted you become. Doctrine is as vital to your spiritual life as food is to your physical well-being (Job 23:12). It is your only defense in the devil’s world against angelic attack, human conflicts, catastrophes, and just day-to-day annoyances.

    From this heavy concentration of doctrine you acquire the confidence necessary to face your threefold enemy—the world, the flesh (sin nature), and the devil. Human viewpoint, your sin nature, and the satanic onslaught will always challenge you on the battlefront of your life. Confidence to win in this conflict is expressed by the word parresia. Such confidence is not the result of your own ability or strength, but of doctrine in the soul. The dogmatic, declarative indicative mood graphically explains the concept of pressing the attack. Doctrine in the soul is acquired through the daily function of GAP. You keep on having, or possessing, doctrine through continuous intake of the Word; you keep on holding that doctrine when you utilize Biblical principles in all circumstances of life—prosperous or adverse.

    Although the passage taught may not absorb your interest or even pertain to your life at the time, all pieces of information will eventually fall into place to form the whole realm of doctrine in your soul. There is, therefore, no portion of the Word of God that you can afford to miss or that does not have great meaning and significance.

    The dividends of having and holding confidence in doctrine are fantastic. They are called a “great recompense of reward.” These refer to the division of plunder in time and future, eternal rewards. “Great,” megas, primarily means “rich” and emphasizes the abundant riches the Lord has made available to every believer. “Recompense,” misthapodosia, is made up of two Greek words: μισθός (misthos), “wages,” which denotes monetary reward, and ἀποδίδωμι (apodidomi), “to give expectation.” Together, they encourage us to anticipate blessing from God. Supergrace blessings fall into two basic categories—spiritual and material. While this verse focuses on spiritual blessings, it does not exclude material blessings. As the believer sticks to his guns with doctrine, he gains confidence that “great recompense of reward”—a rich distribution of blessings—will be forthcoming.

    The taking of a poverty vow, dressing only in somber clothes, or the concept of ‘suffering for Jesus’ are not synonymous with being a good Christian. Nowhere does the Bible teach that the believer who appears attractive or possesses materialistic wealth is worldly. Worldliness is a mental attitude. I know such a statement comes as a shock to believers who, reared in Christian homes, were taught that all the virtues of Christianity are related to poverty and self-denial. All their lives they have considered material wealth nonspiritual and advocated that such possessions should be given away.

    To the contrary, the Bible teaches that it is God’s desire to provide blessings for you in time. While this does not necessarily mean that you will be a millionaire, keep in mind that the focus of the Christian life is grace: As long as God’s plan calls for you to remain here, He will keep you alive. Regardless of your spiritual status, He has promised to supply your needs (Phil. 4:19).

    God is actually ‘tapping His foot’ while He waits to pour out the prosperity and happiness He has designed for you (Isa. 30:18). When this occurs, it thwarts the devil’s program. As the ruler of this world, Satan always tries to promote or prosper people, to set up a social life totally divorced from God’s provision. Human viewpoint says, “That person will never be promoted—he refuses to cater to this one and that one.” It is not necessary to compromise doctrine in order to get ahead. As a believer in Jesus Christ, you need only to do your job as unto the Lord and leave the promotion to Him (Ps. 75:6-7). In due time, He will prosper you and give you “exceeding abundantly above all that we [you] ask or think” (Eph. 3:20).

    At one time, the early Christians in Jerusalem had made a strategic penetration into enemy territory—the devil’s domain—through their faithful intake of Bible doctrine. Now, they had capitulated to the reaction phase of reversionism.23 They came so close to the victory of supergrace and the subsequent blessings; yet their lack of persistence destroyed their confidence in doctrine. They became negative and their advance was halted.

Therefore, do not throw away as worthless your confidence [in doctrine], which keeps having rich [great] distribution of blessing [namely, supergrace blessing]. (Heb. 10:35, corrected translation)

Exploiting the Victory

    On 16 June 1815, during the events that preceded the Battle of Waterloo, Napoleon directed a successful attack on the Prussians at Ligny that sent them into full retreat. Then Napoleon made the fatal mistake; he did not take advantage of his own victory at Ligny. Had he ordered Grouchy into immediate pursuit of the Prussians, Napoleon could have prevented Blücher and his Prussian army from joining with Wellington’s “infamous army”24 two days later on the field of Waterloo. Because he failed to exploit his tactical victories, Napoleon lost the campaign that became a synonym for ignominious defeat. No Christian need ever meet his Waterloo in the devil’s world. He need only exploit the strategic victory of the cross by following the divine directives.

For [γάρ, gar] ye have need of patience [ὑπομονη, hupomone], that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. (Heb. 10:36)

    The explanatory use of the particle gar, “for,” introduces an explanation of why we are here and how we can avoid defeat by exploiting the victory that God intended for us to have. We live in a wonderful country under the laws of divine establishment; we enjoy all the freedoms that accrue from observing these laws; and we are privileged to believe in Jesus Christ, to take in Bible doctrine and to grow in grace without persecution by our government.25

    We “have” (echo, “to have and to hold”) a possession that is priceless—the written Word of God, which contains promises, doctrines, and categories. This is our manual for obtaining victory, our source of instruction in both defensive and offensive tactics to reach the high ground. Such fantastic privileges demand an attitude of “patience,” hupomone, or perseverance, on the part of the believer. We must press on with our spiritual advance.

    In most military situations, the offensive is the most tactically advantageous position. Defensive tactics should be employed only as a holding force while an attack is launched in another area. In the same manner, it is God’s will for every believer to keep advancing and holding the high ground. This requires self-discipline—the fortitude to take in doctrine today, tomorrow, the next day, and for a lifetime. This is the concept of hupomone.

    No military unit can be successful apart from the preliminary or basic phase of training. The raw recruit in boot camp is drilled by his instructor until every order becomes automatic. There must be continuous training in tactical field maneuvers and in the use of various weapons and equipment. Soldiers are required to persevere regardless of what they may think or feel so that in combat they will function with skill and confidence and will defeat the enemy. Patience and tenacity are involved in the training of an effective fighting team.

    Endurance is equally essential in the spiritual realm. Your soul must be prepared for the advance in the angelic conflict. Paul stressed the principle of endurance and self-discipline in his epistle to the Corinthians when he wrote: “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection . . . lest . . . I myself should be a castaway” (1 Cor. 9:27). You must be challenged to function under GAP daily, no matter what distractions arise in your life, no matter what circumstances or people may deter you. The grace apparatus for perception belongs to every believer, but it functions only through the filling of the Spirit, the consistent exposure to doctrine, and the tenacity to learn it.

    During the learning process, however, you will encounter doctrine which is beyond your comprehension. Do not be discouraged. Persistence will enable you to recognize that obscure doctrine will become clear when you have established the necessary frame of reference.

    This principle is readily discerned in the human realm, for in academic categories you begin with simple, basic precepts and progress from the known to the unknown. Once fundamentals are mastered, you are able to proceed to more advanced spheres of knowledge.

    Of necessity, you must be under the authority of your pastor-teacher. There will never be a time in your life when you no longer need him on whom God has bestowed this spiritual gift. In this way, you also learn not to forget the principle of authority. When the Bible is taught exegetically, basic doctrine will often be interspersed with advanced concepts. This is advantageous in that each passage contains information for every believer, regardless of his stage of spiritual growth. No believer is too ignorant or too academically deficient to learn Bible doctrine; he need only stick with it.

    The Latin poet Horace understood and proclaimed the axiom of perseverance: “Let him proceed as he began, and be consistent with himself.” You began by listening to doctrine; if you are consistent, you will persevere until you take that high ground.

    Perseverance was the one quality that perfectly characterized the nineteenth-century British soldier. In many instances he was poorly led. With few exceptions such as Sir Garnet Joseph Wolsley, Evelyn Wood, Charles George Gordon popularly known as “Chinese Gordon,” Field Marshal Frederick Sleigh Roberts, and a few others, most of Britain’s military fiascos were the result of blundering leadership. Yet in spite of this handicap, the Scottish, Welsh, and English regiments so valiantly persevered that a great empire emerged to extend to the four corners of the earth. While most Britons were only remotely aware of the gallant deeds of these undaunted defenders of the empire, the regiments themselves never doubted their cause, never underestimated their own courage, never faced an enemy they could not eventually defeat.

    The Apostle Paul affirmed the principle of perseverance in the epistle to the Colossians:

According as you have received to yourself Christ Jesus the Lord, so keep walking in Him: having been rooted and constantly being built up in Him, being stabilized by means of doctrine in the manner that you have been taught, overflowing with thanksgiving. (Col. 2:6-7, corrected translation)

THE EDIFICATION COMPLEX

    Through persistence, the believer constructs his arsenal of doctrine—the “edification complex (ECS).”26 This immaterial structure is the backbone of the soul of a mature believer and the bridge to the supergrace life. On the foundation of the filling of the Holy Spirit, its five-story superstructure is erected in the right lobe through the consistent function of GAP.

  1. Doctrinal orientation—the correct perspective of your purpose and destiny in the plan of God;
  2. Humility—teachability, thinking that orients to grace procedures;
  3. Personal love for God—motivational virtue that flows from harmonious rapport with God the Father;
  4. Impersonal love for all mankind—functional virtue that supplies a relaxed mental attitude of patience, forgiveness, compassion, and kindness toward all;
  5. Inner happiness or sharing the happiness of God—a spectrum of happiness that masters the details of life and does not depend on people or circumstances.
Edification Complex of the Soul

These five ‘floors’ form a bastion of divine viewpoint. Building this complex in the soul demands steadfastness in the function of GAP. From this fortification, all attacks from cosmos diabolicus are repelled.

For you keep on having need of perseverance [persistence in GAP] in order that, when you have accomplished the will of God [daily function of GAP resulting in the building of the ECS], you might carry off for yourself the promise of supergrace blessing. (Heb. 10:36, corrected translation)

The Importance of Taking the High Ground

For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. (Heb. 10:37)

    “For yet a little while,” literally, “how short, how short” is an excerpt from Isaiah 26:20. The conjunctive particle gar expresses both explanation and continuation through documentation from the Old Testament Scriptures. While Isaiah’s prophecy pertained to the Second Advent of Christ, the application concerns the brevity of our time on earth and the shortness of the dispensation which will terminate with the Rapture of the Church.

    God has allotted to each of us a certain amount of time on earth after salvation: fifty years, fifteen years, or maybe just ten days. Whatever the length, it is a short span in the light of eternity. Yet long or short, God has certain objectives for us. Whether or not we reach these objectives depends upon our training.

    All military service is or should be preparation for combat. When troops are committed to battle, whether they comprise an infantry rifle company, a transportation or quartermaster company, an artillery battery, or a headquarters, they should be thoroughly and completely trained first in mental attitude, then in physical fitness, and then tactics and maneuver. Should troops be permitted to become slipshod in any area of preparation during peacetime, the tragic results will always be reflected in any sudden emergency. When the shooting starts, it may be on extremely short notice; therefore, they must always be in readiness.

    It was our well-trained regular army that bought precious time at Bataan and Corregidor for the preparation of new troops at the beginning of World War II. How different would have been the outcome of the Pacific conflict had these magnificent men not performed their task so valiantly.

    In contrast too many casualties have littered the battlefields on the spiritual front of the angelic conflict; too many lives are wrecked on the shoals of indifference and rejection of Bible doctrine. What an utterly needless waste when adequate preparation puts victory within the reach of every believer.

    Why do you have the training of Bible class on a consistent basis? So that you will be adequately prepared. Sometime in your life there will occur a full-blown disaster; you will walk headlong into a maelstrom of adversity. Without Bible doctrine in your soul you will be caught short and fall apart. You will be hopelessly overwhelmed and cry feebly, “O God, help!” It is too late to plead numbly, “O God, show me a verse for this disaster.” That will profit you nothing.

    On the other hand, if you have persisted in learning doctrine, you will never need a pastor or anyone else to hover over you to utter platitudes or to quote Scripture that you could not possibly assimilate under pressure. With doctrine in your soul you will be spiritually self-sustaining; you will have the inner resources necessary to meet any exigency of life.

    The pastor is your DI (drill instructor), and his job is to prepare you for prosperity and disaster. Since he is not omnipresent, he cannot be by your side the moment a catastrophe occurs. He does not need to be! In the present dispensation God intends for you to be your own royal priest, and to function on the doctrine resident in your soul. Your motto should be one which characterized the life of the Apostle Paul (Rom. 1:15), and later became the motto of the Scottish Clan Fraser: “I am ready!”

    “How short” does not mean that your time for training is necessarily short, but rather that when pressure occurs, it will be short in comparison to the training period. Let us take a hypothetical case as an illustration. A soldier has been in the military service for twenty years. In that time he has fought in three battles: one lasted thirty days; one, two days; and one, five hours. The total is thirty-two days and five hours of combat for twenty years of training.

    Likewise, successful football teams are neither built on a sudden inspiration nor on the exhilaration of the moment. Their bid for fame is a product of endless discipline and monotonous, strenuous hours of agonizing training; yet the games in which they participate may be relatively brief.

    In the spiritual realm we too must submit to protracted periods of training, even though the actual test we face may be of short duration. Long or short as these periods may be, we know that God will not test us beyond our capacity (1 Cor. 10:13), and that earthly pressures and sufferings are not worthy to be compared to eternal glory (Rom. 8:18). Rarely do we spend our entire lifetime under disaster conditions. Yet, in a sense, we must be constantly on ‘red alert.’

    For example, if you are prepared for marriage through the consistent intake of Bible doctrine, you will not only make the right decision for a partner, but you will also develop in your soul a tremendous capacity for rapport and spiritual relationship. Many of our young people are already preparing for eventual marital happiness by their daily intake of Bible doctrine. In order to enjoy all that is wonderful and beautiful in this life, there must be soul preparation.

    While the introductory words of Hebrews 10:37 alerted us to our present objective, the second phrase pertains to our future. “He that shall come” is quoted from Habakkuk 2:3 and refers to the Second Advent of Christ. For the Church, this means the Rapture (1 Thess. 4:14-17). Should we be alive when the Rapture occurs we will be transferred to heaven, concluding our opportunity to take the high ground in phase two.

For yet a little while—how short! How short! He who is coming will arrive and will not delay His arrival. (Heb. 10:37, corrected translation)

Retreating From Combat

Now the just [δίκαιος, dikaios] shall live [ζάω, zao] by [ἐκ, ek] faith [πίστις, pistis]: but if any man draw back [ὑποστέλλω, hupostello], my soul shall have no pleasure in him. (Heb. 10:38)

    This verse quotes a phrase from Habakkuk 2:4: “But the just [צַדִּיק, tsadiq] shall live by his faith.” The word “just” does not convey the actual meaning of either the Hebrew or the Greek. Both tsadiq in the Hebrew and dikaios in the Greek mean “justified or vindicated ones,” or “someone who has been vindicated.” Vindication exists in two areas: at the moment of salvation, when the believer is justified or vindicated by faith (Gal. 2:16);27 after salvation, when we are called “justified or vindicated ones.”

    We might picture salvation as a balance sheet containing a debit side and a credit side. Everyone is born into the world on the debit side—hopelessly in debt. When Jesus Christ was judged for our sins on the cross, He won the strategic victory and paid that debt in full.28 On the positive side of the ledger, God the Father credited to our account His righteousness the moment we appropriated salvation. In His sight we are vindicated or justified—not on the basis of any good deeds we might have done or because of our excellent behavior pattern, but because of the saving work of Christ on the cross.

    “Justified or vindicated ones” carries the possessive pronoun, which would make it, “My justified ones.” Everyone who has ever exercised faith alone in Christ alone is included as His justified ones, the ‘elite’ of God. Not only has God saved you for all eternity, but, even more, in the strategic victory of the cross, He has provided the assets with which you can win the tactical victories and live a life that has profound significance.

    “Shall live” is zao which connotes an orderly, meaningful, and satisfying life on the high ground. Life is often centered around monotonous routine, interspersed with brief periods of excitement and stimulation. It is monotony that drives people into frantic searches for happiness. But, since no one can maintain a perpetual state of exhilaration, the emphasis of this verse on living is of utmost importance. With doctrine in the soul, the believer can adjust to monotony, to routine, even to loneliness. Bible doctrine in the soul creates not only capacity for life, but also zest for living, and causes the believer to become aware of all the fantastic blessings in life.

    The next phrase presents how to attain the objective—“by faith.” Pistis has three different connotations in the Greek of the New Testament. The first and most commonly used meaning is “that which causes trust or faith” variously translated “faithfulness, reliability, proof, or pledge.” The second usage is faith in the active sense of believing, always translated “faith, trust, or confidence.” A third use denotes “that which is believed, the body of faith or belief” and is equivalent to Bible doctrine. This is the correct meaning here: the preposition ek, “by,” plus the ablative of the noun pistis, “faith,” should be translated “by means of doctrine.” “My justified ones shall live by means of doctrine.”

    Note the warning from the last phrase of Hebrews 10:38: “if any man draw back.” This relates back to the warning of verse 35: “do not throw away as worthless your confidence [in doctrine].” “If,” a third class condition in the Greek—maybe you will and maybe you will not—always depends on two factors: volition and the frame of reference. You may know what you should or should not do, but go contrary to your knowledge. Thus you may “draw back” (aorist middle subjunctive of the verb hupostello), or literally, “retreat.” Those who draw back are the believers with negative volition who do not stick with doctrine and retreat by failing to follow the colors.

    The constative aorist indicates a gradual retreat which follows the pattern of the descending stages of reversionism—from the reactor factors of bitterness, disillusionment, frustration, jealousy, self-pity, to emotional revolt, negative volition toward doctrine, blackout of the soul, scar tissue of the soul, and reverse-process reversionism.29 When you succumb to any of the reactor factors, your soul begins to retrogress. Retreat begins with reaction and distraction in your soul long before you move into the outward manifestations of reversionism.

    The soldier who retreats when he is ordered to advance bears the stigma of a coward or deserter. Should you fail to follow the colors, prepare yourself for a divine court-martial and God’s verdict: “my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” “No pleasure” is an anthropopathism, a figure of speech ascribing to God human passions, emotions, thoughts, and attitudes He does not actually possess.30 Obviously, God does not approve of the reversionistic believer, yet this in no way suggests that God no longer loves him. God loves every believer with an equal amount of love, regardless of his spiritual status. Nothing can ever change that. Only the manifestation of God’s love changes, which is now expressed through discipline (Heb. 12:6)

    During a training mission in the Army Air Corps of World War II, a P-39 pilot was simulating low-level attack over the jungle of Panama. As he buzzed only a few feet above the treetops, he was highly exhilarated by the sensation of speed and power that arises from low-altitude flying. Too late he saw a tall tree looming up directly in his line of flight. He was moving too fast to avoid the collision. His wing made contact, and to his horror he saw that it sheered off. As momentum carried him forward, the P-39 glanced off several more trees. On each impact, another section of his plane disappeared—the second wing, the empennage, and finally the engine. When he came to a stop, the Air Corps pilot found himself some distance from the first strike, cradled in a tree, still strapped to the cockpit, dazed and scratched, but in one piece. This is the way the retreating believers will arrive at the portals of heaven.

    God’s disapproval of the believer means that he is disciplined in time, for there is no discipline in heaven. There may be extenuating circumstances in life, but there is no excuse for not taking in the Word. According to military code, the first answer a soldier should give when anything goes awry is “No excuse, sir!” The commanding officer then has the option to issue discipline or to seek an explanation. God often keeps a believer in the ‘stockade’ to give him every opportunity to reverse his direction and pursue grace to the high ground.

Now My justified one himself [royal family of God] shall live by means of doctrine [what is believed]. Consequently, if he himself [any member of the royal family] retreats from fear [reversionism—failure to follow the colors], My soul [divine essence] shall not have pleasure [approve] in him. (Heb. 10:38, corrected translation)

Volitional Determination to Follow the Colors

    The most influential military treatise in the western world from the time of the Romans to the nineteenth century was De Re Militari by Vegetius. Although little is known of his life, Flavius Vegetius Renatus was a Roman of high rank. He wrote his manual to arrest the progressive decay of the Roman armies and to restore the Romans to the military glory and virtues they once possessed. This book was destined to become the military bible of the great captains of history. Between its covers are contained the universal axioms of warfare and principles which are applicable even to the spiritual conflict.

    Vegetius was convinced that discipline, knowledge, and training were of greater value than numbers: “Few men are born brave; many become so through training and force of discipline.”31 Thus, he concluded, “Valor is superior to numbers.”32 This is also true in the spiritual realm. Victory in spiritual warfare results from the discipline and training of Bible doctrine.

    Vegetius succinctly stated the conditions of warfare that are also true of our position in the angelic conflict.

It is the nature of war that what is beneficial to you is detrimental to the enemy and what is of service to him hurts you. It is therefore a maxim never to do, or to omit doing anything as a consequence of his actions, but to consult invariably your own interests only.33

When our mental attitude reflects human viewpoint, we serve the devil and his purpose. When we produce divine viewpoint based on Bible doctrine, not only are we benefitted, but the Lord is glorified and a blow is struck against satanic forces.

But we are not of them who draw back unto [εἶς, eis] perdition [ἀπώλεια, apoleia]; but of them that believe [positive volition to doctrine] to [eis] the saving [περιποίησις, peripoiesis] of the soul. (Heb. 10:39)

    The descriptive objective genitive of the first phrase of this verse should read, “But we are not the retreating type.” To qualify for this select category of believers, you must make constant decisions to follow the colors—positive volition toward Bible doctrine even in the face of opposition from family or criticism of friends, or when good times beckon and attractive people would lure you away.

    The preposition eis plus the accusative singular of apoleia literally means, “for the purpose of destruction.” Apoleia here connotes a system of divine discipline which leads to the sin unto death (1 John 5:16b).34 The believer who refuses to recover from reversionism dies miserably without the glory of dying grace, and loses out on his surpassing-grace rewards in eternity. He is still a “justified one,” a “son” who has eternal life, but he is a deserter from God’s plan for his life.

    In the past history of military service a soldier who had been tried and convicted by a military court-martial for desertion was marched out to the parade ground in full-dress uniform. Before his entire company, he was stripped of his buttons, insignia, and decorations and given a dishonorable discharge. He was then drummed out of the corps. If the soldier’s sentence involved the death penalty, he was marched out before a firing squad and executed. God has a similar system for the reversionistic believer; he is court-martialed and placed under the sin unto death. A distinction, however, should be noted: While the supergrace believer is disciplined for periodic carnality, the reversionist is under the severe discipline of the sin unto death for perpetual carnality.

    Except for the Rapture generation, God has assigned to each of us a certain type of death. Just as He has supplied our needs for living, so He has made provision for dying. God sovereignly decides the time, manner and place of our death. For the supergrace believer, dying is far greater than living (Phil. 1:21). I have seen individuals who have been assigned the long and painful death of cancer, yet they experienced fantastic blessing and unusual relief from pain or phenomenal endurance of pain. Why? Through Bible doctrine resident in the soul, God provides the essentials to insure that the period of dying will be a marvelous experience.

    The word “saving” is actually a prepositional phrase: eis plus the accusative of peripoiesis meaning “to possess something that is wonderful, something that belongs to us as our heritage” should be translated “for the possession by the soul.” God wants us to demonstrate to the devil that the best he can give us in cosmos diabolicus can never approximate what God offers the believer. We are not here to pursue the allurements and glamorous pipe dreams of Satan’s world system, but to follow the glorious colors of Bible doctrine to the high ground, to be occupied with the Person of Jesus Christ, to develop and enjoy tremendous capacity for life, and to receive supergrace blessings.

We are not the retreating category of believers designed for destruction [sin unto death], but the doctrinal category for the purpose of doctrinal possession by the soul, which leads to supergrace status. (Heb. 10:39, corrected translation)

THE GUIDON OF BIBLE DOCTRINE

Doctrine in the Advance to Supergrace

    Hebrews 11:1-3 is a continuation of the concept presented in Chapter 10, but emphasizes the significance of Bible doctrine in the advance to supergrace. The remainder of Chapter 11 is parenthetical, intended to demonstrate that doctrine was available to the believers of the Old Testament even before it was put in written form. With far less doctrine than we possess, the heroes in the front ranks of the Gentile and Jewish Ages seized and held the high ground of the supergrace life.

    In Chapter 10 the Jews in Jerusalem had neglected doctrine and had allowed themselves to become sidetracked by the diversionary tactics of the enemy. As a result, they threw away as worthless their confidence in doctrine and retreated from honorable combat into the ignominy of legalism. But believers are regenerated for the purpose of possessing doctrine in their souls. Therefore, since believers have been designed to take in doctrine, they must recognize it as their authority, their inner dictator and guide.

Now faith is [εἰμί, eimi] the substance [ὑπόστασις, hupostasis] of things hoped for [ἐλπίζω, elpizo], the evidence [ἔλεγχος, elegchos] of things [πρᾶγμα, pragma] not seen [βλέπω, blepo]. (Heb. 11:1)

    “Now,” is the intensive use of the particle de, and links the previous verse with the opening of Chapter 11. It should be translated “in fact.” The word pistis, “faith,” is used here and throughout Chapter 11 to denote that which is believed—a system of doctrine. Since this verse relates to Hebrews 10:39, the subject is not faith but doctrine. It is epignosis doctrine resident in the souls of believers, which produces understanding, confidence, strength, dynamics in life.

    The corrected translation of verse one begins, “In fact [continuing the subject of Hebrews 10:39] epignosis doctrine is . . .” Here, “is,” the present active indicative of eimi, connotes a condition which permanently exists.

    Then follows the definition: “Faith [doctrine] is the substance [hupostasis] of things hoped for . . .” Depending on the context, hupostasis can mean “reality, confidence, assurance.” Here, “doctrine is the reality” conveys the correct sense. Bible doctrine must become more real than what you see (2 Pet. 1:12-21), or you will discard it like trash.

    The English translation “of things hoped for” is vague and suggests some obscure desire. Far from that, the present passive participle of elpizo actually means “from which we keep receiving confidence.” Doctrine is the source or reality from which we derive our confidence in the Lord, His plan, and our function within that plan; confidence in remaining royal family of God forever; and confidence in our home in the Holy of Holies—heaven.

    Men in military service have no permanent home; that is a part of their sacrifice. Sometimes their wives do not adjust well to transience unless they realize that their husband’s destiny is theirs as well. Some complain that the prolonged separation destroys relationships. But in order to accomplish the mission of national defense, long absences from home and hearth are commonplace. This is the nature of military service.

    There is a sense in which we of the royal family of God do not possess a home in this life. Our permanent dwelling place is heaven itself (John 14:2). You may own a lovely house here on earth and, perhaps, have spent time and money to enhance its beauty. But never lose sight of the fact that it is temporary; your real home is the Holy of Holies. We are here on TDY (temporary duty) to fulfill the objective of seizing and holding the high ground.

    When you are away, letters from home are most welcome. So it is in the Christian life. Bible doctrine constitutes our ‘letters from home.’ When you discard Bible doctrine as worthless, you cut yourself off from your home as well as from the ultimate source of blessings—God. He has only one option left: to place you in the ‘guardhouse’ until either you die the sin unto death under maximum discipline or recover from reversionism.

    The second half of the definition of doctrine, “the evidence of things not seen,” begins with the word elegchos, best translated “proof with a view toward convincing.” In other words, doctrine is proof of evidence. What does it prove? That Jesus Christ is real; that the Father exists and has a plan; that God the Holy Spirit is the source of our power. All spiritual reality is bound up in Bible doctrine, not in service, emotionalism, or activism.

    When doctrine replaces experience and takes precedence over people or things, you can live in a barracks, and you can spend prolonged periods in the field, you can endure loneliness and the drudgeries of life “as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Tim. 2:3). Furthermore, you will have the frame of reference to enjoy your circumstances.

    “Things [or “matters,” pragma] not seen [present passive participle of blepo with the negative οὐ, ou]” encompass not only the invisible realm of the angelic conflict, the unseen members of the Trinity and all other eternal phenomena (2 Cor. 4:18), but also the perspective of divine viewpoint. These are discernible through doctrine alone. The more doctrine you learn, the more apparent become the unseen supergrace blessings designed from eternity past; the more real becomes Jesus Christ, the plan of God, and the perfect essence of God behind that plan.

In fact, doctrine is the reality from which we keep receiving confidence, the proof of matters not being seen. (Heb. 11:1, corrected translation)

Doctrine in the Attainment of Supergrace

    Hebrews 11:2 through the rest of the chapter records the divine citations for ‘Medal of Honor’ winners in the spiritual campaigns waged during the days of the Old Testament. In each commendation, doctrine is credited with having motivated valiant deeds above and beyond the call of duty.

For by it [doctrine] the elders [πρεσβύτερος, presbuteros] obtained a good report [μαρτυρέω, martureo]. (Heb. 11:2)

    The explanatory use of gar, “for,” sets up the sequence of citations and explains how doctrine is related to each of these Old Testament believers. Although there was little written Scripture for two thousand years, doctrine was always available. There never was an Old Testament generation to whom God did not reveal Himself and His will, either by means of direct communication, angelic messengers, prophets, priests, or visions.

    “For by means of it [doctrine], the elders [presbuteros “the men of old or ancient people”—a reference to supergrace heroes of Old Testament times] obtained a good report.” Martureo has several connotations, but here in the passive voice it means “to gain approval.” Divine approval was obtained by the ancients through the daily exercise of GAP as it then functioned. They thirsted for doctrine and God revealed it. They submitted to a system of discipline in order to learn by whatever means God used to impart information.

    The gaining of divine approval occurs simultaneously with the entrance into spiritual maturity. Thus, this verse implies that if the ancients could seize and hold the high ground of the supergrace life, then our failure to make it to the high ground of spiritual maturity is inexcusable. Perseverance is the key.

Doctrine in the Orientation to History

    Bible doctrine is the basis for orientating to and interpreting history.35

Through faith we understand that the worlds [αἰών, aion] were framed [καταρτίζω, katartizo] by the word [ῥῆμα, rema] of God, so that things which are seen were not made [γίνομαι, ginomai] of things which do appear. (Heb. 11:3)

To “understand,” assumes that “we” have previously learned some epignosis doctrine in our souls. The royal family of God to whom this letter was addressed had mastered the subject of aion, not “worlds,” but “ages” or “dispensations” and other doctrinal categories pertaining to the interpretation of history. While we move through life we are involved in the ebb and flow of history. Therefore, we must be able to define our position in regard to the divine plan in history. Together, verses 2 and 3 teach that it is our responsibility to adjust not only to our own personal situation, but also to the larger area of our life in relation to the times.

    The recipients of this epistle had learned that the ages or dispensations “were framed” (perfect passive infinitive of katartizo). Of the several meanings of this word, it is best rendered here “to put together” and indicates the divine purpose: Jesus Christ controls the course of history. Consequently, the events of history can never go awry or get out of His hands. The rise and fall of empires is always within the boundaries of divine providence. God will, however, allow the volition of both angels and members of the human race to function freely, but never at the cost of the annihilation of mankind or the cessation of time.

    “Word” here is rema rather than λόγος (logos), the usual term for doctrine. Rema refers to the planning of God in eternity past, known theologically as the “divine decree.”36 “What is being seen” (blepo) are the incidents of history. While these are interwoven into the very fabric of our lives, we are not to become enmeshed in them. Only when we fix our eyes on the colors can we move unscathed through our sphere of the conflict and thus fulfill our purpose for being here. In spite of the uncertain and unstable conditions of our era, God has provided the means for our advance through the barrages of life.

    “Things which are seen,” the events we observe unfolding in history, “were not made” or better translated, “have not come to pass [ginomai plus the negative μή, me] out of things which are visible.” In other words, it is not the visible which shapes the course of history, but the invisible. There is an invisible hand at the helm of the universe. No event ever escapes His notice. Although His permissive will allows disaster, catastrophe, depression, wars, disease, and death,37 His divine intervention and providence preserve the universe and safely pilot mankind past the cliffs and boulders of human lust and folly.

    We view the terrible follies of our own nation and wonder how we can continue to be a free people. Every new day ushers in further evidence of the deterioration of our personal standards, our governmental standards, and our military readiness. Immorality and criminality are commonplace. Emotionalism and activism abound among Christians. What do we do? We must continue to remain positive toward Bible doctrine. History was designed to glorify Jesus Christ, and our advance to spiritual maturity is the means by which He is glorified. Divine providence always favors us when we are positive to doctrine, growing spiritually, and glorifying Him. As long as the United States of America possesses a nucleus of believers following the colors and advancing, we will remain intact as a client nation.38

    Perhaps you never considered your life to have any impact on history. Possibly you have never related your activities to anything beyond your immediate periphery. It is an arresting thought to realize that your attitude toward doctrine is a vital factor in maintaining the nation. Ask yourself: “If the nation depended on my positive volition and perseverance, where would it be today? In the fifth cycle of discipline or preserved?”39 The leaders of the country, the established system of government, and the economic system only appear to sustain the nation. In reality, supergrace believers are holding up the nation. That great invisible power from positive volition actually causes divine establishment to function, and its continuation is merely the tangible result of your positive volition. You are that imperceptible dynamic of history.

    As goes your attitude toward doctrine, so goes the nation. Your attitude toward doctrine has local, national, and international repercussions.40 Should enough believers decide to go negative, the slender thread that upholds the nation will be snapped. Instead of blessing the client nation, God will punish believers to bring them back to the spiritual life. Without Bible doctrine resident in the souls of a core of believers, the fifth cycle of discipline will be administered: the military will be defeated, the government and the economy will collapse, and finally the nation as a whole will be destroyed.41

    Verse 3 defines the true interpretation of history. The doctrine of dispensations has proved conclusively that even though the circumstances of history occur in the devil’s world, they are shaped by God (Gen. 50:20). No catastrophe, no political maneuvering or national turmoil has ever caught God off guard. From eternity past, His omniscience foresaw every event. More important, He controls history without coercing human volition. Free will was the issue in the creation of man and continues to be paramount in this stage of the angelic conflict. Bible doctrine in the soul is the basis for correctly evaluating our own spiritual advance and our personal relationship to contemporary events.

By means of doctrine we learn that the ages [dispensations] have been put together by the word [decree] from God, with the result that what is being seen has not come to pass from those who are visible. (Heb. 11:3, corrected translation)

    God has a great sense of humor. He has chosen to confound the wisdom of this world with the quintessence of insignificance (1 Cor. 1:27-29). It is His purpose to take members of the royal family of God who appear to have no status in life and use their positive or negative volition to determine the course of their nation. In Jeremiah’s day, and despite his incessant warnings, the negative volition of believers caused the destruction of Judah by the Chaldeans.42 The same was true of Noah and his generation. When all the threads of positive volition were snapped, then came the Flood. Only Noah and those seven other souls who were positive toward Bible doctrine were preserved (1 Pet. 3:20). Thus doctrine is of such consequence that we should examine it categorically.

THE IMPORTANCE OF BIBLE DOCTRINE

    Bible doctrine is the entire realm of God’s truth presented in nomenclature, categories, concepts, and principles that define God, man, salvation, sin, the angelic conflict, the spiritual life, and eschatology. Doctrine is drawn from the content of the canon of Scripture, with emphasis on the communication of that content to the individual souls of believers. Doctrine is the thinking of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16), the plan of God the Father, and the revelation of God the Holy Spirit. Since the three members of the Trinity have eternally existed, doctrine was with God in eternity past; it preexisted the human race (Prov. 8). Throughout human history Bible doctrine has been disseminated by those with a spiritual gift of communication: in the Old Testament, by prophets and the Levitical priests; in the Apostolic Age, apostles; in the Church Age, pastor-teachers. Today, the pastor-teacher uses a threefold method of inquiry to discern doctrine.

  1. Isagogics—the interpretation of Scripture within the framework of its historical setting or prophetical environment.
  2. Categories—the hermeneutical principle of comparing Scripture with Scripture to determine the classification of doctrine.
  3. Exegesis—a word-by-word, verse-by-verse, grammatical, syntactical, etymological, and contextual analysis of Scripture from the original languages of the Bible—Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic.

    The heritage of Bible doctrine existed in Old Testament times.

I will bow down [worship] toward Thy holy temple [the temple of your holiness],
And give thanks [celebrate] to Thy name [Person] for Thy lovingkindness and Thy truth [doctrine];
For thou hast magnified Thy word [doctrinal teaching] according to [above] all Thy name [reputation]. (Ps. 138:2, NASB)

As a great soldier, both in the human and spiritual realms, David possessed maximum doctrine in his soul. Thus when David said, “I will . . . give thanks to thy Person,” he was expressing his occupation with Christ and celebrating the Second Person of the Trinity. His reasons for celebration were “[because of] Thy lovingkindness [חֶסֶד, chesed, unfailing love] and [because of] Thy truth [אֱמֶת, emet, doctrine].” The love of God coupled with doctrine motivated true celebration, occupation with Christ, and advance in his spiritual life.

    Even more important than the “name” or “reputation” of God is the doctrine of God. Why? “Because Thou hast magnified Thy doctrinal teaching above Thy reputation.” The Father attached paramount importance to doctrine because through it, He has revealed Himself and centered His entire plan.

Into Thy hand I commit my spirit;
Thou hast ransomed me, O LORD, God of truth [doctrine].
    (Ps. 31:5; cf. Luke 23:46, NASB)

    These were the words spoken by David at a time when he desperately needed deliverance from his enemies. With confidence in the Lord, David took refuge in the God of “truth” or “doctrine.” Jesus quoted these same words just before He died physically to express His confidence in the God of doctrine. In His humanity, Christ advanced in doctrine until He seized and held the high ground of supergrace (Luke 2:52). The strength, inner resources, and divine operating assets that Christ required in order to go to the cross were provided by the doctrine resident in His soul. By explaining the source of His own spiritual stamina, Christ passed on the regimental colors of Bible doctrine to the royal family of God. He was the first to bear the standard, then He made Bible doctrine the spiritual standard of the royal family of God. In His dying breath on the cross, Jesus Christ bequeathed doctrine to the royal family as a spiritual legacy.

    The plan of God is both advanced and vindicated through Bible doctrine.

However, Yahweh the Father made a command decision
To crush Him [Christ on the cross]; He caused the affliction of Christ on the cross:
When you will appoint His soul a trespass offering,
He [Christ] shall see His seed [believers];
He shall prolong His days [to rule Israel in the Millennium], Therefore, the plan of Yahweh the Father will advance in His hand. (Isa. 53:10, corrected translation)

In eternity past, God the Father commissioned Jesus Christ to provide eternal salvation for the human race. While Christ was “crushed” on the cross, bearing our sins and taking our place, that mission was accomplished. From this point the plan of the Father proceeds through Bible doctrine in the souls of believers. The same concept is amplified in the Book of Romans. The question is asked in Romans 3:3 (NASB): “Their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it?” The answer:

Definitely not! Rather, let God be found true [full of doctrine], though every man be found a liar; even as it stands written [in Psalm 51:4], “That you might become justified by means of Your doctrine, and that you might become victorious when you are being maligned. (Rom. 3:4, corrected translation)

    The believer’s attitude toward doctrine is the basis for blessing or discipline.

“Heed instruction [be positive toward doctrine] and be wise [accumulate maximum doctrine in the soul],
And do not neglect [become negative to] it.
Blessed [with supergrace and surpassing-grace blessings] is the man who listens to me [doctrine],
Watching daily at my gates [the place of assembly, representing the daily function of GAP],
Waiting at my doorposts [positive volition expressed].
For he who finds me [doctrine] finds [capacity for] life,
And obtains favor [supergrace] from the LORD.” (Prov. 8:33-35, NASB)

Once doctrine is resident in the soul through the daily function of GAP, supergrace blessings can be distributed (Isa. 53:12). Doctrine is also the basis for the distribution of surpassing-grace blessings in eternity (Eph. 2:7).

    What happens to those who go AWOL from Bible doctrine without recovery? They can expect a quick court-martial and a firing squad.

“But [this is the other side—the result of failure to follow the colors] he who sins against me [negative volition toward doctrine] injures himself [his own soul];
All those who hate me [doctrine] love death [the firing squad—the sin unto death].” (Prov. 8:36, NASB)

    Lack of doctrine not only destroys a believer, but also destroys the nation.

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge [doctrine].
Because you have rejected knowledge,
I also will reject you from being My priest [client nation].
Since you have forgotten the law of your God,
I also will forget your children. (Hosea 4:6, NASB)

Reading this passage written around 700 B.C. is like reading a current newspaper, so closely does the situation in Israel then parallel that of the United States now. At the time, Israel was being warned about falling under the fifth cycle of discipline (cf. Lev. 26:27-39) “for lack of [epignosis] knowledge.” We, too, could experience the fifth cycle, since Satan’s objective of undermining the foundation of biblical theology in the United States is finding extensive success. This is evident in the apostate trend of seminaries and clergy and in the negative attitude of so many believers toward doctrine.

    Bible doctrine is more real than rational or empirical knowledge (2 Pet. 1:12-21). If there is a conflict between human wisdom or what you see, hear, smell, taste, or think and what the Word of God says, the Word is always right. When you continue to take in doctrine, it becomes more real to you than any other factor in life and motivates you to fulfill God's design and purpose for the Christian life.

    Bible doctrine is part of the principle of living grace for phase two. Under living grace, God provides temporal and spiritual factors to keep the believer alive and functioning in time. Temporal matters include food, shelter, clothing, and other necessities. Spiritual assets are in the sphere of academics: a textbook—the Word of God; a classroom—the local church; a communicator—the pastor-teacher (Eph. 4:11-13; Col. 1:25-29; Heb. 13:7, 17).

    Through the communication of doctrine by the pastor-teacher and consistent function of GAP, the believer establishes a balance of residency in which the filling of the Holy Spirit and Bible doctrine complement each other. Whereas the filling of the Spirit comes easily—through the rebound technique43—the filling up of the deficiency of Bible doctrine is more difficult. It requires continued positive volition toward doctrine over a period of time. For the believer to mature spiritually and ultimately reach supergrace status, there must be in his soul a balance of residency between the filling of the Spirit and Bible doctrine.

    There are many wonderful results of doctrine resident in the soul. Doctrine produces confidence for phase two (Job 5:24-27; 2 Cor. 5:6-8; Heb. 10:35). Doctrine orients the believer to the plan of God (Isa. 26:3-4; Rom. 8:28) and produces stability of soul (James 1:8) and the divine viewpoint of life in the right lobe. Therefore, it is the key to mental attitude dynamics (Isa. 55:7-9; 2 Cor. 10:5). Doctrine is the basis for divine guidance, the execution of the will of God (Rom. 12:2-3), and leads to occupation with Christ and maximum capacity to love God (Eph. 3:19; Phil. 3:10; Heb. 12:2-3). Bible doctrine attains and holds the supergrace status of the believer (Phil. 3:12-14) and is the means of gaining surpassing-grace blessings for eternity (Heb. 11:9-10, 13; James 1:25; 2:12-13).

    Therefore, when the assimilation of doctrine continues on a consistent basis, the capacities for spiritual and temporal life are developed to the fullest, and the mature believer is ready for spiritual combat.

PREPARED FOR COMBAT

    There are several biblical synonyms that apply to the mature believer who is prepared for battle. Each aptly portrays some aspect of advancing to the objective of the high ground.

    The language synonym consists of one Hebrew noun and one Greek noun and its verb form. In the Hebrew, חָכְמָה (chakmah), “wisdom,” means doctrine in the soul ready for application. Epignosis and its cognate verb ἐπιγινώσκω (epiginosko) are the Greek equivalents of the Hebrew chakmah, “full knowledge”—the doctrine implanted in the right lobe of the soul from which the inner resources are drawn.

    The theological synonym is “greater grace.”

But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.” (James 4:6, NASB)

“Greater grace” denotes that phase in the believer’s life in which divine blessings are realized to the highest degree. He is most productive in the spiritual life. It is this status I have chosen to call “the supergrace life.”

    The priestly synonym concerns the construction of an altar in the soul.

We have an altar [in the soul], from which those who serve the tabernacle [Levitical priesthood] have no right to eat. (Heb. 13:10, NASB)

Whereas the Levitical priesthood had a visible altar on which animals were sacrificed, the royal priesthood possesses an invisible but nevertheless real altar formed of Bible doctrine in the soul. The Levitical priesthood had the privilege of offering sacrifices that reflected the future salvation work of Christ.44 But, the historical events of the cross fulfilled these animal sacrifices. Therefore, the Levitical offerings and priesthood no longer have authorization to function, since their contract (Mosaic Law) has been abrogated and their dispensation (Jewish Age) has been temporarily set aside. The specialized Levitical priesthood has been replaced by the universal priesthood of all believers in the Church Age. This royal priesthood has spiritual assets of which only they can partake.45

    Your priestly function, variously described as the sacrifices of life, lips, praise, thanksgiving, petition, and intercession, takes place in the altar of your soul. Under no circumstances should you, as a royal priest, attempt to bring any sacrifice of service until you first build an altar of doctrine in your soul. Bible doctrine conveys to you precisely what you should do on any given occasion.

    The building synonym implies that doctrine builds the edification complex in the soul.

For the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ. (Eph. 4:12, NASB)
 
From whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. (Eph. 4:16, NASB)

The edification structure furnishes the believer the necessary inner fortification, security, and protection in time of prosperity or adversity—total stability for all the exigencies of life.

    The time synonym, expressed in the phrase “making the most of your time,” is an index of the propitious use of the opportunities God has given you on this earth: toward God (Eph. 5:16-18) and toward the unbeliever (Col. 4:5).

    The central control synonym refers to the “inner authority of the soul.”

Finally, [keep on] be[coming] strong in the Lord, and in [by means of] the [inner] strength of His might [endowed power]. (Eph. 6:10, NASB)

The phrase “endowed power” refers to the filling of the Holy Spirit as the inner authority or controller of the soul (Col. 1:29; 2 Pet. 1:3a). The power of the Holy Spirit launches you into the supergrace life. Because He teaches you the “all things” of Bible doctrine (John 14:26), ‘all systems are go’ in your spiritual life. The filling of the Holy Spirit in balanced residency with doctrine affords you the answers to life’s circumstances. You now have the ability to face anything that comes your way. You are spiritually self-sustaining.

    The crucifixion synonym delineates a twofold concept: “take up his cross” and “follow Me [Christ].”

And He [Jesus Christ] summoned the multitude with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Mark 8:34, NASB)

The taking up of the cross is the intake of Bible doctrine in the local assembly under your pastor-teacher. It is a demand of dedication on your part to the importance of doctrine. The added exhortation, “follow Me,” specifies the daily function of GAP despite opposition or distractions. True discipleship is classroom discipline, which results in growth in grace and knowledge of Bible doctrine. This synonym is also found in Matthew 10:38 and Luke 9:23; 14:27.

    The chemical synonym for spiritual maturity is labeled “salt.”

“Salt is good; but if the salt becomes unsalty, with what will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” (Mark 9:50, NASB)

Sodium chloride depicts the properties and potential of maximum doctrine resident in the believer’s soul. Salt not only seasons, but also preserves. The mature believer thus becomes the “salt of the earth,” and the preserver of his nation (Matt. 5:13; Luke 14:34; Col. 4:6).

    The military synonyms are set forth in three separate field orders: first, to follow the colors to the high ground of supergrace (Heb. 12:1-2); second, to put on the full armor from God (Eph. 6:11-13), which is the divine provision for the royal combatants’ defense in the unseen conflict;46 and third, to establish a command post in the soul (Col. 2:5-8), which is the effective function of Bible doctrine in the life. While all the synonyms indicate the believer’s preparedness and capacities, the military idioms, in a very real sense, represent the challenge to follow the colors.

A THREE-PARAGRAPH FIELD ORDER: HEBREWS 12:1-3

    Before any military mission the commanding officer issues a five-paragraph field order to his subordinates. It filters down the chain of command until everyone is briefed. The paragraphs include:

  1. The situation—intelligence report regarding enemy and friendly forces;
  2. The mission—a clear, concise statement of the objective;
  3. The execution—the means by which the mission is to be accomplished;
  4. Service support—supply and logistics;
  5. Command and signal—radio equipment, call signs, passwords.

    After the challenge to follow the colors to the high ground in Hebrews 10 and a discussion on the importance of the Field Manual—Bible doctrine—in Hebrews 11:1-3, the Royal Battalion of believers of the Church Age is ready to move out on the offensive. The first three verses of Hebrews 12 form a three-paragraph field order for the advance of the Royal Battalion:

  1. Authorization to advance;
  2. Objective of the attack;
  3. Description of enemy forces.

Authorization to Advance

Wherefore seeing we also are [echo] compassed about [περίκειμαι, perikeimai] with so great a cloud [νέφος, nephos] of witnesses, let us lay aside [ἀποτίθημι, apotithemi] every weight, and the sin [ἁμαρτία, hamartia] which doth so easily beset [εὐπερίστατος, euperistatos] us, and let us run [τρέχω, trecho] with [διά, dia] patience [ὑπομονή, hupomone] the race [ἀγών, agon] that is set before us. (Heb. 12:1)

    The inferential particle τοιγαροῦν (toigaroun), “wherefore,” or “therefore” draws a conclusion from Hebrews 10:39 and recognizes Hebrews 11:4-38 as illustrative. The supergrace heroes of the Old Testament are to be a source of encouragement to the royal family in their advance to spiritual maturity. These believers of the Gentile and Jewish Ages took the high ground with relatively little support when compared to that which we have today in the completed canon of Scripture.

    The present active participle of echo, “to have and to hold,” is a static present and verifies a condition that perpetually exists. The Old Testament roster of supergrace heroes will constantly challenge us to join them on the high ground. We must not retreat. When we do not go AWOL from doctrine or become indifferent to doctrinal teaching, we will follow their road to glory: saving grace to living grace, living grace to supergrace, supergrace to dying grace, dying grace to surpassing grace.

    From Israel’s ancient battle cry, “Remember the Lord . . . great and terrible [mighty Warrior], and fight” (Neh. 4:14; cf. Deut. 20:4), to the modern platoon leaders’ command to “Follow me!” many a meaningful challenge has stirred the hearts of fighting men before battle. In our history such calls to bravery as “Give me liberty or give me death!” and “Remember the Alamo!” have become synonymous with daring defiance.

    In Britain’s long military history there have been some officers who were excellent leaders of men. A custom practiced for hundreds of years by British officers perfectly demonstrates their uncanny ability to inspire unceasing loyalty and respect. Before a battle, the commanding officer would unsheathe his saber and walk up and down in front of his men. Often pointing his saber, he would shout encouragement in the inimitable British manner: “Up there is the enemy; we must go up and get those chaps and put the bloody beggars out of business!” Suddenly, he would raise his saber and present an invitation so civilized that you might think the troops were being asked to have tea rather than to attack the enemy: “Won’t you join me? Won’t you join me?” And up the hill they would charge, undaunted through shot and shell.

    In the spiritual sense there is no war cry more pertinent to the royal family than that of the Scottish regiment, the Seaforth Highlanders: “Tulach Ard”—Gaelic for “high hillock [or the high ground].” If the Old Testament believers could seize the heights of glory, how much more should we who are “surrounded” (literal translation of perikeimai) by that entire battalion of supergrace heroes. The past victories of such distinguished believers have led the way to new victories for the royal family. That the high ground can be taken even without a completed canon of Scripture has been testified to by this nephos, “cloud” or “host” of witnesses.

    The aorist middle participle of apotithemi, “let us lay aside” could be rendered “having stripped for action.” The action is holding the line of positive volition. “Stripping” is a military metaphor which depicts the soldier’s preparation for action by the removal of his rucksack and other equipment that would impede his movement against the enemy.

    Two obstacles of the Christian solider are mentioned specifically: “every weight,” and “the sin.” Orgos, “weight,” denotes a burden or impediment—any distraction that hinders from concentrating on doctrine. Among these may be involvement with human celebrities, pleasures, entertainment, personality conflicts. Such distractions are not classified as sin in this context, though they can be sin-related.

    “The sin,” hamartia, incorporates all categories of sin—mental sins, sins of the tongue, overt sins, and the function of the lust pattern. Although the sin varies for each individual, it is one that is “easily ensnaring” or entangling (euperistatos). No direct sin is specified here because areas of weakness change as the believer progresses or retrogresses in his Christian life. Whatever form of carnality constitutes the easily ensnaring sin for the advancing believer, the solution to carnality is invariably the rebound technique. Hamartia recognizes the principle that we cannot advance apart from rebound.

    The retreating believer in reversionism has a more complex area of weakness; therefore, the solution is also more complex. Of course, it calls for rebound, but also μετανοέω (metanoeo), “repentance,” which is not emotion, but a “change of mental attitude” toward doctrine.47 A remedial period of the intense function of GAP is necessary to complete reversion recovery.

    After all impediments have been removed, we are ready to advance: “Let us run” is the present active subjunctive of the verb trecho. This verb is an idiom for “charging the enemy.” If we are to be victorious in the spiritual conflict, the initial attack must be followed through “with endurance” (dia hupomone)—persistent positive attitude toward Bible teaching, regardless of the circumstances of life.

    The word “race” (agon) can refer either to a race in a stadium or to a tactical situation in battle. Here it is used in the military sense of a combat objective. The “conflict set before us” refers to our aim in the angelic conflict. We are commanded, therefore, to advance “on the double” with endurance to the present objective: to seize and to hold the high ground of the supergrace life—and on to glory.

For this reason, therefore, since we also keep having such a great host [battalion] of witnesses [Old Testament supergrace believers of Hebrews 11] supporting us, having taken off [stripped for action] every impediment [distraction to GAP], and the easily ensnaring sin [by rebound], let us advance on the run with endurance in the conflict to the present objective [supergrace status]. (Heb. 12:1, corrected translation)

Objective of the Attack

    Throughout history, men have entered into the violence and hardships of war in order to seize and occupy a larger territory or to gain greater prosperity and freedom. Likewise in the spiritual conflict, we are not only looking toward a better place, but also seeking the freedom and happiness of occupation with our blessed Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Hebrews 12:2 has this goal in view.

Looking [ἀφοράω, aphorao] unto Jesus the author [ἀρχηγός, archegos] and finisher [τελειωτής, teleiotes] of our faith; who for [ἀντί, anti] the joy [χαρά, chara] that was set before [πρόκειμαι, prokeimai] him [αὐτός, autos] endured the cross, despising [καταφρονέω, kataphroneo] the shame [αἰσχύνη, aischune], and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb. 12:2)

    Aphorao means “to look away, to turn your eyes from one object and to fix them on another”—in other words, to set your sights on the target. After you have glanced at the supporting battalion, the Old Testament heroes, you are motivated to move on toward your objective—to be occupied with Jesus Christ! This is the highest spiritual plateau for the believer in time.

    “Author” (archegos) does not refer to one who writes a book; rather, it denotes the source. Jesus Christ is our Prince-Ruler in the sense of having originated a dynasty or established a kingdom. He established the royal family of God through His saving work on the cross.

    “Finisher” (teleiotes) is a hapax legomenon—a word which occurs only once in the Bible. It means “perfecter, completer, the one who brings through to final attainment.” Our Prince-Leader is the One who leads us to the attainment of the objective. How does He accomplish this? Through “faith” (ablative of means from pistis). The ablative is not the regular case for expressing means except when there is an implication of origin or source, as in this instance in the use of archegos. Thus, “faith” describes that which is believed—doctrine.

    The only way anyone in the royal family will ever reach supergrace status is by means of Bible doctrine resident in his soul. “Author and finisher” emphasize both the means of obtaining supergrace as well as its goal—occupation with Christ. Together, they indicate that once you reach the high ground, you must hold it. You secure your position in the same manner by which you arrived—through doctrine.

    The next phrase “who for the joy [anti plus the ablative of chara] set before [prokeimai] Him [autos]” must be clarified from the Greek syntax. The preposition anti is most commonly translated “instead of,” therefore, anti plus chara should be translated “instead of the happiness.” A similar construction is found in Matthew 20:28, where, according to the literal translation, Jesus said, “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His soul a ransom for [ἀντὶ, anti, “instead of”] many [πολλῶν, pollon, ablative of πολύς, polus].”

    Prokeimai is an adjectival participle that refers to a “present” happiness. The personal pronoun autos is a dative of possession. Since the dative of possession has no exact equivalent in the English, it must be rendered as a possessive pronoun: “His happiness.” Therefore, this phrase is best translated: “who instead of His present happiness.”

    From eternity past the Lord Jesus Christ, as eternal God, possessed perfect happiness and contentment. Yet He was willing to become man and to endure the excruciating agony of the cross in order to fulfill the Father’s plan for our salvation.48 The judgment of our sins in His own body was the most intense suffering ever experienced by any member of the human race. Why was Jesus Christ able to endure the anguish? What was the source of His courage? He possessed maximum doctrine in His soul. Maximum doctrine resident in His soul coupled with maximum pressure climaxed in the strategic victory of the angelic conflict. Thus He set the pattern for us to win the tactical victory in the angelic conflict—to maintain positive volition and to get doctrine in our souls so that we might run with endurance.

    Jesus Christ “despised” or literally, disregarded (kataphroneo) the “ignominy” (aischune) of the cross and moved right on to the pinnacle of His strategic victory—His session at the right hand of the Father—the highest place of honor. Subsequently, Christ divides the plunder of His victory with us; this is the basis of our paragraph of supergrace blessings. Even though we may fail to appropriate these great blessings, nevertheless, they will always be waiting for us should we reach the high ground.

Be concentrating on Jesus our Prince-Ruler, even the One who brings us to the attainment of the supergrace objective by means of doctrine resident in the soul. Jesus, who instead of His present happiness, endured the cross, having disregarded the shame; and He has sat down in the past with the result that He remains seated in the highest place of honor on the right hand of the throne of the God. (Heb. 12:2, corrected translation)

Description of Enemy Forces

    Throughout His Incarnation, Christ encountered intense opposition from both human and satanic forces. Satan had intensified to the utmost his activities to thwart the plan of God, yet not once did Jesus Christ falter or succumb to weariness, despondency, or discouragement. He moved through every satanic barrage to complete the Father’s plan for phase one. His determination becomes our challenge.

For consider [ἀναλογίζομαι, analogizomai] him that endured [hupomeno] such contradiction [ἀντιλογία, antilogia] of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. (Heb. 12:3)

    “Consider” is the aorist middle imperative from the verb analogizomai—another hapax legomenon. This is a command “to weigh in the mind, to deliberate, to think something over very carefully.” The ingressive aorist adds the concept that you begin to think because of what you have just learned. This command can be obeyed only when you have mastered the principles delineated in verses 1 and 2: consistency and persistence of positive volition toward doctrine. Once you seize and hold the high ground, your perspective changes and so does your scale of values. You gain an entirely different viewpoint about what is important in life. You become aware of Jesus Christ as the only celebrity, and you begin to concentrate on Him.

    Your thoughts are directed specifically in this verse to Christ’s endurance (hupomeno) under heavy concentration of enemy fire. The active voice indicates that Christ produced the action of the verb by enduring both the cross and the “contradiction” or opposition (antilogia) while on the cross. The opposition of sinners includes all His human foes—religious and political, collective and individual (Luke 12:10). The perfect tense is intensive, viewing the action as completed and summarizing the existing results: the efficacious sacrifice of Christ; His saving work on the cross; His dying words in which He passed on the colors to the royal family; and the resurrection, ascension, and session that completed the strategic victory of the angelic conflict. Therefore, we are motivated to persist as He persisted, to remain positive as He was positive.

    Satan has now trained his sights on the royal family of God. In Hebrews 12:3, his guns are leveled against the believer in an attempt to cause fainting in the soul—the fatigue of reversionism with its insidious reactor factors. When victory is within your reach, pressure begins to mount. The enemy intensifies his search for chinks in your armor. What might cause in you the reactor factors of discouragement, despondency, bitterness, self-pity, jealousy, vindictiveness, implacability, boredom, or loneliness, and keep you from the Word of God? What is more attractive or important to you than Bible doctrine? What is your breaking point? As these are discovered, Satan exploits your frailties and sins in an attempt to soften your defenses and weaken your soul.

    Only as you and I concentrate on our Lord who “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15) can we overcome these temptations and sins which so readily assault our defenses.

For begin thinking about such a Person as Jesus Christ, having endured such opposition by the sinners against Himself, in order that you do not become exhausted [fatigued, enfeebled by reversionism], fainting in your souls. (Heb. 12:3, corrected translation)

THE NEW PERSPECTIVE OF THE HIGH GROUND: PHILIPPIANS 3:4-8

The Concept of Human Celebrityship

    The third chapter of the Book of Philippians presents the true perspective from the high ground in contrast to the false. The Apostle Paul is the case in point. As Saul of Tarsus, he was by mundane standards one of the foremost celebrities in the history of Judaism. Therefore, he could demonstrate from his own experience that there is a far more important issue in life than merely attaining the pinnacle of success. His declaration, “For to me to live is Christ” (Phil. 1:21a), defines that issue for every believer. Once you become a member of the royal family of God, Jesus Christ must be your only celebrity.

    The wrong perspective comes from the believer who becomes negative to Bible doctrine and is no longer occupied with Christ. He has left his “first love” (Rev. 2:4),49 and he now values someone or something above His Savior. In effect, he robs Christ of His celebrityship. This substitution is blasphemous and reversionistic and explains the reason for the divine discipline passage in Hebrews 12:4-15. No one in the royal family has the right to dispossess Jesus Christ of honor, fame, and celebrityship.

    Paul had built his reputation in Judaism and reached the zenith of celebrityship by being the most zealous and self-righteous keeper of the Mosaic Law among all the Pharisees. But now, Paul understood the emptiness and blasphemy of his legalistic pursuits. Therefore, when the Judaizers, men of the same ilk as Saul of Tarsus, infiltrated the church at Philippi, Paul had to expose their legalistic apostasy.

    The church at Philippi contained a large segment of retired military personnel from the Roman Army. When the Judaizers appeared, these Philippian believers were impressed and fell under their influence. Why? Judaism was the antithesis of the heathen Hellenistic culture and stood in opposition to the immorality and amorality of Hellenism. In their enthusiasm to escape their past, and urged on by the Judaizers, these ex-Roman soldiers accepted a legalistic adherence to the Mosaic Law as the Christian way of life. For this reason the Judaizers boasted of their popularity in Philippi.

    The Philippian believers who were ignorant of the ramifications of legalism and self-righteousness simply assumed that Paul had not gone far enough in his teaching on the spiritual life. They believed the Judaizers had taken the concept a step further. Paul needed to correct this error. To support his conclusion at the end of Philippians 3:3, “and [we] have no confidence in the flesh,” Paul makes a reasonable assumption:

Though I might also have confidence [πείθω, peitho] in the flesh [σάρξ, sarx]. If [εἴ, ei] any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more. (Phil. 3:4)

    The word sarx, “flesh,” can refer to the human body or to the sin nature, but here, connected with the verb peitho, “confidence,” it represents the vast dimensions of human prestige. When it came to earthly glory, Paul had more cause to boast, should he so desire, than any of the Judaizers who had criticized him. Although Paul stated, “I might also have confidence in the flesh [in carnal standards of celebrityship],” he actually possessed no confidence in any human attainment. He had long ago abandoned these apparent advantages. Now firmly established on the high ground of supergrace, he enjoyed a new dynamic perspective of life.

    The conditional particle ei, “if,” coupled with the indicative mood introduces a first class condition, a supposition from the viewpoint of reality: “if, and it is true.” Paul cited his previously prestigious place in Judaism in order to contrast serving self with serving the Lord. He intended to demonstrate that Bible doctrine can transform the illusion of human renown into one of genuine grace orientation. While the Judaizers arrogantly presumed that they were the quintessence of spirituality, Paul was a truly humble, modest person.

    Thus Paul countered the challenge of the Judaizers: “If you assume to have confidence in achievement [and you do]—I more.” Were salvation attained through adherence to legalism, his own works would have promoted Paul to heaven. Could credit have been ascribed to keeping the Law, then he himself would have been a spiritual giant by virtue of his superior morality and self-righteousness. In that case, when he came to Philippi, he would have taught salvation by the rite of circumcision and good works. Instead, he dogmatically declared to the Philippians, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”

And not putting confidence in the flesh, even though I myself might be having confidence in the flesh. If anyone of the same category [Judaizers] assumes [presumes] to have confidence in the flesh, I more. (Phil. 3:3b-4, corrected translation)

The False Perspective

    Paul had to establish a background of false criteria in order to present the true norm of supergrace. The false categories in which Paul outclassed all Judaizers are described in the next two verses.

Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. (Phil. 3:5-6)

    The first false criterion was confidence in ritual, “circumcised the eighth day.” The ritual of circumcision defined a true Israelite, but was practiced by the Judaizers without the reality of salvation. By the gauge of Judaism, circumcision on the eighth day indicated racial superiority. Yet even in Paul’s day, racial purity had more or less disappeared. Paul’s superiority began at the place where many of the Judaizers could not even compete, for more often than not they had been circumcised as adults.

    The second false criterion was confidence in physical birth from the race of Israel. Israel became both the racial and the national designation for the Jewish descendants of the twelve sons of Jacob.50 These descendants were to be “a great nation,” chosen by God to be “a people for His own possession” (Gen. 12:2a; Deut. 14:2, NASB). If salvation could be claimed on the basis of physical birth alone, Paul would definitely be saved. But since the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob demanded a new birth (John 3:7), Paul could have no confidence in the flesh. All corporeal values are eliminated by the glorious standards of grace. The status of one’s birth is not an issue in God’s economy.

    The third false criterion was confidence in family, “of the tribe of Benjamin.” This tribe possessed four outstanding qualities. The Benjamites were unsurpassed as soldiers; they could boast many heroes on the battlefield. Saul, the first king of Israel, sprang from the tribe of Benjamin; thus they could claim royal celebrityship. Furthermore, they were known for their undaunted loyalty to the Davidic dynasty. As a part of the Southern Kingdom, they possessed great stability and establishment éclat. Next to Judah, on the scale of prestige, the tribe of Benjamin was the most envied tribe. If relationship with God had been based on the family escutcheon or national prominence, Saul of Tarsus would have been automatically saved at birth.

    The fourth false criterion was confidence in nationalism or culture, “an Hebrew of the Hebrews.” This refers to both Jewish patriotism and cultural conservatism in contrast to the liberal and licentious Hellenistic culture which had infiltrated Israel. Traditionally, Hellenistic Jews were liberal; orthodox Jews, conservative. “An Hebrew of the Hebrews” indicates Paul’s orthodoxy. A tremendous patriot, Saul of Tarsus had staunchly rejected liberalism in culture and heritage.

    The fifth false criterion was confidence in religion, “as touching [or with reference to] the law, a Pharisee.” The Pharisees were an ancient, exclusive Jewish sect that came into being after the Babylonian captivity. During the Maccabean period, a sharp difference of opinion split the party into two factions: the Sadducees and Pharisees. The Sadducees, who drew their members from the ranks of the priests, became the skeptics and were primarily concerned with their social position. The Pharisees, whose membership was composed of the scribes, pursued their legalistic tendencies with zealous sanctimony. They paid excessive regard to tradition and ceremony and developed a concept of superior holiness. While their original intentions were sound—separation from all that defiled body and soul (Ezra 6:21; 9:1)—they departed from Bible doctrine.

    Jesus Christ strongly condemned Pharisaism; and now, Paul exposed them for what they truly were—religious hypocrites whose confidence rested in human righteousness and who rejected the grace of God. Had Paul placed any credence in the flesh, he would have relied on the religion of Pharisaism for salvation.

    The sixth false criterion was confidence of function, “concerning [with reference to] zeal, persecuting the church.” If the criterion were zealous pursuit of his cause, then Paul was superior to all zealots of Judaism. For Paul persecuted without discrimination all types of Christians, whereas the Judaizers persecuted only true grace believers. Since Paul had become a believer in Christ and had taken the high ground, he constantly exposed the error of salvation by works, sincerity, or false convictions.

    The seventh false criterion was confidence of self-righteousness, “touching the righteousness [with reference to self-righteousness] which is in the law, [having become] blameless.” Saul of Tarsus excelled in the observance of every jot and tittle of the Mosaic Law. While he was undeniably moral, he later realized that, in fact, his religious fanaticism established him as the worst sinner who ever lived (1 Tim. 1:12-15). In rejecting this triumph of self-righteousness, he declared: “Man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of [in] Jesus Christ” (Gal. 2:16b). Doctrine had replaced the now defunct ritual of Judaism. Ritual without reality is meaningless. There must be substance in the soul to correlate ritual with fact.

    For example, ceremonies related to the presenting of our flag hold great significance for Americans who love their country. Every morning at reveille on a military post the color guard carries the national standard in the form of a ‘cocked hat’ as a reminder of the War for Independence when our forefathers fought for freedom. The standard is correctly placed onto the halyard to allow it to flow freely as a symbol that we won that war and became a free nation. At the command, “Present arms!” the colors are raised to the top of the pole to portray the fact that over two hundred years later we are still a free people.

    Every evening another ritual related to the flag is observed. At the sound of the sunset gun, the entire post comes to a standstill from the smallest child to the highest ranking officer. Those in vehicles get out, face in the direction of the post flag, and stand at attention. If they are in uniform, they salute. As the flag is lowered, there is silence except for the sounds of “To the Colors!” This ritual repeatedly affirms the fact that the military services are the guardians of our freedom, a concept which has been ordained by God Himself.

    Those who understand the price of freedom as it relates to the military can appreciate the dramatic flag-raising and lowering rituals. But, if these ceremonies are not connected to appreciation for our national freedom, they elicit neither a response of patriotism nor national pride. Ritual without reality is meaningless. Likewise with doctrine in the soul, we can celebrate not only our national heritage, but also our spiritual heritage as we learn to respect and to appreciate Christ as the true celebrity, our King of kings and Lord of lords.

The True Perspective of Human Celebrityship

    The issue of human celebrityship remains as provocative today as it was in Paul’s day. Therefore, Paul’s presentation of the true perspective is as pertinent now as when it was first written:

But [ἀλλά, alla] what things were gain [κέρδος, kerdos] to me [ἐγώ, ego], those I counted [ἡγέομαι, hegeomai] loss [ζημία, zemia] for Christ. (Phil. 3:7)

    The adversative conjunction alla, “but,” sets up a contrast between the false standards of human celebrityship and the true measure of a supergrace hero. “What things” comprise the spurious concepts of cosmic success and the erroneous perspective of either the unbeliever or the reversionistic believer. The word kerdos, “gain,” includes the seven false advantages of Paul’s ascendancy in Judaism. Paul knew that his attainment under Judaism was never the basis of his supergrace fame or renown. That is why Paul next uses the personal pronoun ego in the dative case. As a dative of disadvantage, “gain” becomes a detriment. “But whatever things were advantages [were actually disadvantages] to me” are “counted as loss.” Grace standards preclude all the advantages of human celebrityship.

    Some members of the royal family of God may have carried over from their lives as unbelievers certain criteria for celebrityship. Acclaim might go to athletics, drama, music, art, business, society, politics, or military excellence. While I am not disparaging achievement in any field of endeavor, eminence in the human sphere must never be allowed to displace Jesus Christ. But only you can decide who or what is paramount in your life. A decision in favor of human prestige can quickly turn you negative toward Bible doctrine.

    The issue in focus here is the believer who seeks worldly recognition and neglects Bible doctrine in his struggle for honor, fame, or wealth. Nothing must keep the believer from consistency and persistence in the field of positive volition toward doctrine. Consistent and decisive positive volition orients the believer to the grace perspective. Doctrinal orientation is the first floor of the edification complex in the soul, grace orientation the second, and both are essential in the consolidation of spiritual growth. Every believer fails and makes mistakes as he captures the glory road inch by inch. But once he gains a foothold on the lofty heights of maturity, he will be troubled less and less by human viewpoint and the tug-of-war between the celebrityship of Christ and the accolades of human approbation.

    Grace orientation is a decisive step in the Christian’s supergrace paragraph. If prosperity and success do not come from the Lord, they are not worth having. Quite possibly this was the real issue underlying the bitterness and hatred of the Judaizers toward Paul. He had achieved a fame which they could never equal, and its source was the Lord.

    In his past, Paul was the holder of seven ‘world records’ for legalism; so he was an authority on the subject as indicated by the present middle indicative of hegeomai, “to conclude as an expert.” It was Paul’s expert opinion that his celebrityship status must be “counted” as loss. The singular of zemia reveals that the seven false gains of Judaism are lost as one. From the perspective of Judaism, such merits were advantageous, but from the perspective of grace, they were worthless ballast. Grace orientation in the soul exposes the counterfeit merit of legalism.

    Ask yourself, “Am I seeking fame and fortune by my own ability, or am I grace oriented? Can I await my supergrace paragraph from God?” Appreciation of the fantastic supergrace blessings which God provides always accompanies grace orientation. As doctrine takes up residency in the soul, the old legalisms are replaced by a new scale of grace values. To achieve honor apart from grace and doctrinal orientation plays into the hand of Satan, for invariably, human pride, approbation, and power lust enter the picture of the self-made man.

    Let me balance that statement by saying that the divine perspective is not acquired by renouncing worldly recognition or achievement. The act of renouncing in itself is a subtle system of merit that is incompatible with grace: “Look at me God! Look what I have given up!” The principle of the Christian life consists not in giving up something, but in replacing human success with divine provision. As you follow the colors and advance to supergrace, there will be both replacement of human reputation by the celebrityship of Christ and the application of Bible doctrine and grace orientation to every circumstance.

Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung [σκύβαλον, skubalon], that I may win [κερδαίνω, kerdaino] Christ. (Phil. 3:8)

    The closest we can come to a literal translation of the five Greek particles which form the phrase, “Yea doubtless and,” would be “More emphatically, therefore, even I also.” Paul never apologized for repetition. By reiterating the phrase, “I count” (hegeomai), he emphatically asserted that he knew what he was talking about. His dogmatic conclusion that “all things” (plural) be one loss (singular) was not a matter of pride, but of supergrace confidence. Because of Christ, Paul had forfeited and replaced, not merely renounced, all the achievements of Judaism. He had suffered not loss but a greater gain: the benefit of “the excellency [the surpassing greatness] of the knowledge of Christ Jesus,” his Lord.

    Please notice what constitutes surpassing greatness in the Christian life: knowledge of doctrine which leads to occupation with Christ. Paul kept on concluding that human effort advantages are skubalon (plural)—“piles of dung.” Paul is comparing all energy-of-the-flesh deeds to a pile of excrement—the worst possible insult. Nevertheless, Paul has the true perspective of surpassing greatness. The purpose of a complete break with the past and its human viewpoint reasoning was to achieve the objective of supergrace: “that I may win [aorist active subjunctive of the verb kerdaino, “to gain”] Christ.” As a good soldier of Jesus Christ, Paul set his sights on the high ground and on occupation with his Lord.

But what category of things were gains [advantages] to me, these same things I myself have concluded loss [disadvantage] because of the Christ [occupation with Christ]. More emphatically, therefore, even I also myself conclude the all things of human achievement and celebrityship to be loss for the sake of the surpassing greatness of the knowledge of Jesus Christ my Lord [supergrace status], because of whom I have forfeited the all things of human celebrityship, and keep on concluding them piles of dung in order that I may gain Christ [to seize and hold the high ground of supergrace]. (Phil. 3:7-8, corrected translation)

THE PERSISTENT DECISION TO FOLLOW THE COLORS: PHILIPPIANS 3:12-14

Consolidating Your Gains

    On the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg, the Confederates of General Lewis A. Armistead’s Brigade made a final assault. “Pickett’s Charge,” as it is commonly known, reached its objective, the clump of trees and the stone wall at the Union center, but was unable to hold that position. The few hundred Southerners that actually crossed over the stone wall were outnumbered and lacked reinforcements, and were subsequently overrun by thousands of Federal troops. Hence, ebbed the “hide tide of the Confederacy.”

    Unlike the Confederates at the stone wall, each breakthrough in the spiritual life must be exploited. Reserves must be available in order to support the advance. Otherwise, the offensive loses its punch and the ground cannot be held. Even though you have arrived at an objective in the spiritual life, unless you hold your ground and then press on vigorously, you will be forced to retreat. Qui non proficit deficit, “He who does not advance, retreats.”

    Many of you will come right up to the crest of the supergrace heights. You will enjoy the view and bask in its splendor, but the accompanying prosperity will prove too much. You will be lured away from doctrine by a myriad of distractions. When you are no longer supported by doctrine, retreat is inevitable. Then as soon as you are in trouble, you charge back to doctrine. If you keep climbing up and slipping down the hill without consolidating your gains, you will never truly realize your supergrace paragraph of blessing. In fact, the blessing will turn to the cursing of discipline. The continual enjoyment of supergrace blessings is contingent upon your tenacity in the function of GAP, which builds a bulwark of doctrine in the soul.

    The Apostle Paul had once been on the summit of supergrace, but had been driven off in reversionism. He had defied God’s geographical will for his life, disregarded the Prophet Agabus’ warning (Acts 21:11), and went instead to Jerusalem in May of 57 A.D. Paul loved Jerusalem. Here the Church had its origin, and here, too, his past greatness and present status were well known.

    However, the Jerusalem church had been infiltrated by legalism, and Paul was considered to be highly controversial. Paul thought perhaps the congregation would give him a hearing if he consented to some overt sign of affiliation with the Judaizers. He knew better, but his emotional attachment to the holy city blurred his discernment. He compromised grace and entered the Temple to take a vow (Acts 21:20-24). Paul had fallen prey to legalism and subsequently to reversionism. He would have died the sin unto death had it not been for the grace of God operating through the intervention of the Roman military.

    Four years of discipline in prison followed, during which time Paul recovered from reversionism and wrote the prison epistles. By the time he penned the Book of Philippians, Paul had once more reached the high ground. He had planted the colors, but now he must hold his position in preparation for further advance.

Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after [διώκω, dioko], if that I may apprehend [καταλαμβάνω, katalambano] that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. (Phil. 3:12)

    The phrase, “Not as though [οὐκ ὅτι, ouk hoti] I had already [ἤδη, hede—“before now”] attained [λαμβάνω, lambano],” does not refer to “the resurrection of the dead” of verse 11, but moves on to a second conclusion. The first conclusion at the end of verse 8 related to capturing the high ground: “I keep on concluding them [human systems of celebrityship] piles of dung in order that I may gain Christ [to seize the high ground of supergrace].” The second conclusion in verse 12 refers to the consolidation of these gains: “nor were already perfect” or “I have not before now reached the objective.” This indicates that Paul had returned to the high ground, but was not as yet totally stabilized.

    With his position on the high ground secure, Paul would not be driven off again. This time he would exploit the breakthrough. He affirmed his determination by the statement, “I follow after” (dioko), or literally, “I am pursuing or pressing the attack.” In the last five years of Paul’s life, he not only held his ground but he advanced spiritually beyond any other believer in history. From that final period of his life emerged seven great epistles that were destined to reverse the course of history for every generation after 62 A.D.

    Paul’s firm resolution not to repeat the same mistake but to press on is expressed in the unusual conditional particle ei, “if,” plus the aorist active subjunctive of the verb katalambano. The subjunctive is the mood of contingency. This, coupled with the first class conditional particle ei, signifies that while the outcome of Paul’s resolution was still in question at the time of writing, there was no doubt in Paul’s mind that he would hold the high ground. Therefore, he kept on driving. For assaulting the hill he used lambano; for staying there, katalambano. The culminative aorist recognizes that he had attained the first objective only to discover a new objective; he must remain on top until death.

    “Press the attack” was one of Stonewall Jackson’s favorite battle cries. Once he had achieved a breakthrough, he would ride from one outfit to another and shout, “Press them! Press them!” When his troops were successful, he moved through the regiment exclaiming, “Good! Very good!” After Paul had consolidated his gains and stood on the threshold of the golden bridge of dying grace, he may well have said “Good! Very good!” or, as he wrote to Timothy: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course [the advance toward the high ground], I have kept the faith [doctrine]” (2 Tim. 4:7). In the galaxy of supergrace believers in history, Paul shines the brightest because he exploited to the maximum the tactical victory of supergrace.

    It is God’s purpose that every believer in the royal family follow the colors to the high ground of supergrace. Jesus Christ has “apprehended [seized and held]” us so that we can fulfill that objective. Everything we will need in time and in eternity was provided in eternity past—before we existed. Now, while God is still invisible to us, we can attain the supergrace life so that invisible God becomes visible to us through Bible doctrine.

Not that I have before now received permanent supergrace status, nor have I before now reached the objective [supergrace and beyond—the road to glory]; now then, I keep on pressing that also I might seize and hold the high ground of supergrace on account of which high ground of supergrace I also was seized and held by Christ Jesus. (Phil. 3:12, corrected translation)

Securing Your Position

    Paul learned from his past failures. Never again would he let them hinder his advance or cause him to retreat into reversionism. He demonstrated that a person who has become submerged in great failures and mistakes can still emerge a supergrace hero.

    Upon your arrival at the crest of the high ground, you are established in the normal function of a royal priest. To retain that status and function to the fullest, you must exploit the breakthrough by which the element of contingency is overcome. Therefore, in securing your position, you must not dwell on past failures, but forget them.51 Although Paul relates this principle to his own experience, it applies to each believer.

Brethren, I count not myself [λογίζομαι, logizomai] to have apprehended [katalambano]: but this one thing I do, forgetting [ἐπιλανθάνομαι, epilanthanomai] those things which are behind, and reaching forth [ἐπεκτείνομαι, epekteinomai] unto those things which are before. (Phil. 3:13)

    “Brethren”—royal family of God—implies that we can take Paul’s autobiographical material and apply it to our own lives. “I count” is the present middle indicative of logizomai meaning “to evaluate myself.” Paul is thinking objectively with regard to himself. The negative adverb ou, “not,” should read “not yet.” Paul’s evaluation of himself is that he has not yet “apprehended” (katalambano again)—seized and held the high ground. Katalambano is a consummative perfect, a process of seizing and holding that is not yet completed. However, Paul anticipates that the objective will be secured.

    “But one thing” is an idiomatic expression in the Greek which connotes concentration: “but one thing on which I concentrate.” Every believer should concentrate on the objective—follow the colors, advance to the high ground, keep pressing. Despite failure, get up and keep moving. How is this accomplished? By “forgetting” (epilanthanomai) the past.

    Your own agonizing memories of failure will be exacerbated by people who will also remind you of your failures. You will be the victim of judging, maligning, pressure, and other reactions. Consequently, you must concentrate on forgetting your past sins. Notice what this does not say: cry over your failures, defend yourself, justify your actions, try to straighten things out. All this is eliminated by the word “forget.” Part of your advance is to completely eradicate from your memory what lies behind you.

    But you cannot stop there. The advance is to be continued. “Reaching forth” (epekteino) is used for a sprinter who extends every effort as he approaches the finish line. He gives every ounce of energy to win a race or to exploit a breakthrough. “Constantly stretching forward” toward that “which lies ahead”—the high ground. Paul stresses the importance of unflinching positive volition which results in the daily function of GAP—even after you attain maturity. As long as you are alive, keep pressing. This is the means by which you secure your position.

Brethren [royal family of God], I evaluate myself as not yet having seized and held the high ground of supergrace; but one thing on which I concentrate: forgetting what lies behind [reversionistic failure] and pressing toward what lies ahead [supergrace, dying grace, surpassing grace]. (Phil. 3:13, corrected translation)

The Victory Prize

I press toward the mark for the prize [βραβεῖον, brabeion] of the high calling [κλῆσις, klesis] of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 3:14)

    Because of the time he wasted in reversionism, Paul could not emphasize enough the necessity of continued advance. Not only did he resolve to proceed all the way to surpassing grace, but he hoped that all believers would follow his example.

    Once Paul was on the high ground, he saw the panorama of the next objective, “the mark”—dying grace and surpassing grace. As Paul viewed the other side of the hill, he anticipated and saluted his surpassing-grace paragraph. When at last he crossed the golden bridge of dying grace, he would embrace or receive brabeion, “the prize”—surpassing-grace rewards. Dying grace bridges the gap between supergrace and surpassing grace. By securing his position, Paul achieved his supergrace blessings in time, dying grace happiness, and surpassing-grace rewards in eternity. This portion of his autobiography is recorded in 2 Timothy.

Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown [surpassing-grace blessings, beyond the normal blessings of eternity] of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing [supergrace believers]. (2 Tim. 4:8)

    The Lord keeps an ER (efficiency rating) on all believers (2 Chron. 16:9) to determine their supergrace blessings and surpassing-grace rewards. These ‘decorations’ are described in Philippians 3:14 as belonging to the klesis, “the high calling” or “the upward station.” The upward station is the eternal state, or phase three, where all believers receive the results of their ER. The source of surpassing blessings is God; the recipients, the royal family of God—those “in Christ Jesus.” What is the daily ER as a Christian soldier? The believer either goes down the ‘gory’ road of reversionism and loses both supergrace and surpassing-grace rewards, or takes the glory road of Bible doctrine and wins the prize in time and in eternity.

I keep advancing to the objective [following the colors on the road to glory: from saving grace to supergrace, from supergrace to dying grace, from dying grace to surpassing grace] for the purpose of reward [surpassing-grace paragraph in eternity] belonging to the upward station [phase three] from the God [paragraph in the divine decree] in Christ Jesus [part of royal family]. (Phil. 3:14, corrected translation)

    There is a poem entitled The Colors, which I have adapted, that beautifully sums up the glory road—God’s purpose for us in the angelic conflict.

You cannot choose your battlefield,
God does that for you;
But you can plant a standard [the colors]
Where the colors never flew!52

    Take up the challenge: Follow the colors!