May 21, 2008

Christ Gospel Church on the Good News: Part Two

(Christ Gospel Church is an international sect with affiliate churches in half a dozen African countries and shortwave broadcasts to many others. You can read the previous posts in this series here: What Does Christ Gospel Church Teach?, Christ Gospel Church on Scripture, Christ Gospel Church on Mankind, Christ Gospel Church on God, Christ Gospel Church on the Lord Jesus Christ: Part One and Part Two, Christ Gospel Church on the Good News: Part One)

V. The Good News

This week, we continue studying CGC's teaching on the Good News. After looking at mankind's need, we are now ready to understand the degrees of reward. When taken together, their gospel message becomes clear.

The Degrees of Reward

God has commanded that believers grow in Grace and Knowledge of the LORD Jesus Christ (I Peter 2:1,2; II Peter 3:18). God's Word commands that the believer grow unto the measure of the Stature of the Fullness of Jesus Christ or unto full spiritual maturity (Ephesians 4:13,14).[1]
Precious Gem In The TabernacleFor Hicks, salvation is the first step in the Christian life, not the sum of the Christian life. Christians are to live a life devoted to God. "God gives us His Gift of Salvation through Jesus Christ so that we can have a New Heart created in us; thus our New Heart can perform the good works of His Master Plan and Purposive Will."[2] Hicks points to Ephesians 4:11-13 to show the goal for followers of Christ: "In his letter to the church at Ephesus, the Apostle Paul set forth the possibility of growth to full maturity in the Spiritual Stature of Christ, which every believer is called to press toward."[3] She reveals how believers are to achieve this goal with the following insight: "Nowhere in Scripture do we find such a precious gem of truth or such a complete picture of the measure of the stature of Christ, which Paul relates in Ephesians 4:13, then in the Old Testament Tabernacle."[4] Consequently, one discovers the stature of Jesus Christ through the detailed blueprint of the Old Testament Tabernacle.

Achieving the spiritual stature of Christ enables one to be a member of Christ's bride. This objective is accomplished through one's works and is distinct from salvation. "According to the Scriptures, man's Salvation is a gift. . . . But the Prize of being in Christ's Bride comes by personal choice and by spiritual growth unto the measure of the Stature of the Fullness of Christ."[5] Later, Hicks is even more explicit: "The Bible tells us that the Bride made herself ready, which speaks of her works. Salvation is a Gift to all believers from God, and, therefore, does not consist of works. . . . The reward of being in the Bride, however, is a result of Works."[6] Therefore, "Not every Christian is going to be in the Bride. In the natural realm there are more people at a wedding than the bride and the bridegroom. There are the best man, the bridesmaids, the guests, and many others. In like manner, the Wedding Supper of the Lamb will have more than just the Bride and Jesus, the Bridegroom."[7]

Degrees Of Reward For Spiritual GrowthAs a result, the works that a Christian accomplishes in their present life will determine what they will obtain at the final judgement. When speaking of 1 Corinthians 15:41-42, Hicks compares the glory of the sun, moon, and stars with the resurrection glory of believers:
In Eternity, the first group of Christians will shine as small stars of Glory. The second group will shine with brighter Glory, as the brighter stars. The third group will have gained a sufficient measure of the LORD Jesus Christ's Spiritual Stature to shine with a still brighter Glory, like the moon; and the fourth group will be those who have grown into the measure of the Fullness of Christ's Spiritual Stature. They will be spiritually mature and will shine with the brightest Glory, like the sun, because their wills will have been joined in Marriage Union to Jesus Christ's Will. It is the fourth class of Christians who will be in Christ's Bride because they will possess the highest degree of Glory - the Glory of the Sun.[8]
Therefore, believers earn their future eternal abiding place with God.

Christians will also receive a particular type of clothing based upon their works. "The Book of Revelation describes three distinct kinds of Clothing worn by saints at the resurrection: White Robes, White Raiment, and White Linen. This spiritual apparel is exceedingly important because the believer's eternal abiding place will be determined by the Garment or Garments he wears on Resurrection Morning."[9] The bottom groups of glory (both those of the star glory and the brighter star glory) will receive white robes and dwell in the New Heavens. "[T]he ones who wear White Robes never will leave Heaven; they will stay there forever and ever and serve God day and night. God will dwell among them by His Omnipresence in the same way that He dwells in the world today."[10] Those of the moon glory will receive white raiment and rule over the New Earth. "The New City will not be the dwelling place of the White Raiment group. . . . This group grew in Spiritual Stature to such a degree that they will be entrusted with Christ's Governmental Ruling and Reigning Power on the New Earth."[11] The New City [New Jerusalem] is for those in white linen, those of the sun glory, the bride of Christ. "Only the Bride of Jesus Christ, the New Jerusalem, will be able to give Christ's Sun-Glory Light to the New Earth because she is the only one who will be joined in perfect Marriage Relationship with Jesus Christ Who is the Lamb of the New City and the Light of the world."[12] Therefore, the New Heavens, the New Earth, and the New City are three stages of achievement for believers to gain. Clearly, the goal for those who belong to CGC is to become a member of the bride of Christ.

[1]Articles of Faith, 5.
[2]Hicks, Believe, Repent, and Accept God's Gift of Salvation, 51.
[3]B. R. Hicks, Growing in God, 1989 ed. (Jeffersonville, IN: Christ Gospel Press, 1989), 3. Ephesians 4:13 is an oft-quoted key text in Hicks' beliefs and writings.
[4]B. R. Hicks, Precious Gem in the Tabernacle (Jeffersonville, IN: Christ Gospel Press, 1961), 9. This book contains Hicks' exposition of the Old Testament Tabernacle as it relates to believers' spiritual growth.
[5]B. R. Hicks, Degrees of Reward for Spiritual Growth, 2002 ed. (Jeffersonville, IN: Christ Gospel Press, 2002), 4. Emphasis in original.
[6]Ibid, 44-45. Emphasis in original.
[7]Hicks, Growing in God, 11.
[8]Hicks, Degrees of Reward for Spiritual Growth, 22-23.
[9]Ibid, 33.
[10]Ibid, 38.
[11]Ibid, 42.
[12]Ibid, 44. Emphasis in original.