THE GOD OF CHRIST JESUS
BY: LLOYD ELLEFSON
Greetings in Jesus' name! In this lesson we want to talk about God and how to know Him in truth. People all over the world have such varied ideas about God, and all think their ideas are the only correct ones. Buddhists, orthodox and liberal Muslims, spiritualists, Satan worshippers, etc., all claim to have true ideas about God. They study and create philosophies, yet are unable to come to the truth. What is truth? How surprised people must have been when Jesus said, "I am the truth." What did He mean by that?
In the days of Elijah the prophet, the queen and the ruling hierarchy were very evil. About 400 priests of Baal ate at the king's table. This was an abomination in God's sight. Elijah proved that Baal's priests were powerless, and only God had real power! This brought the people to repentance and they said, "The Lord, He is God!" The hearts of the people were turned back to the God of their fathers.
Jesus said, "And if you care to accept it, he himself (John the Baptist) is Elijah, who has come." (Matt. 11:14) John the Baptist was known for his message and baptism of repentance. Ignorance of the true meaning of repentance is one of the obstacles that we face. Most people think of repentance as a continual repentance from their sins. They repent again and again to get forgiveness again and again. Yet nothing happens to their nature - the very root of their sin. When John the Baptist came on the scene, he said, "The axe is laid to the root of the tree." This root is the root of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2 & 3) In the New Testament we are asked to repent of our whole perception and concept of self and God.
What about the Old Testament then? Jesus said that all that came before Him were thieves and robbers. (John 10) Who are these who rob us of something? Living in the types and shadows of the Old Testament will rob us of the spiritual truth that is in Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ is the reason for our repentance; we are to turn from our own ideas and receive Him! He is the total concept, the entire new consciousness, the complete new realization of God! He is the truth! The law and the old covenant had failed to demonstrate this. The law had brought them the knowledge of sin. As long as these natural, physical concepts control our lives we will be frustrated, for they are a stumbling block to us; they keep us from finding the truth. If the old is not put away, we will not find truth; as long as the old tabernacle is still standing we will not find the new. (Hebrews 9)
How can we know the truth? Those who are in deception think their deception is truth, otherwise they would not believe their deception. Pilate also wanted to know what truth is! (John 18) Pilate began by asking Jesus if He was a king. Jesus answered, "You say I am a king, but this is the reason I was born, and this is the reason I came into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice." (v.37) Jesus came to bear witness to the truth! No one before Him had been bearing witness to the truth on His level, otherwise He would not have said that!
The prophets and the Bible testify to the truth; but they CANNOT give us the truth! They testify of Christ! Jesus said, "Search the scriptures because you THINK in them you have eternal life; and it is these that BEAR WITNESS of ME." (Jn. 5:39) JESUS IS THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE! (Jn. 14:6) We cannot get truth and life FROM Jesus; WE GET CHRIST JESUS THE SON OF GOD, AND HE IS OUR TRUTH AND LIFE! God does not give us anything that is detached from Himself, because anything separated from God is in the death realm! Nothing can be detached from God and live. Since humanity lives in a body, which is in the death realm, it is always seeking things for itself; it seeks its own identity - an identity tied to its mortal body made of dust. Yet people fade away and die like grass, and their bodies return to the dust. There is no redemption in this!
Redemption means that we are taken out of this identity with the mortal body! Repentance is an about turn - we turn from our ignorance of God to the true knowledge of God. Probably all the bad things that happen to humanity present, past, and future, are based upon people's ignorance of God, of truth, and life! If they hadn't been really ignorant, they would not have put Jesus on the cross; nor would Jesus have prayed, "Father forgive them for THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO." They did it in ignorance! It was not just a matter of ignoring what He said; it was more than that! They were actually unconscious of the true meaning and reality of what He was saying.
John the Baptist preached the baptism of repentance - a repentance, not so much from sins, but from the ROOT of sin. This is the human nature, the Adamic man! Adam was a type of Him who was to come. (Rom. 5:14) "For as through the one man's disobedience, the many were made sinners, even so through the One the many will be made righteous." (v.19) A type is not the reality, but a representation of a reality. Let's look at the temples as a pattern of a spiritual reality. These temples were all temporal, for they were all constructed of destructible materials - and they were destroyed. The tabernacle no longer exists, Solomon's temple has been destroyed, and Ezra's temple, which Herod enlarged has also been destroyed. God is dwelling in a temple not made with hands; one, which will not be destroyed! God is asking people to repent of the temporal and to embrace the eternal!
When Jesus and three of His disciples went to a high mountain, He was transfigured before them. His face shone as the sun, and His garments became white as light. Then Moses and Elijah appeared to them. (Matt. 17) Moses represented the law and Elijah repentance. "Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, that every mouth may be closed, and all the world may become accountable to God." (Rom. 3:19) Even though we are not under the law, it seems as though the law has dominion over us. Every person is guilty before God; the whole world lies in the wicked one, and nobody knows God. Everyone who thinks he knows something about God, and can find the correct idea of God in his own mind, ability and comprehension, needs to repent! His mouth needs to be stopped from speaking arrogant words. This is repentance! That is why Elijah appeared together with Moses.
Only God knows who He is in essence and reality! In order to reveal Himself to us He sent His representative into our realm - into our humanity, which could not conceive spiritual things. Although people may talk about spiritual things, about being spiritual and about having the Spirit, they may not understand what it means. We often hear people say, "God told me...." or "The Spirit told us..." How does God speak to us? He doesn't speak into the human ears. He speaks to us through the Spirit, and usually there is no tangible sound or voice that comes out of the Spirit. It is a dawning, a realization that comes to us - an understanding that is beyond that which our natural mind has perceived. Jesus listened to the Spirit continually.
After having been under the law for 30 years, Jesus turned away from it and received the Holy Spirit. Then He heard the voice from heaven say, "This is My beloved Son." This witness came again on the Mount of Transfiguration. The disciples, Peter, James and John were with Jesus, and they were enraptured with all they saw! Peter said, "Let us build three tabernacles, one for Moses, one for Elijah, and one for Jesus." This was not God's idea! Moses and Elijah were not to be abiding places; they were the preparation, the groundwork to lead us to Christ! The Law of Moses convicts us of our inability to fulfill the law; Elijah testifies of repentance. The consummation of these testimonies brings us to Jesus Christ. They show us the way. We need to repent from being under the law. We need to stop spewing out our own ideas of who God is, and see that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of all the promises, all the prophecy, and all the law of God!
Jesus Christ came into this world to bear witness to the truth! What did the world have? Truth? No! The lie? Yes! Error? Yes! Delusion? Yes! Deception? Yes! That is why Jesus Christ needed to come as the truth! Since He is the truth, every other source of information about God or about reality is excluded. When we have Christ, we have the truth. The Bible and the prophets are a testimony to the truth. Although we do not know all truth, we have the truth because we have Christ! For this reason our minds can be renewed spiritually, and we begin to understand things about God that previously were an enigma to us.
Jesus made this statement, "All that came before Me were thieves and robbers." Truth is Christ Jesus. All who came before Him could not portray truth accurately. Jesus Christ, being the exact representation of the Father, is the truth. Jesus said, "If you have seen Me you have seen the Father." If we depend on other voices, other testimonies, the letter of the scriptures, the prophets, etc., we will not receive true spiritual realization. They all fall short of bringing it to us. But Christ doesn't! He comes to us and HE becomes our wisdom and our knowledge!
Now we come to the crux of this message. What was His truth about? He, the Son of God, is the truth! Rom. 8:3 says, "...God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh." So really the whole Godhead (God, His Word, His Son, the Spirit, the Christ), was active in the man Jesus Christ. But this was in His spirit - not in His flesh. The spiritual realization of the truth of God began to work through Him after He had lived under the law for 30 years, and had been baptized in the Jordan River. Before that time He didn't do anything spectacular; He didn't do any miracles. After that Jesus began to testify in a new way, saying things like, "I am the way, the truth, and the life...Before Abraham was, I AM...I am the resurrection."
God does not give us any of His attributes for our own possession. He gives us Christ, who is the very realization and the very reality of the way, the truth, the life and the resurrection. Jesus came to bear witness to the truth, because people did not have truth. The Old Testament contains many ideas about God. Many of them are still prevalent today, i.e. that God is a God of wrath that He makes many demands upon people, that He punishes and demands sacrifices. To some extent this is carried over into the New Testament.
The Old Testament way to God was through the letter of the law. Natural humanity cannot understand the spiritual realities of the Old Testament! Because of this, the types in the Old Testament are misinterpreted and wrongly applied. God gave Moses a pattern whereby he could build a tabernacle. The Israelites did not understand that temples are not true dwelling places for God, so they built more. A natural temple robs us of the true meaning of a temple. It does not give people a true idea of God, for in John 5 Jesus told the Jews that they had never heard His voice, nor seen His form...they did not have His word abiding in them...they didn't know whom He had sent...they didn't believe Moses...and received glory from men. In spite of all God's dealings with the Israelites, their understanding of God was all wrong! And so is natural humanity's!
Jesus Christ brought a new understanding of God. His message differed greatly from the message of the law. He taught that He was the truth and that all who came before Him were thieves and robbers! He said, "He that has seen Me has seen the Father." Jesus was the express image of the invisible God! This is reality! Are we going to believe what He demonstrated? If we do not believe, we get into the realm of making our own choices - a dependence on our natural mind. Do you believe in the ideas and concepts of God that were prevalent in Israel, or do you believe, realize and understand that Jesus is the way, the truth, the life, the resurrection, and the exact image of God? Do you believe that what He said and did, demonstrated God in a correct way? Do you believe that Christ's teaching would actually do away with the concepts of God that man previously held?
The Jews did not like what Jesus said. When Jesus said, "God is My Father" they accused Him of being a blasphemer, Beelzebub, and of having a devil. They didn't want to have anything to do with Him. They were satisfied with having their own Moses, their own laws, their own God, their own sacrifices, etc. Jesus said He would give them something better! If they would receive Him, He would be God's offering for them. He would give them His Spirit! People often ignorantly say, "I'll commit myself to You and give You my life." They do not understand that He wants to give us HIS life - He has no use for ours! He has given Himself for us! He doesn't want our commitment. He wants us to receive HIM as our life, our way, our understanding, and our union with God!
In John 5:19 Jesus showed His unity with the Father by saying, "The Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner." He was exactly identified with the invisible, one true God. There is only one God - not many gods! Jesus said to a scribe, "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord." (Mk. 12:29) God always identifies Himself as being ONE God! The total and true expression of our God and Father was revealed in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus revealed the nature of God instead of the law. "You have heard that it was said, `An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, do not resist him who is evil.'" (Matt. 5:38) Why? Jesus looked at evil the way God looks at evil. Lies have no substance, yet evil depends upon lies. They have no inherent power, therefore it is folly to resist that which has no substance. Instead, we are to put on the Lord Jesus Christ! In Him there is no evil! As we become absorbed in the life of God as expressed in Christ, we will forget about evil. This may appear to be an impossibility, but Christ does not ask us to do the impossible, nor to indulge in unfruitful behavior.
Instead of saying "an eye for an eye", He said, "Resist not evil!" Then He said that whoever shall strike you on your right cheek, turn to him the other one... if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also...and whoever shall compel you to walk a mile, walk with him an extra mile...give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. This is not legalism! But we would like legalistic thinking, like an eye for an eye retribution, wouldn't we? We don't want to help evil people, do we?
Jesus went on to say, "You have heard it has been said you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy." They heard "A tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye" in the Old Testament law! If someone took your eye out you could take his eye out! But Jesus was telling them not to do that anymore! He said, "I say to you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you." Jesus laid out a new program for them. Instead of berating their enemies and retaliating, they were to love them! He was expressing the Father truthfully when He said that! We also express the nature of our heavenly Father when we love those who do not love us! "That you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven." Jesus even called God FATHER! What a contrast between Christ's idea of God and that of Israel's!
The law was a FORM of truth and its purpose was to reveal our need of God - not to reveal God. Jesus, on the other hand, revealed the nature of God! He is the truth, and His authority is greater than the authority of the law. That is why He could say, "But I say to you...Don't resist evil...love your enemies." (v.44) Jesus is turning things around. THE REVELATION OF GOD IN CHRIST IS GREATER THAN THE REVELATION IN THE LAW! Which will we believe? If we believe they are equal, we are double-minded and unstable in all our ways. Being double-minded will not work! There is no compromise! We need to eradicate all our false ideas and believe Christ's revelation of God! Jesus Christ expressed the Father in a true way, but His testimony was not received. The ideas of God that come out of confusion, a mistaken identity of God and the wrong concepts prevalent in the Old Testament, do not portray God correctly.
God's children must have the nature of their Father! Then they will reveal His nature in their actions! They will not get into wars, fight for things of this world, feud for pieces of this terra firma, and contend for position and honor among men. Nor do they want to be known for their knowledge, intelligence, riches, good looks, etc. The law of an "eye for an eye" is not operational in the kingdom of God. He makes the sun to rise on the evil and on the good; He sends rain on the just and the unjust, for God is no respecter of persons. "For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same?" (v.46) If you just love those who love you, you are not any better than the Gentiles who do not know God. The tax-gatherers love their own - no problem! "And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others?" Our caring is to go beyond those who care for us. It is to extend to those who don't want anything to do with us; even to those who are not blessing us.
"Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (v.48) Jesus Christ's Father is also our heavenly Father. Jesus taught us to pray, "Our Father". Jesus came as the correct, unadulterated expression of the invisible God! It is interesting to note the things He said about Himself. "I do nothing of Myself...even if I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true; for I know where I came from...I have come into the world to bear witness to the truth...I am meek and lowly in heart...if you have heavy burdens, come to Me." His invitation to come to Him was not subject to certain conditions. It did not depend upon man's attainments or lack of same, upon being good or bad, etc. He can solve all problems!
Jesus Christ does not give us anything that has been separated from Himself. He gives us peace and harmony with God, so that we share the virtues of our Father God; we share His nature! Does our Father God hate his enemies? Does He deal with them on "the eye for an eye" basis? No, He certainly does not! He loves and forgives all of us even though we do not deserve it, and He sends rain on the just and unjust. This is our God! This is the God who has been portrayed to us in Jesus Christ! Humanity, the world, and organized religion portray a different God. They portray an idea of a God who punishes, a God who is full of wrath, and a God who is ready to trash you if you do wrong. They claim He will even send you to hell and burn you forever. This is ridiculous! This is not the God of our Lord Jesus Christ! This is a god who has been conceived in the carnal mind of mortal man. The carnal mind is an enemy of God and cannot be subject to His law.
Jesus said, "I am meek and lowly of heart... I always do what the Father tells Me to do... I did not come to bring condemnation...the world is already condemned... I came that they might have life." He understood that God is our life and that there is no life outside of God. "In Him we live and move and have our being." Natural man is ignorant of this great truth, and he will always be ignorant of it. Therefore we are to answer the call of God and come out of our natural thinking. We are to leave the world system, for it has a wrong conception of God and of itself; it operates in guilt and condemnation and is already condemned. So there is no need for God or Christ to condemn anyone. He came to save us! "...God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself." (2 Cor. 5:19)
People separate Jesus from God, and think He is more accessible than God. They think that if they pray to Him, He will intercede on their behalf; that the Father will only see the Son and won't see their sin at all. They think this is His work as man's mediator. This is an erroneous concept! We are new creatures in Christ Jesus! We are born anew! We have a new realization of life! We are to dwell in our new life - spirit, soul, and body - NOW! We are not to dwell in our human nature - in what our human mind and this world system has been telling us. Its information about life and death and good and evil, is based upon a lie. These things have no root or fruit in Christ.
We have the mind of Christ! He did not allow the negative things that happen to people infringe upon His relationship with God. God was His power, wisdom and source of everything. He was the exact representation and unadulterated presence of the one invisible God! He never changes! Since Jesus is the truth, everything outside of Him is not the truth. Although some things can represent truth and be figures of truth, they are not the reality. Even Adam was a figure of Him who was to come. Figures or pictures of washing machines can't wash our clothes. This just doesn't happen. The truth or the reality of our new realization of being is Christ. "The Lord is the Spirit!" (2 Cor. 3:17)
Many desire the Holy Spirit for His gifts rather than for who He is. They want healing, prosperity, speaking in tongues; others enjoy the special attention these gifts provide, for it makes them appear more spiritual. The old self, the I, is still very much alive in these instances. But we are looking at something deeper - we are looking at being taken into oneness with God! (John 17:11,21-23) That is, that God is our life and there isn't any other life! We really don't have any life independent of God. No life can exist in separation from God! It has to be joined with Him, be in union with Him, be a part of Him at all times! This is the truth Jesus came to express to us. He said, "I am one with the Father...the Father never leaves Me...it is not I but the Father in Me that does His works." God the Father was in Christ!
When Jesus prayed to the Father in the garden, He demonstrated His identification with us - not His exact identification with the Father - because He laid everything aside to become in all points like as we were, yet without sin. That is why He could say, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do in their ignorance." That is why He said, "Father, why have you forsaken Me?" We have to see what went on behind the scenes of His fleshly body. God the Father was expressing Himself exactly and correctly in Him! He was undoing the wrong thinking man has been having about who God is, who Christ is, who we were, and what creation is.
When I was reading Genesis 1 the other day, I noticed that it contained nothing about corruption, sin and death! In regard to all of creation - the sea, the earth, the heavens, foliage, animals and man - God said, "It is very good." This also applies to all who are in Christ Jesus, for they are the new creation man. Christ came to bring us into this new creation man! He brings us into oneness with God, an awareness of this new life, and of being children or sons of God. The Holy Spirit unfolds these realities to us; He tells us who God really is. However, when our minds do not want to receive these realities, a conflict takes place. This is the conflict of the ages, the battle of Armageddon - wanting only to receive the human concepts of God instead of the spiritual concepts displayed by Christ the Son of God. Jesus was not just a good man, doing miracles - stilling the sea, healing people, raising the dead, and having compassion on people - He was an expression of the invisible God! He said, "It is the Father in Me who does His works." In a sense He didn't do any of these things; it was simply the Father operating in the man Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit.
"In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us..." (1 Jn. 4:10) We didn't have love. It is God who IS love! His love cannot be compared with human love. "Love never fails." (1 Cor. 13) God's love has nothing to do with the sensual love so evident today. Because people only love themselves, they don't want children, and divorces are becoming more prevalent. This is not the unselfish giving love of God! The love mentioned in 1 Cor. 13 is not human love; it is God's love! Without His love, we will just be a noisy gong or clanging cymbals. There won't be any foundation to the things we say. Even if we prophesy, understand mysteries, have a wealth of knowledge and all faith, we are nothing if we don't have love! We can give all our goods to feed the poor and our bodies to be burned, but it does not profit us anything if we don't have love. God's love is so necessary because it goes beyond all selfish gain! It is something else!
God's love is an expression of who God is. He expressed His love through His beloved Son! 1 Cor. 13 tells us what love is:
LOVE is patient, LOVE is kind!" That's our God!
LOVE doesn't envy anybody - God does not envy anybody!
LOVE does not brag - God does not protect Himself.
LOVE is not puffed up nor arrogant - God has no pride!
LOVE does not act unbecomingly - God doesn't act foolishly! LOVE does not seek its own way - God does not use pressure, physical abuse, diseases and evil to get His own way. He is not even seeking His own way; He doesn't have selfishness! He has laid out a program for us to follow in Christ!
LOVE is not provoked, and thinks no evil - God is not provoked. "For I know the plans that I have for you...plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope." (Jer. 29:11) His thoughts toward us are good - not evil.
LOVE does not rejoice in iniquity nor unrighteousness. It rejoices in the truth! God rejoices in His Son, for He is the truth! He is the way, the resurrection, and the life. He is the I AM. "Before Abraham was, I AM." He is not a WAS, or a GOING TO BE, but the great I AM! He is the same yesterday, today, and forever! Jesus Christ does not change because He is constantly expressing the true idea of God. "LOVE bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. LOVE never fails!" LOVE believes all things that proceed from the mouth of God. It does not operate in the realm of good and evil, but in righteousness! The love that is in this world fails. Our love fails because it is self-oriented; when the other person fails to return our love, it becomes non-existent. God's love is not like that!
Not all things are abiding. Prophecies and knowledge will be done away with; tongues will cease. These are things, which are in the part realm. When the perfect comes the part realm is done away. The PERFECT is the FULFILLMENT. Christ is the fulfillment of the prophecies; He is our knowledge. We don't need knowledge because we have God who knows everything, and He reveals to us what we need. The Spirit of truth teaches us all things and bring us into all truth. Right now we know in part, we prophesy in part, but when true realization of God comes, we shall know fully just as we have been fully known. "When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things...now I know in part, but then I shall know fully..." (v.12) The abiding things we have are faith, hope and love! But the greatest of these is love. And God is love!
I hope I have presented truth in such a way that you will BELIEVE! The exact presentation of truth brings with it a judgment. Will we believe the truth, or will we ignore it? Elijah said, "How long will you waver between two opinions?" How long will you waffle between your false ideas of God, and the truth as presented in Jesus Christ? How long will you sit on the fence? How long will you see-saw back and forth? How long will you be double-minded, being unstable in all your ways? Are you listening to natural man's idea of God as expressed in the Old Testament, or are you committing yourself to the revelation of God that is in Christ? Are you judging God according to the things you see happening in the world, or are you agreeing with Christ's revelation of God? Our response must be, "He is the truth, the life, and the way! This is the way to go! I believe God as Jesus Christ presented Him!"
The Lord bless you! Consider the things I am saying, and may the Lord give you understanding in everything. That is the only way that really counts! Amen.