NATURAL and SPIRITUAL
BY: LLOYD ELLEFSON
FIRE: NATURAL AND SPIRITUAL
THE TWO KINGDOMS
THE LAW OF THE CONVENANT
TWO MEN, TWO IMAGES
LETTER OR SPIRIT
SEEING THE INVISIBLE
FIRE: NATURAL AND SPIRITUAL
In this study we want to look at the word FIRE, and see how it is used in the scriptures. Fire causes burning; during the burning process, something is destroyed. Fire is used in the natural realm as well as in the spiritual. Fire is destructive; it can destroy or consume useful things, but also evil things. When fire is used correctly, it is a blessing; if used incorrectly, it causes great harm. In Exodus 3 we read about an unusual fire, which did not consume the bush it was burning. We hear a lot about hell, the lake of fire, and hellfire. However, we hear little about the purpose of hell or the lake of fire. The general public's idea of what these things mean are the same as those of the church system's. The word "hellfire" is not used in the scriptures.
The King James translation gives us an entirely wrong concept of hell by mistranslating the Greek. Historically, Gehenna is a valley outside Jerusalem where the garbage and the bones of animals, which had been sacrificed and were not to be used on the altar of offering, were dumped. The translators have taken the word "Gehenna" and translated it as "hell". Then they added "fire" to it and translated it as "hellfire". This is how the word "hellfire" became the "lake of fire", because "hell" and "fire" were joined. So it has been assumed that hellfire is a literal lake of fire into which people will be cast and burned with sulfur, etc. But the words "hell" and "fire" are never joined in the scriptures. The word "hell" or "Hades" means "unperceived" or "unseen"; it is something that is not seen by natural man. For example, let's say someone is cast into hell. He is put into a place where he cannot see anything of the Spirit. He is in unperception and in darkness; he has not been illuminated. That is why the day of the Lord comes to burn away the areas of darkness people are in.
The word FIRE is often used in the scriptures in connection with God. He is a consuming fire. (Deut. 4:24; Heb. 12:29) We may find it difficult to equate a God who is love with one who is a consuming fire. Can He be both? He is God, and both are virtues or characteristics that tell us who He is. It is impossible to describe God with one word, one title or one name. We don't even know what the word "God" actually means.
Isaiah 66:15 says, "For behold, the Lord will come in fire and His chariots like the whirlwind, to render His anger with fury, and His rebuke with flames of fire." We see here that fire is an instrument that the Lord uses when He comes. When is the Lord coming with fire? Did He come with fire at His first coming? This coming with fire is going to destroy those who are trying to set themselves apart for the Lord by means that God has not specified.
"For I know their works and their thoughts; the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues. And they shall come and see My glory. And I will set a sign among them and will send survivors from them to the nations...to the distant coastlands that have neither heard My fame nor seen My glory. And they will declare My glory among the nations. Then they shall bring all your brethren from all the nations..." (Is. 66:18-20a) These verses prompt many questions. Whose brethren? Does it refer only to Jews? Has God brought all the Jews out of the nations? Can you see how easy it is to become bogged down in the carnal mind? This does not get us anywhere, does it? It does not tell us how the Lord comes with fire. Will He light a fire? If so, how?
"Then they shall go forth and look on the corpses of the men who have transgressed against Me. For their worm shall not die, and their fire shall not be quenched; and they shall be an abhorrence to all mankind." (v. 24) In Mark 9:43b-44, Jesus quoted part of this verse. "...than having your two hands, to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched." An unquenchable fire is not an eternal fire; it is a fire which cannot be put out. It will continue to burn until it has accomplished its purpose. This fire will do the work it was sent to do! Jer. 17:27 says that God will kindle a fire in the gates of Jerusalem which will devour the palaces and it shall not be quenched. However, we know it is not burning in Jerusalem at the present time. It has done its work.
Malachi 3 tells us what fire does in the natural and in the spiritual realm. "But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap. And He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness." (v.2-3) Fire destroys, but it also purifies and brings substances, like gold and silver, forth in their beauty. We also see that the day of His coming and the fire co-exist; they come together. You understand that Malachi is talking about fire, which purifies the ministry. Without it, the ministry will go on without being purified; it will continue on in the old teaching and lack spirituality.
The coming of the Holy Spirit to the temple can be compared to the day of the Lord. It is illumination, and it brings a fire or a purging which brings forth the purified silver and gold. The more heat that is applied to the silver and gold, the more dross rises to the top; the dross is then skimmed off, leaving only the purified silver and gold. So the purpose of the day and the fire is to identify and separate the dross from the precious, which cannot be burned up. If heat is applied to hay and stubble it will be burned.
"For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff." (Mal. 4:1a) Here we see the burning up of the chaff (like hay and stubble mentioned in 1 Cor.3). The evil that works in people will be burned by the day of the Lord, by the coming of the Spirit who brings us the illumination of Christ. Spiritually, burning has a shameful connotation. When someone wrongs us, we are to heap coals of burning fire on his head. This does not mean that God will burn him with charcoal or fire; it means that he will endure severe shame in judgment.
We talk about the day of the Lord. Generally speaking, people fear the day of the Lord because of the burning and judgment, which is connected with it. It is the Lord who brings the day of the Lord. He is the day, the light, the illumination, the new sun, the light of His coming, the light of the heavens, the Christ. When He comes, the day of the Lord comes. It is not a historical event. We are children of the day because we are born of Him.
What is spiritual fire as compared to natural fire? This day, this illumination, this coming of the Lord, shall burn as a furnace, and the proud and the wicked and the stubborn will be burned up. Do you suppose this is the fire of the Lord? It is not going to burn up the gold and silver; it is going to purify and refine the sons of Levi. It is going to purify the priesthood so it is not contaminated, and will not build with hay, stubble and things that will be burned in judgment. Judgment consumes them, just as truth consumes error. Truth is a tremendous thing, isn't it? If we are believing a lie, and suddenly discover the truth - what happens to error? It disappears completely, doesn't it? It is destroyed; it goes away. So instead of trying to get rid of error, the priesthood is going to bring in truth, and truth will destroy the error. We are looking at spiritual truth as it is brought forth in natural terms.
We think the purification of the priesthood is the answer to doing away with all the wicked and wrong ideas, but this will come as the result of the Lord coming to His temple. "`Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,' says the Lord of hosts." (Mal. 3:1) It comes because the Holy Spirit comes, bringing the Christ who accomplishes this purification.
Malachi 3:2 says, "But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner's fire and like fuller's soap." There are two kinds of people - the wicked, and those who will be purified. "And He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness."
How is this going to be accomplished? Through the sons of Levi who have been purged, and through those who fear the Lord's name. In Luke 10:19 it says, "Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall injure you." Jesus rejoiced greatly in Spirit because the 70 He had sent, were casting out demons. He had given them the power to tread on scorpions; He had put everything under their feet. This was now being enacted (put into effect). It was through the virtue of the Head (Christ) that the body (the disciples) had gone out, casting out demons. Jesus was rejoicing because He was fulfilling prophecy; He was casting out error and wrong ideas - demons that had fastened themselves onto people.
"Remember the law of Moses My servant, even the statutes and ordinances which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel. Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord." (Malachi 4:4-5) At one time Jesus asked His disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" Some said He was a prophet, others said Elijah, and others Jeremiah. They were still looking for the fulfillment of these Old Testament prophecies in a natural way - something they could see. However, Jesus came with the message of the kingdom of God which you cannot see. The disciples wanted to know about the fulfillment of this prophecy in Mal. 4:5. Jesus said that Elijah had already come, for the spirit of Elijah was in John the Baptist.
Before the coming of the day which comes with fire, we have the coming of Elijah in John the Baptist, preaching repentance and a baptism in water. Do you remember what Elijah did on Mt. Carmel? He challenged the Baal-worshiping priesthood to prove the power of Baal - which they could not do. Then Elijah called down fire from heaven that consumed the sacrifice, the altar, the stones, the water and everything. It burned up the old system completely; the system which allowed all this abomination. Is that what repentance is? There were 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of the Asherah who were eating at Jezebel's table. Jezebel had destroyed the prophets of the Lord, and now she wanted to kill Elijah, because he had destroyed all her prophets of Baal! In type, John the Baptist was doing the same thing Elijah had been doing. He came to bring a heavenly judgment upon the false priesthood, which was ruling in Israel, and upon the Roman hierarchy represented by Herod. That is why he was beheaded.
Since Elijah, the prophet, has to come before the dreadful day of the Lord, something has to happen in our ministry before the Lord's day comes to us. The Lord's day could be shining everywhere, but those who do not have the Christ, would not see it. They would still be looking for it, and would not have the purging and burning away of those undesirable things within them. Their priesthood would not be purified, and they would not be getting rid of that old chaff.
When John the Baptist was speaking to the Jews in Judea He said, "And do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, `We have Abraham for our father '; for I say to you, that God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham." (Matt. 3:9) God was not worried about people saying they are natural sons of Abraham; He still isn't. John the Baptist informed them that there is no spiritual merit in being a natural Jew or Israelite. They were to repent of that kind of thinking. When Paul said that he did not put any confidence in the flesh, that he regarded being a Pharisee of the Pharisees and the keeping of all the laws as rubbish in order that he might gain Christ, it showed that he had repented of his previous attitude. That was past.
"And the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." (Matt.3:10) What does this refer to? This does not mean that we are supposed to cut down trees. Adam and Eve ate the fruit of a certain tree in the garden and got smart. This was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. There was another tree in the garden called the tree of life; it is knowledge, the knowledge of life. Now what are all the other trees of the garden? Don't they represent the knowledge that comes to mankind? Trees represent knowledge in the Bible. When Adam hid from God, he hid among the trees of the garden. Where is Adam hiding today? The Adamic man of today is hiding from God in the knowledge of the world. Because he has eaten of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he is afraid of God and the tree of life, and so he hides - he hides among the trees of worldly knowledge. And so has the priesthood! That is why the coming of the Spirit has to purge with fire, and burn out the dross of man's ideas.
"As for me, I baptize you in water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I...He Himself will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire." (v.11) The word "baptize" means "to place into". When we are bapized in water, we are placed into water. Water is figurative of natural judgment, and fire is a picture of spiritual judgment. Unless we know the nature of fire, we will not understand some of the things about which we read. When it speaks about the things cast into the lake of fire, we get a mental picture of a big lake, like a lake of water, which is burning. People are thrown into this lake and they cannot get out. I don't think that is the impression the Spirit is bringing us about what is meant by fire, judgment, and purging.
Those who have been baptized in the Spirit, have been placed into a fire, like gold and silver are placed in a fire in order to be purified. Malachi said, "I will purge the sons of Levi" - that is the coming of the new priesthood. It needs cleansing so that which is of God in them, may come forth. It will not be burned up, but it will shine more brightly. If we have been baptized in the Holy Spirit, there is a fire burning in us which will burn out the dross and cause the silver of Christ's redemption and His nature of gold to become evident. This process is going on in us even though we don't always realize it.
Jesus said, "I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished." (Luke 12:49-50) He was in a narrow way, where He was pressured until He had kindled a fire on earth and was baptized into a baptism of death. He had to go into death to be able to have resurrection - to be raised up to have life. He had to take humanity into death - go into death Himself - to bring humanity into life and minister life. That is the ministry of fire; that is the fire He started. It is the judgment against natural things. That is why His eyes are flames of fire in Revelation.
"And His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean His threshing floor, and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." (Matt. 3:12) Do you realize that chaff is necessary to produce grain? Before a seed sprouts, it has to go through a death process, then it comes forth in new life. As this new form matures, that which once was necessary for growth and maturation, is no longer needed. It has become useless and needs to be cut off. A separation has to take place, and the chaff is burned.
Let us look and see how this applies to our growth and development. When we first become a believer, we are involved in baptisms and communion services. We learn the commandments, etc. These are only forms of truth. Do you think they are going to burn? What will happen if we hang on to all the forms and things that helped us to grow into the likeness of the seed? If we cannot allow ourselves to be cut off from the earth, and separated from the chaff, we have a problem. We need to rejoice as the chaff burns. If we hang on to the chaff (the old forms), we will never become free of it; we will always worship Christ through forms. The fruit will not develop and the kernel will not be exposed. This is why He sent the baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire to purge His floor, and to separate His wheat from the chaff. It needs to be burned. The fire is only going to destroy that which helped us to grow into the image of the seed that was planted; it will not destroy the grain! So that is part of His ministry.
Matt.5:22, "But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother `Raca,' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever shall say, `You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the hell of fire." What is meant by "hell of fire" or "hellfire?" Why is "Gehenna" translated "hell?" Gehenna was a picture of hell, so the translators translated it as hell. This is done a lot in the King James version. You can check the Concordant for the correct usage. The wrong translation of words may be is some of the chaff that needs to be burned; the idea that the King James translation is always right.
Mark 9:43: "And if your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than having your two hands, to go into hell (Gehenna), into the fire unquenchable." In Matt.5:30 the word is also "Gehenna". Jesus is talking about entering into life, and we enter into life by birth. It is better to go into life, not seeing right or not walking right, than it is to go into Gehenna; that is, into judgment with all our faculties.
Let's just get it straight what Gehenna is. Gehenna was a valley outside of Jerusalem, actually called the valley of Hinnom. It is the name of this valley that is used to typify hell. Nothing was ever recovered out of that dump. That was NOT a place of recovery! The fire which purges will purge us from things that are not recoverable. They are separated from us entirely. It is not that God is making evil good, like some teach. God is not in the process of taking things that are bad and making them good. These things are dross - they are not part of the gold or silver; they cannot be purified. So when we are on the altar, a separation takes place, and the chaff is burned. The things that are put into Gehenna are put under judgment, and God's judgment remains on them.
This judgment is spiritual; it is an unquenchable fire and cannot be put out; it will accomplish its purpose. The unquenchable fire of judgment on murder (for example), will continually be on murder, for it cannot be recycled into good. The fire destroys that which is not profitable - it does not destroy the silver and gold. These are refined; but the dross (tares or darnel) is "burned up". It never becomes good. Since we are baptized with this spiritual fire, it will destroy things which are not profitable in us. The things that are not useful in the kingdom, never become useful and are always judged. This ought to put things into perspective for us.
"And the field is the world; as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one." (v. 38) Here is a parable of the tares in the field. The enemy that sowed the tares is the adversary. The sons of the kingdom are the good seed; they are born out of Christ. Christ is the truth, and the tares (darnel) are the error. The field is the world. Here we find a mixture; error grows alongside the truth in this field where the Christians are. This is the work of the adversary. The adversary is the devil. He comes and says, "Has God said?" He is the adversary to the words of God; he opposes the promises of God.
So right in the midst of the kingdom in the field we have the adversary. As the good seed and the tares grow up together, there are some who can see the difference between them, but many cannot. The difference will be very noticeable when they bear fruit, at the time of harvest. At that time a separation will take place. The tares will be bundled up and burned. This will happen at the time of harvest, at the end of the age. All the error will be gathered out of His kingdom, placed together, and put under spiritual judgment. The harvest concludes an age. Jesus said, "the harvest is ripe." The reaping of the law, the fruit of the law is what brings us into Christ.
"And the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels (or messengers). Therefore just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness." (v. 39-41) This is the Son of Man sending His message to cull out the tares - those who are lawless. He does this through His body, the corporate Christ in the earth. Not many people today are culling out those who are saying wrong things, etc. Most people are adding to it. They are still meshed in the delusion. But there are some people who have discernment, and through their messages are separating the truth from the error, and bundling the error. And that is what constitutes the harvest.
"And they shall be casting them into a furnace of fire." (v. 42a Concordant) The messengers of the Son of Man are casting them into the fire. How do they put them into the fire? Is it not with the judgment of words? When truth comes through the priesthood that has been purged, fire comes. The life of Christ that has gone through death, kindles a fire in the earth. And aren't we a part of the fire that causes this purification process? "There shall be lamentation and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the just be shining out as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear." (v. 42b-43)
Let's look at Paul's teaching on this judgment. "According to the grace of God which is being granted to me, as a wise foreman I lay a foundation, yet another is building on it. Yet let each one beware how he is building on it. For other foundation can no one lay beside that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone is building on this foundation gold and silver, precious stones, wood, grass, straw, each one's work will become apparent, for the day will make it evident, for it is being revealed by fire. And the fire, it will be testing each one's work - what kind it is." (1 Cor.3:10-13) This is the judgment of fire - not water. Water baptism is a type of judgment on the flesh, while the baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire brings spiritual judgment.
To illustrate this let's look at the parable of the wise man who built his house upon a rock, and the foolish man who built his house upon the sand. When the rain and the floods came, they took away the FOUNDATION, and the HOUSE fell. I believe that the law lays the correct foundation for Christ. On it is built the house of the Lord, which is the truth, the Christ, our spiritual dwelling place. If your dwelling place would fall down, you would feel naked, homeless and afraid. The world is full of people who feel that way, because the floods of error, lasciviousness and evil, have washed away their foundation. They are looking and crying for counsel, trying for this and that, etc. The error and evil needs to be burned up.
"Each one's work will become apparent for the day will make it evident." We are not looking for a future day because the Lord is the day. He is that illumination and brightness. He is the light that illumines every man that comes into the world; He is the daystar, the dawning of the day. Peter said it will dawn in our hearts. Malachi said the day comes with burning and brings judgment. (Mal. 4:1) Judgment is going on today, but not everyone can do the judging. Only those who allow themselves to be purged by the Holy Spirit can see whether wrong things are being built on the foundation. The illumination Christ brings to us that reveals what needs to be burned up.
Fire is judgment - and fire will be testing the quality of each man's work. If anyone's work which he has built upon it remains, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burnt up, he will forfeit it, but he himself will be saved yet so as through fire. "Are you not aware that you are the temple of God, and the Spirit of God is making His home in you? If anyone is corrupting the temple, God will corrupt him, for the temple of God is holy, which you are." So we see the wood, hay, and stubble will be burned up, and that which is gold and silver will be purified. So the very same day that brings shame and loss to some people, will bring revelation and virtue to others.
This is going on today. If Christ is in us, Christ is here in the Spirit. Then the judgment seat of Christ, or the bema(?) of Christ being accepted in Him, is at work today. To think that the lake of fire, the purging, the coming of Christ, the day of the Lord, are only for the future, is error. Those are tares among the wheat. When we recognize the error, we are bundling it up. When we speak against it, we are putting fire to it. The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit, so he does not recognize the error.
In Rev. 13:13 one of the beasts that came out of the earth makes fire come down from heaven. This is false fire. The fire for the incense on the censer (in the Old Testament) had to come from the altar. When someone offered his own fire to God, God sent a plague and killed him. False fire symbolizes wrong judgment. Before the coming of Christ, there was no true judgment, for Jesus said, "All who came before Me are thieves and robbers." Since He alone is the truth, all who came before Him were taking away the truth - they could only present forms of truth, so they were thieves and robbers. He might talk about truth, but is really takes the truth itself away.
In Rev. 20:14 it speaks about the lake of fire. This fire is wonderful for the Christian, but a shame to those who aren't. It purges us. The lake of fire not a lake of water. A lake is surrounded by land, while an island is surrounded by water. So a lake typifies something that is in the midst of the earth. It says that death and Hades, and anyone whose name was not found in the book of life, were thrown into the lake of fire. Some people will have their part in the lake of fire, but it doesn't say they will be there forever.
In Rev. 20:7-8, "And when the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for war;..." Some believe this is the mobilization (by Satan) of Russia (Gog and Magog) and the northern tribes. A great horde of them will come down to Jerusalem, and put an antichrist in the temple.
"And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city..." (v.9) Do you think natural Jerusalem is the beloved city? Not anymore. Jesus said, "Come out of her, My children" and "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. (Matt. 23:37) By keeping her children in bondage to law and works and self-righteousness, doesn't she become an enemy of God? Jesus is calling them into His righteousness and into the grace of God. He wanted their children, but they were unwilling.
Let us look at this spiritually. The new covenant (the New Jerusalem) is the mother of us all. She is our home. Now if she is surrounded by bad guys, who would they be? If they were gathered by the adversary, wouldn't they be spirits of error, an army of lies that come against the truth, the city of the saints - those who have come out of the old Jerusalem? That is the war between the old Jerusalem (the error in the natural mind) and the new Jerusalem (the city of God, the new covenant, the people of God, the Son of Man). I believe this is what the battle is all about.
"And fire descended from God out of heaven and devoured them." (Rev. 20:9b) These enemies are defeated by the same fire that purges us; the purging that the day of the Lord brings. It does not say that they capture the city, nor that they put an antichrist in the temple. It says fire came down from God and consumed them. God is a consuming fire; He consumes those things that are against Him. Since He is a consuming fire, He also makes His ministers a flame of fire.
"And the devil who deceived them was thrown was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also..." The devil who had deceived those that were devoured (consumed), was cast into the same lake of fire and sulphur where the beast and the false prophet were. (Rev. 19:20) They are already under judgment.
"And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them." (v. 13) Hell is the unseen. In Rev. 6:8 we read that there was an ashen horse upon which death was riding. Hades followed him. So Hades follows death. When Hades gives up its dead, only death is left. Through death comes lack of perception. The unseen, or unperceived, follows death. When Adam was put into death, he lacked perception of spiritual realities, so he was in darkness. This darkness followed death. Jesus Christ dealt with death and then brought light and perception to us.
"And they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds." (v.13b) "And death and the unseen were cast into the lake of fire." (v. 14a Concordant) In the lake of fire we now have the wild beast, the false prophet, death and Hades or the unseen. All these have been put under the judgment of God. The lake of fire is the second death.
We notice that it does not say that those who were thrown into the lake of fire are thirsty, like it says about the rich man who was in Hades while Lazarus was in Abraham's bosom. (Luke 16:19-31) The rich man was in agony in "this flame" and he was thirsty. If the judgment on that rich man's life was the judgment we bring spiritually, he would be thirsty for the water of life. "To him who is thirsty I shall give of the water of life." That is not the kind of thirst you get from burning in a natural fire. That is only a picture of it. "But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone (sulphur), which is the second death." (Rev.21:8)
Now He says, "Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years." (Rev.20:6) Those who have been baptized in the Spirit and purged with fire, are to be the priesthood. They are not to be the ones cast into the fire. The light and judgment they bring will do the casting in.
What is meant by the first and second resurrection? I believe the first resurrection takes place when we are resurrected into life with Christ. We have been put to death, buried, and raised again, and now in Christ we are His ministers (His angels or messengers) in the earth. To many, resurrection is a historical event that will take place some time in the future. They fear it, and that which they fear is going to come upon them, because the second death is the resurrection. Jesus says there is a resurrection of the just and the unjust. So if you are not resurrected by faith in Christ, and by faith believe it is yours now, then you will have to die in the judgment of those that have already passed through that judgment, and you are going to wake up and face the Christ which is a many-membered body, with shame.
People will feel shame in the presence of Christ in the second resurrection. And we are part of the body of Christ. We are the presence of Christ in the earth. That shame is going to come because of Christ and His body; they are one. So blessed is he who takes part in the first resurrection. He will not have to experience the second resurrection, and have a part in the lake of fire. Through the processings of Christ in us, we have judged ourselves so that we are not judged again. The Spirit has come to us who are believers, to teach us truth; this destroys error and the adversaries are judged. We are the ones who embrace truth and reproduce it. So unbelievers are judged by the truth that is coming through Christ and His body.
In Matt. 16:18b-19a, Jesus said, "...and the gates of Hades will not overpower it (or prevail against the church). I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven." The gates of hell are trying to overcome the church; they are trying to prevail against the church - not the other way around. Here Jesus tells us that they do not have this power or ability! What a comforting and encouraging promise! Gates have a two-fold function. They keep people in, but they also keep people out. The reason Jesus Christ gave Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven, was to open gates. If these gates have been prevailing against the church, and Jesus Christ said the gates would not prevail against the church, it means they cannot overpower the church and keep it from bringing the good news to those who are in unperception.
We have many misconceptions of Hades or hell. Hades means the unperceived or the unseen. These are things man cannot see; they are things God has to show us. The church is the ecclesia, the called of God. It has received revelation through the Spirit of God, and can go beyond the gates of hell to bring light into darkness. It can bring knowledge to the unseen or the unperceiving. For what purpose? So they can come out of hell. If this is only to take place some time in the future, then why were the keys given for now? We are the church, the body of Christ in the earth. The unseen and the gates of Hades are contemporaneous with the church. The church has the keys of the kingdom, and the heavens have been opened to them by the Spirit. We are going with truth and light to release people from hell.
People who do not perceive who God is, are in Hades right now where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. The sons of the kingdom shall be cast into the outer darkness. (Matt. 8:12) Outer darkness is a place of extreme darkness - away from the light or understanding of God and who we are. Folks, we have a tremendous calling in God! We must not neglect so great a salvation! Having been called of God, we are a city on a hill, our light should not be hidden; our light is the understanding. When light comes to something, which is in darkness, the darkness cannot prevail against it. Error cannot prevail against truth! Death cannot prevail against life!
Through the coming of Christ we have received life, understanding and salvation. Actually, this is the coming of Christ! He comes in us, and then through us to others.
There are a lot of people in the church who are still in hell. The greater part of their personality is still in the unseen. Jesus said, "It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the eternal (eonian) fire." (Matt. 18:8) To enter life is so great, that it is better to enter it crippled or with one eye, than not at all. But that is not the ideal. There are a lot of people who have gone into life crippled or with one eye; it is better to go into life with two eyes than one, but if one is bad, it is better to go into life with one than not at all. Many of our brothers and sisters have been crippled or hurt in life. To them we want to give a cup of water, or whatever God has given us to pass on to them. This is the way God uses people. We give that which we have received; we don't give what someone else has received. God bless you!
THE TWO KINGDOMS
"Now the Lord is the Spirit." (2 Cor. 3:17) Our Lord is the Spirit. The ruler in the kingdom of God is called Lord, King, God or Jesus Christ. It is the Holy Spirit who brings us the knowledge of God; He only brings us things pertaining to the kingdom of God.
Rev. 11:15 speaks about two kinds of kingdoms. It says that "the kingdom of this world became our Lord's and His Christ's". (Concordant) The scriptures talk about the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Christ. They speak of the kingdom of darkness, the kingdoms of the earth and of this world. Some people divide these kingdoms into dispensations. I believe that the kingdom of God is one kingdom and it is the only true kingdom; there is only one rule and it is a rule of truth. The other kingdom, the one of darkness, is a diverse kingdom. It has many conflicting orders and emerging powers. But this is not so with the kingdom of God because it is a kingdom of harmony.
A kingdom is a rule - it is the dominion of a king. When we talk about the kingdom of God, we are actually talking about the rule of God. Jesus said, "All authority has been given Me in heaven and on earth." (Matt. 28:18) This is not shared authority - He is the sole representative of the kingdom of God. It was manifested in the man Jesus, so Christ is the rule in the kingdom of God. God has given all rule to and in Jesus Christ.
Jesus is the Mediator between God and man. When He was on earth, people could see and hear Him, but they did not understand His message; not even His chosen twelve understood the kingdom of God at work in the man Jesus Christ. This lack of understanding caused the crucifixion of Jesus. This proved that His mediation did not take root at that time.
As we mentioned, the scriptures speak of two kingdoms. If there are two kingdoms, it follows that the authority of each must be limited. If there is a kingdom of darkness and a kingdom of God, is God's rule limited? Is He still sovereign? If He is, how is His sovereignty exercised? Of course God is sovereign, and His sovereignty is exercised by bringing ALL things into subjection to Himself. The rule of God is at work in the scriptures. God has a purpose which is being accomplished and which will be accomplished. He is accomplishing the redemption of people who have subjected themselves to another rule.
For many years Israel had been prepared through the law and the prophets for the coming of the Messiah. Then He appeared in the man Jesus Christ. Even though the Israelites were a prepared people, ready to be delivered from the fruit of human nature and to be transferred into a new spiritual nature, they found His teachings hard to understand. Israel thought it was in the kingdom of God and fulfilling its rule and being obedient to it. However, they were not! Jesus was the Word of God made flesh and the exact image of the invisible Father; He was the Redeemer, redeeming man out of the rule he was under - which was man's natural thinking. Yet Jesus was rejected in Israel because their idea of rule and kingdom was quite contrary to that which was evident in the testimony of Jesus Christ!
In Matt. 21 Jesus told a parable to show that Israel had rejected all that had been sent by God, whether they were prophets or His own Son. They basically rejected the bearing of real fruit in the kingdom of God - the fruit of righteousness. So the kingdom of God was taken from them and given to a nation bearing the fruit thereof. There is a big difference between the kingdom Jesus was representing and the kingdom of the world, which was operating in the nation of Israel. The scriptures teach that, "greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world". The hope of glory is Christ IN you! It is not AMONG you, but IN you.
Jesus is the Messiah. The name of Jesus was given to the physical Jesus, and it was His identification with Adam. However, in Him, Adam ends. He is the last Adam, and He is the firstborn of a new creation and the firstborn out of death. But all this is dependent on a rule. The rule that had been operating in mankind was death, because everything was temporal, everybody died, and everything was separated from God. They believed this separation was reality, for when Jesus Christ called God His Father and said that He and the Father are one, He was accused of blasphemy! His union with God was rejected. People obviously did not understand what union with God was; they did not understand oneness with the Father.
"The kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." (Rom. 14:17) The kingdom of God is not expressed in external things, but in the Holy Spirit. In Luke 16 Jesus said that the kingdom of God is AMONG you - some translations read IN you. The kingdom of God is AMONG those who have not been enlightened to know the rule of God through the Spirit. If the kingdom of God has come to us in the presence of the Spirit, and the Christ has come to us, then He who has all the authority (the kingdom rule of God) is IN us! Functioning in this authority depends upon the enlightenment we have received in our relationship with the Holy Spirit and God.
The Holy Spirit was taken from the kingdom of Israel because they were not producing the fruit of the Holy Spirit; they were producing only fleshly things, the things that are in the carnal mind. These produce a separation from God.
Now the kingdom of God was among them in the law, in the prophets, and in the letter. This was all external, working through the natural man. But the external coming of the kingdom was not the true purpose, the true realization of the kingdom; His kingdom is an internal one! Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One, came as the Spirit of truth to bring us into truth, because we were in error. The Bible itself is actually an external testimony because it first comes to us in the carnal mind. It is a testimony to us in the fact that we should walk in the newness of life and not in the oldness of the letter. (John 7) This means we are not to walk in the carnal mind, but in obedience to what the Spirit is saying.
God's rule and God's kingdom passed through many stages of redemption in the Old Testament. All the patriarchs from Adam to Noah, to Abraham, to Moses, to David and the prophets, were all stages of redemption that consummated in Christ who is the sum of all things.
Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world." WORLD does not refer to creation but to a rule. It is the opposite of chaos. It is an orderly way of doing something - according to a rule. "If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting...I have come into the world to bear witness to the truth." (Jn. 18:36,37) This world is a rule of error; it has a wrong understanding of God and misinterprets what He does. That is why Jesus came into this world to testify to the truth! "The whole world lies in the wicked one...the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving..." (1 Jn. 5:19; 2 Cor. 4:4) Jesus said, "...for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me." (Jn. 14:30) This world is ruled by man's carnal mind, his ideas of God, creation and self. This is the rule of the god of this world. It is an external rule!
How did this external rule come into being? Adam's disobedience brought a disruption of God's rule (God's kingdom or God's world) in the hearts of people. (Gen. 3) The Greek word KATABOLE which means a CASTING or LAYING DOWN (according to Young's), has been mistranslated as FOUNDATION, and this gives a wrong impression. DISRUPTION is a better translation because the first expression of God's rule was cast down or disrupted when Adam sinned. That is why the Lamb (Jesus Christ) was slain from the disruption of the world. Christ was slain (disowned and rejected) when that other system (that world kingdom) came into being. That is why it says, "Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." (James 4:4) This disruption of God's rule came through man. Man came under the rule of the kingdom of darkness, and Satan became the god of this world.
I believe that the casting down of God's kingdom is the root cause of all the evil that happens to man. The natural carnal mind is death, and it is the last enemy that will be abolished. (1 Cor. 15:26) It is interesting to note that people are very concerned about physical death, while they seem to be oblivious to the fact that the real death is in the carnal natural mind. Believers are not to be controlled by it, for it is death. Those who are proud of their knowledge, will operate in their own interpretation of God and the Bible; they will not see the difference between the new and the old covenant. The old covenant has already passed away; the new covenant, introduced by Jesus Christ, IS Jesus Christ. Unless we see the difference between these covenants, we will be caught up in teaching knowledge - and there is no end to that. If we retain the natural concepts of God and Christ common to man, we may experience forgiveness, but we are still the problem. We can try to deepen and heighten knowledge, but it will never lead us to the knowledge of truth - the spiritual realization in the Spirit.
"For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." (1 Tim. 2:5) When Jesus came as a Mediator between God and men, He first spent 30 years under the law, doing everything the law required. He did not operate in the anointing of the Spirit until He had received it at the Jordan. From then on, He operated in this anointing and the Holy Spirit taught Him all things.
His testimony came forth as the Messiah. The Messiah is the anointing, and Jesus was the fulfillment of the prophecy of the promised anointed One. The Holy Spirit of God spoke the words of the Father to Jesus Christ. Jesus testified of this when He said, "The things I do are not of Myself; they are through the Father. I can do nothing of Myself; I don't bear witness of Myself." Instead of being under the rule of the natural mind, the god of this world and the law, He was under the rule of the Spirit. This rule changed Him inwardly. This was not generally understood.
The Gospel of Mark begins with, "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God." When Jesus began to proclaim the kingdom of God to Israel, His first message was, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel." (Mark 1:15) Time is in the death realm, for it begins and ends, but God's rule is in the realm of immortality. God's rule was in evidence in Jesus Christ after His anointing. "You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good..." (Acts 10:39) The kingdom of God operated in Jesus Christ through the anointing, which is the Holy Spirit.
"The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, `Look, here it is!' or, `There it is!' For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst'." Luke 17:20b-19) Our understanding of what happened to Christ ought to increase through the anointing of the Spirit of truth. The kingdom of God (as well as what is happening to us) is in the unseen realm. If we have received the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit as Jesus did, then the kingdom of God is actually ruling within us.
With the appearing of Jesus Christ, the first Adam ended. According to 1 Cor. 15:47-49 both men are images - one bears an earthy image of God and the other a heavenly one. Jesus Christ was the express image of God. Adam was not the express image of God; in the Genesis 2 and 3 account Adam was not called the image of God, nor was he called that in the rest of the Old Testament. Adam was an earthy image - it was from creation, from the mind of the flesh. The image of God comes from the first man, the spiritually created man who we find in Genesis 1. Of him it is said, "Let us make man in the image of God - male and female..." This man was not made to cultivate the earth, but to have dominion. However in Gen. 2 we see another image coming - one to cultivate the earth.
It is through Jesus that we get discernment in the realm of error and truth, and the images, rules and concepts which they produce, for He is the Spirit of truth. The anointing brought Jesus out of the law. The kingdom of God did not come to Him visibly; it came in the realm of His inner sense of being (of who He was in God) and He became conscious of the things of the Spirit. He received spiritual information and it gave Him a new consciousness. The kingdom of God, though unseen by natural eyes, operated in Jesus Christ while He was on this earth. If people had really known Jesus was God, they would have submitted to Him; but because they did not know Him, they killed Him. God's rule in Israel had been disrupted, and the rule of this world in them was so strong that the leaders of Israel wanted to crucify Him. They were operating in the Adamic man, and he cannot conceive the things of the Spirit.
When Adam sinned he accepted another rule - the rule of Satan. This developed another consciousness in him. In Adam we have the Adamic consciousness of natural humanity. Since Adam had the mind of the flesh he was not immortal. It says that Adam was an earthy image and Christ a heavenly one. "Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly." (1 Cor. 15:49) Our earthy image of the kingdom of God, Israel, etc., is changed to a heavenly or spiritual image. The reality of that which was foreshadowed has come!
"In Adam all die." We would have a terrible time trying to figure that out in the natural, for how could everyone receive death from one individual at the same time? Not only that, but when did the trees, birds and fish begin to die? Did they die because sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin? How could that affect the animal world? Death entered through one man, and this affected all of creation. (Rom. 8:20-22) Death is the Adamic thinking. The consciousness of Adam spread to all men. It brought mortality. Death in Adam caused that whole realm of life to become mortal. In Adam all died! Immortality has no beginning nor end. Only Christ has immortality and He lives in light no man can approach. (1 Tim. 6:16) He lives in an enlightenment (consciousness) that is unapproachable by natural humanity (the Adamic man). This becomes crystal clear to us as Christians. Therefore we should operate in this understanding.
Since natural humanity is in the death realm, we need to be made alive. Christ is a quickening Spirit, and this is the kingdom that is expressed in Jesus Christ. He comes and awakens or quickens us. He gives us a mind, which receives spiritual realities; His coming ushers out the natural "realities" - just as light ushers out darkness. Jesus obeyed the law, and did not cause any disturbance or problems during the first 30 years of His life. He was not persecuted at that time because He was not identifying with the truth that is in the spiritual kingdom of God. But immediately after the anointing, when He became an expression of the Messiah, rejection and persecution came His way.
Truth has the power to replace the error in Adam. Truth cannot be attained by studying and dissecting the scriptures, nor by studying the Greek, and by fasting and praying, etc. The presence of the Christ in us brings us truth. This is the anointing which brings us the spiritual realization beyond the letter, the flesh, and the temporal - the things that are seen through the natural eye. So truth has the power to replace the bondage of false beliefs!
Truth brings about change! Once the rule of our life is changed from the mortal concepts of the natural mind to the immortal concepts of the spiritual mind which was in Christ Jesus, we will function in the mind of Christ. We have been living in a mortal man who has no immortality. If Adam would have had immortality he would not have died. Our old humanity was crucified together with Christ. In other words, Adam ended when Christ came.
How could Adam end when Christ came? Adam could not refer to our fleshly body - for how could it be crucified with Christ? It refers to our sense of being; the mistaken identity of who God is and who we are, was crucified with Christ. We had a false premise of life; we thought it was external. We thought God was not united with us, that we were separated from Him and operating outside of the union we have with the mind of God or the mind of Christ. This is death! The truth is that we have come into a union of life in Christ in a spiritual conception and realization.
It is not hard for us to believe that the physical body is mortal, because we are surrounded by death; the daily newspapers proclaim it in their obituaries. Some people thought they had received a revelation that the flesh is going to exist forever - but they died too. The mind has to mind something. The carnal natural mind minds the flesh; the mind of Christ minds the Spirit!
Everything has to be perceived by the spirit. Humanity thinks it is originating knowledge, but actually knowledge is just being presented to it. Everything was made by God in the beginning. Medical discoveries are also in the realm of mortality; they all have a beginning and end. Only those things which come through the Spirit are immortal. The mind that is only in union with creation, but not with the Creator, is dead. Jesus Christ is a quickening Spirit; when He comes He quickens us, He makes us alive to spiritual realization. This makes a big difference!
Christ was crucified because of the truth that was operating in Him. Today you may not be crucified, you may not have a knife stuck into your body, you may not be hung nor shot, but you may be put to death by people separating themselves from the realization and knowledge that is in you. Death is separation. If you are testifying to the understanding given you by the Spirit of life, the Spirit of Christ, people will actually separate themselves from you. By doing this, they are separating themselves from God - and this spells death.
In Genesis 3 we read about the beast of the field. The beast's mind was impregnated into Adam and he received a delusion of death. Satan said, "You surely won't die" - yet they did die! The mind that disobeys God, receives Satan's lies. It believes the adversary's lies are truth; this is a delusion or deception! Jesus explained that Satan is death, because sin comes from death, and sin reproduces death; death is the last enemy to be overcome, and death is operating in the carnal mind.
In Adam all die, because through him we have all received the consciousness of natural things. This is not the consciousness of the Spirit. That is why THAT man has to be put to death by the coming of the new man - his darkness is put away by the coming of light. Adam has his union with the creation because God formed him out of the existing creation, then breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and he became a living soul - not a life-giving spirit. So the union Adam has in his sense of being is with creation and not with the Creator. This union with creation is one that is in separation from God - it's not a union with God. This is the realm of death.
Through Satan's craftiness, deceitfulness and desire to rule, he managed to subject Adam; but he could not subject Jesus! When Jesus was anointed with the Spirit of truth, it made Him the Messiah and He emerged as the Redeemer. Christ was always with God, He was always a Redeemer, but to come into our humanity He took on forms - the body of flesh, the law and the anointing. These were things that could be seen and witnessed to. After His experience at the Jordan, Jesus became the spiritual testimony of immortality in the earth.
From the Old Testament we receive the idea that God is mainly a God who inflicts punishment on the disobedient, e.g., an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. It was retribution, war, hatred and death! Many evil things were attributed to God because He punished people by opening up the earth thus destroying many; by sending plagues and conquering armies, and having people kill one another.
This idea of God was very different from the one Jesus portrayed, and yet He is the express image of the invisible God! Who was this Man - the Prince of Peace who was meek and lowly of heart? What made Him the exact image of the invisible God? Since Jesus was the express image of God, why do we still have so many distorted images of God? It is because we do not understand God's redemptive nature and processes! Jesus said, "But I say unto you, love your neighbors, don't fight, don't resist evil, don't return evil for evil but return good for evil." This is the nature Jesus Christ was sent to reveal - this is the exact nature of the Father!
We know that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their sins. It is in Christ that we can understand it, appropriate it, and live with it. It is all IN Christ. If it would be BY Christ, we would still have to receive or appropriate it before it could become ours. But it is the Christ in us, because Christ IS that Word; God was in that Word of the Holy Spirit, reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their sins. Jesus said, "I did not come to condemn the world." He does not have anything against anybody, does He? God is not holding us to our sins. This is what we are to believe! Those who do not believe are already judged for their unbelief.
The penalty for sin is not hell, but death! Death is separation from God! It is the carnal mind that separates us from God; but when we are in Christ Jesus we have His mind and there is no condemnation, for there is no condemnation in Him! This was exemplified by the woman who was taken in adultery. The law was in effect at that time, yet Jesus said, "Go your way - I don't condemn you". If He would have condemned her, He would have obviously negated the truth that there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus.
The image of God that is in Christ Jesus comes to us by the Holy Spirit who enlightens us. He brings us the realization that we are free from sin because God is not imputing sins to us. The message that comes to us in the Spirit is that Christ Jesus represents the one true God. Christ did not exhibit any of the wrath and fighting that is found in the Old Testament where God was working through the natural man. His manifestation could only come in the way the carnal mind could perceive and interpret it. People were dying because they were operating in death; they were worshiping their own idea of God. Jesus pinpointed this by saying that they did not know God. God's Word was not in them: if they knew God, they would know Jesus.
Whom are we worshiping? Paul said that previously we had been serving gods that were not God. Are we also worshiping gods who are not God? The consciousness of the Israelites did not contain a true concept of God! Jesus Christ proved that their whole concept of God was wrong! They thought He was a God of wrath, one who was interested in having them fight for their beliefs, and for the possession of lands and things on this earth. They thought they were better than the Gentiles who were dubbed DOGS by them. These ideas were contrary to the nature and teachings of Christ for He is meek and lowly of heart.
When Jesus Christ becomes our Lord, He gives us a whole new concept of God, self, and immortality. A death has taken place in our consciousness and we have been born anew. No longer are we in the Adamic man. We may be babes in our new life and may not fully understand what has taken place, yet we have the foundation for growing and living, and for discerning and rejecting wrong concepts. Our carnal thinking, our sin consciousness and our natural sense of being are constantly being rejected and replaced by a new realm of truth. The old is ushered out by the new understanding of God that is brought to us by the Spirit of truth. This is the way redemption works.
The kingdoms of this world are being made subject to Christ. He HAS overcome the world and He has already turned this over to the Father. This did not involve a big battle. Jesus said, "Everything I do is of the Father. I do nothing of Myself. It is the Father in Me who does the works." Every victory that was accomplished in Jesus Christ was immediately turned over to the Father; Christ did not receive any honor and glory for Himself.
I believe that John 16 gives us the best description of the coming of the Christ - the second coming if you will - in the coming of the Holy Spirit. That is the true second coming of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Those who are honest with themselves and God will see that a lot of things people cling to in their natural conceptions, are enemies to the truth that is in Jesus Christ! This stubbornness of the ego, the "I," the self that wants to save its sense of being has to go! The self even wants to be enhanced by God that it may appear pleasing to God and to others. Self-rule causes us to think that our carnal nature is to be redeemed; it keeps us from understanding that we are being redeemed out of what we were. The natural conceptions of the carnal mind actually defy the Christ; they stop us from receiving the lordship of Christ's rule in the kingdom of God.
It is sadly evident that the main emphasis of most of religious Christianity is the same as the religions of the world. Its emphasis is upon making itself better and getting something from God. It wants to be redeemed without being changed, and wants to keep its many erroneous ideas or concepts of God. This does not bring us into a union with God; it separates humanity from God. Separation is death! People do not understand that death to that whole self is necessary before the new life, the new Christ, the new man, the new concept of God can emerge!
The kingdom of God is actually an invisible realm. Nobody has ever seen the Christ (who is the anointing or Messiah). When you are anointed, you are an anointed one. We notice that the word ANOINTED is an adjective - not a noun. It describes someone. When you are anointed, the anointing brings you into a union with the Messiah! As this anointing works in you, you actually participate in the Christ of God, for you are one with Him; He is your life! He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him!
THE LAW OF THE COVENANT
Greetings! We often talk about the fact that Jesus Christ is Lord, but have we ever stopped to think who the Lord is? 2 Cor. 3:17 tells us that "the Lord is the Spirit." Since He is THE SPIRIT, He cannot be anything that is not spirit. That means He cannot be a law, a church, or a code of ethics that demands certain behavior patterns. Neither can the Bible be Christ the Lord! The Lord is the Spirit and God is spirit! (Jn. 4:24) Therefore His sons are also spirit. This is wonderful, yet how difficult to comprehend!
Today's discussion centers on the covenants. Both the old and new covenants are mentioned in the New Testament. God made various covenants in the Old Testament. He made covenants with Abraham and Israel. There was a covenant of salt, a covenant of circumcision, a covenant with death, etc. All these covenants were part of the Old Testament covenant, yet they were inadequate, for they could not bring about a change in humanity! If the old covenant had been faultless, there wouldn't have been any need for a new one. With the coming of the new, the old became obsolete. (Heb. 8:7-13) The new covenant displaces the old!
It is extremely important that we rightly divide the covenants. This is very difficult for most people, so they join or combine them. They marry their idea of God to the law. This is a ministration of death, for man is unable to produce a spiritual conception of God in his mind. All these wrong ideas come into being because of humanity's frailty. The old covenant failed because of man's limitations, weaknesses and shortcomings. God is not responsible for the failure of the old covenant because the fault was in humanity; it depended upon man to do his part! God said, "If you obey My commandments you will be blessed." God knew that man wouldn't be able to keep them, for He knew humanity's weaknesses all along! That is why He promised that a new covenant would come.
And a new covenant HAS come! The old one has passed away! Jesus Christ IS the new covenant! This covenant differs entirely from the old one! No longer does it depend upon man, for God is not demanding anything from him. God made an oath with Himself that He would perform it! He Himself is the surety for the covenant because there is no one else who can perform it. We now live in the time when God is performing His oath. Our security lies in the fact that God keeps and fulfills what He has promised. He only expects us to release ourselves to Him. We are to become like little children and enter into the presence of Him who performs everything!
"And just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you..." (Luke 22:29) A kingdom has to have a rule. Jesus Christ acknowledged that the rule, which was in Him, performed everything! He said, "I can do nothing of Myself...the Father in Me does the works." The signs and wonders were the result of the rule that operated through Him! They were a witness to the rule by which He was governed. This witness was more important than the signs and wonders. It gives us a true conception of who God is! "Only the Father knows the Son, and only the Son knows the Father and those to whom He will reveal Him." No one else knew the Son, and no one else knew the Father! Now we too can know the Son as the Father reveals Him to us!
In John 5 Jesus accused the Jews of not knowing God. They had never heard His word, nor was it abiding in them; they did not know the One God had sent, nor did they have the love of God within them! They sought the honor of men, and did not believe Moses! They did not know that Moses was their accuser! Jesus plainly told them that He Himself would not accuse them to the Father!
God is the source and the performance of the new covenant! The rule of this kingdom is purely spiritual; there is nothing natural about it! In obedience to this rule, Jesus lived under the law for thirty years, and in obedience to it, He went to the Jordan River. In obedience to it He was baptized in water. The Holy Spirit from on high came upon Him as a dove and He was baptized in the Holy Spirit! From then on He manifested the Christ! As prophesied, He was the Christ, and He was born the Christ, but He did not manifest the Christ until after His baptism.
"For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." (Rom. 14:17) The kingdom of God is IN the Holy Spirit. Jesus was ruled by God's Spirit! And that is the rule that has been given to us! Jesus said, "And just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." (Luke 22:29-30) We eat and drink spiritually at His table! That is true spiritual food. Jesus said, "I have meat to eat you don't know of...I live by the Father, and as I live by the Father he that eats of Me shall live by Me, for My blood is drink, and My flesh is meat indeed." This must not be interpreted to mean the physical flesh and blood. We partake of Him in His spiritual essence! His life is the fruit of the new covenant! The fruit of the old covenant was death. Jesus said, "Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died." (John 6:49) The food of the new covenant does not produce death; it brings life!
Jesus Christ was operating in the kingdom of God - a kingdom that is not of this world. Jesus came to bear witness to the truth! The other kingdom, the kingdom of darkness, is ruled by the god of this world. It has blinded the eyes of the unbelieving, so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ! Since Christ is the image of God, they cannot see Him. (2 Cor. 4:4) Sight is obtained through faith!
Paul said, "You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts." (2 Cor. 3:2-3) The Corinthians had received the gospel of Christ that Paul preached to them. This message was written in their hearts - not on tablets of stone as the Ten Commandments were! We no longer need the Ten Commandments because the law is written in our hearts by the Spirit of the living God!
"Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." (v.5-6) A spiritual kingdom has a spiritual covenant, and we receive it in Christ. Natural man cannot enter in because he cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God. To enter in, he must first repent! It is not enough to repent of sin. We are to repent of who we are - of our old ideas and thinking! If we don't repent, we won't change! We'll be exactly like the Jews who rejected Jesus and crucified Him. We'll still expect the flesh to please God.
Jesus said that He could do nothing of Himself; He only did what He saw the Father doing! That is why He could say, "He that has seen Me has seen the Father." This kind of relationship was foreign to the Jews and they did not want to receive it. Christ's testimony of His relationship with God did not fit in with their idea of God! It made them so angry that they wanted to kill Him! No wonder Jesus said that repentance was necessary now that the kingdom of God had come! Without repentance they could not believe the gospel. Repentance involves repenting from having lived in the man of sin - our old identity which is entrenched in our old Adamic man, our old me, the "I" - the source of sins committed by the natural man. We have to recognize that our old identity is not a true identity, and therefore a delusion. By recognizing this we acknowledge that we really don't know truth. This brings us to repentance and prepares us to receive spiritual realities in a childlike manner! These are taught us by the Holy Spirit!
"But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was, how shall the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory?" (v.7-8) Man is an Adamic, fleshly, materialistic man who walks in the darkness and futility of his own mind! He cannot hear God, nor can he obey Him! The law was a ministry of death to this man! It speaks to those who are under the law; it closes every mouth, for it stops everyone from saying that he is not accountable to God! (Rom. 3:19) When this is accomplished, it will stop man from testifying of his natural idea of God, because he reconmhhgnizes that he does not know who God is, nor does he know God's nature! Therefore it is a release for him to come into the kingdom rule of God!
The ministry of death by letters engraved or chiseled in stone came with glory! When Moses came down from the mountain with the stone tablets, his face shone. The Israelites "could not look intently on the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was....who used to put a veil over his face that the sons of Israel might not look intently at the end of what was fading away." (2 Cor. 3:7,13) The glory of the old covenant has faded away! The law, mediated by Moses, could not bring us to the Father! Jesus Christ is the Mediator of a new covenant! And He is more than that! He IS the new covenant, because He is mediating Himself!
"Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." (v. 17) The Spirit does not bring us into a liberty to do our own thing, but it brings us liberty from the old covenant, liberty from the law of sin and death, liberty from the consciousness of sin, and liberty from the identification with our old humanity! When we allow the new covenant to take us out of the old, the old passes away! The old is no longer valid!
The law of Moses was a ministry of death. Israel was in agreement with that. In Isaiah 28:15a it says, "Because you have said, `We have made a covenant with death, and with Sheol' (the nether world or hell) `we have made a pact...'" How could they make a covenant with Sheol or hell? Isn't hell a place for the dead - where people fry in the lake of fire? I don't think so. Death is the realm they live in! Hell means unperception - it is a place where there is no perception of God!
"...the overwhelming scourge will not reach us when it passes by, for we have made falsehood our refuge and we have concealed ourselves with deception." (15b) This concealment with deception first happened when Adam believed the lie of Satan and rejected the truth that is in God! Truth in God cannot lie! God does not lie! Whatever He says happens! Adam received the lie that he wouldn't die - but he DID die! Every man dies in Adam - it's an absolute, because Adam only has a consciousness of sin and death! He believes in death and lives in it. Since he thinks his life is in the flesh his life is going to die. This thinking produces more lies! He has made these lies his refuge! The lie consists of believing that life is in the flesh!
Then we hear the prophecy. "Therefore thus says the Lord God, `Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, a costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed. And I will make justice the measuring line, and righteousness the level; then hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the secret place.'" (v.16-17) The stone laid in Zion is Jesus Christ; He is the truth! Jesus said that He came into the world to bear witness to the truth, and those who are of the truth will hear Him. Through hearing Christ we learn to know Him, and the truth makes us free! We will be freed from our refuge of lies and our covenant with death. "And your covenant with death shall be cancelled, and your pact with Sheol shall not stand; when the overwhelming scourge passes through, then you become its trampling place." (v.18) You will find out in that day.
"I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I will also hold you by the hand and watch over you, and I will appoint you as a covenant to the people, as a light to the nations." (Isaiah 42:6) Here we see that God is giving us His Son for a covenant and He is to be a light to the nations! "To open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the dungeon, and those who dwell in darkness from the prison." (v.7) Blind eyes belong to those who can't see spiritually; therefore they need to be opened! Those who are imprisoned in the intellect and reasonings of their human minds and in their own conception of God, need to be freed, for their own thinking is in the death realm!
God said, "I am the Lord, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, nor My praise to graven images." (v.8) A graven image or idol represents a mental image. The Jews had wrong mental concepts and ideas of God, so they worshiped the images conceived by their imagination! These are false gods! Knowledge of the true God can only be received by revelation. The fact that they rejected Jesus and crucified Him proved that! If you really want to know who God is, just read the New Testament and look at all the things Jesus Christ did. He was kind, meek and lowly in heart; He healed the sick, fed people, and raised the dead. He didn't condemn people nor did He punish them. He came to redeem us from that! He taught us not to take an eye for an eye, not to resist evil, and to give to him who asks more than is expected! We might call that a passive way of resisting evil.
Our faith in God's sovereignty is expressed in non-violence! By not fighting evil we are expressing our faith in God to take care of sin, evil, retribution and revenge. We do not see the complete fulfillment of this promise at the present time. We are now living between the promise and the complete fulfillment of the new covenant, so it is up to God to take care of everything that needs taking care of! Taking things into our own hands shows confidence in self and lack of trust in God's ability and timing. It's important to remember that no one can ever take away the spiritual realities God has given us! Since God Himself has given them to us, He certainly won't take them away from us.
The book of Hebrews carefully explains the difference between the TWO covenants. The Hebrew mentality zeroed in on the first covenant which they were loathe to leave. "So much the more also Jesus has become the guarantee" (surety or sponsor) "of a better covenant." (Heb. 7:22) Since the soul is in the blood, His soul - His consciousness, His sense of being, His understanding - is the guarantee of the new covenant. His Word demonstrates exactly who God is; He cannot be adulterated!
Our Lord came out of the tribe of Judah. This is important, because under the old covenant no priest ever came out of the tribe of Judah! (Heb. 7:14) This underlines the fact that we now have a new priesthood! Jesus Christ is the minister, the high priest of the new covenant; He is the high priest of a new order. Under Him the priesthood has become a kingdom of priests!
"For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also." (v.12) A new priesthood necessitates a new law, for it does not minister the law of the old covenant! "For, on the one hand, there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness (for the law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God. And inasmuch as it was not without an oath (for they indeed became priests without an oath, but He with an oath through the One who said to Him, `The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind, Thou art a priest forever')." (v.18-21) Jesus Christ had to minister a new law because the old law could not make anything perfect!
This new order has a priesthood that never changes and it always ministers an endless life! In order to minister Christ, we have to minister the new covenant! We have to minister the Bible according to New Testament principles. This means we have to do it in the Spirit, in the realization of immortality - which is an endless life! Living by the new law means that we don't try to prove things by mental gymnastics, but we let the Holy Spirit of truth lead us into all truth!
"But now has He obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises. For if the first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second. For finding fault with them, He says, `Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, when I will effect a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah; not like the covenant which I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt...'" (Heb. 8:6-9) The old covenant God contained instructions about the feasts they were to observe. The first feast, the Passover, was to be observed in Egypt. The Red Sea lay between Egypt and Canaan; in it Pharaoh and his army were drowned, so it was called the water of separation. Through it they were delivered from their Egyptian bondage, their old place in the world. After they were freed from their bondage, they came into the desert.
Fifty days later they came to Mount Sinai. Here they received the law. This was the second feast and was called Pentecost (which means 50). Here God revealed Himself by the name of Yahweh, which means the law-giver. "And Moses went up to God, and the Lord (Yahweh) called him from the mountain, saying, `Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel: "You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings, and brought you to Myself. Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation...'" (Exod. 19:3-6)
"... for on the third day the Lord (Yahweh) will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people...So it came about on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunder and lightning flashes and a thick cloud upon the mountain and a very loud trumpet sound, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God (Elohim), and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was all in smoke because the Lord (Yahwe) descended upon it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked violently." (v.11, 16-18) Notice how the Lord (Yahweh) is identified with judgment.
Moses received the law, the Ten Commandments God had engraved on two tablets of stone. He had been on the mountain for forty days, and the Israelites had become impatient. They made their own god and ascribed to it the work of God. Both Aaron and the congregation were involved in this. When Moses came down, he saw the children of Israel dancing around the golden calf and worshiping it. At this sight, Moses lost his temper, threw the tablets down and broke them. This is a picture of the first law - it will always be broken by humanity - both by leaders and by the common people. Then God told Moses to cut two stone tablets like the former ones and He would write the same words on the new tablets. The second set was not broken; it was retained and put in the ark - unbroken! However, as the years went by, everything in the ark disappeared. By the time Jesus came, the house was empty; it was desolate!
Moses received the law on the mountain 50 days after the Israelites celebrated the Passover. Fifty days after Jesus was crucified (His Passover) the Holy Spirit came and brought us the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus! This is the new law - Pentecost being fulfilled. Can you see the connection? A new order was being established - a new law and a new priesthood according to the order of Melchizedek! Melchizedek had no father, no mother, no pre-existence! We are born of God - we have no earthly pre-existence!
No longer do we minister the law of sin and death! God has now given us a new law - the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus! There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus, so there is no penalty for disobeying that law. The penalty comes from obeying another law - the law of sin and death. God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them! God is not counting our trespasses (sins) against us! How hard it is for us to really believe this! Remember, Jesus said, "... I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world... he who does not believe has been judged already..." (Jn. 12:47; 3:18) Christ's ministry brings us out of condemnation! "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Rom. 8:1) That is the key! Being in Christ means being in that Spirit, in that covenant and under that new law!
Have you ever thought of the fact that in Christ it's against the law to die? Christ is life and He ministers His life! There is no death in Him! Everything is fulfilled in Christ! If we have Him, we have everything - even the feast of tabernacles! We don't need to look to a future fulfillment of this feast. It is fulfilled in Christ! It is Christ who IS the new covenant. Christ is given to us to be the new covenant. He is the surety of the new covenant; His blood of the new covenant edifies and instructs us through the Spirit.
Moses carried with him the pattern of the temple when he came down from the mountain. The temple is the dwelling place with God - and this is the feast of tabernacles! Jesus said, "... I go to prepare a place for you...that where I am, there you may be also." Why? Because in the Father's house are many places to live. So He HAS come back. In John 15:4a, 5b Jesus said, "Abide in Me, and I in you... he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit." Who is this "I"? The "I" is Christ; He is the I AM! Jesus said, "I AM the way... I AM the truth... I AM the life... I AM the resurrection... before Abraham was, I AM." This is the "I" that says, "If you abide in Me and I abide in you." So Jesus Christ is the abiding surety of the new covenant! He is the Word of God who brings us a new consciousness!
In Heb. 10:20 it says that His flesh was a veil. When Jesus was on earth, His flesh hid His true identity. Today the veil is over people's hearts. This veil keeps them from seeing Christ spiritually, so they still want to see Him physically and think of Him as sitting somewhere in the sky removed from us. That which the old covenant, with its tabernacle, curtains and veils symbolized, was fulfilled when Jesus Christ came. He said, "If you have seen Me you have seen the Father." Before the Spirit came, the veil that was over our hearts hid Him from us. But now that He has sent His Spirit, the veil is removed. Now we can see! We may only see in part, but we do see! We know that the "I", the Christ, dwells in us! We are seated with Him in heavenly places! He is not sitting up there removed from us!
That's why Jesus said, "When you pray, say, `Our Father'". When the Spirit comes, we cry "Abba! Father!" because that shows our relationship with God. Christ abides in us in His essence! He didn't become a fleshly man first and then a spiritual man; nor did He become the Son of God just before He went back to heaven. Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever! He took on forms and manifested Himself in various ways. He came to bring us a true impression and a true realization of God that we might know who we are in Him! He was obviously rejected in the natural for He was judged according to the law of the old covenant. This showed the necessity of a new covenant with a new law. This is the law of life! That is why Jesus Christ brought it to us!
The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has delivered us from the law of sin and death. (Rom. 8:2) We have been translated into the law of spirit and life in Christ Jesus! This law is IN Christ Jesus! It's in that "I" that abides in us! This cannot be received in the natural; it has to be received through a submission to the Spirit! The religious denominational system continues to preach the law with its condemnation and sin consciousness, for it does not have the ability to conceive this nor to understand it. We need to be delivered from the law of sin and death in order to bear fruit. Unless we abide in the new law, we won't get rid of our sin consciousness! Since Christ comes as the innocent, guiltless Lamb of God and abides in us, we can't have a guilt consciousness! A guilt consciousness puts Him to death again - it crucifies Him afresh. Jesus said, "For unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins." (Jn. 8:24b)
"But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you." (John 16:7) It is to our advantage that this earthy image of Jesus Christ is gone! If we retain it, the Helper cannot come to us. But we want the Comforter to come to us, so we have to relinquish our physical image of Him! This is very important!
The coming of the Holy Spirit is the basis for the new covenant (the New Testament) and the mission of Christ! "But if I go I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me." (John 16:7c-9) The Holy Spirit is not reproving the world because of the sins they have committed, but because they do not believe in Christ! Those who are NOT in Christ are living in condemnation. But there is no condemnation for those who are IN Christ Jesus! He has dealt with sin; He has made one offering and it takes care of sin forever! He is NOT imputing sin to us and there is no condemnation in Him. For all of us who are in Christ Jesus there is now no condemnation!
"But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come." (Jn. 16:13) Man was enmeshed in error; he was the priesthood of the lie. The Adamic man is always led by Satan. The god of this world has blinded the eyes of those who don't believe. We may think that we are not included, but we are! We are either in Christ or we are not in Him. If we are not in Christ, we are in Adam - living in the lie.
The Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth! Without Him and His teaching, we don't have truth! Does the Bible lead us into all truth? No, it is a witness of the truth, but it is not the Spirit of truth! It is the Spirit of truth that leads us into truth! Since Jesus is the truth, it is His Spirit that comes to us and leads us into truth!
"He shall glorify Me; for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose it to you... But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you." Then you also will bear witness of the truth. "And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever." (John 16:14;15:26;14:16) The Holy Spirit does not leave you every time you commit a sin. "That is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you." (Jn. 14:17) Truth is the bottom line; truth is it! Truth is God. Truth is what things really are. Nothing can take away from truth, nor is there anything lasting beyond truth.
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son..." Then in 1 John 2:15 it says that we are not to love the world, nor the things in the world. Friendship with the world is hostility toward God! If we wish to be friends of the world, we make ourselves an enemy of God. (James 4:4) How is it then that God can love the world, but we can't? Which world does God love? Does He love the world (system) of unrighteousness? In 2 Peter 3 we learn that there are three worlds and one of them is a world of righteousness! God so loves this world of righteousness that He was willing to give His Son in order that we could get out of our unrighteousness and be given His righteousness!
Only those who are in Christ can receive the Spirit! Jesus Christ is the Anointed One and He is also the Anointing! He sends us the anointing of the Spirit! (Acts 2) The world cannot receive Him because Satan is its god and it cannot see Christ. It does not have faith, nor does it know Him. But you know Him! Christ dwells with you and is in you!
Jesus said, "I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you." He has kept His promise! He HAS come and He abides in us! He is the new covenant for us! He gives us Himself and in Him we have everything we need, for He IS those things that we want of God! He is our covenant, He is our guarantee, He is our life, and He is made unto us wisdom, etc.! Our estrangement from God has caused us to be filled with so many wrong concepts! We think we have to earn the right to have our prayers answered; we think they will be answered if we try to be good, read our Bible, etc.; we think God will then have compassion on us and do something for us. As we realize what CHRIST is doing, our prayers will change. God is redeeming us from OURSELVES - from our wrong consciousness! In Christ we are being ascended out of our death realm. God is bringing Christ forth in us. He brings us a true realization of Himself because He is the Spirit of truth.
When truth comes error is dissolved; when light comes darkness is dissolved. Christ is the light that lights every man that comes into the world! We have received a new covenant which has a new law. It provides the tabernacle for us to dwell in, and this tabernacle is the presence of God! God is our life! In Him we live and move and have our being. (Acts 17) The Athenians were not aware of that, even as people are not aware of it today. We need to recognize that we are not of this world; we have been born of an incorruptible seed! That which is incorruptible can't die!
Every seed has its own body! We are members of the body of Christ and He is life, truth and resurrection! This is sonship! This is the new covenant! If we mix the old covenant with the new, we live in confusion - in Babylon, for Babylon means confusion. It is very sad to see the confusion in which many Christians live today. A marriage of the old and the new has taken place and this has brought confusion. They can't separate the God of Christ from the God of the old covenant; they can't separate the covenants!
Moses was unable to bring in a covenant that was perfect, efficient and immortal! Only Christ could do that! Why is it so difficult for people to believe that the old covenant is decaying and passing away? The fact that there is an old covenant proves that a new one has come! Jesus Christ did not come to destroy the Old Testament and the prophets. He came to fulfill them! When He said, "It is finished", He had fulfilled the old covenant!
Everything is FULFILLED in Christ! We are no longer waiting for God to do more of this or that! We are growing into the realization that it already IS - it is here already. Jesus HAS finished the work of redemption for us! Do we see it as fulfilled already? No, of course not! The anointing is only for the new man. Unless we are living in the new man, we will never get to know this. We can't grow up into Christ unless we are IN Christ. We can't understand God unless we can hear the Spirit. We can't dwell in God unless we are comfortable in His presence. To be comfortable we have to know that our sins are taken care of!
Christ has done all this! He has fulfilled all things! So why is humanity still waiting for various things to happen in the future? The Christian church is waiting for the return of a physical Jesus, for the rapture and the millennium. By waiting for everything to happen in the future, they are denying the new covenant - denying that Christ is here and that He is abiding in us even as He said He would. He is our Redeemer, He is our covenant, He is our wisdom, He is our life! Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. He will never accuse us to God! Once the Spirit has taught us what the new covenant truly means, it takes on a new significance and we begin to realize how wonderful it is!
Humanity cannot accept this. It says, "Look, we still sin so we are still sinners." That is unbelief! It is hard to change when our actions match our feelings and seem to belie what God says. The way to change is to continually abide in the Christ who is within us! Then we will bear the fruit of a correct understanding of who God is! No longer will we be opposing God and giving people a wrong idea of God through actions that do not portray God's nature! If we make traditions and the law our God, we will not worship the true God, but only a god who exists in our imagination. As a matter of fact, I believe that the present church system and the Jews still have the same idea of God that contradicted the words of Christ and put Him to death!
Let us think about this and be a people who see that everything is fulfilled in Christ! We are a people who are to live in His abiding presence!!
TWO MEN, TWO IMAGES
Greetings in the name of the Lord. An image is a representation of a person or thing - a type or embodiment. The spiritual man of Genesis 1 was made in the image of God. Christ is the exact representation of God; He is the image of God. (2 Cor. 4:4) And we are to be conformed to His image. Jesus Christ, the Word, was God! (John 1:1) And the Word became flesh! (John 1:14) So He was also man. But He was NOT a man-God; humanity and divinity were distinctly separate in Jesus Christ!
The Word became flesh. Jesus Christ, in His body of flesh, manifested God perfectly. He revealed God to mankind through His words, actions, nature and His very being. His physical body veiled His true being, so people could not see beyond it. (Heb. 10:20) The veil that was over the hearts of the people kept them from seeing spiritual realities! The things God has prepared for man cannot enter the natural mind. (1 Cor. 2:14) The soulish or Adamic man does not understand the things of the Spirit; they are meaningless to him and do not reach him.
Jesus came with two witnesses - the natural and the spiritual. The natural was expressed through His physical body, and the spiritual through His words spoken in the vernacular of the day - yet His "words are spirit and they are life". Though humanity heard the words and understood the language, it did not get the message. So they killed Him! However, through the grace of God, we now have the Holy Spirit. He has given us the mind of Christ that we might understand the things that were happening in Christ, and the things God speaks through the Spirit. The Son is born in us and we bear an image.
In the scriptures we see two images of God - two representations, two humanities. Two men are mentioned - one is formed from the dust of the earth, and the other is from heaven. The scriptures tell us that Christ is the image of God, and that the Son is the image of the invisible God. "...that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." (2 Cor. 4:4) Speaking of His beloved Son it says, "And He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation." (Col. 1:15) Since both Christ and the Son are the image of God, they must be the same!
Peter received a revelation of who Jesus actually was in Matt. 16:16. He said, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven." (v.17) The Father had shown this to Peter! Later on it became apparent that Peter had not really grasped this. Not long after this, when Peter was in the courtyard of the high priest where Jesus was being judged, he was asked, "Aren't you one of His?" Peter denied it. This happened a second time. After about an hour a third one said, "Certainly this man also was with Him, for he is a Galilean." And Peter cursed and said, "I don't know the man." How could he deny Jesus after he had heard the living Word of God? It was because he had not heard it spiritually. Peter was not endowed with spiritual understanding until Jesus breathed on him for the remission of sins. (John 20) At Pentecost he received the Spirit. God became his dwelling place! This dwelling place is symbolized by the feast of tabernacles, and it was built in him through the Spirit.
Jesus Christ is the Son of the invisible God. He is also the image of the living God. In 1 Cor. 11:7 it says, "Man... is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man." One translation reads, "The man is inherently the image and glory of God." But we have two men. To better understand this, turn to Genesis 1. Here God says, "Let us make man in our image." He did not say, "Let us make an image and call it a man" or "Let us make man and call it an image." When God said, "Let us make man in our image", He knew what the image of God was like and how to make that image. This image He called man. Here the image is the important thing. Man is essentially an image or representation of God. He was given dominion over the fish, birds, animals and every living thing that moves. God said that everything He had made was very good.
Then we are surprised to find that there wasn't any man to cultivate the earth in Genesis 2. Then God formed a man out of the existing creation. These are two different men, two different images of God. For many years the earthy man has had dominion in us, but now that Christ has come, an exchange of dominion has taken place from the natural to the spiritual. Now the dominion of the first man of Gen. 1 is being exercised in us.
Let's take a closer look at these two men, the two images of God. Paul talks about the natural and the spiritual in 1 Cor. 15. Let's see what Paul is saying. "So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body." (v.42) The perishable (corruption) does not inherit the imperishable (incorruption). (v.50) Incorruption comes out of the incorruptible seed of God, which He has placed within us. Incorruption and corruption do not have anything to do with each other, because they are separate!
"It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body." (v.43-44) People who believe in metaphysics say there isn't a spiritual body, while others say there isn't a natural body. We understand that Paul was speaking to people who knew about their first experience in Adam - the natural man. Our first experience is always in the flesh, in the natural. We can understand that we have a natural body, but to have a spiritual body is beyond the comprehension of anyone who is not regenerated in Christ. It is probably the most difficult thing to believe, because we have been so anchored in the natural.
But there is a spiritual body! Actually the body of Christ is spiritual. The body of the man Jesus was visible; it was in the likeness of sinful flesh. He was made in all points like we were. Jesus Christ had to bear both witnesses - the natural and the spiritual! If He had come bearing the witness of the spiritual only, He would not have been able to reach people, because the first witness comes to us in the natural. If we reject the natural testimony, how are we going to get the spiritual testimony? We have to believe there is something beyond the natural, and that is a spiritual testimony.
"So also it is written, `The first man, Adam, became a living soul.' The last Adam became a life-giving spirit." (v.45) To us Adam is the first man and the first image of God, but actually he was not. The first one was Christ! But Adam is our first humanity, our first representation of God, our first image of God, creation, everything! So the first man, Adam, was made a living soul, and the last Adam was made a quickening Spirit. The reason He is called the last Adam here is because He ends. Now I don't think it was a sin for Jesus Christ to be identified with Adam because the Adam representation alone was not a sin.
The Old Testament temples, lamps, sacrifices, days, seasons and times, people land, were types, examples, or shadows of things to come. Only God knew what was to come except so He alone knew what those things represented, right? Satan didn't know because he does not know truth! So only God knows the fulfillment! Humanity cannot know, for it is anchored in the natural and it loves darkness rather than light! So when the purpose of the law was revealed and the spiritual realities of these shadows and types came into being and fulfillment in the coming of Christ and the Holy Spirit, humanity retained all its earthly concepts! It still has an earthy concept of God, of self, creation, the earth, the world, etc. That now becomes sin to them; not only sin, but also an obstruction to receiving what God is doing in Christ; they become anti Christ and are led by the spirit of this world - that is Satan. They are not governed by the kingdom of God!
The coming of Jesus Christ brought the kingdom of God to us. He is God's rule in the Spirit! It's as simple as that. Jesus Christ said, "Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand." God's rule in us will bring tremendous changes in us! We need to understand that we can receive the Holy Spirit; unless we can hear from Him, God's rule falls on empty ears - like it did on Peter and the Jews.
"The first man is of the earth, earthy." This is the man of Gen. 2; he can only give us a consciousness in the earthy realm. This is the consciousness we are born with. We have that before we receive a spiritual consciousness. We weren't spiritual, and then earthy. We were only that in the mind of God - for there was a spiritual man before Adam was formed of existing materials! Only God knew that; but we all emerged in our identification with Adam.
The second man is the Lord from heaven. Jesus said, "The Son of Man came down from heaven.” (John 3) How can a man come down from heaven? In the natural, we think of a man in his fleshly body. We'd have a terrible time imagining Jesus coming down from heaven like that! And of course, He didn't; He came down through Mary. So that is not what He meant! Jesus meant that His representation of God came down out of heaven where God is; it came out of the Spirit. The Christ, the reality of who He was, the essence of His being was an exact image of the invisible God. So He was called the second man, the last Adam. He is the second representation of God; He is the last Adam because Adam's image of God disappears in Him! His image of God, His representation of God actually destroys that which was in Adam! The first Adam becomes superfluous, because he is only a type, a shadow! This it is not sin until we hang on to it - then it becomes our God and we become anti Christ!
Earthy concepts try to bring spiritual concepts into the seen realm. Since spiritual concepts cannot be seen, this brings false concepts of spiritual realities. Retaining earthy concepts, brings a physical Jesus sitting at the right hand of God. However God doesn't have a right hand because He is omnipresent; that is a figurative way of speaking! The scriptures declare that Jesus is sitting at the right hand of God, He has His body, He will return, and some day all the evil people of the second resurrection will stand before the great white throne of God. Some will be cast into the lake of fire. "We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad." (2 Cor. 5:10) We must all appear before Him!
If Christ is my life and consciousness, I've already passed through judgment, and there is no condemnation or judgment in that sense. Let's read 2 Cor. 5:10 in the Concordant Literal translation. "For all of us must be manifested in front of the dais of Christ, that each be requited for that which he puts into practice through the body, whether good or bad." It says we shall all stand in front of the dais of Christ. This is not a judgment seat; a dais is a raised platform; there we shall be presented to Christ. The Greek word that has been translated JUSGMENT, is BEMA. The Greek words for judgment are KRISIS and KRIMA; a place of judgment KRITERION. The word BEMA means STEP, STRIDE or LENGTH. However, in Greek literature if also often means tribunal. This is not a seat where Christ is going to judge us. However our works will be judged for compensation. Christ wants to recompense us for our good works! It is so important to understand correctly!
Another figurative concept is the holy city coming down from heaven, having golden streets, etc. Having an earthy concept of it causes people to think it is a city with many mansions which we are now building by our good works and by winning many souls for Christ. Yet it plainly states that it is the bride of Christ; it is His wife. Christ reproduces Himself through her, because He is the Word of God. Gal. 4:20-31 compares the two covenants. The Jerusalem above is called our mother; it is called the new covenant which is the mother of us all!
Jesus said, "Who is My mother, sister or brother? Notice that He did not include "My Father" in that question! He said, "You have one Father - one Father who is in heaven!" We are not to call anyone in the flesh our father. This illustrates the truth that spiritual realities have to have a spiritual realization! People's problem lies in retaining it in the natural; this is not evil in itself but it becomes evil when man retains it after he has by faith received a new dimension of understanding in Christ.
Retaining earthy concepts of the rapture, Jesus coming down, the rebuilding of the temple in the present Jerusalem, etc., is not going to work. It won't happen that way! The problem begins when we won't put away our natural ideas. If people try to die to self, on the one hand, they try to suppress their self, and on the other hand they try to raise it up to be righteous, to obey the law, to be good in God's sight, and to have their sins forgiven. All that effort is wasted because it still deals with the same man, the same image, the same identification! This is true whether you are trying to die to self or trying to be good. It is not the Christian message at all!
The Christian message proclaims that we have to be awakened out of our sleep of Adam; we have been quickened by the Christ who is in us; we are a new creation in Christ Jesus, a new man, a new representation of God! If we are a new man now, it means there was also an old man. How do you get from one man to the other? In one man (Adam) all die. In the other man there is a quickening spirit and all are made alive. Passing from Adam to Christ has to take place in my own realization and consciousness! When this happens, I have been raised from the dead! I have been resurrected from the death that is in the carnal mind (the Adamic consciousness), and I have been put into Christ.
As we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall bear the image of the heavenly. The image we bear is very important! We are to portray the image of the heavenly and to represent it correctly! People can have the same flesh, yet represent either the earthy or the heavenly. Jesus wants us to be a true representation of God. For in John 14:3 He said, "I am going to prepare a place for you, that where I AM, you will be also." That where I AM - who is the I AM? This is the I AM who was before Abraham. Jesus said, "I am the resurrection, I am the Christ", etc. When He said these things He was still in His earthly body, but He was living in a relationship with God which He wanted us to have also! He would make it a possibility and a reality! Where He was living in relationship to God, we will also be even while we are in a fleshly body! We have to understand that in our union with Christ we are everything He is! In this union we are the I am of the resurrection, the I am of all this. We are not this in entity, but in our union with Him it is part of our nature, part of our understanding, part of our representation of God.
Retaining the earthy image of God will actually oppose God. This is very serious business. In Eph. 2 we learn that we were dead in our trespasses and sins, and we walked according to the power of the air - in this delusion. Then Paul goes on to say, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus..." (v.10) We have been created IN Christ - not by Him! He is not making something out of us. Being created in Christ means we have been put into the consciousness that is in Christ! We have been "created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
"Therefore remember, that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called `Uncircumcision' by the so-called `Circumcision', which is performed in the flesh by human hands -- remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world." (v.11-12) Why? Because we cannot have God without Christ. Without Him we had no conception of God, as illustrated by Israel. Israel opposed Jesus because of His exact representation or image of God. They did this because they had a different image of God, and they didn't want to give them up! That is where the trouble begins with all of us.
"But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ." (v.13) Again, it is IN Christ - not by Christ. How do we get into Christ? Well we are baptized into the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit. Being in Christ is being in the consciousness or spiritual realization that He came to bring us in the Spirit! Christ has to be in us; there is not other way! Then the Spirit within us will cause us to cry Abba Father! (Rom. 8:15 & Gal. 4:6) He conveys the sonship spirit to us!
We cannot portray God as Father unless we are sons. In praying to "our Father" we are identifying ourselves as His sons. But we cannot truly pray that unless Christ is in us as the Son; then we can say "our Father". We don't pray to Jesus and then to God. We are to pray in the name of Jesus - that is according to His nature! In John 16 it says, "And in that day you will ask Me no question. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you shall ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you in My name. Until now you have asked for nothing in My name..." (v. 23-24a) As sons, we ask the Father!
Back to Ephesians 2. "But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ." The soul is in the blood, so the blood of Christ is the consciousness that was in Christ. "For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one." This takes care of everybody - the divisions that are in natural humanity, in the Adamic man, both the circumcision and uncircumcision. "And broke down the barrier of the dividing wall by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the law of commandments contained in ordinances." He abolished them and gave us a completely new way of living. "That in Himself" (not by Himself) "He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace." (v. 13-15) In Christ there is one new humanity, one new representation of God, one new image of God! Making peace - with who? Obviously it makes peace with God! We are in conflict with Him when we represent Him in the flesh - in an earthy image. Then we are in conflict. Those that love the world become an enemy of God!
"And might reconcile them both in one body to God" (the body of Christ) "through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity..."Being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart." (v.16; Eph. 4:18) Paul is talking about natural humanity being alienated from the life of God through ignorance. Jesus Christ is the treasure and the wisdom of God revealed to us! Ignorance dwells in the natural man. Amassing knowledge - biblical, natural or scientific - and degrees - cannot get us out of our ignorance of God unless we are operating in spiritual realization! Without the Holy Spirit's teaching we remain in ignorance.
"That, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self (the former realization or citizenship), which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit." (Eph. 4:22) So there is an OLD self or an OLD man! He is old because we have a NEW self or a NEW man. The old self is the old image, the earthy image that we carried. The old man has an earthy image of self and an earthy image of God. This old man with his earthy images is to be put off! Our old image of God brought us a natural concept of Jesus, temples, heaven, the new Jerusalem, lands, peoples and hell.
We are to be renewed in the spirit of our mind! "And that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth." (v.23-24) Think of the wondrous thing God has done! This new self is NOT the Adamic image of Genesis 2, which was formed of the earth! This new self has been CREATED! This is the image of God that was created in Gen. 1! This new self has been created in the likeness image of God for it comes out of God! It is created in us in righteousness - a right demonstration of God - and in true holiness - that is, it is separated from all the contamination other messages bring!
This is who we are! We have been born again in Christ - we are new creatures, a new humanity, a new man who carries a new image of God! We are a new representation of God - one which is righteous and holy - and it comes to us by the Spirit! It does not come through the existing creation, not through the body, not through the Adamic man, not through our sensual faculties, etc., nor through any person. This is a universal truth but it has to be accepted individually. We must release ourselves to God so He can change us! If we hang on to our old ideas and traditions, the new representation of God will not be evident in us, and we will continue to manifest a wrong idea of God to the world! Therefore we have to be renewed in the spirit of our mind, and put on the new self! Only then will we speak truth!
"Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you the understanding." Amen!
LETTER OR SPIRIT
Greetings in the name of the Lord! Taking the Lord's name in vain includes more than swearing, using profanities, and using the name of Jesus as a swear word. We can take the Lord's name in vain by misrepresenting Him - by speaking on His behalf without a true spiritual realization of who and what He is!
The Bible is a compilation of many writings. Although various people have been involved in writing the scriptures in different time periods, the theme is basically one! It is a progressive revelation of God to man. He reveals Himself in different ways in the Old Testament. But the revelation of Himself is summed up in Christ Jesus - first of all as He appeared physically on earth. The true representation of God in Jesus was hidden by His body for it acted as a veil. After His ascension, the nature of the Son, the Word of God, was released to us in the Spirit. In this study we will note the difference between the letter and the spirit of the scriptures.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1) In this verse we do not have any trouble in identifying the WORD with Jesus Christ. Yet with few exceptions, most evangelical denominations believe the Bible is the word of God. Any disagreement with that statement is met with great opposition. People have simply accepted the statement that the Bible is the word of God without giving it further thought. They say they study God's word, they memorize God's word, they read God's word and they write God's word. Personally I don't think this is possible, because God's word is spiritual, it is creative, it is powerful, and it is not under the dominion of anything - not even the printing press!
Those who believe the Bible IS the word of God, have never heard the word of God. Jesus said, "He that hears the voice of the Son of God shall live." He will be awakened and come to life! Now the Bible will not do this; the Bible is a TESTIMONY of Him. It says, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the MOUTH OF GOD." Once that word of God has been heard and written down, it is put into a letter. The letter itself does not contain life! This is hard for people to believe. Since we are not to live by bread alone, we live by the WORD that proceeds out of the mouth of God! The WORD is Jesus Christ; the Bible is not the equivalent of Jesus Christ! The Bible is important because it WITNESSES of Him!
Jesus said, "I am the bread that came down from heaven... I am the bread of life... I came to give you bread... your fathers ate manna in the wilderness and they died, but the bread that I give you, will give you everlasting life... you must eat of Me... you must drink of Me or you won't have any life in you." That is Christ - it is He Himself! All the Bible verses on this subject teach this! In fact, there are so many verses that substantiate this teaching, I could use up 3 tapes just quoting Bible verses on this subject.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1) The Word was in the beginning! The Word was with God and the Word IS God. Since the Word IS God, His Word cannot be the Bible! Even if people take our Bibles, trash them and throw them away, it does not mean that we have lost the Word of God! Jesus is the Word of God and people cannot take Him away from us! Natural man cannot hear the Word of God because the Word of God is spirit. The soulish (correct translation for natural) man cannot receive the Spirit's teaching. (1 Cor. 2:14) It does not mean anything to him.
Then who can hear the Spirit? Obviously it has to be the new man! We have to be regenerated spiritually; we have to be born anew! Peter said, "For you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is through the LIVING AND ABIDING WORD OF GOD." Many theologians and others have studied the Bible, yet they do not consider themselves to be born of an incorruptible or imperishable seed. They just live out of the natural mentality that is in human nature - and that is death. Jesus said, "I am the truth...sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth." (Jn. 14:6; 17:17) Since Jesus is the truth, obviously He is the Word of God!
How can Jesus be the Word of God? The physical man Jesus was a form, a vessel or tabernacle in which the true spiritual word of God could come to humanity in man's understanding. Yet humanity obviously did not understand. Jesus said, "I came into this world to bear witness to the truth." This witness did not come from natural man; he cannot bear witness to the truth because he can't hear the Spirit! So Jesus said, "They that are of the truth hear Me." Once the Spirit of truth has come to us, we can hear spiritual truth. We can hear the Word of God and it sanctifies us; this is the word, the truth, the bread of life!
"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness." (2 Tim. 3:16) The scriptures do not say that the Bible is the WORD of God; they DO say that JESUS is the WORD of God - "...the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God." (Jn. 1:1-2) The scriptures are INSPIRED of God! They (the sacred writings) "are able to give us the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus." (v.15) They tell us about God and how to find Jesus Christ. They are words of life! Words which only satisfy our intellect are not God's Word in action - they only satisfy man's reasoning, for he thinks he is comprehending what is being read. The scriptures are a TESTIMONY! Jesus said, "they bear witness of Me." They are wonderful letters of wise advice, but they will never take on true spiritual meaning until we come to Christ!
"But the witness which I have is greater than that of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish, the very works that I do, bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me." (John 5:36) First of all Jesus said that His witness is greater than John's. Secondly He said, "And the Father who sent Me, He has borne witness of Me. You have never heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form." (v.37) Although they had the Old Testament scriptures from Genesis to Malachi, they had never heard the voice of God! Even though many prophets had been sent to them, they had not heard the voice of God! The prophets heard the word of God even as Peter received the revelation that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God. They heard as it is given to the natural man, for the Spirit had not yet been given!
Even Moses was a mediator of natural things - of a carnal set of laws. There wouldn't have been any need of a new covenant if the old covenant had been sufficient and faultless. The problem was that man could not keep it! (Hebrews 8:7). Now Jesus became the new covenant, and the guarantee of the new covenant. This new covenant has nothing to do with external things - things in the world, or in the flesh. It has to do with our life, our sense of being, our consciousness of who we are, and our realization of God!
Jesus said to the Jews, "You do not have His Word abiding in you." (Jn. 5:38) Though they memorized many scriptures, and some even carried the scriptures on frontlets on their forehead, yet they did not have His Word abiding in them! They did not believe Him whom He sent! (v.38) That is so true! We know very well that when God sent Christ in a physical form to Israel, He was rejected!
Then He continued with, "Search the scriptures, because you THINK that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that BEAR WITNESS of ME." (v.39) People still believe that the scriptures are the Word of God! The New Testament is a new testimony, and it testifies of something new. The scriptures testify of "ME"; but "ME" and "the scriptures" are not the same! So the letter (scriptures) and Christ are not the same!
"And you are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life." (v.40) He had just said that they THINK life is in the scriptures, but their thinking was wrong! Life is not in the scriptures! Their thinking was not based on truth; they were believing a lie. Jesus Christ said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life...I came to give you life and that more abundantly...he that receives the Son has life." It does NOT say that he who receives the Bible, the testimony of these things has life. Although Jesus stated this so plainly, it does not seem to be enough to convince people. They still insist upon calling the scriptures the Word of God. Just listen to the the famous preachers on TV, and you will hear them calling the Bible (the letter) the Word of God. Now I'm not trying to disprove the Bible; nor am I downgrading its testimony! I'm just trying to deliver people from their wrong belief - from believing that life is in the testimony instead of in Christ!
Let's look at the history of the people Jesus was talking to. In 2 Kings we read about Solomon and how he built houses for his many wives and concubines, and brought in the worship of all their evil gods. The Lord was angry with him and took the kingdom away from him. So the ten tribes which retained the name of Israel, no longer served God's purpose of bringing forth the Christ. Thus Israel was divided and eventually these ten tribes were actually lost in the world. But God saved a remnant of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and some Levites. The Jews who came out of Babylon were basically of the tribe of Judah, because it was prophesied that through him the Shiloh should come - that is David's lineage. The city of Jerusalem, which represented God's covenant and His presence with them, belonged to the tribe of Benjamin. It also was saved. The Levites were interspersed among them. So actually, Jesus was not speaking to all the 12 tribes of Israel.
The secret in understanding the things of God lies in listening to the Holy Spirit! God sent His Spirit to us, and this Spirit is the Word, the Christ, the Son of God! In John 16:7 Jesus said, "But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper (Paracletos) shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you." (Jn. 16:7) It is to our advantage that He went away, for otherwise the Helper could not come to us! "But if I go, I will send Him to you...He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak...When the Helper (or Intercessor) comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness of Me, and you will bear witness also, because you have been with Me from the beginning." (John 16:7b, 13; 15:26-27) The Holy Spirit brings the spiritual testimony of Christ. He is the Spirit of truth, the bread from heaven, the Christ, the Word of God! These are all one.
When the Holy Spirit comes, He "will convict (reprove) the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me." (John 16:8-9) Why will He convict them? Because of the law? Because of the sins they have committed? No. It is because they do not believe in Christ Jesus! Most Christians believe He died for their sins as their substitute. But He didn't die for our sins in our place. We were crucified together with Him! If you think that the historical cross is going to deliver you from who you are and crucify your old man, you are wrong! You need the Christ, the new man, the new consciousness to usher out the old man who crucified Jesus! The human nature that put Jesus Christ to death is the same human nature that crucifies Christ spiritually today.
These words were spoken to the world - not to believers! They are convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit because they don't believe in Christ! It is not because of the sins they have committed nor because they have not done enough good. If you believe in Christ, there is no condemnation; there is no accusation! In John 5:45 Jesus said, "Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses." If you live in the law, it will accuse you. The law is the letter and it brings us the knowledge of sin. The accusation comes as a result of not believing in Jesus Christ! If you only believe the scriptures in the natural sense, you do not believe in Christ!
On one occasion when the Jews were opposing Jesus, He said, "If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, `We see;' your sin remains." (Jn. 9:41) If Jesus had not come and the Jews had not said that they understood, they wouldn't have had any sin. But now that Jesus had come, and they claimed to see (understand) but did not believe, their sin remained. He was saying that He was the real spiritual truth of God! He was not the Bible, not the prophets, nor the law. He was Christ! He was the conscious spiritual truth of God - the exact image of God! Since He was correctly portraying the true God, He could not portray their image of God, for their image was wrong. But they did not want to give up their false image of God, so they continually opposed Jesus!
Jesus said, "If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, `We see'; your sin remains." (Jn. 9:41) The Pharisees claimed to have knowledge of the truth. Jesus, the truth, came to do away with their false ideas, but they would not receive Him. Therefore their sin remained. His truth was their judgment! If they retained their false ideas of God, they still had their sin. You see, unless we repent of our natural ideas and turn from them, we cannot receive Jesus and His truth; we cannot believe in God! If we receive His truth, we won't have any sin - it does not remain! This is what He said. The world is convicted concerning sin because it doesn't believe in Jesus. (Jn. 16:8-9)
"But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth." (v.13) Was the Holy Spirit not present before Pentecost? Yes, He has always been present; Christ has always been present for He is the Word of God! The problem lies with humanity; it cannot hear nor receive spiritual things because of its carnal mind. The natural man cannot receive spiritual thoughts! He can only receive ideas that are in accord with his bodily senses and his own delusions!
Israel was not guided by truth; they had the scriptures, which testified to the truth, but they did not have the reality of spiritual truth. Jesus said, "All that came before Me are thieves and robbers ...When He, the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth." (Jn. 10:8; 16:13) Jesus came to bear witness to the truth. When Jesus was confronted by Pilate He said, "For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth." (John 18:37) He also said, "I am the truth...sanctify them in the truth; Thy Word is truth." (Jn. 14:6b; 17:17) Jesus was the Word of God made flesh; the truth was made flesh. Without the Spirit of truth people could only bear witness to the lie. The Jews proved this by their opposition to Jesus!
The people who were reading the scriptures and believed in Moses, the law, the prophets and the sacrifices, did not know the Father. They believed in Yahweh, Elohim, El Elyon, etc., but they did not know the Father! The concept of being fathered by God and therefore calling Him OUR FATHER, was foreign to the Jews and it evoked a lot of anger. Jesus did not learn about God being His Father by reading the scriptures, but by the witness of the Spirit. His Spirit witnesses to our spirit that we are sons of God! The Spirit causes us to cry, "Abba Father." (Gal. 4:6) It does not say that we will cry "Jesus" or "Yahweh", etc.
"But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He shall not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He shall glorify Me; for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose it to you." (Jn. 16:13-14) He shall disclose or unveil to us the Christ, the Word of God. Only the Holy Spirit can do that; it is impossible without the Spirit!
Jesus, the Lamb of God, said that He was meek and lowly of heart. He came to Israel, to a people who did not know God, to tell them of God His Father. He healed diseases, stilled the sea, comforted people, and told them that there is no condemnation in Him. He didn't do any evil, He never condemned people, nor did He send anyone to hell. Then was He actually the true expression of the invisible God? He was, but Israel had another idea of God; it had a wrong idea of God! Their idea was a lie! If we are like Israel, we are worshiping a concept of God that has been formulated in the human mind. If we have not been released from the lie and have not been enlightened by the Spirit of truth, we are against Christ - we are antichrist. We are worshiping a concept of God which was not in Christ; therefore it is a lie, for Christ is the truth!
Jesus Christ did not come to abolish the law or the prophets. (Matt. 5:17) He came to fulfill them. "Not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the law, until all is fulfilled!" (v.18) I don't think He was talking about the letter of the law, but about God's reason for bringing in the law. The law was not given in order to bring us redemption, but to PREPARE us for our redemption! Through it came the knowledge of sin. It was to show us the futility of our efforts to become holy and righteous. Unless we are thus instructed by the law, we will not receive Christ. Christ redeems us from our old human nature! We are actually redeemed from, and out of who we were, and put into Christ. Christ is our redemption!
The law speaks to those who are under the law. Its purpose is to close every mouth from testifying of one's own righteousness. This is the work of the law - not of the Holy Spirit. Once we really hear the law we are convinced of our inability to keep it. We see the unrighteousness of our heart. If we continue to try to please God by what we do, we become Pharisees. When we come out of the law, we come out of our human realization of God. We stop depending upon our own righteousness and repent of who we are, and the Holy Spirit convicts us concerning sin. Jesus is the focal point for redemption.
We become new creatures when we receive Christ, and He creates a new realization of life in us. In Christ there is a new creation! This brings us into a wonderful new panorama of spiritual things. Christ diligently taught spiritual realities, that we might come to Him and receive His realization of them. We have His life and energy in us!
Jesus said, "And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper that He may be with you forever." (John 14:16) This Helper is the Holy Spirit of truth! Nothing else can take His place. Jesus has promised never to leave us nor forsake us. In Christ, the Father has sent us the Spirit of truth "whom the world cannot receive". That means we cannot be in the world if we have received the Holy Spirit!
The world is a system of rule, which has its own god. Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world." So when we were delivered from the domain of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of His beloved Son, we got out of the world that is not ruled by Him! "The kingdom of God is not meat nor drink, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." Those who dwell in the kingdom of God do "not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God." In other words, material things, foods, etc., lose their attraction and importance because God's kingdom is a spiritual one! The kingdom of God is in the Holy Spirit. It is not in the world, it is not in a book - it is in the Holy Spirit!
The kingdom of God IS righteousness, peace, and joy IN THE HOLY SPIRIT! It is in the unseen realm and therefore cannot be found in the seen realm. As long as we are under the rule of another kingdom - one that rules through the mind of the flesh, we cannot receive the Holy Spirit. So the world cannot receive the Spirit of truth; it cannot see Jesus Christ nor does it know Him. In order to see and know the Spirit of truth, we have to give up our own ideas for they are rooted in self. No wonder Jesus said that we must become as little children who trust their parents for all their needs. "But you know Him (the Spirit of truth) because He abides with you (He was in Jesus) and will be IN you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." (Jn. 14:18)
The kingdom of God is a mystery to the world because it is in the Holy Spirit. The world cannot receive this; all they can do is reason and speculate about the kingdom and when it is to come. They reason that Jesus must be coming soon because He has to straighten out all the existing evil that is in the world! They read the promises about Christ's coming and interpret them to be a literal, physical, historical happening. And that is not the way it is going to be!
We are called to come OUT OF the kingdom of this world. Jesus said, "I am not of this world...They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." (Jn. 8:23b; 17:16) Jesus was saying that His followers do not belong to the world's rule because they have a different rule! We are ruled by God's kingdom rule! To the world this is a mystery. This mystery is solved when the Spirit comes to us; then we understand that the kingdom of God is God's rule! This is the rule that ruled Jesus! That is why He said, "Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand...repent and believe the gospel!" We must repent of being under the world's rule!
When Jesus was alone with His disciples they asked Him about the meaning of the parables He had been relating. To His select disciples Jesus said, "To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God; but those who are outside get everything in parables." (Mark 4:11b) If we are not IN the kingdom of God, everything is a parable to us. The understanding of the parables is GIVEN to them who are in the kingdom! It is a GIVEN - we cannot get it on our own; it is given by God through the Spirit of His Son Jesus Christ - the Spirit of truth who is the Holy Spirit. We have to consciously submit to the Holy Spirit! Without submission to His Spirit, we can't receive truth. The Bible cannot be understood with our human intellect! The Bible bears testimony of that which happens INTERNALLY IN THE SPIRIT. The Holy Spirit is renewing our mind; it is changing our concept of God, of self, of the world, of what redemption is, of who we were and what we are going to be.
Jesus said, "Those who are outside get everything in parables." "Those who are outside" live in the external realm - in their natural minds. They need to get everything in parables, because they cannot understand spiritual realities. Everything Jesus said was simply a parable to those who are outside. They saw what happened; they saw the physical healings, the wisdom of Jesus, etc., yet they didn't understand what He was talking about! They did not know who He was! Although He spent three and a half years with them, doing many miracles and spending many hours teaching them, they still did not understand! Even the disciples, His chosen ones, the ones God had given Him, could not truly conceive who He was. They had been with Jesus, they had been sent out to preach and perform miracles even though they had not come into the reality of understanding who He was! When He went to the cross, He trod the winepress of God alone!
Let's look at Peter as an example of this. God had given him the revelation that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God! (Matt. 16) Shortly before Jesus was crucified, Peter vowed that he would never forsake Jesus - others might, but he wouldn't! But Jesus told him he would! After Jesus had been arrested, He was first taken before the high priest. Peter remained outside and was warming himself before the fire when somebody asked, "Hey, aren't you one of them?" But Peter flatly denied it! He even cursed and swore that he did not know the Man. And he was right - at that time he didn't! He really did not know who Christ was! But after the Spirit came he learned to know Him, and boldly witnessed of Him!
In Luke 24 Jesus instructed the disciples to stay in Jerusalem until they would receive power from above. Isn't it remarkable that He did not tell them to wait until they would get more information and understanding like we might have done! Nor did He load them down with a set of books to read! This power was not obtainable from human nature nor from the consciousness that resides in humanity. The power and enlightenment they were about to receive did not come from the Old Testament scriptures which they were able to quote freely. They needed an enlightenment that comes from a higher source, from a higher level! When they received the Holy Spirit (who is the power) they became enlightened! It came from the Holy Spirit who brought them the consciousness, which was in the Man Jesus! This was beyond human comprehension and could not be received until it was released out of Jesus Christ. The Father poured out the Holy Spirit and now humanity can receive truth! In the Holy Spirit we receive a new level of understanding; we receive a consciousness that is beyond the natural. He gives us the ability to understand beyond the letter!
In Rom. 7:6 it says, "But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter." We were dead and were held in the bondage of death. How can a dead man get out of death? He needs help, doesn't he? He can't get out of it by himself. So we can't get out of our human nature, our Adamic mind, our law, our consciousness, our realization of sin and death, by our own efforts. We can't do it! We were delivered from the law by dying to that which was keeping us in bondage. This is necessary before we can serve in the newness of the Spirit instead of in the oldness of the letter. That's interesting, isn't it? The letter is the old, and the Spirit is the new! This is true in both the Old and the New Testaments!
2 Cor. 3:1-3 gives us further revelation on this subject. Paul said, "Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some, letters of commendation to you or from you? You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ." Isn't it interesting that we are proclaimed to be epistles or letters! We thought only the letters to the Romans, Corinthians, etc., were scripture. But it says, "You are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts." Teaching the letter of the word is death. If I am not receiving, at least in some measure, the Spirit of truth when I teach this, you are not getting life.
What is meant by "the Spirit of the living God? Paul frequently speaks of the Spirit! From the Old Testament, people get a conception of a God who is not the living God - it is actually only a concept of a god formed by their own minds. There is no life in the carnal mind because it resides in death! Jesus came to destroy this concept; He came to take that away so that He could give us something better! But people didn't want it taken away, so they killed Him.
"Who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." (2 Cor. 3:6) The whole foundation and truth of the New Testament is not letter but Spirit! God has NOT made us ministers of the LETTER of the New Testament. He has made us ministers of the SPIRIT! Today's Christianity completely fails in this area. It enhances man's natural concepts; it excites the pride that is in self and causes people to think God's promises can only be fulfilled in the future. Instead of receiving all Christ has for us now, they reserve everything for the future. They say God is going to take care of all sin, Jesus is coming physically, we will be raptured, receive a new body and He will rule during the millennium. All their benefits are for the future!
This is NOT the gospel, folks! All these things that are thought to be for the future are all FULFILLED in Jesus Christ. You ARE a new creature; God is not condemning you for sin. God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their sins! God is not imputing ANY sins; there is no condemnation in Christ! This is the good news of the gospel! But it is different, isn't it? The church tries to incite us to serve God by making us ashamed of all our sins. This is NOT the gospel! If we are going to minister the Spirit and not the letter, we will not minister that idea of God.
"And He, when He comes, will convict the WORLD concerning sin..." (Jn. 16:8) The world needs to be convicted of sin because it doesn't believe in Christ! If you believe in Christ you are not convicted of sin! It is as simple as that. Yet it is not that easy, because we have been programmed, patterned, taught, brainwashed or whatever you may call it, to the contrary. Christ has made us able ministers of the New Testament, but not of the letter! The New Testament is basically not in letter but in Spirit. In the Old Testament the Spirit was hidden through the words, the flesh, the types, the shadows, etc. Why is the new covenant "not of the letter"? It is because "the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." (2 Cor. 3:6) That is a tremendous statement! "We serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter." (Rom. 7:6) Serving the letter is of the old; we now serve the Spirit! This is the new covenant!
"But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was,..." (v.7) The law is the ministry of death! Then is hell the penalty of sin? No! Death is the penalty of sin! What is death? Death is separation from God! But how can we be separated from God when God is omnipresent? This separation takes place in our realization, in our consciousness! Since God is everywhere - He is all and in all, He fills everything, He created everything, He is omnipresent, we can only get away from Him by shutting Him off in our own minds! How can we find Him? By turning around (repentance), and opening ourselves up to Him; by letting Him reveal Himself to us - for we can't discover Him!
Now if the ministry of the law had glory, "how shall the ministry of the Spirit fail to be more glorious? ...For if that which fades away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory." (vv.8, 11) The ministry of the Spirit is more glorious than the ministry of the law! The letter of the law is put away in favor of the more glorious ministry of the Spirit!
"Having therefore such a hope, we use great boldness in our speech, and are not as Moses, who used to put a veil over his face that the sons of Israel might not look intently at the end of what was fading away." (v.12-13) The law was abolished because it was a ministry of death! Jesus is the life; He ministers life! The Spirit of life is the law in Christ Jesus.
"But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart." (v.15) This veil hangs over the hearts of people but not over Jesus! Christ is unveiled to people individually. Some see it, some don't.
"Now the Lord is the Spirit..." Our Lord is the Spirit! That excludes everything that is tangible - even the Bible! "...and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." (v.17)
"But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit." (v.18) Christ in you is the hope of glory! Our hope of glory does not consist of going to heaven some day. Those who exchange Christ for heaven would rather have heaven; I would rather have Christ! Christ is truth; He comes to us in spiritual realization. Jesus said, "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (Jn. 8:32) It doesn't say, "The truth will SET you free." A criminal may be released from prison (set free) but he is not necessarily a changed man. The truth MAKES us free; it changes us internally! It frees us from our old ideas, which were rooted in deception! Therefore it is necessary to know the truth! Jesus came into the world to bear witness to the truth! So if we know Him, He will make us free. We can only know the truth through the Spirit! It is not obtainable through the letter, for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life!
"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing." (Jn. 15:4-5) The "I" or "Me" who is speaking is the Christ, the Son of God! As we abide in Him, He gives us His identity, His sense of being, His consciousness of sonship, His realization of God! The Christ is now abiding in me! That means we don't have to look for Him coming down from the sky in a physical body some day! So if we abide in Him, we will bear fruit. A union has taken place! The Messiah, the anointing has come! Christ is here! We have been united! If Christ is not abiding in you, if He is only in heaven abiding somewhere with the Father, you will not bear real fruit! You will only bear the fruit of an unregenerate vine! Isn't it wonderful to know that He abides in us, that we abide in Him and that we can bear true fruit!
Let us reflect on this great truth and rejoice that the Messiah has come to abide in us! Let us rejoice because of the union that has taken place, and ever live and walk in this union with Him! God bless you!
SEEING THE INVISIBLE
We have been living according to things that are seen - the things that come to us through the natural senses of our body; the natural thoughts we have of the Bible, heaven, earth, seas and all that is in them. But now we are to live by faith; and faith is the evidence of things that are not seen! We no longer live according to our natural senses, but by faith! This is very interesting!
The kingdom of God is an invisible kingdom. We are able to see some of the effects of it, but the kingdom of God itself cannot be seen through natural eyes by either the natural or the spiritual man. However, it is seen or perceived by the spiritual man with spiritual eyes.
Jesus said, "...the kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, `Look, here it is!' or, `There it is!' For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst." (Luke 17:20-21) The KJV says it "does not come with observation." It cannot be seen in any specific geographical place. The LCV says, "The kingdom of God is inside of you." It is within us! Some argue that it is among you - not within you. Since the kingdom of God is the Spirit of Christ, it was in Jesus Christ who was in their midst at that time. But now that the Spirit has come, we know that the kingdom of God is within us! It was within Jesus, because He said, "If I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you." (Matt. 12:28) The people could not understand that because they were expecting it in the seen realm, and it is in the unseen!
In John 3 Jesus said that we have to be born into the kingdom. Before we can even see the kingdom, much less enter it, we have to be regenerated spiritually. The kingdom of heaven is like the wind - we can see the effects of it, but we can't see it; we don't know where it comes from, and we don't know where it goes.
In Rom. 14:17 it says, "For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." His kingdom is in the Spirit. It is God's invisible rule in the invisible man! Jesus said that we should seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness first, and then the natural things we have need of will be added to us. Since the kingdom of God isn't available to us in the physical realm, how can we seek it? It is a spiritual kingdom and therefore has to be found in the Spirit! It is present even though it cannot be seen by natural man. To seek it means to put a priority rating on the things of God - for they are spiritual!
I experienced this in my own life. After I had repented and received the forgiveness of sins, I was very diligent in getting up early and spending 45 minutes in prayer and study. I sent for studies in prophecy, etc., but I was dry; I was not being fed spiritually. After receiving the Holy Spirit, the scriptures were opened up to me without any self-effort.
One of the first things I was reminded of, was the parable of the landowner who planted a vineyard and rented it out. (Matt. 21) Later the vine growers wouldn't give him the fruit, and put to death those who came to collect it. Finally he sent his son. When the vine growers saw that, they thought they could seize his inheritance by killing him. So they killed him. In this parable Jesus was obviously referring to Israel. They were not bearing kingdom fruit and they killed the prophets who brought them God's messages. They did not want to have anything to do with God's kind of fruit. Although the kingdom of God was to be operating through natural Israel, they were not producing the fruit of the kingdom. They were unable to do so because they were living in the letter of the law - and the letter always rejects the Christ!
Jesus said, "Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and be given to a nation producing the fruit of it." (v.43) "The kingdom of God is "...righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" and "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." This is the kingdom that would be taken from them!
"And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust." (v.44) It will destroy you whether you fall on it or it falls on you. Jesus is talking about the Adamic man - the mind of the flesh (our human nature) that cannot please God. It resides in the death realm and puts to death the things of God's Spirit; it cannot bear spiritual fruit! Any system that natural man can devise to run the kingdom of God is not going to work! I suddenly realized that! I saw that God's kingdom cannot operate through natural man - through Israel or through anybody! Israel proved this! When I shared this truth, people gave me a surprised look, because they just didn't see it that way. This puzzled me until I understood that not everyone hears the Spirit, and not everyone hears the word of the kingdom. This is because the kingdom of God and His rule are in the Holy Spirit, and people can't hear the Spirit!
Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world." This world does not refer to creation but to a rule! He came into this world to bear witness to the truth. Truth contains many facets. Since truth destroys all error, it brings us a wonderful new conception of God and of ourselves; it brings us a new realization of life! The same truth that destroys lies brings life; the same God who destroys lies, brings truth. The same God who makes us a new creation through a new birth, also brings us into a new relationship with Him and with others, so that we can bear fruit in the Spirit to God.
"In whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." (2 Cor. 4:4) Christ is the image of the invisible God. Moses left the splendor of Pharaoh's palace to follow the invisible God and the things not seen in the natural! We cannot see the invisible God even though Christ is an image of God, unless we are in the same realm as He is!
The kingdom of God was operating in Christ and was manifested through His physical body. This spiritual testimony was not understood by the people, for it did not make sense to them. The people saw Him and heard Him, but because of their false idea of God, they could not accept the truth He was declaring! They could not see the invisible Christ within Jesus, the true unadulterated image of the invisible God! They had many ideas, but they all came through the natural mind and the letter of the Old Testament. So they began to devise a way to kill Him. Stoning was too merciful, but in order to crucify Him, they had to get the Romans to order the crucifixion - which they did!
Jesus and Paul often referred to the Old Testament scriptures. The New Testament was not in existence at that time; it was added later. Now we have the Bible - the Old and the New Testament. It is a wonderful testimony, but it cannot save anyone! It cannot forgive our sins, it cannot anoint us, it cannot give us a new birth, nor can it make us sons of God. But it does bear testimony to all these things! Jesus said, "You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me, and you are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life." We must come to Christ to receive a consciousness or an understanding of life.
Invisible things do not include the Bible. The Bible is seen - it can be read. Faith comes by hearing the Word - hearing the voice of the Son in our hearts! This is not synonymous with hearing someone read the scriptures. Only when the Spirit brings life to the scriptures, do we hear the Son. Hearing His voice brings faith, and faith is the evidence of things that are not seen. Faith does not give us evidence of things that are in the seen realm - the things of this earth.
This will not come as a shock to you if you understand that the kingdom of God cannot be seen. When we live in the kingdom and are ruled by the kingdom, we have the love, peace, joy and righteousness that are in the kingdom of God; we have the Spirit of truth who tells us these things! He brings us faith that enables us to live in the unseen, while we are still living in this tabernacle of flesh (our physical body) as aliens and pilgrims on this earth!
"And just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly." (1 Cor. 15:49) The word BORNE means TO CARRY. Just as we have been carrying an earthy image, we shall also carry the heavenly image, for it has been birthed in us by the Word of God; the Word is the Son, so He always produces the Son. The Concordant reads, "And according as we wear the image of the soilish, we should be wearing the image also of the Celestial." Since we are born again of incorruptible seed, that is through the living and abiding word of God, Christ is birthed in us. This incorruptible seed always births His corporate Son, which is the Christ!
Christ is the Son of the living God! Peter said, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." (Matt. 16:16) Why do the scriptures so often refer to God as the living God? A living God differs from a dead god. The god who is in the natural mind is a dead god. The mind of Jesus was in conflict with the mind of the Jews, because the god of their mind was dead. Their god was only an image, an imagination, a conception of the natural mind; it did not have life nor reality! Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God; He is not a conception of the natural mind. When we are born of an incorruptible seed, we are children of the living God!
"...if there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body." (1 Cor. 15:44) We have no trouble recognizing our natural body, but the spiritual body is somewhat elusive. Notice that it does not say we are going to get a spiritual body - it says there IS one! We are the body of Christ; it can only be manifested by its fruit, but it cannot be seen.
In Gen. 1:27 God created an invisible man. That man is the Son of Man who came down from heaven. (John 3:13) A MAN (an image of God), the Son of Man, came down from heaven. God prepared a body of flesh for Him. We now know that was Jesus, and in Him dwelt the Christ. He was the Son of God! The Word was made flesh; He was anointed of the Spirit and became the Messiah. The anointing is the receiving of the Holy Spirit, and the anointed One is the Messiah. The Greek word CHRIST is the equivalent of the Hebrew MESSIAH. That enlarges our understanding, doesn't it? God created an invisible man in Gen. 1:27, and in Gen. 2:7 God formed a visible man out of the existing creation. After God formed his body, He breathed into him the breath of life!
It is interesting to note that in John 20 Jesus did the same to those whom He had called. After His resurrection He came to them, breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit." And they did - they received Him in the inner man!
"Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal." (2 Cor. 4:16-18) There are two men, an outer man and an inner man. The outer man is the temporal one which we can see. The body of Jesus was temporal, and so is ours. The things which are not seen, that is the invisible man and the new creation, are eternal!
Continuing in 2 Cor. 5:1 "For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down (or dissolved), we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." Our earthly house is visible. But we HAVE another building, an invisible building that is made by God, in which we can dwell when our outward one is demolished. We immediately think that this physical body has to die before we can dwell in our building from God, because we do not understand what our invisible building is like. It says that it is not built by hands; it also says that God dwells in a temple not built by hands. So this new building is indwelt by God and by us! The old one is mortal and the new one is life! Life swallows up the mortal! We have this life now, for we have been baptized into the body of Christ, that spiritual tabernacle in which God dwells! This tabernacle is not an earthy one, for it is invisible. Our faith brings us the evidence of things not seen.
"For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven; inasmuch as we, having put it on, shall not be found naked." (v.2-3) The house in which we groan is our fleshly man. We long to be stripped of the mortal, of the Adamic man, but we don't want to be naked. To be clothed means to be walking in life. While we have this life, we do not always walk in this life, but our desire is to walk in life completely. To be completely clothed with our dwelling from heaven means we are walking in the life we already have. As we walk in Christ's life we shall not be found naked. Our dwelling place of life is in the invisible realm; we long for the removal of the flesh so we are not encumbered by it.
I believe the flesh can be redeemed or reclaimed so that it can become a tabernacle of witness for God. I know that, because right now I am witnessing to things unseen through a visible tabernacle. My old mind has been replaced with Christ's mind. His mind expels the ignorance and darkness that has its abode outside the kingdom of God. His mind takes away our inability to hear the Spirit of God, as well as our sin-consciousness! A transformation has taken place! Now that I have been made a new creature, I can testify in this tabernacle of clay as long as God wants me to, because it has been redeemed - not resurrected. Resurrection takes place in the inner man!
"Therefore from now on we recognize no man according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer." (2 Cor. 5:16) What an eye-opener! We can recognize the unseen in people! But we cannot see Christ there unless we perceive the things of the Spirit. He gives us the discernment to recognize the difference between good works and outward humility produced by self--endeavor, and that which proceeds from the Spirit. We have all known Christ according to the flesh; we see Him born in a manger, maturing into adulthood, and His years of ministry ending in crucifixion. God didn't kill Him; the new man didn't killed Him; the new image of God didn't kill Him. He was killed by the old man that He put to death on the cross! He was the new image of God that survived all this!
We no longer know Him according to the flesh - according to the seen realm and the carnal mind! The Bible is a true witness of Him, but the Father is revealing the Son to us through the Holy Spirit! Since no one knows the Son except the Father, He has to reveal to us that Christ is the Son of God.
"Therefore if any man is in Christ, He is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come." (v.17) What does it mean to be in Christ? Christ is not an individual being; He is a corporate man. He is the anointed One, the Firstborn from among the dead. He is the anointing we receive! If we know Christ Jesus we are baptized into the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit. Being in Christ means we have been awakened from the dead; we have been brought out of our Adamic sense of being, and are living in a new realm of life! In Christ we are a new creation!
When we are born of incorruptible seed and anointed by the invisible Spirit, we receive the mind of Christ, and it can hear spiritual things! We receive a new faith. It gives us the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen! Old things have passed away, and all things have become new! This is important because the natural man cannot receive spiritual realization - he never did, and he never will! The natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God and His kingdom. They are meaningless to him. This becomes evident when we share spiritual insights with those who are still living in their carnal mind. Even many well-intentioned Christians are only understanding the scriptures with their natural mind. So they just don't understand what we are saying; it doesn't mean anything to them. Neither will they understand this message.
We must remember that only those who have spiritual ears can hear the things the Spirit is saying to the church, and the spiritual message of the scriptures. The Bible is a wonderful book, a tremendous testimony, but it has to be understood spiritually, because Christ bears witness in the Spirit! There are actually two witnesses, the natural and the spiritual! The natural is death and the spiritual is life!
In 2 Cor. 5:18 it says, "Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation." What a fantastic statement that God has given to us the ministry of reconciliation! The only thing that matters now is the new creation in Christ! The works of the flesh, like circumcision or uncircumcision, don't mean anything now. (Gal. 6:15) The Spirit's teaching always comes to us in understanding, realization and consciousness!
Those who are in Christ Jesus are new creatures - new creations. Amazing, isn't it? Our inner man has become our true nature - for Christ is our life! People cannot tell who we are or where we came from by our outward form. The Spirit has to make it known to them because they cannot see the invisible. Those who are not living by the Spirit do not understand what we are saying, or where we are coming from.
Let us look at Heb. 11:1. "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." Obviously he is talking to Christians, because the natural person always hopes for things that are seen: riches, health, a nice house, a nice car, etc. These are not the Christian's hope. Our hope is for the things that are unseen, because we have received a living hope - a hope that has been made alive in us. Since it is alive, based on God and His Christ (not on anything in this world), we know it is going to come to pass! Faith is the substance of things hoped for - not the things, but the substance of them. Wow! Faith is the evidence of things not seen! After Thomas had put his hand in Christ's side, Jesus said to him, "Blessed are those that do not see and yet believe."
In verse 3 it says, "By faith we understand that the worlds (ages) were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible." This is the creative process. The evidence that is in the seen realm (the things that we see in this creation) comes to us through our physical body. So does the letter of the word. These things were made of something that is unseen, of things that we cannot see at present.
This means that there is an invisible creation and a visible creation, an invisible man and a visible man. The natural visible image of God, as seen in man, can only testify to an earthy image of God; the spiritual invisible image of God, as seen in Christ, can testify to the invisible attributes and things of God! In other words, we have an image of the natural and an image of the spiritual.
God made both images. The physical body itself is not the earthy image of God. It is a container and only does what it is told to do. But there is a sin principle, which dwells in the flesh (not the physical body). God made man in His image by giving him the ability to think, reason, and create new things from existing materials. When we are under the lordship of Jesus Christ, we will portray the nature of Christ while we are still in this earthy body. We will speak spiritual words even as Jesus did while He was in a physical body. Just as people did not understand Him, they also will not understand us, because we have received His Spirit after we repented and received the remission of sins. After the Son of God was released from His body, His Spirit was given to us in the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Now our body can be a temple of the Spirit - just like the body of Jesus was.
After Peter's first message to the church, the people "were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, `Brethren, what shall we do?' And Peter said to them, `Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'" (Acts 2:37-38) They were struck in their heart by the first message and wanted to receive the Holy Spirit. So many people are satisfied with the forgiveness of sins. These wanted more! They wanted the gift of the Holy Spirit; they wanted the Holy Spirit to be their new teacher! That is what the baptism of the Holy Spirit is for. The law brought us to Christ. This new teacher, the anointing we have received, will teach us all things! He will not teach us lies nor will He allow us to remain in our delusions because He is the Spirit of truth!
God's word in the beginning was not spoken in Hebrew, English, or any language known to us. God is, and His Spirit emanates from His word. His word carries with it His eternal purpose. When He said, "Let there be light," He wasn't talking about natural light, like the light of the sun and the moon. That light did not come into existence until the fourth day, and it had nothing to do with the first light. Instead, the illumination of God's mind and purpose was to come forth.
Paul explains this in 2 Cor. 4:3-5. "And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus' sake." The god of this world had blinded their minds - not their eyes. The mind of the flesh minds the flesh. The god of this world has brought a blindness to the mind of humanity, so it cannot receive the light of the gospel.
"For God, who said, `Light shall shine out of darkness,' is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." (v.6) This is the light that shines into our darkness! It is the same light that penetrated the darkness of Gen. 1:2 when God commanded the light to shine out of darkness. This light has shone into our hearts! It bypasses our natural mind to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God that is in the face of Jesus Christ! Why is this so difficult to understand?
Isaiah had the answer to this question. He said, "For the Lord has poured over you a spirit of deep sleep. He has shut your eyes, the prophets; and He has covered your heads, the seers. And the entire vision shall be to you like the words of a sealed book." (29:10-11a) The Lord poured out the spirit of this deep sleep. This doesn't mean that the people lay down and slept. I think this is the same sleep Adam received in the garden; this deep sleep is poured on all men. That is why a veil lies over people's hearts, and they cannot understand.
We know that the Bible is sealed to the natural man, because he cannot understand the Spirit. Unless he has received the Spirit and has ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the church, he will not understand spiritually. But those who do not hear the Spirit still continue to preach and pray, to set up churches, formulate doctrines, and evangelize the world according to the letter of the law.
"The entire vision shall be to you like the words of a sealed book" (or scroll), "which when they give it to the one who is literate, saying, `Please read this,' he will say, `I cannot, for it is sealed.' Then the book will be given to the one who is illiterate, saying, `Please read this.' And he will say, `I cannot read.'" (v.11-12) Without the Spirit it remains a sealed book; literacy or illiteracy is not the criterion, which enables us to hear the Spirit.
"Then the Lord said, `Because this people draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote. Therefore behold, I will once again deal marvelously with this people, wondrously marvelous; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be concealed." (v.13-14) Many are praising God and honoring Him with their lips, but not with their hearts. God says that He is going to do a marvelous work among the prophets, preachers, the learned and the unlearned!
Paul sheds light on this subject in 1 Cor. chapters 1-3. He said, "And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God." (2:4-5) His wisdom was not of this age; he spoke God's wisdom in a mystery. Then he went on to say that the natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit, for he is unable to do so. Spiritual realities can only be understood by the spiritual man - the new man in Christ!
Isaiah says that the potter can make anything he desires out of the clay, and the clay has no say in the matter! (29:16) It's wonderful when we wake up to this truth! We are not in charge of ourselves! We can't make ourselves righteous! Because a veil lay over their heart, the Jews thought the law could make them righteous. "But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart." (2 Cor. 3:15) Moses used to put a veil over his face that the Israelites might not see what was fading away. The Jews couldn't understand why Moses did this. It was to illustrate the fact that they would not believe the law would end in Christ. They were closing their eyes to the fact that the glory of the law would end.
"And this do, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed." (Rom. 13:11) This was written almost 2000 years ago. It is high time to wake out of sleep. "The night is almost gone, and the day is at hand." It doesn't say days or millenniums, it says day. This refers to the day of the Lord. "Let us therefore lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts." (Rom.13:12-14)
"And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light." (Eph. 5:11-13) God took the kingdom away from Israel because they did not bear fruit! Israel was only a showcase. Every natural man is unfruitful in the things of the Spirit. We are to expose this. When a dark room is flooded with light, everything in it becomes visible. Light makes visible the things, which are not seen. The light of Genesis 1 began a process of manifesting the things that were in darkness. Even so the light that is in Christ Jesus makes the things visible that are in our darkness.
"For this reason it says, `Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.'" (v.14) Christ is the light of life. (John 1) We've been sleeping in Adam, for God has poured out a spirit of sleep on us. In this sleep we are unconscious of the things that are transpiring in the kingdom; we are only conscious of the things that are happening in the realm of the flesh, the earth, and in this natural material world.
Light is obviously the Christ, the anointed One who has come. Jesus Christ is the light! He came as the light, and said that now we are to be the light of the world, even as He was the light of the world. To be that light we first have to be awakened and quickened by the Spirit! We have to be made alive to spiritual things and live in the day of the Lord - in the enlightenment that eliminates the darkness and ignorance of our human nature. The mind of the flesh can only see the natural; it sees the temporal, and the temporal always ends in death. The natural realm separates us from God.
In our union with God through Christ, we are joined to life! We become conscious of things that are not seen; we learn that we are born of an incorruptible seed by the Word of God. Every seed has its own body. God gives each kind of seed a body that pleases Him, and the body of the incorruptible seed is the body of Christ. (1 Cor. 15) Living in our invisible body means living by faith - faith in things that are not seen!
There is so much more that could be said. If you have not yet learned to hear the Spirit, please make it your first priority! Seeking the kingdom rule of God first, will bring into fulfillment God's promise to give us all the things needed for this life. God bless you. Amen.