Wednesday, November 18, 2020

In Christ

Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NIV84)

Before you can understand the above statement you must understand the meaning of the words death and eternal-life, in the context of the Bible. Did you notice that I put a hyphen between the words eternal and life? This hyphen is needed if I want to grammatically convey an accurate meaning. Eternal-life is not natural-life that goes on forever, rather it is talking about a whole different kind of life, and also the death mentioned is not talking about the death of the body either. Usually when the Bible speaks of life and death it’s talking about spiritual life and spiritual death. Physical life and physical death are only metaphors for the true spiritual realities, and as you probably know, metaphors only go so far in explaining the meaning of what they are about.
God IS. Did you know that is God’s name, more or less? Look at this…

Exodus 3:13–14
Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”
14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ” (NIV84)

The point in God calling himself I AM is that HE IS. God is reality. God is the true reality. God is the only true and eternal reality. To be sure, God is a person, but he is more than a person. He is reality. He is the eternal universe. The physical universe is only a metaphor for the real universe, that is, the real reality. Look at this next verse to see the temporary nature of the physical universe.

Hebrews 12:27
The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. (NIV84)

The physical universe is only a temporary place. When it has served its purpose God will “shake it,” that is, remove it. God cannot be shaken. God, himself, is eternal. God, himself, IS life. Inside of God is life, and outside of God is death. If you want to understand the Bible then you must understand that the Bible is about life and death, and that is being in or out of God, because God IS. If you exist inside of God then you “IS” too. Because God is alive then those that are in him are alive too. Think of this metaphor: God is like the water in the ocean and all of the living sea life live in the water. If the living things are removed from the water then they die. The ocean is alive with life, because of the life supporting water. God is like that.

John 17:1–3
After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (NIV84)

What is Jesus saying here? What does he mean? To know God, is eternal-life; what does that mean? Jesus is giving us here the definition of eternal life. He is saying that eternal life is the knowing of God and the knowing of Jesus Christ. What does that mean? This is so important, there is nothing more important than this—nothing. We must understand what Jesus is saying here, because it is so very important. Does Satan know God? Does Satan know Jesus Christ? No, on both accounts. He knows of God and he knows of Jesus Christ, and he can point and say, “there is God”, but he doesn’t know them. Someone might point me out in a crowd but that doesn’t mean they know me. The usage of the word know here means an intimate knowledge. It might be said that I know my wife, meaning sexually, and no one else knows her in the same way. I know her and we two have become one through this intimacy our intimate knowledge of one another has united us and we have become one unit before God.

Genesis 2:24
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. (NIV84)

When Jesus talks of eternal-life he is talking about knowing God and Jesus Christ in this exact same way.

Ephesians 5:31–32
“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. (NIV84)

This “profound mystery” is the knowing of God. It has nothing to do with knowing about God. It has everything to do with having an intimate knowledge of God, an intimate connection with God, an intimate relationship with God.
Now, when the Bible talks about marriage it is talking about the person that you have sexual union with, that is, the husband wife union of their flesh. This union of flesh produces a union of two physical persons which is what the Bible means by saying that they become one flesh. The physical man and the physical woman come together in a physical union to become one physical entity, the husband/wife person, as it were. When the husband/wife person come together they produce offspring—a metaphor for life, a metaphor for eternal-life. But this physical union is all physical. This is a metaphor for eternal-life which exists when we “know” God through Jesus Christ.

John 3:5–6
Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. (NIV84)

The water in this analogy represents the flesh, that is, the physical, and the Spirit represents rebirth of the spirit, that is, a reconnection of the spirit inside of a person with God, the Eternal Holy Spirit. Jesus is saying that a person must be born (flesh) and also a person must be born again through a union with God. Using my ocean analogy we can say that the fish must get back into the water (of God.) So, how does one get back into the water of God? The answer is what Jesus said; through the knowledge of God, that is, the intimate knowing of God.
Let us look back at the husband/wife analogy. The physical union that forms the husband/wife unit is accomplished in the marriage bed. When the man enters the woman (sexually) the two become one flesh. Biblically speaking the sexual act consummates the marriage. (Remember, this is only an analogy.) The union with God that must take place is accomplished when God enters into you, but clearly the union with God is spiritual and is accomplished when his spirit enters into your spirit. This is what Jesus means above (John 3:6) when he says, “the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” The living Spirit of God enters into your spirit and this gives life to your spirit. As a husband is united to his wife and the two become one flesh, the spiritual God unites with us giving life to our spirit. We become one spirit with God.
You must remember my friend that God created the world and the way it works. He created male and female and sexual union and birthing of children and everything else. He did all of this so that you might have the raw material from which you might gain understanding into spiritual things. Let us go back and read some more of what Jesus said in John chapter 17.

John 17:6–19
“I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.
13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. (NIV84)

This passage shows us the critical connection between Jesus Christ and us. What I mean is that we cannot see God and don’t really have any way of knowing God’s desires and such, but we can see Jesus Christ. In verse 6 above he says that he has revealed the Father to us who believe Jesus. Every single thing that Jesus said and did was not from his own will, but rather it was God’s will. As much as possible Jesus lived for God. The only things that we ever see him do for himself is eat and sleep. There is nothing else. Jesus fasted and prayed for 40 days before he started his ministry so that he could get himself out of the way. The only thing left of Jesus was God, so to say. So, when the apostles walked with Jesus Christ they saw the will of God in motion, and when you read the Bible you can see God too. Now, here is the key: If you believe that Jesus is perfectly expressing the will of God, then you believe in every word and action that he did. What I mean is this, when Jesus says something it is as though God himself is saying it to you. If you believe that God himself is telling you to do something then how can you not do it? If Albert Einstein corrected your math would you not believe him? Clearly you would. You would believe him because you know that he knows math better than you. How much more so if God corrects you on any point. If you believe that God is God then that belief is absolute. If you believe that Jesus was sent to earth to reveal God to us, then anything you see in Jesus is from God. The connection is absolute. It is impossible to say that you believe in God and not in Jesus Christ, because God did in fact send him to us for the express purpose of revealing God to us. If you were to work for me and I was to send to you my most beloved daughter to tell you to do something, don’t you think that you would believe that she was telling you what I wanted? If you knew how much I love and trust my daughter then clearly you would accept her words like you would accept mine. That is exactly what is going on here with God the Father and Jesus Christ his Son. Exactly. I say exactly, but actually Jesus is much more an extension of God’s will than my daughter could ever be of mine, because we are talking of God himself and his Son. I am sure that you get my point.
Now, in verse 9 above we see something else that is very interesting. Jesus is praying only for those who accept him as being God’s Son. This is true for every promise in the Bible. Only those who believe in God, or know God, as I have previously talked about, have the necessary relationship with God to receive anything from him, or put it another way, only the fish that reenter the ocean can receive the nourishment that the ocean provides.
Verse 11 above also says a very critical thing. We who have intimate knowledge of God and intimate knowledge of Jesus Christ have the same relationship with God that Jesus had. Wow, now that’s a statement.

John 17:20–26
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23 I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” (NIV84)

When I read the Bible and believe it to be the actual words of God then everything that Jesus says is true for him with respect to his relationship with God is true for me too. I too am a son of God. I am not just a friend of God like Abraham was, no, I am family, if I truly believe the words of the Bible to be true.
What Jesus is saying above is that as God and Jesus were one, we too are one with God in the exact same way. Because we believe the one he sent we believe the sender, that is, God. Through our knowledge of God, our intimate knowledge of God, our faith in him and in everything his says, we become united with God. When we believe that Jesus Christ was expressing the perfect will of God and performing the perfect obedience to what God wanted him to do, we then can understand that the whole death and resurrection was God’s exact will also. God wanted Jesus to die for us, so that through his resurrection we too can be resurrected from spiritual death to spiritual life. I believe that Jesus offered himself on the cross and died and was buried and then was resurrected, to provide a path that I could follow from death to life.

Romans 6:4
We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. (NIV84)

This statement of Paul’s is perhaps the most important that he ever made. Baptism is a metaphor for what happens spiritually to those that believe in what Jesus Christ did, and who believe that Jesus was the one that could do it. Initially we find that we are all on the outside of God, and there is no way that we can get inside of him, because we are tainted with sin, and God is holy and pure, so we cannot exist inside of him (sin cannot live in God) but if we can die by faith, and then be buried with Jesus Christ by faith, and by faith believe that we are connected to Jesus Christ in his resurrection, then spiritually this can be true, because it is all about our knowledge of God. I am not taking about the physical here. Your body can never enter into God. But you are not your body. You are a spirit being created by God in his very own image and likeness. If the spirit person in you, your soul, believes in who Jesus Christ actually and truly is, and in what Jesus Christ actually and truly did while in the perfect will of God, then you can have the necessary faith to bring about the marriage-like union with God through the Bridegroom. God is proposing to you through Jesus Christ. He is offering himself as a husband offers himself to a woman to be his wife. God is offering himself through Jesus to you so that you can believe that he wants you. For a true marriage to take place a man must offer himself to a woman and she must believe the offer is genuine. She must have faith in the man and believe that he wants her and means to be her husband. So it works with us and Jesus Christ. We must believe that his offer is genuine, and that he truly loves us and wants us, and so through our belief in his genuineness we can have confidence, that is, faith, to believe him and respond to his proposal.
The offer that God is making to you is for you to be in him as Jesus is in him and that he will be in you as he was in Jesus Christ. The name “Christ” literally means the Anointed One, that is, the one in whom God lives. And that is why those that have united to God through Jesus Christ are called Christians, it is because as Christians God lives in them too. They become, literally, little anointed ones, in whom God lives, and if God lives in your spirit nature then your spirit nature is alive and not dead, for God does not live in the dead. All of this brings us back to the Scripture reference we saw above…

John 17:1–3
After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (NIV84)

Mark Heaney
This is my greatest desire: That the eyes of my heart may be enlightened in order that I may know the hope to which he has called me, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. Ephesians 1:18–19


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