RECEIVING ETERNAL LIFE

RECEIVING_ETERNAL_LIFE .style {color: rgb(0, 0, 0)} .style2 {font-style: italic}

Copyright Š 2013 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved

("Receiving Eternal Life" is taken from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson, copyright Š 2012 Robert B. Thompson, found in the Kindle Library)

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

Some passages of Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLEŽ, Copyright Š 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

The Law of the Spirit of Life

Living by His Life

Eternal Life

Living in the Spirit of God

Laying Hold on Eternal Life

Receiving Eternal Life

God respects integrity and righteousness of behavior. The ultimate righteousness is obedience to what God is saying to an individual specifically at a specific time and place.

Our current traditions sometimes maintain there is no law but the "law of love." This tradition is based on the idea we are in a new dispensation in which God sees us through Christ. It might be nice to behave in a godly manner as well as we can. But when we "accept Christ as our personal Savior" we can forget about any law governing our behavior. Our judgment was completed on the cross and now we will go to Heaven instead of to Hell when we die.

Am I correct? Are there Christians who believe these things and are living accordingly?

I used to fume and roar about these errors. I don't anymore. I am calm and soft-spoken—most of the time.

But for old times sake, let me once again, peaceably and quietly, point out the problem with the current traditions.

There is no law but the "law of love."

We are in a new dispensation, a "dispensation of grace."

God "sees us through Christ."

When we "accept Christ."

Our judgment was "completed on the cross."

Our goal is "to go to Heaven."

There is no law but the "law of love." There is a law that is part of the new covenant. Paul calls it "the law of the Spirit of life." The law of the Spirit of Life requires that we live in the Spirit of God and not in the desires of our sinful nature. Thus the law of the Spirit of Life is far more comprehensive than the Law of Moses, in that it governs at all times what we think, what we say, and what we do.

So that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:4—NASB)

We are in a new dispensation, a "dispensation of grace." There is no statement in the New Testament that declares we are in a new dispensation. There is, however, a statement concerning a new covenant, which is the writing of God's eternal moral laws on our heart and in our mind.

The Apostle Paul used the term "dispensation" to mean a "trust" or "stewardship." The term "dispensation of grace" is not found in the New International Version or the New American Standard Bible. "Dispensation of grace" is not a new-covenant concept.

The following verse may be the source of the destructive doctrine of a "dispensation of grace.

If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: (Ephesians 3:2—KJV)

The above is the King James version.

But the New International version gives the actual meaning.

Surely you have heard about the administration of God's grace that was given to me for you, (Ephesians 3:2—NIV)

Can you see from this what Paul meant by "the dispensation of the grace of God? Paul was not speaking of a new kind of covenant, but that he had been entrusted with an understanding of God's grace, which in its finest sense is the Lord Jesus Christ himself, to give to the Gentiles.

The concept of a "dispensation of grace" that regards people as righteous although they are living according to their sinful nature is without doubt one of the most grievous misunderstandings ever to enter Christian thinking.

God "sees us through Christ." There is no such statement in the New Testament. God always sees what we do. He knows our works, as stated so many times in the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation. The idea that God sees only the righteousness of Christ when He sees us is not a new-covenant concept. It would mean that when we commit adultery God sees the purity of Christ.

Do you really believe that? I don't imagine you do; but we Christians often compartmentalize our thinking. We hold both ideas in our mind at the same time:

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:13)

God sees us through Christ.

But our conscience tells us that God does not see the purity of Christ when we are behaving immorally.

Is this consistent? Does God see us through Christ, or does God not see us through Christ? It is time we checked out our thinking to see if it is rational and consistent. Do you agree?

When we "accept Christ." There is no statement in the New Testament that we are to "accept Christ." We cannot even come to Christ except the Father draws us. At that point we are to believe in Christ to the extent of learning to live by his body and blood. (Think carefully about the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John.)

It is fine to speak of accepting Christ as long as we mean accepting Christ into our personality every moment of every day and night.

Far too often when we say someone has "accepted Christ" we mean he has conformed to the requirements of a denomination. He has not really come to the Man and laid down his life, determined to carry his cross behind Jesus wherever Jesus may lead him.

Christ stands at the door of our heart today. We are to invite Him into our personality. He is to dine on our obedience and worship. We are to dine on his body and blood, which are given to us in the Spirit every time we turn away from the deeds of our sinful nature and choose to follow the Spirit of God.

The Bible does not teach us that we are to "accept" Christ, as though we are to be given a ticket to Heaven. Rather, The Bible teaches us to "abide in Christ." This means that in all we do at all times we look to Jesus for wisdom, guidance, and strength.

Our judgment was "completed on the cross." This can be construed from a passage or two when we ignore the contexts. But the fourth chapter of the Book of First Peter shows this to be a false idea. Also, the eleventh chapter of First Corinthians, where we read of the consequences of participating in the Communion service when our heart is not pure. Why would we get sick or die if God does not see the sin in our heart and judge it?

There are several passages in the New Testament that warn the Christians about the danger of living according to the sinful nature. These would make no sense whatsoever if our judgment was finished on the cross.

Our goal is "to go to Heaven." There is no such idea presented in the New Testament. The expression "go to Heaven" is not found in the Bible.

When we make residence in Heaven the goal of our salvation, we simply cannot understand the Bible. The idea of the Kingdom of God coming to the earth, which we pray for faithfully in the "Lord's Prayer," is negated as far as having any concrete meaning in our mind.

Our goal is not residence in Heaven but the "rest of God," according to the fourth chapter of the Book of Hebrews. The rest of God is our Canaan, our land of promise. We are in the rest of God when we are living peacefully in the Center of God's Person and will. This is our goal. Heaven is not our Canaan, our land of promise. Rather, Heaven is a place of waiting until Christ comes and sets up his Kingdom on the earth.

Really, the eighth chapter of the Book of Romans is a marvel. All anyone needs to be firmly established in the Christian salvation are the sixth and eighth chapters of the Book of Romans. This is my opinion.

What is the eighth chapter of Romans telling us? It is saying we can turn away from the Law of Moses and be without condemnation.

It is telling us that because of the obedience and death of Christ on the cross, the full righteousness of the Law of Moses will be assigned to anyone who turns away from his sinful nature and follows the Spirit of God at all times. It is as though the believer had kept the Law of Moses perfectly even though he knew nothing about the Law of Moses.

It is telling us our mind is to be kept a prisoner of the Spirit of God.

It is telling us God intends to make alive our mortal body by filling it with the Spirit of God.

It is telling us we are not obligated to obey our sinful nature.

It is telling us that if we continue in our sinful nature we will die spiritually; we will not attain to the making alive of our body.

It is telling us the sons of God are they who are led by the Spirit of God.

It is telling us we are God's children and coheirs with Christ, and will share in his glory if we share in his sufferings.

It is telling us the material creation is in bondage, waiting for the sons of God to be revealed—they who will release the creation from frustration and bring it into the freedom that comes as we live in the Spirit of God.

It is telling us our reborn inner nature will be clothed with a body fashioned from eternal, incorruptible life when God adopts our mortal body. It is the adoption of our mortal body that is our hope, not eternal residence in Heaven!

It is telling us that all of man's history, including today's wicked events, exists for the good of those who have been called to be the brothers of the Lord Jesus.

It is telling us there is no power on earth, or under the earth, or in the heavens above, that can in any manner separate us from God's love that comes to us through our Lord Jesus Christ.

It does seem to me that there ought to be some Christians who believe and teach the sixth and eighth chapters of the Book of Romans instead of the gallimaufry, hodgepodge, mishmash of errors that compose today's supposedly Christian teaching.

So that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:4—NIV)

Living by His Life

It may be true that the greatest confusion in Christian thinking lies in the transition from Moses to Christ. Are we under at least part of the Law? Are we completely free from the Law? Does being under "grace" mean there are no laws governing our behavior?

I have never heard this problem resolved clearly. It seems today, in Evangelical thinking, the majority opinion is that "we are not under the Law but under grace," meaning that if we believe in Jesus we will go to Heaven when we die no matter how we behave. Yet somehow we still are under the Ten Commandments, especially the rule concerning the Sabbath Day.

I came to Christ in 1944. I was taught by fellow Marines that the purpose of the grace of the new covenant is to forgive us, since we are unable to meet God's righteous demands. Then we would be eligible to go to Heaven when we die. Since that time (probably before you were born) I have found this to be the prevailing doctrine of most, if not all, Christian churches.

According to the Scriptures, this is not the purpose of the grace of the new covenant. The purpose of the grace of the new covenant is to forgive all of our sins so we will be able to focus on the work of the Holy Spirit as He creates the Life of Christ in us. As the Life of Christ is formed in us, we begin to meet God's righteous demands. The objective of the new creation is to create us in the image of God in order that we might please God and have fellowship with God wherever we are. Who could disagree with that?

Paul was upset with some of the Christian Jewish leaders.

But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, "If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews? (Galatians 2:14—NASB)

Then the Apostle Paul explained the only manner in which we can be free from the demands of the Law of Moses:

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (Galatians 2:20—NASB)

It simply is not true, and an error of the greatest magnitude, that because of "grace" we are free from the laws that govern our behavior. It is only as we have died to our first life and now are alive in Christ, and living by his Life, that we are free from external laws.

Until we are learning to live by the Life of Christ we are under the moral laws of the Old Testament. There never is a time when a person is not under one of God's laws. Either we are living by the Life of Jesus, and therefore being directed by the Spirit of God; or we are under the Law of Moses. There is no place in between, that is, for a person to be lawless and still be accepted of God.

Even if we could obey the Ten Commandments without living by the Life of the Lord Jesus, we still would not enter the Kingdom of God. The only way in which we can enter the Kingdom of God is by being born again and then obeying Christ throughout every day and night.

There are at least six major goals toward which the disciple is to press. Each of the six is to be true of us eternally: righteous in character and behavior; completely holy; totally obedient to God; having love for God and our neighbor; always filled with joy; abiding in peace in our calling. The only way in which these goals can be attained to is to live by the Life of the Lord Jesus Christ.

There is no greater challenge to the disciple of Jesus than to live by His Life. From the time of our birth we are endeavoring to stay alive in our original inward and outward natures. We are a person. Like all the other creatures of God we fight for our life.

Then along comes the Lord Jesus. He tells us that if we would see and enter the Kingdom of God we must be born all over again.

Now what? We are not speaking of religion at this point but of killing our first nature as we choose to live by a new Life that has invaded our personality. If you think such death and resurrection are easy to experience, you have not attempted to make this transition.

We cannot make such a radical change in a moment. This is why the current teaching that states the moment we "accept Christ" we are born again is so misleading. The expression "born again" is not used many times in the New Testament, although what the expression implies is the heart of the new covenant.

We might be more accurate if we said, "I have decided to die with Christ and live with Christ; and if I am faithful through the years the day will come when I am a new creation, that is, I have been completely born again in Christ."

What does it mean to live by the Life of Christ? It means our thoughts, our imaginations, our motives, our words, our actions, while they are part of who we are and what we are doing, have continually been presented to Jesus so they reflect his thinking, imagining, motives, words, and actions.

To enter this blend of us and the Lord we must pray without ceasing. This does not mean we continually are beseeching God for our needs; it signifies rather that we keep looking to Jesus and listening to Jesus as we go about our daily business.

Right now as I am typing I am looking to Jesus and listening to Jesus. I desire that he speak to his people in this hour. In fact, I looked to the Lord for the current burden—that which I am to preach next Sunday. At the time I went to sleep last night, and the moment I woke up, I was asking God what his Word is to me right now.

I asked the Lord what the topic should be. Immediately I "heard," "living by his Life." As I began to type, the paragraphs were formed in my mind. This is how all my writing has been done. It is a combination of his thoughts and my efforts.

The process, or program, I am describing actually is steps to the first resurrection from the dead, the inward resurrection that always must precede the outward. Also, it is the new covenant—the writing of God's eternal moral law in our mind and heart.

My latest four books, Godwill Castle; Heaven—God's Wonderful World; The Theology of Robert B. Thompson D.Ed.; and John and Mary Visit Heaven; and also the piano composition "God Is My Salvation," came rather suddenly with a Divine impetus, after about a year of not writing.

It is interesting, and just like the Lord's sense of humor, that I, who have preached over and over that Heaven is not our eternal home, should find myself writing about the spirit world, which is becoming increasingly clear to me. I tell you, learning to live by his Life is an adventure with a surprise at every turn.

Another interesting thing: I had titled the children's book (written for children who are facing death) "God's Wonderful World." But then I thought, people will think it is about the present world (which I do not regard as wonderful). So I added the word "Heaven." It sure is a good thing I did. I did not realize how many books are on the market with "God's Wonderful World" as the title.

So God was leading all the way. I felt Jesus telling me to hurry up and get out Godwill Castle, and Heaven—God's Wonderful World, because a lot of blood is going to be shed in the United States as God's covering is withdrawn from our nation because of our sin.

Heaven—God's Wonderful World is currently available in bookstores. Hopefully some publisher will pick up the other three books.

Each moment of each day and part of each night we choose whether to keep Christ in our consciousness, or whether to pursue our own thoughts, pleasures, and ambitions. Sometimes to choose what we think Christ desires, rather than our own lusts and passions, is a real crucifixion leading to an increase of our possession of the Life of Christ. This is why the Apostle Paul spoke of being crucified with Christ, but living nevertheless by the Life of Christ.

Living by the Life of Christ is the "rest," the primary subject of the Book of Hebrews. We have to fight continually to enter the rest and remain in the rest. God has planned our life from the foundation of the world. Now we have to labor continually to attain to that which from the beginning was spoken concerning us.

I will say one more thing: The evil approaching our country is so great no human will be able to survive spiritually and do the works of God. But Christ can survive spiritually and do the works of God. We absolutely must die to our first nature that Christ may live in us. When we do, we will reign with Him throughout the dark days of Divine judgment on the United States of America.

For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. (Galatians 2:19—NASB)

Eternal Life

God Himself is Eternal Life. The Holy Spirit is Eternal Life because He is of the Person of God. The body and blood of the Lord Jesus are Eternal Life because they are of the Person of God. The more we have of God, the more Eternal Life we possess.

I think we sometimes regard eternal life as a reward we receive for "accepting Christ." It is our ticket to Heaven and immortality. I don't suppose most of us think much past the idea of going to Heaven and living there forever. Sometimes added to this is the idea that once we get the ticket we never can lose it.

I do not believe these are scriptural concepts. Eternal life is the Life of God that comes to us through the Spirit of God. It is substance. It is the body and blood of Christ. He Himself is the Tree of Life.

Unlike the ticket concept, we can have eternal life in degrees. Each day we are to lay hold on eternal life by exercising godly behavior. Eternal life is the fruit of our pursuit of righteousness and holiness.

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. (Romans 6:23—NIV)

It is clear from the above passage that deliverance from sinful behavior and slavery to God lead to holiness. The continual practice of such behavior results in eternal life.

It is interesting to note that eternal life is a transformation of what we are in personality. At one time we lived by the sinful life of adamic flesh and blood. Now the Lord Jesus has given us of Himself so that we live a holy life, the very Life of God. This new life by which we now are living has little to do with where we are, whether in Heaven or upon the earth.

Just because we are in Heaven does not mean we have eternal life. We receive eternal life through interacting with the Lord Jesus. We do not receive eternal life by going to Heaven. If there is a passage of Scripture that states that all the creatures in Heaven have eternal life, I am not aware of it. If there is a truth more needed in Christian thinking today, I do not know what it is.

The following is a passage that is very important to me:

Just as the living Father has sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me shall live because of me. (John 6:57—NIV)

The point here is the idea of "feeding." The prevailing viewpoint seems to be that if we once make a profession of Christ, we have our "ticket." We have eternal life. We will go to Heaven when we die and live there in a mansion forever.

However, eternal life does not come to us as a ticket but as "food" which we must feed on continually. The "food" is the body and blood of Christ. Christ is the Tree of Life. We must eat of Him every day.

If we are to partake of Christ each day, and thus lay hold on more of eternal life, we must practice Christian behavior. Man is to live on every word that comes from the mouth of God.

God gave his Son that we might not perish but have eternal life. Until we receive the Life that is in the Son of God we are dead spiritually, little more than an intelligent animal.

God's goal for us is that we might live for eternity in our body. Our opportunity to receive this gift was lost when Adam and Eve disobeyed God. Now through the Lord Jesus Christ, the Tree of Life, we can gain eternal life in our body.

But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. (Romans 8:11—NASB)

The redemption of his body in the Day of Resurrection was the goal of the Apostle Paul.

We attain to the redemption of our mortal body in two steps. The first step is the resurrection of our inward nature. We lay hold on inward eternal life each day of our discipleship, by pursuing righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. We save ourselves by doing these works.

Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you. (I Timothy 4:16—NASB)

If we are faithful in the work of laying hold on inward eternal life, when Jesus next appears our flesh and bones will be raised from their place of interment and clothed with our body of eternal life that has been formed in Heaven. Our body of eternal life is formed in Heaven as we lay hold on inward eternal life today.

This program of redemption does away with the last enemy, which is physical death.

There are several errors in today's preaching. Perhaps one of the most damaging is the concept that God is going to save our present personality by bringing it to Heaven to live in a mansion. This would be humorous if it were not so harmful to Christian growth.

True salvation proceeds as we surrender our first personality to Christ, day by day, line upon line, that we may replace it with a new life. Another way of saying this is that as we live a victorious life we are given to eat of the Tree of Life.

It is the new life that inherits the Kingdom of God and is the Kingdom of God. It is the new life that will be clothed with the spiritual house from Heaven. As far as location, whether our redeemed body is on earth, in the air above the earth, or in the spirit world, is not significant. Redemption is not a change of where we are but of what we are.

Christ entered the world and walked among us. He is the Tree of Life. We are dead flesh until we begin to partake of him. He is God's gift to us, but we have to prove ourselves worthy of this unparalleled gift by setting aside our own life as we follow the Spirit of God at all times, every day and every night.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16—NASB)

Living in the Spirit of God

The Spirit of God guides us in the two great works of redemption: release from all that is of Satan; and change into Christ's image and rest in the center of God's Person and will. We must live in the Spirit; think in the Spirit; behave in the Spirit; speak in the Spirit. Little by little we are to bring our entire personality under the control of the Spirit of God.

Those of us who speak in tongues refer to ourselves as "Pentecostal." This name is derived from the fourth of the seven Jewish celebrations. The Holy Spirit fell on the assembled disciples when the Jewish celebration of Pentecost had come. This is why so many Jews were assembled in Jerusalem to witness this event.

My wife and I have been "in Pentecost" for over sixty years, so we have had considerable experience with Pentecostal people. I will say that the Spirit of worship in a church in which speaking in tongues is exercised is more fluent than in other Christian churches, regardless of the level of righteousness and holiness of the other churches. This can be verified by experience.

God knows what He is doing. When He established speaking in tongues as the way of entering the rest of God, then that is the way we enter the rest of God. It is my firm belief, however, that many fine Christians have the Spirit of God although they never have pressed through to speaking in tongues.

I am of the opinion that most of us do not understand the role of the Spirit of God in our life. It may be noted that Jewish people, who often have a sense of God's workings, associate the celebration of Pentecost with the giving of the Law on Sinai. It is believed by some scholars that the Law was given at the time of the feast of Pentecost, that is, fifty days after the first Passover.

So the Holy Spirit is more than the Comforter who guides us into all truth. He is our Law, the law of the new covenant. He is to be obeyed as He leads into deliverance from sin, and also into the development of Christ in us.

The expression, "As many as are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God" (Romans 8:14), follows and explains the preceding verse, which warns us about living according to our sinful nature. The Spirit of God, if we are listening to him, is always leading us to put to death the actions of our sinful nature and to press into the eternal life that results finally in the immortality of the body.

For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (Romans 8:13,14—NIV)

The Law of Moses is the servant who brings us to Christ. This relationship between the Law of Moses and the new covenant is not always explained clearly.

Are we under any part of the Law of Moses? No, if we have "died with Christ" and are living by his Life, the Life of the Spirit of God.

When we are following the Spirit of God each day, we are without condemnation. The righteousness of the Law is fulfilled in us.

So that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:4—NASB)

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. (Galatians 5:18—NASB)

What does the Apostle Paul mean when he states that the new covenant is not of the letter but of the Spirit?

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. (II Corinthians 3:6—NASB)

Now, precisely what does Paul mean by "the letter kills but the Spirit gives life"?

Paul means that attempting to obey the text of the New Testament, which consists of the words of Christ and his Apostles, without looking to the Lord for guidance and strength, results in confusion and a self-righteous spirit.

The reason there are so many divisions among the Christian denominations is that the ministers as well as the people are endeavoring to follow the text of the New Testament as though it were the same as the Law of Moses. Since one person interprets a passage one way, and another person interprets the same passage in a different way, we have division.

The Scriptures did not come through the human mind. The Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, came through holy men who were moved by the Holy Spirit. The Scriptures can be rightly understood only as holy people are moved by the Holy Spirit.

Take the Book of Revelation, for example. How many devout teachers of the Bible have constructed timelines in connection with their explanation of the meaning of the Book of Revelation? It appears that every such teacher disagrees with the other teachers.

The only manner in which the words of Christ and his Apostles can be interpreted is by the Spirit of wisdom and revelation. They cannot possibly be understood or applied correctly by scholars using their intellectual processes.

In order to understand and apply the words of the New Testament we have to have apostles. Teachers learn from other teachers, and soon we have a hodgepodge of error. This is true today. Every once in a while God sends apostles to the Body of Christ. They are people whom Christ draws to himself and explains what He has said, is saying, and yet will say to the Body of Christ.

If ever a generation needed an apostle it is the present generation. There are ministers today who claim to be apostles, but it is not evident that they are. And so error is heaped on error.

There are numerous errors in current Evangelical theology. Perhaps the most damaging of all is the current presentation of Divine grace as an alternative to growth in righteous behavior. The emphasis on an "any-moment rapture" of the believers also is damaging, because it is leaving the Christian people unprepared for the moral chaos we are entering.

The pattern of redemption that God has followed in the Protestant Reformation is revealed in the seven feasts of Israel. We have been at feast number four, Pentecost. Now the Spirit of God is moving us into the fulfillments of the last three celebrations: the blowing of Trumpets; the Day of Atonement; and the feast of Tabernacles.

The true apostles of Christ will be explaining to us the fulfillments of the final three observances, because this is what the Spirit of God is telling us about today. This does not mean they necessarily will refer to the seven feasts of Israel. But they will emphasize the fulfillments: the Lord coming to cleanse His people; the reconciliation of our whole personality to God; God making us his Throne and settling down to rest in prepared saints.

Those who are following the Spirit of God are finding themselves moving into these fulfillments, although they do not always understand what is happening to them.

In conclusion let us say that the new covenant is a covenant of the Spirit, not of the letter of the New Testament. The Spirit will never lead us contrary to what Christ and his Apostles have spoken and written. But the Spirit, using both the Old Testament and the New Testament, will tell us what Christ is saying today.

The Spirit will enable us to correctly understand and apply the Scriptures, both Old and New Testament, until the Morning Star arises in our heart and we think, speak, and act in the Spirit of God, just as our Lord Jesus always does.

So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. (II Peter 1:19—NASB)

Laying Hold on Eternal Life

The expression "eternal life" is not referring primarily to living a long time. Rather, eternal life is the knowledge of God and Christ; and is found also in the body and blood of the Lord Jesus. "Eternal life" does not refer primarily to duration of existence. Rather, it is a kind of life.

I suppose the main difference between the "ticket" doctrine of eternal life, and the true, covenantal doctrine of eternal life, is that in the covenantal doctrine, eternal life is not viewed as a one-time pass into Heaven but is seen as a daily working out of the Divine redemption. Also, unlike the "ticket" doctrine, it is understood that we possess eternal life in degrees, according to the effort we have made to walk with God.

It always must be kept in mind that when the New Testament speaks of eternal life it ordinarily is referring to bodily immortality. John 3:16 is speaking of bodily immortality. However, before bodily immortality is possible, the Life of God must first have been developed in our inward nature.

It absolutely is true that eternal life is a gift. However, it is the gift of an opportunity to attain to eternal life, not a ticket that is handed out to us on the basis of our "accepting Christ." I enclose "accepting Christ" in quotes because what often happens is a religious confession of sorts, not a genuine receiving of the Man, Christ Jesus.

That eternal life is "the gift of an opportunity to attain to life" can be seen in the following passages:

But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (I Timothy 6:11,12—NIV)

Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you. (I Timothy 4:16—NASB)

Today too much emphasis is placed on what Christ does in the work of redemption. It absolutely is true that all redemption proceeds from Christ. But the New Testament teaches plainly that many responses are expected from us, such as presenting our body a living sacrifice; taking up our personal cross and following the Lord Jesus. If we do not do our part, the work of redemption ceases.

Can you imagine how greatly this understanding is needed today in the Christian churches?

It is obvious from the Book of Romans that eternal life is not a package tied with a bow that is just handed to us. Eternal life is now available to us. But we have to "take hold" of it by pursuing godly behavior.

The Apostle Paul toward the end of his life was still endeavoring to "take hold" of the inward resurrection which is the prerequisite for receiving the first resurrection, that is, the redemption of the physical body that will occur when the Lord next returns to the physical world.

It appears we have made eternal residence in Heaven the goal of the Christian redemption. It assuredly is not. The goal of redemption, according to the Apostle Paul, is the making alive of our inward nature, and then, when the Lord returns, the making alive of our physical body.

I think sometimes Christians believe being resurrected means going to Heaven. Resurrection has nothing whatever to do with going to Heaven. Resurrection means making alive what has been dead. The term applies first to our inward personality, which passes from death to life. Then to our physical body, which also passes from death to life.

"Dead" means the Spirit of God is absent.

The Apostle Paul had as his goal the complete resurrection of his inward nature. This would mean he was living by the Life of Jesus rather than by his own life. Such resurrection of the inward nature is the necessary prerequisite for the making alive of the mortal body. God never shall make alive the physical body of any person until first the inward nature has met God's requirements for that individual.

Our body will not be raised from the dead so we can go to Heaven. We go to Heaven by dying. Our body will be raised from the dead so we can live once more on the earth.

Faithful Enoch, and also Elijah, were carried into Heaven, apparently. But that is not resurrection. Rather, God was exercising his ability to move that which is physical into the spirit world.

In the parable of the sower, the Lord spoke of three degrees of fruit bearing in those who have a noble and good heart.

The fruit that is to be borne is always from the Spirit of God. The more of the Spirit we have, the more fruit we bear. The fruit is the moral image of Christ, and untroubled rest in the center of God's Person and will.

The forty-seventh chapter of the Book of Ezekiel also tells us of levels of the Spirit. There are the three levels that follow the Divine judgment on us, and then there is the fourth level, the waters to swim in.

The three levels of Ezekiel speak of the increasing work of redemption. The fourth level is the Fullness of God. At this point we are planted by the River of Life and have become a tree of life—like our Lord, because we are filled with our Lord.

The water of eternal life will go out from us into the dead sea of mankind, bringing eternal life to all who will receive it. Thus there is a vast inheritance for those who will never cease pressing forward in the Lord Jesus. This was how Paul lived.

Both the Spirit and the Bride say, "Come." All who are thirsty may come and drink freely of the water of eternal life.

It is my point of view that every member of the new world of righteousness will have a portion of God's Spirit in him or her. There will be no more "sea" of people who are living according to their fallen nature and who can be swayed by demagogues.

How much of the Spirit we possess depends on the diligence with which we obey God each day. God gives his Spirit to those who obey him.

If we will bear our personal cross and follow Jesus diligently all our life, we will be of enormous benefit to God and mankind, and also to ourselves and our loved ones.

Let's do it!

But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (I Timothy 6:11,12—NIV)