FOR YOU DIED!

FOR YOU DIED

Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

The Apostle Paul stated that once we accept Christ we are dead. He exhorted us to count ourselves as dead. He declared our body to be dead because of sin. Exactly what did Paul mean by saying these things? Why is it essential to our salvation that we regard ourselves as dead?

FOR YOU DIED!

For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3)

But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. (Romans 8:10)

Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? (Romans 6:3)

The original problem arose when Adam and Eve disobeyed God. They became conscious of their nakedness because they ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, that is, from the eternal moral law of God. Thus they felt condemned. Also, God cursed them and the ground because of their disobedience.

God had warned them that in the day they ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil they would die. Yet they lived for many hundreds of years after that. But they were dead while they lived. How could this be? Because the life of God had withdrawn from them and their environment.

Adam and Eve lived, but they were dead. It depends on how one defines death and life. If life is the Presence of God in Christ, and we do not have God’s Presence, then we are dead. But we may be alive physically, that is, our heart may be beating and we may be able to think and move about.

Life is existence. But existence is not always desirable. People with terminal diseases sometimes wish they could cease to exist.

What must we add to existence if it is to be desirable? We must add joy. Of what does joy consist? Joy consists of love, peace, a sense of being home, satisfaction, a sense of self-worth, happy goals and thoughts, a realization we have not betrayed those who have trusted in us, the knowledge that our joy will never end, and—above all—an awareness that we are pleasing to God. If any aspect of these is missing our joy is not full.

Christ speaks of eternal life. This means we shall exist in joy forever. Eternal joy is possible only in Christ in God; for love, peace, a sense of being home, satisfaction, a sense of self-worth, happy goals and thoughts, a realization we have not betrayed those who have trusted in us, the knowledge that our joy will never end, and an awareness that we are pleasing to God are all found only in God our Father.

One can live a long life and search high and low. He will discover that what I have just written is true. Eternal joy is found only in the Lord Jesus Christ.

By their disobedience Adam and Eve lost all of this, and death passed on all their descendants as a result.

Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come. (Romans 5:14)

What we humans call life is not life, it is the burning of cells in the presence of oxygen. What we humans call death is not death, it is the cessation of the burning of cells in the presence of oxygen—nothing more than this.

We see, therefore, that all people from Adam and Eve to the present are dead because of inherited and acquired sin, although those alive today are still breathing oxygen.

Their body is dead because the Life of God is not in it. Their spiritual nature is dead because the Life of God is not in it.

But then we see that the Scripture declares we die when we enter Christ.

Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 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. (Romans 6:3,4)

If without Christ we already are dead, how is it that we now are to count ourselves dead because we have been baptized into the death of Christ?

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:11)

We were dead before we were baptized. Now, because of the Gospel, we realize that we have been and yet are dead. Because of our new realization that we are dead we willingly enter crucifixion with Christ. Thus we are not just dead as are all mortals, we are dead in Christ. There is a difference in that we have entered the program of redemption.

Adam and Eve were guilty of nakedness before they ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. But after eating they realized they had been and still were naked. They were dead, but not dead in Christ. Although it was not demonstrated in their body for a long time, Adam and Eve were dead, spiritually and physically, from the time they sinned against God.

After being baptized we now are to count ourselves alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Is our body alive? No, it still is dead—cut off from God because of the sin that dwells in it. This is why the Apostle refers to our "sinful nature."

But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. (Romans 8:10)

"Your body is dead"! There is no Life of God in our body. It remains a dead adamic creation.

But our spiritual nature is alive. The Life of God has entered our spiritual nature. Why? Because the Life of God always follows righteousness, and the righteousness of Him who kept the Law perfectly has been ascribed to us as we follow the Holy Spirit each day. There is no Life of God where there is unrighteousness.

Where can we find Divine Life for our inward nature? Only in the Lord Jesus Christ, as we keep turning away from the death of the world and coming to Him in faith.

Don’t we receive eternal life when we die and go to Heaven? No, eternal life is not found in a place, only in a Person. The Lord Jesus Christ is the only source of Divine, eternal life.

I think one of the great misunderstandings of the Christian Gospel, the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, is the concept that Christ came to bring us to Heaven. The thought is that there is eternal life in Heaven, and if we are saved through Christ, when we die we go to eternal life in Heaven.

This is not a true understanding and it is destructive of the Christian discipleship. This tradition makes accepting Christ a sort of ticket that admits us to Heaven, rather than what accepting Christ really is—the beginning of the pursuit of eternal life.

Eternal life is a form of life, just as physical life is a form of life. Eternal life is the Life of God manifest in Christ. Physical life is the energy that results from burning cells in the presence of oxygen.

Eternal life is not found in Heaven or by going to Heaven. Heaven is a place. Eternal life is a kind of life.

Does eternal life exist in Heaven? Only to the extent that one is in Christ. Just to be in Heaven is not eternal life.

How about the angels? They are in Heaven. Do angels have eternal life?

Angels do not die, so they have eternal existence. But eternal life is the Presence of God in Christ. This the angels do not have.

How, then, do the angels live, move, and have their being? They do so by the energy and wisdom that come from God. The elements of the physical universe move and have their being by the energy and wisdom that come from God. The earth rotates on its axis by the energy of God given to it in the beginning. But the earth does not have the eternal Life of God in it.

How about people in Heaven? People in Heaven do not have physical bodies, only a spiritual nature and form. If they have eternal life they have it just as we do. They have it by entering Christ and abiding in Christ, for there is no eternal life except in Christ.

But isn’t it true that people who do not have eternal life are all in Hell? Of course not. Only the wicked are in Hell.

Think about the sheep of the nations whom Christ placed at His right hand. They enter the Kingdom of God because they assisted the brothers of the Lord. But they did not have eternal life when they helped the Lord’s brothers, neither were they in Hell. Because they assisted in the Lord’s brothers it is given to them to enter eternal life in Christ.

What is the practical message of the present essay? It is that Christians practice their religion in the hope of going to Heaven when they die, and this is not what discipleship is. Discipleship is denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and following the Lord Jesus.

As we deny ourselves, being led by the Spirit of God, we keep confessing our sins and turning away from them. As we do this we are fed in the spirit realm with the body and blood of Christ. Eternal life is in the body and blood of Christ. Day by day we keep adding life to our inward nature providing we are walking in the Spirit of God. Christ is being formed in us. The Resurrection and the Life is being formed in us.

But if we do not walk in the Spirit, do not deny ourselves, choosing instead to follow the desires of our sinful nature, then we slay the eternal life that was given to us when we received Christ and were baptized in water.

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, (Romans 8;13)

One of the greatest of the lies that have entered Christian thinking is that once we have eternal life we never can lose it. There are numerous dire warnings in the New Testament that deny this doctrine.

For example, there is the parable of the sower. There was seed that fell among thorns and germinated. But the cares of life choked it out and it bore no lasting fruit. Branches that do not bear fruit are removed from Christ.

Then there is the parable of the virgins. They had their Bible, their lamp, and the oil of the Spirit of God, which is eternal life. However, some of them, because of their carelessness, ran out of oil. The door was closed to them.

The servant of the Lord who buried his talent was thrown into the outer darkness and his gifts given to another.

And, of course, Romans 8:13 (above). If a Christian lives in the adamic nature, not denying himself and following Christ, his spiritual life will die.

Notice the following verse.

When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4)

Christ is our life if we are living each day Him. He is not our life on the basis that some time in the past we made a profession of faith; or because we subscribe to orthodox theology. It is not that Christ was our life or will be our life. We only can have Christ right now. If we are not living in continual interaction with Christ at this very moment, He is not our Life right now.

When Christ appears, we will appear with Him provided He is our Life.

And then notice the verse that follows:

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. (Colossians 3:5)

"Put to death, therefore." Why "therefore"? Because Christ is our life! For this reason we put to death our earthly nature.

What if we do not put to death our earthly nature?

In this case Christ is not our life. We are sowing to our sinful nature, and from that nature we will reap corruption, not eternal life.

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7,8)

The above passage was written to the Christian people in Galatia. It was not written to the unsaved.

This is what it says to the Christian: "If you live according to your sinful nature, from that nature you will reap destruction.

"If you live according to the Spirit of God, you will reap eternal life."

Now exactly what does this mean? It means that if a Christian person does not deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Jesus, choosing instead to live the ordinary physical life, he or she will reap corruption and not eternal life.

If a Christian person chooses to follow Christ at every moment, denying the appetites of his flesh, he or she will reap eternal life.

We see, therefore, that eternal life is not a ticket we buy by accepting Christ. It is a state of being that we reap by denying our fleshly nature and following the Spirit of God at all times.

Is there any message the Christian people are more in need of in our day? They are living in their sinful nature and hoping to go to Heaven when they die.

Do you know how they translate John 3:16?

"God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him will not go to Hell but to Heaven."

This is what Christians believe. This is what Christians preach. They are off the track. They do not know what they are talking about. They are not reading the Bible but going according to their unscriptural traditions.

If a Christian lives in the flesh, being a good religious church member but not truly turning aside from the ways of the flesh, when he dies his conscious personality will enter the spirit realm and be placed with those of like spiritual attainment. He has not done well and he will not hear "well done." He will not go to Paradise to live in a mansion just because he has made a profession of faith in Christ. It is true that he called Jesus Lord, Lord, but he did not do what Jesus or his apostles commanded. He did not help build the Kingdom of God during his lifetime.

Can you imagine the disappointment of millions of American Christians when they discover what I have written is true? Can you imagine the disappointment of millions of Muslims who have murdered innocent people in the name of their religion, who then die? Instead of being surrounded with a smiling Allah and dancing girls they are regarded as a murderer.

In the Day of Resurrection our hapless Christian believer will be raised. The Lord Jesus will give him exactly what his conduct has merited—a spotted robe "stained by corrupted flesh." He could have had a brilliantly white robe, produced by his righteous behavior. But his teachers betrayed him, and he was too indifferent to search out the truth for himself.

The Apostle Paul was reaching forth with all his determination to attain the fullness of resurrection life.

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, And so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:10-14)

The reason the passage above is so vitally important is that it presents the goal of the Apostle Paul.

Anyone who has developed any kind of system understands how necessary it is that the goal be defined clearly—so clearly that all subsequent development can be related unambiguously to the objectives of the system.

This is why the denominations and churches lurch from one program to another. They are not defining their goal clearly in terms of the Apostle Paul. Christian objectives usually are to get more people to join a particular group. This goal is not even commendable. It tends to be destructive of the maturing of the saints.

The following is Paul’s goal. Paul was striving for the full development of resurrection life in his inward nature so that at the return of Christ his body might be clothed with a robe of eternal life.

"I want to know... the power of his resurrection."

Is this your goal?

I want to become "like him in his death."

This means, Paul wanted to experience the sufferings of Christ so that his old nature would die and resurrection life would come forth.

Paul mentions the sufferings of Christ as follows:

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. (II Corinthians 4:8-10)

Are you being hard pressed on every side?

This is God’s way of crucifying your old nature.

Are you perplexed?

Good, for God’s wisdom will help.

Are you being persecuted?

This will result in eternal life being formed in you.

Are you being struck down and frustrated?

This is so you will keep looking to Jesus and relying on Him instead of your own abilities.

Have you been given a thorn in the flesh?

Now you will have to live by God’s strength.

Are you always carrying around in your body the death of Jesus?

Wonderful. The life of Jesus will be revealed in your spiritually dead body.

It is easy to see that the key to the Christian life is death.

I know that Satan loves to involve the Christian people in a multitude of activities. He is safe as long as he can keep us alive. Once we consider ourselves dead, however, and look to Christ as our Life, Satan’s Kingdom is in jeopardy. And he know this.

The Christian religion is one of keeping people satisfied with life in the hope of going to Heaven. This is not helpful. Salvation actually is one of keeping people crucified so Christ’s Life may be formed in them.

Why is it so utterly important we realize deeply and thoroughly we are dead? Because in the activities of religion we attempt to make our sinful nature serve God. This is necessary as Christ is being formed in us. We absolutely must pray continually that God will help us keep all the commandments of the Apostles.

But this is not the Kingdom of God or the new covenant. It is only as Christ is formed in us and we begin to behave righteously through the Virtue of the Divine Nature in us that we are able to truly be in the image of Christ and in union with God through Christ.

Until we genuinely grasp the fact that our first personality is dead, and put on the new man, Christ, our religious activities are covering a cesspool of fleshly corruption.

There is nothing good or salvageable in our flesh.

I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.  For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. (Romans 7:18)

This is why religion is incompetent. Religion seeks to dress up our flesh with apparently godly behavior. Teaching the fleshly nature to behave righteously is like trying to teach a pig table manners. God’s solution is for us to count ourselves dead, and to keep turning away from the desires of our old nature and embrace Christ. This is the true Christian life.

It is important to remember that as our spiritual nature is filled with Divine Life it is placed immediately at the right hand of God. Our eternal life is always at God’s right hand in Christ.

No matter where we are in the creation, our life remains at the right hand of God, far above every other authority.

When we die and have a conscious life somewhere in the spirit realm, our life will remain at the right hand of God in Christ.

When Christ returns we will return with Him. Our life will remain at the right hand of God.

After the resurrection, wherever we are placed, our life will remain at the right hand of God.

We will never leave that position as long as we keep looking to Christ, for this is where Christ is. Christ sprinkled His blood upon and before the Mercy Seat in Heaven that we might be with Him where He always is: in the Father and at the Father’s right hand. This is our home forever.

But, as I said previously, we can permit the Antichrist spirit of the world, Satan, and our own evil nature and self-will to overcome that new life and tear us down. We have to remain eternally vigilant that our crown of life is not taken from us.

You and I have one goal in life, and that is to develop our life in Christ at the right hand of God.

We have dealt with the development of Divine Life in our inward, spiritual nature. What happens to our spiritually dead body?

We have to wait for the Day of Resurrection before our body is made alive.

If we have had resurrection life developed in us, then, when the Lord appears, our flesh and bones will be raised from their place of interment. The Lord Jesus will clothe our resurrected flesh and bones with a robe that reflects in itself our inward resurrection life. This is the redemption of the body that Paul was seeking.

If we have professed Christ, but have continued to live in the moral filth of the fleshly nature, then, at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, our flesh and bones will be raised. There will be no heavenly robe to give us because the heavenly robe is formed from our Christ-filled righteous conduct.

We then will be judged according to our works and will receive whatever our behavior merits. We shall receive that which we have done during our life in the world.

Many are called to Christ but few are chosen. Those who are chosen to press on and on, as did Paul, will become trees of life and will be crowned with the authority of life. They then will serve as sources of eternal life for all of the people whom Christ finds worthy to enter His new world of righteousness.

We who are following Christ with all our might are being made trees of life. Our natural man continually is being brought down to death. Sometimes it is all we can do to keep on going forward. But we must, for the prize is the inheritance of people. We shall inherit people. They will come to us to receive eternal life, for God and Christ will be dwelling in us as an endless source of the River of Life.

All people whose minds have not been destroyed by sin desire joy. Joy, as we said earlier, comprises love, peace, a sense of being home, satisfaction, a sense of self-worth, happy goals and thoughts, a realization we have not betrayed those who have trusted in us, the knowledge that our joy will never end, and—above all—an awareness that we are pleasing to God. These are what all healthy people hope for, and they are found only in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Our tradition claims that joy will be found in Heaven. This is not true. A little reflection will reveal that going to a place cannot bring to us love, peace, a sense of being home, satisfaction, a sense of self-worth, happy goals and thoughts, a realization we have not betrayed those who have trusted in us, the knowledge that our joy will never end, and—above all—an awareness that we are pleasing to God.

The only reason Heaven is desirable at all is that God and Christ are there. When God and Christ return to the earth, then Heaven will no longer be desirable. Isn’t that the truth? Who wants to go to a place where there are creatures with four faces and full of eyes, and angels flying all around, if God and Christ are not there?

No, our goal is not a place on earth or in Heaven. Our goal is to be in Christ at the right hand of God wherever God is. The best part is that we can attain our goal now; we do not have to wait until we die. In fact, if we wait until we die and enter the spirit realm we will not be at the right hand of God, unless we have secured that position while alive on the earth.

People move from one part of the country to another. They buy a house, or a car, or new furniture. They master a talent or obtain great wealth. They marry this one or that one. They prepare for a new career. All of this takes place in America every day.

But these actions cannot bring us love.

They cannot bring us peace, as many rich people have learned.

They cannot bring us a sense of being home. Home is much more than an expensive house!

Things and places cannot bring us satisfaction. People with a million dollars are not satisfied until they have two million. There is never enough money when one puts his hope and trust in money!

No possessions and no movement to a place can give us a sense of self-worth. A sense of self-worth is gained only as we keep choosing to do what is right no matter what pain it give us.

Happy goals and thoughts are not found in things or being in particular places. When we come to a new area we may be thrilled at first; but sooner or later, as circumstances come around, we realize we are no happier than before.

It is obvious that going to Heaven can never bring us the realization we have not betrayed those who have trusted in us. We may leave our wife and children, or our husband and children, and decide to live with someone more attractive. We can never have joy after that, on earth or in the spirit realm.

The knowledge that our joy will never end comes to us only in Christ. Who knows what we will find in Heaven? The Bible does not speak very much about what happens to us when we die. Perhaps when we get there we will wish we were somewhere else. We do not want to be assured of immortality until we are in a joyful state. Isn’t that the truth?

Even if we are in Heaven and in a state of joy, how can we be certain it will not end at some point? All we can be sure of is what God has promised in the Bible. The only promises in the Bible that have to do with immortality are those speaking of our life in Jesus Christ. There are none that hold out immortality because we are in Heaven.

Perhaps it is not true of everyone. I don’t know. Speaking for myself, I can never find a moment’s rest until I am certain that God is pleased with me. I think there are people who are willing to live in guilt, not knowing whether or not they are pleasing God. There is always hanging over their head the possibility that if they heard from God He would say things they don’t want to hear.

I cannot understand this type of person. How can anyone have any peace or joy when they do not know what they are facing when they die? I think it is kind of stupid to live for the moment, not knowing what is going to be our state in the future.

Our adamic nature is assigned to the cross with Christ when we are baptized in water. Our new life is in Christ at the right hand of God.

Therefore, the wise believer, understanding this, will cease living in his or her old nature. He will pray continually, looking to Christ for wisdom and strength in every detail of daily living.

He will recognize that the New Testament lists many commandments that must be obeyed if we are not to lose our new Divine life. He will pray continually for grace to do what Christ and His Apostles have commanded.

He understands clearly, however, that his old nature is doomed. He will clutch nothing, permitting God to remove from him any relationship, any possession, any circumstance that God calls for. He has died with Christ and he knows this.

He continually is setting his heart on things above. His treasures are in Heaven. He is a pilgrim and stranger in the present world. He regards all his gain in this present world as garbage if it was not wrought in Christ.

He knows that all that is in the new world of righteousness has died and been resurrected in Christ. He realizes God is making all things new in Christ; that only what has been made new in Christ will endure.

He will stand throughout the coming age of physical and moral horrors because he is living in indestructible resurrection life. Satan could not resist the power that raised Christ from the dead. Satan cannot resist the power that sustains the believer whose life is hidden with Christ in God.

We have died, and Christ now is our life. Here is all love, joy, and peace. This is the Kingdom of God. This is eternal life.