THE TRANSITION FROM A SOUL TO A LIFE-GIVING SPIRIT PART TWO
Copyright © 2013 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica. Used by permission.
So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being (soul; Heb. nephesh)"; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. (I Corinthians 15:45)
Can you notice in the above that there are two different forms of humanity? There is the first man, Adam (a soul; nephesh). Then there is the second man, a life-giving spirit.
It is of interest that the Hebrew term nephesh is applied also to the animals.
Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature (nephesh), that was its name.
Before we are born again, we are "Adam," one might say, a living soul. We are flesh and blood. But flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. Therefore we must be born once more. That which is born of us the second time can see and enter the Kingdom of God, and is the Kingdom of God. It is the Lord Jesus Christ.
Man has been created to be in the image of God. But he begins as a soul, an intelligent animal with a spirit that can communicate with God. But an animal no matter how intelligent is not the image of God.
We have been predestined to be made into the image of Christ. Thus our first creation, the adamic creation, is not what God means by man in His image.
To attain to the new man, the life-giving spirit, we must cross the Jordan, to speak in a figure.
In order to make this crossing and entrance into Canaan, we must understand what the River Jordan and the land of Canaan represent.
The River Jordan represents death to our first man, the adamic nature.
The Land of Canaan speaks of the rest of God. The rest of God is that state of being in which Christ lives in us; in which we are ceasing from our own works so that God might find His rest in us and we might find our rest in God.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
Paul is a living example of the second stage of man, that of the life-giving spirit. Have the writings of Paul brought eternal life to people throughout the centuries of the Christian Era? I believe you will agree with me that they have.
Notice how the writer of the Book of Hebrews shows us that our land of promise, our Canaan, our goal, is the rest of God:
For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:8-12)
In the year 2013 we, the members of the Christian Church, have arrived at the east bank of the River Jordan, to speak figuratively. By members of the Christian Church I am not referring to any earthly church. Rather I am referring to the true Christians, the true disciples of the Lord Jesus, who may be found in any denomination, from the greatest of the Catholic cathedrals to the least pretentious of Pentecostal meeting places.
These are the true Church, the Body of Christ, the Royal Priesthood that one day will govern the works of God's hands under the greatest of all kings, the Lord Jesus Christ.
There shall come a day in the future when the true Christians leave the babylonish structures, and the Glory of God shall rest upon them. Then the world will know that God has sent Christ and loves the members of the Royal Priesthood as He loves Jesus Christ.
Every individual, young and old, must at this time look continually to the Lord Jesus and obey Him implicitly. He is ready to lead us across Jordan, so to speak, and into the rest of God, our inheritance, that which is perfect.
We now are positioned on the East bank of the Jordan, ready to cross the river and begin to fight for our inheritance.
The Jordan River symbolizes death to self.
Canaan symbolizes the rest of God, that which the Apostle Paul was striving to enter fully.
"Death to self" is not a "nice church saying." It is an experience as real as being born again, or speaking in tongues.
Let us now consider what God's saints have remarked about death to self:
Why is my pain unending and my wound grievous and incurable? You are to me like a deceptive brook, like a spring that fails. (Jeremiah 15:18)
Have you been there yet? If not, know that it is a fiery trial designed to move you from a self-centered religionist to a life-giving spirit, as Jeremiah became eventually. Its purpose is to save you from yourself. It is difficult therefore for the righteous to be saved.
Therefore this is what the Lord says: "If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me; if you utter worthy, not worthless, words, you will be my spokesman. Let this people turn to you, but you must not turn to them. I will make you a wall to this people, a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you to rescue and save you," declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 15:19,20)
The way events are occurring in the United States, I would venture that it will not be long before there is severe persecution of the Christian people. In that day it will not be enough to trust in the blood atonement and be baptized with the Spirit of God. We are going to have to go through the Divine fires that cleanse us from the adamic, soulish nature and prepare us for the rest of God in which Christ becomes our life. Then we, along with the Spirit of God, will be a source of the water of eternal life for all those who are thirsty.
Job was a righteous man to begin with. He knew about God but he did not know God.
After you have your "Job" experience, this is what you will say: "My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes." (Job 42:5,6)
Peter and the other disciples were arguing about who would be the greatest. This was Jesus' response to Peter about this matter:
"Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back (been converted), strengthen your brothers." (Luke 22:31,32)
What did Peter need to turn back from? The desire to be preeminent. No person who desires to be preeminent can cross over the Jordan River.
Paul's participation in the sufferings of Christ were bringing him to resurrection life in his inward nature, which is the same as the rest of God. It is the life-giving spirit.
I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10,11)
The Prophet Isaiah experienced the anger of God, as God addressed Himself to the vaunting of self-will still present in Isaiah. When God was through converting him, Isaiah became a life-giving spirit. He had crossed Jordan and began to exalt the Lord alone.
I will praise you, Lord. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me. (Isaiah 12:1)
There does come a time when God is through chastening us.
"For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back. In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you," says the Lord your Redeemer. (Isaiah 54:7,8)
But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner's fire or a launderer's soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness. (Malachi 3:2,3—NIV)
Of course, I could have added many more passages. But the above may suffice to give you the idea that after we become a Christian, and have grown strong enough, God will wage war against our sin and self-will.
We cannot possibly cross the Jordan River and prepare ourselves to attack the enemies who currently are occupying our promised inheritance, the rest of God.
Though there may be months or years of dryness, of spiritual darkness, keep in mind that you are in a tunnel, not a grave. There indeed shall come a day when your joy and confidence return to you, and you will discover that the Lord Jesus has been with you all the time.
Such chastening is experienced by all who would be God's sons. It makes us partakers of His holiness. It moves us from our original, animal state to a true son of the Highest. Chastening absolutely is necessary if we are to play our predestined role in the Kingdom of God.
Do not give up. Do not quit. Every true saint has been there or soon shall be. The overcomers shall inherit all that God is making new in Christ. By your faithfulness and patience, show that you are worthy of the Kingdom of God.
Keeping in mind that the invasion of Canaan by the Israelites is a symbol of our pressing into the rest of God, some of the accounts in the Book of Joshua might be helpful.
So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. (Joshua 3:14)
Perhaps the verse above is telling us that those who are leaders in the Christian churches must be the first to enter death to self-will, to the adamic nature. This is the meaning of the Jordan River.
The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground. (Joshua 3:17)
As far back as I can remember, God's people have talked about death to self; about being an "empty vessel"; and so forth. But very few of us really accomplished this, although we were willing.
Perhaps Joshua 3:17 is informing us that today the Ark of God's will and Presence is holding back the enemy, even though Jordan is at flood level (the power of Satan is strong in our day!).
Now it is time for God's people to go through the processes of death to self. It is God's way to give us a desire for some aspect of redemption, and then accomplish it beyond our highest desires.
When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, "Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, from right where the priests are standing, and carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight." (Joshua 4:1-4)
Now, why would God require this? It is so Israel at a later time would call to mind how God had enabled them by a miracle to move over to the land of Canaan.
So it is with us. In the future, when we are enjoying our position as God's sons, we are to remember when God reached down and enabled us to leave our adamic nature. God made it possible for us to fight our way into the second stage of our development as the image of God. This is the stage of the life-giving spirit.
To serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, "What do these stones mean?" tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever. (Joshua 4:6,7)
From this point forward the Israelites were in the land of Canaan.
There was a problem. The men of Israel had not been circumcised. The unbelieving warriors, who had been circumcised, were now dead.
At that time the Lord said to Joshua, "Make flint knives and circumcise the Israelites again." So Joshua made flint knives and circumcised the Israelites at Gibeath Haaraloth. (Joshua 5:2,3)
How true this is today. The Lord's people have forgotten that they are supposed to be holy. If you will listen to the old hymns you can tell that the Christians were well aware of the need to put away the sins of the flesh. Today the emphasis is on getting as many people into the building as possible, and to engage in wild exhibitions of emotional flesh.
What happened to "The Old Rugged Cross"?
Is it time for God's leaders to abandon the current sensationalism and return to simple cross-carrying obedience? I think it is time. Apart from the circumcision of our personality, there is no way in which we are going to fight our way into the Life of Christ.
In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ. (Colossians 2:11)
It is true that it is time to move forward in Christ. But we must follow the Spirit in gaining victory over the actions of our fleshly, sinful nature.
Then the Lord said to Joshua, "Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you." So the place has been called Gilgal to this day. (Joshua 5:9)
Such was the benefit of circumcision.
The anchor of our Christian experience is the Passover. This is where we turned away from the world, seeking to come under the protection of the blood of the Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ.
We see that the Israelites had to celebrate the Passover before they attempted to engage the Canaanites in battle.
This is what the Lord says: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls." But you said, "We will not walk in it." (Jeremiah 6:16)
If the Christian churches in their long history were ever at the crossroads, it is today. Instead of more holiness we want more money. Instead of boasting in the Lord we are boasting about our organization. Instead of testing the spirits we invite any sort of emotional, disgusting exhibition of the flesh.
Instead of examining the "apostles" we throw money at their feet, hoping to have it multiplied tenfold. Instead of teaching patient, cross-carrying obedience we are informing the people that they are to command the Holy Spirit and the angels. We are to speak into existence whatever we desire.
Today we must ask for the ancient paths. We must pattern ourselves after the godly teachers of old who emphasized the need of prayer, obedience to Christ, and righteous behavior. If we do not begin to walk in the old ways of the saints we can forget about becoming a life-giving spirit!
So the Israelites had to celebrate the Passover before they began the battle. They had to call to mind how God had brought them out of slavery in Egypt. They had to go back to the beginning. We do too. We need to call to mind our humble beginning in the Lord Jesus, so God can call us to the splendors He has in mind for us without our being exalted in our own opinion.
On the evening of the fourteenth day of the month, while camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, the Israelites celebrated the Passover. (Joshua 5:10)
The Lord only is to be exalted; and this is why we must die to our first personality.
In that day you will say: "Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted." (Isaiah 12:4)
Up to this point the Israelites had been eating manna. The day after the Passover they ate both manna and the food of Canaan. The following day the manna stopped, and there was only the food of Canaan to eat.
The day after the Passover, that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land: unleavened bread and roasted grain. The manna stopped the day after they ate this food from the land; there was no longer any manna for the Israelites, but that year they ate the produce of Canaan. (Joshua 5:11,12)
There was one day in which they had manna as well as the unleavened bread and roasted grain. They must have purchased it from the tribes in the area.
So with us. While we are making the transition from our former life to our new life in Christ, there will be a time when God still is nourishing us with the daily Divine grace we have been accustomed to.
But something else is taking place inside of us. We are receiving the strength of Christ in our inner nature. The Lord Himself is becoming our strength and our song. We really are moving past the gifts to the Giver. We had been playing volley ball with God. Now we move to the same side of the net. Now we are on God's side. This is an important part of our new life in God's rest.
The first man, Adam, was the beginning of making man in God's image. Now we come to what God has had in mind all along. A new creation in the inner moral image of Christ, and ultimately in the outer likeness of Christ.
Make no mistake, it will be a battle for each one of us. We see this in the third chapter of the Book of Philippians where Paul was laying aside everything that he might press into the fullness of everlasting life.
I don't believe everyone who goes by the name of "Christian" will be willing to count his old nature crucified with Christ. Some will cling to their first personality because of fear, or unbelief, or some other unworthy motive.
But God has a treasure in the field. The treasure is faithful people who have honest and good hearts, who will follow the Spirit of God until they can say with the Apostle Paul: "I am not living any longer. It is Christ who is living in me."
You and I can, through Christ, gain victory after victory until we receive the crown. Then we will be counted as one of the sons of God and shall inherit all that God is making new in Christ.
In closing this essay, let me point out the very specific directions God gave for the battle against Jericho. After the miraculous crossing of the Jordan River, the circumcision, and the celebration of the Passover, God did not just turn the Israelite army loose to attack the walled city of Jericho.
Rather God told them exactly what to do, beginning with the marching around the wall and blowing the trumpets.
I am persuaded the greatest mistake the Christian churches of our day make is that of planning what they wish to do, and then proceeding without going to the Lord Jesus to find out what He desires.
I am a loss to know why this is the case, but it certainly is. How often do you hear of religious organizations seeking Christ to find out what His will is? They will pray, certainly, but it is to invoke the Lord's blessings, not to find out what they should be doing.
A review of the Bible will show that it is not an account of people deciding how they wished to construct the plan of redemption or to build the Kingdom of God. It is, as the writer of the Book of Hebrews said, a case of God speaking to the fathers.
Now that God has brought us to the point that we are to enter our land of promise, the rest of God, we are not to proceed without hearing from the Lord Jesus. It simply is not enough to have good plans, even if we can support them with passages of Scripture. We have to stop launching out in "faith" if we never do anything or accomplish anything throughout our whole life.
God is not seeking talented, ambitious, capable people to lead the way. Rather the Lord is looking for those who are ready to wait, or ready to act, but in every instance to wait until they know what Christ is seeking.
Will you be such a person? Will I? Someone has got to hear from God in these days! The world is in turmoil, as are the Christian churches. Political leaders are not going to bring peace to the world, and Christian leaders who are doing what they think is right are not going to bring God's people into the promised land.
Let's you and I wait until we hear from Jesus. What do you say?
Then the Lord said to Joshua, "See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days." (Joshua 6:2,3)
Some way to attack a walled city, isn't it?