PURSUING THE RESURRECTION UNTO LIFE

PURSUING THE RESURRECTIN UNTO LIFE

A STUDY GUIDE SERIES: BOOK FOUR

Five essays on the victorious Christian life by Robert B. Thompson

Compiled and Edited by

Edward J. Reiter

Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Preface

Groaning for the Adoption

    Summary#1

    Questions#1

Living By His Body and Blood

    Summary#2

    Questions#2

Once to Die

    Summary#3

    Questions#3

To Perish or to Live

    Summary#4

    Questions#4

The Temple of the Holy Spirit

    Summary#5

    Questions#5

Answer Guide

Bibliography

About the Author

Preface

Why did the Apostle Paul groan inwardly for the adoption of his body and is the reason important for us today?

How can we live by the body and blood of Jesus and what part does it play in our resurrection?

When do the first and second resurrections take place and what is the difference between the them?

What did the Lord Jesus mean when He stated in John 3:16 that the Father sent Him so that we would not perish?

Why is the human body important in the Divine plan of redemption?

The answers to the questions above may reveal much about the current state of Christianity as a whole, as well as the condition of our individual hearts.

This book is not only an effort to provide scriptural answers to these questions but also aims to provide the guidance necessary to grow into obedient followers of Jesus Christ.

Each essay is followed by a summary review and five questions drawn from the reading. An answer guide is provided at the end of the book.

May God enable us to increasingly begin pursuing the resurrection unto life and grow into His fullest measure of righteousness, holiness and obedience.

Edward J. Reiter

Escondido, California

August 2001 

Groaning For The Adoption

Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? (Romans 8:23,24—NIV)

The above passage is one of several that point to the goal of redemption, of salvation. The goal of our redemption is not movement to another place, that is, to Heaven in the spirit realm. Rather our goal is the release of our body into the incorruptible resurrection life of the Holy Spirit. It makes a great difference in our Christian walk whether we regard a move to Heaven as our goal or the attaining of eternal life in our body.

It is clear in the New Testament that our goal is not movement to another place but a transformation of what we are in spirit, soul, and finally—at the Lord's coming—in body. The reason the correct goal is important is that if we view residence in Heaven as our goal, and the forgiveness of our sins as the means of getting to Heaven, then our Christian life may be mediocre as we participate in the Christian religion, waiting to die and go to Heaven.

But if we view salvation as a transformation of what we are, beginning with our inward nature and extending finally to our body, then we will begin today to fight the good fight of faith. We will each day throw off through Christ the chains of corruption that bind our inward nature as we press toward the day when the Spirit of God by which we now live will extend to our physical body.

The traditional Christian life is one of waiting to die and go to Heaven, or for an unscriptural "rapture" to lift us to Heaven, while we try to live an acceptable life.

The true Christian discipleship is one of overcoming worldliness, the lusts of our flesh, and our self-will as we press toward the first resurrection from the dead, the resurrection to eternal life.

These two approaches to the Christian life are not at all the same. One is correct and the other is incorrect and destructive.

In the beginning chapters of the Book of Romans, Paul teaches us that we can no longer be justified by obeying the commandments of the Law of Moses but must place our faith in the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ.

In Chapter Six of Romans, Paul declares that if we as a Christian choose to live an unrighteous life we will die spiritually, but if we choose to be the slave of God and righteousness we will enter eternal life.

In Chapter Seven of Romans, Paul addresses Jews who were clinging to the Law of Moses, telling them the Law made sin more sinful but provided no program of release from the law of sin, the tendencies toward sin that reside in the members of our body.

At the end of Chapter Seven Paul cries out for release from the sin that chained his body, the sin that results in spiritual death.

The purpose of the eighth chapter is to teach those same Jews, and all Christians, how the law of the Spirit of life in Christ sets us free from the sin that binds us, the sin that the Law of Moses defines and emphasizes.

First, Paul tells us, we are without condemnation—marvelous news to an observant Jew who has striven all his life to please God.

Paul immediately informs us that the righteousness of Christ, who kept the Law perfectly, is ascribed to us providing we "do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit." The righteousness of Christ is not ascribed to us if we continue in our fleshly, sinful nature. This condition is not always preached today, and so the believers have a false understanding of how imputation works. Imputed, ascribed righteousness, is issued to us on the condition that we live according to the Spirit of God and not in the appetites and impulses of our flesh and soul.

Then Paul proceeds, in Chapter Eight, to tell us of the importance of living in the Spirit of God. He says our physical body is dead because of the sin residing in it but our inward nature is alive because the Spirit of God is living in us.

Then Paul goes a step further and speaks of the fact that at the coming of the Lord the same Spirit who now lives in us will make alive our body, thus completing our salvation. All of this is in answer to the question, "Who will rescue me from this body of death?"

And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. (Romans 8:11—NIV)

Because all this is true, we do not owe our dead body anything in the present hour that we should satisfy its demands. It rather is the case that if we, as we are guided by the Holy Spirit, put to death the sinful acts of our body, we will proceed forward to the filling of our body with eternal life. However, if we choose instead to live in the appetites and passions of the flesh, we will not attain the resurrection of eternal life in the body. Paul is repeating what he said previously in Chapter Six.

Moving forward in Chapter Eight, Paul reminds us that the entire material creation, including our body, is groaning in the chains of corruption. God placed this curse on the creation in the hope that one day the creation can be released into the liberty of the children of God, that is, into life lived not in the corruption of flesh and blood but in the incorruptible life of the Holy Spirit.

For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope That the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. (Romans 8:20,21—NIV)

Can you see that Paul is still answering his own question concerning deliverance from the body of sin and death?

Now we are able to gain a picture of the goal of salvation, what salvation is all about. You may have wondered why so many verses of the New Testament speak of salvation as though it is something that will come in the future. The preaching of today, to a great extent, is not balanced in this regard. Salvation is being presented as a one-time experience that a person has and then can look back to. The fact is, salvation begins at a specific point and then we have to work it out in the hope we will receive it at the coming of the Lord.

This is not to say we cannot know if we are "saved." We can have the assurance in our heart that God has heard us and is pleased with us. Nevertheless it is as I have stated. To present the Christian salvation as a one-time experience we can look back to is not scriptural.

And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. (Romans 13:11—NIV)

So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:28—NIV)

Who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (I Peter 1:5—NIV)

What we are speaking of now is the salvation that is to appear with the appearing of the Lord Jesus from Heaven.

Notice carefully:

Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? (Romans 8:23,24—NIV)

When Paul says we have the "firstfruits of the Spirit" he means we have the Holy Spirit in advance of the whole creation, for one day the earth will be filled with the Spirit of God. Human life—true human life—is not the life of flesh and blood. The life of flesh and blood was always meant to be temporary. True life is life lived in the eternal Spirit of God.

We are not alive as yet. We presently are in the dark womb of the program of creation. We will not begin true life until the Lord returns and fills our body with His Holy Spirit.

For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. (I Corinthians 15:22,23—NIV)

Have you ever noticed the many times the New Testament warns Christians of the result of living in the flesh? The result is not specified as residence in Hell or the Lake of Fire, it is death, corruption, destruction. This is because if we, having commenced in Christ, then choose to live in the flesh we die spiritually in our inward nature. Also, there is no eternal life waiting to make alive our body in the day of resurrection. We have not attained life! We have not been found worthy of eternal life! What a fearful prospect!

But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, And they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God's children, since they are children of the resurrection. (Luke 20:35,36—NIV)

There is an incongruity here and it appears in other places also.

In John, Jesus said all would hear His voice and come forth from the grave.

Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice, And shall come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment. (John 5:28,29)

It sounds to me in the above passage that every person who has died shall be resurrected. Yet, in Luke (above), it speaks of being worthy to take part in the resurrection from the dead.

I would say, from this incongruity, that the "resurrection of judgment" (John 5:29) is not a resurrection to life and so, in this sense, not a true resurrection at all.

I cannot think of any more important message to the Christians of today than this: We are in a fight to obtain eternal life. If we look to the Lord Jesus He will help every one of us to turn away from the things of the world and the flesh and seek to do God's will.

If we in this manner sow to the Spirit of God each day, then, in the Day of Resurrection, we will reap eternal life in the Kingdom of God. But if we choose instead to continue in our fleshly life, we are not going to be raised to life. This is the unchangeable Kingdom law of sowing and reaping and it is not affected by grace or mercy. Grace and mercy help us now to turn away from sin and serve the Lord. But grace and mercy do not in any manner alter the law of sowing and reaping, of cause and effect.

The present program offered by "the four steps of salvation" provides an entrance into the process of redemption. But to view these four steps as a ticket to Heaven is to miss entirely the Divine redemption. We remain in Egypt rather than moving forward to the land of promise, the rest of God, which is life lived in the fullness of the Spirit of God.

One day the whole world will be filled with the Spirit of God, for this is how God intends for people to live. The present world is a testing ground, especially for God's future rulers, to see if they are worthy to wear the crown of eternal life.

Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:23—NIV)

God's elect have been given the Spirit of God in advance of the rest of the physical world. But as yet we have the Spirit only in our inward nature. So now we are groaning along with the rest of the world, waiting to be adopted. The redemption of our physical body is our adoption as a son of God. The redemption of our body is the filling of it with the eternal, incorruptible Life of the Spirit of God.

Our inward nature is born of God, of the Divine Nature. But our body must be adopted. Paul said he was waiting eagerly for the redemption of his body so he would be free from the sin and death of the present body and could worship and serve God in a body filled with God's Life. What a wonderful hope!

Why don't we hear more about this today? Have we gotten off course in our preaching? Are we teaching and preaching "another gospel"?

Let us think for a moment. What kind of future is being preached in our day? What is now the "blessed hope" of the Church?

At some point in the first century the hope of the redemption of the body changed to the hope of going to Heaven to live forever. Obviously these are not the same thing. The redemption of the body is a change of what we are. Going to Heaven is a change of where we are.

The last enemy that shall be destroyed is not our residence on the earth but physical death. Going to Heaven is never presented in the Scriptures as being an act of salvation, as redemption. But the resurrection is found in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.

We do not need a redeemed body to live in the spirit Heaven. But we indeed do need a redeemed body to live in the Kingdom of God on the earth.

The purpose of salvation is to change what we are so we can be restored to eternal life in Paradise on the earth. If God were to bring the Christian people in their present condition into Paradise, whether Paradise in the spirit realm as in the present hour or on the earth when the Lord returns, Paradise no longer would be a pleasant place to live. It would be filled with hatred, anger, slander, and covetousness as are numerous Christian churches today. Death does not change what we are and entering the spirit realm does not change what we are.

So how did our hope of a redeemed body change into residence in the spirit realm, in the realm where sin began? Probably from the influence on Christian thinking of Gnosticism and other philosophies and religions.

To make matters worse, an unscriptural "rapture" has been added to the unscriptural hope of living forever in Heaven.

This thinking must come from Satan. Satan regards the material realm as his own possession—even our physical body. Satan desires that we forget about the conduct of our body and concentrate on leaving the earth and remaining in the spirit realm. Satan wants the earth to himself.

But the earth and its nations are the inheritance of Christ and His coheirs. Our land of promise includes life on the earth in an incorruptible body. So it is only reasonable that Satan would work to change our goal from overcoming sin to leaving the earth and living forever in the spirit realm.

Does this make sense to you?

This is why we seldom hear Christians talking about groaning inwardly as they wait eagerly for their adoption as sons, the redemption of their bodies. In fact, the fundamental doctrine of the resurrection of the human body has been removed from Christian thinking along with the doctrine of the coming to the earth of the Kingdom of God. These two doctrines are terribly threatening to Satan and so they have been removed from our thinking.

Today God is restoring to us the original doctrines of the resurrection of the body and the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.

Then Paul talks about hope, how we are saved by hope.

For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? (Romans 8:24—NIV)

We are saved in the hope of the making alive of the mortal body. Why and how are we saved in this hope? We are saved in the hope that one day, if we continue to patiently sow to the Spirit of God, the Lord will return and validate our salvation with the desired change in our body.

But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. (Romans 8:25—NIV)

All the promises of God are fulfilled in the same manner. We have to know what God has promised. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. We have to choose to believe what God has promised. We have to wait patiently for the promise to be fulfilled no matter how long it takes. We are saved by patiently hoping and waiting for the fulfillment.

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for. The righteous live by patiently hoping and waiting for the fulfillment of God's promises, in the meanwhile obeying the many commandments given by Jesus Christ and His Apostles.

The redemption of our body will take place in the twinkling of an eye, Paul tells us. But the redemption of our inward nature must occur in advance. One cannot pursue a fleshly, self-willed life and then be changed into incorruptibility at the last minute.

In a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. (I Corinthians 15:52,53—NIV)

There are two aspects of the preparation for attaining the first resurrection from among the dead, the resurrection to incorruptible life in Christ. Both aspects are described by the Apostle Paul.

The first aspect has to do with our moral transformation. The second aspect has to do with our house, or robe, from Heaven.

Our moral nature has been corrupted in three dimensions. The first dimension is love for the world and trust in the world for security and survival.

The second dimension comprises the various lusts and passions that dwell in our flesh and soul.

The third dimension is our fierce desire to maintain our own way, to preserve our own identity apart from rest in the Father's Person and will.

Until we have experienced moral transformation in these three areas our inward nature is still abiding in corruption and cannot be clothed with incorruption. This is what Paul means when he says that if we live in the flesh we will die. We will seriously if not fatally impair the nature of our resurrection.

We are changed from looking to the world spirit for survival and security, by presenting our body a living sacrifice to God and being transformed by the renewing of our mind.

We are delivered from the various lusts and passions that dwell in our flesh and soul as we confess our sins to God and receive forgiveness and cleansing. Then we are to draw near to God and resist the devil.

We are brought from self-will and self-love, the fierce desire to preserve what we are, into union with God's Person and will as we endure the suffering into which we are led. We must remain in the prison in which we are placed and not try to break out. It is always correct to tell God the desires of our heart, but we are not to seize our desires when to do so breaks God's laws or injures other people. This is true no matter how fervent or "righteous" our desires seem to be. It is through prolonged denial of our desires that our self-love is destroyed and we are set free to dwell in the Presence of God. Believers who refuse to deny themselves what they desire, who always save their life when God is calling for them to lay down their life, are not candidates for the redemption of the body. They are wandering stars in the universe.

This is what Paul meant by forgetting all that is behind, all his attainments, that he might gain Christ. Paul left all that he might grasp the resurrection Life of Christ.

We have to be transformed in these three areas if we hope to participate in the first resurrection from among the dead, the redemption of the body.

We said there are two aspects of the preparation for attaining the first resurrection from among the dead, the resurrection to incorruptible life in Christ. The first aspect has to do with our moral transformation. The second aspect has to do with our house, or robe, from Heaven.

We have just described the first aspect, our moral transformation in three dimensions of our personality.

The second aspect has to do with our house from Heaven.

We have a robe in Heaven. That robe reflects in itself what our personality is becoming. The robe is termed by Paul "an eternal weight of glory."

As we confess our sins, turning away from them, turning away from involvement in the world spirit, taking up our cross and following the Lord Jesus, our house in Heaven is modified accordingly. We keep our robe clean by turning away from that which displeases the Lord, by keeping His commandments.

Every day we add to that body in Heaven. We are adding to that body iron righteousness, fiery holiness, stern obedience to the Father, a compassionate, merciful nature, courage, faithfulness, trust in God. Or we are adding bitterness, unbelief, impatience, hatred, lust, rebellion, covetousness, pride, unforgiveness.

At some point in the future the voice of Christ will call forth from the tombs the bodies of all who have died. Then their inward nature will be joined with their body, returning from wherever their inward nature, their soul and spirit, was placed after death.

Now the dead will be standing on the earth in their resurrected flesh and bones. The power that will raise and animate them is not necessarily the Spirit of incorruptible life but the power by which God operates the universe.

Then each individual will receive the robe from Heaven that has been constructed from his behavior. This is the reward the Lord will bring with Him. Here is the perfect justice of God. Mercy and grace do not modify the clothing of the resurrected body with what has been sown.

Mercy and grace may possibly modify where the individual is placed, but not what he or she has become in personality. The Kingdom law of sowing and reaping cannot be altered.

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—NIV)

If we could sow unrighteousness and reap eternal life we would be mocking God!

Paul said that at the Judgment Seat of Christ we will receive the things done in the body. Notice how this is portrayed in the following passage:

Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) (Revelation 19:7,8—NIV)

Can you see from the above that the Bride of the Lamb is clothed in her own behavior?

Other translations are even more forceful and say the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints; not stands for but actually is!

Nothing could be more just and fair than this. What we are as a person we may be able to conceal from our friends and relatives. But in the Day of the Lord our body will reveal what we truly are.

Our response to this fact should be to go to the Lord and ask Him to prepare us for His coming and the day of resurrection. Don't you agree? To put off such preparation because of our notion that we are saved by grace and everything will be fine is to ignore the clear warnings of the Scripture. Paul tells us several times that those believers who continue to live according to their fleshly appetites and impulses will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

I think that of all the messages the American churches need to hear, the most important has to do with the resurrection from the dead. There will come a point in time when you and I come forth from wherever we have been interred. It does not matter if we have been buried, cremated, or blown to bits by a bomb.

The first man was made from the ground. The first woman was made from a piece of the man. God will have no trouble assembling our elements wherever they are located. We shall come forth and stand before Christ in our flesh and bones.

But this is not the issue, for every person who has been born will be raised and stand on his or her feet.

The issue is, what happens next!

What happens next is that the consequences of our behavior will clothe our flesh and bones. Brother, Sister, this is the beginning of eternity. It is no laughing matter. The present teaching that we will be "raptured" without being resurrected and clothed with our behavior is utterly false, misleading, and destructive. No such event will take place. The order of events will be that our flesh and bones will be raised and then clothed with the consequences of our behavior.

Where we go after that depends on what we are suited for.

Those who have overcome the evil of the world through the Lord Jesus will be caught up to meet Him in the air in preparation for His descent to attack the armies of wickedness.

The foolish virgins will not go to meet him. The man who buried his talent will be sent to the outer darkness with others of his kind.

What ridiculous fables we have been taught!

Picture yourself. You have died and been waiting somewhere in the spirit world. Suddenly the trumpet of the Lord sounds and you find yourself standing in your body on the earth. How do you think you will feel at that time, for it surely will come to you?

If you have lived a victorious life in Jesus the angels will come and clothe your flesh and bones with a body of unbelievable glory and power. Your exultation will know no bounds.

But if you have not lived a victorious life in Jesus the angels will come and clothe your flesh and bones with a robe that shows in itself the kind of life you have lived. This is what Paul means when he says if we choose to live in the flesh we will reap corruption.

How ashamed you will be in the Presence of Christ, His holy angels, and the victorious saints! It would not be necessary for Jesus to tell you that you cannot enter among the victorious saints; you yourself would choose to slink away into the darkness in order to escape the observation of those who are filled with Divine Glory.

I know from the Scripture that the response of some of those who are clothed with their own behavior will be anger, because the Scripture states there will be gnashing of teeth. The response of such always has been unreasoning anger when they are not pleased with events. The saints have borne patiently with them, putting up with their selfishness and laziness. But no more. They will be placed with others of their kind.

All shall be placed with their kind in that day: the righteous with the righteous, the wicked with the wicked.

But won't all who call on the name of the Lord Jesus be saved? Yes, if they then do what He commands. But if they do not obey His commandments, how will they then be saved? They shall be cut out of the Vine, out of Christ, and thrown into the fire, according to the Gospel of John.

Our entire future existence depends on what we experience after our flesh and bones are called up from where they have been disposed of. We then will face the consequences of our actions on the earth. Every idle word will be judged, unless we have confessed it as sin and have turned away from idle speech.

I cannot stress too much that the American Christian churches are greatly deceived concerning the "blessed hope" of the Church. The blessed hope of the Church is the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to grant immortality in the body to those who have prepared themselves, as did the wise virgins and the men who gained profit from their talents. Then they will enter eternal life in the Kingdom of God under the approving eye of their Savior.

But so many today in America are living worldly lives, counting on grace to carry them up to Paradise in an unscriptural "rapture" so they will not be called on to suffer any inconvenience, leaving it to the Jews to put up with Antichrist. What unbelievable nonsense is being preached in the name of Jesus Christ.

Unless I am mistaken, war and other catastrophes are ahead for us in America. God is not pleased that we have turned away from Him. We have become a nation of the scornful.

I do not believe God has given up on America. We yet shall have righteous government at all levels. There is coming great revival but it will be in the midst of great trouble. Those who faithfully serve God will be protected along with their loved ones. But those who have lived the comfortable, fleshly American lustful existence will enter terror, even though they profess to be "born again."

And most assuredly there will be no "rapture" to save us from the judgment that is coming on our nation.

There. I have prophesied to you. If what I have portrayed to you does not take place you will know I am not hearing from the Lord.

But in any case, the Bible commands us to obey the commandments given by Jesus Christ and His Apostles. So prophecy or no, we must build our house on the rock that we may be able to stand in victory, just in case the "rapture" is late.

Can you say Amen?

Summary#1

It is clear in the New Testament that our goal is not movement to another place but a transformation of what we are in spirit, soul, and finally—at the Lord's coming—in body. The reason the correct goal is important is that if we view residence in Heaven as our goal, and the forgiveness of our sins as the means of getting to Heaven, then our Christian life may be mediocre as we participate in the Christian religion, waiting to die and go to Heaven.

But if we view salvation as a transformation of what we are, beginning with our inward nature and extending finally to our body, then we will begin today to fight the good fight of faith. We will each day throw off through Christ the chains of corruption that bind our inward nature as we press toward the day when the Spirit of God by which we now live will extend to our physical body.

This is what Paul meant by forgetting all that is behind, all his attainments, that he might gain Christ. Paul left all that he might grasp the resurrection Life of Christ.

God's elect have been given the Spirit of God in advance of the rest of the physical world. But as yet we have the Spirit only in our inward nature. So now we are groaning along with the rest of the world, waiting to be adopted. The redemption of our physical body is our adoption as a son of God. The redemption of our body is the filling of it with the eternal, incorruptible Life of the Spirit of God.

Our inward nature is born of God, of the Divine Nature. But our body must be adopted. Paul said he was waiting eagerly for the redemption of his body so he would be free from the sin and death of the present body and could worship and serve God in a body filled with God's Life. What a wonderful hope!

Questions#1

1. Summarize two approaches to the Christian life:

 2. What does Paul mean when he says we have the "firstfruits of the Spirit"?

 3. How are the promises of God fulfilled?

 4. Identify three dimensions in which our moral nature has been corrupted:

 5. What is the relationship between our daily behavior and our "robe in Heaven"?

Living By His Body And Blood

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

I do a lot of writing about the body and blood of Jesus Christ. This is because it is His body and blood that themselves are the new covenant. The new covenant is the forming of Christ in us.

The forming of Christ in us is equivalent to writing the eternal moral law of God in our mind and heart.

We become the Wife of the Lamb by eating the Lamb.

I personally believe that much of the description of the Garden of Eden is allegorical. I hold that the Tree of Life in the middle of the garden is the Lord Jesus Christ. What other tree of life is there?

I think also that the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is the eternal moral law of God. If a person eats of the knowledge of good and evil before he eats of eternal life, that is, if a person is made aware of the moral law of God before eating of Christ, the result is death—separation from God, just as the Lord told Adam and Eve.

Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. (Romans 7:9—NIV)

We first have to partake of Christ. Then we know how to deal with worldliness, lust, and self-will. Isn't it so? You can't do much about sin in your life until you receive Jesus Christ.

The body and blood of Jesus Christ gives us both eternal life and immortality. Eternal life is life lived in the Substance and Presence of God. Immortality is endless life in our flesh and bones body, the body that is unique to mankind—a very valuable kind of housing and not available to any of the other races of beings created by the Lord God.

The physical body is vastly more important in the Christian salvation than is commonly recognized. In fact the philosophy of Gnosticism has pervaded Christian thinking to such an extent that one could reasonably state that much of the content of Christian teaching is actually Gnosticism rather than the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.

Gnosticism teaches the bringing of the inward spiritual nature of man to Heaven as being the desired salvation.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ teaches the renewing of our life on the earth by the resurrection of our flesh and bones from the dead. The Gospel is the opposite of Gnosticism.

In your opinion, does Christian teaching stress eternal residence in the spirit realm as being salvation, or does it emphasize the raising of our flesh and bones from the grave so we can live once again on the earth?

You can see then what we mean when we say that Christian teaching has been heavily influenced by Gnosticism.

Had Adam and Eve eaten of the Christ they would have received Divine Life in their inward nature and immortality in their bodies. Then, in God's time, they could have been taught how to deal with sinful impulses. They learned of the law of God too soon!

God in His goodness provided a way of escape for Adam and Eve and all their descendants, who have inherited their sin. The way of escape was and yet is to separate their inward nature from their physical body, send the body back to the dust of the ground from which it was created, and then deposit their spiritual nature in the spirit realm (Heaven) until such time that they could be renewed in Christ. After they have been renewed in Christ, and not before, their physical bodies will be raised from the dead and reunited with their spiritual nature.

The spirits of righteous people are made perfect in the new Jerusalem in Heaven.

To the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, (Hebrews 12:23—NIV)

God does not desire that our body finally perish but that it gain immortality in the Lord Jesus Christ.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16—NIV)

The above verse describes the restoration to life of mankind and is addressed primarily to immortality in the body.

Everything depends on the body and blood of Jesus Christ. These are the Tree of Life. Had Adam and Eve partaken of Jesus Christ, as they were invited to do, they would still be alive and the population explosion would have been beyond belief. I realize there was no blood in the Tree of Life at that time just as there is no blood in Christ in the present hour. The eternal resurrection life of Christ has been given to mankind in a form we can understand and receive, that is, in the form of His body and blood.

The body and blood of Jesus Christ are our resurrection. Our resurrection abides in us today. Paul warned us several times that if we live in the appetites and passions of our flesh we will die. By this Paul meant that the life of the flesh would crowd out the resurrection life that was given to us when we received Christ. Then, when the Lord appears, there will be no "oil" in us that will raise us to the Lord.

When the slain Lamb appears in the clouds, Life will call to life. The Lamb will call to those who live by eating His flesh and drinking His blood. If we have lived in such a manner that the life originally given to us has withered away (as in the parable of the sower), we will not come to life in our body. We have slain our own resurrection.

Before the rain fell, in the days of Noah the fountains of the deep were broken up. This is a type. It signifies that when the Glory of Christ appears in the clouds, before it will descend to earth the fountains of the deep will be broken up, meaning the resurrection life that is in the saints will explode within them making alive their flesh and bone bodies.

This is what Paul means when he spoke of attaining the resurrection from the dead. The resurrection from the dead will take place before the resurrection of the dead.

All shall be raised from the dead, at the voice of Jesus Christ. This is the resurrection of the dead. The resurrection of the dead does not have to be attained. In fact it will take place whether or not we want it to. It will be a time of judgment, those having done good receiving eternal life and those having done evil receiving condemnation and destruction.

But the resurrection from the dead is the resurrection of the royal priesthood. Blessed and holy is the believer who attains this resurrection. He or she will not be judged at that time, having been judged previously. No books are opened at the first resurrection. The members of the royal priesthood were judged previously. Therefore the second death, the Lake of Fire, has no authority over them.

Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6—NIV)

Where is the Tree of Life today? In the midst of the Paradise of God.

How do we gain access to it so we may eat and live forever in the Presence of God?

By living the victorious Christian life.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. (Revelation 2:7—NIV)

To live the victorious Christian life we must deny our own life at every point of challenge. Each day the Holy Spirit challenges us at some point of worldliness, the passions of the flesh, or personal ambition and self-will. Each day we decide either to save our life or to lose it.

If we follow the desires of our flesh and mind we lose our life; we are not given to eat of the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ.

If we deny ourselves, carrying our cross after Jesus, choosing to do the will of the Spirit instead of obeying the demands of our flesh and soul, we are given to eat of the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ. In this manner eternal life is increased in us. In this manner we lay hold on eternal life. In this manner we sow to the Spirit of God.

If we are faithful in sowing to the Spirit of God, then, when the Lord appears, we will be raised from the dead. Eternal life will explode within our physical frame, thus redeeming the body, making it immortal. Then we will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air.

And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. (Romans 8:11—NIV)

The purpose of the meeting in the air is to enable us to find our place in the army that will follow the Lord Jesus Christ in the attack of Armageddon.

To qualify for this first resurrection, the resurrection that precedes the resurrection of the dead, we must have died in Christ. It is not enough to point back at some previous time and claim we took the four steps of salvation. To die in Christ means when we die we are in intense continual interaction with Jesus Christ, with His body and blood. Only these will attain the resurrection from the dead.

When the Lord appears He is not going to call to your doctrine He is going to call to His Life in you. If His Life is not abiding richly in you, you will have nothing in you that can make alive your mortal body. It is as straightforward, as simple, as plain, as practical as this. Does this make sense to you?

Today by your behavior you are determining what will take place in you when the Lord appears.

This has nothing to do with whether you are alive on the earth at the time or in the spirit realm because you have died; or whether you were buried, cremated, or blown to bits by a hydrogen bomb. There will be a convergence of the spirit and physical realms in that day and I believe it shall take place exactly as I have described here. Check it out in the Scriptures!

You can press forward in Christ and attain the resurrection from the dead, or wait for the general resurrection of the dead and be judged at that time concerning your behavior during your life.

How did Paul seek to win Christ, to attain the resurrection from the dead?

He counted all his accomplishments, all of his life that had not been wrought in Christ, as garbage. He was learning to live in the power of Christ's resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings.

Paul always was pressing toward the mark that had been set before him—and this in his old age and while he was in prison.

And so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:11—NIV)

Paul was not referring to the general resurrection of the dead, which will take place after the thousand-year Kingdom Age, but the resurrection from the dead that will occur at the appearing of Christ from Heaven.

Paul, by praying for Christ's Virtue to be imparted to him, was able to drive from his memory the things that were behind him and that would hinder his single-minded pursuit of Jesus Christ.

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, (Philippians 3:13—NIV)

Are you doing this? You absolutely must forget the things that are behind if you hope to be raised to immortality when the Lord appears. Paul tells us to have the same mind as he.

If you have serious emotional problems, which is true of numerous Christians in America, you may need protracted professional assistance before you are able to work through the various emotional traumas you have experienced since the time of your childhood and remove them from your memory. Some of these stresses may be severe and cannot be dismissed with a simplistic exhortation ("just have faith and you will have no more problems").

Through prayer and the Lord's help you can gain complete emotional healing and then you will be able to forget what is behind and press forward toward what is ahead.

But as to the relationship of the body and blood of Christ to the resurrection from the dead, let us examine the following passages:

I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. (John 6:48-50—NIV)

As we said before, the body and blood of Jesus Christ are the new covenant. The writings we term "The New Testament" describe the new covenant. But the body and blood of Jesus Christ themselves are the new covenant.

This is extremely important to understand. Christianity is not a religion consisting of doctrines and commandments. Christianity is the forming of a new creation on the body and blood of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is the Covenant of God with man. When Christ is formed in us we become an essential part of the Body of Christ, the Body of the Servant of the Lord who Himself is the Covenant of God with mankind. This is the unique role of the Christian Church among the nations of the earth.

It is not enough to read about Christ and learn about Christ. We must eat Christ continually. This is what Paul meant when he said though we have known Christ after the flesh now we no longer know Him this way. Now we know Him in that He has been formed in us and we are an integral part of Him.

Christians understand about the Christ of Christmas and Easter. Now we are to know Him as He is formed in us. Then the Father and He will come to abide for eternity in the new creation who has been formed in us. This is the new covenant. This is eternal life. This is all the fullness of God.

I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. (John 6:51—NIV)

"He will live forever" is referring to immortality in a flesh and bones body. Jesus Christ is God's Tree of Life and the only tree of life. As we eat consistently of His flesh we are preparing ourselves for the redemption of our body at His appearing. Our body now is dead because of the sin that dwells in it. If we are faithful in sowing to the Spirit of God in our inward nature, when the Lord appears He will cast all sin from our flesh and bones so they may be filled with eternal life and thus attain immortality.

This is the salvation that is to come with the return of the Lord Jesus. This is the redemption to which we have been sealed by the Spirit of God and is the blessed hope of the Christian Church.

Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink." (John 6:53-55—NIV)

Can you see in the above the relationship of the body and blood of Christ to attaining the resurrection from the dead, the first resurrection of those who are asleep in death?

Apart from the flesh and blood of Christ we have no true life in us. We have not as yet eaten and drunk of real food and real drink. Maybe at some point in the past we made a profession of faith in Christ. It is necessary that we make a profession of faith, but if we do not continue to eat of His flesh and drink of His blood we have no life in us. We are living in the flesh and will not be raised from the dead when He appears. The door will be closed in the face of those who have the lamp (doctrine) but no Divine Life to keep the lamp shining.

It is the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ that will raise us in the last day—not doctrine no matter how accurate.

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. (John 6:56—NIV)

When the Lord Jesus appears it is the dead in Christ who will be resurrected—the dead in Christ!

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. (I Thessalonians 4:16—NIV)

To be in Christ, to remain in Him, means we are eating the flesh of Christ and drinking His blood. We are continuing in intense interaction with the living Jesus. We do not refer to any previous point in time as when we were saved. "I was saved fifty years ago," and so forth.

It is absolutely true that we do not slide into salvation. Receiving Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior is a decisive, instantaneous action at a specific point in time.

But our receiving of Christ in a decisive, instantaneous action does not cover or excuse our behavior during the subsequent days of our discipleship. Every day we are to be working out our salvation. Every day we are to be hearing His voice and believing in God. It is only then that we are free from condemnation.

Jesus Christ is the small Gate. He also is the Way to eternal life—a difficult path filled with various pressures. Are you being saved right now? Are you interacting with the Lord Jesus so that the worldliness, lust, and self-will of your personality are being brought under His feet? If not you are not being saved. You have your lamp, the Bible, but you are running out of oil.

Yesterday and tomorrow are not the days of salvation. The Day of Salvation is only today. When tomorrow comes it will be today. If you are not faithful in the least you will not be entrusted with the greater in the future.

Christian theology is horribly off base in that it portrays a profession of faith in the atonement as a ticket that one holds until he or she dies. Then the ticket is presented at the gate of Heaven and the angels stand back and let the individual enter.

This is mythology. It has absolutely nothing to do with the new covenant.

The new covenant is the body and blood of Jesus Christ that we must eat and keep on eating if we are to lay hold on eternal life. You and I are learning to live by that Divine Life today, or we are abiding in death no matter how much of a profession of Christ we make or how accurate our doctrinal beliefs are.

God is not looking at our theology. God is looking for the Life of His Son in us. Do you believe that?

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

The above verse is to me one of the most tremendous, the most significant of the entire Scriptures.

How did the living Father send the Lord Jesus? How does Jesus live because of the Father?

Jesus reveals all that the Father is. Everything that Jesus thinks, imagines, hopes, says, does, comes from the holy Father. Whoever has seen Jesus has seen the Father. The Father and Jesus are not the same person but they are entirely one in Substance, in Virtue, in Mind, in action, in hope.

We have been called to this Oneness—nothing short of it! When we are feeding on the Lord Jesus we are learning to be of the Substance, Virtue, Mind, action, and hope of the Lord Jesus. As He is so are we in this world. We are walking on the earth as He walked, if we are abiding in Him.

This is a high but not an impossible calling. It truly is as far above our adamic nature as the heavens are above the earth. But because it is God Almighty who has promised such oneness it shall become fact for the human being who responds with faith and obedience.

Let us therefore without delay determine to live each moment of each day in the Presence of Jesus Christ. Let us hold every decision before Him, no matter how small or great, for His approval.

Let us cultivate His Presence, always denying ourselves when it is obvious His will and our desires are in conflict.

What we have been presenting in this briefest of essays is the doctrine of the resurrection. In the sixth chapter of the Book of Hebrews, the doctrine of the resurrection is mentioned as one of the basics we master as we press toward perfection.

Perfection, as described in the Book of Hebrews, is the rest of God. The rest of God is that place in God where every enemy of God in our personality has been put under the feet of Jesus Christ.

We have attained perfection, the rest of God, when our will is precisely the same as God's will for us. Then we have perfect rest and peace in God and God has perfect rest and peace in us. This is eternal joy, eternal peace, eternal love. God Himself thus becomes our Righteousness and Holiness.

The goal is Jesus Christ Himself, to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings—the sufferings that have to do with the denial of His and our desires in the world, and sometimes vicious rejection and persecution.

But all of these denials, frustrations and pains are but light afflictions and result in an eternal weight of glory prepared for us in Heaven before the Throne of God. In the Day of Christ our flesh and bones will be raised and then clothed with that eternal weight of glory—a body so surpassingly glorious in capabilities that our present tent is seen for the prison and testing area it really is.

There is nothing in this world of sufficient worth that we should allow it to compete with Christ for first place in our affection. Relatively all is garbage until it has died and been raised again in Christ. All we are and possess must die in Christ. Then if it is something that will bring eternal joy to us it will be raised in Christ and returned to us. Now it is our possession for eternity.

To learn to live by His body and blood—this is our goal. This is the resurrection. This is the new covenant of God with man.

Lay hold on the new covenant for it is all that truly is worthwhile and eternal. All else is doomed to fade away with the passage of time.

Summary#2

Christianity is not a religion consisting of doctrines and commandments. Christianity is the forming of a new creation on the body and blood of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is the Covenant of God with man. When Christ is formed in us we become an essential part of the Body of Christ, the Body of the Servant of the Lord who Himself is the Covenant of God with mankind. This is the unique role of the Christian Church among the nations of the earth.

It is not enough to read about Christ and learn about Christ. We must eat Christ continually. This is what Paul meant when he said though we have known Christ after the flesh now we no longer know Him this way. Now we know Him in that He has been formed in us and we are an integral part of Him.

As we eat consistently of His flesh we are preparing ourselves for the redemption of our body at His appearing. Our body now is dead because of the sin that dwells in it. If we are faithful in sowing to the Spirit of God in our inward nature, when the Lord appears He will cast all sin from our flesh and bones so they may be filled with eternal life and thus attain immortality.

This is the salvation that is to come with the return of the Lord Jesus. This is the redemption to which we have been sealed by the Spirit of God and is the blessed hope of the Christian Church.

The body and blood of Jesus Christ are our resurrection. Our resurrection abides in us today. Paul warned us several times that if we live in the appetites and passions of our flesh we will die. By this Paul meant that the life of the flesh would crowd out the resurrection life that was given to us when we received Christ. Then, when the Lord appears, there will be no "oil" in us that will raise us to the Lord.

When the slain Lamb appears in the clouds, Life will call to life. The Lamb will call to those who live by eating His flesh and drinking His blood. If we have lived in such a manner that the life originally given to us has withered away (as in the parable of the sower), we will not come to life in our body. We have slain our own resurrection.

Questions#2

1. How do we gain access to the Tree of Life?

 2. How did Paul seek to win Christ, to attain the resurrection from the dead?

 3. What is the difference between the New Testament and the new covenant?

 4. What does it mean to be "in Christ"?

 5. Describe the rest of God:

Once To Die

The Two Resurrections

Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, (Hebrews 9:27—NIV)

We have spoken much concerning the two resurrections from the dead, the resurrection that occurs at the beginning of the thousand-year Kingdom Age and the resurrection at the end of the Kingdom Age, at the time earth and sky flee from the face of God.

At the beginning of the Kingdom Age:

I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4—NIV)

At the conclusion of the Kingdom Age:

And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. (Revelation 20:12—NIV)

The common interpretation of the two resurrections is that every saved person takes part in the first resurrection and every individual raised in the second resurrection is cast into the Lake of Fire. In our opinion this interpretation raises insurmountable difficulties when the entire Bible is considered.

Our point of view is that the first resurrection is the resurrection of the royal priesthood only and that it must be attained. We think this is the out-resurrection toward which the Apostle Paul was pressing (Philippians 3:11).

We believe further that the second resurrection is the general resurrection of the dead and that most people raised at this time will be brought into the Kingdom. For example, the ushering into the Kingdom of the sheep nations, as described in the twenty-fifth chapter of the Book of Matthew.

Although some hold that the division between the sheep and goat nations takes place at the coming of the Lord, the time of the first resurrection (and it is possible this is true), our own opinion is that the sheep and goat nations are divided at the time of the second resurrection, at the general resurrection of the dead.

The sheep nations have assisted and blessed the Lord's brothers, His witnesses. The goat nations are those people who have neglected or persecuted the Lord's brothers throughout world history.

If the sheep and goat nations are divided at the time of the first resurrection we would have people being led away into the fiery Gehenna prior to the judgment of the White Throne.

Then he will say to those on his left, "Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels." (Matthew 25:41—NIV)

To us this does not appear likely.

It must be remembered that the thousand-year period dividing the two resurrections was not mentioned by the Apostles prior to the writing of the Book of Revelation, except for the implication contained in the Apostle Paul's mention of the out-resurrection from the dead.

If you will notice the following passage from Second Peter.

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives As you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. (II Peter 3:10-14—NIV)

Now if you will think carefully about the above you will see that Peter was exhorting the saints to live holy, godly lives because of the coming of the day of God. But the day of God Peter describes comes at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age. It is possible Peter had no idea there would be a resurrection of the royal priesthood a thousand years before the day of God he is pointing toward.

It is obvious from the Scriptures that the first resurrection is that of the royal priesthood, and unless we are ready to send everyone except the members of the royal priesthood to the Lake of Fire, we must accept the fact that most of the people who have lived on the earth will be raised in the second resurrection. We are confident God will judge each person fairly. The righteous will enter the Kingdom (as in the case of the sheep nations) and the wicked will go into the Lake of Fire.

He will reply, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me." Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. (Matthew 25:45,46—NIV)

In fact, the wording of the text that describes the White Throne judgment implies it is the minority whose names are not found in the Book of Life, and this is what we would expect, unless we imagine that God created billions of people for the purpose of having them suffer endless torment in the Lake of Fire.

If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:15—NIV)

"If anyone's name was not found written." This to our way of thinking implies it will be the exception whose name is not found written. What do you think about this?

As described in the third chapter of the Book of Philippians we discover the Apostle Paul, toward the end of his life, was laying aside all else that he might attain the out-resurrection (Greek noun), the resurrection from the dead as compared with the resurrection of the dead.

The contemporary teaching is that every believer automatically will participate in the first resurrection, the resurrection that will take place when Jesus returns. When we read the third chapter of Philippians and observe the extraordinary statement of consecration the aged Apostle was making, and compare this with the relatively casual stance of today's believers, we are led to believe Paul was seeking something more than we are aware of.

I would suggest that the first resurrection must be attained by total consecration, that a minority of believers are pressing to this level, that those who attain the first resurrection are a firstfruits to God and the Lamb and will rule with Jesus during the thousand-year Kingdom Age.

I cannot see from the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation, the description of the seven churches of Asia, that any except the victorious saints will rise from the dead and be caught up to meet the Lord when He appears.

I think those who reach Paul's mark consist of a holy remnant, the true saints of history. I do not observe in the Scriptures that the great majority of God's elect will participate in the first resurrection.

Jewish Israel and Christian Israel includes multitudes of people who have lived or are living lives that come short of the glory of God, as we know from the Scriptures and from our experience. They do not appear to be prepared to govern the nations. Neither do I believe they will be cast into the Lake of Fire. The Lake of Fire is the home of the wicked whether they are Christians or non-Christians, not the future home of all but an elect few of mankind.

The division between the wheat and the tares is not between the Christians and the non-Christians, you may observe (in Matthew, Thirteen), but between the righteous and the wicked.

Since the above seems scriptural and reasonable, perhaps we need to think about the differences between the two resurrections and discover why the Apostle Paul was so intent on attaining the resurrection from the dead.

The First Resurrection Is Preferable

If you will study the two resurrections mentioned in the twentieth chapter of Revelation you will notice some remarkable differences. One of the more remarkable differences is that no judgment of the individual takes place at the first resurrection (we will have more to say about this later). In fact those who rise in the first resurrection are the judges. Yet the opening of the books of record are the conspicuous aspect of the second resurrection, the resurrection of the dead, the general resurrection of mankind.

Now, what will this mean to you and me?

Picture this. You have died and your body has been interred somewhere. Suddenly you hear the voice of the Lord Jesus.

Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice And come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. (John 5:28,29—NIV)

You hear the voice and stand upright on the ground. You look around.

If all you see is saints robed in glorious light you know you have attained the first resurrection. Soon you are having fellowship with others who are equally astonished at their sudden awakening on the earth.

It comes into your mind there will be no more judgment for you. You had been judged previously during your discipleship on the earth and now you have been sentenced to eternal life and immortality in the Presence of God.

You have no more fear of the dangers to be found on the earth because you are in an incorruptible body. The sky overhead is flaming with light and glory. There comes a militant shout of visible and invisible warriors in the sky. Then you hear what seems to be a voice like thunder, a voice of command. Immediately there is a blaring of trumpets increasing in volume until it seems the earth is shaking.

Then you notice you are not standing on the earth. You are being drawn upward surrounded by multitudes as far as your eye can see. Dimly at first and then with increasing clarity you can observe the armies of Heaven on white horses, all in their places, ready to invade the earth.

You are experiencing exultant joy mixed with astonishment, wonder, and an exciting kind of peace. You sense you are being guided to your place in the army although you cannot tell what is directing you.

There on the leading horse is the One for whom you have been waiting, the mighty Champion on His huge white stallion, His robe dipped in blood. Even though you are one of millions you realize He is looking directly at you and knows all about you.

Events are moving so quickly you hardly have time to meditate on the fact you are beginning a new life of incorruptible immortality in the very Presence of God. You have pleased the Lord. You have entered His joy.

This is what will happen to you in the near future if you have attained the resurrection from the dead.

But let us say you hear the voice of Jesus and awaken. You stand upright on the ground. As you look about you can see people of all kinds being gathered into groups. Then you notice the ground has disappeared and there is no more sky over you. Instead there is a gigantic white throne as though carved from ivory.

You are with a group of people who seem to be somewhat like yourself. Then you notice someone you recognize, one of your friends from church.

The two of you talk and wonder why you are not being caught up to Jesus to return with Him to your mansion in Heaven. Instead there is only this huge throne that seems to overshadow everything.

As you discuss this you begin to think, "Where did I read about a white throne? Didn't the white throne have something to do with the unsaved? About people being cast into the Lake of Fire?"

Slowly you come to realize that the thousand years have already passed and you are going to be judged for your works. You know also that the maximum penalty that can be imposed by the Court is eternal confinement in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur.

Now you are beyond all terror, only numb as you wait for your name to be called and the books opened that contain all you have thought, said, and done during your lifetime.

There is no earth to stand on, no way to faint or die. You are being held in the hand of God Almighty. Now you must wait to know the verdict of the Court.

Please do not regard the above as idle words. They are what the Scriptures teach. The Christian formula of how to be saved is terribly lacking in substance and truth. The prime error of today's Christian teaching is that once we "accept Christ" it is not critically important how we behave.

We are teaching and believing error!

Notice the words that the Lord Jesus spoke to some church people:

I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. (Revelation 2:23—NIV)

"I will repay each of you according to your deeds."

We are so abysmally deceived that when we read the Lord's warnings in the unchangeable book of Revelation we think "I am saved by grace" and are blinded to what we are reading. We do not stop and realize, "the people being addressed by the Lord and warned were also Christians who were ‘saved by grace.'" We have been terribly, horribly deceived!

The Key to the First Resurrection

The issue of the two resurrections is that of judgment, of when we are judged and delivered from sin.

As we mentioned previously, in order to attain the first resurrection you must have been judged by the Lord and found worthy to be with Him forever in advance of the resurrection. The first resurrection is the sentence of the Court handed down, that you are to be raised, filled with eternal life and immortality, and assigned a place in the army of the Lord that will descend from the air and install the Kingdom of God on the earth.

Obviously it is not possible to be raised from the dead, filled with eternal life and immortality, and after that be judged.

If we are not judged before the time of the first resurrection we will have to wait until the thousand-year Kingdom Age has transpired. Then we shall be raised from the dead and stand before Christ and His saints at the great White Throne. We shall be judged fairly according to our behavior on the earth, exactly as described by the Apostle Paul.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (II Corinthians 5:10—NIV)

If Christ finds us worthy we will be admitted to His new heaven and earth reign. We will be given eternal life at that time, just as in the case of the sheep nations of Matthew, Chapter Twenty-five.

We must remember also that there are fates other than the Lake of Fire that are reserved for the Lord's servants, such as outer darkness and lashes. How and when these will be administered we are not certain. However, it seems reasonable that outer darkness, the loss of our talent, salvation by fire, and lashes are not the same as that ultimate punishment—eternal incarceration in the Lake of Fire.

The Scriptures do not speak only of Hell and Heaven but of a diversity of possible destinies ranging from a position in the Throne of Christ all the way down to the Lake of Fire. According to the Scriptures, it is our behavior that determines our destiny, how we use our talents, whether we did the Lord's will, and so forth.

We can see from this that our contemporary teaching has removed grace from its proper role in the Divine redemption and is using it as a blanket amnesty, a huge screen that prevents God from seeing our conduct. The way we are using grace is making Jesus Christ the minister of sin, the destroyer of God's intention to make man in His image.

If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! (Galatians 2:17—NIV)

No, the New Testament in numerous passages reveals that we determine our destiny in the Kingdom of God by our behavior today. To teach otherwise is to take a few verses, deduce "another gospel" from them, and ignore the bulk of God's Words to us.

The Lord is going to reward Christians, as well as all other human beings, precisely according to their works. Those who patiently practice righteousness will attain glory and immortality. Those who persist in wicked behavior will reap indignation and wrath. The Scriptures cannot be changed.

God "will give to each person according to what he has done." To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. (Romans 2:6-8—NIV)

We may read the above passage and immediately reject it because our perceptive processes have been violated by the current teaching of grace. We think it does not apply to us.

But the above stands true whether or not we have received Christ. The believers attain eternal life by persistence in doing good. If this is not addressed to believers then we are saying that the unbelievers can attain eternal life by persistence in doing good. The truth is, God will reveal His Christ to those who persist in doing good, just as He did to Cornelius and his household.

We have said the resurrection in which we participate depends on the time when we are judged. If we are judged and accepted by the Lord Jesus prior to the first resurrection, then we are eligible to be raised and caught up to meet Christ in the air. If we have not been judged by that time we must wait for the resurrection that will take place before the White Throne of judgment. Sooner or later we will be judged!

You can claim "grace" all you want to. It is your future I am concerned about. If I should prove to be correct, and you do not make the effort to attain the first resurrection from the dead, and wake up to find yourself before the White Throne, I won't even say "I told you so."

"But where will I be before I am awakened?" I don't know, probably in a place that accepts your kind of behavior would be my guess.

The issue is the point at which you are judged. The Bible says, "It is appointed unto man once to die and after this the judgment." Therefore we know that you will be judged after you die.

I would submit to you that the proper orientation to the Christian salvation, an orientation not always presented in our day, is our death and resurrection with Jesus Christ.

We have to count ourselves as dead with Him and risen with Him. Until we do this we are not a true Christian but merely a religious person.

I would submit further that God regards your profession of death as a real death, not a figure of speech—a death more real than physical death, which the Scriptures sometimes refer to as "sleep."

Most believers, it appears, are bent on saving their life. When we preach against worldliness, lust, and selfish-ambition they may appear to agree but they do not intend to go to such lengths in serving the Lord. They know they are going to continue in their worldly ways. They know there are lusts and passions in their flesh they are not going to renounce. They know they are going to follow their own path through life and not give all to Jesus.

They are not going to deny themselves, take up their personal cross, and follow the Lord wherever He leads them.

They are not going to lose their life in Him, they are going to save their life.

If you don't believe me, look around you. How many believers do you know who truly are denying themselves and carrying their cross behind Jesus? These are the only true Christians, the remainder are churchgoers.

The point is this: as soon as we die after this fashion, God is free to judge us, for it is appointed to people once to die and after this the judgment.

The fires of Divine judgment fall on our love of the world. We have to confess our love of the world, judge it as sin, and ask God to remove it from us. It is an eternal judgment of our love of the world.

The fires of Divine judgment fall on the lusts and passions of our flesh and soul. We have to confess these lusts and passions as the Spirit directs us, judge them as sin, and ask God to remove them all from us. It is an eternal judgment of the lusts of the flesh and soul.

The fires of Divine judgment fall on our personal ambition, our desire for achievement and importance, our lust for preeminence, our self-will, self-centeredness, self-love. We have to confess our self-seeking, rebellion against God's will, and stubbornness as sin. We have to ask God to burn them out of us. It is an eternal judgment of the core of our adamic nature.

We must through the Spirit of God put to death the deeds of our body. We do this a step at a time. Each day the Lord God presents us with a challenge concerning some area of our personality. Each day the Lord God gives us grace to overcome the evil. All the promises of power and authority in the Kingdom of God are made to the overcomers, the conquering saints.

If you will follow the Lord diligently and carefully through the program of eternal judgment you will then be ready for the first resurrection from the dead, the resurrection the Apostle Paul was pursuing.

To be among the Lord's firstfruits, to be raised from the dead in the day of His appearing, to be caught up to be forever with Him, are prizes well worth your seeking.

Notice the following verse:

@SCRIPTURE = Then I heard a voice from heaven say, "Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Yes," says the Spirit, "they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them." (Revelation 14:13—NIV)

"From now on" refers to the time that begins when Antichrist and his image are worshiped. From that time those who "die in the Lord" will be blessed, for their deeds will follow them.

Our opinion of the meaning of this extraordinary verse is that when the pressures of the world order become too great for Christians (or anyone else) to resist, the only people who will be able to show forth deeds of righteousness will be those who have counted themselves dead with Christ and risen with Christ—I mean who really have done this. Many churchgoers will say they are dead with Christ and risen with Christ but they merely are making an assertion of belief, they are not truly living in such a manner.

Also please note:

. . .And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. . . . (Revelation 20:4—NIV)

Now, think about this. How many Christians have actually died by having their heads cut off? Numerous Christians have been tortured and then shot to death, or hung, or burned at the stake.

Why single out those who have been "beheaded"?

Many statements of the Book of Revelation, unlike the Epistles, are definitely allegorical. Notice below:

The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth. The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss. (Revelation 9:1—NIV)

Stars do not carry keys and they are many, many times larger than our planet. So we know Revelation 9:1 is allegorical. There are several such examples of allegory in the Book of Revelation.

From our point of view, the reference to "beheaded" is allegorical and refers to the kind of death to which we have been referring. The greatest battle we have, when we decide to "die in the Lord," is with our mind. It is the mind Satan attacks when he sets out to deceive us.

The true servants of the Lord are blind and deaf to the world. They see what God is doing and hear what God is saying. They have died to the impulse to judge other people. Like their Lord, they judge as they hear from God. If you imagine waiting to hear God's judgment before you start evaluating people is not a real "beheading" you haven't tried it.

It is appointed to people to die once and after this be judged. If we are willing to reckon we have died with Christ and been raised with Christ, God will then begin to judge us. We refuse to live according to our adamic nature. We pray and keep on pressing ever closer to Jesus so that our adamic nature might be rendered powerless and our new born-again Divine nature might prevail.

We continue on in this path, dying and living; being judged and having our sins forgiven and rendered powerless, the life being removed from them by God's very Presence. We never cease but are found at the time of our physical death walking in continual turning away from sin and embracing Jesus.

The Lord will accept absolutely nothing less than this from the candidates for the first resurrection, the resurrection out from among the dead.

The choice is yours. The ball is in your court. You are not going to be raised at the time of the Lord's appearing just because you took the "four steps of salvation." You have to present your body a living sacrifice. You have to take up your cross and follow Jesus. You have to count every achievement of your life as garbage that you may gain Christ. You have to learn to live by the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings.

Having done all, stand in faith. When the Lord comes He will remove every vestige of sin and self-will from you, fill you with Divine Life, and give you an immortal body.

The first resurrection was the mark toward which the Apostle Paul was pressing with all that was in him. He invites you to join him in reaching for the prize, the heavenly calling of God in Christ Jesus.

All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained. (Philippians 3:15,16—NIV)

Summary#3

We have spoken much concerning the two resurrections from the dead, the resurrection that occurs at the beginning of the thousand-year Kingdom Age and the resurrection at the end of the Kingdom Age, at the time earth and sky flee from the face of God.

The common interpretation of the two resurrections is that every saved person takes part in the first resurrection and every individual raised in the second resurrection is cast into the Lake of Fire. In our opinion this interpretation raises insurmountable difficulties when the entire Bible is considered.

Our point of view is that the first resurrection is the resurrection of the royal priesthood only and that it must be attained. We think this is the out-resurrection toward which the Apostle Paul was pressing (Philippians 3:11).

We believe further that the second resurrection is the general resurrection of the dead and that most people raised at this time will be brought into the Kingdom. For example, the ushering into the Kingdom of the sheep nations, as described in the twenty-fifth chapter of the Book of Matthew.

The contemporary teaching is that every believer automatically will participate in the first resurrection, the resurrection that will take place when Jesus returns. When we read the third chapter of Philippians and observe the extraordinary statement of consecration the aged Apostle was making, and compare this with the relatively casual stance of today's believers, we are led to believe Paul was seeking something more than we are aware of.

I would suggest that the first resurrection must be attained by total consecration, that a minority of believers are pressing to this level, that those who attain the first resurrection are a firstfruits to God and the Lamb and will rule with Jesus during the thousand-year Kingdom Age.

If you will follow the Lord diligently and carefully through the program of eternal judgment you will then be ready for the first resurrection from the dead, the resurrection the Apostle Paul was pursuing.

To be among the Lord's firstfruits, to be raised from the dead in the day of His appearing, to be caught up to be forever with Him, are prizes well worth your seeking.

Questions#3

1. What two resurrections will occur in the future?

 2. What is the common interpretation of the two resurrections?

 3. What is the primary issue of the two resurrections?

 4. What is the proper orientation to the Christian salvation?

 5. What does it mean to be" beheaded"?

To Perish Or To Live

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16—NIV)

There are verses that have troubled me for years. I have always been taught that if we believe in Christ we will go to Heaven when we die but if we do not we will go to Hell.

I firmly believe from the Scriptures that there is a literal Heaven and a literal Hell. I believe further that the wicked go to the fiery Hell when they die, just as did the selfish rich man.

Paul was caught up to the third Heaven, to Paradise. As I understand it, the third Heaven is the location of God, Christ at God's right hand, and the saints and holy angels.

But if you will look carefully at John 3:16 the issue Jesus is presenting is not residence in Hell or Heaven but perishing and living. It seems to me that the Christian churches need to look again at John 3:16, for we may have departed from the Scriptures by assuming that Jesus did not mean exactly what He was saying.

It is definitely true that Heaven and eternal life are not the same thing. Hell and perishing are more equivalent as we will note as we proceed. Heaven and Hell are actual places in the spirit realm. Living and perishing are things that happen to us.

Our inward, spiritual nature cannot perish. It could be in Hell or the Lake of fire for millions of years but we believe it cannot perish. Our spirit and soul cannot cease their existence, to the best of our knowledge. They can be tormented but they cannot perish in the sense of extinction.

Our physical body can rot away in the ground or be blown to bits in an explosion. In this sense it can perish. But it shall be raised again. After it has been raised it can perish in that it no longer is allowed to move about in the creation of God, but there is evidence in the Scripture that it also, along with the inward nature, will not finally cease to exist.

Heaven and eternal life are not the same thing. Eternal life is the Presence of God in Christ entering our personality so we begin to live by the Spirit of God rather than by our flesh and blood.

If Heaven and eternal life were the same thing, Christ would have lost His eternal life by coming to earth. We could not have eternal life while living on the earth if Heaven and eternal life were the same thing.

I do not believe it can be maintained that eternal life is the same as going to Heaven. Perishing and Hell, however, may be closely associated.

If John 3:16 is not speaking of going to Heaven, to what then is the verse referring?

It is my point of view that John 3:16 is speaking of the physical body. God so loved the world He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him would not suffer the loss of his body but would be able to gain immortality in the body at His coming. In other words, John 3:16 is speaking of what happens to us at the time of the resurrection from the dead.

Before you decide whether I am right or wrong, you better take a look at what I have to say further. You may be surprised at what the Scripture actually states. Christian thinking has been heavily influenced by the philosophy of Gnosticism causing us to emphasize the salvation of our spiritual nature and overlook the redemption of the physical body—that for which the Apostle Paul groaned.

The renewal of life in the body, that is, the resurrection from the dead, is vastly more important from a scriptural standpoint than is demonstrated in today's Christian teaching. It seems that Gnosticism, a philosophy that ignores the body in favor of the salvation of the spiritual nature of man, a philosophy that has contaminated Christian thinking from the first century, is very much alive today. We see evidences of Gnosticism in the idea that we are saved by grace apart from our behavior, and also in the unscriptural teaching of the pre-tribulation "rapture" of the believers. The concept that we are to leave our flesh and rise in our spirit to the heavens is Gnosticism, not biblical Christianity.

Gnosticism will always reject any idea of the salvation of the physical body of the believer, and it probably was this philosophy that the Apostle Paul was resisting in the fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians.

But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? (I Corinthians 15:12—NIV)

It would be Gnostics who would claim there is no resurrection of the dead.

You may notice that the modern teaching of the "rapture" usually says very little about the resurrection of the body or ignores it altogether.

Notice the following:

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. (I Thessalonians 4:16—NIV)

The expression "the dead in Christ will rise first" does not mean rise into the air, it means to be raised from the dead and stand on their feet on the earth. I think it is the influence of Gnosticism that causes the believers of today to disregard the fact that before we can be caught up into the air to meet the Lord we must first be raised from the dead.

It is being raised from the dead, the restoring of life to our flesh and bones, that marks the conquering of the last enemy. Being caught up to meet the Lord in the air (not in Heaven!) is merely an act of Kingdom power, not the consummation of redemption as is true of the resurrection.

Our Redeemer has come to restore to us that which was lost in the beginning. What Adam and Eve lost was access to the Tree of Life, not life in Heaven. If they had eaten of the Tree of Life (which is Jesus Christ) they would have lived forever. God drove them from the Garden so they would not be able to eat of the Tree of Life and live as immortal sinners, being unable to die.

Physical death is a blessing from God because it removes our inward nature from our physical body until Jesus Christ has made our inward nature fit to be housed in an immortal body. Did you ever wonder about that?

Some may be thinking at this point, "It was not the bodily death of Adam and Eve that God was referring to when He said, ‘In the day you eat thereof you shall die.' It was their spiritual death, their separation from God."

We must come to understand that God made man body, soul, and spirit. None of these can be missing if man is to remain man. It is the duality contained in Gnostic thinking that leaves the impression we can be without our physical body and remain man.

Didn't God say to Adam and Eve, "You are dust and are going to return to the dust"? God treated them as though all they were, were bodies. In the same manner the Lord Jesus Christ, upon being raised from the dead, referred primarily to His body when He said, "Take a look at Me. A spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see Me have. Look at My hands and feet." Can you see the emphasis on the physical body?

Let's see what the Apostle Paul says about the death Adam and Eve died. Was it spiritual death or physical death that was at issue?

For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. (I Corinthians 15:21-23—NIV)

Now, when Paul says death came through a man, was Paul speaking of physical death or spiritual death?

Since Paul then says, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man, and the subject of the fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians is the resurrection of the physical body, not the resurrection of our spirit, then Paul was speaking of physical death. The sin of Adam and Eve caused physical death.

Since physical death came through a man so the restoring of life to the physical body comes through a Man.

"Should not perish but have eternal life."

Look further into this passage.

"For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive."

Because of Adam's sin we were driven from the Tree of Life. We die physically. But if we die in Jesus Christ we will be raised from the dead at His coming. In order to die "in Christ" we must meet the standards established by Christ and His Apostles. We must abide in Christ during our discipleship. The resurrection to eternal life in the body must be attained! It can be prevented by our conduct. We can slay our own resurrection.

"But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him."

For as in Adam all die so in Christ all will be made alive. Because of Adam we die physically. Because of Christ we will be made alive physically at His coming. "A spirit has not flesh and bones as you see Me have."

We have eternal life now, in our inward nature. But the Bible emphasizes the resumption of life in our physical body (however glorified). Attaining to the resurrection of the dead ought to be the focus of each believer. The resurrection to eternal life in the body is the blessed hope of the Christian, not the catching up into the air.

When the Bible speaks of life or living it often is referring primarily to the body. You can see this in the following two verses:

I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4—NIV)

"They came to life." We know the members of the royal priesthood had eternal life prior to their resurrection. Yet the Scriptures says they came to life at the coming of the Lord. They came alive physically.

But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. (Revelation 19:20—NIV)

"They were thrown alive." We know Antichrist and the False Prophet have never had eternal life. The fact that they were thrown alive into the Lake of Fire means they were physically alive on this occasion.

Another issue is raised at this point. If Antichrist and the False Prophet were thrown in their physical bodies into the Lake of Fire, then there will be a convergence of the physical and spirit realms at the conclusion of the Church Age. Not only Antichrist and the False Prophet but all whose names are not found in the Book of Life will be cast body, soul, and spirit into the Lake of Fire. It seems also that no part of the personality ceases to exist but suffers endless torment. The personality has perished in the flames but has not ceased to exist.

Notice why Paul was laying aside all else, why he was seeking to gain Christ?

And so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:11—NIV)

What does Paul say about us?

All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. (Philippians 3:15—NIV)

Paul, toward the end of his life, was still striving to attain to the resurrection from the dead, and he admonishes us to have the same viewpoint.

Now, what does it mean to attain to the resurrection from the dead?

We know that Jesus said all who are in the graves shall hear His voice and come forth, those who have done good to the resurrection of life and those who have practiced wickedness to the resurrection of judgment. There is no attaining to the resurrection because all will be resurrected whether they want to or not. So when the Apostle Paul was striving to attain to the resurrection he must have meant the resurrection to eternal life.

Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice And come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. (John 5:28,29—NIV)

To say that Divine grace alters this saying to mean if we "make a decision for Christ" we will rise to eternal life even though we have practiced evil is to demonstrate the incredible mental corruption that has destroyed almost completely our understanding of the new covenant.

The Word of Almighty God stands precisely as written, let none dare alter it in any manner: "Those who have done good will rise to live and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned." Amen!

God's plan is simple. Let the body return to the dust and work on the inward nature by forming Christ in it. This is the new covenant—the forming of Christ, the Law and Word of God, in our mind and heart. Then when our inward nature meets God's standard of righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God, our body will be raised from the dead. Our physical body will then be clothed with the house from Heaven that has been fashioned as we have sown our present body to the death and resurrection of Christ.

We see, then, that the resurrection to life must be attained by our submitting to the program of conformation to the moral image of Christ in our spiritual nature and entering untroubled rest in the Father's will through Christ. To pursue the change into Christ's moral image and to seek to live in the Father's will is to be an overcomer, a victorious saint. Nothing short of this qualifies us as an overcomer.

It is the overcomer, the victorious saint, who is given to eat of the Tree of Life in the midst of Paradise.

This is only sensible. Will God clothe an unrighteous, unclean, disobedient nature with immortality? The fact that we are righteous, holy, and obedient by imputation does not qualify us for the gaining of immortality in the body.

Would you want unrighteous church people to be given an immortal body, a body of galactic capabilities like the body of Jesus Christ? Look at the harm they are doing now. Can you imagine what they could accomplish with their gossip and slander were they given a body like that of Jesus Christ?

The Apostle Paul described the program of redemption.

First of all, we must recognize that our body is dead, cut off from the eternal Life of Christ, because of the sin that is resident in it.

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

But God intends to redeem our dead body.

And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. (Romans 8:11—NIV)

The Spirit that one day will give life to our physical body is already living in us. Resurrection Life is in our personality because Christ is present in us.

Seeing our body is dead in sin, and is waiting to be redeemed, we do not owe it to our body to continue obeying its sinful lusts and passions.

Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. (Romans 8:12—NIV)

If we choose to continue to obey the sinful desires of our flesh we will lose the resurrection life given us in the beginning, as in the parable of the sower.

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—NIV)

If however we follow the Spirit in overpowering and driving from us the lusts and follies of our flesh, we will grow in eternal life in preparation for the day when the Lord Jesus Christ returns, raises our body from the dead, and fills it with incorruptible life.

It is those who follow the Spirit in conquering their flesh who are the sons of God. They will inherit all things and God will be their God.

Because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (Romans 8:14—NIV)

We see, therefore, that we Christians are pursuing eternal life in the body. We are seeking to regain what was lost in the Garden of Eden. The Lord Jesus told us the gate is small and the way is compressed and difficult that leads to life and few find it. Receiving the Lord Jesus Christ gives us the authority to pursue life. Then the Holy Spirit gives us the wisdom and power to attain life. The goal is the resurrection to eternal life in the body. God so loved the world He gave His only Son that the body of whoever believes in Him would not perish but attain immortality.

But it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. (II Timothy 1:10—NIV)

Again we see that the resurrection to eternal life in the body must be attained by following the Spirit of God.

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—NIV)

The question is, what does it mean to reap destruction and what does it mean to reap eternal life?

Since we already have eternal life in our inner personality it must mean that if we choose to live in the Spirit of God instead of according to our fleshly appetites we will be given eternal life in our body when the Lord appears.

Most Christians would probably not have much of a problem with the idea that if we live in the Spirit now we will receive more eternal life in the Day of the Lord; we will have an abundant entrance into the Kingdom of God.

What really is difficult to understand is what it will mean to sow to our sinful nature and thus reap destruction from that sinful nature.

We would submit that if we kill our spiritual nature by pursuing the things of the material realm, by yielding to the passions of the flesh, and by insisting on following our own path in the present world, there will be no inner Divine Life in our personality, only the death that has accrued from our living according to the lusts and ways of the flesh. "She who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives," Paul writes.

Now, if we have killed our spiritual nature by not keeping the commandments of Christ and His Apostles, and many believers in America do just this, what will be done with us when the Lord appears? He cannot clothe with a glorious body of Divine Life a spiritual personality that is unrighteous, unholy, and disobedient—even if that personality professes belief in Christ. To raise the flesh and bones of a corrupt personality and then clothe the whole with immortality would bring chaos into the Kingdom of God. It shall not happen!

We see therefore that we will reap precisely what we sow. If we sow to our flesh we will reap corruption in the Day of Christ. If we sow to the Holy Spirit we will reap eternal life in that our body will be raised from its place of interment and swallowed up in incorruptible resurrection Life.

But what happens to our body in the day of resurrection if we reap corruption? According to the Scriptures our body is beaten or else is assigned to a place of torment where it cannot die. It cannot die after it has been raised from the dead.

That servant who knows his master's will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. (Luke 12:47—NIV)

"From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me," says the LORD. "And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind." (Isaiah 66:23,24—NIV)

Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2—NIV)

If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. (Matthew 5:29—NIV)

We see from the above that the body enters Hell or the Lake of Fire, and we assume that the spirit and soul are included with the body. These individuals are lost and will be viewed with contempt by the saved nations of the earth. They could have gained eternal life through Jesus Christ but now they have perished in the flames, although they have not ceased to exist.

We can understand from the above that the argument we will be saved no matter how we behave is based on an incorrect view of salvation. Would we say that the sinning believer, all accomplishments having been burned away by a very painful fire, will enter the Kingdom of God as a naked spirit, and this is desirable?—that we can go blithely on our way because we have been saved as by fire?

And what would be true of the body of the spirit that has been saved as by fire? We do not think such a personality will be entrusted with a body like that of the Lord Jesus. This does not seem reasonable.

Is this a destiny we can contemplate with confidence and joy?

How would you like to enter the Kingdom of God as a naked spirit while all around you are great mountains of fire and glory—your fellow believers who kept the commandments of Christ and His Apostles?

Instead of hearing "Well done, good and faithful servant," Christ said to you, "I am ashamed of you. I gave you so many chances to press into the Kingdom and you insisted on living in your fleshly desires."

This is what it may mean to be saved as by fire. Is this what you want?

But God finally will wipe away all the tears of those in His Kingdom.

But suppose Christ not only rebuked you but cast you from His Presence. "Get away from Me you worker of wickedness. You may have performed miracles in My name but I never knew you."

It is important that you know Christ. It is more important that He know you!

I suppose there will be those who will knock down my arguments, claiming we all will go to Heaven to live in a mansion by grace. Don't you be one of them. I do not believe such teachers are speaking from the Lord. They are not scriptural in this. Their end will be according to their works for they will deceive many.

Those who learn to live by the body and blood of Jesus Christ will be raised up to meet Him when He appears. The eagles who live by feeding on the slain Lamb will be caught up to the Source of their life.

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. (John 6:54-57—NIV)

It is the body and blood of Christ abiding in us that will raise us up to Christ at the last day. His body and blood are resurrection Life in us. They have made alive our inner nature now. When Christ appears His body and blood that are in us will make alive our physical body.

How do we eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ? By doing His will. Each day we are presented with choices. We can yield to the desires of our flesh and mind, fulfilling our passions and lusts. Or we can bring the decision to the Lord, lay down our own will and life, and obey God. Every time we lay down our own life we are given the flesh and blood of Christ (in the spirit realm) to strengthen us. By losing our life we save it.

In this manner we learn to live by the body and blood of Christ just as Christ lives by the Father.

This is how we attain the resurrection to life that the Apostle Paul was pursuing.

But if after we receive the Lord Jesus Christ we continue to live in the appetites of the flesh and the desires of the carnal mind, no resurrection life is formed in us. We are not living by the body and blood of Jesus Christ. There will be no Life of Christ in us that will raise us to the Lamb when He appears.

We marry the Lamb by eating the Lamb and the resurrection thus is formed in us.

Here is the meaning of the parable of the wise and foolish virgins. Some have the Life of God along with their lamp, which is the Scriptures. Some let the Life of God slip from them. They still have their lamp, but when the Lord appears the door is shut in their face.

They have drawn back to destruction. They put their hand to the plow and then looked back. They returned as a dog to its vomit. Having left Egypt, so to speak, they died in the wilderness of unbelief. They did not endure to the end. They did not hold their confidence in Christ steadfastly to the conclusion of their discipleship.

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

The Christian who chooses to be the slave of sin will be paid off in spiritual death, according to Romans 6:23.

How often we Christians have preached Romans 6:23 to the unsaved. "The wages of sin is death," we have proclaimed to the world. But Romans 6:23 was not written to the world but to Christians who are making the choice whether to be the slave of sin or the slave of righteousness. Check the context!

The gift of eternal life is not like a gift of money, it is like the gift of a piano. You have to bring yourself under numerous long hours of discipline to draw the potential good from it. Once you accept Christ you have to "practice" many long hours to produce the "music" of immortality.

Let the reader not draw back to the destruction of his or her physical body in the Day of Christ, as the Hebrew Christians were in danger of doing. Let us all press forward so that through faith and patience we may inherit the Kingdom of God.

We are surrounded with a great cloud of witnesses. We have profited by their example. They are profiting by our example.

We all shall come to perfection together in the Kingdom of God when Jesus Christ appears. We then shall be whole in spirit, soul, and body, and filled with the Presence of the Father and the Son through the fullness of the Holy Spirit of God.

This is a goal worth pursuing. It is not easy but it is possible through Christ.

Is this what you desire above all else—immortality in the Presence of God and Christ forever?

Don't forfeit your birthright as did Esau, for there may be no place of repentance for you if you turn away from Christ. (There wasn't for Esau!)

See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears. (Hebrews 12:15-17—NIV)

The above was not written to the unsaved but to the Hebrew Christians. It applies to the Christian salvation. It is Christians who can lose the inheritance, who can be unchangeably rejected; otherwise the Holy Spirit would not have addressed the warning to believers.

If you wish to attain immortality, keep going forward in God. Never, never quit. He is faithful to keep that which you commit to Him so that in the Day of His appearing you will be able to stand before Him in perfect, unsullied joy and victory.

Summary#4

God's plan is simple. Let the body return to the dust and work on the inward nature by forming Christ in it. This is the new covenant—the forming of Christ, the Law and Word of God, in our mind and heart. Then when our inward nature meets God's standard of righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God, our body will be raised from the dead. Our physical body will then be clothed with the house from Heaven that has been fashioned as we have sown our present body to the death and resurrection of Christ.

We see, then, that the resurrection to life must be attained by our submitting to the program of conformation to the moral image of Christ in our spiritual nature and entering untroubled rest in the Father's will through Christ. To pursue the change into Christ's moral image and to seek to live in the Father's will is to be an overcomer, a victorious saint. Nothing short of this qualifies us as an overcomer.

If we choose to continue to obey the sinful desires of our flesh we will lose the resurrection life given us in the beginning, as in the parable of the sower.

If however we follow the Spirit in overpowering and driving from us the lusts and follies of our flesh, we will grow in eternal life in preparation for the day when the Lord Jesus Christ returns, raises our body from the dead, and fills it with incorruptible life.

It is those who follow the Spirit in conquering their flesh who are the sons of God. They will inherit all things and God will be their God.

We see, therefore, that we Christians are pursuing eternal life in the body. We are seeking to regain what was lost in the Garden of Eden. The Lord Jesus told us the gate is small and the way is compressed and difficult that leads to life and few find it. Receiving the Lord Jesus Christ gives us the authority to pursue life. Then the Holy Spirit gives us the wisdom and power to attain life. The goal is the resurrection to eternal life in the body. God so loved the world He gave His only Son that the body of whoever believes in Him would not perish but attain immortality.

The gift of eternal life is not like a gift of money, it is like the gift of a piano. You have to bring yourself under numerous long hours of discipline to draw the potential good from it. Once you accept Christ you have to "practice" many long hours to produce the "music" of immortality.

Questions#4

1. What issue is John 3:16 presenting?

 2. How has the philosophy of Gnosticism corrupted today's Christian teaching?

 3. It has been said, "God's plan is simple." Summarize this plan:

 4. List four Scripture verses that describe what happens to our body in the day of resurrection if we reap corruption:

 5. How do we eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ?

The Temple Of The Holy Spirit

Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple. (I Corinthians 3:16,17—NIV)

The temple of the Holy Spirit is the human body. Perhaps because of the influence of the philosophy of Gnosticism, the religion of Christianity minimizes the significance of the human body. The truth is, the human body is of utmost importance in the Divine plan of salvation.

The reason the human body is of such importance is that it is the eternal temple of God, a part of the great incarnation of God through the Lord Jesus Christ. The goal of our salvation is to have our body resurrected into eternal life and filled with the Presence of the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit.

God is a Spirit. God chose to express Himself, to reveal Himself, in a physical form. The body of God was born through the Virgin Mary. God is now housed in flesh and bone.

This is the supreme mystery.

I am not saying that the Father and the Son are the same Person, that the Son of God is the Father. This is not true. There is a Father and there is a Son. The Son has been begotten from the Father and is filled with all the fullness of the Father. Thus God has become incarnate—made flesh.

We cannot penetrate more deeply into this mystery because in the spirit realm it is possible for two to be one, while in our finite world it is not possible for two to be one.

God is building a house for Himself of which the Lord Jesus Christ is the chief Cornerstone. Part of this great mystery is that in the Father's house there are many rooms, many places in which God and we can live, move, and have our being. Christ went to the cross, and then into Heaven, there to sprinkle His blood before the Father to make an atonement for mankind. Thus He has prepared a place in the Father's house for whoever chooses to become an eternal room in God's house.

The human body is central in the Divine plan. The Word has become flesh. It has been given a physical body. Today that physical body, although now greatly glorified, is at the right hand of God in Heaven.

We come next. We have a body. Our body in the present hour is the temple of the Spirit of God. Through Jesus Christ our born-again inward nature is at the right hand of the Father in Heaven.

But our body is not in Heaven, it is here on the earth. Or perhaps buried in the earth if we are deceased.

If we are living on the earth at the present time, our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. The task of redemption is to prepare our inward nature so when our body is raised in the eternal life of Jesus Christ it may be glorified, and then filled with the Presence of the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit.

Can you see from the above how utterly important the human body is in the plan of salvation, and how important it is that we grow in eternal life in our inward nature so God may be able to clothe us with a body of life in the Day of the Lord?

There is no greater error in Christian thinking than that which relegates the resurrection of our body to a minor role in the Divine redemption. Part of this error is the lack of understanding of how our present behavior while living on the earth is enabling or destroying our resurrection into eternal life.

In the present hour a house is being fashioned for us in Heaven. When the Lord returns He will call forth our body from the grave and then clothe our body with our house from Heaven, which He will have brought with Him.

The house, or robe, is being formed from our behavior. When we lie, the lie affects our robe in Heaven. When we repent of our lie and, through Jesus Christ gain victory over lying, our robe is washed in the blood of the Lamb.

Our heavenly robe is a composite of all we have done on the earth, good and bad, except as we confess and thoroughly denounce and renounce our sinful behavior and from then on resist the devil. Then the bad is eternally removed.

In the Day of Resurrection we will be clothed with our behavior. Here is the perfect justice of God.

Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) (Revelation 19:7,8—NIV)

The fine linen, bright and clean, is formed from the righteous acts of the saints. The Bride of the Lamb prepares herself for the wedding by repenting and turning away from sin, through Christ, until her heavenly robe—that with which she shall be clothed in the Day of Resurrection—is bright and clean.

I answered, "Sir, you know." And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." (Revelation 7:14—NIV)

The destructive, unscriptural error of Christian teaching is that when we profess Christ we automatically wash our robes clean once and for all time. Now we are ready to go to Heaven.

The truth is, we wash our robes by confessing our sins and turning away from them throughout our Christian discipleship. It is only as we continue to walk in the light of the Father's will that the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin.

The promises of the Kingdom are for the saint who is pursuing victory in Christ, not for the casual believer who is hoping to go to Heaven on the basis of some commitment he made many years ago.

In fact, the purpose of washing our robes is so we can ride behind Christ on the white war stallions and assist in the establishing of the Kingdom of God on the earth. It is not so we can recline at ease in a mansion in Heaven.

At least, this is what the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation tells us.

As we said, there is no greater error in Christian thinking than that which concerns the importance of the Day of Resurrection, and the relationship of our conduct to the kind of resurrection we will experience when the Lord returns from Heaven.

Because of the unscriptural emphasis on the "rapture" we have lost sight of the fact that our body is to be redeemed. It is to be raised from the dead and then clothed with our body from Heaven, the body that is being formed today as a product of our behavior on the earth.

And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. (Romans 8:11—NIV)

For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. (II Corinthians 5:4—NIV)

For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. (I Corinthians 15:53—NIV)

The last enemy to be destroyed is death. (I Corinthians 15:26—NIV)

In fact, the famous John 3:16 is speaking of the not perishing of the human body. It is the restoration of immortality to the body—that which was lost in the Garden of Eden.

The Apostle Paul does not view us as being finally alive in Christ until our body is made alive.

For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. (I Corinthians 15:22,23—NIV)

The Apostle Paul longed for the redemption of his body, that is, the raising of it into eternal life in Christ.

Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:23—NIV)

The human body has a greater role in the Divine salvation than we may have believed.

The one new Man, Jesus Christ and His Body, is being fashioned as an eternal house for God.

In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (Ephesians 2:21,22—NIV)

Let's consider once again the following passage:

Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple. (I Corinthians 3:16,17—NIV)

I don't think the idea of our being the house of God is new to many Christians. We sing, "I was born to be Your dwelling place."

What may be new to us is that it is our body that is the dwelling place of God, and for this reason it is very important what we do in and with our body.

"You yourselves are God's temple," the verse states. "God's Spirit lives in you."

But in what part of our personality does God live?

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. (I Corinthians 6:19,20—NIV)

It is our body that is the temple of the Spirit of God, not our spirit or our soul, primarily, but our body.

"You yourselves are God's temple"; "God's Spirit lives in you"; "If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him."

"God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple"; "Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit"; "You are not your own."

"Therefore honor God with your body."

We are not our own, that is, our body is not our own. Our body is God's temple. God's Spirit lives in us.

If this is true today, and it is, how much more will it be true when our body has been raised from the dead and then clothed with our body from Heaven?

We understand, therefore, that God has created us to be His eternal home, His tabernacle, His chariot. Our body does not belong to us. We actually are a caretaker of God's house.

God's great house is Christ—Head and Body. Our body is an apartment in that huge dwelling, so to speak.

If we do not keep our apartment holy, if we disfigure it an any manner, abusing it, not taking good care of it, we will suffer for it.

Paul says that physical exercise is of little profit, so we know the emphasis is not on exercise. It is true that good nutrition and proper exercise may contribute to our health and the length of our life. We ought to do what we can to stay healthy. If we carelessly, not of necessity, break the laws of health, we will pay the penalty for our neglect. But an emphasis on bodily health can lead us away from the important aspects of the Kingdom of God.

We understand from the record of Paul's life that he had little opportunity to be concerned about his physical health.

Rather the accent is on holy behavior. Fornication and adultery are examples of what the Apostle Paul means by harming the temple of God.

"Food for the stomach and the stomach for food"—but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! (I Corinthians 6:13-15—NIV)

The body is meant for the Lord. Isn't that some statement! The purpose for our physical body is that the God of Heaven might have a dwelling place. We are only custodians, apartment managers. Our body is the eternal dwelling place of God.

Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. (II Corinthians 7:1—NIV)

According to my understanding, the new Jerusalem is the joining together of the glorified bodies of Christ and His saints in order to form one eternal tabernacle of God, one everlasting dwelling place for the God of Heaven.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God." (Revelation 21:3—NIV)

It has been God's purpose all along to have a living temple through which He can have fellowship with the nations of people whom He has created (the "men" in the verse above) and whom He loves. As we have stated, the Father's house is Christ—Head and Body.

Perhaps we have understood that we have been created to be the dwelling place of the Lord. What may be new to us is the emphasis on our body. Our body was given to us so that God might have a visible expression among people. This is the calling of the saints, the Israel of God.

Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him." (John 14:23—NIV)

What kind of temple God has in Heaven is difficult to say. We think He has one, from the following passage:

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. (Isaiah 6:1—NIV)

However, the above verse may be referring to the temple built by King Solomon.

In any case, God has told us of His desire to have a temple.

This is what the LORD says: "Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. here is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be?" (Isaiah 66:1—NIV)

The extreme importance of this question is revealed by the fact that it was repeated by the Holy Spirit at the time of the death of the first martyr.

Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord. Or where will my resting place be? (Acts 7:49—NIV)

Man was created to be the house of God, His resting place. The plan of redemption proceeds on its course until we become the eternal tabernacle of God. This pattern is revealed in the seven feasts of the Lord. These are found in the twenty-third chapter of the Book of Leviticus, and in other passages.

The first feast, Passover, speaks of the blood of the cross.

The second feast, Unleavened Bread, portrays our repentance and baptism in water.

The third feast, Firstfruits, typifies our born-again experience.

The fourth feast, Pentecost, tells us about the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

The fifth feast, Trumpets, speaks of the coming of the Lord Jesus to declare war on His enemies, beginning with the enemies that dwell in the members of His Body.

The sixth feast, the Day of Atonement, points toward the long struggle we endure as the Lord deals with the worldliness, lust, and self-will that dwell in us.

The seventh feast, the feast of Tabernacles, reveals the ultimate intention of God—that He might dwell in the bodies of the people He has created.

There are three great symbols of Judaism. They also show the pattern of our salvation.

The Altar of sacrifice reveals that God's justice can be satisfied only by the shedding of blood.

The Lampstand speaks of the Spirit of God. It is God's will that every saved person in the creation live in the Spirit of God rather than in the lusts and appetites of the flesh.

The Booth in which an Israelite lived and still lives for one week out of each year points toward the ultimate intention of God—that mankind, beginning with His Israel, be His dwelling place. Once God has brought the entire creation into subjection to the Lord Jesus Christ, then Christ Himself shall be in subjection to God. Thus God shall be All in all, meaning He will be dwelling in every saved member of mankind.

The twentieth century has been the century of Pentecost. The twenty-first century will witness numerous saints being brought through the remaining three feasts of the Lord—the Blowing of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and, ultimately, the feast of Tabernacles.

Today the emphasis is on spiritual warfare. The trumpet of the Lord is sounding in the Christian churches, wherever the believers are seeking His face. Christ is standing before our hearts asking for admittance. He wants to drive His enemies from us. He wants to prepare us for war in the spirit realm, for we are being prepared to return with Christ and drive wickedness from the earth.

Then follows the spiritual fulfillment of the Day of Atonement, the Day of Reconciliation, the period when everything in us is brought before Christ for judgment.

Perhaps the reader of these words is experiencing at the present time the Day of Atonement and is wondering what is taking place. Sins that we thought were taken care of many years ago are surfacing. It seems as though we are being taken through a dark tunnel and we do not understand what appears to be the anger of God directed toward us.

Cheer up! This is part of the normal Christian experience. You are being prepared for the dwelling of the Father and the Son in you.

God will deal with the worldliness in your personality, the love for and trust in the world that you may have. Whoever would love the world spirit is the enemy of God. Are you a worldly person? God may bring you very low in order to free you from this bondage, to prepare you to reign with Him in your body.

God will deal with the lusts and passions of your flesh and soul. Are there sins you cannot gain victory over? Keep on telling God about them. Renounce and denounce these sins. Never confess defeat. It is God's will that you be free from all spiritual bondage. Whoever commits sin is the slave of that sin. God will not dwell in a sinful house. He will help you purify yourself in preparation for His coming.

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure. (I John 3:1-3—NIV)

God and Christ desire to sit on the throne that is found in every human being. We must get off the throne of our personality and permit God to sit there.

When God is satisfied that your house has been made ready to His satisfaction, that He reigns fully over your thoughts, words, and actions, He will permit you to join Him on the throne of your own heart. Now you are ready to be God's heart and hand extended to His creation.

To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. (Revelation 3:21—NIV)

Our goal is the spiritual experience typified by the feast of Tabernacles of the Old Testament. This is what we long for—to be the dwelling place of God; to be forever at rest in the center of God's Person, just as the Lord Jesus is.

But we cannot jump from the Pentecostal experience to the Tabernacles experience. In between is the Blowing of Trumpets and the dreadful Day of Atonement, the time when the enemies in our personality are judged.

The Day of Atonement, the reconciliation to God's Person that we are to experience, is set forth in the Old Testament as the period during which God's anger is expressed against us and we go through a time of darkness.

In that day you will say: "I will praise you, O LORD. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me." (Isaiah 12:1—NIV)

"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 54:8—NIV)

Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. (Hosea 6:1—NIV)

Notice that in every case the Lord expresses His anger at the sin in our personality. Jerusalem always receives double for her sins.

But then the Lord turns to us and binds up what has been torn to pieces.

If you are going through such an experience, take heart. You are in a tunnel, not a grave. You will come forth into the light again. God is utterly faithful and will never forsake you.

Remember, you are Israel ("he struggles with God"). Your struggle is not with Satan or with people but with God. You can forget about your enemies. We who are members of Christ's Church, His Body, have been called out from the ranks of mankind to be the dwelling place of God. As such we endure numerous dealings of God as He prepares us to be members of the governing priesthood.

In actuality, we are going through this program for the sake of other people, for the sake of those who one day will be presented to us as an inheritance.

Because of God's love for those people whom we will serve as priests and kings, God is removing from our personality all that is hurtful. When God presents our inheritance to us, and us to those people, He wants them to be receiving His glory and blessing, not our sinful, self-seeking personality.

We pass through waters to the ankles, then to the knees, then to the hips, and finally find ourselves in waters deep enough to swim in. Now we are brought back to the bank of the river where we are planted as a tree of life.

We then are held in readiness with the other trees of life so that at the appearing of the Lord, the living water can flow from all of us into the dead sea of mankind.

In Pentecost we are blessed with the rain from Heaven. In the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles, the Throne of almighty God is established forever in us so that we may with incomprehensible joy bring forth the waters of eternal life for other people to drink and thus to live in God's Life.

Today the Lord Jesus is standing before the door of our heart. He wants to enter our personality and dine with us. He dines on our obedience and worship. We dine on His body and blood.

Who is this who has entered us? It is the King of Glory, the Lord, strong and mighty in battle.

What shall He do? He shall put all the enemies of God under His feet.

Now is the hour. The Pentecostal experience has brought us to this point. The summit, the fullness of God, is in sight. Let each one of us make the effort to move past Pentecost and embrace all that God has for us in the present hour.

As I said previously, our present body belongs to the Lord God of Heaven. It is His eternal house. This is true now. This shall be true in the Day of the Lord.

The question is, will we be found worthy of receiving eternal life in our body when it is raised from the dead in the Day of Christ? Have we been a good custodian of God's House? Have we pressed forward into the Life of the Spirit, who already is dwelling in us, putting to death by the wisdom and power of the Spirit the deeds of our sinful nature?

If we have been a good "apartment manager," our reward will be to be clothed with a glorious body of eternal life from Heaven. Now we will not have to fight against the desires of our body, for our new glorified house will hate wickedness and love righteousness.

We now have been set free from the body of sin and death, which was the prison in which the Apostle Paul lived and in which we live.

Now we are free forever to live in the very center of the Consuming Fire of Israel. Now we shall inherit multitudes of saved people who will have fellowship with God and Christ who are dwelling with us in our body.

This is the new Jerusalem. This is why we shall have the name of the new Jerusalem inscribed on us for eternity.

We now are a member of the royal priesthood, having attained through Christ the first resurrection from the dead.

Seeing what stupendous marvels are ahead of us, let us take care at every moment to dwell in our body as good stewards of the Lord's house. Then, when He comes, He shall raise us from the dead and clothe our resurrected flesh and bones with the body of eternal life from Heaven. He and the Father will settle down to rest in us.

We now are alive in God's Life for eternity and are ready to restore Paradise to those whom God has given us for our inheritance.

Amen.

Summary#5

The temple of the Holy Spirit is the human body. Perhaps because of the influence of the philosophy of Gnosticism, the religion of Christianity minimizes the significance of the human body. The truth is, the human body is of utmost importance in the Divine plan of salvation.

The reason the human body is of such importance is that it is the eternal temple of God, a part of the great incarnation of God through the Lord Jesus Christ. The goal of our salvation is to have our body resurrected into eternal life and filled with the Presence of the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit.

The human body is central in the Divine plan. The Word has become flesh. It has been given a physical body. Today that physical body, although now greatly glorified, is at the right hand of God in Heaven.

We come next. We have a body. Our body in the present hour is the temple of the Spirit of God. Through Jesus Christ our born-again inward nature is at the right hand of the Father in Heaven.

But our body is not in Heaven, it is here on the earth. Or perhaps buried in the earth if we are deceased.

If we are living on the earth at the present time, our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. The task of redemption is to prepare our inward nature so when our body is raised in the eternal life of Jesus Christ it may be glorified, and then filled with the Presence of the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit.

There is no greater error in Christian thinking than that which relegates the resurrection of our body to a minor role in the Divine redemption. Part of this error is the lack of understanding of how our present behavior while living on the earth is enabling or destroying our resurrection into eternal life.

In the present hour a house is being fashioned for us in Heaven. When the Lord returns He will call forth our body from the grave and then clothe our body with our house from Heaven, which He will have brought with Him.

The house, or robe, is being formed from our behavior. When we lie, the lie affects our robe in Heaven. When we repent of our lie and, through Jesus Christ gain victory over lying, our robe is washed in the blood of the Lamb.

Our heavenly robe is a composite of all we have done on the earth, good and bad, except as we confess and thoroughly denounce and renounce our sinful behavior and from then on resist the devil. Then the bad is eternally removed.

In the Day of Resurrection we will be clothed with our behavior. Here is the perfect justice of God.

Questions#5

1. Describe why the human body is important in the Divine plan of salvation:

2. Describe how our present behavior while living on the earth is enabling or destroying our resurrection into eternal life:

 3. What does washing our robes have to do with returning with Christ?

 4. Using the seven feasts of the Lord, summarize the plan of redemption:

 5. With whom do we struggle and for what purpose?

Answer Guide

Groaning for the Adoption

1. The traditional Christian life is one of waiting to die and go to Heaven, or for an unscriptural "rapture" to lift us to Heaven, while we try to live an acceptable life.

The true Christian discipleship is one of overcoming worldliness, the lusts of our flesh, and our self-will as we press toward the first resurrection from the dead, the resurrection to eternal life.

These two approaches to the Christian life are not at all the same. One is correct and the other is incorrect and destructive.

2. When Paul says we have the "firstfruits of the Spirit" he means we have the Holy Spirit in advance of the whole creation, for one day the earth will be filled with the Spirit of God. Human life—true human life—is not the life of flesh and blood. The life of flesh and blood was always meant to be temporary. True life is life lived in the eternal Spirit of God.

We are not alive as yet. We presently are in the dark womb of the program of creation. We will not begin true life until the Lord returns and fills our body with His Holy Spirit.

3. We have to know what God has promised. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.

We have to choose to believe what God has promised.

We have to wait patiently for the promise to be fulfilled no matter how long it takes.

We are saved by patiently hoping and waiting for the fulfillment.

4. Our moral nature has been corrupted in three dimensions. The first dimension is love for the world and trust in the world for security and survival.

The second dimension comprises the various lusts and passions that dwell in our flesh and soul.

The third dimension is our fierce desire to maintain our own way, to preserve our own identity apart from rest in the Father's Person and will.

Until we have experienced moral transformation in these three areas our inward nature is still abiding in corruption and cannot be clothed with incorruption. This is what Paul means when he says that if we live in the flesh we will die. We will seriously if not fatally impair the nature of our resurrection.

5.We have a robe in Heaven. That robe reflects in itself what our personality is becoming. The robe is termed by Paul "an eternal weight of glory."

As we confess our sins, turning away from them, turning away from involvement in the world spirit, taking up our cross and following the Lord Jesus, our house in Heaven is modified accordingly. We keep our robe clean by turning away from that which displeases the Lord, by keeping His commandments.

Every day we add to that body in Heaven. We are adding to that body iron righteousness, fiery holiness, stern obedience to the Father, a compassionate, merciful nature, courage, faithfulness, trust in God. Or we are adding bitterness, unbelief, impatience, hatred, lust, rebellion, covetousness, pride, unforgiveness.

Living By His Body and Blood

1.By living the victorious Christian life.

To live the victorious Christian life we must deny our own life at every point of challenge. Each day the Holy Spirit challenges us at some point of worldliness, the passions of the flesh, or personal ambition and self-will. Each day we decide either to save our life or to lose it.

If we follow the desires of our flesh and mind we lose our life; we are not given to eat of the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ.

If we deny ourselves, carrying our cross after Jesus, choosing to do the will of the Spirit instead of obeying the demands of our flesh and soul, we are given to eat of the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ. In this manner eternal life is increased in us. In this manner we lay hold on eternal life. In this manner we sow to the Spirit of God.

2. He counted all his accomplishments, all of his life that had not been wrought in Christ, as garbage. He was learning to live in the power of Christ's resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings.

Paul always was pressing toward the mark that had been set before him—and this in his old age and while he was in prison.

3.The writings we term "The New Testament" describe the new covenant. But the body and blood of Jesus Christ themselves are the new covenant.

This is extremely important to understand. Christianity is not a religion consisting of doctrines and commandments. Christianity is the forming of a new creation on the body and blood of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is the Covenant of God with man. When Christ is formed in us we become an essential part of the Body of Christ, the Body of the Servant of the Lord who Himself is the Covenant of God with mankind. This is the unique role of the Christian Church among the nations of the earth.

It is not enough to read about Christ and learn about Christ. We must eat Christ continually. This is what Paul meant when he said though we have known Christ after the flesh now we no longer know Him this way. Now we know Him in that He has been formed in us and we are an integral part of Him.

4. To be in Christ, to remain in Him, means we are eating the flesh of Christ and drinking His blood. We are continuing in intense interaction with the living Jesus. We do not refer to any previous point in time as when we were saved.

5. The rest of God is that place in God where every enemy of God in our personality has been put under the feet of Jesus Christ.

We have attained perfection, the rest of God, when our will is precisely the same as God's will for us. Then we have perfect rest and peace in God and God has perfect rest and peace in us. This is eternal joy, eternal peace, eternal love. God Himself thus becomes our Righteousness and Holiness.

Once to Die

1. The resurrection that occurs at the beginning of the thousand-year Kingdom Age and the resurrection at the end of the Kingdom Age, at the time earth and sky flee from the face of God.

2. The common interpretation of the two resurrections is that every saved person takes part in the first resurrection and every individual raised in the second resurrection is cast into the Lake of Fire.

3. The issue of the two resurrections is that of judgment, of when we are judged and delivered from sin.

If we are not judged before the time of the first resurrection we will have to wait until the thousand-year Kingdom Age has transpired. Then we shall be raised from the dead and stand before Christ and His saints at the great White Throne. We shall be judged fairly according to our behavior on the earth, exactly as described by the Apostle Paul.

4. The proper orientation to the Christian salvation, an orientation not always presented in our day, is our death and resurrection with Jesus Christ.

We have to count ourselves as dead with Him and risen with Him. Until we do this we are not a true Christian but merely a religious person.

5. From our point of view, the reference to "beheaded" is allegorical. The greatest battle we have, when we decide to "die in the Lord," is with our mind. It is the mind Satan attacks when he sets out to deceive us.

The true servants of the Lord are blind and deaf to the world. They see what God is doing and hear what God is saying. They have died to the impulse to judge other people. Like their Lord, they judge as they hear from God.

To Perish or to Live

1.If you will look carefully at John 3:16 the issue Jesus is presenting is not residence in Hell or Heaven but perishing and living. John 3:16 is speaking of the physical body. God so loved the world He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him would not suffer the loss of his body but would be able to gain immortality in the body at His coming. In other words, John 3:16 is speaking of what happens to us at the time of the resurrection from the dead.

2. The renewal of life in the body, that is, the resurrection from the dead, is vastly more important from a scriptural standpoint than is demonstrated in today's Christian teaching. It seems that Gnosticism, a philosophy that ignores the body in favor of the salvation of the spiritual nature of man, a philosophy that has contaminated Christian thinking from the first century, is very much alive today. We see evidences of Gnosticism in the idea that we are saved by grace apart from our behavior, and also in the unscriptural teaching of the pre-tribulation "rapture" of the believers. The concept that we are to leave our flesh and rise in our spirit to the heavens is Gnosticism, not biblical Christianity.

3. God's plan is simple. Let the body return to the dust and work on the inward nature by forming Christ in it. This is the new covenant—the forming of Christ, the Law and Word of God, in our mind and heart. Then when our inward nature meets God's standard of righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God, our body will be raised from the dead. Our physical body will then be clothed with the house from Heaven that has been fashioned as we have sown our present body to the death and resurrection of Christ.

4. That servant who knows his master's will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. (Luke 12:47—NIV)

From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me, says the LORD. And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind. (Isaiah 66:23,24—NIV)

Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2—NIV)

If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. (Matthew 5:29—NIV)

5. By doing His will. Each day we are presented with choices. We can yield to the desires of our flesh and mind, fulfilling our passions and lusts. Or we can bring the decision to the Lord, lay down our own will and life, and obey God. Every time we lay down our own life we are given the flesh and blood of Christ (in the spirit realm) to strengthen us. By losing our life we save it.

In this manner we learn to live by the body and blood of Christ just as Christ lives by the Father.

This is how we attain the resurrection to life that the Apostle Paul was pursuing.

The Temple of the Holy Spirit

1. The temple of the Holy Spirit is the human body. Perhaps because of the influence of the philosophy of Gnosticism, the religion of Christianity minimizes the significance of the human body. The truth is, the human body is of utmost importance in the Divine plan of salvation.

The reason the human body is of such importance is that it is the eternal temple of God, a part of the great incarnation of God through the Lord Jesus Christ. The goal of our salvation is to have our body resurrected into eternal life and filled with the Presence of the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit.

2. In the present hour a house is being fashioned for us in Heaven. When the Lord returns He will call forth our body from the grave and then clothe our body with our house from Heaven, which He will have brought with Him.

The house, or robe, is being formed from our behavior. When we lie, the lie affects our robe in Heaven. When we repent of our lie and, through Jesus Christ gain victory over lying, our robe is washed in the blood of the Lamb.

Our heavenly robe is a composite of all we have done on the earth, good and bad, except as we confess and thoroughly denounce and renounce our sinful behavior and from then on resist the devil. Then the bad is eternally removed.

In the Day of Resurrection we will be clothed with our behavior. Here is the perfect justice of God.

3. The destructive, unscriptural error of Christian teaching is that when we profess Christ we automatically wash our robes clean once and for all time. Now we are ready to go to Heaven.

The truth is, we wash our robes by confessing our sins and turning away from them throughout our Christian discipleship. It is only as we continue to walk in the light of the Father's will that the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin.

The promises of the Kingdom are for the saint who is pursuing victory in Christ, not for the casual believer who is hoping to go to Heaven on the basis of some commitment he made many years ago.

In fact, the purpose of washing our robes is so we can ride behind Christ on the white war stallions and assist in the establishing on the Kingdom of God on the earth. It is not so we can recline at ease in a mansion in Heaven.

4. Man was created to be the house of God, His resting place. The plan of redemption proceeds on its course until we become the eternal tabernacle of God. This pattern is revealed in the seven feasts of the Lord. These are found in the twenty-third chapter of the Book of Leviticus, and in other passages.

The first feast, Passover, speaks of the blood of the cross.

The second feast, Unleavened Bread, portrays our repentance and baptism in water.

The third feast, Firstfruits, typifies our born-again experience.

The fourth feast, Pentecost, tells us about the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

The fifth feast, Trumpets, speaks of the coming of the Lord Jesus to declare war on His enemies, beginning with the enemies that dwell in the members of His Body.

The sixth feast, the Day of Atonement, points toward the long struggle we endure as the Lord deals with the worldliness, lust, and self-will that dwell in us.

The seventh feast, the feast of Tabernacles, reveals the ultimate intention of God—that He might dwell in the bodies of the people He has created.

5.Your struggle is not with Satan or with people but with God. You can forget about your enemies. We who are members of Christ's Church, His Body, have been called out from the ranks of mankind to be the dwelling place of God. As such we endure numerous dealings of God as He prepares us to be members of the governing priesthood.

In actuality, we are going through this program for the sake of other people, for the sake of those who one day will be presented to us as an inheritance.

Because of God's love for those people whom we will serve as priests and kings, God is removing from our personality all that is hurtful. When God presents our inheritance to us, and us to those people, He wants them to be receiving His glory and blessing, not our sinful, self-seeking personality.

Bibliography

The essays, summaries, and answers for this study guide series were provided from the following works of Robert B. Thompson, as published by Trumpet Ministries, Inc., Escondido, CA. To view these materials click on the hyperlinks found below:

Groaning for the Adoption (2001)

Living by His Body and Blood (2001)

Once to Die (2001)

To Perish or to Live (2001)

The Temple of the Holy Spirit (2001)

About The Author

Born in Portland, Maine, in July 1925, Robert B. Thompson spent his formative years along the rugged coastline of New England. He was converted to Christ in 1944 while serving with the U.S. Marines in Hawaii on the island of Oahu. A year later, after the conclusion of WWII, he was called to preach the gospel while stationed in Sasebo, Japan.

A former educator, lecturer, and public school administrator, he holds the degree of Doctor of Education from the University of Rochester, New York, and possesses three Life Credentials in the State of California. After many years of work in secular education the Lord burdened his heart to write concerning the works of redemption which come after the Pentecostal experience.

He and his wife, Audrey, have served since February 1976 as pastors of Mount Zion Fellowship in Poway, California. Dr. Thompson has authored more than three hundred books concerning the Christian salvation.