LIVING BY HIS BODY AND BLOOD
LIVING BY HIS BODY AND BLOOD Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
The new covenant is the body and blood of Jesus Christ. We gain the first resurrection, the resurrection from the dead, as we learn to live by the body and blood of Christ. Living by the body and blood of Christ means we bring every decision, great and small, to Christ. When His will conflicts with our desires we deny ourselves and choose to do His will as He gives us wisdom and strength. We take up our cross and follow Him each day.
Perfect obedience to Christ in all things is the only path to eternal life and immortality in the body. When we are totally obedient to Him He nourishes us with His body and blood. In doing so we prepare ourselves for the resurrection that will take place at His appearing.
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 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 some of the content of Christian teaching is more Gnostic than it is 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 influenced by Gnosticism.
Had Adam and Eve eaten of Christ, the only Tree of Life, 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 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 increase within them making alive their flesh and bone bodies.
This is what Paul means when he speaks of attaining to 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 to 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 20:7—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 increase 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 to 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 to 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 to 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 to 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 to 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 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 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?
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.