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Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica. Used by permission.

So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. (I Corinthians 15:45)
I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10,11)

Man, the image of God, is made in two stages. The first stage is the living soul. In this stage, man is an intelligent animal with a spirit that can communicate with God. Man’s spirit is not, however, a life-giving spirit. As he is, he cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. He must be born again, born of God.

The second stage is that of the life-giving spirit. A son of God is, like his Father, a life-giving spirit. When God spoke in the beginning of man being in the image of God, the fullness of that declaration refers to a life-giving spirit. The first Man who fulfills the initial edict is the Lord Jesus Christ.

So we can see at a glance that the whole concept of man being saved to go to Heaven to recline in a mansion is nothing more than mythology.

In eons past, the angels rebelled against God. Ever since that time, God has been working to bring forth a kingdom that will for eternity put an end to all sin and rebellion. Jesus Christ is the Firstborn of that Kingdom. In the present hour, we are about halfway through the program of redemption, the wresting from Satan that which belongs only to the Lord Jesus Christ.

The perfect atonement was made on the cross of Calvary. The Holy Spirit has been poured on the elect, on those who are the firstfruits of the new world of righteousness. Now the atonement is beginning. By atonement, I mean the reconciliation to God of mankind. Those who have received Christ have been reconciled to God legally through the blood of the cross, we might say. Now it is time for God’s elect, those who have received the atonement, to follow the Spirit of God as He shows them their personal sins and invites them to confess and turn away from them.

This is how we are reconciled to God in actuality, not only legally.

The atonement has been made for the whole world. It is on the table. All are invited to partake. Some will partake, choosing to be obedient to Christ, the King whom God has chosen. Some will not partake, refusing to be obedient to Christ. Their proper home is the Lake of Fire.

The main problem with mankind is not the sins of the flesh. The main problem is self-will. The only legitimate will in the universe is the will of the Father. Christ Himself is subject to the will of the Father.

For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all. (I Corinthians 15:27,28)

The living soul, the adamic creation is a marvelous product. When we consider the realms of art, of science, of technology, of literature, of philosophy, we must agree that this first stage of mankind is an unprecedented wonder.

But this only is the first stage. There is death in the pot. The children of Adam are self-willed. They are not ready to forsake their own thinking and planning and become part of the Life of the Lord Jesus. They have been born with a sinful, rebellious nature.

Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. (Psalms 51:5)

God’s solution to this problem is the cross of suffering and self-denial. Salvation for our old nature is not that of bringing us to Heaven. It is deliverance from sin and self-will.

We are not delivered from sin and self-will so we can go to Heaven. We are delivered from sin and self-will so we can have fellowship with God; so we can bring eternal life to those of mankind who are willing to obey God’s King, the Lord Jesus Christ; and so we can work with God in driving all evil and all evildoers from the creation.

When God is finished creating us, our behavior will be pleasing to Him. Then He can establish His Throne in us. The water of eternal life will flow from that Throne into the “dead sea” of mankind. It will continue to be available to people throughout the new-sky-and-earth Kingdom of our Lord.

Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live. (Ezekiel 47:9)
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:1,2)

If we are to make the transition from a living soul to a life-giving spirit, we must accept the suffering that God sends to us. It is suffering that cleanses us from sin and self-will.

Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. (I Peter 4:1,2)

Notice how the Apostle Paul regarded the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings as being necessary if we are to attain to the first resurrection from the dead. We must attain to that priestly resurrection inwardly. Otherwise we will not be resurrected and caught up when Christ next appears.

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10,11)

There are all sorts of sufferings that we must endure if we are to pass from the adamic state to the son-of-God state.

Christ’s sufferings in Gethsemane were worse than the physical sufferings on the cross. Satan was pointing out to Christ that the agony Christ already was suffering, the departure of the sense of the Father’s Presence, would be true for eternity. Christ never again would know what it was to live in the Bosom of the Father.

This agony, which Saint John of the Cross set forth in his poem, “The Dark Night of the Soul,” has been experienced by those Christians who seek to move from the common experiences of the Christian religion to union with God. We are going along in our familiar way of serving Christ. Then God sees that He might have someone who will press past the flesh and soul and enter union with God.

I suppose the means God uses with each individual is different from the others. I remember my own travail. It makes one realize that we never could endure what Christ endured in Gethsemane. We simply are not strong enough.

When I began to pastor Mount Zion Fellowship, in Poway, I was just coming out of a dark period. I had been accustomed to telling myself that I was not in a grave but in a tunnel. There would be light at the end. And so there was. Actually the experience made me kind of reckless. “I did not care whether school kept or not,” to use an old expression. But God has restored His Presence to me in a truly wonderful way. I am never alone any more, even when my wife Audrey goes to visit her sister in Phoenix, because the Lord Jesus is so real to me.

In fact, He has become my Life. I know I have not attained to the level of resurrection that Paul had when he said, “It is no longer I who am living but Christ.” But I am pressing forward in that direction.

The cross is the key to the transition. One aspect of the cross is to be denied our most fervent desires. Another aspect is to be required to remain in a prison of some sort, where we are miserable. We must not grasp what God has not given us, and we must not break out of our prison, if we expect to be awarded the crown of life and righteousness when Jesus appears.

Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. (Revelation 2:10)

After the test of Gethsemane, there was the actual physical suffering of the Roman crucifixion. This might have been bearable (it was a common form of punishment in those days), except for the fact that tremendous spiritual darkness was on Christ throughout the crucifixion. Hence the cry, “My God, why have You forsaken me?”

I know that no human being would be strong enough to suffer both the removal of the Father’s Presence and then the physical pain of the crucifixion. Of course, the Father never actually left Christ. He turned away His Face so that Christ could not pray through the darkness.

We could not bear to suffer like that. But we will have our own portion if we are to be transformed from a soul to a life-giving spirit.

“Must Jesus bear the cross alone,” the old hymn asks. No! Everyone who wants to press past the adamic soul will be required to patiently bear his or her cross of loneliness, misunderstanding, rejection by loved ones.

God has given us the story of Job in the Old Testament so we might realize that the righteous are called upon to suffer, and also take hope that there shall come light at the end of the tunnel.

Job was a righteous, religious man. But he did not know or understand God to the extent God desired. So God removed all of Job’s pleasures, all that he trusted in—even his children. When God was finished with Job, Job knew God. That was the big gain and the reason for the extreme suffering. Then God restored Job’s physical blessings. How many have received life from reading about Job?

We may remember that God gave Abraham a son after years of waiting. Then God asked Abraham to offer Isaac as a burnt offering. Abraham’s obedient response to this awful test resulted in his becoming a life-giving spirit.

Jeremiah had a difficult time.

Woe to me because of my injury! My wound is incurable! Yet I said to myself, “This is my sickness, and I must endure it.” (Jeremiah 10:19)

That is a good thing to say to ourselves during our dark night of the soul. Have you received life from Jeremiah’s writings? I know I have!

Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated. (Hebrews 11:35-37)

Tradition says Isaiah was sawn in two.

The Bible states that it was through suffering that Christ learned obedience to the Father.

Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered. (Hebrews 5:8—KJV)

There is so much in our adamic soul that must be burned out of us. The spirit of romance, for example, is not of the Spirit of God. If we are a romantic individual, we may experience many hot flames before we realize that the romantic spirit can bring to us torment, jealousy, anger, hatred, murder, and every other evil work. God does not want His children bound by such distresses. There is romance in Christ, as we see from the Song of Solomon. But it is free from the moral filth of the adamic nature. The love that comes from Christ is an example of God making all things new. God is filling all things, including love, with Christ, transforming all we have been accustomed to into something marvelous beyond belief.

The Divine love is far more wonderful and glorious than anything the adamic nature could possibly contrive.

Personal ambition drives the adamic soul. Our goal should be to enter the rest of God, that state in which we follow the Spirit of God as He leads us to grasp that for which we were grasped in the beginning of the creation. Since we do not really know what God wants us to experience, we must surrender our ambitions and plans and follow the invisible Christ every moment of every day and night.

We must place our treasures in Heaven, don’t we? Isn’t this what the life of faith actually is about? Instead of being driven by our own desires, we live a life of waiting on the Lord. This means that we trust God knows every detail of our life, including all of our thoughts, that He loves us, and is bringing us to eternal righteousness, love, joy, and peace.

I found during my own night of the soul that trust and faith are two different attitudes. By faith we live in victory, being more than a conqueror. But trust comes forth when we must look up to see the bottom, when faith, joy, love, confidence, have departed.

Still we hang on. We do not understand what is taking place in our life, but we trust in the goodness and faithfulness of God. This is easy to say, isn’t it? But it can be difficult at times.

When the darkness came upon me, I thought it was graduate anxiety. I was studying for a doctorate in education at the University of Rochester, in Rochester, New York. But because the experience of spiritual darkness made God so real to me, I believe now it was, at least in part, the dark night of the soul. Perhaps it was a combination of graduate anxiety and the dark night of the soul. During this period, I could remember mentally the happy times in the Lord, the joyous choruses of the Youth for Christ meetings. I had been a Christian for about twenty years. I knew the happy times had taken place, but I could not relate to them emotionally.

When I came out of the darkness, I had the same result as Job. I knew God. Before, I had known about God. But now I actually knew God. I was kind of defiant in a way because I had suffered so much. But like Job, I realized I was nothing in myself.

As I said previously, I had never heard of the dark night of the soul and did not understand what was taking place in me. All I knew was I had to keep trusting God. I remember being pressed down on the floor in our bedroom from the weight of the spiritual oppression, and trying to pull myself up by clutching at the bedclothes. Gethsemane was real to me at that time. I could not eat properly. Audrey had to feed me with a spoon. Sleep was a real problem. One night, when I was having difficulty going to sleep, and being full of fear, a spirit came to me. It said, “I love to fight.” So I began to fight instead of cowering in fear. I soon was asleep.

One day I was on my prayer-walk. I was criticizing other people in my mind for not standing and fighting. Then the Lord took the fighting spirit from me for a brief season, and then restored it. I gave thanks to the Lord for showing me that the ability to fight spiritually is a gift from God.

I suspect that there are not too many believers who care enough about God to press past the ordinary Christian church-life. But there are some.

I believe that moral and physical chaos are approaching the United States. The Spirit is speaking of “blood.” Whether this means a civil war, or an attack from an external enemy, I am not certain. I believe the Spirit is saying that the United States, because of abortion and other sins, will soon have a much lower status in the world than it does today.

When the old American way to which we are accustomed is removed, and much of our culture is changed, I suspect that numerous believers who otherwise would have remained complacent as usual, will seek the Lord fervently. If they do, they will find Him. But I think this may prove to be an individual matter rather than nation-wide repentance.

However, we can be confident that those who place their trust in the Lord Jesus will not lack any good thing. But we may go through a dark night of the soul until we emerge in the morning of the Day of the Lord. This is the transition from a soul to a life-giving Spirit.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (Ephesians 6:13)

(“The Transition from a Soul to a Life-Giving Spirit, Part One”, 3482-2, proofed 20210826)

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