TWO ASPECTS OF ETERNAL LIFE
TWO ASPECTS OF ETERNAL LIFECopyright Š 2012 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
There are two aspects of eternal life. One is the birth and forming of Christ in us. The second is the body and blood of Christ, the hidden manna that is given to the victorious saint. The forming of Christ in us provides the righteous character that delights to do God's will. The body and blood of Christ are the eternal resurrection life that enable us to live in the righteous behavior demanded by our new character.
Associated with the birth and forming of Christ in us are our receiving Christ as our Lord and Savior; the Divine Seed that comes from God; seeing the Kingdom of God; entering the Kingdom of God; and the new covenant.
In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!" Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit." (John 3:3-5)
Associated with the body and blood of Christ are eternal life; resurrection unto life; immortality; abiding in Christ, and living by Christ as He lives by the Father.
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. 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.
This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever." He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. (John 6:53-59)
Both the birth and forming of Christ in us, and eating Christ's flesh and drinking Christ's blood, are aspects of eternal life. However the first has to do with God's Seed and the developing of righteous character in us. The second is the Divine energy that enables us to actually behave righteously. The Divine Character and Divine powerboth are essential parts of eternal Divine Life.
I have been in the "Pentecostal" movement for many years. I have noticed that on occasion the spiritual-emotional experiences of Pentecost have outshone the necessity for godly character and decisions. Both are equally necessary. The Pentecostal power without the righteous character can be unholy. The character without the Pentecostal power can be dead.
Notice in the following passage how eternal life flows from godly behavior:
But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. (Romans 6:22)
Can you see from the above that eternal life is the result of holiness; and holiness results from slavery (total obedience) to God?
I will tell you the truth as I see it. The modern emphasis of Gospel preaching places far too much emphasis on belief. Thus the Gospel has become a philosophy instead of an eating of Christ's flesh and the drinking of Christ's blood. The belief that is being preached today often is little more than mental assent to theologic facts. It does not lead to obedience; to the keeping of the commands of Christ and His Apostles.
Thus, it is nothing more than dead religion.
The forming of Christ, the Word, in us is the new covenant. It is substantial. It is the Seed and Nature of God. It is vastly more than an idea; it is the transforming of our personality with the Divine Nature such that we become a life-giving spirit.
This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. (Hebrews 8:10)
The above is the only Christian covenant. It is made with the "house of Israel" because all who truly are part of Christ are of the house of Israel.
The "four steps of salvation" that we use today are not the Christian covenant. The Christian covenant has to do with the birth and forming of Christ, the Word of God, in us. This is the mark of the Royal Priesthood.
Notice Paul's travail:
My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, (Galatians 4:10)
The forming of Christ in us is not to be confused with the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Tabernacles, which is the coming of the Father and the Son to dwell in us.
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)
The first is what we have become in character as the Character of Christ has been formed in us through the birth of the Divine Seed and the impartation of the Divine Nature.
The second is the coming of the Father and the Son through the Spirit to dwell for eternity in what which has been formed in us.
The birth and forming of Christ in us is the Kingdom of God; it actually is that which is revealed in the last two chapter of the Book of Revelation as the holy city, the new Jerusalem. This is the Royal Priesthood that will govern the creation of God, including those people who are saved from the nations. The "sheep," of the twenty-fifth chapter of the Book of Matthew.
We notice in Revelation the River and the Tree of Life:
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 22:2)
The great importance of the River of Life and the Tree of Life is portrayed by the fact they are in the middle of the street.
Whoever of the nations who are willing to "wash their robes," that is, renounce all sin and live in righteousness and holiness, may enter through the gates of the new Jerusalem and drink of the Water of the Holy Spirit and eat of the Tree of Life, of Christ and of those lesser trees of life who are an integral part of Himthe life-giving spirits.
The Tree (or trees) of Life are the Substance of Christ that will place, in the personalities of those who eat of the fruit, the desire to do the will of God. The River of Life speaks of the Divine Life that results in immortality.
The new Jerusalem is the government of the Kingdom of God. The nations that enter its gates in order to obtain righteous character, healing, and immortality, are the citizens of the Kingdom of God. Actually, the Kingdom of God is the inheritance of the "sheep," the nations of saved people.
The body and blood of Christ are the "manna" that we must have in order to live in resurrection life. Whenever we are tempted to do evil, and we renounce the evil and choose to obey Christ, we are fed in the spirit world with the "hidden manna," the body and blood of Christ.
Each time we choose to overcome sin we are given of the Life of Christ, His body and blood, which then give us additional wisdom and power to overcome sin in the future. Thus we are entering a cycle that leads onward and upward to the fullness of righteous and holy being and behavior.
The issue of our day, in Christianity, is behavior, isn't it? Because the doctrine of lawless grace, in which grace becomes a substitute for moral behavior, righteous behavior loses its prime importance.
"So we don't overcome sin. Who cares? We are going to Heaven by grace, aren't we?"
If this is not the most destructive error to enter Christian thinking, I do not know what would be. The result is multitudes of professing Christians who have "accepted" Christ but never have received Christ. They are spiritual infants, who do not grow because they are not learning to distinguish between righteous behavior and wicked behavior.
Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:13,14)
If we are not confessing and renouncing sin as the need arises, we are not eating the flesh of the Son of Man and drinking His blood, we are dead spiritually. I do not care how orthodox our Christian beliefs are, we are dead spiritually. There is no resurrection life in us that will bring us to Jesus when He next appears.
The important issue is that we are living by Christ as He lives by the Father. Living by the Life of Jesus has become a major theme of my writing and preaching these days. partly because we are facing chaos in the United States. Divine judgment because of our sins is on the way.
Numerous professing Christians in America simply do not know Jesus. They may have "accepted" our belief system, but they never have come to know Jesus and to follow Him each day in cross-carrying obedience.
Such "Christians" attend church, but church is just one part of their busy day. Even while they are sitting in church their thoughts may be on politics, or some football game that is in the headlines, or their pursuit of wealth, or their sexual ambitions. They do not realize it, but Christ is not being formed in them. They are not abiding in Christ. They are not living by His Life.
During the week they do not talk to Him, discussing their blessings or problems, seeking wisdom and strength for the day. They are not aware of His Presence most of the time.
If they, or someone in their family, gets cancer, they may become much more serious. They may begin to call on the Lord. But if there is no family emergency, they probably will drift along with attending church being one part of the busy American culture.
But the Spirit is speaking that God is ready to exercise Divine judgment on America. Abortion-on-demand is enough to bring down the wrath of God on us; also, the widespread occasions of sexual lust and perversions of all kind, including the confusion concerning gender. Sexual perversions were enough to wipe out the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Then too there are the entertainers as well as the producers of pornographic material who continually are providing a bath of moral filthiness for anyone who is interested.
I think it was Billy Graham who said, years ago, that if God does not punish America He is going to have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah. Sodom and Gomorrah did not have the Bible we have, or the account of the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. We have both of these and still, many times even while professing Christ, are wallowing in the pigpen of moral filth.
The central goal of the Divine salvation is not residence in Heaven, it is the resurrection unto immortality in the body. The famous John 3:16 is speaking about immortality in the body.
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)
The Lord Jesus announced that all who are in the graves shall hear His voice and shall come forth. Those who have done good will rise to live; and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.
"Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come outthose who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned." (John 5:28,29)
Jesus said His body and blood are resurrection life and He will raise us up at the last day.
But notice that our being raised to eternal life depends upon our doing good, which is a result of Christ being formed in us.
This is where the two aspects of eternal life come together. It is the body and blood of Christ that are our eternal life and will raise us to meet Him when He appears. But it is doing good that results in our being raised to immortality.
Today, at least in America, is a period of preparation. God is moving through our land and observing who is sincerely seeking Christ, and who is making a profession of faith but whose heart is elsewhere.
The Spirit is warning us clearly to prepare for the shedding of blood. Whether this will be because of an attack by Muslims, or by another country, or whether it will be by civil war as those who wish to preserve our former way of life fight against the worldly interests that appear to be entering our government, I am not prepared to say.
One thing I believe the Spirit has made clear to me is that America no longer will be a world leader. She has forfeited this position by her sinning. The world leadership will pass to the East. I do not know what country or countries.
If we are to stand, and help others to stand, we will have to be living under the shelter of the Most High God. This does not mean to be a Christian in name only. It means to be a cross-carrying disciple of Jesus, obeying Him moment by moment throughout each day and night. Nothing else will suffice to save us, our loved ones, and those who hear us, throughout the disasters that are on the horizon.