THE CHARIOTS OF GOD
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Some Scripture (as noted) taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
What is man? What purpose does God have in mind that He would create man and then command him to crucify his flesh with its desires and passions? Why did God make adamic man in the first place when God knew an animal creation could never fulfill the roles and responsibilities God has in mind for this new member of the universe? Why require man to experience the agony of passing from a living soul to a life-giving spirit?
Table of Contents
Premises and a Question The Mainspring of the Christian Covenant What Is Man? Man is the chariot of God Ezekiel's vision of God Ezekiel's vision of man Man Is Created in Two Stages The Implication of the Two-staged Man for Our Orientation to the Christian Salvation Dying That Christ Might Live The Chariots of God Conclusion
THE CHARIOTS OF GOD
The purpose of this article is to answer two questions:
What is man?
Why does man have to be crucified?
The premises from which we are proceeding are as follows: God has established the heavens, the earth, man, and all else of the material creation for eternity. The material creation is superior to the spirit realm. Although the present heavens and earth will one day pass away they shall be replaced immediately with a new heaven and earth and a new humanity. But it still will be heaven, earth, all of nature, and humanity.
God’s plan never fails. He does not move in dispensations such that the succeeding represents a change in goal from the previous. He does keep improving His covenants but God’s goal for the physical world and man never changes.
The first "Man" to appear on earth is the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus is what God means by Man in His image. God will not cease working until every human being reflects to a greater or lesser extent the Lord Jesus.
The great question is, Why did God not make people the way He wanted them to begin with? Why create the adamic race and then say, "Crucify yourselves!"
We have preached for years that the mainspring of the Christian covenant is crucifixion and resurrection. It is necessary, if we are to attain the mark God has set before us, that we assign our adamic nature to the cross of Calvary, take up our personal cross, and follow the Lord Jesus into newness of life.
We know of Paul’s testimony that he has been crucified with Christ and now Christ lives in him.
We understand this principle and we accept it. We have come to realize that the most troublesome creature in the universe is a believer who will not surrender his self-will, his or her first personality, to the cross.
Hideous occurrences proceed from the self-willed religious person. Think of Korah! Absalom! the chief priests and elders who crucified their own Christ!
When believers do not understand that the Kingdom of God is not a reformation of the adamic nature but the crucifixion of the adamic nature and the coming forth of a new Divine creation they become the prey of teachers who themselves do not understand the new covenant. Attempts to corrupt the Christian Gospel by advancing various religious programs directed at the adamic nature began in the first century.
As we pondered the emphasis of God on our giving over to death our first personality we began to wonder why God did not make us the way He wanted us to be in the first place. Why this interim step in the creation of man in God’s image?
These musings brought us to the very significant question, "What is man?"
To the doctor, man is a patient. To the composer man is a listener. To the politician man is a voter. To the businessman man is a consumer. To the evangelist man is a lost person who must "make a decision for Christ."
We know from the Scriptures that man is destined to govern all the works of God’s hands and judge all God’s creatures. But this is what man does, not what man is.
We know there is a firstfruits of mankind who will serve as members of the Body of Christ, as part of the Wife of the Lamb, as the sons of God, as the brothers of Christ. All of these roles and responsibilities are of awesome importance.
But there is something beyond all of this, a common denominator, concerning what man is. Because of his supreme role, as well as his other responsibilities and relationships, God is making man in two stages: first, as an adamic creature—an intelligent animal; second, as a life-giving spirit in the moral image of Christ who is abiding in untroubled rest in the Father through Christ.
Man is the chariot of God. The supreme role of man is to be the eternal dwelling place of God, the chariot of God.
To be the chariot of God, man must have the face of a man, of an ox, of a lion, and of an eagle.
The face of a man is the ability to make moral judgments, to walk in righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God.
The face of an ox is the capacity and willingness of man to bear burdens, just as man’s heavenly Father does.
The face of a lion is the majesty and fierceness that each son of God must have if he is to conquer the forces that would resist God’s will.
The face of an eagle is that which soars with God in the heavenlies, living in prayer, always remaining above the striving of God’s creatures.
God is all these things and so His chariot must have the same characteristics
In order to build the character God desires in His chariots we had to start out imprisoned in a sinful, animal nature. It is as we overcome our handicaps through Christ that a proven new humanity is formed, a life-giving spirit in the moral image of Christ and totally obedient to the Father.
Ezekiel’s vision of God. The opening chapter of the Book of Ezekiel reveals the God of Israel, the true God. The true God is a God of fire. He is not the kindly old gentleman pictured today in Christian teaching and preaching.
And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire. (Ezekiel 1:4)
The four-faced cherubim of glory are revealed whenever God is seen. They show in themselves the characteristics of God and ultimately the characteristics of man; for man is to be made in the image of God.
Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man. (Ezekiel 1:5)
God always moves straight ahead. Satan-inspired man is devious, crooked, cunning. God wants man to be as He is—clear and straightforward in all he does.
Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward. As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle. (Ezekiel 1:9,10)
God wants His Divine Fire of holiness and judgment to burn eternally in the personalities of every one of His sons. Each son is an extension of God’s holy Presence.
As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps: it went up and down among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning. (Ezekiel 1:13)
The likeness of God is a wheel in the middle of a wheel. The outermost wheel is the Father. The next wheel within the outermost wheel is Christ. The next wheel within Christ is the saint. The next wheel within the saint is Christ. The innermost wheel is the Father. God is in Christ who is in the saint who is in Christ who is in the Father.
The destiny of the saint is to be the chariot of God. Once you realize this lay aside all else. See yourself as the chariot of God, as nothing else. You will save yourself much confusion if you do.
The appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto the colour of a beryl: and they four had one likeness: and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel. (Ezekiel 1:16)
God desires that each of His saints, His holy ones, have spiritual sight. Righteous behavior produces spiritual sight. Sin and rebellion result in spiritual blindness. We need to anoint our eyes with the eyesalve of righteous, holy, obedient behavior.
As for their rings, they were so high that they were dreadful; and their rings were full of eyes round about them four. (Ezekiel 1:18)
Each "man," each son of God, is to live in the Spirit of God and be led by the Spirit of God.
Whithersoever the spirit was to go, they went, thither was their spirit to go; and the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels. (Ezekiel 1:20)
The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. (John 3:8)
God is clear, transparent, terrible in His holiness. He wants us to be the same way.
And the likeness of the firmament upon the heads of the living creature was as the colour of the terrible crystal, stretched forth over their heads above. (Ezekiel 1:22)
Man has been created to be the eternal throne of God Almighty. Man is to govern all things as Christ dwells in him and God dwells in Christ.
God has come forth from the spirit realm and has appeared as "Man." Man is the form God prefers for eternity.
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory. (I Timothy 3:16)
To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. (Revelation 3:21)
Behold the image of God, and consequently of perfected Man.
And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it. And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about. As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake. (Ezekiel 1:26-28)
This is the image of the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore this is the image of His brothers, of all those who have been predestined to be changed into His image. Perhaps it will require a billion years for us to attain such a state. Time is of no consequence whatever. There are only two important issues: (1) what God has stated; and (2) are we performing God’s will today or are we avoiding our calling?
The Tabernacle of the Congregation, the tabernacle that Moses saw in vision on the mountain, also is a symbolic vision of Christ and of man in the image of Christ. The Ark of the Covenant, covered with the Lid of Reconciliation, represents the Head of Christ crowned with the Glory of God.
The Altar of Incense is the voice of Christ speaking constantly to God. The Lampstand is the right hand of Christ, full of power and revelation. The Table of Showbread is the left hand of Christ holding out His body and blood—the eternal life given to those who do His will.
The Laver speaks of the loins of Christ, the place of purification, fruitfulness, and strength. The bronze Altar of Burnt Offering portrays the sacrificial fires of judgment in which Christ always walks and all of His brothers are to walk.
This is Christ and the Body of Christ, the One anointed by the Spirit of God to perform all the will of the Father.
Ezekiel’s vision of man. Ezekiel’s temple also is a symbolic vision of Christ and of man in the image of Christ. It is different from the Tabernacle in that it portrays the final perfection of the entire Church, the holy city, the new Jerusalem. Whereas the first chapter of Ezekiel portrays the outer image of perfected man in Christ, the temple reveals the inner development of character.
When one sets about to glean insight from a type, such as Ezekiel’s temple, it is best not to get bogged down in details. God has to speak in terms with which the prophet is familiar. The hidden meaning for the Kingdom of God is derived as one dances lightly on the text. We shall give a few examples, as we did with the vision of God. The Holy Spirit may give the reader much more understanding as he continues in the Spirit of God.
Whenever measuring takes place in a Bible type it refers to God’s judgment. God wants everything in our personality to be perfect—just the way He desires to have it. He will measure and work, measure and work, measure and work, until we are perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect.
In the Kingdom of God nothing is assumed; nothing is taken for granted. All is examined carefully. God has a precise will concerning each detail of His dwelling place. This was true of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. This was true of Ezekiel’s temple. It is true of you and me as we are being changed into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ.
And he brought me thither, and, behold, there was a man, whose appearance was like the appearance of brass, with a line of flax in his hand, and a measuring reed; and he stood in the gate. (Ezekiel 40:3)
There always is a wall around the work of God in the human personality. The Lord works with each saint building up resistance to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. All that would contaminate, all that would invite to idolatry, all that would encourage rebellion against the Father’s will, must be driven from us.
The wall against sin and rebellion is the wall around the new Jerusalem. It will stand for eternity. It is one of the prominent characteristics of each victorious saint.
And behold a wall on the outside of the house round about, and in the man’s hand a measuring reed of six cubits long by the cubit and an hand breadth: so he measured the breadth of the building, one reed; and the height, one reed. (Ezekiel 40:5)
Each man in God’s image must have a gate in his personality. The purpose of the gate is to admit people to the Presence and blessing of the God of Israel. All that God is creating in us is for the purpose of making us God’s chariot. God intends to move among the creatures of the world He has created and touch them through us.
It is easy for a conquering saint to become hard and unapproachable. The struggle against worldliness, sin, and self-will is so fierce, so vicious, that an iron determination is required. Then there must come some south winds, so to speak, that will make it possible for the overcomer to relate properly to God and to people. Too much hardness closes all gates to people and to God. This can happen to us who are determined to do God’s will and so we must be prepared to have God create a gate in us. As Esther, we must have six months of the bitter and six months of the sweet. God is not making us super angels but "man."
Then came he unto the gate which looketh toward the east, and went up the stairs thereof, and measured the threshold of the gate, which was one reed broad; and the other threshold of the gate, which was one reed broad. (Ezekiel 40:6)
Each one of God’s conquering saints must have a "guardroom" formed in his or her personality. Numerous believers of our day are unguarded. They do not pray without ceasing. They babble constantly whereas the sincere Christian guards his tongue. They attend "Christian" parties and throw caution to the winds. This is why they are an easy target for the enemy.
One of the most important lessons a surviving soldier learns is to always post a guard. After a hard day’s march it is a temptation to pitch the tent and get some sleep. But the officer who is competent will force his men to take turns standing guard through the night no matter how safe the situation may appear to be.
And every little chamber [guardroom] was one reed long, and one reed broad; and between the little chambers [guardrooms] were five cubits; and the threshold of the gate by the porch of the gate within was one reed. (Ezekiel 40:7)
Every "man" made in God’s image must have an altar of hewn stone in the center of his or her personality. The altar must be stone. The stone must be hewn. And it must be an altar.
No person can relate to the Father by talk or education. God is a Spirit. We always come to him presenting our life as an offering. The offering is by fire. It is slain many times. The offering is slain on a stone table. God hews out stone in us—stone!
There is a part of man’s personality that is to be soft, loving, compassionate. There is another part that must be as hard as the hardest basalt, the hardest granite, the hardest flint. When God calls for the sacrifice it is to be made promptly though it tears the heart out of us. Up the side of the mountain we go with Isaac by the hand. There is to be no questioning, no complaining, no drawing back if we would attain to what God means by "man."
And the four tables were of hewn stone for the burnt offering, of a cubit and an half long, and a cubit and an half broad, and one cubit high: whereupon also they laid the instruments wherewith they slew the burnt offering and the sacrifice. (Ezekiel 40:42)
The believer who desires to become a tree of life for the healing of the nations must sow to the Spirit, sow to the Spirit, sow to the Spirit, until he or she is filled with the incorruptible eternal Life of the Lord.
And when the man that had the line in his hand went forth eastward, he measured a thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the waters were to the ancles. Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through the waters; the waters were to the knees. Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through; the waters were to the loins. Afterward he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not pass over: for the waters were risen, waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over. (Ezekiel 47:3-5)
The above verse portrays the believer as he or she progresses in the Life of the Spirit of God. In salvation we are touched with the Spirit. We then are to press forward until there are waters to swim in. The mature sons of God are those who are led by the Spirit.
Each chariot of God is to be immersed in the Spirit of God at all times. There is to be no area of our life whatever that is not under the guidance of the Spirit. The Spirit of God is our law. He replaces the Law of Moses. The Spirit of God is our rest, our refreshing.
If we keep moving forward in the Spirit, meanwhile being judged constantly by the man with the measuring line in his hand, the day will come when we are a tree of life planted by the river of the Life of the Spirit.
Now when I had returned, behold, at the bank of the river were very many trees on the one side and on the other. (Ezekiel 47:7)
The purpose of the trees of life is to serve as God’s chariots through which He can bring eternal life and healing to the people of the nations of the earth.
And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the river cometh. (Ezekiel 47:9)
We thus have seen in Ezekiel the vision of God and the vision of man made in the image of God—man who is created to be the chariot of God.
But man must be created in two stages, and this is why the New Testament speaks so many times of our need to be crucified with Christ. The first man, Adam, cannot possibly assume the roles God has prepared for man. The individual must lay down his adamic life if he is to progress to the second stage and become man as God intends man to be.
The four dimensions of God, the man, ox, lion, and eagle could not be produced by fashioning a man from the dust of the ground nor by speaking into existence a new kind of angel. Rather, all the complex attributes of the man of dust had to be formed and then the man of his own will has to lay down all of his attributes so each characteristic (even the bodily form) can be resurrected by being infused with the Life of Christ.
God became man in Christ. It is God’s will that Christ have many brothers. It is God’s will that the Lamb have a wife to serve Him as a suitable helper, a counterpart. If Christ is both Man and God, then those who are His brothers must be man and also have a Divine part of their personality. God cannot marry an animal or have an animal for a brother!
For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, (Hebrews 2:11)
It would have been too dangerous to create a number of gods to serve as associates of the Lord Jesus. What if some of them rebelled?
God decided to first test the eternal Word in the area of obedience. After the eternal Word had proven Himself totally in obedience to God (which He did) the idea was to create a number of associates, not as powerful gods who could wreak havoc in the creation but as flesh and blood creatures having very limited capabilities.
Then the adamic people could choose to lay down their own will, to commit their life to God, to reject sin against the Father, and to cooperate with the Spirit of God in the crucifixion of their very selves. As the new creatures surrendered every facet of their personality to crucifixion, the Life of the eternal Word, Christ, would be available to invade the crucified life and lift it into incorruptible immortality. At the same time the total obedience of the new creatures to the Father would be established and verified beyond all doubt.
Now the Father has the eternal Word and a company of sons who are both son of man and son of God, both human and Divine. What use will God make of them?
As we have stated, when God created man He created a weak little god bound in an animal body. If this little god is unwilling to surrender his attributes but insists on maintaining his adamic life, he becomes an adversary of God.
For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. (Hebrews 10:26,27)
Maintaining one’s own life produces a satanic monster, and there have been many such in Christianity throughout the centuries.
If the weak, humbled little God, understanding that his nature has been corrupted by the fall of Adam, willingly chooses to take his place on the cross with Christ, then God will send much tribulation on him for the purpose of crucifying his old nature. But God also will nourish his new Divine nature and strengthen it with the resurrection Life of Christ.
Having done this, the Father and the Son are able to settle down to rest in the new creation. The Presence of the one God, the one lawful will, has now been enlarged in the universe.
God has another chariot!
The Implication of the Two-Staged Man for Our Orientation to the Christian Salvation
The Lord Jesus began as God. Then He became Man. The Lord Jesus is a Man-God or God-Man, however you wish to view Him. The Lord Jesus is altogether Man and altogether God.
Therefore each person in Christ’s image must have two aspects of his or her personality. He must have a refined humanity and also a Divine nature. The two natures, the human and the Divine, must be perfectly integrated in one whole. The whole personality must be at rest in untroubled union in the Father through Christ. This is God’s chariot and His eternal purpose concerning man.
In order for such a new creation to come forth the animal creation must be crucified. In no manner can the adamic personality, the animal, inherit the Kingdom of God or become the chariot of God.
Throughout Church history a perennial error has occurred. The Apostle Paul has taught us clearly concerning the crucifixion of the adamic nature and the ascension of the new born-again nature to the right hand of God in Christ, there to await the Day of the Lord. But the teachers and leaders proceed with the concept that Christianity is the saving and reforming of the first personality.
No doubt there are marvelous exceptions to this statement. It appears there have been a few teachers of the "deeper life" (which ought to be the ordinary Christian life) who emphasize the crucifixion of the first personality. The believers who read the writings of the deeper-life teachers acknowledge they are revealing the truth of God. However it seems that all we hear about are efforts to forgive the first man and bring him to Heaven and Meanwhile hope he behaves somewhat like the Lord Jesus.
What should we do about this stubborn adherence to folly? Should we climb up on top of a tall building and scream, "God is not saving the old personality"? Is there anything that can be done about this misunderstanding?
One example of the perennial error is the doctrine of the pre-tribulation "rapture" of Christian believers. The false vision of the escape to Paradise insists that God will catch up the adamic creation to Heaven so it will not be obliged to suffer—this in spite of the long history of suffering of Christian believers.
Another current example (and this is enough to cause the Apostle Paul to turn over in His grave) is the recent return of Messianic congregations to parts or all of the Law of Moses.
Having found the current lawless-grace-rapture-Heaven Christian doctrine to be lacking in strength and purpose, many believing Jews are ready to return to Moses. They are leaving one error only to fall into another.
They do not seem to understand that the mainspring of Christianity is not the reforming of the old nature of man, that over which the Law of Moses maintains jurisdiction, but the bringing forth of the Seed of God in people. Moses has no jurisdiction over the new creation formed from the body and blood of Christ.
If the Jews return to the Sabbath, to strict Mosaic observance of the feast days, to dietary observances, then they have left Christ. They in their adamic state are leaving the new covenant and returning to that which has been superseded by the Lord Jesus and the issuing of the law of the Spirit of life. They are defying the Apostle Paul.
Let us mention a related error. The Jewish congregations are making a distinction between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians. Again they are defying Paul. Paul stated clearly that there is but one Seed of Abraham, one olive tree. There is neither Jew nor Greek in Christ. There is only the one new Man.
Why is this simple fact so hard to understand?
Let us think again about the two stages in which man is formed. The first stage is the adamic man. He is Jewish or Gentile. The first man, the Jew, the Gentile, is crucified. Being dead he no longer is under the jurisdiction of the Law of Moses.
The new man, the life-giving spirit, the new covenant, comes forth. It is not of the race of Adam, of the first humanity. It is Christ in us the hope of glory. We are crucified with Christ and now His resurrection Life is living in us.
Is the new life Jewish? It is not! Is the new life Gentile? It is not! It is the Divine Seed of God and it cannot sin because it has been begotten of God.
Why do we defy Paul? Why will we not accept the fact that Moses, the veil, Hagar, the child of the flesh, has been done away? We no longer are under the Mosaic covenant. The righteousness of the Mosaic covenant is fulfilled in us who look to Christ constantly and are serving the law of the Spirit of life in Christ.
That the righteousness of the law [of Moses] might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Romans 8:4)
All righteousness that we gain by observing the Law is loss for Christ and loss for us. We are to live by an unswerving faith in Christ and never for one second to turn our eyes away that we may observe a religious ordinance. Our own righteousness obtained by religious observance is dung when compared with the Presence of God in Christ.
Who is this who is attempting to move us away from the simplicity that is in Christ? It certainly is not the Spirit of God!
Until we comprehend profoundly what it means to be born again we do not understand the Christian redemption, the new covenant.
The Apostle Paul reasoned with the Galatians concerning those Jewish teachers who would have brought them back under the Law of Moses. Apparently they were accusing Paul of breaking the Law and sinning in doing so.
Lo and behold, the Judaizers have returned to life and are still attempting to bring believing Jews and Gentiles back under the Law and statutes of Moses.
Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage [of the Law]. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. (Galatians 5:1-4)
Some today are claiming that Paul was addressing only Gentiles, not Jews, in the Epistle to the Galatians. Who then is to say which book of the Scriptures is addressed to the Jews and which to the Christians? This is as bad as the modern Christian teaching that the teachings of Christ in the four Gospels do not apply to Christians. It sounds like Satan has been busy attacking the Scriptures!
The modern Judaizers are stating (believe it or not!) that Christian Jews are obliged to keep the Law of Moses. And this after nineteen centuries of exposure to the writings of Rabbi Paul!
A careful examination of the Book of Romans, for example, will reveal that both Jews and Gentiles are being addressed indiscriminately and there assuredly is no difference in the exhortation to trust in the grace of Christ. In fact, Chapters Two through Five of Romans, the very basis of the doctrine of grace, are clearly addressed to Jews who knew the Law.
When Paul contrasted grace and works in the Book of Romans he was not contrasting grace and godly living (as Gentiles believe), but grace and the Law of Moses. And he was speaking to those who knew the Law.
Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; (Romans 2:17,18)
Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; (Romans 3:19-21)
In the Book of Romans, Paul clearly is exhorting Jews to look up from the Torah and to place their trust in the grace of God through Christ.
The question often is raised, If I am not under the Law of Moses, am I free to commit adultery? If I am not, under what law am I prohibited from committing adultery?
Apparently the Apostle Paul was being criticized along this line.
But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. (Galatians 2:17)
Rabbi Paul defended himself on the following basis:
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
Paul is saying, "It is true that I am not under the Law of Moses. But this does not mean I am free to sin. It is that my first personality has been crucified with the Lord. Now I am living by the Life of Christ as I place my faith in Him. I am under a new law, the law of the Spirit of life in Christ. The Life of Jesus does not transgress the eternal moral law of God!
"I do not observe the Law and statutes of Moses. Neither do I sin against God. I am living under a new and better covenant."
If we are to become "man," if we are to reach the mark set before us, we must submit to the program of crucifixion specifically designed for us as an individual. We must reckon ourselves dead with Christ and alive with Christ. The old man, the first personality, cannot inherit the Kingdom of God, cannot ever become a chariot of God. The new born-again creation itself is the Kingdom of God. It is Christ in us, the hope of the glory to come.
The fruit that came from the life of the Apostle Paul is beyond our ability to estimate. But this vast eternal fruit came from Paul’s death and new life, not from the human abilities of the student of Gamaliel. It is true also that the vast eternal fruit proceeding from the Lord Jesus has come to us from His crucifixion and resurrection. Both the Lord Jesus and the Apostle Paul are chariots of God.
The Book of Second Corinthians emphasizes the sufferings of Paul and the manner in which Paul viewed his sufferings.
For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: (II Corinthians 1:8,9)
Paul had the sentence of death in himself. It is impossible to accomplish God’s will in our life until we have the sentence of death in ourselves. To have the sentence of death in ourselves is to commit our life to God to the point we are not overly concerned about whether we die or whether we live.
It is difficult to keep from being apprehensive about dying until we understand completely it is God’s power that is keeping us alive. When Abraham stood with knife in hand, ready to do away with all hope of having an heir, of fulfilling the promise of God to him, he was ready to proceed with the sacrifice. Why? Because he had the sentence of death in himself. He believed that God would raise Isaac from the dead if need be.
We can be saved by believing in the Lord Jesus. We can receive the Holy Spirit by presenting ourselves before the Lord for His service. But we cannot press further into the Kingdom of God until we have the sentence of death in ourselves.
Why is this? It is because we must overcome Satan by the blood of the Lamb, by the word of our Spirit-filled testimony, and finally by loving not our life to the point of death. Until we are willing to hand over to God every hope, every aspiration, every joy, every promise, Satan has a foothold in us. We still have an idol. God is not completely God and Lord. We are not yet a chariot of God.
The Apostle Paul was a fruitful bough. But not by the efforts of his adamic nature.
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (II Corinthians 4:6)
The revelation and Person of God through Christ dwell in the heart of each member of the Body of Christ as he or she keeps the commandments of the Lord Jesus. But the member of the Body cannot then communicate the Divine Glory to the needy of the world by means of his or her adamic efforts. There is only one way the Life of Jesus can be revealed, and that is through the death and resurrection of the minister.
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. (II Corinthians 4:7)
God has placed all His little gods in earthen vessels. Our physical body is the body of our humbling. The strongest among us is no more than an ant in the universal scheme of things. We are dust and less than dust compared to the mighty angels who do the will of God. The galaxies move in their celestial orbits while we death-doomed creatures crawl about on the ground. This humbling is for the purpose of maintaining the preeminence of the power of God. Even in this lowly state human beings strut about as though they had power and wisdom of their own that was of benefit to mankind. What a delusion!
We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; (II Corinthians 4:8,9)
Why do such troubles fall on the man of God who is attempting to do God’s will? It is to keep the flesh of the individual from being able to accomplish anything in its own strength. Unless God is doing the work it is of no profit. We are to be God’s chariot. God is not our chariot. It is not a case of God blessing our work, it is a case of our being obedient to God and doing His work as He provides the wisdom, protection, health, and strength.
All—absolutely all—we can accomplish by our own means is loss for Christ (and for us as well!).
Trouble, perplexity, persecution—these help us greatly by keeping our flesh and soul from being lifted up. Just when we think we can do something we are struck down. How wonderful! How utterly wonderful it is to come up out of the wilderness leaning on our Beloved!
We enter the Kingdom of God through much tribulation. There is no other way to enter the Kingdom of God. It is still our own kingdom until our natural man is brought down to helplessness.
Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. (II Corinthians 4:10)
The Lord Jesus, the omnipotent Son of God, the Brightness of the Father’s Glory, was cast down into the dirt under the weight of His cross. From the judgment hall to Calvary there was one unrelenting humiliation, oppression, and pain after another. Would it never end? To be nailed to the cross was enough torture for any human to bear. But to add to this the weight of the sins of the world?—the grotesque ghouls of darkness vomiting on His pure Spirit?
Paul was always bearing about in his physical body the dying of the Lord Jesus. At times he despaired of life. On one occasion he was stoned and then dragged out of the city, supposedly dead. But the resurrection Life of Jesus kept lifting him up.
When God’s Life lifts us up it spills over onto those around us. They too live because they have been touched by Divine Life. This is how the chariots of God brings God’s Life to people. Resurrection life comes from crucifixion, from nowhere else.
For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. (II Corinthians 4:11)
The true minister of God knows he or she has been called out of the world in order to experience the sufferings of Christ. But the true minister also knows a joy that others do not. There is a compensating Presence of the Lord that keeps on lifting him up from death. Death and life! Death and life! Death and life! It is that uplifting life that brings righteousness, peace, and joy to a dead creation.
We may envision a minister of the Gospel sitting at his walnut desk in his comfortable study surrounded by several commentaries and reference works. Picture rather a weary Jew, chained to a coarse Roman soldier, cold, hungry, wondering every time he awoke if this was the time of his execution. And early one morning it was!
But the letters of this Jew, written from the desperation of his heart because of self-willed teachers going around behind him and corrupting the minds of the believers from the simplicity of Christ, have governed the history of the world from that time. We of today in our "civilization," unless we are acquainted with history, have little idea of the influence of the letters of this prisoner of the Romans on the lives of the mass of ordinary people both in the Western and Eastern hemispheres.
Paul consented to be the chariot of God. God rode through Paul and worked His will in history.
So then death worketh in us, but life in you. (II Corinthians 4:12)
Do you wish to serve your generation according to the will of God? Then consent to be the chariot of God. You can do absolutely nothing of eternal Kingdom worth in your natural man. Your natural mind is the enemy of God. Lay down your life that you may be raised into newness of life. It will mean eternal life to unnumbered multitudes if you do. God is always looking for another chariot. Why shouldn’t it be you?
And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. (II Corinthians 12:7)
The Lord does not want His chariots to be exalted!
Paul had just been given a remarkable vision, or experience, whatever it was. He had been carried up to Paradise. He was now willing to declare to one and all what he had seen and heard.
But God saw how ready Paul was to "come to life." God permitted Satan to attack Paul’s eyes, apparently, leaving him with a disfiguring and perhaps blinding disease in one or both of his eyes.
Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me. (Galatians 4:15)
It does not require a major physical affliction in order to humble most of us and keep us in the condition where we are working in God’s strength and not in our own. One can have a vision of Heaven and God. But if it is followed by even a threat of physical impairment we soon find ourselves humbly praying for strength to continue. Have you found this to be true?
For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. (II Corinthians 12:8)
Three times Paul asked the Lord to remove the affliction from him. It is always correct to pray for God to heal us, and we are to keep on praying until we have the Lord’s assurance that He has heard us and His will is being done. Usually we are healed! But not always! Yet we always have peace and joy when we bring our concerns to the Lord. There is no place for gloom and dread in the palace of God, so let us drive all fear away from us in the name of the Lord Jesus.
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (II Corinthians 12:9)
God answered Paul’s three petitions: "All you need is My grace. The chariot will keep going. Ride with me. Do not trust your own strength and wisdom."
Easier said than done. Do we dare to let go and trust God for everything?
"My strength is made perfect in weakness. How can I be strong when you are strong? Your next move will be to travel around the cities and towns telling them how you were caught up to Heaven. You will make a big mess because you do not know what you are doing. So just sit back in the chariot and enjoy the ride. Then My strength will take over. Okay?"
Paul’s response: "Okay with me. If I have to be afflicted in order to see your power at work, then I’m going to find the softest pillow in this chariot and trust you to make my affliction bearable. I’m not going to fret about my helplessness and make matters worse than they are. It’s Your Kingdom and I know by this time that You are more interested in the people than I ever could be."
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. (II Corinthians 12:10)
To take pleasure in trouble, weakness, and pain because our weakness bring’s Christ’s strength is a mark of maturity. Eventually we may find pleasure in being made weak because our weakness forces us to look continually and only to God for success in what we are endeavoring to do. We no longer are able to work for God. We have to wait until God works so we can work along with Him.
The true man or woman of God becomes content to work with the Lord instead of for the Lord. There is rest in this.
Why does God labor so diligently with us until we are compelled to rest in His wisdom and strength? It is because God is preparing eternal chariots—personalities through which He can work His works for eternity.
The chariots of God are tens of thousands and thousands of thousands; the Lord has come from Sinai into his sanctuary. (Psalms 68:17—NIV)
Here is a marvelous passage of the Scriptures. We employed the New International Version for verse 17 because the term angels, as found in the King James Version, does not appear in the Hebrew text. The chariots of God are not angels but people.
"The Lord has come from Sinai into his sanctuary." The passage is referring to the Temple of God, the chariot of God, the human personality. This is God’s rest forever.
Have you ever noticed the last verse in the Book of Ezekiel?
It was round about eighteen thousand measures: and the name of the city from that day shall be, the Lord is there. (Ezekiel 48:35)
"The Lord is there"! Where each "man" is, the Lord is there.
But back to Psalms 68.
Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them. (Psalms 68:18)
Paul quotes this verse in the fourth chapter of Ephesians. The "gifts for men" are the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastor-teachers, gifts of healing, working of miracles, and so forth.
The purpose of all the ministries and gifts of the Spirit of God is to bring all saints to the perfect man—perfect as measured by the full stature of Christ.
Why must each saint be brought to full stature? It is that "the Lord God might dwell among them."
God has created an eternal world. God’s eternal world is the heavens, the earth, man, animals, and all of nature. We understand that the present heaven and earth will pass away and there will be a new sky and a new earth, and a new humanity to enjoy the wonders of God’s handiwork.
The material world that has emerged from the spirit realm is vastly superior to the spirit realm and was created for the pleasure of God.
God has created man to be in His image, to be male and female, to be fruitful, and to exercise dominion over the works of God’s hands. The angels are to serve as ministering spirits to those who inherit the Divine salvation.
The adamic race is animal in nature. It was never meant to be an eternal race. It is a first step toward the human-Divine nature of true man.
The adamic race was created and then immediately died because of disobedience to God. Spiritual death has come upon all of Adam’s descendants. Paradise withdrew into the spirit realm. Nature died as the Presence of God left the earth.
Into this house of death stepped true Man, the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ demonstrated total obedience to God. Then He made an atonement for our sins. When the Lord Jesus cried "It has been finished" He was referring to the entire race of Adam and all else of the first creation.
Now came the beginning of the new world. Up from the dead came the God-man, the first of many to follow. He ascended to the right hand of the Father in Heaven. Then He poured out the Spirit of God on His disciples.
Many people have been predestined to be changed into His image, to become His brothers, to become the chariots of God as He is. In the Father’s House, which is Christ, there are to be many rooms.
The Lord Jesus shares His eternal Life with those whom God gives to Him. The little dead gods then come to life. They are born a second time, born of God. Now they have an adamic nature and a new born-again nature. They are on their way to becoming true man.
The Christian discipleship does not consist of attempts to save the adamic personality. Rather it is true that we have been commanded to assign our adamic personality to the cross with Christ.
Our body is dead because of sin. Our new born-again nature is alive because of the righteousness of the Law that has been assigned to it. Now the race, the struggle, the warfare begins. The world, the lusts of our flesh, and our self-will strive mightily to keep us living in our adamic nature. The Holy Spirit invites us and enables us to put to death the passions and desires of our adamic nature. Death and life are struggling for dominion over our personality.
We make the decision each day. Do we yield to the world, the flesh, and Satan? Or do we follow the Spirit of God as He releases us from the graveclothes of the adamic nature?
It is not easy, this change from our first adamic personality to a life-giving spirit in the image of Christ. But it is absolutely necessary. Our adamic nature can never be the chariot of God, a brother of the Lord Jesus, a member of the Body of Christ, a part of the Wife of the Lamb. Our first personality, particularly our body, has many animal characteristics.
"But," one may protest, "there are good qualities in my first personality. I am friendly, loving, honest, truthful, courageous, polite, helpful. I am glad to get rid of my lusts and self-centeredness, but how about that which is decent and honorable? Must it all go to the cross? Must I be crucified with Christ?
"I was taught that Jesus would help me live a happier, more fulfilled life. And now you are telling me that I must be nailed to the cross with Jesus."
You are hearing us correctly. All must go to the cross. Today’s teaching of the "fulfilled life" is from the False Prophet. Being a Christian is more likely to result in your martyrdom than in a "fulfilled life" in a comfortable society. (We in America may be facing violent persecution. Such is already taking place in other parts of the world.)
The flesh and blood nature is temporary. Our friendliness, love, honesty, truthfulness, courage, politeness, helpfulness, as long as they are adamic, never having died and been raised again in Christ and filled with Christ, are frail. They do not possess the eternal strength and goodness of God.
Your friendliness, if it is tested severely enough, will fail.
Your love will turn to hate under the right circumstances. You will steal, lie, hover in fear, act rudely and selfishly if provoked sufficiently. If you haven’t found this out already, ask the Lord to show you if this is true. And then fasten your seat belt!
The friendliness of God will never fail. The love of God will never fail. The truthfulness of God will never fail. They are of a different quality than that which is found in Adam.
God created a world and people to live in that world. He wants the people to be like His Son, Christ. In order to produce people like Christ He must create them in the two stages we have outlined. There is no other way.
Where are you on the great tapestry of life? Are you attempting to preserve and repair your adamic nature? Are you going back and picking up some points of the Law of Moses in the hope that you can make your first personality more acceptable to God?
Are you a modern Christian who believes God has forgiven your adamic nature by grace and is going to bring you to Paradise to live forever in a mansion, wearing your golden slippers?
Or are you a growing son of God who is seeking Divine grace for each day so you may put to death the cravings and claims of your first personality, Meanwhile obeying the exhortations found in the New Testament and seeking to live each day by the Virtue found in the body and blood of the Lamb of God?
Are you pressing toward the rest of God by listening to and obeying the Spirit of God? Are you cultivating the Presence of the Holy Spirit in every aspect of your thinking, speaking, and doing?
Come away from the clamor of the flesh and the world. Jesus is drawing near to His Church. He is going to have a Bride without spot or wrinkle. You can be part of the Bride, but not in your adamic nature. You must put to death the deeds of your body by the spirit of God and feed your new nature with prayer, the written Word, and stern obedience to the Father.
Adam must decrease and Christ must increase each day of your sojourn.
Do not think for one moment that God is requiring of you to give up something of true and eternal value. God is asking you to surrender your threadbare, pitiful existence; or if you are a Jew to let go of the rags of the self-righteousness gained by observing the Law. In exchange He is offering you the fullness of His Glory.
Do you remember the image of God in the first chapter of Ezekiel? God is creating man in His image, after His likeness. Would you prefer the eternal likeness of God or the temporary life of decaying flesh?
If you will remain faithful and true to the changes God is requiring you will be created in the image of the Lord Jesus, having a human nature refined by suffering and glory and a Divine nature given to you by the Lord.
Now you can look forward to an eternity in which you will serve as a chariot of God.