YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN!
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
The central issue of the Kingdom of God is that of being born again. Two separate races are involved in the Divine plan of redemption. Two kinds of creatures must be taken into account if we would understand what God is doing. The first race is from Adam. The second race is from Christ.
Christ is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead of a new race. The new race consists of life-giving spirits who have souls fashioned in the image of the Soul of God their Father. The first race is temporary and its environment is temporary. The second race is eternal and its environment is eternal.
YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. (John 3:3)
The central issue of the Kingdom of God is that of being born again.
Two separate races are involved in the Divine plan of redemption. Two kinds of creatures must be taken into account if we would understand what God is doing.
The first race is from Adam. Adam and Eve were the beginning of the race of human beings. The race of human beings consists of intelligent people who have souls somewhat similar to the Soul of God; spirits able to enter into union with the Spirit of God; and flesh and blood bodies.
The second race is from Christ. Christ is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, of a new race. The new race consists of life-giving spirits who have souls fashioned in the image of Christ; spirits that are in union with the Holy Spirit of God; and bodies that have the form to which we are accustomed but that have been fashioned from and filled with incorruptible Divine Life.
The first race is temporary and its environment is temporary. The second race is eternal and its environment ultimately will be eternal.
The Divine statements concerning man given in the first chapter of the Book of Genesis were not directed toward the first race except in an elementary sense. The concepts of being sons of God, of being the image of God, of being male and female, of being fruitful, and of having dominion always were directed toward the eternal race.
For example, the concept of male and female has significance beyond the earthly concept of gender. Reflection on the marriage of the Lamb and His Wife reveals this fact.
Why would God begin with a race destined to experience such agony, such horror, such a tragic history ending in destruction, if it were not God’s intention eventually to save that race? What is the significance of the human race, the race that died in its founders?
God has at least four purposes in creating a first, temporary model of the Kingdom of God:
- To provide the material form of the Kingdom, the stock on which the eternal branches are to be grafted.
- To teach us of God’s Being, Nature, and ways before we are permitted to enter the promised eternal world, and to begin the perfecting of our nature in righteousness so sin and rebellion are not brought into the new age.
- To provide an arena in which the rebellious angels are able to demonstrate in the eyes of all God’s creatures the end result of defying the Father; a poultice that is drawing to a head all the virulent poison of sin and rebellion found in the hearts of rebellious spirits so the corrupt mass can be confined in an appropriate spiritual prison for eternity.
- To test the heirs of salvation before the true riches of glory, authority, and power are entrusted to them.
If any human being is to rightly judge himself and the meaning of his life; if he is to be able to establish any reasonable set of priorities; if he is to escape the blind, hopeless cycle of nature; if he is to avoid living as an animal in eating, sleeping, playing, working, and reproducing; then he must understand this present life and age are temporary. They are a means to an end. They can lead to unbelievable glory or to unbelievable suffering.
The temporary nature of the present world is revealed in the Scriptures.
And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail. (Hebrews 1:10-12)
The earth, the sky, the planets, the stars, will perish. Only Christ and those who are part of Him are eternal.
How true it is that God cannot be mocked! Those who today are shaking their fist at God are only making fools of themselves. They imagine themselves to be superior to God but they are riding a carousel of destruction. They are behaving like clowns, like madmen, in the sight of the angels.
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. (II Peter 3:10)
Outer space will pass away. The sky will pass away. The material elements will be dissolved. The race of mankind will be no more.
In that Day there will be a convergence of the material and spirit realms. What God elects to save will be reconstituted in Christ and brought into the Kingdom. The Kingdom includes all that is found worthy of the material realm brought into perfect, complete union with the incorruptible Life of the Spirit of God through Christ.
The bodies of those who have died will be assembled by the Lord and the dead will stand before God in their spiritually animated physical bodies. Those who are found worthy of life will be permitted to partake of the Life of Christ, to enter the new age. Those who are not found worthy of life will be cast in their bodies into the lake that burns with fire and sulfur.
Nicodemus, a ruler, was accustomed to dealing with people. The questions on his mind had to do with the Kingdom of God. Was Jesus the Messiah? If so, was Jesus going to bring in the Kingdom? His opening remark was designed to lead eventually to his questions.
The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. (John 3:2)
Jesus came to the point: “Unless a man is born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
Why be born again? Why the necessity for being born again? Because the first race, the Adamic race, cannot enter the Kingdom of God. Because it is the new creation, that which is born again, that enters the Kingdom of God; that is, in fact, the Kingdom of God.
What does it mean to be born again? We need to answer this question clearly because it appears the term “born again” is not being used correctly in our day.
There are several elements associated with the Divine redemption:
- Repentance—turning away from the world and seeking the Kingdom of God.
- Water baptism.
- Faith in Jesus as God’s Son.
- Forgiveness of sins on the basis of the blood atonement made on the cross of Calvary.
- Receiving the Holy Spirit.
- Being born again.
These elements form part of a whole we term “getting saved.” They all have to do with receiving Christ as Lord and Savior. They are not identical experiences and sometimes it is useful to examine the features of each of the parts.
It is important also to understand that the order in which the elements of salvation take place may not be the same in each case. In Acts, Chapter Eight we discover the people of Samaria who believed in Jesus and in the Kingdom of God were healed and delivered and were baptized in the name of Christ. But they did not receive the Holy Spirit until a later time (Acts 8:15).
On the other hand, Cornelius and his friends received the Holy Spirit before they were baptized in water (Acts 10:47).
Because of the pattern of the restoration of doctrine and experience that has taken place since the days of the Protestant Reformers, we find that the elements of salvation that normally would be experienced in a relatively short period of time are often spread over months or years.
There are people in what we term “formal” churches who believe Jesus is God’s Son but who do not have a personal experience with Him.
There are others who were baptized by sprinkling when babies, and then later are immersed in water because of additional convictions they have gained as adults.
Still others have had a personal experience with Jesus but are unacquainted with the gifts of the Spirit.
The writer does not make a practice of telling people what they do not have but rather of inviting them to share in all the graces of the Lord. It is not the doctrines that are of vital importance, it is in the Divinely given experiences that the Kingdom of God is found.
When discussing the born-again experience we shall not attempt to define who has been born again and who has not been born again. Rather, we desire to alert the reader to the fact that being born again means more than often is assumed.
The Book of Acts does not portray the Apostles as preaching to people that they must be born again. Being born again is not the message of the Gospel. The message of the Gospel is faith toward God, repentance, the forgiveness of sins, and water baptism, with a view to the fact that in the future the heavens and earth will pass away and God will judge all men at the hands of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Being born again is not the message of salvation from wrath. Rather, being born again has to do with the nature of the Kingdom of God and with the personal transformation that takes place after our sins have been forgiven.
Let us take a closer look at what it means to be born again.
Specifically, being born again involves planting in our soul the Divine Seed—the Substance and Virtue of Christ. We see at once there are two aspects that must be considered: first, the conception; second, bringing the child to full term.
Some may object that we are being too literal in distinguishing between conception and birth. We are not being too literal. An understanding of the distinction between the conception and the birth of the sons of God is important in the present hour.
God has given to a friend of ours a vision concerning the Christians of our day. The vision is that the Life of Christ is being aborted in many if not most of the believers. Conception takes place but then the new Life is aborted before a son of God is brought forth.
What is it that aborts the Life of Christ in us? It is the babylonish church system, a scheme of manmade religion that permeates Christendom.
The writer has come to the conclusion that the greater part of Christian work is performed apart from the Lord Jesus Christ. To a significant extent, many Christian churches of our day are not following the specific directions of the Lord Jesus, or so it seems to us.
In today’s program, after a person receives Jesus as his Lord and Savior he is counseled to become part of a church. If he is a Jew he is encouraged to forsake his family and culture, including his priceless religious heritage.
As soon as he joins a church he is brought, not to Jesus but to the various aspects of the particular church. In many instances the church does not assist him in finding the reality of fellowship with the Lord Jesus. Rather it burdens him with numerous externals, such as bringing others into the church, helping with the various ministries of the church, supporting the building programs of the church, constructing the parking lot, and so forth.
It is felt to be of special importance that the convert blend into the church society. But the Lord welcomes those who seek His face in the solitude of their prayer closet.
How many pastors of today, when speaking of the grandeur and value of “their church,” place emphasis on the splendor of the parking lot?
Such concentration on the church activities rather than on the Lord Jesus aborts the Life of Jesus that has been conceived in the believer.
The Lord never commissioned us to build churches; He commissioned us to make disciples. There is, in practice, a difference between building churches and making disciples. The one is the creating of an institution. The other is the perfecting of the union between Christ and His follower.
In the eyes of God, the believer always is more important than the institution. Today it sometimes appears that the institution is more important than the individual. This is not wise because the institutions will perish with the heavens and the earth, while the believer who becomes part of Christ will endure forever—ages without end.
The spirit of Babylon (man-directed religion) is prevailing—that which seeks to build a tower that reaches to Heaven. But Babylon will be thrown down and destroyed because it is the enemy of God.
It is the writer’s opinion that Babylon (Revelation 18:2) is a gathering together in one organization the religions of the world, including Christianity. The spirit of Babylon can be found in most if not all Christian organizations, to the best of our knowledge.
The moment we make Christianity something other than the bringing of spiritual interpretation and fulfillment to the forms and hopes of Judaism, the moment we understand the salvation of Jesus to be something other than the bringing of eternal life to the Jews and to the elect Gentiles, to be a religion that is in competition with the other religions of the world, in that moment we embrace the spirit of Babylon.
True Christianity is the bringing of Christ and His eternal Life to the Jews and also to the called Gentiles—nothing more nor less than this. Christianity is not, in God’s eyes, a Gentile religion. Scriptural Judaism, including the eternal life and the Kingdom brought from Heaven by the Lord Jesus, is the only salvation given of God.
Notice the manner in which the Holy Spirit describes the coming of Christ:
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life. (Luke 1:68-75)
Does the above sound to you like a Gentile religion with its organs, pews, and steeples?
A careful study of the above passage will reveal that Christianity has drifted far from its moorings. We have taken the dispensation of Divine grace, which has been given to enable the Jews and the elect Gentiles to serve God in holiness and righteousness, and have twisted it until it has become a Gentile religion in which men are not obligated to serve God in holiness and righteousness because they have been saved by “grace.”
With the exception of the Apostles of the Lamb, we have few saints in Christian history who can compare with Abraham or Moses, David or Daniel, Elijah or Elisha. Why is this when, according to the Lord Jesus, he who is least in the Kingdom of God is greater than the prophets? It is because we have turned what is designed to bring deliverance to the Jews into a Gentile religion that has little to do with God. This is why we do not see Divine interventions on the same scale of power as those that took place throughout Jewish history.
Consider the exodus from Egypt, the opening of the Red Sea, the cloud by day and the fire by night, and the forty-year giving of manna, for example. After the resurrection of Christ and the ministries of the Apostles of the Lamb, which operated in the ranks of believing Jews, what can the Christian Church put forth that is on a scale with the events of Hebrew history?
Into what Christian church building has God entered and found His abode as He did in the Tabernacle of the Congregation and in the Temple of Solomon? The Tabernacle and the Temple were true houses of God. No Christian church building ever has been the house of God. Yet we refer to these steepled structures as houses of God. Are we not in error in this matter?
But, some will say, God dwells in our hearts, not in our buildings. This is our point. The true Christian religion is the entrance of God into the hearts of those who are part of the true Judaic revelation, including the elect Gentiles who have become part of the commonwealth of Israel. Christianity is not merely a different set of sacred buildings, religious symbols, liturgies, and observances.
When God has moved during the Christian Church Era He has done so in spite of the church institutions, not in conjunction with them. Each time God has intervened the Christian institutions have risen up and declared the moving of God to be of Satan. A study of church history will, we believe, substantiate what we are stating.
When the Lord returns, many who have gained an advantage in the religious organizations will have a difficult time relating to Jesus because their life has been spent in gaining the approval of their fellow believers. Such believers are man-centered, institution-centered, not Jesus-centered.
The reason we have departed so far from God’s program of redemption, stressing buildings, institutions, and the approval of men rather than the creation of Christ in the believers, is that we do not understand what it means to be born again. We suppose God has determined to reform and save the first creation, the Adamic creation, and we are attempting to place our Adamic personality in the best possible position.
We often do not understand or preach the fact that the first creation, the Adamic creation, is serving only as a support, a scaffolding for the new creation that is coming into view. God has no intention of saving us as we are. Salvation comes only through transformation from one kind of creature into another kind of creature.
When the Lord Jesus cried “It is finished!” He was speaking of the entire first creation.
Because we do not understand that the Kingdom of God consists of new creations we are attempting to make Adam pleasing to God. Our Christian liturgies and activities are proceeding on the assumption, and leave the impression, that God by “grace” will save the Adamic creation by bringing it to Paradise in the spirit realm. This is not the case.
Christ did not come to save Adam. Jesus lived as Adam and as Adam died on the cross, bringing to an end the adamic creation. He who emerged from the cave of Joseph of Arimathea was not of the first Adam. He was the Beginning of the new creation, the Beginning of those who will serve God in holiness and righteousness forever. He was the First of the sons of the resurrection, the First of those who are to be begotten from the dead.
The true purpose of the Christian assemblings is to support the individual as he learns to enter the closet of prayer and to commune with the Lord. It is the personal communion that is lacking today. Apart from personal communion with the Lord the new Life that has been born is not nourished properly. It withers and finally dies.
Believers are active in churches, in some instances, but they do not always know the Lord. They know the church and its functions but they do not know the Lord. There is no time during the day when they enter close personal fellowship with the Lord. They may pray on the run or have a good attitude toward God. But this is not what is required if the development of Christ in us is not to be aborted.
It is not our religious practices that are important except as they minister to the new person that has been born in us.
When believers do not have a daily experience with the Lord, communing with Him, feeding on His body and blood, the Life that was conceived in them perishes. The process of being born again is aborted. Soulish attitudes and practices, including the desire to build large churches, dead religious works such as aggressive, presumptuous “faith,” and the worship of music in place of the worship of God, can abort the Life of Christ in the believers.
At some point, when the believer is in the process of receiving Jesus as his Lord and Savior, the Divine Seed is planted in his heart. A new man is conceived in him.
Prior to this time his personality has been unified in that he has had a physical body, a human soul, and a human spirit. Now that he has received Jesus his body remains human but his spirit is being joined to the Holy Spirit. A new life, a new person, has been conceived and is being formed in his soul.
He no longer is a unified personality. In his animal body there are two persons striving for control and preeminence. The one person, his living soul, came to him from his mother and father. The other person, he who was conceived of Christ, came from God in Heaven.
Our first personality, the living soul, may have many excellent characteristics. Our soul may bless the Lord and may be blessed by the Lord. Our redemption begins with the desire of our soul to be saved. However, in order to destroy the “body of sin” that is in us, God has assigned our soul to the cross with Christ.
There is an important concept concerning the human soul that is not always stressed when our crucifixion and resurrection in Jesus are being taught. It is that our salvation depends on the faithfulness of our soul. If our soul does not do its part we cannot please God.
When Christians come short of the Glory of God it is not because the engrafted Life of Christ has failed, it is because the soul was not willing to let go of its own life and desires. An individual who does not have integrity can never make a success of the victorious Christian life.
In order for the new creation to be brought forth successfully, to come to the fullness of birth, the soul must adhere to the commandments of Jesus. Most of the work of serving Christ and doing His will is performed by the soul. It is the soul that must pray, must read the Word, must set aside time to commune with the Lord, must willingly give itself to crucifixion. It is the soul that must serve God faithfully, enduring to the end. Only then can there be a successful bringing forth of the new creation.
It is not unusual for the believer to make a fine start and then to fall by the way. Why is this? It is because his soul was attracted to God by the promise of walking on a street of gold, of entering Paradise, of eternal joy. When the time came that the Lord Jesus began to make deadly demands on him, demands that required the painful or even agonizing loss of some treasured relationship or possession, his soul refused to obey God.
Unless we have an honest and good heart, unless there is integrity and faithfulness in our soul and a willingness to serve the Lord no matter what He requires, it is impossible for us to bring the eternal life that has been conceived in us to the maturity needed for participation in the revelation of Christ (Colossians 3:4).
In order for our soul to be saved it must be transformed into a new creation, much as a caterpillar is transformed into a butterfly. The soul must understand this fact and, as was true of John the Baptist, must insist that Christ increase while he himself, the soul, continually must decrease.
The task of the soul is to keep the words of Jesus diligently, praying for the grace of God in order to perform God’s will, meanwhile submitting to death as the Divine Seed begins to grow into a new personality. The soul must sternly obey the Lord to the best of its ability if it is to bring forth permanent fruit. It must be “an honest and good heart” (Luke 8:15).
It is impossible, apart from the direct assistance of the Spirit of God, for the soul to conform to the Words of the Lord Jesus. But if the soul sets itself to diligently and consistently do what is written in the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit will give assistance (which is His role) and the new man will be formed in the soul.
The new man serves God by nature. He cannot sin. That which the godly soul longs for, the ability to serve God in holiness and righteousness, is made possible by the Substance and Virtue of Christ that have been formed in it.
Peter speaks of the soul adhering to the Scriptures until Christ is brought forth:
We have also a more sure word of prophecy [the Scriptures]; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: (II Peter 1:19)
At some point in our experience the old man, the Adamic nature, may decide to attempt to preserve his life. He may desire to serve God and be blessed of God. But the concept of setting aside his appetites and desires so the newly conceived man may come to full term may prove to be offensive to him. He may rebel at the deaths that are coming upon him from the Lord and decide to enjoy himself in an outward show of religion, or to abandon Christ altogether.
This soul-centeredness, the desire of the old man to make Christianity into a religion that saves and blesses him, is the motivation behind the current emphasis on serving the needs of the human being, the welfare and fulfillment of the person being central. Jesus will help me do this, that, and the other thing.
The concept that Jesus has assigned our first personality to the cross, to death, and that a new man has been conceived in us and is coming to the day of birth, must be brought into prominence in Christian thinking if people are to enter eternal life, into the Kingdom of God.
The difference between Christ being conceived in us, and bringing to birth a new son of God, is revealed in Paul’s admonition to the church in Galatia:
My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, (Galatians 4:19)
The Galatians had been saved. The Galatians had received the Holy Spirit (Galatians 3:2). Christ had been conceived in them. But Christ had not been formed in them. Here we can observe plainly the difference between Christ being conceived in us and Christ coming to the level of maturity required for the full achievement of God’s plan for us.
Jewish teachers had followed Paul into Galatia and were demanding that the Christian converts adhere to the Law of Moses, particularly to the rite of circumcision. Paul knew once the new creation had been formed in the Galatians they would understand why neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is essential to the Kingdom of God; that only the new creation is of eternal significance.
For in Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature [creation]. (Galatians 6:15)
All the commandments and promises of the Old Testament look forward to the day when Christ will be formed in human beings. All the commandments and promises of the New Testament are for the purpose of bringing forth Christ in the human being. Circumcision was part of the Divine covenant made with the Jews. Circumcision is not part of the Divine covenant made with the Christians. But the old covenant leads to the new. And the ultimate goal is the forming of Christ in the believer.
When the new creation in us comes to maturity, many of the problems that currently trouble us are solved. We no longer can be brought into bondage by religious systems because we perceive them as scaffolding, as means that have brought us to Christ Himself.
Our struggling to overcome the world, Satan, and our flesh are assisted greatly (although never eliminated completely) by the maturing of the Life of Christ in us. The pull of the world weakens and we long for the city that has foundations, the city of God. The new creation is the fruit of our travail, the fulfillment of our hope, the accomplishment of our desire to please God.
It is important to understand it is Christ who is being formed in us. This is not a figure of speech meaning we are beginning to grasp the principles of Christianity. It is Christ who is being formed in us, not Christianity, not religion, not Christian character, not good works, but Christ.
Christ is brought forth through the travail of the ministries and gifts of the Spirit of God. The world, Satan, the human soul, the lusts of the flesh, organized religion—all war against the efforts of the soul to endure faithfully as the Spirit of God brings forth Christ in us. Multitudes fall by the way. Only a few, it seems, bear lasting fruit. Some bring forth a hundredfold, some sixtyfold, and some thirtyfold.
The transformation from Adam to Christ, from the caterpillar to the butterfly, is a gradual, not always understandable or evident, process. Bit by bit, rule by rule, commandment by commandment, Adam undergoes the metamorphosis from living soul to life-giving spirit. This is the fundamental nature of the new covenant.
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. (II Corinthians 3:18)
We scarcely can overemphasize the fact the new creation is not human, not born of man, not a repairing of the human being.
Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:13)
The new man is born of God’s holy Seed. It is Divine Life that has come to us. The Divine Seed brings forth the offspring of God. For all that is in God is in the holy Seed just as all that is in a tree is in the seed from the tree. The human being serves as the ground that supports the germinating Seed.
When Christ finally is formed in us it is the birth of a son of God, a son of God who has all eternity to grow into the image of His Father.
It is the responsibility of the soul to make certain all that is written in the New Testament is obeyed. The words of Christ and His Apostles govern the conduct of the soul, commanding the soul to present its body a living sacrifice to God so the soul may prove the will of God and perform it.
The soul must give itself to prayer and the reading of the written Word, setting aside sufficient time each day for vital communion with the Lord Jesus in order that Jesus may feed the new man of the heart with His body and blood.
Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. (I Peter 1:23)
As necessary as the written Word is for our successful transformation into a life-giving spirit, it is the living Word, Jesus, who is of supreme importance. The fatal error of the religionist is to place the written Word ahead of the living Word. The religionist, as did the Pharisee of old, attempts to find eternal life in the written Word. He will not come to the living Word and receive life.
We are born again, not of human seed but by the living and abiding Word, by the Lord Jesus Himself.
For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you. (I Peter 1:24,25)
Adam is as grass. Mankind is as grass. Flesh and blood is as grass. Our human existence is as grass that one day is full of the most beautiful flowers and the next day is suitable only as food for cattle. One of the greatest truths at which any human being can arrive is that the present age is temporary, having significance only as it prepares creatures for the ages to come.
The Word of God is eternal; the heavens and earth are temporary. They will pass away. The Word of God, that which has been made flesh in the Lord Jesus Christ, never will pass away. It is eternal. Those who have experienced the transformation from Adam to Christ, from the man of the earth to the Lord from Heaven, are eternal.
What is the resurrection? The resurrection is Jesus. Adam never will be resurrected except to be judged. When Christ is formed in us, that is the resurrection; that is the life.
The new man will not be resurrected at a future date; he is eternally alive now.
The resurrection (except for the raising of our mortal body from the dead) is not something that will happen to us sovereignly and suddenly at a later date. The resurrection is the change from Adam to Christ.
The resurrection is taking place in us now if we are decreasing and Christ is increasing. We inwardly attain the resurrection now (Philippians 3:11). The goal of the Christian is to inwardly attain the resurrection from the dead so the outward man, the mortal body, may receive immortality at the coming of the Lord from Heaven.
Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, (I Peter 2:1)
This is what Adam is. Adam is malice, guile, hypocrisy, envy, and evil speakings. When we look about us in the world, what do we see? Malice, guile, hypocrisy, envy, and evil speakings.
Adam is commanded, by the Word of God through the Apostle Peter, to lay these aside—to lay aside malice, guile, hypocrisy, envy, and evil speakings. Adam in fact can lay these aside if he will come boldly to the throne of grace and obtain help from God through Christ.
The evil of the present-day perversion of Paul’s teaching of grace is that it suggests it is not vitally necessary for Adam to be successful in laying aside these abominations. Adam is saved by grace and will go to Heaven by grace whether or not he lays aside the works of the flesh.
Can you see the fatal error here? It is a complete misunderstanding of the Christian redemption, the redemption that has been given to the Jews and elect Gentiles so they may serve God without fear in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of their life (Luke 1:74,75).
If Adam does not lay aside malice, guile, hypocrisy, envy, and evil speakings, the new man of the heart will be aborted. If the new man of the heart is aborted, how can Adam enter the Kingdom of God?
Adam cannot enter the Kingdom of God in any case. It is only as Adam is transformed into the Nature and image of Christ that he can enter the Kingdom of God. Divine grace is the authority, wisdom, and power to participate in the transformation that itself is the Kingdom of God, not a waiving of the process because of God’s “mercy.”
As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: (I Peter 2:2)
We cannot emphasize too strongly the importance of one’s daily communion with the Lord. Frequent gathering together with fervent believers also is important. The word that comes from godly elders builds up the new man of the heart. Other activities of the churches, such as music programs, while they may inspire and bless the soul and encourage the soul to serve the Lord patiently and faithfully, do not add Divine Life to the new man of the heart.
Of supreme importance is our entering the Presence of the Lord on a daily basis. Time must be set aside for communing with the Lord, for receiving Him as He enters us and gives us to eat of His body and to drink of His blood.
The curse of today’s wealthy nations is that everyone is so busy there is not enough time left for prayer and communion with the Lord. When we do not take the time to pray and to seek the Lord on a daily basis, our new Christ-life is aborted and all that is left is religious Adam.
Commanding a son of Adam to think, speak, and act in the image of God is somewhat comparable to commanding a horse to perform on a pipe organ.
Let us suppose God spoke to a horse and commanded it to compose a fugue after the style of Johann Sebastian Bach and to perform the fugue on a pipe organ. If the horse did this, God said, he would enter joy and everlasting life. If he did not he would suffer punishment.
Let us suppose further that the horse, who knew much more about hay than he did about fugues, went back to God for further instructions. God then informed the horse that if he would pray, read his Bible, assemble with other horses who loved the Lord, give of his substance, walk in obedience, and do all else he was commanded, he would become a new creation. Bach would be born in him.
If the horse’s response was to join a church that consisted of horses whom the Lord had called, the danger would consist of creating a “horse religion,” a religion in which the horses assembled and did things horses enjoy.
What if the horse pastor told the horses that God loved horses so much that if they believed what God said, after they died they would go to green pastures in the sky? While all the horses had been commanded to compose a fugue after the style of Johann Sebastian Bach and to perform it on the pipe organ, and all of them believed this and referred to it occasionally, the actual goal became the green pastures in Heaven.
The horses all claimed they had been “saved and born again,” meaning God had forgiven their sins and now they were bound for mash, oats, hay, and clover, the likes of which had never been seen on the earth.
There is not a horse who has ever been born that can play the pipe organ or compose a fugue. It is true also that no human being who has ever been born can enter the Kingdom of God.
If the horse obeyed God and communed with God, and God formed Bach in him, the only problem left would be the incompatibility of the horse’s body with the new life that is in him. The horse can come into the fullness of his inheritance only as Bach is formed in him and then as he receives a body like that of Bach, a body that is able to write and perform a fugue.
Bach can do this easily. The horse never can achieve the goal God has put before him. Christ can please God easily. The human being never can achieve the goal God has put before him.
It is folly to attempt to save the old man with religious practices. The Christian Gospel is not the bringing of Adam to Paradise in Heaven nor is it the bringing of good horses to endless fields of clover in Heaven. The Christian Gospel commands men to be perfect as their Father in Heaven is perfect.
Just as a horse cannot compose a fugue or play a fugue on the pipe organ, so it is true that a human being cannot be perfect as the Father in Heaven is perfect or grow into the image of God. But when Christ is brought forth in him he does the works of God by nature. He now is in God’s image, having God’s Substance and Virtue in him.
When Christ is born in us He is raised to the Throne of God.
And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ: (Ephesians 2:6)
For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3)
And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. (Revelation 12:5)
The believer experiences this birth and ascension. If he is faithful in serving God there comes a point at which he feels the surge of Divinity in him. He realizes he has entered the ranks of the victorious saints. He is given hidden manna to eat. All the persons, situations, and things that have attempted continually to turn him back into the world have failed. He has emerged victorious through the working of Christ in him. Christ has been brought forth in his personality and has been raised to the right hand of God.
The forming of Christ in us and the increased drawing toward the things of Heaven do not mark the end of the battle by any means. But from now on there is a sense of victory, of conquest, of entering the Kingdom of God, rather than the seemingly endless struggle to overcome the lusts of the flesh.
Adam never will rule during the ages to come. Only Christ will govern all the works of God’s hands. It is only as Christ is formed in our personality that we become eligible for the rewards assigned by the Lord to the overcomer.
Satan always stands before the woman, the Church, and seeks to devour her Child as soon as He is born. Satan is not concerned about religious Adam but Satan is terrified at the Presence of the Lord Jesus. The Christian Church poses no threat to Satan. It is Christ and Christ alone who possesses the authority and power to destroy the works of Satan in the earth.
The numerous activities of the Christian churches seek to please people, to satisfy their need for religious-moral exercise. But only those efforts that bring Adam to the cross and elevate Christ in the individual are effective in bringing the Kingdom of God into the earth.
Satan attempts to perpetuate Adam through religious practices because Satan fears that somehow the Christians will discover it is only by Adam’s death and Christ’s Life that Satan can be destroyed and righteousness brought into the earth.
The transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly is an illustration God has given us of the Christian salvation. The insect has a larva stage when it emerges from the egg. This is the earthbound caterpillar. The second stage is that of the beautiful butterfly.
Is the caterpillar in the butterfly? Can the butterfly remember its life as a caterpillar?
How is a caterpillar “saved” from its earthbound condition? It is “saved” by entering “death” and becoming a different type of creature.
Perhaps most Christians would agree to the fact that salvation somehow must result eventually in our moral transformation. However, the error in Christian thinking is that the change takes place in Heaven or by the fact that we die. There is no scriptural evidence that dying or going to Heaven delivers us from our sinful nature. Sin originated in Heaven among the angels of God.
The redemption we are seeking is not found in Heaven but in the Lord Jesus; not in an external relationship with Jesus but as Christ is formed in us. We must be born again if we would enter the Kingdom of Heaven. We are not born again by dying and going to Heaven, we are born again by submitting to the process of the replacement of Adam with Christ.
The process of transformation, of metamorphosis, has nothing to do with our physical death or our entrance into the world of spirits. The process begins the moment we turn to the Lord Jesus in faith and receive the Divine virtue and wisdom Jesus gives us through the Holy Spirit.
What is born again is the house of God. The Father and Christ enter into the new man, not into Adam.
Only Christ is the House of God. God will dwell only in the Lord Jesus Christ, and in us only to the extent Christ is in us.
In the Father’s House, in the Lord Jesus, there are being created numerous rooms, numerous places of abode for the Father. When Christ is formed in us the Persons of the Father and Christ enter this new room, into the addition to God’s House that has been created in us from the Substance and Virtue of Christ.
It is the will of God that every saved human being have Christ formed in him to some extent. When Christ has been formed in the individual, the Father and Jesus can enter him or her and govern and bless from within the personality. This is the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is the House of God. It is Christ formed in the members of the Kingdom of God.
Those who choose not to receive Christ are lost to the purposes of God.
To be saved to eternal life in the new world is to have Christ formed in us so God may settle down to rest in us. The purpose of salvation is not to bring us to Heaven but to create us as a room in the eternal House of God.
This is the salvation that has come to Israel in the Lord Jesus Christ. Salvation always comes to Israel first because Israel is God’s firstfruits. The elect Gentiles are those who have been added to the commonwealth of Israel.
Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:11-22)
“Ye also [in addition to the believing Jews] are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”
The “one new man” (Ephesians 2:15) is He who has been born in us. He is the “habitation of God through the Spirit.”
This is the salvation God has provided for the Jews, for the elect Gentiles, and finally for the nations of saved peoples of the earth. The Jews, and we who have been made part of the commonwealth of Israel, are the firstfruits of what one day will be true of the saved creation.
This is the salvation the Lord Jesus offered to Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. The fact that salvation always is of the Jews is demonstrated by the fact that the names of the twelve tribes of Israel are written on the twelve gates of the new Jerusalem, while the names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb—all Jews—are engraved in the twelve foundations of the wall that surrounds the holy city.
The holy city is the glorified Church, the Body of Christ, the Wife of the Lamb, the eternal Tabernacle of God. The Throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it.
We must be born again if we would enter the Kingdom that is from Heaven. We must be born again because it is the Kingdom that is born in us. It is Christ in us, the hope of the glory of the Kingdom that soon is to come to the earth.
You will not find the expression born again in the Book of Acts or in any of the Epistles of Paul, although Paul refers to the fact that Christ is in us. Today we are saying that an individual must be born again to be saved. The truth is, to be saved we must put our faith in the saving blood of the Lord Jesus, turn away from the malice and wickedness of the world, and be baptized in water. This is how people are saved from the wrath of God.
Being born again has to do with the Divine Seed of God being placed in us so we can change from a living soul to a life-giving spirit.
The Spirit of Christ and the Seed of God reside in every true Christian. The burden of the Lord today is that the believers might turn away from the life of the flesh and pay more attention to bringing to maturity that which has been conceived in them.
So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. (I Corinthians 15:45-48—NIV)
(“You Must Be Born Again”, 3724-1)