FROM ADAM TO CHRIST
Copyright © 1996 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
The journey of Israel from Egypt to Canaan is a type of the Christian salvation and is treated as such by Paul, Jude, and the writer of the Book of Hebrews. The wilderness wandering was a curriculum designed to teach God’s people the ways of the Lord. The destination, the goal of the Israelites, was the land of milk and honey.
Just what is the destination, the goal of the Christian discipleship? The goal of the Christian discipleship is twofold, consisting of two aspects that work together to bring us fully into the rest of God. One aspect is the change of our personality from Adam to Christ. The second aspect is our complete, untroubled abiding in Christ in the Father.
To have the Character of Christ and to be always abiding in Christ are our destination, our goal.
Table of Contents
FROM ADAM TO CHRIST
For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, (Hebrews 3:14)
The Book of Hebrews exhorts us to enter the rest of God. The rest of God, the place in God where we have attained the goal God has set before us, is typified by Canaan—the land of milk and honey.
The Jewish Christians, to whom the Book of Hebrews was written, were experienced believers. They had joyfully accepted the plundering of their material possessions.
for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven. (Hebrews 10:34)
However, the Book of Hebrews is not a letter of congratulation but one of warning. These believers had stopped pressing forward toward the mark, toward the rest of God. They were not meeting together as before. They were surprised at the amount of chastening they were experiencing at the hand of the Lord.
The second chapter describes our great salvation and warned the Jewish believers that God’s judgment would fall on them if they neglected to follow the Lord diligently.
The third chapter continues the warning, stating that we partake of Christ only if we continue to press forward in faith until we arrive at our destination.
but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end. (Hebrews 3:6)
Salvation is seen to be a journey rather than a one-time happening. We understand that the Israelites were “saved” out of Egypt. But in another sense they were not “saved” until they settled down to rest in a subdued Canaan.
But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. (Jude 1:5)
Let us say we have “made a decision” to receive the salvation that is in Christ. Can we now consider ourselves to be “saved”? Yes in the sense that we have taken the all-important first step. No in the sense that we have not as yet followed Christ to the destination.
It is important that we learn to define salvation as a journey from Satan to God rather than a one-time expression of faith. The world contains millions of believers who have “made a decision for Christ” (an unscriptural expression). But among these millions there may not be five thousand true disciples, that is, five thousand believers who are making their way from Egypt to Canaan. The eternal spiritual babyhood of the believers is the result of preaching and teaching an incorrect definition of the Christian salvation.
Let us accept the fact that we have been delivered from slavery in Egypt, so to speak, and now are to follow the Lord to the destination appointed for us. The instruction and events that we experience during our Christian discipleship are as a wilderness wandering. They are designed to teach us the ways of the Lord. They are to prepare us for life in the Kingdom of God.
The pain and problems that come upon us each day are for a purpose. Let us think for a moment about the twofold goal of the Christian salvation so we can better understand the purpose of our tribulations and how to respond to them profitably.
The Twofold Goal of the Christian Discipleship
There are two aspects of the goal of the Christian discipleship. These two aspects interact such that the increasing attainment of the one aids in the attainment of the other.
The first aspect is our change from the adamic personality to the Character of Christ.
For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:29)
knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. (Romans 6:6)
The second aspect of the twofold goal is our complete, untroubled rest in the Person of Christ in God to the point that our thoughts, words, and actions proceed from Christ.
“I in them, and you in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that you have sent Me, and have loved them as you have loved Me. (John 17:23)
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
These are the two aspects of the goal of the Christian journey. The remainder of our inheritance, including closeness to the Lord, a significant role in the Kingdom of God, opportunities for joyous service, authority and power, and life lived in the Paradise of God, are possible only as we attain the goal of salvation, as we enter the rest of God.
Let us think about the first aspect, which is our conversion from Adam to Christ.
To be changed from Adam to Christ. If one is to understand the Christian program of redemption he must learn to think of the mainspring of salvation as being death and resurrection.
The entire adamic creation died on the cross of Calvary. As one grows older in the Lord he begins to see that Adam is hopeless. One would have an easier time teaching a dog to work algebraic equations than he would training Adam to behave like the Lord Jesus.
We see in the Lord Jesus perfect courage, joy, patience, obedience to God, moral purity. All that the Law of Moses pointed toward but could never accomplish in a human being is revealed in the personality of Jesus of Nazareth.
Some people have great courage, a joyous nature, patience, devoutness to God, and are morally pure. But these human traits do not possess eternal strength. Under enough pressure they will crumble and the naked beast will be revealed. Adam is a beast, a self-seeking monster!
God’s answer to the corruption resident in Adam is the death of the cross. Adam must be brought to the cross. God is not attempting to save Adam, to bring him into the Kingdom of God. Flesh and blood cannot possibly inherit the Kingdom.
God, understanding well the utter folly of attempting to change Adam into the image of Christ, has assigned Adam to the cross. “Reckon yourself dead,” the Lord commands, “but alive before God in the resurrected Jesus.”
There is galactic power in the courage, the joy, the obedience, the patience of the Lord Jesus. While He was on earth He walked on fear, misery, disobedience, impatience with as much ease as He strode on the Sea of Galilee. Unrighteousness does not possess enough strength to overcome the Character of the Lord Jesus.
Righteous behavior always is a question of power. The reason Adam cannot possibly learn righteousness is that the virtue that is in him is not strong enough to overcome the world, the lusts of his flesh and soul, Satan, or his own self-glorification.
But there is awesome, tremendous power in the Lord Jesus—the very power of the Father’s own righteous Character. Therefore the Lord overcomes all sin, all rebellion against God’s will.
God wants us in Christ’s image. That is the first aspect of our twofold destination. In order to accomplish our transformation God assigns our first personality, Adam, to the cross.
Day by day the circumstances of life beat down our adamic nature. Day by day the powerful Life of the Lord Jesus raises us up in newness of character. This process is to continue until Christ is formed in us; our adamic nature has been replaced by the Divine Nature. Now the power of righteousness is in us and our personality is filled with the love, joy, peace, gentleness, patience, faithfulness, self-control, of the Lord Himself.
We now have arrived at the first aspect of our goal, our land of promise.
To abide in Christ in God. Of equal importance with our change into the character of Christ is our learning to abide in Christ in God.
The Lord Jesus is our Example, not only of righteous character but also of what it means to live by the Life of God.
Actually, in one way of looking at it, we never did see Jesus while He was on the earth. What Jesus thought, what He said, what He did, came from another Person—from the Father.
“Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. (John 14:10)
“The Father who dwells in Me does the works.” This is what it means to have God live in us.
As we consider the Lord Jesus we envision perfect Character. We also notice a total lack of worldliness, lust, and self-exaltation. The driving Force of the Lord Jesus is the Father—God. The adamic personality indeed must die before it is willing to think, speak, and act only in the Life and guidance of the Lord. But such a conversion of life force is an essential aspect of our possession of the land of promise toward which we are traveling.
Three Destructive Influences
There are three major influences that attempt to lead us away from our destination, away from the image of Christ and the Life of Christ:
- The spirit of the world.
- The lusts of the flesh and soul.
- The ambition to seek our own glory.
The spirit of the world.
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (I John 2:15)
The spirit of the world seeks to occupy our attention with material security and with the comforts and luxuries associated with the possession of material goods. The power that the world offers is money. Money is the great god of Western civilization and in our day is becoming the god of the East as well.
Money and education will play a major role in the civilization advanced by Antichrist and the False Prophet.
The television is a major force that accomplishes the desires of the world spirit. It is truly incredible how in a few short years the television has changed from a luxury to a necessity. It appears that everyone, from the wealthy and powerful personages of the largest nations to slum dwellers living in impoverished areas, spends hours each day gazing at the television screen.
The television results in the conforming of our mind to the loves and hates of the world spirit. The wise believer will spend little or no time watching the antics of the world spirit portrayed on the television screen.
Can you see how the world spirit acts to distract the disciple from his concentration on Christ’s Character and the Life of Christ being formed in him? No person who is anxious to reach the rest of God will permit the world spirit to turn him away from his single-minded pursuit of Christ.
The lusts of the flesh and soul.
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. (Romans 7:18)
The human flesh and soul are filled with wickedness of every sort. None of these can enter the Kingdom of God.
Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,
idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,
envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)
The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. Rage, murder, every form of lust, perversion, sorcery, drunkenness, lying, dwell in the adamic personality. The Holy Spirit helps us put these compulsions to death.
And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:24)
None of these unclean elements of the human personality is part of the Character of the Lord Jesus. If we cling to any of them we will come short of the Glory of God. They never will be permitted to become part of the Body of Christ. They absolutely must be crucified and driven from us completely if we would attain the promised-land rest of God.
Perhaps we are in an era now, just before the return of the Lord, when the Holy Spirit is ready to help us drive the evil from our personality. It seems that in the present hour there is special strength for overcoming the lusts of our personality. It may be that we have come to Jordan, so to speak, and are preparing to invade and conquer our land of promise.
No believer can successfully arrive at the rest of God until he is ready to work with the Spirit in driving from his personality the enemies of the Lord that dwell in his flesh and soul.
The ambition to seek our own glory. The record of Christian Church history has been largely that of ambitious people seeking their own glory. Cathedrals and other large structures and institutions do not reflect the lowly Jesus but the desire of human beings to exalt themselves.
The years of the Christian era have witnessed the lust for power of various individuals and groups as they have sought—sometimes by torturing and killing people—to force their will. Treachery, murder, intrigue, covetousness, a willingness to take any action that will accomplish their own ends has characterized many “apostles of Christ.” All of this “in the name of Jesus and for the glory of God.”
Even today the existence of competing denominations reveals that self, not Christ, is driving the “work of God.”
How many leaders of denominations would be willing to call their entire work to a halt and wait on God until they were certain that they knew the voice and will of the Lord? “Financially impossible!” they would protest. No doubt this is true. Nevertheless the plans and programs grind on without anyone being certain this is what the Lord desires, like the blind Samson at the mill of the Philistines.
We usually admire the child who makes up his mind to accomplish a goal and devotes his life to its achievement, whether in the field of music, athletics, science, or business. But leaning to our own understanding in this manner comes short of the glory of God. The better way is to make the daily seeking of the Lord our goal in life, for who knows what God intends to do at any given time with any believer?
If we do not know what God desires then we are to diligently perform the tasks at hand, meanwhile presenting our body a living sacrifice in order to prove the will of God.
“All people seek their own interests, not the interests of Christ,” Paul lamented. How true it is! Even in the work of the Lord the desires and goals of the ministry are of first importance. The actual will of Christ plays a secondary role—if any role at all!
Whenever God moves in a new, refreshing manner, as He has on many occasions, sometimes presenting doctrine that represents a restoration of that which has been lost since the first century, the established denominations cry “Heresy!” Why do they cry heresy? Because they do not know the voice of the Lord. They are pursuing their own plans, seeking to exalt themselves.
It may be somewhat easy for the believer to accept the fact that worldliness and sin have no place in the Christian personality. However it may not be as clear that the ambition to achieve a certain goal, particularly in the realm of ministry, is as deadly an enemy as worldliness and lust. It is impossible to keep our eyes fixed on the Character of Jesus and the will of Jesus when we are filled with various plans and programs designed to accomplish some “Christian” goal that seems good to us.
As we think of the Lord Jesus we notice He was not filled with plans and programs designed to extend the Kingdom of God. Rather He spent all night in prayer so that on the following morning He could say and do that which the Father showed Him—nothing more and nothing less.
The successful pursuit of the Christian life does not mean we sit down and plan what we shall do and then pray that God will help us fulfill our ambitions. Such a program often is pursued by zealous believers but it is not part of the rest of God.
It is true also that to successfully pursue the Christian life does not indicate we are to go about our business as usual under the impression that if God wants us to change or to do something He will interrupt our activities and inform us of His will. The believer who takes the “business as usual” approach will discover at the end of his life that he did not grow in the Lord nor did he bear the fruit the Lord is looking for.
The successful pursuit of the Christian discipleship requires a positive, dynamic looking to the Lord every day of one’s life. Time must be spent each day in prayer. The believer must meditate continually in the Bible—Old and New Testaments.
The disciple must gather together with other fervent disciples whenever possible. He must present his body as a living sacrifice to the Lord in order to prove God’s will in personal holiness and in the exercise of the gifts and ministries given him by the Holy Spirit.
The saint must give himself to dedicated prayer and to an expectation and willingness to be used in the Lord’s service even though many years go by without anything unusual taking place in his or her life. He must continue in this attitude of dedication and consecration every day until he passes from the earth. There is no retirement in the Kingdom of God.
Nothing short of such consistent seeking of the Lord is acceptable. The believer must give of himself to the Lord throughout his time on the earth if he expects to arrive at the Character of Christ and untroubled rest in Christ in God.
If we are not willing to let go of our striving to achieve our own glory it is impossible to grow in the Lord as we should. We will remain a spiritual dwarf.
Participation in the spirit of the world will stop us from entering the land of promise.
Indulging in the lusts of the flesh and soul will prevent our entering the land of promise.
Insisting on bringing glory to ourselves will keep us from attaining the rest of God. All things were finished in God’s mind from the creation of the world. All our ambitious striving will serve only to prevent our resting in the wisdom and power of God as our foreordained destiny unfolds. We shall not be able to see the Shepherd as He leads us into the green pastures and quiet waters, the joyful inheritance that is our appointed place of rank and service in His Kingdom.
The Importance of Prayer as We Move From Adam to Christ
We notice, as we read the Scripture, that the Lord Jesus spent a great deal of time in prayer. The Lord Jesus lived and ministered while in constant prayer to the Father.
It is difficult to overstate the importance of prayer in moving from Adam to Christ.
The effect of prayer on our personal growth in Christ. God uses all kinds of pain, frustration, disappointment, the delay of our most intense desires, to form the Character of Christ in us and to teach us to cease from our own works, to rest in His eternal Life rather than to strive according to our own fears, desire for perfection, conscientiousness, and ambition to bring glory to ourselves.
The purpose of our pain is to bring us to God. The lessons of the wilderness often contain elements that severely test the believer’s patience. Have you found this to be true?
There are two different ways in which we can respond to the trials that are sent to press us into Christ. We can turn to the Lord immediately and seek His wisdom and help in overcoming the difficulty instead of looking to ourselves or other people for the answers to our problems. Or we can rebel against the tools God uses (often other people) and complain and find fault with our circumstances, people, and finally God Himself.
The Israelites chose to murmur and complain rather than to bring glory to God by professing faith in His goodness and faithfulness.
Therefore I was angry with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, and they have not known My ways.’ (Hebrews 3:10)
And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? (Hebrews 3:18)
When we experience pain or disappointment, as Israel did in the wilderness of Sinai, we should go to prayer immediately. We must never look at people or circumstances, unless there is something practical we should do at the moment. As we go to the Lord, not blaming or criticizing God or people, a part of our adamic nature dies and in its place appears the Nature of Christ. We find our rest in Christ, growing in His Character and resting with Him at the right hand of the Father, waiting until our enemies become our footstool.
Command upon command, rule upon rule, the Person and ways of God are eternally engraved in our character.
If, however, we begin to complain, criticize, blame people and circumstances, feel sorry for ourselves, we become bitter. Our heart becomes hard against people and God. No progress is made toward our land of promise. Instead our development is arrested and we remain in a state of spiritual babyhood.
We cannot make progress toward the rest of God except as we learn to pray consistently. If we do not set aside a definite time for prayer each day we will not grow in the Lord and we will not learn to live by the Life of the Lord.
The effect of prayer on our ministry. The history of the Christian denominations and churches is one of the carrying out of the programs and plans of man. From the efforts of the Catholic Church to dominate the politics of Europe to the ambitious evangelist who seeks thousands of “decisions for Christ,” the Christian Era has in large part consisted of human effort.
How often has God poured out His Spirit, as in the case of Azusa Street in Los Angeles in the beginning of the twentieth century, only to have ambitious people take hold of the work of God and organize it into an institution.
The Azusa Street outpouring came about as one individual (and no doubt there were others) prayed for several hours a day over a period of years. Prolonged prayer often has been found in association with outpourings of God’s Holy Spirit.
But people are not able, it seems, to wait on God and follow His leading. Instead they think of numerous reasons why they must organize God’s program into a system they can manage with money and human talent. They begin in God and then switch to their own ambitions and plans.
That which begins in prayer quickly moves over to human thinking and effort.
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God is one of sowing, not of management. The Lord Jesus went about sowing the good Seed of the Kingdom and teaching about the Seed of the Kingdom.
“But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” (Matthew 13:23)
Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, (Matthew 13:31)
The Lord Jesus organized nothing. Instead He concentrated on teaching twelve men the nature of the Kingdom of God.
After the Lord was resurrected His Apostles went throughout the world sowing the Seed of the Kingdom. After the death of the original Apostles, religious people began to plan and organize the Gospel message. Very quickly institutional Christianity came into being.
The author, being presently the pastor of a congregation of believers, before that the principal of a public school, is well aware of the need for administration. The Scriptures exhorts those who rule to do so with diligence. There is no place for laziness or sloppiness in the work of the Kingdom of God.
However, the Gospel of the Kingdom is not a plan for “getting people saved.” The Gospel is the Divine Seed. It is to be sown, as God directs. How it grows, where it grows, when it grows, is known only to the Holy Spirit.
And He said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground,
“and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. (Mark 4:26,27)
While we may make reasonable efforts to teach children or to disciple converts, the actual growth of the Kingdom of God is a mystery that cannot be managed by the brain of man.
The counting of “decisions for Christ” may reflect only the personal ambition of preachers and denominations.
No one knows what takes place in the human heart when the Gospel is preached. One person makes a great show of being “saved” and a few months later is back in the ways of the world. Another walks out of the meeting and ten years later is a flaming evangelist. What, then, is the purpose of counting the “decisions for Christ” if we have no way of knowing whether the Seed will germinate, and having germinated what will come forth?
It appears we are attempting to sow and reap in the same evening! This procedure is neither scriptural nor practical.
We understand that the Scripture states how many were added to the church when Peter preached.
Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. (Acts 2:41)
Do you believe that Peter wrote down in his record book that there were three thousand decisions for Christ when he preached his first sermon or that the Holy Spirit in this verse is directing us to keep records of how many decisions for Christ are made when we preach? Do the Scriptures teach us that God is impressed with numbers of people?
One sows seed, another waters, but only God gives the increase.
If the Christian churches throughout the centuries had ceased from their own plans, had instead waited constantly before the Lord and had sown the good Seed only as He directed, the history of the Church would have been totally different. There would be no Catholic Church and no Protestant denominations.
There would have been no torture and murder of “heretics.” There would have been no involvement in the politics of Europe. There would be none of the present errors, such as the attempt to use Divine grace to cover sinful behavior, the overemphasis on the love of God and rejection of the severity of God, the persecution of the Jews, or the current attempt to force Christian morality on the secular populace.
There would be no competition between denominations or local churches. There would be no believers remaining spiritual babies after fifty years of church attendance.
The Lord is looking today for people who will cease from their own plans and ambitions, who are willing to consecrate themselves to the work of the Lord; people who will pray consistently; people who will not make a major move until they know God has spoken.
Where are those who, like the Lord Jesus and the Apostle Paul, will refuse to allow their desire for self-glorification to move them during their ministry, who will wait, wait, wait on the Lord for every move they make? Who will faithfully obey the Lord without adding to His directives? If God can find one person who will faithfully obey the Lord without adding to the Lord’s directions, without “putting his hands on the Ark,” then things will become possible in the Kingdom of God that otherwise will never come to pass.
Heaven and earth are waiting for someone to believe and obey God. Belief and obedience are the proper response for someone seeking to enter the rest of God.
O that we all would wait on the Lord! How many people throughout history have ceased from their own works and labored to enter the rest of God? Perhaps not many but undoubtedly some noteworthy believers in God.
Every true leader hears directly from God. The man of God has his burning bush.
Hebrews Chapters Three and Four teach us concerning belief and obedience and of the rest of God. Belief and obedience are true faith and bring us into the rest of God. As we seek to follow God every motive of our personality is revealed for what it is so we can detect the spirit of the world, lust, Satan, and self-glorification.
For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)
Our problems (if we respond to them correctly) cause the Word of God to keep cutting deeper into our motivations until Christ alone rules. The Lord alone shall be exalted in that Day!
O that we would move from Adam to Christ! O that we would wait, wait, wait on the Lord!
(“From Adam to Christ”, 3773-1)