PRELUDE TO THE RESURRECTION
PRELUDE TO THE RESURRECTIONCopyright Š 2012 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6:35)
The above indeed is a remarkable statement. It reveals to us that the Lord Jesus is infinitely more than a teacher. He is Bread! He does more than teach us about eternal life. He Himself is the eternal Life and the resurrection of the dead.
With this in mind we see that the hunger and thirst He is referring to are not for bread and fish, but the hunger and thirst we have for God. He Himself is the life, and so we have to eat of Him and drink of Him.
The Christian salvation is not a religion. It is not a set of religious principles or Statements of Faith. It is true that what we read in the Bible was written by men of God who possessed eternal life. But even their words are not life, except as they bring us to Him.
I don't believe there is a greater misunderstanding in the history of the world than that of perceiving the Christian salvation as a religion that one joins. The Christian salvation is a change in what we are in substance, not merely information given to the mind; not merely belief in a set of words.
Eternal life is the Life of God. It is not human. It is not of flesh and blood. It is not a legal statement issued by the Lord that we are going to have eternal existence. Eternal life is a kind of life, like biologic life. It is supernatural. Ultimately it will extend to the mortal body causing it to be immortal.
It may be true that the difference between religion and genuine salvation is that religion points to the Scripture as being eternal life, whereas genuine salvation is not found in the Scriptures but in the Lord Jesus. The Scriptures speak of Him; but to receive eternal life we do not come to the Scriptures but to Christ.
You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life. (John 5:39,40)
Really, the problem resolves around what it means to believe in Christ. I think the common meaning among us Christians is that believing in Christ refers to our holding in our mind that Christ is the Son of God, that He has died for our sins, and that He is coming again. If we believe this we have eternal life.
But this cannot be what it means to believe in Christ, because Satan knows these facts are true and He has no eternal life. The demons realize that Christ is "the holy One of God," but they have no eternal life. So to believe in Christ must mean something more than believing He is God's Son, that He died for our sins, and that He is coming again. This is believing about Christ, not believing in Christ.
If we had a serious disease, and the doctor told us to take a certain course of action, we might believe that our doctor graduated from medical school, that he was a specialist, and that he had prescribed the correct course of action. We believed all these things. But if we did not do them, we did not really believe in him, unless we want to remain ill.
Jesus told us we must forgive our enemies, and that if we did not forgive our enemies, God would not forgive us. We might believe that Jesus actually said this, and that He was speaking the truth of the Father. But if we do not forgive our enemies, we do not really believe in Jesus with a saving faith, unless we desire to live in condemnation.
Jesus told us that if we would be a disciple, that is, a Christian, we must deny ourselves, take up our cross of deferred desire, and follow Him. We might believe the Lord actually said this. But if we do not deny ourselves, take up our cross of deferred desire each day, and follow Him, we are not a disciple, not a Christian. We do not truly believe in Him.
I would think any sincere believer would agree with what I am writing. But since we do not find many cross-carrying disciples in the Christian churches in America, we conclude that when they claim to be saved by believing in Christ they are deluded.
Now, where and how did this delusion originate? It originated with a misunderstanding of what Jesus meant when He said the work of God is to believe in Him.
Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent." (John 6:29)
Religious leaders saw this as a formula that could be controlled. If people would adhere to their Statement of Faith they would be true Christians; they would be saved and have eternal life; they would go to Heaven when they die.
But in so many instances they did not bring the people to Jesus, only to a religious formula. Consequently the people are deluded and their behavior reveals this.
Most of the New Testament is about righteous behavior. But the religious leaders and teachers assert that by "believing in Christ" it is not necessary to behave righteously. We are saved and have eternal life by adopting the correct formula. So we now have the situation in which people claim to be saved and have eternal life, and yet there is little evidence of this in their behavior.
In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe thatand shudder. (James 2:17-19)
The truth is, Jesus is not their Lord because they do not do what He commands. Neither do they possess eternal life; which they view as a legal position concerning endless existence but not an actual kind of life separate from their flesh and blood life.
For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:40)
Now we see, in the verse above, that Jesus is speaking of immortality, not just endless existence in Heaven. Notice that the emphasis is on looking to the Son, not just adhering to a formula of belief.
You know, "believing in Christ" has taken on a mystical character. It is as though the belief itself waives any need for behavioral change. This really is Gnosticism, the religion that teaches a specialized knowledge brings us to a higher spiritual plane. The notion that belief alone, which is nothing more than our knowledge of certain facts and our assent to them, has, shall I say, a magical power to bring us to Heaven. It is not a robust faith in a Man, such as the faith the Apostles had in the Lord Jesus.
The same is true of the "grace" that Paul mentioned. Instead of being the solid Presence and blessing of God that forgives our sins, sets us free from the Law of Moses, and enables us to follow the Spirit of God as He leads us into righteous behavior, it is a Houdini-type illusion that causes us to view an unrighteous person as though he is righteous and holy. It is the delusion of all time!
So we have a faith that is not a faith in the Man such that we obey Him and His Apostles. We have a grace that brings a righteousness that no one can see because it does not work out in righteous behavior. And these two whitewashed walls are supposed to withstand the onslaught of the forces of Hell!
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:45)
Notice again that Jesus is speaking of the giving of eternal life to the body, to bodily immortality. The Christian religion has become so leavened with other religions, such as Gnosticism, that we think only of eternal life in our spirit.
Notice also that Jesus said "no one can come to me." He did not say, no one can come to the Christian religion, or to the Scriptures." To be saved we have to come to the Man Himself. We won't do that unless the Father draws us.
It occurs to me that multitudes in the Christian churches were never drawn to Christ by the Father. Perhaps they felt it was a good idea to try religion. Many of them do not seem to know the Man, only the beliefs and practices of their particular denomination.
I am the bread of life. (John 6:48)
The Lord Jesus is infinitely more than a teacher. He Himself is the eternal life that we seek. We have to eat Him, not just read about Him. But how do we eat Christ and gain salvation and eternal life?
It is "hidden manna." When we are faced with a temptation to sin, and we yield to it, we are not fed with salvation, with eternal life, with the hidden manna. When we are faced with a temptation to sin, and pray for the strength to turn away from it, we are fed with eternal life, with salvation, with the hidden manna.
The decision to overcome the deeds of our sinful nature must continue every day, every moment of our life. We are fed constantly with the body and blood of Christ in the Spirit realm. Thus we keep increasing in eternal life. We are learning to live by the Life of Christ, just as Paul did. We are putting our old nature to death. In this manner we attain to the resurrection of our body that will occur when the Lord next appears.
Can you see how this continual feeding on and living by the body and blood of Christ is infinitely different from adhering to and professing belief in a religious formula? Different from an empty "grace"?
The emptiness of the current Christian preaching is revealing itself in the moral stature of the American people. We really are disgusting to many other nations, not only the Muslims, with our Hollywood presentations. How long is God going to put up with the institutions that are seducing young people into sexual liaisons that result in abortions? How have the mighty fallen! We may think God sees us through Christ; but the world around us sees us as we are. They are not led by our behavior to glorify God.
But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. (John 6:50,51)
There is no other religious teacher who has made such a claim or could make such a claim. No other teacher is himself eternal life that we could eat of him and gain life. No other teacher is himself the resurrection, such that we could eat of him and gain bodily immortality.
"He will live forever." The Lord is speaking here of immortality. What was lost in Eden was bodily immortality.
All mankind experiences physical death. We sing our little song. Do our little dance. Laugh a little. Cry a lot. And then we wither and die. Such never was God's intention. God intends that we live forever, and not just as a spirit but as a flesh and bone human being. This immortality is in Christ. When we eat Him each day, we are moving toward the time when He returns and raises our flesh and bones into immortality.
Christ, the Word made flesh, could not bring immortality to mankind by teaching people. He had to give us His flesh to eat and His blood to drink if we are to overcome physical death. It is my personal belief that Christ's body and blood will be in the trees of life that will be planted along the River of Life in the new Jerusalem. It is the Life of God through which people gain immortality.
I know of no source that will bring immortality other than the body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is not a religion. It is salvation. It is the immortality for which God gave His Son, so that whoever will believe and receive may live forever, just as God always has intended for His children.
Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. (John 6:49)
Can you see from the verse above that the Lord is speaking in terms of immortality in the body? They died physically in the desert. That manna did not result in immortality.
Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. (John 6:53)
These are not the words of a human teacher. Rather, this is the very Life of God in human form. People have biologic life in them without eating the flesh of the Son of Man and drinking His blood. But they do not have true life. True life, that which endures forever, is found only in the flesh and blood of the Word made flesh.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. (John 6:54,55)
Again we see that the eternal life of which the Lord Jesus speaks is pointed toward the raising of the body in the Day of Resurrection. He is saying here that meat and potatoes are not real food, because they do not make the body immortal.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. (John 6:56)
If we are to bear the fruit of the image of Christ in our behavior we must abide in Him and He in us. We do this by continually overcoming sin and by being given Christ's flesh and blood in the Spirit realm. This is a day by day experience, enabling us through Christ's Divine Nature that is in us to overcome the lusts of the Antichrist world spirit.
Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. (John 6:57)
I use the verse above a good deal, in my writing and preaching. It sums up the true life of the Christian disciple. The Lord Jesus lives because of, or from, or by, the Father. It is the will of God that we live by Jesus Christ in precisely the same manner.
The Father and Christ are in perfect union. Christ speaks as the living God is speaking. Christ thinks as the living Father is thinking. Christ acts as the living Father is acting.
This precisely is how we are to live. We are to think as the living Christ is thinking. We are to speak as the living Christ is speaking. We are to act as the living Christ is acting.
Such a life is possible only as we are feeding on Christ continually. We do not just eat Christ, we feed on Christ, just as horses and cattle feed on hay. We are to eat Christ, graze on Christ, all the day long.
The idea of living by the Life of Jesus Christ may be new to some of us. It may be a higher level of consecration than we have known. But the chaotic conditions of the future in America, because of our sin, is going to require this sort of relationship to the Lord if we are to survive spiritually and help others to survive.
Nothing can truly harm the individual who is living by the Life of Jesus. For such a person, to live is Christ and to die is gain. We need to teach this to our children, because they are the ones who are going to have to cope with the American chaos.
It is perfectly possible for anyone to learn to live by the Life of Jesus, but we have to give our whole attention to it. Throughout the day, and the time at night when we are awake, we are to keep looking to Jesus, speaking to Him, thinking about Him, asking His help with all we are doing, thanking Him when everything is going well.
Such attention to the Lord Jesus takes a while to learn, but it is what He wants; therefore He will help us, when we make up our mind this is how we wish to live.
The Lord is drawing closer to us today. I can feel His Presence. Can you? Be sure that each day you spend some time meditating in your Bible, if you have one. Keep looking up to Him at all moments. Never permit yourself to be so distracted you cannot hear His voice, such as in a party, or out shopping, or among friends. Learning to look to Him at all times may save your life, or the life of a loved one, in the days to come.
We live fairly close to a nuclear plant. Suppose it is blown up by a terrorist. People will be running about wildly. The highways will be jammed with cars seeking to flee to another state.
You have small children. What are you going to do? If you panic along with everyone else you may be harmed. You are to fight down the panic and just listen to Jesus. He will direct you. He is a present help in the time of trouble. He never will leave you or forsake you.
One time a missionary family in China, a father, mother, and children, were waiting to be executed. The father said, "Don't worry. Very soon we all will be with Jesus.
This is true. When we are obeying Christ, death has no fear for us. For the person who is obeying Christ, dying and passing into the spirit world is like leaving a nightmare. It is to be looked forward to with the greatest joy.
I am eighty-six years of age. I am looking forward to dying and passing into that world, which is so superior to our present world there is no comparison. Just think! No demonic oppression. No worries about anything or anybody. An exceedingly beautiful environment of which a sunset on the earth is but the merest imitiation.
And there is Jesus to love and talk to. Old friends who have heard of our coming will crowd around to renew acquaintances. A time to rest before we return with the Lord on the white war stallions to set up His Kingdom on the earth.
The Bible says: "In thy presence is fullness of joy. At thy right hand are pleasures forevermore." I don't know about you, but my life on earth has not been one of fullness of joy. I am getting email letters from devout Christians who are asking for prayer because of their severe trials. "Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him from them all." Such is the promise of God.
Well, we must wait patiently until the Lord tells us our work is finished; we have finished the course; we have done what we were supposed to do. Then we will be taken to a place too wonderful to describe.
At the time of my heart attack, as I was laying on a gurney in an ambulance on my way to a cardiac operation, it was so restful to realize that I had obeyed the Lord, and so there was no need to worry about my family. That was quite a few years ago; and it has pleased the Lord that since then I should write what I have learned from the Lord in order to help the people coming along behind.
So what I have written about the necessary prelude to our gaining bodily immortality is for the benefit of the new generation, so they will not continue in the dead religious ways that have resulted in the downfall of America.
Jesus wants you and me to live by receiving His body and blood many times a day, as we keep praying for strength and wisdom to turn away from the Antichrist world spirit; from the lusts and passions of our flesh and spirit; and from our determination to lead our own life apart from Christ.
If we will do this, we will come to a most marvelous destiny. Also, we will leave people behind us who have gained strength and wisdom from the way we have lived and the things we have taught. Those people are the legacy we have left behind.
Then, when we look down from our vantage point in the spirit world, we will see the results of our obedience to Christ. We then will be filled with joy unspeakable and full of glory.
You can have just such a destiny. Leave all your sins and foolishness behind you. Press forward in Christ each day. As Paul said, forgetting the things that are behind, look forward to that glorious Day of Resurrection when you are caught up in the clouds to meet Christ in the air. Then you will descend with Jesus and help with the task of installing the Kingdom of God on the earth.
You will have people to love and teach. These are your inheritance because you faithfully have served the Lord Jesus. Don't let anything or anyone discourage you. Press on. Press on. Press on. A few more steps, and you will hear, "Well done, true and faithful servant. Come and share the joy of your Lord."
To hear those words one day will be worth all the trials and tribulations of our journey.