Chain Reaction in Realms of the Spirit
Beauty For Ashes Part 4 - George H. Warnock
CHAPTER 3 - CHAIN REACTION OF THE LAW OF LIFE
We have no problem recognizing the far-reaching implications of the kingdom of death. We live in that realm, and death is about us on every side. Every generation of man has been witness to it. But this generation in which we now live has been compelled to acknowledge the acceleration of the Law of Death beyond anything that was thought possible up until about 50 years ago.
But there is a new law that God set in motion when Jesus died on the Cross and rose from the dead, The new law was designed of the Lord to swallow up the old law. For it was there on the Cross that the Prince of Life destroyed the Law of Sin and Death, and began to impart anew law to the members of a New Creation order. They are the ones whom the Lord has apprehended from the clutches of the old law and introduced into a new order, a new sphere of life, a new realm, a new kingdom. It, too, embraces a whole race of beings, all those who by faith have been snatched as firebrands from the burnings of the old race, and brought into the new. They are not brought in by going through a process of reformation or reconditioning, but they are brought into new life by the outworking of a new Law: the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus.
"For the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the Law of Sin and Death" (Rom. 8:2). There has been a confrontation of the two laws, and the Law of Life has prevailed where the Law of Sin once reigned. The Law of Life not only defeated the Law of Death, IT HAS REPLACED THE OLD LAW AS THE MOTIVATING AND ENERGIZING PRINCIPLE OF THE NEW MAN. This is a bit staggering, and only by faith and the revelation of the Spirit are we able to receive it. Death REIGNED--it was in supreme control. There was no one that could escape its dominion IF SO BE HE WAS BORN INTO ADAM'S RACE. The Law of Death is inherent in all of Adam's family, and no man can be released from its tentacles except it he by the new Law of Life. Then, having been released from the old law, there is a new law that takes its place:
"THAT AS SIN HATH REIGNED UNTO DEATH, EVEN SO MIGHT GRACE REIGN THROUGH RIGHTEOUSNESS UNTO ETERNAL LIFE BY JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD" (Rom. 5:21).
Can we grasp it? That as "sin reigned" so now grace must "REIGN unto eternal life." That as sin dominated, and brought about a chain reaction in realms of death, even so GRACE AND RIGHTEOUSNESS AND LIFE MUST NOW DOMINATE, and by a chain reaction of God's workings bring about the REIGN OF LIFE!
It is really not difficult to flow along with the logic of what the apostle is saying by the Spirit. But we would draw back in fear when we come to the implications of it all. And what is the fear? THAT BY THE OPERATION OF THE NEW LAW OF LIFE WE ARE GOING TO HAVE TO FORFEIT IN OUR MEMBERS THE WORKING OF THE LAW OF SIN AND DEATH, AND HAVE IT REPLACED WITH THE WORKING OF THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS!
And why do we shrink from this clear declaration of the Word? It must be because as creatures subject to sin and death we feel more comfortable in that realm. Like insects hiding under a rotting tree, we lift it and they scamper for the cover of darkness. Why? Because they are creatures of the darkness, and the darkness has blinded their eyes. Jesus said,
"For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind" (Jn. 9:39).
If we are partakers of the kingdom of darkness and come to the light, we are fashioned anew so that we begin to rejoice in the light. But if we are content to abide in death, and to rejoice in the darkness, then the light that shines upon us makes the darkness still more intense than it was before, For if the light that is in us be darkness, Jesus said, "How great is that darkness!" (Matt. 6:23).
Let us never fear to come to the light. It may be fearful, I know, for by nature we are the children of darkness and would choose to remain in that state. The light is too strong, too brilliant for the eyes of our fleshly understanding. We fear it might blind us. And it will, just as Jesus said--if we continue to resist it. But as we come to the light, the light will dispel the darkness of death, and cause us to walk in the light of a new day. The shining of the light of God into our lives will produce a chain reaction for good or for evil. It will set in motion an increasing brightness of His glory as we choose to walk in it, or it will set in motion an increasing measure of spiritual blindness, if we choose to resist it. The Sun of Righteousness will blind our eyes, as He did to Saul of Tarsus in his rebellion; or that same Light will bring healing and restoration, and an increase of greater and greater glory, as we find ourselves like Saul praying and seeking God with great repentance and heart-searching. Let us never fear to come to the light, no matter how unworthy we might feel, or how fearful we might be to stand in the brightness of His all-seeing eye. For light is inseparable from life, and as we come to the light so shall we come into realms of new life, where Life will be the Lord dwelling within us, And He comes to remove the sin, and to remove the death, and to dethrone the king of darkness, and to rule and reign in his place.
Implications Of The Reign Of Life
We have talked about the kingdom of death, and the formula that brought about the acceleration of the Law of Death in the human family:E = MC2 = D2
But there is also a formula for life, and it has been functioning in the earth in a certain measure ever since the Prince of Life visited this planet. Without getting too scientific about it, let us summarize it in this equation:W C = L2
THE WISDOM OF THE CROSS BRINGS A PEOPLE INTO LIFE MULTIPLIED BY ITSELF.
This multiplication of life produces light:
"In Him was Life; and the Life was the Light of men" (Jn. 1:4).
This life came into manifestation when Jesus visited this planet, as He submitted Himself to the way of the Cross, to the wisdom of the Cross. But the Church, for most of her history, has missed the way because she has been deceived into thinking that the formula applied only to Jesus. He died on the Cross, so we do not need to die on ours.
We have missed the way because we have failed to realize that the Cross was not only an instrument of cruelty upon which Jesus died for our sins, BUT IT WAS A CROSS THAT HE BORE ALL THROUGH HIS LIFE, A CROSS THAT WAS INEVITABLE SIMPLY AND ONLY BECAUSE HE DID THE WILL OF THE FATHER. Jesus was born under the shadow of the Cross. Even at His birth, the Prince of Death set in motion an evil device to kill the Prince of Life. Daily He was in confrontation with the world that resisted the light of God.
Once we understand what the Cross means we will cease our boasting that Jesus died on His Cross, so we do not need to die on ours. If we intend to do the will of God, it will be impossible to avoid the Cross, BECAUSE THE CROSS IS THE EMBODIMENT AND THE EXPRESSION OF MAN'S OPPOSITION TO THE WAYS OF GOD, AND OF GOD'S OPPOSITION TO THE WAYS OF MAN. And so our Lord Jesus bore His Cross daily, not because He went about looking for trouble, BUT SIMPLY AND ONLY BECAUSE HIS QUEST WAS TO DO THE WILL OF THE FATHER. To say that I do not need to suffer the Cross because Jesus did it for me, is to say that I do not need to walk in obedience to the Father because Jesus did it for me. IF WE ARE GOING TO GO GOD'S WAY WE ARE GOING TO KNOW THE HATRED, THE REBUKE, AND THE OPPOSITION OF THE WORLD ABOUT US, AND THIS IS WHAT CONSTITUTES OUR CROSS. We do not go about manufacturing self-inflicting forms of penance in order to somehow identify with the sufferings of Jesus. This is a deathly way of trying to contravene death. Only as we walk in the pathway of life are we going to contravene death. As truly as we seek to do the will of the Father and are committed to walk in obedience to His will, are we going to know and experience the opposition and the hatred that is heaped upon those who love God more than the ways of the world.
There can be no meaningful cross in our lives as long as we live an ordinary religious kind of life. But darkness will quickly react when the light shines forth. Jesus said to His religious brethren, "The world cannot hate you; but Me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil" (Jn. 7:7). The religious world of that day co-existed quite well with the world about them; but when Jesus came on the scene THERE WAS A BROADSIDE COLLISION OF DARKNESS WITH LIGHT, OF HATRED WITH LOVE, OF INIQUITY WITH RIGHTEOUSNESS, OF EVIL WITH GOOD, OF SATAN WITH GOD; AND IT WAS THIS COLLISION OF THE LIGHT WITH THE DARKNESS THAT PROPELLED JESUS TO HIS CROSS.
But rather than the darkness destroying the light, it was the light that destroyed the darkness. Rather than death destroying the life, it was the life that destroyed the death. Rather than hatred destroying the love, it was the love that destroyed the hatred.
And so our Lord Jesus died for us that we might not die, but LIVE. But as we embrace the LIFE, we are enabled to walk in the same LIFE that Jesus walked in, in the same obedience that Jesus walked in. It was this obedience that brought Jesus to His Cross, and if we walk in it, surely it will bring us to ours. Notice this, it is His obedience that we must walk in, if it is to be glorifying to God. Nothing less than the obedience of Christ will honor and glorify the Father. And what, explicitly, is the nature of His obedience?
"Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of Me) to do Thy will, O God" (Heb. 10:7).
"I can of Mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and My judgment is just; because I seek not Mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me" (Jn. 5:30).
Is our concept of the will of God related only to doing all kinds of noble things: preaching, evangelizing, writing, establishing churches, etc., etc.? Or have we come, in our commitment to do the Father's will, to the complete renunciation of all our thoughts, ambitions, desires, pursuits in life, whether it be in natural or in spiritual things? THIS MUST BECOME THE FIRST STEP IN OUR DESIRE TO DO GOD'S WILL--RENOUNCE OUR OWN THOUGHTS IN THE MATTER, CANCEL ALL OUR PLANS, AND BY HIS GRACE COME TO THE PLACE WHERE WE KNOW WE CAN DO NOTHING. AND THEN WE CAN EXPECT TO LEARN WHAT THE WILL OF GOD IS ALL ABOUT.
Now if the obedience of Christ is intended to lead us in paths of truth that will culminate in our cross, how important it is that we guard our hearts and minds from those subtle temptations of the Enemy that would sidetrack us from the pathway of learning this kind of obedience. Jesus "learned obedience." This is not to say that He was ever disobedient. But in the many tests to which He was subjected, day by day He learned the voice of the Father. We too must learn this kind of obedience.
JESUS CAME INTO THE EARTH TO DO THE WILL OF THE FATHER... AND THIS BECAME HIS TOTAL PURSUIT IN LIFE OR IN DEATH ...HE HAD NO OTHER AGENDA.
The Will Of God--Or Man's Agenda
It is important for us to understand this. As God's people our lives can become cluttered with so many worthy projects, all in the name of doing the will of the Father. And I think we come to this kind of involvement primarily because we fail to recognize that DOING THE WILL OF GOD, RATHER THAN DOING MANY GOOD WORKS, IS THE WHOLE DUTY OF MAN. God has some very wonderful plans and purposes yet to be fulfilled--we know that. He has great and wonderful objectives in mind--great things that He wants to accomplish in His people, and in the earth.
BUT WE TOTALLY MISS GOD'S WAY WHEN WE START TO ASSUME THAT WE ARE SUPPOSED TO WORK ON GOD'S OBJECTIVES, RATHER THAN IN BEING TOTALLY COMMITTED TO DO HIS WILL AND WALK IN HIS WAY.
AND THE REASON WE MISS GOD IS SIMPLY BECAUSE OUR WAYS ARE NOT GOD'S WAYS, NOR ARE HIS THOUGHTS OUR THOUGHTS.
And so what do we do? If we know God wants to feed the five thousand, we will organize a committee to raise the funds and get the job done. If we know God wants to reach the nations with the Gospel, we will organize the crusades and raise the pledges to get the job done.
BUT IF WE KNOW AND UNDERSTAND THAT WALKING IN HIS WAY IS ALL HE REQUIRES, THEN GOD DOES ALL THE PLANNING, AND WE ARE IN A POSITION WHERE WE CAN SIMPLY RESPOND TO WHAT HE SAYS--AND GOD IS TRULY GLORIFIED.
IF WE ARE TOTALLY COMMITTED TO DO HIS WILL, THEN HE WILL SHOW US HIS WAY, AND HIS OBJECTIVE IS GLORIOUSLY REALIZED. BUT IF WE SEEK TO PURSUE GOD'S OBJECTIVE WE TOTALLY MISS WHAT GOD HAS IN MIND.
Now God does give us from time to time a little glimpse into His plan, and a little understanding of His objective. BUT HE DOES THIS TO PROVE US, TO TEST US, TO GET US SEEKING HIM, AND NOT TO GET US INVOLVED WITH PLANS AND STRATEGIES. (See Jn. 6:6). God will show His servants what He wants, to get us seeking Him for His way, His anointing, His methods. But how quick we are to ignore His ways, and to move out in the arm of flesh in an attempt to do WHAT GOD ALONE CAN DO BY THE POWER OF HIS ANOINTING AND PRESENCE.
Jesus' life was therefore totally devoid of clutter and innovative devices to get the job done. He had but one thing on His agenda: "Lo, I come to do Thy will O God." And because this ONE THING pervaded His whole being, and totally occupied His thoughts, His life was completely uncluttered. He simply moved along in the predetermined pathways of God, whatever might be involved: healing the sick, raising the dead, witnessing to a devastated woman at the Well of Samaria--ministering to one or two, or to multitudes as God might choose--and finally laying it all down because the Father said, "Now, go back to Jerusalem, and lay down Your life."
Now Satan knows a little about God's plan too, and how he would like to get us involved IN ANY WAY OTHER THAN GOD'S WAY, AND TO OFFER US THE RESOURCES THAT WE THINK WE NEED FOR THE ACHIEVING OF GOD'S PURPOSES IN THE EARTH.
Jesus was therefore subjected to a three-fold temptation at the very beginning of His earthly ministry, For in God's will He must overcome Satan right here on Satan's territory before the Father would allow Him to go forth in power and authority to establish the Kingdom of Heaven in the hearts of men. We have mentioned this temptation several times before; but briefly we must mention it again. Satan was saying in effect:
I will give You the key to your daily bread: "Turn this stone into bread..."
I will give You the key to popularity and acclaim before the crowds: "Cast Thyself down from the wing of the temple..."
I will give You the key to all the resources of earth's kingdom: "All these things will I give Thee..."
The Church of this hour has succumbed to this three-fold temptation on all counts, and no wonder the Law of Sin and Death continues on its rampage in the Kingdom of God. As long as Satan can continue to deceive the people of God with thoughts that success, and achievement, and the accumulation of man s resources, and grasping for political power, and economic power are things that God needs for the extension of His Kingdom, the Law of Sin and Death will continue to reign in the midst of God's people.
Is it really true that Jesus overcame the Devil back there through much test and trial, so you and I can find the key to easy living, to find popularity and acclaim, and to take over the resources and kingdoms of the earth for the benefit of the gospel? That Jesus resisted this temptation back there, so that the Church can now yield to it? That He suffered the Cross by refusing to accept Satan's challenge, so that we can now escape the Cross by yielding to it? That He overcame the Devil, so now we do not have to?
LET US BE ASSURED OF THIS, THAT ANY POWER THAT WE ACQUIRE IN THIS LIFE, APART FROM WALKING IN TOTAL OBEDIENCE TO THE WILL OF GOD, IS SELF-GLORIFYING BY NATURE, AND SELF-DESTRUCTIVE IN CONSEQUENCE.
LET US BE ASSURED FROM THE WORD OF GOD, AND FROM THE LIFE OF JESUS, THAT HIS CROSS WILL BECOME OUR CROSS IF WE ARE TRULY COMMITTED TO WALK IN GOD'S WAY.
Church history bears abundant witness to what happens when a people of God, moving in realms of obedience, and bearing their cross, are suddenly exalted to places of economic, material, or political strength. Very quickly their testimony is gone, and they are captivated by a worldly, Babylonish system. And then it happens, as history bears witness, that the once-persecuted Church becomes the persecutor, under the deceptive notion that God had vindicated them and given them ecclesiastical authority and political and economic power to establish the Kingdom of God in the earth. God's way they totally miss, and the kingdom and reign of sin and death continues to hold sway over the hearts and minds of nations.
God's Way Is Effectual And Mighty
We are not talking about a theory which may or may not work. We are talking about God's Way, GOD'S ONLY WAY TO REACH THE HEARTS OF MEN--TO REACH ALL NATIONS WITH THE TRUTH OF THE GOSPEL. He has done it before in measure, and He will do it again, this time in full measure.
It was first given as a promise to Abraham: "And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed..." (Gen. 22:18). Inherent in the promise was the fact, revealed to the apostle Paul, that "the Seed" was Christ (Gal. 3:16); and that out from this Seed there would come a harvest that would fill all the earth with the Seed of the living Christ.
Do not underestimate the law of the seed, and the potential of the seed. It produces a mighty chain reaction of life, as one seed reproduces hundreds more, and each of these produces hundreds more, each in its own season. And it is all because the life that is inherent in the seed reproduces itself as it submits to the process of dying in the will of God.
When Life visited this planet there was a "fusion" of God with Man. This Divine "fusion" released Divine energy; and this release of energy continues to generate more and more and more energy in a mighty chain reaction of life that would very quickly fill the whole earth with God's glory and presence were it not for the disobedience of God's people.
But we say this in the context of God's purposes. We know that God always allowed this mighty working of power to fade away, until the times were ripe for the full measure of the Law of the Spirit of Life to be revealed in the final harvest of the ages. The Husbandman has continued to look for that day. And because He is patiently waiting for that day, He speaks to His servants, whose hearts are molded after His heart--"The Husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it... be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh" (Jas. 5:7-8).
Patient? Be patient in harvest time when the need is so great? That's what the apostle said. For God's servants who know the reality of the formula for the Chain Reaction of Life are not caught up with man's devices to reach as many people as they can, as fast as they can, with all the human resources they can muster, because time is running out. Now only ONE THING matters. The only way to "redeem the time" is to understand "what the will of the Lord is" (Eph. 5:16-17), and to faithfully do what He says. You do not become more spiritual by seeking out some "spiritual" kind of employment. Do what God places in your hands to do, and do it faithfully, serving God in the menial tasks of daily living; but in it all be sure you EARNESTLY SEEK HIM, AND LONG FOR THE INTERACTION OF THE HEAVENLY WITH THE EARTHLY. For it is right where you are, in the pathway of God, even in the midst of the menial, ordinary tasks of life that He has given you to do, that Heaven comes down and touches the earth, and the mighty God of Heaven becomes FUSED with His servants in the earth.
It happened with Abraham... It happened with Joseph... It happened with Moses... It happened with Joshua... It happened with Caleb... It happened with Shamgar... It happened with Deborah and Barak... It happened with Gideon... It happened with David. It happened with the prophets... with Isaiah... with Jeremiah... with Ezekiel ... with Amos... and with all the rest who knew God's ways. It happened with Zechariah in the temple, in the ordinary course of his duties, doing the will of God. It happened with John the Baptist, who remained in the desert, doing the will of God where God placed him. He was not studying under the capable scribes and Pharisees of the temple, in order to make himself more proficient for the task that lay before him. But he was waiting... waiting... waiting for God... waiting for the interaction of the heavens with the earth, and he was not to be disappointed. The Word of God came to him right where he was, in the wilderness, doing God's will, and waiting for Him.
And finally, it happened with our Lord Jesus...
But now we have come to the true Seed. His precious disciples thought He came to bring about the great harvest that the prophets spoke about, and His death was the most devastating thing they had ever experienced. They did not know that He came to be the "Seed" that must be planted in the earth, and that He would then become the "firstfruits unto God" as He rose from the dead in resurrection life. But soon they were to make this glorious discovery. He had to die that the "fusion" He had known with the Father might react in His brethren in a mighty chain reaction of spiritual life that would RELEASE ALL THE ENERGY OF THE SON OF GOD IN A WAY THAT WOULD PERMEATE THE WHOLE Body of Christ. His enthronement in the heavens would in no way limit this great and mighty chain reaction of Life, BUT HIS ENTHRONEMENT WOULD RATHER BE THE MEANS OF BRINGING IT ABOUT. For this Man, perfected through His sufferings in the earth, would then be fused back into God with glory greater than He ever had before. And now from this fusion of a glorified Man with the Father of Glory, more and more of the divine energy would be released upon His people in the earth. A Man of the earth is fused into the heavenly Glory, and the energy of that glory begins to pour forth upon His waiting disciples in the earth, and chain reaction after chain reaction takes place as earth responds to Heaven, and Heaven responds to earth. Humble and devastated disciples are fused with the glory of God, and begin to move in the earth as Jesus did when He was here. He went away for this purpose, that He who was the Light of men when He was here might now radiate that same Light in the earth, through His people who have learned His ways, and walk with Him.
And so the chain reaction of the Law of Life accelerated in greater and greater and still greater measures, until in a very short period of time the whole earth was saturated with the gospel of the Kingdom of God.
I stand amazed at times at the glory and reverence that God's people will ignorantly bestow upon the kingdom of sin and death, how they marvel at Satan's awesome powers, and at man s awesome achievements, and yet give such little respect to the Law of the Spirit of Life, and think it to be impossible for the Sovereign Lord to create a people for Himself, who shall come forth into the full stature of Christ. I am confident there is yet to be revealed from the heavens such an interaction of the Kingdom of Heaven in the affairs of men that not only will the earth be shaken, but the very heavens will know the mighty impact of the Word of Truth, as it sounds forth from the enthroned Christ, through the lips of His anointed servants in the earth; the purpose of which is to destroy all that which is destructible in the earth, and to leave in its place the indestructible, unshakable Kingdom of Christ:
"For if they escaped not who refused Him that spake on earth, MUCH MORE shall not we escape, if we turn away from Him THAT SPEAKETH FROM HEAVEN: Whose voice then shook the earth: but now He hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, YET ONCE MORE, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain" (Heb. 12:25-27).
Our God is able, in the very midst of the very worst that man or Satan can do, to bring about in His people such a massive acceleration of the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus that the achievements of men will be blown away like the dust of the threshingfloor, and the harvest for which the Husbandman is waiting will come to the full measure of the stature of Christ. Or, are we going to confess that the Law of the Spirit of Life is WEAKER than the Law of Sin and Death?
That God has allowed Satan to bring his evil devices to the fullness of maturity, and the mystery of iniquity to perfection... BUT WILL NOT BE ABLE TO BRING TO FULL EXPRESSION THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS?
The New Law Of Life... That Will Nullify The Old Law Of Death?
"For the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the Law of Sin and Death" (Rom. 8:2).
God's people have been very quick to lay God's Word to one side, if it doesn't "work." Theoretically they are compelled to believe it, for after all they are Christians. But they are not going to get carried away with it-if it is unreasonable--if it doesn't "work."
But God tells us that when He sends forth His Word into the earth He will not take it back, until it has performed the desire and the intention of His heart (Isa. 55:10-11). If much of it doesn't seem to work, we need to know God's patience. We need to understand the law of the seed. It may lay dormant for many years, BUT IN THE RIGHT SEASON WHEN IT IS PLANTED IN THE EARTH IT WILL GERMINATE AND GROW, AND BRING FORTH THE FRUIT THAT GOD INTENDED.
God's plan is that sin and death are to be totally dealt with and subdued in His people, by the outworking of the Cross of Christ in their lives, by the Holy Spirit. We are not talking about coming to a state of immortality in this present life. Nevertheless, even in the midst of our mortality it is God's desire that our bodies are quickened with more and more of His life. It is a case of the resurrection life of Jesus taking hold upon us, even as we walk in an environment that has been overcome by sin and death and corruption.
"And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the spirit is life because of righteousness" (Rom. 8:10). Now is the apostle really saying, especially in this wonderful context of the life of the Spirit, that "sin is operating in your bodies, but no matter... the Spirit of God is your righteousness, and He dwells there as well"? Is he really saying that we must continue to walk in sin, even though our spirit partakes of His righteousness?
Suppose a fire sweeps through the city, and the buildings are weakened and left tottering because of the fire. But help is on the way. Firefighters come on the scene and extinguish the blaze that did the damage; and then other rescue teams arrive, bringing food and clothing, and they begin the work of restoration, and renewing of the city. The buildings are weakened because of the fire. But extinguishing the fire does not restore the buildings to their original soundness. This will happen later; but first of all the fire must be put out.
And so, because of the invasion of sin into the human family away back in the beginning, all in Adam's family DIED; and our bodies remain "dead because of sin"--dead because of the sin we inherited from Adam. We have a little problem, emotionally speaking, when we see that innocent little babe snatched away in death. It did nothing wrong. It was so beautiful and innocent! Why did it happen? This little one was born with the Law of Sin and Death that he inherited from Adam, and he did not die because he himself was living in sin. He died because of the "fire" of Adam's sin. And so our physical bodies, whether we be Christian or otherwise, are in a state of mortality because of the devastating "fire" of Adam's transgression. It is all over now, for those who are in Christ Jesus. Sin has been fully dealt with, and the fire has been extinguished by the fires of the Cross of our Lord Jesus. But our bodies remain in a state of mortality and death, because of the sin we inherited from the Fall.
The redemption we have in Christ Jesus is full and complete. And there is a new Law of Life that begins to function within us, when the Holy Spirit is given His Lordship in our lives; so that even now there is not only a renewing of our spirits, there is also a quickening of these mortal bodies:
"He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you" (Rom. 8:11).
Paul makes a distinction between the mortal body, and the corruptible body. He is not talking about the resurrection of our bodies that have gone back into decomposition. The mortal body is a living body, undergoing a process of death. But the corruptible body is a dead body, that has undergone the process of decomposition. Hence our Lord Jesus did not see "corruption," for His body had lain in the grave somewhat less than three days, and corruption begins on the fourth day. You will recall Martha's statement to Jesus concerning her brother Lazarus, that his body was now corrupt, "for he hath been dead four days" (Jn. 11:39).
Even now, then, it is God's desire that His people begin to partake of this new Life, that will bring not only healing, but strength and life to these mortal bodies. The "sting of death is sin," and the sting has been removed, but the restoration and the renewing of these devastated "buildings" is an ongoing process. God has a certain order that He is following in His wisdom: first He would quicken our spirits, then our souls, and finally our bodies. (See 1 Thess. 5:23). This is God's order, and He purposely leaves us in a state of mortality that we might have the capability of experiencing in our mortal flesh, "the dying of the Lord Jesus," and His resurrection life.
In the history of the Church we have observed a lot of presumption in this area, as men have "claimed" this new life, and sought to reach out for immortality here and now. God does want to liberate His people from the Law of Sin and Death, and from all the "diseases of Egypt"; but His intention is not to make us immune to death in the days of our flesh. He leaves us rather in a state of mortality, so that we may experience what Paul describes as "the dying of the Lord Jesus." Do we really want to escape this "dying of the Lord Jesus" in our mortal flesh? And be denied the fullness of life that He has for those who would suffer with Christ?
"For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh" (2 Cor. 4:11). Where does God want to manifest the life of Jesus? "In our mortal flesh." And God's purpose is this, that by death working in us He might bring forth life in others. (See 2 Cor. 4:12).
But how could we presume to say that dying of tumors, and cancers, and heart diseases--and we could go on naming a host of other diseases of Adam's family--how could we say that in succumbing to these we are experiencing "the dying of the Lord Jesus"? Rather, it is simply a case of the Law of Death that we inherited from Adam exercising its power and its authority in these bodies that are not yet changed and made immortal. We are quite aware that we are in the process of dying, even as we live. But I do not believe God wants His Church to be victimized by "the diseases of Egypt." We are partaking of these sicknesses in the Church equally as they are in the world. Even in the Old Covenant God made a very clear promise to His obedient people: "I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee" (Ex. 15:26).
The Dying Of The Lord Jesus
What is this? We know He died for us in a substitutionary way, and in that sense we cannot die for others. Nevertheless, the SAME LOVE THAT DROVE JESUS TO HIS CROSS IS INTENDED OF THE LORD TO BE IN OUR HEARTS, THAT AS HE LAID DOWN HIS LIFE FOR US, SO "WE OUGHT TO LAY DOWN OUR LIVES FOR THE BRETHREN." (See 1 Jn. 3:16).
If we are going to lay down our lives for others we must first of all become partakers of the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus. THE CORN OF WHEAT THAT FALLS INTO THE GROUND AND DIES MUST BE ALIVE BEFORE IT CAN DIE AND BRING FORTH FRUIT. It may remain dormant for many years, and unable to reproduce itself. But if it is alive and planted in the earth in the right season it will come forth in new life. We can only bring forth life in others if we ourselves are walking in this new Life of the Spirit. Then we are OVERCOMERS, even in death. Our pursuit would have to be a very selfish one if we just wanted to enjoy this abundant Life of Jesus, and go on living in immortal flesh, while multitudes of men and women, in the Church as well as in the world, are held in bondage under the Law of Sin and Death. If the true Spirit of Jesus filled our hearts we would consider the "dying of the Lord Jesus" to be our highest calling.
Our "Dying" Should Be "Sacrificial"
"Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus..." (2 Cor. 4:10).
Paul's death was a sacrificial death because of the Law of Life that brought him to a death that was fruitful for the Body of Christ.
"For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand" (2 Tim. 4:6). The Greek word for "offered" is "spendo," meaning "to devote one's life as a sacrificial offering." Paul used the same word in Philippians 2:17, "Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all." He would rejoice if he could pour out his life in death as a drink-offering unto God--poured out on the sacrificial offering of faith that was rendered to God by the saints at Philippi. He would rejoice if his sacrifice in death was mingled with the same sacrificial spirit that was manifested by the Philippians in their faith and service unto God. Some of David's mighty men risked their lives out of love for David, as they broke through the Philistine ranks to fetch David a drink of pure, refreshing water from the Well of Bethlehem. They had procured this water for David at the risk of their lives. They had poured out their lives for David whom they loved. It was a great sacrifice to God, and David felt he must make their sacrifice still more meaningful, by pouring the water they had brought him back unto God as a drink offering. How could David consume this fresh water for his own thirst, in view of their great sacrifice? And how can we hope and pray for good health and long life merely to enjoy it for ourselves when we consider how others in the Church have given their lives in martyrdom that we might enjoy the life of Christ flowing forth in our midst as a river of living water?
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service" (Rom. 12:1). Paul calls this a "living sacrifice." I believe God wants to give us health and life--physical as well as spiritual. It is our heritage in Christ Jesus. The only time the children of Israel suffered sickness and evil diseases in their 40-year pilgrimage in the wilderness, was when they walked in rebellion. God was their strength and their life. He was the LORD that healed them, and kept them healthy. Moses' testimony was that they "lacked nothing" (Deut. 2:7). Are we not to expect greater things under Grace, than under the Law?
But because of God's abundant grace, and because of His mercies, He bids us to present our bodies unto Him as "a living sacrifice"--these mortal bodies--but bodies that are quickened with the life of Christ.
God help us to understand that we are only pursuing "the power of His resurrection" if at the same time we are pursuing "the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death" (Phil. 3:10). Once we understand God's way, we lay aside any selfish hopes for our own spiritual or physical well-being, and seek only the welfare of others. The corn of wheat can only find true fulfillment as it submits to the process of "dying." And so the physical and the spiritual life that God wants to impart to His people is not for our own selfish enjoyment, but a life that is to be laid down in sacrificial love for others.
Whenever God quickens the truth to the hearts of His people, invariably we have ambitious teachers who presumptuously begin to "claim" the promises "by faith" and some kind of disaster inevitably follows. Can we not claim "the promises of God"? We can, if it is by "the faith of God." But there is a vast difference between the "faith" we presumptuously claim, and the "faith of God" that comes to our hearts when we hear Him speak a LIVING WORD. We are always totally dependent upon God--and His timing, and His purposes--for the measure of faith that He is pleased to impart to us. And our hope in this writing is not that men and women will be inspired to reach out and appropriate "faith" to do signs and wonders and exploits in His Name, or to experience immortality in the days of their flesh, BUT TO START WALKING IN OBEDIENCE TO THE WILL OF GOD.
When God begins to deal with a corporate people, as He is doing today, we are no longer an island unto ourselves. When one man sinned in Israel THE ARMIES OF ISRAEL WERE ROUTED IN BATTLE. (See Josh. 7:5-12). It should not seem strange, then, that many of God's people are being tested and tried beyond measure in this matter of sickness and disease, and all kinds of devastation of one kind or another. We thank Him for His mercy, and for what He is doing in the lives of many, but we are not going to see any real measure of spiritual and physical health in the Body of Christ until God deals with the sin and the folly of His people in forsaking Him, the Fountain of Living Waters. And so we should not judge any individual for their failure to appropriate the full blessing of redemption, by way of walking in physical or in spiritual health. We have to come back to the Fountain. We have to make Him to be the Lord IN OUR HEARTS AND IN OUR ASSEMBLIES, before that Fountain of Life can flow freely from one member to another in the Body of Christ.
Chapter 4 - Two Men/Two Kingdoms
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