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Given for the Saints at Medicalodge, Neosho, MO on 7/7/02

"Thus it is written, "So also it is written, The first man Adam became a living soul. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit" (I Cor. 15:45, ASV).

As I was meditating on what it means to be spiritual beings living in flesh, the Lord gave me the first four lines of a poem.

This blue green orb, third from the sun,

is our Father's crucible, where His work was done.

God, clothed in flesh, became a man,

our Savior, before the world began.

When I heard the word, "crucible," I looked it up because it is a word rarely used in today's world. One meaning is a container of metal employed for heating substances to high temperatures, but the one which caught my eye is, "a severe test or trial, especially one that causes a lasting change or influence." I found that fascinating because we've been talking here for weeks now about how God is a refining fire (Heb. 12:29), and about how our works will be tested by His fire. If they are built on any foundation other than Christ, they will not survive the flames, but if they are built on Christ, they will survive and lead to our reward (I Cor. 3:12-15), which is God Himself (Gen. 15:1).

We have also noted that the unspiritual man does not understand the things of the Spirit, because they make no sense to him."....you must be spiritual to see spiritual things. The spiritual man, on the other hand, has an insight into the meaning of everything, though his insight may baffle the man of the world. This is because the former (the spiritual man) is sharing in God's wisdom" (I Cor. 2:14-15, Phil). By unspiritual man, the Apostle does not only mean the man of the world, because many who sit in the pews each week, do not understand spiritual things. "How can this be," you may ask. In First Corinthians, Chapter 15, Paul says it a different way. He tells us that there are only two men in the universe, Adam and Christ. Adam, the first man, is flesh, "a living soul," and Christ, "the last Adam," is "a life giving Spirit" (I Cor. 15:45, ASV). After stating that the physical comes first, and then the spiritual (V. 46), Paul continues, "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. And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven" (I Cor. 15:46-49, NIV). I find this extremely comforting, a prophecy if you will, from God to us through Paul. We all are sons of Adam, and as such, we inherited Adam's sin and separation from God, which Paul described this way: "You were then without Christ, you were utter strangers to God's chosen community, Israel, and you had no knowledge of, or right to, the promised agreements. You had nothing to look forward to and no God to whom you could turn. But now, in Christ Jesus, you who were once far off are brought near through the shedding of Christ's blood" (Eph. 2:12,13, Phil). But even though we have borne the stamp of Adam, who was of the earth, nevertheless, we shall ALSO BEAR THE LIKENESS OF THE MAN FROM HEAVEN. That is not a conditional promise based upon our works, or upon anything we do. Rather, it is a statement of fact of what will be, and this from the Apostle who told us in no uncertain terms, "For as in Adam A-L-L die, so in Christ, A-L-L will be made alive" (I Cor. 15:22). The hell fire and damnation preachers willingly include us ALL in Adam's sins, but they balk at including us ALL in salvation. This verse and many others make it clear that A-L-L will be made alive in Christ.

Flesh is the crucible, the cauldron, the container where our Father separates soul and spirit, applies the heat of His unconditional love, burns off the dross, skims off the impurities, and the final product is SONS of GOD! There is a wonderful prophecy about this in Malachi 3: "Behold, I send my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? "For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, till they present (become) right offerings to the LORD" (Mal. 3:1-3, RSV). I want to look at this thrilling passage a little closer. Clearly, John the Baptist was the messenger who was sent to prepare the way of the Lord.

He was coming among his people, Israel, who were living the best they could under law. "Because by works of the law shall no one be justified" (Gal. 2:16), these people and all of us were dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1). We all were men of the earth, earthy, in whom the Spirit was not alive because of Adam's sin. This is why God sent John the Baptizer to them first, and his message was plain: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight" (Matt. 3:1-3, RSV). John called for repentance and baptism, which prepared their hearts for the refining fire of God. Some may have remembered Malachi's question: "But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? "For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, till they present (become) right offerings to the LORD." This is all symbolic language, putting in earthly terms what was being done in Spirit. John picked up this thought and said of Christ, "He shall baptize you in the Holy Spirit and in fire" (Luke 3:16, ASV).

We have talked a lot about the baptism in the Holy Spirit, and here is another aspect of it. These people to whom John the Baptist was sent, were dead spiritually. They had only the law, which we know made no one perfect or complete (Heb. 7:19). Jesus came bringing the kingdom of heaven to earth, present tense, but no one could see it or enter it unless he was "born again," born from above. This is not just a nice doctrine preached by pastors to get folks up to the altar, nor does it refer to being saved after we die. It is, however, an absolute necessity for anyone who wants to enter the kingdom or see it NOW, in this life! (John 3:3,5). Jesus said the kingdom is in the midst of you. You cannot see it with your natural eyes, for it "is within you" (Luke 17:21, ASV). The unspiritual man, the man of the earth cannot see it. Many who sit in the pews cannot see it either because they do not have the Holy Spirit, the purifying agent who births us from above. I am NOT talking here about gifts of the Spirit, about flamboyant services where it appears that each one tries to outdo the other in flashy manifestations. I am speaking rather of the new birth which enables us to see that we were crucified with Him, buried with Him in baptism, and raised with Him to walk in newness of life (Rom 6:3-4). In that beautiful passage, Paul clarifies what Jesus only hinted at when He said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:53-54, RSV).

The Jews were terribly disturbed and offended by His saying they should eat His flesh and drink His blood. After all, one of the prime tenets of the law was that they should NOT eat blood! (Gen. 9:4; Lev. 7:26), but what Christ was talking about here was HIS LIFE which the Holy Spirit creates in us through the new birth. Paul makes this so plain in Romans Six: "We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For he who has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 6:6-11, RSV). Our spiritual participation in His death, burial and resurrection gives us eternal life. We are eating His flesh and drinking His blood, by the power of the Holy Spirit within us. The death He died, He died once, for all. He has complete dominion over death and the grave, and in Him, so do we! Hallelujah!

Remember that when the mother of James and John came to Jesus asking if her sons could sit on each side of him when He came into His kingdom, Jesus asked her if they were able to drink the cup He was to drink (Matt. 20:22). He referred to the cup of death, the beginning of our journey to life in God. We must reckon ourselves dead, Paul said, or in other words, with our spiritual eyes see that we ARE dead in Christ. This makes no sense at all to the unspiritual man because he is trying to understand it with his carnal mind, his flesh. He does not see it nor hear it, so he must rely on the religious platitudes and the dead works which religion offers. This is why the Hebrew writer encourages us, "LET us leave behind the elementary teaching about Christ and go forward to adult understanding. Let us not lay over and over again the foundation truths, repentance from the deeds which led to death, believing in God, the teaching of baptism and laying-on of hands, belief in the resurrection of the dead and the final judgment" (Heb. 6:1,2, Phil). When you look at this list: elementary teachings about Christ, (facts about Him, rather than knowing Him), repentance, belief, baptism, laying on of hands, and final judgment, it seems to me that if you took these topics off the agenda, the churches I know would have to close their doors, because most Pastors preach about nothing else, week after week. No wonder the parishioners are spiritually sick and near death because they are being fed milk, not meat!

Among the dead works is the fear and dread about the wrath of God and the judgment. People who are operating out of their carnal minds, rather than by the Spirit of God, take a scripture like we read in Malachi, about the purifying of the sons of Levi, and make it a dreadful and scary thing. It is a glorious event, actually, because our God IS a refining fire. He is the one who cleanses us, and as a result, we will be able to come back home to the Garden and fellowship with him NOW! Yes, the Old Testament, especially, is full of instances where God poured out His wrath, but as one speaker I heard recently described it, the wrath of God is another face of His grace. Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel had the unpleasant job of announcing to Israel how God was going to punish them for their heinous sins. It is hard to read at times, but there is always grace in and among the harshness.

This passage is particularly sweet as God says to Israel through Isaiah, "To me this is like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth. So now I have sworn not to be angry with you, never to rebuke you again. Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the LORD, who has compassion on you" (Isa. 54:9-10, NIV). Later on, he says, "For I will not contend for ever, nor will I always be angry; for from me proceeds the spirit, and I have made the breath of life" (Isa. 57:16, RSV). (Without His Spirit, it is impossible to see this truth). The Lord said to them through Jeremiah, "Go, and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, 'Return, faithless Israel, says the LORD. I will not look on you in anger, for I am merciful, says the LORD; I will not be angry for ever" (Jer. 3:12, RSV).

The prophet Micah asks, "Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy" (Micah 7:18, NIV). Notice that all these prophets attested to the truth that God will not be angry forever. When I heard a tape of this same speaker sharing a few of these verses with a group of people who believe in an everlasting hell, my pulse quickened as I thought, "Surely someone in that audience will ask, 'If the bible says God will not be angry forever, then how can He punish anyone in hell forever'?" The speaker stopped short of asking that question, but I won't. Rev. 15:1, proclaims, "Then I saw another portent in heaven, great and wonderful, seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is ended." So I ask you, how can God punish His children in an eternal hell if His wrath is ended? How?

Is our Father God a worse parent than human beings? We punish our children at times, not because we hate them, but because we want to save them from getting hurt, or worse. If a human being punishes his child so severely that the child dies, what happens to him? He is put in jail for murder. Dare we accuse God of the heinous crime of sending 99% of His children to an eternal hell where they will be tormented night and day for ever, with no possibility of reprieve or repentance? Isaiah said "When your judgments come upon the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness" (Isa. 26:9). Righteousness is "right relatedness" with God, an impossibility if we are to be separated from Him forever. Was Isaiah a liar? Is our Father a murderer, a cruel judge, a callous parent who cares nothing for the suffering of His children, nor gives them a chance to repent? It is a blasphemous thought, and yet the unspiritual man believes it and preaches it. Paul reminds us that, "we have the mind of Christ" (I Cor. 2:16, RSV). This means that when we have the mind of Christ, we will rejoice in this truth: "If I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw ALL men unto me" (John 12:32).

Jesus announced that He was the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy: "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor" (Luke 4:18-19, NIV). The doctrine of everlasting hell fire is neither Good News nor freeing. When Christ baptizes us with His Holy Spirit, our blind eyes are opened; we are released from the prison of oppression by the flesh, and with Christ dwelling in us, we proclaim the year of the Lord's favor to the rest of creation as He leads us. Father, open our eyes to see this truth. Amen. Jan Antonsson.

 

This blue green orb, third from the sun,

is our Father's crucible, where His work was done.

God, clothed in flesh, became a man,

our Savior, before the world began.

Lord, open our eyes that we may see

the plan You birthed in eternity,

that in our life and in our heart,

Your Spirit would give us a brand new start.

Thank you, Lord, for becoming The Man,

the consummation of Your eternal plan.

Your wrath has ended; your mercy begun,

our new life flows from the life of your Son.

Your Good News is for Gentiles and Jews,

for the heathen in and out of the pews.

Your creation will never be the same,

we honor and praise You and declare Your name.

With all the angels watching in glory,

we thank You God, that in the end of the story,

no one can fail to enter your rest,

for you, our Father, sent the very Best.

Flesh we were; spirit we became,

Sons of God in Jesus' name.

Send us with power to all creation,

to bring the Gospel to every nation. Amen.

Poem written 7/2/02 for the Saints of the World

Jan and Lenny Antonsson

17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail)

The Glory Road

We always enjoy hearing from you!

jantonsson@aol.com

This page was uploaded to the web on 7/13/02

by Jan Antonsson, Webmeister,

and last edited on 10/29/08.