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Given for the Saints at Medicalodge, Neosho, MO, 10/20/02

"By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return" (Gen. 3:19, NIV).

Today, we will continue our discussion of the long journey from the dust of the earth to the throne of God. In Genesis, chapter one, God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness....; So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them" (Gen. 1:27, RSV). Notice that He said, "In our likeness," rather than "in my likeness." God has been relational and communal from the beginning. Since He created male and female in His image and likeness, it is clear that God Himself is both male and female, Father AND Mother, and the "them" in whose image man was created, included the Son: "but in these last days he (God) has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven" Heb. 1:2-3, NIV).

From these verses, we see that from eternity, Father, Mother and Son were present and THEY created man in THEIR image, the image reflected by Their Son. "He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation" (Col. 1:15, RSV).. The Son, by whom the worlds were framed "is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being." He is the first born of many brethren, which demonstrates the honor and majesty God bestowed upon all His sons, and indeed, upon His entire creation, which He described as "VERY GOOD" (Gen. 1:31). The mournful comment, "dust you are, and to dust you shall return," in no way detracts from God's intention toward us from before the foundation of the world. And yet, as we noted last week, some get stuck in the dust realm and fail to reach the glory. We are so much more than a sack of dust, however, even as a TV set is more than a box of tubes, wires, electrodes, plastic and metal. Who we are is not merely chemical compounds and elements arranged in a pleasing form. Elihu, one of Job's not so comforting comforters, acknowledged that he was made of clay; nevertheless, he asserts, "The spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life" (Job 33:4,6, RSV). The ancient Hebrews knew that man was far more than a lump of clay: "What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor and put everything under his feet." In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone" (Heb. 2:6-9, NIV). We do not YET see everything under our feet, but by His grace, God allows us to see Jesus, our pattern, and our champion, assuring us that we shall be like Him! (I John 3:2).

The Hebrews knew that man is more than flesh and blood, but the Greeks believed that flesh was inherently evil and only spirit was good. Their thinking corrupted the early church which was exposed to this teaching when they were scattered by persecution throughout the Roman Empire. Perhaps this is why the Apostle Paul spends so much time explaining how the carnal nature, and the sin principle which drives it, was crucified with Christ. Everything which pertains to the death realm was swallowed up by the life of Christ: "For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life" (Rom. 5:10, RSV) or "saved through his life" (NIV). The longer I live, the more grateful I am to the teachings of Paul which clarify how Christ imparts life to us through the indwelling Spirit. To those who have set up camp in Romans Seven, identifying themselves as just sinners, he writes, "But you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Any one who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him" (Rom. 8:9, RSV). He goes on to say, "For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God" (Rom. 8:14, RSV).

One reason it is such a long trip from the dust of the earth to the throne of God is because many have fallen into the psychological pigpen of poor self image and low self esteem, believing the lie, "Oh what a worm am I." Statements like this come from what I call, "the family neurosis." This kind of damaging self analysis has been passed down for generations in some families. To me, it is part of the "sins of the fathers, handed down to the third and forth generation" (Ex. 20:5; 34:7; Num. 14:18). All families have little negative sayings about themselves which drag them down. It might be, "I'm so stupid I just can't learn," or perhaps, "We're just poor folks, and we have so much bad luck, we'll never be anything else." Whatever the self denigrating comment might be, it is straight from the pit, and most certainly, it is fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Eve was deceived by the serpent to believe that if she ate of the fruit, she would become like God. That's a subtle twist of the truth: she was created in the image and likeness of God. Satan tricked her into trying to become what she already was! Had He said, "I hate God. He's a control freak and you should hate Him too. Eat this fruit and you can get away from Him," she would probably have run screaming into the night. Instead, the perversion sounded so reasonable, so logical, so desirable, that she bit and we all fell straight into hell on earth, where we remained until Christ broke the bands that held us and carried us with Him to Glory.

Judas may also have been deceived by a subtle twist of truth, i.e., that Messiah was to be King of kings and Lord of lords at His appearing. There's a theory that rather than attempting to get Jesus killed, he thought that when he turned Him over to the authorities, the Christ would rise up as King of the Jews and take back the promised land from the hated Romans who occupied it. I'm not saying that Judas was a nice fellow. We know he was a thief, but possibly, he was trying to bring to pass what was spoken through the Prophets: that all nations would come to the brightness of their rising, that Jerusalem would be the crown jewel of the kingdom of God, and all her enemies would be destroyed. (Isa. 34:8,17; 35:9-10; 37:32,35; 40:1-5,23; 42:6-7; 44:2-3; 45:17; 49:15-18, 22-24,26; 60:1-3; 62:1-7,11-12; Mic 4:1-7; Hab. 2:14; Zech 2:4-5; 8:1-3). A militant sect among the Jews, known as the Zealots, wanted to take the kingdom by storm. They believed that they could establish the kingdom of heaven on earth by military might. Isn't that what the extremist wing of Islam is trying to do today? Destroy the infidels, bring everyone to Allah by force, and usher in the days of Paradise spoken of by the Prophet Mohammed. This is graphic evidence of how truth can be subtly twisted to seduce people into operating out of the flesh to do evil, even while claiming to obey God. The fruit of that wretched tree always brings death.

God Himself has delivered us from the flesh realm. In His magnificent prayer to His Father and ours, Jesus said of Himself, "since thou hast given him power over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom thou hast given him" (John 17:2, RSV). Christ is Lord of lords and King of kings over all things, including our flesh! When we lament about how sinful we are, how ineffective and powerless we feel, we are really saying that we are too far gone for God to help. With that kind of negativity in our soul and psyche, is it any wonder that we fail? Paul knew this and under the anointing of the Spirit, wrote, "For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, {"Abba,} Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs, heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory" (Rom. 8:15-17, NIV). You may say, "But I don't feel like a son." God showed me a long time ago that if we listen to our feelings and steer our ship by our own light, we are making a mockery of the blood of the Savior. We've just chomped down on the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and the end result is death! But thanks be to God for He has given us the victory over Satan's lies by our Lord Jesus Christ!

When I first heard this title, "Anointing the dust," it struck me as an oxymoron, i.e. "a figure of speech that uses seeming contradictions," such as "a Christian Buddhist" or "hurry up and wait." At first glance, it sounded impossible to anoint dust. If you pour liquid on dust, you get mud, and then I smiled, because I have often referred to mankind after the fall as "mud creatures." Many Christians still think they are mud men, rather than sons of God. They do not see that God created everything out of Himself, "so that what is seen (the dust) was not made out of what is visible." (It was made out of God. Heb. 11:3). He further consecrated (anointed) the dust by breathing into it the breath of His own life. Christ is the pattern son, whose experience accrues to us as well. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul summarized Christ's journey from the throne to dust and back to the throne: "Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil. 2:6-11, NIV).

Those of us to whom God has revealed the reconciliation of all, love the last part of this passage, that "at the name of Jesus every knee should bow....and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord." Those who reject God's salvation for all, protest, "Well, they will be forced to confess." As I was writing this, my spirit leapt within me when I saw that the reason everyone will confess Christ eventually, in this life or afterwards, is because they will see that He, who is the culmination, the summation of all things in glory, gave it all up, identified with us mud creatures, and then swallowed up death so that we do not have to face it. "The death he died he died to sin, once for ALL, but the life he lives he lives to God" (Rom. 6:10, RSV). Because He lives, I can face tomorrow, goes the beautiful song by the same name. The Apostle Peter proclaimed, "For Christ also died for sins once for ALL, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit" (I Pet. 3:18-20, RSV). Rejoice, dear ones. After Christ was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in spirit, He preached to the disobedient souls in prison from Noah's day. To make sure someone could not say that this was a one time occurrence, the Apostle said later, "For this is why the gospel was preached even to the dead, that though judged in the flesh like men, they might live in the spirit like God" (1 Peter 4:6, RSV). Death is the end of the dust realm, but not the end of the story!

The kingdom of God is not of this world (the dust realm), which is why we must be born again, in order to see and enter it (John 3:3,5). Since it comes not with observation, it is impossible to see it with our natural eyes (Luke 17:20). The kingdom of God is the pearl of great price, which a man would sell all he has to purchase (Matt. 13:46). Preston Eby said once that salvation is free, but the kingdom of God will cost you all you have. Jesus promised a return on our investment: "Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life" (Mark 10:29,30, RSV). By giving our all for the kingdom, we are not getting there by our works as some assume. One of the men in Lenny's Sunday School class, said recently, "If all are going to be saved, then what are we doing here?" Speaking of being forced to confess Christ, this is a good example of that kind of twisted logic. If you only confess Christ to avoid hell, you are merely paying your fire insurance, not honoring God. When Christ sits on the throne of your life and you are led by His indwelling Spirit, you will do whatever works He shows you and say whatever words He gives you. Everything else is but filthy rags!

Christ identified with us, stood beside us in the dust/death realm and triumphed gloriously over it. Scripture tells us that it was the glory of God which raised Christ from the dead (Rom. 6:4), so that "by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone" (Heb. 2:9). It comes to me that because He dwelt in glory from eternity (John 17:5), He knew the way home, and with His life's blood poured out for us, He arose victoriously from the dead, anointing the dust once for all, as He led all captives, back to glory from whence we came. The sons' journey home to God mirrors that of the one who "reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature, upholding the universe by his word of power" (Heb. 1:3). "For in him all the fulness of God was pleased to dwell" (Col. 1:19). God's glory is our guide, our mentor, and our success: "And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the LORD's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit" (II Cor. 3:18, NIV). Transformed into His likeness, reflecting the LORD's glory with unveiled faces, how can we fail? Because of Him who spoke the worlds into existence from out of Himself, and sustains them by His power (Heb. 11:3), we are overcomers! We are mud creatures no longer, but sons of the living God. "Behold, what manner of love the Father has given unto us that we should be called the sons of God" (I John 3:1). Father, open our eyes to see You as You are, to reflect Your glory upon the earth, to be Your peace and love and hope and mercy and kindness to those who have none. When they see us, let them see You. Amen. Jan Antonsson.

Jan and Lenny Antonsson

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

"From Dust to Glory, Part I"

The Glory Road

We're always glad to hear from you!

jantonsson@aol.com

This page was uploaded to the web on 10/18/02

by Jan Antonsson, Webmeister,

and last edited on 10/29/08.