Given for the Saints at Medicalodge, Neosho, MO, on 3/16/03
"Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?" (I Cor. 3:16, NIV).
This week, we continue our study of the differences between Second Hand Religion (a set of beliefs we received from someone with skin on), and Life in the Spirit (the Living Water flowing from the Throne of God through His sons out to a thirsty world). Reading from the Recovery Version of the New Testament: "Do not let your heart be troubled; believe INTO God, believe also INTO Me. In My Father's house are many abodes; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I am coming again and will receive you to Myself; so that where I am you also may be. And where I am going you know the way" (John 14:1-4). These verses are so well known, having been read at countless funerals over the centuries, that we may tend to skip over them believing what religion has told us they mean, i.e., that they refer to the so called "Second coming" of Christ, the time when He returns to earth to take us back to heaven with Him where we will set up housekeeping in the mansion He has prepared for us. It pleases the Lord today for us to take a fresh look at the text with a spiritual, rather than a natural interpretation. I appreciate the study notes by Witness Lee in The Recovery Version New Testament. The foundation of this text, he says, is Christ's attempt to allay the fears of His disciples, by assuring them that He is leaving them, but not abandoning them, a big difference.
Brother Lee goes on to say what most of us know, that "My Father's house," is the temple, the body of Christ, God's dwelling place. The progression is that Christ came to earth in a physical body, "But through Christ's death and resurrection, the body of Christ has increased to be His corporate Body, which is the church, including all His believers, who have been regenerated through His resurrection (I Pet. 1:3). In Christ's resurrection the church is the Body of Christ, which is the house of God (I Tim. 3:15; I Pet. 2:5; Heb. 3:6), God's habitation (Eph. 2:21-22), God's temple (I Cor. 3:16-17)." Brother Lee tends to limit the meaning of these entities to the corporate body of Christ, but by the Spirit, I see there is an individual application as well. More about that as we continue.
In His fleshly body, Christ was limited in His fellowship with the disciples. He went through death, burial and resurrection so that He might come into them as He had promised. Note the translation of Verse one in this version: "....believe INTO God, believe also INTO Me." Most translations read, "trust IN God, trust also IN Me" (NIV), or, "believe in God, believe also IN me" (John 14:1, RSV). This reminds me of Lenny's observation that many Christians still see God as "an other," someone separate and apart from us, rather than the One in whom we live and move and have our being. If we only learn ABOUT God and ABOUT Christ, but never know them personally, we have fallen into religion's trap of substituting information for revelation. When He dwells in our heart (His temple) by faith, we live in the life giving flow of Spirit within us. He promised His followers: "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever, the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives WITH you and will be IN you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live" (John 14:16-19, NIV). His promise was that they would not be left as orphans, ones without a Father, but instead, they and we have the Father and the Son through the indwelling Christ.
Based on this scripture alone, we can see that Jesus never meant to infer that His return would take place thousands of years in the future. What good would that have done His Disciples and all who believe on Him, if we have to wait for some eschatological event to occur in order to fellowship with Him again? He said, "The world will not see me anymore, but you will see me." Sadly, those Christians who do not see Him today are like people in the world, who clearly, do not see Him. The coming this passage predicts was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost, when they were gathered together in the Upper Room: "And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance" (Acts 2:2-4, RSV). When He walked among them, He did miracles in their presence, but when He filled them and flowed out through them on the Day of Pentecost, they began to do the greater works He had prophesied when each person heard them speaking in his own language.
We have listened in on recent sessions held by the Security Council of the United Nations, and observed that each delegate has a receiver in his ear, so that he may understand through a translator what the speaker is saying. Imagine the punch it would pack if one of God's sons began to speak peace to the nations, and each one present could hear and understand what was said without the aid of a translator or a receiver! Methinks there would be no more conflict or disagreement if that were to happen, and call me radical, but I know that it could, in God's time!
Jesus promised His Disciples that He would not leave them comfortless, but would empower them with the Spirit of Truth to proclaim the Gospel to the whole world, which the book of Acts details. After healing the crippled man at the Beautiful Gate, Peter prayed, "They (the Jews) did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus." After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly" (Acts 4:28-31, NIV). And speak boldly, they did, carrying the Christ individually wherever they went, as they were scattered abroad by persecution (Acts 8:4; 11:19).
Revealing the Father was Jesus' mission, and in the famous passage where Philip asks Jesus to show him the Father, He replied: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work" (John 14:9-10, NIV). Jesus endured the cross so that we may be reconciled to the Father, know Him, love Him as He loved us, that we may be empowered to bring the glad tidings of God's unconditional love to the rest of the world. We are IN Christ and He is in the Father. The awesome conclusion then, is that we also are in the Father!
Until Christ came, all men everywhere were "separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world" (Eph. 2:12). What a dreadful state mankind was in, and sadly, most of the world still is in this situation. Christ came that we may know the Father, for He Himself is the WAY home: "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near in the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby bringing the hostility to an end" (Eph. 2:13-16). The job description of the New Creation then, is making peace.
As the world stands on the brink of war, there is still only one way to bring the hostility to an end, and it is through the redeeming work of Christ, reflecting the love of God for His creation, speaking peace to the nations (Zech 9:10).
The Apostle John declared, "We love because he first loved us" (I John 4:19). This verse is the litmus test to differentiate between Religion, which tells us we MUST, SHOULD, OUGHT love God or else, and Life in the Spirit, by which we have touched and tasted and felt His unconditional love in our lives. Those who have not felt His unconditional love, walk in fear. Those who would solve the problems of the earth by waging war are walking in fear. "Do it to them before they do it to us," is the world's motto, parroted by many Christians, who are afraid. John gives us the antidote for the problem of fear: "And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love" (I John 4:16-18). What is the practical application of this in our lives? Millions of words have been written, spoken, and sung, but none of us can recognize perfect (unconditional) love until we feel it personally. Until then we can only give the kind of love which was given us, usually the kind with strings attached. Filled with His love, we are like Him in this world.
Jesus said to the Disciples, "When a man loves me, he follows my teaching. Then my Father will love him, and we will come to that man and make our home within him" (John 14:23, Phil.). Isn't it awesome that the Father and Son, through the Holy Spirit will make their home within us? Does that mean then, that we are God's house? Consider this passage: "For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. Moses was faithful as a servant in all God's house, testifying to what would be said in the future. But Christ is faithful as a son over God's house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast" (Heb. 3:4-6). Some dear ones continue to be in bondage to guilt and shame. If we are God's house, then are we not defiling the Temple of God with our unbelief in the power of the blood to remove not only our sin but our guilt as well? Can a holy God dwell in an unholy place? Impossible! Consider this an antidote to the twin diseases of guilt and shame, which poison the heart, defeat the soul, and make us unfit for the kingdom of God.
Jesus sought to comfort the hearts of His Disciples on the eve of His death. They did not understand it at the time, until the Holy Spirit came, of whom He said, "He will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you" (14:26). During the days and months and years which followed, I feel sure they went to the First Bank of Heaven many times to cash in their "Peace" check.
The world's idea of peace comes from the strength of military might. The Lord's peace is based on love, not machines of war: "Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. "You heard me say, 'I am going away and I am coming back to you.' If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe" (John 14:27-29).
It must have been tremendously traumatic for them to contemplate the death of their Lord and Master. They had seen Him heal the sick and raise the dead. If I try to look at His words as they might have, I may have thought, "He has power over death. Surely He cannot die." And in a real sense, they were right. They did not understand His metaphor of the seed falling into the ground in order to multiply itself. Sometimes, I think we really don't get it either.
We have to die to self, He said (Mark 8:35), and the groanings we hear daily from people in turmoil of the flesh, or in agony of the soul, come from this death of self. He said we would have to take up our cross if we want to follow Him (Matt. 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23), and I think He said it that way, because He knew what religion would do with His words, and His intentions. Crucifixion is one death we cannot perpetuate on ourselves. If we could, we'd try, even as men have always tried to work their way to heavenly rewards.
"Our God is a consuming fire" (Heb. 12:29), and it is that burning love which put our self efforts and our carnal nature to death on the cross with Christ (Rom. 6:3-7). Perhaps this is what is happening on a world wide scale right now. For sure, there is enough ego and pride, carnality and rebellion on both sides of the Suez Canal to reach from the earth to the sun. Like living stones, however, His sons are being "built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" (I Pet. 2:5). Only the indwelling Spirit can transform these lumps of clay, which we were, into living stones, which we are.
Jesus said, "I am the way and the reality and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). Witness Lee adds: "The Lord Himself is the living way by which man is brought into God the Father, the living place." When I woke up this morning, the Lord brought this truth into sharp focus. It is IN Christ, who is IN the Father where all the kingdom resources abide. When we are in HIM, no harm can befall us; no sin can defeat us and no threat of war or rumors of war can disrupt our peace. Hallelujah!
The kingdom of God is in the world today. God is on His throne, and no matter what it looks like, He is working out His perfect plan for the ages. The Disciples were demoralized and shattered when their Lord was seized and crucified like a common criminal, but in spite of how it appeared, this was God's perfect plan in action. He alone knows the end from the beginning, and He alone knows what it will take to bring the kingdom into the hearts and minds and reality of ALL men. Father, open our eyes to see You as You are, so that we may be like You. Continue the work, whatever it takes, to allow us to see that we are "a holy temple in the Lord," a "dwelling place of God in the Spirit" (Eph. 2:21-22). In the name above all names, by which ALL men MUST be saved, we pray, Amen. Jan Antonsson To be continued.....
Jan and Lenny Antonsson
17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail)
"Second Hand Religion, Part I"
"Statement of Faith, Second Hand Religion, II"
"Beyond the Veil, Second Hand Religion, III"
"Risen from the dead, Second Hand Religion, IV"
"Anointing the Lord, Second Hand Religion, V"
"All things under His Power, Second Hand Religion, VI"
"The Kingdom Option, Second Hand Religion, VII"
"Connected to the Vine, Second Hand Religion, IX"
"Chosen by God," Second Hand Religion, X"
"Labor Pains, Second Hand Religion, XI"
"Coming Home, Second Hand Religion, XII"
"A New Beginning, Second Hand Religion, XIII"
"Declaring the end from the beginning, Second Hand Religion, XIV"
The Glory Road
We always enjoy hearing from you!
This page was uploaded to the web on 3/13/03
by Jan Antonsson, Webmeister,
and last edited on 10/21/08.