KINGDOM BIBLE STUDIES
studies in end-t/me revelation
THE HEAVENS DECLARE
VIRGO--THE VIRGIN (continued)
In last month's Study on the Signs of the heavens we considered the three Pecans, or three secondary constellations grouped about the Sign of Virgo. The first is called Coma. It depicts a woman sitting in a chair holding a child in her arms, which she is contemplating and admiring. The name Coma means "the desired" or "the longed for" -- the very word which Haggai the prophet uses where he speaks of the coming Messiah as "THE DESIRE of all nations." "And I will shake all nations, and THE DESIRE of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts" ~,a~. 2:/~. Historically this is Jesus the Christ. Prophetically it is the manchild or the manifested sons of God--the complete Christ, Head and body. How this precious child is DESIRED!
The second constellation of Virgo is Centaurus. It is depicted as a centaur, which in ancient times was a creature having the head and torso of a man, with the body and legs of a horse, and thus a dual-natured being. Centaurs were believed to be heaven-begotten. They were born of the clouds; they were sons of the gods. But they were despised, hated and abhorred by both gods and men. The Centaur in the Decan of Virgo is pictured going forth as a hunter, with a spear he is slaying a beast which is called the VICTIM, and the whole scene appears in the heavens against the back-ground of the Southern Cross or Crux. The name of this constellation in Arabic, Chaldaic and Hebrew was BEZEH, meaning "the despised one"--just the opposite of Coma, "the desired." Yet --they are one and the same! This title BEZEH, meaning "the despised one," is found several times in the Hebrew Old Testament. Most commonly known of the passages in which it is to be discovered is Isa. 53:3 where it appears twice in one verse. Referring to the rejection of Israel's Messiah by that nation, the prophet cries, "He is DESPISED (BEZEH) and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, and we hid as it were our faces from Him; and He was DESPISED (BEZEH) and we esteemed Him no t ."
Let us summarize the scene. Here is a double-natured being, out of the heavens, yet in the likeness of men, who, to men is repulsive and despised, yet really great, powerful and beneficent, pushing with his spear at the heart of some victim, and moving all the while over the constellation of the Cross. What a picture! Historically this is Jesus, the man who is the Lord from heaven, but made in the likeness of sinful flesh,. humbling Himself to be despised and rejected of men, yet great, powerful and glorious with words divine attended by signs, wonders, miracles, and authority and grace such as men had never witnessed, yet laying down His life, slaying Himself, as a Victim, over a cross, as a sacrifice, a sweet smelling savour unto God.
The message which beams from this awe-inspiring picture is also enunciated by the apostle Paul in ICor. 1:26-29. "Ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty...that no flesh should glory in His presence." And so it has been, even as the apostle declared, that the Lord rarely calls the mighty ones of this world. No, He calls the lowly, the meek, the humble; those possessing a simple, childlike faith; those who in their hearts are humbly and truly seeking Him, "if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him" (Acts 17:27). To these, and these alone, He reveals the glorious MYSTERIES OF THE KINGDOM.
This, indeed, is a miracle of the ages; it is one of the most thrilling of all the Lord's arrangements for His people. For, to know and understand these precious truths is a confirmation of our sonship; it is assurance that the seed has fallen on good ground and that it is being received into good and honest hearts. It is evidence that the great God of the universe has begun a good work in us, that He has called us and is dealing with us as His children. Is this not a marvelous arrangement! And so we can say with the apostle that "we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: which none of the princes of this world knew" (I Cor. 2:7-8). But we have the mind of Christ, and He has revealed these things to us by His Spirit. For unto us, unspeakably, amazingly, "it is given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of God."
To those who have not eyes to see the grand and glorious purposes of God He appears to do some very foolish things, and to exhibit a lot of weakness for One who is supposed to be the omnipotent Creator of the universe. The wonder of His ways is revealed in the fact that it is in these very things that God is pleased to reveal His glory, His wisdom and His power: to baffle the wisdom of the wise, and to bring to nought the counsels of the mighty. As George Warnock once wrote: "Therefore, in the midst of the apostasy of modern day Christianity, and the hypocrisy and artificiality of modern day religion, we who know somewhat of God's ways can rejoice in the fact that it is just like God, in times like these, to rend the heavens and come down in power and great glory...and yet in ways that will seem strange and foolish in the eyes of the world. We are confident that the darkness and gloom about us will once again become the fitting background for the display of the gems of His glory. Some good Christian people are trying to set the stage for God to work, but God always has to by-pass these efforts, for He has prepared the stage upon which He will reveal His sons who are moving in harmony with His will. For it is consistent with God's character and way, and with the jealousy of His Glory, that the greater the work He will perform in the earth--the greater will be the measure of weakness and foolishness that He will cause an unbelieving world to behold."
God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. As far back as Isaiah God said that He would cause the wisdom of the wise to perish or disappear. It will be made to disappear, not by a mighty act or work of God, but by some foolish thing of the world. Foolish means something which is dull or stupid. Ah, the weakness of God is stronger than the might of man! God will take a thing in the world that man looks upon as stupid or dull and use that to cause the wisdom of the world to perish or disappear. The dull or stupid thing, so regarded by the "enlightened" religious world, will confound, disgrace, or "put to the blush" the wisdom of the wise. The wise man of the religious world will be put to shame by that which he considers to be stupid, yet is chosen of God. God is choosing that which is weak, which has no strength of itself, to confound, to disgrace, to make to blush those things which are mighty in the world. To know the mind of God we must have the mind of Christ. And the mind of Christ is this, that He emptied and humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death. This humility was His capacity, His fitness for rising to the throne of God. This mind must be in us if the hidden wisdom of God is to be revealed in us in power. This is the mark of the spiritual, the perfect man.
Dearly beloved, consider Jesus! The popular notion is that the death of Christ was His cruel death upon the cross of Calvary. The truth is far greater than that, for the Christ in fact died three times, or shall we say that His death was three-fold, having three dimensions. We read in Isa. 53:9, "And He made His grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death." It is interesting to note that in the Hebrew the word death is plural--"deaths." Is that not rather curious? "In His deaths!" Did Christ die more than one death? The plural, "deaths," intensifies the force; as of Adam it is said, in the Hebrew, that "dying thou shalt die" (Gen. 2:]7), that is, Adam would enter into a DEATH PROCESS in which he would pass from one realm of death to another and die and die and continue to die until the process was completed and he was totally dead (separated from the consciousness of life) in every aspect, spirit, soul, and body; so the Christ experienced a reverse PROCESS OF DEATH that lead Him from death to death until He had died to all the negative in every realm and could live only unto God in the Spirit forevermore. He made His grave with the wicked and with the rich in His DEATHS.
Paul clearly sets forth the scope of Christ's sacrifice when he says, "Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich" (II Cor. 8:9). This passage points to the fact of the pre-existence of our Lord and clearly identifies His sacrifice. The sacrifice He made did not happen AFTER His incarnation, but BEFORE. He left the "GLORY that He had with the Father BEFORE THE WORLD WAS" and His boundless "RICHES-in glory" and entered into this gross material realm, being "made in Ell points like unto His brethren." Ah--before ever the babe appeared in Bethlehem's manger, the Christ had DIED TO ALL THAT HE WAS AS GOD in order to become a man! When Jesus came and was numbered with the transgressors, He cut every tie binding Him to heaven. He burned every bridge behind in His course of action. With this in mind we can appreciate the magnitude of His sacrifice set forth in these words of inspiration: "Let this same attitude and purpose and humble mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus. --Let Him be your example in humility--who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God (possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God, God), did not think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped or retained; but STRIPPED HIMSELF of all privileges and rightful dignity so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born as a human being. And after He had appeared in human form He abased and humbled Himself STILL FURTHER and carried His obedience to the extreme of death, even the death of the cross! (Phil 2:5-8, Amplified). Truly, He DIED TO ALL THAT HE WAS AS ALMIGHTY GOD, He emptied Himself and became poor, becoming a MAN. THAT WAS HIS FIRST DEATH. When He laid down His divine consciousness and entered into the charnel house of this fallen world, "He made His grave with the wicked," and when He died physically, He was laid in the tomb of the wealthy Arimathaean and thus made His grave "with the rich."
When Christ left the glory and riches of celestial life and was "made flesh," what sort of a condition did He enter into? He was not spared the lowliest kind of birth. Humanly speaking, Jesus was not born to the purple. Into the arms of a peasant maiden He came, in a stable rough-hewn out of the hillside, yonder in a little land whose light seemed to have gone out and whose people were the helpless subjects of a foreign power. If one has walked in Bethlehem and walked in Rome, he surely must be impressed with the contrast. Jesus might have been born in Rome, in the palace of the Caesuras, an imperial establishment with such a range of wealth and extravagance that even the mules of the royal stables were shod with silver. But He was not thus born. And for reasons good enough. He came to found an empire of which Rome, with her pride and tyranny, could never be the symbol. He came to win an allegiance that no legions in shining armor could ever compel. That empire is the empire of LOVE and that allegiance the response that men can make to that which they know to be love and which, because it is love, rules their lives by winning their hearts. So down this costly way of unsparing love Jesus came, His delivery room a barn, His cradle a manger, and His lot in life cast among the poor.
Handel H. Brown tells us in his extensively researched work, WHEN JESUS CAME, that "the inns, or khans, were usually quite crude affairs. They consisted of a series of thatched rooms built around a central courtyard. Often they were no more than covered porches. The travelers brought their own food for man and beast. They brought the pot in which to cook it on an open fire in the yard. They brought their bedding, and often their firewood. They looked to the innkeeper for water and shelter. When Mary and Joseph reached Bethlehem, no one took any notice of them. They were lost in a milling crowd of nameless ones. None of them had wanted to come. Like most of the men, Joseph wore crude sandals which were made of castoff rope. They were the badge of the poor. Mary was barefooted. The innkeeper took one look at them, and when he said, 'No room,' he meant it. The innkeeper turned them away. Joseph had to lead the weary donkey to a common stable. Those who have seen an Eastern byre, retch at the thought. There was no trace of the sapphire mist, or the scent of sandalwood, of which sentiment is so fond. It was full of insects with shrill voices. The loathsome blueflies gorged themselves on offal. Neither door nor curtain covered the opening of the cave. When Mary 'brought forth her firstborn son' in all the discomfort and inconvenience of a stable, she 'wrapped him in swaddling clothes' (Lk. 2:7). Then Mary laid Him in 'a manger.' This was a feeding trough used by animals. It was probably a hollowed-out stone. It was heavy enough so that the cattle could not push it around or upset it.
"The angel said to the shepherds that star-lit night, 'THIS is the SIGN unto you: Ye shall find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger' (Lk. 2:t2). This probably shook them more than anything else. Had they' heard correctly? Surely the least they could expect for THE SIGN of such an event would be an outstanding miracle. It would be a sign at least comparable to the rod of Moses turning into a serpent (Ex. 4:2), or the sundial of Ahaz being reversed to convince king Hezekiah that God would heal him (II Kings 20:8). Yet they were not even granted the miracle of a star hovering over 'where the young child was' (Mat. 2:9). The problem was not that the sign was commonplace. It was worse than that. Babies were common enough, but who, except the outcast or the poverty-stricken, would put a baby in a manger? That was a place for cattle fodder. 'A babe...lying in a manger.'
"But for the forewarning of the angel, this was the only child in Bethlehem they would have passed by without a second glance! The manger would have been an insurmountable stumbling block to them. They were looking for a SAVIOUR. The angel had spoken of CHRIST--the anointed of God for the redemption of the world. He had used of Him a title which really belonged to Almighty God Himself--the LORD. Who would look for 'the Anointed Lord' in a manger? Yet this was THE sign. They would recognize Him, not in spite of, but because of, His low estate. They would find Him, of whom all the prophets had spoken, in a MANGER. It is difficult to grasp such condescension. It is also hard to imagine a bigger difference between what the shepherds expected and what they received. The contrast between the glory of the heavenly host and the meanness of the stable cannot be exaggerated. When they inhaled the fetid air of the polluted den, these sons of the great outdoors must have wondered, 'Do angels come to speak of such things?"' --end quote. The message is clear--God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and the weak, base, and despised things of the world to confound the things which are mighty! It is the law of His Kingdom.
In Bethlehem's stable Jesus the Christ came into this world as the second man, the last Adam, the new Federal Head of Adam's ancient race--redeemed and restored. He stood in all the dignity and splendor and wisdom and power and dominion given to man in the beginning ere sin and limitation and death passed upon him. What a man! Sinless man. Perfect man. Diseaseless man. Unlimited man. Anointed man. Crowned man. Man in the image of God. God man. Man the revelation of God to creation. Deathless man. What a specimen! What a man! And yet--don't forget this--He took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men, even Adam's benighted race. What infinite strength out of incredible weakness! He was EVERY INCH A MAN! A man who faced' -- and conquered--every temptation known to humanity. A man who (though as God, He had been omnipresent) could only be in one place at a time. Although as God He had neither slumbered nor slept (Ps. 121:4), as man, He suffered weariness (Jn. 4:6) and required sleep (Mat. 8:24). He must go from place to place upon hot, weary, dusty feet--His rate of travel limited to the speed of walking, His feet which had trod the infinite spheres of the dimensions of Spirit were soiled and bruised by the dust and stones of the unpaved and filthy Oriental streets and paths of Palestine. How He welcomed the cleansing coolness of the customary foot bath before meals--when some unselfish person thought to minister to Him in this way! He suffered hunger and thirst, loneliness, weariness, and pain. He of whom it had been said, "Every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. The world is Mine and the fullness thereof" (Ps.. 50:10,]2), claimed no part of it for Himself AS A MAN, but became even more poor than the foxes and birds, for He had not so much as a place to lay His head (Lk. 9:58).
when Jesus came to earth He died to all that He was as God to become a man. But when He came to the Jordan He died again--He DIED TO ALL THAT HE WAS AS A MAN to be the Son of God. When He went down into the watery grave of John's baptism to "fulfill all righteousness," He offered there all the capabilities, potentials, ambitions, desires, and talents He possessed AS A MAN, laying all upon the altar, surrendered completely to God, reserving nothing for Himself, a burnt-offering, a sweet smelling savor unto God.
Can we imagine what Jesus might have accomplished had He elected to use the wisdom and knowledge and power resident in His PERFECT MANHOOD for His own ends? He could have 'used His power for wealth and become the rightist man in the world. He could have used 'His talents for power, usurped the thrones of the rulers of this world and become Emperor of the mighty Roman Empire. He might have used His powers for sensual gratification, attracting the fairest women of the world to Him, building the largest harem of the most beautiful women ever possessed by a man. He could have become the world's greatest general, or the most famous artist, or the most acclaimed orator, or the most accomplished musician, or the most brilliant scientist, or the most articulate philosopher, or the most important, distinguished, eminent, exalted, renowned, or noble of a thousand different vocations and positions. But He didn't! He could have rallied the masses and marshaled an army before which the name of Alexander the Great would pale in- to oblivion. He could have built great hospitals, schools of learning, and gold-domed cathedrals. He could have initiated wonderful programs to better society and save the world from disease, poverty, and trouble. But He didn't! He said, simply, "When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am He, and that I can do nothing of Myself; but as My Father hath taught Me, I speak these things...for I do always those things that PLEASE HIM" (Jn. 8:28-29). Yes, dear ones, He DIED TO ALL THAT HE
WAS AS A MAN that He might do only and always the will of His Father. And that will led Him to Calvary and the tomb and down into hell.
Finally, Jesus died to all that He was as the Son of God, God manifest in the flesh, that He might live again in the glory He had with the Father before the world was--the incorruptible, eternal, unlimited dimension of SPIRIT. For when Jesus was crucified, risen and ascended, He returned to the Father or to SPIRIT and is now with the Father as SPIRIT, omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. When this Christ or Anointed One was crucified, risen, and ascended, He returned to His eonian resting place--HUMANITY. He has come as the last Adam, in the place of the first Adam, assuming his position as Head of the race, in order to QUICKEN THE SPIRITS OF ALL MEN BY HIS SPIRIT that they may regain the sacred knowledge of WHO THEY ARE and from WHENCE THEY CAME--the image of God on earth. As in the first chapter of Genesis, the Spirit of God--the Christ, the Anointing--is moving upon the face of the waters, upon the faces of multitudes of people, even the whole vast world of humanity. And God is speaking into the darkened consciousness of all men the transforming fiat: "LET THERE BE LIGHT!"
But we must go further. When Jesus came into the world He died to all that He was as Cod to become a man. After thirty years, reaching full manhood, He came to the Jordan and there died to all that He was as a man to be the Son of God with power--God manifest in the flesh. Finally He came to Calvary where He died to all that He was as the Son in I order to redeem and restore all men back into the image of God--the Spirit. "He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" (Rom. 8:32). Jesus was not spared in His birth, nor was He spared in His life, nor was He spared in His death. Look at Him, precious friend of mine, as they lay rough hands on Him and lead Him away. Never before has such an One marched to the condemnation of death; never since. "He that spared not His own Son..." Now the unsparing process moves swiftly and painfully. He is "delivered up for us all." Delivered up to the kiss of the betrayer! Delivered up to the infuriated mob! Delivered up to the hammer and the nails! Delivered up to die, His heaven-piercing cry, "My God, My God, Why hast Thou forsaken Me!" fading out in the hush of its own dying echoes.
I pray that the Holy Spirit will impress upon the hearts of all who follow after sonship the deep mystery of CHRIST CRUCIFIED. It is the power of an EXCHANGED LIFE, the laying down of the human life (identity, consciousness) to take up the divine life. Jesus fully and completely did this for us, that BY HIM we may follow in His footsteps. This beautiful truth is wrapped in the arms of one single verse in Isa. 40:31. This is what it says: "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." The key word is "renew." "They that wait upon the Lord shall RENEW their strength." The word actually means "exchange." What the prophet is saying is, "They that wait upon the Lord will exchange strength." It means that, as we wait upon the Lord, refusing to either recognize or demonstrate any ability of our own, our strength will be taken away and exchanged for His strength. It is not a matter of combining our strength with His, or asking Him to bless and increase our strength, but a complete removal of our strength, and a putting on of His. God says, "If you're strong, if you can do it yourself, you don't need Me." But of course our strength is limited, imperfect, insufficient, finite, mortal, corruptible. His strength, on the other hand, is unlimited, perfect, all-sufficient, infinite, immortal and incorruptible. WHAT AN EXCHANGE!
You will never understand the deep mystery of the cross until you grasp this principle of the EXCHANGED LIFE. What a cross it takes to bring to death our ways, our thinking, our ideas, our perceptions, our plans and purposes, our abilities and efforts! God would bring all who long for sonship and life to a place of complete and total dependence on HIM, THE SPIRIT WITHIN, so that He can live out His life IN US. We are His disciples, having taken a position against our outer selves by saying, "Lord, I renounce my wisdom, my strength, my ability, my (supposed) spirituality," for our trouble lies in the belief: "I am capable, I can work for God, I am holy, I am spiritual, I know something." That is our soul-life, the life of the flesh, the outer man. God wants that whole realm crucified and in its place Christ ruling and reigning within. Jesus Himself set forth the pattern, "being put to death in the FLESH, but quickened in the SPIRIT: by which (the Spirit) He went and preached..." (I Pet. 3:18-19). He was put to death in the flesh, all that was of earthly mind, self, error, mortality, limitation, and not of God delivered up to crucifixion, that He might live only in and by the Spirit, heavenly mind, truth, incorruption.
"They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh..." (Gal. 5:24). "I am crucified," says Paul. The "I" is the soul, the life of the outer man. In its place comes another self which is Christ. "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me" (G~I. 2:20). This Christ-self will now be manifested out of your spirit. While you in your own self have renounced all wisdom and power, Christ becomes the wisdom of God and the power of God in you. Paul was not, like some of the other disciples, an ignorant and unlearned man. His was the best education available in his time. His speech to the men of Athens, on Mars Hill, is still recognized as one of the best classics of persuasive debate, and of homoletical and literary arrangement. His background, training, and reputation among his fellows was such that he could declare, "I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more" (Phil. 3:4). But Paul turned it all aside. He was willing to decrease. "But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ" (Phil. 3:7). Although, as we have seen, Paul was capable of eloquent speech, he wrote the Corinthians, "My speech and my preaching was NOT with enticing words of man's wisdom, BUT IN DEMONSTRATIONOF THE S-P-I-R-I-T AND OF POWER" (I Cor. 2:4). In the next verse he tells us why he had laid aside his natural talents to depend upon the power of God and that alone. "That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." If the power of GOD WITHIN were given its rightful place today, more people's faith would stand in the power of God. Not so many would be trusting in their "church" for salvation and security, not so many would be carried away by some preacher's personality, so that they are of no use to God nor man unless they can work under his leadership.
There is a greater manifestation of strength when in yourself you have no strength at all. Is that not a strange paradox? "I am crucified...nevertheless I live; yet not I" --not the old I- "but Christ liveth in me." Why then should there not be power and wisdom and grace and authority and victory manifested in us? Christ lives in you and HE is victorious. Out of your innermost being shall flow rivers of living water, a flow of revelation and victory and power and triumph out of weakness and death. This is the ministry of the SPIRIT. Even though we renounce our wisdom, the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are manifested in us, for they are hid' IN HIM IN US --THE SPIRIT! Nothing of spiritual value comes out of the shallow well of the outer man or out of the stirring of our soulish ability. We have to settle for it that what is going to bring humanity to God in these last days will be that which out of weakness is made strong, out of death and nothingness brings life.
Christianity today has no need greater than the need to know the power and glory of the CHRIST WITHIN. CHRIST is the image of God, the scripture says. I know these words may seem to be incredible but they are truth--the very first mention of the "image of God" is applied, not to Jesus Christ, but to our forefather ADAM. "And God said, Let us make MAN IN OUR IMAGE, after our likeness: and let them have dominion...so God created MAN IN HIS OWN IMAGE, in the IMAGE OF GOD created He him" (Gen. ]:26-27). As we consider the wonderful advent of man created "in the image of God" we can only conclude that this is a SPIRITUAL MAN brought forth out of the very spirit-substance of God Almighty, and bearing His own divine nature, character, power, and attributes. The image of God is the nature of God reproduced in man. Thus, man is the true image of God. The divine nature was best and fully expressed in the man Christ Jesus who shed upon mortals the truest reflection of God and lifted man's sights higher than their poor thought-models would allow. Jesus revealed to men their true origin, heritage and destiny. He came to show man what man really is, was intended to be, and through redemption shall be--THE IMAGE OF GOD. Christ is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. In Jesus Christ you see man as he was in the beginning and as he ever shall be world without end--THE IMAGE OF GOD. Of Him it is written, "He is the expression of the glory of God--the Light-being, the out-raying of the divine--and He is the perfect imprint and very image of God's nature..Hebrews 1:3Amplified Christ, and humanity in Christ, is like a ray of light which comes from the sun-man the outcome of God, reflects God.
Contrary to popular teaching man has never LOST the image of God, although the image has been obscured, distorted, marred and corrupted by the usurpation of the carnal mind, the outer man. A lost image is NO image. The true likeness cannot be lost in divine reflection. It would be like fire without light. The out-raying image of God is like the Word of God. To destroy the Word of God you would have to destroy God Himself, for God and His Word are ONE. To destroy the image of God would necessitate the destruction of God, for God and His image are ONE. The apostle Paul confirms man 'I', as God's image in his remarkably significant words to the saints in Corinth: "For a man \ indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he I-S THE IMAGE AND GLORY OF GOD" (I,Cor:11:7)
After having created the SPIRITUAL MAN (man in God's image) in Gen. 1:26, we find a further work wrought upon this man in Gen. 2:7. "And the Lord God FORMED MAN OF THE DUST OF THE GROUND, and breathed into his nostrils the breath (spirit) of life; and man BECAME a living soul." Reading this passage we have the definite assurance that, as man has first been "created" on the sixth day a spiritual man, the image of God, a further work is being carried forth by the same almighty Creator and the man is now being "formed" into another expression: "FORMED of the dust of the ground," and so BECOMING a "living soul" -- manifest in the earth realm. The first is the "created" man, the second the "formed" man. The first is a "spiritual" man, the second a "physical" man. The first bears the image of the "heavenly," whereas the second bears the image of the "earthly." The first is known unto God in the SPIRIT, the second is manifest to creation in the MATERIAL WORLD. But I do not hesitate to tell you, my beloved, that both of these men are but aspects of the very SAME MAN!
What is man? Brain, heart, blood, bones, etc., the material structure? If the real man is in the material body, you take away a portion of the man when you amputate a limb; the surgeon destroys manhood, and worms annihilate it. But the loss of some physical member has betimes become the quickener of manhood as in the crucible of suffering there appear the virtues of humility, thankfulness, patience, compassion, drawn from the rich resources of INNER SPIRITUAL STRENGTH. The unfortunate cripple may present more nobility of true manhood than the dashing athlete--teaching us that the man on the inside is of far more enduring substance than the man on the outside! Take away the physical and take away the outer worldly elements of wealth, possessions, fame, social recognition, which weigh not one jot on the scales of God, and in what remains we get a clearer picture of man as God made him. Let goodness, mercy, justice, purity, health, holiness and love--the Kingdom of heaven--reign within us and the outer is found to be of no consequence. The real man is SPIRIT, not dust. The true man is IMMORTAL, not dying. The inner man is the IMAGE OF THE HEAVENLY, not the image of the earthly as perceived by the physical senses.
Adam's sin in eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil lay in his walking after the flesh (sense realm) instead of the Spirit. It consisted in his making the outer, physical, material, sensual man his center, identity and existence rather than the inner man of Spirit. The remarkable thing is that he perceived not that all that pertains to the material world is illusionary, transitory, corruptible. Sensual treasures are laid up "where moth and rust doth corrupt." Mortality is their doom. Death breaks in upon them, and carries off their fleeting joys. The sensualist's affections are as imaginary, whimsical, unreal and short-lived as his pleasures. Covetousness, fleshly passions, gluttony, drunkenness, immorality, fame, fashion, vanity, worldly wisdom, political power, military might, envy, hypocrisy, revenge, hate, and so forth, pass away with the works thereof. Stripped of its coverings, what a mocking spectacle the flesh is! When the almighty Creator counseled the first man and his wife, "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die," He gave precisely the same instruction in wisdom and prudence that the apostle Paul offered long milleniums afterwards when by inspiration he wrote, "For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the spirit the things of the spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live" (Rom. 8:5-6,]3). Life is in the SPIRIT WITHIN, and with what joy and satisfaction do we now entertain the precious promise, "therefore brethren we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh: but if ye through the spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, YE SHALL LIVE. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ..." (Rom. 8:12-17).
George Hawtin has eloquently expounded on this thought, and I share a few of his valuable insights. "Well did the apostle Paul know that the vast mass of humanity was 'at home' only in the REALM OF THE BODY. They belonged entirely to an earthly realm where things are visible, audible, and touchable. Their minds seldom mounted higher than things physical, and when for a few moments they did rise to walk upon a spiritual plane, they were not really 'at home' there, but waited for the moment when they could LAPSE BACK to the NATURAL AND NORMAL, for that is where they were 'at home.' So, while men are 'at home' in the body, they are 'always absent from the Lord' (II Cor. 5:6-7), absent from the spiritual world of true reality. HEAVEN IS CLOSED TO THEM. Their minds dwell in the realm where men buy and sell, plant and build, marry and are given in marriage. They dwell in a realm of eating and drinking, of finding pleasure for the body, amusing their minds with silly things of the world, absorbing, listening to, or looking at some fictitious thing that serves only to amuse the natural man, keeping his heart away from the realm of eternal reality."
My heart burns within me and my spirit is flooded with joy unspeakable and full of glory as these sacred and wonderful truths find lodging and substance within my consciousness. With what clarity I see that when Adam stood between the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in that long ago Eden, his future condition was to be shaped by the tree-identity (consciousness) he pursued. "For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the spirit the things of the spirit" (Rom. 8:5). It is all a matter of what you are AFTER! These are the two trees: spirit and flesh, life and death, truth and error. Every man who ever lived has had his center, his identity and his existence in one of these two trees. The tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil are not fossilized relics from some ancient age. They are living, breathing, enduring, ever-present realities throughout all generations, and each of us in God's great today is living by one or the other of these two trees in every thought, word and deed. The tree of life (spirit) invariably ministers incorruption and immortality, whereas the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (flesh) unfailingly leads to death.
Again I would share significant and enlightening words from the able pen of George Hawtin. In his excellent paper, THE PASSING AND THE PERMANENT, he explains, "Now, since the flesh lusts against the Spirit and is at endless conflict with it, then anything that seeks to make you earthly and fleshly-minded is a great evil. The things that belong to the realm of the flesh are passing away. Even the flesh itself is passing away. Anything that is passing away is not real. It is like a bubble that floats prettily in the air only to burst never to exist again. It is like the darkness that disappears with the dawn and has no certain dwelling place. It is like a flower in the field that blooms for a moment and disappears, a vision of the night, a fleeting shadow, a moment of joy, a passing sorrow, or a sudden pain. When such things have passed by, no one knows where they came from or whither they have gone. Those, however, who indulge themselves in the things that belong to the body grow to think that nothing is true or real but what is bodily and can be touched or seen or eaten or drunk or enjoyed by the passions of men. Unwittingly they change true riches for false; things that are unseen by mortal eyes for things that are seen. They exchange things that are spirit for things that can be touched, tasted, and felt by the body. The soul now begins to think that these things which belong to the body are real and therefore becomes fleshly minded The carnal or earthly mind is an enemy of God and an enemy of all things spiritual.
"It is small wonder then that the natural man cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God; for all things connected with the natural belong to time and change, while all things belonging to the spiritual are eternal and changeless. So then all who would come to know the WISDOM OF GOD, and the REVELATION of the Lord, must turn their spirit from the realm of the physical and changing, the corrupt and mortal, and fly away into the realm of the pure, eternal, unchanging, and immortal. It is only there that rest and truth are found, and, abiding there in the Spirit, even the body itself begins to be lifted from corruption to incorruption and from mortality to immortality. We said a moment ago that when the soul comes into the realm of the flesh, it becomes carnal and fleshly minded because it is dragged into the realm of the body. Inversely then, when the soul and spirit dwell in the secret place with God, they lift the body till it
also becomes incorruptible, immortal, and eternal. While the spirit and the body are united and dwell together, one must always be in subjection to the other. Either the body will be servant to the spirit or the spirit will be servant to the body. One will be the servant and be ruled. The other will be the master and rule. We cannot avoid this conclusion. Either the flesh will rule the spirit, or the spirit will rule the flesh. Since, however, the flesh is like the mortal and changing, and the spirit is like the immortal and unchanging, then the spirit is the one who should be the master. If the spirit is the master, it will save the flesh by lifting it to the realm of God and immortality, but if the body is master, it will ruin the soul by dragging it to the realm of the carnal, the mortal, the changing" --end quote.
When the Lord God lowered man into this gross material realm man possessed, by the spirit, the divine potential to overcome the flesh, sanctify it, transform it, infusing it with the qualities of Life--holiness and incorruption. Jesus, the last Adam, came and demonstrated for us this very principle. This potential in man to rule the natural by the spirit is shed forth in Jesus' mighty works--by His healing the sick, cleansing the lepers, casting out devils, forgiving sins, and raising the dead--He transcended by His life, words, and actions all the so-called laws of the material, mortal realm. The great significance of Jesus' mighty works will never ring clear in our spirits until we understand that He did not perform as a unique, different kind of man--all His wonderful works were the teaching of what is NORMAL FOR MAN IN HIS TRUE STATE AS THE IMAGE OF GOD. As the last Adam Jesus demonstrated all that the first Adam lost--mankind's heritage as the sons and daughters of the Most High. Little wonder, then, that He confidently and joyfully proclaimed to His disciples, "The works that I do shall YE DO ALSO; and greater works than these shall YE DO" (Jn. 14:12, Paraphrased).
By the Spirit within (the Father dwelling in Him) Jesus made nature harmonious--calming the raging of the sea, walking on the water, multiplying the loaves and fishes, turning water into wine, and making everything in nature, including the human mind and body, to be servants instead of masters. When a man's life is governed by the Spirit, his body is in submission to everlasting Life, Truth and Love. Finally, going to the cross and Himself rising from the dead He demonstrated for all men the wonderful and incontrovertible truth in the words of the apostle: "If the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit which DWELLETH I-N Y-O-U" (Rom. 8:11). The truth had been lived among men, God was manifested in flesh, the image of God had come forth in the face of Jesus Christ. But until they saw that the INDWELLING SPIRIT enabled their Master to triumph even over the grave, His own disciples could not comprehend the MAGNITUDE OF THE POWER OF GOD IN MAN. After the resurrection, even the unbelieving Thomas was forced to acknowledge how complete was the great proof of the power of the divine life in earthen vessels.
By His resurrection Jesus proved the Spirit within to be OMNIPOTENT, all-conquering, all-sufficient. He met and mastered death itself by the law of the Spirit of Life. He took no drugs to allay inflammation. He did not depend upon food or pure air or vitamins or herbs to resuscitate wasted energies. He did not require the skill of a surgeon to heal the torn palms and bind up the wounded side and lacerated feet, that He might use those hands to remove the napkin and winding-sheet, and that He might employ His feet as before. Jesus vanquished every material obstacle, overcame every law of matter, and stepped forth from His gloomy resting-place, crowned with the glory of a sublime success, and everlasting victory--the second MAN, the last ADAM--the role-model for each and every man of Adam's race! Jesus' victory over sin, sickness, pain, limitation, death and the grave was for the enlightenment of all men and for the salvation of the whole world. Paul writes, "For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved BY HIS LIFE (WITHIN). Rom 5:10
Glory be to God and peace to the struggling hearts Christ hath rolled away the stone from the human door human hope and faith through the revelation and demonstration of Life in God, the life resident in the SPIRITUAL MAN.
We have come to the most sublime of all truths. The beauty of these celestial realities is found in the fact that all Jesus did He did "for us" -- not in our place, but ON OUR BEHALF. A musician demonstrates the beauty of the music he teaches in order to show the learner the way by practice as well as precept. This was the precious import of our Lord's sinless life and of His demonstration of power over the whole flesh realm, including death. Our heavenly Father demands that all men should follow the example of our Lord and Master. In order to enter the Kingdom of the Heavens, the anchor of hope must be cast beyond the veil of this carnal, dying realm into the Shekinah into which Jesus has passed before us; and this advance beyond the law of sin and death must come through the joys and triumphs of a people "led by the Spirit" who are "the sons of God" as well as through their sorrows and afflictions. It is by facing the enemy in the crucible of experience and by the authority of the Spirit that victory is snatched from the jaws of defeat. Each and every test in our lives is an opportunity to prove for ourselves and demonstrate to those about the triumph of the Spirit over the flesh. Step by step, battle by battle, victory upon victory we ascend into the heights of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Now to come back to our original thought--CHRIST CRUCIFIED. Our Lord died to all that He was as God to become a man. He died to all that He was as a man to become the Son of God--TRUE MAN! And He died to all that He was as a Son to bring us to God. His crucifixion was the continual laying down of SELF, and the outpouring of LIFE. It meant dying to everything in every realm that was anything LESS THAN GOD. For us it pioneered the pathway of VICTORY OVER THE FLESH, which is also victory over sin, sickness, limitation and death. The cross and the resurrection are the supreme examples of what Paul means when he says, "But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: THAT NO FLESH SHOULD GLORY IN HIS PRESENCE. But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is MADE UNTO US wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, LET HIM GLORY IN THE LORD" (I Cor. 1:27-31).
Strength, my friend, springs out of weakness! Life emerges out of death! Victory is secured in the heat of battle! These are the laws of the Kingdom, and it is the lesson of the Centaur in the heavens! This is the high drama of the double-natured Centaur carrying the spear and slaying the Victim--for those elect sons of God represented by this Centaur are both human and divine, earthly and heavenly, and they are both Centaur and Victim. It means the laying down of the life for the world. It is giving ourselves to the triumph of heaven's life in our earthen vessels, but not for ourselves alone, but for creation's sake, that there shall be an outflow of life to touch men and quicken them again to the realities of the Spirit--the Paradise of God. This is son-ship! This is God IN us, God AS us, God LOVING THROUGH US, God FLOWING OUT of us, loving through us, redeeming through us, reconciling and restoring all by us. Amen. So be it!
J. PRESTON EBY
P O BOX 371240
El Paso Texas 79937
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