GOD'S SPIRITUAL CREATION No. 2
By Larry White
In my last lesson I was reviewing with you some principles about God's spiritual creation and of his hidden eternal purpose that he was working out in man's history. We had gone over the fact that God had a representative man in Abraham to whom he gave promises which were eternal in nature and which pointed in the direction of the mystery of God.
This mystery we saw was ordered and worked out through Abraham's descendants in the Jewish nation; for it was through that nation that the offspring of Abraham would come, to whom the promise was made. And we saw that in Christ, the faithful Remnant people, of not only Israel, but also the whole world, were gathered together and given the promises.
There are many facets to the mystery of God and different ways of viewing it.
Read Eph. 3:8-11
Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; And to make all [men] see what [is] the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world has been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly [places] might be known through the church, the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:
It's my understanding that this mystery is God's manifold wisdom, i.e. it is many faceted; there are many things involved in it (That's why it's so hard to give an overview of it in one sermon) but it's all according to one grand purpose - God's eternal purpose that he planned and carried out in Christ.
Also, it's my understanding that this "fellowship of the mystery" is the participation that we have together in the unity of the Spirit with all the faithful who have ever lived, and that we all have in the fellowship of the church.
We saw earlier that part of the mystery was that the Gentiles, or the whole rest of the world, would be included in the blessings promised to Abraham. But by no means is this the full extent of the mystery of God's purpose. These Gentiles became part of God's faithful Remnant in the church. But what did God have planned for the Remnant?
This, was also the mystery.
There is, in the world in which we live, a dual quality or nature. One is, as it were, superimposed over the other.
One is readily apparent the other is invisible.
One we see with the eyes the other we accept by faith.
One is temporary the other is eternal.
One is the shadow the other is the reality.
One is the realm of flesh the other is the heavenly realm.
The spiritual realm is what Paul refers to as the heavenly places in the book of Ephesians. The term "places" is added by the translators to carry the idea of a realm. The word Paul uses is "the heavenlies".
Eph. 1:3 It is where all spiritual blessing are.
Eph. 1:20 It is where Christ sits on his throne.
Eph. 2:6 It is where we are now raised to sit with him.
Eph. 3:10 It is where the spiritual principalities and powers are.
Eph. 6:12 It is where the Christian's warfare is.
Now let's look a little more closely at this spiritual creation. We said before that God was and is bringing forth and unfolding his eternal purpose.
God gave Israel a law. This law was given to show man his sin -- it was given to preserve an understanding and system by which God would redeem man when the seed came to whom the promise of Abraham was made. It was a tutor to bring man to Christ. Even in receiving it there was an indication by Moses of where this law led. When he came down form the mountain his face glowed - it radiated the glory of God. He had to put a veil over his face after each time he spoke with the nation of Israel. Paul says he did this so that "they could not steadfastly look to the end of that which is abolished." (2 Cor. 3) The "end" here in the Greek is (teleoV) teleos, an intended end or goal.
The veil here typified man's inability to understand the final purposes of God in giving the Law. Remember as we said earlier, man with a carnal mind cannot understand the spirit. The goal, or end, however, can be seen and is unveiled in the glorious face of Jesus Christ.
2 Cor. 4:1-6
Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts, to [give] the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Not the face of Moses anymore, but the face of Jesus. As God began the physical creation with the entrance of light, he also started the new creation with the shining of light to overcome the darkness of the world. He shined in the hearts of the Apostles, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus. Light, in the Bible, is always indicating knowledge, truth, righteousness and purity. Darkness is ignorance, lies, sin and wretchedness.
This light is the knowledge of the glory of God. Therefore, the glory of God must be something that can be known. And this knowledge can be apprehended or understood in the face of Jesus Christ. This, according to 2 Cor. 3 is had through the ministry of the Spirit.
But how can carnally minded man understand this spiritual knowledge? He must be born again. In John 3:3, Jesus said that in order to "see" GRK (oraw) orao, or grasp, understand with the mind, or comprehend the kingdom of God - you must be born again.
Something here must be kept in mind. Spiritual is not physical, or of the flesh. This is the point that Nicodemus couldn't understand. Jesus said in John 3, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." When Nicodemus still didn't get it - Jesus gave an analogy of the wind. You can hear it, but can't see it come or go. The Spirit is invisible and intangible, yet powerful. The Spirit is not physical; not material; "not made with hands"; "not of this building"; and it doesn't conform to the fleshly interests of man's human life.
God gave Israel a law. But this law was only parallel to the real spiritual principles in the heavenly, spiritual realm. "The Law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." (Jno.1:17) The true, real spiritual righteousness that heaven requires of a man is not through the Law but through the faith of Jesus Christ, who is our righteousness. The Law was only the shadow cast by this spiritual reality.
Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath [days]: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body [is] of Christ.
The real body, or "substance" (for lack of a better term) of the universe is spirit and not physical matter. "For we look not on the things which are seen, but on the things that are not seen. For the things that are seen are temporal, but the things that are not seen are eternal" (2 Cor. 4:18)
The Law of God was ineffective and lacking to produce righteousness in man because it worked through man's flesh to try to restrain him from sinning - to try to make him conform to the Goal. The problem there, of course, is that the Goal - is spiritual.
For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
The only thing the Law did was condemn man. But we Christians are now dead to the Law and dead to that old carnal man, and we can now serve God in the spirit and fulfill that righteous requirement of the Law.
Know you not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives? For the woman which has an husband is bound by the law to [her] husband so long as he lives; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of [her] husband. So then if, while [her] husband lives, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. Wherefore, my brethren, you also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that you should be married to another, [even] to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.
The physical body of Christ on the cross represented our old husband; the physical man under bondage to the Law. When he died, the old law that we were under died with him, and we died to it. Jesus nailed it to his cross. But now Jesus is risen from that death to a new life as a Spiritual Man, the Second Adam of God's spiritual creation.
For when we were in the flesh, the motions (or passions) of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. But now we are delivered from the law, being dead to that wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not [in] the oldness of the letter.
When Jesus died, we died with him. When Jesus rose again to a spiritual life, we rose with him. And now, just as we partook of the characteristics of the first Adam, in the flesh, we also now partake of the characteristics of the second Adam, in the spirit.
By virtue of the fact that we were born anew by the Spirit - we now have a spiritual life and do not function or serve in the realm of the physical flesh anymore. We now serve God in the spirit; the new and living and real way. It was by the death of Christ that we are now justified and can now be free from the Law and free from the slavery of sin.
Paul said in Galatians 2:19-20, "For I through the Law am dead to the Law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ..." Do you see what he's talking about? He's referring to the new and living way that he serves God.
The place where this spiritual creation began was in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, ten days after Jesus had ascended, according to the promise of the Father. This marked the giving of the Holy Spirit; the first preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; and the beginning of the church. Peter preached that Jesus was the Christ and that men should believe it. They should repent and be immersed for the pardon of their sins and they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. That's how men are regenerated or born again and partake of this new creation.
This is the mystery of the Gospel, as in Eph. 6:19. When we repent and are immersed we are forgiven of every sin and God makes us alive spiritually. The Holy Spirit takes up his abode in us and begins the work of sanctification. This sanctification is done through the ministry of the Spirit, which, on our part, is our faith in and obedience to Christ who is one with the Spirit, and on his part, forming us into the image of Christ and making us alive, "according to the working of his mighty power." Eph. 1:19
Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: And not as Moses, [which] put a veil over his face, that the children of Israel could not steadfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: But their minds were blinded: for until this day remains the same veil untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which [veil] is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord [is], there [is] liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, [even] as by the Spirit of the Lord.
This was the mystery of his will. When the Jew turned to the Lord, he turned to the Spirit, not to the physical Law. He turned to freedom away from fear and bondage of the letter that condemns and kills. We turn also to the Spirit, away from the flesh to the eternal realities in the heavenly places. And as we continually see the glory of our Lord, we are transformed into his image (and reflect his glory) by the ministry of the Spirit. This was the mystery of Christ that Paul preached, as in Col. 4:3.
Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God; [Even] the mystery which has been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what [is] the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
That's the Goal that God had in mind for us from the foundation of the world; that we should share the glory and the image of his son in our spirit and to dwell with him forever - "predestinated to be conformed to the image of his son" (Rom. 8:29)
It's amazing to me how much the New Testament scriptures open up to our understanding when we understand the mystery of Christ and that the Christian doesn't serve God through a law, but through faith in Jesus Christ and by walking in the spirit.
It causes us to better understand our goal, and what our hope in Christ is. It makes us appreciate the riches of God's goodness and kindness toward us. And it causes us to rejoice in him and glorify him for his great love for us.
Eph.1:4-14 (notice the phrase "according to")
According as he has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he has made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Wherein he has abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he has purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; [even] in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who works all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom you also [trusted], after that you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that you believed, you were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
Now to him that is of power to establish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: To God only wise, [be] glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.
"To God be the glory, great things he has done."
(Originally delivered in Eagle Point, OR. September 2, 1984)