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JOYFUL JOTTINGS 22
BUILDING A BODY
We have seen in Joyful Jottings 16, the Biblical depiction of the marvels of the human body's highly organised construction, in considering Psalm 139. All that is written is verified. As God said, so it is. This is the natural, the supernatural combination to which we have grown so accustomed, the continual verification of the word of God.
However there is another body which is yet more important. Its construction is not so subject to the play of simple program, 'simple' that is, in that it is at the physical dimension. This other body, it is covered by more pastoral involvement, and is assaulted with a difference cancer, another respiratory reaction, comes from a different womb.
THE BODY THAT ROSE
This is that body of which Isaiah speaks in
26:19: "MY DEAD BODY
SHALL THEY ARISE!"
The speaker is God.
Does God then have a body ? Is HE not a SPIRIT ? Yes He is (John ). And as to a spirit, Jesus says this: "A spirit has not flesh and bones as you see Me to have..." (Luke 24:39). What then is this concerning HIS BODY ? The Authorised Version, incidentally, illegitimately adds two words here '"together with". They appear in italics in the translation, in this way openly acknowledged as not in the text. It was just thought that they would help. They do not. The text as it is helps.
"MY DEAD BODY SHALL THEY ARISE..." THIS is what it actually says. "My people" (Isaiah 26:20) are to "enter into your chambers, and shut your doors about you: hide yourself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be past. For behold the Lord comes out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity, the earth will also disclose her blood and will no more cover her slain." So comes the ending, so arrives en scène, the act and fact of judgment.
In the meantime, however, precisely as in Matthew 24, there is to be a resurrection, the angels gathering the elect of God from the "four winds". In this, the BODY OF CHRIST WILL ARISE (I Corinthians 15).
With these at the resurrection of the body, in fact come those who HAVE BEEN HIS IN EARLIER HISTORY, still alive and with the Lord (as in Rev. 5), depicted by Paul in I Thessalonians ,
"the dead in Christ arise first".
THIS IS THAT OTHER BODY. It is those woven into the fabric of the faith in Christ, who by faith live in and by and with and through Him: His body. So intimately purchased are they, and at such cost by Himself in His physical body, that they are even referred to as "His body", transported from the death of judgment and the squalor of decay, by His own body arising, and so arising with it, though the time must wait for this consummation*1.
Once again therefore, we see the word of God witnessing and then doing. For HE has duly risen (see SMR Ch.6 and pp. 931ff.), and this then is the pathfinder way, constructed through the walls of human impossibility, through which the race, those called and converted in Him, shall surely follow. It is as if - to take a far smaller illustration - a man was put on the moon. That is not the same yet as others coming there; but the way being open, the main work is done, and through this one man, a giant step is made ready for humanity. Whether it is a good one, in the case of the moon, is an entirely separate question! (cf. Psalm 89:11, 115:16). The point however is this: that it illustrates the principle here.
THE BODY HE TOOK
Someone may not yet be satisfied. Looking back to God as Spirit, there may seem to be matter for further query. For such, let us pursue it again, then. Thus the query might be put:
'But HOW or WHY should the believers be called His BODY ? since He does not HAVE a body, being a SPIRIT ?' Thus one might ask. It is very simple really, if you have ears, ears of the spirit.
Before we go into that, on the topic of the spirit in man, see SMR pp. 348ff., and Ch.1; but in terms of what it DOES see Joyful Jottings 14, where the term 'spirit' is used relative to MAN 11 times in highly varying contexts, showing precisely what it performs in and for us. We shall first pursue this aspect.
Yes, WE have a spirit to discern, to resolve, to weaken, to be reinforced, to see with vision our direction or lack of it, to mourn for lack of it, to seek more of it, to operate entirely in that realm, understanding, misunderstanding, being corrected, apprehending, pretending, being diplomatic, being automatic by tiredness or lack of fire, being constrained, being arrogant, being humble, being bumbly or bubbly in manner and mode, thought and vitality, and in fact, even sometimes being aware of it: yes we have a spirit, and without it would be like the beasts.
GOD IS a spirit. That is one difference. He
is an ETERNAL spirit: that is another. He is SELF-EXISTENT as spirit, that is a third. He was
NEVER CREATED, that is a fourth. He is sovereign and RULES, that is yet
a further difference from man. He can do WHATEVER HE PLEASES, and that is a
profound difference. It is of course true that those who truly love God, truly
love what He pleases, and so "if you abide in Me and My words abide in you, you shall
ask what you will, and it will done to you"
- John 15:7. That however is derivative and dependent and graciously performed, not the action of the principal! There is then something which relates: HE IS a spirit, and we HAVE a spirit, each one of us.
THE SPIRIT WE HAVE
We HAVE a spirit, and use it to the point that it operates at times with static, or with serenity, or in procedure like the static, or the staccato, with impresario, as if life were an opera being broadcast at times. It acts with bravado, brashness, grandeur, as deluded, as brotherly, as beautiful, as dutiful, as diligent, as appreciative, as deprecative, as blowhard, as bounding, as abounding and as receding, as comprehending and being abashed despite it, because of the grace shown, and as comprehensively besotted. Yes, we have a spirit. It is about as programmed as a painting, except less so in this, that the painting is more permanent in aspect, except when it becomes character, and even that can be tested. On that, ask King David, and indeed, ask Elijah, and while you are at it, ask Gehazi, if you could.
Now WE can make paintings, and for that
matter, robotic devices, a sort of inferior body. We are very clever at times,
but so stupid at others, that it is almost impossible to believe. Such is the
The systematically wrong thing, the incurable bug as far as it is concerned in and by itself, is the routine called SIN. This is that malfunction, or better misuse of spirit which would sever it from its source and make pretension that it arrives by no reason, by itself and for itself; and then it makes such an ass of itself as to be distinguished mainly by the fact that an ass IS so, while this MAKES itself so. The litter of those roads, often aggrandised by politicians handling the military establishment, adorns the earth like a foul ditch, with stench to make men blanch; but it goes on, and grows. This century is full of it. (See Index: Twentieth Century.)
WE as mankind can make bodies, though not our own. God who made us, can make such a body, and did so: we are examples of His handiwork, as containers for spirit, and equipment for mind, made by mind, and for Spirit, that of God. When God chose to interview us more directly, at the environmental level (though not more intimately in this, that His Spirit can commune with our spirit, direct, when we are reconciled to Him, and so know Him - cf. II Cor. 5:19-21, John 17:1-3),
THE SELF-PORTRAIT OF GOD
It was rather like stepping into a painting, a sort of thought perhaps that imbued some famous painters when doing a self-portrait, but God of course, could do it more totally, being the Creator of all.
Sending God-the-Sent, His word, His everlasting Son, His exact image, His equal, one of the company of that One God, the Trinity, three in personality, one in Being, each personality of the same Nature: the Father donated a body. This He did by using a female person as its source; and acting direct instead of allowing a man to use the necessary equipment, the Creator created a body in that female. It was thus totally and fully human, and yet the vehicle and placement, the implantation of God. God in this way made Himself a body, and then through it became a sacrifice IN FLESH for sin BY FLESH, even paying for all who are His, and who come to Him, which is the same thing, for His DO come to Him (John 7:17, John 10:27-28, Ephesians 1:4, Romans 8:29ff.). SIN kills, tends to death, invites and deserves death; the extradition of its victims is costly, and to bring them out in order to acquit them, more costly still. It took a body. He took a body. It took death in just satisfaction; He took the death. But as to those covered ?
THESE, they are called His SHEEP, in the figure of Himself as the Shepherd, who laid down His life for His sheep (John 10). That, it is very simple: in the ultimate case, that is what a Shepherd must do, if He INSISTS on preserving them. As to that, Christ, the good shepherd, died willingly for them, and that death is on offer to ALL MANKIND (I John 2:2), though few will avail themselves of it. IF YOU want to do so, then do so; there is no impediment to the one who comes (John ). If you DO NOT want to, PLEASE then be content, if you may; for it is your wish, and you are denied nothing in this. You merely deny yourself.
But you are not good enough ? Of course you are not. Who could possibly be good enough for God, or to populate a sinless and thus harmonious heaven! HE who took the body, Jesus the Christ, is good enough, and through Him pardoned, you will be made, if you become His and believe in Him, one of those 'spirits of just men made perfect' (Hebrews 12:23), and THAT, it will be something! I positively look forward to it (as in Philippians 3:20-21, for it is part of the gift that it endures: Romans 5:1-11, 8:29ff.).
To be perfect is not something of which I have had any experience, except in this, that I KNOW THE ONE WHO IS, and know Him as a friend personally, being accepted purely by grace into His presence (Ephesians 2:8). THEN: with others like that, it will transcend all earthly experience. But in the meantime, yes, we need correction, don't we! and so "shall we not rather be in subjection to the Father of spirits, and live?" (Hebrews 12:9). Surely, chastening, child-training is good! I like it because the end result is NECESSARY, and the child trainer is so good that He ever took a body for Himself, demonstrating that it was NOT NECESSARY to mankind to sin; it was its own fault from the first (Romans 5:1-12). Though man cannot cure it, HE CAN; and He did not fall Himself at all when in this exceedingly vulnerable position, not even taking wealth and power as His prerogative, politically or financially when on earth. THAT, it is lovely, and begets love, and His death the more so (I John 4:9-10 5:1)!
A BODY YOU HAVE PREPARED FOR ME
Thus we are now able readily to follow the fact that in PSALM 40, we read this:
"Sacrifice and offering You did not desire: my ears have You opened. Burnt offering and sin offering You have not required. Then said I, 'Lo , I come; in the volume of the book it is written of Me. I delight to do Your will, O my God. Yes, Your law is within My heart' " - 40:6-8. That word, to the effect that sin offering was not required is precisely what is found in Isaiah 66:1-3, where God - having in Isaiah 52-53 shown the sin-offering which really counts with Him, that of His Son in the body which He prepared for Him - indicated the terminus of animal sacrifice. He equally stressed the need for "a poor and contrite spirit", and to "tremble at My word" - no mere ceremony does ANYTHING without this readiness to accept the sacrifice of God - in Isaiah 66:2, in the spirit in which it is given, the free Spirit of God, the Father of eternity and Father of lights, to whom one bows as sovereign, Saviour ... in spirit.
Thus this sudden impact that SACRIFICE IN NOT REQUIRED, BECAUSE A BODY IS PREPARED for this delightful being who is spoken of in the word of God, who is figured, even in King David's time, in "the volume of the book" (40:7). It is clear that this Being must be the sacrifice.
It was pre-figured indeed when Isaac escaped death as a human sacrifice because the Lord provided, suddenly and unexpected for Isaac, a substitute, the ram caught in the thicket. Hence Abraham held his knife as commanded; and the ram proved to be the pictorial and for the time, acceptable substitute. So is it with Christ in substance and reality. From this there is to be no development, for this is perfect, reasonable and acceptable, so that He who was without sin, is now higher than the heavens, and in Him all things will be gathered together (Ephesians 1:10); it is through Him that there is glory to God to be given by the Church throughout all ages, the Church ? HIS BODY.
It is THIS sacrifice which relates to the Messiah (Daniel 9:24-27), who in Isaiah 11 is shown as a descendant of David (on the maternal line, since He is the Mighty God on the 'paternal', which in fact is the creative act of the Spirit of God through Mary - Luke 1:31-35). NOTHING could so derange the orders of God, that there should be an animal-based sacrificial system, except God's own fulfilment of the same to His own satisfaction, the animal sacrifices being a portrayal, a picture, while the Son Himself, and Himself alone was the adequate oblation, the true payment, for sin: as man, for mankind, all who come to Him to receive it. (Cf. Hebrews 2-4, 8-10.)
It is for these that there is healing: for "by His stripes we are healed" , says Isaiah 53. The "we" whose iniquity is "laid upon Him" (Isaiah 53:6), are the "healed" and the "healed" are those for whom He took the whipping (Isaiah 53:5). The one "we" is the other in Isaiah. It does not change its meaning.
For these effectively, for all in the form of the offer, this sacrifice is made. But HOW ?
Why of course, by the Son of God taking on a body, and doing so from the womb, so that it is a true manhood that meets the true needs of false manhood, even of sin in sinners.
Now we can see so clearly the meaning of Psalm 40 here.
David in 40:4 is reflecting on the
innumerable multitude of God's 'thoughts' , lovingkindnesses to us:
it is like a soccer crowd, swaying in teeming, sprawling, ground covering immensity. It is here, it is there: God is full of such thoughts towards us. They are "more than can be numbered" - 40:6. Their bounty is absolute, and their focus is His people, to whose midst He invites all.
MULTITUDES OF LOVINGKINDNESSES
David THEN goes into the QUALITY LEAP, to the qualitative heights - to the acme of wonder in God's lovingkindness, in His thoughts toward us. It is to the ONE of whom, in the volume of the Book, it is written, that HE is to come in human form and deliver those who call on His REVEALED NAME by FAITH! Was this not prefigured in Isaac's deliverance as shown; and was it not in the so-called proto-evangelion, that earliest whisper of the Gospel, when God told the sinning pair, Adam and Eve, that an offspring, down the line, of Eve, would be enabled to BRUISE the head of Satan, and in the process, HURT Himself! HOW could a sinner possibly do this, against such power and in such a condition as sin brought him/her ? Of course not. To take on the devil is in itself hopeless, without the direct intervention of God. He is too strong. But to release from the wholly indefensible failure that is sin, in his presence, and against his power is out of the question. With God however, it is possible, for God is irresistible in what He decides and resolves to do, being Almighty.
It is out of the question once more, to FAIL to do so, when GOD is incarnate in that seed of woman, that down-the-line descendant of Eve. Hence it is this delicious fact that animal SACRIFICE is no more necessary, as an admission of, and cover for guilt before the merciful God, WHEN and BECAUSE the SON OF GOD COMES IN HUMAN FORM, which was announced. It IS announced for example, in Psalm 40.
THIS is the REDEEMER of whom Job (possibly
about 1500 B.C.) spoke, and that too is in the volume of the Book (Job -27):
JOB is to behold on earth through his (resurrected) eyes, this very Redeemer, who is his own, and who has so accounted for death that it cannot now touch him! There is SPIRIT, beholding when THIS body is GONE! It looks through the eyes of its Maker, whose new tent for our pitching, our new dwelling, is fit for the eternity to which it now relates (II Cor. 5:1ff.). But the Redeemer, HE shall STAND ON THE EARTH. It is HE. Just as the uncle might redeem a farm, and buying it back, hand it over to the sinning nephew who lost it through foolish conduct, so this Redeemer is a kinsman, a man indeed, who can as man return for man what man lost, doing the deeds and exhibiting the quality which alone can satisfy God. In the end, because of sin, it is only God who can satisfy God; but doing it in the vulnerable form of man, while viciousness seethed about Him, He showed to man what as man can be done, must be done, and did it for him. THAT, that is the Redeemer, standing on the earth, whose body was thus prefigured. He did so stand. (See Repent or Perish 2, SMR
There in itself is confirmation and
verification of what, in the volume of God's book, had been written, and in our
Psalm here, 40, is written yet again, about 1000 B.C..
It took a long time before God did this; it was often announced in the volume
of the book; and then when He came, not even His enemies could fault Him, yes,
not even when He, claiming as the Messiah had to do, to be God, showed in the
form of a man, that He could meet every test: physical, mental, spiritual (cf.
Hosea 13:14, Isaiah 53:1-12, 43:10, 61:1-3, 40:10).
Try it some time, before a seething mass of envy and scholarship, if you mad enough and foolish enough. You MIGHT last 20 seconds in a rather slow company, for the God whom He is, is the ALMIGHTY!
DELIGHTING TO BE A GARBO
Yes and Psalm 40:8, it tells us this of the One for whom this body is prepared:
"I delight to do Your will!"
This contemptuously treated incarnate God, as
Jesus Christ, LOVES to do what He has to do, because although it is humiliating
in the extreme, yet it is necessary to love, and God is love (I John 4:7-8).
We can scarcely say to often, that this does NOT mean that LOVE IS GOD. WE do not define love and then tell God to be it. God defines as HIMSELF what love is, and then SHOWS it. One of its chief perquisites and powers is this: to lay down one's life for one's friends, as Christ showed (John 13, Romans 5). Of course when it initiates the matter by showing itself to us in the form of a sufficient and free sacrifice to cover our shortcomings and indeed positive evils, WHILE WE ARE STILL SINNERS, and indeed as unlovely as sin can make its victims: this is love indeed (Romans 5:6ff.).
God, says Paul, has declared His love toward us in this way: not to the noble and desirable, but to the outcast from the beauty of holiness He GIVES this, that they might receive it freely (Romans 3:23ff., Ephesians 2:8ff.). WHAT HE GIVES MUST BE RECEIVED, even Himself, His salvation and His provision by covenant, for our needs (Matthew 26:28).
Thus not only is the Son delighted to do this
- horrific though the task intrinsically is, being so motivated by love: but
also, as He does it,
"Your law is within My heart!"Thus Jesus at 12 years of age, astonished
the learned doctors in the
AFTER THAT, once you are IN the freeway to heaven having entered through the toll-free gate (John 10:9, I Peter 1:16ff.), THEN you grow and come to know more and more, and fill out in the form of the beauty of holiness (cf. I Petere 1:1-3). NEVER at any time, however, do you reach the point that in any sense, you COULD get in by your own quality and standard, be it never so exalted, compared with what it once was (Galatians 3). You do not grow to become God, but to grow in likeness to Him, in spirit.
Thus, thinking some conformity to law can bring you in, rather than merely along fittingly on the route freely provided, is as far from grace and truth, as is thinking that conformity to Christ does not matter ! These are in order, the self-righteous and the antinomian follies! God does not cease to be righteous because we are His! Neither do His children look like brats! Does it not then matter that one should be conformed to the One who was formed, and given a very body so that you could freely follow Him!
This is not an exercise in the lie, which is given by Him who is the truth and desires those who worship to do so in spirit and in truth. Rather it is an exercise in truth, which brings to truth and brings on in the truth, those who were outside it, that they might by mercy be inside it, in Him who is it. Insanity is not the question: it is faith to follow what freely provides. Without works, this is merely an anomaly, a verbal quibble. With faith, it works, for faith is the lively product of the living God, who living within you as a Christian (Colossians ), gives power as required (cf. Isaiah 40:26ff.).
Read on in Psalm 40, and move on in life,
TALKING BODIES - FOR US
We started with ANOTHER BODY, more important
than our physical basis. It is the BODY OF CHRIST. HE took a body, and as Head
of the Redeemed, acts as if they were all together composed, composited if you like, into one organ or series of
inter-related, mutually active organs; or into ONE VOLUME!
HE is the author of the volume, the head of the body. This Paul expounds directly or otherwise, quite often, and it is notable in I Cor. 12, Ephesians 2 and 4.
Purchased at such cost, THIS spiritual body
can also be compared to a great piece of architecture.
Thus Peter says this: "You also as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Therefore also it is contained in the Scripture, 'Behold, I lay in
To those who prefer to be the offscouring of the universe, alas, He appears as a "stone of stumbling" and a "rock of offence"
as Peter there notes. If YOU reader, are currently in that unhappy position,
take the Head of your life and become a part of His body, knowing this, that He
cares for you, and takes each member to Himself, as - to change the image yet
again - a vine has its branches. They relate to one another, but their source
is in the trunk. That is HE! HE is able to know you so deeply that as you
abide, you are aware of His wonder and abiding like that branch in its vine,
meet with Him (John 14:21-23) as a friend. To be, after all, a friend of God
... that is something which His taking a body enabled. Rejoice if you know Him,
and obey Him in love; put your trust in Him only, if you do not, for no rubbish
can be added to this One who took a prepared body, and in it and with it did
all that is needed (Hebrews 9:12,25-28,10:10-14).
It may be of interest to some to note this: the efforts to build a counterfeit body, something not of God, but using the bodies which were made by Him, to achieve a form of unity without Him, are as vast as the skies. They suppurate in philosophy from Plato, in politics times all but innumerable, in the United Nations, in the World Council of Churches, in impudence and in outrage, but never with too much humility.
in its very futility and its persistence is a double verification of the Bible,
the volume of His book:
1) It is not merely the norm seen in the Bible for sin from Babel to 'Babylon' in Revelation 13-18, for rebellious spirits to seek some form of artificial community, but
2) It is in fact to fester to its deepest environment, near to hell, as the world in its knowledge comes to its acme, nearing the return of the true King whose body we who are Christians comprise, as the volume of His Book, indicates in terms of time, by a inimitable series and texture of events which He depicts time and again in that book (cf. Luke 21, Matthew 24, SMR Chs.8-9, Biblical Blessings, Ch.2, Joyful Jottings 14, 19).
This is precisely what we