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WHAT IS BORN OF THE FLESH WILL NOT GO AWAY:
IT IS FLESH;
WHAT IS BORN OF THE SPIRIT IS SPIRIT,
AND THIS WILL NEVER GO AWAY
WHAT IS BORN OF THE FLESH IS FLESH,
WHAT IS BORN OF THE SPIRIT IS SPIRIT,
The one strives against the other,
The victory is by faith, by the power of God
and what comes through the Spirit to Re-make Man,
That too will not go away!
FLESH IS NOT JUST PROTOPLASM
What, after all, does Galatians 5 tell us
about the war between the flesh and the spirit ?
This, at verse 18:
"Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are
adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,
idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outburst of wrath,
selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy..."
Line 2 has bodily things, but it has a glint of things spiritual in 'lewdness' which is an ATTITUDE with thoughts accompanying.
Line 3 has false worship, evidently of the spirit of man quite directly and conclusively, sorcery, efforts of man's spirit to influence other spirits, and so a spiritual action by definition; hatred likewise is an alignment of spirit, which while having merely emotional aspects, is yet a disposition that is resolved, and selfish ambitions without going further, are questions not of protoplasm, in their genesis, but of decision. Heresies are false concepts, conceptual items, spiritual in nature, which are used to replace the actual teaching to man in the Bible.
Case established. In Paul, you cannot assume that 'flesh' means merely the body, for it can cover both mind and spirit. What then does it extend to ? It includes all that is apart from God, all where God is apartheid, where the case is as in Ephesians 4:17ff., so that the soul that acts in THIS way, and continues as biblically defined: "having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart."
One may say, "Oh come, I know Henry and John and Peter, and they are not REALLY like that. To be sure they might not be fast to say that they are Christians, and at most say, 'I hope so,' or even 'I don't know about that,' but obviously they are salt of the earth, good chaps, even if spiritual things act as a bit of a tongue-twister to their bucolic, but kindly selves."
This is flesh, and it includes works of righteousness (at which Paul is appalled, as you see in Romans 10, when they are used as a bolster for independence of spirit from God, Creator, Redeemer), even self-righteousness. Thus, when the flesh, the undevoted spirit of man in chains of 'self', living by itself, for itself, whether that self be rather nice or utterly nasty, is at work, it preens itself, relies on itself or its chosen features of the creation, and is steadfast in itself without God. Indeed, even if a false modesty makes this all the more honeyed and self-elevating (and that is by no means cancelled by telling us how humble or humbled the person is, a parade perhaps of an in-house holiness), the canopy is not God, and the soul has its own bent, tilt and desires.
Paul sums it up in Romans 10:1-4.
"Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel
is that they may be saved.
For I bear them witness
that they have a zeal for God,
but not according to knowledge,
for they being ignorant of God's righteousness,
and seeking to establish their own righteousness,
have not submitted to the righteousness of God.
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes."
In other words, there is a standard which only God can meet, which must be made inward through faith in the only Mediator between God and man, the Lord Jesus Christ, and if you seek to skip it, then you are an alien by choice. Christ Himself has so met the guilt of sin that any attempt to supplement or increment or substitute for it is a pathetic additive, like having an ant help you push a boulder, when it only gets under foot.
SALVATION IS NOT JUST DOING THINGS BY MAN:
IT IS GOD IN ACTION AS BASIS AND APPLICATOR
How then is a man saved if not by his works (which Romans 3:23ff., and Titus 3:5ff. expressly remove from even relevance, in this, that it is NOT of works that we are saved, it is by the grace of God which has DONE the work and APPLIES the work (Ephesians 2:1-12, John 16), and work ? It is relevant only in this to salvation: that it is based on what Christ has done (Isaiah 53, Ephesians 1), and hence on HIS exclusive, pure, holy, sufficient and acceptable work, in bearing sin on the cross and being everlastingly and invariantly righteous so that this might count. It is about HIS righteousness, and not one's own; and if one does not care to be adopted in this way, then this IS flesh, insubordination, know-all-itis, inflammation of the self, the presumption of assuming divine knowledge and cutting God out on the point of how to find Him, which all said and done, is rather ridiculous. HE knows how He is to be found, and also, WHY it is so.
He also knows what is required for pardon, and has met it at immense personal sacrifice.
Declining His offer, therefore, is also rebellion, a speciality of the FLESH. It is far worse than TELLING a car manufacturer (if you were a rather thoughtful car) how you SHOULD have been made, and what your relationship is; for you are a creation made ABLE to see, one who is telling your absolute Creator, who thoroughly knows you where He stands!
WHAT IS BORN OF THE FLESH IS FLESH. That is one of its specialties, cast in this or that form and format.
It is at just such a point that Jesus Christ was instructing Nicodemus, in a night-time meeting, as we read of it in John 3:6. He was slow to appreciate the point (John 3:4), a fact for which we may feel grateful, since this led to a more detailed account from Christ of both the nature of the case, the diagnosis, and the mode of its resolution, in the following verses to verse 19, for example..
This was one side of the matter.
On the other hand, there is the contrary.
WHAT IS BORN OF THE SPIRIT IS SPIRIT.
That was the other universe, cosmos, site for spiritual action. There are two; and a given person on this earth is in one or the other situation: born ONLY of the flesh, or also BORN OF THE SPIRIT.
To be born ? We are all aware of obstetricians and their task of aiding physical birth. This is not difficult to understand. That is an item of flesh being brought into the world. It is a total entity not only physical, but mental and spiritual; but is deemed flesh in this, that until it is communion with God, it is man's side of things, albeit following the divine design, man without peace and fealty to God, knowledge of God, in his own light. Then it is not yet as such in the realm where man belongs to make sense, have meaning and be spiritually prepared to work at the spiritual level.
This may be charming, or repulsive at first sight (the devil can transform himself into an angel of light, being versatile, tricky and self-possessed to the ultimate - II Corinthians 11:13-15); but until it is brought to God where He may be found, there is a missing dimension. This COULD even come in the womb, to be sure, as perhaps with John the Baptist, for with God nothing is impossible, and His foreknowledge being the basis in salvation (as in Romans 8:29ff.), nothing is excluded as if this were not so.
Yet the thing has to happen. First birth is flesh. There is more, far more.
In due course, a person becomes set in his/her ways. That charm can become guileful, that attractiveness can become canny or self-centred, that appeal can become manipulative, that quietness can become laziness and so forth. When the spiritual connection with God through His appointed means in Christ Jesus is then brought to the attention, such persons may become shifty, or shiftless, or shy, or uninterested, or use cultural means of getting you to 'turn if off', or grow huffy, or super-gracious and bending from great heights to consider what you say for 'sinners', as an unholy category to which your conversationalist would not consider belonging, except of course for those minor infractions which just show spirit, and are not at all worthy even of consideration.
THAT IS STILL BORN OF THE FLESH; AND IT IS
SEEKING TO DENY SPIRITUAL THINGS
IN FAVOUR OF MERELY PERSONAL ONES,
AS IF TO BE PERSONAL IN THIS CASE IS TO BE SPIRITUAL.
It is because there is a self-evaluation which for some makes what is born of the flesh to be implicitly born of the spirit, that the confusion arises. Notice however that it is based on REJECTION of the word of God, of Christ's analysis, and is setting up the party concerned as at least the equal of Christ, as knowledgeable about man. Indeed, in some cases you could even have an assumption of superiority to Jesus Christ; but since in terms of track record that would be virtual madness, more likely more indirect ways to seem to make Him seem irrelevant might be sought. Thus someone seeking escape from reality might say of Jesus Christ: That was then! or He was great, for His day! and so on, all assuming that this party could tell even God a few things, and advance on Christ any day.
This is unrealistic, since the power and peace and principles and utterances and works of Christ were not only predicted, so that He had to meet divinely inspired and constrained criteria, but much of it had been for a millenium, and His scrutineers included a whole party of people detesting all He stood for, seeking to invalidate Him by any means, and seething with dissension and pretension (as in Matthew 23, Luke 11, John 11, and of course, Matthew 26). That they contrived to kill Him on false charges, or irrelevant ones is testimony to His opaqueness to any critical light. In fact, Which of you convicts Me of sin! He once cried (John 8:46). He pursued the point: "And if I tell you the truth, why do you not believe Me!"
For many the answer is easy, though not often admitted: the FLESH does not find it convenient, or would deem itself to lose the unthinkable, either pleasure or power or importance or prestige or safety or whatever else seems MOST important singly or in synthesis! Caiaphas, High Priest, found it convenient to kill Him; and truth, though felt to be inconvenient, still remains, which is more than Jerusalem did, some 40 years later. It made itself its own protectorate by doing this, murder the key; but the key was turned to let in hordes of Romans, specialists in death to the defeated when in valiant mode, as they then were.
So man in power or alone, makes negative choices and often hides this away in some craftily deployed principle. Specious efforts to humbly elevate such desirable personalities who know no shame, and make of themselves, their party or their prize, little islands of self-satisfaction, sometimes even designed for others to land on, are mere pretence. There is no test, substance, reality; it is just FLESH. What is born of flesh, whether it be in terms of cultural difference or distinction, family, social, psychic, intellectual power or point, IS flesh. It is intrinsically an unconnected power cord, at one end of an appliance, and it needs to be plugged in where the appropriate power can stir it to work at the proper level and point, for which it was made. It needs the dimension and depth, the power and oversight, the enablement and integrity of being BORN OF THE SPIRIT.
This, so far from being eclectic, is a restoration of due relationship with God, who IS a Spirit, based on the historical action of Jesus Christ to remove the barrier of guilt and condemnation, and placed in the sight of His bodily resurrection, a culmination of those raised from the dead before this by Him, including Lazarus so notoriously. And all of that, it was placed on the target area for God to perform from long before; and secured in time as and where appointed and foretold. It could not be clearer, simply or more beautiful. It is called love, what motivated it, wisdom, what achieved it, and power, what prevailed in securing it. It is the work of God.
THE DIVINE DYNAMICS OF RE-BIRTH
WHEN and only when the Spirit of God performs His work, and the name is properly here put with a capital, when He so acts, then one is born of the Spirit, to use Christ's phrase. Only then is there the next species of birth: THE SPIRITUAL. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Man is naturally, since the fall, without God as known and conscious Father and Lord in his life. He needs this to be rectified (Romans 5:1ff.). Hence all the jumble of New Age mysticism, where it is hoped that contortions of 'the flesh' will make headway and man might perhaps get somewhere, and of some of the sects, which use strange physical devices, or make false christs, this is mere rumble of the flesh, as if this were even slightly relevant. What is born of the SPIRIT is spirit. SPIRIT is what GOD IS! (John 4:24). Not only is God Spirit, Maker of matter and for that matter, creator of mind and spirit, but He requires some introduction to those who are to be adopted back to where Adam first began (Romans 5:1-17, Ephesians 1).
This is gained by
1) admission of guilt.
2) application for admission to the kingdom.
3) seeing it so that one can apply.
4) opening of the eyes therefore
5) a divine action enlightening the eyes, cleansing the heart, regenerating the whole being.
6) faith, so that what is given is adopted willingly, with trust, Himself truly relied on (as in II Timothy 1:12.
7) thankfulness, so that it is clear that one's heart is in it.
8) fundamental focus on guilt,
spiritual, mental, physical, requiring atonement,
9) even more fundamental focus
on Christ crucified, yes bodily risen, as the basis
10) realisation that there is NO
OTHER WAY, but He (John 14:6 - God is not double-minded),
This is not to be conceived as a burden but a blessing. These are gifts of God (as in John 6:37-39).
He would desire ALL so to come, and for those who do, He is the sole source of the grant, based on His own foreknowledge, not of one's works and wonders, but of the person involved; and HE knows HOW to gain what love finds, and NOT to confuse this with what self-interest speciously seeks on the part of many. Where a person may be reached by the love of God, without force or aberration of truth, so that that one truly comes, then He knows this and applies it in time. In so doing, His only is the knowledge, the cost-bearing and the grant. No one else makes any contribution. It is entirely of the Lord; and it is entirely true what He knows, even who are His own. Grace is the keynote; love is the motivation; wisdom is the procedure, faith is the response, eternal life is the gift.
These are spiritual things which concern man as DEPENDENT ON and DERIVATIVE FROM God, with need for RESTORATION to Him by REDEMPTION, so that in the very act, there is REGENERATION (cf. SMR Ch. 6, p. 476).
Then it is realised indeed that WHAT IS BORN OF THE SPIRIT IS SPIRIT. When you are born, you know! It is no small thing, nor insignificant matter, far more than having a new home, or position! It is integurmental, personal, total, a springing into due and true, just and prepared life. Being born again is called regeneration, and this means that the one so blessed is generated all over again in spirit (Titus 3:3-7), the old not patched (), but renewed, not rejuvenated but restored to operative conditions, functionality before God. Instead of degeneration, moving further and further from the proper intimacy with God and love of His salvation, and knowledge, thus, this regeneration not only interrupts the process of spiritual decay, but intercepts the entire descent, by bringing home the lost to the light of life, to the plateau of spirituality where perspective is gained, the fresh spiritual air of the personal presence of God (I Peter 1:3-8), and His availability by covenant for wisdom and all that relates to godliness (II Peter 1).
In the flesh, a baby is born with potential; its soul may shrink into mortality; but it may yet come to find the God of eternity, in whom and by whom and through whom in Jesus Christ the Redeemer, is eternal life (John 3:16, 6:5054, 5:24, Romans 6:23). This is a birth inconceivably great, except with open eyes, you survey the divine obstetrician and perceive His love and lordliness, His meekness and majesty, His faithfulness and determination. Consider meanwhile the very criteria of being born.
When a baby is being born, it is not a pre-eminently a matter of a series of actions, though there IS a series. There is an overall reality of womb-to-world egress, emission of object, commission of receiving hands, breathing in air so that the entirely new system of gaining oxygen can proceed in a comparatively smooth transition, movement with internal and external change, from one type of world to another. Incidentally, it is a wonder like myriads of others, that two systems of gaining oxygen, through transfer in placenta from other, one, and through breathing with lungs which have to be formed, on the other, both are in sequence, and the second is commissioned and activated in a rush of seconds. Both are built, the reserve in preparation for the coming need, in all its prodigious complexity, before it can contribute more than weight and complexity, the earlier method instituted as the design unfolds, the designated parts arising and arriving, not at all by chance, but by command.
Thus the criterion of design, as constantly found in the creation, is quite simply being met, such it is (cf. Deity and Design ... Section 2). We do not exempt a piece of pottery from being a design because it is not in our English language. Nor can man be exempted, because DNA code is not our language. It is a design criterion, sequentially constraining, conceptually analysable and expressive calls for what fitting neatly, proceeds on to an integral product, of unitary purpose and character. Successive, prepared, pointed, ordered, contained, controlled, covered, conducted procedures in series from one line of object to another, each with specifiable and serial relationship to its base and its coming condition, is precisely design.
Specifications in program intensify the point. Conceptualisability of the command sequence consummates it. Intellectual objects are of a domain where thought is. When thought is also prepared as a basis as part of the design function (and this is not limited to the visible, since not all action, such as peace-making, is visible), so that is not only indicated but created, then of course we have a special type of design, meta-design, where the design for a designer is present.
A foolish refusal to allow what meets specifications by definition to be it in fact, is mere obstruction. Have a definition, meet it: that is it. Lackadaisical contentiousness here is mere obfuscation. It is nothing less or other than a distortion of evidence in favour of a philosophy which is not really interested in the empirical, but in knowing it all before sight.
If you already know it all, why bother with science at all ? If you can learn, then learn to apply definitions and find what that means, rather than colliding with definitions in the interests of empty philosophy, such as that of Kant, who is always wanting to make an 'as if' when there is an actual. Nothing is 'as if', but what is NOT the actual. If what is actually design is thus and so, then so it is. Kant's efforts to distance reality from the receptor is quite in vain for the simple reason that if it were really so that man's categories of mind get in the way of reality, then his theory to that effect would have to be likewise in the way of reality, being a product of his mind, so that it COULD NOT BE TRUE. Such is the case. You cannot escape that way (cf. Predestination and Freewill Section IV).
That however simply illustrates what FLESH does: it equivocates, vacillates, squirms, turns, magnifies what is small, miniaturises what is fundamental, and schemes and leaves all to follow ITSELF, with or without help from idols of this or that kind, normally inferentially present, though you can have for a time at least, almost perfect egotism, as with Louis XIV, "The State, it is I," or such words.
It IS flesh. That is its field. It is born of that diminished kind, because of sin inherent in the race now, and it needs its complement, spirit, to be re-activated to the working order which puts it in the flight path required, enabling permanently closed spiritual eyes to open. It needs to come alive to God, as an old wireless set, which might still be good, an old multi-task sound system, and still play records, but have no connection to a living voice. As to that, when and only when a person is born of the Spirit, has the spirit inside himself, does his orienteering and imagining, deciding and resolving function and basis come alive, so that He can realise the strength of His Master's Voice (as some recordings were called).
That is, while one may understand some things in the Bible before salvation, there is a perspective and a purity of understanding which does not come to light until the inherent darkness of desire is deleted by light! It is rather like musing in the night on a train journey, about what the railway track and its turnings and movings mean. Indeed, you may get some idea in that way if gifted at it, during the night; but when the dawn comes it is all apparent, for now it declares itself.
That is by no means to say that a man cannot realise the force of proof of the truth of the Bible unless converted, though there will be a telling reluctance, to say no more; but it is to say that the recognition will be like that of one down a well-shaft, dimmed until the prisoner in the well, is lifted out.
That 'lifting out' or lifting up, or entry of light, or reconstitution of the eyes so that they adjust and are adapted to the new brilliance of light above, it is all correlative with bring BORN AGAIN, so that in spirit one is now endued, by the Spirit one is enabled, in the Spirit one can walk (Galatians 5:16, Acts 16), and in spiritual things one may wisely be instructed in depth (Proverbs 1:22-23).
Thus when Christ was discussing the point, that WHAT IS BORN OF THE FLESH IS FLESH, AND WHAT IS BORN OF THE SPIRIT IS SPIRIT, and Nicodemus answered rather bucolically, He expostulated. HOW could Nicodemus hope to learn of and understand spiritual things (though he was a spiritual teacher at that time, in Israel, and one of some note!) UNLESS he could at least comprehend earthly preliminaries. If he could not grasp the need to be regenerated altogether by the Spirit of God, how could he be a meaningful recipient of spiritual information about God Himself. Blind to spiritual dimensions, as such as he really are, he would be like one learning some sort of code, and dull in mind, inclined to suppress the experience of reality, rather than express it (John 3:12-13). Some are slow by lack of intellect; others by lack of desire, perspective, understanding or resistance of heart.
When these things are realised however, when the person is born again, then more readily could he comprehend what followed, namely John 3:14-19, which tells of the entire central feature of Christ's coming, His Gospel, His power, and man's undiminishable responsibility. If God KNOWS beforehand all about it as He moves in the line of desiring all to be saved, but as to means, only through faith and into reality, without which it would merely be a name, not a reality, what follows ? It is this, that therefore man is indeed responsible. His equations and desires, his movements and his spirit, the reception attitude even before sin related, all this is before God, before whom ALL is manifest (Hebrews 4:3).
IF we reject Him, therefore, it is no mere matter of a diseased will which is irrelevant to salvation; for God knows it beyond any disease and has done so before the world so much as came to be, let alone man came to sin! There is no excuse in saying that because the autonomous operation of the human will is now excluded as in John 1:12, that therefore this is a mere tyranny. Not at all, it is out of the KNOWLEDGE of God, who makes no errors about anything, that the result comes. If a person has trouble with such things, it may resemble the case of Nicodemus, who NOT being regenerated, COULD not even SEE the kingdom of heaven. It is ludicrous to imagine that the ways of God are at our mere level, and that what are psychological ideas portend is some kind of limit to Him! It is for just such a reason that some imagine that predestination is an alternative to the relevance of the human will. On the contrary, it ensures that its application is just and true, past mere pathological impulse and dereliction.
The human will is specifically declared to be non-operational in its present state, at this level, and to be the cause for all that in the very face of the divine will NOT to condemn, but to save the world, of rejection. GOD SAYS SO. Do not blame Him except by slander or libel. What is irrelevant is NOT the human will, but a far lesser feature, its present historical operation in autonomous liberty, on the part of the unconverted. Defilement has made this now defunct. Far from irrelevant is this will to the finding of man by God, who CITES it as in the way, the ground of rejection in principle (John 3:19, Matthew 23:37ff., Luke 19:42ff.). Is it so hard to see two things at once: that current operation is inadequate for selecting salvation, and that eternal knowledge on the part of God assigns to those who reject Him, this as an operation of the will, known to God. The Lord is well able to read the book of the soul, without man having access while unconverted.
Predestination is not the omission of human will, therefore; it is the ASSURANCE of it. It is simply that it is as known to God, before and beyond, apart from and over the top of sin, the will is not violated.
How beautifully spiritual things are in harmony, the one with the other. We HAVE wills, being in the image of God, and CAN MAKE constructions of thought and ACHIEVE various kinds of perspectives, right or wrong, about ourselves and the nature of things. It is just that the warping of FLESH, disjoined from its rightful place with God at the fall, and mutinous in myriad ways ever since, precludes the actual operation of the will by itself on this earth, at this level. God reaching down, with foreknowledge, can liberate it; and WHEN He does so, the subject may well become aware of the issues and the fact that salvation comes since beyond the constriction of sin, he does NOT prefer darkness to God. This is true, and was known to God before sin slashed the integrity of his knowledge, and so the basis for his willing.
When God does it, therefore, it is the God who WOULD HAVE all saved and saves some, indeed many. It is man's entire responsibility if he does not come; and there is a simple test. If you want God, then take Him. How can you be frustrated since He desires you! If you don't, then do not try to nestle in some philosophy about the will. SINCE God would like to save you, if you are not saved when so exposed to the Gospel, then this is your own desire, to the uttermost. God has no technical fidgets. He does not sup on irrational human philosophy, like that of Kant.
You do not like this ? You feel concerned. Not a problem remains. Then accept His offer in Christ at once. You do not want to ? Then accept responsibility at once. You cannot have it both ways. You do not trust God ? why then, follow your dispute with the One who made trust and you and the Gospel, and spit on His salvation if you must. But don't blame God for your irrational act, as if He would lie, whose works and words are the only basis for truth, who alone knows them, which represent in the first place, what He wants (cf. Barbs ... 6 -7).
You feel unworthy ? Most correct, it is He who is worthy. You feel unable to generate such things in yourself ? Most true, it is regeneration by God. You DO trust Him ? fine, than act and calling on His name, ask for His sealing of sin blotted out, your acceptance taken in, and His cover for you always by grace. He would like to do it; it is only ever you, as before Him and in terms of His foreknowledge of TRUTH, who lies in the way. His yearning is prodigious as the citations from Luke and Matthew above, and those as in Jeremiah 48, Ezekiel 33:11 and elsewhere so well show. You do not NEED to lie down in the face of an oncoming car. There is such a thing as repenting of inaction and getting out of the way. There is no sanctity about staying there!
THE DIVINE POWER AND RESOLUTION TO KEEP HIS OWN
Being regenerated is not like a reconditioned engine. That is a triumph over wear and an eliciting of qualities inherent in the base metals used. This, on the contrary, is a living matter, as genuine as birth. It is as radical of its own kind as that is, being instilled with a vitality which is natural to it. To be sure, there is a little parallel: in both cases, there has been wear, and in each, there is something less than perfection resulting. However, with the engine, it is merely a calculable matter of moving parts. With the spirit of man, it is the entry to a new environment, not misty but marvellous, a transformation from what the actual person HAD NEVER KNOWN. It has now been remade, and will grow. The engine had been fresh at first and will not grow.
The individual soul, unlike the individual engine, had not only not been fresh at first. In fact, it came through an arrangement which had proceeding for hundreds of generations. It is not replica one, or two... it is not even an exact replica, since variation provisions about a norm or kind, is a part of life from the first, as in Genesis 1-3.
Long ago was the spirit in man first dowered. Now is for the present generation, way down the line of genealogy. For each converted soul, it is not mere reconstitution; it is regeneration. For the regenerated soul now in view, Daniel or Thomas, Marjorie or Martha, this becomes FIRST TIME EVER that God has been known personally, found as a functional Father, and available Lord. This is an utterly new experience, and as Paul declares it: "All things have become new," II Corinthians 5:17.
Now, it is as in a Primary School: one has begun! Now for their initiation into the blessings now made categorically more understandable from His presence, since He is now known, not as will-o'-the wisp in a marsh, but as Rock in reliability. Now He is realised and received for all that the Bible declares: His mercy is now obtainable not from a bowser, but from a grace for which there is no equal. With mercy, comes strength, with strength wisdom, with wisdom the full flight instructions on how to please Him. Now meaningful indeed, are the written instructions to explain, inculcate, clarify, for modelling, for assurance, the very premises and promises of God, in the Bible.
Now one is no more a spiritual atom amid various molecules, wondering where to go and with what. Now one is a living entity, a personal being as such, given the necessary background for a living personality, its source, resource present in Spirit, with the information and maintenance manual, the Bible, explaining mandate for man, the crisis option kit and the governance of God. Now the resurrected Jesus Christ is available in communication and communing, who by His Spirit not only lives within one (Colossians 1:27), but moves to polish, mould and make the new being into a child by true care (John 10).
With this, there is the open cheque to eternity. Man can think eternity, understand something of it, sense the wonder of it, feel the actuality of it, see the wisdom of it, and yet wonder ... He belongs there, but has lost his way. Christ comes from there and is the way, and thus He told the troubled Philip (John 14). Resurrected, He provides not only effectual and vicarious death for guilt of sin, but life for gift of eternity. HIS eternal life it is which is transmitted (John 5:19-23, I John 1:1-4, John 6:50ff.). NOTHING is able to separate the saved sinner, regenerated into the mode of child of God, from the love of God (Romans 8:37-39, I John 3:9, 5:11-12), nor from the divine ability to keep what is committed to Him in Christ (II Timothy 1:12), for after all, such are FOUND ONLY because foreknown by God, and those thus justified, are also the called and the glorified (Romans 8:30ff.).
You can no more get off than leave an aircraft moving at 1000 mph! The doors are closed. You entered for the entire trip, and in covenantal relationship with the God of all comfort and whose promise is certainly always fulfilled, you await the coming of the King. It is He who brings at His second advent, in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye, a raising from the dead for those past, a transformation of form to those living, both being His. In just such ways, He dowers IMMORTALITY not only in promise, but now in practice. Corruptibility moves off and incorruption moves in, while immortality transcends even the lovely voice of the ocean, a thing of endurance, for there is NO end ever.
Then at last, even the world of the transient passes (I Corinthians 7:31), and all things duly done to establish His righteousness before all, who had already shown His salvation to all, pain and suffering recoil like a spring extended, but now released (Revelation 21:4). Before it was FLESH, now it is SPIRIT, and in the presence of the Holy Spirit (Revelation 22:1ff.), and the Lord as Temple indeed (Revelation 21:22), "they shall reign forever and ever." No more will foreign evil enter the city of the soul, Mansoul as Bunyan calls it, and no more will defeat come to laugh. He who rules well his own soul is better than he who takes a city, and now the trials past, there is a rule within rule, a character within divinely accorded composure, and all tests concluded, there is the everlasting beauty of holiness in the very presence of God: NOT AS ANGELS, but as the children of God.
THIS and HERE is the inheritance which Paul in Ephesians 1:11 makes clear, is already the lot of Christians here, though they wait for it so to become manifest, who also know the manifestation of Christ in the meantime (John 14:23-24). This is not just for super-saints (who are they ?), but it is for those who love Him and keep His words (which are not grievous, providing for sin's cleansing continually - I John 1:7ff.), as He promised, as recorded in John 14:24. It is high time to get rid of the spiritual aristocracy, Romanism's contribution of muddle, confusion and presumption.
Saints are fashioned by God, not made by man or church (II Corinthians 3:17-18), but rather inhabiting the church, when it is sound in any part, they are those who ARE AS THEY MUST BE, regenerated, born of God. Let not then 'saints' be for your prayer or for your desire, but rather BE one, and realise that since there is ONLY ONE MEDIATOR between God and man, the man Jesus Christ (I Timothy 2), then you but dishonour Him who speak in other terms with other lips and another mind. This, it is not the mind, because it is not the word of God.
Paul in speaking therefore to the Colossians, does so "to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse." To the Philippians, he addresses his letter to "all the saints of Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the overseers and deacons" (overseers, elders as in Acts 20:17,28), the saints being the generality of Christians, the others particular officials. It is fundamentally sad to see a religious body, like that of Romanism, marking up some and thereby removing the reality of Christian life in its sanctity as the norm and usual, the required and the actual, as distinct from the flesh.
It is by no means to adorn ineptly the Christian life to do this; but rather to remind all that without holiness NO ONE will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). It includes Psalm 51 in its scope; but there are no other Psalms quite like that one from David. Yet he realises both his sinfulness (Psalm 32) and its cover, and shouts to the praise of the God whose way he follows, not in rebellion, but in chaste and chastened obedience, learning, being moulded, growing in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord (cf. II Peter 3:18).
Trials you WILL have and be prepared for fiery ones (I Peter 4:12ff.), if a Christian; and this may include being taken to task for biblical faithfulness and life-changed divergence from many things that society or friend or employer desires. But know this, that
"if you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you,
for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you," I Peter 4:14.
Remember, moreover, how the Lord just hours after Peter's weakness and temporary betrayal, visited the fallen saint, on the ' third day,' the Sunday following that Friday (I Corinthians 15:3ff.). Jonah too was swiftly taught a profound lesson, and God gave his restoration in grace through a wonderfully apt dramatic procedure (Jonah 4).
Nothing, fellow believer, is too hard for the Lord, not even you or I! To be "kept by the power of God, through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time", and to have this for an " inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade way, reserved in heaven for you" is sufficient as is the promise of John 10:9,27-28, 4:14. Imagine now, you are KEPT by the power of God TO an inheritance, of this kind, one supervised into eternity, unfading, unfallen, reserved. It is through faith that one is so kept, but the keeping is the destination and the faith is the way to it, all the work of God (as in Ephesians 2:1-12).
What then ? It is not a matter of being kept by bustle and recrimination; but by the power of God. The means chosen are not an armed guard, but faith. The result is specified, the means are subsidiary, but cannot be contrary or the end would be violated as specified!
Not trying to be kept by faith, is the Christian, then, but KEPT by the POWER of God, faith the means used. If I am kept by my financial manager through money to a secure future on earth: then so surely as he undertakes to keep, the money is up to him. The promise if to be kept, requires the means chosen and so assures of them. God WILL KEEP and the inheritance is reserved, and the basis of the promise to keep to salvation is this: THE POWER OF GOD. HOW He deploys it is His affair; and this is no spiritual safari for the autonomous, remember, but a pilgrimage for those begotten again in the position of children of God, for whom I John 5 tells us, believing in Him is the basis of an eternal life which is given, and provided. It is not conditional when the topic and theme and subject, is the born again Christian. It is problematic to the unspecified simply, since as in the sower and seed parable, some seed fell on shallow ground. It dies.
What ? The word of God so sown dies in that case, and the life is NEVER brought to repentance, being hard, like underlying and repulsive soil. Realise it then, urges John in that letter, you who believe YOU HAVE ETERNAL LIFE. He who gave His only begotten Son is not about to rescind it; and as Paul tells the Galatians in Gal. 3, it is a spiritual matter, and having begun in the spirit do they imagine that they continue by merit marks! Who, he asks, has bewitched you!
There is ONE Saviour. You and I ? we do not feature in that field. His name if Jesus Christ; and there is no other name in this connection, given to man under heaven. If you are a Christian, then it is as HAVING BEEN SAVED ONES (Greek in Ephesians 2:8), and this ?It is by grace through faith, this whole thing being not of ourselves. Thus is the mighty work wrought, for anyone to become a child of God; and for each such, as in Hebrews 9:12, 6:19, Ephesians 1:11. It is not about to fade, die, diminish, flicker, go out. It is unfading and reserved in heaven.
There it, that eternal inheritance and with it and for it that eternal tabernacle, that is body (II Corinthians 5:1-2), also reserved. The creation is very large; numbers of people are very large; but God is very much larger in scope and power, having no limit (cf. the congregations in Revelation 7).
There is no chance for those refusing Christ (Luke 9:26), unborn and hence without the divine seed (I John 3:9). They cannot enter (unless in the interim they repent and receive Him who is our salvation). There is no chance for those receiving Him as offered by faith, of NOT continuing. It is the shallow ground which never was broken up in repentance which has dying seed in it. The seed ? it is the word of God which did not TAKE because the soul did not repent, but merely rejoiced for a season (as in Matthew 13:20-21).
The unregenerate cannot live a spiritual life until they are born again; and those born again cannot die, for the spiritual life is even more continual than the life of our DNA (which has lasted thousands of years, despite the curse); for they are begotten of God, by seed incorruptible (I Peter 1:17ff., 1:23), the mode of the eternal life of those born of the Spirit, regenerated by His power, covered by His blood, and hence already assured of an inheritance eternal, unfading and glorious in the God who alone is Saviour.
Now THIS seed, being incorruptible, "endures for ever" - I Peter 1:17,25, as do its products among mankind, redeemed, regenerated, unable to die, eternally covered by the One who did, and now lives forever (Hebrews 9:12). For them, death is "abolished" and now there is brought "life and immortality to light through the gospel" (II Timothy 1:10).
It is for this reason that HE cannot fail, for WE are not at all saviours, but saved, and only those who look to themselves to save themselves are even relevant top failure; and those ? how then worship the ONLY name when your own is to be added, or even hope for security, when you wander in where forbidden! His name cannot fail; relying on its and His promises, neither can you. When you are born of God, it is a spiritual birth of now spiritual people, and HIS SEED REMAINS IN YOU, so that therefore as I John 5 tells believers, in effect: Get with it, KNOW that you have eternal life!
NO OTHER NAME is there by which man must be saved (Acts 4:11-12), but what a name is this (Romans 5:1-12), whose GIFT is HIS OWN righteousness and whose people being " those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ." Indeed, " If when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more having been reconciled we shall be saved by His life" - Romans 5:9. It is HE who does it; it is HIS LIFE which does it. Rest therefore in Him; but do not leave it at that, rather "also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation."
Rejoice evermore. Who wouldn't, to whom eternal life with our God, the great and compassionate, the merciful and tender, the redeeming and personal, the atoning and reconciling, the grand and glorious, the humble and gracious, has been sovereignly accorded. While rejoicing, share!