The core of our life in this age is Christ come to live in our flesh – Christ in us as Paul says. Yet this is not how many of us are living. The institutional church is a an expression of religion. This religious church is a manifestation of the letter – the letter that kills. Not the church Jesus builds without human hands by any stretch of the imagination. Paul was not being a smart Alec when He said that ‘All that is not Jesus is rubbish.’ In terms of producing spirit and life – the fabric of the Kingdom - this is exactly what it is; dead Christianity posing as good news.
‘These things are being taken figuratively: The women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother’ Gal 4.24-26 NIV.
Paul spoke of Christ our life. John spoke of Jesus come in the flesh, emphasising that substitutes for His Spirit in our flesh are the work of anti-christ. I know people who fasten-on to any new form of ‘the church’ with gusto, hoping to find in it the Messiah they have never fully received. They seem to need some kind of organisation to prop them up – mainly because they will not come to terms with their Romans Eight life in the Spirit – the new and living way of all Kingdom advance in this age.
Here’s the thing: Father did not send a tome, a treatise or a belief system to put things right and re-create us. He sent His Son. His Son as life come in the flesh. Jesus is that life, which is what it means to say that He was life in Himself. In the new covenant we do not present ourselves as a collection of beliefs and behaviours. We are personally the manifestation of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We are the sons of God. This is the meaning of Christ come in our flesh.
As charitable and industrious as we might be in this mode of ‘us come in our flesh’ none of our effort advances the spirit-life that is Jesus write large. These efforts are non-kingdom and dead works.
Dead works do inhibit the new creation and needlessly multiply religion. And so we embrace the new covenant – where we do not receive Christ. Instead we live in the fact that He has already received us into Himself and the trinity.
‘Jesus said to them, "Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you’ John 6.53 NIV. Eat and drink Jesus by asking Him to be your life. Now we agree that He has come into our being to manifest Himself in Bob, George and Mildred.
Interpreting God’s plan for us through the law makes a mish-mash of the gospel, confuses Believers and makes them impotent. The new covenant is the hermeneutic through which the Bible is accurately interpreted. The new covenant is the Jesus Lens through which we are called to derive the accurate meaning of the New Testament and the Old.
Following Jesus’ resurrection our inheritance is to live out of Him. This is to say that we live in His grace, live in His relationship with our Father and become the expression of His life. This puts a new perspective on the beatitudes. Our new testament viewpoint is meant to be how we see things living inside the new covenant reality of Christ our life.
‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled’ Matt 5.6 NIV.
HUNGERING AND THIRSTING
What is Jesus not saying? Jesus is not saying that people would be blessed because they hungered and thirsted for righteousness. This is clearly works. Jesus is teaching that the new and living way means that Believers would have their hunger and thirst satisfied in His Person and from His person. And further than His life in them would cry out for bread that sustains and water that quenches our thirst.
Joe Smithers, (not his real name. His real name was Bob) developed a hunger for God and a deep passion for Jesus to know Him as He is. This changed His life. Changed His vision of Jesus, changed how he understood the gospel of the Kingdom and change his view of himself. He saw that Father was far nicer than he ever had thought; saw that the gospel was more simple than mostly taught, yet came to live confidently in the fact that simple as the gospel is – it is all encompassing. He now knows that Christ is totally His life in every respect. No missing links for him to forge himself. His security in God is absolute and all He has to do is agree with what God has done and allow His Son to draw him in more deeply and impart His nature to himself and his family.
But this was not self-generated. He did not work this up Himself and as a result obtain sufficient merit for God to bend down and bless. Jesus was in Joe conforming Joe to His own hunger for righteousness and union with God.
SALT OF THE EARTH
‘You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot’ Matt 5.13 NIV.
My wife brought home some corned-beef that had been marinated in herbs and spices. It was so flavoursome that it disappeared before my palate could enjoy its beauties. Because of Jesus, the law, with its inability to produce true saltiness would be thrown out and the new covenant - the salt of the earth - would be ushered in. Henceforth Believers would not be ‘salt that had lost its savour.’ They would be savoury with His indwelling spirit and life. The new covenant Jesus who is our life, is all that is salty and flavoursome with life to the full. Jesus within propels us into life without measure. Do you enjoy cooking shows that illustrate the diverse flavours of expertly prepared food? This kind of food is Jesus and when you eat Him this kind of flavour is you!
I AND FATHER ARE ONE
Jesus neither lived from the law or promoted the law. He lived from His Father and was one with His Father. Neither egotistical or insane, Jesus promoted Himself as the life of God and the imparter of this life. Jesus revealed His Father as our Father and made a new and living way for us to be one with Father as He was. Jesus made the new and living way of multiply Father’s life in you. By agreeing with this and resting in the reality He created for us we mature as sons in spirit and in truth.
‘All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you’ John 16.15 NIV. Jesus ‘declaration’ is also His impartation of Himself to you. As we eat Him we live because of Him. Al that belongs to Jesus in Father is yours! ‘Those who eat me will live because of me,’ said Jesus. But those who eat what is not Jesus will start to die because they ate death.
Jesus did not endorse the law for Christians. Speaking before His death in old covenant mode (The new covenant does not start until the resurrection), He prepares His hearers for a greater righteousness in a surpassing covenant that would begin on Sunday morning. Genuine righteousness - the righteousness of God put pharisaic righteousness in in deep shade. It does the same to religious righteousness. Religious righteousness can make us painful and irritating persons. Christ as you makes you fully alive. He makes you gracious and loving because you are filled with His person. ‘You cannot do the Kingdom with that kind of (religious) righteousness’ Jesus told the people.
CUT IT OFF
‘And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off’ Mark 9.45 NIV. Jesus then alerts them to the consequences of ‘legal righteousness’ - of the need to cut off the offending parts that cause us to sin. He is pointing to the impossibility of doing this in ‘religion.’ But He does this to show that under the new covenant all of our being has been cut-off and put to death in order to rise in the new life that is Jesus as us. In Jesus we are joined to our Father and made one with ourselves. Increasingly we live a consistent, gracious life. Hidden in Jesus, He is revealed in us.
‘I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly’ Gal 2.20,21.
After alerting the people to the impossibility of their perfection in the law, Jesus next dropped a bomb-shell on all law-keeping with the words, ‘You must be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.’ He has just described the hopelessness of the same and for a purpose. What was required was not more diligent effort, a more detailed and particular attention to detail or a bizarre excision of the limbs. What was required and what was on offer was a new life - His life as theirs.
‘And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory’ Col 3.4 NIV. We share in His glory because His life glows in our life.
‘Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect’ Matt 5.48 NIV. How is this possible? We are graced with Christ’s life. He is vicariously you and I an relation to Father and He lives in us to impart His life.
In comparison, when Jesus hung on the cross and said, "It is finished," the word for finished has the same basic meaning which is "to end, fulfil, pay, and accomplish."
While these both originate from the same Greek word, the difference is that perfect is an adjective and finished is a verb. "You must be perfect" is describing a potential Godlike quality about us and a state of being. Whereas "it is finished" tells us the act or the experience of what Jesus did to make it happen. If you're not yet seeing this astonishing connection between our perfection and the finished work of Christ, I hope your heart will relate to it as we go forward. Jesus actively became our perfection by fulfilling the commandment, and he would be the executor of his own will and testament.’
To see Jesus is to see our Father. To see Jesus is to see yourself. Not only are you a manifestation of Him. His completeness is your completeness; His relationship to Father your relationship. You are the righteousness of God in Christ. More to the point you are the expression of our Father in Christ. You are a son/daughter of God. You live daily in the life and presence of God. God in His fullness dwell in you. Acknowledge it, it, agree with it, rest in it and exalt in it! ‘We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ’ Col 1.28 NIV.