On the Damascus road Paul saw in a flash that his entire life had been misdirected. Yet it has not been a waste. As a an inmate and proponent of the law he had been well prepared to celebrate the Spirit by familiarity with death as religion- the kind of religion that he later called ‘this body of death.’ Paul had chained people up for becoming free in Christ. He was complicit in the death of Stephen. Paul lived the effects of the law - a version of righteousness that chains and kills their spirit if not their body – the same law that Jesus called ‘your law’ that had resulted in His crucifixion. ‘Your law’ because it gave the elite a sense of entitlement and ‘your law’ because it was their law – a sub-category and lesser branch of the knowledge of good and evil.
JOINED TO LIFE
But even in this the Enemy was foiled. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil became a cross that crucified the son of God, as it crucifies us all. Yet in this act the cross became a tree of life. The cross signalled the end of our Adamic life and paved the way for the resurrection of Jesus and the new start of the human race. Since by man came death. By Jesus came the new creation in person – the new creation who would live in us, become us and be the genesis of a new society and new earth. His cross closed the door and compartmentalisation and limitation. His resurrection opened the door to life without limit. Jesus person and life became the tree of life: The Vine that rooted all to the fullness of God.
"I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing’ John 15.5 NIV.
We have a choice. Never let it be said that through inertia or pride we acquiesce in a mode of thought that limits life because we are addicted to a perspective that we think gives us a special identity or status. We have one husband and only one real life. Either we live in the Thief’s domain of limited life. Or we live in the Kingdom of God where life is eternal because it is infinite.
‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full’ John 10.10 NIV.
It was Paul’s role to unwrap the Christ and apply who He was and what He had accomplished to our lives. It was Paul who proclaimed with certainty that if we retained ourselves in the law – then Christ died for nothing – as far as we are concerned. This explains why there can be Christians who receive no benefit from Christ – other than a bunch of beliefs, an addiction to meetings and a community of dead folks walking.
‘Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life’ 1 John 5.12 NIV.
Paul did not state this explicitly but he did describe the Ten Commandments exactly as they were: Laws written on stone that comprise the law of sin and death. Why? They were a sub-category of the knowledge of good and evil – the tree that you eat and then die.
‘Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone … transitory though it was’ 2 Cor 3.7 NIV.
These rules were a stop-gap measure in the mode of the knowledge of good and evil. They would lead to Christ. Chiefly by showing that they could not be kept. In doing so the old covenant would pave the way to Christ and our union with God. Jesus would transfuse us with His person and we would be covered in His grace and become the manifestation of His person.
GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM
Paul spoke of ‘My Gospel.’ This was really the gospel of the Kingdom. The same gospel lived and demonstrated by Jesus. But it fell to Paul to teach and demonstrate that the new testament (covenant) was not a mere alteration or addition to what came before the cross. It was a radically new departure in which Jesus and not the law becomes our life. Now Jesus lives in all who will have Him. He lives in us by the Spirit and manifests as Keith, George, Noel and Gertrude.
False gospels have one thing in common. All of them promote union with God by some kind of law, routines of conformity, spiritual keys and performance regime’s. The most prevalent kind of law is religion itself – the great counterfeit to union with God.
Jesus is not there to help us keep the law. He is not a subtle way of making do with the knowledge of good and evil. This knowledge, this witchcraft, this separation is forever abolished and we are one with Jesus, our Father, the Spirit and all heaven.
Christ is our life. We are also one with all the saints who have gone before us. Jesus and the Father are one. We and all who have taken Jesus name are one. Jesus is in the process of drawing all things together in Himself. To participate with Him and be who we are in the fullness of sons we need to follow Him. This is what disciples do.
Jesus sayings seemed bizarre to the carnal and unspiritual. A bunch of followers left Jesus after He had told them they must eat His flesh and drink His blood if they were to possess spirit and life. He said to those who remained, ‘Will you leave too?’ “To whom would we go? One replied. Indeed. Most of the twelve did follow Him wherever He led at the cost of their lives.
The key to an infinite life in the present is following Jesus wherever He leads. Jesus led us out of the law and old covenant into union with God and the realm of infinite possibility. This means infinite advancement in our being as sons and daughters of God and infinite creative power to change things for good.
‘In Christ’ is not ‘in Christianity.’ In Christ is Christ our life. The full meaning of this is expressed as the vicarious humanity of Jesus which means that Jesus is all and in all for each and for the world.
‘For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory’ Col 3.3,4 NIV. People have gone all over the world teaching an old covenant gospel of separation and self-effort. As if this came from God. This has to stop. I have been leading up to this crucial point. Unless we are willing to follow Jesus beyond our self-prescribed limits we will live in limitation for the rest of our lives. We will drag about a body of death and be bereft of spirit and life.
Our following of Jesus means unconditional following. To call Jesus Lord is to follow wherever He leads. No ifs and buts. Particularly if He leads us beyond our well pickled notions and the beliefs of our fathers. Should we say to Jesus implicitly or other wise, “I will follow you up to that boundary fence and no further” life without limit will not be ours. We will render ourselves incompetent to minister the Kingdom. We will live in limitation as stunted people with a stunted gospel. Worse still we will be an impediment to the new creation Kingdom of God.