BY: GEORGE R. HAWTIN
THE POWER OF AN ENDLESS LIFE
Through the divine power of our Lord Jesus Christ God has given unto us “all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him.” 2 Pet. 1:3. He who has called us to glory and virtue has given unto us exceeding great and precious promises by which all who are called of God may become partakers of His divine nature. We who have been called by Christ have escaped the corruption that is in the world because we have been begotten of incorruptible seed by the word (Logos) of God that liveth and abideth forever. 1 Pet. 1:23. “For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: but the word (Logos) of the Lord endureth forever.” 1 Pet. 1:24-25
Our new life, which is in fact the only true life in all the universe, is the life that comes from Him – nay, better far might I say that our true life is that life which He Himself is. In God’s living word it is recorded, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” John 1:4–5. In the economy of God death and darkness are synonyms, but the life is the light of men. Wheresoever the Spirit of God moves, the mighty voice of creation is heard to cry, “Let there be light,” for God Himself is life eternal and incorruptible, and the life is the light of men. This is the true light “which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” John 1:9. The eternal God, immortal, incorruptible and invisible, dwelleth in the light, which no man can approach – a light which darkness cannot comprehend. All the light and intelligence of this world system is naught but thick darkness and horrible gloominess when compared to true light which Jesus is, and all forms of life which we now see and know are death, corruption and the tomb when compared to that life incorruptible, immortal, invisible and eternal, which He Himself is.
Sweeter than the dews of Hermon descending upon the mountains of Zion and more blessed than good news from a far country is the wonderful revelation with which He now fills our enlightened hearts, declaring that man, born in sin and altogether shapen in iniquity, may now partake of the divine nature because infinite grace and limitless power has placed within the womb of our spirits the incorruptible Christ seed that we in truth may be begotten of God. O joy of all joys! How good to know that we who once were born of the corruptible seed of the first Adam, placed by our earthly father in the womb of our earthly mother, may now through His divine power be born anew of the incorruptible seed of the last Adam, the Logos, who liveth and abideth forever. See with what wisdom it has been written, “The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven… And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.” 1 Cor. 15:47,49. The heavenly secret sealed up in the treasure house of these inspired words none but the Father Himself can unfold, and while heavenly angels, excelling in wisdom and understanding, desire to look into these things, we who once were born of corruptible seed are now reborn of that incorruptible seed which liveth and abideth forever.
Sometimes it is not the best of wisdom to draw too close a parallel between things that are natural and things that are spiritual, for earthly minded folk delight to drag all spiritual things down to the realm of their natural understanding, distorting and confusing truth that only the spiritual mind can comprehend. Let us, however, hear the word of the Lord on this matter that we may have a better understanding to see more clearly how by the use of natural things, which we understand, the Holy Spirit reveals things that are as high above our understanding as heaven is higher than the earth. “For,” saith God, “as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isa. 55:9. As the rain that comes down from heaven makes the earth bring forth and bud, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so the word of the Lord that goes forth from His mouth as life-giving water accomplishes that which He pleases, and prospers in the thing whereto He sent it.
Thus it was that Paul, writing of the heathen, showed that that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them. For the invisible things of Hun from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.” Rom. 1:19-20. We should therefore understand that, while this statement condemns the unbelief of the heathen, it is also teaching us to see how things that are spiritual and invisible may be clearly understood by looking at the natural things God has made. So true is this that Paul says even His eternal power and Godhead may be seen by the things which God has made. Rom. 1:20. Is it not true that a connoisseur of art is able to recognize almost at a glance the work of Rembrandt, De Vinci, or Michael Angelo? Cannot a critic of music recognize immediately the styles of great musicians? The work of every man and every woman, though unknown to themselves, proceeds after a pattern peculiar to them. So also you will notice that every work of God, whether He be creating a universe or creating men, follows a pattern peculiar to Him. Thus, when He makes a week to contain seven days. then every week He makes will have seven days though those days be twenty-four hours or one thousand years in length. When the immutable Father brings forth a creation by placing a seed either in the earth upon which we stand or in the earth which we are, whether it be the seed of a flower or an oak tree, the seed of an animal, a bird or a man, He is working according to a pattern from which He will never digress. Which of all the living things has He not brought forth after this pattern?
The pattern of God does not end with things which are visible and natural as Paul by the Spirit has plainly said: “The invisible things are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead.” We must tread softly here and speak with infinite reverence, for, though the statement above is entirely true, it is impossible to grasp the metaphor, the allegory or the type until our eyes are opened by the Holy Spirit and our minds are enlightened with the light of life that streams from Him. “What man knoweth the things of a man save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God, that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.” 1 Cor. 2:11-12
With my head bowed and my heart awed in deepest reverence I shall now try to explain that, when our God and Father ordained that a new creation should be brought forth in the image of Himself, to be born, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible seed, He followed the same wonderful pattern that infinite wisdom had devised to produce all living things from a seed. First He must bring into the world the holy and incorruptible One who was to be called the Son of God, for He Himself was to become the seed of an entirely new creation of incorruptible sons of God. The Father decreed that through the medium of a virgin’s womb He would bring into the world the incorruptible seed, the life germ from which would spring an entirely new creation – a creation of twice born men, born again of the incorruptible seed of God’s Christ. Then, true to the pattern of sowing and reaping, that seed must fall into the ground and die; “For,” said Jesus, “except a corn (kernel) of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” It is the outer shell that dies – not the incorruptible life within. The incorruptible life is the Christ seed, springing forth, first the blade, then the ear, and afterward the full corn in the ear, to become the wave sheaf of Leviticus 23:10 as the incorruptible life of Christ appears in God’s many sons, and each of these in his turn, crucified with Christ and falling into the ground in death, bring forth an abounding harvest of incorruptible sons of God.
When the virgin in her amazement asked, “How can this be, seeing I know not a man,” the angelic reply was this: “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing that shall be born of the thee shall be called the Son of God.” Luke 1:35. This was to be the divine method of bringing into the world that incorruptible Christ who is Himself the seed of a new creation of incorruptible sons of God. Here as always it can be easily seen that the Father is following His usual pattern of creation. The Holy Spirit was to move upon the earthly form of this virgin woman that she might bring forth the firstborn of an entirely new creation. However much the truth may tax our understanding, the fact is that this firstborn Son of God was to be the germ seed of an entirely new creation of incorruptible men, born not after the flesh, but reborn of His Spirit.
How very important and full of truth are the simplest sayings of inspiration! Who can fathom the depths of truth set forth in the words of our Lord: “I am the vine; ye are the branches.” “I am the light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” “I am the bread of life. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever.” But, when He said, “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but, if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit,” He was describing the pattern and the divine process by which that incorruptible life which He is would be released from its confinement within God’s Christ that millions of believing mankind might through faith in Him be born of incorruptible seed and live forever and forever. No fact in life is better known than this certainty: If there is to be a harvest, we must first sow the seed. Furthermore the knowledge is clear to us all that even one seed planted in the ground will in a few seasons multiply to a very great harvest to satisfy all the world with its life giving bread.
Therefore our Lord said, “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but, if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” The natural creation tells us emphatically that, as long as the wheat is left in the granary, there will be no increase. Lying there in security, its life remains locked up within itself, producing nothing and bringing forth nothing. The life existing in every kernel remains locked up within its tiny body because there has been no death that would release it from its shell, and, because there has been no death, there is no increase, no blade, no ear, no sheaf, and no harvest. Well does the farmer know that his own livelihood, together with the well-being of the people, depends upon his planting those seeds in the ground. Well he knows that the death, which occurs in the body of the seed, will release the life germ that will yield an abundant harvest. Can you not hear Paul saying, “But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened (made alive), except it die.” 1 Cor. 15:35–36. Here again we see the pattern clearly stated, both for the natural and for the spiritual realm. If the corruptible life contained in the kernel is to be released that it might yield a great harvest, then the kernel must die. There is no other way. Is it not therefore abundantly true that, if the incorruptible life sealed up within God’s Christ was to be released that there might be a bountiful harvest in incorruption, then God’s Christ must die, and die He did. He must be planted in the earth, and in the earth they placed Him in Joseph’s new tomb.
For three days and three nights our Lord lay in the heart of the earth. His loving friends, it seems, had forgotten that He had said, “After three days I will rise again.” But His enemies had not forgotten, and they set a watch to make sure He would remain in the tomb. Forty armed men were appointed to watch over the dead! They rolled a great stone against the door of the cave and sealed the stone with the governor’s signet to make certain no one would molest it. O fools and slow of heart to believe, did they not know that the life confined in that kernel of wheat was life incorruptible and immortal? Had they dragged the Rocky Mountains over the door of His tomb that would have been no deterrent to incorruptible life. And Mary Magdalene, poor dear, unable to believe in a literal resurrection, came early in the morning in company with other devout women to anoint His dead body with oil and sweet spices and embalm Him in death forever. But the stone, much too great for little women to move, was already rolled away, and, looking within the tomb, she saw no dead body lying in shrouds and death. There in the tomb an angel spoke as though surprised at her great sorrow. “Woman, why weepest thou?” he gently asked. She replied, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where now she had not so much as a dead Christ upon whom to pour her sweet spices? So with blinding tears and deepening sorrow she turned to go away, and Jesus stood before her; but she knew Him not. One sentence He spoke and one question He asked, just as the angels had done. “Why weepest thou?” O how hard it is for our benighted minds to understand and grasp the truth! We are so absorbed with this realm of death that we cannot see that beyond the sable pall is life incorruptible, immortal, and eternal. Why are we so slow to grasp the revealing truth, “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit?” Can you now see from the things we have stated the absolute necessity of the death of God’s Son? How else but by death could incorruptible life be released that they who dwelt in death and corruption could through faith partake of the power of an endless life? O what a death! O what resurrection! O what a harvest! O death, where is now thy sting? Thou canst not slay incorruption! O grave, where is now thy victory? Thou has but released the power of an endless life!
We flounder a bit in our understanding of all these things. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it. Psa. 139:6. Only faintly now we see as through a glass darkly, but as time passes by and the Holy Spirit takes the things of God and shows them unto us, we begin to understand. The events that transpired at the cross are very full of meaning. Not one thing happened on that day of days that had not been ordered of God, and all things loudly proclaimed their truth that enlightened souls might understand.
As our Savior bowed His head in death, He said. “Father, into Thy hands I commit My spirit,” and, having said this, He gave up the ghost. The body without the spirit is dead, and with the death of the body came the release of the Spirit of life, eternal, immortal and incorruptible. And the earth did quake, and the rocks were rent; the veil of the temple was rent in twain, and many graves of the saints were opened, and after His resurrection their bodies rose and came out of their graves and entered into the city and appeared unto many. Matt 27:51-53. When Jesus rose from the dead, He did not rise alone. How could He since it is written, “If it die, it bringeth forth much fruit?” The first fruit (the wave sheaf) of the resurrection must rise with Him. One seed was planted in death. A whole sheaf comes forth in resurrection. That one sheaf was a kind of first fruit of the mighty resurrection, which will eventually encompass all things in its incorruptible power. One kernel was planted in the ground. One sheaf came up in resurrection, that one sheaf being full of individual kernels, each in itself an incorruptible seed. Isaiah saw much more than national restoration when by the Spirit he cried, “Thy dead men shall live; together with my dead body shall they rise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust; for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.” Isa. 26:19
In the twenty-third chapter of the book of Leviticus we have one of those wonderful Old Testament types so hard to understand until we see the anti-type in the New Testament. Among the offerings to the Lord was the offering of a wave sheaf after this manner: “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then shall ye bring a sheaf’ of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: and he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it.” Lev. 23:9-11
As we read the above passage, we must remember that the harvest is the resurrection. But the harvest was divided into three distinct parts-the firstfruits, the great ingathering, and finally the gleanings. One sheaf from the firstfruits of the harvest was to be brought to the priest and waved before the Lord. This passage, like many others, has often baffled my understanding, but now I see some definite significance in it. The simple act of waving is common among men and it is used daily on many occasions and in many different circumstances. A wave of the hand may mean a farewell or it may herald some glad home-coming, as we so often see when ships are coming into the harbor. Again it may be a sign of victory or accomplishment. You will notice three remarkable things connected with the offering of the wave sheaf. First, it was just one sheaf from a great harvest. Secondly, it was offered on the day after the Sabbath, which would indicate the resurrection day, and, most important of all, it was connected with the offering of the he-lamb (verse 12), which lamb is God’s Son who taketh away the sin of the world.
The wave sheaf, waved in victory before the Lord, signifies that the first part of the resurrection is accomplished. Its anti-type is found in the blessed fact that, when Jesus our Lord arose from the dead, He did not rise alone. Only Matthew records the sacred wonder that the graves were opened and many bodies of the saints which slept arose and came out of the graves after His resurrection and appeared unto many. Matt 27:52–53. They were the first sheaf of the firstfruit of the resurrection. They were a sheaf waved in victory before the Lord, signifying that a great and mighty harvest of incorruptibles would rise in ages yet to come, never to die any more.
These resurrected saints who rose with the incorruptible Christ did not return to their tombs again; neither could they die any more, for they are equal unto the angels. Luke 20:36. These are they of whom Paul spoke when he said, “When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. Now that He ascended, what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things.” Eph. 4:8-10
I dearly love the beautiful story recorded in the twenty-fourth chapter of the Gospel of Luke. It tells of two sad and disappointed disciples, walking and communing with broken hearts of all the astonishing things that had so recently happened in Jerusalem. As they walked, the story recounts, Jesus of Nazareth drew near and walked in company with them, but their eyes were holden that they should not know Him. Jesus Himself was the subject of their conversation, as they related the story of His betrayal, His crucifixion and death. Shaking their heads in abject sadness, they sobbed out their heart-breaking disappointment in these pitiful words: “But we trusted that it had been He which would have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, today is the third day since these things were done. Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which Were early at the sepulcher. And when they found not His body, they came, saying that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that He was alive. And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulcher, and found it even so as the women had said: but Him they saw not. Then said He unto them, O fools and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory? And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself.” Luke 24:21-27
Ought not Christ to have suffered? O poor, foolish world! How dare you insist that the death of the Christ was a tragedy! I tell you it was no tragedy, for God, the Creator of all, together with all He has created, shouts aloud and afar from the wonder filled passage, “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” “Ought not Christ to have suffered?” enquired the resurrected Jesus. How else but by death could He release the incorruptible seed to the millions who would in future believe? Had He not died, the incorruptible seed would have been forever locked up within Himself, but the moment He died, His eternal Spirit – yes, His eternal life – was released to go abroad into the hearts of an innumerable multitude of believers who would drink freely of that wonderful fountain of life which He is. It was not until Mary broke the alabaster box that the perfume of the ointment filled all the house where they were sitting; and it was not until that alabaster box of His earthly body was broken in death upon the cross that His Spirit was released to the Father to be sent forth by Him into every believing heart, bringing eternal life, incorruptible, immortal and unfading. My soul sings a thousand hallelujahs that I, too, am drinking of that exhaustless fountain of eternal life. And those who drink shall never thirst again, but the water that He gives is a fountain within them, a well of water springing up into life incorruptible and eternal.
“In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.” John 7:37-39. They could not receive His Spirit until He was glorified, and He could not be glorified until His Spirit was released by death. With what wonder and admiration do we see Him, only a few minutes after He had revealed Himself to the two disciples at Emmaus, appearing to His disciples, who sat behind locked doors for fear of the Jews. “Peace be unto you,” He said in greeting. “As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you.” And He breathed on them and said unto them, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost.” John 20:19-22. It was right here and at this very moment that they were born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible. Christ Jesus, the Word of God, came by His Spirit to dwell, not with them, but in them in the power of His endless life. He liveth and abideth forever because He Himself is incorruptible, and His incorruptible life, released to us by His death and burial in the earth, is freely implanted in every believing heart to swallow up death with life and to bring forth at last that wonderful harvest all glorious in incorruption. “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Cor. 4:7-8
No words of mine can fully reveal the wonderful glory reserved and kept unfading in store for those who have been thus begotten of God. You will do yourself a great injustice if you try to make these spiritual truths fit the cold calculations of your natural mind. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned. By faith we understand! Heb. 11:3. “The things of God knoweth no man, but God hath revealed them to us by His Spirit.” Never try to convince an argumentative Christian. All he will do is present his earthly way of looking at things and you will – end up depressed and thoroughly in the flesh yourself.
Even our blessed Lord Jesus incurred nothing but the wrath of His hearers when He attempted to answer their questions regarding the bread of life. Indeed, by the time the discussion was through, though they found no words to answer Him, they accused Him of blasphemy and sought to take His life. Only by the Spirit can spiritual things be discerned. Indeed, I have made the disappointing discovery that from a crowd of perhaps twelve thousand people, who respond loudly with their fervent amens, probably only twelve of them are able to grasp the truth and spiritually understand. Long ago, speaking of the blindness of Israel, Paul said, “Even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it (the heart) shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is (where the Spirit is Lord), there is liberty. But we all, with open (unveiled) 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.” 2 Cor. 3:15-18. “We speak wisdom among them that are perfect; yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought.” 1 Cor.2:6
In one of my writings some time ago I made this statement: Jesus did not die that I might live. He died that He might give His life to me. No truth in the New Testament is more outstanding than the truth that the “I” must be crucified, and from henceforth it is “not I, but Christ,” God’s people are much too flippant in rendering their lip service to these immortal truths. Everywhere we hear preachers talking about the crucifixion of self; but how good it would be if God’s dear people would pause with fasting and prayer, earnestly requesting that the Holy Spirit would illumine the truth of it to their hearts! Does not nature itself preach this message? Does nature not prove the statement of Jesus, “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit?” You have been begotten of the Spirit, my Christian brother. When you believed, the incorruptible seed in the very person of God’s Christ came to dwell in your heart. Christ in you is your hope of glory. He dwells in your heart by faith (Eph. 3:17) that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to know the love of Christ that passeth knowledge. You are begotten of incorruptible seed, and that incorruptible seed is Christ, the Word of God. Christ can dwell in you only because He was crucified. This treasure we have in earthen vessels because His incorruptible life was released when the corn of wheat fell into the ground and died. When He bowed His head in death, He committed His eternal Spirit to all who would believe, that each might freely partake of the power of an endless life.
Now, lest this should seem too much to believe (though I know you must believe it), give ear to Peter, that God-given shepherd and feeder of the sheep, as He explains the mighty Pentecostal outpouring that came fifty days after the crucifixion of our Lord.
“Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by Him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know; Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that He should be holden of it. For David speaketh concerning Him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for He is on my right hand, that I should not be moved. Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: Because Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shall make me full of joy with Thy countenance. Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, He would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that His soul was not left in hell, neither His flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witness. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, He hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.” Acts 2:22-33
The mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was the outpouring of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Jesus, the corn of wheat, released His life to the Father and the Father poured forth that eternal Spirit, the incorruptible seed, the power of an endless life into the waiting, thirsting hearts of all who believed. I am not trying to confuse regeneration with the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I am only trying to show how the death of Christ released His Spirit that every member of His body might be born of incorruptible seed and know the glory and power of an endless life.
Now ye are the body of Christ and members in particular. You are the body of Christ and members of the family of God. Through the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit, you have been made partakers of the divine nature. O blessed and sacred truth, how can this pen of mine proclaim thy matchless worth? Yet Thou hast proclaimed it, and the ear of faith hath heard that we who once were born in sin have now been begotten of Thee! We who once knew only corruption now feel the pulsating life of Thy incorruptible seed, and we who once were “of the earth earthy” are now members of the family of God. We are the body of Christ – O Lord, Thou hast said it – and members in particular of the Christ body. “And of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace” (John 1:16), that we might know the love of Christ and be filled with all the fullness of God (Eph. 3:19); yea, and more also that we might attain the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Eph. 4:13. “This priceless treasure we hold, so to speak, in a common earthenware jar—to show that the splendid power of it belongs to God and not to us. We are handicapped on all sides, but we are never frustrated; we are puzzled, but never in despair. We are persecuted, but we never have to stand it alone: we may be knocked down, but we are never knocked out! Every day we experience something of the death of the Lord Jesus, so that we may also know the power of the life of Jesus in these bodies of ours. We are always facing death, but this means that you know more and more of life.” 2 Cor. 4:7-13 (Phillips Translation)
I do not wish to leave this area of our discussion without pointing out an eternal principle that applies to each and every one who has been made partaker of that incorruptible Christ seed. Let us not be flippant in our thoughts and our deliberations concerning the body of Christ. God has blinded the minds of most Christians to the true knowledge of the body of Christ simply because they have approached it roughly as Moses approached the burning bush, refusing to remove the shoes from their feet that Christ might wash them. They have come with head unbowed and heart unsanctified. They have come with lives unseparated from the flesh and its lusts, and they have stood in harmony and hand in hand with the harlot daughters of Babylon. They think they see, but weary themselves to find the door. They say, “We see;” therefore their sin remaineth.
The body of Christ is a mystery. It is a mysterious temple that God our Father is in the process of building. It is a temple not made with hands. The stones of its all-glorious walls are living stones, each one born of incorruptible seed and knowing in himself the power of an endless life. The body of Christ is the house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. The body of Christ is “My Father’s house” in which are many mansions. Perhaps we would understand better if we should read, “In My Father’s House are many temples,” because we already know that we are the temples of the Holy Spirit and God dwells in us. There are many of these temples in “My Father’s house.” The Father’s house, the house in which by God’s grace I myself am a mansion, is the habitation of God through the Spirit. That, my beloved friend, is the mystical body of Christ.
In that glorious body, that wonderful temple of sons, there never has been a rift, a schism or division, but from the beginning of the age until now it has been steadily rising on the foundation of the apostles and prophets as each new living stone was readied and permanently placed within its living walls. The body of Christ is unhindered by fire, by tribulation or persecution, unaffected by the squabblings of sects and denominations or those harlot systems without, who vainly imagine their puny group to be the body of Christ, but rising in the power of incorruption and bound with the everlasting ties of God’s eternal Spirit, it is builded a holy and living temple for the Lord.
The body of Christ is the fullness of Christ. The body of Christ is Jesus, God’s first perfected Son, joined together with all that vast family of sons, who through the ages have been born again of the incorruptible seed, which He is. He became God’s incorruptible seed, and we who are born of Him have been born of incorruptible seed. He is made after the power of an endless life (Heb. 7:16), and we, too, have been made after the power of an endless life. I cannot explain such marvelous grace. My mind is still to earthy and small to comprehend the fullness and power of words like these: “Of His fullness have all we received and grace for grace.” Jesus, our elder brother, He who is the first-born Son, the Head of the mystical body of Christ, was made a priest after the order of Melchizedek. He was not made after the order of a carnal commandment as Aaron but after the power of an endless life. And we, too, God’s younger sons, are made priests and kings after the order of Melchizedek, not after the order of Aaron to slavishly obey a commandment which our old nature could never keep, but after the power of an endless life. Yea, “ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.”
Since, then, we are the body of Christ, and we are born of incorruptible seed, and the power of an endless life is within us, I must now explain – and may the Holy Spirit give understanding – that, wonderful as is the truth that we are born of incorruptible seed, and glorious as is the fact that the power of an endless life is within us, that life must remain sealed up within us even as it was in Jesus until we, like Him, embrace the cross. When death worked in Jesus the Christ, then life worked in me; and when I am delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, then life works in you. With this truth firmly in mind we can much better comprehend the meaning of Paul’s words, which I now quote and which clearly show how the things which lead to the destruction of the old self are the things that cause the incorruptible life within us to fully possess us and be released to work life in other members of the human race. “We have this (incorruptible) treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power (the power of an endless life) may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you.” 2 Cor. 4:7-12
From reading these inspired words of Paul we can easily see that, just as the crucifixion and death of our Lord Jesus released the eternal Spirit, so now also the same divine principle is working in us who have received His life. For, as Paul said, it is when death works in us that life works in others. No word that I can say or book that I can write can possibly show with greater clearness the absolute necessity of crucifixion and death to self. In my book, The Meaning of the Cross, I have explained the eternal fact of our crucifixion, showing that it was accomplished by the great wisdom of God when before the foundation of the ages He placed all men in His Son and then led Him to the accursed tree, where we were crucified with Him. He that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin that he should no more spend his time to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. The sufferings of this present world are not worthy to be compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us; and the glory to be revealed is none other than that incorruptible life which we have received of Him by faith and which will be manifested in wonderful glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.
It is a great regret to me and an almost unmentionable shame that many who in our day profess to be the ministers of Jesus Christ will dare to assert that God wants His people to have the best of everything this corrupt age has to offer. They tell the people that God never wants them to be poor, but to be filled with all the good things of this world. He never wants them to suffer either in flesh or in spirit, but all the luxuries of this life are to be theirs and in general, as the common saying goes, they are to live “high on the hog.” I shall not speak further of this other than to say that all such teaching emanates from and is the product of the carnal mind of man and not the Spirit of Christ. Let no man deceive you with such vain words, for it is true now as in ages past that “they who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” Tribulation, today as always, works patience; patience works experience, experience works hope, and hope makes not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given unto us. Rom. 5:3-5.
Still in the hearts of the crucified these words echo more and more with truth: “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” Gal. 6:14. No man should be moved by affliction, “for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto.” 1 Thess. 3:3. God has a wonderful intention in appointing His people to great suffering. Suffering weans us away from the natural realm with its corruption and death. It reveals how weak and shoddy the flesh with all its weakness is. It causes us to relinquish our childish grip on natural things with all their weak and beggarly elements that we may lay hold on life, our joy and crown eternally.
This treasure of incorruption we have in earthen vessels. The vessel itself is not the treasure. The treasure is the Christ life within the vessel. The alabaster box in the hands of that devout woman of Bethany may have been very beautiful indeed, but the treasure was the ointment within. When our Lord Jesus Christ was here on earth, mankind recognized Him only as a man. Some knew Him as the carpenter’s son, the son of Joseph and Mary. Others saw Him as an ordinary Jew, and others called Him a deceiver and a man possessed with demons. But others had flashes of revelation as one might through a rift in a curtain catch a glimpse of the coming scene. Thus it was with Peter, who with a conviction as fresh as the winds of heaven affirmed, “thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Nathanael, too, upon hearing the words of Jesus, affirmed with heavenly assurance, “Master, Thou art the Son of God; Thou art the King of Israel.” John 1:49. And Thomas, who with questioning mind had walked and talked with the Savior for three years and more, now for the first time seeing beyond the shroud of His human flesh, with wonder starting from his eyes and with fingers pressed against his trembling lips burst forth with astonished joy, “My Lord and my God!” John 20:28. what shall we say of John, the Baptist, who cried with a voice that even today is echoing among the eternal hills, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world.” John 1:29. How good to hear that loving woman tell how she wept until He spoke her name! “Rabboni!” she cried as she fell in worship at His feet, and she, who had known Him only as Jesus of Nazareth, now knew Him as God’s Son, the resurrection and the life. Yea, He was life itself. The incorruptible life, long hidden within the alabaster box of His human flesh, had now at last burst its bonds in death to manifest itself in the magnificent glory of the resurrection. The corruptible had put on incorruption, the mortal had put on immortality, and death, that had reigned since Adam, was swallowed up in victory, and all creation was shouting in triumph, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”
O twice born men, who through faith have been begotten of His incorruptible seed, behold, I show you a mystery! That same incorruptible life, that sprang forth from His tomb with such glory that even His body, which was crucified in weakness, was raided in power, is now working in you and me. Dwelling side by side with other men and with the unbelievers of this world, scarcely would any notice the difference between us and them. It is not the beauty of the alabaster box that fills the house of this world, but the fragrance of life eternal, the incense of incorruption, the aroma of an endless life when we become identified with His cross. His life now works in us. It is incorruption. It is resurrection life. This treasure we have in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us (2 Cor. 4:7), always bearing about in our bodies the dying of the Lord Jesus that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body (verse 10) when that life shall burst forth in glory and resurrection, never to taste death any more. The incorruptible life within us is the Christ life. It is inseparable from Him. He who hath the Son hath life. There is no other life than this. All else is death.
Have you considered the words of Paul, “You are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God?” Col. 3:3. Surely now our minds can grasp the message he is trying to teach us. Life at this moment is hidden in Christ and He is hidden in us, yet His life is our life and that life is incorruptible. The apostle did not end his inspired statement here, but continued with these revealing words: When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.” Col. 3:4. When Jesus the Christ arose from the dead, He rose, not in corruption, but in incorruption; not in mortality, but in immortality; not in weakness, but in power; not in dishonor, but in glory; not a natural body, but a spiritual body. See 1 Cor. 15:43–44. And we, because of the incorruptible seed which is in us, shall soon, very soon, appear with Him in glory, for as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. 1 Cor. 15:49.
There was a day when our Lord Jesus was preaching and ministering in Caesarea Philippi, a little town nestled at the foot of Mt. Hermon, which is Mt. Zion. Deut. 4:48. It was here that Peter had uttered those memorable words, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Matt 16:16. It was here that Jesus had forewarned them that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things of the chief priests and be crucified and that the third day He would rise from the dead. It was here that Peter had rebuked Him, saying, “Be it far from Thee, Lord: This shall not be unto Thee,” and Jesus, turning to him, replied, “Get thee behind Me, Satan; thou art an offence unto Me.” Offensive indeed are the exhortations of those who would spare us from the cross, for without the cross there can be neither incorruption nor glory. “Whosoever will save his (corruptible) life shall lose it, but whosoever will lose His life for My sake shall have it.” It was here at Ceasarea that our blessed Lord had said, “The Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and then He shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in His kingdom.” Matt. 16: 27–28. “And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James and John his brother and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them: and His face did shine as the sun, and His raiment was as white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with Him. Then answered Peter and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if Thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for Thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and, behold, a voice out of the cloud which said, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him.” Matt. 17:1-5. Luke in his gospel adds the significant fact that Moses and Elias appeared in glory, and that Peter, James and John also saw Jesus in His glory. Luke 9:31-32.
The indescribable wonder of the vision of transfiguration depicts in radiant splendor the ineffable glory, which saints will attain with Christ in His kingdom. It is a manifestation of the glory that comes when the incorruptible seed, now lying in the earth which we are, shall burst forth in the glory and power of an endless life. This is the glory that will unfold when He appears and we appear with Him in glory.
It was after six days, that is, six days after the events recorded in Matt. 16, that Jesus led His disciples up the towering mountain of Zion (Hermon), the mountain that Peter calls the holy mount. 2 Pet. 1:18. This statement is typical and very significant, because it is after the six days of man’s labor and travail, six one thousand year days after man’s transgression, that the Lord’s Day will come. In it man will do no labor. It is the millennial Sabbath, the long awaited kingdom of God. Therefore, the Holy Spirit has recorded for our learning that it was after six days that Jesus appeared in glory. The six days of labor since Adam are almost at an end. Five thousand, nine hundred and eighty-three (and perhaps more) years have already passed by. The seventh is at hand. Soon the sun will set forever on man’s dreary six days of labor and the bells of heaven will ring in the seventh day, the kingdom, the Lord’s day. Then will the angels chorus the hymn, “This is the day the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psa. 118:24. “This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.” Verse 23
When He appeared in glory, so the three evangelists say, His face did shine as the sun, His garments were white as the light, He was transfigured before them, and the proclamation went forth from the Father, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Hear ye him.” For this reason Paul wrote to tell those of us in whom the incorruptible seed now dwells, “When Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.” Nothing can be more certain than this and nothing more wonderful. Peter, who wrote with such assurance, telling us we are born of incorruptible seed, showed in no uncertain way that, because we are born of incorruptible seed, we are therefore heirs of an incorruptible inheritance. Thus with the certainty of a man inspired he wrote, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undeflled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” 1 Pet. 1:3-5
“But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?” 1 Cor. 15:35. “Behold, I shew you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.” 1 Cor. 15:51-53. This is the first resurrection. This is the harvest at the end of the age. This is the resurrection of the in Christ company. They are raised incorruptible because long ago through faith in Him they were begotten of incorruptible seed that liveth and abideth forever. They live because He lives. Since Christ has appeared, they now appear with Him in glory. With the sounding of the last trump of the great tribulation great voices in heaven were heard, saying, “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign forever and ever. And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, saying, We give Thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because Thou hast taken to Thee thy great power, and hast reigned. And the nations were angry, and Thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead that they should be judged, and that Thou shouldst give reward unto Thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear Thy name, small and great; and shouldst destroy them that destroy the earth. And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in His temple the ark of His testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.” Rev. 11:15-19
And there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying; neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things have passed away. Christ has abolished death by the power of His endless life to bring to light life and immortality forevermore. Amen!