THE PAROUSIA OF JESUS CHRIST (continued)
The Greek word PAROUSIA is translated as "coming" in your King James Bible, and that is where a lot of the problems with the so-called "second coming" begin. The word actually means "along side" or "presence." And there are many, many scriptures that the Bible projects as talking about the "coming" of the Lord that are not talking at all about a physical descent of Jesus from the sky. They speak rather of His coming in us, His appearing through us, the glory of the fullness of the presence of the Lord in the midst of the church, the presence of the Lord in the earth.
The word PAROUSIA is used twice in the New Testament when it does not apply to Jesus, but to the apostle Paul. These, and other, uses of the word establish its real meaning. Paul expresses others' appraisal of him, saying, "His letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence (PAROUSIA) is weak" (II Cor. 10:10). And again, writing to the saints at Philippi, Paul says, "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence (PAROUSIA) only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Phil. 2:12). It can be seen at once that the use of the word "coming" to translate the Greek word PAROUSIA in the foregoing texts would have given an entirely wrong meaning to Paul's words. In these passages it is the PRESENCE of a human being that is involved, so we understand what Paul means. It is not discussing his "coming" or "arrival," but his actual presence in their midst after having arrived. So we need only to move from the understandable into the realm in which we do not fully understand in order to realize what the scriptures mean which discuss the PAROUSIA of our Lord; that meaning being His ACTUAL PRESENCE, not His "coming." And many of these references are not future tense!
This is without doubt one of the most important truths in the whole New Testament. Nowhere does PAROUSIA mean "coming" or "coming again." The whole church world proclaims that the "second coming of Christ" is the HOPE OF THE CHURCH AND THE WORLD. It is not His second coming that is the hope of the church, but IT IS HIS P-R-E-S-E-N-C-E which is the hope of the church and the hope for the world. The PAROUSIA is a LIFE IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD, not simply a flashing of Jesus across the skies. From the hour of the first dawn of creation's light to this present moment no soul of man has ever been brought into relationship with God or transformed into His image apart from the effectual MANIFESTATION OF THE PRESENCE OF GOD.
The PAROUSIA is the ENVELOPING PRESENCE OF CHRIST and to stand before the Son of man is to awake to the wonder and glory and majesty and power of HIS PRESENCE. It is the fullness of all that one can conceive of as being the reality of His promise, "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, THERE AM I IN THE MIDST OF THEM," and again, "And, lo, I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS, even unto the end of the age." The PAROUSIA is THE PRESENCE OF HIS GLORY and THE GLORY OF HIS PRESENCE.
Do not mistake it, my friend - Christ is coming literally, personally, bodily! Yes, He comes literally, for the Lord IS literal, actual, REAL! He comes personally, for He IS truly THE PERSON of all persons! And He comes bodily, for the appearance and presence of Christ is IN HIS BODY. "Now YE ARE the BODY of Christ." The PAROUSIA, the PRESENCE of Christ is in the body. Consider now with reverent honesty the inspired words of the apostle, "And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven ... when He shall come to be glorified I-N HIS SAINTS, and to be admired I-N ALL THEM THAT BELIEVE in that day" (II Thes. 1: 7, 10). That is the presence, the coming of the Son of God in and through the Christ Body. And He is coming, coming, coming, from glory to glory, from experience to experience, from inworking to inworking, until we know the POWER AND GLORY OF HIS PRESENCE in all the fullness of HIMSELF.
Woe! unto those who stand gazing intently into the starry heavens to behold One coming again to occupy some remote spot of God's earth, to sit in a royal chair in Jerusalem or in London, in a body of limitation and restriction, concealed behind walls, accessible only by appointment. "Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore, if they shall say unto you, Behold, He is in the desert; GO NOT FORTH: behold, He is in the secret chambers; BELIEVE IT NOT. For as the lightning (sun) cometh out of the east and (gradually) shineth even unto the west, so shall be the PRESENCE of the Son of man" (Mat. 24: 26-27). Millions are waiting to see Jesus descending through the air, a shining body of FLESH, with the scars, as crucified; expecting Him as He WAS, and not AS HE IS, they seriously err, and blind themselves to the truth, as did the Jews at His advent in the flesh. If they knew WHAT to expect they would not gaze into the skies, nor would they set their faces toward the throne in Jerusalem, nor yet, the throne in London to behold the man, the carpenter of Nazareth; for the highly exalted King of glory comes as the sunlight, as the ever-increasing effulgence of God's glory, making His presence and influence felt and known the world over. Wherefore, "Go not forth."
The PAROUSIA OF JESUS CHRIST, the PRESENCE OF THE SON OF GOD is a past, present and future reality. His PAROUSIA is the ongoing, progressive unfolding of Himself. How often we have yearned for a deeper consciousness of His presence, and wondered where we could find His presence, that is, visible manifestations of His presence, that specific sense of being in the very presence of the Christ in a literal and conscious manner.
The Old Testament is replete with occasions when God manifested His presence in some form or manner so that the people knew they were IN His presence, and all these manifestations were climaxed when Jesus Christ came forth as the visible expression of the invisible God, being "the brightness of His glory, and the express I image of His person" (Heb. 1:3). The Bible does not tell us how in the morning of the world God manifested His presence and walked with man among the trees of the Garden, but this we read, "Adam and his wife hid themselves from the PRESENCE of the Lord God amongst the trees of the Garden" (Gen. 3:8). Obviously this was more than just the consciousness of the cosmic omnipresence of God, there was some kind of a local manifestation of which they were very conscious, and which they felt they could hide themselves from.
Then we read in Gen. 4:16, "And Cain went out from the PRESENCE of the Lord." Thus we know that there was some form of expression accommodated to sinful man, and from which it became his nature to flee. We would not in any way infer that the presence of God was disclosed merely in some earthly figure, with arms, legs and torso, as a man, for GOD IS SPIRIT, but God is able to so manifest Himself in His glorious presence that we are consciously aware of Him, and know that we are before His face. God manifested His presence in remarkable and awesome ways to Enoch, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Samuel, David, Solomon, Isaiah, Ezekiel and scores of others throughout the Old Testament dispensations.
But the greatest manifestation was when Jesus came, EMMANUEL, God with us. Jesus said, "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father." He knew He was the visible expression of the Father. There were brief moments when certain individuals also came to know who He was, though for the most part "He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not" (Jn. 1:10-11). "Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory" (I Cor. 2:8).
As stated earlier in this series, I believe every word that the Bible says about the coming of our Lord; I don't believe what the harlot church system says about it, nor what the television evangelists say about it, nor what the tradition-bound preachers say about it, nor even what some Bible translators say about it; but I certainly believe what the Bible says about it!
We have amply demonstrated that the Greek word PAROUSIA, generally translated "coming," literally means "presence." In the following texts relating to our Lord's coming the word PAROUSIA appears in the Greek text and should be translated PRESENCE; and in giving the texts we are using the word PRESENCE. "What shall be the sign of Thy PRESENCE?" (Mat. 24:3). "So shall also the PRESENCE of the Son of man be" (Mat. 24:27,37,39). "They that are Christ's, at His PRESENCE" (I Cor. 15:23). "What is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye, before our Lord Jesus Christ at His PRESENCE?" (I Thes. 2:19). "...He may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the PRESENCE of our Lord Jesus Christ" (I Thes. 3:13). "We which are alive, and remain unto the PRESENCE of the Lord shall not prevent (hinder) them which are asleep" (I Thes. 4:15). "Be preserved blameless unto the PRESENCE of our Lord Jesus Christ" (I Thes. 5:23). "Now we beseech you brethren, by the PRESENCE of our Lord Jesus Christ and by our gathering together unto Him" (II Thes. 2:1). "Be patient therefore brethren, unto the PRESENCE of the Lord" (James 5:7). "Be ye also patient; establish your hearts: for the PRESENCE of the Lord draweth nigh" (James 5:8). "There shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of His PRESENCE?" (II Pet. 3:3-4).
"Come now and let us reason together," saith the Lord through the lips of Isaiah; and again, "If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land" (Isa.1:18-19). Let us therefore reason together with Him by giving thoughtful, prayerful, and reverent consideration to the scriptures He has provided, using this key word PAROUSIA in connection with the so-called "second-coming" of Jesus. Let us do this with hearts hungering and thirsting after righteousness and willing minds open to conviction by the blessed Spirit of Truth through the inspired Word, and willing to abandon false opinions and conceptions born of faulty translation and traditional teaching; remembering that He has shined forth with ever-increasing light since the beginning of creation; is shining forth now, and will continue to shine forth until the darkened hearts of all humanity have been warmed, melted, and returned to God; remembering that He has been, is now, and will continue to be entering, accompanying, bringing in, filling out His Kingdom, that wonderful realm in Christ in which all humanity shall eventually find their life when His Spirit has been poured out upon all flesh; and remembering that we of this age are merely a few specially chosen for His name to be used as instruments for future ages in the expansion of His Kingdom; it is not at all strange that He should now desire to tell us of His PRESENCE and the glorious work planned for and to be accomplished IN AND BY HIS PRESENCE in this age and in vast ages yet unborn. With these thoughts in mind let us now prayerfully examine the following scripture passages.
I THES. 5:23-24. "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it."
This incorrect translation of the Greek text suggests that the apostle Paul believed that those believers at Thessalonica would be preserved physically, enjoying health and longevity for 2,000 years, until the so-called "rapture." Those of you who are qualified to read the Greek text may be surprised to learn that the Greek words meaning "until" (MECHRI, HEOS, ACHRI) are not to be found in this passage. These verses say nothing whatever about being preserved "until" or "unto" the coming of the Lord. The word translated "unto" is the Greek preposition EN which is the equivalent of our English word IN. The Greek preposition EN clearly defines LOCATION or POSITION. Dr. Robert Young, author of Young's Analytical Concordance, in his Literal Translation correctly translates the verse, "And the God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly, and may your whole spirit, and soul, and body, be preserved unblameably IN THE PRESENCE of our Lord Jesus Christ." The Concordant New Testament renders, "Now may the God of peace Himself be hollowing you wholly; and may your unimpaired spirit and soul and body be kept blameless IN THE PRESENCE of our Lord Jesus Christ." The Diaglott reads, "And may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your whole person - the spirit and the soul and the body - be preserved blameless IN THE PRESENCE of our Lord Jesus Christ."
You see, precious friend of mine, there is a whole world of difference between being preserved blameless UNTIL THE COMING of the Lord, and being preserved blameless I-N THE PRESENCE of the Lord! Is it not by HIS ABIDING PRESENCE that we are able to be kept and preserved blameless, faultless, without blemish or spot? It should be apparent that the primary thrust of this scripture is a sanctification and preservation of the whole man in a state of holiness and perfection by the power of the presence of the Lord. "According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we shouldbe HOLY AND WITHOUT BLAME before Him in love" (Eph. 1:4). This is utterly amazing! Vile sinners such as we - assured that it is the purpose of God in election and predestination that we should be WITHOUT BLEMISH before the Father! Such a condition is first stated to be true in our forerunner, Christ: "...the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb WITHOUT BLEMISH" (I Pet. 1:19). Wonder of wonders! that there should be a people, a firstfruit company, a royal priesthood, a seed of blessing which is AS FREE OF BLEMISH as is the precious lamb of God Himself! Dear chosen one of God, dare you believe it? Ah, if this were not the case, why would God be dealing so severely in your life? "Now He that hath wrought us for this self same thing is GOD" (II Cor. 5:5). Thank God - HE shall perform it!
That our Father shall bring this work to its final consummation and present us FAULTLESS is certain! Ah, under the searchlight of His holy presence, have you not beheld your own weakness and unworthiness and despaired that your life could ever be conformed to the image of God's lovely Son? True, in your own strength and initiative such a feat can never be performed, but the word is sure: "HE HATH CHOSEN US ... THAT WE SHOULD BE HOLY AND WITHOUT BLAME before Him!" Chosen - to be without blemish! What a calling! And the One who has so chosen is the same who is well able to bring it to pass! "And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath HE reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, TO PRESENT YOU HOLY AND UNBLAMEABLE AND UNREPROVEABLE in His sight" (Col. 1:21-22). Furthermore,"...unto HIM THAT IS ABLE TO KEEP YOU FROM FALLING, and to PRESENT YOU FAULTLESS before the presence of His glory" (Jude 24). He - I-S_ A-B-L-E! He - is able to PRESENT YOU FAULTLESS! Yes, beloved, He can and will do it. Let us trust Him. Perfection is not a thing He gives us apart from Himself. Perfection is nothing but Christ Himself, most compassionately and most faithfully intervening in our daily life, most really and fully giving and living HIS LIFE IN US. The mighty CHRIST WITHIN is the guarantee of our perfection as sons of God.
Holy, without blemish, unblameable, unreproveable, blameless, without spot or wrinkle - all are related terms. "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be HOLY AND WITHOUT BLEMISH" (Eph. 5:25-27). There is much difference between a spot and a wrinkle. A spot is "a stain coming from defilement," indicating an eruption of unrighteousness in one's life. A wrinkle is "a fold, a drawing together." A wrinkle is a blemish, though there may be no defilement with it. A garment may be spotlessly white with no stain upon it, but if it is wrinkled, its beauty and usefulness are marred. A wrinkle is a blemish revealed UNDER PRESSURE, bespeaking a weakness, such as discouragement, distraction, confusion, immaturity, etc. - not defilement, no wickedness, evil or sin involved, but marring the beauty and usefulness, nonetheless. The body of Christ, God's house of sons shall not have even a wrinkle! Our precious Lord is going to cleanse the members of His body with the washing of water by the Word and make them whiter than snow. The hand of the Father will smooth out every wrinkle by the intense.heat and pressure of His dealing hand, until the body of Christ appears in all the glory and beauty of CHRIST'S COMELINESS.
Holy and without blemish! In linking holy and without blemish so closely, the Holy Spirit would lead us to rejoice in the Father's declaration, to reach out after nothing less than to be fully holy AND mature - without blame, without lack, fully furnished and COMPLETE IN CHRIST in every aspect of our being. The hour is coming and now is when the sons of God who are coming into the image of the firstborn Son, Jesus Christ, find themselves drawn irresistibly by the Spirit into the state of being of that blessed company of the 144,000 redeemed ones John beheld in vision upon the holy mount of Zion: "These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth... and in their mouth was found no guile: for they are WITHOUT FAULT (blemish) before the throne of God" (Rev. 14:4-5).
NOW, can we not understand what Paul really meant when he expressed the confidence that the Thessalonians would be preserved BLAMELESS I-N THE PRESENCE of the Lord? Oh! what a mess men make of God's Word! This beautiful passage of scripture has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the so-called "second coming" of Christ! When the simplicity of the wording in the Greek language is understood, how PLAIN it all becomes! But precious and simple truths such as these have been altogether lost by the religious systems in general. The world is altogether too full of babblers of every description, who resist the truth of God to the uttermost. It is high time for the truth to be told in no uncertain terms, and high time for all who love the truth to abandon the pews and doctrines of Babylon to be truly separated unto the Lord in this momentous hour. Truly, as we seek HIS PRESENCE and live and walk in the POWER OF HIS PRESENCE, in ever-increasing measures we shall experience the mighty operation of His life within that conforms wholly into the image of God! And so, we shall be preserved BLAMELESS IN AND BY THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD right here and now!
I THES. 3:13. "To the end (purpose) He may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming (parousia, presence) of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints." Young's Literal Translation says, "To the establishing your hearts blameless in sanctification before our God and Father, I-N THE PRESENCE of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints." Rotherham translates this "in the presence," and the Diaglott "in presence." Would any Christian argue that the inspired apostle meant to state that the saints cannot be established in holiness until "at the second coming" of Jesus at some indefinite future time? Certainly not! He meant that they should be established in holiness right here and now. If that be so, which we believe all will readily admit, then why not so state it and also in so translating it give Jesus full credit for the work accomplished since we must be established by, in and through His work in us here and now as the ABIDING HOLY GHOST. Would it not, then, be better to lay aside our prior theology and translate this "to the end He may stablish your hearts - in, by, through or throughout the presence of out Lord Jesus Christ with His saints" here and now and future? Oh, righteous Father! Take away the veil of blindness thathas been over our spiritual eyes!
JAMES 5:7-8. "Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh." Young's Literal Translation reads, "Be patient then, brethren, till the PRESENCE of the Lord; lo, the husbandman doth expect the precious fruit of the earth, being patient for it, till he may receive rain - early and latter; be patient ye also, stablish your hearts, because THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD H-A-T-H DRAWN NIGH." Rotherham says, "Stablish your hearts because the PRESENCE OF THE LORD HATH DRAWN NIGH." The Concordant New Testament renders, "Be patient, then, brethren, till the PRESENCE of the Lord. Lo! the farmer is waiting for the precious fruit of the land, being patient about it, till it should be getting the early and late showers. You also, then, be patient; establish your hearts, for the PRESENCE OF THE LORD IS NEAR."
Are these early church saints enjoined to wait for a distant "coming" of Jesus, which they are told is "drawing nigh," but which would not have happened yet 2,000 years thence? The subject here is not Jesus crashing someday down through the skies it is rather His coming as the "former and the latter rain" upon the earth. There has been a general misunderstanding of the passage under consideration, for it is clear that the Lord's coming as rain, the former and the latter, is a SPIRITUAL VISITATION in the midst of His people. The rain bespeaks of the pouring out of the presence and glory of Christ as the quickening Spirit, as He moves to give forth His presence in blessing and restoration. The coming of Christ unto His own is as the rain, and this truth is clearly stated by the prophet Hosea, "Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: His GOING FORTH is prepared as the morning; and HE SHALL COME UNTO US AS THE RAIN, as the latter and the former rain unto the earth" (Hos. 6:3). Therefore, rain represents the visitation of the Lord to His people. How the saints of God are thirsting for these living streams from heaven!
How little do we realize that God is more anxious for the "latter rain" than we are! And why? Because He is the Gardener; and He is waiting for the Harvest when His people will grow up into the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. He is looking for the Feast of Ingathering when He might gather in the precious produce of a vast field of people fully conformed to the image of that first "seed" that was cast into the earth. Praise God, He sends the rain, the former and the latter rain, with refreshing showers of blessing in between. "Behold, the Husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he (it) receive the early and latter rain." And then we are admonished, "Be patient, therefore, brethren, unto the COMING (PRESENCE) of the Lord," for in a very real sense the coming of the latter rain IS the coming of the Lord upon His people. This great Ingathering is the Harvest for which the Husbandmanhas been waiting since the foundation of the church.
In Palestine the first, or early rains usually come in the month of September, after the long, hot summer in order to soften the ground that they might plow the soil and plant the grains before winter comes. The early rains furnish the moisture for the germination and first growth of the seed. The latter rains occur in March and serve to fill out the heads of grain and bring the growth and maturity necessary for harvest. That which God established in the natural is designed by Him to pattern His workings in the spiritual realm. Thus we know that for God to be true there MUST be two great, worldwide outpourings of the Spirit upon mankind, interspersed by various localized showers of blessing.
The mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost proved to be the former rain moderately. It is beyond the ability of any man to fully comprehend the far-reaching results of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. This glorious outpouring of the Holy Ghost was not only a real experience to those who received it, but a heavenly visitation that shook the entire earth as nothing either before it or since has ever done. The entire course of history was changed thereby. As one has written, "So great was that outpouring that by the end of the century one twentieth of the entire Roman Empire had been converted to Christ, and by the year A.D. 300 Christianity far exceeded paganism. Following Peter's sermon at Pentecost, three thousand souls were saved and the day following another five thousand were saved. In the days following multitudes both of men and women turned to the Lord. Mighty signs and wonders were done by all the apostles. By Paul's hand God wrought special miracles. The sick were brought and laid in the street that the shadow of Peter falling upon them might bring healing to their bodies. The glory of that former rain beggars description. Truly they had been baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost and the heavenly 'wind' was blowing whithersoever it listed. This was a mighty manifestation of THE GLORY OF GOD. This was GOD'S GLORY falling as rain among the people and filling their hearts with joy and gladness, transforming their lives and making them sons of God" -The Page.
I do not hesitate to tell you that there is coming a great and glorious outpouring of the Spirit in these latter days which will be the fulfillment of the "latter rain." For some 85 years now mercy drops have been falling, and betimes windy showers of refreshing and quickening have swept across the face of the earth. The last or most recent shower of latter rain blessing came during the years 1948-1953. But the celestial deluge is yet to fall in GREAT POWER AND GLORY. Glorious beyond words to describe was that wonderful outpouring of God's glory at Pentecost, but no language of men below nor of angels above can begin to describe the SURPASSING GLORY of the outpouring in these last days. The latter rain is coming, the manifestation of the PAROUSIA or PRESENCE of the almighty Christ of God, and compared to it the former rain was a flickering candle before the burning brilliance of a noonday sun, or a trickling stream compared to the vast ocean currents beyond the power of man to either produce or control. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on that wonderful day of Pentecost was the former rain, but never let the truth grow dim that this same Jesus shall come in great power and glory as the latter rain. Then will come the manifestation of the sons of God, for which all creation has groaned for six thousand years. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed from the living, completed temple of His Body. His glory shall fill the earth. His power shall shake the nations and all nations shall come and worship before Him. The harvest of this age shall be gathered. According to James 5:7-8 the PRESENCE of the Lord has ALREADY DRAWN NEAR. His PAROUSIA has already been revealed. Let us, then, be patient unto the fullness of the blessing, the PRESENCE of the Lord, until the Holy Spirit be poured out in all the fullness of HIMSELF!
I COR. 15:22-25. "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in His own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterwards they that are Christ's at His coming. Then cometh the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet." Young's Literal Translation correctly expresses it thus: "For even as in Adam all die, so also in the Christ all shall be made alive, and each in his proper order, a first-fruit Christ, afterwards those who are the Christ's I-N HIS PRESENCE, then - the end, for It behooveth Him to reign till He may have put all the enemies under His feet - the last enemy is done away - death." Rotherham says that the second order of those made alive in the Christ is those who are "the Christ's IN HIS PRESENCE." The Diaglott reads, "in the presence of Him." In each case the Greek preposition EN is correctly rendered by the English IN, and what an infinite difference there is between people being made alive "AT His COMING," or people made alive "IN His PRESENCE"!
Let us now see how it is that "in Christ" all shall be MADE ALIVE. The whole chapter of I Cor. 15 deals with resurrection. The word resurrection is so inadequate to express the true thought or idea that the Holy Spirit is conveying to us. The common conception of this word carries with it the idea of opening all the graves in the world and the arising out of them of the physical bodies of those who have died. But since death is something more than physical bodies, you can be assured, dear ones, that resurrection is something far beyond bringing bodies out of tombs. To have a false or limited view of the resurrection is to have a false and limited view of God's work throughout the ages until now. If our view of the resurrection is dwarfed, then our whole view of God'splan is dwarfed.
So we read that in Christ ALL SHALL BE MADE ALIVE. The contrast is not between corpses and walking bodies, but between the dying process and the life process in God. The Greek text actually reads, "As in Adam all ARE DYING, SO in the Christ shall all be made alive." The terms "are dying" and "shall be made alive" are in the incomplete tense in the original, which denotes an action in progress. The long drawn out activity of death in dragging men down to sin, sorrow, death and the grave is put in contrast with the ceaseless activity of life imparting holiness, power, incorruption and glory. All who endured the first shall enjoy the second. Here is a message for mankind which should lift it above its misery! The process of His life, and hence, the process of resurrection has already commenced with us! Truly, "He HATH QUICKENED us together with Christ ... and RATH RAISED US UP" so that "If ye then BE RISEN with Christ, seek those things which are above" (Eph. 2:5-6; Col. 3:1).
To be "made alive" is more than some instantaneous event to take place some time in the distant future. "Made alive" is not a blasting open of graves and the coming forth of the bodies that have been buried in them. "Made alive" does not point to some future event when people will go soaring off into the heavens. When Jesus stood before the tomb of Lazarus, He rebuked Martha for looking for some manner of event in the far distant future and told her that the RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE WAS STANDING THERE BEFORE THEM. "I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE." The resurrection and the life had just walked into town! Oh, saints of God, do you not see that the eternal Father in the Christ was and is the resurrection? "I live by the Father," Jesus declared. The resurrection was not some THING that happened to Jesus, not some EVENT of which He was a partaker, not some DAY marked by the calendar. The resurrection was and is A MAN! "I AM" - there it is! "I AM the resurrection and the life." To possess the Man, to put on the Man, to enter into union with the Man is to have resurrection, for the Man IS the resurrection. "In Christ shall all be made alive."
There is a wonderful Law known to men of science which is called the Law of Biogenesis. This Law demonstrates that during all of recorded history life has only come from pre-existing life. No human power has ever been able to produce life out of inorganic chemical substances. We know that life is not now being originated on earth and that all the life forms today spring from pre-existing life forms of some kind. The inorganic world is staked off from the living world by barriers which have never yet been crossed from within. No change of substance, no modification of environment, no chemistry, no electricity, nor any form of energy, nor any evolution can endow any single atom of the mineral world with the attribute of life. Only by the bending down into this dead world of some living form can these dead atoms be gifted with the properties of life, without this direct contact with life they remain fixed in the inorganic sphere forever. It is a very mysterious Law which guards in this way the portals of the living world. And if there is one thing in nature worth pondering for its strangeness it is the spectacle of this vast helpless world of the dead cut off from the living by the Law of Biogenesis and denied forever the possibility of resurrection within itself. Here we stand in the presence of the uncrossable gulf - the gulf of all gulfs - the gulf between DEATH and LIFE.
As we consider these thoughts may God Almighty grant us that His Spirit may instruct us in the way of truth and understanding. Let us open wide our hearts and minds before the Lord that He may reveal the eternal truth of this subject to our hearts. The principle by which, in nature, the inorganic is raised up into the organic, and, in like manner, in God's economy, the natural man is raised up out of death into the life of the Kingdom of God, is stated simply by the Lord Jesus in Mat. 13:31-32: "Another parable put He forth unto them, saying, The Kingdom of Heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs." Let us UNDERSTAND! How are the inorganic, non-living mineral elements of the earth raised up into the organic Kingdom of living things? Within the seed is a germ of life. The seed containing, the life is planted IN THE EARTH, in the Kingdom of the dead. Once buried in the earth, with all the right amounts of water and air, and the right temperatures, the seed germinates and the life within the seed begins to grow. Finally the shell of the seed bursts and there takes place a release of the life from the seed. As the life is released it immediately SEIZES UPON the chemical elements in the earth, converts them into food, and then builds up living tissue out of matter that never lived! The inorganic chemicals BECOME organic tissue! The dead is converted into the living! The lifeless elements of the earth are transformed into the living substance of the plant. This is one of the most amazing facts in nature, though it is happening every minute all around us! Now we can see clearly what the Lord Jesus meant when He said that the Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a mustard seed, which is the least of all seeds, but when it is sowed in the field, and becomes grown, it is the greatest of herbs. The plant stretches down to the dead world beneath it, touches its minerals and gases with its mystery of life, and brings them up enabled and transformed to the living sphere. In like manner, the breath of God, blowing where it listeth, touches with its mystery of divine life the dead souls of men, bears them across the bridgeless gulf between the Natural and the Spiritual, endows them with its own holy and eternal and divine qualities, and produces within them these new and marvelous faculties, by which those who are born of the Spirit are said to SEE THE KINGDOM OF GOD and ENTER THE KINGDOM OF GOD.
How futile in the face of such truth as this is any form of self reformation! How worthless and unprofitable the empty rituals and the vain and lifeless traditions of Babylon's religion! Place a lifeless rock in the dead earth and nothing will happen. Administer lifeless ceremonies and dead doctrines to a man dead in trespasses and sins and likewise nothing will happen. However thorough the self reformation may be, however beautiful the traditions and doctrines of religion, however impressive and inspiring to the soulish nature of man the rituals and ceremonies, the music and the programs, it leaves us without life and hopelessly dead to the glorious realities of the Spirit of God. Well did faithful Paul bear witness to the life-giving work of the Spirit in the lives of the Ephesians when he said, "You hath HE QUICKENED, who were dead in trespasses and sins ... but GOD, who is rich in mercy, even when WE WERE DEAD in sins, hath QUICKENED US TOGETHER WITH CHRIST ... and hath raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Eph,. 2:1-5).
What is this wonderful and mysterious quality which constitutes Spiritual life? What is this strange new power which can raise us up out of the realm of darkness and death and give us eternal life and glory as sons of the living God? The answer is brief - it is Christ! "He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the son of God hath not life" (I Jn. 5:12). This higher life of God reaches down into the EARTH WHICH WE ARE, seizing upon the earthly elements of our natural life, quickening, transmuting, changing, transforming, raising us up into the blessed realm and kingdom of the Spirit.
The Law is: Except a mineral be born "from above" - from the Kingdom just above it it cannot enter the Kingdom just above it. And except a man be born "from above," he cannot enter the Kingdom just above him. There being no passage from the lower Kingdom to the higher, whether from inorganic to organic, or from Natural to Spiritual, the injection of a LIFE is a necessity if a stone or a plant or an animal or a man is to pass from a lower sphere to a higher sphere. The earth will never possess the Kingdom of God so long as eternity shall endure. It must be the other way about. The Kingdom of God, the higher Kingdom, must possess the earth. Though the Kingdom of God is within me, yet I cannot possess it. It must possess me, or it will never be known. If I try to possess Christ, I will be as barren in the future as I have been in the past, but if CHRIST POSSESSES ME, then I will be hid with Christ in God and God will raise me up to find my existence in the realm of His divine life and glory.
With my poor and puny ability I cannot make the truth of Christ's indwelling life to be a living, transforming reality to your heart. None but the Spirit of God can perform this wonderful and divine act of illumination. He alone can take the things of God and show them unto you. Nevertheless, I can certainly assure you that, the moment the grand and glorious FACT of HIS INDWELLING LIFE grips your heart and fills your mind, the reality of His divine indwelling will immediately begin to transform your life. Yea, and I shall further add that the knowledge of His abiding life will also begin to change your mind, quicken your emotions, and renew your body as well.
Truly the resurrection is not a future hope - it is a present reality. As those in Adam "are dying" so in Christ men "ARE being made alive." Receiving of His life we find it to be a RESURRECTION LIFE. The word "resurrection" is from the Greek word ANASTASIS meaning - a standing or rising up. It denotes much more than our English word resurrection which we term to mean a restoring to life again. The Greek word means the WHOLE PROCESS OF ADVANCING AND RISING UP UNTIL THE HIGHEST POSSIBLE REALM IS REACHED, and our goal is nothing short than full conformation into the image of God that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him. Resurrection is the process of STANDING UP and ADVANCING, it is arising from the dust and the low realm of the earthy, to bear the image of the heavenly. Resurrection is the process of having our life lifted up from the earth, to be raised to the heavenlies, joined in one with the fullness of the Spirit of God. Our alienation and separation from God, with all the dreadful attending sorrows, are already beginning to end in this life as through Christ we ARE MADE ALIVE! And, blessed be His name, in Christ shall A-L-L be made alive!
And just how shall all be made alive? IN and BY and THROUGHOUT THE ENVELOPING PRESENCE OF THE LORD, saith the scripture. Becoming Christ's, and abiding IN HIS PRESENCE is the Biblical formula for being "made alive"! "As in Adam all are dying, so in the Christ shall all be made alive, but each in his own order, a first-fruit Christ, afterwards those who are the Christ's IN HIS PRESENCE." How much more reasonable, logical and demonstrable is this than the erroneous time-worn theory that it is Jesus streaking across the heavens, and blowing a trumpet, that will raise the dead out of their graves! The apostle Paul in strict harmony with this principle wrote, "But if the Spirit of Him that raised Jesus from the dead DWELL IN YOU, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies BY HIS SPIRIT THAT_ D-W-E-L-L-E-T-H_ I-N_ Y-O-U" (Rom. 8:11).
The life that quickens (makes alive) the mortal (dying) body is not something outside ourselves. The idea is not that Jesus comes riding on a cloud and suddenly "zaps" the bodies of men with a current of divine energy, instantly transmuting them into shining incorruptible beings. This is the vague form in which many babes in Christ conceive the truth, but it is contrary to Christ's teaching and to the analogy of nature. Vegetable life is not contained in a reservoir somewhere in the skies, and measured out spasmodically at certain seasons. Animal life is not bottled up somewhere in the blue beyond and dropped down to earth now and then when it is time for an embryo to be formed. The life is IN every plant and tree, every animal and fish and fowl, inside its own tissue and substance, and works there as a mighty power to form even that which is contained in the life. The life is permanently fixed and rooted in the organism. Life is not one of the homeless forces which promiscuously inhabit space, or which can be gathered like electricity from the clouds and dissipated back again into space. Life is definite and resident; the Spiritual Life is not a visit from a force, but a resident tenant of the soul. "The Kingdom of Heaven is like a seed, which a man took, and SOWED IN HIS FIELD."
Incorruptible life is not derived from the occasional touch of Jesus as He "passes this way," nor from the weekly refreshing that comes to our souls as we gather together in our church meetings. Thank God for the fellowship and encouragement of those of like precious faith, and the ministry of every precious member of the body of Christ, but I declare to you that the life incorruptible, immortal, and eternal can only be experienced by yielding to the CHRIST WITHIN, conscious of His voice, His hand guiding, and His power continually transforming the spirit, the mind and the body into the image of Him who created them. Glory to God!
MAT. 24:27. "For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming (parousia, presence) of the Son of man be."
In order that we may get a correct understanding of this verse and its momentous spiritual vision, we must give consideration to the word translated "lightning," since this translation has given rise to a most erroneous concept of the coming of Jesus. It has led Christian people, almost without exception, to look forward to that blessed event as an instantaneous affair, which shall flash suddenly across the heavens and startle the world with its vividness. But nothing could be farther from the truth and nothing could have befogged our vision more.
The Greek word translated "lightning" in this passage is ASTRAPE. The meaning, as given in Strong's Concordance, is "lightning; by analogy, glare; bright shining." So we see at once that scholarship recognizes this word as meaning a "bright shining" of light which might arise from a source other than a flash of "lightning." It is so used, in fact, in Lk.11:36 where we read, "If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the BRIGHT SHINING (ASTRAPE) of a CANDLE doth give thee light."
Let us now pose a question. Does "lightning," as we understand the English word, always "come out of the east and shine unto the west?" Does it not flash from north, south, east or west according to the location of the clouds which are charged with either positive or negative electricity? And yet, the "bright shining" here spoken about is expanded to shining "from the east even unto the west." Again, if the coming of the Lord is portrayed by "lightning," it would be only in limited areas and over only portions of the earth from time to time. Is such a view consistent with the scripture that "every eye shall see Him and every knee shall bow?" And yet the same people who liken His coming to the "lightning" will likewise zealously uphold the latter view. Let us no longer be children in understanding!
But, I ask, what light does ALWAYS come out of the east and shine even unto the west? Does not the light of coming day arise always in the east, gradually brightening the horizon until the sun becomes visible and its rays illumine the eastern sky and "spread as a carpet" over the countryside, city and hill, bathing all in its warmth and beauty as it shines even unto the west? Has not our Lord Jesus been likened unto the "Sun of righteousness" to "arise with healing in His wings?" And the Psalmist hath declared, "The Lord God is a sun... the Lord will give grace and glory" (Ps. 84:11). Praise God, the Sun of righteousness has arisen in our heart and He giveth grace and glory for "we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (Jn.1:14). The light of that Sun has shined brightly into our darkened soul and is bringing life and immortality to light through the gospel. Dear reader, you may have Him flashing for a brief moment across your cloudy, dark, stormy earthly sky if you so choose, but we are glad to see Him with SPIRITUAL EYES and behold His grace and glory as it spreads over the whole world of mankind from east to west until it shall embrace the whole human race, bringing warmth and beauty and life where all was, and still is largely, spiritual darkness and death.
Yes, dear friends, His coming, His parousia, His presence is not to be an instantaneous, brilliantly blinding light flashing across the natural heavens from any local quarter as the word "lightning" might and does incorrectly portray; but His coming, His presence, has been, is now and shall be like the DAWN OF A NEW DAY that constantly increases from the first faint rays of spiritual light until the soul and body of the individual are flooded with the noonday brightness of the blessed Sun of righteousness. And so it shall be universally until that light has brought every created being into subjection to our Lord and He shall reign until He hath put all enemies under His feet, for "the entrance of Thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding to the simple" (Ps. 119:130). Shine on, O King eternal!