What a profound and deep salvation we have been given! The very meaning of what it means to be saved should take on a much deeper revelation to us than just the saying of a sinner's prayer, signing a "Four Spiritual Laws" tract, and having our sins removed. He desires to "save to the uttermost." Here it is important that we distinguish between reconciliation and full salvation. Paul wrote,
For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. (Romans 5:10 KJ2000
Reconciliation and salvation are not the same thing. Together they represent a much larger redemptive work. We are reconciled to God by Jesus' death on the cross, but we are saved by His life. "Therefore he is able also to save them to [into] the uttermost [completion] that come unto God by him, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them." (Hebrews 7:25 KJ2000) The living intercession of Jesus within us is salvation. Here is the sum of all God's provision and expectation. It is this fact that we are "saved by His life" that we so often miss. The common message that we hear throughout Christendom today is, "We are reconciled through the death of the Son." Rarely do we hear, "We are saved by the life of the Son." What a wonderful truth it is!
When I, Michael, grew up in the Catholic Church, there were crucifixes everywhere; over the church altar, over the classroom chalkboard, over the main doors, on the steeples-everywhere you looked was the dying Jesus. Death, death, death-it seemed as if death and Satan got the final word. There was no power over sin. Sin and death had dominion. The Life that saves us from all that was missing.
It was not much better for my wife, Dorothy, who grew up in a "Bible Church." Every Sunday an altar call was given for any new converts that might have been persuaded by the pastor's sermon to "get saved." Then an invitation was given to the rest of the congregation to come forward and recommit their lives to Jesus if they sinned that previous week. They were constantly having to get saved all over again! Where was the abiding Life of Christ that saves and keeps one saved? Like Dorothy said, "Jesus saved us, but after that it was up to us to keep ourselves saved." We are reconciled through His death but we dare not stop there. Reconciliation is only a ticket to ride - an invitation to embark on a grand journey called Life in Christ where we are free from sin and death, living by His righteousness and eternal life within us.
Not only are we redeemed from being bad sinners; we are also redeemed from the fruitless effort of trying to be "good Christians"! We did not reconcile ourselves to God, neither can we save ourselves. Christ's death was required for reconciliation. His ever-present intercession and empowering life is required for salvation. To view salvation as a past event, something that happened to us years ago when we first believed, is a shortsighted theological blunder. We are saved moment by moment by His life within us. His life in us meets every challenge. "I can do all things through [in] Christ who strengthens [empowers] me." Christ in us and we in Him is where the empowerment to be sons of our Father comes from, just as it empowered Jesus here on earth 2000 years ago. Jesus promised the disciples, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believes on [eis - into] me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father." (John 14:12 KJ2000) We will and should be doing greater works than Jesus did in the limitations of His earthly body. He told His disciples,
Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on [into] me; (John 16:7-9 KJ2000)
Where He was limited to the ground He was standing on as He preached, taught and healed for only the three and a half years while He worked His Father's works, He is no longer limited by time and space. He now has a body made up of millions of members and because He has joined the Father in heaven, the Father has sent the Holy Spirit upon all flesh, (See Acts 2:17) the very Spirit of Christ, to work Jesus' life into and through all who truly believe. It was prophesied, "that Jesus should die for that nation; And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in [into] one the children of God that were scattered abroad." (John 11:51-52 KJ2000) We, both Jews and Gentiles, are gathered into One, even Christ, as the children of God. We are His body through which He manifests the love, desires and power of our Father upon this earth. To live without this reality and vision of what it means to be "more than conquerors through Christ" is to allow the enemy to oppose the will of God in us.
I, George, shared this story in a previous article entitled, "The New Creation Rule" but it bears repeating once again.
I had a conversation with a young college student recently that almost moved me to tears. She, being a recovering agnostic, had now come to believe that there is indeed a God and that He created everything but having done so, He left and is now watching from afar to see how it will all turn out. All I could think to say, initially, was, "That is so sad!" But as I pondered her words I realized that they reflected not only the state of her life and mentality toward God but were, from her perspective, the only reasonable explanation for the condition of Christendom today. Thankfully, I was given opportunity to share with her what makes true Christianity so exceptional. That is simply this: Jesus is Emanuel, God with us! He is an ever-present help in time of trouble, a Friend that sticks closer than a brother! The words of an old hymn come to mind. "He Lives! He lives! Christ Jesus lives today! He walks with me and He talks with me along life's narrow way. He lives! He lives, salvation to impart! You ask me how I know He lives; He lives within my heart!"
The earnest of our salvation is the abiding Spirit of Christ within! He is the guarantee of all that is to follow (See Ephesians 1:14), just as an earnest money agreement is the guarantee that we are going ahead with the purchase of a home.
This is the key to everything. We have not been left to see how well we can pull things off on our own. Jesus promised, "I will come to you." Christ's Spirit in us is passionate to please the Father. Think of it! God has sent into our hearts the Spirit of His Son who, in the face of horrendous sorrows, cried out "Abba, Father." The Spirit of God's Son, in our hearts still cries, "Abba, Daddy!" The Spirit of the Son creates His passion for the Father's will within us. More than earthly comforts and pleasures, more than physical life itself, the Spirit of the Son seeks Abba's will. This is true sanctification. This is what distinguishes Christians, not only from the world but from all religions, and true believers from mere religious men.
What we are talking about here is an exchanged life. Jesus took not only our sins upon Himself on that cross, but He took us and our very sin natures upon that cross to be put to death so that we could live in His resurrection power.
So much of Christian church teaching and belief falls so short of us being "more than conquerors through Christ Jesus." Why? Because we are taught to be content with believing in Jesus without first believing into Him as our life changing dynamic. Muslims believe in Mohammad and they believe in Allah. But Mohammad is dead and cannot be believed into. Only the Son of God has life that is unending and that His creation can partake in. Of this John wrote, "In Him was life and the life was the light of men." His life is the light that lights our darkness. It is only as we experience the life of Christ that we see light (spiritual understanding). As the psalmist wrote, "In your light we see light." Then by His grace this same light becomes our faith in Him. Finally it becomes our very Light (the Light of men) and Life as our lives are enfolded into His. What a great salvation!
Believing Into Vs. Believing On
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the children of God, even to them that believe on [into] his name: Who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13 KJ2000)
Where do we receive power to become the children of our heavenly Father? Is it by becoming good enough? Is it by imitating Jesus? No, a thousand times no. We become children of the Father by ceasing from our own good works and believing into the very person and character of Jesus Christ the Son. As we are in His name we are in the sonship of our Father with Him. For us to live is Christ. We are born of the Father and it is this that makes us His sons. We are not born into Him by being born into a certain bloodline, or by our own wills or the wills of well meaning Christian parents. We are ". . . born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." (John 1:13)
He is the progenitor of our heavenly lives, the Father of life. Of this salvation Jesus said,
All that the Father gives me shall come to me; and he that comes to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will who has sent me, that of all that he has given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that everyone who sees the Son, and believes on [into] him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:37-40 KJ2000)
Today we, with the help of some poor translations of the Bible, think that all we have to do is believe upon or on the name of Jesus unto salvation, but being born into Christ is the first step to becoming fully reconciled with our Father. Upon and on are not good enough. Our very lives must be hid in Christ with God. (See Colossians 3:3) This insidious watering down of the full implications of our great salvation in Christ the Son is demonic to the core. Today's prominent Bible teachers with the help of poorly translated scriptures are keeping Christians weak in their faith by their missing the deep meaning of what faith really is! With a lack of faith, people are prone to do dead works (works not born of the Father) out of pride and fear. These dead works are used to build the churches and organizations of men. If we do not believe into the Son and abide there in Him, we have a faith that will not stand the tests that are coming upon this earth. Jesus is the only one who has passed the test and into whom we can abide without being shaken. No wonder Paul prophesied that before Jesus returns in His glorified body, there will first be a great falling away of those who profess His name. (See 2 Thessalonians 2) Jesus warned:
Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and you shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall grow cold. But he that shall endure unto the end [preservers into the goal], the same shall be saved. (Matthew 24:9-13 KJ2000)
There Are Only Two Existences
With all this in mind, let us look once again at the scripture that was quoted at the very beginning of this writing:
We are certain that we are of God, but all the world is in the power of the Evil One. And we are certain that the Son of God has come, and has given us a clear vision, so that we may see him who is true, and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. My little children, keep yourselves from false gods. (1 John 5:19-21 BBE
John asserts here that there are only two existences available to man. We are either in the world, the kosmos system, and living a lie under the power of the Evil One or we are in the Son and of the Father living in truth and clear spiritual vision.
Why does John go on to say, "My little children, keep yourselves from false gods"? What are our false gods? In the modern world we do not make ourselves carvings and bow down before them in worship. But the most prominent false god that displaces Jesus of His place in us is just that-- us--the old self-nature that thinks that the Christian has a third option to do as he wills and do "good works" for God. Actually, the term "carnal Christian" is an oxymoron. If we are led by our carnality, we are not led by Christ nor are we abiding in Him. This is why John is so emphatic in his letters about the true saints of God not sinning and following false spirits and false teachers and prophets:
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but test the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, of which you have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. You are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. (1 John 4:1-4 KJ2000)
Did you get the continuity of flow in this passage? It ends in a restatement of the two realities once again, "You are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world." By abiding in Christ, abiding in His very being, we are overcomers. We overcome the false gods, false spirits, false prophets, and the spirit of antichrist that is in the kosmos system. Remember that the meaning of antichrist in the Greek not only means "against Christ," but the more common manifestation, "instead of Christ." Jesus is the Head of His body. When mere men rise up and start taking headship of the ekklesia of God, antichrist is present.
To be carnally minded, worldly, believing false teachers, false prophets and false christs under false spirits has this same outcome - it displaces Jesus from being Lord in your very being. You cannot get bitter and sweet water from the same fountain. If you turn on both your hot and cold taps on your mixer faucets you get lukewarm water and the lukewarm Jesus has promised to spit out of His mouth. One of the greatest delusions of modern Christendom is the teaching that we can have the best of both worlds at the same time, having the kingdom of God and all His benefits and the kingdom of the prince of this world, enjoying all his enticements that appeal to our flesh natures; prosperity, success, notoriety, recognition by all, etc. Remember Jesus' temptation in the wilderness.
Let's look at our passage again, "Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist." What does it mean to confess that Jesus is come in the flesh? Does it mean that if someone or some spirit does not say the words, "Jesus Christ is come in the flesh," they are antichrist? Well, demons believe this and they fear and tremble. It means much more than parroting a phrase as a proof of your spiritual status. W.E. Vine's Dictionary of New Testament Words says of this word:
Confess <A-1,Verb,3670, homologeo> lit., "to speak the same thing" (homos, "same," lego, "to speak"), "to assent, accord, agree with..."
To confess not only means to speak this phrase, but to be in the same reality with Jesus Christ where we speak the same as He does, we give total assent to Him and are in one accord with He who dwells within us. Literally, Jesus Christ has come not only in His earthly body, but our bodies as well and we are in agreement with the one who dwells within us not only in word, but in our deeds. This is confession into salvation. We are saved by His life within.
In I John 4, John set forth the standard for testing whether particular spirits are of God. Everything hinges on a single confession. "By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God." Even the world might reluctantly admit that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh but only those who are born of the Spirit can confess He is come in the flesh. Confessing is more than a mere speaking of words; it is the effect of deep inner conviction that brings our lives into perfect alignment with Him. Viewing this in the present tense changes everything.
"Jesus Christ is come in the flesh - a twofold truth confessed, that Jesus is the Christ, and that He is come (the Greek perfect tense implies not a mere past historical fact, as the aorist would, but also the present continuance of the fact and its blessed effects" (Jamieson, Fausset and Brown).
The antichrist spirit may dare to confess that Christ has (past tense) come in the flesh but it will never admit, much less act upon, the fact that He is (present tense) come in the flesh. In innumerable verbal and practical ways this great spirit of error denies the present implications of Christ's incarnation. In every way possible he resists a viable manifestation of Jesus being alive in his body, the ekklesia of God.
John went on to demonstrate what he meant by confessing that Christ is come in the flesh, "Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world." The antichrist spirit that is in the world system works on the body of Christ like a neurological poison to paralyze the people of God and mold them into passive temple-congregants. Those possessed or under the influence of this spirit can neither discern nor accept (much less promote) that Christ is come in the flesh. To confess, "greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world," would be to tear down their power base. If we really believe and confess this reality of the abiding Christ we can no longer clutch the reins of control as though everything is dependent on our guidance. Nor can we any longer sit passively under the controls of those who hold the reins. Neither can we build religious systems and buildings after the style of the world systems of governments. Instead we must act in a manner consistent with our beliefs (our confession) and trust in the overcoming One who is in all true believers to lead them into all inward truth, knowing that the church is not a building or system of control, but a living organism that responds to the will of Jesus here on earth.
Do we really believe that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, so much so that when we look at our brothers and sisters, can we confess with utmost confidence confirming them in their walks and say with John,
But the anointing which you have received of him abides in you, and you need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teaches you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it has taught you, you shall abide in him. And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. (1 John 2:27-28 KJ2000)
The True Temple
Can we trust one another's spiritual growth and development to the Spirit who dwells in the saints of God? Christ is come in the flesh! He is in you! If we do not truly confess this by our words and actions we can no more see the true temple of God than the Pharisees could when they stoned Stephen to death, though his face shown like that of an angel. (See Acts 7)
Who is Jesus according to the prophets? He is Emanuel, God with us, not God who was once with us! Jesus was God with Israel only in the sense that He was the true temple of God in their midst. God was and is in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself. The author of Hebrews goes so far as to say that Jesus' flesh was the veil concealing the holiest place - the place of God's dwelling - from prying eyes. God was veiled in Christ. Jesus' body was the temple of God. When the Jews asked Jesus for a sign, He answered, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." They thought that he was speaking of the temple on Mariah's crest, but he was speaking of the true temple, "the temple of his body." (See John 2:19-21)
For the most part, religion is antichrist in its expression because it focuses almost exclusively on the wrong temple. The earthly temples of religion take precedence over the true temple of God, the fullness, God in Christ in you. The maintaining of holy sites, ceremonies, observances and a hierarchical priest caste keeps them centered on earthly things. Religion refuses to confess that just as Jesus came in the flesh or had a body for a temple, likewise Christ is clothed with a body to this day here on earth. "A body you have prepared for me." We have this treasure in earthen vessels. Christ in you is the hope of the glory of God! Greater is He who is in us who believe than the prince of this world. Unless we fully see Him dwelling in His body and respect Him, we are not properly discerning the body of Christ. (See 1 Corinthians 10:16-17)
Paul asked the Corinthian believers, "What? Know you not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have of God, and you are not your own?" (1 Corinthians 6:19 KJ2000) Paul asked this question in a way as if to say, do you actually not understand this foundational truth? Don't you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit? Have you forgotten that He is in you? Have you forgotten that He is in all of you? How should this affect our behavior? What should our confession be?
Have you ever noticed that almost every time the Spirit speaks or moves through a member of Christ's body in a church service, the leader of the service immediately captures the attention of the congregation back to himself and puts the "service" back on his planned order? This is what the antichrist spirit does. This is the nature of antichrist, to displace Christ of His rightful place as Head of the body. It is all about control. Satan possesses and controls, but the Spirit gently leads showing respect for each member giving them place to function in the body. (See 1 Corinthians 12:3-11, 14:26; Ephesians 4:12, 16)
The Head of the body manifests through all His members, not just a select few in high prominence. In fact, He gives more abundant honor to the humble, lesser members and gives them a chance to be strengthened by use and experience. The current system that rules in the churches today does the opposite. The talented and the beautiful get the attention and the positions while the weak remain forever weak like infants in a nursery. This is job security for the leadership, yet Paul longed for all the saints to come into the fullness of the body of Christ. The time has come for us to go outside the gate of the temple system and become fully drawn into Jesus and suffer His reproach with Him if we are to ever grow up into the fullness of the Head. To remain under antichrist's control is death.
Should we remain pacified observers of Christian rites and observances like the church has become in these last days? God forbid! The temple of God, through the spiritual neutering of its living stones, has been torn down. Peter wrote that a day is as a thousand years in the calendar of God. We are about to enter the third day since the founding of the church at Pentecost and it is about to be raised up by Jesus once again. Hosea prophesied of these days saying,
Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he has torn, and he will heal us; he has smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: on the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. Let us know, let us press 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 former rain unto the earth. (Hosea 6:1-3 KJ2000)
Just as Jesus' body was raised from the grave in the third day, so will the body of Christ be raised from its spiritual grave. God is causing His Spirit to blow once again upon all who confess that Christ is come in the flesh, that temple made of living stones (not stones that have been fashioned with the hands of men) and life is beginning to flow from their innermost beings. "There is a river whose streams make glad the City of God."to top