THE ONLY LIFE
'This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God' 1 John 4.2 NIV.
There is a lot in the words, 'Christ come in the flesh.' Is this about a test for demons. Well yes and no, but not of the 'frothing at the mouth' kind.' It declares that the essence of the Kingdom is the King manifest as you and I by the indwelling Spirit of Jesus. The clear implication is that any kind of religion claiming to be of Christ that is about externalities, rites, times and places – in short about the law – is not of Christ and actually of the Enemy. Jesus teaches that ‘spirit and truth’ is the manifestation of God Himself, Father and Holy Spirit as our lives.
“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks’ God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth” John 4.19-24 NIV.
Jesus statement here and His mission in general reveals that the gospel of the Kingdom is not about rites. Nor is it initially about morality. The Kingdom is about Jesus as our life personally and for the world. Christ come in the flesh' refers to Jesus incarnate in His people. This is more than a tradition, a culture or a belief system. It's Him! It's about a personal Jesus possessing you and all who believe. It's about Jesus as His church. And more than this. It is the genesis of the new creation.
‘Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation’ Gal 6.15 NIV.
Jesus will come back in the clouds one day and every eye will see Him. However He has already returned by the Spirit. This happened at Pentecost. Pentecost was not just a distribution of spiritual gifts. It was the arrival of the indwelling Christ. The enthroned Jesus who would indwell His people making them a kingdom of priests to multiply what He began.
Jesus never came to multiply the law. To claim so is to misrepresent the new testament record. Jesus came to multiply life. He did this by overcoming death and incarnating Himself in us as our life. You contain in your being the Spirit that undoes all that is dead and substitutes it with life – if you live in the Spirit and not in the law. The law is the flesh and the flesh accomplishes nothing for the Kingdom of God. Only Christ in our flesh produces spirit and life.
Jesus became a life-giving spirit to indwell and transfigure His people. The church is the product that grows from the soil that is this indwelling. It takes its form from Jesus, its humanity from the Son of Man and its authority from the Son of God. The Son of God is a human being, seated beside the Father in heaven. His human face is seen in the faces of those who take His name and in whom He has come in their flesh. It may be seen that Christ in the flesh of His people is the church that He has built by His indwelling Spirit and not with human hands.
If your spiritual formation has been in the law you will probably not have heard of spirit and life. The reason is that you have been raised in a ‘body of death.’ No life here, only flesh. But when Christ is our life we are spirit and life and we ignite the new creation in all we do.
‘The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you--they are full of the Spirit and life’ John 6.63 NIV.
Christ's church is not an institution. His church is those who eat His flesh and drink His blood. It is those in whom Jesus is incarnated. Thus it is a living entity – the manifestation of Jesus in us all.
The Kingdom of Jesus is not a moral project. It is His life multiplied in all transforming all into Himself.
But by this I do not mean 'A Christ centered life' and nor to I mean 'Keeping close to Jesus.' These phrases can be code for legalism and self-effort. We are not talking about our flesh attempting to be Christ-like – which is an impossibility. Christ our life is the transfiguration of our being.
Paul talks of 'Christ our life.' By embracing what God has done in Jesus we have the resurrection living in us. The power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in our being and ministers to those we touch, care for and labour over. Such a life is subtle, powerful, patient and life-giving. It is Spirit. It is Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is the ever-unfolding new creation that is the transformation by life of a dying earth.
'His incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come' Eph 1.19-21 NIV.