NEW YOU IN THE LAST ADAM
Frank Viola writes, “What is Christianity? It is Christ. Nothing more. Nothing less. Christianity is not an ideology or a philosophy. Neither is it a new type of morality, social ethic, or worldview. Christianity is the "good news" that beauty, truth, and goodness are found in a person. And true humanity and community are founded on and experienced by connection to that person.”
What kind of connection? Paul and John called it ‘Christ come in you’. Jesus called it ‘Realising that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.’
A GIFTED STATE OF UNION
Richard Rohr writes, ‘You cannot create your union with God; it is objectively already given to you. The only difference between people are those who are consciously drawing upon this union and those who are not.’
So, there is no need to add doctrinal distinctives to that which is already complete or posit ‘waymarks’ when the way to union with God has already been accomplished. No need to be dull and obstinate when you have been made one with spirit and life and no need to live as a pauper when you are actually a king!
A POVERTY MENTALITY
Riella lived a pinched existence. Living from scarcity (she was not actually poor) she was miserly in outlook and without vision. She seeded into her family a culture of hanging onto their stuff. In the spiritual realm we can ‘hang on to our stuff’ and live from scarcity when we have access to abundance. In Jesus we have all that He had in His relationship with His Father. We need not do anything to earn this. Jesus earned it for us. We need to agree with it and believe it so that our inheritance is our possession.
A friend of mine had a vision about a group of people who lived in the body of death*. Pictured in a cemetery, they were dressed in grave clothes and leaning against tombs. A Messenger approached them. They gathered round eager to have themselves and their way endorsed. But this was not to be. The Messenger told them the good news - the news that they had been released from the cemetery. The benumbing poison of the fruit of the wrong tree had been undone. The Messenger told them that they were released from the law; they had new life in Jesus because He himself had become their life. Now their spirit would come alive because the Spirit of Life was in them, manifesting through their person.
The Messenger enthused, ‘Though situated on earth, heaven lives in you because the trinity has been incarnated in you! This life is yours in the New and Living Way that is Christ in you!’
NOT WHAT THEY WANTED TO HEAR
But the people were downcast and their leader was crestfallen. They had a quiet pride in the corpse-like appearance of their souls. As perverted as it was, they claimed ‘specialness’ from their religion. Smothered in their identity, they saw their crippled spirits as meritorious. They had made religion and theology from rationalising the old covenant into the new covenant age. They did not know and did not want to know that their mindset insulated them from their inheritance: Union with God. Why so befuddled and comatose? They had made an identity out of this Body of Death.
The Messenger was the Holy Spirit. The Tomb Dwellers received her with joy, up to the point where she declared that their gospel was not Christ’s gospel and that their way was not Christ’s living way. But they chose their identity over their inheritance in Christ. Like the sons of the slave woman, they chose their imagined status over their inheritance as children of the Free Woman.
SAUL BECOMES PAUL
The vision is unfinished. How it concludes depends on events in the real world and how people respond to Jesus’ abundant grace. Saul of Tarsus went in, to bat for the law. Steeped in old covenant culture he imprisoned Believers of The Way and had others executed. In His old life, Saul lived from the Body of Death. This dead body (the realm of fallen Adam) was revealing itself as what it was: A ministry of bondage, death and blindness. Saul had a good heart. He did what he did for God as many in the Body of Death do. It was through this opening that Jesus was able to enter to reveal Himself as THE WAY.
JESUS ENTERS SAUL’S DARKNESS
It was because of Saul’s good heart that Jesus was able to penetrate His life with revelation - to show Saul that it was Jesus who he was wounding and His kingdom that he was impeding in the name of religion. The blindness that came on Saul was a symbol of His old covenant life. Jesus speaking to him personally was the reality of his new Paul life. Seldom has there been a more striking demonstration of the new birth from the old covenant to the new.
As a result, Saul became Paul and the evangelist of My Gospel, which was Christ’s gospel of the Kingdom which is the new and living way and a radical departure from the ‘gospels’ of Adam and Moses.
‘When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory’ Col 3.4 NIV.
‘Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past’ Rom 16.25 NIV.
Paul’s gospel is the gospel of Christ as you, of Christ as us all and so his gospel is the gospel of new creation life. This is the proclamation of Paul in Ephesians and Colossians and of John in his prologue.
We are the aroma of Christ because we are the manifestation of Jesus, because He has come in our body, soul and spirit.
NEW BIRTH, NEW YOU
Reborn* as a new man Paul began to live entirely in Christ. Paul taught and lived His gospel - Christ in you, Christ as you, Christ all and in all. He was a disciple of Jesus and of the new covenant - the solution to dead men walking and blind people talking. Jesus had taken off his grave-clothes and let him go. We can take them off ourselves. When we worship the Christ of God instead of self-generated christs; when we receive His gospel instead of ‘other gospels’ of our own devising. We can live each day in spirit and life because Christ is our life.
*Being born again is not a birth into religion from no religion of from an amoral life into a moral life. It’s birth into Christ’s life as yours. This is our resurrection from the law of sin and death - our position and status in Adam’s realm of the knowledge of good and evil, where one attempts godliness but lives the flesh because one’s spirit is dead.