Living the Eternal in the Temporal – Part One
By Fred Pruitt
Before we dive into this subject below, I think it is important to know and keep certain things in mind.
In a general sense, your questions and the subject material you asked about, involve both temporal and eternal truths or realities. The truth is, many of us, myself included, from time to time get a little confused about how these two very different realities mesh together.
Since in your question you have sort of pitted the two viewpoints against each other I need to quickly review them. On one hand, there are the words and teaching of NPG, when he stated that we humans start out “Satan-I,” but when we receive Christ we become “Christ-I,” but we never were, nor ever are, an “I-I.”
The other viewpoint, which seems contradictory to NPG, seems to state we (all humanity) are already all born again, made one with Christ and made the Righteousness with God in Christ. Then you give some scriptures these teachers use to prove that viewpoint, among them 1 Peter 1:3, Romans 5, Eph. 2:1-6 and 1 Corinthians 1:30.
To distill this down to the lowest common denominator, the union truths as first shared with many of us through Norman Grubb, describes a “progression” of faith plateaus, which the Spirit takes many, or most, or all, through. To clarify this further, the entry into the Life of the Son starts with the new birth, experienced or known by each individual, so that each individual believer upon receiving Him (John 1:12), knows and is known of God. They are “known” of God by being found in the Son, and further, as Jesus told Nicodemus, he who believes in the Son has life, and he who does not believe remains in the kingdom of wrath (John 3:16-21; 33-36).
The new birth occurs when Christ comes into our spirits as an act of His Grace made effective by our faith, and first kicks out the usurper who hiddenly lived within us, Mr. Self-for-self, Mr. Self-sufficient Self, the devil, and then enters and fills us with the Holy Spirit, joining us in the most intimate way in a union between the Eternal Divine Holy Spirit and our created human spirits (1 Cor 6:17).
Then we enter the Spirit’s “school of faith,” whereby we are each taught individually within us by the Spirit, as we interact and fellowship with other believers, where we are encouraged by the Life of Christ coming through our brothers and sisters, and we trust through Christ that we are an encouragement to each of them.
As we progress in the Life, the Spirit raises our consciousness in each successive level of understanding, as we go through the phases outlined by the Apostle John in his first letter, speaking of little children, young men and fathers. Our consciousness is raised from plateau to plateau, by the conflict and contradictions we face in the world.
Nobody learns anything on vacation. (Or holiday for you Brits!) Where we learn the real meat of life is in the trenches of stuff not working out, or continuing what we are doing while being continually barraged with strong opposing viewpoints. That’s what brings out the pure gold of faith, distilled to its finest purity. The “exercise of our senses,” the Hebrews writer says, enables us to handle the “strong meat” of the Word. (Heb 5:14). Without that exercise of the senses, we are not challenged, and most likely will consider spiritual pablum to be our life’s meat, while we consider those who have run through the gauntlet of tough experiences to probably be under the judgment or punishment of God, having no clue to what God has been working into them in the silence of their inner spirit.
We’ll look more into all this below, but first I want to be clear on the other viewpoint, and I’m not entirely sure that I am. What I get out of it, and quite possibly I am missing something, is that none of the above is necessary at all, because we all (I am assuming you mean all humanity but maybe you just mean believers) are already born again, and all things are already accomplished, so there is absolutely nothing left for us to do, as far as “progressing or growing” in the Spirit Life. Now onto it …..
So first, speaking from this union truth as you encapsulated by Norman Grubb, there must be a genuine “new birth,” i.e., a deliverance from Satan through the removal of his evil spirit from within our human spirit, which has been the source of our separation from the Father. Then along with that an entry from heaven occurs, so that our inner spirits become filled with the Holy Spirit.
The entry of the Holy Spirit into our spirit centers begets the “new man,” the man “hidden with Christ in God,” (Col 3:3) until Christ appears on the scene when He is born within us, and then joins Himself within us in oneness, His Spirit now one with our spirit.
In both realms, the kingdom of wrath, the devil’s abode, as well as the kingdom of God, Christ’s abode, we are slaves of whichever one is our master. That is straight-out Romans chapter 6 as well as chapters 9-11. We are slaves of sin or slaves of righteousness. Paul even tells us that we are always vessels (containers and carriers) of either honor or vessels of dishonor.
We are the “representatives” of our master. When hell was our boss, though we may have been the nicest and kindest of human beings on the surface, hidden within us was the serpent of “I” – “We all have to watch out for ‘Ol number one’,” as people say today. At bottom we are for ourselves, though we may even fool ourselves that we are good, kind, understanding people, when in fact that is a ruse, a persona we develop, a mask we wear, to get us whatever we want.
Some may think I have a poor view of humanity and do not see the value in each of my fellow humans. No, that is not it. Jesus saw enough value in each of us to suffer and die for us. If we were worthless scum, utterly depraved, how could He have suffered us to live? He came to take us back from the one who had stolen us in the beginning and given us a false history of ourselves.
We are not the author of our self-orientation. This self-for-self bondage is not native to us. It never fits, because we were created to be expressers of God in self-for-others love. However, in the fall, we were overtaken by the prince of self-for-self love, and from then on the human race has been under a spell, bound to something we cannot escape, nor can we help expressing at bottom a self-for-self love.
Though we were made for other-love, we were captured in our infancy and turned around the other way, to self-love. We are our own center of the universe in that state, because everything in life seems to revolve around us, how we feel, how we look, what job we have, what spouse we have, my religion, my politics, my car, my house, my body! When we are there we cannot see an end to it. But thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord, He brings us all the way through!
That is because in Christ we are moved out of our self-oriented mindset that binds every one of us until our Deliverer comes (personally and individually), because we have literally been “translated” out of Satan’s kingdom of darkness and rage, into the kingdom of Heaven, and the Peace and Rest of Christ. We don’t just get a new lease on life, or learn the right way to do things and throw out all the wrongs ways. It isn’t about deeds or performance, but about being citizens of a new country, a completely different country from the one out of which we came. In wonder and awe we begin to realize we have been transformed, we know not how, but somehow we know we are completely NEW!
He may seem to come en masse, but we know the Deliverer comes, when we know He has delivered us! It is not enough just that it says it in scripture. We take what scripture says as truth, but it is only conceptual truth until we know its reality or fulfillment by the witness of the Spirit within.
(How do we “know?” Since we often use the word “know” [Adam “knew” Eve his wife, and she conceived …”] to describe union, that is what it means to “know” God and be “one” with Him. Although in western society these days most engaged couples are sexually active, for many there still is a period of being “engaged” and chaste during that engagement time, awaiting the wedding night consummation. And that’s one way to describe what I am meaning. We are first “engaged” with the Truth we’ve learned to be our inner being. We haven’t yet “coupled” with it, so that we ARE the Truth we KNOW. But the day comes, when Truth speaks back in confirmation and consummation. Before that, you say “you know.” Afterward, you say, “You know that you know!” It is Truth borne of the conflict of experience, which creates a new consciousness within us in each new plateau of faith.)
We have entered a new union, having been redeemed back from the one who stole us in order to have an improper union with us, an adulterous union, since he knew (though we did not) that we were originally espoused to Christ. He nevertheless despoiled our innocence in invading our race.
He came to seek whomever he could devour. But that is all undone in Christ, because He restores to us our original innocence and more. We discover we have lost nothing. Quite the contrary, He has used our lives and everything in our lives and in the lives of everyone we know to work the good of the kingdom of heaven as well as the good of each citizen of the kingdom.
First in our coming to greater consciousness that we are now He as us, “Christ as me,” and “Christ as you.” We come to that through the full realization that we have never been an independent self or entity but that now He has firmly forged each of us into the Rock that is HE, so that even as He said, may we also say, “I and my Father are one,” and, “What things the Father does He shows the Son, and the Son does likewise.”
I think that’s a pretty good nutshell on that side of things. It’s about coming to consciousness in each level of understanding of who we are, why we are, and what we do.
The other side you mentioned, as I am understanding you to mean, is that all that I mentioned above can apparently be dispensed with, since everything has already been done by Christ.
Alright, let’s look into this.
It helps if we understand a few basic aspects of the Gospel that plunge deeper into the Truth than does so much of the spiritual pablum that is the Soupe du Jour of our Time.
The first aspect is to realize that everything begins in God. He is the Source, the Creator, the Fulfiller of All Things. No one is like Him nor will anyone ever be like Him. In truth, He is actually the only true “Person” there is, which is why there are no other gods. There is only One. He is Light. He is Truth. He is Love. He is Life. Known unto Him are all His works regarding the earth and Adam’s children from beginning to end. As we trust that He works all things by His own inner counsel and will (Eph 1:11), we also trust that the Fall of Adam and Eve has led to the “many sons unto glory” of Hebrews 2:10.
A few years ago I had an earnest discussion with someone claiming to be an atheist. In one frustrating moment (for the atheist) she cried to me, “Just WHO is this God you keep talking about?” Though I’d never thought or said them before, these words came tumbling out of my mouth,
“He is the YOU out of Whom you come!”
The second thing to see is that Man was originally to have been God’s “Person” in the earth. When He breathed into them the Breath of Life, i.e., His Spirit, they came alive as conscious selves. They were in separate distinct bodies but before they fell they did not know separation.
One thing that is rarely mentioned by most is that their state in Eden was not the same as our state outside Eden. It took a long time for me to realize this, because we are so used to “our” reality. Because of that, most of us have seen Adam and Eve as folks just like us, except they were the first and they got to live in the Garden of Eden, name the animals, and fellowship with God in the “cool of the Day.” We sort of wonder why they didn’t notice their gender differences, but still, they seem to be folks like us, only innocent, and truly, “born yesterday!”
But that whimsy cannot be correct. They came alive in Paradise, Eden. It was as much more glorious than our current earth, as gold is so much more brilliant than lead. The vibrant depth of the colors of the trees and bushes, vividness no 1080p HD TV could come close to capturing, indescribable glory in the sky, light shimmering in and out of everything. Everything seems to be made of Light even though things appear solid. Paradise is so much so that it is almost like a realm of pure light, except that we walk on solid ground and the beings and objects we encounter are palpable and solid also, as well as a joy and a praise unto God.
That they “walked with God in the cool of the Day” is a picture to me of great awe and deep reverence. We wonder, “Did God come to them in a physical body, or was that Jesus, etc.?” I don’t know. But however it was and whatever ‘Persona’ it was Who walked with them in the cool of the Day, the great sense of the text is that they had full fellowship, no shadows, no fears, only joy and praise and curiosity. Even more than that, that “fellowship” was the central core of their lives. God was not to them a theological concept, or someone far off or imaginary in His invisibility. Still, much of it was unconscious, having not yet been borne of experience.
Again, it is even much more than that. Their bodies were physical enough, but they had a different quality to them in Paradise. First, until they ate the fruit, they had never realized they had the physical “stuff” for procreation! Why not?
Secondly, they did not wear clothes but were not touched by changes in temperature and humidity. Unlike the animals of the earth, they were not born with protections from heat and cold, nor did they have great powerful bodies or huge claws to fight with the beasts of the earth.
In Paradise they had no need of such things, because there was nothing whatsoever harmful to them. On the other side of the Gate of Eden, however, it was not the same. Almost everything in that environment was an adversary or potentially one.
For that reason the text says the Lord God gave them animal skins. For years I saw that like most of us see it, a picture in my mind of Adam and Eve dressed in cave-man attire, with dirt on their faces trying to eke out a living from a cursed ground that demanded ceaseless toil for very little yield.
What I have now come to see is that their bodies changed in accordance with the serpents’ false consciousness which they took (ate). That act of eating the fruit of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, going against the commandment of God, then facilitated the serpent and the false consciousness to be able to almost completely take us over from within.*
Almost instantly their consciousness of Light was ripped away and suddenly they became in their consciousness separate and individual from each other, from God, from creation, and even from their own bodies. Even their own individual bodies became almost separate entities within the confusion of mind that became embodied as fallen Adam and fallen Eve. It was that consciousness of confusion of mind and many other things that passed on down through the whole human tree. (*According to the principle of “what you take, takes you.”)
Whereas in a figure I see their Edenic bodies to be much like Jesus’ body when He appeared after His resurrection. It was “physical,” which He proved by letting them touch Him and see and touch His wounds. But it was a different quality of physical than we are now. He could also appear and disappear at will, not separated by distance.
Since He told the thief on the Cross, “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43), I think it is safe to say that He had a Paradisical body, probably best described as “spirit-flesh.” Later on He ascends but that is another matter. The main point I have wanted to get across is that the Quality of the Life from which man fell, was and is of an altogether different Quality from the life we live now.
For now, we can only find Paradise within, no matter how hard we try to produce it on the outside. The thing is, it really IS within! And I have found that fact to be an overabundantly adequate provision continuously, a perpetually flowing stream. Always there.
Now, as I see it, we’re not looking to have this all lined out in a dogma. By “dogma” I am meaning a fixed set of truths presented by a “religious” or other authority as the only correct way to look at things, expressed in a “word system.” Dogma is unquestionable (among the folks who have “dogma”).
It is not that it is wrong to want to have deeper understandings of the things of God. May that kind of curiosity and drive overtake all God’s children! When that happens in the Spirit it is the greatest edification. But the danger of fixed “truths” expressed in a word system, is that often they begin to replace the reality to which they initially “pointed,” with themselves. It is like being satisfied with a pecan shell, thinking the shell is the nut. If you’ve never tasted a pecan, how would you know? It’s like the analogy I used a while back of two doors. One door is marked “Heaven” and is standing open for entry, but only a few are straggling in here and there. The other door is marked, “Seminar on Heaven,” and the line to get in stretches out over the horizon.
The only rationale I can find for that type of normal human behavior, i.e., replacing a reality with a symbol of reality, aside from being blinded by the devil, is back to that visible-invisible issue. We can keep a syllabus of the seminar on heaven that we attended, and take it out and refer to it from time to time, to reassure us of our status (we hope). The class and the syllabus seem the more real. Visible is real, compared to invisible. Outer is visible, compared to inner. Inner is “subjective” and may be tainted with “me,” (our false sense of “me”), so we look for an outer “anchor” of some sort.
That’s why people almost go nuts over the Bible, because they believe the Bible itself is the agency of their salvation and ongoing spiritual life. So, it’s Bible Bible Bible Bible Bible Bible Bible Bible Bible!! I’m not criticizing, only recounting something of my own history. But I am not denigrating the scriptures whatsoever when I repeat what Jesus said to the Pharisees and the rest in the Temple. He plainly reveals the purpose and necessity of the scriptures:
“And the Father Himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His shape. And ye have not His word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, Him ye believe not. Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” (John 5:37-40).
End Part One