Living the Eternal in the Temporal – Part Two
By Fred Pruitt
To read the previous click here: Living the Eternal in the Temporal – Part One
So, for a bit I want to back off “explanations” and get to the heart of the matter. When he says we walk not by sight but by faith, Paul further states in 2 Cor 4:18, “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
Now let’s catch the difference in these two realities.
We live in the “seen” or “visible” world. Because we have forgotten our origin, we all grow up to believe that what we “see” in the “visible” world, along with what we hear, feel, smell, taste, etc., is the REAL. For that reason, in the beginning we are suspicious of the verse above, because the “invisible” seems unreal to us. We’ve only known the visible and it seems solid enough, though chaotic sometimes, to be the genuine “REAL.”
In some way, though, we learn to “trust” the outer visible world simply because we “see” with our own (temporal) eyes what happens in it, both positive and negative. I don’t think anyone would argue with me when I say the world is filled with conflict and chaos. There is great beauty in the world, and MUCH to be loved, but it is often covered up or mitigated by the worldwide cacophony of confusion that is always attempting to drown out everything else.
The truth is, both “realities” are REAL. The visible world is REAL but it is also temporal. What I see in front of me right now changes faster than I can type. Everything in it is in motion, most of it so fast our eyes and brains cannot see it. What happens in the temporal is on a timeline, with a beginning and an end.
What happens in the Eternal is without time or place and is the “eternal” REAL. God has not yet stretched our consciousness that far, to be able to comprehend that. It is something the merely human mind, i.e., “natural man,” can never grasp. That is why there can be no direct explanation of heaven and the kingdom of God in words, and why the natural man can never come to a full comprehension of it. It can only be communicated in parables and symbols, until the Day of the great unveiling. That is why Jesus would say, “The kingdom of heaven is like unto … ,” and then give an example using the simple things of this world.
Another glaring characteristic of the visible world, is that it is the visible demonstration of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, everything in it at one level being some manifestation of human good or evil, or spiritual good or evil. 1 John 5:19 reveals the real underlying truth of this world, but it is such an absurdity to the modern mind that even “believers” scarcely believe it. “We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”
What does it mean for the whole world to be under the power or sway of the wicked one? First, it could not have happened and have continued to happen while they (Adam and Eve) still retained their Edenic consciousness. They were walking around as the Living God in them and they in Him, though they were largely unconscious of it. They just “lived.” Nothing, absolutely nothing was forbidden, except for that one tree. The fruit of that tree contained in it their blindness to the Life of God within them. Here’s what Paul said about it.
“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” (2 Cor 4:3,4)
The blindness began with Adam and Eve, who passed the same onto all their progeny. Now, that blindness from the enemy, is not the problem in itself. People often say that humanity’s primary problem is ignorance. Train everyone on the right facts; their ignorance will be expelled, and their lives will be demonstrably improved. Sounds good on paper, but hard to implement in real life. The main reason for that is because it doesn’t get to the heart of the matter, but instead reinforces the lie.
How does it reinforce the lie? Mainly because it masks our true condition, that outside of Christ we are in a contrary spiritual darkness, under the hypnotic dominion of an evil spirit power. We are not just in ignorance. We are captured prisoners of the enemy of our souls, who would have us to himself if he could. The truth is we were stolen at birth and held by a kidnapper who has convinced us he is our father and he’s out for our good. And especially it reinforces the most heinous devilish part of the lie, and that is that we are god-selves as we are and all we have to do to dispel our ignorance is to believe in our own inherent divinity. (It will almost never be in those terms, but it will always be the underlying meaning of everything in the kingdom of wrath – the promotion of the lie!)
What lie? The greatest lie – originating in Lucifer’s “I wills” in Isaiah 14:12-15. The lie of a separate will operating in the universe. That passage in Isaiah 14 reveals what is at the heart of the rebellion of Lucifer and his hosts. At the very beginning of eternal history, if we can call it that, we find Lucifer and his dominions cast out of heaven into darkness which still holds them to this day, in Satan’s kingdom of pride, covetousness, envy and wrath!
We still have not plainly said what the rebellion was. It was the “I wills” in Isaiah 14 referred to above, which were the polar opposite of the Son’s prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. “And He went a little farther, and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt,” (Matt 26:39).
Lucifer’s prayer was the opposite. In Lucifer the prayer becomes, “Nevertheless, not Thy will, but MINE be done!”
That is the kingdom of darkness, the kingdom of “I, me, mine,” which is Satan’s kingdom. He is present in the self-possessive “I, me and mine.” All the conflict and contradiction and rebellion in the universe has its central heart right here! And this false “I” has interpenetrated the whole world. Like in the “Matrix,” there are some who one by one break free and escape “the Matrix.” (For those who don’t know the Matrix movies, “the Matrix” is a worldwide computer program to which all humanity has been attached. The Matrix feeds all humanity a virtual reality of a world that doesn’t exist, and lives they are living but they aren’t really living. The world they believe they are living in does not exist.)
Going on then, the false “I” which began in the Garden, over thousands of years has slithered and hissed its way across the face of the whole earth, so that everyone on earth who hasn’t escaped through Christ, yet, still lives out of this false “I,” behind which lives the author, hidden in plain sight, “’Ol slewfoot,” as C. S. Lewis called him, the prince of the world, Satan himself. That’s who, not what, the false “I” is.
We have penetrated to the point of the development of a rival, separate and rebellious will. Have we found the bottommost source? Understand, when I use the term “will,” I am meaning the “mindset” more or less of the person. But that will or mindset doesn’t just appear out of the air. It comes from a person. In our case, we are speaking of human beings and angels, and, to a certain extent, the Deity Himself Who is the Creator and Sustainer of all things. However, here we are speaking of the “Deity” in His human form, first in Jesus of Nazareth, after Whose death, burial, resurrection and ascension, the wave of the Spirit was poured out onto “all flesh” on the Day of Pentecost.
Paul wrote: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” (Rom 5:12).
Every human being since Adam has walked in death. Therefore, we can stop blaming Adam for our predicament. If we MUST find blame, let us blame ourselves! The last phrase in that verse says it: “for that all have sinned.” In other words, whoever thinks he or she would have done a better job than Adam and Eve, would not have done any better. “For all have sinned.” We are all, each of us, “the first Adam.”
What has Death done? Who IS Death? Death has spread over the face of the whole earth. Death is walking apart from God. Just as Life is actually a Person, THE PERSON, even so in this case Death is a person, THE Devil person!
Let’s not be benign about death. Death is what holds sway over the face of the whole earth? How so?
First, we are, prior to knowing the Lord, unwitting carriers of the death into which we have been born. It is ours by right of inheritance and we do not know anything else. The innermost kernel of death in us is the serpent, the “prince of the power of the air,” whose life was expressed by our lives as long as we remained “children of wrath,” because, Ephesians states, we were “by nature children of wrath.” (Eph 2:1,2)
You juxtaposed the above concept which requires a “new birth” to move from the former (Satan), to the latter (Christ), with the ever-growing-in-popularity “new teaching” of looking at all these things (new birth, finished Cross, etc.) as all already accomplished and finished without any human participation.
Perhaps the people who are espousing the total “It’s already done so you don’t need to do a thing not even believe because that would be pride because God has already done it all, absolutely nothing whatsoever for us to do or be, not even a recognition of this fact which in itself would be an ‘act of faith,’ or ‘word of faith,’ because that would nullify (say some) grace,” might be seeing it in a confusion of eternal and temporal. (You may not be saying this but there are plenty who are.)
The best way I can see it is that some folks are confusing certain things which are eternal and yet to be seen or experienced other than by faith, with temporal reality in which things are yet to be fully complete and which is also the realm of existence in which the enemy still has every right to tempt us and draw us astray if he can.
Speaking of mankind, in Hebrews 2:8 the Spirit says, “Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet.” As Paul speaks of our being “co-heirs” with Christ, so the Hebrews writer says the same thing, in terms of inheritance.
However, the Hebrews writer as well as Paul, also says that the completion has not yet come. First in Hebrews: “But now we see not yet all things put under him.” So yes, we ARE co-heirs, and ALL that applies to THE SON applies to THE sons, but for now we do not see everything in its total completion.
What do we see? Again, Hebrews gives the answer, “But we see Jesus.” What does that mean? We have to first look to the conclusion that came to Paul, when he said, “Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Cor 5:16, 17).
I could have quoted the rest of the chapter because it all applies, but please read it. To not know anyone, including and especially Jesus, “after the flesh,” isn’t something we do or believe, because we would not know how. Instead it is the gift of the Spirit, both the Spirit as the gift and the Spirit in the gift.
It really is just a different way to state the same truth, that of seeing through all things and appearances to the center, where we see the purposed activity of the Living Father. When we view all things through the lens Paul wrote about, the lens that sees all things pure, any vision we have is safe.
That’s why we can look at OT stories and see Christ in the characters. That’s why we can look at OT characters, like Noah, Abraham, Samuel, David, etc., and not denigrate them by analysis of their psychology and judgment of some of their deeds, but instead see the upward expanding activity of the Spirit in bringing forth out of the earth the Sons God created this realm to find. Everything in the world, inner and outer, is geared toward that end. As is everything in each of our lives!
Paul says much the same thing in various places. Though Paul writes we are “complete in Him,” he also says he has more to do and see regarding the work.
He also says we sit in “heavenly places” with the Lamb, while at the same time he says, “Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord..” (2 Cor 5:6-8).
I’ve asked this question myself, because while on a certain day at a certain moment which I remember with crystal clarity, I “experienced” a new birth, in a way “transformed” almost immediately into a Jesus lover and Jesus follower whereas only moments before I couldn’t wrap my brain around the idea the He was the Son of God. The Spirit just “did it.” That “event” was the culmination of what at the time I considered to be a multi-year “search for the truth.”
However, on at least a couple of occasions before, and maybe on lots of occasions, I had gone forward at an altar call and prayed “the sinner’s prayer,” in the traditional way, repenting of my sins and inviting Christ into my heart. That happened a few times before the “event.”
Likewise there were a few serendipitous events during those days that seemed like divine encounters. So, I’ve asked, “When exactly was I born again? At one of those previous altar calls, or one of the little theophanies I experienced, or was I already born again in the Eternal and “experiencing it in time?”
After all, in the “next” life, we will live in and of the Eternal, where Revelation says there is no “time.” My human reason cannot grasp that. But speculating on these things, “when we get there” (and we may already BE there some say), we will see all things through an eternal lens, which could mean in some sense that when we “came to Christ” in whatever way we have on this earth, we were living out of what was/is already true in the eternal. I suppose from a philosphical (in the best sense) view we might be able to say that. I wouldn’t strongly object to someone sharing that.
I don’t know if you mean the whole human race is born again in that state, but I cannot see that. For instance, the first verse you mention is 1 Pet 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
Who is the “us” in that verse? The whole human race? (If you’re not meaning that, that’s wonderful, but others do see it that way.) None of the epistles in the New Testament were written to the whole human race. Every one of them were written to living believers in their time. They were letters to churches and individuals who were already believers. So if we see “us” as referring to the whole human race in that passage, I see the New Testament saying the complete opposite.
Oh, it doesn’t say anybody HAS TO remain in the kingdom of wrath, but never does the New Testament contradict what Jesus said to Nicodemus. The believers are a called-out race, a “peculiar people” as Peter referred to them, raised up to testify of Christ and to continue the commission the Church was given in its inception: “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15). When I first heard that through the Spirit 45 years ago, I took it with earnest sincerity, and a great desire to be a part of that rose up in me with almost volcanic force and heat. That has never abated in me, though through the years the Spirit has worked in me His own specificity as me, every day clarifying ever more the paths of life.
That commission is repeated in various ways, in each gospel and in most of the epistles. It has yet to be fulfilled, as far as I know, so we keep working while it is day, since as Jesus said, “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work” (John 9:4). I believe this is for all of us to say.
Let me just say one more word about these “universal declarations” many are making today. I think they’re just fine as long as we understand we still LIVE THE LIFE in all its nitty gritty on this earth, and there will be pain and sorrow, as well comfort and jubilation.
It’s when we take those universal declarations and make them so absolute they make human struggle and overcoming of no value, as well as tossing out every other accoutrement of the spiritual life we might have, that I have a problem. To me, it is a wrong direction. Some are actively and purposely discouraging faith, where Paul’s word in Eph 2:8, “For by grace are ye saved through faith,” is altered just a bit so that it would now read, “For by grace are ye saved,” leaving out that last little phrase, “through faith.” I suppose they think it is error or unimportant. The thing is, what they’ve ended up with is a canned meal which they can’t properly eat because they have thrown out the can opener. Ooops!
I think that message is headed for being part of the new crop of “nominal” Christians that evangelicals used to complain about in the recent past. Churches where one only need believe the doctrine of that particular church and everything is settled, with no encouragment for folks to find an intimate Life with the Living God – truly “having the form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.”
But that isn’t us, I trust, thank God!
Brother, for whatever it’s worth, I have attempted to give you the truth as I see it as honestly as I can. I don’t claim infallibity, because like Paul said and Norman, too, we still see through a dark glass. Norman said we only have the outer edge of one of our big toes in the ocean which is truth. To say there is more to see, is an understatement of such magnitude it has no measurement.
God’s blessings to you, and thank you for your patience.