The Temporal in the Eternal
By Fred Pruitt
Taken from a reply to a reader –
That is a good question, because everybody wonders about that. If I am “Christ in my form,” should I “apologize” or acknowledge “improvable” behavior to others, but still consider it to be “all Christ?” How do we resolve this?
I think it’s fair to ask the question because all questions are fair and none wrong, since a question’s goal is to lead to the truth of a matter.
The simplest and really final answer to this, to me, is to first of all see that the kingdom of heaven has much wider borders, once in, than we have imagined. Its borders are actually infinite, once inside, and can easily accommodate what seem to be contradictory things, where all those things that seemingly contradict each other work as one glorious All in all. I am not talking about “the world” here, but the kingdom of heaven within the world, where Paul says we have our “conversation.”
(I’m not really a big “quote the Greek” guy, because I only have a smattering of Greek knowledge, and am not trying to give the impression that I “know” Greek, but in this case, this is simple enough even I can catch it. In the KJV* New Testament, the same Greek word translated, “conversation,” in most cases is “anastrephre,” meaning “manner of life, conduct, behavior, etc.” The Greek word translated from Phil 3:20, “Our conversation is in heaven,” is a completely different word – “politeuma,” having to do with a “state, or commonwealth, the administration of a state or commonwealth, etc.” And that gives Phil 3:20 much greater meaning, from the normal 17th century usage of “conversation” to mean our “personal conduct,” to a meaning that indicates our life is derived from the kingdom to which we belong, and reflects that derivation! It supports Isaiah 9:6 – “And the government shall be upon His shoulders.”)
Considering our “conversation” by this new meaning, we find it carries in it Paul’s continual theme, which is that we live out of the life within us, rather than by outwardly imposed commandments. Paul describes himself and us who walk in the same Spirit, as “ambassadors of Christ.” An ambassador is a governmental office, usually sent to another government, as the full representative and expresser of the government which he represents. When the ambassador speaks, acts, or even binds with treaty, he is speaking, acting and binding with the full authority of his King or other body politic that may have sent him. In other words, the full power and authority of the State rests in the word and will of the ambassador “on the spot.” Though he is a separate entity, he is to be considered to be “as the King” when he is speaking in his office.
So this “conversation” we are speaking of is not our behavior or conduct as it is so often interpreted, but rather that we are living out of the “office” of Christ in us, which is the kingdom of heaven. We speak much of Christ in us. But this is an aspect of us in Christ. He in us, we in Him. It is the further meaning of “our conversation is in heaven.” Even as He is, so are we in the world as an outflow, and the outflow is the perfect heaven which surrounds us and the entire world in which we live, since it is in us and we are in it, and as I said above, its borders are unbounded, when once inside.
The only “law” in the kingdom of heaven is the “law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus,” which swallows up and makes of none effect, “the law of sin and death.” (Rom 8:2). In this kingdom, “nothing shall hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain.” (Is 65: 17-25). What I am describing is the New Jerusalem, already fully in our hearts, in which we live and move and have our true being, our true place of abiding or existing. In every sense of truth we can say that we live within those borders and our lives are living truths, epistles of Christ, as Paul called the Corinthian brethren – the very ones he had just exhorted for sexual sin and carnal understanding! (2 Cor 3:3).
We may come within those borders initially with all kinds of wrong ideas, bad habits (as men see it), personality “flaws,” weaknesses, in other words, all the same inner stuff (attitudes, thought processes, emotional issues, ego problems) as everybody else in the world. Though in the most true sense all that “baggage” has been removed from us in the Cross, for God’s good purposes He allows us to carry the baggage, a lot of it anyway, with us into the kingdom. He has sanctified it for the purposes of our passage from spirit infancy to full adulthood and all that extends from that. He has cleansed us, the whole of us. (“Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” Jn 15:3). Whatever the baggage has been before, it now all belongs to the Father and is utilized in the Spirit’s purposes to manifest Christ in our lives, “in our mortal flesh,” (2 Cor 4:11), or in our words today, Christ manifest “as us.”
Even though theoretically on Day One we could have declared our full liberty, and walked on from that moment in full consciousness of Christ as ourselves since it became the inner “truth” about us the moment the Spirit of Christ moved into the center of our being, in God’s purposes Christ in our humanity is hidden to us in our beginning days. God’s purpose in all this is that we would become His full sons, by becoming fully our true selves, the self “hid with Christ in God.” (Col 3:3).
I can’t help making an odd analogy, but it is somewhat like Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz,” at the end when she wants to return home to Kansas. Glenda tells Dorothy that since she had the ruby slippers, she had always had the “power” to return home, but Dorothy was unaware of that until that moment. She first had to, “follow the yellow brick road,” to all the adventures she’d had with the Witches, Scarecrow, Tinman, Cowardly Lion, Flying Monkeys and finally the Great Oz Himself, to discover what she’d really known all along – “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.”
Dorothy had experienced a change in consciousness! She began to “believe again” in the home she no longer saw, and then she was there! (And when she returned to Kansas [state of normalcy?], her adventures in Oz seemed like a dream. And I think it is somewhat the same with us in the Spirit. Sometimes we see things too wonderful for humanity to grasp or believe, but somehow we do anyway, even though it seems often to be grasping at what we saw in a dream or a mist in the forest. However, our “dream” is real, and the “normal” is – … less real.)
But the fact that sometimes it seems to us only as a dream or ethereal, does not nullify the truth of Who we are and the New Jerusalem in which we live in the Spirit. Hebrews 2:6-8 brings this out:
“What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet.”
This is God’s declaration for His human sons – the sons of men! This is His intent, and it is His Truth, that as we are in Christ and He is in us, that we are crowned with glory and honor (the crown of Christ’s righteousness and victory), that we are over the works of His hands, and that all things are subject under our feet! We live as kings and priests unto God, kings who fulfill the word, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.” (Pr 21:1). As priests we are living intercessions, our lives laid on the altar of sacrifice, “bound with cords to the horns of the altar,” (Ps 118:27), and our lives are not our own.
This is our inner truth, and it seems like it happens slowly, but it begins to increasingly dawn on us that this “inner truth,” is the “real truth,” replacing our former mindset, which was that the temporal outer world was the “real truth.” (I do not mean to say the temporal is not real. It is completely real, but it is only a small picture of reality, only one “segment” of it, we might say. As far as it goes, it is true. But the Eternal IS the whole, of which the temporal is a part. Viewing the temporal purely from the temporal, it presents itself as if it is the only truth, “the whole.” However, viewing the temporal through the lens of the Eternal, allows us to see the Big Picture operating in all the little pictures.) Still, it is a consciousness that dies hard. But with every death it suffers, more layers are peeled back in our understanding, and we trust the temporal less and the eternal more in our daily consciousness.
Hebrews then goes on with this passage:
“For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man … For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren.” (Heb 2: 8,9,11).
All things are not yet in plain sight. Though “all things” are put under “him,” meaning the race of man, we do not yet see it all. The promise is embodied, fully on worldwide and universal display, in the man Christ Jesus. It is only in and through Him that we can know the Father for ourselves, as sons in the Son, and participate in the Promise, since the Promise is particularly His exclusively, extended through Him universally in all the sons.
If we can understand that this is what we are “encompassed with,” not only a “great cloud of witnesses,” but also with the Seal of the Almighty God through Jesus Christ, and as He moved into us, so also did we move into Him in His heaven, then we can begin to see that we walk in heaven while still “in the world.”
All the activities of our lives are in this heaven. We view everyone through the eyes of this heaven. There is only Light in this heaven, and no darkness at all, though paradoxically, it is in darkness that we discover the Light. “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light.” (Eph 5:8).
Paul doesn’t tell us to “walk as children of light,” as a commandment to fulfill, but as the “supernatural” outcome of the fact that we ARE LIGHT in the Lord. In other words, Paul is saying, “Look here. You are Light in the Lord. That’s a fact. You don’t have to do anything to ‘try to be’ the Light, because you already are. And since that is so, just go out and live, i.e., walk out who you already ARE!” And when you see it like that, the whole landscape changes.
When we realize we ARE the light, then we also can know that the Light radiates out from us, to give Light to the world. It is not directed back at ourselves, to enlighten us to our “Christ-hood,” to bask in our own divinity.
Light and motion are one and the same. Light must go out, or it is not light. “Light” and the “Speed of Light” are intrinsically woven together. Light immediately “moves out” at its own speed to enlighten. Block the light from “moving out,” and then nothing is enlightened. When we think of “light,” then there must be a “source,” and there must be something to enlighten, to prove that the light is there. If nothing is there, nothing lights up. Like the depths of interstellar space. There are places where no observable (to human eyes) matter exists. If we were to “observe” that place from a different location, it would appear to have no light in it. Yet we know light is passing through it, though light does not find anything there to light up. We only find observable light showing up when a planet or an asteroid or even space dust gets into the beam. Then we see the light, and then we see the object. Conversely, if there were a dark body there and no light shined on it, we would not know by our eyes that it was there. That is the purpose given us as the “light of the world.” Not to manifest ourselves, but to bring out Christ’s All in all wherever our light shines.
Am I ever going to get to the answer to the original question? I think we are about there.
But I have to digress just one more moment, to make a contrast. The reason I have to make it is that your question is actually a very practical one, arising from a very practical concern – what about my actions and attitudes, the things I do and think every day? In the end, that is where we have to make our peace, no matter what pie-in-the-sky we think there might be.
In my early union days in the 1980s, a group of us got together to delve into all the aspects of life in union with Christ. We wanted to put together a kind of “manual” for union life. Get it down to its nitty gritty, how it works, what does what, who is who, etc.
One of the main troubling aspects of this “union” message we share, is that we still seem all-too-human in our lives. We still have angry reactions, get confused, have a panic attack, yell at the kids, forget to (or cannot) pay the bills. You name it, like everyone else, we experience all our environment has to offer, the “rain falling on the just and unjust alike.” And then to add to that, we feel that sometimes we are unkind, inconsistent, slovenly, dishonest, unloving and a whole host of other things. The list is endless with which we could accuse ourselves. So, we wanted to tackle that “problem,” and solve it, and put it in the manual.
As it turned out, one of the things that developed out of that desire to figure out and clear up those inconsistencies, was, oddly enough, a focus on people’s habits, lives, speech, etc. A period began, when some of us began to observe things in the temporal, and making a determination of spirit source, based on the behavior or attitude, etc., that was exhibited.
Our “theology” (at the time) demanded that everything be boiled down to “Christ or Satan.” That included all actions. If someone does such and such, who is doing it, Christ or Satan? Is it Christ manifesting (Righteousness), or Satan manifesting (Sin)? (I don’t acknowledge an “in-between” place, where I am just myself. I am living either by the Holy Spirit or the unholy spirit. It is that way for all of us.
As it developed, some of us reasoned that the root-cause of those “inconsistencies,” is that we have “spots” in our faith sight, little unknown places in us where we have not acknowledged as one with Christ, and in those places, Satan still ruled and caused us to manifest questionable behavior. So when these behaviors (and the behaviors could be anything, instead of limited to what we normally call “sins,” but things like a nervous laugh, a look in the eye, not fully answering a question, and all sorts of other “things” that bothered other people) would come out in folks, some of us were hot-to-trot to “get to the bottom of this,” so we could “correct” their faith, with the result being that hopefully, the “inconsistency” would go away. Nobody likes inconsistencies! (And as I recall, not many of them went away!)
Without really touching the “theology,” there is something fundamentally and deeply wrong in the core of this thinking, which I shared for a time with some others. It should be obvious, but it took me quite some time to see it since I was embroiled in the midst of it. And that is simply this: we cannot reason from flesh (observable appearance along with soul and mind emotions and reasonings), back to Spirit, as if what we see in “flesh” verifies “of what spirit” it is. We do not look to flesh as an indicator of the Spirit, but to the Spirit as an indicator of the flesh! The former thinking is completely backwards! When we begin to see from Spirit outward, only then have we even approached removing the huge board in our own eyes, so that we could clearly see the little, tiny speck in our brother’s eye!
I want to take us back to the picture I hope to have somewhat portrayed above, that we are living and walking in heaven as our present living reality. Let’s look at this from Revelation 21: 22,23 –
“And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.”
There will come an existing moment when that is universally known. All who are in the kingdom of God, from the least to the greatest, will see it. The fact that it is not yet displayed in plain sight, does not change its reality, its validity, or its effect. This is our inner reality, and it is our current truth.
(It is the “hope of glory,” and when we use the word, “hope,” we mean it in the spirit and not as we use it in the flesh. In the flesh it is something not seen but also not believed unless it is seen. “We hope it happens but we’ll wait and see.” It is a hope realized only if we see it come through. The “hope of glory,” as Paul used it, was of the Spirit, and in this case it means something more than earthly “hope,” which has more of the nature of “wish” about it than faith. In the Spirit, this “hope” is wrapped up in the Spirit’s inner assurance, in the faith which has become substance and evidence and a truth unto itself, which acts as the down payment, the “earnest of our inheritance,” until the appearance of the Blessed Hope, the full Revelation of the Son – in all the sons.)
Still, to think of this heaven as the hidden truth behind our current reality, rather than some future blissful existence, seems almost to violate our flesh and mind to its uttermost with the unbelievable nature of these words; it cannot be conceived, since it is hard in this world to see even a hint of it. “Where is this New Jerusalem? I see nothing but hardship and strife!”
But this is a more firm and eternal truth than that the sun will rise in the morning on planet earth, because even science tells us this will not always be so. But that the Son of Righteousness rises upon us each new morning, unfailing and more certain than the earthly Sun, is our surety that we are within His borders, and His law of Life is the law of His land.
But for now, here we are in those same wide borders of Paradise with no law save not to eat of the wrong tree, which by learned consciousness (renewing of our minds) we now know which one it is, with the additional understanding that we are still temptable, still within earshot of the old slave master, but now with this one-up on him. We’ve tasted his bitter fruit, and do not want it anymore! It was pleasing in the mouth but bitter in the belly! By the Spirit we have seen through his trick, and the one-up on him, is that now we walk no more where he has any effect! Our conversation is in heaven! And he has no effect there anymore!
And that sanctifies our lives. In the negatives as well as the positives. We walk in faith in the Spirit, and live normal human lives out of a supernatural source.
To bring it finally down to what you asked –
Here is how it is with me. I have seen for some time, that our normal human living when we are in Christ, is simply Christ in all His forms, each being a necessary component, negative or positive in temporal things and issues, and Christ All in all in the Spirit. It is not an easy thing to see someone as Christ in “them,” when it seems like they are not for us or misusing us, or any other negative suspicion we might have. Likewise, it is an even harder thing, if we feel we ourselves have been a perpetrator, a sower of disharmony or turmoil in some way, to see ourselves as Christ in us.
And this is where, for me, I have had to see those wide borders I spoke of at the beginning. A “No” does not exist in the kingdom of heaven. Why do I say that, when obviously there are behaviors and mindsets that perhaps can keep us out? The reason I say they do not exist in the kingdom of heaven, is because all the “No’s” have been forever cast out upon our entry into the kingdom. It says that in Revelation. All that is left outside. There is nothing left to offend or blaspheme.
When we say, “all is lawful,” we are speaking of what is lawful in the kingdom of heaven. In this kingdom, everything is holy, everything is righteous, everything is love. That is not an imposed outer law that one must be careful to obey. It is just the spirit of the kingdom and the way that it works. There is nothing that shall “hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain.” Such a thing does not exist there.
Whoever lives in that kingdom lives by the law of that kingdom; otherwise one cannot be there. (I have mentioned that “law” above.) When we live in the kingdom of heaven, which is also the kingdom of grace, then all our business is done in this spirit of righteousness, down to and including our daily interactions, thoughts, deeds, hopes, dreams, disagreements, thoughts about the future, and any and all other seemingly only “human” activity going on. I live like a normal human person in the world in most respects, differentiating my thought from that of another, making judgments, decisions, disagreeing and agreeing, sometimes passionate with conviction and apologetic later, sometimes passive and apathetic and apologetic later (I’m married), sometimes sad, sometimes happy, sometimes depressed and self-loathing, sometimes quick to an angry word, sometimes greatly forbearing. I run the gamut of human expression and experience, and in all of it consider it the Lord and life in the righteousness of the kingdom of heaven.
And by grace I extend the same faith outward to all in my environment in seeing each as Christ. How else could I ever fulfill Paul’s word to, “in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves,” (Phil 2:3), other than to by faith see them as Christ in them as He is in me? And not only that, but to serve them as I would serve Christ (as greater than myself) to boot! That is not a normal human thing to think or do. We like what WE like. We like the ketchup brand we buy, the movies and music we like, etc etc. We consider our choices the best choices, at least for us anyway. So given that we like what WE like, how can we esteem others better than ourselves, except we see them as Christ living, and that their lives, regardless of expression, are as much given for our benefit, as ours are for them, and that we give them the respect due to the Son, the same respect we would give to Jesus if He walked in our door?!
It is just a more wondrous and miraculous thing than we can perceive right now, a more glorious truth than we can contain if we could see it all at once, that we indeed have this Eternal Treasure, that we have apprehended the One Who has apprehended us, and this Pearl of Great Price, has grown up in us into the “tree planted by the water,” being great shade and sustenance and provision to all who come to it. And it is equally a glorious truth, and a thing that even the angels cannot yet fully perceive, that we have this unbounded eternal treasure – in an earthen vessel, a pot of clay!
It may be lowly, this pot of clay – plain, common, crude, dull of hearing, dim of sight, but this is what the Lord says of it:
“Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.” (Jer 17: 7,8).
Bottom line, we live free in God’s kingdom. And that includes the freedom to let the full gamut of our humanity be released into the freedom of Christ, positives and negatives, and trust the Life in us which is one with us, to be our total All in all.
Always lovely to hear from you!
*KJV – I use the English King James Bible as my main source to read and quote. It is not because I think the KJV is the only “anointed” English version of the Bible, because I do not believe it is that. It has many mistakes and clumsily translated verses, and the clarity of modern scholarship, along with older versions of the Greek New Testament which surfaced after 1611, has brought many of them to light. But even with all that, for me, the KJV has always had a “punch” to it that none of the other versions have had. I’ve had upward to close to twenty different English language Bible versions over the years. I have or have had parallel new testaments, parallel whole Bibles, various different English versions of the whole Bible, commentaries, concordances, interlinear Bibles with Greek and Hebrew, Greek Lexicon, almost every “Bible” tool one can have, and sometimes I check almost every one of them when I am zeroing in on a particular passage and want to cover all the bases, but in the end I keep coming back to King James because it just has a clarity to it and a poetry to it as well, that I just can’t get past. I won’t be disappointed if Jesus does not speak with a proper British accent and in King James English, but … well, nothing will disappoint me!