ECHOES FROM EDEN
THE GARMENTS OF EDEN
"And they were both naked, the man and his wife...and the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And... unto Adam and his wife did the Lord God make COATS OF SKINS, AND CLOTHED THEM" (Gen. 2:25; 3:6-10,21).
"Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. And he answered saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will CLOTHE THEE WITH A CHANGE OF RAIMENT. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and CLOTHED HIM WITH GARMENTS" (Zech. 3:3-5).
If you in spirit will stand "as in the beginning" with your all-wise heavenly Father, you will behold the unfolding of an infinite purpose. You will see the unveiling of God's divine intention in Eden's lovely Garden. Your heart will throb with unspeakable joy as you hear the words, "Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them." "Garments" is one of the most interesting words to be found in use as a Semitic symbol in Scripture. Since the greater part of part of the writings of most of the Old Testament prophets is couched in figurative language abounding with Hebrew sign-words it is not surprising that an adaptable term like "garments" or "coats" should find wide usage as a figure of speech. When the prophet sings by the Spirit: "The Lord God...hath covered me with the GARMENTS of salvation," with the parallel phrase, "He hath covered me with a ROBE of righteousness," it is obvious that he is not speaking literally of a physical "garment" or "robe" to be worn upon the physical body. It is interesting, however, that the human body itself, and the glorified body of the resurrection, are both referred to as "clothing" which prevent our spirits from being found "naked". "For in this (body) we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: if so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life." (II Cor. 5:2-4).
THE TWO TABERNACLES
In the vast storehouse of truth embraced by the holy Scriptures no part nor phase thereof is in any way more outstanding or clear than the truth that man was designed by his Creator to possess a body. Man is not designed to have his spirit or soul flit about through eternity without a body. The apostle Paul echoes the sense of revulsion found in the heart of every man at the thought of being found "naked" or disembodied upon physical death. Speaking of the earthly residence of the tabernacle of flesh, he writes, "For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: if so be that being clothed we shall not found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. Now He that hath wrought us FOR THIS SELFSAME THING is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit" (II Cor. 5:1-5).
The desire of the man who is begotten of God, whose spirit is a living born from above, is that he should be clothed with a body at all times, and the apostle assures us that "He that hath wrought us for this very thing IS GOD." The awful doctrine of one's "soul" or "spirit," with its disembodiment personality spending eternity "naked" is unbearable. The cry of the spirit is: "Not that we should be UNCLOTHED, but CLOTHED UPON!" Man was designed by God to possess a body for all eternity - and he shall. The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead assures this.
In the verses we have quoted Paul speaks of the human body as a "tabernacle" or "tent" or "clothing" to be discarded and laid aside. In I Cor. 6:19 the apostle again refers to the body as a "tabernacle" or "temple," saying, "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God?" Peter, also, in making reference to his imminent death described that event in this manner: "Knowing that shortly I must put off this MY TABERNACLE" (II Pet. 1:14). Hear now what Paul has to say concerning that glorious SPIRITUAL BODY which supercedes this mortal body of flesh and blood: "We have a BUILDING OF GOD, AN HOUSE not made with hands...for in this (the earthly) we groan...desiring to be CLOTHED UPON WITH OUR HOUSE which is from heaven."
In a manner peculiar to God all truth is clothed in mystery. The greater and more important the truth the greater the mystery it unfolds. Even in the natural realm the human body is undoubtedly among the most profound mysteries of the universe. Its hidden secrets are so great that I know no how any doctor or scientist could ponder its composition and intricate complexities and physiological marvels and yet fail to see the master mind of an omniscient Creator. But in the Scripture above we see that the Spirit of the Creator declares that not only is there this PHYSICAL BODY of the earth realm, but there is also the SPRITUAL BODY of the heavenly realm. Furthermore, He depicts both the physical and spiritual bodies not only as garments with which we are clothed, but as TABERNACLES in which we dwell and in which He dwells.
As we meditate upon the wonderful truth of these TWO BODIES, these TWO GARMENTS, these TWO TABERNACLES, the natural and the spiritual, the earthly and the heavenly, I would draw your attention to the blessed significance of the TWO TABERNACLES spoken of in the book of Hebrews. "Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly (earthly) sanctuary. For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the showbread; which is called the sanctuary. And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All. Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle (the Holiest Place), accomplishing the service of God. But into the second (the Holiest of All) went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: the Holy Ghost this signifying that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing. But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, BY A GREATER AND MORE PERFECT TABERNACLE, NOT MADE WITH HANDS, that is to say, NOT OF THIS BUILDING...for Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true, but into HEAVEN ITSELF, now to appear in the presence of God for us" (Heb. 9:1-3, 6-8, 11,24).
The truth is conveyed to us in these verses is briefly summed up as follows: (1) there were TWO TABERNACLES in the wilderness: the Holy Place and the Holiest of All (2) the veil between these two tabernacles signified that the way into the second, the Holiest of All, was not yet manifest, while the first tabernacle was still standing (3) Christ is a priest of good things to come by a GREATER AND MORE PERFECT TABERNACLE, not of the physical creation (4) this greater tabernacle is HEAVEN ITSELF, or that which is spiritual and heavenly as contrasted with that which is physical and earthly.
The one thing the writer wishes to direct our attention to is the difference and the relation between the two compartments into which the tabernacle was divided, and the meaning of the veil that separated them. The inner sanctuary was called the Holiest of All, or, as it is in Hebrew, the Holiness of Holiness. It was the highest embodiment there could be of holiness; it was the place where God Most Holy dwelt. His holy presence and power and life filled it. No man might enter there on pain of death but the high priest, and even he only once a year. In the Holy Place, separated from the Most Holy by a heavy veil, the priests entered and served. The truths embodied in the house thus made after a heavenly pattern were very simple. The two tabernacles are the symbols of two stages of life, two planes of experiencing God. The epistle teaches us that Christ knew this difference in His own life experience, and, entering into and opening up the higher one for us, passed through the lower. He entered into the Holiest THROUGH THE GREATER AND MORE PERFECT TABERNACLE, through the experience of that spiritual reality of which the tabernacle was a shadow. The Holiest is God's immediate presence and glory, the state of being in which God is all that He is without mixture, limitation, or hindrance, whereas the Holy Place is a drawing near to God with a veil between. The flesh, body and soul, man's fallen nature in its weakness and its exposure to all the consequences of sin, IS THE VEIL. Christ has dedicated for us a new and living way THROUGH THE VEIL, THAT IS TO SAY, HIS FLESH. When He came in the likeness of sinful flesh, as man, that life in the flesh, with its humanity and its liability to temptation, and its weakness, and its possibility of suffering and death, with its life of faith and prayer and tears, with its need of learning obedience and being made perfect, WAS THE HOLY PLACE, the first tabernacle, through which He had to pass to have the veil rent in His death, so to enter in and appear directly before God with no separation or limitation or hindrance.
Christ came down in human form, took upon Him the form of sinful flesh, took upon Him humanity, God dwelling Himself within the limitation of a human body, THIS IS THE REALM OF THE FIRST TABERNACLE, the Holy Place. He became obedient unto death, and by death HE PASSED THROUGH THE FIRST TABERNACLE, as a spiritual experience in reality. Because flesh and blood CANNOT ENTER THE KINGDOM OF GOD (the Most Holy Place), it was necessary that Jesus enter by a "greater and more perfect tabernacle" - a resurrected, glorified, heavenly body. That ministry, however, could not be made manifest "while as the first tabernacle (flesh and blood body) was yet standing." Yes, Jesus passed from the Holy Place of His sanctified human body and nature into the Most Holy Place of His glorified body. When He died the veil was rent in twain; the way was opened up into the Holiest. Then through His resurrection and ascension He entered Himself into the SECOND AND GREATER TABERNACLE, not of this physical creation.
In order to grasp fully what the Spirit would now convey to our hearts, we must realize that the Holiest of All does not pertain to anything in this earth realm. It is, rather, clearly identified as the HEAVENLY REALM, for the writer to the Hebrews said of it: "...we have a great high priest that is passed INTO THE HEAVENS (Holiest of All)" (Heb. 4:14). Again he says, "We have such an high priest who is set on the right hand of the Majesty IN THE HEAVENS" (Heb. 8:1). It is further emphasized in Heb. 9:24 where we read, "For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true, BUT INTO HEAVEN ITSELF now to appear in the presence of God for us." The Holiest of All, then, is the high and holy realm of the SPIRIT, the pure and incorruptible realm of GOD HIMSELF, and it, therefore, can only be entered BY THAT WHICH IS SPIRIT. Let every man know that heaven is not a geographical or astral location with their limitations, but a STATE OF LIFE, that condition of spiritual existence INTO WHICH CHRIST ENTERED when He arose from the dead and ascended into the eternal and incorruptible and realm of the Father. Heaven itself, the Holiest of All, the plane of incorruptible and divine life, beyond the veil, without mixture, limitation, or hindrance, is now the sphere in which Christ exercises His heavenly ministry, after the order of Melchizedek and after the power of an endless life!
Should you find difficulty in perceiving this necessary point of truth, may I direct your attention to a most enlightening statement by the apostle Paul in I Cor. 15:39-44: "All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another...there is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. They mystery revealed here is that ALL FLESH IS NOT THE SAME FLESH, there are different kinds of flesh, there is a flesh that is of the earth (terrestrial bodies) and there is a flesh that is of heaven (celestial bodies). There is a BODY that belongs to the soul (natural -Gr.: "soul body") and there is a BODY that belongs to the spirit (spiritual body). Ah , dear ones, all flesh is not the same flesh! And there are bodies that are not earthly or physical! Poor limited mortals, we are inclined to imagine that only physical beings have bodies! Nonsense, my brother! "There are BODIES CELESTIAL."
A clear distinction is drawn for us by the Holy Spirit between the two types of flesh. Of that flesh which is born of the earth, Paul had this to say, "For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption: but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting" (Gal. 6:8). It was also of this flesh that he wrote when he penned these words: "If ye live after the flesh ye shall die" (Rom. 8:13), and again, "They that are in the flesh cannot please God" (Rom. 8:8). But, child of God, have you considered that different, greater, and transcendent FLESH of which Christ spoke when He declared, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but My Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. I am that bread of life. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven...and the bread that I will give IS MY FLESH, which I will give for the life of the world. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye EAT THE FLESH OF THE SON OF MAN, and DRINK HIS BLOOD, ye have no life in you. He that eateth MY FLESH, and drinketh MY BLOOD, dwelleth in Me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent Me, and I LIVE BY THE FATHER: so he that eateth Me, shall live by Me" (Jn. 6:32-57).
THE FLESH OF THE SON OF GOD
Our little minds are far too limited to grasp heavenly realities. We are limited in our thinking to earthly interpretations and understanding. We can only conceive of the "flesh" of the animal kingdom, and of fish and fowl and creeping things of earth. But it should not seem strange to discover that all flesh is not the same flesh and that there are bodies terrestrial AND bodies celestial. The flesh of the Son of God is not that flesh upon the bones of Jesus as He walked the earth for thirty-three and a half years. It is not that flesh born of Mary, which suffered hunger, weariness, weakness, and death. That human flesh was just that: HUMAN flesh. Human flesh is DEAD FLESH, for the Holy Spirit calls our human bodies "mortal (dying) bodies." That which is dying can only produce that which is dying. Adamic flesh is doomed from the moment it is conceived in the womb, and in that flesh can be found no hope whatever of eternal life. The law of creation is that everything produces "after its kind" (Gen. 1:11-12, 21-24). It can never be, then, that Jesus was offering us that Adamic flesh in which He was clothed, for that flesh is corruptible, dying from the day of its birth. Only that which is ALIVE can produce life, and Jesus said of Himself, "I am the LIVING BREAD which CAME DOWN FROM HEAVEN," AND AGAIN. "He that eateth MY FLESH...shall live." The flesh of which Jesus spoke is an incorruptible flesh, yea, a celestial flesh, and our Lord promises that those who come unto Him and eat of THIS FLESH will have ETERNAL LIFE.
My sincere prayer to God is that He may give my readers eyes to see and hearts to understand this simple but sublime truth: ALL FLESH IS NOT THE SAME FLESH! ALL BODIES ARE NOT TERRESTRIAL BODIES! There is a flesh that is corruptible and there is a flesh that is incorruptible. There is a flesh that is a shame and there is a flesh that is a glory. There is a flesh which if a man eats of it, brings death. But blessed be the name of the Lord! there is a flesh that, if a man eats thereof, brings ETERNAL LIFE. "If you live after the flesh (earthly), ye shall die" (Rom. 8:13). But Jesus declared, "Whose eateth MY FLESH...hath eternal life" (Jn. 6:54). When these words fell upon the unspiritual ears of the disciples they were stunned, confused. "This is a hard saying," they said. "Who can hear it?" Indeed, two millenniums after these words were first uttered we may ask ourselves, "Who CAN hear it?" Only those whose ears have been quickened by the living Christ can hear it! "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." In these momentous days at the end of the age may God grant us that "hearing ear" that will bring us to the table that is set in the Kingdom of God, upon which is offered the flesh and the blood of Jesus Christ whereby the man who eats may live forever!
When Jesus spoke of this table He had just performed the miracle whereby He fed five thousand men with nothing more than five barley loaves and two small fishes. Jesus departed and the day following He and His disciples were pursued by the multitude which sought them on the other side of the sea of Galilee. One would think that Jesus would be honored by their devotion, but without mincing words He charged them, "Ye seek Me...BECAUSE YE DID EAT OF THE LOAVES AND WERE FILLED." What He was saying was, "You have no interest in the spiritual things pertaining to the Kingdom of God, your only interest is in that which feeds your flesh!" He then admonished them, saying, "LABOUR NOT FOR THE MEAT THAT PERISHES but for THAT MEAT which endureth unto everlasting life which the Son of man shall give unto you" (Jn. 6:27).
In all the world there is no greater tragedy than that which overtake the man who follows Christ primarily for TEMPORAL BLESSINGS - healing, health, prosperity, houses, lands, success, solution to problems, meeting of needs, etc. etc. As I observe the Christians today in their prayers, preaching and meetings I am more and more convinced that the vast majority of them are not seeking the Lord for that which HE IS, but for that which He can give to them. Ah, yes, we praise God for His great love and faithfulness, how bountiful His grace in supplying our daily needs, in healing our bodies, in blessing us in the hundreds of mundane things which daily touch our lives in this present earth-realm, but do you not see, beloved, that ALL THIS IS MEAT THAT PERISHES, though it be given from the hand of God? All that is lavished upon this Adamic flesh is TEMPORAL BLESSING at best, and wonderful as it is, it is entirely restricted to the plane of the physical, material, and mortal, so that when a man dies ALL THESE BLESSINGS ARE PART OF THE THINGS HE LEAVES BEHIND! Pause - and think about that!
How great is the glory contained in these words of our Lord Jesus Christ: "He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, dwelleth in Me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me" (Jn. 6:56-57). In another place Jesus said, "I have meat to eat that ye know not of" (Jn. 4:32). Ah, THE FATHER HIMSELF was that "meat to eat that ye know not of!" It is a well known physical law that we become what we eat. If you eat vibrant, living foods our body will be vibrant and healthy. If you eat a steady diet of junk foods your body will sooner or later begin to fall apart like a piece of junk! Beloved, Jesus Christ was eating the Father! That is why He could say, "I and My Father are one" (Jn. 10:30). In eating that CELESTIAL MEAT He became one with that meat, one with that incorruptible food, one with that eternal bread. He in the Father and the Father in Him: the mystery of a transmuted life.
Bear with me as I repeat again this great and wonderful truth: All flesh is not the same flesh, and all bodies are not terrestrial bodies. There is a flesh with which we are familiar. There is flesh about which the natural man knows nothing at all. There are bodies which are earthly, physical, visible and tangible. And there are bodies which are heavenly, spiritual, invisible, and imperceptible. The flesh with which we are acquainted is OUR FLESH. That which yet remains a mystery is HIS FLESH. The natural mind is very dark and without understanding. Only the Holy Spirit can awaken it. Only the Holy Spirit can give us eyes to see that Jesus was not offering us the flesh of His earthly tabernacle, NEITHER WAS HE OFFERING US SOMETHING WITHOUT SUBSTANCE. When Jesus said, "Eat My flesh," He was speaking of a flesh invisible to the human eye but a flesh that was and is, nonetheless, very real. Not corruptible flesh, but incorruptible. Not decaying flesh, but living flesh. Not flesh that would splatter when struck by a truck, not flesh that lives off of steak and potatoes, not flesh that uses Scope and Right Guard and Old Spice to keep it smelling good, not temporal flesh - eternal flesh! ONLY ETERNAL FLESH CAN PRODUCE ETERNAL LIFE!
The eating of divine flesh (the celestial body) of Christ produces LIFE. And what is this heavenly flesh, this celestial body? We know how the Word (logos), who had from eternity existed in the Father realm, entered upon a new stage of existence when He was lowered into the earth realm and became flesh, the Son of man. After passing through His earth experience, when He ascended to heaven, He was still the same only begotten Son of God who had been witnessed to by the Father throughout His earth life - and yet not altogether the same. For He was now also, as Son of man, the first-begotten from the dead, CLOTHED WITH THAT GLORIFIED HUMANITY which He had perfected and sanctified for Himself, as the last Adam. And now, as we receive into our lives the Spirit of the firstborn Son we receive the Spirit of the LAST MAN ADAM, the SECOND MAN FROM HEAVEN, the GLORIFIED JESUS, yes, the Spirit of the risen and exalted Christ, the bearer and communicator to us, not merely of the life of God as such, but of that divine life as it has been interwoven into the perfect manhood of the person of Jesus Christ.
Oh! the mystery of it. When the Spirit of the Son comes down not only as the Holy Spirit of the Father, but as the Spirit of the perfected and glorified God-man - most really the Spirit of God, and yet as truly the Spirit of THE LAST MAN ADAM. In and through this exalted Son we see and receive not only the kind of spirit man was intended to have, but the KIND OF FLESH, as well. Now, blessed be God! Jesus has been glorified; we can now eat of His HEAVENLY FLESH, His CELESTIAL BODY by which HIS GLORIFIED LIFE IS COMMUNICATED TO US.
Speaking of the bread and wine, Paul stated, "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the BODY OF CHRIST? ...are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?" (I Cor. 10:16,18). We are what we eat! If, like the fool of Eccl. 4:5 we are "folding our hands together and eating our own flesh," that is, living after the desires and claims of the Adamic flesh, we are, then mortal and corruptible. If, on the other hand, we are eating HIS FLESH, which is resurrected and glorified flesh, and drinking HIS BLOOD, the new wine of the Spirit of God, we become immortal and incorruptible, for he who eats the sacrifices of the altar becomes a partaker of the altar. He, the living Word, says, "I am the bread which came down from heaven." Him therefore we receive, and in so receiving become "bone of His bone and FLESH OF HIS FLESH" (Eph. 5:30), being so made part of that "greater and more perfect tabernacle (body), which," the apostle tells us, "is not of this (earthly) creation." His blood is the "blood of God," that is His life, and His body is the "celestial body" of the heavenly realm, which we must partake of if we are to live and dwell in Him. It is this "blood of God" which we are called to drink, and it is this "body of Christ" which we are enjoined to eat; for only by receiving Him in the glorious and eternal reality of WHAT HE IS do we acquire the SUBSTANCE OUT OF WHICH A BODY OF THE SAME NATURE AS HIS CAN BE BUILT UP. What He is first communicated to us through the "incorruptible seed" of the Word of God; for seed, whether corruptible or incorruptible, is the very essence and substance of the blood and body. Heretofore we have been drinking of that blood SYMBOLICALLY and eating of that flesh SYMBOLICALLY in the "Lord's super," which two thousand years ago, at the Passover, just prior to His crucifixion, Jesus set as a type and shadow of the reality.
Ah, beloved, for two thousand years God's people have been eating the human flesh of Jesus Christ - knowing Him after the commandments of men, knowing Him as doctrine, knowing Him in rituals and forms, in sacraments and external observances, seeing Him as the historical Jesus, traveling to Israel to "walk where He walked," etc. But, oh! how our hearts pant and hunger and thirst after His glorious and eternal reality, that we may at last know Him AS HE IS, partaking of Him AS HE IS, and experiencing Him in all His divine fullness. And it is high time that all who are apprehended of God to follow Him in Sonship should discover that the "shadows" of the bread and wine of the communion service are slipping away AS THE REALITY COMES IN UPON US!
EXCEPT A GRAIN OF WHEAT DIE...
The life which Jesus gives is Himself, and the life, which He is, is imperishable. Those who partake of it cannot perish, for they have passed from the kingdom of death to the kingdom of life. "And I give unto them eternal life, and they shall NEVER PERISH" (Jn. 10:28). Jesus did not die that you might live! Jesus died that He might GIVE HIS LIFE to you. "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but, if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit" (Jn. 12:24). He is the kernel that fell into the ground and died, and, in dying, the life which He is has reappeared in the millions of those who have believed. Because His life is imperishable, they who receive Him shall never perish.
The flesh which we inherited from Adam (who was of the earth, earthy) is counted by God to be nothing more than a seed. "But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: and that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain (seed), it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: but God giveth it a body as it hath pleased Him, and to every seed his own body" (I Cor. 15:35-38). I must confess that I used to believe, as many folk do, that in the resurrection the same body that goes into the grave would be the body that comes out of grave. I wonder how many of my readers have asked the question posed by the apostle in I Cor. 15:35: "But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?" Ah, how often through many years did I ask myself those very questions! I am confident that you, too, have asked. We have pondered how God would reconstruct the atoms of this flesh body and fashion it again into the likeness we once knew. We have wondered by what divine process God, the omnipotent, would gather together the elements of the bodies of men who were consumed by fire, those who were cast into the depths of the sea and eaten by sharks, or those whose bodies have been torn, mangled, crushed and scattered abroad over the face of the earth. Who among us has never questioned whether in the resurrection we will recognize our friends and loved ones, whether uncle Joe and aunt Susie will look as they did at age twenty, or thirty, or seventy five? We have debated whether in our glorified bodies we will visible or invisible to the inhabitants of the earth realm, whether we shall eat and drink, wear clothes, travel at the speed of light, and with hundreds of other such notions we have repeatedly asked the very questions the apostle declared we would ask! "But some man will say, HOW ARE THE DEAD RAISED UP? AND WITH WHAT BODY DO THEY COME?"
Paul had a word for all who raise such questions: "Thou FOOL!" The Phillips translation says, "Now that is a silly question!" The Wuest translation says, "Stupid one!" The Amplified Bible reads, "You foolish man!" And another version renders it, "You unreasonable person!" Why are these questions foolish, stupid, silly, and unreasonable? Because, the apostle explains, appealing to nature, "In your own experience you know that a seed does not germinate without itself "dying." When you sow a seed you do not sow the "body" that will eventually be produced, but bare grain, of wheat, for example, or one of the other seeds. God gives the seed a "body" according to His laws - a different "body" to each kind of seed" (Phillips translation). Paul tells us plainly that the "body" of the harvest is not the same "body" that was planted, and calls the man a fool for even questioning whether the corn of the harvest is the same grains of corn that were planted. Let the farmer answer this!
When we really know life, when we understand our environment and the dynamics of the biological forces within it, we will surely have a clearer understanding of the laws and processes of the higher spiritual realm of the Kingdom of God. When you sow a kernel of corn in the earth of your garden, you sow it out of sight, to decay and disintegrate, that a new plant shall spring forth. The corn you receive in the fall IS NOT THE SAME KERNELS YOU PLANTED in the spring! The kernel you planted DIED, that the corn-life within might be released. The INNER LIFE springs forth and the corn of the harvest is the PRODUCT OF THAT INNER LIFE contained in the original seed. The seed's whole purpose is to die, that there may be a release of whatever life dwells within TO PRODUCE A NEW BODY. Throughout the entire chapter of I Cor. 15 Paul is writing about sowing and harvesting and applies this principal to the resurrection body. "It is sown," he says, in corruption; it is raised (harvested) in incorruption; it is sown in dishonour; it is raised (harvested) in glory; it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power; it is sown a NATURAL BODY; it is raised (harvested) a SPIRITUAL BODY" (I Cor. 15:35-44).
And of the heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, the heavenly is not earthly, is it? And there is nothing heavenly about that body whose foul breath you sweetened this morning by brushing its teeth, is there? There is nothing heavenly about the earthly body, and there is nothing earthly about the heavenly body. "There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual" (I Cor. 15:44). It is also written, "The first man (Adam) was made a living soul, the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven" (I Cor. 15:45-47). Is not the first man from the earth? But Christ says that HE IS FROM ABOVE! The second man is the Lord from heaven, and HIS BODY IS A GLORIOUS BODY, and He is the heavenly, spiritual man. No need for Scope or Right Guard for that body!
And Paul further tells us, "As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly" (I Cor. 15:48-49) As Adam has produced for us an Adamic body in his image, so Christ is producing for us a glorious CHRIST BODY IN HIS IMAGE. Can anything be plainer? So here is an image of the earthly, and an image of the heavenly; these are TWO IMAGES, TWO BODIES, TWO NATURES, earthly and heavenly, terrestrial and celestial. So well the apostle might say, "Thou fool!" for an heavenly image is not an earthly, a spiritual body is not a natural, nor an heavenly body an earthly. So, thou fool, THAT WHICH THOU SOWEST, THOU SOWEST NOT BODY THAT SHALL BE!
Can we not see by this that the spiritual body IS NOT THE NATURAL BODY RECONSTRUCTED at all, but a brand new, totally different body, the PRODUCT OF THE CHRIST LIFE CONTAINED WITHIN YOUR NATURAL BODY, THE SEED? Surely, if no other instruction were given in the Bible but these few verses, we would have a sound foundation upon which to fasten our firm understanding that the natural body does not in any way become the spiritual body, but the spiritual body is the product of the indwelling life of the resurrected, glorified Son of God! If we would heed the voice of inspiration and revelation as it speaks through these words of the apostle, we would at once see and acknowledge that the embryo of our spiritual body ALREADY EXISTS AS A PRESENT REALITY WITHIN OUR REGENERATED SPIRIT! Hallelujah! It is "a life within a life, a MAN WITHIN A MAN, and a body within a body." That MAN WITHIN A MAN, therefore, is not as we have in the past supposed, some etheral spirit, some nebulous, vague, airy, nothingness but IS, rather, SUBSTANCE, the very resurrected and glorified CHRIST!
There are certain times and seasons when God brings to life truths that have been allowed to lie in grave clothes for ages and dispensations. As a seed lies dormant in the winter months and bursts into life in the warmth and rain of spring, so also has the truth of God been allowed to lie in death throughout the wintry night of our walk in the religious systems of Babylon now at last to burst into a fruitful harvest in the spring of God's purpose to bring Sons to glory. There came a wonderful day when Christ came into our lives. "What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought, Since Jesus came into my heart," we sweetly sing. But did you ever wait in holy reverence for the Spirit to reveal the eternal truth of those words to your deepest heart? Oh yes, we received Him - as a saviour, as a thought, as an idea or an ideal, as a truth, as a presence, as an ethereal kind of spirit, something vague and intangible. The Spirit of the Lord is quickening, however, that there is SUBSTANCE to that MAN within us. When the incorruptible life of Christ was conceived within us, we must realize that He was conceived within as the EMBRYO of a SPIRIT-BODY. Not just a spirit, but a SPIRIT-BODY!
When Paul speaks, then, of being strengthened with might in the INNER MAN, he is speaking of SUBSTANCE within us. When Peter speaks of the HIDDEN MAN of the heart, he is speaking of GLORIFIED FLESH that has been born into the believer but is hidden beneath the veil of Adamic flesh. As we feed that man within with the Spirit and the living Word of God, this infant spirit-man begins to grow and when he is fully formed, he will burst forth from the womb of Adamic flesh and stand as a mature NEW CREATION MAN!
God has so beautifully provided a parable of this blessed truth in the world of nature about us. The lowly caterpillar which crawls along the ground, trod upon by the foot of man, is destined to flit on starry wings in a heavenly atmosphere no longer hampered by earth-bound things but transformed as though by God's Spirit from a creature of dust to one which has put on a somewhat heavenly tabernacle. There is planted within the very being of that worm a call to a higher life-form, and, driven by that hidden nature within (which exists as a SUBSTANCE), at the appointed time he begins to spin around himself a cocoon. Before the caterpillar ever crawled upon the earth the potential to become a butterfly lay within his being from the very moment of fertilization of the egg. When the larva had begun to form in the egg, certain little groups of cells, belonging NOT TO THE LARVA BUT TO THE EVENTUAL BUTTERFLY, had also formed, and these remained dormant, safely stored within the body of the caterpillar. At the appointed time these cells awaken to life and begin to grow and multiply. Their presence becomes dramatically evident during the six short minutes when the last larval skin is shed, and the cocoon is spun. Hanging there in his cocoon, the worm bides his time and acts out a living prophecy of the words of Job who said, "If a man die, will he live again? ALL THE DAYS OF MY APPOINTED TIME WILL I WAIT UNTIL MY CHANGE COMES!" (Job 14:4). One observing merely from the outside would never imagine the awesome work being performed within that little cocoon. On the surface, there is nothing to see, for the cocoon serves as a veil, a womb, to conceal the marvelous processes which change a caterpillar into a butterfly. As the butterfly cells grow, they completely CONSUME the form of the caterpillar, and when the process is complete the hour comes when the cocoon begins to yield to the pressure of the NEW BEING within and is burst asunder as the butterfly emerges. There is now an object of surpassing beauty which seems in no way related to the hairy worm of days before. In the process the caterpillar ceases to exist, the cocoon is discarded, laid aside, and THE NEW CREATION IS MANIFESTED TO THE WORLD!
Oh! my brother, my sister, may the Spirit of God quicken the truth of these things to your heart! As I have looked to the Lord about these precious truths, it has become increasingly clear to my spirit that Jesus did not receive the glorified body when he arose from the tomb - no more than the butterfly became a butterfly when it broke from the cocoon. The worm becomes a butterfly BEFORE it emerges from the cocoon. The thing the Spirit would teach us in this, then, is that a butterfly does not become a butterfly BECAUSE it escapes the cocoon. It, rather, escapes the cocoon BECAUSE IT HAS BECOME A BUTTERFLY! Even so, Jesus did not possess a glorified body BECAUSE He arose from the grave. He, instead, burst forth from the grave BECAUSE HE ALREADY POSSESSED A GLORIFIED BODY! What a difference! Because He was indwelt by the incorruptible life of His Father, that life being formed fully within Him. He could announce to His disciples before His death: "The third day I shall rise again." And indwelt by this resurrected, glorified Christ Paul could confidently declare: "For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle (cocoon of flesh) were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, ETERNAL IN THE HEAVENS" (II Cor. 5:1).
God would have all His holy Sons to know of a certainty the incomprehensible treasure which lies within them - a house, a tabernacle, a clothing from heaven is within them - and we have the confidence that even this outward body of clay shall be exchanged for that heavenly body, thus fulfilling the glorious words of victory: "For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory! O death, where is thy sting! O grave, where is thy victory?" (I Cor. 15:53-55). I do not hesitate to boldly proclaim to you, beloved, that we are even now receiving our spirit-body within our flesh-body, and as we continue to PUT ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST there is an increase of the celestial body within. Indeed, we are PUTTING ON OUR HOUSE WHICH IS FROM HEAVEN! Christ Himself is that house and He is our eternal covering.
Ah. as we allow this old Adam-nature, this outer-man-body of corruption and wickedness to be put to death, to die and get out of sight, then the inner-man body of the spirit is built up in his divine and substance. The blood of Christ (His Spirit-life) and the flesh of Christ (His celestial body) are first communicated to us through the implantation of the "incorruptible seed," which is THE WORD OF GOD; for seed, whether corruptible or incorruptible, is the very essence and substance of the blood and body. When we are babes it comes as "milk"; until we grow up in Christ it becomes "strong meat," and "flesh and blood," daily increasing our strength and growth and substance, as we can bear it.
Yes, our earthly house is this corruptible, mortal tabernacle, the body of flesh in which we now dwell. But within, in the inner realm of our spirit, even now as I pen these words, there is being constructed a BUILDING OF GOD, a house not made with hands, a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not of this creation, eternal in the heavens. Not a mansion in the sky, not a white nightgown in which to flit about over golden streets strumming a harp, as the preachers are always foolishly telling us, but a new body, a new tabernacle, a new garment, a new nature, a body of light and glory and power, a body of CELESTIAL FLESH, a body of incorruption, a garment of immortality! Then Paul states that, when this body of life has been fully put on, WE WILL NOT BE FOUND NAKED even though this present old bag of bones be laid aside!
I never cease to amazed at how much effort people put in trying to "immortalize" this earth body, the first tabernacle, the first man Adam. But the Holy Spirit witnesses, "There is a natural body AND there is a spiritual body." Most saints don't know the difference between these two bodies! So many of God's precious people imagine that the natural body shall some how become the spiritual body. Is that which is spiritual, natural? Is that which is natural, spiritual? Is that which is earthly, heavenly? Is that which is heavenly, earthly? Is that which is terrestrial, celestial? Is that which is celestial, terrestrial? Is that which is corruptible, also incorruptible? Is that which is incorruptible, corruptible? Ah, my friend, there are TWO BODIES, TWO TABERNACLES, TWO GARMENTS. The one must decrease, the other must increase. The one must be laid aside, the other must be "put on."
I continually meet up with brethren who believe that their earth body is the heavenly body, that their natural body is the spiritual body, that their terrestrial is the celestial body, and that therefore they shall live forever in that hunk of flesh they are carrying around! Nonsense, my brother! I must be very honest and quite frank with you, beloved. I have not one whit of a desire to live forever IN THIS BODY OF HUMILIATION. There is no more frightening though than the idea that I might live forever in this body of limitation! The very idea of such limitation, the thought that I might have to bathe, brush my teeth, chew breath mints, and use Right Guard throughout eternity; the suggestion that I may retain this same form, with all its uncomeliness, that I shall continue to be AS I AM unendingly, falls as far short of what I comprehend as THE GREATER AND MORE PERFECT TABERNACLE, OUR HOUSE WHICH IS FROM HEAVEN, A BUILDING OF GOD, NOT MADE WITH HANDS (by the will of the flesh), ETERNAL IN THE HEAVENS as does hell fall short of heaven!
It would be amiss to conclude this article without quoting II Cor. 5:1-5 from Moffatt's beautiful translation. "I know that if this earthly tent of mine is taken down, I get a home from God, made by no human hands, eternal in the heavens. It makes me sigh, indeed, this yearning to be under cover of my heavenly habitation, since I am sure that once so covered I shall not be naked at the hour of death. I do sigh within this tent of mine heavy anxiety - not that I want to be stripped, no, but to be under cover of the other, to have my mortal element absorbed by life. I am prepared for this change by God, who has given me the Spirit as its pledge and installment."
There is a very real sense in which the withering fig-leaves of Adam's own making represent this vile body of death and humiliation, while the enduring covering of the life of God's precious Lamb bespeaks the eternal garment of THE CELESTIAL BODY OF THE CHRIST.
We shall pursue further this vital subject of the two garments, the two bodies, in next month's article, Lord willing...
J. PRESTON EBY
J. PRESTON EBY
If you would like to receive these studies write to:
J. Preston Eby
P.O. Box 371240
El Paso TX 79937-1240
All writings are distributed on a free-will offering basis.
Pathfinder Homepage | Elwin's Articles | Margit's Articles | Ministry Links | Misc Links