Surrendering but not Succumbing
John R Gavazzoni
Thousand Oaks, CA
I wonder if we have missed a powerful ingredient that lies at the heart of the effectiveness of the death of Christ. Given our natural aversion and resistance to death and everything associated with it, the fact that our Lord's victory over death involved surrendering to it can easily escape our appreciation. He overcame that final enemy not through resistance, not in an aggressive attack mode, but by embracing it and yielding to it.
He willingly permitted its assault upon His Person. Of course, it was the place of death in the will of His Father that He accepted; but acceptance hardly conveys the dynamic of His determination to face that ancient and final enemy with the meekness of a lamb. The carnal man, even armed with scripture, approaches it with the braggadocio born of insecurity and fear.
Resurrection life, victory over death, the display of the glory of God in an incorruptible body; this has captured the imagination of many Christians in a new and admittedly fresh and unconventional way. A growing number of the saints are being freed from what amounts to a wishful-thinking approach to the challenge of realizing Christ's resurrection power.
The Spirit of God has pulled the switch and sent us down a new track on which we can no longer simply hope for our final transfiguration as part of a disappearing act suggestive of a P. T. Barnum show and worthy of Houdini, but instead as intrinsic to the life of Christ already indwelling us. The life of Christ, who Paul says is "our life," conquered death, conquers death even now, and always will until that divine demonstration is fully played out.
In our rush to shed every trace of the rapture mindset, the someday-I'll-fly-away attitude, the in-the-sweet-bye-and-bye avoidance of intimacy with Him who IS resurrection and is what He is in us NOW; has that Christ-quality of not reacting to death's threat, but welcoming its attack escaped our notice? Is there an attitude in the mind of Christ that is proactive and not reactive when it faces death, but proactive with an essential dynamic of surrender?
He surrendered to death, but He did not succumb to it. He yielded, but in yielding He was not defeated, He was gloriously victorious. By its own insane stranglehold on the Lord of Life, death attached itself to the final act of dying (the once-for-all death of Christ) and in that divine act of dying, death died. The momentum of its own aggression played into its own defeat.
I submit the following to you, my fellow Christians: The experience of victory over death belongs to the Body of Christ, the whole Body, not to some elite, less-than-the-whole-Body group of super-saints.There is only one Body. The Body that went into the sepulcher donated by Joseph of Arimathea two millennia ago and which was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father is the same ascended, enthroned, exalted and glorified Body of Christ which we are. So don't be quick to buy into the expectation that some company less than the whole Body of Christ shall manifest the full victory of His death and resurrection.
It is Himself, multiplied in many, yet the many are one Body, one Christ. One Seed was buried in death to come forth, no longer alone but bearing its ordained fruit of righteousness, not an abstract righteousness, but a people who in Him are the righteousness of God. It is the one Body that Paul wrote of along with the one Spirit, one faith, one Lord, one baptism, etc.
That Body must not, in the name of final victory, seek to avoid death, but expect to demonstrate Christ's victory while being given over to death. The Body of Christ shall finally look death in the eye and become the sphere in which death's exultant cry of victory shall turn into a whimper of defeat.
I want to be very clear in what I'm saying. It is this, that when we have finally, fully exhibited the same attitude of Christ in respect to death, an attitude which knows that when death has done its worst it will be seen to be that unavoidable appointment which provides the backdrop for the display of glorious life.
There is that ultimate encounter with death involving the non-fearful, Spirit-of Jesus non-avoidance of its grasp that will climax the Body's ultimate death- confrontation whereby victory will not be merely an end-run around death, but rather a simultaneous, instantaneous entry into and out from its bowels which will not only give us release, but will reconstitute death itself.
Enmity, the very heart of death, shall be overcome by love, and be reincorporated into the Being from which it was allowed its existence of contrarianism. We shall be not merely made alive, but incorruptibly alive, alive with death to nevermore be an issue of life, for it has been swallowed up. Hear this saints, SWALLOWED UP, NOT SPIT OUT. The great lie shall be exposed, and all shall know that death does not terminate life; life, the life of Christ, our life, terminates death.
There has been a blind travesty of neglect in regard to the very fundamental truth that our mortal bodies shall be quickened by the Spirit that indwells us, not by some external force that, as it were, will grab us by the hair and yank us into the stratosphere to be hocus-pocused into incorruption. That victorious resurrection life of Christ within is what swallows up death, but that involves, always, a crucible of confrontation. We shall not knock death out of our path to glory, we shall, as our Lord, and by His life within, swallow it up. We might say that death is squeezed to death in our embrace of it.
How very emphatically repititious was Paul's explanation in Rom. 8: 11, that if the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead dwells in us, that same Spirit that raised Jesus Christ from the dead shall also quicken our mortal bodies by His Spirit that indwells us. Note his repetitive insistence that immortality comes from the inside out. The mind of Christ in the Spirit of Christ must be our attitude, an attitude of "Bring it on if you must Father, and we, You and I, You and we, will drink this cup to the last dregs" and death shall find itself where it cannot exist adversarially any longer, in the Body of Christ, in God our Father.
Triumphalism always has at its heart the avoidance of the cross, the avoidance of the divine appointment. There are so many things which are part and parcel of our encounter with death, and we want to spit them out at first taste, but we are called to swallow the bitter pill and destroy it by the life within us. The eternal purpose of God does not involve only life, but life out of death.
Death has come into the world because of the will of our Father, not because of sin. Death came into the world by sin, not because of it.
There is a difference and the reader might use different semantics if he or she grasps what I am trying to say. God did not hope that death could be kept out of the world by man refusing to sin. Death was a providentially ordered appointment for all men and it was by sin that it entered.
Jesus met the appointment for us, but not instead of us. He met it with us in Him. In Him, the divine appointment has been kept fully, and in Him, by His death, death shall be no more. Had we kept the appointment in ourselves it never would have ended, but in Him and with Him it is a "once-for-all," been-there-done-that appointment never to be repeated.
Outside of Christ, death just keeps on dying, but in Him, where the Reality lies, death has fully died.
You say, brother John, then why must I still face it and deal with it? The answer lies, to repeat, that He did not do it instead of you but with you, for you, and you with Him, and His all-inclusiveness finalizes the process. The answer lies also in the truth that His death, though indisputably a historical event, is in the Spirit. He offered Himself in the eonion Spirit. In the Spirit, what was, is, and what will be, is. It is all right now in the I AM God being unfolded in the eons.
In Him, now, in His corporate Body, as it was in His singular Jesus Body, death and life meet and death is vanquished. Only a little longer will God permit the lie that presents death as an existentially continuing force to assail us. When the Sun of Righteousness arises, that lying fog, which hides the truth is burned off and that, is now.
Stay tuned for future serious, seminal samplings.
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John R Gavazzoni
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