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John R Gavazzoni
Thousand Oaks, CA
There are so many forms of it, that is, the error of proclaiming the so-called "finished work of Christ" while, at the same time, asserting that His finished work is functionally ineffective due to some failure, or missing ingredient on our part. Up front, let me make it clear that when I speak of "the finished work of Christ," I'm making a concession to an inadequate concept, for as many of my long-time readers know, I much prefer to speak of God's finished work being the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, inclusive of all humanity.
In Christ, God has produced the true glorious Man of His desire, and we are included in that singular, yet universal Humanity. God purposed to bring forth in the aeons, a quality of Humanity arising out of His Deity, and Christ, inclusive of every man, is that Humanity, to be revealed to, in, and by all men in due time. Allow me, please, to repeat myself for emphasis:
There is the notion that "the finished work of Christ" won't work for us until we put in place some element, or allow God to put in place some element that gets Christ's finished work working on our behalf. For years, ad infinitum, ad nauseum, the form that has been most prevalent is usually found, more often than not, at the end of a devotional teaching when the preacher, while trying to avoid the appearance of quite overt legalistic exhortation, but still essentially coming from a place of how-to theology rather than it-is-so-in-Christ theology, settles on pressing upon the congregation the need for them to LET Christ be effective for them, as if God wouldn't dare do anything for them without their permission. The truth is, quite the reverse, of course--- that God will, in His wisdom, by His initiation, and that, when He chooses, permit us incremental spiritual advancement by incrementally freeing us from the bondage that holds us back.
But running concurrent with the above extremely devious antagonism to the glory of God's grace is the prevalence of a constant, insistent gravitating to the reference point of man's inadequate consciousness level. What is being conveyed to believers is that Christ has finished it all except getting your consciousness raised to the same level where you are seated with Christ in the heavenlies. Somehow, it seems, by this perception, that we were made to sit in the heavenlies with Christ, but our consciousness, on the way up, leaked out and got stuck short of the goal.
Been there, taught that, until I realized how such a notion, proceeding from grossly illogical thinking, depreciates what God has accomplished---yes, already accomplished---for us all in Christ,. I must ask the following simple question of those who embrace the truth of our identification with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection: When we were raised in newness of Life in Christ, was our consciousness raised with us, or was our consciousness left somewhere far below?
Well of course we were together raised up complete in Him, consciousness and all. Of course, of course, of course. Most certainly, most certainly, most certainly. In the grandeur of His accomplishment in His Son, God left nothing of the old man un-crucified, and did not leave any aspect of the personhood of the New Man un-raised.
Now we are still, nevertheless, in this world and quite evidently afflicted by the lie which claims that there is no such divine accomplishment, or the lie, failing to sell that complete propaganda, claims that the accomplishment is less than complete. But for the Truth to suffer the humiliation of the lie's claims, in no way makes the Truth untrue, or less true; in fact, by allowing the lie to continue its onslaught upon our consciousness, with the consequent struggle involved that Paul speaks of in Ephesians, God finally and fully exposes the lie as impotent, and not only impotent, but made to serve the radiance of the glory of the Truth.
Christ, the Truth, delivered up by the Father to be assaulted by the lie, having suffered under its assault during His individual earthly life, continues to suffer in His Person multiplied into the many who are His corporate expression--- the One New Man of God's economy. While the mind of Christ in us is above the influence of the lie in the eternal dimension far above all the heavens; within the aeonian dimension, the Father and the Son freely permit the indignity of having Their truthfulness brought into question.
But the more the lie attacks from without, the greater is the counter offensive of Truth from within. It is not that the Truth is merely reactive to the lie, but the Truth does confront the lie in a way that uses the lie as a catalyst for the Truth to shine brighter and brighter in a measure exponentially disproportionate to the lie's attack.
Brethren, Paul's claim that we have the mind of Christ calls for the deepest consideration. Oh, I know how that truth, in effect, is flippantly dismissed by preachers who, while admitting that we have the mind of Christ---after all, the Bible does say so---tell us that we're just not using that mind. Hmmm, interesting conclusion.
That sort of conclusion comes from a misunderstanding of what is meant by such statements as, "let this mind be in you, which was in Christ Jesus...." We are not meant to infer that Christ's mind---which certainly would be included in Him indwelling us---needs our permission in order to be free to share the divine perspective with us. It's a way of expressing agreement with the purpose of God, rather than implying that we could keep Christ from thinking His thoughts in us. It's another way of saying, "amen," ("so be it"). It's a particularly Hebraic way of expressing agreement, not with what we maybe might be able to make happen, but agreement with the determination of God, e.g., "Let God arise and His enemies be scattered." Ultimately that scripture found its fulfillment when Christ scattered His enemies by rising from the dead.
Did Christ stay in the tomb until He received permission from man to arise?
You see, dear fellow believer, death, inclusive of it's whole hades realm, is the great lie, and it is integral to the purpose inherent in the Divine Nature, that the Truth (Christ), and all men in Him, should suffer at the hands of the incarnate lie (Satan). Does the existence of the lie mean the non-existence of the Truth? Of course not, for in order for there to be the lie, there must be the Truth, and by breaking free from the covering darkness of the lie, the brilliance of the light of Truth is fully seen.
A key to understanding what seems to us to be a contradiction, is that Christ is now seated in the heavenlies (and specifically headquartered above all the heavens), with all men in Him, and in that dimension, the dimension of unqualified Reality, He, and we, in Him are no longer subject to death; but He in us, by His Spirit, is also present in this present evil world. In His resurrection, Christ exposed the lie. In actual human experience, our Lord proved that He could not be held by death, and therefore that is the Truth of/for all men.
But having completely defeated death, stripping it of it's power, He left death in its own throes---- death in the throes of death, as it were. The death-throes within the flesh, in varying degrees, conceal the Truth of Christ's all-conquering life in our spirit. Having been informed of the manifold wisdom of God by the church, the rulers and authorities in the heavenlies, having been faced with the undeniable historical resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, are continuing to be confronted by the truth that He, in us, causes us to always likewise triumph over death.
First, the victory was for the many in the One, and now is followed by, and for the One in the many. All that God has already done for us in Christ, He is re-demonstrating, and confirming by Christ in us. Why? We only know that there is the firstfruits principle as God sows His life into the earth. The Person of, and experience of Jesus Christ, points to, and is the constitution of the complete harvest that comes forth in due season.
Is it that death was not really defeated the first time around? Emphatically and decidedly NO! Christ's victory over death is absolute. Death's present activity is that of an enemy in shackles, allowed only the activity permitted by the length of its chain which is tied to the throne of God. Illustrations are so inadequate, but changing our analogy, let us imagine a contender for a boxing title, who has been knocked to the canvas by one final devastating right hand punch from the champ, who, as required, goes to a neutral corner upon which the referee begins the 8-count over the fallen adversary.
The champ must give the contender to the throne the possibility of getting back on his feet and continue the fight. In this case, that amounts to letting the vain imagination of his foe unfold; the imagination that he may yet manage, in spite of being utterly incapacitated, to get up off the canvas, and somehow snatch victory out of the jaws of defeat. So pulling himself up by the ropes, he manages to struggle to his feet on wobbly knees, only to to dramatize his utter defeat, by falling flat on his face.
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John R Gavazzoni
758 N. Woodlawn Dr.,
Thousand Oaks, CA 91360.