John Gavazzoni
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The Embodiment Principle
By John Gavazzoni

The entirety of Deity, everything and all that Deity is, without measure, dwells, resides, is at home, domiciles in Jesus Christ. Once, when I sought a personal explanation from God re the meaning of "Our Father Who art in heaven," the answer came, somewhat to my surprise, almost instantly, as if finally the moment had arrived for me to understand something that He, in His wisdom, up to that point in our relationship, had reason to withhold.

When He spoke, I was ushered instantaneously into communion with a Father-Presence of endearingly intimate Majesty. Without that conveyed sense, His answer might have come across as impatiently short, almost curt and dismissive. He simply said to me: "I dwell in the transcendence of My own glory." Period. Audiences concluded, except for the sweet-smelling perfume of His Presence still clinging to my consciousness.

What is that glory in which He dwells? It is a bodily glory. Yes, quite specifically a bodily glory, for "In Him (Christ) dwells the fulness of Deity BODILY." All the Excellency of the Divine Being, emanates outward and clothes Him as His habitation. That habitation is His Son. The Son is the BODILY fulness of the Divine Being. In Him, all fulness has permanently made its home.

Paul wrote of Christ, "who though He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped . . ." There can be such a thing as form without substance, as in "having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof," but that's not the sense as quoted above. Christ existed in the form of God, AS Deity fully formed, of the Divine Nature embodied, the Divine Being in full form. All that God is had taken form in the Son of God. Paul goes on to write that He "emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man . . ."

Did Paul mean that Jesus merely took on human appearance, that is, that His appearance was not integral to who He was? Did he mean that He only briefly came looking as if He was a man? No, His very human form, was the out-forming of Deity. He appeared as He was, God AS True Man, not merely God, AS IF He was a man. We must not fail to note that His form was that of a servant also.

Can we grasp the truth, that servant-hood is also integral to the full out-forming of Deity? There was/is no inconsistency between the eternal Personhood of the Son of God, and His Humanity, His BODILY Humanity, His serving, ministering Humanity. [It is, of course, redundant for me to speak of bodily humanity, for there is no other kind.] But I'm using redundancy for emphasis.

I've been deeply impacted by the fact that Paul, in describing what is the nature of the oneness that underlies the unity of the Spirit — the Spirit which the church is to preserve, begins with "one body," and ends with "one God and Father . . ." One would think that he should have begun with "one God and Father, don't you think? But he doesn't. He begins with the one body, because it is in that one body that the God and Father is found, and all that the God and Father is over, and through, and in, is one body.

Let us be clear of this: Embodiment is intrinsic to Spirit. The incarnation was according to, and consistent with the Divine Nature. It was not God's concession as required to deal with humanity's emergency. God reconciled us by the death of His Son, and will save us all by His life, by being true to the embodiment principle within His nature. The mystery of godliness — that which has been hidden in God, but destined to be revealed, begins with "God manifested in the flesh."

The Embodiment Principle Part Two:
Bodily Increase

James wrote that "the body without the spirit is dead." Paul makes a statement of clear implication that the spirit has no increase apart from its embodiment. I'm referring to Paul's insight that "the body . . . increaseth by the increase of God." Spirit doesn't increase non-corporally. Spirit draws forth its own containment out from its own essence, and proceeds to increase itself thusly.

We have an improper perception of the relationship of spirit and body, of spirit and materiality, and that wrong perception is hard to put into words, but I've sensed that the various shades of that misperception tend to divorce body from spirit, but "what God hath joined together, let no man put asunder." The body is the expression of the spirit's soulical individuality and identity. Within the ages, the body is the spirit visible, and the spirit is the body invisible. AND the body is the spirit's mode of increase, as paradoxical as that seems to be.

Usually we think of containment as being limiting, but when the spirit draws forth out from itself, it's own bodily containment, it, by that containment, sets in motion its own increase. Think about a seed. It contains life, and increases life. I've written on the subject previously (please check out the article on our web page, "The Increase of God)," but it bears repeating, it bears further emphasizing and intense scrutiny.

Paul, when he spoke of the body increasing by the increase of God, was not speaking of merely an increase FROM God, but of God's own increase, and that, in and by the body. Jonathan Mitchell's translation of that passage (Col. 2:19), expanding and amplifying the text, brings out a very strict rendering of the Greek, as the body increasing the increase of God. The Concordant Literal New Testament agrees that the dynamic which is at work, is God's increase.

The forward movement of Divinity is continuously unto incarnation, while most believers seem to think of spiritual advancement as going in the other direction, i.e., of the progress of Spirit/spirit having to do with entering a more ethereal and intangible state of being. The Word became flesh, because God speaks by embodying His thought. God's Nature is found in His thought — as God thinks, so is He — and His full thought was made flesh in Jesus Christ, and it was as flesh dwelling among them, that the early disciples "beheld His glory, the glory of the only-begotten of the Father full of grace and truth."

This is serious stuff, because the denial of the above, is what John, in his first epistle describes as anti-Christ. There are shades of the notion that we must strip off our humanity in order to be spiritual, when all spirituality has embodied humanity in view as its goal. The fulness of this reality and administration was found in Jesus Christ in its pure Seed form, which Seed, going into the ground and dying, brought forth the enlargement, increase, expansion of Himself, and His Father in Him, by the many person-members of the greater body of Christ, the gathering together of all humanity as one body, one man, one humanity, with Christ as its Head.

If you are a biblically-based Christian Restorationist/Universalist, do not think that the salvation of all mankind in Christ, will stop short of incorporating the same all into the body of Christ, for if it did, it would not be a complete salvation. No one member of the human race can be made completely whole in the most absolute sense, apart from all the rest. Salvation is UNTO the wholeness of God's One New Man, God's One New Humanity. Without you, I am not whole, and salvation is about wholeness. I, as a member of the body of Christ, am whole as part of the whole body.

Don't diminish God's accomplishment in His Son, by perceiving salvation as two-tiered, the more favored by being included in the body of Christ because they came to Christ "on this side," while the others, though saved, shall be excluded. If you have that notion, and I were to ask you if all mankind, finally saved, each in his own order/rank will be part of the family of God, I'm quite confident your answer would by yes.

But there is no such thing as being a member of the family of God, without being a member of the body of Christ. They are two dimensions of the same relationship with God in Christ. Like Apollos, you need to have the Word explained to you more accurately.

The Embodiment Principle - Part Three
The Universal Body

Paul described seven ones in his epistle to the Ephesians, which seven are facets of a singular, universal reality. It ought to grab our attention that—contrary to the present resurgence of the philosophically immature notion that said singular reality is best described in terms of a sort of universal spirit-sea of cosmic consciousness that ultimately requires a rejection of corporal existence, in order to access its wisdom—the apostle begins his description with, "There is ONE BODY...." before proceeding to "and ONE SPIRIT."

He presents his brief treatise on the seven-fold nature of universal oneness, as the ground into which "being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" is rooted. Right out of the gate, so to speak, he confronts us with one Body, for heaven recognizes no disembodied God. Paul proceeds further in his description, adding the facets of "one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism," and finally "one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all." The "all" that the one God and Father is over and through and in all, is one Body.

The God, whose Spirit is the all-pervasive substructure of all things is Himself fully structured as one Body. Embodiment is the super-structure of the Divine, and it is as members in particular of that body that men grow in spirituality. Christ is the image of the invisible God, and in Him the fulness of Deity dwelt BODILY, and continues to dwell bodily in that growth of Deity by the incorporation of Himself as the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all.

God is Spirit, and His image is the incarnate Son of God with all His brethren. There is no disconnect between the essence of Deity and Deity's image. See the image, see God. Looking to see God? Then look at His image. The Divine Nature embodies Itself out of its Essence, and the notion that the direction of spirituality is away from corporality is anti-Christ. God desires to be, is available to be, and is near at hand to be seen, heard, and handled.

Part of the futility to which creation has been subjected, is the futility of member insularity. One dimension of the whole of what Paul calls the flesh is our bodily individualism, our insular bodily existence, the human condition in which each member's bodily individuality becomes a separation from the whole, rather than a connection to the whole. Thus individuality becomes individualISM, and we suffer a disconnect from the larger body that defines the nature of our unique personhood.

The hostility of "the flesh" to "the Spirit," lies in being deceived into identifying ourselves by externals, including, or better quite representatively, religious externals. Our individual bodies suffer an existential distortion via the Five senses, and because of this, we no longer know ourselves as being Spirit-embodiment. We wretchedly reach out to connect with externals to give our existence meaning, when the truth is, that the kingdom of God, the dynamic working of Divine sovereignty is within us, not as insular-prone flesh, but as one Body.

In the overall corrective judgment of God, both the condition of suffering in this life from insular bodily individualism, and also being released from that oppression through death, are made to work together toward our being re-membered to that greater Body which is our all-encompassing Reality. There is no loss of, or diluting of true individuality by this process, no leaving behind of "a personal relationship with Jesus Christ." No, no! Rather than any loss or dilution, the result is enhancement. I cannot be fully me, without you.

The corrupting of the body into "flesh" in the negative sense in which scripture uses the term—and certainly, it is also used in a positive sense—is about being conformed to a system of artificiality, a system that dares to claim the authority to grant us personal worth according to our becoming its "well adjusted," slaves.

Rather than being fully persuaded, that He who delivered up His Son for us, will not fail to give us, with Him, all things, we become slaves to those things that depend upon belonging to us, in order to have real and eternal value. We have sold our birthright for a mess of pottage. In our momentary affliction, we shame ourselves by the indignity of our need of instant gratification, because simply, we do not know that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.

With God, the container, and the contained are one. With God, all embodiment is formed from the inside out, as life's essence becomes the substance of its own containment. We are God-containers. We are holy vessels. We are the temple of God, and nothing but a God-essence is worthy material for the construction of the dwelling of God.

The Embodiment Principle - Part Four
Natural and Spiritual

"There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body." Preceding that dogmatic statement by Paul, as recorded in 1Cor. 15, he makes it clear that the spiritual body is concealed within the natural body, the combination being a seed-complex, which, in order for the spiritual to be released, the seed must be sown into the ground, there to undergo a death and resurrection process, so that what was sown into the earth corruptible, is raised incorruptible.

The inner spiritual body, though afflicted by the outer body's corruptibility, is itself essentially incorruptible. What comes forth from the burying of the seed, out from within the seed, is of an incorruptible nature. There is a Seed within the seed. Saint John explained that he that is born of God sins not continually ("continually" being the Greek tense), because that Seed is within him. It is not that he can sin sporadically, but not continually, it is that his non-sinning is continuous, unbroken, inviolable, consistently incorruptible.

Saint Peter joins the teaching proclaiming that we are born again, born from above, born back up again, by that incorruptible Seed. Ezekiel saw a wheel within a wheel. Saint Paul saw a Seed within a seed. We are born from above, by the release of that which is deep within. The above-reality, the transcendent reality is the innermost reality. To go high, we must go deep.

As I was meditating on what would be the content of this fourth installment in our series, it came to me that the spiritual body is a body without limitation. It is an unbounded body, of infinite expansiveness. A body of anything is usually thought of in terms of containment, that is, it holds an inner content in confinement. But not so the spiritual body. The spiritual body is integral to the expansiveness of its life content. In some wonderful way, rather than being a confining element, it actually facilitates expansiveness, so that while containing, it does not confine.

Now this spiritual body, as described above, this eternal body, transferred into time, suffers confinement within its natural outer-casing. Yes, the reader must be prepared to accept such conceptual tension. The essentially unconfinable, encased within confinement. There is the nature of the eternal, and the nature of the temporal. In the Corinthian passage, as in many other places, Paul is referring to the nature of the temporal, that which is integral to the ages, that which is framed within the ages. The eternal has come to dwell within confinement. He is Emmanuel, God with us.

Do not think that "the natural" is inherently sinful. Oh no! In fact, there is something quite particularly holy about the natural, for it has been created, formed, framed out of that measure of God-substance, that measure of sonship-substance given over to suffer eonian confinement, and the vulnerability to sin inherent in that confinement (Jesus came to set the prisoner free).

When the substance of God, and that particularly, His substance in His Son(s), transfers from eternity into time, where eternity and time meet, a reaction occurs, and the natural body is formed at that contact point, and the immeasurable is sealed within that encasement of confinement. The body we lay in the grave is the body of that confining encasement, stripped away from the essence from which it came, but it, yes IT, that body, shall return to its origin in resurrection, but return having profited from the process, having gained glory out from glory. It will not be lost. Nothing is ever lost. All things are restored in Jesus Christ.

It is that outer body of the seed-complex that becomes "the flesh." In it, is where sin dwells: "For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do." Why? By the transference of the eternal into time, within the seed-complex, a disconnect has come to exist between essential being, and existential doing.

The inner man IS and DOES, but the outer man can only WANT and TRY, and it is the trying that is itself the sinning, for as I've written before, sin is "missing the mark, which, of course implies an attempt to hit the mark. There is no missing of a mark, without trying to hit the mark.” Though suffering from that disconnect, between essential being, and existential doing, our existentially-embodied self, still has the impulse, because of its origin, to be pleasing to God, but it acts without faith, that is, it lacks the conviction, the persuasion, the assurance of BEING pleasing to God, and can only TRY to do what it thinks will make it accepted by Him.

In the first Adam, the natural man, in whose depths the Last Adam, the spiritual man lies, we have been subjected to futility in the expectation of Him who subjected us, to a shared radiance of glory that comes from the limitless eternal One suffering confinement, and then release, the release of captives, who go from enslaved confinement to heights of glory with Him.

The Embodiment Principle, Part Five
Transformed to be Transformed

In Adam, in Christ, we were transformed (across-formed), out from eternity into time, transformed as spirit into and unto eonian embodiment, but the embodiment to which we crossed over, originally, in eternity, came out from within our birthed being. We were already embodied by the glory of our intrinsic being, and this eternal emergence of glory-embodiment was duplicated as an across forming into the eons.

Eternal Being embodies itself out of its own essence, so that that eternal bodily out forming became the impetus by which we cross-formed, were transformed, sent across for transformation, from the dimension of eternal Reality, into eonian actuality. The Only-Begotten Son, the eternally begotten One, the One Seed of God, in Whom we all have our being, within His God and Father, crossed over with us in Him, from sonship to creaturehood and became Adam, the son of God.

Out of the loins of Adam, He would later be born of Mary as the Son of God, not created, but born by a birth that brought His eternal Sonship into the eons. Born of Mary, conceived of the Holy Ghost, by Mary being caught up to participate in the eternal conception and birth of the eternally begotten of the Father. The womb of Mary and the Womb of God became one, and "God sent His Son into the world."

J. Preston Eby has spoken of this as: "God projected Himself, out of Himself, that He might be Himself in another dimension, and He did this by His Word." (I am not implying by quoting our dear brother that he would necessarily commend my own attempt at describing the principle of incarnation, that is, of God, as Emmanuel, God with us.) But in one way or another, from possibly different, yet complementary perspectives, many are coming to see the wonder of this two-dimensional onward movement of the administration of God, an administration, which is the manifestation of the Divine Nature. The eternal God, became the eonian God, without any loss of His eternality.

Words fail us to pursue this further, but pursue we must, that is, pursue because we are pressed by the above administration to do so, even while we confess that our words will express such a wonder in part, as we still know in part. Here goes: This transformation, this forming over across into a "land" where we, with God, are strangers and sojourners. This across-forming involves an inconceivably massive out-thrusting from within the depths of God, so that God, having projected Himself out of Himself, in order to be Himself in another dimension, meets Himself at the point where both dimensions meet.

At that point, the Spirit-body of God as the Word, undergoes a compression of eternal Spirit into eonian Spirit. The stuff of God, becomes the stuff of creation; the uncontainable suffers containment, but not the bodily containment of eternity, whereby the expansive quality of eternal Spirit moves outward BY MEANS of its embodiment. In the ages framed by Him, a transformation has occurred so that Deity itself is hedged about, pressed in on all sides; yes — undergoes a self-inflicted imprisonment.

This is at the heart of creation's yearning, of the yearning of the children of God, of the Spirit's yearning. All is in solidarity with this administration of God. He has taken all of the creation by the hand into this valley of the shadow of death, but through the valley, and out of the valley into the liberty of the glory of the sons of God, for the sons of God ARE the administration of God.

Having been transferred, sent across into another dimensional formation, we await transformation back, but not really back, but onward, for the transformation out from eternity into time is an essentially onward movement in the administration of God, albeit one of great suffering.

We, in Christ, in God, will come out the other end with an effulgence of glory having been drawn forth out from us by the contrarianism of sin and death — to which we have been subjected, that otherwise would have remained hidden within the depths of the Divine Nature. Without this process of death and resurrection, gathered together, summed up, and consummated in the passion of Christ, that effulgence of glory would have remained only an intrinsic potential.

The catalyst for God becoming all that He is out from the depths of all that He is, is crucifixion, that co-together death by which we all were crucified with Christ, but risen with Him to a glory that even God Himself yearned for, and had in view before the foundation of the world. He planned a transformation, unto transformation, from glory to glory, and whenever God goes from one "place" to another, that to which He goes is always greater than from where He started.

The Embodiment Principle Part Six
The One Body — Singular and Corporate

This summary of our series might have more a that quality of "free-wheeling," than usual, as I am prone in approaching an article trusting the Spirit to develop the essential issue that is on my heart as I/we go: The readership for this series is mostly composed of brethren who are familiar with the New Testament teaching that "as a body has many members, and the many members are one body, so also IS Christ," and that has been pretty much described by many as Christ being present in the earth as "a many-membered body."

Since, of course, every body is many- membered, whether it be yours, mine, or Christ's, maybe we ought to make what we mean clearer by specifying, that, in respect to Christ's embodiment, the church, His body, is a many persons-membered body. My body, and yours, have many members, that is, arms, legs, eyes, feet, internal organs, etc., but in the case of the corporate body of Christ, those many members are persons.

This is not a mere scriptural metaphor, I must insist, for it belongs to the list of the seven ones of Paul's description of the nature of oneness in Ephesians, and certainly, among those ones, one Spirit, and one God, cannot be considered as metaphors. Peter and Paul do use the metaphor of a temple made up of living stones, to describe the body of Christ, but the body is the reality, and "temple" is the metaphor.

Now what I want to address in this final installment of this series is: What is the relationship of the single body of Jesus, and the many persons-membered body of Christ? These following questions have been raised by brethren re: my own teaching, and that of those considered to be of a like mind with this servant of God, (1) Does the individual Jesus of Nazareth, our Lord, still exist as one individual, in singular embodiment? And (2) If He does, is His individual body completely distinct from His corporate body?

I once got quite a fervent "no" from a dear brother, when I first, in the way of suggestion, posited that they were both one body, the one body Paul wrote about in Ephesians. Since he and I "go back a long way together," and have never been shy about doing so with one another, I went beyond suggesting, to insisting that they were, in fact, one body. If I'm right, how can that be?

Can Jesus, our Lord, the Christ, be existing now as both a separate, ascended, exalted, enthroned individual Person, and also as a many person-membered embodied Christ, and have essentially one body as the essence of both embodiments? Can Christ Be both an individual Man, and a corporate man, and have one body in both dimensions of His Personhood?

Most important, of course, is the matter of — apart from the embodiment factor — His continuation in individual Personhood. There seems, to me, to be a drifting toward the notion that Jesus has sort of disappeared, sort of, in his glorification, gone through a process, somewhat like the device did to to people on the Enterprise, in the Star Trek tv series, having the molecules of His body separated, but in His case, in His glorification, He has not been put back together as an individual, but now ONLY exists as a corporate identity.

I hope you don't believe that. I hope you can hold to both: the real presence of Jesus, the individual resurrected and glorified Son of God, Son of Man, albeit most certainly, that individuality being inclusive of the fulness of the Deity bodily, and of the fulness of Humanity. In my one vision of Him when He came to me in a time of great need, He didn't come appearing in any way, as a many person-membered body, but as Jesus.

When He appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus, from within the bright light that that caused Paul to fall to the ground, came the voice, "I am Jesus...." That was post-glorification, you will remember. It was Jesus, individually, that Stephen saw standing at the right hand of God, not a composite Christ. We really do need to know our Lord AS both.

Jesus made that clear to Paul, in saying that while Paul had been persecuting the church, he had been persecuting Christ, and that obviously became a very seminal element in Paul's revelation re: the oneness of Christ and the church, the oneness of Christ, as Jesus individually, and as HIM corporately. The two-fold reality seems to come together in the descriptions of Christ AS the many persons-membered body, and as the Head of that body. He is described as both.

He is both in us, and among us. His relationship to us, is of an "in" and "with" nature. I don't know how you will factor the following in conceptually to our subject, but I remember so well, how powerfully moved the congregation of the church I once pastored during the days when the Charismatic Renewal still had a lot of real spiritual "oomph," and a lot less "hoop, hoop hurrah," as we listened to the testimony of a lady to whom Jesus appeared personally.

She had been grievously ill, and emotionally tormented, when suddenly in the living room of her home, Jesus appeared to her, and told her she would be all right, and then WALKED INTO HER. She was instantly healed physically and emotionally. I am bold to say that I know Jesus as my Lord in individual personhood and embodiment, and Him as humanity's fulness. I know Him personally, that is, in His distinctly individual Personhood, and Him in you. I covet the same awareness of our true, full-orbed, complementary connectedness to our Lord for every one reading this humble attempt to explain in some small way, such a great mystery.

There is a swing of the pendulum syndrome that occurs with the restoration of any truth. Clearly, the Spirit has called the attention of many saints to the truth of the corporate dimension of enChristedness, but let's keep our balance, and not forget, as the country-western song says so poignantly, which I've quoted in past articles: "Me and Jesus, got a good thing going."

John GavazzoniJohn Gavazzoni
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