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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Every Knee Will Bow

For years, this Scriptural phrase has been used to propagate the notion that, in the end, every one will either willingly or no, acknowledge that Jesus is LORD, and while this may be true enough; when Paul quoted Isaiah ( 45:23 ) in Romans 14:11, I believe that Paul had in mind, not necessarily every person who ever lived, or will live, but, as his context, historically speaking, is the 'final battle' between the Judaistic old covenant economy and the new covenant in the Body of Christ, those who under the new covenant in Christ, were ready to shed the skin ( Romans 16:20 ) of the oppressive old covenant economy.

Speaking of, and exalting ( exulting in ) the humility of Jesus the Christ; Paul later wrote to the church in Philippi, 'Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and [ that ] every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ [ is ] Lord, to the glory of God the Father' ( Philippians 2:10 ). Here again, though the language sounds pretty universal; we must remember again, the context in which Paul wrote these words. Isaiah's context, of course, is the return ( from captivity ) of God's people, and the revelation of the new covenant. In this context, then, Paul also wrote his letters, and made his quotations. Earlier in chapter 45 ( verse 14 ); God revealed through the prophet that 'The labor of Egypt and merchandise of Cush and of the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over to you, and they shall be yours; they shall walk behind you, they shall come over in chains; and they shall bow down to you. They will make supplication to you, [ saying, ] ‘Surely God [ is ] in you, and [ there is ] no other;  [there is ] no other God'. In a previous article, I wrote, concerning this glorious phrase, 'He was saying, not only that all those who came to him would willingly 'bow the knee' and worship Him, but that even those ( in the first-century ) who refused to acknowledge Him for who He was, would be forced, unwillingly, 'like it or not', to acknowledge Him as their Creator': I believe still, that this is the case, though I believe now, that Isaiah's words are not only fulfilled prophecy, concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, the Temple, and the 'passing away' ( Hebrews 8:13 ) of the old covenant economy, but ring gloriously true of the universal impact of God's great Gift!

We all make choices, some good and some bad, but in the end, I believe ( and this 'end' is personal, not eschatological, biblically speaking ); I believe that God, who is 'not willing that any should perish' ( II Peter 3:9 ), will reveal His saving grace to all men, not necessarily according to the established orthodoxy of the institutional church, but according to His loving truth. I may stir up some trouble ( 'open a can of worms' ) by making such a statement, but let me assure you that I am not saying that all are 'saved' at this point in time ( though it could well be argued that salvation was fully realized at the cross, in the finished work of Christ ); what I AM saying is that when God revealed His plan of salvation through His covenant with His creation, and then inspired words like those of Peter, above, Paul's words to Timothy that God is the 'Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.' ( I Timothy 4:10 ), and John's statement in I John 2:2, 'He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world', He made clear, through the inclusivity of the 'new' covenant in Christ, that all will eventually come to know ( realize, acknowledge ) Him as their Savior!

Is the 'world' ready for this glorious truth?

Many, I believe, are being awakened to this fact, but so many more are still suffering, laboring under the assumption of the guilt that centuries of indoctrination have foisted upon the Body of Christ, the Church of God. I am, by no means, saying that we are at any great advantage over those who have not yet come to this realization, and, as has recently been brought to my attention; I AM in the habit of making assumptive statements like those above. I admit, though not readily ( very grudgingly, in fact ) that I COULD be wrong! I believe though, that God has revealed this to me, and that He wishes for me to propagate it. Though I believe this to be true, and that God has revealed ( and is revealing ) it to me; this does NOT ( necessarily ) mean that it is true. Assuming ( perceiving ) though, that this IS God's truth; I believe that we should encourage our brothers and sisters ( for we are ALL the family of God ) with this  fact, but that we should also take care in propagating it, since those who have been 'steeped' in the traditions of men ( not necessarily a 'bad' thing ) are often quick to rise in defense of their precious doctrines, and to strike at any offender. Some though, and this gives me 'chills ( 'goose-bumps' ), and thanks be to God' have an 'open heart', and are ready to receive this glorious truth!

May God grant us all, whether we have 'received' this glorious truth or not, to encourage one another in love, tactfully sharing the love we have received, and not making acceptance of our perceptions a prerequisite for following God's command!

Charles Haddon Shank

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Salvation of the Body ( R U saved? )


What does it mean to get 'saved'?

In today's modern church; it means something quite different from what it meant to the first-century church, or does it? Most Christians today will tell you that you must be baptized in water to be 'saved'; in many churches, it involves what is sometimes referred to as 'walking the aisle', and letting your request be known publicly, as well as your desire for the waters of baptism, and your decision to 'ask Christ to come into your 'heart'. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with all of this ( ? ), but is this really what Peter had in mind when he wrote, 'Be saved from this perverse generation'?

When the Christ ( Messiah-Anointed One ) came into the world, Gabriel told His earthly father to 'call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins' ( Matthew 1:21 ): in the historical context, I believe that we may note here, that Jesus earthly ministry, as He, to my knowledge, never strayed beyond the boundaries of the land of Israel, had in mind the Jews as His people, for as He told the woman at the well, in John 4:22, 'salvation is of the Jews', but in the covenant context of Scripture, I believe we would do well to remember that we are His people ( the Church, the Body of Christ-Galatians 1:23, Colossians 1:18 ( Romans 12:4 &; 5 ), and the true 'Jews' ( Romans 2:28 & 29, 9:6-8 ( Galatians 3:7 ), and that His finished work on the cross was more than sufficient ( infinitely so ) to do just that, to save His people from their sins.

What was this 'perverse generation' that Peter warned the people about?

In this warning statement; Peter used the same Greek word ( genea- 'an age', referring to the period or the persons ) as Jesus did in Matthew 12:39, in describing the Pharisees, when He said 'an evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign' ( Deuteronomy 32:5 ). Of this 'generation' God spoke these words, 'They shall not enter My rest', quoted by the writer, in Hebrews 4:3 & 5. I have used the phrase, previously, that 'Jesus came to save us from ourselves: I still believe this is a true statement in many ways. There were several ways that the Gospel writers and the apostles spoke, or wrote, of salvation, or 'being saved'; referring sometimes, even to a more physical, bodily salvation. Peter wrote of a 'salvation ready to be revealed in the last time'( I Peter 1:5 ); this, you must realize, was well after Jesus' sacrifice on the cross, and thus is referring more to this physical salvation that I alluded to. Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome, reassuring them that 'now our salvation is nearer than when we [ first ] believed'. Is Paul telling them ( and us ) that they had not been redeemed, that Christ's sacrificial work on the cross had no been completed until He returned in glory, or was he referring to their physical salvation ( deliverance ) from the 'ministry of death' ( II Corinthians 3:7 ), the oppression of Ist-century Judaism? The KJV translates Philippians 1:19, 'For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayers, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ' ( the NKJV clarifyingly ( and more correctly, maybe ) translates the Greek soteria, as 'deliverance' ). As above; we know, or assume, that Paul had already accepted the finished work of Christ, after he had been 'startled' on the road to Damascus, and had his eyes opened, and had said 'the sinner's prayer' ( I Corinthians 15: 9 ), so he could not have been referring, as many put it today, to the salvation of his 'soul' ( I Peter 1:9 ). I believe, as above, that he was speaking of the deliverance that he wrote of longingly, throughout his letters ( Roman 16:20 ), and which I described above, a physical ( though metaphorical ) deliverance from the constraining influence of the Judaizers.

Can we be 'saved' today?

In certain circles, there is a more or less running debate, as to whether 'salvation' is correct terminology, used to refer to the moment when our 'eyes' are opened to the realization, and acceptance of what Jesus did for us. In the sense that I outlined above, that much of the salvation that Paul, the most prolific writer in the Greek Scriptures, wrote about, was the physical ( yet metaphorical ) deliverance from the bondage of old covenant Judaism; we cannot expect, nor should we expect salvation, although I believe it could be argued, and very well, probably, that many followers of Christ today experience much the same sort of oppressiveness, though more on a spiritual, or emotional, level than in the 1st century, and earlier. Although many have experienced a sort of 'salvation', or deliverance, from the oppression of 'churchianity', as some have called it, I believe that unbelievers today, are not so much 'saved', as have their 'eyes' opened ( Paul's experience was a picture of this ) to the saving fact ( reality ) of what Christ did, in His sacrificial Life on earth.

What about the covenant, brother?

I have often repeated the phrase ( not so much lately ), 'I was saved 2,000 years ago'; this never went over real well, for some reason, maybe because of the 'cornfield'[ I was in at the time. I sorta doubt if I even realized the gravity of that statement back then, either. The thing that has always concerned me about the too free usage of the phrase 'get saved', or just 'saved', is that it conveys the idea, whether purposefully or ignorantly, that the saving work of Christ ( Matthew 1:21 ), accomplished on the cross was not sufficient; to be 'saved', we must accept His free gift, believing that it was for us. While I will admit that we must agree with Him, and repent of our selfishness ( even self-righteousness ), in order to be a true follower, and experience the joys of His Kingdom, the point is, and always has been; Who does, or did, the work of salvation? Do we, or did Jesus? Are we saved, only after we 'walk the aisle', and say 'the sinner's prayer', or were we saved when the Christ died on the cross 2,000+ years ago, and rising again, presented the blood for OUR atonement, although this salvation was not actually realized ( and  for some, is still not realized ) by those for whom it was made?

Covenantally speaking ( for there is but one covenant, and we are all in it, like it or not! ), we can say, along with those in the first century, who actually knew Christ ( 'according to the flesh' ), and 'walked by His side in the way' ( Luke 24:13-32 ) that we were saved, and that we are being saved ( from ourselves though, not in that sense above ).

May God bless you with this. Charles Haddon Shank



Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Power in the Blood ( 'There is a Fountain.......' )

'And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.' ( Hebrews 9:22 )

The Bible clearly tells us that Jesus' blood 'cleanses us from all sin' ( I John 1:7 ), through the 'sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ' ( I Peter 1:2 ), but is/was it His actual blood that saved us/them, or was it simply the fulfillment of ritual, or copy ( shadow-Hebrews 9:23 ) from the old, or 'first' covenant ( Hebrews 8:7-13 )?


Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, time and again, 'blood' is mentioned in relation to 'covenant' ( Genesis 8:20Genesis 15, 17:9-14, Exodus 12:1-28, Exodus 29, Exodus 24:18, Leviticus 3, Leviticus 4, Leviticus 16, Numbers 18:17, Deuteronomy 12:27, II Kings 23:21, II Chronicles 30:16, 35:11, Psalm 50:5, Jeremiah 34:18-20, Ezekiel 16:1-14, Zechariah 9:11 ), and it is true that these blood sacrifices were commanded by God for the 'children' of Israel to follow, but, as we have seen, through the eyes of the new covenant, it is the spirit, not the letter, of the law, that makes alive ( 'for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life' ( II Corinthians 3:6 ( Romans 7:6 ). As Moses traveled back to Egypt with his wife and two son; Exodus 4:24 records that 'the LORD met him and sought to kill him'; there is some disagreement on whom the Lord ( God ) sought to kill, here, but it is clear why He sought to kill him; because he had not been circumcised, as the commanded sign of the covenant. To prevent his death, either that of the child or Moses; his wife Zipporah circumcised her son on the spot, and said 'Surely you [ are ] a husband of blood to me!'. Scripture does not tell us which son Moses wife circumcised in a hurried manner, and we are only given the name here, of one of his sons ( Exodus 2:21 ), but, relative to the context of this event, I believe that we can safely assume that it occurred, and was placed in Scripture record where it was, to accentuate, to emblazon in the mind of Moses what he was to relay to the Pharaoh; 'Thus says the LORD: “Israel [ is ] My son, My firstborn. So I say to you, let My son go that he may serve Me. But if you refuse to let him go, indeed I will kill your son, your firstborn.'

As Moses neared the end of his biological life; he reiterated to the 'children' of Israel the Law that God had given them through him. In Deuteronomy 10:16; Moses revealed to his people God's intent for, or the principle behind, the act of circumcision; 'Therefore circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be stiff-necked no longer.' We know, today, and for the past few centuries, probably even millenia,that circumcision has a good medical purpose, as well, which, just like refraining from consuming the meat of a pig, could well be the reason for God's command concerning both. ( I am not saying that we should or should not consider changing our habit of eating, or of circumcising our children! ) The main purpose, though, for God's command of circumcision, besides the fact that it was the sign of the covenant, was that, as Jeremiah said much later, 'Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your hearts, you men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, lest My fury come forth like fire, and burn so that no one can quench [ it] , because of the evil of your doings' ( 4:4 ); to metaphorically turn their hearts to God, to cut away ( remove ) any idol, real or imagined, that would detract from His worship ( Deuteronomy 30:6 ).

History will tell us, particularly ancient history, I believe, that 'covenant' is inextricably linked with 'blood'; not only did ( many still do ) pagan religious ritual often involve blood-shed, whether of an animal, or a virgin, but there has been much blood shed over the centuries, all over the world, because of covenant, and often because of misunderstanding of what the requirements of the covenant really were! Take the Passover lamb, for instance, and all the other blood sacrifices instituted throughout the Hebrew Scriptures; there is no doubt that these were commanded by God, but we know, looking back over time, that they were instituted as typical of Christ's sacrifice on the cross, which itself was metaphorical for our 'entrance' into covenant with God, and with that, into His Presence and Kingdom. This is not to say that Christ's sacrifice was merely a metaphor, but we know that His sacrifice was symbolic and significant of a greater spiritual truth, as those others instituted under the first covenant were typical pictures of His!

Reading through the Hebrew Scriptures, particularly the 'Pentateuch' ( Genesis-Deuteronomy ); it is plain to see that, as above, these animal ( blood ) sacrifices were a requirement, but, as we read in the book of Hebrews, 'Christ came [ as ] High Priest of the good things to come,[a] with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?' ( Hebrews 9:11-14 ), they were only significant, typical ( physical ) 'pictures' ( foreshadows ) of the sacrifice ( blood ) of Christ. This is not to say that Christ's blood, or the shedding of it, was merely a metaphor; far from it! I believe that Jesus, the Son of God, God Himself, became fully human ( yet without sin ), and dwelt among us, was most cruelly persecuted, and shed actual human blood upon the cross, but the point that the writer above made, and the point that I am making is that though Jesus shed His blood upon that cruel cross, it was not that blood that He presented before the Father! The writer painstakingly makes the point, again and again, throughout his letter, but particularly in chapters 7-9, that the earthly ( physical ) ordinances, and the concrete Temple ( that was made with hands ) were but copies, mere shadows, of the true ordinances, the true Temple, in 'Heaven' ( God's Presence ). Later in this chapter ( verses 23 & 24 ) we read that it was 'necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.' This term 'better', is used throughout the book, to describe how Christ was a better High Priest ( Hebrews 7:20-28 ) since He had a perpetual ( living ) priesthood, a better sacrifice ( Hebrews 9:23 ), and was ( is? ) the Mediator of a better covenant ( Hebrews 8:6 ). I would venture to say, as some have postulated, that His human blood, as His human body, was special, and somehow 'better' than ours, or a normal human body, but it was not the biological perfection of Jesus that won the salvation of His people; it was ultimately the fact that He was God!

For the Passover sacrifice, which was quite possibly the best 'picture' of Christ's, in the Old Covenant Scriptures; God, through Moses, told the people, 'Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year' ( Exodus 12:5 ). God told them, in Leviticus 1:3, 'If his offering [ is ] a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish; he shall offer it of his own free will at the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the LORD'; and in Leviticus 3:1, 'When his offering [ is ] a sacrifice of a peace offering, if he offers it of the herd, whether male or female, he shall offer it without blemish before the LORD.' It is interesting that God told the people that, 'When a ruler has sinned, and done [ something ] unintentionally [ against ] any of the commandments of the LORD his God [ in anything ] which should not be done, and is guilty, or if his sin which he has committed comes to his knowledge, he shall bring as his offering a kid of the goats, a male without blemish.' ( Leviticus 4:22 & 23 ), but, 'If anyone of the common people sins unintentionally by doing [ something against ] any of the commandments of the LORD [ in anything ] which ought not to be done, and is guilty, or if his sin which he has committed comes to his knowledge, then he shall bring as his offering a kid of the goats, a female without blemish, for his sin which he has committed.' ( Leviticus 4:27 & 28 ). A couple chapters over, in Leviticus 6:6, in the case of a man who has wronged his neighbor, and thus committed trespass against God; 'And he shall bring his trespass offering to the LORD, a ram without blemish from the flock, with your valuation, as a trespass offering, to the priest.' There are many more examples throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, although mostly in the Pentateuch, that show that God's strict ordinance concerning sacrifice, whatever sort of animal, whether it be male or female, was that it be 'without blemish'. ( For other examples outside the Pentateuch, see Ezekiel 43:22-25, 45:18-23, 46:4-13, Malachi 1:13 ( Ephesians 5:27, I Peter 1:19 )

John 19:31-37 records that, as was the Jewish custom, the soldiers were commanded to break the legs of those who had been crucified ( ostensibly, to bring on a quicker expiration, if they were not dead already ), but when they came to break Jesus' legs ( interesting, too, that He was left till last ), they found that there was no need to, for He had already 'given up the ghost' ( John 19:30 ), and so fulfilled the prophecy that 'He guards all his bones; not one of them is broken' ( Psalm 34:20 ).  Several verses later, in John 19:34, the chronicler recorded that one of the soldiers pierced His side, and 'immediately blood and water came out'. Much more could be written here, speculation on what the significance of the blood and the water signified, but for now, and the purposes of this article, suffice it to say that the normal human body does consist largely of blood and water, and by this significant event, God showed that Jesus was truly a Man ( though true God, as well ), and that, by shedding His blood; He very literally fulfilled the role of High Priest, symbolically presenting the blood before the Presence. Although the High Priest was to offer the blood of an animal ( usually a lamb ) before the Ark, in the Holy of Holies; Jesus, as the better High Priest, and Mediator of the better Covenant, presented His own blood before, not the earthly ( picture/shadow ) Presence, but before the heavenly ( true ) reality, to God Himself ( Hebrews 12:18-24 ).

The question then, is 'was it the actual blood of Christ that saved us, or was it His obedience?'

'Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I teach you to observe, that you may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers is giving you.'  As we saw above, in circumcision, the physical act was merely significant, symbolic, and metaphorical of a greater spiritual truth, and so is the case, I believe, with the shedding of blood, as well as water baptism and the 'Lord's Supper'. Paul wrote, in Romans 5:19, 'For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.' Through the prophet Isaiah; God told His errant 'children', 'You have bought Me no sweet cane with money, nor have you satisfied Me with the fat of your sacrifices; but you have burdened Me with your sins, you have wearied Me with your iniquities.' ( Isaiah 43:24 ). Because of their covenant ( and corporate ) disobedience, the physical 'children' of Israel, and of Adam, were condemned. Although they did not bring their sacrifices and offerings as they were commanded; it was ultimately their disobedience that brought about their final demise ( Romans 6:23 ( Genesis 2:17 ). When Jesus quoted from the prophecy of Hosea ( 6:6 ), in Matthew 9:13, and 12:7, saying 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice'; He reminded the Pharisees that He was interested more in their obedience to the command to 'love one another' ( I John 3:23 ( Genesis 20:12-17 ), than in the blood sacrifices, which only pictured the True Sacrifice, and fore-shadowed our redemption.

We must remember Who the 'Power in the Blood' is, and why it can be said that there is 'power in the blood': God is that Power, and it is only because He revealed Himself in the form of a Man, that that Blood had any power ( to save ) at all! His Blood was only symbolic of His obedience to the Covenant, and it was His fulfillment of that Covenant that brought about our reconciliation to God, and brought us into the blessed Presence, once again. May God bless you with these words.

Charles Haddon Shank

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Another look at 'A Focus on the Physical'

It's been quite some time ( a little over 4 years ) since I first broached this important subject, and though many articles that God has allowed me to write over those four years, have spoken, to some extent or another, to the subject, though not in so many words; I believe that a new look at the subject of physicality, and our seeming focus on it, is needed.

I began this short series of articles with the idea that this 'focus on the physical' had been, and still is, the impetus behind most, if not all of the 'problems' that have plagued the people of God throughout their history, beginning with the congregation in the wilderness ( the 'Exodus' ) and continuing today. I still believe this to be the case! Although, as I attempted to explain in the last article up to that point , a 'focus on the physical is not necessarily a bad thing, and that if we seek the Kingdom of God before all else ( Matthew 6:33 ), focusing on the things of the Spirit, rather than the things of the 'flesh' ( whether we want to admit it or not, some still live by 'law', rather than by grace; these are still 'in the flesh', in that sense ), and, as verse 33 also says, seeking His Righteousness, rather than our own; all these things will be 'added' to us ( in very fact, they are already ours, and multiplied daily! ): we needn't worry about a thing, we can concentrate on living to the fullest the Life that we have been given, loving the brethren, even the unloving and unlovable!

In the previous article; I broached the subject of 'the after-life', coming to the conclusion that, despite some seemingly Scriptural evidence to the contrary; Scripture actually does not really ever give us a clue about our life after this physical, biological body stops working. We do know for certain, as Jesus told Martha, in John 11:26, 'he who lives and believes in me will never die' that life continues after our physical body expires. Although Scripture is not clear what sort of existence we will have apart from our biological body ( Job 19:26 ); we know, and this should satisfy us, that we are 'always.......with the Lord' ( I Thessalonians 4:17 ( Philippians 1:23 ). Though we may no longer exhibit the physical presence; God has made His 'home' ( John 14:23 ) with us, and He dwells in us ( II Timothy 1:14 ), having made us 'temples of the Holy Spirit' ( I Corinthians 6:19 ). Some may posit, and I believe they may have a valid point, that all these Scriptures, particularly I Corinthians 6:19, refer to the transitional period, between AD33 and AD70, for instance because Paul told them that their bodies were the temple of the Holy Spirit, in opposition to Judaism, which taught that a certain building, made by the hands of man, was the house ( dwelling ) of God. One may well ask here, though, 'if their/our bodies were/are the temple of the Holy Spirit; what happens when we no longer have a body?' Well; I believe this could be explained in several different ways, two of which are that Paul, as is usual for him, was not writing of individual bodies ( except that the Church is made up of individual persons ), but of 'Corpus Christi', or the corporate Body of Christ. Another explanation is that Paul is speaking metaphorically, of our 'spiritual body', the 'changed' ( I Corinthians 15:52 ) new covenant body which we 'inhabit' through the 'new creation' ( II Corinthians 5:17 ) because God made 'all things new' ( Revelation 21:5 ). ( Really, when you think about it; there's not much difference between the two... ) However one looks at it; it should be fairly obvious that Paul was not referring to the physical, biological 'husk' in which we currently walk this earth. Some might object to this, saying something like, 'our physical bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, just as they 'house' the soul'. At best; I would say that this kind of reasoning sounds almost Gnostic! Although I agree that we have an 'inner man', as Paul wrote, in Ephesians 3:16; there is no doctor on earth that could ever find this 'inner man', because Paul, as most writers, especially in that era and area of the world, often used metaphor to reveal certain hidden truths, which are qualitative rather than quantitative, something to be known ( with the intellect ) rather than to be felt, with the physical senses. Some might argue here, as well, that they have 'felt' a spiritual presence before, with their physical senses, and while I believe that this is true enough; I believe that this can be mainly attributed to the equivalent of an 'adrenalin rush', brought on by an acute sense of awareness, a knowledge of, and belief in whatever might be 'out there'!

I was recently involved in a discussion with several brothers, about the 'fact' that, in Philippians 3:21, Paul refers to individual bodies, though admittedly Paul most often speaks of 'the body' in a corporate, or covenantal sense. Although he does sometimes seem, without doubt, to speak of individual, physical, biological bodies, this is still questionable; but even given that he did speak of biological masses, quantitatively, rather than qualitatively, it is clear that he spoke of them in a metaphorical sense. He wrote, in verse 20, 'our citizenship is in heaven': who is he referring to here? In the context of his letter; he is obviously reminding the believers in Philippi that, in contrast to those who did not believe ( in Christ ), had not accepted the Gospel, their citizenship was in 'Heaven', as opposed to ( merely ) holding physical citizenship in the Roman Empire. Like I said before; in the sense that the Body of Christ is made up of individuals, some Scriptural application may be made to individual bodies, but, as Paul also wrote, 'you are all one in Christ Jesus' ( Galatians 3:28 ). In what sense was he saying that they were 'one'? In the sense, not that they no longer possessed an individuality ( ? ), but that their nationality, or status no longer defined them, as our biological make-up does not define us, but that, from the point of inception ( reception/conception ), they could be defined as 'one' Body, not unlike the physical union between a man and his wife, a corporate entity with a common purpose.

There are some who, while acknowledging that Jesus' 'Olivet Discourse', most famously recorded in Matthew 24, but also in Luke 21, and Mark 13, was ( mostly ) fulfilled in the 1st century, with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, but that the 'Parousia' ( AKA 'the second coming' ) is still in our future, as they believe that it is clearly stated in Acts 1:11 that Christ, whom they also believe still inhabits a physical body, will physically appear on this earth, thus completing our redemption, and bringing us ( creating ) a 'new heaven and new earth'. These brethren ( I cannot stress this important fact enough; they are BRETHREN, in the Body of Christ ) are known as partial-preterists. Most, not all, full preterists believe that Scripture teaches a corporate Body of Christ ( Romans 12:5, I Corinthians 12:12 ), and so it follows, I believe, that Christ does still inhabit a physical, biological Body, yet in a metaphorical sense, for 'as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also [ is ] Christ.' In the sense, as I mentioned earlier, that we have one goal, one purpose, and one Spirit, or as Paul wrote, 'one Lord, one faith, one baptism' ( Ephesians 4:5 ); we are, corporately, as Christians ( followers of God ), the Body of Christ, not a physical, biological mass ( that would be weird, to say the least ), but metaphorically, His physical Body on earth, fulfilling His promise in John 14:12, 'he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater [ works ] than these he will do, because I go to My Father'.

Why is it so important to remind folks of the detriment of being focused on the physical aspects of this Life that we have been given? Should we not be concerned about, even focused on, the responsibilities that God has placed upon us? Well, of course we should, but we should not focus on them to the point that we loose our focus on Christ ( God ), and begin to worry about our physical life ( for what is our life? ( James 4:14 ). Worry, more often than not, causes stress, and you don't need a doctor to tell you what stress can do to a body. Granted, stress is not always caused by worry. There are many physical and biological causes of stress, but worry needlessly causes many people to 'stress out'. God gave us these physical bodies for a reason; we have a job to do it, and He has also given us the strength to do it.

Adam, whether you believe that he was the first human being on planet earth, or that he was simply the first human being with whom God covenanted, was given a job to do; 'have dominion', but also, to multiply and replenish the earth, or, his dominion. Did Adam take the dominion that he was told to 'have'? Yes and no. Physically speaking, Adam and his progeny did what they were told; man has enjoyed, to a greater or lesser extent, dominion over God's animal creation ( at least those that aren't as 'smart' as we are ), and even somewhat, to a much lesser extent, over His natural creation, the earth itself, for thousands of years, and progressively for generations! If I read the new testament Scriptures correctly; Jesus, traditionally the second Adam, came to bring Life, whereas the first Adam only brought death.

The Death of Adam.

The death that Adam brought upon his progeny has been the subject of much debate for years, and unless something major happens ( this may be close on our horizon than we think ), it will likely continue for years to come. A strictly literal reading of our modern English bibles will tell you ( plainly? ) that Adam was the first human being on planet earth, and some have postulated that the death that he was threatened with ( ? ) in Genesis 2:17 ( 'in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die' ) was physical death, and that what God was really saying was 'in the day you eat you will begin to die'  that's why Adam only lived 962 years, instead of 'forever' ( Genesis 3:22 ), or taking the word 'day' as meaning a certain amount of time, and not necessarily a 24 hour period, God meant that if Adam ate of the wrong tree, his physical body would be eventually separated from its life-force ( Ecclesiastes 12:7 ). Yet another explanation for the death that Adam died, and this I believe, is pretty traditional in more orthodox circles, was that he died spiritually, in sin-death. To the covenant people of God; Isaiah wrote 'your iniquities have separated you from your God' ( Isaiah 59:2 ). Adam's sin of disobedience to God got him barred from the Garden, or the blessings of the Presence of God. This was obviously typical, or symbolic, as even the congregation in the wilderness carried the Presence of God with them, and 'they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ' ( I Corinthians 10:4 ), and even outside the Garden, God was with Adam, granting him still, the physical blessings of his labors ( though he now had to 'work' for them ), and Eve with the physical blessings of childbirth ( though now it was painful; she lost her first two ).

The point that spiritual death implies death of the spirit, has been brought up, and is, I believe, a valid point.  Now, as we read in Ecclesiastes 12:7, upon the demise of our physical body, 'Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it': this, I believe, is the generally accepted view of what happens when a biological body dies.Granted, then, that death means separation, whether it be separation from your life-force, or from God, the death that Solomon traditionally describes above, and in the rest of the passage, can be correctly termed death, although not even then ( necessarily ) spiritual death. If, as I have postulated before, the spirit of a wicked man, after it returns to God upon physical death, is then cast into the Lake of Fire, where it is incinerated, then indeed this would be spiritual death, for then even the spirit would cease to exist. This obviously was not the death that Adam died in/on the day he ate; he still had life/breath in his body, in this sense then, you could almost agree with the serpent in the Garden; Adam did not physically perish in the day that he ate. Looking back at the speculation above, that Adam began to die ( physically ) in the day that he ate, or that the 'day' that God spoke of was a certain amount of time that only He knew ( this latter point may have some validity, though not the validity that some 'see' ), it should be abundantly clear that this 'day' or era ( 'age' ) was decisively brought to an end during the ( covenantal ) transitional period, between Jesus crucifixion and the destruction of the old covenant ( Jewish ) economy, in 70AD.

Metaphorical, or symbolic death

There can be no question, however you look at it, that Adam died, just as God promised, in/on the day he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The question before us is WHAT death he died! We know that he was not struck down the moment he ate the fruit ( ? ), and we've seen that he did not spiritually die. The fact that Adam was removed from the Garden, which was significant of the blessings and Presence of God the same day that he ate the fruit, should give us a clue. The old covenant Scriptures, though the old covenant itself has passed away, are still there for our learning; though they undoubtedly happened as they were recorded, they were also written in such a way as to convey a deeper, hidden meaning, a spiritual truth that has only been revealed since the Advent of Christ, and I believe, is still being revealed. Adam's removal from the Garden was significant, or symbolic, of the fact that he had been separated from the tree of life ( Christ ) and this separation meant that things would not come so easily anymore, since he now could judge for himself between 'good and evil'; he had separated himself from the protection of his Father, and 'struck out' on his own!

I have used the analogy before, and I'm sure that most of those reading this are quite familiar with it, that, as in the parable of 'the prodigal son' ( Luke 15 ), a child that has been cut off, either deservedly or undeservedly ( does any child really deserve it? ) from his father and mother, is often referred to as 'dead' to them, not only because of a physical separation, but because of emotional separation, again, because of some event that has occurred whereby either one or both parties have become estranged to the point of loosing all manner of communication, or communion. This, like the death that Adam symbolically died that day, being cut off from the communion of his Father, could accurately be termed 'metaphorical death'.

'Let them have dominion........'

Adam, for all intents and purposes, was seemingly given dominion over all that he surveyed. As we saw above; it is fairly clear that, physically speaking anyway, he did take dominion, and this dominion, to some extent, has been widened and expanded over the generations since his 'day': this dominion is still being explored even in our day, even as far as venturing into 'outer space', to see if we can extend our dominion even that far. The history of our dominion of this wild country, beginning several centuries ago, and continuing to a lesser extent today, although a rather harsh one, and 'rightfully ours', has not usually been characterized by love. I'm not saying, please don't get me wrong ) that certain people didn't show love, either for those who were 'ousted', or just in their general dealings; they most certainly did, but I believe that, as in the case of man 'hostile takeovers', love was not a ruling factor. Even reading the history of Israel; we can see that many of their actions in 'having dominion', or rather, taking dominion, were not guided by a love for God and their neighbor as themselves. Yes; God's command to them was clear; in most cases, in 'clearing out' the land ( of promise ) in order to make it habitable and a glory to God; they were instructed to kill'em all ( 'and let God sort'em out'? ), but as we read in the new testament Scriptures; Jesus told them that they missed the whole point, by following the letter, rather than the Spirit of God's law.

Today; we too often follow their example, taking, by force, if necessary ( 'it's our right'! ) the dominion that we have been given, rather than first following the principle of God's law, which according to Jesus is 'love God, and love your neighbor'. God's not talking about some kind of 'touchy-feely' love, although love is an action. The kind of love we are to have for our neighbor, though akin to the love we should show to God, is not murdering them ( or even having hateful vengeful thoughts toward them ), not stealing from them, not bearing them false witness ( lying to or about them ), not committing adultery ( fornicating with them, not even thinking about it ), or coveting what they have. In other words, and this is where it is akin to our love for God; we should respect our neighbors 'rights', his possessions, etc. I guess that the point I'm trying to make here is that dominion without love is not true dominion, and neither is love truly love without having dominion ( control ) of our own thoughts, words and deeds.


Adam & Eve, because of their 'focus on the physical', sought their own wisdom, and thereby dominion ( 'knowledge is power' ), rather than being satisfied with the dominion that God had given them, as is so often the case today ( I look at my own life best! )


Wrapping this article up for now, for there will most likely be more to come: I would like to encourage my readers not to just take my word for it, but to search these thing out for themselves, to see if these things are indeed so, and as importantly, to examine with me, our own lives first, to see if our focus needs to be adjusted.


Charles Haddon Shank