Two kingdoms are in conflict: the power of evil and the kingdom of God. The Lord's Church has been given a message of authority and power--the gospel of the kingdom of God--to take to the world. With this message, the Church overcomes the rule of Satan and establishes the righteousness of God. She is not alone: her companion, the Holy Spirit, flows through her as a river to bring life out of death, demonstrating the gospel in power.
The river of life flows from the throne room of heaven according to God's eternal secret--the mystery of Christ. At the counsel of the Trinity, thousands of years ago, an eternal plan was established to put forth the image and likeness of God upon the earth. The chosen vessel, mankind, would be indwelt by the resurrected Christ, the Son of the living God, thereby manifesting the glory of God before the whole earth. His reign in heaven is now manifested on earth through His Body, the Church. For this reason you have been redeemed: that God may live in you.
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The Mystery of ChristA Radical Truth ... Lived
By Shay Meckenstock
Trafford PublishingCopyright © 2012 Shay Meckenstock
All right reserved.
Chapter OneBefore Time Began
I have heard it said that timing is everything. Is it not true that if you enter the telling of a story or joke halfway through, then you are more than likely to be the one with the baffled look on your face at the end? You missed something key to the story. Better to have caught it from the beginning.
Well, this is how some Christians are today—baffled. I think it is because they missed the beginning of the story. Following the day of their salvation, they wonder why they don't "feel" any different, or if there is more to this so-called "new life" and they somehow missed it. They came in to the family of God hearing that because of their misbehavior they are in need of saving grace; Jesus Christ is the One who can supply their need, and, as a special gift, grant them a promise of eternal life. To think that God's best is to restore us for paradise leaves a whole lot out of the greater equation called the mystery of God. This mystery, the beginning of the story, occurs first in the heart of the Father before the foundation of the world was established. It is a story of a King, called the Son of Man, and His Bride, who together inherit a kingdom. A future glimpse of this King and His Bride is seen in Matthew 25, verses 31 & 34, "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him ... then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.'"
What is this kingdom and who is the Bride? These are great mysteries left out of our modern evangelistic gospel of salvation by grace, yet they are presented to us in Genesis before Adam and Eve ever sinned. The beginning of the story tells your future, if Christ is found in you. It is a glorious future that is available to live today, not just when you die.
The Beginning of the Story
Before man was created, and Adam and Eve sinned, you were in the mind of Christ. In Scripture, the first mention of man is in Genesis 1:26; God says, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."
When the Godhead—represented by the Us in Genesis 1:26-decided to make man, they decided to make him in the image of God. Image, meaning to re-present something to someone. Likeness, meaning to be similar in nature. The conceptual idea is God wants man to represent Him on earth.
Because God is Spirit, mankind must also be fashioned with a spirit in order to bare forth His likeness. God "formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." Man was created with three parts: It was from the dust that man was given a body, from God's own breath that man was given a spirit; thus, man became a living soul.
It is important to recognize the likeness of man's nature to God's nature: because man and God are both spirit, it is in man's spirit that he is most like God. " ... [The Lord] stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him." It is in man's spirit and God's Spirit where the two meet.
Watchman Nee, writing at the beginning of the last century, wrote in The Normal Christian Life,
What was [God's] purpose? God wanted to have a race ... whose members were gifted with a spirit whereby communion would be possible with Himself, who is Spirit. The race, possessing God's own life, was to cooperate in securing His purposed end by defeating every possible uprising of the enemy and undoing his evil works ... He is concerned with bringing us into, and bringing into us something Adam never had ... It is something positive and purposeful, going far beyond the recovery of a lost position.
Man Purposed to be a Vessel for the Divine Life
What God first declares by His Word, He later expands with divine revelation from His Holy Spirit. We see this occurring with Paul in his letter to the Ephesians. He accredits the Holy Spirit as being the One who revealed to him the mystery of Christ—that both Gentiles and Jews should be fellow heirs of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel. Heirs of the same body and partakers of His promise. This begs the question, "Whose body? and what was His promise?"
We are called to be an inheritor of the very life of God. We are not called to imitate a great Teacher, a kind Person who did wonderful things. No, we are called to inherit and be a vessel that carries His life in us. Not imitation, but inheritance.
We see this first expressed in The Tree of Life when God commanded Adam and Eve to freely eat of every tree of the garden save one. The same life that was in God's breath was in the Tree of Life. The Hebrew word for Life is chay. The same word in Greek is zoë. John of the gospel said this of Jesus Christ, "In Him was life [zoë], and the life [zoë] was the light of men." As Adam and Eve ate of the Tree of Life, they were partaking of the very life of Jesus Christ. Jesus said this of His own life, "It is the Spirit who gives life [zoë]; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life [zoë]." Then later, Paul, by revelation of this same Spirit, tells us that whereas the first Adam became a living soul, the last Adam, Jesus, became a life-giving spirit.
Partakers of His Promise
The life of Jesus Christ comes in to us through the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God. Jesus taught the disciples about the Holy Spirit saying, "Behold, I send the Promise of My Father," and so commanded then to "wait for the Promise." Then, after His resurrection, He went to them in the upper room, pronounced peace to them, breathed on them, and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit." Just like He had done once before, a long time ago, to Adam!
Before His crucifixion, Jesus prayed,
Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.
The promise had been fulfilled. Having believed, the disciples (as well as you) were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. Eternal life is a relationship with God through the body of Jesus Christ. It is not a place: it is a Life. It is a Life that is alive in you, and His name is the Holy Spirit. Our life, abundant and forever, was planned from the beginning to be formed in Christ Jesus. His Spirit in us is Colossians 1:27, "Christ in you, the hope of glory."
The Perfect Man
As Christ is formed in us collectively, we become what the Bible refers to as the one perfect man. Christ and His Body become one. In this way Christ has His preeminence—"for it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross." This is the Spirit of Christ in one believer touching the Spirit of Christ in another believer which then manifests the Presence of God before the world. It is God's great passion to reveal Himself to the world through human expression. No single individual outside of Jesus Christ could do this, but collectively we can, and this is the glory of God.
A more romantic picture of Christ and His Body is called the Bride. The spiritual church, not the religious church, those born of God, born of His Sprit are betrothed to His Son and called the Bride. She is one with Him because she has been born out of His side. We can see this in the Garden and on the Cross. Return with me now to the Garden, for it is a "type," or picture, of your destiny. Remember, everything God does is first in the natural, and then brought to a greater light of revelation by the Holy Spirit. God made Adam from the dust of the ground outside of the Garden, but He brought forth Eve from Adams's side rib inside the Garden. At the end of Genesis 2, we read, "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." And in Ephesians 5 we read "For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church." Likewise, whereas we are first born physically, outside of heaven, and are earthy, our spirits are born anew of God, out of the pierced side of Jesus as He died on the Cross, and we are now bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh.
This new creation is His Bride—the Church—and the one who is seated next to Him in the heavenly places.
Today she is a spiritual temple, but in the future she will be a physical city.
The End is Revealed from the Beginning
And so it is that the end is revealed from the beginning. From the Garden of Eden we are given a picture of the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And just as in the Garden of Eden there was a river and the Tree of Life, so shall it be in the end in the new city called the Bride. The river watered the garden in Eden and is called the "water of life" in Revelation 22:1. As the river watered the Tree of Life in the beginning, so it does in the end—proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. Therefore, the Life is in the river.
Jesus said to the woman at the well, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water." We call this gift Eternal life. He is the Holy Spirit. The Testaments of God close with these words, "The Spirit and the bride say 'Come!' And let him who hears say, 'Come!' And let him who thirsts, come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely."
From the beginning of His story, we discover the calling and destiny of God for our lives. Created in His image and likeness we are to be a temple for the living God; a dwelling place of God in the Spirit in order that through mankind God may establish His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
There is however, another kingdom that opposes God's kingdom and is at war to destroy God's plans and purposes. Paul himself feared "lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ." Let us see who the enemy of God is.
1.) Is there more to the gospel of the kingdom of God besides forgiveness of sin and a future in heaven? Why do you believe this?
2.) How does God communicate with us today? How does thinking of yourself as first and foremost a spirit man influence you?
3.) Being an inheritor of the very life of God brings purpose and hope as opposed to imitating Christ, which adds fuel to the fire of rules, regulations and religion. Why would god purpose us to inherit vs. imitate?
4.) What is the definition of eternal life as spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ? How does your perspective change knowing that eternal life begins now?
Chapter TwoTwo Kingdoms in Conflict
WE WILL NOT FULLY UNDERSTAND GOD'S WILL FOR US—HIS CHURCH—IF WE DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE PROBLEM OF EVIL
Man is God's most glorious creation: part physical, of the earth, and part spiritual, of the heavens. Indeed, even the angels are in awe of man; angels were given the assignment to minister to those who will inherit salvation, for man was created a 'little lower than God (Elohim), crowned with honor and glory, and given charge over all the creation.'
There were, however, some angels who were not at all happy about God's plans for man, for you see, they followed another host. Long before there was rebellion on earth, there was a rebellion in heaven.
War in Heaven
The rebellion is recorded in Revelation 12:7-9.
And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
Earlier, in Revelation 12:4, we read that the number of angels who followed Satan's rebellion was one-third of the angelic host. The exact time of this rebellion is uncertain, but there is a theory, called The Gap theory, that places the rebellion between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2.
The Bible states in Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." And in verse 2 it says, "The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters."
In 1814, a scholar by the name of Thomas Chalmers compared Genesis 1:2 with Isaiah 45:18, which reads, "For thus says the LORD, Who created the heavens, Who is God, Who formed the earth and made it, Who has established it, Who did not create it in vain, Who formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD, and there is no other."
According to Chalmers, the term "without form and void," tohu v'bohu, seems to indicate that the earth was not originally created without form and void but subsequently became that way. In fact, the verb in that sentence translated "was"—haya—means "became;" it is a transitive verb implying action. So verse 2 could be translated, 'But the earth became without form and void.' The word for "but" is an adversative in both the Septuagint (ancient Greek translation) and the Vulgate (Latin). One suggestion from this hint in verse 2 is the possibility of a gap—an interval of time (maybe billions of years), between verses 1 and 2. Not all bible scholars and scientists agree with this theory, but it could be a possible explanation for the age of the earth, which clearly is older than 6,000 or 7,000 years as young earth creationists would have you believe.
Since Satan and his angels were cast down to earth, heaven was no longer his domain; this is why he is called the Prince of this world. The Gap Theory suggests that God judged the earth and it became without form and void: ruined and uninhabitable due to Satan's influence. Verse 2 and forward may describe a re-creation, a reconstruction of the earth. "And the Spirit of God was hovering on the face of the waters"; and rather than wipe out the earth, God chose to undertake a plan of redemption.
Invasion of the Kingdom of Darkness
The Garden of Eden was God's "theater of operation" for establishing His government on earth as it is in heaven; the Adamic race was His chosen, created vessel. As per his nature, Satan schemes to corrupt the image of God—man—and God's kingdom of Light. He looks for a way in. Because Satan cannot enter man or his world without a legal, open door, he looks for an opportunity to tempt man into violating God's law. If he succeeds, and a violation of the law occurs, he has legal ground on which to enter.
Satan tempts Adam and Eve into questioning God's word by asking them, "Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?" Notice the question was misquoted, but the point is that the evil one could even speak. By agreement with Satan they commit a violation of the only law God had given them, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat ..."
The Nature of Evil
Satan's tactics with Adam and Eve illustrate the nature of evil. Evil comes to us through the thought life of dis-embodied spirits. God Himself points this out to Adam, and to us, in Genesis 3 when God comes to speak to Adam in the cool of the evening, as was His custom. This particular time, however, God cannot find Adam. When God asks him why he is hiding, he replies that he was afraid because he was naked; to which God says, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?" Who told you? In other words, a disembodied spirit inhabited the form of a being, either human or animal, both of which angels and disembodied spirits can inhabit and speak through.
Cain's experience also gives us a picture of sin as an entity. Before he commits murder, God visited Cain to warn him that "sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you should rule over it." Only a living entity, albeit unseen, can 'crouch' and 'speak.' God calls this entity, sin.
Through our human spirit we have access to the spirit world, of which Satan and his angelic realm as well as God and His host of heaven dwell in. Since man is the only creature that can access both worlds, Satan wants mans' access and authority to rule on earth. When Adam and Eve listened to Satan and disobeyed God, evil acquired its coveted access to them and their world.
1 John 5:19 says, "We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one." The wicked one is the evil, Lucifer, Satan, the dragon. No one is exempt from the wicked one's tempting, not even Jesus Christ. When Jesus went into the wilderness, before He began His ministry, the devil tempted Him with several things, including 'all the kingdoms of the world.' The devil claimed he could offer 'all the kingdoms of the world' because he had access to them; meaning, if Satan can rule in a man who rules a nation, or a company, or the media, etc., then Satan has access to the kingdoms of this world. It is, in fact, a legitimate claim.
Excerpted from The Mystery of Christ by Shay Meckenstock Copyright © 2012 by Shay Meckenstock. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
1 Before Time Began....................27
2 Two Kingdoms in Conflict....................35
3 Family Secrets....................47
4 "What's In A Name?"....................61
5 God's Mystery in Prophesy....................70
6 The Gospel of the Kingdom of God....................89
7 Inheriting the Kingdom of Christ....................103
8 The Kingdom of God and His Righteousness....................116
9 Christ in Us....................129
10 The Hope of Glory....................140
11 The House of God....................151
12 River of Life....................164