PEACE AND REST
Jesus is our peace and rest, our Sabbath and our new creation life. He is the Kingdom who emerges from our being to fill the earth with His glory.
God’s revelation of Himself shows that righteousness is never a list of rules or abstractions. Righteousness and life is a person. Having been brought up as a legalist I have friends who like me no longer live their lives around the law or the culture of a law-based tradition. The gospel of the Kingdom is far simpler than fundamentalism would allow. It is more generous and surpassingly profound in its capacity to maintain us as daughters and sons in Father’s presence and heart. He makes us persons of renown. He makes us sons in spirit and in truth by drawing us into Himself and expressing Himself through us.
Jesus lives to draw all people and all things into Himself, and to make Himself their spirit and the life of the world. This means drawing all humanity into the fellowship of Father, Son and Holy Spirit and in turn making each of us and the community of the saved. Now we are the dwelling place of the trinity and living fountains of His infinite peace and life. Joined to Father we are an apostolic people in the manner of Jesus who is our root.
Jesus makes us more personable. Not more abstruse.
Some of my friends mentioned above no longer live from the law and the culture of legalism. But it does not always seem obvious to them why they do. Knowledge of what His cross achieved and the new covenant life that result is surprisingly thin on the ground. Some wonder if they are doing the right thing by God and themselves, not only because they had been socialized into an alternate gospel but because the mysterious reality of the new covenant is not understood. But this new covenant is today’s mode of Kingdom life. Jesus lived it and Paul explained it. Simply put, the new covenant: Christ in all respects is our life! It is the Kingdom realized through the sons and daughters of the King. We competently minister the Kingdom of Christ, the Father and Holy Spirit - the life of heaven into earth when we are the living expression of the new covenant: Because Christ is our life.
‘He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant--not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life’ 2 Cor 3.6 NIV. So let’s be done with the addiction to the letter and the flesh that has immunized us against life!
The new covenant is never described as a list or a taxonomy because it is not an “it” but a person. The new covenant is Christ your life. Under the old covenant there was an agreement. ‘If you do this then I will do that.’ It is quite different in the new covenant. Now it is ‘I have done this so that you can be the sons of God.’ Our identity, purpose and ministry flows from our already accomplished union with God. We don’t need snake oil. Avoid those ministries and places that specialize in equipping you with keys and methods of obtaining what you already have!
‘Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is’ 1 John 3.2 KJV.
What is the deal? Christ is our life. This is the vicarious humanity of Jesus. But there’s more. The spirit/person of Jesus is manifest as you. Jesus is in you and with you. Joined by Jesus to our Father you are sons of God in spirit and in truth. Below is about as succinct an expression of the new covenant as we will get.
‘I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me’ Gal 2.20 NIV. Jesus gave Himself to us to be our life. You are the expression of Him when you live in the Spirit. But not if we are living in the law or some performance mode. Here we are a blotchy expression of ourselves with a Jesus coat of paint. You can do better because in Christ you are better!
A COMMON FOG
Like many in the churches who disavow legalism, a lot of Believers do not know why their life is in Christ and not in churchianity, religion, Christian beliefs or ethics. We are not in Christ because we have a belief system We are in Christ because we are in Christ - because we agree with Him and have embraced the reality that He has made the two one.
‘For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility’ Eph 2.14 ESV. Union with self and each other begins with our already achieved union with God. I used to strive to be intimate with Jesus. Sure I had gone beyond the formula of prayer a Bible study but I would come back from a conference and attempt to discipline myself to be talking to Jesus continually and fear that if I was not doing this then intimacy had dissolved. Not so. Christ is in us. He is with us. We are in the trinity. Intimacy is ours because it has been gifted us. Our work is simply to rest in the peace of agreement that this is so. We are at our best when we are not striving to received what is already ours.
Not a few deny that they are legalists. Yet they are encumbered by a subtle legalism composed of all the right things Christian should be doing. This is commonly known as ‘doing the stuff.’ Many think ‘doing Christ’s stuff’ is Christ our life. It’s not. It’s ours. It’s the common performance gospel. Some may not like to hear this since they build ministries out of it. You were not given a ‘try harder’ gospel by Jesus. This came by people who did not understand the fullness of what Jesus accomplished for us by the cross and the incarnation. The Spirit of Jesus in us becomes who we are. This is the experience of freedom, joy and transformation. As Francois Du Toit declares, ‘To see Jesus is to see who you are.’ Where is Jesus. He is with Father in heaven and He is in you and with you and always will be. Nothing can separate you from the love (the presence) of God.
Churchianity style legalism can be expressed as ‘What would Jesus do’ and ‘Keeping close to Jesus.’ But Jesus is in us and interleaved in our being. So this misunderstanding results from ignorance of the new covenant and a failure to be reborn from the knowledge of good and evil into a life that is unconditionally Christ. Through poor teaching, many remain in a Christian version of the knowledge of good and evil under the illusion that this is the gospel. As a result many ‘born again’ Christians are not genuinely reborn. They remain in Adam with Jesus’ help, floundering along in religion that brings neither peace of fruitfulness.
So we have a still-born gospel that never got to be the gospel of the Kingdom or the fullness of Christ, with a faint new birth that is merely a change from an old ‘bad’ morality to the new ‘good’ morality called “Christianity.’ But our life does not come from Christianity. Our life is Jesus from first last.
We are not the inheritors of a morality or a religion. We inherit Christ who has been gifted to us as our life. We have inherited a life that is a person, who is the new and living way that changes us and the creation. Stephen Crosby writes,
“Why would you choose to live by precepts of Torah, that didn’t work for Israel, when rest in His Person has ALWAYS been His desire, and is available to you in Christ? Christ is the end of Torah for all who believe.” Why indeed!
Christ is the finish of the Torah and the start of the life that is His Spirit multiplied first in you, then in all humanity and then in the social structures that are human society. This is the new creation kingdom of God. Make sure you represent the gospel of the Kingdom and not a kingdom of religion!
I know folks who will say, ‘Jesus transcends the law.’ And He does. But they say this as though in transcending the law He is the means of maintaining and keeping the law - as though He is its Chief Custodian and Implementer of the Precepts. No. Not at all. This is a misunderstanding and a perversion of the doctrine of the apostles. It is Jesus Himself who is our life by His Spirit imbuing us with His person. The person of Jesus is the law of the Spirit of Life. This has nothingt odo with Moses and everything to do with the spirit of the resurrected Jesus imbuing you and the world with Himself.
‘For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory’ Col 3.3,4 NIV.
If we remain tied to the law, we have not died. We are not hidden in Christ and He is not our life. Glory is not ours because we live in the dullness and death of the flesh and promote this as life! Unfortunately we are tied to our own flesh where we have alienated ourselves from His spirit and life. Yet we live in the illusion that we are living the life of the Kingdom.
Be honest. What would you rather have? The person of Jesus pervading your being and manifesting as you or becoming a religious non-person that is jumble of rules, hawking about a belief system? The latter is a gross diminution of the reality of Christ our life. It inhibits new creation life because the letter kills. Don’t purvey death in the name of life!
Jesus did say that none of the law would fade until all be fulfilled. Exactly right. All was fulfilled by the cross, the resurrection, Pentecost and the descent of the Spirit to be our life in Christ. Let’s be clear. Any change, any victory that comes about in life did not occur because we tried hard to bring our will into conformity to a principle of right doing. It happened because Jesus released the Spirit of Himself into our being. We became conformed to His life because He conformed us!
The basis of our life in God is the atonement. Better stated as the at-one-ment, it means that the alienation that was ours in the independent Adam has been undone and we have been made one with God. We have been placed within the fellowship of the trinity. The atonement is grace realized, grace active and grace as Christ in us. The following scripture is at once an expression of the at-one-ment and a statement of the vicarious humanity of Jesus. Here He is not only the One who is for us all but the All who makes us one as individuals, communities and nations. He is the one who is our rest and peace since we are liberated to be who we are and live in our real identity without distraction, misrepresentation and reproach.
‘But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace’ Eph 2.13-15 NIV.
The Sabbath was instituted as a harbinger and shadow of our rest and peace in Christ. But that rest, that comfort, that peace and creativity arising from innocence and forgiveness is Jesus our Sabbath. Today Sabbath is a person. Jesus is rest, peace, life and the power of His resurrection alive in our being. Because of Jesus, we live, move and have our being in God. So don’t crucify the son of God again by undoing what God has done with a retrograde law-Sabbath. Don’t accede to the folly of making a religion and a belief system out of a shadow when the reality is Christ.
‘Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ’ Col 2.16,17 NIV.
In Jesus we are made whole. We live in peace because we live in His grace and we are being re-created as our true selves in our Father. He makes our being one. Fragmentation is removed. Our person - our spirit, soul and body is harmonized and made one in the person of Jesus. Jesus is our oneness with God and our oneness with self. This is why the following statement by Dr Samuel Bacchiocci needs to be recognized as the error it is. He writes ‘How can we enable Christ to harmonize and quiet our restless lives? God gave mankind before and after the Fall a vital institution, the Sabbath day: a day specifically designed to free us from secular concerns so that we might freely find rest in God.’ Let’s be clear. Such a day can no more give us spiritual rest that praying over a marrow will make it a human being. In the new covenant God gives man no thing, no observance and no institution from which to derive life. Why? He has given us His Son who Himself is our life. All promotion of anything that is not Christ is actually death. Infinite life is in His Son.
‘God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life’ 1 John 5.8-12 NIV.
We cannot multiply the new creation by living in the old.
You have life in God’s Son. No need to add to infinity! You have a life, a Sabbath, a peace and a resurrection in Jesus. He is totally our rest and our life. Don’t accept substitutes. Don’t crucify the Son of God anew by rejecting His cross and embracing one of your own. You have a rest, a peace, a new creation life in Him. Jesus Christ’s God’s Son is totally your life in all things. He represents you and all humanity in everything and in every way towards God. He is your life in God. He is your relationship to God. He is your door to fellowship with God. In Jesus you and our Father are one.
‘He is before all things, and in him all things hold together’ Col 1.17 NIV.
‘And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ--everything in heaven and on earth’ Eph 1.10 NIV.