Romans 8, Part 3
Nov 17, 2010
Paul wrote in Rom. 8:11 that "He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you." I believe he fully intended that we appropriate this life-giving Spirit here and now. We are to live by that Spirit, and even though we recognize that we are in a time of growth and development, yet this is done largely through on-the-job training. In other words, we are to exercise the spiritual authority that is available to us.
As we mature, of course, we will be capable of utilizing greater spiritual authority. We must recognize that God does not want power to go to our heads, nor will He entrust the keys of the Kingdom to a spiritual three-year-old, lest such authority be misused.
In my view, the "life" given to our mortal bodies by His Spirit goes beyond immortality. It is really more akin to a way of life. We are being trained to rule with Christ and to judge the world in righteousness. To do so, we must learn to think like Christ, act like Him, speak only His words, and do only what He would do. We must know His will and also His plan for the universe as a whole. The more we understand Him and His intention for creation, the better equipped we will be to exercise authority in His name as a blessing, and not as a curse to others.
Pentecost is both an experience and a time of learning. In Acts 2 we see the experience, but in the Pentecostal Age we see the time-based training period. Many have understood the experience, but have not really understood the purpose of TIME.
As far as our intellect is concerned, understanding Time is what makes us different from animals. An animal's understanding of time is limited to their own life time. They have no concept of previous generations, and so they write no history books. They have no concept of an afterlife, so they make no preparations beyond their own life time. Squirrels store nuts for the winter, and bears will bury food for a future meal, but they care nothing beyond their life span.
On the other hand, we learn history and work for the good of our grandchildren. We even prepare according to our understanding of the afterlife. This is civilization, and it is all based upon our ability to understand Time. It is a divine gift to mankind that allows us to go beyond our own little world of experience and to think non-selfishly of others that we may never meet personally.
We are dumbed down when our sense of Time is eroded. Atheists, who have a sense of history but reject the idea of an afterlife, are partially reduced to the level of animals--as even Darwin taught. Christians who do not understand the doctrine of the Ages are likewise at a disadvantage, not being able to comprehend the divine plan fully. Those who are enclosed within themselves and remain within their own separate world of personal feeling and experience are (to that extent) mentally ill and unable to enjoy the human experience.
To have a sound mind and balanced outlook on life, we must recognize both inward experience and the outward-looking concept of Time. In Romans 8:11, the "life" that we are given by the indwelling Spirit is a way of life that is both personal and outward looking. One does not abolish the other, but each enhances and completes the other.
For this reason, Paul also speaks of aionian life (Rom. 5:21; 6:23). The Emphatic Diaglott says it is "age-lasting life." It is not merely immortality, but life in a particular period of Time (between the two resurrections). Those who receive life (immortality) as overcomers in the first resurrection will enjoy a better quality of life for that thousand-year Age. They will not die, and they will reign with Christ (Rev. 20:6) over the others who are not so blessed.
But in Rom. 8:11 Paul went beyond this to say that even today in our mortal bodies, we have the potential to experience that future way of life to the extent that we grow to maturity and are able to exercise the authority that we have even today as we reign with Christ NOW.
Such authority is potentially immediate, but experientially dependent upon "putting to death the deeds of the body" (Rom. 8:13). We can appropriate this quality of life even today. We need not wait for the future. In fact, growth brings us nearer to that future time of maturity, but growth is (by definition) time-dependent. Growth is largely a matter of on-the-job training, which means that we are to learn and practice skills that will be perfected by usage over time.
This is why I do more than sit around waiting for the future. Whenever the Father sends me to some location to decree a change in the earth, He intends that I put into practice that which I have already learned. It is Applied Scripture. It is an exercise of spiritual authority that is relevant here and now. Many today have little concept of this, because it is out of the realm of their own experience. Even though they see the biblical prophets doing such things, they do not comprehend the idea that the prophets are our examples--not saintly exceptions.
It really starts with some biblical understanding and learning to hear His voice and to be led by the Spirit. As we grow and develop, God finds odd jobs for us to do around the house, and then He sends us outside. I recall in 1989 the first time the Father sent me 1000 miles to decree against a hurricane that had not yet formed in the Gulf of Mexico. It was there when I arrived at Corpus Christi, and after the decree it died within 24 hours without hitting land.
It takes more faith to drive 1000 miles than it does to make a decree on our door step, especially when you do not have the money to make such a trip and must trust His provision.
My revelation of Time has often been criticized by those who are limited by personal experience. I have been accused of "doing nothing" on account of my understanding of The Age to come--as if I am only preparing for the future but neglecting the present. I assure you that this is not true. I prepare for the future by practicing the Art of Life in the present time.
Our time of Pentecost is our growth period. Without growth, we will not qualify for Tabernacles, as Israel discovered in Numbers 14. The sanctification of Pentecost is not a prerequisite for justification, but it is certainly a prerequisite for Tabernacles. Israel did not need the sanctification of Pentecost to leave Egypt, but they were disqualified from entering the Promised Land because they had rejected hearing His voice at Pentecost (Ex. 20:18-21).
Israel was justified by faith in the blood of the Lamb when they came out of Egypt at Passover. Hebrews 4:6 says that the "good news" [gospel] was preached to them, but yet "they failed to enter because of disobedience." They experienced Passover, but they failed to experience Pentecost--to hear His voice, to be led by the Spirit, and to learn obedience, growing into spiritual maturity.
I do not believe that to qualify for Tabernacles one must achieve perfection and immortality in this present life. But one must show signs of life and growth. This goes beyond learning the Bible. Learning the Bible is very helpful, but only if it is applied and translated into practical experience. Romans 8:14 says,
(14) For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
God called His "son" out of Egypt (Hos. 11:1) and led them by His Spirit (pillar of fire). So also is it with us. If we are led by the Spirit of God--instead of by the flesh--we too are the sons of God. That is our primary evidence of Sonship.
This is the third part of a series titled "Romans 8." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones