Things which eye has not seen, nor heard, neither have entered into the mind of man, God has revealed them unto us through the Spirit. I Corinthians 2:9,10 (ASV)
This is one of the most misunderstood texts in the whole Bible. Most people think it is talking about heaven. And so it is. But not about heaven hereafter, but something which every Christian has right now. Things which unbelievers never knew nor ever will know – God has revealed them to those who love Him.
The simple fact is that a person enters eternal life the moment that he becomes a Christian, not just after he dies. The Bible says repeatedly, “We have passed from death into life.” “He that believes on the Son of God has everlasting life.”
Just think for a moment of what that all means! If you are a Christian you will never have to die: you already did that when you were born again and your old self died and was buried. (Romans 6:3-11, Gal. 2:20) What the unbeliever calls “death” is for a Christian simply gliding into glory, as painless as falling asleep, in Jesus. A Christian doesn’t have to think about “facing his Maker” and being judged; that too is a thing of the past. (John 3:18, 5:24)
This is what Paul means in Ephesians when he says that we are already “reigning with Christ in the heavenlies.” Out salvation is not some vague hope for the future; it is a sure thing of the present and the past.
A devout Scot was asked as to whether he were looking forward to heaven. “Hoot, mon,” was his reply; “I’ve been there now for fifty years!”
I am a brand new person; not a forgiven sinner (as seen on bumper stickers) but a heavenly saint.
Naturally (which a Christian is not – Romans 8:9) a person is self-ish (which is the basic human problem and the root of all sin). And since no one is satisfied with himself the way he is naturally (physically, etc.) we all tend to have a poor self-image. The only answer is not psyching oneself up (“I’m OK, you’re OK”), nor even making changes in what we are or aren’t, but becoming a brand new person, somebody different.
In order to effect this, all that we are “by nature” has to die, be buried, and forgotten. (Matthew 10:38, 16:24) The Bible says that happened to us when Christ died on the cross (Romans 6, Col. 3). Christ was not simply our substitute, who died for us; we died with Him. It is up to us to believe that and practice it. (Romans 6:11, Col 2:20) He that would “save” his life will lose it….etc. He cannot be two persons, one old and one new. The Christian is only one person; he does not have two natures, like a Jekyll and Hyde.
In place of our “old man” (like a kernel of corn that dies, or a graft on a stump, even baby in a womb) a new self is born. (John 3, Matt. 18:3) It began – just as we all “began” physically in Adam – when Christ came out of the tomb, a new man, Second Adam. It starts – is born – individually when we become Christians. It is Christ himself in us, the very Spirit that animated Him. We are Christ-ians! (Col. 1:27, Romans 8:10)
This new person, the new”you”, is perfect (can Christ be anything else?). (I John 3) That is why Christians are called “saints” in the Bible; it is what they are, now. The new “you” is immortal; eternal life does not begin when we die, but at re-generation. (John 3:36, I John 3 :14)
How then do we explain the “dualism” in a Christian, his sin? A Christian consists of three “parts” (like the Old Testament temple, even the triune God). In this way he is a true human being, a real reflection of God; an unbeliever is just body-soul, a refined animal, whose “spirit” is empty like the Holy of Holies in Herod’s temple. (Matt. 7:23, I Peter 2:10, II Peter 2:12) The Christian’s spirit is God’s very Spirit (Ezekiel 36:27), the Spirit of Christ; his soul (mind, will, emotions) is “sanctified” gradually by that perfect Spirit (Gal. 5:16–); his body also is bettered because of its controlling Spirit, but is made up of corruptible elements in order to fit its earthly environment, and perfect Spirit. (I Cor. 15) A Christian is satisfied with his present body – insofar as it cannot be improved – , knowing it is perfect for its present purposes.
The “struggle” that a Christian has, then, is not a war with himself (the worst kind there is), but what the Bible calls the “flesh” (including soul as well as body). These “motions of the flesh” are like the “knee-jerks” of a corpse, or coasting of a “dead” auto. They are not “you” (Romans 7:17). Romans 7 is not a description of normal Christian life, but the struggles of a moral unbeliever, or carnal Christian trying to improve in his own strength.
What are the results of all this?
I am a new person NOW (not in some uncertain future). Cannan in the Bible is not a picture of heaven (and Jordan of death) but a condition of rest and possession that we ought to enjoy right now.
Total forgiveness; sins of future as well as past (don’t have to ask for forgiveness; thank God for it). God even says he forgets all our sins. (Isaiah 38:17, 43:25, Jer. 31:33, Hebrews 8:12, 10:17) We must too. (Hebrews 9:14; 10:2, 22; I John 3:20; Phil. 3:13) Satan cannot rob us of our salvation, but he can and does rob us of our assurance, which is almost as bad.
We do not have to fear a future judgment. (Romans 5:1; 8:1,33,34) If we already died with Christ, we have been judged and all sin paid for. (John 5:24; 3:18; I John 2:28, 4:17; Hebrew 9:28) Our old sinful self, dead and gone, will not even appear at the Judgment; just the new perfect “you”. Matthew 25 and John 3:21 indicate that final “judgment” for the Christian is an awards-assembly! (Also see Psalms 26, 43)
We do not even have to fear death! The old “us” died with Christ already, once and for all. Eternal life began at conversion. What we call death is a painless doorway out of an evil world. True, our bodies die, but that is only an exchange for a new one; good riddance. (John 11:25; 5:24; 8:51; I Cor. 5:14; I John 3:14; Romans 8:23; II Cor. 5:1-8; 4:16)
We have the power and ability not to sin; it is a cop-out to say we have to. (I Cor. 10:11; Hebrews 2:14; I John 2:13, 3:8, 4:4, 5:4; II Cor. 2:14; Romans 8:37)
We have the ability to live perfect lives. (I This 5:23; Hebrews 13:21; Eph 3:20; I Cor 1:30; Eph 2:10; Phil 1:6, 2:13) What God commands, He expects and enables. (Matt 5:48; II Peter 1:3,9; 1:15,16; I This 4:3; I John 2:1) Paul made self an example! (I Cor. 4:16, 11:1; Phil. 3:17; II Thes 3:7)
The Means of Realizing this Security
One must want it. Unbelievably, there are many Christians who do not want it; they prefer selfness (false humility, etc.). We must be willing. Eph 3:20. This requires open-ness, readiness to change.
We must simply ask; God wants nothing more than to give it. (Luke 11:13, Matt 7:11)
Abandon all self-effort. We are especially weak here, thinking that once we are Christians, we must “work out our own salvation”, forgetting Phil. 2:13. Christian life is not one of gratitude, but Christ’s life in us. So: we are not to ask that God give us love, etc., but that He be our love, wisdom, joy, truth. Sanctification is not we growing in grace, but more of Christ in us. (Phil 3:10, 14)
Have the very mind of Christ, so as to know the will of God and God Himself. (Phil 2:5; I Cor 2:16; Romans 12:2) The way to achieve this is by saturating oneself with Scripture, which is God’s mind on paper; think like God!
Rejoice always! God operates via the praises of his people (Psalm 22:3. Note context.) Jesus did; Paul did. (Eph 5:20; Phil 4:4, 6; Col. 3:15; I Thes. 5:16,18; Phil 1:18; Col 1:24; II Cor 6:10; 12:9,10.)