THE NATURAL, AND THE SPIRITUAL.
Many seem to think that a spiritual body is not a literal body. In other words, that it is not a real body. Literal, says Webster, means real; not figurative or metaphorical.
"There is a natural [animal] body, and there is a spiritual body," (1 Cor. 15: 44). Does any one suppose the apostle here teaches that there is a real body, and there is a figurative or metaphorical body; and as we have born the image of the real, we shall bear the image of the metaphorical? One would suppose they so read, from their exceeding blindness in recognizing any but the natural, or animal body. They seem fearful lest, if the idea be entertained that Christ comes the second time in any other than an animal body, it will lead to the rejection of a literal resurrection, &c. We do reject the idea of the saints being raised "a natural, or animal body;" and if that is rejecting a literal resurrection of the saint, we must plead guilty, and beg to be excused simply on the ground that the Almighty has said, "It is raised a spiritual body."
Now will some one inform me why it is unscriptural, or fanatical to maintain that Christ has a spiritual body; and, as the saints are to be like him, that they are raised spiritual bodies, Because some seem to think that a spiritual body is not real, but is only a metaphorical body; and that nothing is real except it is "of the earth, earthy," is no reason why those who can discern spiritual things, which the natural man cannot, (see 1 Cor. 2: 14), should remain in darkness. The two cases on record in which a spiritual body is described, (Dan. 10: 6-, and Rev. 1: 12-, represent a very nice kind of a body, and one which Daniel appeared to think was real. And we have the promise of being made like unto his glorious body; and that as we have borne the image of the earthy; we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. The first man and his race are of the dust of the ground, and therefore, of the earth. Christ also took upon him our nature, to work out a plan by which we can take upon us his nature; and as he has borne the image of the earthy; we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. "Yea though we have known Christ after the flesh, henceforth know we him no
more." Many seem to think that because Christ appeard under a vail of flesh, after his resurrection, just as the Lord appeared to Abraham, that in some way they are to know him again after the flesh. The world may see him thus; but we shall see him as he is; and not under a vail.
To the natural man it is foolishness, neither can he understand the things of the Spirit. Hence, to teach that one who is born of the Spirit can come and go like the wind; is foolishness to them. If they cannot rise above the flesh, how can they believe when told of heavenly things? Hence, the only course left for them, is to explain away these texts.
When it is said, "This same Jesus which ye have now seen go into heaven, shall so come, in like manner, as ye have seen him go;" the "natural man" at once fixes his mind on, not the Jesus who would suddenly appear in their midst; and then vanish out of their sight; and who was mysteriously invisible during most of that forty days of his presence in his spiritual body; but on Jesus in the flesh; forgeting that we are to know him no more, after the flesh. The Jesus that went away was the one born of the Spirit; a being who, according to his own words, is as invisible to mortals, without a miracle, as is the wind. He would suddenly appear in their midst, "the doors being shut;" and then "vanish out of their sight." Nor could they tell "whence He came, or whither he went. So is every one that is born of the Spirit." This is the Jesus who went away; and who comes again "in like manner. There are experts at explaining away Scripture, who can dispose of these things and make them mean nothing, I admit; and so they can any and all Scripture; nevertheless the word of God standeth.
To the natural man, a spiritual body means an earthy animal body with spirit, instead of blood, runing through the veins and arteries. And yet spirit is nothing real, but metaphorical. Therefore, a spiritual heavenly body, is a fleshly earthy body with a figurative or metaphorical substitute for blood. Truly a wonderful discovery. And this, it seems, is the highest ideal of a spiritual body to which the natural man, unaided by inspiration, can attain. How then can we talk to them of the kingdom of God, which a man cannot see, until he is born of the Spirit; and which will therefore never be visible to the man in the flesh.
"He shall sit upon the throne of his father David," to them means a restitution of Israel in the flesh, with Christ exalted to reign on an earthly throne over an earthly Jerusalem.
What then does Gal. 4: 22-31, mean? "For it is written,
Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a free woman. Which things are an allegory." The earthly Jerusalem with her children, including the fleshly kingdom of David with all that pertained to that dispensation, "stands for Agar, which is Mount Sinai in Arabia." Is the great plan of redemption to progress backwards? Is the kingdom of David [or the Annointed, and which in prophecy, always means Christ] to be set up as a part of the fleshly house? Is it Agar, the old mount Sinai in Arabia, the Jerusalem that is in bondage, the children of the bondmaid, who shall not be heirs with the children of the free woman, who are to constitute the kingdom? That typical kingdom was but an allegory, a figure, or "shadow of good things to come, and pointed to something real, viz. an heavenly, "a city which hath foundations." Is it the figure, or the true, Christ is going to establish? The fleshly kingdom of that old dispensation was just as truly a figure of the true kingdom, as was the tabernacle made with hands, a figure "of the true tabernacle."
Old Jerusalem is to be restored, we do not doubt, "Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring again the captivity of Jacob's tents, and have mercy upon his dwelling places; and the city shall be built upon her old heaps. I will multiply them, and their children shall be as aforetime." "And Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place, even in Jerusalem. There shall be no more utter destruction, but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited." "Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that the city shall be built, to the Lord from the tower of Hananeel unto the gate of the corner. The measuring line shall yet go forth over against it upon the hill Gareb, and shall compass about to Goath. It shall be holy unto the Lord: it shall not be plucked up or thrown down forever," (Jer. 31). "Behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy; . . . and they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them," (Isa. 45). "Thus saith the Lord of hosts; I was jealous for Zion with great jealousy; and I was jealous for her with fury. Thus saith the Lord. I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem; and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the Lord of hosts. There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age; and the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls, playing in the streets thereof, (Zech. 8: 2-8). For before those days, there was no hire for man, nor hire for beast," &c. (verse 10).
That Jerusalem is to be rebuilt, and made glorious, there is no
lack of evidence. And that they will build houses, and plant vineyards, is beyond question. But that this restored Jerusalem with her old men and old women leaning on their staff for very age, is the kingdom of God, I do not believe. Because God has promised great things for the Jews, and other nations, in the restitution age, it does not follow that the children of the flesh are to be heirs of the kingdom. "In that day shall Israel be third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land; whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance," (Isa. 19: 24).
There are two Jerusalems; one stands for the bondmaid; the other for the free woman. The twelve tribes, or Israel in the flesh, no matter how much God may do for them, stand for Agar; as does David, a mere type, stand for Christ.
"They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed." Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. If the restored Jew is not in the flesh, but an immortal spiritual being, then he may inherit the kingdom, otherwise he cannot. Although the fleshly house of Israel are to be restored to their former estate, that former estate is as much beneath the kingdom, which flesh and blood cannot inherit, as our present position is beneath that of the angel Gabriel; "When I bring again their captivity, the captivity of Sodom and her daughters, and the captivity of Samaria and her daughters, then will I bring again the captivity of thy captives [Jerusalem] in the midst of them," (Ezek. 16: 53). This is when and how, the Jews are to be restored. And Jerusalem, re-built, is to be the head quarters of the nations, (Zech. 14: 16); and will belong to Christ, just as all other nations in the flesh will be subject to him. But "Except a man be born of water, and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." And yet, say our Age-to-come brethren, old Jerusalem, rebuilt, "Agar," is to be the capital; and the nations of the earth are to go there from year to year to keep the feast of tabernacles, and be punished if they do not go. The Jerusalem that descends from heaven, "the mother of us all;" the one Abraham looked for, and through the gates of which no one who has not been born of the Spirit can enter, finds no place in their theology. What does this talk about the two Jerusalems, one representing the children of the flesh, the other those who are born of the Spirit [raised "spiritual bodies]" mean; if there is but the
one old typical Jerusalem of Palestine, which is to represent the real kingdom of God? A man cannot see the true kingdom of God, the one of which Daved's was the type, except he be born from above; and that which is born of the Spirit, is spirit.
Our Age-to-come brethren, almost to a man, seem incapable of grappling with the spiritual. Cain it be that none of them are yet begotten of the Spirit? "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.'
Can they not see that the whole tenor of New Testament teaching is an advance from "the natural to the spiritual;" from the nature of the first Adam to that of the second? "Howbeit, that which is spiritual is not first, but that which is natural; and afterwards that which is spiritual." One who can see nothing in the restitution of the kingdom of Israel, but what stands for Agar, the Jerusalem of the flesh, a mere shadow, "or figure for the time then present:" is indeed unable to "discern spiritual things."
With their views of the age to come, no wonder those who are spiritually minded cannot accept it. The New Testament every where teaching that the kingdom of God is to be of a higher order than was the earthly kingdom of Israel; as much as the second Adam is higher than the first; or as Christ is above David; that flesh and blood cannot inherit it; that except a man be born of the Spirit, he cannot enter into it; while Age-to-come people teach that the restored Jew, converted to Christ, but still in the mortal fleshly state, will enter the kingdom of God. And, in the main, constitute the kingdom; the immortal saints being only one feature or class, in the kingdom. Thus putting new wine into old bottles. But their bottles will burst.
Jesus and the gospel teaches that one who is born of the Spirit can no more be seen of one who is in the flesh, than can the wind; that the kingdom of God cometh not with observation, or visibly; and that except a man be born again he cannot see it; and only those who bear the image of the heavenly, can enter in, or inherit it. A converted or restored Jew, no more bears the image of the second or heavenly man, than does a mortal christion. So long as they are of the earth, earthy; neither of them can enter into the kingdom. But with the "seed" perfected; the second man, male and female, Christ and his bride, complete; there begins a special work of redemption; viz. The creature, or "natural man," will, as he becomes mature, "be delivered from the bondage of corruption. into the glorious liberty of the sons
of God." That is, be translated from the earthly, to the heavenly kingdom, or heavenly Jerusalem. The restored Jews are not sons of God, they are the children of Abraham according to the flesh: "They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted for the seed, (Rom. 9: 8). Therefore the Jews, not being the true heirs, will not receive the kingdom; nor will they be in the kingdom: "Except a man be born of water, and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." The kingdom of God was taken from them, to be given to a people bringing forth the fruits thereof. And this little flock, born of the Spirit, raised spiritual bodies, are going to have it, in spite of age to come theories.
One can get along very well with the Old Testament evidence to prove that the old Jerusalem, the typical kingdom of David, and fleshly Israel, are again to represent the kingdom of God; but he must ignore, or explain away, all the teaching of Christ and the gospel. The kingdom of David is to be restored; but David means Christ; just as Isaac, the seed of promise, stands for Christ. And the kingdom of David, was the kingdom of the Lord, (see l Chron. 29: 23). God's kingdom was given to Israel in the flesh, and was thrown down. But is now to be given to the true seed; "the natural first, and afterwards the spiritual;" is the order in which the Holy Spirit teaches that the whole plan is moving.
A faith which can grasp nothing higher than a kingdom in the flesh, will, I fear, raise those who possess it, only to its own level; "thistles do not bring forth grapes." "But it says He shall reign in Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his Ancients gloriously." True! And so does David say, "for my meat they gave me gaul; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar." But the question, in the light of the gospel, which brought to light immortality and eternal life, is, How are we to interpret the promises of God in relation to the kingdom: Are they to be fulfilled in those born of the flesh, or those born of the Spirit?
I am beginning to think Age-to-come people, and many others among pre-millennialists, do not believe in anything of a spiritual nature, or have the most remote comprehention of things of that order; either that the saint is raised "a spiritual body," or in the existence of spiritual beings, or even of the Holy Spirit itself. I know one class of age-to-come believers, the Christadelphians, do not. The Holy Spirit, say they, is but a principle, or element of power, and not an intelligence. It is nothing more nor
less than "electricity;" is taught in one of their books, now before me. What wonder they discern only a fleshly future.
False reasoning on this "natural" or animal plain, by those who cannot discern spiritual things; is leading many other, than Christadelphians, into darkness. I will give a sample of their way of reasoning: The words Satan, and Devil, says the above book, means accuser, or adversary; and are only Bible synonyms for sin. Ergo. It was a Bible synonym for sin that contended with the archangel about the body of Moses. "Mary," is a synonym for bitter; ergo: It was the principle of bitterness that took Christ to be the gardener. "The words that I speak, they are spirit;" that is, a principle of power. Christ is the Word, (John 1: 14); ergo: Christ is a principle, and not an entity. Holy Spirit, [pnuma] is an element of power, electricity. "God is a spirit [pnuma]." Ergo: God is electricity.
A man becomes my enemy, he is an adversary, therefore he does not exist, he is a synonym of opposion. Granting that such a being as the Devil does exist, will some of these Sophists please tell what he could have been called? If he had been named Peter, they would have insisted that he was only a stone.
Satan hath desired to have you, that he might sift you as wheat, said Christ. A principle desired to have Peter. If Bible language were clay, designed to be shaped by every reader to suit himself, these men might be right.
There is ten times the evidence of the existence of fallen angels, familiar spirits, "wicked spirits in heavenly places" [margin]; "the rulers of the darkness of this world;" and of their chief, the "prince of the power of the air;" that there is of the existence of Michael the archangel, with whom the Devil contended about the body of Moses, (Jude 9). And the same kind of sophistry that will explain away fallen spirits, will also explain away the existance of angels who are "ministering spirits." Angel means a messenger or servant, Satan means an adversary. And both are applied to more than one order of beings. I am thankful they do not desire to prove that angels are mere principles in nature; since it would be such an easy task. And if they really set about it, as the Christadelphians do, they can explain away the Holy Spirit. And the same reasoning, carried to its legitimate conclusion, can also dispose of both Christ and the Father. How pertinent then becomes the query, "When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?