If you were to try to summarize in a few words the entire Bible regarding faith and practice; how would you do it? Maybe a simple phrase like the following would do it for you: “Trust and obey, for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” Someone might quote John 3:16. Some might say that this task is impossible. The entire Bible is too vast and diverse to summarize in just a few short sentences; it is impossible even to summarize its basic instructions for faith and practice. And furthermore, someone might object that summarizing the whole Bible has nothing to do with the Gospel which is the title of this chapter.
The Gospel of His Body and His Blood
Well, let’s start with one basic sentence, and let’s see where it leads us. (You people need to calm down!)
SIN LEADS TO DEATH
The above statement is certainly Biblical. Remember when God told Adam, “ but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17). Romans 6:23 states, “The wages of sin is death ….” In other words, the consequence of sin is death. Romans 5:12 shows how through man came sin; and then, death came through sin.
The word, “death,” here means not just physical death. This word encompasses all manner of curses, the curses of the Law, hell, the second death, hell on earth (otherwise known as war), sickness, poverty, confusion, boredom, torment, suffering, corruption of all manor; and the killing, stealing and destroying of the devil (John 10:10). When Adam and Eve sinned, they immediately began to experience shame and fear, which are forms of death. When their son, Cain, sinned by becoming angry, jealous and committing murder; Abel experienced the consequences of his brother’s sin, i.e., physical death. Cain, for his sin, received a judgment that he felt was too much to bear. His judgment was to be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth. This is what we might call alienation or loneliness; another form of death. To sum things up; “death” encompasses every horrible condition you can possibly imagine or give words to. All types of death are the consequences of all kinds of sins. Do certain types of sins lead to particular types of death? (Probably, particular types of death are called curses.)
Someone might object that they know of a person who did some wrong deed, and that person got away with it. No, sin always leads to death. There are no exceptions. It is just a matter of time. Somewhere down the line, that person will be caught and judged for that misdeed. Maybe, it will be in the afterlife. In due time, judgment and death will prevail. There are no exceptions; except through the Gospel.
Sin and death are all that is wrong with this world. If you were to eliminate these two conditions, this world would have no problems. These two words are a perfect summary of all of mankind’s problems. People do wrong (sin) and their wrong actions lead to horrible consequences and conditions (death). That’s it. This simple statement covers an enormous amount of territory. This statement covers a large part of Bible instruction and teaching.
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The next great statement is equally simple and straightforward. (Later in this teaching, I will explain where I got these basic statements.) This next statement covers massive amounts of Bible teaching from Genesis to Revelation; and it is certainly as all inclusive and as dominant a Bible theme as the first statement.
RIGHTEOUSNESS LEADS TO LIFE
SIN LEADS TO DEATH
First, notice the obvious. Notice that “righteousness” is the opposite of sin, while “life” is the opposite of death. If a person were to take the first statement, “sin leads to death,” and substitute “righteousness” and “life” into their respective places, you would have another giant Bible theme. These two themes are exact opposites of each other. Other than the doctrines of salvation, which take a person from one into the other, these two themes could be seen to sum up the entire Bible in regards to faith and practice. These two statements sum up the Law, the Prophets, and, as we shall see, the thousands of Bible promises.
It should be noted that the word, “life,” is a huge word in the Bible, and includes all manner of blessing, eternal life, provision in every dimension or area of our existence (spirit, soul and body), sustenance in this world and the next, success, etc. The word, “blessing” and the word, “life” go together. It might be said that a blessing is a piece or a slice of life.
The perfect way to view “life,” here, can be seen in how the Bible views blood. The Bible often states that the life is in the blood. If you were to cut off blood flow to any member of your body; that member, be it a brain, a hand or a foot, would begin to die. Blood is life to each member of the body. Blood is sustenance, support, nourishment, and provision for each member of the body. This is exactly how the word “life,” when it is used in this teaching, should be viewed and understood. Here, life sustains and nourishes our entire person: spirit, soul, body. Life even blesses our circumstances and works.
Also, it should be noted that “righteousness” is defined here as right living, where “right” is defined by God through His word. Imputed righteousness has to do with forgiveness of sins. When the word, “righteousness,” is used anywhere in the Bible, it should be interpreted as right living unless imputed righteousness is specifically stated or clearly implied. Some try to interpret “righteousness” to mean imputed righteousness (or right standing) as often as they can possibly get away with it. By doing so, they twist the scriptures to fit their theology.
In the New Testament though, the apostle Paul highly valued and was usually referring to “right living,” when he used the word, “righteousness.” He considered it one of the main goals of the Gospel; note for example, Ephesians 2:8-10, especially verse 10. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, …. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” As we will see, we are not saved BY our good works, but we are saved INTO a lifestyle of good works. We are saved FOR THE PURPOSE OF good works.
Also, the word, “righteousness,” is very similar to other Bible words and phrases like: love, obedience, good works, godliness, discipleship, doing God‘s will, living for God, and following the Lord. They can all be different words and phrases to describe different aspects of the same act.
Back to our original subject; below we see the, “righteousness leads to life,” theme in the Law.
10 “Therefore you shall obey the voice of the Lord your God, and observe His commandments and His statutes which I command you today.”
11 And Moses commanded the people on the same day, saying,
12 “These shall stand on Mount Gerizim to bless the people….”
13 “and these shall stand on Mount Ebal to curse….”
14 “And the Levites shall speak with a loud voice and say to all of the men of Israel:
15 “Cursed is the one who makes ….” Deuteronomy 27: 10-15
1 “Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth.
2 “And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God:
3 “Blessed shall you be in the ….’ Deuteronomy 28:1-3
16 Now behold one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”
17 So He said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” Matthew 19:16-17
The above scriptures give us the basic patterns of the Law. There are blessings (life) for obedience (righteousness), and there are curses (death) for disobedience (sin). From Mount Gerizim the Israelites called out the blessings for obedience, while from Mount Ebal, they called out the curses for disobedience. What a dramatic and beautiful picture! This gives us the simple and basic themes of The Law. Notice that there is no third mountain where actions are considered neutral, and stuff just happens. According to the Bible, every action and word is important and has a consequence. Of course, some consequences are larger than others. Also, some consequences may not be seen for quite some time.
Things didn’t change when Joshua prepared to enter the promised land.
7 “only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.
8 “this Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, then you will have good success. Joshua 1:7-8
Thus from Joshua to Judges, and from Samuel through Kings and Chronicles; the story never changed. Obey and be blessed. Disobey and be cursed. How smart does one have to be, in order to get this basic pattern? How many theologians do you really need to help you understand this?
The Prophets, from Isaiah to Malachi, warned and rebuked the Hebrews and their kings. Not surprisingly, their basic themes were these two great themes of the Law and the Bible. See if you can see the “doing” part (righteousness or sin) and the blessing and life (or cursing and death) part in these scriptures. Remember there are thousands of such scriptures that have these two basic parts.
6 “Is this not the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked, that you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh?
8 Then your light shall break forth like the morning. Your healing shall spring forth speedily. And your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Isaiah 58:6-8 (This theme continues through Isaiah 58:12.)
23 “But this is what I commanded them saying, ‘Obey My voice and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with
you. Jeremiah 7:23
8 “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, “In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings.
9 You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation.
10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it. Malachi 3:8-10
Notice in Malachi 3 above, the blessings for obedience and the curses for disobedience. Isaiah, Jeremiah and all of the prophets hammered away at these same themes.
Then, to demonstrate how absolutely dominant this basic theme is in the Bible, almost every promise in the New Testament and in the Old Testament (like Malachi 3:8-10 above), has the “righteousness leads to life” theme. Just a few of the thousands of these promises are given below. Again, look for the doing part (righteousness) and the blessing part (life) in the scriptures below.
37 “Judge not, and you will not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
38 “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”
Luke 6:37-38 (In some of these, by not doing something wrong you avoid a curse or negative situation.)
33 “But seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Matthew 6:33
7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.
8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.
9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Galatians 6:7-9
As can be seen in the above promises, almost every promise has some condition, some act of righteousness, that we must do in order for God to do His part and bring the fulfillment, or the blessing, of the promise. This fulfillment or blessing would be what we call life. Thus, thousands of Bible promises, both New Testament and Old Testament, follow the well established pattern: righteousness leads to life.
As we will see later, the truths or claims of the cross do not require an act of righteousness on our part. We are not saved by good works. They are different from these promises in this way, and they are different in other ways also. But, we will get to the cross soon enough.
RIGHTEOUSNESS LEADS TO LIFE
SIN LEADS TO DEATH
As we have seen, these two themes have covered and summarized an enormous amount of scripture. The Law and the Prophets, and the thousands of promises are summarized in two simple statements. It is amazing how they also line up with each other. As we shall soon see, salvation is simply going, with God’s help and provision, from one to the other. And thus we have the whole Bible summed up in a nutshell. Indeed, the true and complete Gospel is simply seed form for the entire counsel of Scripture. We will prove this all later.
Actually, both of the above themes are simply the full understanding of the law. We have already mentioned Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim; and the blessings and the cursings. The Bible says that the law is our tutor who leads us to Christ (Galatians 3:24). By seeing reality in this way, we can really appreciate Christ and what He has done, and presently does for us. In fact, it is hard to get genuinely, Biblically saved without having these two themes etched into one’s mind and heart. The law leads us to Christ.
In fact, these two themes and the following teaching on salvation would make for a great Gospel tract. These two themes and how salvation relates to them are a more accurate and powerful way to lead someone to Christ. In other words, starting with the law helps one more clearly understand what Christ did for us.
We can easily see that these two themes can be summed up with one simple statement, namely: our actions have consequences (even God ordained consequences). Righteousness and sin are types of actions. Life and death are types of conditions that result from actions. Another way of saying this is that a person reaps what he sows.
ACTIONS LEADS TO CONSEQUENCES
In fact, I would like to make the following statement: just as the physical world is governed by the laws of cause and effect, so the spiritual world is governed by the laws of action and consequence (sowing and reaping). The Bible certainly confirms this. Even the average unbeliever knows that he has to do good work at his job in order to get a paycheck, which would pay his bills and be life to him. This work ethic imitates God’s ways and kingdom, and leads to earthly blessings.
People spend lots of their time thinking about what they must do to bring about the desired effect in some area of their life. Even, evil spiritual people have misguided thoughts about curses, incantations, or myths and their expected results. Much if not all of human thought revolves around the basic framework of action and consequence, even if the thoughts are erroneous.
In fact, I would like to go one step further. Our colleges and universities study human behavior in what is called the social sciences which include psychology. They also study the natural sciences which deal with the natural world. With the natural sciences they correctly assume cause and effect relationships, and their findings and teachings are generally quite useful. But, unfortunately, when they deal with human behavior in the social sciences including psychology, they assume cause and effect relationships, and their work and teaching tend to be futile and even harmful.
Man’s spiritual nature needs to be recognized. Man lives under and according to the laws of action and consequence. Insane people need to be analyzed by the disconnect that exists between their behavior and its intended consequences. Applying “cause and effect” thinking to change human behavior promotes irresponsibility, passivity, victim-hood, drug dependence, and in some cases, even demon possession. God created people to take charge of themselves, make decisions, and execute plans and actions; all the while expecting results. He did not create people to be passively at the mercy of conditions and feelings. In fact, He wants us to overcome adverse circumstances with His help, and make things happen. “Cause and effect” thinking, when it comes to human behavior, can lead to excuse making and cowardice. Faith courageously changes one’s world, self and circumstances, while “cause and effect” thinking tends to make one succumb to, or surrender to his circumstances and conditions.
Since humans have a spiritual nature and a physical body, studying the human body in the context of laws of cause and effect is useful. Understanding the role of the human spirit in the proper functioning of the body is also useful.
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Now we come to Biblical salvation. Biblical salvation is the salvation that the apostle Paul and the other apostles preached. In the next diagram, amazingly, true and complete salvation simply takes a cooperating and believing person from the conditions of sin and death, and brings him into righteousness and life. The means of bringing this all about is through 1) the truths of the cross of Christ and 2) the person of the Holy Spirit. The love of the Father (John 3:16, II Corinthians 13:14) instituted this great salvation plan. Let’s look at the mounds of scriptures to prove these points.
In fact, the arrows seen below align perfectly. Each arrow represents a major tenet of the gospel that Paul preached. How could all of this fall into place so perfectly. The answer is that all of these statements and alignments were taken from understanding the body and blood of Jesus. No human being, no matter how smart, would be able to harmonize and summarize all these truths so perfectly. A million theologians could not harmonize and summarize scriptures so perfectly. These all were taken from an unimpeachable source: the meaning of the body and blood of Jesus as revealed by the Holy Spirit. After all, Jesus is the incarnation of the entire Word according to the Bible (John 1:14). Here is systematic theology the way God would have it. Here is systematic theology that will actually change lives for the better; instead of putting a student through endless and fruitless word games.
The arrow that points from sin into righteousness (right living) has massive amounts of scripture to back it up. Below are SOME of the scriptures that make this connection:
24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness–by whose stripes you were healed. I Peter 2:24
14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died;
15 and He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. II Corinthians 5:14-15
18 and having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. Romans 6:18
11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:11
20 “I have been crucified with Christ ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20
The following two passages parallel the above scriptures.
23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Luke 9:23
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.
24 And THOSE WHO ARE CHRIST’S have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:22-24
The following two passages are also parallel truths to the first scriptures mentioned above.
7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons, for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?
11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:7,11
1 Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourself also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,
2 that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. I Peter 4:1-2
The last four passages are parallel truths that go hand in hand with the basic truth shown above. The basic truth being that we have been crucified with Christ by grace so that we can be lead by the Spirit into all righteousness. This is an important part of the Gospel. This also, is the grace of God. By the way, this truth does not mean that the believer never sins. This truth does mean that the believer has authority over his flesh and therefore doesn’t have to be doing the same stupid thing over and over and over again. This is what this truth does mean.
I am sure that some would object that this arrow and theme is part of the Gospel, and not another point to be addressed later. They would like to talk about legitimate processes in this Christian life. But Communion views the Gospel differently than modern day Protestantism views it.
Communion, and especially the bread of Communion, requires us to view salvation as deliverance from the dominion and power of sin, as well as deliverance from the penalty of sin; that is, forgiveness for sin. Communion requires us to expand our understanding of what salvation is. “God has got me covered no matter what I do,” is not the salvation that the apostle Paul preached (Galatians 2:16-21, Romans 6:1-2). In fact, that mentality is nothing more than a colossal INDULGENCE that is leading tens of thousands of church people to a horrible end.
21 “Not every one who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.
23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you who practice lawlessness!’ Matthew 7:21,23 (Notice that He never knew those who PRACTICE lawlessness, not those who made mistakes and repented)
27 “But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me all you workers of iniquity.” Luke 13:27
There are many, many scriptures that make the above point: 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, James 2:14-26, 1 John 2:4-6, 1 John 3:5-10 (referring to practicing or not practicing righteousness), Titus 2:11-15, 1 Timothy 3:13, Titus 3:4-7, Matthew 25:31-46, Hebrews 10:26-31, Hebrews 6:4-6, Revelations 21:8, and many more.
The other red arrow in our diagram that points from death into life, includes the truth of redemption, the forgiveness of sins. The judgment and death we deserve was inflicted on Jesus at the cross so that we can have life, and indeed, eternal life. Jesus, by the grace of God, took our judgment and death. Because of this, we stand forgiven. We can now go to God, fellowship with God, and pray to God; and expect life and blessing instead of death, cursing and judgment. We can now experience eternal life in heaven instead of eternal death in hell. How could we pray to God for a blessing if we feel and stand condemned? This truth is the grace of God. Most church people know that Jesus died so that they can receive forgiveness for their sins.
But do most church people know that by the grace of God they were crucified with Christ so that they can follow Jesus or be lead by His Spirit? Or, is this foundational part of the cross and the Gospel being omitted. It might be hard to swallow, but it is an essential part of the gospel picture. Without it, the gospel loses much of its life changing power. In fact, without it the gospel becomes a partial gospel, and therefore a false gospel.
The basic idea behind the “sin into righteousness” arrow is to get “self” or the “me monster” out of the way so that we can be vessels filled with the Holy Spirit. By the grace of God I have been crucified with Christ. I no longer have to be self conscious or self absorbed or self serving. The goal being that I will tend to no longer be conscious of self, but instead I will be conscious that I am a vessel in continuous need of being filled with the Holy Spirit.
The cross in this context, EMPTIES me of sin and self while the Holy Spirit FILLS me with His righteousness and compassion (Ephesians 5:18, Galatians 5:22-24, Philippians 1:11, etc.). (In the context of the “death into life” arrow, the cross TAKES away my judgment and death, while the Holy Spirit GIVES me blessing and life.)
Therefore, this “crucified with Christ” truth means that the cooperating believer is an empty vessel because of the cross. Because he has been emptied of his self life, he is in constant need, and thirsts for, the filling of the Holy Spirit. He needs God’s Spirit (and word) like he needs food and drink. He has a deep and abiding hunger for the things of God.
This “crucified with Christ” truth of the cross solves man’s sin nature problem. It does not do away with the sin nature or flesh, but this is the truth that gives us authority over our self and sin. This doesn’t mean that we never sin; but rather that we have authority over our selves and sin. This is the truth that takes out the very heart of sin from the WILLING, and BELIEVING Christian.
According to Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who lives, ….” By taking the “I” out, the cross has effectively taken the heart of sin and all types of bondage, out of the believer. The “I” life is at the heart of all manner of bondage: alcohol, drugs, sexual addictions, anger, resentments in one‘s memory, etc. The “I” that wants to be like God and make his own decisions is taken out by this truth of the cross (Genesis 2:17). The “I” that is like a sheep going astray in the wilderness (Isaiah 53:6) was taken out by this truth of the cross. The reader should understand that the “I” that wants to be like God and make his own decisions is the same “I” that goes astray in the wilderness and into all manner of bondages. This is the “old self” mentioned in Romans 6:6.
Since everyone (II Corinthians 5:14) has already been crucified with Christ on the cross by the grace of God; as long as the believer WANTS this truth to be a reality in his life; and as long as He BELIEVES that He is dead to sin or crucified with Christ because of grace; for that period of time, all bondages lose their grip and dominion. By taking the “I” out by faith, all types of bondages lose their power and sway. Taking the “Big I” out, is like taking the trunk out on a tree. The branches which represent all types of bondage, have no support and begin to dry up and die. The “I” life fuels bondage. With this truth established in the believer’s heart, he will find his deliverance much easier to experience.
Also, demons feed on the “I” or self. They will need to find a new food source. They come out easier and stay out, with this truth in place in the believer’s heart. Pride and selfishness die at the cross. All of the “ME” monsters who terrorize the world, both great and small, are crucified with Christ. “If one died for all, then all died” (II Corinthians 5:14b). If we can only, by the Spirit’s conviction power, get these monsters to embrace this truth of the cross! (Hey, I used to be a “Me” monster! You should be glad that there is one less of these roaming the earth!) Praise God for this grace of the cross. Getting unstuck on oneself is true freedom.
Speaking of being stuck on oneself; no human being can unstick themselves from themselves. Only by this truth of the cross can a person become unstuck on themselves. Romans 7 speaks of the futility of a person trying to unstick themselves and obey God with “self” power; i.e. being under the law. Only by relying on the “crucified with Christ” truth of the cross, can a person get unstuck on themselves and be freed up to serve God (Galatians 2:19) or bear fruit to God (Romans 7:4-6).
The believer will find his place in the body of Christ as a vessel in constant need of the Holy Spirit’s gifts, presence and leading. He will be a person not self conscious or self absorbed, but constantly waiting on and receiving from God for the good of all around him. As for himself, the believer trains himself to see himself as a child of God, a son of God, a new creation, a vessel in whom God lives and dwells, redeemed, accepted in the Beloved, delivered, a servant, and much more. He has no reason to feel concern for himself. Getting the “I” out is the doorway into his place in the Body of Christ where he will find his true, God given destiny and identity. (After all, in the kingdom of God, you reap what you sow. If you sow an old identity, you reap a new identity.)
I must stop here and point out what I believe is another “heresy” developing in churches today. This is the concept of self love and self esteem. We never used to hear this. Suddenly, self love is considered part of the gospel. But, the truths of our salvation as mentioned in the paragraphs above are not about our love for ourselves, but rather are about getting grounded in God’s love for us. Accepted in the Beloved, redeemed, child of God, a son of God, a daughter of God, reconciled, delivered, an overcomer, a new creation, and all of the rest of our new identity characteristics are what God did for us and to us. These truths are God’s love for us, not our love for ourselves. Our job is to get grounded in and have faith in what God did for us through Christ.
The natural “I” is our enemy. The “I’ that wants to be like God and know good and evil (make his own decisions) is our enemy. We are all like sheep that have gone astray, EVERY ONE TO HIS OWN WAY (I Peter 2:25). The natural “I” even wants to rely on himself to imitate God’s ways (being under the law).
I have heard some people talk about the good me and the bad me. Galatians 2:20 and the rest of the New Testament talk about “I” and “not I.”
20 “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life that I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20 (Living by faith in the Son of God includes trusting in the Holy Spirit)
A person’s life is either “I” or “not I,” self or Spirit. The good me and bad me mentality leaves a person under the law trying to obey God by relying on self, and not relying on the cross and the Holy Spirit.
The natural “I” is what the devil feeds on. The Bible says that the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1Peter 5:8). With “me” done away with by faith, the lion has nothing to sink his teeth into. It implies in Revelation 12:11 that the saints not loving their lives unto death will be one key factor in overcoming the devil.
Also, the natural “I” needs to cover himself because of his nakedness (Genesis 3:7). The fig leaves in Genesis 3:7 represent man made attempts to create identity. I have a pretty red car; I am smart; I am beautiful; I am good at football; I am rich; I have a beautiful house; I belong to this group; etc. We all have that natural, inherited desire to cover our shame. When man sinned he lost his covering and place in God, and saw his nakedness apart from God. He immediately saw the need to create his own glory and his own covering.
But, “you died and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3: 3). You won’t need to worry about your “self.” You have a replacement for the fig leaves. You are back under God’s covering and with a place in His body. The constant use of your Spirit given giftings and your Spirit lead good works will wrap you like a clean and bright garment.
8 And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Revelation 19:8
Be that vessel for the Spirit to flow through. The Spirit can’t use someone who is self absorbed or self centered. The Spirit can’t use someone who is stuck up on themselves.
Self esteem teaching encourages people to wrap themselves with “fig leaves.” Self esteem teaching encourages the “I” life. Self esteem teaching bolsters iniquity; the natural desire to go one’s own way (Isaiah 53:6). Self esteem teaching goes completely opposite of the Gospel of Christ crucified.
This obsession with self is the heart of much of what we call mental illness. By taking the “I” out by faith, even mental illness tends to disappear. Our society and our schools tend to breed self absorbed, head cases and me monsters.
Back to our original teaching; notice that both arrows in our diagram require faith and repentance. Without repentance you cannot receive forgiveness of sins. Without repentance you cannot receive deliverance from sin. Then again, what is repentance, and how do you know that you have repented? When you have BOTH messages of the cross being presented, forgiveness and deliverance; repentance tends to be far more sure and real. A “forgiveness only” approach to the cross leaves a lot of wiggle room for the insincere. Thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of church people want God to cover them with a blanket of forgiveness (they misinterpret imputed righteousness) while they do their own thing. As long as they keep their carnal cravings within reason, they assume they are covered and all is right. Modern day Protestantism gives its members such a false assurance.
I am not knocking the truth of imputed righteousness. I am knocking the modern day theologians who have taken the truth of imputed righteousness, and the truth that we are not saved by our good works, and gone wild with them. They have wiped out half of the Bible by over emphasizing and misusing these truths; to the harm of literally hundreds of thousands of church people. (They also misinterpret and ignore the “deliverance from sin into righteousness” tenet of the faith and all of its supporting scriptures.)
There is an ocean of scripture that warn us that the main evidence of our salvation is our lifestyle. Without the life style, you can be sure that you are not truly saved. Of course, if you have two days left to live, you won’t have much time to demonstrate a changed life. Your faith in Christ will save you; praise God. But, for those of us who have time left on this earth, our faith is proved by our life style. Consider carefully 11 Peter 1:10-11, 1Corinthians 6:9-11, James 2:14-26, 1John 2:4-6, 1John 3:5-10 (referring to practicing or not practicing righteousness), Hebrews 10:26-31, Hebrews 6:4-6,Titus 2:11-15, Titus 3:4-7, 1Timothy 3:13, Revelations 21:8, Matthew 25:31-46, and many more scriptures.
With the “crucified with Christ” truth of the cross being clearly presented, many, but not all, of the insincere, superficial conversions wouldn’t happen. Remember the book of Acts church. These first Christians “… sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.” (Acts 2:45) The standard of commitment for the entire church was for each believer to be completely sold out for God. The entire church followed Jesus’ command to the rich young ruler, “… Sell all that you have, and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come follow Me.” (Luke 18:22) This high standard of commitment was so prevalent in this first church, that Ananias and his wife felt compelled by peer pressure to give a false impression about the proceeds of the sale of their property. He and his wife did not want to be considered uncommitted by donating only part of the proceeds of their house sale. (Acts 5:1-5)
The early, book of Acts, church clearly was a sold out bunch who saw the Resurrection power of the Spirit. They understood what it meant to enter the kingdom of God. Remember, the rich young ruler had a hard time giving something up (his wealth) in order to enter the kingdom of God (Luke 18:22-25). (It was easier for me and most of us to enter the kingdom of heaven, because we had next to nothing to give up.)
The early church was far more about IDENTIFYING with Jesus in His death. They also knew that He was their SUBSTITUTE on the cross giving them forgiveness for sins. But, they were far more into identifying with Jesus in His death than this present church is. Crucified with Christ (identification) was a reality with the entire church, as well as knowing Christ as their substitute. The epistles are very clear about the above. Not surprisingly, the resurrection power of the Spirit that they saw in their midst, was arguably the greatest ever seen in any church to this date.
This present church in America, on the other hand, is virtually all about seeing Jesus as their substitute for the forgiveness of sins. Identifying with Jesus on the cross is almost completely omitted. Not surprisingly, their gross carnality is obvious to all. They rely on psychology, prescription narcotics, and self help schemes for their deliverance, rather than relying on Christ crucified. (Now, I do not get my jollies by putting people down and being negative. I would far rather be positive about most everything. However, some of these things just need to be said.)
Also, in regard to identification, consider the institution of Baptism which is meant for brand new believers. The emphasis here is on dying with Jesus, being buried with Jesus, and being raised up with Jesus (Romans 6:1-11). Forgiveness is represented here also; but the clear picture and emphasis is about the believer identifying with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection.
The picture is of the believer having an identity change through Christ. This is a picture of the NEW believer being delivered out of his sin and into a new life. The clear picture is of the new believer dying to his old lifestyle. When the new believer has this picture in his head as he comes to Christ, his repentance will tend to be more sincere and real. This is far different from the “fire insurance policy” mentality and then business as usual. The “fire insurance” mentality is where the new believer thinks that they are delivered from hell in the next life, but see no need to repent and follow Christ. Substitution teaching (forgiveness) without identification (deliverance or sanctification) teaching leads to the “fire insurance” mentality.
Also, notice that someone has to baptize someone else. (Really now!) No one baptizes themselves. The hands of the one doing the baptizing lower the convert into the water and then raise him up. The hands represent the grace of God that brings about the believer’s death, burial and resurrection in Christ. The believer’s part in this is to cooperate with the hands, surrendering himself into those hands. By the believer’s faith and repentance, he wants and publicly embraces this identification.
The point of all of the above being that God designed the “crucified with Christ” message to be part of the salvation message. It is critical to entering the kingdom of God. This is why baptism for new converts is all about identifying with Christ in His death and resurrection. Who said that Romans 3 is the gospel, but Romans 6 and 7 is not? (Especially since Romans 6 is pictured in Baptism for new believers!) Who said that Galatians 2:16 is the gospel, but Galatians 2:19-20 is not? Who said that 2 Corinthians 5:19 is the gospel, but 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 is not? Who said that the cup of Communion is all about the gospel, but the bread is some obscure side point?
Now we come to a major revelation or illumination, if you will. I believe with all my heart that the following is world changing truth. In the above shown salvation diagram, the deliverance from sin into righteousness arrow and theme is none other than the meaning of the bread of Communion. (Remember that the bread is eaten first in Communion.) The deliverance from death into life arrow or theme is the meaning of the cup of Communion. I will present massive amounts of Biblical proof for these assertion.
In fact, all of the above diagrams were taken from the meanings of the body and the blood of Jesus. In a way, I took the basics of the meanings of His body and blood; and put them in diagram form. I did this to clear up what I believe is a lot of confusion and problems with our understanding of Biblical salvation. I also wanted to demonstrate how SIMPLE and STRAIGHTFORWARD salvation and Biblical instruction actually are. Now I want to return these basics back to their rightful place in His body and His blood. Jesus didn’t use these simple diagrams. He used the symbols of the unleavened bread and the cup.
Also, in my opinion, because these symbols in Communion include the truths of Baptism, which is another great symbol; the Communion symbols are the greatest and most important symbols in the Bible and in our world. There is no way to measure, and no words to describe, the value of their true meaning. These symbols eclipse in value all Old Testament symbols and types.
To begin with, referring to the above diagram, and bringing this whole teaching back to Communion; let’s look at the “repentance & faith” comment below each arrow. It takes repentance and faith to receive the deliverance and forgiveness of the cross. It takes repentance and faith to cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He leads us into all righteousness and imparts life and blessings to us. The way that repentance and faith are demonstrated and symbolized in Communion is in the fact that we eat and drink the bread and the cup. By eating and drinking these elements that mean these great themes and truths, we are demonstrating repentance and faith. We are saying symbolically that we want these truths and benefits of the cross in our lives. We are saying symbolically that we will cooperate with the Holy Spirit to bring about righteousness and life in our lives. We are symbolically turning our backs on sin and death, and receiving our deliverance in Christ. We are also choosing to live in the Spirit and in the kingdom of God.
Thus repentance and faith are symbolized by our eating and drinking the elements of Communion. The importance of our repentance and faith in Communion and in Salvation cannot be overstated. We need to cooperate with God in all of this. When we are eating and drinking the communion elements, we are declaring that we choose to cooperate. Without our cooperation, the whole salvation that God has provided for us will be ineffective in our lives. (Also, God is looking for willing friends.)
The “sin into righteousness” arrow and theme is the meaning of the bread of Communion. The proofs for this assertion, when taken as a whole; I believe are irrefutable:
1) The first proof of the meaning of the bread and the body is the following: the New Testament directly defines “body” when used in the context of Christ’s death and life. The following are some scriptures for this.
24 who Himself bore our sins in His own BODY on the tree, THAT we having died to sins, might live for righteousness–by whose stripes you were healed. I Peter 2:24
10 By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the BODY of Jesus Christ once for all. Hebrews 10:10
5 “… but a BODY You have prepared for Me.
7 “… to do Your will O God.” Hebrews 10:5-7 (Body is associated with the will of God. According to the Bible, a body is for “doing.” The body of Christ is for doing the will of God.)
4 Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the BODY of Christ, that you may be married to another– to Him who raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.
5 For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death.
6 But now we HAVE BEEN DELIVERED from the law, HAVING DIED to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter. Romans 7:4-6
6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with , that we should no longer be slaves of sin. Romans 6:6 (Our BODY OF SIN was united with His body on the cross. We can now, by the Spirit‘s leading, take our place as members of the BODY OF CHRIST and do the works and ministry that God prepared for us; i.e., live for righteousness.)
2) The second proof that the “deliverance from sin into righteousness” theme is the meaning of the bread of Communion, relates to how the New Testament interprets the unleavened bread.
1 Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called Passover. (The Feast of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were observed a day apart. Thus, the Passover “season” or the “season” of Unleavened Bread included both feasts, as well as the third feast which was the Feast of First Fruits.) Luke 22:1
7 Then came the Day of Unleavened Bread when the Passover must be killed. Luke 22:7
6 Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump.
7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.
8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 1 Corinthians 5:6-8
Basically, I Corinthians 5 is saying that because Jesus, our Passover lamb, died for us, we now have the authority to purge out the sin in our lives and live in the truth, or live for righteousness. Leaven stands for sin. By eating the unleavened bread, we are declaring that 1) we renounce the sin (leaven) in our lives, and that 2) we want to live for God instead (eat unleavened bread). We celebrate this feast twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, until He comes. Obviously, this fits with the “deliverance from sin into righteousness” theme of the bread of Communion.
3) The third proof that the “deliverance from sin into righteousness” theme is the true meaning of the bread of Communion, can be seen in how the Bible teaches about the cross. In teaching on Communion, the apostle Paul writes the following:
26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes. I Corinthians 11:26
It takes two elements, the bread and the cup, to proclaim the Lord’s death. Why? This is because there are two fundamental truths or messages of the cross taught in the New Testament. Jesus accomplished two fundamental deliverances when He died on the cross: 1) He delivered humanity from the power of sin, which is represented by the bread. 2) He delivered humanity from the penalty of sin, which is represented by the cup. Another of the many ways of saying this is that on the cross He delivered us from sin (the bread) and death (the cup). And, what is absolutely mind boggling, the bread and cup show not only what He delivered us FROM, but the bread and cup also show what He delivered us INTO! He delivered us into righteousness (the bread) and into life (the cup); that is, the kingdom of God! We will discuss what He delivered us INTO later in this teaching.
Furthermore, on the Day of Atonement, two goats were used. We will see here again, that these two goats relate directly to the two fundamental truths or benefits of Christ’s death on the cross.
7 “He shall take the two goats and present them before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of meeting.
8 “Then Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats: one lot for the Lord and the other lot for the scapegoat.
9 “And Aaron shall bring the goat on which the Lord’s lot fell, and offer it as a sin offering. Leviticus 16:7-9
21 “Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a suitable man.
22 “the goat shall BEAR ON ITSELF ALL THEIR INIQUITIES to an uninhabited land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness. Leviticus 16:21-22
In the above scriptures, transgressions are particular sins that have been committed. The goat that was killed was used as a sin offering to atone for these sins. This sin offering relates to the New Testament truth of our having redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:14, Ephesians 1:7, etc.) This sin offering relates directly to the cup of Communion.
The scapegoat, on the other hand, bore the iniquities of the people out of the camp and into the wilderness. Iniquities are willful sins, even sin habits and bondages, that people need deliverance from. Also, iniquities lead to transgressions.
The picture of a sheep or goat going astray and being lost in the wilderness, is a picture of iniquity.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:6
In Isaiah 53:6, the picture of sheep going astray is equated with iniquity. This truth of Him bearing our iniquities in Isaiah 53:6 is the New Testament truth of Romans 6:6 or I Peter 2:24, or many other like scriptures. By grace, our body of sin was united with His body on the cross, giving us deliverance from sin.
Romans 6:6, 1 Peter 2:24, and other like scriptures, are also the New Testament truth that corresponds to the scapegoat in the Day of Atonement. In other words, Aaron laid his hands on the scapegoat and symbolically imparted to it all the iniquity of the children of Israel. Then a “suitable man” took the goat out of the camp and out into the wilderness. That goat lost and going astray in the wilderness is a picture of iniquity. I repeat; the scapegoat became a picture of iniquity itself. And, from the perspective of the New Testament, that scapegoat was a picture of Christ on the cross. He was united with our bodies of sin and took them away, giving us deliverance from the power of sin. This happened at the cross. This scapegoat relates directly to the bread of Communion.
As one can see, this feast (Day of Atonement) gives powerful testimony that the cross consists of two fundamental truths; just like it takes two elements to proclaim the Lord’s death in Communion.
Even more importantly, the two truths of the cross are also extremely prominent in New Testament teaching. The reader can review Romans 3, and Romans 6 and 7. Also, Galatians 2:16-21, Colossians 2:11-15, and II Corinthians 5:14-21 give undeniable testimony of the two truths of the cross. Colossians 3:3, Acts 26:18, Hebrews 10:10, I Peter 2:24, and Galatians 6:14 make interesting points in this regard. I encourage the serious believer to look up the above scriptures and to observe both truths of the cross. Be like the Bereans. “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and SEARCHED the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so (Acts 17:11).”
4) The fourth reason why the “sin into righteousness” theme is the true meaning of the bread of Communion can be seen in how the word “body” is used in the Bible.
Now, many Christians understand the meaning of the word, “blood,” as it is used in the Bible. Leviticus 17:13-14 and Deuteronomy 12:23 make it clear that the purpose of blood is to give life to the body. The blood sustains, supports and nourishes each member of the body. When blood flow is cut off from any member of the body, that member will begin to wither and die.
Well, if according to the Bible, the purpose of blood is to give life to the body; then, according to the Bible, what is the purpose of the body? We are talking here about any “body,” not just the body of Christ. What is a body for according to the Bible. I should warn you that you need to have the simple mindedness of a six year old, in order to get the answer to this question. (I got it right off.) Consider the following scriptures.
5“.…But a BODY You have prepared for Me.”
7”…to do Your will, O God” Hebrews 10:5-7
10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the BODY, according to what he has done , whether good or bad. 2 Corinthians 5:10
The above scriptures and many more imply that the body is for doing things on the earth. The body is for DOING. When your body ceases to function, you lose the ability and the right to do anything on the earth. Demons need to control, deceive or oppress a body in order to do their will on the earth. God, Himself, needed to send Jesus in bodily form in order to do His will on the earth. Even today, God does His will on the earth through the body of Christ which is the church.
While a body of a beast or person is for doing things, the body of Christ is all about doing something very particular: the will of God. If you consider 1 Corinthians 12 and 14, and Romans 12; you will notice a number of things about the body of Christ. But fundamental to each member of the body of Christ is that each member has a function in the body. That is, each member DOES something. Each member functions in his or her unique ministry.
This understanding of the purpose of the body is in complete agreement
with the “deliverance from sin into righteousness” theme. His body was given up to deliver us from doing wrong into a lifestyle of doing right which is fulfilling our role in the body of Christ. By eating the bread, we are symbolically choosing the will of God for our lives. We are choosing our ministry in the body of Christ. By eating the bread we are also symbolically choosing deliverance from doing wrong, and doing our own will.
Each member must do his God given thing, and fulfill his God given purpose in this life. Not discerning the Lord’s body, mentioned in 1Corinthians 11:29, 33-34, includes the sin of not recognizing or respecting another member’s calling or value. Here, some believers were not respecting poor believers. Some were sick and some died for not respecting financially poor members of Christ’s body. Each member is an expression of God’s will on the earth. To not respect God’s will has consequences.
Every believer is a member of one body, the body of Christ. Each partaking of the bread is a gigantic and powerful symbol of the unity of the believers and their need to preserve it. The fact that the body of Christ is God’s righteousness or God’s will, means that the believers’ unity centers around the truths about God’s will.
Can you imagine a body where some of its members don’t do anything? They just sit there, lifeless and still. Also, can you imagine a body where the arms and legs and fingers and toes and neck, are all working independently and with no coordination? The body of Christ is all about unified, right actions. Another way of saying this is that the body of Christ is all about unified love and compassion.
Additionally, in Romans 6:6 Paul mentions the body of sin. In Colossians 2:11, he mentions the body of the sins of the flesh. The bread of Communion means that we were delivered from our body of sin into the body of Christ. This fits with my personal observations. When people start to experience genuine deliverance from their sins, they start to be lead by the Spirit and find their God given place in the body of Christ.
5) We come now to what I believe is very powerful, and compelling proof of the meaning of the bread of Communion. When Jesus died and rose from the dead, He fulfilled three Feasts of the Lord: the Feast of Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the Feast of First Fruits. These three feasts were the context in which Communion was instituted. To ignore their meaning is to ignore the meaning of Communion itself. To rip Communion out of its context, and take liberties with its meaning is certainly one of the vilest and most demonic deceptions and frauds, the world has ever endured. I am addressing all teachers of the Word.
1 Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called Passover.
7 Then came the Day of Unleavened Bread when the Passover must be killed.
15 Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer, 16 for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.” Luke 22:1,7,15-16 (His death fulfilled the Passover Feast and we, believers, are now in the Kingdom of God!)
Notice that Communion was instituted during the Passover meal. Notice that “with fervent desire” Jesus desired to eat this Passover with His disciples before His suffering. He was intending to fulfill the Feast of Passover through His death. The new institution called Communion would henceforth proclaim His death (1 Corinthians 11:26); and proclaim the New Covenant (Luke 22:20).
Notice that Luke interchanged the Feast of Unleavened Bread with the Feast of Passover. Right in line with this; the Passover meal was eaten on the day Luke called the Day of Unleavened Bread.
Leviticus 23 lists the feasts of the Lord. Jesus fulfilled three feasts on the weekend that He died and rose from the dead. He died on Friday which was the Feast of Passover. The Feast of Unleavened Bread started on the next day which was Saturday. Also, unleavened bread was eaten during the Passover feast. Then on Sunday, Jesus rose from the dead fulfilling the Feast of First Fruits.
The Jews would congregate at Jerusalem from all over the world, in order to celebrate these three feasts. The Jews would also congregate in Jerusalem to celebrate another Feast, the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1), which was celebrated 50 days after the Feast of First Fruits. (They would also congregate for the last three “Fall” Feasts which will be fulfilled by Jesus’ second coming.)
The weekend or general time period of the first three feasts was often, as a whole, called Passover or the Passover season. Sometimes it was called the Feast of Unleavened Bread (the season of). This is the reason Luke interchanged the names Passover and Day of Unleavened Bread.
Interestingly, it took two feasts of the Lord to proclaim and picture the death of Jesus, just like it takes the eating of the bread and the drinking of the cup to proclaim Jesus’ death (1 Corinthians 11:26).
The Feast of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread both foreshadow and picture different, and critically important, benefits of Jesus’ death. As most Christians know, the Passover involves the blood of the Passover lamb applied to the Hebrews’ doorposts. The angel of death, seeing the blood, passed over the Hebrews’ houses, thus sparing the Hebrews from the death of their first born children. The basic theme of this feast was God’s deliverance of the Hebrews from the judgment or penalty of Egypt. This deliverance was a picture of Jesus’ death on the cross which delivers the believer from the penalty or judgment of their sin. The spotless Passover lamb that was sacrificed was a picture of Jesus on the cross. This deliverance of the Hebrews from the judgment of Egypt relates directly to the cup of Communion.
Although most Christians understand the meaning of the Feast of Passover, most Christians DO NOT understand the meaning and the significance of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The Feast of Unleavened Bread helps define the unleavened bread that Jesus had in His hands when He said, “This is My body.” The following are some of many scriptures that define the meaning of unleavened bread.
3 And Moses said to the people: “Remember this day in which you went OUT OF Egypt, OUT OF the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the Lord brought you OUT OF this place. No leavened bread shall be eaten.” Exodus 13:3
3 “You shall eat no leavened bread with it; seven days you shall eat unleavened bread with it, that is, the bread of affliction (for you came OUT OF the land of Egypt in haste), that you may remember the day in which you came OUT OF the land of Egypt all the days of your life.” Deuteronomy 16:3
The unleavened bread was eaten to remember how God delivered the Hebrews out of Egypt. To this day, in their Passover celebration, many Jews will take the unleavened bread and verbally thank God for delivering them out of Egypt.
Thus, when Jesus had the unleavened bread in His hands and said, “This is my body;” He was saying to the Jews and us, “My body will deliver you OUT OF your sin, just like God delivered you out of Egypt.” This deliverance out of sin is the “crucified with Christ” truth of the cross.
There is a picture of the cross that corresponds to this “deliverance out of Egypt” theme of the bread. When God opened the Red Sea for the Hebrews to escape out of Egypt, this opening of the Red Sea was a picture of how Jesus delivered us out of our sin at the cross. If we WANT TO leave our sin, THE WAY HAS BEEN MADE for us to come out. Notice that the Hebrews had to walk through the opening that God had made. Without their cooperation the opening that God made would not help them. Similarly, Jesus set us free at the cross. But, we need to repent (want to come out of our sin) and believe (have confidence in this truth) in order for this truth of the cross to benefit us.
Thus, God’s opening of the Red Sea was a picture of the “crucified with Christ” truth of the cross. The Hebrews were heading straight out of Egypt which was a picture of the believer in Christ repenting of his sin. Pharaoh and his soldiers could not get through the opening just like Satan and his demons are stopped by the truths of the cross. The land of Egypt stands for sin, or living in sin, or for self. The Egyptians stand for people in the world. Pharaoh stands for Satan, and his soldiers stand for the demons. The Hebrews stand for the church which is “called out” of the world and a life of sin where Satan rules. In fact, the Greek word for church actually means the “called out” ones. Pharaoh and his cruelty literally chases and drives the Hebrews out of Egypt; just like Satan and his cruelty drives believers to embrace the cross and follow God.
Thus we have two feasts of the Lord, and two basic themes, and two pictures of the cross. The two elements of Communion correspond to the above as follows:
FEAST OF FIRST FRUITS
Thus, the Hebrews were delivered from Egypt and its judgments for the purpose of living in God’s righteousness and experiencing God’s life. Corresponding to this, the Feast of First Fruits which Jesus fulfilled by rising from the dead on the Sunday after Passover, speaks of the resurrection life (Romans 6:4) that the believer is delivered into. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead leads the believer into all righteousness (Romans 8:4) (bread); this same Spirit also ministers life (Romans 8:11) (cup) to the believer. To put it another way, the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, raises the cooperating believer up into kingdom life (Romans 14:17). We will later show that the kingdom of God is seen in the bread and the cup.
20 but now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. 1 Corinthians 15:20
10 …then you shall bring a sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest.
11 He shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted on your behalf; on the DAY AFTER THE SABBATH, the priest shall wave it. Leviticus 23:10-11
4 just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also SHOULD walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also SHALL BE in the likeness of His resurrection.
8 Now if we died with Christ , we believe that we shall also live with Him,
9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies not more…
11 Likewise you also, RECKON yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but ALIVE TO GOD in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:4-5, 8-9, 11
1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is , sitting at the right hand of God. Colossians 3:1
24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:24
11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Romans 8:11
Interestingly, the Hebrews would count fifty days after the Feast of First Fruits to have the next great feast which was the Feast of Pentecost (Leviticus 23:15-16). Pentecost speaks to the believers in Christ of the fullness and empowerment of the Holy Spirit. Thus, it takes two feasts to adequately picture the death of Christ; namely, the Feast of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And, it takes two feasts to adequately picture the resurrection and the resurrection power of the Holy Spirit; namely, the Feast of First Fruits and the Feast of Pentecost. The Feast of First Fruits and the Feast of Pentecost both involve the harvest, the fruit of the land. This is a wonderful picture of the ministry of the Holy Spirit who bears fruit through the cooperating believer (fruit of the Spirit, etc.).
FROM EGYPT TO THE PROMISED LAND
The story doesn’t stop with the Hebrews escaping Egypt and its judgments; neither does the meaning of Communion stop with Christ’s death. The Hebrews followed the cloud by day and the fire by night through the desert. This is a picture of the believers in Christ following the Holy Spirit. This relates to the Bread of Communion. The very presence of God being with the Hebrews in the pillar and the cloud was comforting and life giving and is therefore related to the Cup of Communion.
In the desert the Hebrews saw God’s miraculous provision with the manna, the water coming out of the rock, and other provisions and help. Also, the Hebrews received The Law in the desert. The miraculous provision relates to the Cup of Communion which is Christ’s life (provision, nourishment, provision in every dimension of the believer’s existence). The giving of the law relates to righteousness and therefore the Bread of Communion (The Holy Spirit leads the believer into all righteousness Romans 8:4, 14, etc. This is practical righteousness).
When the Hebrews entered the Promised Land, there were two fundamental aspects to their life in this wonderful land. First, it was a land flowing with milk and honey. This land was able to meet all of their needs. This aspect of the Promised Land relates to the Cup of Communion which is God’s provision. Secondly, the Hebrews had to obey God in this land in order for it to go well with them and in order for them to stay in this wonderful place. This aspect of their living in the Promised Land relates to the Bread of Communion.
Through all the Judges, Kings and Prophets of Israel and Judah, these basic themes stayed constant and predictable. The Hebrews either did what was right in the sight of the Lord, or they did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. If they did right, God blessed them in some way. If they did evil, God cursed the leaders and the people in some way. Doing right relates to the Bread of Communion. Being blessed for their right doing relates to the Cup of Communion.
Someone might object that I am preaching works. They might object and say that we are not saved by good works. True! We are not saved by good works, but we are saved FOR THE PURPOSE OF good works (Ephesians 2:10, 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, Romans 6:18, etc.). Good works by the Holy Spirit (bread) and life from the Holy Spirit (cup) are what we were saved INTO. We are not forgiven by good works, nor are we crucified with Christ (delivered from the power of sin) by good works. Both benefits of the cross are received by grace through faith. Forgiveness is the gateway that leads to life (How could one believe God for blessings and life when he stands condemned and deserving judgment?), while “crucified with Christ” is the gateway that leads to practical righteousness; and practical righteousness also leads to life.
I am going to diverge a little to make some distinctions. Some of the truths of the cross are the following: We are forgiven because Jesus died for us. We are redeemed because Jesus died for us. We are dead to sin (Romans 6:11) because Jesus died for us. We are reconciled to God because Jesus died for us. We are crucified with Christ because Jesus died for us (This truth is basically the same as the dead to sin truth). These are truths about us that we can receive by repentance and faith, or we can ignore. Many are ignorant of at least some of these truths.
Regular promises of God require some act of obedience or righteousness in order for God to bring about the fulfillment of the promise. Below is a comparison of the promises of God and the truths (or claims) of the cross.
THE PROMISED LAND IS A PICTURE OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD
Returning to our study; actually, the Promised Land is an extremely important Old Testament type of the Kingdom of God! To restate this; the children of Israel contending for the Promised Land is a picture of the believers in Christ contending for their inheritance in Christ (in the Kingdom) while living in this world.
As I will show later, the Kingdom of God consists of righteousness and life in the Holy Spirit. (Allow me to prove this later in this teaching.) Righteousness and life are none other than the promises of God. As noted before, virtually every promise of God requires some act of righteousness in order for God to send the fulfillment, or blessing and life. Doesn’t it make sense that the Hebrews who were contending for their “promised” land be a picture of the believers in Christ contending for their promises.
17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Romans 14:17
Righteousness precedes the fulfillment of any promise. Peace and joy PRECEDE, ACCOMPANY and FOLLOW the life and blessing of God; i.e., the fulfillment of any promise. When you see God come through on a promise to meet a pressing need, you experience peace or joy or both. When you are discouraged, an encouraging word that is given by the Holy Spirit brings life and blessing to you. This life and blessing is always accompanied by peace and joy. When you are lonely, and God gives you a friend, that friendship is life and blessing to you; and you have peace and joy because of that provision. When you are confused and God gives you wisdom, that wisdom meets a vital need in your life, and is accompanied by peace and joy. When you are broke, and God comes through on His promise of provision, that financial provision brings peace and joy to you. Also, you can and should have peace and joy by just anticipating the fulfillment of a promise because of the assurance in your heart given to you by the Holy Spirit. Our assurance of heaven is supposed to give us peace and joy. Therefore, Romans 14:17 is another way of saying that the Kingdom of God consists of righteousness (bread) and life (cup) in the Holy Spirit. This is what the Kingdom of God consists of. By receiving the bread and the cup, we are symbolically receiving the Kingdom of God!
Just as God was with Joshua and the Israelites as they fought for their God given inheritance (land), so the Holy Spirit is with the believers in Christ as they fight the good fight of faith for their God given inheritance (promises). (All of the promises for the believers in Christ are ultimately pointing to, and are designed for the salvation of the world.)
9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is WITH you where ever you go.” Joshua 1:9
8 “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come UPON you and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8
Now, there are strongholds and enemies, even giants, that seek to prevent the believer from receiving the promises of God. The walls of Jericho are a type of such resistance. It seems that every promise has its Jericho. These walls are a type of the sin, unbelief, and obstacles in the world and in the believer’s life. Also, the inhabitants of the land and those hiding behind the walls of Jericho, are an Old Testament picture of the demons that resist the promises of God to His people.
30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days. Hebrews 11:30
18 …and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:18
As can be seen, we cannot inherit the promises of God without the help of the Holy Spirit; just as Joshua needed God to be with him and to help him as he conquered the enemies resisting him in his taking the Promised Land. The obstacles are too great for us to believe and obey God in this war. By receiving the bread and the cup, we are symbolically receiving and agreeing with the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives. As mentioned before, the bread represents His leading, while the cup represents the life, support and encouragement that He imparts to us.
The Holy Spirit literally gives us the faith to believe. “…God has dealt to each one a measure of faith” (Romans 12:3). “… Yes the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all” Acts 3:16. One of the gifts of the Spirit is the gift of faith.
As stated above, the promised land is a great type of the promises of God. It is the land that was promised. The Lord told Joshua that He had ALREADY given him and his people the land; and that every place that they put their feet was ALREADY theirs. So, with the New Testament believer, as the believer takes a step of faith in any promise, he should seek to KNOW that God has already given him the answer.
3 “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I HAVE GIVEN to you, as I said to Moses.
5 “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.
6 “Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Joshua 1:3, 5-6
The above Old Testament scriptures coincide with the following New Testament scripture. In both examples God had already given the believer what they claim.
19…whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth will have been bound in heaven and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth will have been loosed in heaven. (Mathew 16:19b)
(The Complete Word Study New Testament explains that the binding and loosing are according to things already established
and ordained in heaven. The original Greek and its proper translation confirms this.)
We believers can’t determine how the kingdom will work, but we can agree with the kingdom workings and by faith and obedience, bring the kingdom workings down into our world. These kingdom workings are better and greater than anything we can think or ask for.
11 …Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Luke 11:2b
The Holy Spirit was given to us to help us obey and believe these great and magnificent promises by which we partake of the Divine nature (2Peter 1:4). The Holy Spirit helping us claim all of these promises is what the Kingdom of God consists of. The conclusion being that as we eat the bread (righteousness) and drink the cup (life and blessing), we are receiving the Kingdom of God!! We are saying yes and amen to every and any promise of God. We are also saying yes to the Holy Spirits ministry to help us claim our inheritance or promises.
Jesus said, “…For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:21b) Within you is exactly where the Holy Spirit resides. Our walk in the Holy Spirit IS living in the kingdom of God.
It also should be noted that the truths of the cross are the gateway into the kingdom of God. The Holy Spirit cannot do His ministry without the truths of the cross. As noted before, as often as we eat the bread and drink the cup, we proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes (1Corinthians 11:26). In other words, the bread and the cup proclaim the truths of the cross which are the entrance into the kingdom of God. The bread and the cup ALSO show the kingdom itself. By eating the bread and the cup, we are symbolically receiving the Kingdom of God ALSO.
THE PROMISES OF GOD ARE THE KEYS OF THE KINGDOM
In fact, the keys of the kingdom mentioned in Matthew 16:19 are none other than the promises of God (and the gifts of the Spirit). When the believer lays hold of a particular promise with its surrounding and relevant truths, he is able to release some of the blessings and life of the kingdom onto the earth. When believers shut out wrong behavior, curses, and false ideas, they are binding and shutting out wrong from the kingdom. The believers are shutting out (from the earth) all such that are contrary to the promises and the truths of the kingdom. The believers are not allowing these things and the people who cling to these things, in their midst (Matthew 18:15-19).
19 “And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Mathew 16:19
Keys are used to open doors (loosing). Can you imagine owning a car, but not having the keys to get in and work it? Can you imagine owning a house without having keys to get in and live in it? How about owning a great recreation room, but not having the keys to get in and enjoy it. So it is with Christians who don’t know how, or refuse to stand on God’s promises. So it is with Christians who don’t fight the good fight of faith. So it is with Christians who don’t use their keys. Such people tend to be spiritually weak and defeated.
Keys are also used to shut things out (binding). By knowing the conditions of a promise and by knowing what the fulfillment and blessing (life) should look like; the believers can rejects actions, thoughts, and conditions that are contrary and harmful to the body of Christ. They can also reject people who cling to such harmful things (Matthew 18:18).
Thus, when the believer eats the bread of Communion, he is eating that which symbolizes the righteousness necessary to receive the life or fulfillment of any promise. Of course, the life or fulfillment of any promise is symbolized by the cup of Communion. By receiving the bread and cup with knowledge and faith, the believer is symbolically receiving the keys of the kingdom.
CROSSING THE JORDAN RIVER
Just like the crossing of the Red Sea symbolizes a gigantic truth of the cross, so the crossing of the Jordan River symbolizes a huge truth in the Christian’s walk. So, just what does the crossing of the Jordan mean to us believers in Christ? It actually relates to much of what we have just dealt with.
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. Matthew 3:13
22 And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, “You are My beloved Son , in You I am well pleased.” Luke 3:22
1 Then Jesus, being filled with the Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was lead by the Spirit into the wilderness. Luke 4:1
Jesus had an encounter with, and a filling of the Holy Spirit at the Jordan River. Being filled with the Spirit is where He and we get the even tangible certainty that God is with us in this battle to claim our promises which are ultimately designed to win the world for Christ. This parallels how Joshua got the strong assurance that God was with him as he began his efforts to possess the Promised Land (Joshua 1:9; etc.).
We see the above theme in the account of Elijah and Elisha found in II Kings 2:1-14. First, Elisha asked Elijah for a double portion of his spirit after they crossed the Jordan by dividing it. Dividing the Jordan is associated with being empowered by the Spirit (or getting a special anointing). Secondly, Elisha crossed the Jordan two times which coincides with the double portion of the Spirit, which is what he asked for. Thirdly, Elisha had to see Elijah ascend into heaven in order to get the anointing. Jesus had to ascend into heaven in order to send down His Spirit (John 16:7). Fourthly, Elijah and Elisha smote the Jordan with Elijah’s mantle. The mantle is a type and symbol of the anointing. Thus, by considering these four points, the crossing of the Jordan is again associated with having an encounter with the Holy Spirit to help and empower us; and be “God with us” in this world. This is for empowerment, not salvation. We usually are already saved and have His Spirit in us when we get this. We should have even daily the assurance and sense that God’s Spirit is with us and in us. We should seek Him for this assurance and filling. How much more will He give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him (Luke 11:13). You can ask for more of the Holy Spirit every day.
A third assurance of what the crossing of the Jordan means to us, relates to the very meaning of the word, “Jordan.” The Hebrew word for “Jordan” literally means “descender.” It was called this probably because it dropped or descended, starting from the foothills of Mount Herman to the depths of the Dead Sea. This picture is in keeping with the Holy Spirit being sent from Heaven above to the believers below. The Holy Spirit is also referred to in Scripture as rivers of living water (John 7:37-39).
Remember, living one’s life in the Spirit is living in the Kingdom of God (Romans 14:17). Crossing the Jordan River and then conquering the foes, and living in the Promised Land is a picture of being filled with the Spirit and living in the Spirit.
THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND THE PROMISED LAND
I believe one of the most important New Testament scriptures that relates to the Promised Land is the following. In the following paragraphs we will explore the similarities of Matthew 16:17-19 and the children of Israel in their quest to possess the Promised Land.
17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
18 “And I say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.
19 “And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven.” Matthew 16:17-19
When the children of Israel crossed the Jordan River, they started on a mission to possess their promised land. Let’s look at the similarities of this mission and the Christian mission of possessing God’s promises and taking the world for Christ.
First; the twelve stones taken from the Jordan River have significance.
2 “Take for yourselves twelve men from the people, one man from every tribe,
3 ”and command them, saying, ’Take for yourselves twelve stones from here, out of the midst of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet stood firm. You shall carry them over with you and leave them in the lodging place where you lodge tonight.’” Joshua 4:2-3
The Jordan River is symbolic of the Holy Spirit. The twelve representatives of the twelve tribes of Israel are symbolic of the twelve apostles. Also, the twelve stones taken from the midst of the Jordan River are symbolic of the Holy Spirit giving the twelve apostles their ministries. Jesus gave Peter his name which means stone or rock. He was now a building stone for God’s church. His name had been Simon Bar-Jonah who was simply a fisherman.
Also, notice the relationship between the twelve apostles and the twelve tribes of Israel in the New Jerusalem seen in the book of Revelation.
12 Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:
13 three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west.
14 Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. Revelation 21:12-14
The one wall that surrounds the New Jerusalem has twelve gates and twelve foundations. The names of the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles are on these gates and foundations. The twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles are part of the same wall. At the end of this world, the physical Israel and the spiritual Israel will be united. I encourage the reader to read Romans chapters 9 through 11.
25 For I do not desire , brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel UNTIL the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.
26 And so all Israel will be saved …. Romans 11:25-26
Is it any wonder that physical Israel has become a nation again, as this all comes to its appointed conclusion?
The second similarity between the Promised Land and the Kingdom of God has to do with the place called Gilgal. Gilgal is the first place that the children of Israel camped when they crossed the Jordan River and entered the Promised Land.
9 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “This day I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” Therefore the name of the place is called Gilgal to this day. Joshua 5:9
Because of God’s mighty hand on their lives, the children of Israel were no longer despised as slaves and suffering the reproach of Egypt, but rather were feared and respected by all (Joshua 5:1). Similarly; Simon Bar-Jonah, a common fisherman, became known as Peter, the apostle of Christ. This transformation in Peter’s life was because of the revelation from God (Matthew 16:18), and the anointing and power of the Holy Spirit.
The third similarity relates to the circumcision of the men of Israel at Gilgal. Circumcision is the Old Testament type of New Testament baptism.
11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,
12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. Colossians 2:11-12
At Gilgal Joshua circumcised the sons of Israel at the hill of foreskins (Joshua 5:3). This hill of foreskins is a type of Christ uniting with our bodies of sins at the cross by grace. Baptism symbolizes this truth.
The fourth similarity of the Promised Land and the Kingdom of God is how at Gilgal the children of Israel celebrated the Passover. The Passover is the Old Testament type of Christian Communion.
The fifth similarity relates to the role of angels in the Christian life. Joshua asked the heavenly messenger a question.
13…”Are you for us or for our adversaries?”
14 So He said, “No, but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come….” Joshua 5:13b-14a
Angels are here to aid us in doing God’s will. Hebrews 1:7 refers to angels as His ministers. Joshua wanted to know if the messenger was for Joshua and his people, or against them. The messenger basically told Joshua that God’s army is on God’s side. If you are serving God, you will be on His side and have His help. So it is with the Christian.
The sixth similarity of the Promised Land and the Kingdom of God relates to Jericho. Jericho and its thick, high walls represented a high stronghold raised up against God’s promise to His people. The inhabitants of Jericho are Old Testament pictures of the demons hiding behind such walls. Even though God had given and promised the land to the Israelites, Jericho stood defiantly against any such promise or idea.
4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,
5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 2 Corinthians 10: 4-5
It says in Hebrews:
30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days. Hebrews 11:30
Seven trips around Jericho symbolizes perfect faith. This is the quality of faith that only God can give to us; the kind of faith that does not have any doubting (James 1:6-8, Acts 3:16).
The conquering of Jericho symbolizes the BINDING that Matthew 16:19 refers to. This binding is the right of those who have the keys to the kingdom. As mentioned in this teaching before, the keys of the kingdom are the promises of God. When the believers notice an action or condition contrary to a promise of God, they have the authority or keys to stop or bring down that which opposes the truth of the promise.
While on this earth, we can expect opposition when we contend for the kingdom and live in God’s promises. Jericho represented opposition to what the Israelites knew to be the will and promise of God. The city of Jericho with its high, thick walls represented resistance to God’s promise that the land belonged to His people.
The seventh similarity between the Promised Land and the Kingdom of God relates to Ai and Bethel. Ai and Bethel were located close to each other.
2 Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Beth Aven, on the east side of Bethel … Joshua 7:2
9 the king of Jericho, one; the king of Ai, which is beside Bethel, one; Joshua 12:9 (Only one king was slain for Ai and Bethel)
Bethel was the place where Jacob had previously had an encounter with God.
12 Then he dreamed , and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.
17 And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!” Genesis 28:12,17
Bethel actually means “house of God.” Beth Aven, mentioned above, was on the east side of Bethel. Beth Aven means “house of nothingness” or house of idols. Ai means “heap of ruins.” Ai was a stronghold that kept and prevented God’s people from getting to Bethel, the house of God. Bethel symbolizes a place of LOOSING as described in Matthew 16:19. The New Testament keys which are the promises of God, unlock or loose heaven’s blessings onto the earth. Bethel signified how God’s people could lay hold of heaven’s resources and bring them to earth. Jacob called Bethel the gateway to heaven and the place where a ladder reached from earth to heaven. The Israelites eventually through their rebellion, replaced Bethel with Beth Aven, the house of idols.
The strategy that God gave the Israelites to conquer Ai was different from the strategy He used to conquer Jericho. Interestingly, the rest of the conquests in Canaan had no strategy; Joshua simply attacked the enemy “suddenly” (Joshua 10:9; 11:7) and directly. God helped Joshua make an open display of the enemy kings, just like Christ defeated the devil at the cross and made an open display of him. Christ gave us such authority over the demons.
24 So it was, when they brought out those kings to Joshua, that Joshua called for all of the men of Israel, and said to the captains of the men of war who went with him, “Come near, put your feet on the necks of these kings.” And they drew near and put their feet on their necks. Joshua 10:24
15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it. Colossians 2:15
19 “Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Luke 10:19
Regarding the conquest of Ai; God used the strategy of baiting and luring the enemy out of his stronghold and then destroying the stronghold. The Bible records that the Israelites razed and destroyed Ai and then killed all of the soldiers who came out of Ai and Bethel. The Bible never says that the Israelites destroyed Bethel. They liberated Bethel and killed all of its inhabitants. They destroyed the stronghold, Ai, that was hindering them from accessing Bethel. The symbolism God intended here is that Bethel represented a place of loosing; a place to access the blessings of heaven. The believers’ bodies and hearts are suppose to be places to access heaven’s blessings through faith, love and hope by the Holy Spirit; rather than houses of idols (1 John 5:21)
Another observation regarding the Promised Land is the following. The Israelites living in the land of Egypt is symbolic of us living for sin, self and in the world. The judgments on the land of Egypt symbolize the penalty for sin; i.e., death and curses. Accordingly, it would seem logical that the symbolism of the Promised Land would parallel the symbolism of Egypt. The Israelites living in the Promised Land would symbolize the Christian living for righteousness. The blessings of the Promised Land would symbolize the blessings that follow righteous living. Although this pattern is definitely Biblical and true, the symbolism of the Promised Land does not follow this pattern.
The land itself (the Promised Land), produced food (life) for the children of Israel. Therefore the land does not directly stand for right actions paralleling how the land of Egypt stands for wrong actions. This land stands for life, a wonderful condition or a consequence for right actions.
12 Then the manna ceased on the day after they had eaten of the land; and the children of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate the food of the land of Canaan that year. Joshua 5:12
8 “So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, …. Exodus 3:8
The Promised Land was life to the children of Israel. This land gave them all that they needed. Now, the children of Israel had to obey God in order to possess this land (remember Achan’s sin), and they had to obey God in order to stay in this land (remember almost the entire history of Israel and Judah). Nevertheless, the symbolism of the Promised Land is different from and even seemingly “backward” when compared to the symbolism of Egypt.
The reason for the difference in the symbols is that the children of Israel living in the Promised Land is a picture of the Christian living in the Spirit. The Spirit gives life, just like the Promised Land gave life to the children of Israel. Also, the Spirit leads into all righteousness.
But, the Spirit is not earned, He is given to us freely for the asking, through Jesus Christ.
2 This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
5 Therefore, He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Galatians 3:2,5
13 “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” Luke 11:13
The life (this life includes miracles) and righteousness that the Spirit imparts to the cooperating believer are gifts from God. They are not earned. They are received by faith.
Thus, crossing the Jordan River into the Promised Land is an Old Testament picture of the Christian having an encounter with the Holy Spirit who is freely given to the Christian. The Israelites possessing and living in the Promised Land is an Old Testament picture of the Christian living the Spirit filled life which is freely available to him.
It is truly wonderful to behold how the New Testament speaks of the WORKS of the flesh (symbolized by living in Egypt and incurring the judgments of Egypt), and BEARING FRUIT to God by the Spirit (symbolized by living in the Promised Land).
23 For the wages of sin is death, …. Romans 6:23 (wages are earned by work)
19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are adultery, fornication uncleanness, lewdness… Galatians 5:19
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, Galatians 5:22
4 …that we should bear fruit to God. Romans 7:4
6…that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter. Romans 7:6