Having been brought up in the law, I have friends who like me no longer live their lives around legalities or the culture of shadows. The gospel of the Kingdom is far simpler than many would allow and surpassingly profound in its capacity to install us as daughters and sons in Father’s presence and heart. Jesus lives to draw all people and all things into Himself, and to make Himself their life and the life of the world. This means drawing all humanity into the fellowship of Father, Son and Holy Spirit and in turn making each of us and the community of the saved, the dwelling place of the trinity and living fountains of His infinite peace and life. Joined to Father we are apostolic people in the manner of Jesus who is our root.
Some of these friends no longer live from the law and the culture of legalism. But it does not always seem obvious to them why they do. Some wonder if they are doing the right thing by God and themselves, not only because they had been socialized into an alternate gospel but because the mysterious reality of the new covenant is not understood. This mystery is revealed in that the spirit/person of Jesus is manifest as you. Joined by Jesus to our Father you are sons in spirit and in truth.
The mystery of the new covenant is that Christ is manifest and revealed firstly as you and then as the church.
Like many in the churches who disavow legalism, many of the newly born do not know why they do not live from law or why their life is in Christ and not in churchianity, religion, Christian beliefs or ethics. So they live in a mixture of both.
Not a few deny that they are legalists yet are encumbered by a subtle legalism composed of all the right things Christian should be doing. This disjunction results from ignorance of the new covenant and a failure to be reborn from the knowledge of good and evil into a life that is unconditionally Christ. Thus through poor teaching they remain in a Christian version of the knowledge of good and evil under the illusion that this is the gospel. This is to say that many born again Christians are not genuinely reborn. Their new birth life is an exchange from an old ‘bad’ morality to the new good morality of that which we call “Christianity.’ But we are not the inheritors of a religion. We have inherited a life that is a person as well as a new and living way that changes us and the creation. This is the experience of a transformed, rather than a churched life. Stephen Crosby writes,
“Why would you choose to live by precepts of Torah, that didn’t work for Israel, when rest in His Person has ALWAYS been His desire, and is available to you in Christ? Christ is the end of Torah for all who believe.” Why indeed!
Christ is the finish of the Torah and the start of the life that is His Spirit multiplied first in you, then in all humanity and then in the social structure that is human society. This is the new creation kingdom of God.
I know folks who will say, ‘Jesus transcends the law.’ And He does. But they say this as though in transcending the law He is the means of maintaining and keeping the law - as though He is its Chief Custodian and Implementer of the Precepts. But this is a misunderstanding and a perversion of the doctrine of the apostles. It is Jesus Himself who is our life by His Spirit imbuing us with His person. What would you rather have? The person of Jesus pervading your being or becoming a non-person that is a jumble of rules? The latter is a gross diminution of the reality of Christ our life.
Jesus did say that none of the law would fade until all be fulfilled. Exactly right. All was fulfilled by the cross, the resurrection, Pentecost and the descent of the Spirit to be our life in Christ. Let’s be clear. Any change, any victory that comes about in life did not occur because we tried hard to bring our will into conformity to a principle of right doing. It happened because Jesus released the Spirit of Himself into our being. We became conformed to His life because He conformed us!
The basis of our life in God is the atonement. Better stated as the at-one-ment, it means that the alienation that was ours in the independent Adam has been undone and we have been made one with God and our spirit place within the fellowship of the trinity. The atonement is grace realized, grace active and grace as Christ in us and more radically as us.
The Sabbath was instituted as a harbinger and shadow of our rest and peace in Christ. But that rest, that comfort, that peace and creativity arising from innocence and forgiveness is Jesus our Sabbath. Today Sabbath is a person. Jesus is rest, peace, life and the power of His resurrection alive in our being. Because of Jesus we live, move and have our being in God. So don’t crucify the son of God again by undoing what God has done with a law-Sabbath. Don’t accede to the folly of making a religion and a belief system out of a shadow when the reality is Christ. This is why a statement such as the one below by the late Dr Samuele Bacchiocchi needs to recognized as the spiritual redundancy it is since it clearly states that we must add something to Christ in order to help Jesus help us. Here it is: ‘How can we enable Christ to harmonize and quiet our restless lives? God gave mankind before and after the Fall a vital institution, the Sabbath day: a day specifically designed to free us from secular concerns so that we might freely find rest in God.’ Here the Sabbath is cast as a mediator of the life in God that is already ours. Avoid christ’s that are not Christ.
The Kingdom of Jesus is a domain of spirit and life. It will not grow from the soil of law or mixture. It is a tree that is rooted in the trinity and which expands to fill the whole earth with its glory.
‘For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is you life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory’ Col 3.2,4 NIV.
Our Jesus life is better than many of us think. It is personal, more free, more holy, more God and more you! It is not separate from you. It is you! God gave you His Son. In Giving His Son He gave you Himself. In giving you Himself, He gave you your self - not a religious self but a whole and robust self. You have been made one with God, one with yourself, one with all who believe and one with the creation. The joy of His spirit of life is in you. You are the church of the Firstborn. You have a life, a Sabbath, a peace and a resurrection in Jesus. He is totally our rest and our new creation life. Don’t regress and don’t accept substitutes.