The Gospel of the Kingdom is the person of Jesus in His entirety. This gospel is His grace for us, His person multiplied in us and He Himself manifesting as us in the community of the church. Lesser gospels and counterfeit gospels are the gospel of salvation by church, try harder gospels and old covenant gospels with Jesus added – and masquerading as life. There are also gospels that have never abandoned the law, never received the fullness of our at-one-ment with God or adopted the reality of Christ come in our flesh. Nevertheless they have gained a considerable following as a version of christianity that is a charade gospel without spirit and without life.
To ignore the incarnation is to annul life in the Spirit and opt for life in the flesh in its carnal sense. Here we are beholden if not to the torah, to a matrix of rules that we might call Christian living and what Christians believe they are called to do. There is no doubt that all of this comes under the heading of what Paul understood as ‘law’ when he declared that ‘If righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!’ Unfortunately there are a lot attached to christianity for whom this is so – in which large numbers are involved in a Christless Christianity. Christians do ‘do things’ that are life-giving, but only when they are the branches of the vine and the expression of Jesus in them.
The growth of a large church or the existence of a denominational system is not of itself an evidence of the Kingdom of Heaven among us. There are churches that are repositories of passive consumers and bleating, dependent sheep. There are denominations that take a misguided pride in the size of their system. But they should not. A tumor or cancer is a system of perverse cells that sucks life from the host. This is an unfortunate metaphor of the kinds of system that are the working out of another gospel that is death rather than life.
Any ‘godliness’ that is rooted in the law, human effort, philosophy or religion will stunt those who are so rooted. Here we have driven our roots into what Paul calls the body of death. But we are joined to the One who said, ‘This is My body given for you.’ Joined to Him we are one with God and one with spirit and life.
The Kingdom of God is as simple as it is profound. It is a Him. It is Christ in you, Christ manifest as the church and the church as the new creation.
My solicitor, who helped steer me through the aftermath of our break-up, found my adherence to what I thought were verities self-defeating and frustrating. I could see that she thought, ‘Why don’t you just stop being a fundamentalist and be a person!’
I don’t like the anti-life stance of fundamentalism. I don’t like any culture that makes people less than they are. In a sense the dulling of life includes all religion since anything that is not Christ dulls our spirit, withers our soul and stultifies our being. As a small boy I was impatient with old minds that had already coagulated and solidified. Already they had put up walls against life. Paralyzed living from rusted on ideas never attracted me. Neither do rusted and stultified religions that are constricted by old covenant mind-sets. We are meant to love life, to have a holy passion for its animal energy and ecstatic flights. Be impatient with those who extol their freedom in the law. They confuse light with darkness and wisdom with folly.
Reject this humbug. See it as the nonsense it is.
Freedom is a property of persons, of spirit and life. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. But The Spirit is not in or with the law. He is in Himself and the sharing of this life with us. By creation, by the cross, by the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost, we have been drawn into and baptized with life. We are the product, we are the habitation of the life-giving Spirit.
In Jesus you do not have to live in a square because you live in a life – a life giving Spirit. This is no excuse for sin or a round about rationalization for rebellion. It is life defined. When Christ is our life we are captive to freedom and wholeness. Spirit, soul and body come alive with the infinite life of heaven that is manifest in astonishing variety on earth. Isaiah 61 and Luke 4.18 promise freedom for the captives and restoration of dignity and honour. Here we are talking of the dignity of sons and daughters of God.
Separation from God brings about death. We are as much separated from God when we live in religion as we are when we live in selfishness and immorality. Religion is not a substitute for Christ and is not an expression of His person. He is the expression of His person and by the Spirit of Sonship He expressed Himself in you – if you are willing and not so stubborn as to prefer the law to life and Christ’s stuff to Him. In any case a life in His stuff is captivity to our stuff and our obsession with working harder, doing better and putting ourselves forward as worthy of His love. But we are already loved, already in Christ and because of this already in Father’s presence and heart. They have made us part of themselves without any help from us. Just believe. Simply agree with what they have done in making you one with themselves and you can be a person instead of a pain.
The futility of some traditions is that they offer you more life and give you less. They propose truth yet reveal a profound ignorance of the mystery revealed in Christ. Their supposed improvement on the gospel of the Kingdom and the apostles teaching actually robs of you of spirit and life and makes off with the treasure that was yours.
Sin is the attempt to find life in un-life and in anything less than Christ – like the law or a performance orientation. Righteousness is subordinate to life but a product of it. Jesus presented no list. He presented Himself for our atonement and transformation. We are more than legally accounted right. We are one. This is the fuller meaning of at-one-ment. Our our inheritance, our possession is Christ. His grace is ours. His life is ours. He, Father and Spirit are incarnated in our being. Fullness, completeness, holiness and wholeness are found when we have the faith of a little child. When we agree that Jesus is our way, our life and our truth.