If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death. John 8:51
The statements of Jesus concerning eternal life were so startling to the hearers of his day that they thought him insane and dangerous and sought to kill him. We must ask ourselves why his words concerning eternal life provoked such a response. This violent reaction is in marked contrast to the way in which Christians today receive his words. As a result of 2,000 years of religious programming and false teaching, Christians today interpret Jesus’ words in a way that nullifies and robs them of their power. What we see reflected in the theologies of all Christian denominations is the common sense understanding which declares: “He could not have meant physical death because, after all, everybody dies”. Thus begins the process whereby the powerful statements of faith proclaimed by the Word of God -- and there is no statement more powerful than the promise that believers can overcome death -- are interpreted in light of the collective experience of Christians who were never exposed to the truth. Christians die because the necessary precondition for conquering death, which is an overcoming faith, is not encouraged and then the fact that Christians die just like unbelievers is used, in turn, to justify the doctrine of death.
The religious system, which God calls Babylon in the book of Revelation, teaches that immortality applies after we experience a physical death and relates basically to an afterlife. This makes the concept of immortality contradictory, if not absurd. Paul tells us that Jesus Christ was manifested to abolish death and to bring life and immortality to light. If immortality becomes effectual after we die, why did Jesus need to bring it to light? To the Hebrew people, there would have been nothing radical about the proclamation of an afterlife – certainly nothing that would produce scandal, shock and provoke persecution. If the Father, through Jesus, was merely ushering in a new, glorified after-life for believers as the system teaches in its interpretation of the scripture: “O Death, where is thy sting?”, why does the writer of the book of Hebrews describe the heroes of faith in the Old Testament and then go on to say that this cloud of witnesses surrounds believers in the flesh looking to us in the here and now to bring them into perfection (Heb. 11 and 12)? This tells me that the focus of the saints in the spirit realm is on the saints who are still in their physical bodies. Why? They are looking to us to accomplish in the flesh that which they could not attain to in their lifetimes – victory over death. If the ministry of Jesus was to cleanse us from sin so that, after we die, we can enjoy eternity with God, why was he the Passover Lamb? The blood of the Passover lamb in the Old Testament was a covering to protect the children of Israel from the angel of death and was a type of Jesus’ true ministry: to deliver us from death, in all its forms, by delivering us from sin.
While Jesus came to deliver the creation from the bondage of death and corruption, the goal of the enemy working through the Babylonian religious system of man is to keep believers in the shadow of darkness where death reigns. Not only are the common sense assumptions of the carnal mind (“everybody has to die”) never challenged by the teachings of the religious system, they are, in fact, reinforced. Christianity, in all its various forms and manifestations, accepts and even glorifies physical death. It is seen as the gateway to heaven, to eternal rest and to the great celestial family reunion. Death is seen as a homecoming or graduation. It is in the after-life that we will finally see Jesus face to face and will instantly be made perfect. The powerful and literal “brainwashing” of the doctrine of death can be seen in the Catholic Church’s ritual of spreading ashes on the forehead of believers. This ritual -- which has no new testament foundation -- dramatically illustrates the point that while the religious system may portray itself as pro-life in its advocacy of the rights of a fetus or in its stand against euthanasia or capital punishment, the “life” that the system seeks to protect and preserve is fundamentally different from the meaning Christ attaches to the term.
When Jesus spoke of eternal life, he was referring to the Life that is contained only in him. Through him, the believer enters into the life of the Melchisedec priesthood where we have no carnal genealogy, no beginning nor end of days. In his eyes, those who do not have this life are no better than dead men (“Let the dead bury the dead” he said to a follower who hesitated following Jesus because he felt the need to bury his recently deceased father.) It is only through the intimacy of our relationship with Christ that we enter into Life and as this life takes hold of every aspect of our being, death in all its aspects is overcome. It is the second birth, which removes us from the realm of the Adamic life to the life of Christ, that is precious in the sight of God because it is only through the manifestation of the born again Sons of God that the creation, in its entirety, will be delivered from the bondage of death. While the religious system champions the rights pertaining to the Adamic life, it fights tooth and nail to prevent the second birth from occurring in the lives of Christians. This is symbolized in the 12th chapter of the book of Revelation by the dragon seeking to devour the manchild:
…and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. Rev. 12:4
It is a reflection of the hypocrisy of religion that it opposes the manifestation in the physical of the crime, abortion, that it practices in the realm of the spirit. In fact, there is no evil, no perversion, no violence in the world, including death, that does not stem from the spiritual rebellion of the religious system against God.
Christianity’s alliance with death, which borders on a form of spiritual necrophilia or death worship, is nothing new. According to the Word of God, the religious system that the Hebrew people were entangled in made what God calls in the book of Isaiah a “covenant with death”. He goes on to say:
And your covenant with death shall be disannulled and your agreement with hell shall not stand… Isa. 28:18
In Hosea He says:
I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death I will be thy plagues; O grave I will be thy destruction…. Hosea 13:14
These are just two examples of the wealth of scripture in the Old Testament, both in the books of the Law and the books of the Prophets, which reflect the fact that, especially with regard to His people, God views physical death (“the grave”) as part of the curse and as something unclean and abhorrent. God’s promise is that through the atoning work of Jesus, all aspects of the curse, including death, will be overcome. In the meantime, for the obedient and righteous in the Old Testament, the reward was a long and prosperous life. Nowhere in the Old Testament is death portrayed as a gateway to blessing as Christian theology views it.
The Unfolding Kingdom
The positive image of death as the time or place where we come into our inheritance -- whether it be mansions, crowns of life, reunion with loved ones, the settling of scores, questions answered, rewards distributed to the worthy and punishment doled out to the disobedient or reprobate – perverts the very concept of inheritance: it is the testator’s death and not the heir’s death that makes inheritance possible. This distortion derives from a misunderstanding of the spiritual revelation Jesus was imparting when he expounded on the kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven. The fundamental problem is that the underpinning of virtually all Christian theology is the carnal understanding of heaven as a physical place inaccessible to us until a specific time (physical death). The fact is that not once in all four gospel accounts does Jesus equate the kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven with an afterlife. What Jesus does do is describe the availability of a place in God in which He establishes total dominion over every aspect of the believer’s life. This is a realm in the spirit that has nothing to do with time or space (“The time is coming and now is…”) but it has everything to do with our readiness and willingness to sell all our “wealth” (which means, above all, renouncing our carnal understanding), to become as children, to die to everything in our life that is unlike Him, and to bear His reproach. This means taking Jesus at his word when he says: “He that believes in me shall never taste of death” and bearing the consequences of that faith – which are considerable.
There is a two-fold aspect to the revelation of the kingdom: In one respect, the fullness of God, including immortality, has always been available, by faith, to those who pleased God such as Enoch and Elijah; but in another respect there is a process across time of the unfolding of the revelation of Christ (or the “coming” of Christ), the culmination of which we see described in the book of Revelation. In the Spirit John sees the future of the Church as the mysteries of the Word unfold and as the doctrine of death is overcome. It is a “future” that is always available on an individual basis but will not come into total manifestation until the entirety of the Church is brought into the fullness of the revelation of Christ. This ongoing process of revelation and the expanding availability to the Church of the fullness of God explains why Paul himself admits not to have attained to all that is available in God and seems reconciled to a physical death (“Whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s”). Defenders of the religious system who point to Paul’s death to justify their doctrine (“Even Paul died…”) should keep in mind that Paul died a martyr’s death – not as Christians today die, ravaged by old age or disease or victims of fatal accidents.
Nullification of the Atonement
In Paul’s day, the Church was not ready to be unveiled as the fullness of God’s glory -- or God’s third heaven -- because revelation truth was as yet “unlawful” to be uttered or preached. After the martyrdom of Paul and the other apostles, the religious system stepped into the breach between the “God that is” (the historical Jesus or the second heaven) and the “God that is to come” (the fullness of the revelation of Christ in the Church or the third heaven). The system then created a theology forged in the imagery of the Adamic carnal mind. Faith based on the spiritual depth and subtlety of the Word was abandoned as scripture was given a literal and physical interpretation in which the doctrine of death – in effect, the anti-Christ – was enthroned. The purpose of the doctrine of death – then as now – is to actively prevent the last enemy from being conquered by embracing that enemy and viewing it as a “friend”. The more sophisticated theologies will concede that much of the fullness of God is available to believers in this life, but the religious system will never let Christians believe that physical death can be overcome because that would mean that sin can be conquered in our lives. As dispensers of forgiveness and grace on the one hand and guilt and condemnation on the other, the clergy of the system will do everything in its power to prevent Christians from entering into the fullness of the atonement.
The doctrine of death goes hand in hand with the teaching, common to every Christian denomination, that Christians remain sinners after experiencing salvation, the new birth and cleansing in the blood of Jesus. In subtle ways, the Law and with it, judgment, condemnation and death, were re-introduced into Christian theology and, as a result, our understanding of the atonement was distorted. As revelation and faith were replaced by morality and law, the atoning work of Jesus was made ineffectual and, indeed, unnecessary and His blood, through the unbelief engendered by the religious teachings of man, was rendered no more potent than the communal grape juice. How does a system that is founded on a teaching of imperfection answer this question: If the blood of Jesus and the Spirit of God that dwelt in him, as it does in us, do not have the power to bring us into perfection, why would he require it of us?
ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.
The system’s response to this scripture is to add qualifiers which, in effect, nullify the power of the Word and the atonement. It is no coincidence that all the teachings of Paul and John that point to perfection or total deliverance from sin are either ignored or explained away. The goal of the religious system is to prevent the formation of that Bride that is without spot or wrinkle which is the culmination of God’s plan for the creation.
The ultimate purpose and will of God is to experience himself in flesh form – not just in the body of an individual Son as He manifested himself in Jesus – but in a multi-membered body; a body not limited by the dimensions of time and space as Jesus was. In Jesus, the Father could only be incarnated in one place at a time. In the Church, His incarnation can be a million-fold. The means to accomplish this divine purpose is through the mystery of the Word. Although Jesus conquered death, hell and the grave for all men, we enter into our inheritance only through the preaching of revelation truth that goes beyond the common-sense, carnal understanding of the Word. The Word starts to become flesh in us and we are born again as we receive the revelation of the kingdom in our spirit man and we begin to “see” the kingdom of God. The birth of the spirit man must be nourished by the milk of the Word, which provides the groundwork from which God builds His edifice in us. Even at the milk stage, the mind of man must be anointed by the spirit of God in order to grasp the meaning of the Word. To understand the Word as God intended it to be understood, the believer must be filled with the same Holy Ghost that inspired those who wrote the Word. Only the Spirit of God in us can search the deep things of God. This milk stage is typified by the Holy place in the temple where the priests ministered in the presence of the golden candlestick, the showbread and the altar of incense. Each item symbolized the Church in its aspects as the light of the world, bread for the hungry and intercessors before the throne of God.
To enter the realm beyond the veil, the believer must move from the milk of the Word to the meat of the Word, which is typified by the manna that was hidden in the ark of the covenant contained in the Holy of Holies. This is the part of the temple that was not illuminated by either natural light (the human understanding of the carnal mind) or candlelight (the light of the Church) and from which all were excluded except the High Priest (Sons of God). Once Christians become aware of the availability of this realm, the factors that hold them back are precisely those aspects that are typified by the darkness and exclusivity of the physical Holy of Holies. The process of acquiring this hidden manna and unlearning the doctrine of death will relegate the believer to a place -- socially, emotionally, spiritually and psychologically -- of isolation, not only from the rest of the body of Christ, but also from the human frame of reference. It is a spiritual no-mans-land or wilderness where God tries the faith and courage of His Sons. It is the place outside the camp where we go forth unto Him bearing His reproach. But for all those who travel this path that no fowl knoweth, rest assured that it will be said of them (Song of Solomon 3:6 & 8:5):
is this that cometh out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke, perfumed with
myrrh and frankincense, with all powders of the merchant….Who is this that
cometh up from the wilderness leaning on her beloved?