Lesson 2 - The Human as a Spiritual Being - Part 2:
What does it mean to live? - Part 2
What happens when a man and a woman come together and are married? The writer of Genesis says:
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24)
They come together because they belong together - Eve was taken out of Adam, and now they come back together again - as one flesh (See Genesis 2:23). God had separated the male and female at creation (Matthew 19:4-5). In marriage they are joined together again.
God made Adam's body out of the earth he had previously created out of nothing. He then breathed into it his own Spirit and made it a living being. (Genesis 2:7). A human's life comes directly from God.
Now let's go back to John 14 and read what Jesus said next to his confused disciples:
"Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words that I say to you are not just my own. Rather it is the Father living in me, who is doing his work." (John 14:9-10)
After Jesus has been crucified and risen again he appears to the frightened disciples inside a locked room.
[He} said, "Peace be with you!" After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven." (John 20:19-23)
Jesus breathed on them. Why? Because the life of God, the Holy Spirit, is received by God breathing on us.
What could they now do that they couldn't do before? Forgive sins. Who could do this before then? Only God. In some sense they had now moved into God's realm.
Mark 2:1-12 describes four friends lowering a paralysed friend to the feet of Jesus in a house in Capernaum. Jesus said, "Son, your sins are forgiven." Naturally the teachers of the law got upset about this apparent blasphemy - only God can forgive sins! Mark tells us what happened next:
Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, "Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up, take your mat and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins ... ." He said to the paralytic, "I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home." He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, "We have never seen anything like this!"
Healing the disease with a word is just as much a God thing as healing sins, but easier to prove - they saw the man walk! Jesus, with the Spirit of God dwelling in him, could forgive sins - and heal diseases! In John 20 the disciples received this same Spirit and could now forgive sins too.
Why did they have this authority? Was it because they were good living, God fearing, Jesus' believing, Bible reading Christians? No! Even Jesus could not do anything without the Spirit of God - the presence of Father God himself in him. There was a time when Jesus was trying to tell the Pharisees that he really was who he said he was.
"When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be, and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him." Even as he spoke many put their faith in him. (See John 8:25-29)
Again, in John 10 we read:
The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one. (John 10:25-30)
The Jews want Jesus to say he is God, then they think they can kill him for blasphemy. But Jesus won't say it. Instead he talks about he and the Father being one. This is not the same thing - he is in the Father and the Father is in him, so he can do what the Father does. The miracles he does prove he is doing things by the power of the Father, not his own human power, because the Father is in him.
We will look in more detail at the functions of body, soul and spirit later.
The disciples had authority to forgive sins and heal, and do the things only God could do, because of the Holy Spirit dwelling in them - they were one with the Father just as Jesus was. The very person of God was within them. Jesus promised them that this would happen in John 14:11-14. Then Jesus prayed that we would be one as well:
"My prayer is not for them alone (the disciples). I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them." (John 17: 20-26)
When we read these verses it is usually to focus on us needing to be in unity with each other so that the world will believe our message. But we neglect what Jesus says about what that oneness is - probably because it is outside our everyday experience to consider what being one with Jesus and Father God means. We have some small inkling of what a husband and wife coming together in sexual unity and being one flesh might mean (we see much more about this in the Prayer Counselling Course). But we forget that this is the exact example Jesus uses in so many passages as an analogy of Christ and his bride the church!
He also wants us to "be with me where I am, and to see my glory". This is not when we get to heaven - he is talking about where (and how) we live now.
Are you beginning to see what it means to be a follower, or disciple, of Jesus - a Christian, a Christ-one? It is not about believing something, or doing something, or being good. It is about you and the Father God being one in a sense, and thus doing what the Father does - as Jesus did.
And what did Jesus do that set him apart from others? He clearly heard God's voice in all the things of life - and acted upon what he heard, whatever it was. Some of these things he heard were about healing and miracles, about teaching, about sacrificing himself, and about dying. He said we would do even greater things, if we are truly his!
Hear the words of Jesus in John 10:27-28: "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me." Who was Jesus talking about? Who are his sheep? Earlier, in John 10:14-21, we find that Jesus is not only talking about the twelve disciples, or the early Christians, but us as well (v16).
"I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me - just as the Father knows me and I know the Father - and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd." (John 10: 14-16)
Of course, we are his sheep.
How, then, should we be living? How can we hear God's voice? And what should we be expecting to happen if we are Christians who hear God's voice and obey it? These are the subjects of further studies in this course.
See Resource Sheet 5 - What Does it Mean to Live? for more details.
Bibliography & Suggested Reading
Click on a title for more information about a book
- Bennett, Dennis and Rita, Trinity of Man . Eastbourne: Kingsway Publications, 1988.
- Gordon, Bob, Explaining the Holy Spirit (The Explaining Series). Chichester: Sovereign World, 2003.
- Kraft, Charles H., Christianity with Power: Your Worldview and Your Experience of the Supernatural. Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2005.
- Kraft, Charles H., Confronting Powerless Christianity: Evangelicals and the Missing Dimension. Grand Rapids, MI: Chosen Books, 2002.
- Marshall, Tom, Living in the Freedom of the Spirit, Tonbridge, Kent: Sovereign World, 2002. [Was Free Indeed!, Sovereign World, 1983.]
- Payne, Leanne, The Healing Presence: Curing the Soul Through Union with Christ. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1995.