Death stands between every man and an inheritance in Christ, even as the Jordan River stood between the Israelites and their inheritance in the land of Canaan. We know that every man experiences a physical death of his body. It is not this death that makes a person a disciple of Christ, otherwise all men would be judged now to be Christ’s disciples. It is the death of the soul that is referred to when Christ invited men to “Come, take up your cross, and follow Me.”
Because this truth has been so little understood, being rejected by the majority of Christians today, it needs to have much emphasis laid upon it. No man will enter into His inheritance in Christ apart from first experiencing death to his soul life. We can either embrace this death to the soul’s rule over our lives now by yielding our lives wholly to follow Christ wherever He directs, or we will have our soul life destroyed in the lake of fire in the age to come. The necessity of dying to the life of the soul is revealed plainly in the following words of Christ.
“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate… even his own life (psuche – soul), he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”
The Greek word “psuche” is translated as “heart, life, mind and soul” in the KJV Bible. It is a word used to describe that inner life that guides and animates a living being. The soul is influenced by many external forces. Prior to being born of the Spirit, the greatest influence upon the soul is the flesh. The flesh expresses its cravings and desires to the soul. The soul in turn decides what response it will make to this input.
The natural man is completely dominated by his soul. He is daily choosing to fulfill the desires and needs of the body, whether for food, sex, comfort, pleasure, ease, excitement, peace, or a myriad of other passions. The life of Adamic man is dominated by the soul. It is a sensual life, and one devoted to self-gratification.
The life of Christ is different. It is dominated by the Spirit. The focus of the life of Christ is not upon self, but rather upon pleasing the Father.
“For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”
While Christ was in the flesh He lived entirely for the will and pleasure of His Father. He never deviated from this focus. Because Christ was born of woman, He knew the influence of the feminine soul. Being born of the seed of the Father, He also had the influence of the masculine Spirit. This led to conflict within Christ’s being to see who would have ascendancy. Would Yahshua walk as a pleasing Son by being directed by the Spirit in all things, or would He capitulate to the passions and desires of the soul?
This struggle was never seen more clearly than when Christ wrestled with drinking from that cup of suffering His Father presented to Him while in the Garden of Gethsemane. This cup contained the suffering of the cross, and death to the flesh.
Then He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.” And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.”
Christ’s hour of wrestling in the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives shows us clearly that struggle that all who would be conformed to Christ must experience. The details of this event also serve as a great parable. It was from the crushed flesh of the olive that the Levites obtained the oil used for anointing, and to light the candlesticks in the Temple. The olive tree serves as a type of Yahweh’s people, and the individual olives are a type of individual saints. Our lives must be crushed if the oil of anointing is to be released from within. If we are to be lights in a dark world, we too must experience the crushing of the soul in our own Gethsemane experiences.
That Christ’s suffering occurred on the Mount of Olives was chosen by great design by His Father. The word Gethsemane means “olive press.” It is where the olives are crushed to obtain the oil from them. Christ was experiencing the crushing of His soul while in Gethsemane. He had to make the decision to deny His soul’s desires, and to put the will and pleasure of the Father above all else. It is this death to the soul that is the hallmark of everyone who is a disciple of Christ.
II Corinthians 4:11
For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Yahshua’s sake, so that the life of Yahshua also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
As the soul is crushed, the life of Christ is revealed in us. It is appointed to Christ’s disciples to be the first among men to follow Yahshua through the waters of death. This was symbolized in the crossing of the Jordan by those priests who were first to walk into the waters of the Jordan as they carried the Ark of the Covenant on their shoulders.
“It shall come about when the soles of the feet of the priests who carry the Ark of Yahweh, the Lord of all the earth, rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan will be cut off, and the waters which are flowing down from above will stand in one heap.”
As Christians, we are appointed to be priests of God.
I Peter 2:9
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light…
There is much symbolized by the priests as they carried the Ark of the Covenant into the Jordan. The Ark was borne on the shoulders. The shoulders are symbolic of the place where authority and government rests.
For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders…
As mentioned previously, the Ark is a symbol of perfected man. Christ is the original, for He is the first of a new type of man. In carrying the Ark upon their shoulders, the priests were providing a type and shadow of those men and women who would one day take Christ as their Head.
There is a parallel observed between the priests of Yahweh carrying the Ark with wooden poles on their shoulders, and the disciple of Christ bearing the cross. Even as the priests entered the waters that signified death, the disciple must be baptized into Christ and take up his cross which is an instrument of death to the soul. Those who are true disciples have yielded the rule of their lives to Christ. They have removed themselves as head, that they might take Christ as Head. This is the meaning of the following words of John.
And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Yahshua and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
Revelation is a book that conveys truth through signs. It is a book of parables. Those who would be Christ’s disciples must hate their own souls. They must accede to the Lordship of Christ in a very real and practical manner, taking Him as their Head. No man can take Christ as Head while his own head is still ruling. John describes these beheaded ones as coming to life and ruling with Christ during the Millennium. This honor is reserved for the overcomers in Christ. It is for those who attain to the first resurrection, gaining the right of the firstborn of Christ.
Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.
Because these ones have surrendered to the death of the cross in this age, they will be spared from the second death in the next age. The second death is the lake of fire. Every person must experience death to the natural life in order to enter into resurrection life in Christ. There can be no resurrection apart from a death first taking place. We must die to that natural, Adamic life, ruled by the soul, in order to be resurrected into that new spiritual life found in Christ. This pattern is inviolable.
The Christian is not saved from death, so much as he is saved through death. It is by following Christ, taking up our own cross, and dying to self (that natural soulish life) that we are delivered from the kingdom of darkness and translated into the kingdom of light. It is by virtue of being born again of the Spirit of Christ, becoming a partaker of His divine life, that we find resident within our members the desire, and power, to deny ourselves, and yield our lives wholly to the Father.
Work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
Christians like to speak of salvation as something that Christ obtained for them at the cross. There are Scriptures that support such a conclusion. Once again, however, many Christians have fallen short of “rightly dividing the word of truth.” They have not considered the whole counsel of the Scriptures. That which Christ has purchased for men and given to them freely, must be “worked out” in each individual’s life. This is what Paul declared when he said “Work out YOUR salvation with fear and trembling.”
Christ presents to men both a gate that they must enter by, and a way that they must walk. A man must enter by the gate AND follow Christ down the afflicted path, or they will fail to arrive at life.
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is afflicted (Greek “thlibo”) that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
Many of the popular English Bibles today translate the Greek word “thlibo” in this passage as “narrow,” but that obscures Christ’s meaning. This is a different word altogether from that used in the first part of this passage describing a “narrow” gate. The word used there is “stenos.” Christ is describing two different things. Christ is the gate, or doorway by which all men must enter if they are to find resurrection life. There is no other name given under heaven by which men must be saved. Neither Mohammed, nor Buddha, not Krishna, nor the other thousands of gods named in this world will deliver men from sin and reconcile them to the Father. The gate is very narrow. Christ alone is the doorway to life.
So Yahshua said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved…”
These words of Christ are true, but they do not constitute His entire counsel and testimony. Christ declared that “the gate is small,” but He also said, “the way is afflicted that leads to life, and few there are who find it.” The goal is life; resurrection life in Christ. To obtain it all men must enter by the gate and walk the path appointed by God that leads to life. That path is afflicted. It is a path of suffering leading to the termination of the soul’s rule over mankind. Man’s soul has to be crushed. The cross must be embraced. Suffering must be endured in order for the self-life to lose its grip over man.
The Bible reveals that there are two methods by which the salvation Christ has provided might find its”outworking” in our lives. We can surrender to follow Christ by taking up our cross now, or we will be cast into the lake of fire which will similarly accomplish the work of bringing an end to the rule of the soul.
“Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in Hell.”
The word translated here as “destroy” is not speaking of annihilation. It is not suggesting that men’s souls will cease to be. Rather, it is a word denoting the subjugation of the soul in the same way that Christ intended when He said “He who would save his soul must LOSE it.”
“For whoever wishes to save his soul will lose (apollumi) it; but whoever loses (apollumi) his soul for My sake will find it.”
The very same Greek word, “apollumi” is used in both verses.
“Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy (apollumi) both soul and body in Hell.”
As we look at these two verses side by side, we find that God has provided two methods by which the soul of man might experience “apollumi.” The soul can be subjected to the rule of Christ in this age by yielding fully to Christ as Head of one’s life, or the soul can be brought to this same place of subjection in Hell.
Please do not pass over what was just stated. It is a very critical matter. The process of “apollumi,” diminishing and subjecting the soul to the rule of the Spirit, is the purpose of Hell and the lake of fire. This fiery purging and transformation in the next age accomplishes the same work as those fiery trials encountered by Christians who voluntarily surrender their lives by taking up their cross and following Christ in this present age.
We see in these words of Christ that Hell is not simply a place of torment for the adversaries of God as the church supposes. It is designed to accomplish that same work as the disciple’s cross. It will bring an end to the rule of the soul. The saint can be spared the lake of fire if they will submit to the Headship of Christ now. The saint who rejects the suffering of the cross in this life, will most assuredly have to experience the lake of fire in the age to come.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.”
These words are written to “the churches.” The second death is the lake of fire. He who overcomes; he who works out his salvation with fear and trembling; he who embraces the cross now in this age; he who does not shrink back from the experiences of suffering Christ will lead him to, will not be hurt by the second death. The overcomers will attain to the first resurrection, and will not be cast into the lake of fire, for their names are recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life. All who are born again of the Spirit of Christ have their names recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life, but those who do not walk as overcomers will have their names removed.
“He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life…, He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
This again is Christ’s word to the churches. What happens to those Christians who walk unworthily of Christ, who do not experience the crushing of their soul life in this age, and who have their names blotted out of the Book of Life?
And if anyone’s name was not found written in the Book of Life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
There is no entrance into that spiritual inheritance in Christ apart from passing through death first. The death of the soul precedes our entrance into the fulness of resurrection life even as the Israelites had to pass through the waters of the Jordan to enter the land flowing with milk and honey.
Yahweh reveals much through parables. The Law is full of arcane regulations in which few Christians today see any purpose or reason. Following is one seldom understood Law of God that bears much on this present subject.
“Speak to the sons of Israel, saying: ‘When a woman gives birth and bears a male child, then she shall be unclean for seven days, as in the days of her menstruation she shall be unclean. On the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. Then she shall remain in the blood of her purification for thirty-three days; she shall not touch any consecrated thing, nor enter the sanctuary until the days of her purification are completed. But if she bears a female child, then she shall be unclean for two weeks, as in her menstruation; and she shall remain in the blood of her purification for sixty-six days.'”
The woman who gave birth was judged to be “unclean” twice as long when she gave birth to a female child as when she gave birth to a male. From a completely natural perspective, such a judgment makes little sense. We must look to the spiritual truths signified in the Law to understand what is actually implied.
The soul of mankind is viewed as feminine. The apostle Paul in several places speaks of the Christian as being born of the “seed” of Christ. It is the female that receives the seed. As natural descendants of Adam, all men are dominated by the feminine soul, until they have Christ formed in them. The feminine soul must receive the seed of Christ in order for Christ to be manifest in our lives. Andrew Jukes, in his excellent book The Restitution of All Things, writes:
“For the woman is our nature, which if it receive seed, that is the word of truth, may bring forth a son, that is ‘the new man…’ But if, instead of bearing this ‘new man,’ our nature only bear its like, a female child, that is fruits merely natural, then it is unclean for a double period…”
Those Christians who protect the natural life, who remain soulish, will be judged as unclean in the eyes of Yahweh. Christ said “No man can be My disciple unless he hates… even his own soul.” Those who in this life bring forth only the feminine, soulish nature will require a period of cleansing much greater than those who bring forth the masculine image of Christ.
The only way for Christ to be fully formed in any person is for them to yield to be led of God’s Spirit. Whether you are male or female by natural birth, you become a “son” of God by submitting to the rule of the Spirit of Christ.
For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
Those who receive the seed of Christ and yield their lives to the Spirit, subsequently progressing to have “the new man” Christ formed within them, will remain in their uncleanness a shorter time than those who continue to walk after the leading of the feminine soul. The first resurrection is for those who overcome the soul’s rule in this age. The next resurrection will not occur until a further thousand years have past(Revelation 20:5). Some remain unclean, ruled by the feminine soul, much longer than others.
There is great reason to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling.” That salvation which Christ has obtained for us must find its outworking in our lives if we are to be judged as clean before our Father. If we resist this process, refusing to embrace the cross, we will remain unclean for a much longer time. The end of the soul’s reign that could have been accomplished in this life by taking up the disciple’s cross will need to be completed in the lake of fire. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
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