The Appearing of Christ 4 – A Physical or Spiritual Coming?

If there is one topic that has generated great interest and debate among the Lord’s people it is the return of Christ. Yet it is also a subject that is most misunderstood. To those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, the great mysteries of God’s plan are yet being unveiled to His people. But, when we think we have arrived at all we need to know, we close ourselves off and prevent the Spirit of Truth from revealing the truth to us.

Understanding the truth about His return begins with a revelation of the indwelling Christ. Truly Christ dwells within us, for we are the temple of God. This is a most powerful truth whoes revelation will initiate a radically transformation in our life. But I must admit, for a better part of my walk with the Lord, I failed to grasp this truth. I had a mental awareness of it and yes, I paid lip service to it, but it had not penetrated my heart to influence how I communed with God and how I appropriate His coming in my experience.

Though many have heard and accept the truth that Chris lives in them, the numerous contradictions of religion keep the people of God from wholeheartedly embracing this truth and walking in it. You see, though many claim to believe that Christ dwells in them, they also look to a physical entity sitting on a literal throne in heaven. Though many claim that the kingdom of God is within, they also wait for a kingdom to come from without. Though Jesus says the kingdom of God does not come by observation, countless still wait for Jesus Christ of Nazareth to come through the sky riding on a white horse.

How many saints today believe they are the temple of God and yet would feel inadequate and backslidden if they stopped attending their church services? How often have we gathered in our programs repeatedly praying/singing: “come visit this place”. And like a DJ announcing the arrival of a guest, how often has the worship leader stood before the congregation and declared: “the presence of the Lord is here”. Where was He? Had He gone away? Did He Himself not say that: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20)?

Dear beloved, the truth of the matter is that His presence was always there, within you. The only reason you feel a greater awareness of His presence at particular times is because you were stirred in your spirit and as a result you were brought to a greater consciousness of the indwelling Christ. It is not because He came from somewhere else or through the roof of your church building to fill the atmosphere as it were. His presence is not bound to that space but, to you.

Many today also look to and hope for a physical return of Jesus. They wait for that same body which Thomas touched to come through the sky ridding on a white horse. Thus, they disregard the Christ that dwells in them. What these contradictions and mixtures have produced in the Lord’s people is double-mindedness, which has caused many to believe in two Christs (one within and one in a place called heaven), two coming kingdoms (one from within and another from without), two temples (one referring to a people and another referring to a building many call “the house of God”), and two kingdom outcomes (a kingdom established on earth and another ONLY in heaven). The great tragedy is that these mixtures have gradually diminished the reality of the indwelling Christ in the saints causing them to worship an image of God and to often look without.

Paul admonishes those who look to a Jesus Christ without saying: “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?” (2 Cor. 13:5). Our Lord Jesus did not come to leave us with an image of Himself to worship nor did He come so we can look for His literal coming in flesh. He came to establish the Kingdom of God (the King’s dominion, Christ’s dominion) within man, right here on the earth. Thus, He declared these indisputable words: “The kingdom of God does not come by observation…the Kingdom of God is within you” (Luk. 17:20, 21). The kingdom being within indicates that it is an inward reality that works from the inside out. It is first established in the hearts of people. It is unlike the military powers of this world that come by force to establish their agenda from without. Was this not the ignorance of the disciples who wanted the Messiah to redeem them from Roman occupation? Was this not also the problem with the Pharisees whom our Lord admonished saying: “Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also” (Matt. 23:26).

The righteousness of the kingdom is established by transforming men’s hearts and this is the very purpose for which our Lord Jesus Christ came. By the work of the cross, He made a way by which man could become the abode of God. This is the new covenant as God has said: “I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (2 Cor. 6:16). The whole redemptive plan of God hinges on this truth. Yet, how men have belittled it by entertaining fables about a bearded man on a horse and about the military powers of heaven who come ridding through the sky to establish the millennial reign of Christ on the earth.

We should establish in our heart that the coming of the kingdom is a spiritual work not a physical one. Certainly it will manifest in the physical as its final expression. But the physical is not the means by which it comes. Surely, the weapons of our warfare are not carnal (2 Cor. 10:4) nor do we wrestle against flesh and blood (Eph. 6:12). But contrary to this, countless believe that Jesus will come with the armies of heaven to wage physical warfare. This is not the hope we are to look to, rather it is Christ in us who is the hope of glory (Col. 1:27). Of a truth I tell you: JESUS CHRIST WILL NOT COME RIDING THROUG THE CLOUDS ON A HORSE ONE DAY. To make an image or an entity that our Lord can be represented by is the essence of idolatry.

Many may be disappointed and perhaps infuriated by the message I now share. For them, the magnitude of Christ diminishes when the image they have conjured of a physical Jesus is challenged. But, that which is seen is an inferior reality, be it in a glorified body or otherwise. How can it be that He who ascended higher than all the heavens (Eph. 4:10) and He who has been glorified together with the Father, with the glory which He had before the world was (Joh. 17:4), still remain in an inferior state of flesh?

Some may also contend for a glorified body of flesh. Was it not the glorified body of Jesus which Thomas wanted to touch? Indeed Thomas believed because He saw and touched that body. But this was not faith but doubt. Thus, Jesus said to him: “Do not be unbelieving, but believing” (Joh. 20:27). He who seeks God in physical or tangible form misses the very thing he is seeking, for God is a Spirit. Dear saints, what we are beckoned to know is the glorified Jesus as the Spirit.

When God puts the desire within us to seek the Lord, it is given to us to make us spiritual and to draw us away from the seen and temporal to the deeper realities of the invisible and eternal realm of the Spirit. But man cheats himself by exercising the flesh instead of the spirit by looking for tangible forms or by creating some fleshly thing to represent Him. The reason religion has fabricated images of Jesus is because men have attempted to perceive Him by the mind of the flesh. The flesh minds fleshly things (Rom. 8:5). Indeed, “the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are SPIRITUALLY DISCERNED” (1 Cor. 2:14). Only the spirit man can perceive and commune with God. And those who mind the things of the Spirit look not to a man of flesh in the celestial but recognize the reality of the perpetual coming of Christ within.

Only the Thomas company (those who rely on their five senses) wait for a physical Jesus to appear. For such a people, the reality of the Christ that comes in Spirit is inferior to the one that (supposedly) comes in flesh through their door or roof. Thus they reject Him, they oppose His coming, and they erect a false image of flesh that usurps the reality of the indwelling Spirit of Christ. Paul settles this issue saying: “Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer” (2 Cor. 5:16).

How do you see Him today; as He was or as He is? Do you still know Him according to the flesh or according to the Spirit? May it be clear to all that it is by the spirit that we know God and commune with Him. “God is Spirit; and they that worship him must worship Him in spirit and in truth” (Joh. 4:24). To be “in spirit and in truth” is a nature or state of being that is beyond the visible and temporal. But, the natural man cannot relate to God in spirit and truth for he neither perceives nor can he understand spiritual things. So he associates the dwelling place of God with the mountain top or the temple; a physical place, a physical heaven. And in his misguided attempt, he looks to the physical and conjures up images to help him relate with God. But that image is not God nor is the physical a reality.

Consider again the words of our Lord Jesus: “The kingdom of God does not come with SIGNS to be OBSERVED or with VISIBLE DISPLAY, Nor will people say, Look! Here [it is]! or, See, [it is] there! For behold, the kingdom of God is within you [in your hearts] and among you [surrounding you]”. (Luk. 17:20-21 Amp). How much more plain, how much more obvious, how much more evident can these words be? Throughout His earthly ministry our Lord Jesus continually pointed men to look within and not without. Thus, He likened the kingdom of heaven to: a man who sowed good seed in his field (Mat. 13:24); like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field (Mat. 13:31); like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal (Mat. 13:33); like treasure hidden in a field (Mat. 14:44). All this He taught to establish the truth that the coming of the Kingdom and indeed the coming of Christ was a spiritual reality taking place within man.

To be continued…

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