This Present Reality

T. Austin Sparks says something in the very beginning of his book “The School of Christ” which provided a very clear image for me of what I think is “off” about so much of Christianity today.

He points out that the prophetic image of a new temple as described to Ezekiel is already fulfilled in Christ, and therefore in His Body [which is the church].

In other words, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – that would be any different in any way in this present reality if someone were to actually start stacking large stone blocks on top of each other to construct a physical temple in Jerusalem this afternoon, then what we already experience right now because of Christ.

If only we could grasp this truth.

The image of this temple in Jerusalem as described by Ezekiel, and even later by John in his Revelation, is a metaphor for the reality that was to come – and has now already come – through Jesus our Messiah.

The dwelling place of God is now among men, as we read in Revelation 21:3.

The rivers of living water that flow from the center of the new city, or the new temple, are the same living waters that Jesus said would flow out of us – His people – He Body – His Temple – in the Gospel of John:

“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:37-38)

“Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)

So, we all claim to know this. We all say we understand that these realities are true already, right now. And yet we also, at the same time, continue to wait for God to “fulfill” these prophecies literally. As if to fulfill them “literally” would accomplish something new, or different from what we are capable of experiencing today.

I suspect this is really the problem: We are not experiencing these realities for ourselves and so we act as if the current spiritual fulfillment is the consolation prize, but when God “really does it” [in the natural] then it will really “come true.”

But that’s not the way it works, I’m afraid.

The reality is Christ. The literal things – the temple, the priesthood, the daily sacrifice – those things were the shadow of what was to come, and now that the reality is here [Christ], those shadows have vanished and are already fading away.
[See Colossians 2:17; Hebrews 10:1]

There will never be any greater reality than Christ. For us, the fulfillment of a new creation has already come to pass. The old things have passed away, behold, the new has come! [See 2 Cor. 5:17]

The New Covenant proclaimed by Jesus in the upper room has now been inaugurated and fulfilled nearly 2,000 years ago. We need to wake up and realize that it’s true. We are now living in the New Heavens and the New Earth that God promised us so long ago.

The Divine has come to touch the earth. The seed was planted. The fruit has begun to ripen. Nothing will ever be the same again.

We are the New Jerusalem. We are the End Times Temple. We are the Body of Jesus in the world today. We are the stewards of His living water that now flows from within, and we are calling out, along with the Holy Spirit, to those outside the gates who are thirsty: “Come and drink freely from the waters of life!”

Let Christ arise and awaken from within. He is alive! He is reigning from His throne! His Kingdom has come!

Halleluiah! Long live the King!

**

Join me at one of these upcoming events:

Organic Church Conference with Neil Cole, Ross Rohde, Dan Notti and Keith Giles on Saturday, May 12 in Long Beach, CA. Register here>

The Nonviolent Love of Christ: How Loving Our Enemies Saves The World, with Joshua Lawson and Keith Giles on Saturday, June 16 in Portsmouth Ohio. Register here>

***
Keith Giles is the author of several books, including “Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb”. He is also the co-host of the Heretic Happy Hour Podcast on iTunes and Podbean. He and his wife live in Orange, CA with their two sons.

Unlock exclusive content including blog articles, short stories, music, podcasts, videos and more on my Patreon page.

 

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  • Clayton Gafne Jaymes

    Is Satan still around? Are the wicked, sinful, willful practicers against God and Jesus still on earth? Is is corruption of all kinds still around on the earth?

    If your answer to those questions is ‘yes’ (and it should be ‘yes’) then no we aren’t in the ‘new heavens and the new earth’.

  • We are in the process of moving away from the Old Heavens/Earth and more into the new reality of the New Jerusalem which is here now and advancing daily. As Jesus said, His Kingdom is like a small seed that starts small and grows to cover the whole earth. We are not yet at 100% coverage yet, but we are on our way. The kingdoms of this world will soon become the Kingdom of God. This is inevitable.

  • Brad Kunkel

    Totally agree we are in the process begun with Christ and will end when he “hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet” (1 Cor. 15:24,25) That is what I think all the NT references to new creation mean, such as “if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come” (2 Cor 5:17), and “… what counts is the new creation.” (Gal. 6:15). The only thing I might add is that there are layers to how the NT speaks of the body of Christ. It is the church, but also humanity as in “His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross” (Eph. 2:15) and a bunch of others. Christ is also the fullness that fills everything in every way (Eph. 1:23) and in him all things hold together (Col. 1:17). I think seeing God as enfleshed through not just the church, but in humanity and all of creation helps with understanding the breadth of what it means that the process we are in is one of reclaiming his project, and that our role as the church in helping the living Christ become manifest is something deeper and more meaningful than just getting people to join our club so they can be a part of heaven when it finally comes.

  • Obscurely

    Speaking as a progressive pastor myself, I worry about what we might be losing by preaching only the ‘social gospel’? can’t we at least be agnostic about the deeply apocalyptic side of Christian faith that dominated for so many centuries?

  • ashpenaz

    Christian Science teaches that the material world doesn’t exist. The only thing that exists is Spirit. God is Spirit and what is born of Spirit is Spirit, so matter, with its sin, sickness, and death, was never created by God. If something is not created by God, it doesn’t exist.

    Matter is like a mist which covers the real world of Spirit, and when the sun disperses the mist, we can see the world as it actually is: we are the image and likeness of God, right here, right now. This kind of philosophical idealism or Christian Platonism has been taught throughout Church history by Origen, Augustine, Bishop Berkeley, Kant, Jonathan Edwards, and C. S. Lewis. Our goal is not to wait for the Kingdom, but see beyond matter, past the unreality of sin, sickness, and death, into the Kingdom of the Spirit. Jesus didn’t cure sickness–He showed us it never existed at all because God never created it. Jesus’ Resurrection was the demonstration that death has no power since God didn’t create it and it doesn’t exist. The Kingdom is here and now–we just need to see beyond the mist.

  • The Mouse Avenger

    I agree with that question. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I fully love, admire, & support the social gospel myself…

    …but does that necessarily mean that heaven &/or hell don’t exist as their own actual entities?

  • Obscurely

    Exactly! even if the biblical references to heaven and hell turn out to be metaphors, the reality could be so much better/worse than we can imagine?

  • The Mouse Avenger

    I suppose so. 🙂