By John Amoda
EASTER 2011 has come and gone and another is a year away. We have so ritualized Easter that the import of the event it celebrates is lost sight of. We have turned it into reminiscing.
This is not the import of Easter; it is a beginning of a new world; of a new creation for the Church, the body of Christ. Good Friday is God’s completion of the cleansing produced by God through Noah’s flood.
They that ritualize Easter are those that are spiritualizing the flesh; that is, to transforming the flesh into spirit. This is the hall mark of anti-Calvary or anti-Redemption Christianity; of Moses and Jesus; of the Law and Grace- the Motivational Christianity that constitutes the present New Age Orthodoxy. Nigeria is the Eden of this variant of Christianity, a Christianity that Paul castigated in its first generation origins amongst Jewish disciples of the Lord.
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty where with Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, (if you add works to grace-my addition), Christ shall profit you nothing.
For I testify again to every man that is circumcised (that begins with grace and ends with works my addition) that he is a debtor to the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything; nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love” (Galatians 5:1-6). God established the truth of the gospel defined above through the Cross of “God Friday” and the Resurrection of “Easter”.
The recognition of the amazing grace that has been lost in the ceremonies of Good Friday and Easter is described in “glory terms” in the following excerpt from Watchman Nee’s: The Normal Christian Life. Watchman Nee explains the import of Calvary and of Easter in kingdom terms.
“The kingdom of this world is not the kingdom of God. God had his heart set upon a world-system, a universe of his creating, which should be headed up in Christ His Son (Col. 1:16-17). But Satan, working through man’s flesh, has set up instead a rival system known in scripture as ‘this world’-a system in which we are involved and which he himself dominates. He has in fact become ‘the prince of this world” (John 12:31)
Thus, in Satan’s hand, the first creation has become the old creation, and God’s primary concern is now no longer with that but with a second and new creation. He is bringing in a new creation, a new kingdom and a new world, and nothing of the old creation, the old kingdom or the old world can be transferred to the new.
It is a question now of these two rival realms, and of which realm we belong to? The apostle Paul, of course, leaves us in no doubt as to which of these two realms is now, in fact, ours. He tells us that God, in redemption, delivered us out of the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love’(Col. I:12-13). Our citizenship, henceforth, is there. But in order to bring us into His new kingdom, God must do something new in us.
He must make of us new creatures. Unless we are created anew we can never fit into the new realm. ‘That which is born of the flesh is’ flesh’; and, flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption’ (John 3. 6; Cor. 15: 50). However educated, however cultured, however improved it be, flesh is still flesh.
Our fitness for the new kingdom is determined by the creation to which we belong. Do we belong to the old creation or the new? Are we born of the flesh or of the Spirit? Our ultimate suitability for the new realm hinges on the question of origin. The question is not good or bad?’ but ‘flesh or Spirit?’’ That which is born of the flesh is flesh’, and it will never be anything else. That which is of the old creation can never pass over into the new.
Once we really understand what God is seeking, namely something altogether new for Himself, then we shall see clearly that we can never bring any contribution from the old realm into that new thing. God wanted to have us for Himself, but He could not bring us as we were into that which he had purposed; so he first did away with us by the Cross of Christ, and then by resurrection provided a new life for us.
If any man is in Christ he is a new creature (‘there is a new creation): the old things are passed away; behold, they are become new’ (2 Cor. 5:17). Being now new creatures with a new nature and a new set of faculties, we can enter the new kingdom and the new world.
The Cross was the means God used to bring to an end the old things by setting aside altogether our ‘old man’, and the resurrection was the means He employed to impart to us all that was necessary for our life in that new world. ‘We were buried therefore, with him through baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life’(Rom. 6:4).
The greatest negative in the universe is the Cross, for with it God wiped out everything that was not of Himself: The greatest positive in the universe is the resurrection, for through it God brought into being all He will have in the new sphere.
So the Resurrection stands at the threshold of the new creation. It is a blessed thing to see that the Cross ends all that belongs to the first regime, and that the Resurrection introduces all that pertains to the second. Everything that had its beginning before resurrection must be wiped out.
Resurrection is God’s new starting point. We have now two worlds before us, the old and the new. In the old, Satan has absolute dominion. You may be a good man in the old creation, but as long as you belong to the old you are under sentence of death because nothing of the old can be carried over to the new. The Cross is God’s declaration that all that is of the old creation must die. Nothing of the first Adam can pass beyond the Cross; it all ends there.
The sooner we see that, the better, for it is by the Cross that God has made a way of escape for us from that old creation. God gathered up in the Person of His Son all that was of Adam and crucified Him; so in Him all that was of Adam was done away.
Then God made as it were, a proclamation throughout the universe saying: ‘Through the Cross I have set aside all that is not of Me; you who belong to the old creation are all included in that; you too have been crucified with Christ!’
None of us can escape that verdict”. This brings us to the subject of baptism. ‘Are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him through baptism into death (Rom. 6: 3-4). We must now ask ourselves what is the significance of these words.
Baptism in scripture is associated with salvation. ‘He that believeth and is baptized-shall be saved’ (Mark 16:16). We cannot speak scripturally of ‘baptismal regeneration’ but we may speak of ‘baptismal salvation’. What is salvation? It relates not to our sins nor to the power of sin, but to the cosmos or world system.
We are involved in Satan’s world -system. To be saved is to make our exit from his world-system into God’s. In the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. says Paul, ‘the world hath been crucified unto me, and I unto the world’ (Gal. 6. 14). ‘This is the figure developed by Peter when he writes of the eight souls who were ‘saved through water’ (I Peter 3. 20).
Entering into the ark, Noah and those with him stepped by faith” out of that old corrupt world into a new one. It was not-so much that they were personally not drowned but that they were out of that corrupt system.
That is salvation. Then Peter goes on: ‘Which also after a true likeness (mg in the antitype) doth now save you, even baptism’ (verse 21). In other words, by that aspect of the Cross which is figured in baptism, you are delivered from this present evil world, and, by your baptism in water, you confirm this.
It is baptism into his death’, ending one creation; but it is also baptism ‘into Christ Jesus’ having in view a new one (Rom. 6:3). You go down into the water and your world, in figure, goes down with you. You come up in Christ. but your world is drowned”. (The Normal Christian Life Pp. 58-60).
The above is the Gospel of God concerning His Son Jesus Christ (Romans 1:1-2). We have contended for faith in this gospel in our writings that are critical of the current Christian Tithing Orthodoxies. Watchman Nee shows us in clear terms in the quoted excerpt why the exit from the old creation and establishment in the new creation can never be by the works of the Law. For it is the Law that condemned all of the old creation to death in the first place. The New Creation is established on the basis of the New Covenant.
“For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, which I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah…
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts; and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people; and they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.
For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. In that he saith, a new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away” (Hebrews 8:7-13).