CHRIST- ALL IN ALL

By Doug Fortune
 

Note from Doug Fortune:
You may have noticed our recent name change to 'IN CHRIST International' and new graphics. This reflects what I believe that the essence of our message is - CHRIST! The Third Day message is NOT about a 'Day', or even about a 'message', it is all about Christ! Christ IS the Third Day... the Third Day is the day of resurrection and "Jesus said unto her, I AM the RESURRECTION, and the LIFE:" (John 11:25) It is all about CHRIST and His LIFE being lived through us.

"What's it all about, Alfie?" Unfortunately the words to that old Burt Bacharach song from the 1960's still ring in my somewhat middle-aged mind. I say 'somewhat middle-aged' because when I look in the mirror, there's an old guy that looks like somebody's dad looking back at me, even though I don't really think of myself as being middle-aged. I must be getting there however, because not only do those words ring in my memory, but the question itself is arising more frequently... "What IS it all about?"

In the midst of raising a family of four children (ages nineteen down to ten years old), trying to sell a house and get ready to move, keeping a busy ministry schedule, and working on my ever-growing 'honey-do' list, it would be easy to say that THAT is what it's all about. To the casual observer, and even to the astute student of sociology, it would appear that the activity of everyday life IS what it's all about. However, the view from the middle of the forest is always a bunch of trees!

These days I keep running into those 'trees'. It isn't really about 'trees' though, it is about my attitudes and actions as I stumble through that forest called the 'Test of Character Wilderness'. It is the activities of everyday life that are the processes that produce true purpose. The PURPOSE today is that Christ be 'ALL IN ALL'; "And when ALL things shall be subdued UNTO HIM, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be ALL IN ALL." (1 Corinthians 15:28) The 'trees' were simply part of the PROCESS. (As I write this, I am aware that there are countless Christians in the world suffering real persecution and devastating hardship, that would love to have what many of us in the USA call a 'hard day'.)

The purpose today (and every day, for that matter) is that Christ, the Son, IN me, have intimate fellowship with the Father... that God be ALL in all. You see, the Father's original and ultimate purpose was, and still is, FELLOWSHIP with a Son in His image and likeness. The Father's ultimate purpose goes far beyond simply our redemption, although that is one important aspect of His plan. His ultimate purpose goes far beyond simply the establishment of His Kingdom upon the earth, although that is another important part of His plan. Let us not be guilty of trying to make a 'part' the whole!

Listen to the book of 1 John, as John describes the LIFE of fellowship that the Father has called us to... ETERNAL Life. "That which was from the beginning... the Word of LIFE; (For the LIFE was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that ETERNAL LIFE, which was WITH the Father, and was manifested unto US;) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our FELLOWSHIP is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ." (1 John 1:1-3) Eternal Life is not merely getting 'saved' and living for a long period of time in heaven, eternal Life is a different quality of Life that begins here and now, a Life that originates from a different source- and that source is FELLOWSHIP with the Father, a Life that "WAS from the beginning", as God was ALL in all. I like the way the Amplified Bible states 1 Corinthians 15:28, "...so that God may be all in all [be everything to everyone, supreme, the indwelling and controlling factor of life]." That, my friend, is His ultimate purpose- eternal Life, His Life manifesting!

We can easily see part of this purpose being fulfilled as the Father's Life was manifesting in His Son. For Hebrews 1:3 declares, concerning Jesus Christ, "He is the sole expression of the glory of God [the Light-being, the out-raying or radiance of the divine], and He is the perfect imprint and very image of [God's] nature, upholding and maintaining and guiding and propelling the universe by His mighty word of power." (Amplified Bible ) However, His Life manifesting in just ONE Son was not necessarily the Father's ultimate purpose, for that is still not 'ALL in all'. Rather, we find the ultimate purpose spelled out in Hebrews 2:10, "For it became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing MANY SONS unto glory..." This is well substantiated by Romans 8:29, as it states, "For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the Firstborn among MANY BRETHREN." Yes, it is the Father-heart of God that longs for fellowship with His many Sons. Keep in mind that when I refer to 'sons', that is in no way a reference to gender; "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither... male nor female: for ye are all ONE in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:27-28)

Now then, listen to what the Father-heart of God has done to bring about His ultimate purpose of His Life manifesting in His Son and His many Sons; "For it was IN HIM that all things were created... all things were created and exist THROUGH HIM [by His service, intervention] and IN and FOR HIM. And He Himself existed before all things, and IN HIM all things consist (cohere, are held together). He also is the Head of [His] body, the church; seeing He is the Beginning, the Firstborn from among the dead, so that He alone in everything and in every respect might occupy the chief place [stand first and be preeminent]. For it has pleased [the Father] that all the divine fullness (the sum total of the divine perfection, powers, and attributes) should dwell IN HIM permanently. And God purposed that THROUGH (by the service, the intervention of) HIM [the Son] all things should be completely reconciled back TO Himself, whether on earth or in heaven, as THROUGH HIM, [the Father] made peace by means of the blood of His cross." (Colossians 1:16-20 Amplified Bible)

Did you catch all that?... All things IN Him, all things FOR Him, all things THROUGH Him, and all things BACK TO Him! Yes, my friend, it really IS all about Him! Contrary to the message of the popular needs-oriented gospel we hear so much, it never has been, and never will be about us! It doesn't matter how sincere the preacher seemed when he or she stood in the pulpit and said, "God is here to meet YOUR needs." Yes, the Father cares for you more than you'll ever know. But no, God is NOT here to meet your needs, you are here to meet His need! And His need, His desire, is fellowship with His many-memberd Body of Sons. Here's the awesome thing though, it is within this context of FELLOWSHIP in Him that all OUR needs and desires are truly met, because that is WHAT we were created for; "...for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy PLEASURE they are and were created." (Revelation 4:11)

IN HIM

In an attempt to answer the question, "What IS it all about?" and in order to understand and meet our felt needs, many in our society today are looking to discovering their ROOTS. The prevailing thought is, "If I can find out 'from whence I have come' then perhaps I can understand where I'm headed in life." We can see this in the tremendous upswing of interest in ethnic/cultural roots and genealogy, and I believe that even much simple nostalgia can fall into this category of thought. The interesting thing is that this notion is absolutely correct. Indeed, if we can find out 'from whence we have come' then we can gain a much clearer understanding of where we're headed in life! Like the words of the old country western song, "Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places", unfortunately many are looking for their roots and their destiny in all the wrong places.

We can see this tendency in the Church also. Over twenty years ago, long before it was popular, I was teaching on the Feasts of Israel, the Tabernacle, the Hebrew names of God, and other subjects pertaining to the Old Covenant. I taught these subjects (and still do) because I believe it is important to have a working understanding of the Old Covenant, in order that we can better understand the New Covenant. I absolutely believe in pursuing an understanding of these foundational principles. Now then, I said that to say this- I do not have Jewish roots, neither are my roots found in the tribes of Israel or even in the early Church in the book of Acts, my roots are IN Christ and Christ alone. "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye IN HIM: ROOTED and built up IN HIM..." (Colossians 2:6-7) "...if the ROOT be holy, so are the branches." (Romans 11:16) "I am the vine, ye are the branches:" (John 15:5)

Granted, much of what we call 'Church' is so far mutated from God's original plan, that it behooves us to study the early Church to give us a proper frame of reference. However, in the same way that the Father does not want me to return to my infancy, for He wants me to grow up (and so does my wife!), I do not believe it is the Father's intent to return us to the infancy of the Church. Rather I believe it is His intent to take us on to maturity; "Therefore let us go on and get past the elementary stage in the teachings and doctrine of Christ (the Messiah), advancing steadily toward the completeness and perfection that belong to spiritual maturity." (Hebrews 6:1 Amplified Bible)

Once we begin to understand that our roots are IN Christ and Christ alone, once we really find out 'from whence (Christ) we have come', then we can gain a much clearer understanding of where we're headed. And the 'place' we're headed is 'returning to our Root', who is Christ! Consider the following scriptural synopsis of our true 'roots', our true origin. "He hath chosen us IN HIM (Christ) before the foundation of the world..." (Ephesians 1:4 my input in parenthesis) "For we are His workmanship, CREATED IN CHRIST JESUS unto good works, which God hath before ordained..." (Ephesians 2:10) "For IN HIM we live, and move, and have our BEING..." (Acts 17:28) If we are to reach our 'destination' of manifesting the fullness of Christ, we must cast off the notion that our roots are anywhere but IN Christ and Christ alone.

FOR HIM and THROUGH HIM

Not only do we find our roots, our origin, in Christ, but our very Life, our existence is FOR Him and THROUGH Him; "...all things were created and EXIST through Him... and in and for Him... and in Him all things CONSIST (cohere, are held together). (Colossians 1:16-17 Amplified Bible) What does true Life consist of? True Life CONSISTS of Christ. That is why Paul says in Philippians 1:20-21, "...so now also Christ shall be magnified in MY body... For to me to live IS Christ." I believe that often times we think of the Life of Christ IN us in terms of Him inhabiting us in the same manner as a tenant lives in a house. After all, we are His 'temple', He dwells in us. The trouble with that mentality is the fact that I can shut the doors to different rooms in my house to keep people out of those rooms. Sometimes we try to do this same thing with the Lord, shutting Him out of certain areas of our lives... "Stay out of that room, Lord! Don't look in that closet!" I believe this is a very poor analogy however, as that is not at all how the Life of Christ lives in us. His Life in us is more like a living plant. The Life of the plant is in every molecule of the plant, whether it is in the root or the leaves and everything in between. The Life fully inhabits, fills, encompasses the plant and there is no part of the plant apart from the Life.

Consider the following scriptural synopsis of what His true Life IN us consists of. "Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but ALIVE UNTO GOD through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:11) "For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live UNTO GOD. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I LIVE; yet NOT I, but Christ liveth IN me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the FAITH of the Son of God..." (Galatians 2:19-20) "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable UNTO GOD, which is your reasonable service." (Romans 12:1) "For we are UNTO GOD a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life." (2 Corinthians 2:15-16)

BACK TO HIM

Not only do we find our roots, our existence, and consistence in Christ, but we are reconciled back TO Him and consummated IN Him. That is the ultimate expression of fellowship- being totally consummated IN Him. So many think that eternal life and heaven consists of golden streets, beautiful mansions, clouds, harps, and getting to do whatever we want to (no dirty laundry or garbage to be taken out either!). Notice what Jesus actually says in the classic 'heaven' scripture we love so much, "I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you UNTO MYSELF; that where I AM, there ye may be also." (John 14:2-3) Notice WHERE He receives us to?... "receive you UNTO MYSELF." No mention of the classic 'heaven' stuff there. We are received UNTO HIM, consummated IN Him!

You see, from before the foundation of the world, before sin entered the picture or reconciliation became necessary, it has been the eternal plan that what has begun IN Him shall consummate IN Him. "Making known to us the mystery (secret) of His will (of His plan, of His purpose). [And it is this:] In accordance with His good pleasure (His merciful intention) which He had previously purposed and set forth in Him, [He planned] for the maturity of the times and the climax of the ages to unify all things and head them up and consummate them IN CHRIST, [both] things in heaven and things on the earth." (Ephesians 1:9-10 Amplified Bible) Listen also to the confirming words of 'the Preacher' as he speaks of our passing from this earthly realm; "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the SPIRIT shall return UNTO GOD who gave it." (Ecclesiastes 12:7)

RECONCILIATION and SALVATION

It is within the context of this understanding that we can look at Romans 5:10 with some clarity; "For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life (zoe in Greek)." I was always taught that Jesus died on the cross so that I could be saved, but that is not what the Scripture teaches. You and I were not SAVED because Jesus died, rather "we were RECONCILED to God by the death of His Son." It is imperative that we understand that His death is what reconciles us, but only His zoe LIFE can bring salvation. Why is it important to understand this? Because His zoe LIFE being lived through us IS salvation! My soulish life (psuche in Greek), the life originating from the mind, will, and emotions cannot be saved! "And this is the promise that He hath promised us, even eternal life (zoe in Greek)." (1 John 2:25) As I have taught for years, the difference between those two Greek words, psuche and zoe, which are both translated as 'life' in most Bibles, is the difference between life and death. The soulish life (psuche in Greek) is temporal and cannot be saved, only the zoe Life is eternal.

Luke 17:33-36 states this truth quite well; "Whosoever shall seek to save his life (psuche in Greek) shall LOSE it..." The word translated as lose, apollumi in Greek, means to destroy fully, to perish. The soulish/psuche life was never meant to be eternal, that is why Adam was driven from the garden. He could not partake of the Tree of Life, eternal life, in his soulish condition. Only if he had passed through the "flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the Tree of Life" (Genesis 3:24) could he have partaken of the Tree of Life. And the same is true for us, my friend. It is only as we pass through that 'flaming sword' of Hebrews 4:12 that we can partake of eternal zoe Life; "For the Word of God is quick (living), and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the DIVIDING asunder of SOUL and SPIRIT..." (Hebrews 4:12)

About now you may be thinking, "What about James 1:21 that speaks of saving my soul?"; "Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the Engrafted Word, which is able to save your souls." (James 1:21) The salvation of the soul is much like the salvation of the spirit, and the salvation of the body. The Father does not patch up and heal our old human spirit, rather, we receive a NEW spirit- His Spirit; "But the person who is united to the Lord becomes ONE SPIRIT with Him." (1 Corinthians 6:17 Amplified Bible) The salvation of the spirit is based upon an exchanged Life (He became us and went to the cross AS us), and so it is with the salvation of the soul, it is based upon an exchanged Life.

Ezekiel speaks of this new heart and new spirit also; "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you... And I will put My spirit within you..." (Ezekiel 36:26-27) The word translated as heart, leb in Hebrew, means 'the heart, also used very widely for the feelings, the will and even the intellect'... obviously speaking of the soul. So we see that the 'salvation of the soul' spoken of in James 1:21 is not a matter of healing the soulish life and making it better, but rather a matter of removing the old and receiving a NEW soul- His mind, His will, His emotions. Remember, it's all about Him, that God be ALL in all.

This truth of removing the old and receiving the new is born out as we continue on in Luke 17:33-36 (and you thought I'd forgotten where I was going with this, didn't you?); "...and whosoever shall lose his life (psuche in Greek) shall preserve it. I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left." And who are these two men in the bed, in the field, in my life?... they are Adam, the earthly soulish man, and Christ, the heavenly spiritual man. Certainly Adam, the earthly soulish man, is being removed that Christ may be ALL in all. And who are these two women?... in Biblical symbolism, the woman speaks of the soul, the mind, will, and emotions. It is my intense desire that MY mind, MY will, MY emotions, be exchanged for His mind, His will, His emotions, that "the one shall be taken, and the other left." Let us diligently press forward to "put on the NEW man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is ALL, and in ALL." (Colossians 3:10-11)

So, "What's it all about, Alfie?" It's not about the activities of everyday life, for it is the activities of everyday life that are the processes that produce true purpose. And the purpose is that Christ be 'ALL IN ALL'. It's all about the Father's desire for fellowship with a Son in His image and likeness. Our purpose is that we be found IN Him, FOR Him, THROUGH Him, and reconciled BACK TO Him as a many-membered expression of Himself. "...that God may be all in all [be everything to everyone, supreme, the indwelling and controlling factor of life]." (1 Corinthians 15:28 Amplified Bible) That is His ultimate purpose- eternal Life, His Life manifesting!