The Body and the Spirit

 •  10 min. read  •  grade level: 7
The light, in many paths, or currents of it, through scripture, shines brighter and brighter to the perfect day.
The light of resurrection thus shines. It is a mystery which is accepted by faith at the beginning. Abraham believed in God as a quickener of the dead.
The resurrection was implied in the words of God to Moses, out of the burning bush.-" I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob," declared the resurrection. (Ex. 3) Our Lord tells us so. (Matt. 22)
But it did not tell us of the resurrection in all its purposed, counseled glory. The One who was to be the first-begotten of the dead, "the Second Man," was also "the Lord from heaven." (1 Cor. 15:4747The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. (1 Corinthians 15:47).) And being so, a body worthy of Him would be prepared for Him; and this could be nothing less than a "glorious body." Consequently the body of the Second Man, the risen First-born, being "the Lord from heaven," was a glorious body-and all that are His, bearing His image, are to rise in glorious bodies like Him.
This is told us in 1 Cor. 15 and thus, the light of the mystery of resurrection shines brighter and brighter, through scripture, reaching its noon-day strength in this 1 Cor. 15 The body of the saint is to rise again, as Ex. 3 intimates, and as Matt. 22 teaches-but that it is to rise in glory, we do not learn till we reach 1 Cor. 15
But again:-
Being such, He is not dependent on the body which He has assumed. And thus we find it, in the progress of the Book of God. This blessed "Last Adam" comes forth and manifest Hi s virtue as "a quickening Spirit," showing us that He depends not on His body; for when the Lord Jesus is about to die, He says to the Father, " Into thy hand I commend my spirit."
Jewish faith had not, dispensationally, reached that point. It expected resurrection, as we have seen, but we do not learn that it formally looked for the separate existence of the spirit. Such a mystery may have been prophetically or passingly glanced at-as in Eccl. 12:77Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. (Ecclesiastes 12:7)-but it was not dispensed in the doctrines made known to Israel. The Lord Jesus, however, manifested it, as we now see, in Himself, when He came to the time of His departure.
Jewish measure, and the measure of Christ, the quickening Spirit, met on the cross. The dying thief said to the Lord, "Remember me, when thou comest in thy kingdom," thus recognizing a future kingdom, and a portion in it, by resurrection. The Lord Jesus, the quickening Spirit, replied, "This day shalt thou be with me in Paradise." (Luke 23) The spirit was not to wait for the kingdom.
Stephen, the first to follow the Lord, after this, out of the body, says, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." The Holy Ghost by that letting us learn this, that the elect share the blessedness of the disembodied state with the Lord Himself. Christ, as the quickening Spirit, imparts His virtue to us; as He does, as the Lord from heaven, share His glory with us. (Acts 7)
Stephen's face shone "like that of an angel," and he said, "Lord Jesus receive my spirit." His body carried the pledge of its future glory; his spirit at once inherited its due place, the presence of the Lord, returning to Him who gave it.
We are wrought for, or destined unto, the glorious body, the building of God, the house not made with hands-but its time is not yet come. But He who has wrought us for this house is God, who, in the meanwhile, gives us His Spirit; so that, having the Spirit, we go to Him as soon as ever we leave the body, and with Him wait for the better body.
The history of the body is not interfered with by the history of the spirit; nor is the path or history of the spirit interfered with by that of the body. In the hour of the rapture, or the resurrection of them that are Christ's, j they will be together.
For, the body which is sown in the earth, and there sleeps, while the spirit is returned to Him who gave it, is raised, as in the day of harvest, changed and glorified (1 Cor. 15), and then translated to meet the Lord in the air. (1 Thess. 4)
In the language of scripture we are, at times, identified with our spirit-as when the apostle says, "having a desire to depart and to be with Christ"-for in such a passage, the apostle speaks of his spirit as being the same as himself. At other times, we are, on the other hand, identified with our body, as when the apostle says, "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed," for in such a passage, he speaks of his body as being the same as himself.
The spirit of the dying thief went that very day, the day when his body fell asleep, to Paradise. But he found the Lord there already, as the Lord said to him, " This day shalt thou be with me in Paradise." For Jesus gave up the ghost before the thief, and thus was in Paradise before him, ready to receive him there.
Paul, a man in Christ, was taken to that same place, Paradise, the place of the separated spirit, and returned to the body, when the trance or rapture
I was over. And by that journey or translation he was enabled to illustrate certain doctrines which he taught.
For in his own person he verified this" absent from the body, present with the Lord"-and in his experience he realized what he also taught, to depart and to be with Christ which is far better;" for there, in Paradise, he had visions and audiences which he could not utter, when he came back to life here.
There is the presence of Christ "in spirit," and there is the presence of Christ "in glory." The disembodied state is the first, the resurrection and the rapture will lead to the second.
It is written, " There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit, neither hath he power in the hour of death." (Eccl. 8) But God is able to retain it. Is anything too hard for Him? In mysteries like these, as the Lord tells, we must know two things, "scripture" and " the power of God." (Matt. 22) For what God says He can perform; what He promises He will make good. And it is the business of faith to learn what He has said and what He has promised, that is, to know " scripture," and then to be sure of His " power" to make it all good.
God has power over the spirit to retain the spirit, though man has not. And did He not do so in old time? I mean in such cases as in the two children, the child of the Sareptan, and the child of the Shunammite. (1 Kings 17; 2 Kings 4) And did not the Lord Jesus in His day do the same? As in the persons of the widow's son, of Lazarus, and of Jairus' daughter. And the Lord's own life or spirit was retained till all Scripture, to the utmost jot and tittle of it, was accomplished-till He could say, " It is finished." (John 19:28-3028After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. 29Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. 30When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. (John 19:28‑30).)
And this reminds me of a difference between the death of the Lord and the death of Stephen.
Stephen's was the death of a martyr. He bore witness to the truth, and provoked the hatred of the world. He then convicted his enemies, bearing witness of the evil of their ways, and thus he further provoked them, till they would bear it no more, and stoned him to death.
This was a sudden, heated burst of enmity, and the righteous was the victim.
The Lord's death was not this. He died as the Lamb of God under God's hand, as He died as a martyr under man's hand. Man hated Him, as he hated Stephen, even to death. That is true. But He did not fall, simply under man's hand and hatred, as Stephen did; He was smitten of God, as Stephen was not. And therefore it was no sudden, heated burst of enmity that took His life from Him-all was calmly, fully accomplished, in order that eternal counsels might be made good, and scripture fulfilled. And till all was finished the Spirit was retained. There was no accomplishing of counsels after this manner, nor fulfilling of Scripture, in the death of Stephen. There was no hand of God in that event, save as He was there to illuminate and cheer His elect. Man alone was putting Stephen to death, and that too in a sudden, heated burst of hatred. He was a martyr, and only a martyr. But God's hand was principal in the death of Jesus, and therefore all was calm and deliberated. He was God's Lamb as well as man's martyr. There was no opened heavens to Jesus, as there was to Stephen, no sight of the glory of God; but, on the contrary, three hours of darkness, desertion, and thirst. The heavens were opened by the death of the one, and to the other as he went through his death. That is the difference as to the sufferers themselves. In the mode of the death, as I have noticed already, Stephen's was under a sudden burst of hatred from man; Christ's was calm and deliberated, life retained till scripture was all fulfilled.
And here let me add, faith has not to do with problems or difficult propositions, but with facts, with declarations and promises in their full simplicity. And the more the reader of them is a child or a way-faring man, the more will he find them to be plain and easy. And they are sure as well as simple; because they are the words of Him who cannot lie; yea, of Him who glorifies Himself in their accomplishment.
I might have noticed the scene on the holy mount, in connection with my subject-I mean the transfiguration.
The transfiguration may be received as a verifying or an assuming of the fact of a resurrection of the saints; and not only so, but as a pledge also of such a resurrection being glorious. It was a little sample or foreshadowing of the day anticipated in 1 Cor. 15 For that day will be the day, as I may call it, of the general transfiguration, when "they that are Christ's" shall be raised in bodies of glory, as Moses then appeared in the sight of Peter, James, and John. Jesus, on the holy mount, was transfigured, and Moses and Elias appeared in glory with Him.
And the shining of Stephen's face, to which I have already referred, as a partial transfiguration, an earnest of that glory in which his body is to shine in the day of the resurrection of those that are Christ's. We read of that face, that it was as if it had been the face of an angel. And the Lord, in Luke 20 says, speaking of those of whom Stephen is one, " they are equal unto the angels, and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection."