Letter or Spirit

By Lloyd Ellefson

Greetings in the name of the Lord! Taking the Lord's name in vain includes more than swearing, using profanities, and using the name of Jesus as a swear word. We can take the Lord's name in vain by misrepresenting Him - by speaking on His behalf without a true spiritual realization of who and what He is!

The Bible is a compilation of many writings. Although various people have been involved in writing the scriptures in different time periods, the theme is basically one! It is a progressive revelation of God to man. He reveals Himself in different ways in the Old Testament. But the revelation of Himself is summed up in Christ Jesus - first of all as He appeared physically on earth. The true representation of God in Jesus was hidden by His body for it acted as a veil. After His ascension, the nature of the Son, the Word of God, was released to us in the Spirit. In this study we will note the difference between the letter and the spirit of the scriptures.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1) In this verse we do not have any trouble in identifying the WORD with Jesus Christ. Yet with few exceptions, most evangelical denominations believe the Bible is the word of God. Any disagreement with that statement is met with great opposition. People have simply accepted the statement that the Bible is the word of God without giving it further thought. They say they study God's word, they memorize God's word, they read God's word and they write God's word. Personally I don't think this is possible, because God's word is spiritual, it is creative, it is powerful, and it is not under the dominion of anything - not even the printing press!

Those who believe the Bible IS the word of God, have never heard the word of God. Jesus said, "He that hears the voice of the Son of God shall live." He will be awakened and come to life! Now the Bible will not do this; the Bible is a TESTIMONY of Him. It says, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the MOUTH OF GOD." Once that word of God has been heard and written down, it is put into a letter. The letter itself does not contain life! This is hard for people to believe. Since we are not to live by bread alone, we live by the WORD that proceeds out of the mouth of God! The WORD is Jesus Christ; the Bible is not the equivalent of Jesus Christ! The Bible is important because it WITNESSES of Him!

Jesus said, "I am the bread that came down from heaven...I am the bread of life...I came to give you bread...your fathers ate manna in the wilderness and they died, but the bread that I give you, will give you everlasting life...you must eat of Me...you must drink of Me or you won't have any life in you." That is Christ - it is He Himself! All the Bible verses on this subject teach this! In fact, there are so many verses that substantiate this teaching, I could use up 3 tapes just quoting Bible verses on this subject.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1) The Word was in the beginning! The Word was with God and the Word IS God. Since the Word IS God, His Word cannot be the Bible! Even if people take our Bibles, trash them and throw them away, it does not mean that we have lost the Word of God! Jesus is the Word of God and people cannot take Him away from us! Natural man cannot hear the Word of God because the Word of God is spirit. The soulish (correct translation for natural) man cannot receive the Spirit's teaching. (1 Cor. 2:14) It does not mean anything to him.

Then who can hear the Spirit? Obviously it has to be the new man! We have to be regenerated spiritualy, we have to be born anew! Peter said, "For you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is through the LIVING AND ABIDING WORD OF GOD." Many theologians and others have studied the Bible, yet they do not consider themselves to be born of an incorruptible or imperishable seed. They just live out of the natural mentality that is in human nature - and that is death. Jesus said, "I am the truth...sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth." (Jn. 14:6;17:17) Since Jesus is the truth, obviously He is the Word of God!

How can Jesus be the Word of God? The physical man Jesus was a form, a vessel or tabernacle in which the true spiritual word of God could come to humanity in man's understanding. Yet humanity obviously did not understand. Jesus said, "I came into this world to bear witness to the truth." This witness did not come from natural man; he cannot bear witness to the truth because he can't hear the Spirit! So Jesus said, "They that are of the truth hear Me." Once the Spirit of truth has come to us, we can hear spiritual truth. We can hear the Word of God and it sanctifies us; this is the word, the truth, the bread of life!

"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness." (2 Tim. 3:16) The scriptures do not say that the Bible is the WORD of God; they DO say that JESUS is the WORD of God - "...the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God." (Jn. 1:1-2) The scriptures are INSPIRED of God! They (the sacred writings) "are able to give us the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus." (v.15) They tell us about God and how to find Jesus Christ. They are words of life! Words which only satisfy our intellect are not God's Word in action - they only satisfy man's reasoning, for he thinks he is comprehending what is being read. The scriptures are a TESTIMONY! Jesus said, "they bear witness of Me." They are wonderful letters of wise advice, but they will never take on true spiritual meaning until we come to Christ!

"But the witness which I have is greater than that of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish, the very works that I do, bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me." (John 5:36) First of all Jesus said that His witness is greater than John's. Secondly He said, "And the Father who sent Me, He has borne witness of Me. You have never heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form." (v.37) Although they had the Old Testament scriptures from Genesis to Malachi, they had never heard the voice of God! Even though many prophets had been sent to them, they had not heard the voice of God! The prophets heard the word of God even as Peter received the revelation that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God. They heard as it is given to the natural man, for the Spirit had not yet been given!

Even Moses was a mediator of natural things - of a carnal set of laws. There wouldn't have been any need of a new covenant if the old covenant had been sufficient and faultless. The problem was that man could not keep it! (Hebrews 8:7). Now Jesus became the new covenant, and the guarantee of the new covenant. This new covenant has nothing to do with external things - things in the world, or in the flesh. It has to do with our life, our sense of being, our consciousness of who we are, and our realization of God!

Jesus said to the Jews, "You do not have His Word abiding in you." (Jn. 5:38) Though they memorized many scriptures, and some even carried the scriptures on frontlets on their forehead, yet they did not have His Word abiding in them! They did not believe Him whom He sent! (v.38) That is so true! We know very well that when God sent Christ in a physical form to Israel, He was rejected!

Then He continued with, "Search the scriptures, because you THINK that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that BEAR WITNESS of ME." (v.39) People still believe that the scriptures are the Word of God! The New Testament is a new testimony, and it testifies of something new. The scriptures testify of "ME"; but "ME" and "the scriptures" are not the same! So the letter (scriptures) and Christ are not the same!

"And you are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life." (v.40) He had just said that they THINK life is in the scriptures, but their thinking was wrong! Life is not in the scriptures! Their thinking was not based on truth; they were believing a lie. Jesus Christ said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life...I came to give you life and that more abundantly...he that receives the Son has life." It does NOT say that he who receives the Bible, the testimony of these things has life. Although Jesus stated this so plainly, it does not seem to be enough to convince people. They still insist upon calling the scriptures the Word of God. Just listen to the the famous preachers on TV, and you will hear them calling the Bible (the letter) the Word of God. Now I'm not trying to disprove the Bible; nor am I downgrading its testimony! I'm just trying to deliver people from their wrong belief - from believing that life is in the testimony instead of in Christ!

Let's look at the history of the people Jesus was talking to. In 2 Kings we read about Solomon and how he built houses for his many wives and concubines, and brought in the worship of all their evil gods. The Lord was angry with him and took the kingdom away from him. So the ten tribes which retained the name of Israel, no longer served God's purpose of bringing forth the Christ. Thus Israel was divided and eventually these ten tribes were actually lost in the world. But God saved a remnant of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and some Levites. The Jews who came out of Babylon were basically of the tribe of Judah, because it was prophesied that through him the Shiloh should come - that is David's lineage. The city of Jerusalem, which represented God's covenant and His presence with them, belonged to the tribe of Benjamin. It also was saved. The Levites were interspersed among them. So actually, Jesus was not speaking to all the 12 tribes of Israel.

The secret in understanding the things of God lies in listening to the Holy Spirit! God sent His Spirit to us, and this Spirit is the Word, the Christ, the Son of God! In John 16:7 Jesus said, "But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper (Paracletos) shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you." (Jn. 16:7) It is to our advantage that He went away, for otherwise the Helper could not come to us! "But if I go, I will send Him to you...He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak...When the Helper (or Intercessor) comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness of Me, and you will bear witness also, because you have been with Me from the beginning." (John 16:7b,13;15:26-27) The Holy Spirit brings the spiritual testimony of Christ. He is the Spirit of truth, the bread from heaven, the Christ, the Word of God! These are all one.

When the Holy Spirit comes, He "will convict (reprove) the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me." (John 16:8-9) Why will He convict them? Because of the law? Because of the sins they have committed? No. It is because they do not believe in Christ Jesus! Most Christians believe He died for their sins as their substitute. But He didn't die for our sins in our place. We were crucified together with Him! If you think that the historical cross is going to deliver you from who you are and crucify your old man, you are wrong! You need the Christ, the new man, the new consciousness to usher out the old man who crucified Jesus! The human nature that put Jesus Christ to death is the same human nature that crucifies Christ spiritually today.

These words were spoken to the world - not to believers! They are convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit because they don't believe in Christ! It is not because of the sins they have committed nor because they have not done enough good. If you believe in Christ, there is no condemnation; there is no accusation! In John 5:45 Jesus said, "Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses." If you live in the law, it will accuse you. The law is the letter and it brings us the knowledge of sin. The accusation comes as a result of not believing in Jesus Christ! If you only believe the scriptures in the natural sense, you do not believe in Christ!

On one occasion when the Jews were opposing Jesus, He said, "If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, `We see;' your sin remains." (Jn. 9:41) If Jesus had not come and the Jews had not said that they understood, they wouldn't have had any sin. But now that Jesus had come, and they claimed to see (understand) but did not believe, their sin remained. He was saying that He was the real spiritual truth of God! He was not the Bible, not the prophets, nor the law. He was Christ! He was the conscious spiritual truth of God - the exact image of God! Since He was correctly portraying the true God, He could not portray their image of God, for their image was wrong. But they did not want to give up their false image of God, so they continually opposed Jesus!

Jesus said, "If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, `We see'; your sin remains." (Jn. 9:41) The Pharisees claimed to have knowledge of the truth. Jesus, the truth, came to do away with their false ideas, but they would not receive Him. Therefore their sin remained. His truth was their judgment! If they retained their false ideas of God, they still had their sin. You see, unless we repent of our natural ideas and turn from them, we cannot receive Jesus and His truth; we cannot believe in God! If we receive His truth, we won't have any sin - it does not remain! This is what He said. The world is convicted concerning sin because it doesn't believe in Jesus. (Jn. 16:8-9)

"But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth." (v.13) Was the Holy Spirit not present before Pentecost? Yes, He has always been present; Christ has always been present for He is the Word of God! The problem lies with humanity; it cannot hear nor receive spiritual things because of its carnal mind. The natural man cannot receive spiritual thoughts! He can only receive ideas that are in accord with his bodily senses and his own delusions!

Israel was not guided by truth; they had the scriptures which testified to the truth, but they did not have the reality of spiritual truth. Jesus said, "All that came before Me are thieves and robbers ...When He, the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth." (Jn. 10:8;16:13) Jesus came to bear witness to the truth. When Jesus was confronted by Pilate He said, "For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth." (John 18:37) He also said, "I am the truth...sanctify them in the truth; Thy Word is truth." (Jn. 14:6b;17:17) Jesus was the Word of God made flesh; the truth was made flesh. Without the Spirit of truth people could only bear witness to the lie. The Jews proved this by their opposition to Jesus!

The people who were reading the scriptures and believed in Moses, the law, the prophets and the sacrifices, did not know the Father. They believed in Yahweh, Elohim, El Elyon, etc., but they did not know the Father! The concept of being fathered by God and therefore calling Him OUR FATHER, was foreign to the Jews and it evoked a lot of anger. Jesus did not learn about God being His Father by reading the scriptures, but by the witness of the Spirit. His Spirit witnesses to our spirit that we are sons of God! The Spirit causes us to cry, "Abba Father." (Gal. 4:6) It does not say that we will cry "Jesus" or "Yahweh", etc.

"But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He shall not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He shall glorify Me; for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose it to you." (Jn. 16:13-14) He shall disclose or unveil to us the Christ, the Word of God. Only the Holy Spirit can do that; it is impossible without the Spirit!

Jesus, the Lamb of God, said that He was meek and lowly of heart. He came to Israel, to a people who did not know God, to tell them of God His Father. He healed diseases, stilled the sea, comforted people, and told them that there is no condemnation in Him. He didn't do any evil, He never condemned people, nor did He send anyone to hell. Then was He actually the true expression of the invisible God? He was, but Israel had another idea of God; it had a wrong idea of God! Their idea was a lie! If we are like Israel, we are worshiping a concept of God that has been formulated in the human mind. If we have not been released from the lie and have not been enlightened by the Spirit of truth, we are against Christ - we are antichrist. We are worshiping a concept of God which was not in Christ; therefore it is a lie, for Christ is the truth!

Jesus Christ did not come to abolish the law or the prophets. (Matt. 5:17) He came to fulfill them. "Not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the law, until all is fulfilled!" (v.18) I don't think He was talking about the letter of the law, but about God's reason for bringing in the law. The law was not given in order to bring us redemption, but to PREPARE us for our redemption! Through it came the knowledge of sin. It was to show us the futility of our efforts to become holy and righteous. Unless we are thus instructed by the law, we will not receive Christ. Christ redeems us from our old human nature! We are actually redeemed from, and out of who we were, and put into Christ. Christ is our redemption!

The law speaks to those who are under the law. Its purpose is to close every mouth from testifying of one's own righteousness. This is the work of the law - not of the Holy Spirit. Once we really hear the law we are convinced of our inability to keep it. We see the unrighteousness of our heart. If we continue to try to please God by what we do, we become Pharisees. When we come out of the law, we come out of our human realization of God. We stop depending upon our own righteousness and repent of who we are, and the Holy Spirit convicts us concerning sin. Jesus is the focal point for redemption.

We become new creatures when we receive Christ, and He creates a new realization of life in us. In Christ there is a new creation! This brings us into a wonderful new panorama of spiritual things. Christ diligently taught spiritual realities, that we might come to Him and receive His realization of them. We have His life and energy in us!

Jesus said, "And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever." (John 14:16) This Helper is the Holy Spirit of truth! Nothing else can take His place. Jesus has promised never to leave us nor forsake us. In Christ, the Father has sent us the Spirit of truth "whom the world cannot receive". That means we cannot be in the world if we have received the Holy Spirit!

The world is a system of rule which has its own god. Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world." So when we were delivered from the domain of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of His beloved Son, we got out of the world that is not ruled by Him! "The kingdom of God is not meat nor drink, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." Those who dwell in the kingdom of God do "not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God." In other words, material things, foods, etc., lose their attraction and importance because God's kingdom is a spiritual one! The kingdom of God is in the Holy Spirit. It is not in the world, it is not in a book - it is in the Holy Spirit!

The kingdom of God IS righteousness, peace, and joy IN THE HOLY SPIRIT! It is in the unseen realm and therefore cannot be found in the seen realm. As long as we are under the rule of another kingdom - one that rules through the mind of the flesh, we cannot receive the Holy Spirit. So the world cannot receive the Spirit of truth; it cannot see Jesus Christ nor does it know Him. In order to see and know the Spirit of truth, we have to give up our own ideas for they are rooted in self. No wonder Jesus said that we must become as little children who trust their parents for all their needs. "But you know Him (the Spirit of truth) because He abides with you (He was in Jesus) and will be IN you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." (Jn. 14:18)

The kingdom of God is a mystery to the world because it is in the Holy Spirit. The world cannot receive this; all they can do is reason and speculate about the kingdom and when it is to come. They reason that Jesus must be coming soon because He has to straighten out all the existing evil that is in the world! They read the promises about Christ's coming and interpret them to be a literal, physical, historical happening. And that is not the way it is going to be!

We are called to come OUT OF the kingdom of this world. Jesus said, "I am not of this world...They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." (Jn. 8:23b; 17:16) Jesus was saying that His followers do not belong to the world's rule because they have a different rule! We are ruled by God's kingdom rule! To the world this is a mystery. This mystery is solved when the Spirit comes to us; then we understand that the kingdom of God is God's rule! This is the rule that ruled Jesus! That is why He said, "Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand...repent and believe the gospel!" We must repent of being under the world's rule!

When Jesus was alone with His disciples they asked Him about the meaning of the parables He had been relating. To His select disciples Jesus said, "To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God; but those who are outside get everything in parables." (Mark 4:11b) If we are not IN the kingdom of God, everything is a parable to us. The understanding of the parables is GIVEN to them who are in the kingdom! It is a GIVEN - we cannot get it on our own; it is given by God through the Spirit of His Son Jesus Christ - the Spirit of truth who is the Holy Spirit. We have to consciously submit to the Holy Spirit! Without submission to His Spirit, we can't receive truth. The Bible cannot be understood with our human intellect! The Bible bears testimony of that which happens INTERNALLY IN THE SPIRIT. The Holy Spirit is renewing our mind; it is changing our concept of God, of self, of the world, of what redemption is, of who we were and what we are going to be.

Jesus said, "Those who are outside get everything in parables." "Those who are outside" live in the external realm - in their natural minds. They need to get everything in parables, because they cannot understand spiritual realities. Everything Jesus said was simply a parable to those who are outside. They saw what happened; they saw the physical healings, the wisdom of Jesus, etc., yet they didn't understand what He was talking about! They did not know who He was! Although He spent three and a half years with them, doing many miracles and spending many hours teaching them, they still did not understand! Even the disciples, His chosen ones, the ones God had given Him, could not truly conceive who He was. They had been with Jesus, they had been sent out to preach and perform miracles even though they had not come into the reality of understanding who He was! When He went to the cross, He trod the winepress of God alone!

Let's look at Peter as an example of this. God had given him the revelation that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God! (Matt. 16) Shortly before Jesus was crucified, Peter vowed that he would never forsake Jesus - others might, but he wouldn't! But Jesus told him he would! After Jesus had been arrested, He was first taken before the high priest. Peter remained outside and was warming himself before the fire when somebody asked, "Hey, aren't you one of them?" But Peter flatly denied it! He even cursed and swore that he did not know the Man. And he was right - at that time he didn't! He really did not know who Christ was! But after the Spirit came he learned to know Him, and boldly witnessed of Him!

In Luke 24 Jesus instructed the disciples to stay in Jerusalem until they would receive power from above. Isn't it remarkable that He did not tell them to wait until they would get more information and understanding like we might have done! Nor did He load them down with a set of books to read! This power was not obtainable from human nature nor from the consciousness that resides in humanity. The power and enlightenment they were about to receive did not come from the Old Testament scriptures which they were able to quote freely. They needed an enlightenment that comes from a higher source, from a higher level! When they received the Holy Spirit (who is the power) they became enlightened! It came from the Holy Spirit who brought them the consciousness which was in the Man Jesus! This was beyond human comprehension and could not be received until it was released out of Jesus Christ. The Father poured out the Holy Spirit and now humanity can receive truth! In the Holy Spirit we receive a new level of understanding; we receive a consciousness that is beyond the natural. He gives us the ability to understand beyond the letter!

In Rom. 7:6 it says, "But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter." We were dead and were held in the bondage of death. How can a dead man get out of death? He needs help, doesn't he? He can't get out of it by himself. So we can't get out of our human nature, our Adamic mind, our law, our consciousness, our realization of sin and death, by our own efforts. We can't do it! We were delivered from the law by dying to that which was keeping us in bondage. This is necessary before we can serve in the newness of the Spirit instead of in the oldness of the letter. That's interesting, isn't it? The letter is the old, and the Spirit is the new! This is true in both the Old and the New Testaments!

2 Cor. 3:1-3 gives us further revelation on this subject. Paul said, "Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some, letters of commendation to you or from you? You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ." Isn't it interesting that we are proclaimed to be epistles or letters! We thought only the letters to the Romans, Corinthians, etc., were scripture. But it says, "you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts." Teaching the letter of the word is death. If I am not receiving, at least in some measure, the Spirit of truth when I teach this, you are not getting life.

What is meant by "the Spirit of the living God? Paul frequently speaks of the Spirit! From the Old Testament, people get a conception of a God who is not the living God - it is actually only a concept of a god formed by their own minds. There is no life in the carnal mind because it resides in death! Jesus came to destroy this concept; He came to take that away so that He could give us something better! But people didn't want it taken away, so they killed Him.

"Who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." (2 Cor. 3:6) The whole foundation and truth of the New Testament is not letter but Spirit! God has NOT made us ministers of the LETTER of the New Testament. He has made us ministers of the SPIRIT! Today's Christianity completely fails in this area. It enhances man's natural concepts; it excites the pride that is in self and causes people to think God's promises can only be fulfilled in the future. Instead of receiving all Christ has for us now, they reserve everything for the future. They say God is going to take care of all sin, Jesus is coming physically, we will be raptured, receive a new body and He will rule during the millenium. All their benefits are for the future!

This is NOT the gospel, folks! All these things that are thought to be for the future are all FULFILLED in Jesus Christ. You ARE a new creature; God is not condemning you for sin. God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their sins! God is not imputing ANY sins; there is no condemnation in Christ! This is the good news of the gospel! But it is different, isn't it? The church tries to incite us to serve God by making us ashamed of all our sins. This is NOT the gospel! If we are going to minister the Spirit and not the letter, we will not minister that idea of God.

"And He, when He comes, will convict the WORLD concerning sin..." (Jn. 16:8) The world needs to be convicted of sin because it doesn't believe in Christ! If you believe in Christ you are not convicted of sin! It is as simple as that. Yet it is not that easy, because we have been programmed, patterned, taught, brainwashed or whatever you may call it, to the contrary. Christ has made us able ministers of the New Testament, but not of the letter! The New Testament is basically not in letter but in Spirit. In the Old Testament the Spirit was hidden through the words, the flesh, the types, the shadows, etc. Why is the new covenant "not of the letter"? It is because "the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." (2 Cor. 3:6) That is a tremendous statement! "We serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter." (Rom. 7:6) Serving the letter is of the old; we now serve the Spirit! This is the new covenant!

"But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was,..." (v.7) The law is the ministry of death! Then is hell the penalty of sin? No! Death is the penalty of sin! What is death? Death is separation from God! But how can we be separated from God when God is omnipresent? This separation takes place in our realization, in our consciousness! Since God is everywhere - He is all and in all, He fills everything, He created everything, He is omnipresent, we can only get away from Him by shutting Him off in our own minds! How can we find Him? By turning around (repentance), and opening ourselves up to Him; by letting Him reveal Himself to us - for we can't discover Him!

Now if the ministry of the law had glory, "how shall the ministry of the Spirit fail to be more glorious?...For if that which fades away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory." (vv.8,11) The ministry of the Spirit is more glorious than the ministry of the law! The letter of the law is put away in favor of the more glorious ministry of the Spirit!

"Having therefore such a hope, we use great boldness in our speech, and are not as Moses, who used to put a veil over his face that the sons of Israel might not look intently at the end of what was fading away." (v.12-13) The law was abolished because it was a ministry of death! Jesus is the life; He ministers life! The Spirit of life is the law in Christ Jesus.

"But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart." (v.15) This veil hangs over the hearts of people but not over Jesus! Christ is unveiled to people individually. Some see it, some don't.

"Now the Lord is the Spirit..." Our Lord is the Spirit! That excludes everything that is tangible - even the Bible! "...and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." (v.17)

"But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit." (v.18) Christ in you is the hope of glory! Our hope of glory does not consist of going to heaven some day. Those who exchange Christ for heaven would rather have heaven; I would rather have Christ! Christ is truth; He comes to us in spiritual realization. Jesus said, "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (Jn. 8:32) It doesn't say, "The truth will SET you free." A criminal may be released from prison (set free) but he is not necessarily a changed man. The truth MAKES us free; it changes us internally! It frees us from our old ideas which were rooted in deception! Therefore it is necessary to know the truth! Jesus came into the world to bear witness to the truth! So if we know Him, He will make us free. We can only know the truth through the Spirit! It is not obtainable through the letter, for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life!

"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing." (Jn. 15:4-5) The "I" or "Me" who is speaking is the Christ, the Son of God! As we abide in Him, He gives us His identity, His sense of being, His consciouness of sonship, His realization of God! The Christ is now abiding in me! That means we don't have to look for Him coming down from the sky in a physical body some day! So if we abide in Him, we will bear fruit. A union has taken place! The Messiah, the anointing has come! Christ is here! We have been united! If Christ is not abiding in you, if He is only in heaven abiding somewhere with the Father, you will not bear real fruit! You will only bear the fruit of an unregenerate vine! Isn't it wonderful to know that He abides in us, that we abide in Him and that we can bear true fruit!

Let us reflect on this great truth and rejoice that the Messiah has come to abide in us! Let us rejoice because of the union that has taken place, and ever live and walk in this union with Him! God bless you!

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