In previous articles we’ve talked about spiritual exercises to improve our afterlife. We’ve discussed the condemnation of hell and the redemption of heaven but not the redeemer himself, other than to quote him a few times. Where does Jesus Christ fit into any of this?
Moral exercises and working to disconnect ourselves from the material world are positive things which we should definitely practice. They can improve our standing in the afterlife of heaven but can spiritual exercises or good works actually get us to a heavenly state of existence?
Christians believe morality and good behavior, no matter how well practiced by human standards is still not good enough for God’s divine standard. We can be good when compared to other humans but never when compared to God. The moral distance between God and us, between Spirit and flesh is just too great for flesh to make the jump.
Spiritual exercises can strengthen our spirit but not by nearly enough. We need the presence of God within our flesh for that. Our pro lem is that sinful flesh cannot bear God’s divine presence anymore than darkness can bear the presence of light. Even our spirits, affected as they are by input and desires from the flesh are too corrupted to bear the presence of God. Our fallen selves cannot bear to contain the fullness, the thoughts or the truths of God any more than a thimble can contain the energy of the sun.
Thousand’s of years ago, after the great exodus from Egypt, one of God’s greatest prophets, Moses was called by God to gather the Israelites at the foot of Mount Sinai. God was to come to Moses in the darkness of a cloud, in sight of the Israelites so they could hear God speaking to Moses and thereby know with certainty that he was a prophet of God.
Moses was given strict instructions by God that the Israelites not pass beyond the base of the mountain so that for their own safety, they not get to close to God. Nobody was to even touch the mount lest they be stoned or shot through with arrows, Moses was told this because the Isrealite people, even though they were the chosen people from among the nations, were not qualified for a upfront, close and personal encounter with their God.
Moses himself was qualified though, for he wasn’t just one of the chosen people but was the chosen person from amongst the chosen people. At that point in time Moses was the chosen mediator between God and his chosen people.
On the third day, heaven and earth met on Mount Sinai when God’s spiritual presence descended to meet with his people. Mount Sinai became a sight too terrible to bear, striking the hearts of the people with terror. Thundering and lightning filled the ears and eyes of the people as a dense cloud covered the holy mountain. The blare of a trumpet, exceedingly loud, long and drawn out, and increasing in volume could be heard over the noise of the thunder as God descended in the form of holy fire, filling the already clouded mountain with smoke and flame.
At this time God again spoke to Moses of the people not coming up to the mountain. God also gave spoke the Ten Commandments to Moses, all within earshot of the people. But the people were unable to bear the sound of their God’s voice and quickly took to begging Moses to speak to them in place of their God. Even though these were the chosen people of God, to hear their God speaking to them directly put them in fear for their very lives. Even though they were the chosen people they needed a mediator.
Paraphrased from Exodus 19-20
If the people chosen by God could not bear the voice of God, the truths of God, or even his near presence without a mediator, how can we? If they needed a mediator despite their favored relationship to God, how could we who are not chosen possibly get by without a mediator? Indeed, how much greater must our mediator need be?
For we are not few as were the Israelites, or seperated into a small area of a single nation. We are billions, we encompass the globe and we are growing. Our mediator must dwarf the greatness of Moses by infinite degree, not only because of our numbers but because our mediator has taken on a greater mission than Moses had ever been assigned.
For Moses was of the law which pertained to the flesh and to the outward behaviour of a man, to things we must do and things we must not do. But Jesus Christ, though born in the flesh is of the Spirit of God, which has the power to inwardly discern and even motivate the actions of our flesh. So as Moses became the mediator of the ancient Israelites to the laws of God, so has Christ now led us to the final age and become the mediator of all men to the Spirit of God.
For Christ Himself is the Spirit of God conjoined with the flesh of a man. He enters our being with the subtlety of Spirit, but brings with Himself the experience of flesh; flesh which has been tempted of sin but which never succumbed to sin. His presence in this state is the sanctification of man which prevents our destruction at the presence of God. Christ stands between God and us just as Moses stood between the Israelites and God thousands of years earlier. We are not made sinless but we are made less objectionable to God’s presence, less foreign to God nature. Through Christ’s presence, God sees something akin to his own spiritual Self in us. We become something close enough to God’s own nature that we are acceptable to Him and need not spend eternity in a hellish, oppositional status to the same God which created us.
The spiritual exercises discussed in previous articles have value but not when it comes to lifting our spirit after death to a heavenly state existence with God. The presence of Christ Himself is necessary for that. The value of spiritual exercises come after we become coexistent with Christ while still alive here on earth. After the believer and Christ are united, then the believer can enhance his relationship with Christ with spiritual exercises, by detaching himself from the fleshy luxuries of the world, by giving of his income to the poor, by prayer, meditation etc.
These exercises will also strengthen the believers spirit as the believer gets more and more detached from things carnal. And ultimately, they will permanently improve his heavenly afterlife because the believer will enter the afterlife in a state of existence that is less carnal. As we practice these things on earth we become less caring of things carnal which makes room in ourselves for the one true Spirit of the entire universe.
Christ will not force his presence upon us. He will become one with us if we wish it and once we are unified with Him, his presence will naturally become stronger as it becomes more welcome by our abandonment of worldly, fleshy carnality. This is why Jesus Christ commanded mankind to not just believe but to actually do things with our belief that would change us internally; things that would go on to change the fallen world and forever steer the course of human history onto a path that through the ages would lead mankind closer and closer to the Kingdom of God.