From the Damascus road experience to the end of Paul’s ministry and earthly life, there remained within him that deep-seated desire to know the Christ Jesus in whom he met that day on that road. As expressed in Phil. 3:10-11 this desire remained constant as he declares, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead”. Paul’s past as the great persecutor of God’s people while a Pharisee, along with this meeting with Jesus Christ caused him to come to this conclusion, that all is rubbish compared to knowing the Lord. Paul knew that the only thing that ultimately counted was one of knowing the Lord and being obedient to His will. Paul’s desire had reversed from being the persecutor to know Christ with no other motive but to enjoy Him. He wanted Christ for Christ’s sake, not his own. He was a lover of God, not a user of God. Paul’s foremost desire remained continually as he journeyed onward in becoming one that truly wanted to know God.
From the scripture above in Phil. 3:10-11, let us gain a refreshed understanding of these pointed words. “Know”, the verb “GINOSKO” which has the meaning of “to know (by experience, or effort), to acquire knowledge, become acquainted with, hence, to come or get to know, learn, perceive”. The word “power” has the meaning of “inherent power; the power of reproducing itself”. The word “resurrection” is a word meaning “a standing up again, restoration to life, rising from the dead”. Then we have the phrase “resurrection of the dead” in which we must consider as to that which Paul was revealing for us. This term includes the resurrection to life, of the just, and the resurrection to judgment, of the unjust. A consideration must also be given that this implies that the resurrection of some, the just are first, while the others, the unjust, continue to remain dead for a season of time. This selection of some before others was Paul’s desire in his love for Christ Jesus and his longing to get to know Him. Thus, Paul was living a life of one who consistently pressed toward that goal which was set before him as declared in Phil. 3:12-14, “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”.
Likewise, unto all the called ones, a goal has been set before them, with a divine order from God available unto all those who would reach toward the mark of such a calling. In coming into a greater understanding of such a call as this, it remains important for each of us to see the hope of such a calling. In this there is set before us the possibility of knowing the complete fullness of God’s progressive purpose in His creating man. Man’s possibility then is that he can experience a flesh body, a terrestrial body and a celestial body. In this progression of spiritual growth, the fallen Adam man must gain the experience of being born again. The result in completing a new birth brings the vessel from the realm of a natural body into one that puts on a spiritual body. Note that putting on a spiritual body does not speak of an immaterial body, but one that is adapted to the realities of the visible and invisible kingdom of God, one that has the same freedom that Jesus moved in after He resurrected and appeared before the people during those forty days.
In considering the body and man’s make-up, we first consider that which Paul reveals for us in 1 Cor. 15:39-40, “All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds. There are also celestial [heavenly] bodies and terrestrial [earthly] bodies: but the glory of the celestial is one and the glory of the terrestrial is another”. In our consideration of these bodies, we first note the flesh of men. This flesh body is a body, which responds to the emotional carnal cravings and attributes of the fallen man that came forth from the Garden of Eden, a man who fell from a place in God to take on the attributes of a man with a beast nature. Rom. 8:5-8 declares the type of life lived in this fallen carnal nature, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death [separated from God], but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law [governmental nature] of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God”. Thus, we see the contrast; those who remain in the fallen flesh body have a life that walks according to the lust that this fallen world offers. That is, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. The fruits of this lust and pride are the basis of all man’s sin. 1 John 2:15-17, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever”.
Next, we have the terrestrial body, which responds to the earthly realm man lives in while having the opportunity to know the mind of Christ. These of the terrestrial body are those saved from their passed sins while still moving in a nature that, mentally, remains earth bound. This is a man who remains in the earthly realm with mental rights, the ability to think, a man who in the rights of Christ given salvation, has the privileges to think upon the things of God while naturally remaining earthly in purpose. However, with this hope, his thought processes renew daily as he chooses to follow the ways of God that are now available to him. Rom. 12:1-2, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God”. A “renewing of your mind” speaks of the result of choosing to depart from the god of this world and yielding to the God of all creation. The progression of proving the good, acceptable and perfect will of God allows us to follow Jesus Christ as He lived during His earthly ministry. By following on to know the resurrected Jesus, as He now abides in His heavenly ministry, we began to experience the truth, the mind of Christ, to come to know the fulfillment and fullness of that truth.
Eph. 3:16-19 declares, “that He [Christ] would grant you according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man [spirit], that Christ may dwell in your hearts [soul] through faith; that you being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height, to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God”. This is speaking of the many member body of Christ who progressively fills up and completes the dispensation of the “fullness of times”. This likewise means that a people are becoming mighty through the power of God, as they comprehend who they are in Christ. “Comprehend” is a word meaning “to receive experientially, and not simply to understand intellectually”. Also, in considering the phrase “all the fullness of God”, we understand that it means more than one experience or aspect of God’s truth and power, but, it also points to a broad-based spirituality, balanced through participating in all God’s blessings, resources and wisdom. God’s promise as stated in John 8:31-32 says, “If you abide in my word, you are my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free”. Again, we are speaking of a change; a changing from one who has a beast-nature, the carnal flesh man, to one influenced by the mind of Christ, thus, an anointing to enable that one to move in a terrestrial ministry.
Now we move to Paul’s greatest desire, which is to know Christ and the power of His resurrection, and in so doing we see that Paul was never satisfied with just the limited ministry of moving in the terrestrial realm and anointing. Through revelation, Paul foresaw the celestial realm, with this stated desire, that he might attain that celestial body in Christ. Unto that one who likewise desires such a place in Christ, they forget and lay down, like Paul, those things of the past and press toward the mark, the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus. The celestial body is that body which exists in the heavenly super-natural realms of God. A body in which one can come and go from the visible to the invisible and back again as Gods purpose would so will it. This body, joined with the super-conscious mind of Christ speaks of a life that dwells with that mind-set which remains in the heavens. This mind-set speaks of treasures that are no longer earth-bound, but ones that are laid up in the heavens. Matt. 6:19-21, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in an steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”. Does this hope sound like something that is off-limits, something that God does not want us to pursue until some future time? Consider this truth concerning where heaven is? Is it not also within receiving vessels and does not God dwell in His heavens? Our treasure is to dwell with God where He is, but to also put on new garments which are fit to wear before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. These are garments of purity, holiness and righteousness, finally putting on that celestial body to dwell with the King of the ages forever and ever.
John 16:13-16, “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify me, for He will take of what is mine and declare it to you, a little while, and you will not see me; and again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father”. The first “see” in this scripture when declaring that you will “not see me” has the meaning of “bodily behold”, declaring that they would not bodily behold Jesus. But, the second “see” in the “you will see me” is a word meaning something different, “not so much the act of seeing, but the state and condition of the one whose eye the object is presented, hence to truly comprehend”. Are we willing to comprehend Him, in seeing Christ in all His glory as He appears in and through the glorified saints? Do we not understand that God’s promises of a better way are ours as we lay hold of them by faith?
Hear what Peter states for us. 2 Peter 1:3-4, “as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust”. Friends, this is our promised land, this is our Holy of Holies and the secret place of the Most High. Is it not so, that a people such as we have been called for such a time as this? A many member body of chosen and faithful one’s who are departing the nature of the earth realm, the terrestrial (an anointed in part spiritual life-style), to take their places in the realm of the heavens, putting on the celestial body which dwells in the invisible and visible new heaven and earth. A question – are you willing to take off the old dirty garment and put on the new? If so, God will fulfill that which our hearts desire and that which we allow Him to do from within He will accomplished. This is reaching God’s intended purpose for His created man.