Posts Tagged ‘Soul Shaping’
What greater calling is there than to devote ones life to encouraging, and helping others to live their up to their full potential? For in so doing we pattern ourselves after that which was shown us by Christ. In lifting up our brothers and sisters we not only give to their lives a greater hope, but in the process our lives are enriched by them. No matter how small the deed, what we reap conditions our souls for eternity.
We have so few real choices in this life, that it is incumbent upon each and every one of us to devote every opportunity we can find to enrich the lives of ourselves and those around us with whatsoever is good, and kind, and uplifting; working all things for the Greater Good of shaping our souls. No gift of caring is too small to share with another….and the rewards reach into eternity!
John15:12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
Phil.4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
1Cor.13:13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
1John 4:12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.
Continuing on with the idea that our journey through this life is about Shaping our Souls for Eternity, let me introduce the concept of comparing Soul Shaping to Forming our Minds through focused learning in schools of education. As we grow in understanding of who we are and the world around us by the continued process of expanding our minds through learning, we are forming ideas that shape our personality and our understanding of who we are. The world around us is like a mold, shaping our minds by experiences we encounter throughout our lives.
We are born with minds like the empty canvas of an artist, the colors that make up our pallet are life’s experience, which we apply to our canvas….when our journey in this life ends….a portrait of who we were remains imprinted upon our soul. In the same sense our souls are shaped and formed by the mold of our life, creating a unique individual by the forces of the experiences that make up our lives. Could it be what this life is all about? To shape a souls for eternity, or to begin the process of shaping our souls….like the predetermined plant contained in the seed it springs forth from, which is then shaped by its environment determining how big it will grow by how much water, fertilizer, and sunshine it gets, or how much fruit it will produce. All these factors of growth depend on its life experiences in much the same way as a human life (whose earthy form is beyond our control) is shaped by their positive and negative experiences.
When we leave this life, I believe what we will carry with us into eternity is the essence of our life that was imprinted upon our souls….conditioned by this earthly experience. In this life we have little control over much of our existence (where we are born, what we look like..ect), but the one thing we can change is our attitude towards others. Whether or not we choose to function as a supporter, friend or companion to others will determine how we grow and who we become.
I got to thinking about the widely held, traditional view of the Resurrection of the body, where the idea is that our earthly bodies will be transformed into a glorified version of what our fleshly bodies were like. The more I thought about what is actually being said, and comparing that to what the Bible teaches, the less appealing that traditional idea became. It’s like a caterpillar that goes through metamorphosis, and when it emerges from its cocoon instead of being transformed into a beautiful butterfly able to fly, it becomes a resurrected glorified caterpillar.
When we read the writings of Paul where he describes the Resurrection of the body, the image he portrays is one of transformation, that is to say the bare seed (our fleshly body) being planted in the ground, and from the seed that dies in the ground, a plant springs forth that in no way resembles the seed that was sown. The seed doesn’t spring forth as a resurrected glorified seed, but rather a living plant capable of bearing fruit
1Cor.15:35-38 But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? Thou fool, that which thou sows is not quickened, except it die: And that which thou sows, thou sows not that body that shall be, but bare grain seed, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: But God gives it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.
In speaking of the resurrection of the body Jesus said: “unless a grain of wheat is planted in the ground and dies, it cannot bring forth fruit”; this clearly tells us that the body which we will be resurrected in bears no likeness to this fleshly body we live in here on earth.
John 12:24-25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.
Mark 4:31 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth: But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it.
Like the tiny mustard seed that dies in the ground then grows to be the greatest of herbs, and the earthbound caterpillar that dies in its cocoon then bursts forth as a beautiful soaring butterfly, we too will be changed into that which will bear the image of Christ.
Isn’t it quite ironic how the single most important event in Christianity – the core of our faith which is the Resurrection of Jesus Christ – becomes so focused on a fleshly, bodily resurrection of believers that is suppose to somehow mark the end of the age. When you stop and think about it….how many people would really want to keep their earthly bodies if they could? And why is this reconstruction of a physical body so important? Jesus did not rise from the dead to have a glorified physical body, but rather to show that He conquered death, and despite the limitations of a fleshly physical body He still could accomplish that which the Father sent Him to do.
Looking at what Jesus did on the cross; the visual physical image that everyone present at that time could have seen; was Jesus hanging on a cross in physical agony, unable to physically do anything unless He would have called upon the Father and used supernatural power. The one thing he could do in His human form was FORGIVE….that act could directly connect with each person and our personal ability to change our thoughts and actions when we have no power to change our physical bodily condition. In spite of the limitations of our fleshly bodies, and the fact that we had no choice in how they were formed….our thoughts and actions can accomplish much. This life is a time to shape and form our souls for eternity….it has nothing to do with shaping the flesh. We can change how we act and think, but we can’t do much to change our physical bodies….this fleshly body is just our earthly tent.
I know that when I leave this life whatever form I take will be perfectly suited for the living conditions of eternity, just like this current fleshly body was formed by God for a limited time of living on planet earth. And just as the New Jerusalem was resurrected from the Old Jerusalem, so our eternal spiritual body is resurrected from our earthly physical body.
1Cor.15:53-54 For this corruptible must put on (enduo) incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on (enduo) immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
2Cor.5:1-3 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: If so be that being clothed (enduo) we shall not be found naked.
When we put off this fleshly tent we can then put on or be endued with our heavenly tent, and you can be assured that our heavenly clothing which we will be endued with is not made from our dead fleshly bodies. This time on earth has been used to shape our souls for eternity.
The transformation of believers from the time of the cross until the Parousia of Christ and the destruction of the Temple was much like the metamorphosis of a butterfly. When Jesus took the form of a man and gave Himself as an atonement, the process of bringing in the New Covenant and the vanishing away of the Old Covenant began. The formation of the church started at Pentecost with the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, conforming those who received it into the image of Christ. As the new creation on earth was growing and waiting for their redemption, Christ was in heaven completing the process of the restitution of all things, ultimately leading to His manifestation of power by delivering up the kingdom to God, and completely destroying the shadow of the Old, thus allowing the New to burst free from the bondage of corruption revealing a fully formed church ready to take flight.
Luke 21:27-28 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draws near.
Rom.8:19-23 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
Acts 3:21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.
1John 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
With the Parousia of Christ the shell of the Old Covenant which was the Temple made of stone in Jerusalem was shattered, allowing the New Jerusalem which had been forming in its shadow to fully emerge, revealing the Bride of Christ then freed forever from the bondage of the Old Covenant system which was represented by the Temple.
Gal.4:25-26 For this Hagar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
Heb.12:22-24 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.
Rev.3:12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.
Now with the freedom of a newly emerged butterfly, the New Jerusalem, which is the Church, could go forth. The shell of the Old Covenant system (the Temple) which had cast a shadow of death on the new church as long as it stood was now gone, and in its place was the New Jerusalem existing in the New Heavens and Earth. Now man himself is the temple of God, being freed forever from the shadow of death cast upon him by the Old Covenant system!
The New Jerusalem could not be fully manifested as long as the Old Jerusalem was in existence….only when the Temple which functioned under the Old Covenant (old heaven and earth) as God’s dwelling place on earth, was completely vanished away would the new temples (believers filled with the Holy Spirit) be totally free from the bondage of the Old…dwelling in the new heavens and earth as the New Jerusalem.
Rev.21:1-3 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.