There is Another Dimension
So we start, and we shall start by taking a big leap. There is a spirit dimension, and there is a matter dimension. There is appearance, and there is reality. Paul puts it: ‘The things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.’ Commonplace and obvious? Yes, but revolutionary, because all our understanding of life is geared to the visible, and we are occupied by ‘the sweat of our brow’ and the application of our minds in expanding and using the visible. Anything not within the compass of our reason we consider crazy. But what do we find in the Bible? A continuous record of happenings which we call supernatural, which cannot be fitted into our interpretations of normal cause and effect. Abraham and Sarah have a child when respectively a hundred, and ninety years old; Joseph accurately foretells through dreams; Moses brings plagues on Egypt, crosses the Red Sea on dry land, gets water from a rock and daily manna; Joshua crosses the Jordan, and brings down the walls of Jericho, and stops the sun for a day; Elijah stops and then brings the rain; Elisha makes an axe head swim; Daniel spends a night among hungry lions; the three young men walk in the fiery furnace and come out without even the smell of smoke on them. Jesus was continually doing things beyond natural explanation, bringing calm in a storm, walking on water and thus counteracting gravity (and Peter doing the same), feeding five thousand with five loaves, healing all kinds of diseases, and raising the dead. Paul and the apostles saw prison doors open, chains fall off, the dead raised up; and the writer to the Hebrews reminds the whole church in the famous ‘faith’ chapter 11 that these things were really so.
Now immediately I mention these things, you will tend to think I am pointing to specific remarkable happenings and asking, ‘Why don’t we see the same?’ No, I am not. That is dangerous thinking, because it is centring our attention on dramatic incidents as if they are what matters; but the question I ask is, Do we not recognize that here are happenings which are products of another dimension, the spirit dimension, and altogether beyond the scope of human thinking and action? They belong to the absurd: or they belong to the real, and we are in the absurd who discount them and claim the only real to be our laboured efforts! That is all I am now saying. Not that we ought to be seeing things like these, though we must say they could be if they are the products of faith; but that there is a dimension of spirit, where He who is spirit, and we who are ‘joined to Him one spirit’, operate right in the midst of this matter world; and we discover ourselves to be spirit people, not matter people, with revolutionary effects on our whole way of seeing, thinking and acting; and that this is the truth, or we should rather say that He who is spirit is the truth. We shall explain as we proceed.
So the first great fact is that the whole universe is spirit. It doesn’t look like that, and our first reaction is to question that. So let us start like this. We know what spirit is because the Bible tells us we humans are spirits. The writer to the Hebrews says we have flesh-fathers, but that God is father of our spirits, in other words our real selves (Hebrews 12:9). Paul defines our self, or our ego, as spirit when he says, ‘What man knows the things of a man save the spirit of man which is in him?’ And that in me which says I know, is obviously I, and that I is spirit. If we die in Christ, it says we are ‘spirits of just men made perfect’, our real selves having left its body shell behind. If we die out of Christ, we are ‘spirits in prison’. Always spirit.
Spirit is the Only Reality
Now I myself, being spirit, am meaningless in relation to others unless I have a means of expressing my spirit-self; and that, in Bible terms, is my soul and body. My soul is my emotions and reason, emotions expressing my spirit-desires, and reason expounding my spirit-knowledge: and of course my body the means of outward contact. The simple evidence that we humans are spirit-selves, expressed through soul and body, is that if I meet a person, I don’t say I met a body, but a person, because I caught on to the spirit-self expressed through the outer form.
Now this gives us a human jumping-off point to understanding Jesus’ supreme word, when He said to the woman of Samaria, ‘God is spirit’. There we have it. If God is spirit, then that is all there can be, and all must be spirit. If in the beginning, as Genesis says, there is only God, all must be some form of Him; and we know this is so, because we are taken to the end time by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15, when he tells us that after the last enemy is destroyed, the Son will render up the kingdom to the Father that God may be all in all’. If He is all, then everything must be forms of Him; and ‘all in all’ means He, The All, in all His forms of manifesting Himself.
We understand this from the fact of us humans being spirits. Just as we have a necessary form by which to manifest our spirit-selves, so He. The universe is He in manifestation. The universe is spirit slowed down to the point of visibility. Paul says that all men have an inner understanding of Him the Invisible ‘by the things that are made’. The visible manifests Him the Invisible, so that ‘things which are seen were not made of things which do appear’.
So we are saying one tremendous fact. There is only One Person in the universe. There is only God. The universe is God in manifested forms. We will develop that much more in a moment. But you see the importance. If all is He, we are to learn the secret that Jesus knew so well, of seeing through the appearances to Him the Reality. And we see the unity of the universe, the oneness of all, which is a present fact to the eye of faith, and is stated in its final form when Paul says that He is going to ‘gather together in one all things in Christ’. That settles it. All is one, and that great day is coming when what now appears separated to the outward eye will be visibly and eternally one in Him. Think of that, not Christ in the universe, but the universe in Christ, proving again that all is one spirit. Even the word universe means one, and Christ’s final prayer is on oneness. All through history people have had flashes of this fact of unity and it has a great effect on our consciousness when we begin to see through to this oneness now.
In the light of this revelation that the universe is this One living Person, and everything and everybody is He in some manifested form, whether good or evil, whether positive or negative, this obviously raises some disturbing questions, when we include evil in the everything. This will become clear as we proceed. Suffice to say now that we shall never find the answers to life’s problems until we see Him The Only One in all activity, not two powers but one. Not a dichotomy, but a unity. As Jesus said, ‘If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness.’ But the opposite of single is not evil, but double. Why then evil? Because to see double is to see evil. We only have the secret when we see as Jesus did, through all to one–to Him, the Father, including seeing through the devil. Isaiah saw this more clearly than any other writer in the Bible in some chapters such as 45 and 46. ‘I am God, and there is none else . . . I form the light and create darkness: I make peace and create evil.’
Of course many times I am asked if I am a pantheist. I am not a theologian, and probably my questioners are not; but I had plenty of Greek in my English school days, and know that ‘pan’ means everything in the neuter case, and ‘theist’ of course a worshipper of God. But that is just what the idolatry of Romans 1 was, which lies at the roots of man’s ruin–worshipping the creature rather than the Creator. That means calling the thing God. But what we are talking about is seeing through all things to the One of whom it is some form, just as I don’t mistake a person’s body for themselves; I see through the body to the person of whom it is the outer form. When therefore we humans have returned through Christ to knowing God as the living One, our Father, then all life becomes worship, because our eyes are opened: we see through everything and every person to their being some wonderful form of Him in beauty, power, shape, texture, colour, in nature, in music, in the powers of sight, hearing and thought: though some may be outwardly distorted into ugliness.
But that raises another question of equal importance. If the whole universe is One Person, and what we produce is what we are, what kind of person is He? For the universe must be a representation of its author. Of course we know the answer, but how fundamentally important. John gives it. Jesus made that three-worded statement, ‘God is spirit’. John makes the three-worded statement, ‘God is love’. That is all that need be said. ‘Is’, not ‘has’. If He is love, then He is nothing but love; and Paul said love fulfills all laws of the universe.
And what is love? In a word, love is for others. If I love, my interest and involvement is to meet the other person’s need, no matter what happens to me in the course of it. And this is our God of the universe. He is love. He exists for His universe, not His universe for Him. If His universe is fulfilled, He is fulfilled. If it is happy and harmonious, He is happy. That is why He is safe as God. In all human history, because we are self-interested, not other-interested, all those who have power over others turn it to their own advantage. It is they for him, not he for them. That has been the curse of dictators, kings, rulers, tyrants, yes and capitalism–turning what they control to their own advantage. But God is love. It is not the universe for His convenience, but He for it. His pleasure is when we are pleased and satisfied. The final title given Him in the Bible is ‘The lamb’, in the book of Revelation. It comes no less than twenty-seven times. ‘The lamb on the throne’: ‘The lamb is the light thereof’: ‘The marriage supper of the lamb’: ‘Follow the lamb whithersoever He goeth’. Why lamb? It seems curious to liken Almighty God to a helpless lamb; in worldly terms ridiculous. But what is the character of a lamb in the pasture? Helpless availability. You can do what you like with it. If it conveniences you to kill it, kill it. If to eat it, eat it. And this is the nature of God, only that He is deliberately, and not helplessly, available. He is love; if therefore to kill Him meets our need, kill Him. If to eat Him, eat Him. Which is precisely what He is in human history, the lamb slain for us at Calvary. The lamb eaten by us in His body and blood, as symbolized in the lord’s supper.