Saturday, March 22, 2008

Easter: "The New Earth" or the New Life?


"The inspiration for the title of this book came from a Bible prophecy that seems more applicable now than at any other time in human history. It occurs in both the Old and the New Testament and speaks of the collapse of the existing world order and the arising of 'a new heaven and a new earth.'... We need to understand here that heaven is not a location but refers to the inner realm of consciousness. This is the esoteric meaning of the word, and this is also its meaning in the teachings of Jesus. Earth, on the other hand, is the outer manifestation in form, which is always a reflection of the inner. Collective human consciousness and life on our planet are intrinsically connected. 'A new heaven' is the emergence of a transformed state of human consciousness and 'a new earth' is its reflection in the physical realm. Since human life and human consciousness are intrinsically one with the life of the planet, as the old consciousness dissolves, there are bound to be synchronistic geographic and climatic natural upheavals in many parts of the planet, some of which we are already witnessing now."
--Eckhart Tolle, The New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose (Plume, 2005), p. 23 [emphasis in original]

The New Spirituality teaches a collective salvation of mankind based upon the restoration of paradise on earth. To recreate paradise mankind must first overcome his "collective insanity" (p. 15). This is precisely the point where a self-help psycho-spiritual message connects with the idea of saving the earth. If only mankind could get it right, then the earth will become right. Tolle explains it this way: "Recognize the ego for what it is: a collective dysfunction, the insanity of the human mind." (p. 76)

Eckhart Tolle's book The New Earth is currently being taught with Oprah Winfrey on the Internet, as explained in the previous post. Tolle details an evolutionary purpose for mankind that will result in the transformation of the planet:

"Fulfilling your primary purpose is laying the foundation for a new reality, a new earth. Once that foundation is there, your external purpose becomes charged with spiritual power because your aims and intentions will be one with the evolutionary impulse of the universe." (p. 265)

"Then comes the reconciliation of outer and inner purpose: to being that essence - consciousness - into the world of form and thereby transform the world.... the reconciliation of the world and God." (p. 280)

This statement clearly indicates the belief that man is in charge of his own "reconciliation," however that comes to be redefined. This teaching is echoed by many Emergent leaders, including Brian McLaren in his new book Everything Must Change (Thomas Nelson, 2007). McLaren also teaches that man's mental dysfunctions have created a planetary "suicide machine." We must therefore collectively change our old destructive "framing story", i.e., what we believe, so that the earth can become a "holy ecosystem" (p. 273):

"So we must realize this: the suicidal framing story that dominates our world today has no power except the power we give it by believing it. Similarly, believing an alternative and transforming framing story may turn out to be the most radical thing any of us can ever do....

"Jesus proclaims that simply believing his good news brings salvation. This is 'salvation by grace through faith' in a planetary sense: if we believe that God graciously offers us a new way, a new truth, and a new life, we can be liberated from the vicious, addictive cycles of our suicidal framing stories.... (p. 270)

"And instead, we will live a life dedicated to replacing the suicide machine with a sacred ecosystem, a beautiful community, an insurgency of healing and peace, a creative global family, an unterror movement of faith, hope, and love." (p. 277)

This teaching is not the Gospel of Salvation message even though it uses similar words. This is the false gospel of a "new earth" which teaches that mankind can redeem the planet.

The Gospel of Salvation of Jesus Christ, is about new life. It is a radically different message from all other world religions. It is a personal message of hope for you. It is the only message that will truly transform.

The Truth:

In 1838 J.C. Philpot preached a message that explains the New Life. This is the Gospel of Salvation. It bears no resemblance to the New Earth gospel that Eckhart Tolle and Brian McLaren preach. It also bears no resemblance to the "suicidal framing story" alleged to be "conventional" Christian theology by McLaren.

"If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye died, and your life is hid with Christ in God." Col. 3:1, 2, 3

Until the eyes of our understanding are spiritually enlightened, and our heart touched by regenerating grace, we see, we know, we feel nothing savingly or experimentally [experientially, ed.] of the power of God in the salvation of the soul. We may be religious, very religious; serious, extremely serious; pious, decidedly pious; we may attend church or go to chapel, receive the sacrament or sit down to the ordinance, say our prayers or pray extempore, read the Scriptures and good books; and comparing our religious life with the profane conduct of many by whom we are surrounded, may please ourselves with the deceptive illusion that we are recommending ourselves to the favour of God, and when death shall close the scene, shall be rewarded with eternal life. And yet all this time we may be as destitute of the power of God in saving the soul, as ignorant of law and gospel, of condemnation or salvation, of what we are as sinners or what the Lord Jesus is to those who believe in his name, as the very beasts that perish. True religion must be wrought in the soul by the power of God. We are not saved because we are religious; but we are religious because we are saved.

"Who hath saved us, and called us" (2 Tim. 1:9) - saved before called, and called because saved. The grace that wrote our names in the Lamb's book of life, that gave our persons to the Son of God, that he might redeem us through the cross by his sufferings, blood-shedding, and death; the grace that is now in the heart of Jesus as sitting at the right hand of the Father in glory and majesty, - this same grace quickens our soul into spiritual life, convinces us of sin, gives us repentance, brings us to the foot of the cross, reveals in us a precious Saviour, and raises up a faith and hope and love in his name which both save and sanctify us unto life eternal. Thus we are not saved by anything of a religious nature which we can communicate to ourselves, or others communicate to us; but we are saved by the grace of God, and by the grace of God alone. "By grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God." (Eph. 2: 8.) If, then, that grace never visit our heart with its regenerating power and its sanctifying influences, we may have all the religion that the flesh can be possessed of, in all its high doctrine or all its low doctrine; in all its strictness or all its laxness; in all its Churchism or all its Dissent; in all its Pharisaism or all its Antinomianism; and yet die under the wrath of God and have our portion with the damned.

Compare this fleshly religion in which thousands are nursed and wrapped up, and in which thousands contentedly live and die - compare, I say, this external service, this mere bodily exercise, without life or power; without faith or repentance, without love or hope, without divine teaching or heavenly testimony, with such language as I have just read from the inspired word, and which is now all but sounding in your ears. Ask people, aye, very strict and religious people, what they know about being dead and their life being hidden with Christ in God; about being risen with Christ, and seeking those things which are above; about setting their affection on things above and not on things on the earth; and what answer can they give? What do they know for themselves of a heartfelt, experimental, and divine religion like this? Nothing, absolutely nothing. Which, then, are we to accept as true religion - that which bears the stamp of man, or that which bears the stamp of God? that which unenlightened, unregenerated men, and even ministers, would impress on our minds and impose on our consciences, or that which the Holy Ghost has written down in the inspired word as a guide to the saints of God? I need not tell you which we should believe - whether we are to follow the true light which shines in the inspired page and guides the soul to heaven and God, or that ignis fatuus, that meteor-like will-o'-the-wisp which, issuing out of the corrupt heart of man, only plays around us with deceiving light to lead us into, and drown us in the bog of superstition, error, and self-righteousness....

The spring and fountain of all true religion, of all vital godliness is union with Christ. He is the head of the body, the Church; therefore, from him, and from him alone, all spiritual life comes into his mystical members. "I am come that they might have life." (John 10:10.) "I am the resurrection and the life." (John 11:25.) If, therefore, we have union with Christ - and without union with Christ we have no saving, sanctifying, or experimental religion - we shall have union with him, not only in what he is now at the right hand of the Father, but in all that he was whilst he was here below. As, then, the path of the Lord Jesus Christ to the right hand of the Father in glory was a path of suffering, sorrow, and death, and as in his case the cross went before the crown, so it must be with us. If we have any hope in our soul of being with Christ in the realms of eternal day; if we have any expectation of reigning with him in the life to come, and enjoying those pleasures which are at God's right hand for evermore; if we have any sweet persuasion that we shall be glorified with him and see him as he is face to face, which we never shall enjoy without vital union with him, - we must first be conformed to his image as manifested here below. I need hardly tell you that all those whom God foreknew are predestinated to the image, that is, the likeness of Christ, as the apostle so clearly testifies: "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." (Rom. 8:29.) This conformity begins below, but is completed above: "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2 Cor. 3:18.) This image or likeness of Christ is twofold: 1, His suffering image, as seen here below when he was "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief," and, 2, His glorified image, in which he now appears at the right hand of the Father. "Ought not Christ," he himself said, "to have suffered these things and to enter into his glory?" (Luke 24:26.) As, then, with Christ the Head, suffering and glory were firmly bound together by the will and decree of the Father, so it is with the members. "If we suffer, we shall also reign with him." (2 Tim. 2:12.) "If so be we suffer with him that we may be also glorified together." (Rom. 8:17.)....

Christ rose from the dead for himself triumphant over death and hell. But he rose not only for himself that he might sit on his throne of glory according to the promise of the Father, but as the head of the Church, of that countless multitude, which when gathered together will not only exceed the stars in number, but outshine them in glory. Now as all these died with Christ when he died upon the accursed tree, and were mystically buried with him when he lay in the sepulchre; so when the mighty Jesus rose from the dead and issued from that gloomy tomb in which he had lain for three days and three nights, they at the same moment rose with him. We read therefore that God "hath quickened us together with Christ, and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." (Eph. 2:5, 6.) We here see the connection that there is between Christ's resurrection and our regeneration. "Hath quickened us," that is, made us alive, "together with Christ." When, then, life entered into the dead body of Christ in the tomb, it was the mystical quickening of all the members of his body, the sure and earnest pledge of their regeneration. Peter, therefore, says, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." (1 Pet. 1:3.) As but for the death of Christ there could have been no atonement for sin, so but for his resurrection there could have been neither justification nor regeneration; for as "he was delivered for our offences, so he was raised again for our justification." (Rom. 4:25.) Regeneration, then, is the resurrection of the soul as the prelude to the resurrection of the body and soul together in the great day; and it is to be known in vital experience in the same way as death is made known. For as we die spiritually and experimentally with Christ under and by the law, so we rise spiritually and experimentally with him under and by the gospel. When Christ rose from the dead, the law had no more power over him. The law did all it could do in killing him. When he was upon the cross, the law discharged all its thunders and curses upon his devoted head. It condemned and slew him, and then the law could do no more; for it is with the law of God as with the law of man: when once it has inflicted its penalty and the criminal has died under that penalty, the law has done its office. It dies in killing. A criminal cannot be twice executed. Thus it was with Christ, and thus it was with the people of Christ: when the law had killed Christ, it was dead as regarded him, and never could touch him again. So when he rose from the dead, he rose free from all law charges, demands, and exactions; he rose as completely discharged from the penalties of the law as a criminal who goes out of prison when the Queen has signed his free pardon.

...But how is this to be made experimentally known? By some manifestation or discovery of a risen Christ to the soul. We read, "Then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord." (John 20:20.) Why? Because they saw in him their Lord and their God, as Thomas saw and confessed. Their doubts and fears, their unbelief and infidelity were all gone, and they rejoiced in him with joy unspeakable and full of glory. So when the soul is blessed with any manifestation of Jesus as risen from the dead, and with a sweet testimony of its interest in his death and resurrection, and the conscience is purged in any measure by the application of atoning blood so as to deliver it from the guilt of sin and the curse of the law, and bring it into the liberty wherewith Christ makes his people free, it rises experimentally with him; that is to say, it rises out of and from under the condemnation of the law and conscience, and enters into the blessedness of salvation by free grace and by free grace alone.

[J.C. Philpot, "Death and Resurrection, or Spiritual Convictions and Heavenly Affections," Preached at North Street Chapel, Stamford, on Lord's Day Morning, June 27, 1858]