Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
The following short articles are thoughts that have occurred to me through the years. Perhaps they will be a help to younger Christians who are making their way through the wilderness of the present world.
Table of Contents
Kinds of Creatures
A Better Person
An Expendable World
A Change of Rulership
The Righteous and the Wicked
The Father’s House
The Lion, Ox, Man, and Eagle
The House, Not the Competitor, of God
God Never Frets Over Evil
There Only Is Grace for the Day
Forcing God To Speak
Not an Imitation
Replacing the Law of Moses
Dwelling in Love
The Law and Grace
The Fountain of Life
The Way of the Lamb
The Still, Small Voice
Anointed With Joy
Resist the Temptation To Sin
What Does the Lord Desire?
The Inside Before the Outside
The Proper Focus
Discipline is the Route to Freedom
Feelings, and God’s Will
Adamic Life and Eternal Life
The Tenth Camel
How Do We Become a New Creation?
The Obvious and the Not So Obvious
Righteousness Is Obedience to God
Killing the Sinful Nature
Trained as a Soldier
No Church Building Needed
The Little sins
Answering Our Own Prayers
Keep My Commandments
Christ Is Eternal Life
God’s Will Alone
The Coming Kings
Release From the Bondages of Sin
Have Salt in Yourselves
The Uncrossable Gulf
Disciples, Not Converts
The Eyes of Faith
A Change in Man
God Is Greater
Don’t Look Back!
The Eternal Moral Law
A Sea of Impossibilities
God Responds to Us as We Respond to Him
People of Integrity
God’s Control of the World
Living by God’s Word
The Spirit Must Apply the Word
Correcting People Before God’s Time
The Outside Reveals the Inside
Keep Your Eyes on the Lord Jesus
Forgive, and You Shall Be Forgiven
Three Areas of Eternal Life
MUSINGS, BOOK THREE
All Kinds of Creatures—God loves variety. There are all kinds of creatures in the physical and spirit realms, a wealth of personalities. It is not a simple matter of Heaven and Hell, although there is a Heaven and there is a Hell. There are all kinds of people with their own ways of doing things, gathered together in families. There are some on Mount Zion who follow the Lamb. God knows them as He knows Abraham and Moses. You too can be a friend of God if this is what you truly desire.
I think we Christians have a traditional concept of salvation and of Heaven that is not quite accurate. We have our concept of Hell, where the wicked go, and Heaven where all the Christians go. Heaven and Hell. Most assuredly there is a Hell. The rich man is there. Assuredly there is a Heaven. The beggar is there in Abraham’s bosom.
One problem with our thinking is we often teach that if we “accept Christ” we will go to Heaven when we die, whether we are a righteous or a wicked person; although I don’t believe there is any passage in the New Testament that actually teaches this. Do you know of any?
The counterpart of this is that all people except those who have “accepted Christ” will be thrown into the Lake of Fire, there to endure torment forever.
I don’t believe this is a true picture of salvation or of the spirit realm.
First of all, while Jesus warned us about Hell, His emphasis was on eternal life and on living righteously. He told us He Himself is Life, and when we receive Him and abide in Him we have eternal life and will not come into condemnation. He said nothing about going to Heaven. Eternal life is a state of being. Heaven is a place.
Jesus also said some bear fruit a hundredfold, some sixtyfold, and some thirtyfold. The fruit that is borne is Christ in us. Not all people possess Christ to the same extent. We can notice this as we look about us in the churches.
Jesus spoke of being worthy of the Kingdom of God.
Daniel spoke of some who will be raised to shame and everlasting contempt.
I am not certain I can put into words what I feel, but I will try to give you the flavor of it.
The Kingdom of God is God in Christ in the saints governing the people God chooses to save from destruction. All people in the new world will possess Christ and God to some extent. There will be no individual without some measure of God in him or her.
The new Jerusalem will consist of God’s elect, and the elect will differ greatly in their spiritual maturity. We see, in the kingdom of David, this idea of ranks, with the three mighty men, and then the thirty, and then the remainder of the fighting men. We see the ranks in the New Testament with three on the Mount of Transfiguration, the remaining nine disciples, the seventy, and the remainder of Israel.
There will be a firstfruits to God and the Lamb. They will follow Christ wherever He goes.
The point is, there will be a great spread of people, many of whom will have severe personality problems. This is why Christ and His saints will govern with a rod of iron and smash all rebellious spirits into pieces.
Who will be in Hell? The truly wicked, and some of them will be professing Christians.
Who will be in Heaven? Heaven is not the issue, for God is moving with His people to the earth, and the saved people from the nations will live on the new earth.
Who then will live on the new earth? Every kind of person you can imagine. They will not be perfect. It will be just like today, where there are numerous people, some with pleasing dispositions and some we tend to avoid—all with differing personalities.
Who will not be permitted on the new earth?
But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death. (Revelation 21:8)
These eight kinds of people will not be permitted to live in the Kingdom of God.
Now I want the reader to take special note of the following statement, for I think it is not always understood: The Lord Jesus did not come to earth and die for our sins so these eight type of people can go to Heaven to live with God. The Lord made an atonement with His blood and then sent down the Holy Spirit of God so:
- The cowardly will become courageous.
- The unbelieving will have faith.
- The vile will become decent.
- The murderers will become loving.
- The sexually immoral will become holy.
- The practitioners of magic arts will turn from them and live in the Spirit of God.
- The idolaters will forsake their idols and love God with all their heart.
- The liars will become known for their truthfulness and integrity.
If you can understand the above you will understand the Kingdom of God.
The tremendous error of today’s teaching is that Jesus Christ came so:
- The cowardly can go to Heaven and live in a mansion because he or she believes in Christ.
- The unbelieving can have fellowship with God because he has made a profession of Christ.
- The vile can rule with Christ because he believes in Christ.
- The murderer will inherit the Kingdom of God because he believes in Christ.
- The sexually immoral will have fellowship with the holiest of the angels because he believes in Christ.
- The witches and warlocks will continue to practice their incantations before the Throne of God because they believe in Christ.
- The idolaters will worship their gods in their heart while they are walking on the street of gold because they believe in Christ.
- The liars will be accepted as prophets of God because they believe in Christ.
All of these abominations will take place because of grace and God’s unconditional love.
Can you see the terribly destructive, unscriptural teaching of our time?
Our teaching is that Christ came to take the drunk to Heaven to live with God.
The Bible teaching is that Christ came to enable the drunk to overcome his craving for alcohol and become a responsible citizen.
This monumental error of our time, that Divine grace enables the untransformed to have fellowship with God, is based on a faulty concept of the spirit realm. We are picturing some kind of Oz in which the Christians are admitted and do nothing of significance for eternity, and all other people are cast into the inferno where they will curse God and Christ for eternity.
The truth is, the spirit realm is a continuation of the present world, except that it is invisible. If we are haughty now we will continue to be haughty after we die and enter the spirit realm. We will be placed where haughtiness is commonplace and where we will not upset the social group.
We may think God is interested in casting most of the people whom He has created into the deepest Hell. He is not. He is going to save most of the people. Christ died for the sins of the world. God loves the world and has determined to bring the Tree of Life back to the earth.
But people will not be changed! They will still be themselves, particularly after the resurrection.
The people who will be different are those who are genuine disciples; who have denied themselves, taken up their cross, and are following the Lord. They are being transformed morally each day, and you can see the change now. They are being changed right before our eyes.
But most people in the churches, while the majority are honest, hard-working folks, do not change much after fifty years of church attendance. They will be placed in the spirit realm where they fit. In the Day of Resurrection they will be brought into the new world just as they are, and will be governed by the victorious saints.
It is all so real, so practical. I think the biggest surprise we will have when we die is that there are no surprises. People are still people. Those who have been mature Christians on earth will take their place among the mature. Those who have been self-seeking will take their place among the self-seeking. People will continue to be people with all their differences of personality.
I think if we would view the Lord Jesus as our Means of changing into a man or woman of God, we would be closer to the truth. As it is, we view the Lord Jesus as a ticket who is going to change us magically so we come forth as giants of spiritual splendor who will govern the nations with unlimited authority and power, even though we can’t gain victory today over gossiping, covetousness, and lust.
I hope I have given you some feeling of the reality of God’s Kingdom and of the spirit realm which we enter when we die, and which will come to the earth, at least in part, when the Lord returns. There will be no magical change of personality. What we are, we are.
You know, during the thousand-year Kingdom Age that is at hand, the earth will be full of the Glory of God as the waters cover the sea.
Even with this continuing revival, the nations will have to be smashed with the rod of iron.
You know what this tells us? It tells us that even though God pours out His Spirit in revival, and multitudes are saved, healed, and filled with the Spirit, this sort of revival does not produce the permanent change that God is looking for—the change into righteous behavior.
Think of the many outstanding revivals that have taken place in the United States over the last two hundred years. Yet today God’s people are babies when it comes to recognizing good and evil, to embracing the good and renouncing the evil. They are absolute babies, jumping up and down next to their pews, hoping the Lord will come and take them to Heaven where they can eat candy without getting fat.
I think God is ready to chastise us American Christians. He is going to take us to the woodshed, and we are going to learn that while God is loving He also is stern when it comes to our behavior. He wants us to learn His ways of righteousness and holiness. We know this is correct, don’t we.
God has not forsaken us in America. We are going to survive if we don’t give up on God. But we shall have to live closer to Jesus than we have been.
In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. (Isaiah 2:2,3)
A Better Person—The Lord Jesus Christ did not come to bring us to Heaven to live forever, but to reconcile us to God and make us a better person.
Many, perhaps all religions, have as their goal to bring people when they die to some kind of paradise. We know this is true of the Muslim religion, for example, where people are willing to suffer great pain or death in order to go to the Muslim paradise when they die.
Christianity was one of several religions found in the Romans Empire, at the time it came into being. Perhaps the concept that we are saved to go to Heaven entered the Christian religion at that time, borrowed from Gnosticism or some other school of thought.
We have gone a step further today. We teach that you don’t have to do anything to ensure your entrance into Heaven when you die. You don’t even have to live righteously or serve God. You just profess faith in Jesus Christ and that is all there is to it.
Well, a careful reading of the Bible from Genesis through Revelation will demonstrate that the Christian religion is not directed toward going to Heaven to live forever, much less that Christ came to bring us to Heaven in our lukewarmness, sin, and rebellion.
We are on earth now. When the Lord returns we will return with Him and be on the present earth once more. After the final judgment we will be on the new earth. So why do we present Heaven as our eternal home? I don’t think we have thought much about it. We are just assuming this is what the Bible teaches.
Of course, there is the famous John, Fourteen, where Jesus takes us to live in a mansion.
Two problems here: first, the word translated “mansion” means an abiding place, not a fancy house; second, when Jesus invited us to be with Him where He is He was not speaking of Heaven but of the bosom of the Father.
You can notice right after the “mansion” verse it says, “No man comes to the Father except through Me.” Jesus is the Way to the Father, not the way to Heaven.
In John, Chapters Fourteen through Seventeen, the passages where the Lord spoke of returning to where He came from, He never once mentioned He was returning to Heaven. It always was to the Father.
“What’s the difference?” you might ask.”
The difference is enormous. If our goal is Heaven we have to wait until we die to go there; and if we are “saved by grace” we don’t even have to change the way we behave.
But if our goal is the Father, then every day we are being transformed as we press into the Father.
We are supposed to abide in Christ as He abides in the Father. Christ Himself is the House of God (in My Father’s House). Christ has prepared a place for us in Himself, that we might find rest in Christ in God. This is the subject of the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John—not going to Heaven but going to the Father through Christ. Read John 14:22 through 14:23 and see if all those verses are talking about our going to Heaven or our dwelling in the Father through Christ.
The Lord came to earth that we might be reconciled to God and that we might become better people.
Look how these two thoughts come together in the following verses:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: That God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so in him we might become the righteousness of God. (II Corinthians 5:17-21)
Notice the accent on the new creation, and then on reconciliation. Notice how many times the term reconciliation or reconciling or reconciled is used.
We don’t stress reconciliation to God today as much as we do going to Heaven. I don’t think we care too much about coming to know God, just about escaping Hell and going to a place where we will be happy. Am I correct in this?
What does it mean by saying the old has gone and the new has come? It means our personality has been transformed. All the old adamic garbage, the worldliness, the lust, the self-will, has been removed from us. In its place is the righteousness, holiness, and obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Because of our accent on going to Heaven by grace, we don’t emphasize the new creation. Yet it is the new creation that itself is salvation. It is the new creation, the salvation, that reconciles us to God.
Heaven is not the issue. Nothing is gained in the Kingdom of God, no solution to the problem of the rebellion of the angels is provided, by our going to Heaven. The gain, the solution, comes when we are changed from rebellious sinners into obedient servants of the Lord. Does this make sense to you?
So we see we are due for a reformation of Christian thinking. We are to be being transformed in personality every day. If we are not, we are not being saved; for salvation is transformation.
As we are transformed in personality we are reconciled to God.
Reconciliation occurs initially as we are forgiven through the atonement made by the blood of the cross.
Then reconciliation proceeds as the evil is removed from us and Christ is formed in us.
The end result of the program is redemption is a personality transformed completely into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ, and a personality so reconciled to God that it is dwelling eternally in the center of God’s very Person and will.
How does this sound to you?
“Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters,” says the Lord Almighty. (II Corinthians 6:17,18)
An Expendable World—The things and circumstances of the present world are expendable; they are not to be grasped or worshiped. All the things and circumstances we experience are for the purpose of seeing how we will behave when we are given the riches of the eternal world that is to come. Make no mistake, we are determining our eternal destiny today.
The present world has been established for the purpose of bringing forth brothers of the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ and His brothers are coheirs and together will govern the creation. The Lord Jesus is the Head of this great company of holy ones.
I told the church the other night that when they pray it’s like David in the eighteenth Psalm. God shakes mountains and arranges the world for their benefit. When Joshua asked the Lord for more daylight in which to finish the battle, the Lord either stopped the earth from rotating on its axis, or else God caused the sun to move to keep up with the earth. That is a powerful Divine act on the part of one warrior.
This world exists for the purpose of bringing forth the brothers of Christ.
And we know in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:28,29)
So in these terms we might think of the world as being expendable. Notice what God says:
For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life. (Isaiah 43:3,4)
This isn’t very democratic, is it?
How are we to react to the fact that God chooses people and then orders the circumstances of the world so they will be conformed to the likeness of His Son?
We are to react by not grasping or worshiping the things and circumstances of the present world. We do not rejoice when the world is hilarious. We do not fear when the world is afraid. We do not worship the gods of the world, such as lust and material wealth.
Why do we not worship the gods of the world? Because we understand they will soon pass away. All that will remain is the character that has been formed in us as a result of the activities and circumstances of the world we have reacted to.
Philosophers have claimed, and they probably are correct, that our physical world is but a shadowy reflection of the real, spirit world. The burdens, sufferings, and temptations we experience have been designed to develop character in us.
This is one reason we are not to fret about the wickedness in the world. Jesus Christ remains in perfect control of all people and situations.
We are not going to take anything with us into the next world except the character that has been formed in us. The true riches, of which the Lord Jesus spoke, are in the age to come, not in the present world.
When we follow the appetites of our flesh, we lose our soul. Our soul is our will, our ability to make moral choices. If we choose to cooperate with the Holy Spirit we receive eternal life in our soul. If we keep yielding to the demands of our sinful flesh, we lose our soul. This means we no longer are able to make moral choices. We are being driven by our sinful nature.
In the world to come the sons of God will exercise enormous authority and power. In His wisdom, God has put us first in a humbled state, in an animal body created from the dust of the ground, to see what we will do under pressure; how we will react to temptation.
If we are so foolish as to regard the present world as having true significance, something to be grasped, we have made the greatest mistake possible. We have mistaken the shadow for the reality. We have grasped that which is vanishing even as it is being used. When we die we bring before God a character that has been warped by the moral filth of the present world.
We are determining our eternal destiny today. This is the significance of the things and situations of the present. Our present life in the world may be the only opportunity we will have in all of eternity to demonstrate our love for God; our faithfulness to our Creator; our integrity and truthfulness; our courage; our love of righteousness and hatred of wickedness. Just think! Our lifetime on the earth may prove to be the only opportunity we will have in all of eternity to show what kind of a person we really are.
Some teach that God knows everything, past, present, and future. He knows what we are going to do in advance.
This may be true. God is greater than any of us know.
However, there are verses in the Bible that lead us to believe God tests us to find out what is in our heart.
I lean toward this idea of God testing us in order to know what we really are like. How this fits with the idea that God knows everything in advance I cannot explain, unless God can move ahead of us in time and look back to see what we did.
If this is not the case, if our behavior is inevitable, having been known to God from the beginning, then we might as well relax. What is going to happen will happen.
I am not comfortable with this point of view. I think we are determining our eternal destiny today and we are making genuine decisions.
I think God is disappointed because of the behavior of some for whom God had held high hopes. If God can be disappointed, this means the individual had the opportunity to make good or bad choices.
I think God is pleased when one of His servants, such as Abraham, passes an extremely difficult text.
“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” (Genesis 22:12)
Do you get a sense that God had put Abraham through this dreadful experience hoping Abraham would justify God’s faith in him?
“Now I know you fear God.” Doesn’t it sound as though God believed Abraham feared God, but now was certain because of Abraham’s obedience?
If this is the case, then the decisions we make are not the working out of an inevitable experience of life but genuine revelations of our character—revelations that will determine our eternal destiny.
I do not say the present world is not important. Indeed it is important. However its importance is not due to its own worth. It is important because it is the great obstacle course, the proving ground that the Spirit of God can use to change us into the image of Christ.
As I said previously, we make the greatest of all possible mistakes when we clutch the present world and strive for security and pleasure. None of the things, circumstances, or relationships of the present are important in themselves. Rather they are devices by which the Lord is able to predict how we will behave when we are given the true riches of the coming age.
Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the LORD promised on oath to your forefathers. Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. (Deuteronomy 8:1-3)
A Change of Rulership—The world will never be a safe or decent place in which to live until all the rulers are themselves ruled by the Lord Jesus Christ. The coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth represents a change of rulership. Abortion will continue. Graft will continue. Rape will continue. Wars will continue. Lying, stealing, cheating will continue. Homosexual behavior, cannibalism, and animalism will continue. Every kind of gross perversion and corruption of nature will continue. Innocent people will be murdered. Animals will be slaughtered for sport, until the kingdoms of this world become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ.
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God is the good news that righteous government shall come to the earth. The rulers are being prepared now.
If all of the rulers on the earth today were in the moral image of the Lord Jesus Christ; if each one was living in the center of God’s will; and if each one was filled with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; the problems we experience today would disappear. There would be no more famine, rape, abortion, wars, lying, stealing cheating, or perversions such as homosexuality. Why not! Because the rulers would exercise righteous judgment and be supported by the power of almighty God.
Would you like to live in such a world? Would you like to have the rulers deal with all your sins until you were free from sin? Would you like this much interference in your life?
If you are not comfortable with the thought of a sin-free world, then you are still part of the problem. Even if you have made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, you are still part of the problem, not of the solution.
Who, then, are part of the solution to the abominations practiced continually in the earth today?
Those who, having put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, are denying themselves, taking up their cross, and following the Lord Jesus at all times. They are gaining victory over worldliness, lust, and self-will. They are presenting their body as a living sacrifice to God.
The Lord Jesus has become their life. When He returns they will return with Him. The Lord and His victorious saints will come through the sky and attack Antichrist and the armies of the wicked. They will utterly destroy Antichrist, the False Prophet, and all who sin.
One of their first actions will be to judge the wicked in the Christian churches.
Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones To judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” These men are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage. (Jude 1:14-16)
The Lord and His warriors will go through the earth judging and removing all evil spirits, and all people who will not consent to have the evil spirits removed from them.
The soldiers of this army cannot be bribed, threatened, resisted, or turned aside by any other means. They have been tested, tested, tested during their discipleship on the earth. Satan has been permitted to sift them completely. They have loved not their lives to the point of death.
These are the Lord and His “mighty men.” They shall inherit all that God makes new in Christ.
How wonderful it will be to have governments in which there is no self-seeking, no graft, no favoritism. Each ruler will govern in righteousness, bringing justice to all people. No favoritism will be shown to the rich, and the cause of the poor man will be heard.
The little children will be safe. The animals and nature will be protected. The rulers will be kindly, viewing themselves as servants of those they govern.
There is no other solution to the problems of the world. Neither education nor political reform will bring the true peace people desire. This is because no matter what beneficial program is put in place, self-seeking, dishonest people manage to benefit themselves and ruin the good that was attempted.
The world will grow much worse than it is today, although this is hard to imagine. The Glory of God will not descend on His people until God has proven to the heavens and the earth the result of obeying a will other than the will of God.
Knowing these things, understanding that the only solution to the problems of the world is the return of Jesus Christ with His saints, we must give ourselves to the Lord. The Lord Jesus will not return until there are people who have been called, chosen, and then proven faithful through every conceivable test and temptation.
If the Lord were going to set up His Kingdom on the earth by Himself, He would have done so 2000 years ago and saved humanity untold suffering.
No, the Lord Jesus is not going to convert the world by Himself. He is the Vine. The fruit of righteousness will be borne on the branches, which we are.
Israel yet shall blossom and fill the whole earth with the moral image of the Lord Jesus Christ.
You and I can be part of the Kingdom that is to come. But we will have to cooperate every moment with the Holy Spirit, for the demands of the Kingdom are severe. The current foolishness in the churches will have to be removed in favor of a much stricter program of discipleship. We are babies, we American Christians, always seeking ways in which Christ can make us more comfortable. We need to grow up as soon as possible.
We have been lulled to sleep with the unscriptural doctrine of the “rapture.” The catching up of the saints is not at issue at this time. What is being emphasized is the need of the believers to grow to the stature of the fullness of Christ. In fact, the only people who will be caught up are those who are living victoriously in Christ.
Why is this? It is because the Lord will catch up His warriors to meet Him in the air in preparation for the cavalry charge of the Battle of Armageddon. Obviously the silly, lukewarm believers of today are not nearly prepared to ride the white war stallions and attack the wicked of the earth, including all the spirits of Hell.
Let’s you and I hasten the Day of Christ by preparing ourselves to be disciplined soldiers in the army of the Lord Jesus.
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives As you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. (II Peter 3:10-13)
The Righteous and the Wicked—Where do the righteous and the wicked come from? It is easy to say each person can choose whether to be righteous or wicked. No doubt this largely is true. We can choose to do good or evil. But one must admit that there is a sovereignty of God that operates concerning the wicked and the righteous, if we are to believe the Scriptures.
I have pondered the question of the righteous and the wicked for several years. I must confess, I am no more certain of the truth of the matter than I was twenty years ago.
There are several verses in the Book of Psalms that give one the feeling there are two kinds of people in the world: the righteous and the wicked.
For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. (Psalms 1:6)
We might say the righteous are those who practice righteousness, and the wicked are those who practice wickedness. But sometimes it appears to be stronger than that. It is almost as though there are people who are innately wicked and people who are innately righteous even though they may do wicked things on occasions.
But these men blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like brute beasts, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like beasts they too will perish. (II Peter 2:12)
“Born only to be caught and destroyed.” What do you make of that verse? Born to be caught and destroyed. Born for that reason. That’s kind of strong, isn’t it?
It seems to me that when it comes to God’s judgment, He doesn’t put the Christians on one side and the non-Christians on the other. We might think He does, but He doesn’t. He puts the wicked on one side and the righteous on the other.
When we first believe in Christ He gives us an initial righteousness, an initial forgiveness. But our life after that places us with the righteous or the wicked. This is something I don’t think church people understand. They think because they believe in Christ they automatically are on the side of the righteous. I don’t believe this is the case.
In like manner, we may regard the heathen as wicked because they don’t know about Christ. I don’t believe this is the case either. I think there are heathen who are righteous and heathen who are wicked.
The Lord Jesus does distinguish between the believers and the unbelievers.
But suppose the servant says to himself, “My master is taking a long time in coming,” and he then begins to beat the menservants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers. (Luke 12:45,46)
Consider the above passage. One of Christ’s servants begins to beat his fellow servants, and get drunk. He has made himself one of the wicked. When the Lord comes He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.
So there is a difference between the believers and the unbelievers. If the unbeliever chooses to become a believer, and lives righteously, he will be accepted. If however the believer chooses to live unrighteously, he will be treated as an unbeliever.
The scepter of Christ’s kingdom is a scepter of righteousness. It is not enough that we profess to believe. We must demonstrate our belief by behaving righteously.
According to the Book of Jude, when the Lord returns with His saints, He and they are going to judge those in the churches who behave wickedly. Those who knew the Lord’s will, and did not do it, will be beaten with many stripes.
I guess what I am saying is, we do not know who the wicked are. We are apt to ask a man if he believes in Christ, and if the man says yes, then we count him as a righteous person. But I don’t believe Christ judges this way. I think the Lord looks to see how the man behaves before Christ judges him to be righteous or wicked.
The thirteenth chapter of Matthew, when it discusses the wheat and the tares, almost sounds like some people are of God and some are of Satan.
He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, And the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. (Matthew 13:37-39)
I don’t believe Satan has the power to create people. The magicians in Egypt were not able even to create lice from the dust, as the Lord did. When the magicians saw this, they said: “This is the finger of God!”
Yet, Jesus said to the Jews, “You are of your father, the devil.”
How deep does this go? Is it as democratic as we would like to think? Or is there a class of people who are wicked? I don’t know.
I know the Lord Jesus can take the most wicked of people and convert them into saints. But sometimes I wonder if such were not righteous in their hearts all along and it took the Lord to break the chains that had them bound.
Remember the man who cried out: “God be merciful to me, a sinner.” This was a truly righteous man even though he was a sinner. Jesus said man was justified.
I am an old man at this time. I have seen many people in my life. I know there are people who are thoroughly wicked. Some of them are Christians by profession of belief. There are other people who have good hearts but do not believe in Christ for one reason or another.
I am not saying we can reject Christ and be saved because we have a righteous heart. If we truly hear the Gospel, and reject Christ, we bring ourselves under God’s condemnation. There is no doubt about that.
My point in this brief article is, we who are Christians need to judge righteous judgment. We are apt to call a person righteous because he believes the same as we do. Yet he may be a vicious, self-seeking person, a robber of widows, an abuser of those around him, unprincipled, a lover of money. There are Christian ministers who are like this. The Lord Jesus never knew them, even though they have performed miracles in His name.
There are other people who have been injured spiritually, maybe by some professing Christian who really was evil. The injured person may be righteous in his heart. Hopefully God in His mercy will heal the person until he can forgive the wrong done him and accept God’s salvation.
The issue in the Kingdom of God is not what we believe. It is how we behave. The Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever lives in righteousness, peace, and joy is accepted of God. He need have no fear in the Day of Judgment.
But the professing Christian who is critical, a gossip, a slanderer, covetous, malicious (and there are many such in the Christian churches), is not considered to be righteous even though he is active in all sorts of Christian endeavors. His behavior reveals the wickedness in his heart. The Lord does not know him although he is a pillar in the church.
I was in a church once where there was such an evil man. He influenced many in the congregation. I think the pastor was afraid to say anything to him because of the number of people who admired him.
As one might expect, the church finally closed. The building was razed to make way for apartments.
Such a church is useless as a light, as salt.
How many people have turned away from Christ because of the wicked behavior of those who profess to be Christians?
Our nation, the United States of America, may consider itself a Christian nation. I think the Muslim world regards the United States as a Christian nation.
Yet out from Hollywood, California pours a huge flow of moral garbage that is corrupting the nations of the earth. How long will God permit this to take place?
The Muslim are certain we Americans are of the devil. Are they correct? Are we really a righteous nation, or have we been corrupted beyond repair?
If you will read the Old Testament you will discover when the Israelites served the Lord He gave them quietness round about. But when they forsook the Lord He raised up enemies on every side.
We American have forsaken the Lord. The churches are preaching grace instead of righteous behavior. Enemies are rising up on every side. We are losing our material prosperity. The only hope of survival we have will not be found in the courageous men and women of the armed forces. It will come when we decide to turn back to righteousness—not just to religion, or evangelism, or healing, but to righteous behavior. Only then can our land be healed.
There are godly ministers who are decrying the moral bankruptcy of America. They are calling for prayer and repentance. May God bless their efforts.
But there will not be lasting repentance, lasting godly behavior, until we cease emphasizing grace, Heaven, and the rapture; until we cease using grace as an alternative to godly behavior and teach the people that the true Christian salvation is not a ticket to Heaven but moral transformation.
The Lord Jesus Christ did not come to bring us to Heaven to live forever but to reconcile us to God and make us better people right where we are.
We are in need of a reformation of Christian thinking. We must begin to realize the true Christian denies himself, takes up his cross, and follows the Lord Jesus. When he does that, Jesus leads him in paths of righteousness.
Until the Christians in America walk in the paths of righteousness our country is going to experience severe Divine judgments.
God always will bless the righteous and always will reject the wicked, although God will make a way for the wicked to repent. I know there is a certain amount of Divine election working concerning who is righteous and who is wicked. I know also that if we pray for assistance in turning away from sin and living righteously, the Lord will receive us and help us.
But let us never suppose God counts us righteous when we are behaving wickedly, even though we are professing to believe in Jesus Christ.
The only lasting proof we indeed have been chosen as one of God’s elect is that we are becoming a new creation of righteous behavior.
What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory—Even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? (Romans 9:22-24)
The Father’s House—The Father’s House is the Lord Jesus Christ. We are living stones in that House. It is God’s will that each member of the Body of Christ be filled with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
In the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John, the Lord told us the Holy Spirit of God would be with us and in us forever. This is the beginning of our experience as a living stone in the eternal House of God.
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—The Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. (John 14:16,17)
If we will cooperate with the indwelling Holy Spirit, He will enable us to keep the commandments of the Lord. Then a further work will take place. The Father and the Son will come and make their eternal abode in us.
Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (John 14:23)
I know some will say if we are saved we have the Holy Spirit, and if we have the Holy Spirit we have the Father and the Son, because They all are One.
I think this is true. If we are genuinely saved we have the Holy Spirit; we have the Son; and we have the Father.
However, those of us who have been saved for a period of time, and after that have spoken in tongues, know there is a difference between those who speak in tongues and those who do not.
Today the Pentecostal churches are so dead, in many instances, that you cannot tell the difference between the Pentecostal churches and the Evangelical churches. But it used to be, during the first half of the twentieth century, that when you went into a Pentecostal church you felt the fire of God—quite a different environment than was true of most Evangelical churches at that time. Maybe a hundred and fifty years ago the Evangelical churches had that same fire. I don’t know.
I wonder what has happened to the Pentecostal fire. Today you go into a Pentecostal church and they are talking about strategizing, or marketing, or computer analysis, or some other technique to save the world. What happened to the fire we knew in the old days? I think we are leaning on the arm of flesh, to tell you the truth.
In the old days you could go into an Evangelical church filled with people who were truly saved, and then into a Pentecostal church filled with people who also were truly saved, and you would notice the difference immediately—particularly in the area of worship. There was a freedom of worship in the Pentecostal churches that was not true in many of the Evangelical churches.
We know the Evangelicals were saved through the work of the Holy Spirit. We can reason all we want to and say that the Evangelicals already had the Holy Spirit although they did not speak in tongues. But those who at one time were familiar with the typical Evangelical church, and then went into a Pentecostal church and experienced speaking in tongues, realize there is a difference.
Now we are up against the same argument. The believers will say, “We already are saved and have the Holy Spirit living in us. Therefore the Father and the Son are living in us, because the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are One.
Well, we can reason all we want to. But those who are pressing forward into the third great work of grace, as symbolized by the feasts of the Lord and the Tabernacle of the Congregation, know we are coming into something greater than what we experienced in initial salvation and in speaking in tongues.
Just prior to being filled with the Father and the Son we must go through a time of judgment and cleansing. It is as though God is angry with us. I do not know if all believers are judged with the same severity. My own experience was just about all I could stand. But the Lord brought me through.
This is one way you can tell whether a church is at the Pentecostal level or if it is pressing through to the Tabernacles experience. If the church is pressing through to the Tabernacles experience there is a realization God, who has covered our sins in time past, is now uncovering them and helping us confess and turn away from them.
This judgment and moral deliverance is an actual experience, just as is true of being born again or speaking in tongues. You have to try it to see how real it actually is.
After God has sifted us, exposing the worldliness, lust, and self-will that are in us, there comes a greater sense of God’s Presence. We know now that we are on our way to being filled with all the fullness of God.
It was for this purpose that we were saved in the first place. God is seeking a dwelling place for Himself, a dwelling in which He can find rest and through which He can communicate with His creatures.
If you have been saved and filled with the Holy Spirit, I encourage you to press forward in God. The great types of the Old Testament show us that there are three great works of grace: salvation, the baptism with the Holy Spirit, and the Tabernacles level.
It is a good thing there are three and not two works of grace. We know the Bride of the Lamb will be without spot or wrinkle. Assuredly this is not true today. The Pentecostal and other churches are filled with every work of the sinful nature, including slander, lust, and covetousness. If we were left at this level of redemption we would not be able to stand in the Presence of the Lord.
But we have come now to the third great work, the coming of Christ and the Father to make Their eternal home in us. This third work will enable us to stand victoriously in the age of moral horrors on the horizon.
Truly, the Lord has kept the best wine until now.
And to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:19)
The Lion, Ox, Man, and Eagle—The indomitable will to conquer; inexhaustible willingness to bear burdens; loving relationships and righteous behavior; and the unceasing renewal of strength through unceasing prayer; this is the image of Christ. These four attributes, which come from God, yield clear understanding of the past, the present, and the future.
The four living creatures, the Cherubim of Glory, reflect what God requires of man.
The number “four” is symbolic of the communication of God’s Person, will, way, and eternal purposes in Christ. The fourth of the feasts of the Lord is Pentecost, speaking of the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai. The fourth furnishing of the Tabernacle of the Congregation was the golden Lampstand, representing Christ, the Word of God. The fourth day of creation was the giving of the sun, moon, and stars—the light by which we live.
The living creatures have six wings. Six is the number of man in that man was created on the sixth day. The sixth feast of the Lord is the Day of Atonement, the period when man is reconciled to God by means of the judgment and deliverance of his personality.
The sixth furnishing of the Tabernacle was the Ark of the Covenant, representing Christ and the members of His Body.
The four living creatures were covered with eyes. Those who are in the image of Christ can see God, His will, His way, and His eternal purposes in Christ. Those who live according to their sinful nature are blind to God, His will, His way, and His eternal purposes in Christ.
Righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God give us spiritual sight.
The lion tells us of the will to overcome, to conquer, that must be present in those who are to be coheirs with the Lord Jesus. Jesus is a Conqueror and we must conquer through Him.
God was displeased when the Israelites were afraid of the inhabitants of Canaan, and turned them back into the wilderness. The first group of people in the Lake of Fire are the fearful.
We might not regard cowardice as a great sin, but it is. We cannot get anywhere with God if we are fearful. We will go back and forth without being able to make up our mind to do God’s will.
Actually, fear is the opposite of faith. Faith includes courage—courage to go forward on the basis of what God has stated.
The Lord Jesus Christ is a Man of courage. He will give us of His courage if we will ask Him.
We must have a will to conquer. We must choose to overcome all that comes against us. If we will decide to be a victorious saint, God will make it possible. The victorious saints inherit all that God is making new in the Lord Jesus. The double-minded, the fearful, the timid, the cowardly, will receive nothing but endless torment.
I am not altogether certain why God places such an emphasis on courage; but I know He does. It probably is because we have to have courage to assert ourselves and do His will when there are spirits and people around us who are seeking to discourage us. Joshua and Caleb had courage and were blessed accordingly.
We also must have the willingness to bear burdens. When we are young in the Lord we are not given much of a load to carry, just as we spare children from having to bear loads they cannot carry.
As we come to maturity in the Lord we are entrusted with some of the sufferings and burdens of Jesus Christ. We enter the travail that is bringing in the Kingdom of God. Usually our yoke is easy and our burden is light; but there do come times when the burden of prayer is quite heavy. But if we bear it faithfully the Lord soon comes to the rescue and we can breathe more easily.
Lions are not of much use when it comes to bearing burdens. They enjoy charging against the enemy. Oxen patiently submit themselves to the yoke and pull the wagon or the plow.
It is necessary to be a lion. It is necessary also to be an ox if we are to do the Lord’s will in the earth.
The face of the man is that of loving relationships and righteous behavior. Neither the lion nor the ox is capable of loving relationships or of making righteous decisions. As necessary as lions and oxen are, it is man who is in the image of God. It is man who is able to be joined with God and other people in loving relationships. God will never dwell in an animal.
It is man who is to govern the creation in righteousness, bringing peace and joy to the nations of the earth.
Finally there is the eagle. Those who wait on the Lord renew their strength and mount up with the wings of eagles.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:29-31)
The older saints will appreciate this. They know the endless problems and burdens. They know what it is like to come to the end of our strength.
But we learn to place our hope in the Lord. We look to Him ceaselessly in prayer. He renews our strength. The problems of earth seek to trap us, to bow us down, to entangle us. But as we look to the Lord we soar into the heavens. We are set free. We are renewed and refreshed in body, soul, and spirit.
Growth in Jesus Christ is growth into the lion, the ox, the man, and the eagle. He who lacks one or more of these attributes is blind in some areas. He cannot rightfully understand the past, the present, or the future.
But those whom the Lord has carefully brought up in these four characteristics can see the wisdom of God in history. They are not terrified or concerned about the present because they see the Lord working each day. They understand the will of God for the future, the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth to establish justice among the nations.
Be patient with God. Endure hardships as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. Whatever you do, do not blame people for your pains and perplexities. If you are denying yourself and carrying your cross each day, following the Lord Jesus, all you are experiencing is coming from the Lord who working to build you up as a lion, an ox, a man, and an eagle.
God rides on the cherubim. They are His chariots. But it is God’s will that people be His chariots. God wants thousands upon thousands of chariots in which to ride.
The chariots of God are tens of thousands and thousands of thousands; the Lord has come from Sinai into his sanctuary. (Psalms 68:17)
God’s sanctuary is Christ—Head and Body. The sanctuary of God is built up by the ministries and gifts given by the ascended Christ to the members of His Body. Jesus Christ and the members of His Body are the chariots of God. They are taking the place of the Cherubim of Glory.
Therefore they must be fully developed as lions, oxen, men, and eagles.
When they have been fully transformed they will never stop saying: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.” Day and night we are to say this in our hearts. We are to be imbued fully with the holiness of God.
As we are transformed we become filled with eyes.
We look back at world history and we do not interpret it in economic terms, or according to outstanding personages. We see only the Glory of Him who was.
We are not distressed over the present. We do not fret over the evil in the world. We see only the Glory of Him who is.
We do not perceive the future according to religious thinking—that we are saved by grace to live in Heaven forever. We see only the Glory of Him who is to come and establish His righteous Kingdom on the earth.
Thus we become the chariots of God.
Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” (Revelation 4:6-8)
The House, Not the Competitor, of God—Current theology, although well intentioned, makes the Lord Jesus Christ the competitor of God, rather than the Offspring, Prophet, Priest, King, Servant, and eternal House of God.
I don’t think the current viewpoint concerning God and Christ is correct.
It appears some view God as one Person who is manifested as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Others hold that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three equal Gods who are one in purpose.
As I see it, neither position is scriptural.
I can understand the Holy Spirit exercises sovereignty as He distributes gifts and ministries, and directs the ministries. Yet I don’t think the Spirit is equal to the Father in the sense that He reflects His own will and not the Father’s will. The Holy Spirit, after all, is the Spirit of God, the Personality of the Father that is communicated out from the Father’s Person.
The main problem in my mind is the relationship between the Father and the Son.
To begin with, Jesus Christ is not the Father in another form. It is clear from Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane that two different wills are involved, which certainly would not be the case if Jesus is the Father in another form. Perhaps theologians have an explanation as to how the Father could pray to Himself in Gethsemane. I don’t care. I don’t like intricate explanations that lead away from the obvious conclusions a person of average intelligence would draw from the Scriptures.
I don’t believe we have to have a special priesthood to explain the Scriptures to us. The Gospel is to the poor, and us poor folks are apt to believe what the Scriptures say.
So much for the idea that the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are one Person in different manifestations.
Then we come to the notion that there are three equal Gods.
Now think for a moment:
- Is Jesus the Prophet of God?
- Is Jesus the Priest of God? Does He make intercession for us before God’s Throne?
- Did God make Jesus both Lord and Christ?
- Is Jesus the King God has ordained?
- Did God invite Jesus to pray that He, Jesus might inherit the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth?
- Did God say in Psalms that Jesus is God and His Throne is forever?
- Is Jesus the Servant of God? Does Jesus obey God’s will?
- Is it true that God gave the vision of the Book of Revelation to Jesus?
- Is it true that Jesus does not know the hour of His return, but the Father does?
- Is it a fact that Jesus said, “I return to My Father and your Father; and to My God and your God?
- Have we been predestined to be the brothers of Jesus Christ? Is Christ the Firstborn among many brothers?
- Did Jesus say there is none good but God, when people referred to Jesus as good?
- Did Jesus say “My Father is greater than I”?
Again, theologians have a way of explaining away the clear statements of the Scriptures. I think it is because they know the Bible but do not know the Lord. Perhaps I am incorrect in this.
If Jesus and the Father were equal, then it must be true that:
- Jesus is not the Prophet of God. The expression “the Prophet of God” implies there is a God for whom Jesus is the Spokesman.
- Jesus is not the Priest of God. If Jesus were equal to God He would not be making intercession for us before the throne of another God. The expression “the Priest of God” implies that Jesus represents Another who is greater than Himself.
- The Father did not make Jesus Lord and Christ, as Peter stated. Jesus would be Lord and Christ in his own right; He would not need another to make Him Lord and Christ.
- Also, the Father would not establish Jesus as King. Jesus would be King in His own right.
- The Father would not invite Jesus to pray that He might inherit the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth. Jesus, being co-equal with the Father, would inherit them according to His own will.
- The Father would not state Jesus is God and His Throne is forever. This would be an established fact over which the Father had no control.
- It would not be true that the Father gave the vision of the Book of Revelation to Jesus. If Jesus was equal to God, Jesus would have had the vision at the same time as the Father.
- If Jesus was equal to God, Jesus would know the hour of His return.
- If Jesus was a God co-equal with the Father, He never would have said, “I return to My Father and your Father; and to My God and your God.
- If there were three co-equal Gods, we would not have been predestined to be the brother of just one of them. If there were three co-equal Gods, Jesus would not be the Firstborn among many brothers.
- If Jesus and the Father were equal Persons, Jesus would not have disclaimed the statement that He is good, saying only the Father is good.
- And most certainly, if the Father and the Son were co-equal, the Lord Jesus would not have declared “My Father is greater than I.
I know there are theological acrobatics that explain away these facts. But I do not care for them, as I said. I don’t believe the Holy Spirit communicates in such a manner that only a privileged few, masters of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek exegesis, are able to explain satisfactorily why the Scripture does not mean what it says.
I will tell you how I think the confusion came about.
The Lord Jesus is the dwelling place, the eternal House of God. He is not another God. He is the House of the one God. There is only one God, and Jesus refers to Him as “Father.”
God has poured all of Himself into Jesus. When Jesus speaks it is the Father speaking. When Jesus acts it is what He sees the Father doing. Jesus thinks the thoughts of the Father.
On this basis, on the basis of His being the perfect representation of the Father, Jesus can say, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.”
So the Lord Jesus is the great House of the Father.
Jesus said, “In My Father’s house there are many dwelling places. I go to prepare a place for you.”
Jesus went to the cross so we also might become dwelling places in the one House of the Father, which is Jesus Christ.
It is the Lord’s will that as we learn to live by His body and blood, live by His life, that we arrive at the place where our thoughts, words, and actions are not ours but those of Jesus Christ, and in turn, those of the Father. In this manner God becomes All in all in His creation.
The Apostle Paul said: “I am not living anymore. It is Christ who is living in me.”
Thus Paul has the same relationship with Christ that Christ has with the Father.
We too are called to be part of this Oneness, this heavenly Entity, which one day will descend through the new sky and be located for eternity on the new earth.
You know, one cannot understand the Godhead, and our relationship with the Godhead, by logical reasoning. Good men have tried, and, as we might expect, emerged with conflicting thoughts.
The Godhead has to be experienced. It is as we become one with God through the Lord Jesus Christ that we understand the exalted Head of the Body, the Lord Jesus, indeed is—as the Bible states clearly—the offspring of the Father. More than that, He is the Firstborn, meaning there will be brothers whom God will form into the express image of His Firstborn.
We cannot enter the desired relationship with God while we envision one God in three manifestations, or three co-equal Gods. Better and simpler to stick with the statement of the Scripture, that the Lord Jesus is God’s Son and Heir.
Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. (John 14:19,20)
God Never Frets Over Evil—God never frets over evil, and neither must we. God retains all authority and power, so why should the evil works in the earth rob Him of His peace? Have peace and trust in the all-powerful, all-wise God.
We are going to see tremendous evil in the near future. There will be much moral depravity.
One of the more disturbing forms of evil is perversity. Perversity occurs when right is viewed as wrong and wrong is viewed as right. People who are accustomed to dealing with right and are upset by this.
Of course, the wicked will respond by asking who is able to judge right and wrong.
We have the Bible to tell us what is right and wrong. But in America in the present hour there are multitudes of people who despise the Bible.
However, we also have conscience. Conscience tells us what is right and wrong. In addition we have ordinary reasoning.
A good example of perversity is the argument that abortion is acceptable because the rights of the woman must be protected.
Yet, it is clear after some weeks the fetus is definitely a person in the making. It appears to me that the courts and the legislatures have studiously avoided defining when a fetus become a child. I think this avoidance is due to political pressure, not to any insurmountable problem in determining at what point a fetus becomes a citizen of the state and whose interests are protected by the obligation of the state to all citizens born in the state. Such avoidance of clear thinking is wickedness and our leaders will answer for this avoidance before the Judgment Seat of Christ.
So we ask, “What about the rights of the new person coming into the world? At what point is the fetus a human child?
The contemporary answer is: “The mother decides whether the child should be murdered at the point of birth.” There is no investigation as to when the fetus is showing human characteristics, merely the emotional cry that the woman must have the freedom to decide if the child should be murdered.
Another perversity of our times is the unwillingness to stress moral behavior as a means of combating AIDS. The concept of intercourse being confined to legal marriage is not emphasized, only the necessity for additional research into the medical control of AIDS.
Another perversity is avoidance of the fact that a child without a home and caring parents is more apt to become a criminal than a family situation in which a loving mother and father play a significant role in the upbringing of the child.
I could go on and on, but this is not my point. The point of the present article is the harm done to Christians by fretting.
The word “fret” is derived from an Old English word meaning “devour.”
To fret is to worry, to be agitated, to be uneasy. It is used in another context to mean to erode or wear away.
The righteous will read the newspapers of the future with increasing dismay. They will see wicked people triumphing and boasting themselves in their wickedness. Christian values will be despised. In fact, the values of ordinary people, Christian or not, will be ignored while perversity prevails.
The Bible commands us not to fret. The Bible tells us that the wicked will prosper greatly, but then will be removed by the Lord.
It is important for us to understand God does not fret over evil. God has the power at any time to prevent any evil act on the face of the earth.
So the question really is: Why does God permit evil to prevail in so many instances?
The answer is, God has the world under perfect control. The earth is the Lord and all of its parts; the whole world, and all who dwell in it belong to the Lord. The entire creation is bringing God’s will to pass.
What is God doing? God is perfecting those who are called to be brothers of the Lord Jesus Christ; to be in His image. All that take place in the history of the world is for this supreme purpose.
When the brothers have been brought to maturity, then Christ and His brothers will descend through the sky and install the righteous Kingdom of God on the earth. It is as simple and straightforward as this.
Look how Satan worked until Christ was murdered on the cross. What was the result? Mankind was redeemed through the blood atonement. It looks like Satan shot himself in the foot, doesn’t it?
Think about your own life. How many times has trouble come to you. Yet, when you prayed, the trouble worked for your good.
This is why we must never fret ourselves concerning evil. When we rage against those who are doing things to which we object, we are displaying our lack of faith in God’s wisdom and power.
I am not saying we should not pray, or we should not do good and remove evil when we have the opportunity.
Rather I am speaking of raging about situations over which we have little or no control. The abortion and homosexual agendas in the United States are an example of situations over which most of us have little or no control. We should pray and take advantage of any opportunity we have to do good, but beyond that we are not to fret.
Our proper place is at the right hand of God in Christ. Fretting tears us down from our high place and binds us to the garbage of the earth. This precisely is what Satan desires. He may not be able to persuade us to break God’s moral laws; but he can accomplish almost as much destruction by pointing out his antics in the earth until we are beside ourselves with anger.
Fretting will prove to be a major problem for Christians in the days to come. Remember, fretting means devouring, wearing away, corroding. There is nothing of value in it and much that is harmful.
The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against his Anointed One. “Let us break their chains,” they say, “and throw off their fetters.” The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. (Psalms 2:2-4)
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land. (Psalms 37:8,9)
There Only Is Grace for the Day—God gives us wisdom and strength a moment at a time. Some of the problems we have as Christians are due to the fact that we dread the future because the necessary grace for those problems has not been given to us as yet. We cannot live in victory in the future or the past, only right now.
One of the most difficult problems for me personally is learning to live in the now. Is this true for you?
Yet, it is so important if we are going to lead the victorious Christian life. There only is wisdom and strength for the now.
Sometimes people are afraid to try to live as an overcomer. They are worried that they will fail and make a spectacle of themselves.
So we say to them: “Can you live in victory for the next five minutes?”
They are sure that they can.
Then we tell them to live in victory five minutes at a time.
There were three articles in the Ark of the Covenant. There were the tables of stone on which the Ten Commandments were inscribed; there was Aaron’s rod that budded; and then there was the memorial jar of manna.
Ordinarily manna would stay fresh for only one day, except for Fridays when the manna would remain edible through Saturday, the Sabbath. That way the Jews did not have to go out and gather manna on the Sabbath.
But the memorial jar of manna in the Ark of the Covenant remained fresh perpetually.
The Ark of the Covenant represents the fully developed Christian character, as well as the Character of the Lord Jesus Himself.
The mature Christian character is as the tables of stone. The righteousness of God has been written in the mind and heart.
The mature Christian character is as Aaron’s rod that budded. The believer learns to live by the never-ending life of the royal priesthood, like the order of Melchisedec. Zion is the hill God has chosen. Those who would aspire to serve God must learn to rest in the resurrection life that empowers that which is God’s will.
The mature Christian has learned to live in the now. There only is grace for the now. We always are to pray concerning problems that believe may arise in the future, but we are not to worry about them. When the time comes there will be grace, wisdom, and strength—the Presence of the Lord to bring us through successfully.
Blessed is the individual who overcomes the evil of the day through the grace the Lord provides. Tomorrow there will be new provisions.
The bolts of your gates will be iron and bronze, and your strength will equal your days. (Deuteronomy 33:35)
Nehushtan—Nehushtan was the name given to the bronze snake Moses had made. Until the days of King Hezekiah, the Israelites burned incense to it. So it is true that when God gives a gift, our sinful nature may worship the gift rather than God.
There came a day when the Israelites grew impatient with the difficulties of the wilderness wandering.
They spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!” Then the LORD sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. The LORD said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived. (Numbers 21:5-9)
The Lord Jesus compared Himself to the snake that was put on the pole.
Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, (John 3:14)
It is interesting that the Lord would put Himself in the position of the replica of a venomous snake. But He did, because He was bearing our sins while on the cross.
Whoever had been bitten with one of the venomous snakes, whose bite was deadly, was able to survive just by looking at the bronze snake. So it is that someone who has been poisoned with the venom of sin can look at Christ on the cross and live.
Guess what happened after that. The Israelites began to burn incense to the bronze snake, until in later years King Hezekiah broke it into pieces.
This precisely is what took place among the Jews and has taken place among the Christians throughout the centuries. God acts. He brings salvation by one means or another. Then people worship the thing God did instead of the God who did it.
This is what religion is and why it is dead. It builds cathedrals to commemorate what God did with ordinary people thousands of years ago. It is so easy for us to build three tabernacles—much easier than walking with God.
The purpose of all our Christian church activities is to bring us to the Lord Jesus that we might practice righteousness, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. Instead we worship that which our hands have made.
We invite visitors to our “church” to see the new parking lot. The church building rapidly becomes an object of veneration. What becomes important to us is the building and the activities that take place in it. The truth is, all that matters is the Person of Jesus. There is little value in the building and the parking lot. The value is in the Presence of the Lord.
There are Christians who wear a cross attached to a necklace. Sometimes Hollywood, which could never portray an act of God correctly, will have a person advancing against a monster, holding up a cross.
Let us recognize that there is nothing sacred about a cross, or a string of beads, or an altar in a church, or in any other Christian artifact. They have spiritual significance only as they remind us to look up to Jesus. The objects and activities are holy only as long as they bring us closer to Jesus.
Because continually looking to Jesus requires that we let go of our idols and pleasures in the world, we much prefer the trappings of religion. These we can work with without interfering with our regular life in the flesh.
Just as the Israelites burned incense to the bronze snake, so we love to venerate buildings, things, religious activities, and noted people. But these are holy only at the time God is using them. There is no holiness in them as such. After God moves on we are to move with God, not worship the people and things in our dead religion.
He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it. (It was called Nehushtan.) (II Kings 18:4)
Forcing God To Speak—God does not like to be forced to speak. Pray and commit your way to the Lord. Then take a small step in the direction you think you should go, and watch to see if God is blessing. God cannot steer you, ordinarily, until you make a decision and begin to move.
Sometimes I find myself dealing with zealous young people. They think they should go into a closet, shut the door, and fast and pray until they hear from the Lord.
I advise them not to do that. I tell them to get a job, or go to college, or find something to do that is profitable. God does not like to be forced to speak.
On one occasion I counseled an adult, a man who was spending eight hours a day studying the Bible, to limit himself to one hour and get a job. He really was not hearing from the Lord. He rejected my advice.
There are people to whom God speaks in words. There are others that do not hear from the Lord like this, although sometimes they wish they did.
Let us be very clear that the one is not more spiritual than the other.
The Lord told us if we would acknowledge Him in all our ways He would guide us. We don’t have to have Him speak, necessarily.
You know, you can’t steer a boat when it is at anchor. You have to sail away from the shore before the rudder works.
My advice to people usually is, when you think the Lord wants you to go in a certain direction, or when you just want to go in a certain direction, take one small step toward your objective. Then pray, pray, pray. Watch carefully the results of your one small step. Ordinarily you can tell if God is blessing or if you are forcing your way.
Don’t make irrevocable decisions until you have to. Don’t burn your bridges behind you. I realize there is a temptation to do this. But sometimes what we were positive was the Lord’s will proves otherwise. Then we are glad if we did not cut off our retreat. Keep as many options open as possible. Just one small step after the other, praying; praying; praying.
If you are presenting your body a living sacrifice, carrying your personal cross faithfully, and praying carefully over every step, you most likely will end up where you are supposed to be.
When you have a terrific, burning desire to do something, that usually is not the Lord. God moves when you have quieted down. We may enjoy passionate excitement, roaring enthusiasm, but God doesn’t. His is the quiet voice.
“God said this!” “God told me that!” There are a lot of voices speaking today, and, as far as I can tell, most or none of them are of the Lord. God does not jabber away but is sparing with His words. But when God does speak, the rooster crows!
The Christian life can be quite boring. We are being drawn on God’s bow. We would love to hear His voice. But we can’t force Him to speak and shouldn’t try to force Him to speak. Trying to force God to speak is one sure way to have the demons talk to you.
Be at peace. If you love God and want to do His will, He will guide you. He didn’t say “in all God’s ways acknowledge Him.” The Bible says “in all your ways acknowledge Him.” In all your ways. You go about your ordinary business, looking to Jesus constantly. When you get out of His will, He is well able to let you know about it, but not necessarily by speaking to you in a voice. Most likely it will be through circumstances.
God loves us and is more anxious than we that we walk in His paths. Our place is one of continually acknowledging the Lord. His place is to guide us with His eye.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5,6)
Not An Imitation—Our adamic nature cannot imitate Christ successfully. The newness of life we are seeking results from the Life of Christ continually being expressed in us.
I think most of us would like to be just like Jesus. We would like to think like Jesus; to speak like Jesus; to act like Jesus. I know I would. Wouldn’t you?
Well, the good news is that we can be just like Jesus. Furthermore, it is to this kind of personality that we have been chosen by the Lord.
It is a good idea when we are a young Christian to try to act like Jesus. When we come to a situation, it is helpful to ask ourselves: “What would Jesus do?”
It is amazing how that simple query brings perspective.
We may wonder if God accepts profanity. But when we think about Jesus, we know He did not talk like that.
We may wonder what God thinks about our smoking cigarettes. But when we think about Jesus, picturing in our mind how He behaved, we know He would never smoke cigarettes or even a pipe. Jesus is holy and He does not do things that are not holy. Yet He was a perfect human. A human being really does not need to fill his or her lungs with toxic smoke, and that is why Jesus would not smoke; not because He was trying to be something more than human.
God wants us to be just like His Son. God knows in our adamic frailties we are not going to come to maturity as measured by the stature of the fullness of Christ. So God has provided two means for our transformation into the moral image of Jesus Christ.
The first means is by forming Christ in us. The Seed of God, which comes to us through Christ, is planted in our personality when we first receive the Lord. Then, as we submit to the crucifying experiences through which the Spirit brings us, our adamic nature is slain and in its place is inserted the body and blood of Christ. The body and blood of Christ are His Divine Substance, His resurrection Life, given to us in the spirit realm.
Every time we deny ourselves and choose to obey Christ, we are nourished with the body and blood of Christ. In this manner Christ is formed in us.
The second means of transforming us into the moral image of Jesus Christ is by placing in our personality the Holy Spirit, the Father, and the Son until we are filled with all the fullness of God. When we are filled with all the fullness of God, then our thoughts, words, and actions will be Christ-like because they actually are of God.
Having Christ formed in us, and then being filled with the fullness of God, does not take place overnight. It is a process that continues as we choose to obey God rather than our sinful nature. A considerable amount of suffering is involved as God removes our idols from us and places them under our feet.
The program is true and scriptural, and the individual who chooses to follow God completely through the process of redemption will finally be in the full image of Christ.
Recently I purchased one of the newer clocks, that really is not a clock but a radio receiver. The clock keeps perfect time because it is receiving a signal from a master clock that is operated by the United States Government.
First the clock must be constructed so it will respond to the signal that continually is being transmitted.
After the clock has been constructed properly, it must be placed in the room in a location where it can receive the signal.
So it is with us. First we have to have Christ formed in us. Then we have to keep ourselves in the place where we can hear and obey God. Since God’s “signal” is perfectly accurate as far as righteousness is concerned, our behavior becomes perfectly accurate as far as righteousness is concerned.
We understand, therefore, that our main task in life is to follow the Holy Spirit as He takes of the Divine Substance and forms Christ in us. Also we have to keep open to God as He fills us with His Person until we live by His Life.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
Replacing the Law of Moses—Grace and imputed righteousness do not replace godly behavior, but the Law of Moses. Here is a truly destructive misunderstanding. Under grace, sin is still sin and will be judged accordingly.
I have written so much on this topic, that grace replaces the Law of Moses and is not meant to replace godly behavior, that those who read my writings probably wonder why I keep repeating myself. I wonder myself. But the fire is still burning. Perhaps there may be one believer who never reads anything else I have written, and who will be warned and encouraged to turn away from the sinful nature and begin to serve the Lord.
In these books of Musings, that I am putting together now, I am kind of kicking back and saying what is on my heart without a lot of explanation and Scripture references. The detailed explanations have been written previously and are available for anyone who cares to pursue them.
The conventional thinking is that the Apostle Paul declared we are put right in God’s sight by believing in Jesus Christ instead of by living righteously.
This is like saying we can be healthy and strong by exercising and yet not eating nourishing food.
This is not a reasonable statement.
We could say we can be healthy and strong by exercising and yet not eating bananas. This is a fact. We don’t have to have bananas but we do have to eat other nourishing food.
When Paul said we can be righteous by placing our faith in Christ instead of by works of righteousness which we perform, he meant the works of the Law of Moses. If you will read the first five chapters of the Book of Romans you will discover the Apostle Paul was contrasting faith in Jesus Christ with obeying the various statutes of the Law of Moses.
I suppose a Jew would understand Paul was not saying we can believe in Christ without living righteously and still be accepted of God, but was stating we can believe in Jesus Christ without obeying the Law of Moses.
But we Gentiles have missed the point completely. We have interpreted the Apostle Paul to mean believing in Christ is an alternative to upright, pure moral behavior. Consequently the Christian believers who are Gentiles do not understand the result of believing in Christ is supposed to be a transformation of how we behave. They think believing in Christ is the way we get to Heaven and live there without becoming a new creation in Christ.
What a monumental error! What disastrous results? The reason we are preparing for war at this time (February 11, 2003) is that our nation is behaving in an immoral manner. God is raising up nations who want to destroy us, just as He did when Israel turned aside from His laws. If the United States of America was filled with righteous, holy people who were obeying God, the rest of the world would be at peace with us.
Our nation is behaving in an immoral manner because the Christians are not performing the good works that are the light of the world. The light of the world is the good works of the Christians, and our light of righteousness is not shining.
But let us think about grace and the Law of Moses.
Can we believe in Christ and inherit the Kingdom of God without observing the kosher dietary laws? Absolutely!
Can we believe in Christ and inherit the Kingdom of God and practice sexual immorality? Absolutely not, according to the Apostle Paul.
Can we believe in Christ and inherit the Kingdom of God without being circumcised? Absolutely!
Can we believe in Christ and inherit the Kingdom of God and be covetous? Absolutely not, according to the Apostle Paul.
Can we believe in Christ and not obey the laws governing leprosy? Absolutely!
Can we believe in Christ and inherit the Kingdom of God and practice witchcraft? Absolutely not, according to the Apostle Paul.
Can we believe in Christ and inherit the Kingdom of God without observing the Sabbath? Absolutely! The righteousness of the Law has been imputed to us.
Can we believe in Christ and inherit the Kingdom of God and hate our brother?
Absolutely not, according to the Apostle Paul.
Can we believe in Christ and inherit the Kingdom of God without offering a bull or goat for our sins? Absolutely!
Can we believe in Christ and inherit the Kingdom of God and promote discord in the assembly? Absolutely not, according to the Apostle Paul.
Are you beginning to see the difference between contrasting grace and the works of the Law of Moses, and contrasting grace and righteous behavior?
All the moral precepts of the Law of Moses are repeated in the New Testament, as far as I know. The New Testament is crystal clear that whoever is being led of the Spirit is turning away from his sinful nature.
But no aspect of the covenantal statutes, such as the law concerning wearing clothing woven of two kinds of material, is binding on those who have placed their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Believe it or not, those Jews to whom Paul was writing in the Epistle to the Romans were very concerned about wearing clothing woven of two kinds of material, or drinking milk and eating meat at the same time. These were extremely important issues to them. But they are not to us Gentiles, and therefore we cannot understand what Paul was teaching.
Even the covenant of circumcision, as sacred as it once was, has been replaced by grace. The Law was given by Moses but grace and truth came by the Lord Jesus Christ.
Adultery was prohibited under the Law of Moses and it is prohibited in the New Testament writings. The difference under the new covenant is that while the Jews were constrained from the practice of adultery by their will power, in obedience to the Commandment, we Gentiles have the Holy Spirit who enables us to put the spirit of adultery to death, and then gives us of the body and blood of Christ so we can escape completely from the lust of adultery.
Many Christians of our day are bound with the chains of the pornography they look at on the Internet. They could be set free by the power of the Holy Spirit if they ask. If they do not ask, they will reap the horrors of pornography in the Day of Resurrection. We shall receive the good and the bad we have practiced in our body, and grace will not help us in that Day!
The common teaching in the Christian churches of our day is that we no longer have to obey the laws of righteousness and moral purity. Why not? Because we are saved by “grace.” We have made grace an alternative to godly behavior. This is to completely frustrate the purpose of God under the new covenant.
In our satanic wisdom we have altered a covenant that was meant to free us from the Law of Moses so we could follow the Holy Spirit without being guilty, until it now means no matter how we behave we are guiltless before God and can have fellowship with Him and with demons at the same time.
This in spite of the multitude of New Testament passages to the contrary.
How could Paul teach that grace is an alternative to righteous behavior, and then turn around and teach that if we behave unrighteously we will not inherit the Kingdom of God? How in the world do today’s teachers answer that question?
The reason God gave us a new covenant is that the Jews under the Law of Moses did not behave righteously.
The purpose of the new covenant is to transform us until we are new creations in Jesus Christ. That is its purpose. That is the Kingdom of God. That is salvation.
Salvation is deliverance from the chains of sin and the growth of Christ’s Nature in us. I don’t see how any devout Christian could possibly disagree with that statement.
If this indeed is what salvation is, how can we then turn around and say we are saved by a sovereign grace that is not related to our behavior?
I simply cannot understand how devout, intelligent ministers of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ cannot perceive the purpose of Christ’s coming to earth was to reconcile us to our Father in Heaven and to make us better people. I think they do in fact understand this, but somehow their minds are compartmentalized and they cannot recognize they are holding two irreconcilable positions.
Salvation either is the Divine power of God in Jesus Christ that changes us from sinners into saints, or else it is a ticket to Heaven that excuses our lack of moral change. It assuredly cannot be both!
It is absolutely useless for God to pour out His Holy Spirit until this misunderstanding of the Apostle Paul gets cleared up.
I love the fire of God as much as anyone. Yet I can see that in spite of the numerous revivals we have had in America, the Christian people to a large extent are worldly, chained by the lusts of the flesh, and filled with pride and personal ambition.
The past revivals have brought about conversions, healings, the Presence of the Spirit of God. Thank God for them. But when the outpouring is lifted, people revert to their old ways.
I want permanent revival. I want to see people brought to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ so they don’t revert to their old ways when the anointing lifts.
I cannot see how there possibly can be permanent revival until we get this misunderstanding of the Apostle Paul straightened out.
The believers need to be warned that if they live according to the lusts of their sinful nature they will not inherit the Kingdom of God. They will inherit corruption. The prospect of Christians facing corruption in the Day of Resurrection needs to be preached sternly and without compromise. It must never be “balanced” with the thought that our “loving Father” will bring us into His Presence anyway because of grace.
The demonic pressures in the United States that seek to destroy us are fierce and unyielding. We will never push past them until we ourselves are more fierce and more unyielding than they are. The conflict of the ages is upon us today.
I wonder how many ministers there are who will go to the Scriptures and verify what I have written about Paul’s doctrine, and then tell the believers clearly what is at stake. God stands ready to forgive and deliver every believer who will turn from his wicked ways and begin to serve the Lord.
We Americans are facing war at this time. There is no telling what the response of the terrorists will be, in the form of poison, or gas, or atomic radiation, or bombs. It may be true that by the time you read this millions of Americans will have been slain. And all of this because we have allowed Hollywood to dictate our values.
But what will the believers face when they are hurled into eternity? Will it be an enthusiastic “well done!” from the Master? Or will they be sent into a waiting area in the spirit realm until the Day of Resurrection. At that time Christ may or may not find them worthy of His Kingdom.
We are preaching a cheap gospel today. It does not place New Testament demands on people. We all seem to be one great big happy family. The truth is, we are deceived. We are as in the days of King Josiah when the Israelites thought they were pleasing God. When the Book of the Law was found, however, they discovered that they already were past the time when their nation could be spared.
So it is today. There is a spirit of “everything is fine and we are God’s pets” resting on the Christian churches, the belief that God is happy with us and we are on our way to the great Sunday school picnic in the sky. The devout Muslims (not the terrorists) put us to shame with their emphasis on prayer and holy living.
Open the Bible and see what the New Testament states about believers who live in their sinful nature. Realize we do not have God’s approval on us. We are in a state of deception about an any-moment rapture. God is displeased with the sin in the churches, and many Christian families are suffering grievously because of it.
Things are not right. It is time for a reformation of Christian thinking.
I hope numerous godly leaders will arise and bring the Christians back to a genuine relationship with Him whose eyes are as blazing fire.
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; Idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions And envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)
Dwelling in Love—Love is the highest form of joy. To be eternal, love’s source must be God. There is an uncrossable gulf between physical attraction and love, although they may coincide. As also is the case with holiness, true love is God Himself.
Love is the most powerful force in the creation. It is God’s motive in all that He does.
We humans are so bound in our bodies that we have a difficult time knowing what love is. We cannot separate it from our biologic appetites.
There is the love of parents for their children. There is a love among men who are bound in a common purpose, such as in the military. There is romantic love that is greatly honored in America, but is really is a delusion that does not stand the test.
The love that comes from God and is God is of a different quality than the love that is part of our adamic nature. God’s love has to be experienced in order to be understood; it can’t really be described.
It is a common practice, both in the Christian churches and in the world, to tell people we must have love. But our sinful, adamic nature is not a trustworthy source of love.
God in His love has brought forth the Lord Jesus Christ, His Son. The Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Father. It was the greatest of all sacrifices when God gave His Son to die on the cross for our sins. We cannot comprehend the sorrow that God experienced at that time.
It has pleased God that His love in Christ reach outward to those whom God has chosen. That love reaches out to us. Then we return that love to Christ. Sometimes the love of Christ for us is overwhelming—more than our emotional nature can manage. But ordinarily it is a deep joy in us that becomes increasingly secure the longer we serve the Lord.
All the covenants of God are issued in love. Sometimes we get so religious that we teach the covenants in a pedantic manner, missing the love that issued them and is in them.
For example, the Communion, the receiving of the body and blood of the Lord Jesus. Can you imagine the love that is behind this? It is the Lord saying, “I love you so much I want you to take into yourself My flesh and My blood. Isn’t that astounding when you think about it? Imagine, eating the flesh and drinking the blood of God! But remember: the Communion is love in action; it is vastly more than a religious or theological exercise.
I think when we come to maturity the Lord will direct His love in us toward other people. We will have to be mature to handle this, because His love is intense, and it would be easy for our fleshly nature to become involved.. But it is this Divine love that draws us all together into one whole in Christ in God.
We have been commanded to love one another. We can do this by acting kindly and thoughtfully toward each other. We may or may not feel any particular emotion. We just act in a loving manner regardless of how we feel.
I expect, though, when the Lord is ready to make His Church one as He and the Father are One, that He will fill us with such intense love for one another, and for those members of the nations whom He has given us for an inheritance, that the emotion will be quite beyond anything we can imagine.
Lift up your eyes and look about you: All assemble and come to you; your sons come from afar, and your daughters are carried on the arm. Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy; the wealth on the seas will be brought to you, to you the riches of the nations will come. (Isaiah 60:4,5)
We hear Christians talking about their golden mansion or the material wealth they will enjoy in Heaven. They have no idea what they are talking about. Gold and material wealth do not bring lasting joy on the earth and they would not bring lasting joy in Heaven.
The only inheritance worth having is people. When God gives His love to Christ, and Christ gives that love to us, and then through us to other people, that is the greatest joy it is possible to experience.
God indeed is capable of enormous wrath. But God’s Nature in the final sense is one of love. It is for this reason that Christ, who can be a Lion and a Warrior-King on occasion, appears in the last two chapters of the Bible as the Lamb.
The Church never is the bride of the Lion, or of the Warrior-King, or even of the Lord. The Church always is the Bride of the Lamb, because she is married to the Lamb by eating His flesh and eating His blood. This is the highest of all expressions of love. If we move forward to the fullness of God, we will dwell in that holy fire for eternity.
In this way, love is made complete among us so we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (I John 4:17,18)
The Law and Grace—The Ten Commandments are a reflection of the eternal moral law of God. Under grace we no longer are obligated to observe the Ten Commandments, but we are obligated to observe the eternal moral law of God. The difference between the two covenants is not that now we are free to sin. The difference is in how we go about keeping the law of God.
This is another subject that I have written a great deal about. I am referring to the transition from the Law of Moses to the grace of the new covenant. I am not certain the transition is clear in the minds of God’s people: “Are we under any part of the Law of Moses? If we are, what part? If not, what do we do about the Sabbath day? What about adultery? How come we can’t commit adultery if we are not under the Ten Commandments?
And if we are under the Law, how come we don’t stop working on Saturday, for it is evident that Saturday is the seventh day of the week?”
If there has been a clear answer to these questions I have not heard it. Have you?
As I lay in bed last night the transition seemed clear to me, so I thought I had better write it down. It might be a help to someone. Then the thought occurred to me that perhaps the transition could be set forth in a series of questions and answers—questions that a believer might have.
First of all, are we bound by any part of the Law of Moses, including the Ten Commandments? The answer is, no, we are not under any part of the Law of Moses whatever.
We know we are not supposed to offer animals to make an atonement for our sin, and animal sacrifice is a primary part of the Law of Moses. We have no scriptural or logical basis for maintaining we are under one aspect of the Law of Moses and not another.
So let’s have done with the Law of Moses once and for all. As soon as we count ourselves crucified with Christ and risen with Him, the Law has no authority over us. The Law has authority over us only as long as we are alive. The Law has no authority over the Lord Jesus Christ or anyone who has died and been raised with Him.
Let us assume this is true, that we have no more to do with the Law of Moses. Let us think about the consequences of our position.
On what basis are we righteous if we do not observe the Law? We are righteous because the Lord Jesus Christ kept the Law perfectly. Because He suffered and died for sin that He Himself did not commit, He is permitted in the justice of God to transfer to us His own righteousness—the righteousness of Him who kept the Law perfectly.
When we place our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ we are as righteous as though we have kept the Law of Moses perfectly. The Bible refers to this righteousness as imputed righteousness. We do not have to worry about the Law from now on because by imputation we have kept the Law perfectly.
Make certain this is absolutely clear to you before we proceed.
Can you see that any attempt we make to keep the Law is superfluous? In Christ we already have kept the Law perfectly.
Now we are faced with the problem of the Sabbath, with adultery, with stealing, and so forth. If we have been completely justified by our faith in Christ, are we free to practice immorality?
This is a terrible question in our day, and a wrong answer is being given. The answer being given is that we ought to stop sinning, but if we do not we are protected by “grace.” The hastiest review of the New Testament will reveal that if we, as a believer in Christ, continue to sin, we are going to experience spiritual death. We shall reap destruction in the Day of Resurrection.
The prohibitions of the Ten Commandments are part of the eternal moral law of God. They are the same from eternity to eternity, because they are what God Himself Is. Any change in them would be a change in God Himself and the very worst of all possible calamities. We then would have no hope for the future.
You may point out to me that on the one hand I am saying we are free from the Law, and on the other hand I am saying we have to live according to the prohibitions of the Law. This seeming discrepancy may be at the heart of the confusion concerning the transition from the Law of Moses to the grace of Jesus Christ.
How are these two facts reconciled? If we have to keep the Ten Commandments, and yet don’t have to keep the Ten Commandments, what are we talking about?
Notice that I have reduced the Law of Moses to the Ten Commandments. I have not mentioned the other ordinances, such as the kosher dietary laws, because these are not part of the moral nature of God. They were a covenant that applied to the Jews before the Lord Jesus came. We understand from the vision given to the Apostle Peter, revealing to him that there no longer is unclean food.
So by saying we have to keep the Ten Commandments, and do not have to keep the Ten Commandments, we are not including the other ordinances that are part of the Law of Moses.
Let’s think for a moment about the Ten Commandments, the moral imperatives of the Law of Moses.
- We are to have no gods other than the Lord
- We are not to make idols.
- We are not to misuse God’s name.
- We are to keep the Sabbath day holy.
- We are to honor our father and mother.
- We are not to commit murder.
- We are not to commit adultery.
- We are not to steal.
- We are not to give false testimony.
- We are not to covet anything that belongs to our neighbor.
Now I have said when we place our faith in Jesus Christ it is as though we have kept every one of these prohibitions perfectly. We now have the righteousness of the Law ascribed to us.
But are we to have gods other than the Lord? We American Christians have numerous gods other than the Lord, such as people we worship, money, sexual lust, drunkenness, violence, entertainment, professional sports, and so forth. We honor these god and spend our time, strength, and money on them.
Are we to misuse God’s name? Christians often do.
How about the Sabbath day? I will deal with this later because of its unique importance.
Are we to murder, commit adultery, honor dishonor our father and mother, steal, give false testimony, covet?
The Apostle Paul wrote that if we are covetous we shall not inherit the Kingdom of God.
We are under the Law but not under the Law. What is the answer?
The answer is found, not in doing away with the Law, but in how we keep the Law.
The Law was to be kept by Jews who had not been born again; who did not have the Holy Spirit living in them as we do. They did not have the body and blood of Christ to strengthen them. Their sins had not been forgiven on the cross.
The Jews had to keep the Law by will power. They had to learn the prohibitions and directives and observe them carefully.
As Paul pointed out, this was extremely difficult. Yet as we read the Old Testament we see that numerous Jews delighted in the Law and practiced the commandments.
We Christians have gone too far in declaring everyone is a hopeless sinner. This is not true. In fact, most of the sins we Christian commit we could stop if we wanted to. It is not often that we have such a bondage we cannot confess it and turn away from it. But even in this case we can gain deliverance through the prayers of the saints, once we are certain we want to gain victory over the particular behavior.
Our teaching in this regard is incorrect. The Christian churches in America could gain victory over most of the sins they commit if they were exhorted to do so.
In fact, God is insisting that the Christians in America repent and cease their sinning. If we do not, our nation is going to be judged severely.
As we said, the Jews did not have the grace that has been given to us. They had to keep the commandments by will power.
What about us Christians? We no longer are to refer to the Ten Commandments. We turn to the New Testament and obey the commandments of Christ and His Apostles.
How many times did the Lord Jesus tell us to keep His commandments? His commandments continued to be given through His Apostles. In fact, the Great Commission is to make disciples and tell them to keep Christ’s commandments. Isn’t that so?
How far we have drifted from the New Testament!
So we are not under the Law as such. It is the approach that is different. The change from the old covenant to the new covenant is in the approach to the eternal moral law of God. The moral law never changes. But the approach is different enough that we can say we no longer are under the Law of Moses.
The approach to moral behavior under grace is different from the approach under the Law of Moses.
As we stated previously, the Jew had to learn the precepts and obey them through will power.
We Christians start off in much the same way. We have to read the commandments found in the New Testament and obey them. But we have grace that helps us—grace the Jews did not have.
First, our conscience is clear. Our sins have been forgiven.
Second, we have been born again. Christ has been born in us, and we are given His flesh and His blood to drink.
Third, we have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us.
Fourth, we can go directly into the Holy of Holies to obtain strength to help us resist sin.
The Jews under the Law of Moses did not have these four elements of Divine grace to enable them to refrain from transgressing the moral law.
However keeping the commandments found in the New Testament is not the new covenant. But let us emphasize that we will not make any progress into the actual new covenant unless we begin to read the New Testament and obey the commandments of Christ and His Apostles.
I think this is why Satan has pressed so hard to convince Christians that they do not have to keep the New Testament commandments in order to be saved. Satan knows that believers who are continuing to sin are not accepted by the Lord.
Now we come to the part of grace that actually is the new covenant, the aspect that has no counterpart in the Law of Moses.
The foundation of the new covenant is our death and resurrection in Christ.
When we are baptized in water we are testifying that we have taken our place on the cross with Jesus Christ. We take this position by faith. We also declare that we have risen from the dead with Christ and have ascended with Him to the right hand of God. We declare these two positions to be a fact.
Now, do we feel any different? Perhaps not. But we have established our position once and for all.
Now what happens?
God begins to make our crucifixion and resurrection an experience in our life.
We learn from Paul that we have a sinful nature. I don’t see anywhere in the Old Testament that a sinful nature was discussed at length and emphasized as it is in the New Testament. Under the new covenant the fact of the sinful nature becomes all important We come to understand under the new covenant it is not primarily a matter of not committing murder or adultery, or honoring our father and mother. Rather the emphasis is on the destruction of the sinful nature.
You can see from how infinitely superior the new covenant is. Actually, the new covenant, while it includes the forgiveness of our sins, consists of engraving the eternal moral law of God on our mind and on our heart. This is another way of saying Christ, the Word of God, is formed in us.
The new covenant consists of at least six major elements:
- The complete removal of the guilt of our sins.
- The complete removal of our sinful nature.
- The forming of Christ in us.
- The abiding of the Holy Spirit in us for eternity.
- The abiding of the Father and the Son in us for eternity.
- The resurrection of our flesh and bones and the clothing of them with a body from Heaven that has been fashioned from incorruptible resurrection life.
The end result of the process of redemption is a new creation in which all the old has passed away and has been replaced with that which is of God.
We see, therefore, that we have to begin our Christian walk by obeying the commandments of Christ and His Apostles. Some of these are the same commandments found in the Law of Moses, such as the New Testament warnings about the consequences of immoral behavior. But other directives of the New Testament are commandments not found in the Law, such as denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and following Jesus every day. Also, the commandment to present our body a living sacrifice.
As we diligently observe all that Christ and His Apostles have commanded, praying without ceasing as we seek to do God’s will in every detail, the actual work of the new covenant begins to take place. The Day Star arises in our heart. The Nature of Christ in us helps us live according to the moral law.
Under the new covenant the old nature is destroyed and the new nature comes into existence. Can you see why the Law of Moses no longer is applicable, once we deem ourselves crucified, risen, and ascended with Christ?
I said I would discuss the Sabbath day separately because of its unique importance.
The holiness of the Sabbath day goes back to the seventh day of creation, the day on which God rested from all His work.
Under the Law of Moses the Jews were commanded to not do any work on the Sabbath.
Under the new covenant, however, the Sabbath commandment goes to the heart of God’s intention concerning man.
God has two main intentions concerning man. First, that man be fashioned into the moral image of the Lord Jesus Christ. Second, that man find his place in untroubled rest in the heart of God, where the Lord Jesus always dwells.
The second intention is the meaning of the Sabbath. It is that we cease from our own works and enter that rest of God which dates back to the beginning of the creation.
The Lord Jesus Christ always lives in the Sabbath rest of God. When the Lord expressed His desire that we be with Him where He is, He was not referring to Heaven as a place. Christ was referring to His rest in the center of God’s Person and will.
When Christ said He did nothing apart from the Father, that it was, and always is, His Father who does the works, Christ was telling us that He was living eternally in the Sabbath rest of God.
How wonderful, how utterly marvelous, to come to the place where we are not pursuing our own ambitions but are seeking that place in God where we are doing only that which God has planned for us from the beginning of the world. We have to labor to enter that rest, because so many forces motivate us to seek our own way, our own betterment.
The Ten Commandments speak of the moral image of the Lord Jesus. The fourth commandment does not refer to the moral image of Christ but to His, and our, rest in God’s Person and will.
This the Jews could not countenance. Even though the Lord Jesus, moving in the Sabbath of God, healed an afflicted person, the Jews could see only the seeming violation of the letter of the fourth commandment. As the Holy Spirit exclaimed in Stephen, the Jews could not grasp God’s ways. They could not understand God always would rejoice over the healing of an afflicted person, whether the individual was healed on Friday or Saturday.
I hope I have added some clarity to the issue of the transition from the Law of Moses to the grace found in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Let me answer one more question that might arise, and then I am through.
Think about the following verse.
For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. (Romans 6:14)
Now, the current interpretation of this verse might be that since we are under grace, nothing we do is counted as being actually sinful. Grace covers our sin, so we can forget about the guilt imposed by the Law of Moses.
Even though the other verses in the sixth chapter of Romans would reveal that this could not be what Paul meant, let’s think about what it does mean.
First of all, the expression “sin shall not be your master” fits what Paul went on to say in the seventh chapter. Under the Law of Moses, Paul was convicted of his covetousness. The Law did not help Paul, it brought his sinful nature to life. Sin was Paul’s relentless master.
But how does grace keep sin from being our master. Certainly not by excusing our conduct perpetually. This would contradict the whole sixth chapter of the Book of Romans.
Grace keeps sin from being our master by:
Forgiving our transgressions completely so our conscience is clear.
Giving us the power, through the Holy Spirit, to confess the works of our sinful nature and to put them to death.
Forming Christ in us.
All the Law can do is to point out our sin, then provide atonement through animal sacrifice. Now that there is no temple, those under the Law do not have even the provision of atonement through animal sacrifice.
New-covenant grace, however, brings to us the Life of God through the Lord Jesus Christ so we can be forgiven and then overcome the lusts of our sinful nature.
Sin can master us under the Law of Moses, but grace gives us the power of God in Christ so we can throw off the mastery of sin.
Does this make sense to you?
I hope so. I see no reason why the Christian churches should be confused over the transition from the Law of Moses to the grace given us through the Lord Jesus Christ.
The eternal moral law of God always must be obeyed, whether under the Law of Moses or under the grace of the new covenant.
The difference is in the approach, and in the Divine power that is available to us through Jesus Christ.
For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (John 1:17)
The Fountain of Life—To be filled with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, with the Fullness of God, is to be a fountain of living water; a tree of life. How happy is the individual thus endowed, who is able to bring eternal life to others.
On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified. (John 7:37-39)
We have used the above passage to refer to the Pentecostal experience of being baptized with the Holy Spirit. I don’t see any problem with that.
However, the “last and greatest day of the Feast” refers to the last day of the feast of Tabernacles, the “rejoicing over the Law.”
The spiritual experience of the feast of Tabernacles comes after the experience of Pentecost and is different from the spiritual experience of the feast of Pentecost. Those of us who have been celebrating the Pentecostal experience need to understand this. It is time to move forward to the greater observance, the feast of Tabernacles.
Pentecost is the rain from Heaven. The Bible speaks of the planting rains and the harvest rains; the fall rains and the spring rains. We love the blessing that comes as the Lord Jesus pours out the Holy Spirit on us. In fact we need more such fire today. Pentecostal fire needs to fall on us. Do you agree with that?
The Tabernacles experience is not that of rain. It is that of the Throne of God being established in the individual.
Notice carefully the wording of the passage above:
Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him. (John 7:38)
Pentecost is the rain from Heaven Its purpose is to bring us to the feast of Tabernacles. In the Tabernacles experience we become the source of the water, because the Throne of God has been created in us. We have become a tree of life, drawing our life from the greatest Tree of Life.
I am contending for a permanent revival. I am thankful for the showers of blessing. But after the revival abates, people fall back into their old patterns of behavior. I am looking for godliness that will not change whether there are showers of blessing or not.
Tabernacles is the permanent revival. The reason for this is, the Throne of God, the source of eternal life, is not formed in us until worldliness, lust, and self-will have been removed from us and Christ has been formed in us.
We can have the Pentecostal blessing while we still are worldly, filled with the lusts and passions of the flesh, and bound with self-will and self-love. This is why the Holy Spirit fell on the waiting disciples as tongues of fire, and not as a Dove, as He did on the Lord Jesus.
Before we can pass into the Tabernacles experience, or, I might say, as we are passing into the Tabernacles experience, we have to experience the preceding Jewish convocation, which is the Day of Atonement. During our experience of the Day of Atonement we are prepared for the coming of the fullness of God’s Throne, as the sin, idolatry, and rebellion are destroyed out of our personality.
The twelfth chapter of the Book of Isaiah was sung during the festival the Lord Jesus was describing in the seventh chapter of the Book of John.
In that day you will say: “I will praise you, O LORD. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me. Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. In that day you will say: “Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim his name is exalted. Sing to the LORD, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.” (Isaiah 12:1-6)
“With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” It is time now for the Lord to dig the wells of salvation in us. The Pentecostal blessings come and go. It is time now for something permanent. It is time for us to become the Throne of God.
Man was created to be the Throne of God and the source of the River of Life. Each one of us can be the Throne of God, but we have to walk very closely with the Lord Jesus as He leads us into the water a step as a time.
At salvation we are in water to the ankles. At Pentecost we are at water to the knees. At the feast of Tabernacles we are water to the waist, and finally waters to swim in.
Once we go through these measurings, these judgments, we are brought back to the bank of the river, so to speak, so we can receive endless life from the river of God. Then we shall serve as the source of eternal life that will bring life to the dead creation.
When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. He said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Sea. When it empties into the Sea, the water there becomes fresh. Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live. (Ezekiel 47:7-9)
The promise for the coming Kingdom Age is that the glory of the Lord will fill the earth as the waters cover the sea. The waters will come from within the saints. The sea is the dead sea of mankind, and the Holy Spirit will bring life. Fishers will gather in a great harvest from the nations.
The Spirit and the Bride invite all people to come and drink freely of the water of life. God’s saints will become one with each other and with God through Christ, and then the world will believe it is God who has sent the Lord Jesus into the world. The Glory of God shall cover the saints, and then the nations of the earth will come to their light. This is the vision of the future.
We are in the critical hour now. The Pentecostal blessing will not suffice for what God has in mind. The purpose of the Pentecostal blessing is to build us up to where we can be judged and prepared to become the Throne of God, the source of the River of Life.
The demands on us when we first are saved are significant and challenging.
The demands on us when we move forward into Pentecost are even more significant and more challenging.
But the demands on us as we move from Pentecost into the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles are total. No part of our personality can be withheld from the claims of Christ—not the smallest part.
I wonder how many of us today are willing to go this far with God. It may help us to make the final, total consecration when we realize what a blessing it will be to God and to people for us to qualify as a tree of life.
The trumpet of Christ is sounding now in the churches. He is drawing up the battle lines as He comes against the enemy in His people; not the enemy in the world, that will come later. It is the enemy in God’s people, the worldliness, the lusts of the flesh, the self-will and self-love, that are the enemies of God.
The Lord wants us to get out of the way so He can attack His enemies. We do this by confessing our sins and turning away from them as the Holy Spirit enables us. This is how we prepare the way of the Lord.
When the Lord has finished judging His enemies in us, then the Father and the Son can take up Their place of rest in us in fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Tabernacles.
Though God appears to be angry with us for a season, it is only that He might get at those enemies in us that prevent us from being the Throne of God and a source of the water of life.
If we hold steady while we are being judged and delivered, the time will come when we are brought out into a large place. Then we will with joy draw water from the wells of salvation that the dead of the nations may drink and receive eternal life.
What a day we live in! Beyond all doubt, the twentieth century was the century of Pentecost. We now are in the twenty-first century, and it may prove to be the century of the feast of Tabernacles.
There shall be the greatest of all Pentecostal outpourings as we approach the end of the Church Age. Multitudes will profess Christ, according to my understanding. There shall also be a time of moral horrors as self-centered man governs the world.
But during this time the Lord Jesus will prepare His Throne in each believer who is willing to submit to the Lord’s dealings, who will follow the Spirit of God until he or she is filled with the fullness of God.
Such Divine Glory is available for you and me today. Will we take advantage of it?
So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. (I Corinthians 15:45)
The Way of the Lamb—The natural man forces his way in the world. The spiritual man is like his Lord. He permits himself to be defrauded. He is a peacemaker.
We Americans tend to be proud and independent. We are not noted for being humble and thoughtful of the feelings of other people. We are not a contemplative society but one whose strength is in building and operating various kinds of institutions.
It is difficult for us to understand people who are not interested in technological advances but concentrate more on their folkways and often on their religion.
Part of the American temperament is aggressive behavior. We shove people around in order to get what we want. This is not true of some of the other cultures of the world. They regard our violent aggressiveness as rude, uncivilized behavior.
Of course, from our point of view it is the other cultures who are uncivilized because they are not forcefully acquiring more money and otherwise pushing themselves forward.
When we become a Christian we do not throw off at once our American temperament. We are apt to carry it over into our religious activities, attempting to convert other people against their will. We term this aggressive behavior “witnessing.” It is not witnessing, in some instances, it is a militant kind of proselyting.
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, (I Peter 3:15)
From what I have heard, the Muslims also are militant in their efforts to convert people to their point of view.
This is not the way of the Lamb, and we are called to be the Bride of the Lamb.
He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. (Isaiah 53:7)
This is the way of the Lamb.
Think of it! The Man had the authority to summon the warrior angels, any one of whom could wipe out thousands of soldiers. But He remained the meek and lowly Jesus.
Some day He will return in His majesty and crush His enemies. He will not always be meek and lowly. But it will be because His Father has directed Him to be fierce and warlike.
This is what we have got to learn. We are not to be pushing our way around. One characteristic of the natural man is he always has to have his own way.
The spiritual man is not like that. He is ready to yield if he feels this is what the Spirit would have. Ordinarily it is the Spirit’s will that we yield.
Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. (Matthew 5:25)
What did the Apostle Paul recommend that we do?
The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? (I Corinthians 6:7)
What American Christian is going to permit himself or herself to be cheated? Which believer is going to turn the other cheek, or go the extra mile?
Do we not rather cling to our rights, insisting that we have our way?
The Lord Jesus is our example of the attitude we should have.
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, But made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:5-8)
Isaac’s name means “he laughs.” You know why Isaac could laugh? Because when the herdsmen of Gerar claimed ownership of a well of fresh water Isaac’s servants had dug, Isaac moved to another place and dug another well. The same thing happened. So Isaac moved to a third location and dug another well. This time no one quarreled with him over the well.
What do you think of Isaac’s surrender of what rightfully was his?. It sounds kind of un-American, doesn’t it? Is this the way we would have responded if someone claimed a well that rightfully was ours?
But Isaac kept on laughing, and so will we if we yield in a confrontation; unless, of course, the Lord clearly directs us otherwise.
Blessed are the peacemakers, the Lord told us. Am I a peacemaker? Are you?
Let us take the way of the Lamb. This is the way of Jesus Christ. When our time comes to return with the Lord and establish the Kingdom of God on the earth, we may be advised to act differently. But we will not have a part in this great battle if we have not first taken the way of the Lamb.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. (Matthew 5:9)
The Still, Small Voice—Sometimes just before the Lord speaks there is shaking, a commotion. The mature Christian has learned not to be moved until he or she hears the quiet voice of the Lord.
The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (I Kings 19:11-13)
Notice in the passage above that Elijah obeyed and stood on the mountain the Presence of the Lord.
God told Elijah that He was going to pass by, so Elijah was expecting to hear from God.
Then came the powerful wind, the earthquake, and the fire. The Lord was in none of these.
Now here is a marvelous thing. The Lord says he is about to pass by. Then comes a wind so powerful it tore mountains apart and shattered rocks. Then an earthquake. Finally a fire. But the Lord was in none of them.
Why would God do such a thing? Why would He tell Elijah He is about to pass by, and then unleash such a commotion?
I guess if we could answer that question we would know more about the Lord than we do.
The mature Christian has been through this experience probably more than once. We are waiting on the Lord expectantly. We are hoping for an answer or a deliverance of some kind.
We become aware the Lord is close by, and so we are looking and listening carefully.
Then the wind blows, the earth shakes, and the fiery judgments of the Lord are exercised in our life. We are tested by these. What we have trusted in is blown apart and what we are standing on no longer is stable. “Where is God?” we ask ourselves.
If we have wrong motives or idols in our heart we will be moved to do something that is not of the Lord. We will jump and run before we really hear from God.
“I know I heard from the Lord, there was such a great wind! His power was all around me. I felt the fire of His holiness. Now I am ready to go forth and tell the world about Jesus.”
We didn’t wait long enough. In our uproar, our desire to do something great in the Kingdom, we left before we heard the message.
There are some shells that land on the beach but don’t explode. There are times we are positive God has spoken. We borrowed the money and went to a far country. Then we got diarrhea and returned home.
Rebekah watered ten camels for Eliezer. Nine would have been a pretty good job, but she watered all ten.
Sometimes when we are waiting on the Lord and He seems to be around, nine camels get watered. But not the tenth.
Then we do all kinds of reasoning. “Maybe we are being tested. Maybe Satan is holding us back. Maybe the tenth camel wasn’t suppose to be watered.”
In our willful ignorance we rush off to do “the Lord’s work.”
It takes a lot of patience and maturity when we are being drawn on the Lord’s bow to keep from rushing off in our own strength and wisdom.
Many of us hear voices or receive impressions all day and half the night. Which voice is the Lord’s? Hard to tell sometimes. Satan is able to imitate God’s voice until it is quite difficult to tell the difference.
God’s sheep know His voice, but sometimes the lambs have a problem. This is why we have elders in the churches.
God does not speak as often as one would suppose from hearing Pentecostal people say “The Lord told me this. The Lord told me that.”
Those of whose who do receive personal prophecies need to remember that prophecy works at various levels. We do not immediately begin to prophesy like Isaiah. Our prophecies often are flavored by our personal experiences.
Since I personally have the kind of gift in which I often hear from the Lord, I make it a practice, whenever I feel the prophecy coming to my spirit, to pray, “Lord, don’t let me hear anything that does not come from God’s Throne. In Jesus’ name. Amen.” There is no exception to this. I simply will not receive a message in the spirit realm until I have prayed my disclaimer. I know God is not insulted by this, because He told us in the New Testament to test the spirits.
When we pray in Jesus’ name, God is honor-bound to grant our request. This is the covenant on which we stand and by which we live.
Even after praying our disclaimer we still have to make certain what we are hearing is not against the New Testament, that it is bringing peace and joy to us, and that it agrees with our outward circumstances.
If the word we are receiving is contrary to the teaching of the New Testament it is not of God.
If it does not bring peace and joy to us it probably is not of God.
If our outward circumstances are not in agreement, then we have to be doubly careful and to set aside the word that came to us until it is verified in our circumstances.
God works in the objective realm. We can get off the track when all we have to go by is a subjective voice in our own mind and heart. When God speaks the rooster crows—the outward circumstances fall into place, although years may go by before they do and before God is ready to implement what He has spoken to us.
After the fire there came a gentle whisper. God was not in the powerful wind, not in the earthquake, nor in the fire. God was in the gentle whisper.
That is so like the Lord, isn’t it?
Incidentally, if we are one of those who get words from the Lord, let us always remember that we find God’s will by presenting our body as a living sacrifice. We deny ourselves, take up our cross, and then follow Jesus each day. If we are not doing this, then we ordinarily are not in a position to hear God accurately. Elijah was obeying the Lord, standing exactly where he had been directed.
When we have a burning desire of some kind we are not in a position to hear God accurately.
“But how can it not be God when I want it so badly? It seems so natural and so right! It feels so good!
“My God is a good God. He would want me to have this because it will really make me happy.”
And so on and on the ignorance proceeds.
After the fire a gentle whisper. Not a great prophetic proclamation: “Behold! I am the Lord God Almighty. Have I not spoken to you to go to the nations? What are you waiting for? The King’s business requires haste!”
Such prophecies remind me of the wizard hiding behind the curtain in “The Wizard of Oz” “I am the great and powerful Oz!”
God can speak like that on occasion. But for most of us most of the time it is a gentle whisper. If our heart is right, if we have no agenda, no idol is champing at the bit in our personality, we may hear that quiet voice.
And when that gentle whisper comes, world history is changed for the better on our behalf.
This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. (Isaiah 30:15)
Anointed With Joy—The Father has anointed the Lord Jesus with the oil of joy, because the Lord Jesus loves righteousness and hates wickedness. We also will be anointed with the oil of joy when we love righteousness and hate wickedness.
You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy. (Psalms 45:7)
What a remarkable verse the above is!
“You,” refers to the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Your God,” refers to the Father.
Who “Your companions” are may be creatures whom God created through Christ and who became the companions of Christ, just as animals were the companions of Adam. The animals were not a suitable companion for Adam, and the seraphim, the cherubim, the angels, the Melchizedekian order, and whoever else there may be, did not prove to be a suitable companion for the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ. So Christ is forming a companion from His own body and blood.
So the Father set the Word above His former companions.
And how did God do this? By anointing Him with the oil of joy.
Why did the Father lift Jesus above His former companions?
Because He, Jesus, loves righteousness and hates wickedness.
Now, if all these facts are not something to think about, I don’t know what is.
Of all the inhabitants of Heaven, the Lord Jesus, the Word at that time, was distinguished by the fact that He loves righteousness and hates wickedness.
That’s remarkable, isn’t it? You would think the angels, the cherubim, the seraphim, the Melchizedekian order, and all those other personages, would love righteousness and hate wickedness.
I have a theory about this. I believe prior to the giving of the Ten Commandments there wasn’t much understanding of what God approves and of what He disapproves.
How could that be, one may ask?
Well, those other personages were never human beings and never shall be human beings. It may be true that human beings, having been created in the image of God, are unique on the basis of having that marvelous instrument known as a conscience.
If the other personages were not created with an innate understanding of good and evil, as man is; and if there were no Ten Commandments at that time, then how would they know what was righteous and what was wicked?
Personally, I don’t think they did know. I don’t believe the knowledge of good and evil was prevalent among them. Perhaps I am wrong in this.
My opinion is that the Ten Commandments are a revelation given through man that the heavenly personages can understand. In fact, I think much of what is taking place among people is a great audio-visual presentation to the creatures in the heavens.
His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, According to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Ephesians 3:10,11)
We usually don’t think of such things, do we? But it appears, from what Paul wrote, that we humans shall judge angels. We shall decide which angels will be permitted to enjoy the Presence of God and which, because of their wickedness, will not longer be allowed to enjoy the Glory of God.
When you stop to think about it, it makes a lot of sense. But it is a bigger picture than we are accustomed to.
On what basis I do not know, but perhaps because He came out from God rather than being created like the rest of the personages of the heavens, the Word had an instinctive love for righteousness and hatred of evil.
Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—it is written about me in the scroll. I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.” (Psalms 40:7,8)
We may not realize it, but the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ has two massive dimensions, not just one. The first dimension is the shedding of His blood to make an atonement for the sins of the world. We probably are acquainted with this first dimension.
The second dimension appears to be not as commonly known. It is that Christ came to bring righteousness into the creation of God.
The scepter of His Kingdom is a scepter of righteousness.
We have placed so much emphasis on the first dimension, on forgiveness, that we have neglected the second dimension—that of loving righteousness and hating wickedness.
Just think! Today, as well as throughout the Church Era, the Gospel of the Kingdom has been thought of as the mercy of God in forgiving the sins of mankind.
Forgiveness is not the emphasis of the Kingdom of God! If everyone on earth accepted the forgiveness of God, what good would that do? It would do no good at all. God would have to keep on forgiving, forgiving, forgiving, forgiving our behavior for eternity.
And we would have nothing to look forward but what we experience now in the churches.
The emphasis of the Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit—not forgiveness!
The main part of the new covenant is the writing of the eternal moral law of God in our mind and heart. Forgiveness is the means of making the program of moral transformation possible.
You can understand readily, I am certain.
So here comes Jesus, the Word of God. What is Jesus? He is the Word of Righteousness. He is the Covenant of God, the eternal moral Law of God made flesh.
Christ has come to bring righteousness into the world, not imputed righteousness primarily but actual righteous behavior. He came to take away our sins.
When the program of redemption has been completed there will be a new world of righteous behavior. Because there is righteous behavior, the Presence of God will be among us. Because the Presence of God will be among us, every desirable relationship, thing, and experience will be here—vastly more blessing than we could ever imagine.
But all depends on righteous behavior—the righteous behavior made possible by the coming of Him who eternally loves righteousness and hates wickedness.
We Pentecostal people talk about the anointing of the Spirit and want the anointing. We covet the joy that comes with the anointing and the ability to bear witness of the atoning death and triumphant resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
We may not be as familiar with the power of the anointing to enable us to overcome sin and live righteously.
It is interesting to me that Jesus is distinguished by the amount of joy He has.
You know what I think? I believe if we will set ourselves to love righteous behavior and hate wicked behavior, the Father will anoint us with the same joy.
How do you feel about this? Shall we give it a try?
And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 13:52)
Resist the Temptation To Sin—Christians have been taught that as long as they are in the world they can be compelled to sin. This is a lie. It never is God’s will for a Christian to walk in known sin. God always makes a way of escape for us if we will pray earnestly and permit Him to guide us into perfect deliverance.
You know, the longer I live the clearer some issues become. One of these issues has to do with sin.
As I was eating breakfast this morning I was enjoying some of the pictures painted by Thomas Kinkade. Mr. Kinkade has a marvelous gift of capturing the spirit of America, it seems to me. Sometimes they are pictures of a typical small-town street of maybe a hundred years ago. Sometimes they show a church in a woodland setting. There may be small animals, or streams, or old-fashioned houses in a country environment.
They evoke memories of what used to be in America when there were no worries about terrorists, drugs, or the kinds of violent crime we see today. I think older people, such as myself, identify with these scenes from long ago.
But I know for a fact that although we may think longingly of the past, there were rape, drunkenness, robbery, child molestation, and every other destructive practice at that time.
The problem with the world is sin.
We talk about Heaven. But we picture fancy homes there. What need would we have for houses in the spirit Heaven? Do angels live in houses? The reason we want to go to a mansion in Heaven is we are trying to reproduce what we wish were true on the earth.
I think many of us would rather live in one of Thomas Kinkade’s setting than we would in Heaven. But not while there is sin in the world. It does not matter how idyllic the setting is, if there is sin there soon will be heartache, trouble, pain, sorrow, despair.
For so long the Christian churches have made forgiveness of sin the central topic of the salvation message. Forgiveness of sin is not the central topic of the salvation message. The central topic of the salvation message is the development of a new creature in whom the old sinful nature has passed away and the Life of God has taken its place.
If you had a community of people living in shacks in Siberia, and every one of them was free from all sin and had the Life of God living in him or her, you would have a better environment than is true of the centers of culture in the world.
What many of us would enjoy is Thomas Kinkade’s America free from all sin and filled with God.
C. S. Lewis said he had a desire that cannot be satisfied in this world, so he must have been made for another world.
All of us can appreciate Mr. Lewis’ sentiments. However, it is not another world we want, the present earth is marvelous beyond all marvels. It is the sin in the world that is the problem.
A person could have several billion dollars and construct for himself a paradise on the earth. But it still would not satisfy. There would be trouble after trouble because of the sin in people.
Where I live in Southern California is as scenic as most places in the world. But every day someone is murdered, or a child is molested, or a woman is raped. No matter how perfect the weather is, as long as there is sin there will be trouble.
What we are longing for is a world that is free from sin, although we may not realize this.
What about going to Heaven? Heaven is where sin began. Sin is a spiritual phenomenon. It is spiritual darkness that motivates people to sin. So how would entering the spirit realm (going to Heaven) solve the problem of sin?
The only solution is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Word made flesh. This means He is the righteous law of God made flesh.
Salvation is the forming of Christ in us. As Christ is formed in us, the eternal moral law of God is written in our mind and in our heart. This is the new covenant. It also is true that God forgives our sins under the new covenant, but forgiveness accompanies the actual work of the new covenant, which is our inner moral transformation.
To be an overcomer is to gain victory over sin, as the Holy Spirit leads us.
If everyone in the world received the forgiveness of God, it would do nothing to bring the Kingdom of God to the earth. Nothing whatever! People still would continue to sin, not having been delivered, only forgiven. This means no matter how Christ transformed the present earth, or created a new earth, there still would be trouble, pain, confusion, sorrow, corruption, death.
What does it mean to be “saved”? It means we will not be destroyed in the Day of the Lord. We will be brought over to the new world where we will be taught righteous behavior.
The members of the royal priesthood are taught righteous behavior today, and it is they who will return with the Lord and establish the Kingdom of God on the earth. The Kingdom of God is the doing of God’s will: in other words, the practice of righteous behavior. There is no unrighteous behavior in the Kingdom of God.
At one time there was unrighteous behavior in Heaven, as Satan, one of the cherubim who guarded the Throne of God, decided to follow his own will instead of the will of God. This, by the way, was the origin of all sin.
But there never has been and never shall be sin in the Kingdom of God, because the Kingdom of God is the doing of God’s will wherever we are.
We have to be born again to enter the Kingdom of God, because the Kingdom of God is the inner rule of Him who loves righteousness and hates wickedness.
Every individual who is brought forward to the new earth will have a portion of Christ in him, and will be governed and taught by the members of the royal priesthood, who compose the new Jerusalem.
Now, getting back to today. Let’s say that after we receive forgiveness through the blood atonement we choose to become a new creature of righteous behavior.
What do we do?
Perhaps the most important thing for us to keep in mind is that we can stop sinning. We can resist the temptation to sin.
The Christian people have been taught so consistently that as long as we live on the earth we are obliged to sin, that my words may fall on deaf ears.
However, the truth is that most of the sin we commit we can stop doing.
Let us take the sin of lying, for example. Lying is a source of immense trouble, isn’t it?
We do not have to lie. No one can make us lie if we don’t want to. We can choose to tell the truth. Can you be made to lie? Of course not! You can choose to lie, or you can choose to tell the truth.
Most of the problems in America are caused by the love of money. How do we overcome our covetousness and our love of money? By telling the Lord that we want this spiritual darkness driven from us.
If we are sincere, the power of God will drive the love of money from us. Doesn’t almighty God have enough power to drive the love of money from a handful of dust (which we are)? Of course He does. We have been lied to so much by Satan and his messengers that we thought Jesus Christ is unable to destroy the works of the devil.
How about our self-love and self-will? God through Jesus Christ can deliver us from this darkness also. Self-love and self-will rank alongside the love of money as destroyers of all that is good. When we ask God to deliver us from self-love and self-will He will do so; but He may use much suffering, intense fires, to burn the self-centeredness out of us.
Total deliverance is possible, and required for those who hope to inherit the fullness of God. But total deliverance requires much patience, faith, and courage on our part as God transforms our personality.
Back again to what I said previously. You can stop sinning if you want to. The Apostle Paul, in First Corinthians, exhorted us to awake to righteousness and stop sinning. No one can make us sin if we choose not to.
I know we have a sinful nature. I know also that the Holy Spirit has the power to put to death the deeds of our sinful nature, and that the New Testament promises He will do so if we will cooperate.
First came Jesus Christ, the One who has been anointed with the oil of joy because He loves righteousness and hates wickedness.
Next in line are the victorious saints, those who work with Christ as He destroys the works of the devil from them.
Next in line will be the balance of the entire Church who, as I understand it, will be helped to righteous behavior by the victorious saints.
Finally there will be the saved people from the nations of the earth, who are the inheritance of Christ and His saints. In the beginning they will have to be governed with the rod of iron.
There shall be no sin of any kind whatever in the Kingdom of God that is coming to the earth. The Lion of Judah has prevailed. He has broken the chains of sin in those who have faith in Him.
We have much false doctrine today that emphasizes we are saved by grace, meaning Christ is limited to forgiving our sins and is ready to take us to Paradise in our untransformed state. Let us all pray that this never happens, because Paradise would be ruined beyond repair if that were to happen.
No, the problem is not that of environment. God can change our environment with the Word of His mouth, just as He created the sky and the earth.
The problem is sin. As long as there is one person who is worldly, who has the lusts and passions of the sinful nature dwelling in him or her, who is self-seeking, there will be torment and corruption.
Satan will be confined to the bottomless pit for a thousand years. The moment he is released, destruction will fill the earth.
If one person with a sinful nature were permitted to enter the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom would be ruined for everyone else.
So it is not a question of grace, or mercy, or unconditional love. It is a question of the total destruction of the person and works of Satan.
Although there indeed is a place called Heaven, and God, Christ, the saints, and the holy angels are there at the present time, waiting to return to earth; although this is absolutely true, to go to Heaven to live forever is not what we really desire.
I have seen some beautiful areas in the world. Switzerland is one of them. England is another. So is Germany. There are pastoral scenes and villages that leave nothing to be desired.
I imagine that wherever you call home you see beauty, although your troubles keep you from thoroughly enjoying your surroundings.
What you are longing for you already have. All that is needed to make your present surroundings “heaven” is the removal of sickness, pain, worry, and death, and the addition of love, joy, and peace. Am I correct in this?
Well, the natural beauty of the earth will be yours to enjoy as soon as the Lord Jesus Christ and His victorious saints descend from Heaven and drive all wickedness from the earth.
We are waiting at the present time for the saints to overcome the accuser by the blood of the Lamb, by the word of their testimony, and by loving not their life to the death.
As soon as there is a company who come to full victory over the accusers, then Satan will be removed from the heavens and hurled to the earth. This will mark the beginning of the removal of wickedness from the earth.
I don’t believe we are going to have to wait much longer, because there are believers who are willing to pay the final price.
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so you can stand up under it. (I Corinthians 10:13)
What Does the Lord Desire?—The Father invited the Word to ask for the nations as His inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth as His possession. The Word became the Lord Jesus Christ and suffered much in order to receive us as His inheritance and the earth as His possession. But we do not become His inheritance until we submit to the program that brings us into His image and into union with Him. If we do not submit to His will, He suffered in vain for us.
I don’t know if we ever have given much thought to the importance of our response to the Lord’s call on our life.
None of us would have been strong enough to bear the sins of the world. We cannot even imagine the pain that the Father suffered or that Christ suffered as Christ, who knew no sin, became sin for us.
So now we have looked toward the “Serpent” that was lifted up and our sins have been forgiven.
But is this what Christ died for—millions of people who have been forgiven that they might make their eternal residence in Heaven? I don’t think so.
Put yourself in the Lord’s place. Suppose you had died so millions of people would be forgiven their sins. Then these same people rejoiced in the fact they were forgiven and went on their customary way. How would you feel about that?
Suppose further that they had reasoned within themselves that now they were forgiven, when they died they would go to a glorious mansion in the spirit realm, there to do nothing but lay around and eat all they wanted without getting fat. They would have no worries, no pain, no sorrow, no parting from loved ones. They would be affluent beyond imagination, possessing more gold, pearls, and diamonds than they knew what to do with.
Here you are in Heaven, looking down on this multitude of people who are involved vigorously in their religious activities, praying that since you have been so kind as to forgive their sins they now would like to be delivered from every problem—thank you very much.
Tell me—what would be your thoughts in this event?
Perhaps this is what the Lord is thinking concerning the church people in America, as they hop up and down next to their pews, hoping to be delivered from all their problems just as soon as possible.
You haven’t told me yet how you would feel!
We can pretty well guess how the Lord feels, can’t we? He is disappointed that we are so occupied with the things of religion rather than with Himself.
As far as I can tell, the name “Laodicea” refers to “the rights of people.” If there ever was a nation preoccupied with the rights of the individual, it is the United States of America. We view our personal “rights” as more important than society’s rights, God’s rights, and our neighbor’s rights. In other words, we are completely self-centered.
Lawyers are becoming wealthy helping each individual protect his or her “rights.”
I might note at this point that if you are so fortunate as to have been a Christian for many years you have found that you often have been treated unfairly and your rights have been ignored. Am I correct? I hope it has not made you bitter. Remember, the Lord Jesus Christ was treated unfairly and His rights were ignored.
We may now be entering the church of the rights of people. Now, notice carefully what Christ says to this self-centered group:
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20)
I wonder in how many instances the Lord Jesus is standing outside the personalities of those who profess belief in Him.
The Lord knocks. Our circumstances may be blown to pieces by the powerful wind of the Lord’s Presence. Then there is a quiet voice.
If we hear His voice we have a choice. We can open the door of our personality to the Lord, or we can close the door of our personality to the Lord—even though all the while we are active in religious work.
If we keep the door closed, no one may find out about it. We know we are not willing to go that far with the Lord. The Lord knows that our religious efforts are so much wood, hay, and straw.
Today is a period of tremendous opportunity in the Kingdom of God. We will lose so very, very much if we choose to go our own religious way!
But if we open the door He, the Lord Jesus, will come in and eat with us, and we with Him.
Now, precisely what does this mean? It means we will be nourished by His Divine Substance, and He will be nourished by our obedience and worship. We both are strengthened. This is the closest sharing possible.
How often is He to eat with us and we with Him? Day and night, night and day, every minute of every day and night. We are to live by His body and blood as He lives by the Father. The union is to be complete and eternal.
Can you even imagine how glad it makes the Lord when one of us is willing to forget about our own plans and choose to live as an integral part of Jesus Christ?
Now think for a minute. Are you really willing to give this much of yourself to the Lord? Are you ready to forsake you own thoughts, your own words, your own ambitions in life, your own hopes, your own dreams, that you might be an integral part of Christ and live only by His Life?
I think every one of us ought to sit down and decide whether or not we want this much of Christ. Perhaps we are willing to settle for sixtyfold or thirtyfold.
Until we make the decision to live only by the Life of Jesus Christ we are tossed about. One moment we want to be part of Christ; the next moment we have something we wish to accomplish in the world.
I personally have made my own choice. I want to be part of the Lord. I am more than happy to turn away from all of my own ways and desires that Christ may live more perfectly in me. In fact, I long to be filled with the Fullness of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is how I choose to exist.
I don’t know how many of those who read this briefest of articles are this anxious to leave everything to become part of Christ. Are you?
Hopefully, every Christian, once he or she understands the decision that must be made, whether or not to give oneself entirely to the Lord, will make the sublime choice. Why not? What is there in the world that is worth more than possessing the Fullness of God?
It may be true that the present hour is without precedent as far as the opportunity to receive all of God is concerned. It does seem that the Kingdom moves in spurts rather than linearly. All of a sudden Moses is dead. All of a sudden God is walking the earth. All of a sudden the Spirit of God descends from Heaven. In a thousand years from now we may look back and realize the year 2003 was unique in terms of the opportunity to avail ourselves of the Fullness of Christ.
Whether or not this is true I cannot say with certainty. But I do know the availability is here now, and I don’t wish to gamble that it may come again some time in the future.
Put yourself in the place of the Lord Jesus. You have suffered unbelievable pain and humiliation to remove the guilt of sin from multitudes of people.
You look down from Heaven. These same multitudes are going about their religious business, hoping you will enable them to get what they want out of life, and planning on reclining in a mansion in Heaven when they die.
There are thousands of such people. And then one from among these thousands hears your voice. It may be a man or woman, boy or girl. The individual looks upward toward you. He says, “Lord Jesus, come into my heart. I want You to become my life and me to become Your life.”
How would this make you feel if you were Jesus?
Having experienced a tiny portion of the intense love of Christ for us, I would say that this one individual has made the suffering of the cross worthwhile. He is like a treasure hidden in a field. The person who is aware of this treasure purchases the entire field. I think it is like this with the Lord.
The fourteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation speaks of those who stand with the Lamb on Mount Zion. Now, why would the Holy Spirit inspire the Apostle John to point out that there are some people who are especially close to Jesus?
I think the Spirit did this to inspire “whosoever will” to move past the traditional message of salvation and press into Christ. I know such passages as this have had that effect on me.
Perhaps Divine election is involved. I am not certain. But I do know the idea that we can be this close to the Lord, and sing a new song before the Throne, the Cherubim of Glory, and the elders, has driven me for many years to press, press, press into Christ. The idea certainly is not that of trying to be superior to other Christians. If that were the motivation it would have collapsed years ago in the midst of fiery trials.
No, it is just the fact that God has given the invitation and made it possible. It is sufficient that this is something God desires. This is motivation enough to the individual who wants to please God.
Think how it makes Christ feel when a believer chooses, like the Apostle Paul, to forget everything else and press forward to the fullness of resurrection life in Christ. I know Christ then is rewarded for His incredible sacrifice. He sees the travail of His soul and is satisfied.
To my way of thinking, to ignore the door that has been opened before us in our time, is to be monumentally shortsighted. The present life is short. Eternity is long.
And too, think of how Jesus feels!
These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. (Revelation 14:4)
The Inside Before the Outside—We cannot be resurrected to eternal life on the outside until we first have been resurrected to eternal life on the inside.
I have preached and taught on many subjects since the Lord called me to preach in 1945. I have stressed the forming of Christ in us, judgment on our sinful behavior as Christians, the eternal Temple of God, the four great types of the Bible, the Servant of the Lord, and various other topics.
During the last two or three years the resurrection of the dead has become prominent in my thinking.
In many of my writings I have pointed out that there are two major resurrections. There is the first resurrection, that which will occur when the Lord Jesus next returns. This resurrection is limited to the victorious saints, those who have prepared themselves diligently for the change from mortality to immortality.
There is the second resurrection. This is the general resurrection of mankind. It will take place at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age. Everyone will participate in the second resurrection except the victorious saints who were raised by the Lord Jesus when He came at the beginning of the thousand-year Kingdom Age.
I don’t know how many Bible teachers are warning the believers that they will not be raised from the dead when the Lord appears unless they, like the Apostle Paul, have pressed forward to this event. The two resurrections may not be commonly understood in the present hour; but my guess is that before too long, numerous godly pastors and teachers will be heralding this extremely important understanding.
What is the difference between a Christian who is raised in the first resurrection, and a Christian who is raised in the second resurrection along with the remainder of mankind? The difference is, the Christian who is raised in the first resurrection attained to this resurrection by laying all else aside in order to gain Christ.
And so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:11)
Since it is quite clear, from the context of the above verse, that it expresses the central goal of Paul’s Christian life, it is remarkable that it is not preached more than it is. Would you agree with me on this? In fact, I don’t think I ever have heard even one sermon devoted to attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
We know from the Lord’s words that all who are in the graves shall hear His voice and come forth, whether they like it or not, at the general resurrection of the dead. The fact that Paul was striving so hard to attain to the resurrection indicates indisputably, I believe, that Paul is referring to the special priestly resurrection that comes at the onset of the thousand-year Kingdom Age.
What does Paul say about attaining to the resurrection from the dead?
Paul says we must lay aside all else in our life, counting everything except the gaining of Christ as garbage. How many Christians do you know who are doing this? Yet, Paul advises us to be thus minded.
Paul says we must live in the power of Christ’s resurrection now—today. Can you see the reasoning behind this? Our body cannot be raised and made immortal until first our inward man has been filled with resurrection life.
Paul says we must share the sufferings of Christ.
Where do sufferings fit in the picture? As we suffer our old nature is crucified. The more we are brought down in the death of the cross, the more God must fill our inward nature with Christ’s resurrection life so we may proceed on our way. Has this happened to you? Are you learning to live by His Life? Only those who truly can say “Christ is my life” are eligible to return with Him when He appears, and pick up their body from its place of interment.
Paul says we must press toward the mark, the mark of the resurrection to eternal life.
The saints who are qualified to appear with Christ will not be judged at that time. They have been judged previously. This makes a great deal of sense, doesn’t it. Since they will be judging the world in the Battle of Armageddon, they themselves must first be judged.
Be honest now. Referring to the third chapter of the Book of Philippians:
How many Christians that you know count everything that was profitable to them as loss for Christ?
How many consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ?
How many have lost all things, considering them all rubbish, that they may gain Christ?
How many want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection above all else?
How many want to become like Him in His death that they may attain to the resurrection from the dead?
How many are forgetting what is behind and are straining toward what is ahead?
Paul says all of us who are mature should take such a view of things.
To be qualified to be raised when the Lord appears we must take such a view of things.
But how many American Christians meet these criteria? I was taught by the Navigators when I was first saved to go by the Word of God. The Word of God tells me that those who meet the above criteria are those who are attaining to the resurrection (obviously the first resurrection) from the dead.
Maybe there are only a few hundred American believers who are prepared to be raised from the dead when Jesus appears. Perhaps it will be a Gideon’s army. It wouldn’t be the first time God worked with a small part of His people.
I will tell you a story. I have reason to believe this actually happened. We have to be careful when we repeat Christian anecdotes because most of them were concocted by evangelists who are careless with the truth.
A Christian author went to his publisher and said he wanted to write a book about God. The publisher responded by saying people won’t buy it if it is not about how their life is going to be improved in some manner.
Can you imagine such a thing?
A study of Church history will reveal that this has not always been the case. It is America of the twenty-first century that is producing such non-Christians.
I know there are many pastors and congregations that have not bowed the knee to Baal. May the Lord bless them richly. But it appears they are becoming increasingly scarce as one minister copies another in an effort to build a larger congregation.
Here is another bit of wisdom I heard recently. When we focus on the ministry and on the people we die spiritually. This assuredly is a fact. We are to keep looking to Jesus. He builds His own churches.
I like to think of Moses, the pastor of millions of people, spending his time in the Holy of Holies, speaking to God. I don’t believe Moses would have been as effective if he was running from one meeting to another with his bag of falafels for lunch on the run.
O to keep our eyes on the Lord Jesus as He fills us today with resurrection life in our inward nature, in anticipation of the day when He clothes our resurrected inward nature with an immortal body!
I think an immortal body is worth pursuing. How about you. This present earth would not be such a bad place to live if we had a body like Jesus, would it? Maybe what we need is a change in us rather than a change in our location.
How about that!
Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6)
The Proper Focus—A focus on ministry or on the needs or desires of people will weaken or slay our spiritual life.
Our focus in America of 2003 is on the rights of people. If the law inconveniences us we change the law. We really are a soft culture waiting for a more disciplined nation to challenge our way of life. And one will, I believe.
This focus on people has permeated the Christian churches.
Do you know some consider “fruitfulness” to be equivalent to large numbers of people. It doesn’t matter too much if any of the individuals have come to know the Lord, just as long as they come to church.
Consequently pastors, being anxious to attract people to their services, bring in star athletes, jugglers, weight lifters, clowns, and magicians.
It appears many, if not all, denominations emphasize the acquiring of members. They use the Great Commission as their scriptural basis, not realizing that the Great Commission has to do with teaching disciples to obey the commandments of Christ, not with gaining members for a denomination.
Christian book stores major in texts that instruct believers in ways of using Jesus Christ to benefit their lives, such as in how to make more money.
Religious surveys are studied to determine where there are areas of people who are ignorant of the Gospel.
Money is raised to build native churches and orphanages.
There are Christian political action groups.
Christians are speaking out against abortion and homosexuality.
There are numerous tasks waiting for intelligent, talented believers to dedicate themselves to their accomplishment.
We would not speak one word against the sacrifices that are made each day by Christian people who are attempting to do the work of the Kingdom of God.
If I am not mistaken, we have a great need, in 2003 in America, to find out what God is saying. I think it is time for there to be some believers, as least, who will position themselves constantly before the Lord Jesus to find out what He is saying and doing.
If we concentrate on the needs of people and ministry to people, we easily can wear ourselves out without actually having done what Christ wanted. Why is this? It is because the Lord Jesus wants to build His own Church. He knows just how He wants it done.
We may be well intentioned, but this is not enough. We used to say, when referring to people who felt that God would save them because they were “sincere people,” that sincerity is not enough. If you don’t know how to swim, and you find yourself in deep water, you will drown no matter how sincere you are about wanting to survive.
So it is true in the building of the Kingdom of God. It is not enough to be sincerely working for Jesus. You have to first of all know what Jesus wants. Does that make sense to you?
Suppose you were a carpenter who needed work. You went to an area where several homes were being built in a development. You chose a spot, took out your tools, and began to plan the foundation for a large apartment building.
Pretty soon the foreman came over and asked you what you were doing. You told him you were a carpenter, you needed work, you knew how to construct an apartment, you believed this was a good place for an apartment, and so you were doing your best to get started.
Then the foreman told you that the area you had selected was for a recreational area. If you wanted a job you were to go to the office and apply.
This is the way it is today, I believe. We need to go to the office and apply, not just imagine what would be a helpful thing to do.
I have always enjoyed the thought that God told Moses to build the Tabernacle according to the pattern Moses had seen in the mountain. How can we build the Body of Christ if God does not show us the pattern?
One time in a meeting of ministers who were busily planning how they were going to further God’s work, the Lord spoke to my wife, Audrey: “Will you also leave me?”
On another occasion I was sitting in a meeting while plans were being made. I had the feeling if Christ were to appear they would fight against Him.
Suppose Christ came to a denomination and commanded the leadership to cease all their activities, close their Bible schools, call in their missionaries, and wait for Him to show them what He wanted.
Could the leadership do this cheerfully and promptly? If not, their organization has become an idol.
Whenever God tells us to stop what we are presently doing and go in another direction we are to obey cheerfully and promptly. If we don’t, we are guilty of idolatry. There is some thing, or circumstance, or relationship we love more than we love God.
Can the Christian ministry and the needs of people become idols? Absolutely!
We need to spend more time in the Presence of the Lord. Moses would spend time in the Presence of the Lord and then come out and speak to the people.
When Moses finished speaking to them, he put a veil over his face. But whenever he entered the LORD’s presence to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out. And when he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, They saw that his face was radiant. Then Moses would put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with the LORD. (Exodus 34:33-35)
The emphasis here is not on the needs of people, nor is it on ministry. The emphasis is on God and His will for Israel.
We need to get back to this emphasis. We need to stress the Glory of Christ and His active intervention in our midst.
I was looking through one of the old hymn books. We don’t use hymn books in our church any more, we employ an overhead projector that shows the hymns and choruses on a screen. The newer hymns and choruses are excellent. They emphasize righteousness and spiritual warfare.
The emphasis of many of the older hymns is on the Glory of God:
“Praise God from whom all blessings flow.”
“Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.”
“Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty!
“All glory be to God on high.”
And also on the overcoming life:
“I’m pressing on the upward way.”
“I’ve yielded to God and I’m saved every hour.”
Regarding the previous line, written by James M. Kirk, many of the worshipers of today would have no idea what Mr. Kirk was speaking of. They have taken the “four steps of salvation” and so they have their ticket to Heaven.
But the true saint understands precisely what is meant by “I’m saved every hour.”
The truth is, as I see it, is that many of us in the United States of America are backslidden. It’s been years since we have heard from God. We are grinding at the mills of Christian ministry because our eyes have been put out.
We need to get back to God. We need to worship God rather than people and ministry. We need to stand in the Holy Place and hear the quiet voice.
We have ministry all over the place, in the United States. But much of it is drier than yesterday’s manna. We need to be visited by the Holy One of Israel.
Do you have that desire in your heart—that God would come an show Himself in heavenly splendor? I think there are many of us who do. We are tired of manmade plans to save our neighborhood or the world.
“Sirs, we want to see Jesus!”
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)
Discipline is the Route to Freedom—The love of pleasure is one of the greatest enemies of the victorious Christian life. Discipline requires that we deny ourselves and follow Christ each day. This means when we have to choose between pleasure and doing what is right, we do what is right even though it causes us grief.
I have noticed, in my all too brief Christian life, that the love of pleasure is one of the greatest enemies of the victorious Christian life.
Treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—(II Timothy 3:4)
But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. (I Timothy 5:6)
Now, when you speak of loving pleasure you are speaking of us Americans, even American Christians. Probably many other cultures scorn us because we are soft and pleasure-loving. But I notice each one of them has its own way of finding pleasure.
The rewards offered in the Bible to the victorious saint are marvelous indeed. For example, the rewards set forth in the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation.
When it is brought to the attention of the believer that the rewards normally associated with the average church member, such as ruling the nations with Jesus, are designated for the victorious saints—to no one else, that person is brought to a decision. He or she has to make a choice.
What choice does the believer have to make? The choice is simple: “Do I continue to live in the manner that brings pleasure to me; or do I launch out into a new kind of life that may not bring much pleasure to me?”
How often the choice is between discipleship and pleasure!
This is where discipline enters the picture. The person of integrity, when faced with the decision whether to follow the path that leads to pleasure, or whether to do what is right even though the result of that choice may bring grief, gets a grip on himself and goes in the direction of what he perceives to be the right way. He or she may or may not be a Christian. (Many Christians are lacking in integrity, and for this reason can never make a success of the Christian discipleship.)
If any of us chooses to follow the path of pleasure, even though he knows it is the wrong way to go, he eventually bring himself into bondage. If any of us chooses to deny himself, take up his cross, and follow the Lord Jesus, he eventually finds himself in a large place of spiritual freedom.
Jesus taught us that whoever commits sin is the slave of sin. That which seemed to us so desirable proved to be a trap bringing chains upon us.
Here is a paradox: freedom to follow the path of pleasure leads to bondage; the discipline of denying the way of pleasure and bearing our personal cross after the Lord Jesus leads to freedom.
There really is no third choice. Either we follow our adamic appetites and passions, or else we seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. We either choose the path of pleasure and die, or choose the way of the cross and live.
Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. (Luke 9:23,24)
Feelings, and God’s Will—What feels so good and so right is not always of God.
After having been a Christian for 58 years I still am finding that we have to be extremely cautious when we are seeking the Lord’s will. You would think by this time I could always tell what is of God and what isn’t.
You know, there are occasions when you are facing something that seems so right, so fitting, so natural. And yet, as you persevere in prayer (sometimes for several years) you discover what had appeared to absolutely be of the Lord was not of the Lord.
I am one of those who hear from the Lord when I am praying. I have to be especially careful concerning each thing I hear, because Satan can imitate God so precisely.
They used to say we are to go by faith and not by feeling. I have always disputed that saying. There is no wall between faith and feeling. Faith always, I believe, brings satisfying feelings to us.
The contrast is between faith and disobedience, or faith and unbelief, or faith and fearfulness. Not between faith and feeling.
Yet I know what the old-timers meant when they said we go by faith and not by feeling. They meant we obey what is written in the Scriptures and do not trust any momentary feelings we may have.
Most of us humans have many feelings. But they are not reliable indicators of God’s will.
If we are planning a new course, and don’t feel quite right about it, or the thought of it does not bring peace, we need to hold up and not launch out. That inner disquiet very well may be the Holy Spirit. So feelings do enter into the picture.
I remember Jeremiah gave a prophecy. When the prophecy came to pass, Jeremiah said, “Then I knew this was the word of the Lord.” (Jeremiah 32:8)
You may be absolutely sure that you have heard from God. You may feel so good about the issue. It seems so right, so natural, so expected.
My suggestion is: “Wait until there is evidence in your surroundings that God has moved or is moving.
Our feelings, our prophecies, are so subjective! But when we see what we have been told taking place around us, then, like Jeremiah, we may be more certain this really was the Word of the Lord to us.
I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we have many deceived Christians on our hands in the days to come. The Lord is beginning to speak more plainly than I have known in time past. Numerous believers are professing to hear from God. This can be good, or quite dangerous.
I have learned to always ask God, several times a day, to keep my heart and mind clear through Christ Jesus. I have learned also to withhold my judgment of an impression or a “word,” or desire, until I see some action in my wife, or elsewhere in my surroundings. Sometimes a powerful wind blows, there is an earthquake, there is fire, the rocks fly about. We are tempted to go in this new and thrilling way.
But experience cautions us to wait for the quiet voice of God. When God speaks, we know it. It is different from the previous commotion.
Even when we know the Father has spoken, we still do well to wait for some evidence in our surroundings.
I know there are believers who will assure us they never can be deceived or mistaken. They rush about in their pride, following their own desires, believing God is with them. Satan wisely waits for an opportune time before letting them become aware they have been lied to.
Why does God permit such deception? I am not altogether certain. But I trust the righteousness and goodness of God that there is a good purpose in permitting such an enormous amount of deception in our day.
It requires self-control to not yield to the pleasurable sensations that masquerade as the voice of God. It requires humility for us, as an experienced Christian, to admit we have been deceived and to make whatever restitution God indicates is necessary.
I personally have been deceived more than once in my life. Have I learned from these experiences? I think I have. The main lesson I have learned is that we cannot save ourselves. Only God is able to keep us from deception.
Sometimes God decides that major surgery is necessary rather than a more conservative procedure. In this instance He may permit us to be deceived—even when we are doing our best to serve the Lord.
If God sees there are idols in us, and they are deeply rooted, He may permit us to act out our passions until we cannot deny our folly. If we keep looking to Him, He brings us out victoriously, and a good deal wiser and more humble.
I am not presenting an excuse for sin at this point. I am saying how God works. He does gamble that we will survive, and so He permits Satan to bounce us up and down, just as Satan treated Job so cruelly.
All that is in our heart has to come out, if we are to fully inherit all that God has for us. All of the old wickedness must be destroyed from us. In turn we must be filled with all the fullness of God. This is the negative and the positive so essential to the fullness of redemption—the complete removal of the old and the complete installation of the new.
I do not claim the way of discipleship is easy. It is not. But then, life is not easy. I think of this when I see the homeless men and women in our area—people who at one time had been someone’s darling boy or girl, but now are shabbily dressed, bowed and broken, pushing all their belongings in a shopping cart, unable any longer to meet the challenges that life brings to all of us.
No, the Christian discipleship is not an easy path. Neither is the path of the sinner. Everyone is crucified: God, the saved, and the sinner.
There was a horrible rebellion in Heaven. God is putting an end to it through Christ, the Righteous One.
The Church has been forgiven. The sin in the Church now must be judged and all worldliness, lust, and self-will removed. Then the Church must be filled with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
When a part of the Church has thus been completely redeemed, these members will return with Jesus Christ and install the Kingdom of God on the earth. In that day the rebellion that came down from Heaven at the time of the creation will be conquered with the rod of iron. Finally the advent of the Spirit of Christ into the heart of each person found worthy of being brought into the new world of righteousness will complete the work of redemption.
How long the complete redemption of the creation will take I cannot say. However I can say with confidence that we are now at the stage where a godly remnant are confessing and turning away from their sins. They are looking for a greater portion of Christ dwelling in them. This much I know.
When Christ will return I cannot say, but it does appear from the Book of Daniel and other references that it will be a while yet.
However, we must be instantly prepared for His return; for He may come to us personally and require an account of our stewardship.
Let us therefore enjoy the good feeling we Christians have deep in our heart, remembering that Satan always is interested in leading us out of God’s will. We must present our body a living sacrifice if we are to prove the will of God for ourselves.
There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. (Proverbs 16:25)
Adamic Life and Eternal Life—There are two kinds of life, adamic life and eternal Divine Life. Christ came to rescue us from adamic life and to fill us with more abundant Divine Life. Thus the Christian discipleship becomes a struggle as we seek to overthrow our adamic life and live in the new Divine Life.
Let’s think about what a human being is. He or she has a backbone and is a mammal, that is, the female nourishes her young with her own milk. He is warm-blooded, having a mechanism that maintains a body temperature.
His brain is superior to the other animals. He has a soul, a source of moral judgment and will. His natural inclination, until he is persuaded through education that he should not do this, is to pray when he has needs. He has a spirit that under the right circumstances can enter union with the Spirit of God.
His life comes from the energy derived as cells are burned in the presence of oxygen. The program of metabolism operates as blood picks up oxygen from the lungs and circulates it through the body. Blood-life is corruptible. This fact may be noticed when blood is collected after the body dies. It soon become putrid.
We Christians believe when the adamic man dies his spiritual nature continues to exist somewhere, while his body remains in its place of interment, awaiting the resurrection and final judgment.
None of the above is eternal life. Existence after death is not eternal life. Resurrection in the Day of Judgment is not eternal life. Perhaps we have eternal existence after we die, but that is not what the New Testament means by eternal life.
The Lord Jesus Christ came to give the members of the adamic race eternal life.
“Yes, we know.”
I don’t think we do. I think we picture Jesus Christ coming into the world to take us to Heaven when we die, where we will live forever.
This is not eternal life. This is not what Christ came to do. The Lord Jesus Christ did not come to earth so we can escape Hell and go to Heaven.
Since there is no basis whatever for such a gospel, why are we preaching it?
We must be spiritually blind!
If eternal life is not eternal existence, or residence in Heaven, precisely what is it?
Eternal life is the Life of God. The Lord Jesus Christ is the very personification of the Life of God. He is filled with the Life of God. As far as I am concerned, Christ is the Tree of Life who was in the Garden of Eden.
Christ did come to earth in an adamic form. While He was here He lived two lives. He lived as a flesh-and-blood son of Mary. He also lived as the Son of God, the Fullness of eternal Life.
Christ came as a Bridge between the two kinds of life so we might be able to cross over to Divine Life.
Escaping Hell and being permitted to enter the Presence of God when we die are rights we acquire when we are filled with Divine Life. The emphasis is not on escaping Hell and entering Heaven. The emphasis is changing from an adamic creature to a new creation that lives by God’s Life.
If there is any truth more needed in today’s Christian teaching, I don’t know what it is.
We have millions of Christians who have been taught they are free from the threat of Hell and on their way to Heaven. Yet, they have little or no eternal life. Eternal life is a kind of life, like physical life. You can tell when someone is filled with eternal life. They don’t behave like the children of Adam. They behave like Christ and are of Christ.
We are given a Seed of eternal life, we might say, when we first come to Christ. Then it is up to us what we do with that Seed If we, having received Christ and His Life, then continue to live in our adamic nature as always, spending our time eating, drinking, playing, working and reproducing, giving little time to prayer, reading the Word, and fellowshiping with the saints, that Seed of Life will wither and die. Read the parable of the sower.
If we give our attention to nourishing the Seed, we will reap eternal life. We will reap life one hundredfold, or sixtyfold, or thirtyfold, depending on the diligence we apply to it.
Our goal is to be filled with life. The adamic world died on the cross. The death of the adamic world is not evident, in that people still are breathing and moving around. Nonetheless, the adamic world died on the cross. In the future the earth and heaven we know now will be no more. That marks the end of the adamic creation. When we are raised from the dead in the final judgment we will not be standing on the earth, for there will be no earth at that time. We will be suspended in the spirit realm.
The adamic race never was meant to be permanent. Its purpose may be twofold. First, to provide a stock into which eternal life can be grafted. Second, to give God an opportunity to test His children; to see what they will do when they enter the true world; to develop character in them.
But the present world is no more than this. The worse possible mistake any believer can make is to clutch the perishing things of the present world, neglecting the eternal life that Christ can to bring.
Eternal life is related to righteousness. This is why the Apostle John says no one who hates his brother has eternal life in him. This is what I meant by saying you can tell if someone possesses eternal life by the way he or she behaves.
It is common for the children of Adam to hate their brothers. But no individual who possesses eternal life hates his brother or sister.
Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know no murderer has eternal life in him. (I John 3:15)
Many church people have hatred in their hearts. This means they have no eternal life.
What if they have accepted Christ? It does not matter. They have no eternal life.
What I am pointing out is the damage religious thinking has done to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Our religious teaching is that if we “accept Christ” we have eternal life, even if we hate our brother. But the Bible, which we profess to regard as the inerrant Word of God, announces that no murderer has eternal life in him.
We are messed up! We are teaching a religion about Heaven and Hell, similar to many other of the world’s religions. Meanwhile many of God’s people in America have little or no eternal life.
Why do many of God’s people in America have little or no eternal life?
Because they are following their sinful nature. They are trusting their religion to save them. Meanwhile they are worldly, full of the lusts and passions of the flesh and soul, and self-willed—extremely self-willed!
But won’t they go to Heaven by grace?
The issue is not Heaven. The issue is not Hell. It is the adamic man who desires to escape Hell and go to Heaven. The adamic man wants to go to Heaven so he can eat whatever he wants and not get fat. Yet the adamic man is not logical in his desires, because the things he cherishes are not found in Heaven but in Hell.
The issue is eternal life! Until we are filled with eternal life we cannot perform the Kingdom tasks for which we have been created.
Learning to live each day in the Spirit of God, in eternal life, is not easy. A thousand pressures and distractions seek to pull us down into the adamic life. It is a fight of faith, a warfare against many enemies.
Each day we have to choose life. We do so by refusing to follow our sinful nature. We pray continually, seeking the Presence of Christ in all that we do. We are cultivating eternal life. We are sowing to eternal life. Eternal life is growing in us.
We are becoming as Christ was when He was here. Christ had an adamic nature but not a sinful nature. In the beginning, Adam and Eve had an adamic nature but they did not have a sinful nature.
As I said, Christ had an adamic nature. He also was filled with the Fullness of God. We are to press forward into that resurrection life until we are prepared fully to be raised when the Lord comes. Now we have a sinful, adamic nature, and a new nature. Each day the one strives against the other. Each day we assign victory to either our sinful adamic nature, or else our righteous eternal life.
Eternal life is a genuine form of life! It comes to us in the form of the body and blood of Christ. We are given more life every time we choose to turn away from our fleshly desires and do what we believe Christ wants us to do.
Our goal, as was true of the Apostle Paul, is to attain to the resurrection. Paul is not speaking here of the general resurrection of the dead that will occur at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age. Rather Paul is referring to the first resurrection—that which will take place at the beginning of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, that is, when the Lord next comes to earth.
Why do people want to make their eternal residence in Heaven? Simply answered.
This present world is the valley of the shadow of death. It is a struggle to survive from the moment we are born. Who wouldn’t want to go to a wonderful world of beauty and peace and escape the problems we all face.
But moving from the earth to Heaven solves nothing whatever from God’s point of view. God has several Kingdom tasks that are waiting for people who can perform them, such as serving as the dwelling place of God; being a brother of the Lord Jesus Christ; being a member of the Wife of the Lamb, of the Body of Christ, of the Servant of the Lord—the One who will bring justice to the nations of the earth.
These are extremely important needs that must be met before there can be peace in the creation, and there are many more such needs.
Adam cannot serve as the dwelling place of God. Will God dwell permanently in a mammal?
Adam cannot serve as a brother of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is Son of God and Son of Man. So it must be true that every one of His brothers is born of God and born of man.
Adam cannot serve as a member of the Wife of the Lamb. How can the Lamb marry that which is unlike Himself? How can the Lamb marry a warm-blooded vertebrate? The Lord Jesus is the Tree of Life. Can the Tree of Life become one with that which is filled with corruption?
Can Adam, who cannot cease from war, who is always seeking his own glorification, bring justice to the nations of the earth? The thought is ridiculous!
But everyone who is filled with eternal life, the Life of Jesus Christ, indeed can serve as the permanent dwelling place of the Father.
Everyone who is filled with eternal life indeed can be accepted as a brother of the Lord Jesus.
Everyone who is filled with eternal life indeed can enter total union with the Lamb and serve for eternity as a counterpart, a complement of the Lamb.
We understand, therefore, that our goal is to be filled with life and with more abundant life.
Heaven and Hell merely are places. They have their respective roles in the scheme of things. The real issue is what we are as a person. We must be changed from an adamic creature to a new creation in which all things are of God.
If we are not changed, then we still are waiting for Christ to enable us to escape the adamic personality and become a new creation. This is true whether we are on the earth or in Heaven. We are not changed by going to a place. We are changed only through our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
He Himself is eternal Life. He Himself is the Resurrection unto eternal Life, the goal of the striving of the Apostle Paul.
Let us make sure we take advantage of every opportunity the Spirit gives us to set aside our adamic nature and to put on the new Man, the new Life that has come down from Heaven that the spiritually dead children of Adam might live.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; And whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25,26)
Confusion—We are in doctrinal confusion today. We don’t know what God’s goal is for us, and we don’t know how He is getting us there. We are not systematically working toward clearly defined objectives.
I like to think in terms of objectives, and how our efforts are achieving our stated objectives. Do you?
I remember when programmed instruction first entered the thinking of public school people, due in part, I believe, to the research of Professor Skinner.
I was a public-school educator at that time, and it so happened that I attended a class on programmed instruction at the University of Rochester in New York. If I am not mistaken, it was one of the first such classes to be held in the world.
The emphasis was on clarifying our objectives—exactly what behavior we desired as an outcome of our teaching. I loved it. It made so much sense!
I knew, as an experienced teacher, that we elementary teachers did not teach in terms of specific goals. Each teacher emphasized what he or she felt was important. It was a seat-of-the-pants kind of thing. If it felt good we did it.
Some of the teachers were seriously involved in social objectives. They saw the school as a way of changing society.
Others of us were more concerned with the traditional academic subject matter.
If the goal of the school was to produce skill in reading, writing, and arithmetic, then much time was wasted because these were not the objectives of many of the teachers, except in a kind of nominal way.
For example, a third-grade teacher might impulsively decide to spend the day making kites, and then going out and flying them. He or she might have a kind of general idea that this was a good “social experience,” or taught art in some manner. But the teacher was not thinking about measurable, tangible objectives. He or she was intent on doing something that day that the children would enjoy.
Since I have been out of public education for many years, I do not know how the matter of clearly-defined objectives has fared. I think this issue tends to be ignored, since instruments can be developed that measure progress toward specific objectives, which in turn makes it possible to evaluate a teacher’s effectiveness. Obviously this is threatening to the staff, who would far rather live with the idea that they are doing something that somehow is “good for the children,” and good for society as a whole.
Christian teaching suffers from the same lack of specific objectives. Perhaps I am mistaken, but I don’t believe Christian pastors and teachers are afraid of being evaluated. I am not certain why we do not use the objectives set forth in the New Testament but have developed our religious objectives, such as getting people to Heaven by grace.
Several years ago, before cell phones became so popular, only business and professional people had car phones. To have a car phone, to be speaking to someone while we were driving down the road, was a status symbol.
Consequently some entrepreneur (believe it or not) manufactured and sold imitation car phones. I don’t know whether the car phones were wood or plastic. They resembled an actual phone but were not functional of course. A person who wanted to be viewed as important (there sure are various kinds of people in the world!) could hold up the dummy phone to his ear so people would think he was someone of significance in that he had a car phone.
Wanting people to think we are important is not a socially acceptable objective. We would not want other people to know we were holding up a dummy phone so we would be regarded as important.
It is true also that the objective of getting more people to join our particular church, which is far and away the primary goal of Christian efforts in our day, is not really acceptable, if you think about it. Not only is this objective without basis in the New Testament, but I would think most people would question the idea that the larger a church is the better it is.
So we of today do not have scriptural, clearly defined objectives toward which our efforts are to lead us.
So much for a lack of specific, scriptural objectives.
Now, to our way of attaining our goals.
In the case of the dummy phone, the objective was to make an individual look more important than he actually was. I really doubt that any of us are so interested in other people that we care whether or not they possess a status symbol. Perhaps there are such envious folks, but I would not care much for their opinions. Would you? So I don’t believe those who purchased and exhibited fake phones came to be regarded as important. Their method of attaining their objective was probably ineffective.
Let us say we stepped into a factory that manufactured fake car phones. Let us suppose further that the company believed it actually was producing genuine phones.
We might argue with them that their phones did not function, and that as car phones became more popular they would be out of business. Their phones were not actually phones!
They might respond by saying, “Look at the thousands of phones we are producing. We are finding sources for our materials that are going to permit us to manufacture these phones in the millions, and drop the price considerably.”
“But,” we answer, “You are going to crash. Your product soon will be worthless on the market.”
“It doesn’t matter,” they respond. “Look at the number of phones we will have on the market at the end of this year!”
I realize this is not a perfect analogy by any means. But there are some points in common.
There are clearly stated objectives in the New Testament. We are ignoring them, just as in the case of the factory above they were ignoring the fact that their phones would not serve to meet the needs of people in the days to come; and it did not matter how many thousands they manufactured, they were spending their strength in vain.
So it is with us. We might mount an evangelistic campaign that brought several million people into our organization. But what if we were not achieving the objectives set forth in the New Testament? What if we had the wrong goals? What good would our outlay of money and personnel accomplish in that case?
It would be like a man who missed his exit on the highway, but kept driving ahead at full speed because the weather was good and the highway was clear.
Like a man who will not stop and sharpen his axe because he doesn’t have time.
The factory described above did not know how to manufacture a genuine cell phone, only a phony car phone. So they were heading toward disaster.
This is where we are today. We are emphasizing world evangelism without understanding whether we are bringing the right people into the churches and teaching them what they are supposed to know.
If I remember correctly, the Holy Spirit guided the Apostle Paul in the Book of Acts as to what cities he should teach in and what cities he should avoid. Am I correct? If so, we better give some thought to trading our computer-generated models for prayer-generated models.
Are there really specific objectives in the New Testament that have little to do with how many people are in the assembly or how they are to get to Heaven.
Yes, there are. The New Testament lays out the objectives, and in numerous passages instructs us how to achieve these specific objectives.
Perhaps it is time we thought about them.
One objective is to be made into the moral image of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Another objective is to be brought into untroubled union with the Father through Christ.
These are clearly stated objectives! There is nothing vague about them. They have nothing to do with adding more people to the assembly or going to Heaven by grace.
Now, has God told us how to reach these lofty objectives?
Yes, God told us in the fourth chapter of the Book of Ephesians that the ascended Christ has given various gifts and ministries to the Church so we all might come to the fullness of Christ.
Then too, there are numerous practical admonitions in the New Testament that are designed to help us press forward to the fullness of Christ.
Paul stated as his supreme goal attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Paul told us also, in the third chapter of the Book of Philippians, the steps he was taking to achieve that wonderful goal.
So we have a manual, the New Testament, that lays out our objectives and how to achieve them. In any system, the operations of the system are reviewed continually to see if the goals are being reached. The quality control department tells us if our goals are being attained.
I think Christian leaders might consider reviewing the New Testament objectives and the New Testament methods for attaining to those objectives.
Otherwise we will continue on as the factory turning out fake car phones. The revolution comes, cell phones sweep the world, and the factory is boasting of the millions of car phones it is turning out—now totally useless!
If numbers of people were the objective, let us consider that the Catholic people number somewhere in the hundreds of millions—two or three times as many adherents as the entire population of the United States. Does this mean the Catholic Church is fulfilling God’s purpose to a greater extent than some small, independent work that is successfully turning drug and alcoholic addicts to Christ and continuing to work with them until they are established in Christ.
I visited one such effort recently and I was thrilled to see the young men they have taken from the street and filled with the love of Christ.
This small, independent institution to my way of thinking was of vast importance, even though the group was less than a hundred people.
We need to get our objectives and our methods straightened out or we are going to find ourselves peddling a useless religion that Christ does not recognize and that will not come close to meeting the awful needs of the age of moral horrors that is upon us..
Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:13)
The Tenth Camel—When there are ten camels to be watered, wait until the tenth camel has been satisfied. It may be that tenth camel that reveals God’s will.
Eliezer had selected ten camels and then set out to find a bride for Isaac. When he arrived at the town of Nahor, who was Abraham’s brother, Eliezer asked for a sign from the Lord:
May it be that when I say to a girl, “Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too”—let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know you have shown kindness to my master. (Genesis 24:44)
The sign was that the girl would volunteer to water the camels—not some of them, but all ten.
I don’t know about you, but ideas go through my mind continually. Sometimes it appears as though God is going in a certain direction. All the signs indicate the direction is of the Lord. Nine of the camels are watered in a short period of time. Almost everything falls into place.
Then there is that tenth camel!
For some reason, a factor remains that does not fit what we think is of God.
Now it is right at this point that the battle is won or lost. We can make a false move. We can think “Nine of them were watered, so it must be the Lord. I thought there were ten camels, but there were only nine.”
“I have to exercise more faith. God helps those who help themselves.”
Did you ever work with a jigsaw puzzle and find a piece that almost fits? I have. I figured “well, when they made the puzzle they just weren’t that accurate. It won’t take much to squash that little bit of cardboard into place.”
But we keep looking. We find another piece that might work. Guess what! It slides into place with no forcing necessary.
I haven’t attempted to put together a great number of jigsaw puzzles, but in those I did work at I never found a piece that had to be forced. When I found the right piece it slipped into place with no forcing.
You may be in such a situation right now. The wind may be blowing. The mountain may be shaking. The rocks may be flying. The fire may be burning. Don’t budge. Wait for that tenth camel. God is well able to let you know His will if you really want to serve the Lord. You don’t have to force the situation.
Wait until that tenth camel lifts up his head and walks away from the trough.
So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough, ran back to the well to draw more water, and drew enough for all his camels. (Genesis 24:20)
How Do We Become a New Creation?—The Apostle Paul taught us that if any person is in Christ Jesus, there is a new creation. What does this mean? What do we have to do to qualify?
The expression “a new creation” refers to a transformation infinitely greater than merely making a profession of belief in Jesus Christ.
Paul says, “Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God.”
No doubt the “old things” refer to our original personality.
All things are become new reminds us of God saying; “Behold I make all things new.” We certainly are not speaking here of a modified adamic nature.
I would like to point out a problem with the translations of this passage. Perhaps the translators are endeavoring to be helpful, as sometimes is the case. But I want you to notice something and see what you think.
The translations read “he is a new creation,” or, he is a new creature.”
But the Greek seems to read “there is a new creation.”
Compare “he is a new creation”; “there is a new creation.”
Do you see a problem here? I certainly do.
When I first became a Christian, knowing nothing of the Bible, I was taught that once I accepted Christ I was a new creature, according to Second Corinthians 5:17. I accepted this teaching blindly, not having much of an understanding of what it meant.
It was several years before it began to dawn on me that I had not become a new creature instantly but was on the way to becoming one.
There is a genuine issue here.
The believers in America are not aware, as far as I can tell, that salvation is a program. They think it is a ticket. They imagine that once they “accept Christ” and are filled with the Holy Spirit, the next major event is eternal residence in Heaven.
They are not at all aware accepting Christ and being filled with the Holy Spirit are only the very first steps on the journey that leads to a total transformation of their personality.
And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (II Corinthians 3:18)
Part of the reason they believe this is because they have been taught that if they profess Christ, this is the same as being “in Christ,” and therefore presto! they now are a totally new person. I would submit that numerous people make an initial profession of Christ but never go on to abide in Him.
To abide in Christ is to be dwelling in His Presence more each day. When we begin as a Christian we may be aware only a brief period each day that we are living in Christ. But as we press forward into eternal life our awareness of Christ increases, as we seek His guidance in every detail of life. Now it can be said of us that we are “in Christ.”
The key to the new creation is that of abiding in Christ. We cannot change ourselves, although we can resist most of the sins that tempt us if we are willing to exert our will power. But the actual new covenant, the writing of God’s law in our mind and heart can be accomplished only through the work of the Holy Spirit, as we seek to live in Christ at all times.
At first; it cannot be said of us that all the old has passed away, and all has become new. The amount of observable change at the time of an initial profession of Christ varies greatly from person to person. At one extreme is the individual who goes down to the altar and there is no visible change in his or her personality after that. (Although who can say what will be true ten years from now? After all, the Gospel of the Kingdom is a seed!)
At the other extreme is the drunken, abusive person who receives Christ and becomes a lamb. I have seen this with older people. But for most of us, our husband or wife could not report that we have been totally transformed in behavior upon receiving Christ as our Savior.
Our children could tell that we are not completely new.
Our neighbors would see us as much the same person.
Our boss on the job might not notice such a giant change (although sometimes there is a dramatic change when a person receives Christ, but it is not at the level of all the old has gone and now all of the personality is of God). And the wonderful change may not be as lasting as one would hope. We can notice this in the amount of personal problems that arise in the local assemblies among people who have been believers for many years.
There is a problem with informing people that once they make a profession of Christ they are a new creature—all the old has passed away; now all things are of God. They may realize such a renewal has not occurred, and consequently become discouraged.
How much better would it be to tell people that when someone is living in Christ each day, praying, reading the Bible, fellowshiping with the saints, a new creation is being formed in him or her. There actually is a new creation being formed from the body and blood of Christ. They have not become totally new overnight, although some remarkable and very desirable changes have taken place. There is still much work to be done. A new building is being constructed.
Then people could appraise themselves honestly, and be pleased with the small gains they make each day.
Do not imagine for one moment that I am in any manner detracting from the marvel of the new creation. It is far more spectacular than any of us dream in the present hour. God is in the process of destroying the sinful nature from our personality. God is forming Christ in us in preparation for the day when the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit choose us as Their eternal dwelling place.
God has in mind to raise our flesh and bones from their place of interment and then to clothe them with a body from Heaven woven from incorruptible, resurrection life.
In that day it indeed can be said of us that we have become that new creation that at one time had been working in us. We and it now are one and the same.
Such total transformation and renewal depends entirely on our abiding in Christ at all times. Our task is to abide in Christ. God’s task is to form us in His image as His sons.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: (II Corinthians 5:17,18)
The Obvious and the Not So Obvious—Sometimes the truth is right in front of us and we can’t see it. In other instances, what appears to be the truth is not true at all. We may have to dig for many years before we can determine what actually is true.
I have been a Christian for a long time. You would think by now I would have all the answers, or at least some of them, so I could be God’s Answer Man. But such is not the case.
Solomon said: “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.” So we spend our life searching.
We have to really dig for many years. We do gain much truth over a period of time. But gaining truth is like peeling an onion. Layer after layer comes off. You never get at the onion. More layers and more layers.
Sometimes I think I know what God is doing. Then I receive additional insight. I am glad then that I did not make a decision before God’s time.
There are things in the world that obviously are true. We can look at the creation and see that there is intelligent design in nature. The truth is obvious and in front of us until education seeks to confuse us.
It is obvious to me that modern art and music compositions of unrelieved dissonance are the emperor’s new clothes.
When I was studying music my teacher told me that some day I would come to enjoy dissonant compositions—Charles Ives, Béla Bartók, for example. She claimed that my enjoyment of the classic masters was a learned behavior. I didn’t believe her then and I don’t believe her now. My taste in music has not changed!
As for painting, I went into a gallery and noticed a large canvas with a red disk painted on it—nothing but a red disk. The price tag was several hundred dollars.
You know what? I am as poor in art as it is possible to be, but I could draw a large red disk with no problem. I guess I could get rich that way.
It is all the emperor’s new clothes. Other people find dissonant music and abstract painting wonderful. For myself, I will take Chopin and Thomas Kinkade any day. I think Kenneth Roberts is one of the greatest authors America has produced; but I’m sure someone more educated than I would find my selection terribly plebeian. A country bumpkin!
We can see truth when it is in front of us, and not be talked out of it if we have any backbone.
There is another dimension to this matter of what is obvious. Sometimes what is obviously true is not true at all. The military uses this device. So does Satan.
A situation arises in which the path before us seem so clear, so right. If we are not a person of prayer we skip happily forward and step on one of Satan’s land mines.
Just because something seems so right, so good, does not mean it is of God. The only way in which we can discern what is of God is by unrelenting prayer.
But isn’t God too good to let us be tricked if our heart is right?
It is God who told us to pray that we not be led into temptation. And we have to pray this several times a day, not just in church Sunday morning at 11 o’clock.
In the military, it is the officer who takes endless precautions who brings himself and his men to safety. When in enemy territory he assumes that every twig is a detonator. He believes nothing he sees. It all may be a trap. He posts a guard on a rainy night when everyone is exhausted, even though the enemy supposedly is many miles away.
The penalty for the slightest bit of carelessness is destruction.
So there is the obvious truth that is in front of us that Satan attempts to talk us out of. An opportunity arises that other people can see is tailor-made for us. This sometimes is true of young people. Older people can see that a door has been opened in front of them that will lead to success. God’s will is obvious to people who love them and are concerned for their welfare, if they only had eyes to see. But some kind of pressure blinds them to the obvious.
There do arise situations, although I think they are in the minority, when adults seek to dissuade a young person from the path he or she feels certain is of God. In this instance the young person must pray much and move very carefully. This sort of thing happened with Lillian Trasher, I think her name was, whom God called to work with orphans in Egypt. She went against her parents’ wishes, but the work was shown to be of God.
Sometimes the majority are wrong and one individual is hearing from God, as in the case of Martin Luther and the other Protestant Reformers. There are pioneers who move out ahead of the wagon train; but there are many dangers.
Then there is the setup, where that which is obviously true is not true at all. The believer who is not living in the Presence of Jesus steps into the snare of Satan (the enemy is always placing snares on our path in the hope we will forget to pray about where we are walking), and the next thing you know we are facing a severe problem.
Sometimes truth is obvious. Sometimes truth is not so obvious. The Lord Jesus will keep us in the truth if we will be careful to seek His counsel at all times.
And if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, And if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, (Proverbs 2:3,4)
Righteousness Is Obedience to God—Righteousness is nothing more and nothing less than obedience to God at any given moment. We always are righteous for the moment. The future provides additional challenges to the individual who seeks to please God.
I have thought much about what righteousness is. Have you?
There is righteousness; there is holiness; and there is obedience to God.
By and large, righteous behavior is fair dealing with other people. This kind of righteousness is written in our conscience and I think is understood by most people of the world.
Holiness is closeness to God and the absence of unclean spirits.
Obedience to God is just that.
Let’s think about righteousness for a moment. In this article I will be speaking mainly of God’s view of us as righteous, rather than of the conscience-guided behavior that most people view as upright and fair, the righteousness of integrity.
The righteousness that has to do with God’s view of us has been defined as “right standing with God.” I agree with that definition.
The righteousness of religions is found in belief in and obedience to a prescribed set of behaviors. Sometimes these behaviors have to do with the way people dress, or cut their hair, or the words they use. Sometimes they have to do with religious service, or special prayers, or other ordinances of the religious group.
If the group fasts every Monday evening, then the righteous thing to do, if you are a member of that group, is to fast every Monday evening.
God declared Noah to be righteous, although the Bible does not state what standard God used at that time. It probably was God’s eternal moral law that is written in our conscience. It is likely that Noah feared God and was honest in his dealings with other people. Also, he most likely shunned the violent behavior of his day.
Abraham was found righteous by believing God’s promise, and also by keeping God’s laws.
I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, Because Abraham obeyed me and kept my requirements, my commands, my decrees and my laws. (Genesis 26:4,5)
Then came the Law of Moses. Righteousness was gained by obeying the Law.
Finally the Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins. If we would be counted as righteous by the Lord we must place our faith in Christ and the atonement He made on the cross.
God always has a problem with religious practices. This is because we choose the righteousness of religion rather than the righteousness of God.
The Pharisees were religious. One of their problems with the Lord Jesus was He healed on the Sabbath. Can you imagine? They could see people being delivered from every kind of torment, and all they could think of was Jesus was breaking the Sabbath commandment.
Religion always does this. It is a murderer of Christ everywhere He appears.
There was a time when eating pork was a sinful act. Then Peter was given a vision and eating pork no longer is a sinful act.
There was a time when we had to offer an animal as an atonement for our sins. Now we place our faith in the Lord Jesus as our sin-offering.
My point is, the righteousness that has to do with God’s viewpoint of us may change from time to time and from place to place.
Is there any aspect of righteousness that remains unchanged? Yes, there is. What God views as righteous has to do with what God wants us to do right now. This means we cannot take refuge in religious rules. We have to keep looking to the Lord Jesus at every moment.
We know God counted the Jewish people as unrighteous even when many of them were keeping the letter of the Law of Moses. God regarded them as unrighteous because their hearts were far from Him. They did not know Him or His ways. They murdered Christ. They murdered Stephen. All the while they were observing the letter of the Law.
Paul showed the Jews clearly that it was possible to be righteous apart from keeping the Law of Moses. Abraham was said to be righteous on the basis of belief, before the Law was issued. Paul used this fact to show that it is possible for an individual to be righteous apart from the works of the Law.
Paul did not mention that God approved of Abraham for keeping God’s requirements, commands, decrees, and laws. Paul did not need to mention these other aspects of Abraham’s righteousness, because Paul’s point had been made from the one incident—it is possible to be righteous on the basis of belief, apart from the works of the Law of Moses.
I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, Because Abraham obeyed me and kept my requirements, my commands, my decrees and my laws. (Genesis 26:4,5)
Incidentally, I wonder what requirements, commands, decrees, and laws God was referring to. Probably to the commandments He had given to Abraham personally, such as the need to be circumcised and the offering of Isaac.
In addition, God wanted Abraham to walk righteously according to the eternal moral laws of God that are written in every person’s conscience. God required that Abraham be blameless and upright.
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless.” (Genesis 17:7)
We of today are responding in the Christ-murdering manner so typical of religion. We are seizing on a few passages from the writings of Paul and using these to escape from the necessity of having to live righteously in the Presence of Christ.
Just as the Jews used the Law to evade God’s requirements, we are using grace to evade God’s requirements.
Paul’s use of Abraham believing God as a means of righteousness is being employed as proof we will go to Heaven by believing Jesus is the Christ. It does not matter how we behave, because Abraham was counted righteous merely by believing.
What a farce! What a total destruction of God’s intention under the new covenant!
As I pointed out previously, God made other kinds of demands on Abraham—other than just believing. But we ignore this. Why? Because as is true of religious people generally, we do not like to seek God each day. We are looking for a formula we can apply while our heart is somewhere else.
At one point Abraham was declared righteous because He believed the promise of God. At another point Abraham was made the Father of all who believe on the basis of offering Isaac.
Both points required faith. The first point demonstrated faith by belief. The second point demonstrated faith by action.
When we turn away from the Law of Moses and place our faith in the atonement made by the Lord Jesus Christ, our sins are forgiven because of the perfect atonement. We are declared righteous because we have believed. Christ died for the sins of the whole world, according to the Apostle John. But the whole world is not counted righteous because the world has not believed. When the world believes, then it will be righteous; because God has commanded us to place our faith in the atonement.
Suppose Abraham had believed the promise and been declared righteous, and then had refused to be circumcised. Would he still have been counted righteous? You know as well as I—the once-righteous Abraham would have been judged a rebel against God, not because of any inherent righteousness in circumcision but because Abraham had disobeyed God.
If we are going to build our doctrine of grace on the God’s dealings with Abraham, then we had better apply the whole picture.
In our case, we turn away from the Law of Moses and place our faith in Christ and His atonement. We now are declared to be righteous by faith.
But—and this is the point—why are we righteous? On what basis? We are righteous on the basis of obedience. When naked belief is called for, we obey God, turn away from our own works, and trust what God has said through the Apostle Paul. We do what God has commanded.
Now notice: we can do as the Jews did, which was look to the Law as being the source of righteousness. They worshiped the Law instead of God. They did not realize their righteousness depended on their obedience to God’s will. There was no inherent righteousness in refraining from eating pork. The righteousness existed in the obedience.
So it is today. There is no inherent righteousness in the fact that we believe in Christ. Satan and his angels are well aware Jesus Christ is the Holy One of God who has come to save us from our sins. Satan knows this is true, but this does not make him righteous. He and his angels are not qualified to enter the program of redemption.
We, as a sinner, have obeyed God. We have turned away from our own works and placed our trust in God’s righteousness through Jesus Christ. Now we are as righteous as though we had kept the Law of Moses perfectly.
But what is next? It is at this point that Christian teaching produces moral chaos.
The current teaching is that we should persevere in our belief, try to do good, and when we die we will go to Heaven. We have been saved by faith.
This concept is destructive of the Kingdom of God.
What is next is not merely a perseverance in our belief that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. What is next is that we deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus. We present our body each day as a living sacrifice to God. We count ourselves crucified with Christ, resurrected with Christ, and living with Him and in Him at the right hand of God.
I wonder how many Christians in America have taken up their cross of self-denial and are following the Lord each day? I wonder how many are counting everything as garbage that they man win Christ and attain to the resurrection from the dead?
No, they are maintaining their head-belief in theological facts. This is the Christian counterpart of the Jewish worship of the Law of Moses. Both are religious actions. Neither produces righteousness. Both have missed God’s intention.
It will never be possible for God to give a covenant that will produce righteousness in people until we recognize that the righteousness comes from our determination to live in Jesus Christ each moment of each day, always looking to Him for His will.
Sometimes Christ says, “Believe only.”
On other occasions He tells us “wait for the promise of the Father.”
He may tell us to go. He may tell us to come aside and rest. The righteousness is not found in going or staying, the righteousness if found in obedience to the living Christ.
God has showed us what is good. We are to live uprightly (the world understands upright behavior), love mercy, and walk humbly with God. How dreadful is the current belief that because we are saved by grace it is not absolutely necessary to live uprightly, to love mercy, or to walk humbly with God! How could we possibly have gotten ourselves into such theological confusion? It is as Stephen said, we always err in our heart. We do not understand God or His ways.
We understand, therefore, that righteousness is not found in religious ordinances. Today we do not eat pork and are righteous. Tomorrow we eat pork and are righteous.
Righteousness is not found in keeping the Sabbath, or in being circumcised, or by believing the facts about Jesus Christ. Righteousness comes only as we obey God right now—right this very minute! For what was acceptable in the past may not be what God wants today. The past is yesterday’s manna. The day of salvation is always today.
Let us make God glad by our determination to find righteousness by gaining Christ; by living in His resurrection; by sharing His sufferings; by thus attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. What counts is our embracing of the new creation that is being wrought in us. The new creation is the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, Because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men. (Romans 14:17,18)
Philippians 3:9—When Paul states he wants to have the righteousness that comes through faith in Christ, he is not saying he desires to sin and yet be able to rest in the hope God will save him because of his belief in Christ. What Paul means is explained by the third chapter of the Book of Philippians.
Paul spent much effort attempting to convince the Jews that God will count them righteous if they turn away from the Law and place their faith in Christ.
We Gentiles, not being burdened with the Law of Moses, interpret Paul to mean we should not pay too much attention to how we behave lest we be perceived as not being saved by faith alone.
I know I have written on this subject many, many times. But it seemed to hit me with greater clarity today.
Even though we are not concerned with any part of the Law of Moses, and even though we understand there are numerous commandments in the New Testament we are to obey, there is a further understanding of what Paul meant by being found in Christ, not having our own righteousness.
Many of us are trying to survive, and minister, and live a godly life. And this we must do. But as we grow older we find Christ is waiting for us to look to Him for absolutely all that we are and do.
I had an operation recently, and at the present time am endeavoring to get over a persistent cough. This temporary weakness is causing me to press into Christ more diligently than ever. I am far more involved with Christ now than I was last year at this time.
This is what Paul meant. He was not signifying that we no longer have to obey the laws of righteousness. God forbid! What a destructive interpretation we have placed on Paul with our “faith alone” doctrine!
Paul explained his position when he said he was forgetting the past, counting all his accomplishments as garbage, and seeking to live in the power of Christ’s resurrection and His sufferings.
Paul was striving to gain Christ, to know Christ, to fully prepare himself for the resurrection that is unto life.
There are at least two areas of living that must be dealt with if we are to live in His resurrection Life. One area has to do with how we manage our daily activities. The other area is in the realm of our motives and ambitions.
Let me give you an example of each of these and show you how they work out in terms of our desire to live by the Life of Christ.
All of us have daily activities that are part of life on earth. The following examples may seem trivial to you; but believe me, if you can learn to deal successfully with these you are on the road to resurrection life.
I have lower-back pain. I have had this problem for years. Lately I have learned that some of the problem has to do with the position in which we sleep. I have tried one position and then another. It finally dawned on me that I should be asking the Lord every time I lie down whether I should lie on my stomach, or side, or back; whether or not my head should be raised.
Can you see how this sort of attitude brings me further into the Lord? Instead of trying to figure out the best position I keep coming to Christ. More of Christ is gained.
While what position we sleep in is not an issue of righteousness, it carries over into everything I think, speak, and do. I do not have to worry about guilt. The guilt was taken care of on the cross. The issue now is that of walking humbly with God in every detail of life. How much better to be looking to Christ than to be trying to figure out what position to sleep in!
We know Christ better and gain Christ more when we keep looking to Him. Don’t you agree?
The second area I mentioned is that of motivation. In my younger days I was filled with many ambitions and desires. One of them was to become a better pianist.
Let us say that I set myself to practice two hours a day. I do this for years. Finally the practice session becomes a dread rather than a pleasure. But my iron resolve keeps me at the piano two hours a day. (Maybe this is why I have sore back.)
So I finally take the two-hour practice session to the Lord. The Lord may tell me to practice three hours a day; or one hour a day; or to cease practicing altogether. If I am not worshiping this ambition, I can flow in resurrection life. One day I may practice three hours. The next day one hour. The next day not at all. Instead of driving myself to practice two hours, whether or not I am sick with influenza, or whether by the end of the day I am exhausted, or if it means neglecting my family, I look to Jesus. He guides me so I am resting in Him at all times and doing the right thing.
Little by little the idols go. Little by little I enter resurrection life, not having any righteousness of my own, trusting entirely in Christ. This is the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. God is pleased with my behavior, and this is what righteousness is.
Can you see how superior to the Law of Moses this kind of salvation is?
Can you see that living in Christ in this manner has nothing to do with being “saved by grace apart from our behavior?”
In fact, the grace of God itself becomes our behavior, and always acts according to the eternal moral law of God.
We have missed Paul’s point, thinking he was stressing there is nothing we are to do but take the required theological position. It is characteristic of our self-centered, self-seeking culture that we would misinterpret what Paul has written. Americans love to find ways to attain their objectives with a minimum of effort: how to stay slender and yet eat all we want. This sort of thing.
Hopefully the next generation coming up will grasp Paul’s meaning, because they will be called on to live victoriously in Christ’s power during the age of moral horrors that is at hand.
And be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. (Philippians 3:9)
Vulnerability—To live in a world that is in the midst of spiritual conflict, and not know the Lord Jesus, leaves one without understanding, guidance, or strength.
We are living in a time of enormous spiritual conflict. We are approaching the Day of Judgment, and Satan knows this. His time is short.
We can see in the United States the results of the breakdown of moral teaching, due in large part to the doctrine in many churches that we are saved by “faith alone.” Because we Christians are not striving to overcome sin, and the worldly Americans certainly are not warring against sin, and our government can do little to help because of our worship of “freedom of speech,” because of this national acceptance of sinful behavior in our nation the demonic forces have multiplied.
The Apostle Paul told us we are not wrestling against people but against highly placed spirits in the heavenly realms. Again Paul instructed us that the weapons of our warfare are not physical but mighty through God.
Can you see from this how helpless a human being is who does not have the help of the Lord Jesus? Everywhere he turns he is defeated.
If he tries to be righteous, a thousand demons with many years of experience in deceiving people, seek to entice him to sin.
If he tries to get along with people, demons of violence prod him to murder someone with whom he has a slight disagreement.
If he is determined to be faithful to his wife, Satan sees to it that a young female, whom Satan has selected on the basis of Satan’s knowledge of the victim’s temperament, is brought across his path.
If I am hearing from the Lord correctly, demonic temptation is going to become so intense that the strongest Christians will scarcely be able to survive.
From reading the newspaper, I would say there are three demonic influences in America that we are going to have to guard against especially. They are lust, money and violence. Read the newspaper and see how many of the crimes that are committed are based on either lust, money, or violence.
The demons of lust are everywhere. If our government was doing its job it would be prohibiting displays of lust in the media. If our leaders attempted to curtail the abundance of pornographic material there would be loud protests from civil libertarians. Thus our government has become ineffective, because it always is God’s will that governments enforce righteousness.
Consequently we read accounts every day where people have ruined other lives, and their own as well, by rape and child molestation. A young school teacher, for a few moments of “fun” with a young student, will throw away his career. After the girl has had her thrill she will turn him in. There is no love in this escapade, only lust.
The rapist destroys the life of his victim.
The child molester also destroys the life of his victim.
The odds are fairly high that someone who is reading what I am writing right now will be sorely tempted to engage in some form of unlawful gratification of his or her glandular lusts. Don’t do it. For a few moments of frantic gratification you may spend a lifetime of torment—even though you have gone to the Lord and gained forgiveness.
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (Revelation 3:20-22)
Money is a god to Americans. Every day we read in the newspaper we read of someone who has been sentenced to prison for stealing money.
Violence also is an American idol, and is worshiped in various media presentations. Consequently there are not enough prisons to house those who have committed crimes of violence. The average person becomes enraged over some trivial incident, in the home or on the highway, and kills someone—sometimes his or her own wife or husband. This took place recently in a Christian household.
Every true believer knows the Lord Jesus to a certain extent. But we may note, in the third chapter of the Book of Philippians, that the Apostle Paul toward the end of his life was still seeking to know Christ, to gain Christ.
We see therefore there are many levels of knowing and possessing Christ, of dwelling in Christ.
I would like to offer my opinion that our spiritual strength at the present time is not sufficient to enable us to overcome the temptations of the last days. The unscriptural teaching of the “pre-tribulation rapture” has not helped. It has left the apathetic Christians in America with the impression any moment now they will be caught up to Heaven to live in Paradise.
The truth is, there will be no pre-tribulation “rapture.” This is not the provision that God has made for the last days.
The provision God has made is found in the Words of the Lord to the church in Laodicea. Our ability to stand in the midst of demonic temptation will not be found in being removed from the earth but in the entering of Christ into us to dine with us and we with Him. It is the inner Presence of Christ that will prove to be more than adequate to help us discern the lies of Antichrist.
The unsaved will be tossed about like the waves of the sea, in the days to come. So will the believers who have not taken advantage of the present hour to press, press, press into Christ.
The Apostle Paul did not count that he had attained to all that Christ had called him to, but was forgetting the past and pressing forward to a fuller grasp upon Christ.
Let each one of us be of the same mind. Let us press further into Christ that we may know Him and be protected by him throughout the age of moral horrors that is on the horizon.
Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come.” (Daniel 10:12-14)
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39)
Killing the Sinful Nature—The Ten Commandments deal with the symptoms of the sinful nature. The new covenant is superior in that it deals with the sinful nature itself by killing it through the power of the Holy Spirit.
The expression “the sinful nature” is used frequently by the New International Version in place of “the flesh,” which I believe is the Greek text.
I like it. After all, there is nothing wrong with our flesh. When God created man He made him flesh, blood, and bones. When Christ arose from the cave of Joseph of Arimathea He brought forth His flesh and bones.
It is not the flesh of man that is the problem, it is the sinful nature that dwells in the flesh. So I prefer “the sinful nature” to “the flesh.”
If you will think about the Law of Moses for a moment, you will see that it deals with the symptoms of the sinful nature, not with the sinful nature itself. This is true even of the Ten Commandments. The Law of Moses makes no provision for the destruction of the sinful nature. The Law does provide animal sacrifice to make an atonement for the actions of the sinful nature.
But when we come to the new covenant we find God through Jesus Christ has made provision for the destruction of the sinful nature itself, not just the sinful actions but the root cause that produces the sinful actions. This, of course, makes the new covenant vastly superior to the Law of Moses.
What steps might we think of that result in the destruction of the sinful nature.
First, we must recognize that we are under no part of the Law of Moses whatever. As long as we have a lingering suspicion that somehow some part of the Law has dominion over us, our thinking will not be as clear as it should be.
Second, the New Testament is filled with moral guidelines. There are the commandments and exhortations given by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself and through His Apostles. Several times the Apostle Paul warned us Christians that if we continue to follow the passions and desires of the sinful nature we will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
I was glancing through a Christian magazine an hour or so ago. Sure enough, a new book is being advertised that emphasizes we are saved by faith alone. It is sickening!
Satan certainly has been more than successful in convincing God’s people that God does not insist on righteous behavior.
When we choose to pass from the moral commandments of the Law of Moses over to life lived in the Lord Jesus Christ, there is a moral vacuum. We no longer feel obligated to keep the Law of Moses. On the other hand, we are not grounded enough in the Lord Jesus to be guided by the Holy Spirit.
So the Spirit has given us the New Testament moral guidelines to keep us from sinning until Christ has been formed in us and we have a new righteous nature.
To point out the tremendous and needless error in Christian thinking, let me use that old favorite, Ephesians 2:8,9.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—Not by works, so no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:2,9)
On this basis the claim is made that whether or not we live righteously we are saved by Divine grace.
This might be persuasive except for other passages by the same writer in the same book.
For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. (Ephesians 5:5)
If Ephesians 2:8,9 is addressed to Christians, then Ephesians 5:5 is addressed to Christians.
What does Ephesians 5:5 state?
No immoral, impure or greedy person has any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ.
Yes, or no?
Is it possible that we can be saved by grace and yet not inherit the Kingdom of God?
I wouldn’t think so.
Am I saying if a Christian continues in immorality and greed he is not worthy of the Kingdom of God and will not be saved from destruction?
That is precisely what I am saying, and I can produce numerous examples from the writing of Paul to support my statement. We simply do not understand what Paul is saying in Ephesians 2:8,9.
If Paul was saying, in Ephesians 2:8,9, that it is not critically important how we behave, then he would be contradicting himself in Ephesians 5:5. I have explained Ephesians 2:8,9 in other writings, and so I will not go into this matter further, except to point out that we are wresting the Scriptures to our destruction.
Honestly, I have written on this subject so many times that my readers probably are bored by this time. But I got stirred up by that advertisement in the Christian magazine!
So, the first step in the destruction of the sinful nature is to recognize that the Law of Moses has no authority over us. (Even that basic fact is not known to numerous Christians of our day!)
Second, there are moral guidelines in the New Testament that keep sin under control until Christ is formed in us. As far as I can tell, every one of the Ten Commandments is repeated in the New Testament. The Sabbath commandment is expressed in a greatly amplified form. To keep the new-covenant Sabbath we have to cease from our own works altogether and live in Christ.
We are to obey these moral guidelines by praying and receiving wisdom and strength from the Holy Spirit. The Lord helps us overcome every temptation. Isn’t that the truth?
Third, we are to count ourselves crucified with Christ and raised with Him. At every point of decision we are to seek the Presence of the Lord, so we can say with the Apostle Paul; “I am crucified with Christ. I am living, but it is no longer I who am living. It is Christ who is living in me.”
As we live in this attitude we crucify our sinful nature with its passions and desires. We give no place to our flesh or to Satan. Of course, this requires that we pray constantly.
It is this third position, that of crucifixion and resurrection, that is at the heart of the new covenant. There is nothing comparable under the Law of Moses. The Law of Moses deals with the adamic nature. The new covenant assigns the whole first personality to the cross and develops resurrection life in the inward nature.
We use the term “born again” to refer to the initial salvation experience. I suppose there is no harm in this, but one would not find such preaching in the Book of Acts.
The idea of being born again is that the entire first personality of the person is crucified—not just the sinful nature, but the entire personality. Then the Seed of Christ is planted in the person. This Seed is the new creation. It is the Resurrection. It is eternal life. It is the Kingdom of God. It is the birth of a new person.
John the Baptist expressed the program of regeneration perfectly when he said, “I must decrease but He must increase.”
This is exactly it. Each day of our life we are to count that we have been crucified with Christ. As we do, the Holy Spirit leads us into actual experiences of crucifixion. Then the new man gains in strength.
We have to resist the lusts of our flesh and soul.
We have to forgive those who have harmed us. We have to forgive all injustice we have suffered.
We have to set aside our own plans and ambitions and offer our body as a whole burnt offering to God.
We have to work at the gifts and ministries with which we have been entrusted.
We have to read our Bible and pray every day, setting aside time to hear from the Lord.
We have to bring Christ into every decision of our life: what we eat; what we wear; where we live; at what job we work; with whom we associate; when to speak and when not to speak; whether or not we should further our education; whether or not we should cultivate a talent, or pursue a hobby.
There are so many decisions to be made each day of our life. The Christian who is living in Christ keeps bringing Christ into every decision, from the smallest to the greatest. For him to live is Christ and to die is gain. His one desire is that Christ is magnified in him, whether through his life or his death.
It is this continuing process of death and resurrection that destroys the sinful nature from us and forms Christ in us.
When the Lord returns He will remove the last shreds of the sinful nature from those who have obeyed Him. They actually have passed through the Judgment Seat of Christ while still alive on the earth. They have attained to the resurrection from the dead, which was the goal of the Apostle Paul. Now they are ready to receive back their body from its place of interment, when Jesus returns.
At that time, when their flesh and bones have been raised and reunited with their transformed inward nature, they will be clothed with a body from Heaven. Their new covering will be filled with the incorruptible resurrection life that they have sown while on the earth.
We understand, therefore, how utterly superior to the Law of Moses the new covenant is. We wonder how many American Christians are pressing each day into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ? How many believers, on the other hand, are living in the sinful nature, trusting they are saved by grace alone, and are waiting for an unscriptural “rapture” to remove them from the conflict?
Such will be useless during the terrible times ahead in America. They will be of no use to their families and their friends, as they run about panic-stricken because of what they see taking place around them.
But those who are taking advantage of this time of preparation God has given us will be able to serve as lights in the darkness. They shall be islands of stability, saving themselves and those who hear them.
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:54)
Trained as a Soldier—Because we are being trained as soldiers there are times when our discipleship is difficult. If we are unwilling to endure hardness as good soldiers we will not be qualified to return with the Lord Jesus and install the Kingdom of God on the earth.
There are many hymns, such as “Onward Christian Soldiers,” that speak of the Church as an army and the believers as soldiers. I have not noticed this emphasis in some of the modern hymns and choruses..
We are in a spiritual war, no doubt about that. We are in a struggle at the present time. When the Lord Jesus returns we will return with Him as an army that will succeed in driving wickedness from the earth. God has determined to drive sin from His creation.
This is one of the problems with the “pre-tribulation rapture” error. It presents the destiny of the Church as a Sunday-school picnic in Heaven, whereas the destiny of the Church is to descend with the Lord Jesus in the fiercest of all battles.
Anyone who has studied the preparation of Spartan soldiers knows of the beatings and other sufferings they experienced to prepare them for battle.
It is true also of the special forces of the United States military. These soldiers and sailors are subjected to more rigorous training, harsher circumstances, than is true of the regular army and navy.
The principle is, and it has been proven in the history of warfare, that subjecting the warriors to extremely challenging and painful conditions enables them to survive in actual warfare. We can understand from this that Satan will go to great lengths to keep the believers soft, telling them not to worry because they are going to be caught up to Heaven and escape all suffering. I would adopt this strategy if I were Satan. Would you?
Just think! If a general knew he was going to be facing a group of people in battle, and he had the opportunity, wouldn’t it be a wise move on his part to disarm his future opponents by persuading them that there was no need for them to prepare themselves because there was not going to be a war? Wouldn’t this be a logical step for him to take?
Hence the current emphasis on the “pre-tribulation rapture.” There is not going to be any sufferings or problems in the future. So let us jump up and down next to our pews so we will be ready when the time comes for us to fly up to Heaven.
I wonder how believers who have been lied to in this manner are going to react when trouble comes to America. What are they going to say to the pastors and evangelists who have deceived them and curried favor with them, telling them not to worry because they will not be here when trouble comes?
The softer the believers are, the more they look for a comfortable Christian life, the less able they will be to engage in strenuous combat.
The higher the rank you are going to hold in the Lord’s army, the more difficult and rugged will be your preparation. Don’t be surprised when you are pressed beyond measure on several occasions. God is toughening you up.
The army of the Lord is mentioned several times in the Old Testament, and twice in the New Testament: in the Book of Jude and in the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation.
I don’t know how we picture the Battle of Armageddon, or if we even believe Christians will be involved in it. Descending with Christ to face the wickedest of the fallen principalities, as well as the armies of Antichrist, is certainly not the same concept as relaxing in a mansion in Heaven doing nothing of significance.
The truth is, the last battle, often termed the Battle of Armageddon, will be an actual conflict in which God’s saints will face the enemy. The Lord and the members of His army will descend through the sky mounted on white war stallions. It may be true that they will use the dried-up bed of the Euphrates River as a staging area.
The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. (Revelation 19:14)
I have written quite a bit about the army of the Lord and the last battle, using several of the Old Testament passages. My favorite is the second chapter of the Book of Joel.
When we read Joel, Two we can see that this is a highly disciplined army. It will go through the earth destroying all the fair works of the flesh of man in preparation for the rebuilding of earth’s culture.
The Lord’s army will succeed in ridding the earth of sin. Antichrist and the False Prophet will be thrown into the Lake of Fire.
I do not know how the Kingdom will be installed in people. Remember, the earth is filled with demons, some of them residing in people. Many people will be lost in that day. Many will be saved from destruction. Christ’s servants will deal with the saved, delivering them from the demons and instructing them in the righteous ways of the Lord.
Little by little the Glory of God will fill the earth. This is the thousand-year Kingdom Age, and there will take place renewal and restoration that God’s ministers and missionaries have dreamed about.
The key to the installing of the Kingdom of God on the earth is the training of the Lord’s soldiers, and that is taking place today.
There will be mighty revival during the closing days of the Church Age, and then the tremendous falling away from authority spoken of by the Apostle Paul. During the revival, and also during the falling away, Christ will be being formed in those believers who are willing to press into the Lord.
The forming of Christ to which I am referring is described in the twelfth chapter of the Book of Revelation. The Ruler of the world, the Lord Jesus Christ, will be brought to maturity in all those who are willing to suffer such transformation of their personality.
What wonderful days we live in! But for those who are being trained to descend with Christ and judge the ungodly, the invasion to which Jude refers, there are months and years of pressure upon pressure; problem after problem. They are to stand stalwart, in infinite patience, as their inward nature is turned into the rod of iron by which the saved people taken from the nations will be governed.
We shall see the fruit of our patience if we do not quit.
A day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness. Like dawn spreading across the mountains a large and mighty army comes, such as never was of old nor ever will be in ages to come. (Joel 2:2)
Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones To judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” (Jude 1:14,15)
Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. (II Timothy 2:3)
No Church Building Needed—There will be no church building in the new Jerusalem. The new Jerusalem itself is the Church. Since those who compose the holy city will see the face of God, there is no need to enclose God in a building.
Stephen, the first martyr, said, “God does not live in houses made by men.”
One of the most natural things for a religion to do is to build a place of worship and call it the house of God.
Under the old covenant there actually were houses of God. The Tabernacle of the Congregation was a true house of God. The Temple of Solomon was a true house of God.
When Peter, James, and John were on the Mount of Transfiguration, Peter wanted to build three churches. Next he would have wanted to start a Bible school.
It is only natural that we would want to build something that would represent our adoration of God, our desire to please Him.
However, God is more interested in possessing us than He is in possessing the works of our hands. It is relatively easy for us to concoct a religion and establish rules and liturgies. You see, we can do these things and hold God at a distance. We can go through the religious exercises and still pursue our own life.
This is not what God wants. He does not want His creatures to hold Him at a distance like this.
The word “church” is interesting. It is formed from a preposition and a verb. It means “called out from.”
I suppose there is no harm in referring to a building as a church, but it is misleading. The church is the people, not the building.
“In my Father’s house there are many mansions.” The truth is, in God’s House, which is the Lord Jesus Christ plus the living stones who have been added, there are many places in which God and the person can live in peace, security, love, and quietness.
The living God is seeking a place of rest. He has found it in the Lord Jesus Christ. Now He wants to find it in us.
This is what the LORD says: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be? (Isaiah 66:1).
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20)
Honestly, I have been writing on the subject of the temple of God since around 1948. Can you believe? And the subject still inspires me.
Heaven is not God’s house, it is His throne. God’s house is the Lord Jesus. Sometimes in the Psalms, speaking prophetically, we find God dwells in Zion. Zion is a symbolic name for the Lord Jesus.
There is no other way to God except through the Lord Jesus, because God dwells in His Fullness in Jesus. Now God is enlarging Himself. He is adding members to Christ’s Body. God is adding places of abode for Himself in us.
You know, it is the fact that God and Christ are making Their eternal dwelling place in us that distinguishes Christianity from all other religions.
The mystery of the Gospel is Christ in us. The understanding of this mystery is coming in these last days, and we finally understand what salvation is all about.
The perfected church is portrayed in the last chapters of the Book of Revelation. It is termed the new Jerusalem, or the holy city. It is the Wife of the Lamb, the Body, the Fullness of Christ.
The Throne of God and of the Lamb are in the holy city. This means God and the Lamb have found Their place of rulership and rest in the personalities of the saints who compose the city.
The history of the world is nothing more than a setting for the development of the holy city, which is the Kingdom of God. Once the city has been brought to perfection it will come down through the new sky to be located for eternity on the new earth.
Then the nations of the earth will have a righteous government that will maintain peace and justice, and also will have access to God through His saints so the inhabitants of the new earth may receive life and healing. The peoples of the nations will never be able to enjoy peace and safety until the new Jerusalem has been established on the earth.
There will be no church buildings in the holy city. God simply will not have walls separating Himself from His saints. God and the Lamb Themselves are the Temple of it.
There will, however, be a giant wall separating the Church from the nations of saved people on the earth. This wall was constructed, you might say, when God called Abraham from Ur of the Chaldees. From that time God has made a distinction between His elect and the other people of the world.
The elect, the royal priesthood, will see the face of God. There shall be no separation whatever from the Glory. All shall know the Lord, from the least to the greatest.
God then shall have made all things new—not all new things, but all things new. This means God shall take all that is worthy of His Kingdom, bring it down to death, and then up again in the resurrection Life of the Lord Jesus Christ.
This marks the end of the first world, of the adamic creation.
One must be born again to see and enter the Kingdom of God. Nothing of the old shall be brought over except that which has been made new in the Lord Jesus.
Christ is the Firstborn from the dead. Following Him will be the remainder of the saved creation.
There shall be a living Tabernacle to which the saved nations may come and be refreshed. But as for the members who compose the living Tabernacle, there are no more church buildings and no more religions. They have become an integral part of the Divine Entity which is God.
God will have it no other way.
I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. (Revelation 21:22)
The Little Sins—The little sins we are practicing now will have far-reaching effects if we don’t cease doing them.
God warned the people of Israel to destroy the enemy completely. Regarding the land God had given them to possess, they were to slay every inhabitant, young and old.
This may seem unduly harsh. But God warned them clearly that if they did not do as He commanded, sooner or later they would be practicing the sins of the people of the land, including using their children for burnt offerings.
God knows what He is doing.
The Israelites did not obey God. When they had subdued part of the land, they settled down. Continuing to fight against the Canaanites meant that some of the Israelites would be killed in battle. They saw no need for this and decided to live in peace in the part of the land they had conquered.
After several hundred years, the fruit of their compromise came to maturity. They lost their land and were carried into captivity. To the present day the Jews are not able to live in peace in the land that God gave them originally.
It is difficult for people to defy the rest of the population of the world and live as those whom God has chosen to be specially close to Himself. It is hard for the Jews and it is hard for the Christians. This never was more true than it is today as the electronic media are bringing together all the people of the world into one group. This one world that is on the horizon will not be the friend of the Lord Jesus.
God wants no sin in our life. For years we Christians have cultivated a spirit of compromise. You will hear it said no one is perfect. As long as we are living in the present world we will sin. The idea is that God recognizes that as long as we are in the world we are forced to sin, and so He has given us grace so we can be forgiven and go to Heaven to live forever. This is the current gospel and it is unscriptural.
The difference between the Law of Moses and the new covenant is that the Law of Moses is able to deal only with the symptoms of the sinful nature, while the new covenant attacks the sinful nature itself.
Before we will have the understanding and faith required for total victory over sin, we must understand it is not only possible under the new covenant to gain victory over sin, it is obligatory. For every sinful practice in our life that is not dealt with has the potential to prevent us from reaping the fullness of the promised inheritance, just as in the case of Israel.
The Lord Jesus Christ came to destroy the works of the devil. Christ has total authority and total power in Heaven, on the earth, and in the dark spiritual regions under the surface of the earth.
It is the will of Christ that everyone who comes to Him take his or her place on the cross with Christ. Our first life is over. Nothing of our first personality is to be saved. The placing of ourselves on the cross must be absolute, without any sort of compromise whatever.
Counting ourselves dead on the cross with Christ is the first half of total victory over sin.
Now that we have died, the Holy Spirit is free to bring our sins before us one at a time so we can confess the behavior as sin and utterly renounce it. When we do this we will be forgiven of that sin and cleansed from it. Meanwhile the remainder of our personality is covered with the Passover blood of the cross. God will spare our entire personality from destruction provided we are moving forward with the Holy Spirit in the work of confessing our sins.
But can we gain victory over all sin? Why not? What sin is so powerful Christ is unable to give us victory over it?
I think sometimes when we consider the prospect of victory over all sin we picture some kind of fantasy land in which we somehow have become something other than human. I am not referring to such a fanciful state. I am speaking of ordinary people being led by the Spirit of God to get rid of their sins little by little.
Let us take the sin of lying, for example. Do you lie once in a while? Do you know it is sin?
The question is, can a Christian be compelled to lie? Yes, or no?
The answer is, no Christian can be compelled to lie who chooses not to obey the urge to do so.
If the Holy Spirit points out to us that we have told a lie, we are to confess the lie as sin. We tell the Lord what we have done (although He already knows all about it) and judge the behavior as unworthy of the Kingdom of God. Then we tell the Lord that by His grace we never will lie again.
When we do this we find the strength to keep from lying in the future.
Should we lie again we are to go back to the Lord and tell Him about it. It may be that the lie is symptomatic of a deeper problem, such as cowardice. If we will keep on going to the Lord, He will guide us to total victory over the cowardice and the lying as well.
It is a battle. We have to be determined to gain victory through Jesus Christ.
This is where grace enters the picture. God’s grace through Christ enables us to gain total victory over lying.
It is as simple and straightforward as this.
No Christian can be compelled to lie who is determined to gain victory through Christ over this sinful behavior. That sounds right, doesn’t it.
Is Christ so powerless that He is unable to deliver you or me from a lying spirit?
If Christ can heal cancer, and He surely can and has on occasion, then why can’t He deliver us from the power of a lying spirit? He surely can, and has on occasion.
Lying has no place whatever in the Kingdom of God. God does not lie and His people do not lie. All liars shall have their place in the Lake of Fire, whether or not they profess faith in Jesus Christ. The concept that liars can inherit the Kingdom of God through grace is unscriptural. It is a lie of Satan, and a tremendous misunderstanding in Christian thinking.
If we are going to be part of the Kingdom of God, then somehow, somewhere we are going to have to be delivered from the practice of lying. This obviously is true. The opposite, that there will be people in the Kingdom of God who lie, is unthinkable. In this case, Paradise would be no better than what we have today. Maybe the surroundings would be improved, but God would not dwell with us. The God of Heaven does not have fellowship with liars, grace notwithstanding.
What is sin? Sin is a collection of nasty little bondages, like lying. Satan has convinced the churches that sin is some kind of monolithic structure, impregnable, a darkness we are obliged to live under while on the earth.
Sin is nothing of the sort. Take the Ten Commandments, the eight behaviors described in Revelation 21:8, and the ninefold fruit of the Spirit, and we can get a pretty good idea of what sinful behavior is and is not. Sin has its limitations. It very definitely is a finite number of destructive practices that emerged from Satan’s desire to supplant God’s will with his own will.
All sin is an expression of self-will and comes from self-will. Once we choose to take our place on the cross, revealing that we want God’s will in our life rather than our own will, it is a relatively simple matter to pick off the sins one at a time until we are living in victory.
We in America are living in a demonic environment. Because of the immoral practices of our citizens, the spiritual climate is dark indeed. This means we are subjected constantly to thoughts of lust, covetousness, and violence. But being subjected to these thoughts is not sin. It is when we yield to them that sin begins.
We have to read our Bible each day, pray, have fellowship with fervent believers, and keep on inviting the Lord Jesus into every aspect of our life. If we do not have the time and opportunity to do these things, then we need to ask the Lord for the time and opportunity. We have to do the things that are possible to us if we expect the Lord to help us.
Our hope has been that when we die we no longer will be tempted to sin. I am not so sure of this. After all, sin began in Heaven when Satan rebelled. Personally I think victory over sin comes through the Lord Jesus Christ wherever we are, not just by leaving the earth and entering the spirit realm.
Jesus Christ doesn’t sin while He is in Heaven or on the earth. He doesn’t want the members of His Body to sin while we are in Heaven or on the earth. He has enough power to make such total victory possible for us.
Please remember what I have stated in this brief article. For the believer, sin is a matter of choice. He can choose to sin; or he can work with the Holy Spirit in gaining victory over each and every sinful behavior. The believer will receive assistance (grace) every time he chooses to stop sinning.
The unsaved person does not have this choice. There is no way he can overcome sin through will power. This is one of the principal differences between the saved and the unsaved individual.
But the LORD your God will deliver them over to you, throwing them into great confusion until they are destroyed. He will give their kings into your hand, and you will wipe out their names from under heaven. No one will be able to stand up against you; you will destroy them. (Deuteronomy 7:23,24)
Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame. (I Corinthians 15:34)
Lifelong Spirituality—It is one matter to make a great show of spirituality now. It is another matter to do so throughout a lifetime of patient, cross-carrying obedience.
Oswald Chamber said boredom is one of the chief problems of the Christian walk. This is true. I know some churches try to keep the people interested with one program or another, going from weight lifters to jugglers. But this is artificial. The genuine Christian life is one of patient, cross-carrying obedience.
It is exciting to leave Egypt. It is fun for the kids, an adventure. Of course, mother and dad who have the responsibility of the home, are not quite as enthusiastic. However, it is new and exciting. And who knows what good things like ahead.
But after a few days in the wilderness the grumbling begins. “We are thirsty. We miss the food of Egypt. This wilderness is not an interesting place to be.”
The forty years spent in the desert are typical of the Christian discipleship. We are not in any land of promise. We are in a hot, desolate wilderness, so to speak.
It is in the wilderness that the saints are made. It is in the wilderness that the decision is made whether or not we are to be a partaker of Jesus Christ.
We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. (Hebrews 3:14)
Do you know, we are placing altogether too much emphasis on the beginning phase of salvation. Salvation begins at a certain point. Then there is a specific program, during which we learn about the Lord and become a new creature. Finally there is an end. There is a future salvation, a climax toward which we are to be pressing each day. The future salvation will include the removal of all that remains of our sinful nature, and the clothing of our resurrected flesh and bones with a body from Heaven.
We began the process yesterday; we are working out our salvation today; we are heading toward salvation in the future.
The idea that salvation is a ticket we buy at some point in time and then we are “saved” leads to confusion. It is not scriptural. And the teaching that once we are saved we always are saved takes no notice of such passages as Hebrews 3:14 (above)
I know all sorts of reasonings are advanced why we cannot be lost after we have been saved. It makes no difference. The New Testament tells us how to work out our salvation, and warns us clearly that if we do not follow the rules we will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
The Jews were in bondage in Egypt, a type of the unsaved person in the bondage of the world.
Then the Jews sprinkled the blood of the Passover lamb on the frame of their doorways, a type of our placing our faith in the blood atonement made by Jesus Christ.
Then they were told to leave Egypt and follow Moses into the wilderness, a type of the years we spend as a disciple of the Lord.
God promised the Jews He would bring them to a wonderful land flowing with milk and honey. But the Jews found themselves in a land more desolate than the land they came from.
Now, suppose the Jews sat in Egypt and declared they already were in the land of milk and honey.
Suppose the Jews in the wilderness declared they already were in the land of milk and honey.
Had they been saved out of Egypt? Yes indeed.
Had they arrived at their destination? Not yet.
So we see the idea of once saved always saved does not fit the Scripture, because numerous Jews who had been saved out of Egypt died in the wilderness.
When we are following the New Testament in using the journey of Israel from Egypt to Canaan as a type of the Christian salvation, we run into a major problem. Over the years, Canaan has become a type of Heaven. Canaan is not a type of Heaven any more than Egypt is a type of the earth.
Egypt is not a type of the earth, it is a type of the bondage of the world spirit.
Canaan is not a type of Heaven, How could it be? Are we going to enter Heaven as an army, invading and conquering one city after another in Heaven?
Canaan is a type of the rest of God, that is, the place where we are in the moral image of Jesus Christ and living in untroubled rest in the center of God’s Person and will.
We are not traveling from the earth to Heaven, we are traveling from Satan to God.
Salvation is not deliverance from the earth, it is deliverance from sin.
To be saved is to be rescued from the person and works of Satan. Isn’t that so?
So to place too much emphasis on coming out of Egypt, that is, on our first receiving of Christ, is to confuse the fact that we must undergo a program that will change us from life in the sinful nature to life in Christ.
Our goal is Christ, to know Him; to gain Him. Paul’s goal was Christ, to know Him; to gain Him. This is what the Scripture teaches.
Our goal is not a place, such as Heaven. Our goal is a Person—the Lord Jesus Christ.
Notice again our verse:
We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. (Hebrews 3:14)
We of today might say, “we will go to Heaven if we hold firmly till the end.” In fact, we wouldn’t even say this. We would say once we make a profession of faith in Christ we will go to Heaven no matter how we behave.
The issue is sharing in Christ, not going to Heaven. The people whom the writer of the Book of Hebrews was addressing were Jewish believers who had been saved, filled with the Spirit, and persecuted for their faith. The writer did not tell them not to worry because they could never be lost. Rather throughout the book he warns them against growing careless. He challenges them to press forward into the rest of God. He reminds them of the Jews who died in the wilderness because of their disobedience and unbelief.
It is one thing to make a profession of Jesus Christ. It is another matter to then deny ourselves, pick up our personal cross, and follow the Lord Jesus every day.
Day after wearying day. One step after the other. The years go by while we wait for the Lord, meanwhile performing faithfully the tasks assigned to us.
It is easy to become bored and turn to the amusements of the world. But we must never do this. We must arise each morning with a strong desire to seek the face of Jesus that day. We must be more fervent today than we were yesterday. We must remember the saints who endured much tribulation as they pressed forward that they might gain Christ.
We in America have been taught so much false doctrine that we are morally weak. How many cross-carrying saints are there among us?
All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. (Matthew 10:22)
Answering Our Own Prayers—It has been said we should put legs on our prayers. This means we should pray and then go forth to do what we can to answer our prayers. Putting legs on a prayer is something like putting shoes on an eagle. Only God can show us when to wait and when to go forth.
I guess waiting for God to do what we want done is one of the more difficult aspects of the Christians discipleship, particularly if it appears we could work out a plan to accomplish our goals.
Of course, we have to be practical. When a task is set before us and we are able to perform it, we probably should do so. However, even then it is best to bring it before the Lord before we set out to do it. The longer I live the more I become aware it is best to take nothing for granted. Every word we speak, every step we take, should be held before the Lord for His approval and guidance.
I think one important lesson a pastor learns, when there is a problem in the church, is to go to the Lord to find out if this is something the pastor should act on, or if it is too sensitive and must be left to the Lord to solve.
This probably is true for all of us, whether or not we are a pastor.
There is one thing the Lord said about Himself that I think is very important. Jesus said He could do nothing of Himself, only what He saw the Father do. Jesus emphasized the fact that what He said and did originated with the Father and not with Himself.
Is this true of you and me? Can we say that the things we do, the life we are living, is not coming from us but from Christ?
I believe this is our goal. It is not accomplished overnight. To get to the place where it is Christ who is living and not we ourselves requires a lot of Christian experience.
When we start off in the Lord, many of us, we are filled with burning desires of all sorts. These desires may be in the area of relationships, or personal advancement, or the perfecting of a skill, or education, or any number of other ambitions. Was that true of you?
As you might imagine, all of these war against our desire to just abide in Christ and let Him live His Life in us.
So we go through life, banging our head against the wall we might say, sometimes falling into deception, trying to learn when we are to step out and make things happen and when we are to commit our ways to the Lord.
The Bible tells us that deferred hope makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes it is a tree of life. The Bible also states that in God’s Presence is fullness of joy, and at His right hand there are pleasures for eternity.
I believe this. I believe God is bringing us to joy.
Satan will always try to get us to take a shortcut to what we want. That’s what sin is—a shortcut to our desires. The issue is one of waiting on the Lord, isn’t it?
The Lord Jesus told us to lay up our treasures in Heaven because they are safer there than in a bank on earth. Do you know this is difficult to do?
All of us want love, joy, and peace. If we are ill or handicapped we desire to be strong and healthy. If we are impoverished we want to have enough wealth that we don’t have to be worrying all the time about our needs being met.
We may want to be famous, or to have a winning personality, or to be expert in some kind or art or science. We have all kinds of desires.
The Lord Jesus told us to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all we need will be added to us.
Since all this is true, we see that the Christian life is one of patience! patience! patience!
We have a choice in life, don’t we. We can pray and then set out to get what we want. Or we can pray and then watch the Lord carefully to see what we should do. Our life either is one of ceaseless striving or else it is one of seeking the will of Christ.
I think God created the physical world so He could determine who would deny himself in order to find God, and who would charge ahead and force his way and his will.
Why is it important for God to know this? Because when we pass into the real world, of which the present world is but the briefest of shadows, God wants to know in advance what to expect of us.
If we are one who loves God to the point of denying himself and waiting for God, then that person can be assigned to a position of responsibility and of nearness to God in the next life.
But if the individual is grasping, selfish, willing to hurt others in order to get what he wants, then God knows better than to have that person close to himself or to give him or her a position of responsibility in the Kingdom.
But won’t the grasping person become loving and unselfish once he dies and goes into the next world? I don’t think so. The Bible doesn’t say he or she will. Logic doesn’t indicate he will. Satan and his angels did not remain righteous because they were near God in the spirit world.
So the purpose of the present world is to find out what kind of a person we are, and to help us change for the better if we are willing.
The Kingdom of God is associated with patience. The saints of old endured with patience their problems and temptations. So must we permit patience to work its perfect work in us.
It is not easy to go through years of patiently waiting for the Lord, faithfully performing the tasks set before us, but there is no other kind of Christian life.
Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.
Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. (Psalms 27:14)
Keep My Commandments—Love for God without obedience to God is an impossibility. “If you love me, keep my commandments.”
God is our Father, isn’t He? He also is a great and dreadful King. We know this.
The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. One reason America has so much foolishness in its culture is because we have lost the fear of God.
From the beginning of the world God has required obedience. He has every right to insist on obedience, given that we are His creatures. Don’t you feel that this is right? I do.
God tested Abraham severely in the area of obedience when He requested that Abraham offer Isaac as a burnt offering. All the nations on earth will be blessed through Abraham’s offspring because Abraham obeyed God in the matter of Isaac.
And through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me. (Genesis 22:18)
Then came the Law of Moses. The idea of the Law was, if you wanted to please God you were required to keep His commandments.
Then came the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ informed us that if we love Him we will keep His commandments. Christ Himself obeyed God to the point of agreeing to become an atonement for our sin.
Christ told us to go into the all the world, make disciples from the people of the nations of the earth, and teach them to obey everything Christ commanded.
And teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:20)
The Great Commission is often referred to today as the basis for our going forth to every nation, in obedience to Christ. We are supposed to make disciples and teach them to obey everything Christ commanded. Instead we teach them that because they are saved by grace they do not have to do everything Christ commanded. It would be nice if they did, as long as they didn’t get the idea they somehow were adding to their sovereign salvation.
If this is not asinine I do not know what is.
I believe the Lord Jesus thinks it is asinine.
We have a religion that teaches the opposite of Christ and His Apostles, and yet we call it after the name of Christ. This is asinine, counterproductive, destructive, and otherwise reprehensible.
We are not obeying the Great Commission when we go forth and persuade people to “accept Christ,” and then build a church. We are not obeying the Great Commission until we make disciples and teach them to obey everything Christ commanded. A disciple is not someone who just makes a profession of belief in Christ. A disciple is someone who denies himself, takes up his personal cross, and follows Jesus every day. He is not just a church member!
The Apostles wrote the New Testament, giving us numerous commandments that would help us overcome sin until Christ had come to maturity in us. These commandments were coming from the Lord Jesus.
To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. (I Corinthians 7:10)
When Paul gave his own opinion he told us so. The rest of his writings, as well as the writings of the other Apostles, are the commandments of Jesus Christ. We are supposed to teach the disciples to obey every one of them.
All of the above is indisputably true. The whole concept of being a member of God’s elect of the royal priesthood, is that we are servants of God who carry out His every wish.
Now, would someone please explain to me, how in the world did the idea get started that if we are saved by grace we do not have to keep the commandments of God and of His Son? I am not referring to the Law of Moses, I am speaking of the commandments given by Christ Himself and then through His Apostles. There are many such commandments to be found in the New Testament.
We have literally millions of Christians in the world today who have been taught that they do not have to keep Christ’s commandments because they have been saved by some kind of grace.
Let us look carefully at this doctrine.
We come to Jesus Christ for salvation. According to current teaching, to be saved means we will go to Heaven when we die. This is not the meaning of salvation according to the New Testament, but let us set that aside for now.
We come to Jesus Christ so He will forgive our sins and admit us into Heaven when we die.
Here we are, a human being with a sinful nature. We have been forgiven. Hopefully we will start attending church on a regular basis.
Depending on the church we attend, we may begin to improve morally. We do not do this so we can go to Heaven. We are going to be admitted to Heaven on the basis of grace, meaning unqualified forgiveness.
However, the pressures on us are enormous. Everywhere we turn there are temptations to physical lust, to be covetous of material wealth, to respond violently when we are frustrated. We have good intentions, we want to please the Lord. But it is just about impossible.
We are wrestling against angels who previously had occupied places of importance in the heavens. They are skilled at deceiving humans.
We may, while a church-attending Christian, molest our child; murder our spouse; become addicted to alcohol; use profanity; become addicted to pornography.
Why do we do these things? Because we have a sinful nature. Because our environment if filled with unclean spiritual influences. Because the media keeps presenting worldly values to us and our children.
We don’t want to practice destructive behavior, but we do in spite of ourselves.
What is our church telling us? It is telling us not to worry because God is saving us by grace. Our sins have been cast behind His back. The commandments of the New Testament are for the purpose of showing us we need a Savior who will forgive us unconditionally. There is no need to worry or to prepare ourselves for the future because at any moment we will be caught up to Heaven where all our troubles will vanish. We can prepare for the catching up by jumping up and down next to our pew.
You may not believe it, but what I have just presented is proclaimed in numerous Christian churches throughout the United States.
If you were a sociologist, given the pressure to sin in the United States, what would you predict concerning the moral strength of the Christian people?
Let us think further. Let us imagine how God pictures us.
Here is a Christian mother and father with two children. The mother has worked hard to put her husband through medical school. During this time she has borne two children. She was slim when they were married but now has not been able to shed the pounds she gained during pregnancy.
When her doctor-husband comes home he finds, two screaming children, dirty dishes, and a distraught, overweight wife who is at her wits end trying to keep her two-year-old under control. They are saved and attend church.
When the doctor goes to his office he finds peace, quiet, and is carefully attended by his young, pretty secretary. She thinks he is wonderful and lets him know about it every day.
There come times during the day when the office is empty except for this Christian doctor and his doting secretary. The inevitable takes place.
After a pleasant interlude he returns home to his overweight, distraught wife and her screaming children.
The doctor is a good man, a righteous man. He is sincere about being a Christian.
But he thinks to himself: “How wonderful it would be if I could just pack up and move to another state with my secretary. She is so understanding whereas my wife yells at me from time to time.
“I will divorce my wife and send enough money each month to take care of the children. She has office skills and can get a job.
In the meanwhile my new wife and I will have a blissful marriage and attend church.
“I am not worried about going to Heaven when I die because our pastor says we are saved by a sovereign grace. How we behave may be regrettable, but it only makes God’s grace shine more brightly.”
God looks down at this scene. He remembers the marriage vows the husband uttered at the altar. God sees the two children, a boy and a girl, without the guiding influence of a father.
God sees the wife faced with the prospect of being away from her children eight hours a day. She was barely able to cope with the two children when she was home all day. Now she returns from eight hours at the office, the housework to do, the children just as cranky as ever.
When she goes to church the people gawk and ask about her husband. Finally she stops going.
What does God think about this?
The current teaching is God would be displeased, but as far as Heaven goes, the husband and wife have their ticket and will be admitted when they die.
The Spirit seems to be indicating that America is facing severe judgment because of the lack of morality on the part of the American people. Since the teaching of the “pre-tribulation rapture” is unscriptural, the mother is going to have to try to survive with her two children during the age of physical and moral horrors that is ahead.
What does God think about this?
What if their pastor had preached the New Testament, warning the doctor and his wife that those who commit adultery will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Would it have made a difference? Would the doctor have behaved differently if he knew he was going to be punished severely, perhaps in both this world and the next?
Would the American churches be different if the New Testament was preached instead of grace-Heaven-rapture?
Personally I believe they would. I think there would be at least some believers who would be restrained from sinning if they realized they were going to stand before Christ and receive the bad thing they had done.
God sees everybody on earth at all times. He sees all they do at all times—right down to the least detail.
God has given us righteous commandments in the New Testament. He has forgiven our sins and freed us from the Law of Moses. This is an act of Divine grace.
Now, what possible benefit would accrue to the Lord if the people He forgave kept on with their former way of life? What would be the sense of this?
The individual accepted Christ as his Savior. But he still watches pornography. Is still mean to his wife. He engages in fornication every once in a while. He drinks alcohol and smokes cigarettes. He has a violent temper such that his wife and children are terrified on occasion.
Current teaching maintains that there is no problem here. He has accepted Christ and will go to Heaven on the basis of sovereign grace.
Do you know how modern theologians approach this obvious farce? They maintain that if a person acts like this he never was saved in the first place.
Now let us think carefully about this. If a person lives according to his sinful nature he never was saved in the first place. The Bible does not teach this.
If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. (II Peter 2:20,21)
It sounds to me as though the above people had really known the Lord at one time and then had turned from the way of righteousness.
Are such scholars not saying the evidence of salvation is a godly life?
Also, with this doctrine in mind, no individual could know he had been saved. Suppose he slipped and became violent, and punched his wife. Does this mean he is not saved?
How wickedly can he behave before he crosses the line and it becomes evident he never was saved in the first place?
Can you see how ridiculous such reasoning is?
On the one hand the scholars state we are saved by a sovereign grace independently of our behavior.
On the other hand the same scholars state if we behave wickedly we never were saved in the first place?
Are they not saying the only proof of salvation is moral transformation?
Let’s think back to our Christian doctor. Can any sincere Christians, or non-Christian for that matter, argue that God does not see the sinful selfishness of the doctor.
The current teaching is, “It’s under the blood.” I think the crux of the matter is right here. Does God see the sins that Christians commit? Or does He just overlook them?
God does suspend the judgment of the sin of the Christian while he is working with. However, that same believer experiences many, many painful judgments as the Fire of God seeks out and destroys the sinful nature.
So we are in need of a reformation of Christian thinking. The traditional “sovereign grace” concept, that our behavior is not related to our salvation, has ruined the Christian churches in America. They are filled with silly believers who are worthless as members of Christ’s army. He will have to look elsewhere for those who will be raised when He appears, be caught up to meet Him in the clouds, and descend in the mighty cavalry charge that will begin the installation of the Kingdom of God on the earth.
Picture the warriors of the Lord descending through the clouds and taking up their positions, probably on the dried-up bed of the Euphrates.
Antichrist will have his forces arrayed at Har Megedon.
The cavalry may be in a line, three deep. At the command the lances are leveled. Although Antichrist will be using physical weapons, the spiritual lances of the Lord’s army will pierce through the enemy’s ordnance. God Himself will destroy the enemy’s air cover. God has stored up His hailstones for the day of battle.
At the command of the officers the lances will be leveled. The three ranks will begin their ride across the desert.
When they draw near the enemy the huge war stallions will begin to charge at full gallop. The enemy will have drawn up his battle lines. The Lord’s cavalry will not stop. They will hit the enemy lines with full force. The shock will be overpowering. Everything will be smashed before them.
The second rank will follow, destroying those who were overthrown by the first rank. The third rank will complete the work of destruction.
This is how I picture what will take place when the Lord Jesus returns.
Now, can you imagine the fatuous believers of today participating in such an assault? As I said, the teaching of unconditional grace has made them worthless as far as the work of the Kingdom of God is concerned.
I hope many young people will read the New Testament and see how utterly corrupt present-day teaching has become. Perhaps some of them will see the folly and madness of the “faith alone” doctrine and deny themselves, take up their personal cross, and follow the Commander in Chief each day as He prepares His soldiers for the conflict of the ages.
He has been deceived who maintains, “God has saved me by grace, therefore I do not have to keep His commandments.” He shall come to a hard end.
If you love me, you will obey what I command. (John 14:15)
Christ Is Eternal Life—Human beings are animated, intelligent dust. Accepting Christ as an embracing of theological truth makes forgiven, informed dust. We are not changed and brought into the Kingdom of God until we actually receive the eternal Life that Christ Is.
The Lord Jesus referred to Himself as the Resurrection and the Life.
Now, here is an astonishing statement. He could have said He would show us the way to life. He could have said He would give us life. Both of these statements are true.
But to declare that He Himself is the Resurrection; He Himself is the Life; takes a little thinking on our part.
Maybe it is not that difficult for us to think of Christ as the Life of God. In Him is Life. He is the Tree of Life. There is no other source of the Life of God. My personal belief is that Jesus Christ was the Tree of Life in the middle of the Garden of Eden. How do you feel about this?
But for the Lord Jesus to say He Himself is the Resurrection? That really is a head-scratcher.
Our problem may be that we picture resurrection as action. Maybe resurrection is not action but the replacing of death with life. It is possible to think of the Lord Jesus as being Life that can replace death. The fact that a resurrected person arises from where he or she was and moves around may not be an essential aspect of resurrection. The essential part is the replacing of death with life. What the individual does after being filled with life may be a separate issue.
An individual could be on his feet, moving around, and be filled with spiritual death. That death could be replaced with Divine Life, and he would still be on his feet moving around. So movement is not an essential part of resurrection. Something like this may happen for those who are in Christ and alive when the Lord returns.
An individual could be lying on his back and be filled with spiritual death. The death could then be replaced with Divine Life while he remains on his back.
The world is filled with people who are nothing more than intelligent dust. They do not have the Life of God in them. Some are moving around. Some are sick in bed. Some are asleep. They are spiritually dead no matter what condition they are in.
Then we have the case where someone who died has been called back to life by the healing power of Christ. They leave their casket, or bed, and get up and move around. This is not resurrection. It is Divine healing. They could still be spiritually dead.
The New Testament often, but not exclusively, refers to physical death as sleep. This is because physical death is not true death. True death is the absence of the Life of Christ.
I think there are numerous Christian people who are dead spiritually. There is no life of Christ in them because they hate people, or because they are occupied with the things of the world, or for some other reason. They are Christian by theological belief. They are orthodox in their belief. But they have no eternal life in them.
Mankind, alive on earth or resident in the spirit realm, can be divided into two groups. The one group has none of the Life of Christ in them. The other group has some of the Life of Christ in them: some thirtyfold, some sixtyfold, and some a hundredfold.
The Lord Jesus Christ came into the world that those who believe in Him might have eternal life. This term does not refer to living forever but to the presence of God’s Life in them.
Because we have made Christianity a religion instead of a personal experience with Him who is the Resurrection and the Life, many believers have nothing more than a belief in the facts of redemption—the same as Satan has. If they had had some eternal life in the beginning, they no longer have it because they have not followed the Holy Spirit into the development of eternal Life in their personality.
They are sound in their theological belief. But this is not salvation. Salvation has to do with the development of eternal Life in us, not with our knowledge of the facts of redemption.
I think this is something that needs to be brought to the attention of God’s people in America. We are stressing a theological orientation to salvation instead of the laying hold on eternal life, and the pursuit of abundant life. We are satisfied if someone “accepts Christ” doctrinally. Now he or she is a Christian, we think.
Not necessarily so. A Christian is someone who is in the pursuit of eternal life.
The Apostle Paul was striving to attain to the resurrection from the dead. This means Paul was seeking to have Christ, the Resurrection, in every aspect of his life; to live by the power of that resurrection.
Paul invited us to be thus minded. Every Christian should abandon all distractions, forgetting what is behind, and press forward to the fullness of the Life of Christ.
He is the Resurrection. He is the Life. The more of Christ we have the more resurrection Life we have. The more resurrection Life we have, the more glorious will be our state in the Day of Resurrection; for in that day what we have become during our discipleship on the earth will be revealed.
Can you imagine the state of today’s churchgoers in America when the Day of Resurrection arrives? They had supposed they would be given a golden crown and would rule with Christ over the nations (while they were reclining in their mansions).
Instead the great Day arrives. They stand before Jesus Christ. There is nothing in their personality but the corrupt sinful nature. What will Christ do with them? I am not certain. I think many will be brought over into the new earth, but perhaps they will take their place among the nations on the earth at that time. They hardly are fit to be part of the new Jerusalem.
And as far as the next coming of Jesus is concerned, they may not even realize it took place. They are in no manner prepared to be raised from the dead, ascend to meet the Commander in Chief in the air, mount one of the enormous war stallions, and descend in the cavalry charge of the Battle of Armageddon.
They would be a danger at that time because they would not obey their officers, just as they do not obey Christ or their leaders today.
What about when we die? I just don’t know. There is so little in the Bible about what happens to us when we die. There is quite a bit about the Battle of Armageddon and the return of Christ, but precious little about what happens to a believer when he or she dies.
I know one thing. The Lord said if we lived and believed in Him we would never die. So if we are living and believing in Him, pursuing Him in every area of our life, we are going to be filled with Divine Life now. We are alive. When we die we still will be alive, because physical death certainly is not able to remove Divine Life from our personality.
My guess would be if we have followed the Lord Jesus and have learned to live by His Life, when we die we will go to Him and probably be assigned a task in His Kingdom.
If we are living in the sinful nature, as is the case with so many American Christians, my guess would be we either will go to a place of correction, or be sent to an area where others of like spiritual condition are waiting for the Day of Resurrection.
But I could be incorrect in this. I know Paul wanted to go home to be with the Lord, and some quote this. My thought is you are safe in your desire as long as you live at the same level of consecration as Paul.
Christ Himself is the Resurrection. He Himself is the Life.
Since this is undeniably true, I think we are wise when, like Paul, we turn aside from the pursuit of the present world and give ourselves to the work of cultivating Christ in our personality. After all, eternal life is in degrees, as I have pointed out. There is abundant life. Paul advised Timothy to lay hold on eternal life. I think this is the best advice we could give anyone.
What in the world is more important than being filled with the Life of God?
How do you feel about this? What are you going to do about it? As for me, I am trying to walk that difficult path that leads to life.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; And whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25,26)
God’s Will Alone—There is only one legitimate will in the universe—that of the Father. God is bringing the entire creation into subjection to Jesus Christ. When this has been fully accomplished, Christ being subject to the Father’s will, all creatures in the heavens and on the earth will be obedient to God. This marks the end of Satan’s rebellion against God.
The “rest” of God, mentioned in the fourth chapter of the Book of Hebrews, is untroubled rest in the center of God’s will.
The most wonderful state of being of any creature is rest in God’s will.
This is the true and eternal Sabbath, that in which the Lord Jesus always abides.
Before the earth was created, Satan decided to challenge God’s will. The history of the universe since that time is a record of God’s response to the satanic rebellion.
Mankind and the rebellious angels are in rebellion against God’s will. The teaching today is that man should be his own god and act according to his own will. This is Antichrist as well as the False Prophet.
I think I am correct in saying most Christian people are not clear about God’s will. If you were to ask them if they were doing God’s will perfectly in their life, they probably would answer “no,” or “I don’t think so,” or “I am not certain.”
Sometimes Christians declare that no one can do God’s will and this is why we must be saved by grace.
Satan has been quite successful in persuading Christians that God’s will is so demanding that very few if any people could hope to obey it. The truth is, however, that most people, including Christians, are doing God’s will. They just don’t have the satisfaction of knowing God is pleased with them. They live unnecessarily in perpetual guilt.
If this is true of you, why don’t you stop right now and tell God that you want to do His perfect will, and you will obey Him in every respect if He will give you the grace to do so. Then rest in this prayer. If there is something God wants you to do He is well able to show you. And His will shall bring you to joy.
We have to present our body as a sacrifice to God in order to prove His will. This means we have to be ready to set aside any and all of our pursuits if God should so require. But any part of our life that God insists we surrender is something that will bring us sorrow, and God knows it.
Be persuaded God is bringing you to joy and liberty. He really is, you know.
In the Book of Genesis we find God created all things in six days (whether literal or symbolic days). Then He rested.
Do you know what this means? It means God created all of history in advance clear through to the new heaven and new earth, and the new Jerusalem. Everything has been finished from the beginning of the world.
What else? It means God completed your life and mine from the beginning of the world. Now God is resting.
What is our response to be to the fact that God has ordered the events of our life, and, in fact, the number of our days, from the beginning of the world?
Our response is to be that we abandon our own view of what our life should be and seek the Lord every minute of every day that we might align ourselves with God’s will for us.
I used to compose music. Sometimes I had the feeling what I actually was doing was developing a composition that had been written previously somewhere. When I got the composition the way it was supposed to be it kind of fell into place. This probably is a far-fetched idea and only my imagination.
But our life is to be like that. It is to be a seeking out of something already written in God’s book. When we get in line with His will, and enter His rest, we move toward the role in His Kingdom He has determined for us.
This idea, that our life was planned from the beginning, can cause us to be passive or fatalistic. If God has planned our life from the beginning, why not just drift along? Everything has been decided in advance anyway!
It doesn’t work like that. The rest of God is dynamic, not passive. We must press forward, as did the Apostle Paul, that we might grasp that for which we have been grasped.
Here is the point. We have been grasped for something. We don’t know what it is. But we have to fight our way toward that dimly-lighted goal, for our sinful nature as well as the demonic atmosphere in which we are attempting to survive are determined to steer us away from our rest in God’s will.
The Lord Jesus told us if we would abide in Him we would bear fruit, the fruit of His moral image and the fruit of rest in the perfect will of God. These two objectives have been placed before us, and we achieve them by abiding in the will of God as expressed in Jesus Christ.
Abiding in Christ is the central aspect of the Christian salvation. Abiding in Christ becomes more difficult for us each day, and more grace is given to enable us to overcome the increased difficulty. God is teaching us to fight!
Abiding in Christ, in God’s perfect will, should be so simple. But there are several major forces that always are seeking to persuade and distract us, to tear us down from our high place in Christ in God. It is a fight all the ways, but God’s grace enables us to be more that a conqueror.
Why shouldn’t the whole world want to do God’s will? God knows everything about each one of us and desires to bring us to love, joy, and peace. When we decide to go our own way we reap hatred, misery, and unrest. Also we bring hatred, misery, and unrest to those around us.
You would think after the thousands of years of the history of mankind on the earth we would be convinced that men succeed only in destroying each other. What century has not been one of war?
And it is all so completely unnecessary. If people would only stop and listen to the Lord, there would be no wars. The troubles of earth would disappear.
I guess people don’t believe this. Perhaps the answer is faith. We have to have faith that God knows what He is doing with each one of us, and that his intentions are good.
Satan persuaded Eve that God was not seeking her good; that she had to reach forth her hand and take her own good. What a disaster! And the same is true today. We don’t seem to be able to believe God knows what He is doing, and so we stretch forth our hand to create our own heaven and earth. What a disaster!
Perhaps we should be pessimistic concerning the future, because it is obvious people are becoming more willful, more self-centered and self-directed as the years go by.
But we are not pessimistic. Why is this? It is because God has a believer here and a believer there who have chosen to do God’s will instead of their own.
When the Lord has the number of obedient servants He wants, He is going to return to earth with them. He is going to raise their bodies from the dead. He is going to catch them up to be with Him in the air. He is going to mount them on the huge white war stallions. Then He is going to lead them in a cavalry charge that will attack all disobedience in the earth. This is the coming of the Kingdom of God, spoken of by John the Baptist, Jesus, and the Apostles of the Lamb.
So we are not pessimistic, because God is going to remove all disobedience from His creation.
We notice that after a thousand years of righteous government, of the rule of the rod of iron, Satan will be released from the bottomless pit. He immediately will set out to sow disobedience in the nations that have been taught by the saints. Satan will be successful, so deeply rooted is rebellion in the hearts of people, and there will be a rebellion against the saints.
I find all of this difficult to understand. The will of God is so delightful, and God is so wise, and He is seeking to bring us to joy, why then are we finding it more desirable to follow our own way rather than God’s?
If God were demanding something of us that we could not possibly perform, we might have an excuse for rebelling. Even then, however, it would be foolish because God has total power over us in any case.
But God is not demanding something of us we cannot possibly perform. His yoke is easy. His burden is light. His commandments are not grievous.
Why, then, do we listen to Satan when he warns us that we cannot possibly do God’s will; and if we do try to do it we will be miserable and lose many of the good things of life? After the thousands of years of earth’s history we ought to be convinced by now that Satan is a liar; he is not to be trusted.
I don’t know about you, but I want to do God’s will today, tomorrow, and for eternity. I am persuaded God is good. That He knows what He is doing. That He knows all about me. That He has determined to bring me to joy and has the power to bring me to joy.
I will not be satisfied until every other person in the universe, including myself, is determined to do God’s will from the heart. If it requires the Battle of Armageddon, so be it. If it requires the rule of the rod of iron, so be it.
As I am writing, our nation is preparing to go to war (February 28, 2003). I support our government in all that it does, but I wonder if we are hearing from the Lord. Is this what God wants? Are we in His will? If not, the fact that we have the most powerful military machine in the world is not going to make any difference. The battle will be decided by the Lord.
No matter what happens, I know those individuals who are living in God’s will shall be taken care of.
God’s will! God’s will alone! This must prevail. This shall prevail!
First, every creature, angelic and human, must bow the knee to Jesus Christ.
When every knee has bowed, Jesus Christ Himself being in total subjection to the Father, God’s will shall be done completely and perfectly everywhere in His creation.
It will be the task of the saints to govern the nations of the earth to ensure that never again shall there be as much as one person who is resisting God’s will.
God’s Person shall be available, through the saints, to every individual on the new earth. There shall be love, joy, and peace everywhere. No more wars. No more uncertainty. No more evil men attempting to force their will on other people.
Can such a world actually come into existence? Yes, it shall.
The foundation was laid when the Righteous One, Jesus Christ, came into the earth to do God’s will.
Building on that sure foundation are those of the Church who have dedicated themselves to God’s will, regardless of the consequences to them personally.
Then will be added the weaker members of the Church who finally will be persuaded God’s will must be obeyed in its entirety.
Finally the nations of saved people on the earth will come to understand no will other than the Father’s is permitted.
This new world of righteousness has been finished from the beginning of the world. The Word of God is bringing it to pass piece by piece. We now are in wonderful days as the Spirit of God is bringing us through fiery trials that all of our self-seeking might be burned out of us.
The future is bright with God’s promise. His saints are rejoicing over the thought of the Kingdom that soon is to come to the earth, when God’s will is done on the earth as it is in Heaven.
Let’s you and I hasten that glorious day by dedicating ourselves every day to perfect obedience to every aspect of God’s will for our lives.
For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so God may be all in all. (I Corinthians 15:27,28)
The Coming Kings—The Lord Jesus Christ has purchased with His blood, from all nations, men for God. They compose the Kingdom of God, the royal priesthood, and they will govern the people of the earth.
The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East. (Revelation 16:12)
Did you ever give thought to the above verse? I have.
I have not read the commentaries concerning this passage, so I don’t know what the prevailing thought is.
My own opinion is that it refers to the coming of the Lord and His armies. Don’t forget, the Battle of Armageddon will be fought by Antichrist and his armies on the ground, north of Jerusalem, and by the Lord Jesus and His saints descending from Heaven in a great cavalry charge.
The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. (Revelation 19:14)
I believe further that the Euphrates River will be dried up so the descending saints will have a staging area in preparation for their charge against the forces of the wicked.
“Kings from the East” means kings from the rising of the sun. I think “the East” is symbolic of the morning of the Day of the Lord.
I don’t know why our role in the Battle of Armageddon is not preached more often. We hear a lot about believers going to their mansion in Heaven, which the Bible does not describe. But hear little about the army of the Lord invading the earth, which is mentioned several times in the Old Testament and the New Testament.
In wrath you strode through the earth and in anger you threshed the nations. You came out to deliver your people, to save your anointed one. You crushed the leader of the land of wickedness, you stripped him from head to foot. Selah. With his own spear you pierced his head when his warriors stormed out to scatter us, gloating as though about to devour the wretched who were in hiding. You trampled the sea with your horses, churning the great waters. (Habakkuk 3:12-15)
When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4)
He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power On the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you. (II Thessalonians 1:8-10)
Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones To judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” (Jude 1:14,15)
In fact, I find it hard to believe we will recline in mansions and then suddenly be called to return to earth and face the armies of the wicked, and the very persons of Antichrist and the False Prophet.
It makes more sense to me that the trumpet call, given in the fourth chapter of First Thessalonians, is announcing the Battle of Armageddon. The saints are raised from the dead, caught up into the air, mounted on the war stallions, and then descend with Jesus Christ to drive the wicked from the earth.
This makes perfect sense and fits perfectly the prophecies concerning the army of the Lord found in the Old and New Testaments.
But who are these kings—the kings from the East?
Stop and think! How often do Christians speak of ruling with Christ? Don’t you find this to be a fairly common saying among the believers.
Now, what do they mean by this? Over whom are they going to rule? When are they going to rule? How does the idea of ruling tie in with going to a mansion in Heaven? Have you ever thought about this?
Do you believe you are going to rule with Christ?
If your answer is yes, whom are you going to rule?
When are you going to rule?
Where are you going to rule?
Are you going to rule over other saints in Heaven? Probably not.
Are you going to rule the angels in Heaven, while you are lying on your couch in your mansion?
Does this make sense?
Yet you claim you are going to rule with Christ?
Where is Christ going to rule? I think the Bible teaches He is going to govern the earth from Jerusalem. Are you going to govern the earth from Jerusalem?
Christ is going to govern the nations of the earth. Are you going to govern the nations of the earth? How are you going to do this from your mansion?
Does the Bible teach that you are going to return with Christ and rule the nations with a rod of iron? Yes, it most certainly does state this—provided you have lived in victory over sin. You have to be an overcomer to rule with Christ.
So you will rule on the earth over the nations.
When will this take place? It will take place when the Lord returns.
Now, think about this. The Bible says you are going to rule the nations with a rod of iron. Does this or does this not make you a king?
The kings from the East. The saints who are returning with Christ, ready to attack the forces of wickedness in the earth.
Kind of makes sense, doesn’t it?
And they sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:9,10)
Release From the Bondages of Sin—Release from the bondages of sin comes as we obey Christ’s commandments and strive to please Him with our behavior. All such effort must be conducted through the Holy Spirit.
All of us were born with a sinful nature. There is no evidence that Adam and Eve were created with a sinful nature. The sinful nature began to be created when Adam and Eve disobeyed the Lord, and was passed down to us..
There are three main branches of sin, and I have mentioned them many times in my writings. They are a willingness to look to the world instead of to God for survival and security; the lusts and passions that live in our flesh; and our self-will.
None of these three is permitted in the Kingdom of God.
Looking to the world instead of to God for survival and security is not permitted in the Kingdom of God.
None of the lusts and passions that dwell in our flesh is permitted in the Kingdom of God.
Our self-will and self-determination are not permitted in the Kingdom of God.
How, then, do we enter the Kingdom of God?
We enter the Kingdom of God by looking to God for survival and security.
We enter the Kingdom of God by not yielding to the lusts and passions of our flesh and soul.
We enter the Kingdom of God by living in God’s will instead of our own will.
Now I want to describe to you the difference between religion and the Divine salvation. It is a subtle point, so you will have to think hard about it.
Religion rewards us when we turn aside from what the religion deems as wrong or wicked. The reward often is presented as life in Paradise when we die.
Salvation rewards us when we strive to keep Christ’s commandments and to please Him with our behavior. The reward is deliverance from worldliness, lust, and self-seeking. The things we desire come to us as a result of the deliverance.
Now, think about the difference until it is clear in your mind.
Because we Christians are religious people we would think God would reward us for overcoming worldliness, or lust, or self-will. The religious person thinks of our being rewarded because of our effort to live righteously.
Let me digress for a moment, and then I will return to this subtle point.
In much Christian teaching today we assume we never will be able to keep God’s commandments. Therefore we believe we will go to our reward in Heaven because we make a profession of faith in Christ, since there is little we can do about our sinful nature.
Now, back to our main point.
I have said deliverance from sin is the reward for striving to keep Christ’s commandments and to please Him with our behavior. We would picture our being rewarded for turning away from worldliness, lust and self-will. However, it is deliverance from worldliness, lust, and self-will that itself is the reward.
We can, by our self-will, go quite a way in overcoming worldliness, lust, and self-will. And God expects us to do what we can. However, this is not salvation or the Kingdom of God.
Salvation and the Kingdom of God remove worldliness from us; they remove lust from us; and they remove self-will from us. We do what we can, we are faithful in the least, and then the greater takes over. The greater is Christ and is eternal.
The efforts we make are “what to do until the doctor comes,” so to speak.
Now, what do we do about our trust in the world for survival and security?
We read our Bible every day. We pray every day. We fellowship with the most fervent Christians we can find on a regular basis.
There are things we can do, like avoiding the world entertainment systems, using the media sparingly, doing what we can to make certain making a living in the world is not consuming our strength and time until we are unable to spend time with the Lord.
When the pressures of the world pile up on us, we are to pray that God will give us the time and strength we need to serve Him.
If we are determined to find our survival and security in the Lord, God will reward us by delivering us from the love of money and from trust in material wealth. In this way we enter the Kingdom of God.
As we follow the Holy Spirit He brings us into situations that bring forth the lust, violence, pride, murder, thievery, witchcraft, lying, in us. As these are identified we are to confess them as sin and renounce them with all the force and diligence we can muster. Every time they show their filthy heads we are to denounce and renounce them. Then the Lord rewards us by removing them from us, one at a time. In this way we enter the Kingdom of God.
Our worst problem is our self-will, our desire to retain our individuality separate from God’s will. Only much suffering can accomplish this. Our part is to remain patiently in the prison in which we are placed. God’s part is to baptize us with enough fire to burn out of us our self-will, self-love, self-centeredness, personal ambition. God brings us into His Kingdom in which His will is done in the earth as it is in Heaven.
When we stand before the Judgement Seat of Christ we will be judged according to what we have done, whether it has been good or bad. The Lord can’t very well condemn us because we have been born with a sinful nature. We did not ask to be born with a sinful nature. In fact, we may despise our sinful nature.
What the Lord wants to know is, “What did you do about it? When you had the opportunity, did you respond to Me? Did you let Me deliver you? Did you cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He sought to free you from sin? Did you pray, read your Bible, fellowship with the saints?”
If we have not practiced these things, then we have not applied ourselves as we should have. As a result, we will have done many bad things. These bad things may become creatures that stand next to us in the Day of Judgment.
However, if we have taken advantage of every opportunity to serve the Lord, have followed the Holy Spirit, have read our Bible, prayed, and fellowshiped with fervent saints as we had opportunity, then we will be regarded as a faithful servant. The bad we have done will be forgiven, and the Lord will remove from us what remains of the sinful nature. This is our reward for doing what we could to obey Christ’s commandments.
In addition, if we have made substantial progress in putting on the new Nature of Christ during our lifetime, we may have had opportunity to perform many useful works in the Kingdom of God. We shall be rewarded for these.
So our reward is tripled. We are rewarded by having the sinful nature removed from us, by having Christ formed in us, and for whatever useful works we have accomplished in the work of the Kingdom of God.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (II Corinthians 5:17)
Have Salt in Yourselves—Jesus said, “Have salt in yourselves.” What is the salt that God must find if a sacrifice is to be acceptable to Himself? That salt is God’s own holy, righteous Substance. God must find Himself in all that belongs to Him, just as a mother dog sniffs her litter to make certain each one is hers. It seems sometimes that most Christian activity is composed of inert ingredients. The salt of God’s Person is not present.
The Bible has quite a bit to say about salt.
Under the Law of Moses, every offering had to include salt.
The Lord Jesus referred to us as the salt of the earth. He also advised us to have salt in ourselves.
I have often thought about the salt mentioned in connection with God’s covenants, but I have not been able to put my finger on exactly what is meant by the salt of God’s covenant.
So I asked the Lord about it. Usually God speaks to me in words. This time it was more of a feeling, and I have had a hard time putting it into words. The closest I can get it that salt represents the God’s own holy righteous substance. Perhaps there is more to it than this.
It made me think of a dog sniffing of her litter of pups to make sure they all were hers. She was making certain she was smelling herself in each of her pups.
I have noticed of late that much of the Christian activity that goes on seems to be lacking some kind of depth. It is hard to put it into words.
It reminds me of potent chemicals. Sometimes you will notice on a bottle or box of some potent medicine, insecticide, or some other chemical, that the material contained in the receptacle is 99% inert ingredients. There is only about one percent of the chemical you are purchasing.
If you had 100% of the chemical it would be too strong to be effective. It must be diluted in some manner.
The inert ingredients could be any number of substances. It really doesn’t matter. They are only filler to dilute the potent chemical.
So it is with the Christian activity that takes place. I think most of it is composed of inert ingredients. There is just a small amount of the Lord in it. Perhaps this is necessary. Maybe if it was 100% the Lord we couldn’t handle it successfully.
Perhaps His Presence is too pure, too powerful, too holy for us to respond to successfully.
But here’s the point. There must be some of the Lord if it is to be effective.
If we have a medicine that is heavily diluted it will cure us. The tiny amount of chemical will do the job. But if it were all inert ingredients, we might as well drink water. Nothing is going to take place.
I think we need to be admonished today. The emphasis is on attracting ever large groups of people. Churches are advertised as the “largest in the world,” or, “the fastest growing church in the United States.”
This is a destructive practice.
Why is it a destructive practice? Because it puts great pressure on a young minister to attract crowds of people. If he doesn’t he is regarded as a failure, a loser.
But think. How will this affect his preaching?
In order to attract crowds of people he is going to preach a cheap, non-demanding grace. If he desires crowds of people he certainly is not going to tell them that in order to be a Christian they will have to deny themselves, take up their cross each day, and follow Jesus. Think about this.
The other day I saw a sign outside a religious institution. It said: “Come inside and we will tell you about a free trip to Heaven.”
This is what American people want, or demand—a free trip to Heaven.
We have destroyed the Gospel by leaving the impression that great numbers of people are a sign of successful preaching. In fact, the very opposite may be the case, and often is the case, I believe.
I know of at least one minister who believes that the fruit the Lord Jesus mentioned in the fifteenth chapter of the Gospel of John consists of people who come to his church. The idea of the fruit remaining is that the people continue coming to his church.
The truth is, the fruit to which the Lord referred is His moral image wrought in us and in those whom we influence.
Every offering must contain the salt of God’s Presence. If God comes to look over our work, He must find Himself in it. There must be some of God in it. If not, it will not taste good to God. It will have lost its salty flavor.
In the same manner, if we are to be the salt of the earth, we must have God in us. When the world “tastes” of what we are offering, the world must taste God. If it does not, if we have lost our saltiness, then we are good for nothing but the dunghill.
If we have thousands of people in our church service, and it is all human talent and activity, it is worthless to the Kingdom of God.
Let us from this point forward make certain God is in what we are doing, that there is something beside inert ingredients.
Season all your grain offerings with salt. Do not leave the salt of the covenant of your God out of your grain offerings; add salt to all your offerings. (Leviticus 2:13)
Everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other.” (Mark 9:49,50)
Two Races—The adamic race is temporary race. God never intended it to be permanent. When the Lord Jesus cried out on the cross “It is finished” I believe he was referring to the entire adamic race. Salvation is the transition from the adamic race to the new creation.
The Bible tells us that when we are baptized in water we are stating we have taken our place on the cross. Our first life, that which we inherited from our father and mother, is finished. We have risen to a new life in Jesus Christ.
Our Christian life is supposed to be a working out of that crucifixion and that resurrection. It shall be if we keep in mind our dual position of crucifixion and resurrection.
But the question comes: “Why has God made man this way? Why create us one way and then tell us we have to slay that first creation and receive a new creation into our personality?”
We need to understand God is not saving us, He is crucifying us. I think thought gets lost sometimes in American preaching.
All of us children of Adam have many facets of our personality that are admirable, such as friendliness, courage, truthfulness, faithfulness, and so on. These differ from person to person. We also have an inherited sinful nature, including a love for the world spirit, various lusts and passions, and self-will and self-centeredness. These factors also differ from person to person.
In order to destroy our sinful nature, God assigns our entire personality, the good and the bad of it, to the cross with Christ. That which is bad is to be removed. It has no place in the Kingdom of God. That which is good is to be brought down to death in Christ and then raised against in Christ. God is making new all that is of worth in the Kingdom of God. He is making it new in Jesus Christ, who is the Firstborn from the dead. Jesus Christ is the beginning of the new race.
Both races are human. But one race is animal and temporary. The other is Divine and eternal.
In the beginning Adam and Eve did not have a sinful nature, as far as we know. Yet the Lamb was slain from the beginning of the world. This reveals to us that God knew Adam and Eve would sin against Him.
But let us think for a moment. Suppose God, who knew exactly what Satan was about to do, intervened. Suppose God had prevented the first sin.
Perhaps after a period of time, God would have clothed Adam and Eve and instructed them in righteousness, giving them laws such as those found in the Ten Commandments.
That would mean no sinful nature would have been developed in them. What would subsequent history have been like? Would there have been a need for confusing the languages?
Since God was well able to have proceed in this manner, why didn’t He? That is the big question in the minds of those of us who have struggled against our sinful nature, and have suffered its consequences, for many years.
I am not certain I can plumb the depths of the answer to this question, but there are some points that are somewhat obvious.
First of all, we would not have seen our need of a savior. We might not have been willing to receive Christ into our personality. What need would we have of being born again of Christ or of living by His body and blood if we were not rebelling against God?
God never intended the adamic race, as marvelous as it is, to be eternal. What God wants is Christ. The eternal race is as stock onto which Christ is to be grafted. God is not interested in the fruit of human effort. God desires the fruit of the Spirit of God, and this comes only as we serve as stock onto which Christ is to be grafted.
If a cutting from an orange tree is grafted onto a lemon trunk, oranges, not lemons, will be borne on the cutting.
When Christ is grafted onto a human being, it is Christ who is borne on that person, not his own righteousness.
Israel shall blossom, bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit. This is God’s intention. God wants His entire creation to be filled with Christ.
This was God’s plan from the beginning. The human race is to serve as stock. But the fruit that is borne is Christ.
It is God’s intention that Christ have brothers, the Lamb have a wife, God have a temple. But no angelic personage can serve as a brother of Christ, a wife for the Lamb, a temple for God. Only the new creation, man, can serve in these capacities.
But what kind of man? Certainly not adamic man, who is intelligent dust residing in an animal body.
God could have created us in a heavenly body to begin with, but what kind of inward nature would we have?
So God had to form dust into a person, and then house the dust in an animal body. Then He had to drive Christ into every aspect of the individual’s inward nature, and eventually clothe the transformed spirit with a body which also is of Christ.
This new man is the Kingdom of God, the brother of Jesus Christ, the wife of the Lamb, the member of the Body of Christ, the eternal dwelling place of God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit.
But why the need for sin, and why the sufferings of Christ on the cross. Couldn’t there have been a better way?
Obviously not. There had been a massive rebellion on the part of the angelic creatures. This was the origin of all sin. All sin is of the devil.
Even if God had prevented Adam and Eve from eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, had clothed them, had instructed them in righteousness, there was no guarantee that this marvelous new creation would not at some point decide to disobey God.
If Christ was to have brothers, the Lamb, a wife, and God, a temple, there had to be some guarantee that these would be perfected in humility, patience, and obedience before they were entrusted with a body appropriate for the Kingdom roles they were to be assigned.
And so Adam and Eve had to be permitted to sin. The Lamb had to agree to bear the penalty of this sin if the new creatures were to be given the opportunity to make their own decisions about sin.
It was not long after the first sin before the race of humans was saturated with the rebellion of the angels. The saturation occurred so quickly that God had to destroy the world with a flood, and begin again with the sons of Noah.
The human race ever since has resembled old flypaper. The demons are attracted to it and stick to it.
Now God appears on the scene and holds out the answer—Jesus Christ, the perfect One.
The individual, driven by a sinful, rebellious nature, comes to Christ for salvation. Christ forgives his sins and then is born in the person.
Now we have two races in the same body. The adamic race is present; The new creation, Christ, is present.
Each believer is promised that if he or she will conquer, through Christ, the compulsion to yield to the urges of the sinful nature, he or she will be granted fabulous rewards of life, authority, and power—power over the nations of people on the earth.
Kings are in the making. Not cute little Sunday-school kings but Oriental monarchs wielding awesome authority and power. Jesus Christ has purchased these from all nations and tongues with His own blood.
The important fact to remember is that the first race, the adamic race, is utterly unable to perform the roles and tasks necessary for the establishing and operating of the Kingdom of God. Only the new creation, that which is of Christ and is Christ, is qualified to establish and operate the Kingdom of God.
When we think of the achievements of the adamic race we are impressed with its accomplishments in the arts and sciences of civilization. But these are not to be compared in grandeur with what will be achieved by the new race.
It is important to understand both races are human. Both are “man.”
There is adamic man. And then there is man who is a life-giving spirit, the Christ-man we might say. It is a new humanity, a transcendent humanity—the kind of humanity that God envisioned from the beginning.
In the sixth chapter of the Book of Romans, the Apostle Paul tells us that when we were baptized in water we were assigning our adamic man to the cross with Jesus Christ. When we come out of the water we are entering newness of life in Christ.
This is what the Christian salvation is. It is not the improving of the adamic man so he can go to Heaven. This is what is preached in many churches, but it is not scriptural. This is the religion of Christianity, and it takes its place alongside the great religions of the world.
But this is not what the Bible teaches. The true salvation of the Bible is not the saving of the individual. It is the crucifying of the individual. The believer is required to assign his entire person to the cross with Christ.
When he does this, the Holy Spirit begins to make his crucifixion and resurrection a fact, moving it from the realm of faith into the realm of daily experience.
The following are some of the characteristics of the adamic man, and he and they must be crucified.
- He is determined to force his own will.
- He wants to have a king to rule over him.
- He is subject to nostalgia.
- He worries about the future.
- He is afraid of change.
- He is subject to romanticism.
- He is self-seeking and self-centered.
- He is afraid of death.
- He find security and survival in the world spirit.
- He is religious.
- He cannot bear to be falsely accused.
- He is frustrated easily.
- He creates an image of himself.
- He is subject to affinities and antipathies.
- He thinks only of himself.
- He is a breeding ground for unclean spirits.
One of the clearest symptoms of the Christian who is living “in the flesh,” in the adamic nature, is his insistence on forcing his own will.
Can you remember how Isaac gave his wells to those who contended with him? The Apostle Paul exhorted us to permit ourselves to be defrauded, to be wronged, to be cheated.
The Lord Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount instructed us to yield to those who want to take something from us, or to harm us in some manner, or to force us to do something. Of course we have to use wisdom in this. But when we are aware this is the attitude Christ desires we take, we find many opportunities in life to put it into practice.
The new creation that we are becoming does not force his own will. He rests in God. He is not afraid of losing something of value, but maintains his treasures in Heaven. He understands thoroughly that God will not permit him to be harmed.
The adamic man wants to have a king to rule over him. Do you remember how the Israelites wanted a king? They were not content to have the Lord rule over them.
The new creation is governed by the Lord. The Christ-man obeys all earthly authority, for it is of God. But in his heart he trusts and serves the Lord. He does what is right whether or not he is being supervised by another person.
The adamic man is prone to nostalgia. He suffers much pain because of these “memories that bless and burn.” And it is all a lie. The “good times” that he remembers were miserable while he was there.
The Jews were nostalgic while in the wilderness. They pictured themselves sitting around the cooking pots in Egypt. They forgot how they were beaten when they were unable to make bricks without straw.
The new creation remembers the future. He forgets the past. He is looking forward to the glorious days ahead when he is governing the creation with the Lord Jesus Christ.
The adamic man worries about the future. In fact, in many instances he is living more in the future than he is in the present. The exception is the adamic man who ignores the future, living today as merrily as he can and shutting out of his mind the consequences of his behavior.
An example of people living in the future can be seen in an airplane when it lands. The people spring to their feet and wait, sometimes five or ten minutes, with their heads bent under the baggage compartments. Usually how soon they get off the plan is not an issue. As they stand there, when they could be seated comfortably, they are picturing themselves getting off the plane.
The new creation lives in the now. This does not mean he is shutting out of his mind the consequences of his action, much as a person does who smokes cigarettes. Rather he is aware of the present and is resting in God, continually looking up in prayer as he has fellowship with the Lord.
The adamic man is afraid of change. He may be in miserable circumstances, but he fears that if something changes he will be worse off than he is now.
The new creation knows that if he is to be transformed morally he will experience many changes. His circumstances may be stable for awhile and then become fluid. He is positioned for change and knows that each change represents a step further into that which he desires—the moral image of Christ.
The adamic man often is subject to romanticism. The young person pictures being married to a handsome man or a beautiful woman. Then they will live happily ever after. Many novels and other media presentations are based on romantic love and the idyllic conclusion.
This is all a lie. Marriage for most of us is a practical contract that must be worked at intelligently by both partners. The romantic ideal soon dissipates and we are faced with life with another person who is as self-centered as we are.
The new creation does not accept the romantic delusion. He understands it is a somewhat hidden expression of the reproductive urge—nature tricks us so we will reproduce the species. He knows no human being can ever fulfill the longing for fulfillment we have. Only Jesus Christ can do that for us.
The adamic man is self-seeking. He does what he can to secure his own aggrandizement. This is the basis for wars and other disasters.
The new creation knows that only in God’s will is there rest. One day the entire creation will be doing God’s will. Then there will be perfect rest and peace.
The adamic man is afraid of death. To him, the worst thing that can happen to a person is to die.
The new creation looks forward to death as a higher plane on which to live. He sees the spirit world as a continuation of the present. He is at home in both realms.
This dual citizenship will prove to be important to us in America in the near future, I believe. If millions of our citizens are killed in a war, or by terrorists, and one of our loved ones is taken, we are going to need the confidence that he or she is walking on a higher plane of living, although invisible to us at the present time.
The adamic man is at home in the world spirit. He looks to the wisdom of the world in education, and particularly to the power of the world in money, to provide security and survival for him. The adamic man is of the world and hates Christ and those whom Christ has chosen. He worships Antichrist and the False Prophet by nature.
The new creation knows that the world spirit is not his friend. He has chosen to find his survival and security in Christ. Christ is his rock. He does not trust the educational systems of the world, although he may use them profitably. Neither is it true that money is his God. He will not worship Antichrist or the False Prophet, because he does not worship himself.
The adamic man is religious. He realizes that he did not create himself and that there are times when he needs help from a greater Power. Sometimes he becomes fanatical in his religious zeal as he attempts to find a refuge from the pressures of life. The person afflicted with a desire for perfection can fulfill his longings in perfect adherence to a religious system.
The new creation has little use for religion, including Christian religious institutions. He has been chosen by the Father from the beginning of the world to be in the image of Christ and a brother of Christ. The longing of his heart is to know Christ to an ever increasing extent, to gain Christ fully, to possess Christ and be possessed by Christ. Sometimes religion aids him in his quest for Christ and sometimes it hinders him. But it never becomes a substitute for interacting with Christ continually.
The adamic man cannot bear to be falsely accused. He lashes out in his own defense. He protests to everyone who will listen that the accusations against him are not true.
The new creation is often accused falsely. He is misunderstood and misquoted. His motivations are said to be evil. He is slandered. But he rests in God, knowing that God will bring forth his righteousness as the light. He waits for God to vindicate him. The Lord Jesus is his example in this.
The adamic man is frustrated easily. He rages and blames other people when he is hindered from obtaining what he desires.
The new creation looks to the Lord when he is being blocked. Sometimes God removes the obstacle. On other occasions the Lord leads him in a different direction. But he does not react with violence and hatred, cursing other people. He prays to find out what God is teaching him in this situation.
The adamic man creates an image of himself. Sometimes it is that of a tough guy with a cigarette hanging from his mouth. Sometimes it is that of a sweet little girl. Sometimes the image being cultivated is that of an important businessman, or a lofty intellect whose thoughts are much higher than those of the average person.
The new creation does not adopt an image or special mannerisms. He walks with the Lord and is transformed into the image of the Lord. He does not attempt to be someone important or anything except what he is.
The adamic man is subject to affinities and antipathies. There are some people he just likes instinctively and others who he does not want near him. Sometimes there is no real basis for the liking or the disliking.
The new creation looks to the Lord about each person. He does not trust his own judgments of people. God shows him what is in the heart of each person.
The adamic man thinks only of himself. In fact, self-love is one of the prominent characteristics of the adamic personality.
God works with the new creation until the new man is quite outside himself is his concern for God and for other people. In actuality we Christians were created to be a channel of communication between God and people. We never find the fulfillment in life we are seeking until we are serving fully as a way for God to contact people and people to contact God.
The adamic man wallows in self-pity. There is not a trace of self-pity in the new creation. No matter what happens to him he looks up bravely to the Lord and keeps doing his best. He does not feel sorry for himself because he knows he is the offspring of God and his future is glorious beyond all imagining. He regards the presents distresses as not worthy to be compared with the marvels of his inheritance.
The adamic man loves excitement. The new creation enjoys quietness, peace, and confidence in the Lord.
The adamic man is vengeful, wishing for destruction on his enemies. The new creation hopes for improvement in his enemies—that they will come to know the Lord as he does.
The adamic man is a breeding ground for unclean spirits. The adamic flesh and soul love the excesses and passions of demons. They enjoy the frantic thrills that sin provides and overlook the destructive consequences.
The new creation abominates unclean spirits and will have nothing to do with them. The new creation loves the holiness of God and will not rest until he finds himself in the center of the Fire of God’s holy being. He loves to cry “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord.” He desires fervently to live in that Fire always and in all circumstances. He is at home there with Jesus.
I believe it is important to note that the Lord Jesus said the Word brings forth lasting fruit when it is sown in an honest and good heart. This means an honest and good adamic heart.
Yes, there is such a thing as an honest and good adamic heart, an adamic heart with integrity. Without adamic integrity one can never made a success of the Christian life.
Until the adamic nature is willing to do what the New Testament commands, praying continually to God for help each day in overcoming sin, there can be no transition to the new creation. The adamic man must faithfully seek his own demise, always saying “I must decrease and He must increase.”
The new race of life-giving spirits that God is forming is as superior to our present state as a human being is superior to an animal. All that is unworthy of the Kingdom of God will be thrown into the fire. All that is worthy will be crucified and then raised that Christ may be all in all.
Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. God’s intention is to have an eternal civilization in which Christ is present in every person—to some degree at least. The rule of God will be through the saints, and also from within the personalities of the people in the new world.
All will be harmony, love, peace, light. The arts and sciences will flourish with no end in sight. The musician will master his instrument. The scientist will explore endlessly the principles the Creator has hidden in the works of his hands. Families will live in love and peace with no fear of death. The leaves of the Trees of Life will be available for healing when the need arises.
The Throne of God will be present in the new Jerusalem so all mankind will have access to God. The Holy Spirit will be available as a great River from whom all may drink.
The micro-and macro-universes will be there to explore. The products of the workers will be available to all as they have need. There will be no lack of any good thing.
Why God had to create man in two stages is a profound mystery. I do not imagine I have in any manner fully explored the reasons behind this most painful process. But I can see that it produces people who seek constantly to be increasingly filled with the fullness of God through Jesus Christ, and who therefore love righteousness with militant fervor and hate wickedness and lawlessness with militant fervor.
The two-race program produces people who are in the image of the Lord Jesus Christ and filled with Christ. They are qualified to fulfill the many roles and tasks necessary for the installation and operation of the Kingdom of God on the earth.
We forget the past and remember the future. We see in our mind’s eye the rising of a tremendous civilization filled with the Presence of God, governed by those with the heart of a servant, free from danger so the smallest child can run and frolic among the largest of animals without peril, and play in the quiet streams and mighty oceans with no fear of drowning.
It is painful, I know, to tear ourselves away from the familiar. We who are older have many memories. If we would let ourselves we would imagine those were the good days. They were not! They were filled with fear and worry of every description—and sometimes with much worse.
If you could picture a large man, drunken, blind, staggering along, singing a meaningless song, lurching from side to side, you would be seeing the history of adamic man. All of his potential is frustrated by the sinful nature he has inherited.
He is capable of sublime productions, but more often than not his majesty becomes a torn, soiled robe because of his sinful nature.
He produces beauty, and then dies of syphilis or AIDS. He loves passionately, and then, like Amnon, destroys what he once had idolized.
Perhaps most of us have a vision somewhere inside of us of a castle on a high hill, wreathed with a rainbow; or of a golden city where the people throng in happy pursuits; or possibly a thatched cottage bordering a meadow, where children can play with the little animals.
We were created in a garden. We know intuitively—until the hope is knocked out of us—that the rainbow is the staircase to a lovely land.
Don’t ever let go of this hope. There is such a place for you. God is changing you so once you gain your paradise you won’t destroy it.
Adam will always ruin paradise. Place him in the perfect surroundings. He will force his own will on everyone around him. He will appoint himself as king, or look for someone around him to be a leader. He is not content to walk in obedience to the Lord.
He will mourn about how good it was while he was on the cursed earth. He will worry about the future, although there is no basis for dread. He is fearful if there is any sign of change. He sets up a person in his heart and imagines how wonderful it would be to possess him or her. Everything he puts his hand to is to benefit himself.
He is in Paradise; but he has his own Hell inside himself, and soon brings Hell to the people around him.
Christ brings paradise wherever He is, for Paradise flows from His Being. Even where there ordinarily would be danger, torment, and misery, Jesus Christ brings peace and joy. You too are being made a life-giving spirit and will bring your own paradise with you for others and yourself to enjoy for eternity.
We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. (Romans 6:4)
The Uncrossable Gulf—There is an uncrossable gulf between the most highly developed animal and the least developed man, in that the least developed man has a sense of God. There is an uncrossable gulf between the most highly developed man and the least member of the Kingdom of God, because the least member of the Kingdom of God is, through Christ, a partaker of the Divine Nature.
I really like animals—all animals, except I am not a fan of bats. We always have had a dog. When I was growing up I had a cat named Teddy Whiskers.
Dogs are great friends. They are a comfort.
I have seen the most marvelous expressions on the face of dogs. Sometimes I think it is a reflection of the face of God. (I trust that does not sound irreverent).
It seems to me that God created animals for children. In our super-sophisticated American society, a young child is overwhelmed with the intricacies and symbols. Our complicated culture is not easily comprehended by a growing animal, which a child is.
But a small child, frightened by the apparatuses of our culture, terrified when he hears his parents fighting, can find comfort in his pup. Pups understands little of our culture, but they understand just about everything of true importance.
Always having had a dog, as I said, I have noticed that dogs have no sense whatever of God. It just isn’t present in their personality. When you pray the dog looks at you. You can sense he is waiting for you to finish your prayer and get on with life.
There are scientists who have spent years with gorillas and chimpanzees, teaching them the arts of civilization. It is amazing how socialized these animals become.
But even though they learn the alphabet, a musical scale, and can smoke cigarettes, the sense of prayer to a supreme Being is not present. I least I have never witnessed it.
Thus, whether scientists and evolutionists are pleased with the idea or not, there is an uncrossable gulf between the most civilized animal and the most primitive human. The human (until he is educated beyond his intelligence) is aware of the spirit realm and of his Creator.
There is another uncrossable gulf. It is between the most highly developed man and the least member of the Kingdom of God.
Please don’t get me wrong. I am not saying Christians are better than other people. In fact, many members of the Christian religion are scoundrels. This is the best you can say for them.
I am not speaking of religion, Christian or otherwise. I am referring to the Kingdom of God.
To see and enter the Kingdom of God we must be born again. This means a portion of Divinity is planted in us. The portion of Divinity comes from God through the Lord Jesus Christ. An entirely new person is born in our personality.
That which is born in us is not a religious idea or a statement of faith. It is not conversion to Christianity, although that is the way the term “born again” is used today.
To be born again is to have God birthed in us. It is the Divine Nature. It is supernatural.
The seed from an apple can be planted in the United States, or Russia, or China, or Africa. It makes no difference. The tree that grows is not an American tree, or a Russian tree, or a Chinese tree, or an African tree. It is an apple tree.
So it is with that which is born in us. It is not an American creation, or a Russian creation, or a Chinese creation, or an African creation. It is a new, Divine creation that has in itself the Nature of God.
My guess is that most believers in America do not understand what it means to be born again. This is unfortunate, for if one does not understand what it means to be born again he cannot understand the Kingdom of God.
The Kingdom of God is that which is born in us. It is Divine. It is of Christ and is Christ.
No one was ever born again until Jesus Christ rose from the dead. If the patriarchs of old are in the Kingdom of God, the men of God who died before Christ rose from the dead, then they received Christ in the spirit realm after Jesus ascended. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Firstborn from the dead. No person became part of the new Kingdom before Christ. Christ is the Beginning of the new creation.
To have Christ in us (remember, I am not speaking of making a profession of Christ or belonging to a Christian church) sets us apart from all other human beings.
Do you remember what the Lord said about John the Baptist? Jesus said, “The one who is least in the Kingdom of God is greater than he.”
Now, this was an extremely significant statement. There was no prophet of Israel greater than John, according to the Lord. Yet, the least person in the Kingdom of God is greater than John—greater than the greatest of the prophets.
What do you think about that?
This is because none of the prophets, including John, had had Christ born in him. The prophet was anointed with the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God spoke through him. But Christ had not been born in him.
I have mentioned in other writings that there are two races of human beings. There is the first, adamic race. And then there is the new race comprising people in whom Christ has been formed.
It is not enough for the Seed of God to have been planted in us, or even to have germinated. We see this from the parable of the sower. We can have Christ planted in us, and then germinate, and then perish because of poor soil or an abundance of worldly distractions.
Make no mistake: the doctrine of “eternal security” is about as deadly a concept as could be conceived. It is entirely possible for us to have received a portion of eternal life and then to have lost it because we continued to live in the appetites of the sinful nature.
There is an uncrossable gulf between the person who has the Life of God in him and the person who does not have the Life of God in him. The person without the Life of God is intelligent dust. The person with the Life of God is on his or her way to becoming a personage like the One from whom the Life came.
Seeds bear fruit like the plant from which they came. This is an fundamental law of nature, and it operates with equal force in the spirit realm.
Let each one of us who has Christ in him give attention to nourishing what we have been given. This means we hold the world lightly and place importance on daily prayer, daily Bible reading, and gathering with fervent disciples on a consistent basis.
Compared with the development of the Life of Christ in us, all the elements of the world are garbage. For we can make tremendous progress in the things of the world, and in the end enter the grave an immature spirit. Or we can give proper attention to what has been born in us, and enter the grave as a spiritual giant ready to walk hand in hand with the Lord Jesus into the land that is fairer than day.
The choice is up to us, and we are making that decision right now. Do we prefer to remain intelligent dust in an animal body, heading toward corruption; or do we prefer to grow up as the offspring of almighty God, heading toward endless life in the fullness of love, joy, and peace?
I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he. (Luke 7:28)
Disciples, Not Converts—The Lord commanded us to make disciples, not converts. Converts are made to a religion. Disciples are followers of Jesus Christ and they keep His commandments.
Converts to the Christian religion are characterized by their emphasis on doctrine, liturgy, the number of people in attendance, and their new parking lot. Disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ are characterized by their emphasis on the Person, will, and commandments of Jesus.
I don’t suppose there is a more familiar passage in all of Christendom than the Great Commission, found in Matthew, Chapter 28. Perhaps the most frequent usage of this passage is in the Evangelical churches. We are told, one and all, that we are to fulfill the Great Commission by going forth with the Gospel to all the world.
We may go forth, but we don’t always do what the Lord commanded in the Great Commission.
The Lord directed us to do three things:
Make disciples of all nations.
Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Teach them to obey everything the Lord commanded.
I may be incorrect, but I think the Lord meant to make disciples from the people of the nations, not make the nations themselves disciples. Perhaps I am mistaken.
And they sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.” (Revelation 5:9)
So we are to follow the Spirit as He leads us to people from every nation.
We are to baptize these people.
We are to teach them to obey the commandments the Lord gave us, and, I would assume, the commandments the Lord gave us through His Apostles.
The Lord intends to make kings and priests of these disciples.
You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth. (Revelation 5:10)
Baptize them in water.
Teach them to obey the New Testament commandments.
Am I correct so far?
I don’t believe this is exactly what we Evangelicals do.
I think we tell people about the atonement and ask them to accept Christ as their personal Savior.
I think we baptize them in water, but I am not certain if we always explain to them that baptism signifies death to the world system and entrance into new life in the Kingdom of God. I feel certain, however, that such instruction is given in many cases; for there are countries where being baptized in water can mean death at the hand of one’s relatives.
It may be true that we are not teaching them to obey the New Testament commandments. We may be presenting them with the perversion of grace preached in the United States: that is, we do not have to keep the New Testament because we are saved by grace.
Back to the first of the three parts, making disciples.
Telling people about the atonement and asking them to make a profession of faith in Christ is not the same as making a disciple—especially when we add that they do not have to keep the New Testament commandments.
The Lord Jesus told us what it means to be a disciple. We have to deny ourselves. We have to go against the wishes of our loved ones if it proves necessary. We have to carry our personal cross. And we have to follow the Lord Jesus each day.
I don’t believe we make disciples, in many instances. I think we persuade people of the facts of our religion, and then build a structure so they will have a place to worship. We have made converts, just like any other religion. This is not the same as making disciples.
Historically a disciple is someone who learns at the feet of a master. Day after day he listens to his teacher, or works as an apprentice. This instruction continues for years until he can teach and work with the same knowledge and skill as his master.
Notice what the Lord said about this.
A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher. (Luke 6:40)
Now, perhaps you will agree with me when I say that sometimes believers attend church for fifty years and experience little significant change in their personality. They are pretty much the same, after all those years, as when they started. It cannot be said of them that they are like Jesus, either in knowledge or in action.
Historically an apprentice would serve for a few years, and then he would leave his master and set up his own shop. This does not happen, because we do not make disciples. We make converts to our religion. We do not explain to them what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.
I may be wrong, but I would guess that we don’t tell people what it means to be a disciple because we are too anxious to gain numbers of converts. It seems to me that denominations stress numbers of converts far out of proportion to the actual Kingdom significance of large numbers of adherents to their institution.
The Catholic Church has two or three times the number of communicants that is true of the entire population of the United States. What good is this when they are worshiping the Virgin Mary instead of Christ? What good are all these people if they are not denying themselves, taking up their cross, and following the Lord Jesus? What good is it to have these hundreds of millions of people as members when many if not most of them are brought into a relationship to their Church rather than to the Lord Jesus?
The same is true of the major Protestant denominations. What good is it to have millions of members when only a handful of them are denying themselves, taking up their cross, and following the Lord Jesus every day?
We may have a successful human organization, but the will of Christ is not being done. The Great Commission is not being obeyed.
As I said, I think the reason we do not stress the demands of discipleship is we are afraid the people will leave.
Suppose one was to come to a large Protestant church in the United States and tell the worshipers that they are not Christians until they deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Jesus each day. Suppose the teachings about grace, Heaven, and the rapture were set aside for a season. Suppose the listeners were told they must lay down their life for Christ and His Gospel.
How many would remain in the church? Let us say that the church has five thousand members. Let us imagine further that they all leave except for twenty-five people. Then the truth would, there are twenty-five Christians in that large church.
What are the rest? Churchgoers.
Are they Christians? They are not. They are true believers, but a Christian is a disciple, according to the Book of Acts.
The churchgoers are decent people, for the most part, who believe in the theological facts they have been presented with.
Do they know Jesus personally? Many of them have had a personal experience with the Lord, trust in Him, and pray to Him.
But they don’t grow as they should.
Why not? Because they have been told they are saved by grace. The requirements of discipleship, of what it means to be a Christian, that they are to count their life over, that for them to live is Christ and to die is gain, are not pressed on them Sunday after Sunday.
Given the allurements of the American culture, unless the demands of discipleship are continually pressed on the church members, they simply will not grow in the Lord as they should.
Historically disciples moved forward to become journeymen, and then masters of their field, by listening to the instruction and watching the actions of those to whom they have been apprenticed.
This is how a pastor is to make disciples. He must bring the people to Jesus continually, exhorting them to keep all the commandments found in the New Testament. And he himself must be practicing what he is preaching.
He must throw off the pressure on himself to have large numbers of people in his congregation. If he responds to the pressure for numbers, he certainly will compromise the demands of discipleship.
The pressure for numbers of churchgoers is not coming from the Lord. The Lord is content with two or three. The pressure is coming from the personal ambition of people, their desire to be viewed as successful.
Let us take, for example, the commandment to take up our cross.
The cross we carry has two arms.
The first arm is the denial for a season of our most fervent desires.
The second arm is our being required to endure for a season situations we do not enjoy.
When I say for a season, I mean as long as God requires imprisonment of us. This can continue for many years—sometimes to death, if necessary.
If a pastor or other Christian leader is to make disciples his listeners must see the iron in his face, they must feel the steel of his resolve—even if he is a young man. They must know he is remaining in his prison just as he is commanding them to do. If they do not, they will not grow in the Lord.
Disciples are not made brought to maturity overnight. They must sit at the feet of the leader God has provided for them until they are ready to disciples others.
There is a place for church buildings. There is a time for collective worship and the other activities we associate with the Christian religion.
But if the center of these activities is not instruction by someone who himself is following Jesus, who can say “follow me as I follow Christ,” then what we have is a religion and its converts.
Go into all the world. Make disciples. Baptize them in water. Teach them to keep my commandments.
It looks like the American people will be experiencing severe trials in the coming days. Strong Christians will be needed to assist the weaker believers and the unsaved. These must be disciples who know Jesus and are not afraid of death.
Someone said recently that the Lord spoke to him that America will be hit hard, the purpose being to clean out some of the moral filth that has accumulated.
Let us hope this takes place.
Each one of us can help during times of destruction and times of restoration. But to be of help we must be genuine disciples and not just converts made by institutional Christianity. We must know the Lord Jesus Christ and be following Him each day, patiently carrying our cross.
Then Jesus came to them and said, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, And teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:18-20)
The Eyes of Faith—Faith is a glimpse of the future as well as of what is invisible.
Sometimes we say that we walk by faith and not by sight. We mean we walk by the eyes of faith rather than by physical eyes.
The disciples pointed out the Temple of Herod to the Lord. Jesus saw the Temple in ruins. What a wonderful ability it is to see things as they actually are!
I think the Lord has constructed the world the way He has so He might test us. We can see the things of the world. Then the Bible tells us that we do not see what is desirable and eternal. So we are forced to see with the eyes of faith. We place our treasures in Heaven by faith. We set our mind on things above by faith.
The righteous live by faith. This means the righteous do not depend on what can be seen with physical eyes. They do not find their survival and security in the things of the world. The righteous are motivated and guided by faith, by “seeing what is invisible.”
Why has God done this to us do you suppose? Why has He put us in a world that we can see and hear and feel, and then tell us to live our life in terms of a world we cannot see or hear or feel? Why?
Well, what does it say about us when we refuse to go by what we can see in this world and live by what we can see only by faith?
It says we believe God exists and that He rewards those who seek Him diligently.
It says we believe what God has said and are willing to gamble our life on His trustworthiness.
It says we have a healthy fear of God.
It says (and I believe this particular statement is specially important) that we expect better things of God than this present world. We believe He can do better than this.
It says we are not content to live in the appetites of the sinful nature. We are hoping for something higher and better. It says we are different from the multitude of human beings who are willing to work, play, sleep, eat, and reproduce, and be content with this. We are betting our lives on the fact that there is a glorious world of righteousness somewhere; and if we please God we will live there someday.
Sometimes we imagine that if we could actually see God we would believe and obey Him; that when we die we will be faithful Christians because then we can see God.
Not so. Satan rebelled against God when he could see Him.
Faith is really our testimony of God’s character. This testimony does not depend on whether or not we can actually see God. Our assessment of God’s character comes out of the deepest part of our nature. Why one person has faith in God’s trustworthiness and another person does not, I am not able to say.
Satan called into question God’s reliability, and Eve failed the test. She was not persuaded God was doing what was best for her.
We cannot see God now. According to the Book of Revelation, there will come a time when we actually see God. Seeing God will be the greatest of all blessings, but it will not increase our faith.
It is up to us to show in this world what we believe to be true of God’s Character.
And God is watching to see what our response will be!
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)
A Change in Man—The Christian salvation is not a change in God’s requirements, it is a change in man so he can meet God’s requirements. Grace does not abolish the eternal moral Law of God. Grace establishes the Law of God and emphasizes its implications.
It seems to me there are many ideas that need to be brought up to date in Christian thinking. One of these ideas has to do with the nature of salvation.
As salvation is presented today, it is a change in location. To be saved is to go to Heaven when one dies.
This is not the scriptural idea. The scriptural view of salvation is that it is a change in people independently of location.
You may find going to Hell or to Heaven mentioned in the Bible, but these journeys are not emphasized. What is emphasized is eternal life and a change in what we are as a person.
Why is this? It is because going from one place to another does not accomplish anything. Even going to Heaven, where sin began, does not accomplish anything.
“Oh but if I could go to Heaven I would be happy.”
No you wouldn’t. Your unhappiness comes from what is wrong with your personality, not ordinarily from where you are; unless you are in jail, or the hospital, or some other extreme location.
If we were not changed we would bring our misery to Paradise. Look through the Bible and notice how many passages tell us we will be happy when we go to Heaven.
The essence of the new covenant is, as the Apostle Paul stated, a new creation. If any man be in Christ there is a new creation.
This does not mean, as is commonly taught, that when we “accept Christ” we suddenly are changed from one personality to another. We ought to know better than this by looking at ourselves and at other Christians.
What Paul said was, “If any person be in Christ there is a new creation.”
The new creation is the planting of Christ in our personality. That is the new creation.
When the new creation has been planted in us, we have the means whereby we can become a new creation. The transformation depends on whether or not we nourish what has been planted in us.
Today we conceive of grace as an alternative to moral transformation. We don’t worry too much about obeying Christ and His Apostles because we have been saved and are going to Heaven “by grace.”
What unrealistic nonsense! Has God suddenly changed His mind and is going to have fellowship with the sinful nature of humans?
What is grace?
First, to get us started, grace is the forgiveness of our sins—total release from the Law of Moses.
Then grace is the power of the Holy Spirit to enable us to bear witness and to be transformed morally.
Grace is the Seed of God that is planted in us when we place our faith in Christ.
Grace is the body and blood of Christ given to us so Christ grows and lives in our personality.
Grace is the Word of God that has come to us in the Scriptures and is given to us personally from time to time. Not only do we have the Divine promises but we also have the episodes in the Old Testament that have been written for our admonition.
Grace is the ministries and gifts of the Spirit that are given to us through the Holy Spirit.
Grace is the answer to our prayers when we come with our needs before the Mercy Seat in Heaven.
Grace is the Divine strength that lifts us up when we have despaired even of life.
Grace is the songs given to us in the night.
Grace is the faith that God gives to us.
Grace is the indwelling of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Grace is our hope one day we will have fullness of joy in the Presence of the Lord.
All of these are Divine grace. We cannot create them in our own strength. They are given to us freely through the Lord Jesus Christ.
So when we look at grace as a sort of perpetual forgiveness that excuses our conduct we are coming short of the Glory of God, wouldn’t you say?
What is the desired end of all this Divine grace that has been given to us?
The end is, as the Apostle Paul stated, the new creation.
Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation. (Galatians 6:15)
Can you see the difference? The goal of grace is not a trip to Heaven. The goal of grace is a new creation, that is, a total change in what we are as a person.
We have the Holy Spirit, the Divine Life of Christ planted in us, the body and blood of Christ, the New Testament—all that we need to become a new creation.
The adamic creation, that which we were formerly, cannot inherit the Kingdom of God.
I think the Gospel is preached in America as though it is God way of saving our first personality and bringing it to Heaven. What good would that do? Until we are changed we will have the fightings and slanderings that we have now in the churches. Why should passing into the spirit realm change that? After all, these sins that we Christians practice are spiritual in nature. Why should we change by passing into the spirit world?
Well, maybe they will be suspended when we die and go to Heaven. This is possible, although I see no scriptural basis for this hope.
Suppose they are suspended? This means we are in a dream state so what we actually are does not show.
But then comes the Day of Resurrection. Will what we really are show then? Or will we be carried out of ourselves in some manner.
What does the Scripture teach?
The Scripture teaches that God has given us grace so we may become a new creation. It says nothing about suspending our sinful personality so we can behave without really being changed.
Obviously, what is desired is deliverance, not suspension.
Does the New Testament speak of deliverance from the sinful nature?
Yes, it does. In the thirteenth chapter of the Book of Matthew we are told that in the last days God will remove all sin from His Kingdom.
We understand, therefore, that the Christian salvation is not a change in God’s requirements. It is a change in man so he can conform to God’s requirements.
Grace will never abolish the eternal moral law of God. The eternal moral law of God is what God is. This will never change in the smallest particle.
The central purpose for the issuing of Divine grace is to free us from the Law of Moses. We now are free to follow the Spirit of God into the program of moral transformation. This the Law of Moses could not accomplish.
We truly are in need of a reformation of Christian thinking. Imagine! We are picturing God’s grace as the means of enabling us to have fellowship with God while we are living in our sinful nature. We ought to know better than this!
Divine grace is the means God has given us through the Lord Jesus Christ so we can become new creations of righteous behavior—filled with iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to the Father. We are to be real saints, not saints by imputation.
I guess we all know this in our hearts. But somehow this tremendous misunderstanding of the Apostle Paul has deluded us until we have the present moral confusion in the churches of America.
What will it take to open our eyes to what is written in the New Testament? I do not know. But I am fully persuaded God is about to work wonders among us so we will have churches filled with godly disciples instead of lukewarm churchgoers.
When this renewal takes place, and I believe the revival will be worldwide, the world will be compelled to acknowledge that the Christian people serve the true and living God.
As it is now we are termed “the great Satan” because of the moral filth that is issuing from the sewer pipe called “Hollywood.”
We Christians may fret about the river of moral filth, and bewail its existence. And we should. But God is more concerned that His people turn from the grace-Heaven-rapture delusion and begin to serve Him in righteousness and holiness.
Let each one of us dedicate himself or herself to the revival of righteous behavior that is so needed among the Christian people in the United States of America.
And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (II Corinthians 3:18)
God Is Greater—If the enemy is stronger and wiser than God, than we who are trusting in Jesus are facing defeat and destruction. If every word of the Bible is not true, then we who are walking by faith in Jesus are heading toward catastrophe. Otherwise, we are more than conquerors through the Lord Jesus Christ.
I think we assign too much power to Satan. The unscriptural teaching of the pre-tribulation rapture seems to have left God’s people with a fear of Antichrist, a fear of Satan. God has to remove His Church from the earth so Antichrist cannot harm the believers.
You know, I believe this kind of thinking and preaching angers Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ is a Monarch with unlimited authority and power. The only authority and power that Satan possesses is that which Christ permits so Christ’s purposes may be fulfilled in His Church and in the earth.
I think the Lord’s attitude is, “If you want to worship Satan then go do so.” This would be the attitude of a king who has all power.
The war between God and Satan is not one of power against power. God has all power. God has given to the Lord Jesus Christ all authority and all power in the heavens, on the earth, and in the dark regions under the earth.
The day will come when all of God’s creatures, including Satan, will bow the knee and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord of all.
The war between God and Satan is one of righteousness. We do not overcome Satan by exerting more power. We overcome Satan, Antichrist, the False Prophet, and all else that is of Satan, by our trust in the blood of the Lamb; by our testimony that God is true and faithful; and by loving not our life to the point of death.
It is not a case of power against power but of righteousness against wickedness.
As long as we sin, Satan has authority over us. So does the Lake of Fire. God suspends their authority while we are undergoing moral transformation.
However, if we refuse to undergo moral transformation, choosing instead to cling to our worldliness, lust, and self-will, then we have no power over Satan. He can do with us pretty much as he will.
Here is a great error in current Christian thinking. We suppose if we profess belief in Christ that Satan cannot harm us. This is true only when we are serving the Lord.
Numerous American believers are not serving the Lord. They are serving the world spirit. They are far more concerned about money, entertainment, and their own comfort and well being than they are about Christ and His Gospel. Therefore they can be harmed by Satan.
As long as we are abiding in Christ, the Truth that is in us will overcome Antichrist. But when we are not abiding in Christ we are exposed to the work of Satan whether or not we are a professing Christian.
Right now the American Christians to a great extent are backslidden. They are not undergoing moral transformation. They are trusting they are saved by “faith alone” and that their behavior does not affect their salvation.
They are not aware of the danger of their position. They do not have the protection of the ninety-first Psalm because they are not dwelling in Christ. They do not have the protection of the angel of the Lord because they do not live in the fear of the Lord.
They cannot claim all things are working for their good because they do not love God. They may say they love God but their behavior proves otherwise. They have many idols that they worship, that they love more than they do God.
The coming days in America may serve to separate the multitude of worldly, lukewarm believers from the true saints.
Satan’s way is to let people grow increasingly cold without making them aware of it. When Satan believes the time is ripe he strikes. All of a sudden the “believers” recognize that they have no spiritual strength. They shake themselves, as did Samson, but nothing happens. Their spiritual strength has ebbed from them as they watched television.
If we are truly serving the Lord there is no need for us to fear Antichrist, the False Prophet, or the Great Tribulation. As Paul said, nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ.
The unscriptural doctrine of the rapture has it that we will be raised from the dead and then be caught up to Christ in the air in order to escape Antichrist and the Great Tribulation.
Now think: what will the saints be like when they have been raised from the dead? Will Antichrist be able to harm saints who have been raised from the dead and clothed with the Glory of God?
Will the Great Tribulation be able to harm saints who have been raised from the dead and clothed with the Glory of God?
Does the Lord have to catch them up so they cannot be harmed? What foolishness is this!
You know what? I don’t believe the people who preach the pre-tribulation rapture have read the fourth chapter of the Book of First Thessalonians. I don’t think they realize people are raised from the dead before they are caught up to meet the Lord in the air? If they still are alive when the Lord returns, they will be changed, as it says in the fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians, before they are caught up.
I think the churchgoers are picturing themselves suddenly being caught up with no prior preparation. Perhaps this is accounts for the foolish practice of jumping up and down next to their pews “in preparation for the rapture.”
Obviously, if mortality has been swallowed up by immortality before we are caught up to meet the Lord in the air, we will be, at that time, an entirely different kind of person than we are now. We will have an immortal body.
But the American believers are not ready for an immortal body. Before we have an immortal body we must have attained to resurrection life in our inward nature. This is the resurrection the Apostle Paul was seeking.
Can you imagine the typical American believer, sitting in church on a Sunday morning, wondering what the football scores are, being suddenly transformed into immortality? This is not going to take place. It is rank foolishness to believe such a thing. It is a fairy story, a mythology.
No, we in America—most of us—are nowhere near ready to suddenly change from flesh and blood metabolism to Holy Spirit metabolism. The moment the change began in us we would fall back in unbelief. We would be as Lot’s wife.
God is stronger and wiser than Satan. God does not have to catch us up from the earth so we cannot be harmed. God will show His power by raising us from the dead. Then He will give us a period of time on the earth to enjoy our new status, just as the Lord Jesus was forty days on the earth after He was raised from the dead.
After this God will catch us up to meet the Commander in Chief in the air. We will not suddenly disappear. We will be caught up slowly so all the world can see this greatest of all testimonies.
Then the wicked will be terrified unbearably. But this is just the beginning of their trouble. For soon those hated saints, led by the Lord Jesus Christ, will come down from the air on the huge white war stallions, their spiritual lances held at the ready. This is the Battle of Armageddon and the beginning of the end of the presence of wickedness on the earth.
I would suppose the armies of Heaven are in training now, because no army rushes into battle without extensive training under the guidance of its officers. We on the earth are beginning to confess our sins and renounce them so we may be ready to appear with the Lord.
Wonderful days, and terrible days, we are living in. Wonderful because new avenues of redemption are opening to us. Terrible because the conflict of the ages is at hand. Those who love Christ with all their heart will survive and help others to survive. But I am afraid many American Christians do not love Christ with all their heart, and the coming days in America may prove for them to be dreadful indeed.
Let’s you and I do all we can to warn people of the need to serve Jesus Christ with all their heart, and set a good example for them.
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. (John 10:27-29)
Don’t Look Back!—When God is bringing you into a new place, don’t look back to the old. If you resist change, remember Lot’s wife.
I wonder why the Lord stressed that we not look back in the day of His coming.
It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. On that day no one who is on the roof of his house, with his goods inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. (Luke 17:30-33)
I’ll tell you what I think. Although it might not seem reasonable to us, I think the believers are going to have to make a decision when the Lord appears. I believe it will take faith to go to be with the Lord.
It seems like we would be so glad to see Him we would run to meet Him. But we may not be thinking clearly about this.
Perhaps the key to our understanding may be found in the statement; “Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.”
Why did Lot’s wife look back? Because her heart was in Sodom with her sons-in-law and her neighbors. She did not want to leave Sodom. It was home to her.
We are to remember Lot’s wife. She tried to keep her life, so to speak.
I think we have to make the decision today to lose our life. If we do not, when the Lord appears, we will cling to our life, just as Lot’s wife did.
We may think it will be a simple matter to go to Jesus. It won’t be.
Suppose you were away from your children. Let’s say you were in the city shopping and your children were home. Then the Lord appeared. Would you be ready to go with Him, or would you be worried about your children?
Suppose you were away from home and you realized you had left the door unlocked, and there was a lot of money where someone could get to it. Would you be free in your heart to forget everything and go to be with the Lord?
Obviously this decision must be made now. If you wait until the Lord appears you might not be strong enough in faith to just go with the Lord.
- “No one in the field should go back for anything.”
- “No one on the roof of his house should go down to get the goods inside the house.”
In those days the roofs were flat and people did work there.
Drop everything and go to the Lord.
In order to do this you have to have given up your life in advance.
Lot’s wife did not commit a great sin, as we would judge sin. She just wanted one last look at what had been home to her, perhaps for many years.
Is this action bad enough to warrant being turned to a pillar of salt?
We don’t judge with the same judgment God does.
We would say, “It would be normal for a mother to rush home and take care of her children, or to lock the door of her house.”
We would say that. But Christ says we should not do so.
Now we American believers are just like Mrs. Lot. We are accustomed to being disobedient. “Yea hath God said” but He really didn’t mean it.
I think the Lord is making a point of this because He wants us to be ready at any moment to go with Him, and not put off being prepared to some unknown date in the future.
The Lord appears! There is not time for a decision! We go or we don’t go—as simple as that.
The Apostle Paul spoke of forgetting the things that are behind. I believe Paul got that idea from a Psalm.
Listen, O daughter, consider and give ear: Forget your people and your father’s house. (Psalms 45:10)
I guess one of the key principles of the victorious Christian life is to be able to forget the past.
All of our past life has been for the purpose of bringing us to the point where we are now. There have been so many mistakes, so many injustices given and received, so many pains, so much foolishness. All this if it is kept in our mind can hinder our pressing forward to the fullness of resurrection life.
The bitter-sweet pain of nostalgia is a primary characteristic of the adamic nature. The individual weeps over how wonderful the past was. When you and I were young, Mary. But all of this is a lie. The past was just like the present—filled with worries and grief of all sorts.
There are believers who still are chewing on the old bone of some past bitter experience. There are others who remember who wonderful it was when this or that was being experienced. Old relationships. Family mementoes. This is Adam.
We have to die to all this. We have to be looking eagerly upward at the heavenly scene that lies before us.
We may think we want the Lord to come. But that will mean our flesh and blood metabolism will change to Holy Spirit metabolism. Are you ready for your familiar body to disappear? Are you ready to release all that is familiar in order to enter a spiritual existence?
The saints are! They have died to the world and to all that is of Adam. They want to climb the rainbow staircase to that lovely land where Christ and the angels are. They already have forgotten their background, the old relationships. They know this life is passing away while we are living it. The entire adamic race was finished on the cross.
They are citizens of another world. They remember the future, not the past.
Enoch was translated by faith. We too are going to have to live in overcoming faith if we are to be ready to go with the Lord when He appears.
God is calling us to a new place today. There was a time when we passed from the life of the unsaved into Kingdom life. At a later time, perhaps, we received the Holy Spirit with speaking in tongues—another radical change in our life.
Now the Spirit is asking if we will move further into the plan of redemption by working with Him as He destroys from our personality the worldliness, the lusts and passions of our flesh and soul, and especially our self-will.
Are we willing to present our body a living sacrifice to God”
Are we willing to deny ourselves, perhaps go against the wishes of our loved ones on occasion, take up our cross, and follow Jesus every day?
Are we willing to count ourselves crucified with Christ?
Is it true of us that to live is Christ and to die is gain?
Is our one hope Christ will be magnified in us whether by our life or our death?
If the above is not true of us, then we need to get busy with our consecration. This is the normal Christian life.
Our nation is in grave danger in the present hour and we are going to need the help of every person who is willing to dedicate himself or herself to the Lord.
Let us without wavering one second forget that which is behind and reach forward to the elements of the Kingdom of God that are being presented to us today. If we do, we then will be completely prepared when the Lord appears in the clouds above us.
Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, (Philippians 3:33)
The Eternal Moral Law—God writes His law in our mind so we will understand it and in our heart so we will delight to do it. I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart. (Psalms 40:8)
I have written quite a bit about the transition from the Law of Moses to the new covenant.
The Law of Moses can be written on stone, paper, or any other suitable surface. The new covenant can be written only on the mind and heart of the believer. This fact says a lot to us about the difference between the two covenants.
When the writer of the Book of Hebrews tells us that the Lord will put His laws in our minds and write them on our hearts, He does not mean the Law of Moses. He means His eternal moral law that existed long before the Law of Moses. The Law of Moses is an abridged form of the eternal moral law, a form that can be written on stone, parchment, or paper.
The eternal moral law existed, as I have stated, before the Law of Moses; it coexisted with the Law of Moses; and will remain unchanged when the Law of Moses is but a distant memory. The Law of Moses was added to control sin until the One would come who, through His atoning death and triumphant resurrection, would make it possible for God’s law to be created in us.
The eternal moral law of God is written on the mind and heart. How then is it different from our conscience?
Our conscience is an adamic form of the eternal moral law. Just as we must be born again into a transcendent humanity, so it is true that our adamic conscience must be greatly expanded until we are able to judge good and evil as God judges good and evil. This is what it means to grow in Christ.
Spiritual maturity is the state of being in which that which is wicked is rejected and that which is righteous is embraced.
The eternal moral law of God reflects God’s judgment of good and evil, and therefore it never changes.
As we count ourselves dead with Christ on the cross we are freed from our obligation to the Ten Commandments and the other aspects of the Law of Moses. Now we are to follow the Holy Spirit as He writes God’s eternal law in us.
The Lord Jesus Christ Himself is the Word of God, and therefore is the embodiment of the eternal moral law of God. As we follow the Holy Spirit He slays our adamic nature and establishes Christ, the Word, the Law of God, in our mind and heart. The Spirit writes the law in our mind so we can understand it. The Spirit writes the law in our heart so we will reject that which is evil and embrace that which is righteous and of God.
To have Christ formed in us is to have the law of God formed in us. To have the law of God formed in us is to have the knowledge of good and evil formed in us.
Current Christian teaching has it that now we have received Christ we are under no law but “the law of love.” This is not true. We are having the moral law of God created in us so, like the Lord Jesus, we instinctively will reject that which is unrighteous and unclean and will embrace that which is righteous and holy.
We are of little use in the Kingdom of God until we have the spirit of judgment active in our personality.
Christ is not formed in us instantly but line upon line; commandment upon commandment. Every day we have the opportunity to reject our sinful nature and to do what the New Testament commands. Therefore every day there is the opportunity to have another line of the law of God written in us.
There is no more important aspect of salvation than that of having the law of God written in us. This is the new covenant. The forgiveness of our sins is included in the new covenant, but the main work is that of enabling us to distinguish right from wrong.
This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. (Hebrews 8:10)
A Sea of Impossibilities—God’s path leads through the sea, His way through the mighty waters. Those who live in a sea of impossibilities understand what this Psalm means.
The Book of Second Corinthians has meant a lot to me because it tells us about the various sufferings the Lord bring us through; how he always delivers us from every peril.
I like especially the following verse”
Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. (II Corinthians 1:9)
Paul was speaking of one particular occasion when he said the above; but I believe it is a good thing to live always with that sentence in ourselves, just as the Apostle Paul did. We always are to count ourselves crucified with Christ and living in and with Christ.
I guess you have to be in serious trouble at some point in your life if you are to really appreciate this passage. Paul had the sentence of death in himself because of the pressures on him at that time.
Paul speaks of the hardships he suffered in the province of Asia, pressure far beyond his ability to endure. He probably was speaking of the time the mob in Ephesus was stirred up by Demetrius over the issue of the worship of Diana.
Most of us may not have been subjected to mob violence, but we have had our own pressures. There are times when we are certain we have come to the end of our life.
Paul felt in his heart he had been sentenced to death. This sentence caused him to rely on God who raises the dead. God did deliver him from Demetrius and the riotous multitude, and so Paul went on his way to Macedonia.
In the fourth chapter of Second Corinthians Paul informs us that the pressures on him resulted in Christ being communicated to the people to whom Paul was ministering.
Later on in the same book Paul enumerates the various tribulations he endured. Then, after being caught up to the third heaven, Paul was afflicted in his flesh (probably a disease of his eyes) so God’s power would be perfected in him. The idea was that Paul was to be brought down to such weakness that all he did was actually the Lord working through him.
I wonder how many of us would choose this way of life—the way of continual crucifixion and resurrection. If we would live in the power of His resurrection, then we must share His sufferings.
Death, and life! Death, and life!
It is remarkable to me that God has chosen to create us as adamic people, and then to continually frustrate us so His Life might be operative in us.
But when you stop to think about it, how else could we ever come to the knowledge of the Lord?
If we had been created in a manner that made us impervious to danger, pain, and death, how would we ever learn about the faithfulness of God?
Well, we might read God’s promises in the Bible, or hear about them from the Pastor. Or we might go to school and read in a book and hear from a teacher about God’s faithfulness. But could we really learn the Nature of God by reading about God in a book or hearing about Him from someone else?
Perhaps, to a limited extent.
But it is in severe trials that we become acquainted with the invisible God; that we learn of His Character.
Day after day pours forth speech. Night after night displays knowledge.
When times are bright and untroubled we say many words and we hear many words. These serve a good purpose.
But it is in the night seasons when we gain the knowledge of God.
Is God a healer? When we have a dreadful disease, and God raises us to perfect health, we know then that He is a healer.
Does God provide for us? When we have great need, and the need is met, we know then that God is our Provider.
Is God powerfully attentive to our needs? When we are in an impossible situation, and we pray, we suddenly find ourselves lifted up to safety. This is done so naturally we sometimes forget to give thanks. The deliverance is so complete is seems there never was a problem in the first place.
Life on earth is not easy. There are impossible circumstances. There are mighty waters. Kings cannot be formed any other way. If we are to govern the nations with Christ, we have to be brought low many, many times. We have to be denied our most intense desires and made to serve in unpleasant circumstances.
Our obedience is tested again and again.
One day in the not too distant future we will be descending with Christ on the great white war stallions. Arrayed against us will be the most powerful force of people and demons Satan can muster.
To successfully attack such hideous depravity, such a weight of spiritual darkness, we must know our God. We must have proven Him over and over again as we have faced the enemy during our lifetime on the earth.
Christ said we are the light of the world. But this is true only as we are brought low and Christ shines in us.
Christ said we are the salt of the earth. But this is true only as Christ is revealed in the new creation in us.
The flesh profits nothing whatever. All that is of eternal worth is in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is for this reason that the Lord must leads us through the sea, through the mighty waters. It is for this reason we must be tossed about in a sea of impossibilities.
All this takes place that we might learn not to rely on ourselves but on God who raises us from the dead. These lessons will save our life in the time of conflict.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. (Isaiah 43:2)
Perfectly sensible—Everything God does is perfectly sensible and perfectly righteous, even though it does not always appear to be so to our rebellious minds.
Those of us who have walked with the Lord for a number of years know how many times we have been perplexed over the Lord’s working. This is not always true, Sometimes—perhaps most of the time—we can see the reason for the things that happen to us.
There are occasions, however, when we are mystified. A child or young person dies. There are problems in the church; problems on the job. A great tragedy may befall a Christian family.
We think of the five missionaries who had prepared themselves to bring Christ to the Auca Indians, only to be slain at the outset.
In today’s paper the account is given of a bus full of teenagers that was blown up in Israel. One fourteen-year-old girl who was killed was active in promoting friendship between Israeli and Palestinian young people.
We know God is well able to prevent incidents like this. You would think He would protect a young person who was seeking an end to the destructive hostilities.
For that matter, consider the world of today. Horrible crimes are being committed in America at this time. The perpetrators behave like wild beasts with no regard for human life. Yesterday two little children were found locked in a garage. They were naked. The garage was filthy. There were no sanitary provisions.
“How could a loving God who loves children permit this to happen?” we ask.
Do you know, there are people who will not accept Christ because they blame God for what is taking place in the world? Or they say there cannot be a God, in the light of the crimes against humanity that take place every day.
The answer to questions of that kind are answered by the sight of the Son of God on the cross. God so loved the world that He gave His Son. Who could accuse God of indifference after Calvary?
Why, then, since He has all power, does God permit the suffering and insanity to continue?
First of all, we have to declare that whether we understand why God acts as He does, we know He is righteous and what He permits to happen is for our good. We make that statement by faith. Such a declaration, based on little other than our assessment of God’s character, is a force that overcomes the Accuser.
God is good. We cry that in the face of the worldwide practice of forcing children into sexual slavery; we cry that when there are gross miscarriages of justice; we cry that when the great sewer pipes of Hollywood, California continue to pour out their moral filth, when the American government is unable to eliminate the child pornography on the Internet.
God is good, righteous, and sensible in all He does. Once we make that declaration with no hesitation, we can begin to understand a little of why God permits such destruction to continue, when he could stop it with one word of His mouth.
God is accomplishing many thing by allowing the world to continue in its drunken vomit.
There are two major purposes that are being fulfilled: first, God is portraying His wisdom to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms; second, God is forming kings who will govern along with the Lord Jesus Christ all the works of God’s hands.
As far as the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms are concerned, they evidently call God’s wisdom and power into question. We don’t hear a great deal of teaching about the rebellion of the angels, but much that has taken place since Satan and his followers rebelled has been a reaction to that rebellion.
The giving of the Ten Commandments, for example, is a reaction to the satanic rebellion.
The whole idea of creating creatures from the dust of the ground, then testing them in every conceivable way, and finally directing the angels to minister to them, is a reaction to the rebellion.
The revelation of God’s purpose is coming through people on the earth. As preachers on the earth give voice to the Spirit of revelation, Heaven listens and learns.
We suppose when we go to Heaven we will understand everything. Not so. When people who are waiting for the pre-tribulation rapture die and go to Heaven, they still believe in the pre-tribulation rapture. We don’t learn just by the mere fact of dying.
The heavens have to wait for the purposes of God to be revealed through His saints on the earth.
So all of Heaven is watching, the wicked angels and the righteous angels, to learn of the wisdom of God.
We on earth are just vehicles that God is using to demonstrate his wisdom to those highly placed beings in the heavenlies who seem to be unsure of the wisdom and goodness of God.
The reason evil is permitted to continue on the earth is to demonstrate what is in Satan’s personality, so all of Heaven can see the folly of Satan. The Father is portraying to the heavenly rulers the end of those who follow the heavenly Absalom.
The second major purpose of God in permitting evil to continue on the earth is to perfect kings who will govern along with the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is said commonly among Christians that we will rule with Christ. This is true. What we don’t refer to as often is the terribly strict training that a king must endure.
We have to be tested in every conceivable manner. Our obedience to the Father must be proven beyond doubt. We must be absolutely free from worldliness, the lusts and passions of the flesh and soul, and self-will. Otherwise we are not qualified to be one of God’s kings.
When we consider the need for our training, the kind of transformation we must endure, we readily can see the need for the pains and problems we encounter. Sin is destroyed from our personality. We learn to live in Christ, in the power of His resurrection. We learn of the dependability of Christ and God. We learn these while living in the valley of the shadow of death. We are trained in obedience! obedience! obedience!
God, in order to show the scorn He has for His enemies, prepares a table for us in the midst of them.
There is nothing they can do. They have been outwitted at every turn, provided we have remained faithful to God.
So we hold fast our faith in the wisdom, power, and kindness of God. We do not look at Satan or his works. We do not fret about them. We see that the whole earth is filled with the Glory of God. God has proven Himself to us.
We are to proclaim God’s Person, His will, His way, and His eternal purpose in Christ by our every thought, word, and action. We overcome the accuser by doing so.
Let those who wish to do so, find fault with God. But as for us, we will continue to glorify Him who alone is good, righteous, and sensible in all He has done, is doing, and yet shall do.
One thing more—it appears we are heading toward a war with Iraq (March 7, 2003). We must keep in mind that when people are killed it is not the end of them. They all are in God’s hands.
They will be placed where they fit in the spirit realm. They will rise in the Day of Resurrection. If they have done good, they will rise to live in the Presence of God. If they have done evil, they will rise to face Divine judgment.
No one is gone from our sight forever. For a brief season we cannot see them, but they are all around us in the spirit realm. Let us who lose loved ones in the coming days take comfort in that fact.
His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, (Ephesians 3:10)
God Responds to Us as We Respond to Him—To the faithful God shows Himself faithful. To the blameless God shows Himself blameless. To those who attempt to outwit Him God shows Himself superior in cunning. If we desire to have mercy shown to us we best had be merciful to others!
I don’t believe we have a true picture of God—at least not in the United States of America.
I think we picture God as a kindly old gentleman whose love is so great that no matter what we do God is endlessly forgiving. There is talk today of “unconditional love,” meaning we can be wicked and hateful and God will overlook this in His abundant love. In other words, God is softhearted and softheaded.
I would say, based on my meager knowledge of the Scriptures, that we are not correct in this. God is very much a reasonable person. He shows love and mercy to thousands of those who keep His commandments, but those who hate Him He repays in kind.
We Christians are under the new covenant of grace. We have supposed this means God does not respond to us as He did to people in the Old Testament.
Let me say something that may surprise you. Barring the specifics of the Law of Moses, which are found mostly in Exodus through Deuteronomy, all the statements of the Old Testament apply to us.
I know the teaching of Dispensationalism suggests we ignore the admonitions of the Old Testament. This is a destructive point of view.
For example: in the twenty-fourth Psalm we find a description of those who are permitted to ascend the hill of the Lord (which by the way is Mount Zion, which symbolically represents the Lord Jesus Christ).
To ascend the hill of the Lord we must have clean hands and a pure heart.
The teaching today is we can abide in Christ (ascend the hill of the Lord) with dirty hands and an unclean heart. This is error.
Again, in the Book of Isaiah we are told who is qualified to dwell with God, with the consuming Fire. The answer is, “those who walk righteously and speak what is right.”
What a terrible error we are teaching when we say that because of grace we can dwell with God and behave unrighteously!
The Apostle Paul told Timothy to correctly handle the word of truth. Paul did not mean by this the New Testament, he meant the Old Testament.
Peter exhorted us to pay attention to the word of the prophets.
What a tremendous loss God’s people have experienced by the doctrine that the Old Testament no longer teaches us the ways of the Lord.
We know instinctively this is not true. We apply the twenty-third and ninety-first Psalms to our lives. Somehow we know these are true for us. So we can see the confusion preached by Dispensational teaching. Obviously we cannot claim the twenty-third Psalm and ignore David’s teaching about righteous behavior.
As I stated, all of the Old Testament, with the specific exception of the details of the Law of Moses, is profitable and necessary if the Christian is to grow in the Lord.
And how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (II Timothy 3:15-17)
Training in righteousness! If we had listened to the Apostle Paul we would not be perverting the grace of God as we do today.
Consider the passage above. Paul is not exhorting Timothy concerning the New Testament. Paul is referring to the Old Testament that Timothy had been exposed to from his infancy.
The Old Testament is God-breathed. It is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness. By means of the Old Testament the man of God is “thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Does this sound to you like the Old Testament no longer applies? That the exhortation of the twenty-fourth Psalm concerning a pure heart and clean hands no longer applies to us because we are “saved by grace”? That the warning of Isaiah that if we are to live with the consuming Fire we must walk righteously and speak what is right no longer applies to us because we are “saved by grace”?
No, we have incorrect teaching in the churches of America and the destruction of righteous behavior has been horrific. We have lost our moorings. We no longer are exposed to the teaching concerning righteous behavior with which the Old Testament is filled.
David, speaking in the Spirit, told us the Lord rewards us according to our works. David informed us that God responds to us in the same manner we respond to Him.
If we behave righteously, the Lord rewards us accordingly.
If we are faithful, God is faithful to us. If we are blameless, God shows Himself blameless toward us. If we are pure, God shows Himself pure toward us. If we are crooked, God shows Himself to be more cunning than we are.
We might extrapolate from what David taught and say that if we are loyal to Christ He will be loyal to us. If we are lukewarm toward Christ He will be lukewarm toward us. If we do not give our best to Christ, He will not give His best to us. If we patiently and diligently guard the Word of the Lord, then the Lord will patiently and diligently guard us in the hour of temptation.
We need to think about this, because the idea of God responding to us in the same manner we respond to Him is not always taught in the churches of our country. We have an incorrect impression of the Lord Jesus, and we need to go back to Him and ask Him what He really is like.
We are a soft, often disobedient, pleasure-loving people. We are going to be treated accordingly in the days to come if we do not change.
The LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight. To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless, To the pure you show yourself pure, but to the crooked you show yourself shrewd. (Psalms 18:24-26)
People of Integrity—People of integrity do not make their decisions on the basis of what is pleasant but according to what is right.
Because we Americans often are found to be soft, pleasure-loving people, we have a difficult time with integrity. Occasionally we are faced with the choice of maintaining our pleasure or doing what we know to be right. People of integrity always will choose what is right. Pleasure-loving people may yield and do what they realize is sinful and possibly destructive. But to do what they should brings them pain, and this is unacceptable.
But, as we say, sooner or later the chickens come home to roost. What goes around eventually comes around. Then we wish we had done what we knew to be right. Now the decision is much, much more difficult to make.
Integrity includes honesty, truthfulness, honor, fairness, uprightness in principle and action.
It seems to be that our government in America is lacking in integrity, although there no doubt are many principled men and women. The political institutions of today’s world are often characterized by deceit. I suppose the idea is the ends justify the means, and “everyone is doing it!” In fact, I think they reflect the personality of Satan who always gets as close to the seat of power as he can.
Of all the institutions on the earth, the Christian churches should be noted for their integrity. But they are not, and we need to think why they are not.
My own conclusion is that the way grace is taught has largely ruined the character of God’s people, and in many cases, of the leaders.
We may have come to accept foolishness and lack of principle in our Christian leadership. Anyone can see how political manipulations take place in the churches and the denominations.
Granted the Character of our Lord, foolishness, lack of principle, political manipulations, and sometimes worse attitudes and actions, should never be encountered in the churches of Jesus Christ—especially among the leadership. But they are.
Why is this? I think it is the way salvation and grace are presented.
We are leaving people with the impression once they “accept Christ” they do not have to be serious, conscientious, and diligent. The laws of the Old Testament do not apply to them. The commandments of the New Testament do not apply to them. God is softheaded and softhearted and is just about to remove them from the earth so they can frolic in Paradise.
Then too, I think the impression is given that Christians are favored by the Lord over other people. Christians can be dishonest and not be punished for it. Christians can lie, cheat, break their promises, and it is all one big joke. We are saved by grace, aren’t we?
I think the average unsaved person can recognize the lack of integrity in the evangelists and realize they are not looking at God’s servants.
The idea that the light of the Christians is their good works has been removed from Christian thinking in many cases. We think our light is what we preach about Christ. Our light, according to the Lord, is our righteous behavior, our integrity.
We may perceive the Christian people as composing a special subculture of the world, a subculture consisting of God’s pets who will not be punished as other people are. The truth is, Christians receive double judgment of their sins because they have been taught (or should have been taught) what God requires.
We are not a special subculture. We are a firstfruits of mankind. This means God has chosen us to be holy so God may accept the remainder of the harvest, that is, the people of the world. This is the principle of the firstfruits.
The firstfruits never are the entire harvest. They are the part that belongs to God in a special way, an offering to God on behalf of the remainder of the people of the world.
Therefore our attitude is to be one of humility, always interceding for the needs of people that come our way.
But all of our witness and intercession comes to nothing if we do not have integrity of character. I know the slipping and the sliding that goes on, the aura that we are God’s favorites. But this is a delusion and it soon shall be swept away with the broom of destruction; burned away with the fires of Divine judgment.
God is looking for integrity and sincerity on the part of all people, beginning with the believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.
When the Word of God is preached it falls on different types of soil. The soil that permits lasting fruit is described by the Lord as “an honest and good heart.” This means a heart of integrity.
God cannot work where there is a lack of integrity.
I have been a Christian for many years. I realize we are tested, tested, and tested again to determine if we have integrity.
If there is any deceit in us, any foolishness, any double-mindedness, it soon will be revealed and burned away by the Consuming Fire. In this manner we gain a character like that of the Lord.
If God is dealing severely with you, don’t quit. Don’t be amazed at the fiery trial that is examining your character. It is a judgment of the spiritual darkness in your personality. All who would be servants of the Lord must endure the fire.
There will come a day when you are released. You will find that nothing has been burned but your bondages. When you come forth you will be more serious, more truthful, more humble, more merciful. You no longer will be Mr. Hot-shot Christian, a Jacob, a devious supplanter. You will be a member of Israel, of the princes of Judah.
It is worth every fire to come to know the Lord in this way. He has total integrity of character. As you are being conformed to His image you too will develop total integrity of character.
All the foolishness, insincerity, lying, cheating, fraud, deceit, dishonesty, belongs to Satan and his followers. The Lord’s true people are upright, dependable, and sincere and faithful in all they do. The religious churchgoers will be tried by fire until the superficiality and deceitfulness have been burned away and they join the ranks of the Lord’s disciples.
There is no other integrity to match the integrity that is produced when we deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus each day.
May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in you. (Psalms 25:21)
In my integrity you uphold me and set me in your presence forever. (Psalms 41:12)
God’s Control of the World—All things of the creation throughout all history, past, present, and future, are working together for good for each one who loves God, who is called according to His purpose in Christ Jesus.
When we look at the world of today it appears to be wildly out of control. It is not. Every creature on the earth and every event of nature is contributing to the Divine purpose. The Divine purpose is that those whom God foreknew be conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ. The likeness of Jesus Christ includes the moral Character of Christ, and also the way in which Christ lives, moves, and has His Being.
I think we are going to see much disorder in the United States in the coming days. We are not accustomed to having war on our shores as has been true of many other countries. But because modern warfare consists of viruses, missiles, infiltrators, poison gas, poison in the water supplies, assassinations, ranks of suicidal warriors, we very well can expect an attack along one of these lines.
It probably is true that America has been spared because we have had a strong Christian influence that has kept us from gross immorality. But that day is over. The moral filth pouring out of the media in America has, I’m afraid, resulted in a lifting of the spiritual covering that has protected us.
The individual believer can serve God faithfully, and look for God’s protection on him and his loved ones no matter how desperate the outlook becomes. But multitudes of churchgoers, as well as the unsaved, my become hysterical when they see the security they have trusted in swept away in a moment.
But it always has been so. The student of history knows how often people have been subjected to wars and plagues. It is not unusual for people to have all they trusted in, and all their loved ones, removed through war or uncontrolled disease.
The history of the world appears to be a story written by an emotionally disabled invalid, filled with every form of lust and venomous hatred. And so it has been, for God has permitted Satan much latitude, just as He did in the case of Job.
But in all of this menagerie of wild animals, God is carefully, specifically working with those whom He foreknew from the beginning of the world. God has predestined them to be the brothers of Jesus Christ, and so they shall be.
Every war, every disease, every perverse action of demon-driven people, every calamity, is contributing to the forming of God’s elect into the likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ.
You might wonder how God can work such marvels. Well, God is much, much greater than we realize.
The Character of the Lord Jesus Christ exemplifies every desirable trait. It is the image of God, filled with love, joy, peace, patience, courage, friendliness, loyalty, dependability, honesty—all that we picture as being true of God.
In addition, and of just as much importance, is the way the Lord Jesus lives, moves, and has His Being. Christ dwells eternally in the Sabbath of God.
To dwell in the Sabbath of God is to be so filled with God at all times that our thoughts, words, and actions, are under the direct supervision of God. We are to think nothing, say nothing, and do nothing apart from the Lord God of Heaven.
This is how Jesus lives. This is how we are to live.
The two aspects of the likeness of Christ, the moral character and the eternal Sabbath, contribute one to the other. As we are dwelling more fully in the eternal Sabbath, the moral Character of Christ is revealed in us. As the moral Character of Christ is revealed in us, the more qualified we are to have an increasing Presence of God in us.
The moral Character and the eternal Sabbath work together until we can say with the Apostle Paul: “I am not living any longer. It is Christ who is living in me.”
Such wonderful identity with Christ is the result of our being willing to live each day in the crucifixion of Christ and the resurrection of Christ.
God uses every calamity in the world to bring down to death our adamic nature. Then God raises us and His Life is revealed in and through us.
God uses every terror in the world to remove the sinful nature from us and to develop Christ’s Nature in us.
We are observed and guarded so closely that no words of mine could ever begin to describe the attention to detail given to every one of God’s elect. Absolutely nothing happen by chance. God knows our thoughts before we think them; our words before we say them.
God knows all the snares Satan has laid out in front of us. If we will pray carefully at all times, God will lead us around the snares.
We are God’s children, and one day will be His grown sons. You can imagine the love our Father in Heaven has for each one of us.
We genuinely are the brothers of the Lord Jesus, and the Father loves us with the same love He extends to His Firstborn.
One of the major problems the believers will have in the coming days is that of fretting because of the actions of wicked people. If Satan can get us to fret by pointing out to us his antics in the earth, he can tear us down from our high place in God.
We are not to fret about wickedness. Fretting is sinful. It is sinful because when we fret we are complaining about the way God is managing His world.
If you have a tendency to fret, pray that the Lord will remove it from you. It will lead you into sin.
We are not to fear. It is God’s good pleasure to give us the Kingdom. He indeed shall set a table before us in the presence of our enemies.
And we know in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:28,29)
Living by God’s Word—God speaks to us through the Bible. Sometimes God’s speaks to us personally in one manner or another. Of one thing we can be certain: the Words that God speaks are mighty rocks. They can be absolutely depended on. They are utterly reliable. We can base our life on them with no fear we will be shaken from our position.
We live in a world in turmoil. In many places people are being murdered for one reason or another. Truly mankind is as a restless sea, driven and tossed by the winds.
We hate to think of what the younger generation will face during the next decade.
There is an old hymn: “Where every prospect pleases, and only man is vile.”
I have thought of that so many times.
We live in a beautiful area of the world, in Southern California. There is much lawlessness here. There are many fine families, but also a good deal of sin and violence.
What a relief it is to know there is as least one thing on which we can depend, and that is God’s unchanging Word.
I have been trusting in the promises of God for many years, and can truthfully say that the Word always has been faithful and true. I know you have found the same.
Maybe this is part of what it means to overcome the accuser by the word of our testimony—when we declare that God’s Word is unfailingly true.
The written Word shall be intact in the day the earth and heavens pass away with a great noise. God sometimes speaks a personal Word to us. When we really are hearing from the Lord, we know what has been stated shall come to pass regardless of how impossible it seems at the time.
God has established the world on the floods. There is nothing stable. Abraham was looking for a city that has foundations. That city is the glorified Church, the new Jerusalem.
But we are not physically in the new Jerusalem as yet, although we have come to it spiritually, according to the Book of Hebrews. Rather we are in a world filled with calamities and the prospect of more calamities. As Paul said, there are conflicts on the outside, fears within.
The Bible tells us that if our heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord, we shall not be afraid of evil tidings. Our strength shall be in quietness and confidence.
But if our heart is to be fixed, if we are to be quiet and confident, then we must know what God has said in His Word.
We have been advised to meditate in His Word day and night. When we go through a day with no time spent in His Word, we are weakened. We cannot afford to be weakened in these days.
I am writing these words on March 10, 2003. You may read them ten or fifteen years from now. I wonder what you will see as you look backward. My guess is the history of the next ten or fifteen years will be one of much trouble for our country.
This is why we must pray. This is why we must know God’s promises and stand on them if we are going to save ourselves, our loved ones, and others who depend on us.
I know there is a current teaching of a “rapture” that will spare us. When you read my words you will see that no rapture took place, and that numerous Christian people suffered much pain.
Be sure to study the thirty-seventh Psalm carefully. Soak in the promises of God found in that passage. You will be told not to fret because of the certain destruction of the wicked. You will be told that you will not go hungry.
Soak in the promises of God in the ninety-first Psalm. You will discover if you are abiding in Christ you and your household will be spared in the day of catastrophe. You will be rescued and protected because you have put your trust in the Lord. God will set a table before you in the presence of your enemies.
“Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.” (Psalms 91:14-16)
But remember, these promises are conditional. If they are to apply to you, you must be abiding in Christ. You must have set your love on the Lord. You must acknowledge His name. You must call on Him in the day of trouble.
All of God’s promises are conditional. As we meditate in the Bible we become aware of God’s requirements, and of the promises He has put in writing for those who meet His requirements.
There is no other rock like our Rock.
No matter what the future holds for America, we know God will always remain true and faithful. His Word to us in writing, and also spoken to us personally, will stand secure when all else is shaking and unstable.
Let us trust in the Lord. If we do, He will prove His faithfulness during the darkest hours that come our way in America.
As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him. For who is God besides the LORD? And who is the Rock except our God? (Psalms 18:30,31)
The Spirit Must Apply the Word—We know the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, is the inspired Word of God. However, the Bible must be applied by the Spirit. If we take the words of the Bible and try to apply them according to our own will, we invoke a religious spirit and bring ourselves and others into bondage.
I am one of those who subscribe to the plenary, verbal inspiration of the Scriptures. I believe every verse of the Bible is without error. I believe the Bible is the inerrant declaration of God to the heavens and the earth.
I try to live by the Bible each day, as well as I can, and I am sure you do too.
However, I have learned something since Bible-school days. You cannot just seize upon a promise and apply it according to your own will and understanding. You must go to the Lord and find out how a passage is to be applied.
We students made a lot of mistakes in Bible school. We would announce: “My word shall not return to me void.” And then we would assume whenever we made a pronouncement in the name of the Lord, God would honor it.
One of the tactics in those days was to lay a Bible on the body of a sick person and pronounce him healed. “He sent His Word and healed them.”
There were some who got tangled up in the faith doctrine. God had said “By whose stripes you were healed.” Therefore you are healed, so get up off your bed and prove it.
We had a girl in Bible school who gave her glasses to an evangelist, who proceeded to smash them. Her eyes were not healed and she had to buy a new pair of glasses.
Have you ever been there?
I would pray for people and say they were healed. They might get better over a period of time, or they might die.
I asked God one time about whether or not we should go to the doctor when we are sick. We had a lady in the church going blind from cataracts. A well known prophet had told her the Lord was going to heal her. But she kept getting worse.
Her husband was doing some plumbing in the house of a reputable ophthalmologist. The Doctor examined the lady’s eyes and said if the cataracts were not removed quickly she would be permanently, irreversibly blind.
The husband asked me what I thought he should do. How would you like to be put on the spot like that?
I went to the Lord. The Lord said, “Do what is reasonable.”
I thought about that. It seemed to me that the free exam by this prominent ophthalmologist was more than a coincidence.
Looking at the situation from the standpoint of being reasonable, since the removal of cataracts is a standard medical procedure, and the alternative was certain blindness, and since there was no indication from the Lord that we should wait and trust God to heal her, the reasonable thing to do was to have the indicated operation. So I told the husband that.
The operation was a success. The cataracts were removed.
Whenever I am sick, I ask the Lord if I should go to the doctor. Sometimes He indicates I should. Sometimes He indicates I should not and He will take care of the problem in His time.
This is one example of letting God apply His Word.
Another example has to do with a young man in our church who determined he was going to obey the Sermon on the Mount literally. At the time he was living in a tent with his family on a campground.
We went toe to toe on this issue. I told him he should get a job and get his family out of that tent, instead of talking about giving his shirt to someone if they asked him for his coat.
He finally yielded and got a job. Today he has a fine home.
Obeying the New Testament literally, without waiting on the Lord to find out how to apply the passages, is not a major problem in America at this time. I think it is true rather that most believers look at the Bible mournfully and wish they were doing a better job of obeying it. They live out their life somewhat in guilt, wondering what God’s attitude is toward them for neglecting to do what He has commanded. But their pastors assure them they are saved by grace and not to worry.
To follow the Spirit of God is enjoyable, actually. You never know what the Lord is going to do. When you read a passage in the Bible, you go to God and ask Him how you should apply it, and to give you grace to do whatever He desires.
One of the principal reasons why church people are never sure of their standing with God is, I believe, the constant laying on them the burden of “telling others about Jesus.”
As the pastors say, “The sheep are supposed to reproduce. This is not the pastor’s task. Do what I say but don’t do as I do.”
So Sunday after Sunday the Christians hear how they are supposed to go out into the neighborhood and “compel them to come in.” Since they do not have the grace to do this, they eventually grow numb and continue to go to church in the hope when they die God will have mercy on them for not “compelling them to come in.”
I have been through all this and have tried to “tell everyone you meet about Jesus.” I had a friend, who since has died, who could do this. He was quite successful at approaching strangers and telling them about the way of salvation.
But it didn’t work for me.
So I asked the Lord about this. I can’t remember now what He said at the time, but I kind of put the ball in the Lord’s court. I told Him I would do whatever He wanted me to do, but He had to give me the grace to do it.
I know the Lord wants me to spend my time writing. There are pastors and evangelists who are good at “saving souls” who have been strengthened by the insights the Lord has given me. So maybe I will get a percentage of their reward. Do you suppose?
So many problems are solved by going directly to the Lord and asking Him how to handle a specific situation. And His directions always lead to joy and peace, not to frantic religious striving.
He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (II Corinthians 3:6)
Correcting People Before God’s Time—We should not spend our time trying to correct the faults we find in our fellow Christians. All we succeed in doing is venting our own irritations and making them angry. We try to perform an operation without providing an anesthetic.
Have you ever tried to correct a fault in a fellow church member? Or perhaps more to the point, Has a fellow church member attempted to correct you?
Maybe the problem is one of how the person dresses, or how they discipline their children, or how proud they act when they “give their testimony.”
Maybe we feel called on to put the pastor right or set the church in order.
Have you ever seen an example of this?
You know what? We may think we are in the right and doing God’s will. But the chances are we merely are irritated at the other person. They are not doing what we think they should. But then, how does the Lord regard the individual?
Almost always it is better to pray than to attempt to correct people.
I have noticed that people will have some part of their personality that I think needs improving. But the Lord will let it continue year after year and never, apparently, reprove the person. Then there is a temptation for me to ride to the rescue.
It is well to think about how Jesus corrects you. Did you ever notice His tactics? He brings you into situations that cause so much pain you are more than willing to change. Then Jesus ever so sweetly instructs you and helps you make the desired improvement.
We can’t do that for other people. We have such a beam in our own eye that when we try to examine the piece of sawdust in our brother’s eye we knock him flat with our beam.
There are times, of course, when we are called on to correct people. We have to correct our children, for example. As an employer we may have to correct an employee. Sometimes a pastor is called on to bring a problem to an individual’s attention.
But in every case, including the correcting of our children, we must never proceed in anger. If we do, the person senses our anger and is not as open to constructive change as could be desired.
We need to get all the anger out of us. Then we need to sit down with the Lord and ask Him to explain to us why the person is acting as they are.
I remember one time teaching the fifth grade. A boy in the class would lay his head on his desk and sleep during class.
Before I roared at him I asked some of the children why they thought he was sleeping. They said his mother was doing drugs and keeping him awake at night.
So I did not bother the boy. There was nothing I could do about the mother at the time, so I let him sleep.
God has not called us to be fruit inspectors. God is infinitely patient with people. Have you noticed how patient He is with you?
One of the greatest joys a pastor experiences is to see someone who has been a weak believer for many years suddenly blossom into a strong Christian. This happens, just as a sickly bush in your yard suddenly comes to life after several years.
We just need to be patient with other people, and with ourselves.
We have been called to be in the image of our Father in Heaven. Jesus already is in that image. When we compare ourselves with the Lord Jesus we note a huge difference, don’t we?
We could get discouraged. But I don’t think we should. I believe God intends for us to grow over millions, maybe billions of years as measured by our earthly time. What is the hurry?
I suppose our life on earth, for most of us, is kind of a roughing out. I mean by that the Painter roughs out the picture to begin with. I don’t think God expects us to be changed fully into the image of Christ in our present lifetime. He does expect us to make the changes He points out to us. If we are careless about this we certainly will be punished, and maybe lose our crown for eternity.
There are some people who are so dedicated they make great strides in personality transformation. These shall reign as kings, because they have been so faithful and obedient during their time on the present sin-cursed earth—which David termed “the valley of the shadow of death.”
But for most of us, a change here and there and the trip is over. We have been faithful with what we have been shown and given, and this is all the Lord requires for right now. He has eternity to build from here.
So let us be patient with one another and with ourselves. God knows what He is doing. When people irritate us with their ways (which sometimes is more our problem than theirs) let us go to prayer until the irritation leaves. After all, we do not know what trials they are going through, so why add to their burden by criticizing them?
Of course, gossip and slander are deadly enemies of the cross of Christ. Whoever gossips about and slanders a fellow Christian is on dangerous ground and is courting spiritual death. God is not at all pleased with slander and gossip. It is the Dragon who is the accuser of the brothers.
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. (Psalms 23:1-3)
Positive Thinking—Those who stress only that which is positive are seeking their own glory. Those who stress only that which is negative are ill. The Bible is both positive and negative.
Some time ago there was a great emphasis on “positive preaching.” The idea was that whatever we said would come to pass. So we should be careful to speak positively.
Added to this was the idea of the “creative word.”
I have no intention of criticizing any Christian leader and will not do so. I am interested only in things that will help believers stay on a constructive path with the Lord.
The idea of the word of faith, the creative word, positive thinking, name it and claim it, are too close to metaphysics, in my opinion. In metaphysical thinking, one’s attitudes and words are very significant.
I do not see this idea in the Bible. The ways of the Bible are much more rugged than this. Peeping and muttering words of faith are weak compared with calling on the name of the Lord.
The most dangerous aspect of the word of faith is its invitation to the believer to exert power and authority according to his own understanding. If he can learn the metaphysical principles of positive thinking and speaking he can manipulate his environment according to his own will.
There is a personage, or a spirit, mentioned in the Book of Revelation. This personage is a great help to Antichrist. Sometimes Bible scholars refer to this individual as the False Prophet.
From my point of view, the False Prophet consists of Christians who are not living in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, but who have learned to use metaphysical principles to work miracles.
It is one matter to have faith in faith. It is another matter to have faith in God.
It is one matter to “speak the word of faith.” It is another matter to speak to the Lord Jesus and look to Him to move. There is an uncrossable chasm between these two approaches. Make no mistake about this!
One time when I was praying in the woods in Arkansas, I asked the Lord if He was going to allow the “faith message” to prosper. He said to the effect that it would soon die out but be revived in the last days.
On another occasion I asked the Lord about preaching that which is positive. The Lord said, “He who preaches only that which is positive is seeking his own glory. He who preaches only that which is negative is mentally ill.”
Then the Lord took be back to Genesis and showed me that the Bible consists of both the positive and the negative. There were trees you could eat. There was one tree you could not eat; and so forth.
There are some good Christians who make a practice of forcing God to honor His Word. Their idea is you only pray once. For example, you declare a person healed because we were healed by the stripe laid on Christ.
Then, no matter what, you are to regard that person as healed.
Have you ever run into this approach?
I don’t believe it is of God. I have been healed miraculously on more than one occasion. So has my wife, Audrey. But when we were healed we were healed. We did not have to say “I’m healed. I’m healed. I’m healed” when there was no evidence we actually were healed.
When Audrey was healed of a thyroid condition her medicine did not act properly any longer. That was the first evidence she had that she was healed. She had been prayed for, and then she really was healed. But she didn’t realize it until she started to take her medicine.
When I was healed of arthritis I was getting ready to go to the hospital. I suddenly was healed in the front room of my house. I didn’t expect to get healed. But when the Lord touched me I knew it, and I have kept this healing over many years.
When the Lord moves it can be verified in the physical world. We don’t have to try to force it by trying to believe the miracle into existence.
The following passage gives some idea of the power that is unleashed when we cry to the Lord.
In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. The earth trembled and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains shook; they trembled because he was angry. (Psalms 18:6,7)
You can read further in this Psalm. Can you see the difference between our pitiful “I believe. I believe. I believe. I believe” and what happens when we call to the Lord in our distress? There is no comparison. One is a metaphysical approach, trying to change our circumstances by believing the change into existence; or imaging (imagining) the change into existence.
When we call on the Lord in our distress, powerful events occur!
We should not attempt to use metaphysical principles, or the latent power of the soul. We should not try to find things by sensing where they are or attempt to read minds. All such metaphysical efforts are to be avoided. We are to pray for what we want in Jesus’ name and trust Him for the answer.
When the LORD your God has brought you into the land you are entering to possess, you are to proclaim on Mount Gerizim the blessings, and on Mount Ebal the curses. (Deuteronomy 11:29)
Outward Appearances—Jesus told us the closing days of the Church Age would be characterized by deception. Deception occurs when something is not what it appears to be. We must learn to take nothing for granted but to pray about everything. We can hardly be too careful!
It is the art of the magician to cause us to see things differently from what they actually are. This also is the art of those who produce dramas on the television. The characters seem to be on a boat, for example, when they are in a studio in Hollywood.
Satan is a master deceiver. He is able to conceal evil with the appearance of what is righteous and good.
This is why we have been commanded to pray without ceasing. Only by ceaseless prayer do we keep from being deceived.
There used to be a television series called “Mission Impossible.” During each episode of the series an individual was placed in an environment structured to give the impression that he was somewhere other than where he actually was. He then was persuaded to take certain actions, or make confessions, that he would not have done had he realized where he actually was situated.
I have come to the conclusion that our life on earth is one long episode of “Mission Impossible.” We do not realize how closely we are being watched. We continually are brought into situations contrived to elicit a response from us. Then our responses are studied carefully by personages in the heavens.
Both God and Satan play this game with us. God plays it because He is estimating how we are going to behave when we are given great authority and power in the next life.
Satan plays it in the attempt to get us to sin against God.
Satan continually is attempting to snare us in one manner or another. It reminds us of the attempts made by the enemies of the Jews to confuse Nehemiah so the wall would not be constructed.
Our life is based largely on an illusion. The physical world consists of the properties of molecules. We perceive the properties through the senses we have. We don’t actually “see” anything. Stimuli on our optic nerves cause our brain to construct an image.
We are heading toward a real world, the spirit world. The decisions we are making now are deadly serious. They are affecting our eternal destiny.
We simply have to pray without ceasing. We have to read our Bible every day and pray every day. We have to gather with fervent disciples as we have opportunity. We must give, serve, and minister as God leads.
When we live as a disciple, denying ourselves, carrying our cross, the Lord enables us to see through the deceptions. We become full of eyes, as it were.
We are in a struggle for the crown of life and rulership. There are highly placed personages who are determined we will not be successful in our pursuit of the crown of life and rulership. They will deceive us if they possibly can.
One of the errors made by Christians is to believe they cannot be deceived. Believe me when I say you indeed can be deceived. Satan is able to imitate the Lord until it is almost impossible to tell the difference.
We are not able to save ourselves in this respect. God is the only one who can keep us from being deceived. God will open our eyes when a trap is being laid for us, but only if we are serving Him with a pure heart.
Also, we have been commanded to pray: “Lead me not into temptation but deliver me from the evil one.” If we do not pray this prayer every day, we may fall into the clutches of Satan.
Things are seldom as they appear. If we are to survive and help others during the age of physical and moral horrors we are approaching, we have to learn to take nothing for granted. Everything must be prayed about. We must, as Paul, exhorts, pray without ceasing if we are going to be able to see past the outward appearance of things and understand the truth.
Much of the American culture is based on illusion. If we possess a certain man or woman we will be happy. If we have a great deal of money we will be happy. If we can retire and lay on the beach all day we will be happy. If we have no responsibilities we will be happy.
There are things in life that are not always what they seem to be. No man or woman can make us lastingly happy. The most attractive of people are no more than intelligent dust until Christ has been formed in them. Money often brings more sorrow than joy. Laying on the beach all day will lead to physical and mental deterioration. Being without responsibilities might be fine for a while, but I suspect it eventually would be boring for most of us.
I think sometimes we picture Heaven as being a place where we will have no responsibilities. What then would we do all day? I don’t think we were created in such a manner we would be content if we had no responsibilities.
In any case, the only path that leads to love, joy, and peace is through the Lord Jesus Christ. There are Siren calls, but the shore is strewn with the bones of death. Only continual prayer and cross-carrying obedience can enable us to pierce the façade of the American culture.
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (I Samuel 16:7)
The Outside Reveals the Inside—It often is true today that appearances are deceiving. We see a fine looking man or woman and are impressed, only to find out later that he or she is a thief, or child molester, or an unfaithful husband or wife. Perhaps in the world to come the outside will reveal the inside.
This article is of interest to me, and it may be interesting and helpful to you. But it is somewhat speculative, and you may want to skip it and proceed to the next article.
What I am saying here is that it is not unlikely that in the Day of Resurrection what we are on the inside will appear on the outside. This is perfect justice.
In fact, some of the things we have done may appear as creatures standing beside us. It also may be true that we will be able to appear in different forms if we wish; to appear old or young, large or small, or even as an animal.
I wish to temper this last paragraph by saying we can appear only in terms of what we are in our inward nature. For example, we cannot appear older than we actually are; or larger than we actually are; or stronger than we actually are.
If Christ has developed in us a gigantic inward nature, then we may have the choice of appearing as a small child or a giant warrior. But if we have a dwarfed, self-seeking inner nature, then we cannot appear as a giant warrior of noble proportions.
One of the massive problems of today’s society is that people can mask what they are. Can you imagine what it would be like if everyone suddenly could be seen for what he is: the selfish person would appear as a selfish person; a generous person would appear that way; a cruel person would appear in a cruel form; a conniving individual could be seen readily for what he is. The thief would look like a thief. The rapist would look like a rapist.
Can you see how helpful that would be? I believe this is the way it will be in the world to come. To me this is a strong motivation for cooperating with the Holy Spirit as He endeavors to form Christ in our inward nature.
One of the really wicked hopes of the current grace teaching is that we can remain as a self-centered, disobedient individual. Then, at the coming of the Lord, we will rule with Him as a majestic person of noble bearing. All of this by grace and mercy.
Woe, woe, woe to the heavens and the earth if the current grace teaching is accurate! We will be governed by self-seeking, disobedient, pleasure-loving Christians. In this case the world of the future will be no different from the world of today, except the rulers will term themselves “Christian.”
Perhaps the strongest underpinning of my hypothesis, that what we are inwardly will appear outwardly in the Day of Christ, is Second Corinthians 5:10. Let’s look at some translations of this verse. I think the passage has something to say to us that is of vital importance.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (II Corinthians 5:10—NIV)
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. (II Corinthians 5:10—NASB)
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (II Corinthians 5:10—KJV)
For we all must needs be made manifest before the judgment seat of the Christ, that each one may get back the things done by means of the body, according to the things which he practised, whether good or corrupt. (II Corinthians 5:10—Rotherham)
For we all must be manifested before the judgment seat of the Christ, that each may receive the things [done] in the body, according to what he did, whether good or evil. (II Corinthians 5:10—Berry)
Please read each translation carefully. There is a difference among them that I think is significant.
It is obvious we all (Rotherham emphasizes the “we all”) will get back what we have practiced in the body.
But there is a difference.
The New International Version and the New American Standard leave the impression that we will be recompensed for what we have done, whether good or bad.
“Each one may receive what is due him.”
“Each one may be recompensed for his deeds.”
The New American Standard suggests in a note: “may be recompensed for the things through the body,” as a more literal translation.
Rotherham (a somewhat literal translation) has:
“Each one may get back the things done.”
The Berry interlinear Greek has:
“Each one may receive the things [done],” suggesting that it should read “each one may receive the things.”
The King James Version has:
“Every one may receive the things done in his body.” Literally “things in body.”
I think there is an important distinction here. I may be mistaken, but it seems to me that the NIV and NASB translators are trying to “make sense” of the passage. They are leaving the impression that if we do good we will be rewarded with good things, such as a crown of life or some other desirable position or possession.
If we do what is bad, we will receive lashes, for example.
But if we really want to follow the original text, I think the idea is we get back what we have done; not an unrelated reward, but the actual deed. There is an actual relationship, a feedback, between what we have done and what we shall receive at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
“May receive the things done in his body,… whether good or bad.”
“May get back the things done by means of the body, whether good or corrupt.”
“May receive the things [done] in the body,… whether good or evil.”
It sounds to me like we are going to get back what we have done, not an unrelated compensation of some kind. What do you think?
Under the reward emphasis, if I have been a faithful servant of the Lord, I might receive a crown of life or of righteousness. Perhaps I would be given a population of people to govern and take care of. This undoubtedly is true, but I don’t believe this is what the passage is saying. There are other passages that do, however.
But under the direct result emphasis, what I would receive would be faithfulness. I have been faithful, and so I receive faithfulness.
We know this sort of thing operates in the present life.
With the kind Thou dost show Thyself kind; With the blameless Thou dost show Thyself blameless; (Psalms 18:25)
But how about in the Day of Resurrection? How can a believer receive faithfulness in the Day of Resurrection.
My understanding is, the faithfulness will be revealed in the body he receives at the hand of the Lord.
Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done (literally: as his work is). (Revelation 22:12)
It kind of fits, doesn’t it. “It will give to everyone as his work is.”
In that Day, and from then on throughout eternity, you will look like a faithful person. When someone looks at you they will see faithfulness written all over you, so to speak, and—most importantly—you will have an eternally faithful character.
Isn’t that great?
But how about the opposite?
If your selfish ambition, pride, and foolishness have been characteristic of your behavior, then guess what people will see in the Day of Resurrection?
You got it. When they look at you they will see selfish ambition, pride, and foolishness. And you may be that way for eternity!
Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2)
The following passage seems relevant:
He wore cursing as his garment; it entered into his body like water, into his bones like oil. May it be like a cloak wrapped about him, like a belt tied forever around him. (Psalms 109:18,19)
If this isn’t just, I don’t know what is.
I can hear the “grace” people screaming bloody murder. Why? Because they want to continue in their selfish ambition, pride, and foolishness, and in the Day of Christ appear as noble, faithful, generous souls—all by grace and mercy. God help us all if this proves to be the case! But, according to II Corinthians 5:10 I don’t think we have to worry.
Let me extrapolate a bit further with this idea.
I think in some cases, what we have become in our inward nature may appear alongside us as seemingly separate creatures.
For example, the Christian who has been a courageous, victorious saint, may have a lion appear beside him as part of the revelation of his personality.
The Christian who has gained spiritual sight through numerous hours of intercession and godly behavior may have an eagle appear beside him in the Day of Christ as part of the revelation of his personality.
There is no animal on earth that I know of that has more than one face. Yet the Cherubim of Glory have four faces, revealing a multifaceted personality.
Their faces looked like this: Each of the four had the face of a man, and on the right side each had the face of a lion, and on the left the face of an ox; each also had the face of an eagle. (Ezekiel 1:10)
And why not? Cannot Christ appear in any form He wishes? As a Lion? As a Lamb? Can the Holy Spirit appear as a Dove? As tongues of Fire?
I honestly believe we will be able to appear in any form we wish, limited only by what we have become in our inward nature.
The following passage is of special interest to me. I wonder if you can see in it what I can.
They have the appearance of horses; they gallop along like cavalry. (Joel 2:4)
This verse used to trouble me. It is referring, I believe, to the cavalry charge mentioned in the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation.
In fact, in several of my writings I mention how we will be caught up in the Day of the Lord to meet Christ in the air, and be given a white war stallion to ride in the Battle of Armageddon.
But look again at Joel 2:4
If we were to look at a cavalry we would not say they had the appearance of horses. We would say they looked like a cavalry, or like men on horseback.
Do you see what I mean?
The soldiers of the army had the appearance of horses. I believe this means their inward nature had been perfected in war as they pursued the victorious Christian life. They then are able to assume the appearance of a war stallion, moving with the speed and strength of such an animal.
“They have the appearance of horses.” Why not? They can appear however they desire, and in war that would be a person who could attack with the fury of a huge stallion.
In fact, I don’t think there will be any infantry in the Lord’s army. I think every soldier will be able to attack like a horse, and then change back to the form of a man at his will. Can you see the desirability of every soldier being able to move with the speed and strength of a horse?
There was a tribe of American Indians that I read about. I think it was the Comanches, but I am not certain. This tribe perfected the art of fighting on horseback. They could sling themselves under the horse while it was galloping and shoot arrows from their position under the horse’s belly. Needless to say they won their battles.
I know Revelation states the army was following Christ on white horses. What I am suggesting is that the horses were part of their personality at this time.
On the other side of the coin, given the wicked acts of some of the people of our day, can you imagine how they will appear in the Day of Resurrection?
I wouldn’t be surprised if some of those who have yielded themselves to every form of perverted sexual lust do not come forth accompanied by the ghouls that have been created by their own actions. What if the abortion doctor is surrounded with the bodies of mutilated fetuses?
Unrealistic? Look again.
“That each one may receive the things [done] in the body, according to what he did, whether good or evil.”
We all are going to receive the good we have done in our body.
We all are going to receive the evil we have done in our body.
Paul expressed terror at the thought.
For the Christian who is willing to live according to his sinful nature, he might give some thought to Paul’s statement that he is going to reap destruction.
But eye has not see nor ear heard of the marvels that await the faithful saint who has given his life to the Lord Jesus.
Terrors upon terrors await the wicked. And we cannot escape in the spirit world by fainting or dying. We are forced to bear with our circumstances.
Wonders upon wonders await those who have been faithful to the Lord. We can’t begin to imagine what treasures Christ has laid up for those who have served Him in this wicked generation.
Absolute justice! We reap what we sow!
Grace and mercy invite us today to come to Christ that we might learn how to sow to the Spirit of God and reap eternal life.
But unutterable woe awaits those who have spurned the benefits of the cross of Calvary. Our God is loving. He also is the Consuming Fire.
Today we can conceal what we are. The Hollywood artists can work miracles with our appearance. But what we actually are will be revealed before the Judgment Seat of Christ.
Why don’t we plan today how we want to appear in the world to come? As long as we are alive on the earth we have the opportunity to turn to Christ, be forgiven of our waywardness, and begin to lay up treasures in Heaven.
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (I John 3:2)
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so they will be like his glorious body. (Philippians 3:20,21)
If we reap destruction in that Day, the destruction will come from our own sinful nature, not from another source.
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7,8)
Keep Your Eyes on the Lord Jesus—Keep your eyes on the Lord Jesus or you will sink.
The idea of a close walk with the Lord Jesus seems to be on my mind a good deal lately. Last Sunday in church there was quite an emphasis on intimacy with Jesus.
Kathy Pancarik said the Lord spoke to her about how we call on the Lord and visit with him from time to time. Jesus said He wants much more than this. He wants a continual intimate relationship, not just a weekly reminder on Sunday morning.
Audrey also spoke about intimacy, in her Burden Bearers class. Intimacy with Jesus was the burden of the morning.
I frequently tell the people that we need to ask the Lord about everything. When we leave the Sunday evening service and go to a fast-food restaurant, we should ask the Lord what route we should take to get there; what we should order; and what route we should take on the way back.
I need to explain this at the next service. I do not mean by this we should ask and then wait for the Lord to answer before we do anything. In fact, many believers do not hear from the Lord that clearly.
Rather the idea is to keep committing everything to the Lord; keep asking Him to help with every detail. We are to not lean on our own understanding but to commit our way to the Lord. Then He shall direct us in everything we think, say, and do.
I fear there is trouble coming to our country. We need to form the habit right now of looking to Christ for everything. Then, should the turmoil arise that I expect, we will not be thrown off balance but will just keep looking to Jesus for guidance and strength.
The story of Peter comes to mind.
The disciples saw the Lord walking on the lake. They were terrified.
Jesus immediately identified Himself to them.
Peter saw the Lord walking on the water, so he wanted to walk on the water also.
Peter asked Jesus to tell him (Peter) to come to Jesus on the water.
I think it is important to note, giving the presumptuous spirit that seems to have come among us, that Peter did not just step out of the boat. He asked permission first.
All of the disciples could have done the same. So it is today. All of God’s people can move into the fullness of God. But there probably will be only a few who care enough to press into the Lord.
When the Lord told Peter to come, he got down out of the boat and walked on the water.
What an experience!
But for a moment he took his eyes off the Lord and looked at the wind. The moment he saw the wind he became afraid. The moment he became afraid his faith wavered. The moment his faith wavered he began to sink.
We need to think deeply about this. The day may come when we ask God for a miracle—right at the time when our water supplies have been poisoned. We may ask Jesus to heal the water in our house so we don’t die of thirst. He may tell us to go ahead and drink the water. We may do this without harm.
But then someone may rush into our house and tell us of the thousands of people who have died in the neighborhood. Then we have a choice. We either fix our eyes on the Lord and go forward, or else begin to doubt.
When Peter began to sink he cried out to the Lord to save him. He did not attempt to exercise faith. He looked back at Jesus and asked for help.
We need to reject all the current formulas for miracle-working faith and all the rest of the modern techniques for succeeding without the Lord, and just cry out to Jesus.
Jesus reached out His hand and caught Peter. Together they climbed into the boat and the wind died down.
We are going to survive in the coming days if we keep looking to the Lord Jesus. No matter what it says in the paper, no matter what happens around us, we need to keep looking to Jesus.
When we begin to waver we are to cry out to Jesus.
Many of the problems of the future will have to do with fretting. We will read about this wickedness and that wickedness, this horror and that horror, and we will be tempted to rage, or panic, or to adopt some other useless, destructive attitude.
Satan will do what he can to tear us down from our high place in God.
We are to keep looking to Jesus; looking to Jesus; looking to Jesus every minute of every day and night. As long as we do this, a thousand shall fall at our side and ten thousand at our right hand but the destruction shall not come near us.
The secret of the Christian life is that of walking with Jesus. All of our religious activities are for the purpose of teaching us to walk with Jesus.
Jesus and one person who walks with Him are a majority in any situation. He always sits as King of the flood. The storm ceases when He gets into the boat.
Let us cease looking here and there for love, joy, and peace. Everything that is worthwhile in Heaven and upon the earth can be found only in the Lord Jesus Christ.
He who has Christ has everything of value. He who does not have Christ is poverty-stricken, nothing more than intelligent dust clothed with threadbare garments, blind, driven here and there by forces he doesn’t understand and over which he has no control.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1,2)
But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:30,31)
Forgive, and You Shall Be Forgiven—Forgive, and you shall be forgiven. Show mercy, and mercy shall be shown to you. People shall deal with you in the same manner that you have dealt with others.
I don’t talk much about a “secret of the Christian life.” For one thing, the Christian life is simply that of abiding in Christ; and yet there are so many facets of it that one is hard put to set forth one major “secret.” What is important today gives way to another principle tomorrow. Then today’s “secret” returns at some point in the future.
But if there is one sort of universal “secret” it is that of forgiveness.
There is a considerable amount of bitterness in the Christian churches. There probably always has been. People are treated unjustly; or sometimes they become angry for no reason other than the acting out of their own sinful nature.
All of us Christians on numerous occasions are placed in a position where we are tempted to harbor bitterness, hatred, a desire for revenge.
How we react to this temptation can very well determine whether we are going to be counted as a victorious saint. In fact, our eternal destiny may be affected.
Years ago the Lord put me through a difficult season. On one occasion I became very provoked at a certain individual. I had a difficult time letting go of my anger.
I finally called on the Lord to grant me the virtue in the blood of Jesus. There is tremendous forgiving virtue in the blood of Christ, because of His statement on the cross: “Father forgive them because they do not know what they are doing.”
Soon I received the grace I needed to let that thing go.
On another occasion, when I was a young Christian, I developed anger toward one of the elders of the church I attended. I finally got down on my knees and asked the Lord to help me forgive this man.
Instantly my eyes were opened. I could see that I already had come to Mount Zion. It was as though I was in the center of an arena surround by a multitude of observers.
I checked out the verse in Hebrews. Sure enough, it is present tense.
O that our eyes were opened like the servant of Elisha!
We absolutely must forgive. Sometimes believers will chew on some old bone that should have been buried many years ago. This sort of bitterness prevents our growth in the Lord.
We simply have to let it go!
If we hold another person in judgment, that individual is hindered and so are we. Do we want to be the cause of someone else’s downfall?
One of the greatest of the problems of today seems to be that concerning a man or woman who was molested as a child. Sometimes the molested person seems to be able to block this from memory until the late twenties or early thirties. Then he or she will begin to exhibit symptoms of distress, which a psychologist or psychiatrist finally will diagnose as childhood molestation.
In our church we advise professional help for the adult who has been molested as a child. However, the final healing must come from Jesus.
A great deal of Divine virtue is required if the person is to be able to forgive the father, or uncle, or brother, or stranger who committed this heinous crime.
The good news is that the wound can be healed. But the victim must make an effort to obtain the Lord’s help; for in many instances the sense of injustice and betrayal is more then we can overcome.
Leaving the area of molestation and thinking about other reasons for bitterness, many times we are responsible in whole or in part for the wound we received. Ordinarily people do not set out to harm us. But we see ourselves as having been harmed or treated unjustly, and need to blame someone. The need to blame people for our discomfort is a major characteristic of our fallen, adamic nature.
God has said He will not forgive us unless we are willing to forgive others—the issue is that important in the Kingdom of God!
God wants each one of us to have a joyful spirit so we can sing and make melody in our heart to the Lord. We cannot have a joyful, open spirit when we are harboring anger toward someone.
The great red dragon is the accuser of the brothers. When we yield to the desire to condemn someone, we receive all the help we need from the dragon. One of his chief delights is to set brother against brother; sister against sister; and he is quite successful in his efforts.
When there is strife and animosity in a local church, the Spirit of God may cease operating there until the problem is solved. It is just like our human body. When we become ill we cease working and rest until we are healed.
Bitterness is endemic in the Christian churches. Each one of us must search his or her heart to see if we are harboring unforgiveness toward someone, whether that individual is a believer or not. If we find hatred and bitterness in our heart, then we must go to the Lord immediately as though our house were on fire and begin to pray mightily for deliverance.
The reason it is so difficult for us to forgive is that Satan has thrown his net over us. We have to cry out to the Lord until that bondage is broken and we are able to forgive everyone freely.
We usually do not have to go to the person and tell them we have forgiven them; or throw our arms around them and kiss them. The important aspect is the attitude of our heart toward the Lord. If that individual whom we hate has gotten between us and the Lord and is hindering our prayers, then we have to work it out with God.
Very often the hated individual will feel the change in our spirit and begin to act differently. We have let him or her out of jail. On other occasions the person will continue to be our enemy. That is not our responsibility. Our responsibility ceases when we can look up to the Lord and not feel animosity toward the person.
The world today is in a rage against God, to a great extent. God’s response is to laugh. Why? Because He is so great in power and authority that no one can really hurt Him.
It is the same with you. If you are serving the Lord as you should, then that same power and authority is protecting you. Therefore you can afford to be generous of spirit and to laugh with God.
Why don’t you and I do just that!
Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:37,38)
Three Areas of Eternal Life—How does eternal life affect us now? How will eternal life affect us after we die? How will eternal life affect us in the Day of Resurrection?
I may raise more questions than I answer in this brief article, and it will be obvious some of my statements are speculative.
To begin with, let me say what eternal life is not, and what it is.
The eternal life that Christ came to bring does not refer to endless existence. I think our spirit, our soul, and our resurrected body will live on for eternity whether or not they have received the gift of eternal life.
As far as I know, this is what the Bible teaches.
Well then, what is eternal life?
Eternal life is the Life of God. It is found in the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Tree of Life.
There is flesh and blood life, and then there is eternal resurrection life. These are two kinds of life.
Eternal life is found in degrees. Some reap thirtyfold, some sixtyfold, and some a hundredfold. There is more abundant life for those who care to pursue it.
Eternal life is a kind of life. It is the power that raised Christ from the dead, and the power in which He lives. It is not related to a length of time in which one lives.
I wish to consider how eternal life affects us now, in this world; how eternal life will affect us after we die; and how eternal life will affect us in the Day of Resurrection.
Now, if eternal life is a kind of life separate from our flesh and blood metabolism, where does it reside while we are alive on the earth?
I know we have it now, because we can feel it, we can see it in others, and it raises us up when we have been pressed down through circumstances.
I would say it is in our inward nature—the part that has been born again. As we nourish the inward nature, turning away from our sinful nature and obeying the Holy Spirit, I believe the eternal life increases in us.
The Apostle Paul strove to know the power of Christ’s resurrection. I believe he was seeking to live by the Life of Christ, who Himself is the Resurrection and the Life.
So we do have eternal life dwelling in us now, provided we are following the Spirit of God. But if we are not following the Spirit of God in putting to death the works of our sinful nature, then the Life of God is not increasing in us. It is perishing.
Can we kill our eternal life altogether?
Following the parable of the sower, I believe we can.
The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. (Matthew 13:22)
Paul says if we live according to our sinful nature we will die. I believe Paul means by this that we will kill the eternal life given to us when we first received Christ.
For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, (Romans 8:13)
From Paul’s writings, there is no doubt the Christian who follows his sinful nature rather than the Spirit of God is in serious trouble, as far as the Kingdom of God is concerned.
Today the great dragon is preaching from the pulpits of America. His message to the churchgoers is: “You shall not surely die!”
Where have we heard that before?
So much for how eternal life affects us while living on the earth.
But what about after we die? How will eternal life affect us then?
You know, we could wish that the New Testament had a great deal more to say about what happens to us when we die. There are only a few indications, in spite of the vast Christian mythology constructed around the term “mansions” in the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John.
Probably the most significant New Testament statement is the following:
But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, To the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, (Hebrews 12:22,23)
Now I understand we already have come there, according to the tense of the verb.
My reasoning is, this position will not change by virtue of our dying physically. If we are there already, then why should we not remain there after we die?
I believe there have been and shall be multitudes of people who have lived and died on the earth but who have never heard of Christ; who have never been born again; who have never received a portion of Divine resurrection Life.
These have not come to Mount Zion. The inhabitants of Mount Zion are all members of the Church of the Firstborn.
If they are not dwelling in Mount Zion, where is this great sea of people, who never have had the opportunity to receive eternal life?
Current teaching has consigned them all to Hell. I believe the doctrine that all people who have never heard the Gospel go straight to Hell when they die is the type of abomination that often is produced by religions.
Except for the wicked, such as the rich man (who refused to assist Lazarus), all these people are not in Hell! I know the Bible says “there is none righteous, no, not one.” I know the Book of Psalms speaks of many who lived righteous lives and who sought God with all their heart. We need to be careful that we do not lift verses out of context and make our religious deductions from them.
Many, many people die who have never been part of Mount Zion, but who are not candidates for Hell. Where are they in the Spirit realm? My thought is they are in places in the spirit realm suitable for them, probably among their friends and relatives. They are waiting for the Day of Resurrection so they can live once again on the earth. They are the inheritance of Jesus Christ and His coheirs.
This great multitude of people was spared in the Day of Wrath. Because of His atoning blood, Christ can save from destruction anyone He wants to.
We have discussed previously the way eternal life affects us while living on the earth. We are thinking now about how the gift of eternal life, the Life of God, affect us after we die. I believe possessing eternal life (if we haven’t let it all leak away by choosing to live according to our sinful nature) results in our living in Mount Zion with the holy angels.
Those who do not have eternal life may be placed in various areas of the spirit realm, with the truly wicked being in fiery torment; the remainder of deceased mankind enjoying rest with their relatives and friends.
Those who possess eternal life are in Mount Zion, living among righteous men whose spirits have been made perfect. This is the general assembly and they are enrolled in Heaven.
We have thought about having eternal life in the present world, and the result of having eternal life after we die.
What about eternal life in the Day of Resurrection?
The longer I live the more convinced I become that the doctrine of the resurrection of the mortal body is the most neglected area of all Christian thinking, preaching, and teaching.
According to the Apostle Paul, his goal was to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Yet we never hear of the need to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Why is this?
I believe I know why the doctrine of the resurrection from the dead is neglected. It is because our Christian tradition that has been handed down has impressed on us that our goal is to go to Heaven, to make our eternal residence in Heaven.
Since going to Heaven when we die so we might make our eternal residence there is absolutely contrary to the message of the Bible, many of Paul’s exhortations in the New Testament lose their force.
The Bible is about the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth, not the going of God’s people to Heaven! The hastiest review of the Scriptures will point this out.
One aspect of the doctrine of the resurrection from the dead, a concept that must be brought to the attention of God’s people, is that of what we will receive in the Day of Resurrection.
Think about this. The trumpet sounds. The dead are raised. Christ gives to each one of us according to our works.
Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. (Revelation 22:12)
This means we all will receive something different in the Day of Resurrection.
As I view it, our reward will be in three parts. The first part has to do with what happens to us as our flesh and bones are raised up from wherever they have been interred.
The second part has to do with where we are placed.
The third part, which may be part of the second, is what our role will be in the Kingdom of God.
Let us think about the first part—what happens to us as our flesh and bones are raised.
If my understanding is correct, those who possess eternal life will be raised by that resurrection life, just as the Lord was.
But multitudes who will be raised at the end of the Kingdom Age, will not be possessors of eternal Divine Life.
How then shall their flesh and bones be raised?
The power that will raise them is the power of God that operates the universe. This is not eternal life, it is just power. Eternal life is God’s Life, God’s Substance; God’s Nature; God’s Being. Remember, eternal Life is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
Everyone who has ever lived on the earth shall be raised. This is not the issue. The issue is what we will receive after we have been raised.
If we have followed the Spirit of God during our lifetime, a body of eternal resurrection life has been fashioned for us. It is with God now, and it will be brought to us with the return of the Lord.
This body of life will clothe our resurrected flesh and bones. Revelation speaks of this as the crown of life. Paul calls it the crown of righteousness. It is our robe, our house from Heaven.
It is this fullness of life and righteousness that the Apostle Paul was pressing toward. This was Paul’s mark.
Nor will all these bodies be the same. Each body will reveal what has been created in the inward nature of the recipient. Some will reveal compassion; some, a warrior spirit; some, an administrative ability; some a teaching personality; and so forth.
This is the result of possessing eternal life in the Day of Resurrection.
The remainder of mankind, those whose names have been found written in the Book of Life, will be able to come to the Spirit and the Bride and receive eternal life freely, as well as any healing that is needed. These people are our inheritance.
We know some, after having been resurrected, will be cast into fiery torment. Death and Hell will give up the dead that are in them that they may be judged. Death and Hell will be thrown into the Lake of Fire and all the wicked with them. Those who choose Satan will go to Satan’s reward.
The first part of what Christ will give us in the Day of Resurrection has to do with what happens to us when we are raised.
The second part has to do with where we are placed. Those who are specially close to Jesus will follow the Lamb wherever He goes.
Many will be in the army of the Lord and will descend with the Lord to install the Kingdom of God on the earth.
Some may find themselves with the twenty-four elders, praising God for eternity.
Others may be sent to various areas of the earth or of Heaven to bring the Presence and will of God to those who have been spared destruction but need to know more about the Lord.
Then there are those who have chosen to live their own life separate from the will of God. These are the rebels and they shall be in a place of torment, whether in the Lake of Fire or else as a star wandering for eternity through the darkness.
And then as to roles and ranks in the Kingdom of God, there shall be chief administrators who shine as the stars forever.
There shall be mighty lords who will take the place of the fallen rulers of the heavens.
There will be warriors, judges, teachers of all kinds, those who nourish the weak, and just about every other kind of position and service imaginable.
I believe there will be some who serve as flowers do today. They will be beautiful ones who will adorn God’s palace and give pleasure to all who see them.
There will be the powerful and the weaker. But God will be among us all and in us all.
The Lamb will be preeminent in all aspects of God’s creation, for this is the Father’s desire.
The rest of us who have served the Lord will find endless pleasure and joy in His Presence—world without end.
We see, therefore, that we have eternal life now, and it enables us to pray and to walk with the Lord. It strengthens us so we can turn away from our sinful nature and cooperate with the Spirit of God.
When we die our inward nature will remain where we are already, in Mount Zion with the Lord and the holy angels, there to await the Day of Resurrection. The fact that we will remain in Mount Zion, where we are already, may be what the Lord Jesus meant when He declared: “He who lives and believes in Me shall never die.”
In the Day of Resurrection, the degree of eternal life we have attained will be revealed as Christ gives us the body from Heaven that we have produced as we have sown our present, mortal body to the death of the cross.
With all this in mind, we can see that the wise among us will imitate the Apostle Paul. We will lay aside all else that we might attain to the kind of resurrection that is in our heart to achieve.
Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (II Timothy 4:8)
(“Musings, Book Three”, 3110-1)