THE REST OF GOD
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
God always is pressing forward with His people. The Ark of the Covenant represents the Glory and Presence of God. The Ark was unique among the furnishings of the Tabernacle of the Congregation in that the staves (carrying poles) were not removed from the Ark when Israel made camp in the wilderness. The “Ark” always is forgetting what is behind and is moving toward the fullness of God’s eternal purposes in Christ.
It is time for the saints to die to self. It is time for the saints to cease from their dead works and to rest their hope in Christ. God knows exactly what He is doing, what He will accomplish. Our task is to be diligent to enter God’s rest, not our own rest. The purpose of our redemption is not that we may be victorious and at peace, it is that God and Christ may be victorious and at peace. Let us abandon at once our self-seeking and seek rather the pleasure of God. Then God will find rest in us and we shall find rest in God.
THE REST OF GOD
For if Jesus [Joshua] had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. (Hebrews 4:8,9)
The Book of Hebrews refers to the land of promise as the “rest” of God, as the goal of the Christian salvation.
There are three major works of grace in the Christian salvation. They are typified by many things and events found in the Scriptures. The three main episodes of the pilgrimage of the nation of Israel from Egypt to Canaan are a type of the three works of grace of the Christian salvation.
- The exodus from Egypt (typifies our initial salvation from the world).
- The giving of the Law on Mount Sinai (typifies our sanctification—the work of the Holy Spirit in our life).
- The entrance into Canaan (typifies our oneness with God through Christ and the resulting redemption of the material creation).
Christian teaching stresses salvation from the world, and in some instances has extended salvation to include a deeper work of holiness in our life. But the types and principles of the Scriptures reveal clearly there are not two but three works of grace: salvation, sanctification, and oneness with God through Christ (the fullness of God—Ephesians 3:19).
None of these three aspects is a vaguely defined, general quest for God, although all three are part of the one “salvation.” There is a “mark” toward which we are to be pressing. That mark is the “rest of God.”
The first aspect of salvation is that of death to the world and acceptance to God through Christ. By faith we sprinkle the Passover blood on ourselves. By faith we come out of the world, we repent (turn around and behave in a godly manner). By faith we cross the Red Sea (are baptized in water).
We are born from above—Christ is formed in us. We commence our journey through the “wilderness” of tribulations and joys that attend our entrance into the Kingdom of God. This is what it means to be “saved.”
The second aspect of salvation is death to sin (sanctification) and freedom to live in the Spirit. God gives His Spirit to the person who receives Christ and is baptized in water. The Spirit begins to deal with the sins we are committing as Christians: the lusting, lying, occult practices, violence, hatred, strife, jealousy, envy, stealing, covetousness, drunkenness and so forth. The Spirit brings our sins to our attention over a period of time. As the Spirit shows us our sins He also gives us the desire and strength to turn away from them. This is “Mount Sinai”—the giving to us of the Law of God.
Complete sanctification requires a period of time for its accomplishment. But while we are following the Spirit in putting to death the sins of our flesh, the blood of Christ is covering the part of our personality that has not as yet been examined. Sanctification is instantaneous in that we are covered by the blood at once, and progressive in that the Spirit is leading us continually in putting to death the sins of our flesh (Romans 8:13).
Salvation and sanctification are the first two works of grace in the Christian redemption, and they are typified respectively by the exodus from Egypt and the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai.
Salvation is death to the world. Sanctification is death to sin.
The first work, salvation, is quite familiar to Christians. The second work of grace, sanctification, is not as well understood although there have been outstanding teachers of holiness during the last two centuries.
The third work, union with Christ, which is the “rest” of God, is the least familiar to the Lord’s people.
Crossing the Jordan River represents the third death, which is death to self and union with God through Christ: death to our self-love, self-centeredness, self-will, self-glorification. It is the death of the cross. We enter the suffering of Christ and into the glory that follows.
The maturing Christian can tell when God is bringing him through the third death by the sense of “imprisonment.” It seems as though we are being shut in on every side. Things that used to be possible are possible no longer. There is perplexity, sometimes various tribulations. No matter how we pray and seek the Lord the solution does not come.
But if we wait on the Lord, not ceasing to seek His face, accepting our “imprisonment,” He finally brings us out into a larger place than we have known. This is the third death and third resurrection; and while outstanding saints of old have experienced this place in God it has not been generally taught and understood. It is time now for death to self to be experienced by a larger segment of the Church.
The Book of Joshua is helpful to us in understanding the third work of grace because many of its elements, such as change, discipline, preparation, warfare, an increasing awareness of the nature of our land of promise, the need for courage, the necessity for referring to the Scriptures constantly, are brought into play as Israel stands at the entrance to the Divinely ordained land of promise.
Now after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord it came to pass, that the Lord spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying, Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. (Joshua 1:1,2)
Change! How difficult it is for us to accept change in our own circumstances!
It is relatively easy for us to believe in change in past time or in the future. We have little trouble accepting the fact that God came in the flesh and interpreted His own law to the Jews, or that the earth and the heaven will vanish in the future.
We may be assuming, without realizing it, that the people of the past or the future are different from us. Somehow, drastic change is more acceptable or easier for them.
But we cannot conceive that radical change in the Kingdom of God or in the earth could happen today. Yet it is true that our day is of the greatest importance in the Kingdom because of the issues being worked through and resolved now and that will be worked through and resolved in the immediate future.
The termination of the Church Age is not far off. The Kingdom of God is at hand.
After the death of Moses, Israel was confronted with radical change. Moses had been leading the nation for forty years. God had brought Moses close to Himself. Moses represented God to the children of Israel.
Now Moses was dead and it was time for Joshua to assume leadership.
Moses had been a shepherd of sheep for forty years and then a shepherd of people for an additional forty years. Eighty years a shepherd!
But Joshua was not a shepherd. Joshua was a general, a man of war. One can imagine the consternation of the Israelites when they lost their trusted shepherd and were given instead a warrior to lead them.
As we approach Armageddon, the Lord Jesus is beginning to blow the trumpet in the Church. Total spiritual war is at hand. In order to stand and fight in the coming conflict we must be dead to the world, dead to sin, and dead to self-will. If one of these three areas remains alive in us we cannot possibly stand throughout the shaking that even now is upon us. The end of the adamic creation is at hand.
Our Lord Jesus Christ is a Shepherd. He is the Good Shepherd of the Twenty-third Psalm.
The Lord Jesus Christ also is a General. He is the “Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle,” of the Twenty-fourth Psalm.
The Christian churches do not understand the warrior aspect of Christ’s Personality. One has but to look at the pictures of Christ that can be found in a Bible book store. How many pictures portray Christ clothed with a garment dipped in blood, mounted on a white war horse, judging and making war? Yet this is as true a picture of Christ as the more common portrayals of the gentle Teacher who loves the little children.
What Jesus is, He is. When He is a Shepherd He is all Shepherd. When He is a General He is all General. At no time is Christ half-shepherd and half-general. Christ is not a militant shepherd; neither is He a compassionate general. In one set of circumstances He is a gentle, tender Shepherd, greatly to be loved. In another set of circumstances He is a cunning, ferocious Man of war, greatly to be feared.
Multitudes today have received Christ as personal Savior, while just a few, it seems, have received Christ as personal Lord. The fear of the Lord, the Lord mighty in battle, is not always found in the churches.
Change is upon us. The end is near. The Kingdom of God is at hand. It is time for the believers to be organized into a highly disciplined army, to die to the world, sin, and self-will, to maintain the face of a man (Moses) while developing the heart of a lion (Joshua), to come to know the Lord of Armies.
Moses is dead! The Lord buried Moses. If He had not, perhaps the Israelites would have attempted to revive him, or at least prop him up where they could see him. So it is true that we attempt to revive or prop up the past ways in which the Lord brought us spiritual victory. We prop them up and attempt to pray life and anointing into them. But when God moves ahead in our life the old manna no longer is anointed. God is gentle with us and He may allow us to linger a bit. But He moves ahead inexorably.
As soon as Moses dies the Lord speaks to Joshua. We may be frustrated in our attempts to make the old activities work. But if we will look to Jesus instead of to our circumstances we may find the Lord giving life and power to a new area of our personality and circumstances.
God always is pressing forward with His people. The Ark of the Covenant represents the Glory and Presence of God. The Ark was unique among the furnishings of the Tabernacle of the Congregation in that the staves (carrying poles) were not removed from the Ark when Israel made camp in the wilderness. The “Ark” always is forgetting what is behind and is moving toward the fullness of God’s eternal purposes in Christ.
Whenever “Moses” dies, in our Christian experience, whenever God is ready to bring us from one level of glory to another, there may be a period of unsettledness. We may become frightened or frustrated and blame people—or even God—for our dismay. But if we will look to Jesus continually, and not fasten our eyes on the “waves,” we will discover that God is bringing us into a greater area of fruitfulness and dominion.
“Pruning” is painful. It may be true that the major limitation on the level of spiritual growth to which we can attain is our willingness to be pruned. When we will not accept further pruning it no longer is possible for us to come into a place of increased fruitfulness.
Moving into the realm of death to self necessitates seasons of perplexity and pain. If we seek to know the power of Christ’s resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, God will be faithful to hear the cry of our heart. If we would move upward to higher planes of glory, of fruitfulness, of dominion, we must be prepared to have “Moses die” and “Joshua take his place.”
Great glories in God are not attained in the lowlands of unbelief, spiritual carelessness, and resistance to the dealing of the Spirit. He who would climb the rugged slopes of Mount Zion must give to the Lord the sternest obedience, the most diligent faithfulness and service of which he is capable. He who chooses to give his all to God will receive in return the “All” of God. But those who hold back “part of the price of the land” will receive from God according to the measure they have chosen.
God will not speak to “Joshua” until “Moses” is dead. We cannot move forward with the Lord until we are ready to surrender to God what we have received during former seasons of His ministry to us. When it is time for Moses to die we must allow the Lord to bury him. Otherwise it is not possible for God to “speak to Joshua.” We will remain in confusion. Our spiritual momentum will lose its force. Growth will cease.
We cannot prop up Moses and then follow him into the land of promise. We must follow the Lord always and accept the path He chooses for us.
Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, … (Joshua 1:2)
There are times in our pilgrimage when we must get up and go forward in God. We must move cautiously in the Lord, continuing to watch and pray. As described in the first chapter of Joshua, the initial move of the Israelites upon “arising” was to prepare food, for they were to cross the River Jordan in three days.
The true saint keeps himself in instant readiness to move with the Lord. Never do we become so involved with the world we cannot move instantly with God. We do not move ahead blindly but in prayer and spiritual watchfulness. We look carefully for the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
“The Jordan,” as we have stated, signifies death to self. The Christian Church has not been at this level except for a few notable heroes of faith.
Some churches preach salvation, and others preach salvation and sanctification. But it is time now for the third major area of redemption to be announced to the Lord’s people. We must permit the Spirit to bring us into prisons of frustration and pain. We must submit to prolonged deferral of our most intense desires. We must learn to move only in obedience to God, not “using” our gifts or our faith according to the impulses of our soul and fleshly mind.
We must learn patience. We must accept the death of the cross. Ministry of eternal significance in the Kingdom of God flows from the death and resurrection of the minister. Works of eternal significance do not spring from talents, from enthusiasm, from attempting to meet the existing needs apart from the guidance and abilities of the Holy Spirit.
Samson slew more Philistines by his death than he did by his life. It is time for the Body of Christ to bow before the Father in humiliation, in stern obedience, in death. By our life we have created a thousand competing denominations. By our death we will tear down the entire kingdom of Satan.
It is difficult, and sometimes frightening, to “let go and let God.” What if God doesn’t do anything? What if He doesn’t “use” us? This is where trust enters. We must learn to trust God, to allow Him to become our Salvation, our eternal Life, our Sanctification, our Power, our Wisdom, our Glory, our Ministry. A diligent, conscientious church member may find it difficult to abandon his soul to God to this extent if he is accustomed to attaining spiritual “success” by striving.
We must labor to enter the “rest” of God, as set forth in the fourth chapter of the Book of Hebrews. There are two counterfeits of the true rest of God, of the true death to self-seeking.
- The first counterfeit is passivity.
- The second counterfeit is world involvement while waiting for one’s “call.”
When we teach that it is time for God to move, and that we must wait on Him for our directions, the enthusiastic disciple may carry this concept to impractical extremes, becoming the prey of evil spirits. This is to lapse into passivity.
The novice may surrender his will in such a manner he becomes an “empty vessel,” waiting for the Spirit of God to move him. This approach seems to be that of the true rest of God, of death to self-will. But it is not the true rest of God. It is a state of passivity. God will not work when the believer attempts to become a “medium” for the Spirit of God.
Rather, the true Christian life is one of actively using our will each day to make the choices necessary for the particular day. We must pray, read the Scriptures, assemble with fervent saints if possible, rejoice in the Lord, perform diligently the tasks set before us, confess our sins, give of our means as we are able, seek the Lord for our area of service, and do all the other good works set forth in God’s Word. We are to do all this whether we particularly “feel” like it or not! Also, we are to take delight in serving the Lord, as much as possible. The Lord is pleased when we rejoice and work righteousness.
We must interact vigorously with the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and the blood of the Lamb. Keeping the words of the Lord Jesus is different from becoming an “empty vessel,” waiting for the “spirit to move us”!
One hardly would gain the impression from reading the Epistles of the New Testament that the believer is supposed to become an empty vessel and wait for the Spirit of God to move him. From the Gospel accounts forward there are things to do. An abandoning of one’s will in the hope of being directed by supernatural forces may appear to be the rest of God, but it opens the believer to demonic activity.
To learn precisely how to combine the exhortations of the Scriptures with the exercise of the wisdom and power of the Spirit of God in us requires considerable experience. It is an art and there are many pitfalls. Yet, it is an art well worth pursuing; for it is only as we learn how to obey the Scriptures through the Spirit that we enter the Kingdom of God, the rest of God, the land of promise.
We are pressing toward life lived in the fullness of the Presence of God where we die to our self-centeredness and self-seeking. Our will (always kept razor-sharp) is becoming one with the will of God. We never are to empty ourselves of our power of choice, seeking to be moved by feelings and voices.
Sometimes a believer, in his desire to hear from the Lord, will set himself aside in fasting and prayer, waiting for God to tell him what to do. Again, experience is required here. The seasoned saint can tell when it is time to wait for the Lord to speak. But no amount of waiting can force God to speak. God is ready to direct our steps, but it is not often that He speaks directly to us.
It usually is more practical for the believer to pray carefully and then—continuing in prayer and watchfulness—commence on a definite course of action, meanwhile asking the Lord to guide every step, to close doors and open doors. It is not possible to steer a ship until it is moving.
The Lord may require of us that we take a step; not a step of presumptuous “faith,” as is being taught, merely a step of reasonable action. If we remain in prayer, seeking His will continually and consistently, He will guide the steps we are taking.
We may find ourselves going in a different direction than we had planned. However, nothing may happen until we make a choice. God will be God. We cannot force Him to speak.
The will of God often is difficult to determine. Our part is to present our body a living sacrifice and to do diligently what is set before us. God’s part is to guide us into His good, acceptable, and perfect will for us (Romans 12:1,2; Proverbs 3:5,6).
A second counterfeit of the true rest of God is that of world involvement while we are waiting for our “call.” It may happen that an ambitious, capable person becomes a Christian. He desires to go forth immediately and serve the Lord, to “do big things for God,” as the current attitude has it. But then he becomes aware that one cannot “use” God to do big things. The point is to wait on God and then do whatever He commands us.
Here we have an alert, intelligent human being who has come to the conclusion that the believer is not to attempt to set out to become a “big success” in the Kingdom of God. Rather he is to wait until he understands what it is that God intends to do with him and through him.
If one is not to vent one’s ambition in the Kingdom of God, what are busy hands and minds to do? We will “occupy until He comes.” We will go forth in the world, attend the university, master an art or a trade, and use our industry and talents until the Lord “tells us what to do.”
Sometimes the most practical action a Christian can take is to decide on a vocation or profession, attend college, enlist in an apprenticeship program, or otherwise pursue a reasonable course of activity in the world.
The problem is, it is easy to become so involved in one’s profession or business that prayer is neglected, fellowshiping with fervent saints is neglected, and there is not enough time or strength left for meditating in the Word of God. Soon there is no time left for the Lord. As in the case of passivity, no voice warns us we are not abiding in Christ. Everything feels right and appears to be in order as far as the Lord is concerned. But without realizing it we have become lukewarm and are growing cold toward God. We are neglecting our salvation, and that is the path to destruction.
Where have we gone wrong? We have not done what the Scripture tells us to do. We are not seeking the Lord with all our heart. We are not selling all to buy the Kingdom. We are not assembling with fervent saints. We are not praying often in the Spirit of God. Because God did not respond immediately when we wanted to serve Him we have gone to the other extreme. We have turned back into the world. We no longer are vitally interested in the life lived in the Spirit of God.
We have sought a rest of distraction, occupying ourselves in the world and supposing we are waiting for God to make some grand pronouncement concerning us. But it is not a true rest, it is deception.
We feel saved and in the Lord but we are not obeying the Scriptures. No human being can make his way prosperous in God and have success in the Kingdom of God unless he is meditating continually in the Scriptures and practicing what the Spirit of God is teaching him.
How terribly deceitful passivity and world involvement are! In passivity we wait for God to “move” us or tell us what to do, whereas God prefers to guide our steps. In world involvement we are engaged busily in the world while we are waiting (we think) for God to speak to us to go as a missionary or to perform some other outstanding service. But meanwhile we are neglecting the “small” tasks, such as carefully raising our children in the church, or serving in the local assembly, that the Lord has placed before us now.
We are mistaken. God does not, ordinarily, come down on an uninterested believer, shake his bedroom with thunder, and send him or her as an apostle to the ends of the earth.
Passivity and world involvement are counterfeits of the true rest of God. Neither passivity nor world involvement are a part of death to self-centeredness and self-seeking. In fact, they spring from self-centeredness and self-seeking.
The true rest of God is entered by the blood-washed, cross-carrying saint who is pressing forward diligently toward the prize set before him. He is not rushing out presumptuously to do “big things for God,” nor is he fully involved in the world, waiting for God to break in on him and “speak” to him, nor is he, having lost his own power of decision-making, being led about by feelings and voices. Rather, he is moving steadily forward, bringing forth fruit with Kingdom patience. This is the true rest of God and it requires a genuine death to our self-love, self-centeredness, and self-seeking.
We must “go over this Jordan.” “This Jordan” represents the third death the saint dies—the death to self. It is time now for the members of the Body of Christ to turn to the Lord in humility, to cease from our own dead attempts to build a religious kingdom.
It is time for the Head of Christ to be placed on the Body of Christ. The day of Saul, of the man who is “head and shoulders above the people,” is over. The members of the Body of Christ, like the boards of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, are all the same height. We must decrease so Christ may increase.
It is not possible for the believer who has not died to self-seeking to go across Jordan and enter the land of promise. Even Moses, the man of God, was not permitted to enter the land of promise because he had not exalted the Lord in the eyes of the people. Moses had struck the rock instead of speaking to it, thereby calling attention to himself and Aaron:
And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? (Numbers 20:10)
We may view Moses’ exasperation as pardonable because of his obedience to the Lord on all other occasions. But the Lord was unmoved. Moses was not allowed to set his foot on the soil of Canaan. God will not give His Glory to another.
The day of the self-willed, self-centered Christian ministry is over. Moses is dead. It is time for God to speak to Joshua. God’s true Israel stands at the entrance to resurrection ground. Only those who have died in Christ and in whom Christ is living will be able to cross the Jordan and enter the inheritance promised to the saints from the creation of the world. The spiritually ambitious believers must humble themselves, while the timid and careless must seek the Lord and grow in His service. It is time for us all to seek the Glory of the Lord.
… thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. (Joshua 1:2)
The children of Israel came out of Egypt as the congregation of the Lord, and then were organized into an army while in the wilderness. By the time they came to the east bank of the Jordan they were prepared to fight together as one force.
So it is today that many members of the Christian churches are of the family of the Lord. But it is time now for the army of the Lord to be formed.
Make thee two trumpets of silver; of a whole piece shalt thou make them: that thou mayest use them for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps. (Numbers 10:2)
The trumpets of the Lord are sounding today in fulfillment of the Levitical Blowing of Trumpets (Leviticus 23:24). The Blowing of Trumpets is the convocation following Pentecost (the feast of Weeks—Leviticus 23:16).
The two trumpets remind us of the two witnesses of Revelation, Chapter 11. Perhaps the two witnesses, in addition to warning the nations of the earth concerning the soon coming of the Kingdom of God, will also sound the signal for “the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps,” so to speak, indicating that the invasion of the earth by Christ and His saints is at hand.
The past two thousand years of Church history may have sufficed for the wandering of the Lord’s congregation in the wilderness of the world. Now it is time for the Body of Christ to be organized into a spiritual fighting force. We must come under the discipline of the Holy Spirit. The day is over for running to and fro according to the impulses of our fleshly mind.
Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. (II Timothy 2:3)
There is a shout of war in the Christian camp. We can hear the sound of an army on the march (I Chronicles 14:15). The spiritual host is ready in the heavenlies. It is time now for the saints, God’s judges, to die to the world, to sin, and to self-will in order that they may be used by the Father to destroy completely the kingdom of Hell.
… unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. (Joshua 1:2)
There is a goal, a mark associated with the Christian redemption. The Lord did not suggest to the Israelites that they pick out some country, such as China or India, and then invade it at their pleasure.
So much of today’s preaching and teaching is like that. The concept is that Christ has given us a “blank check.” We can employ our faith to get or attain whatever we like. The Christian salvation is not a blank check. God has a specific plan for each of us. We are not supposed to run about as we choose, doing whatever we like. Rather we are to present our body as a living sacrifice in order that we may prove what God’s will is for us, making a sober estimate of ourselves according to the degree of faith the Lord has entrusted to us.
There is a “land” that God has given to the Body of Christ, and there is a specific part of that land that has been assigned to each saint. We must go across Jordan and fight alongside all the saints and then we will be assigned our own portion, our own inheritance.
There is nothing vague about our goal or about the area we are to conquer. It is not up to us to choose.
The Lord called us out of the world in order to bring us into a specific place, a place chosen and ordained by Himself. He prepares us carefully so that when the hour of attack comes we shall not falter or fail. Then the Lord guides us in the crossing of Jordan and in the conquest of each city. Nothing is left to chance. Nothing is left to our ingenuity or creativity. The entire operation is of the Lord.
The “Canaanites” whom we are to destroy are, first of all, God’s enemies. They have broken God’s holy law. Figuratively speaking, we, as did Israel, are bringing God’s holy laws into the places where the Canaanites have worshiped their demon-driven lusts and have burned their children as sacrifices to Molech. We worship sexual lust today and murder our own offspring in abortion.
When God was dealing with Abraham He informed him that the iniquity of the Amorites had not yet come to the full, but when it did, Abraham’s seed would leave Egypt and invade Canaan (Genesis 15:16).
We see, therefore, God is working His own works. It is not up to us to choose some area of attainment and attempt to use our “faith” to gain our own desires. We have been brought to this present situation and time, along with all other saints, the members of the Body of Christ, in order that we may follow the Holy Spirit into the land God has chosen for us.
Because “King Self” is not dead there is spiritual anarchy in the churches of Christ. Every man does what is right in the sight of his own eyes. The spiritual “bones” are very dry and piled in heaps in the valley. Current Christian teaching, being filled with the spirit of deception, has created spiritual disorder, disobedience to God, and immorality in the churches.
The Father has given to His Son, Jesus Christ, the nations as His inheritance and the farthest reaches of the earth for His possession. We, the members of the Body of Christ, will be used by the Father to bring Christ’s Kingdom into subjection to Him.
It is not our rest we are entering, it is God’s rest. It is not our houses in Heaven that are being constructed, it is God’s House. It is not what we are gaining that is important, it is what God and Christ are gaining that is important.
All preaching and teaching emphasizing how we can improve our own situation by “using” God and Christ has only a limited application. The path leading to eternal life in the Kingdom of God is that of stern obedience to the Father.
We must learn obedience to God. Our Christian life must not consist of various efforts to “gain power with God” (a questionable goal—one that can lead the seeker astray). Our Christian life is to be a patient quest for the knowledge of God’s will and the means to perform that will.
Does God know what He is doing with us? Does He have a plan, a certain purpose? He indeed does have a definite plan, a certain purpose. We are vehicles for the accomplishment of the eternal purpose of God in Christ.
Do we love Christ? If we do we will keep His commandments. We were created for God’s Glory, not so we may rush about the universe in the madness of self-seeking.
It is time for the saints to die to self. It is time for the saints to cease their dead works and to rest their hope in Christ. God knows exactly what He is doing, where He is going. Our task is to give attention to entering God’s rest, not our own rest.
Nothing can be accomplished further in the Kingdom of God until the believers forsake their religious strivings, their attempts to use their gifts to manipulate the spirit realm. It is time for us to seek the Lord. The Kingdom of God is the doing of God’s will in the earth as it is in Heaven. The Kingdom of God is not an array of gifts that God desires to give His children in order that they may go about their business according to their own enthusiasm and impulses.
It is time to die to self-seeking, self-centeredness, self-love, self-aggrandizement, self-fulfillment, self-will.
The purpose of our redemption is not that we may be victorious and at peace, it is that God and Christ may be victorious and at peace in us. Let us abandon at once our self-seeking and seek rather the pleasure of God. Then we will find rest in God and He will find rest in us (John 14:23).
Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. (Joshua 1:3)
The above verse would appear to indicate we can walk in any direction we desire and God is bound to give us what we want. However, this promise must be interpreted in the context of the preceding verse, “to the land that I do give to them.” The concept is, if we walk where God directs us to walk, then the Lord gives the land to us as our inheritance.
We have to do the walking. It is the soles of our feet that do the treading. The overcoming Christian life depends for its success on the proper balance of cooperation between the Lord and us. If we attempt to make the Lord do all the walking our Christian growth slows to a halt. If we attempt to do all the walking, we may accomplish many things but they will have little or no eternal value.
It is “the sword of the Lord, and of Gideon.”
Jesus said, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work” (John 5:17). There are two witnesses described in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation: Christ, and the Body of Christ—the two Lampstands of God.
The Christian Era is a long record of these two extremes. Some of the believers are waiting for God to do it all, while the denominations are attempting to build the Kingdom of God with money and their own group effort.
When God can find an individual or a group that will exercise the trust and patience required for the cooperation of God and man in the work of evangelism, or in achieving individual sainthood, great and eternal good is brought forth.
Christ works and we work. Whatever He says to do, we do. We do not rush about in the blindness of the flesh; neither do we cease our intense seeking of the Lord’s will or our diligent application to the necessary tasks before us. We learn to walk with the Lord. He is the giant Helper. We are the tiny helpers. Both must work together if the Kingdom of God is to be established in the earth.
From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast. (Joshua 1:4)
God spoke to Abraham concerning the same area of land:
In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: (Genesis 15:18)
God gave to the Israelites the wilderness area as a southern boundary, Lebanon as a northern boundary, the Euphrates River as an eastern boundary, and the Mediterranean Sea as a western boundary. Throughout history the nation of Israel has had difficulty gaining and keeping control over even part of this extensive area. To the present hour the Jews have been squeezed into a fraction of their inheritance. Today there is a new wave of hatred against the Jews arising in the nations of the earth.
The inability of the Jews to gain and hold their land may be due to two factors: (1) their original lack of determination in going in and taking by force what the Lord directed them to invade and conquer; and (2) their sins and rebellions against the Lord. It may be true that the Jews to this day are not trusting in the Lord with their whole hearts. They still are attempting to solve their problems by their own wisdom and strength and by leaning on Gentile nations for money and military assistance.
The Jewish race is the only race God called out from the world to be a kingdom of priests to Himself. It appears that the Jews prefer to be part of the world rather than a called-out nation. God cannot be mocked. Before He is finished working, Israel will be the Lord’s royal priesthood. Jerusalem will be the throne of the Lord.
We understand from the Scriptures that the biblical history of Israel is a type, a foreshadow of what is true in the spiritual Kingdom of God.
Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. (I Corinthians 10:11)
For if Jesus [Joshua] had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. (Hebrews 4:8,9)
It is scriptural that Canaan, the land of promise, represents the goal of the Christian redemption—the “mark” toward which Paul was pressing.
Precisely what is the goal of the Christian warfare?
Perhaps the most commonly held assumption in all Christendom is that eternal residence in Heaven is the goal of the Christian life. This assumption is a substantial part of Christian preaching, teaching, and hymns. “Going to Heaven” is a major concept of Christian doctrine. Also, many Jews and the secular world understand going to Heaven to be the goal of living righteously. There may be no other assumption so deeply ingrained in Christian thinking.
It is taught that if we are “saved” we will “go to Heaven” when we die. Heaven is our “eternal home”—this is the traditional belief.
However, going to Heaven is not emphasized in the Old Testament nor is going to Heaven when we die stressed in the New Testament. Going to Heaven is not the goal of the Christian redemption.
Take your concordance and look up the phrase “going to Heaven.” If going to Heaven is the goal of the Christian redemption, then we should be able to confirm this by several passages of Scripture. If going to Heaven is not the goal of salvation, then we ought to search the Scriptures to determine what the goal of salvation truly is. Of what is the clearly defined land of promise (of the Book of Joshua) a foreshadow?
Since the redemption of mankind began with the coming of Christ and the descent of the Holy Spirit from Heaven, the teachings found in the New Testament concerning Heaven are especially significant.
However, neither John the Baptist, Jesus of Nazareth nor the early Apostles, set forth eternal residence in Heaven as the goal of redemption.
The message of the Christian Gospel is the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth. This is what John the Baptist preached. This is what Jesus of Nazareth preached. This is what Paul and the other Apostles preached. This is what the Prophets of Israel wrote about.
God has no intention of removing saved mankind from the material realm to abide permanently in the spirit realm. This is not God’s purpose in saving us. From the first chapter of the Book of Genesis to the last chapter of the Book of Revelation, mankind is on the earth. A few verses of the Book of Revelation show saved people in the spirit realm, but this is for a relatively brief period while the Lord Jesus prepares the earth for His return.
The concept of the coming of the Kingdom of God, that which the Lord Jesus preached, requires a new understanding of the Christian redemption.
We are not certain how the concept of “going to Heaven” as the goal of salvation entered Christian thinking. It would be an interesting thesis for a student of theology.
Perhaps the concept of going to Heaven as the goal of salvation has served a useful purpose in the Kingdom during the hundreds of years of the Christian Era. Now we are so close to the coming of the Lord, to the actual installation of the Kingdom of God on the earth, that the Holy Spirit is pointing us toward the Scriptures concerning this issue.
If the Scriptures do not emphasize getting people into Heaven, what is the point of the Lord’s working?
In the beginning God made the heavens and the earth. He created man on the earth, giving him a charge to multiply in the earth and to exercise dominion over the material creation.
Man disobeyed God, as we know, and the Presence of the Almighty withdrew from the earth.
Then God gave a promise to Abraham that the nations of the earth would be blessed through his (Abraham’s) seed. Nothing whatever is said or implied about people “going to Heaven.” The message of redemption, of restoration of blessing, has to do with restoring to man what was lost in the fall.
Did the Hebrew Prophets speak of our dying and going to Heaven? No, they did not. They spoke of the Lord sending Christ to bring justice to the nations of the earth, never of people dying and going to Heaven.
When Jesus came, did He speak of our dying and going to Heaven? No, He did not. Jesus taught what the Prophets declared—that the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom that comes from Heaven, is soon to be installed on the earth among men. Jesus taught us to pray God’s Kingdom would come, His will would be done in the earth as it is in Heaven. Doing God’s will in the earth, as distinct from Adam’s disobedience, is the fundamental concept of the Kingdom of God, of the goal of redemption, of the rest of God.
Jesus spoke of God’s coming to us and dwelling with us and in us (John 14:23). The traditional “many mansions in Heaven” is based on the King James rendering of a Greek term that means abode (the same term translated “abode,” in John 14:23). There is no scriptural or lexical basis for applying John 14:2 to beautiful homes in Heaven. Yet this concept is perpetuated dutifully wherever the Lord’s elect assemble.
If the Prophets did not speak of our going to Heaven, and the Lord Jesus did not point us toward Heaven as our goal, what was true of the early Apostles? Didn’t they write about our dying and going to Heaven?
No, they did not. The Apostles preached the coming of the Lord, the Day of the Lord, the resurrection from the dead. None of these topics has anything to do with our dying and going to Heaven. There are many passages of the New Testament that stress salvation in the Day of the Lord but none that emphasizes our dying and going to Heaven. One would assume from our traditions that the Scriptures are filled with references to our dying and going to Heaven. In fact, such references are very scarce.
Also, the Book of Revelation speaks of the judgments that are to fall on the earth, climaxing with the coming of the Lord Jesus with His saints to the earth.
The Scriptures end with the Church and the nations of the saved on the new earth, not in Heaven. The Scriptures begin and end with man on the earth.
Now, how about the interval of time between our physical death and the return of the Lord from Heaven?
The Scriptures have little to say concerning what happens to us when we die. The traditional concept of Heaven as a place of beautiful parks is based on the dreams and visions of the godly, not on the Scriptures. This is not to say the dreams and visions are not accurate. Some passages of the Old Testament reveal that we are gathered to be with our people. The New Testament doesn’t state even that much.
Christians often refer to Second Corinthians 5:8, claiming that when we are absent from the body we are present with the Lord. This assuredly was true for the Apostle Paul, but one wonders if such is the case with believers who are not following the Lord as Paul did.
Notice, in the following verse, that the emphasis is not on going to Heaven but on the Day of the Lord:
To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. (I Corinthians 5:5)
We may have heard the above verse taught as meaning that if this Corinthian believer suffered enough his spirit might go to Heaven when he died. Perhaps we never have heard it taught as it is written—that the man’s spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
The apostolic message had to do with the Day of the Lord, with the resurrection from the dead, with the coming of Christ in His Kingdom. If the reader will go back and study the writings of the New Testament, keeping in mind our statement that the Christian land of promise is not Heaven, he may be surprised by what he finds.
But what about the Lord’s coming and the resurrection from the dead? Don’t we go to Heaven when we are raised from the dead? And how about when we are caught up to meet Christ in the air? Don’t we go to Heaven then? (We do not use the term “rapture.” The “rapture” of the saints before the end-time tribulation is an unscriptural “revelation” brought forth in the last century. We do not give credence to it because it is unscriptural and destructive of the teaching of the Kingdom of God.)
Think for a moment. Is the purpose of the resurrection from the dead that we may enter the spiritual Heaven? Heaven is for the spirits, not the bodies, of people. The redeemed go to Heaven when they die—there to be with the Lord Jesus. But in the Day of Resurrection, the time of the ascension to meet the Lord in the air, they will return to the earth.
The purpose of the resurrection from the dead is to reunite us with our bodies so we are able to resume life on the earth. The resurrection is an act of redemption whose purpose is to restore what was lost in Eden. The ascension of the saints after the resurrection is that they may meet the Lord in the air and be with Him as He installs His Kingdom on the earth.
The purpose of the Day of the Lord is to establish the reign of Christ over the nations of the earth.
When the Lord returns He will receive His inheritance, which is the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth.
The Lord Jesus Christ (and His Body) is the Servant of the Lord, of the forty-second chapter of the Book of Isaiah. Christ will return to the earth in order to restore and glorify Israel and to establish justice among the nations of the earth.
The return of Christ is not to bring His Bride back to Heaven with Him. It is to establish justice among the nations of the earth.
The coming of the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom we cannot see or enter until we have been “born again,” is the arrival of the rule of God among mankind on the earth.
The spirits of the righteous indeed will pass into Heaven when they die physically, but only to await their return to earth with the Lord Jesus in the Day of the Lord.
And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. (Revelation 5:10)
“We shall reign on the earth.
If going to Heaven is not the goal of salvation, then it may become necessary for us to place a different emphasis on how we live in the world.
If “accepting Christ” is a “ticket” that we hold until we die, a ticket that admits us to endless delights in Paradise, then godly living is a good thing but not a necessity.
But if salvation is not the holding of a ticket to Paradise in the spirit realm but the re-creation of what we are as an individual in view of the coming of God into the earth, then our ungodly behavior may be establishing for us a frightful future. Our neglect of salvation may be leading us to destruction.
In discussing the spiritual-physical reality that is the fulfillment of the Old Testament land of promise, we are not engaging in theological exercises. We are bringing to the attention of the Lord’s people the true goal of redemption. For a clear knowledge of what redemption is all about, to what end it is working and leading, has a direct effect on how we address ourselves to the Christian discipleship.
What, then, is the Christian land of promise?
The Christian land of promise is, first of all, rest in Christ in God, and after that the inheriting of the nations of the earth and the earth itself. The earth and its nations were promised to Abraham. The earth and its nations were promised to the Lord Jesus and His coheirs, the one Seed of Abraham. The promise will be perfectly fulfilled in the days to come.
And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him. (Genesis 12:7)
Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee. (Genesis 13:17)
And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. (Genesis 22:18)
Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen [nations] for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. (Psalms 2:8)
And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations. (Isaiah 61:4)
And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 22:5)
Notice, in the above passages, that the inheritance of the saints is in the earth among the nations of saved peoples of the earth.
The “tabernacle of God,” of Revelation 21:3, is the Church, the Body of Christ, the Wife of the Lamb, the new Jerusalem. The “men,” of the same verse, are the nations of saved peoples of the earth.
The Kingdom of God, the “rest” of God, is the rule of God in the earth. It has nothing to do with permanent residence in a “heaven” separate from the earth. The Kingdom of God is in Heaven now because the Lord Jesus is at the right hand of the Father. When Jesus returns from Heaven accompanied by the saints in whom He is dwelling, whose Life He is, then the Kingdom of God no longer will be in Heaven but upon the earth.
The Kingdom of God is the rule of God in Christ in the saints through the Holy Spirit. It is this incarnation of God, this government, this fullness of the Holy Spirit, this revelation of God through Christ, that will come into the earth and rule the nations of the earth. This is the goal, the end result, of the Divine redemption.
The concept that these verses are referring to Jews who will have an earthly kingdom while Gentiles will govern a heavenly kingdom is totally false. This idea has destroyed coherent biblical interpretation. There is only one olive tree, one Kingdom of God, of Heaven, one Body of Christ, one Church, one holy city, the new Jerusalem.
So then, our objective each day is not that of waiting to die in order to go to Heaven. Our objective is to press further into Christ, into the Kingdom of God, in anticipation of the Day when Christ returns and reveals to the world the glory He has developed in us. This is the new covenant of God with man and is for the Jew first and after that for the Gentile. It is the new creation.
As we have said, our land of promise includes the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth. These are the inheritance of the Lord Jesus Christ, and we are coheirs with Him.
God created Adam and Eve to live in the earth. The intention of God never has changed and never shall change.
Satan and his legions left Heaven and invaded the earth. They spend their time “going to and fro in the earth, and… walking up and down in it” (Job 1:7).
The presence of evil, rebellious spirits in the earth is an abomination to God and ought to be an abomination to men. All day and all night the creatures of darkness infiltrate the thinking, the emotions, the nerves, the flesh and bone of men and women, boys and girls. The effect of their presence is to ruin all that is good, all that is beautiful, all that is worthy, all that is creative, all that is healthy, all that is godly, all that is pure, all that is lovely, all that is wholesome, all that brings righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Every vestige of satanic, demonic presence, thinking, and power is totally destructive. There is nothing of worth in it. It corrupts, warps, perverts, inflames, and defiles every person whom it influences, everything it touches.
Our task as saints (holy ones of God) is, through the Spirit of God, to drive out of the earth every trace of Satan and his demons until even the memory of sin has been destroyed from the earth.
Thou shalt not be affrighted at them: for the Lord thy God is among you, a mighty God and terrible. And the Lord thy God will put out those nations before thee by little and little: thou mayest not consume them at once, lest the beasts of the field increase upon thee. But the Lord thy God shall deliver them unto thee, and shall destroy them with a mighty destruction, until they be destroyed. And he shall deliver their kings into thine hand, and thou shalt destroy their name from under heaven: there shall no man be able to stand before thee, until thou have destroyed them. (Deuteronomy 7:21-24)
The purpose of the kingdom of God is not that of removing those who are “saved” to the spirit realm so they can be free of the corruption produced by Satan and his demons in the earth. Rather, the purpose of the Kingdom of God is the casting out of Satan from the nations of the earth and from the earth itself.
The work of casting out Satan from the earth began with the ministry of the Lord Jesus and continues with the believers (Mark 16:17). The purpose of the return of Christ is not to remove the saints to Paradise, it is to bring reinforcements so the work of driving Satan from his strongholds in the earth can be accomplished completely.
The Kingdom of God is the doing of God’s will in the earth. The Kingdom of God always drives out of the source of rebellion from the earth. The source of rebellion and sin is the devil and his angels.
But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you. (Luke 11:20)
We understand, therefore, that the rest of God includes the rulership of the nations by Christ and His coheirs. All the peoples, the wealth, and the glory of the earth belong to Christ and to those who share the inheritance with Him.
Today we Christians, as was true of Abraham, are wandering in our land of promise as in a strange land. One day the earth will be ours to possess. The wicked never will inherit any part of the earth. They will be bound for eternity in the spiritual prisons located in the interior of the earth.
The Kingdom of God is at the right hand of the Father because Christ is at the right hand of the Father. We who are alive on the earth are ambassadors of Christ. We announce to the peoples of the earth that our King, Jesus, is coming with His angels to set up His Kingdom here. If they would be spared (saved) in that Day they must believe, turn away from their worldly practices, and be baptized in water.
As the Lord leads we can demonstrate to people the nature of what is at hand. We can cast out demons, heal the sick, and show other evidences of the Kingdom that is coming to the earth.
The deliverance of the afflicted is a foreshadow of what will take place all over the world when the Lord returns. The Kingdom is here now in the saints, and God permits us to show some of the powers of the age to come. The fullness will be brought to the earth when the Lord Jesus, earth’s only true King, descends with His saints and holy angels.
God the Father has determined the heavens and the earth will be filled with the Lord Jesus Christ. Now God is resting, allowing His Word to bring to pass what He has determined. We are to enter that rest. Christ Himself is waiting until His enemies have been made His footstool (Ephesians 1:10).
To enter the rest of God requires that we seek the will of God rather than strive to please God by our own religious works.
It may be true that the majority of the Christian efforts of history have been and yet are the blind striving of well-intentioned believers to do the works of God.
It is so difficult to enter the rest of God! There are many forces—not the least of which is personal ambition—that prevent us from resting in God.
God has not called us to save souls, to build the Kingdom, to perfect our own righteousness and holiness, or to become a spiritual person so other people will be impressed.
God has called us to enter Christ, to find our life in Him. There are various efforts we must make, and they are set forth in many passages of the New Testament. The end result of all our efforts must be our abiding in Christ.
Learning to abide in Christ requires considerable experience. We cannot just announce we are abiding in Christ and then have no more difficulties. The warfare is far too intense for such a simple approach. Every day we are to give the utmost diligence to entering the perfect abiding place in the Life and will of Christ. Every day we shall be resisted. Every day the Holy Spirit will lead us into a new arena of warfare and victory.
Our first goal, our initial land of promise, is our own being, our own personality. We, through the Holy Spirit, must gain total victory over our love of the world, our love of sin, and over self-love. Our love of the world, of sin, and of self must be slain by the Spirit’s help. It is the love of these enemies of God that keeps us out of the rest of God.
How can God and Christ make Their abode in us if we still love the world, sin, and our own selfish desires? How can God and Christ reach forth through us and release the prisoners of the earth, restoring what was lost in Eden, if we love sin and are not willing to allow Christ to have his unhindered way in us? It is impossible for any person to enter the rest of God while he still is self-centered, seeking to coerce the Lord into meeting all his demands.
The current teaching that we are to employ “faith” in order to get what we want from the Lord is the opposite of the Kingdom of God. The “faith message” is of the False Prophet because it arises from the human soul and has our pleasure, not the Lord’s pleasure, as its purpose. Yet numerous Christians have been caught up in this misconception.
Much suffering must be poured on the Christian believers in order to destroy these erroneous concepts. Even then a multitude of believers will grow cold, joining the swelling ranks of the nauseating Laodiceans.
God informed the Israelites precisely what their land of promise was, what its boundaries were. It was a large part of what is referred to today as the Middle East.
God has informed us Christians precisely what our land of promise is. To the Lord Jesus Christ has been given the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth. The saints are coheirs with Christ. Our inheritance and His are the same. Our inheritance is not separate from that of the Lord Jesus.
The inheritance of the Lord Jesus Christ includes all things in the heavens and upon the earth.
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power [authority] is given unto me in heaven and in earth. (Matthew 28:18)
Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s. (I Corinthians 3:22,23)
Thou hast put all things in subjection under his [man’s] feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. (Hebrews 2:8)
To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. (Revelation 3:21)
He that overcometh [overcomes all that would seek to keep him from doing God’s will] shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. (Revelation 21:7)
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. What existed before that we do not know except that it probably was spiritual in nature. But now there is a material universe of substance and form.
Man was created in the material universe in order to inhabit it and rule it. The first “man,” as God intends man to be, was Christ. Adam and Eve were the source of all flesh-and-bone human bodies. However, the first Person to appear in God’s image, the first Individual capable of assuming the authority designated by the Scriptures to “man,” is the Lord Jesus.
The material universe is not evil, neither is it the home of Satan. Satan and his angels are of the spiritual world, not of the material universe. They successfully have invaded the material universe, corrupting it beyond belief. Nevertheless it is the intention of the God of Heaven that the material realm exist and that it be inhabited and governed by “man.”
The presence of Satan and his angels in the material universe is temporary. They are not material (not having flesh and bones) and do not belong in the material universe. They eventually will be contained in a spiritual prison.
The material universe is dead apart from spiritual life. Today the spiritual aspect of the material universe has been contaminated, and its spiritual capacity diminished, by the spirits that rebelled against God. As a result, death instead of life is present in the world.
The Kingdom of God, which soon is to come to the earth, will drive out the unclean spirits and replace them with the Spirit of God.
As soon as our inner spiritual nature has been transformed into the image of Christ, and brought into perfect union with the Father through Christ, we will be ready for the redemption of our physical body. At the coming of the Lord from Heaven the Life of Jesus will change our mortal body, making it like His own body.
The kind of body we will receive in the day of resurrection depends on what we have sown during our pilgrimage on the earth. If we sow to our flesh, obeying its appetites and demands, we will not receive a body like that of the Lord. If we sow to the Holy Spirit, setting our minds on things above, following the Lord with our cross, we will receive a glorious heavenly body.
The kind of body we receive will reflect our inner nature, being a direct result of the process of death and resurrection that works each day in the victorious saint. Numerous believers who are living careless lives suppose that in the day of resurrection they will be clothed with a body like that of the Lord Jesus. But the Scriptures do not teach that believers will receive a glorified body by mercy, faith, or any means other than patient, cross-carrying obedience to Christ.
A glorious body like that of the Lord is a major aspect of our inheritance, of the rest toward which we are pressing.
We of the elect have been called of God to be brothers of Christ, to be kings and priests of God. Our subjects, the peoples over whom we shall rule and whom we shall serve in a priestly capacity, are the saved inhabitants of the earth. We who are sanctified through Christ are the spirits of righteous men made perfect. We shall return with Christ so the material universe may be governed by holy instead of unclean spirits.
Our land of promise includes the material universe. Today the material universe is governed (with God’s permission) by the enemies of the Lord. Tomorrow the material universe will be governed by Christ and His saints.
To enter the rest of God is to enter the stream of Divine wisdom and energy that is moving toward establishing Christ as the Head, Center, and Circumference of the entire creation of God. We must fight, in the Spirit, to bring ourselves and others into the perfect rest of God, because the unclean spirits have made the peoples of the earth their dwelling places and always teach them rebellion against God.
The evil spirits have been thrown out of Heaven. All they have left to enjoy is the flesh and personalities of people on the earth. When they are cast out of people, the evil spirits indeed walk through dry places. There is no place left for them except the air, and finally the Lake of Fire. This is why they so fiercely resist being dispossessed, being cast out of people. They cry for mercy but no mercy is to be shown to them.
We now are bearing witness of the soon coming to earth of the Lord Jesus Christ in the power of His Kingdom. God enables us to display, as part of the witness, some of the powers of the age to come. Also, we ourselves are being prepared to serve in establishing the rule of Christ over the nations of the earth.
Because we will be serving God forever, ruling over the nations of saved peoples of the earth (Revelation 22:5), it is much more important we become what Christ wants us to be than it is that we go forth and “do something for Christ.”
God can use whom or what He will to perform His work in the earth. But the creation of the members of the Body of Christ, the Wife of the Lamb, the sons of God, the brothers of Christ, the living stones of the eternal Tabernacle of God, is the primary reason for all the elements of the world and the events of history. All are working together for good for those who have been called according to the eternal purpose of God in Christ.
Today we are given some opportunities to work God’s will in this sin-cursed earth. Tomorrow we will march through the land as conquerors, bearing in ourselves the Presence of God in Christ. Then the nations of the earth will understand that God indeed is the One who has sent Christ, and that God loves the saints as He loves His firstborn Son.
For the first time in the history of the creation the holy ones (saints) of God stand at the brink of the spiritual Jordan. The transition from Moses to Joshua is taking place. The disciples are beginning to understand that death to the world and to sin are not enough; we must die also to all self-will and self-seeking. There is no place in the army of the Lord for those in whom King Self still is reigning.
The Lord’s soldiers are living dead men. They themselves have been “crucified” (by actual suffering, not just by faith or in their mind) with Christ. Now it is Christ who is living in them. They are living by His faith, not by their own faith.
There first will come the most powerful of all testimonies—the latter-rain anointing of the Body of Christ (Revelation, Chapter 11) and the pouring of God’s Spirit on all flesh. Then will follow a brief period of worldwide tribulation. After that, the Lord Jesus will appear from Heaven with His army of saints, driving all unclean spirits from the earth and judging and teaching the peoples of the nations of the saved.
Nothing of what we have stated in the preceding pages is meant to imply there is no Heaven, no Paradise, no “third heaven.” There indeed is an area of the spirit realm to which the righteous, upon their physical death, are carried by the holy angels.
The Scriptures are remarkably silent concerning what happens to the saints after they die and before they are raised from the dead. The Scriptures in many passages, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament, describe some of the events of the Day of the Lord, but there are few passages concerning our state from death to the Day of Resurrection.
However, there are several descriptions of life after death, and before the resurrection, which have been given by godly people. Perhaps the reader is acquainted with some of them. The most outstanding of these may be the account of the visions that were given to some Chinese orphan children (Visions Beyond the Veil, H. A. Baker, Springdale, Pa.: Whitaker House, 1973).
The visions of life after death set forth by different people have many points in common, although the descriptions given by Sundar Singh (Visions of Sadhu Sundar Singh of India, Sundar Singh, Minneapolis, Minn.: Osterhus Publishing House), and Dr. Ritchie (Return from Tomorrow, George G. Ritchie, M.D., Waco, Texas: Chosen Books, 1978) add dimensions not found in some of the other accounts. Also, the visions of Annie (I Looked…, edited by R. Edward Miller, Argentina, South America: Argentine Prayer Fellowship, Inc., 1971) provide insight into the spiritual environment of Christ and God.
Perhaps it is a fact that these visions of Heaven are illustrations of spiritual truth rather than actual scenes. It is not impossible that God has restricted Himself to terms we can understand at this time. We shall not thoroughly understand the new Jerusalem, or Heaven either, until we behold them. In the present hour God speaks to our minds and hearts that which we can receive and interpret to our own edification.
The Jewish mothers, during the thirty-eight years of wilderness wandering, taught their children concerning the wonderful land of milk and honey to which the Lord would bring them some day. After the memory of the report of the ten spies had dimmed, Canaan must have seemed like Heaven on earth to them.
But when they were standing on the east bank of the Jordan River they were contemplating all-out war rather than a wonderful dream of milk and honey. The milk and honey, the green pastures and quiet waters, were there but had to be taken by bloody warfare. The Lord did all the fighting when they came out of Egypt, but the Israelites had to fight, under the Lord’s direction, for their land of promise.
An unimaginably glorious future awaits the victorious Christian saints. But the events of that future may be far more realistic, more practical, more earthly, more human, and involve more effort and danger, than we have envisioned.
As for dying and going to Heaven, that too may be more wonderful, and more practical and “human,” than we are anticipating. We actually shall see the Lord Jesus and be reunited with our loved ones, not as wraiths or clouds but as solid, real, clearly recognizable people.
Perhaps if we have been faithful during our pilgrimage on the earth, the Lord will allow us to continue to serve Him in the spirit realm (whether in Heaven or on the earth) when we die. An active person ordinarily does not joyfully anticipate doing nothing unless he is exhausted and needs a rest.
All creation, Heaven and earth, is looking forward to the Day of the Lord. Our body, then animated by indestructible resurrection life, will be raised from the dead and clothed with a body like that of the Lord Jesus.
Meanwhile, the victorious saint can joyously anticipate his physical death. We shall lay down our cross, our pains, perplexities, and dreads, and enter the Paradise of God.
The Scriptures do not emphasize our dying and going to the spiritual Heaven because God has prepared a destiny for us far more glorious than Heaven itself. The grandest of all destinies is to participate in the entrance of the Kingdom of God into the earth.
The glory of the spiritual Heaven emanates from the Lord Jesus Christ. All that is of heavenly worth dwells in Him.
As soon as the Church has been brought to unity and maturity, the Divine Glory of Christ will be poured into the Church (John 17:22). The Church then will be, as Jesus is now—the incarnation of the Glory of God.
Then the Church, the Body of Christ, will bring the Divine Glory to the nations of the earth (Habakkuk 2:14). The saints, possessing immortal bodies of astonishing capabilities, will labor among the nations of saved peoples of the earth, bringing life and healing to them (Ezekiel 47:12). During this thousand-year period the entire Christian Church will be brought to the fullness of perfection and beauty in preparation for its eternal role as the Wife of the Lamb (Luke 13:32; Isaiah 54:11-13; Revelation 21:2).
When God is satisfied that all for which He created the present heaven and the earth has been accomplished, He will do away with them and create a new heaven and a new earth.
The Wife of the Lamb, the Body of Christ, the perfected saints, possessing the fullness of the Glory of God and the Lamb, will descend from the new heaven to be established for eternity on the new earth.
The closing chapters of the Scriptures portray the end result of the Christian redemption. The Church, the Jerusalem of God, now is perfect. All the glory and beauty of Heaven is in it. But unlike the present spiritual Heaven, the new Jerusalem is glorified flesh and bone. It no longer is merely spiritual, it is an eternal blend of the spiritual and the material. The Divine glory has become incarnate in Christ—Head and Body. It is Emmanuel—God with us.
The nations of saved peoples of the earth, being free from Satan and from the Divine curse that always attends the presence and working of Satan, are able to enjoy the goodness of God on the new earth. They will be ruled forever by the Lord in Christ in the saints.
The revelation of God in Christ in the saints among the nations of the earth is a greater expression of Divine Glory than our going to the spiritual Heaven when we die. Dying and going to the spiritual Heaven is glorious, but the resurrection from the dead exceeds that glory. This is why the Scriptures emphasize the coming to earth of the Kingdom of God rather than our life in Heaven prior to the Day of the Lord.
There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. (Joshua 1:5)
Being under the new covenant we can translate this: “There shall not any wicked spirit be able to stand before you all the days of your life.”
When we are living and warring in the Spirit we need have no fear of the forces of Hell. Jesus has given us the authority to tread on all the power of the enemy.
Behold, I give unto you power [authority] to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. (Luke 10:19)
The first sign to follow the believers in Christ is the casting out of devils.
And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; (Mark 16:17)
The kingdoms described in the Old Testament are types and shadows of the true Kingdom of God. Whereas the enemy of Israel was the tribes of Canaan, the true enemy of the Kingdom of God is Satan. We are not to be fighting against flesh and blood. Our enemy is the devil. The Lord God has given His soldiers authority over all the power of the devil.
The Christian Church is wasting its time when it is struggling against unrighteous people. Our enemy is Satan. When Satan is overthrown, God’s will shall be done in earth as it is in Heaven.
God’s authority and power have brought the Christian Church to the present hour. God has been with us in what has gone before. God will be with us in all the battles of the future.
God will not fail us. He speaks many promises to us, some of which are not fulfilled for long periods of time. But in the appointed hour the Divine Word will bring forth what was spoken. God never is late. His way is perfect. It will take place exactly as He has spoken.
God never will forsake us. In times of blessing the Presence of the Lord is close to us. Sometimes during seasons of testing it appears God has left us. The heavens are silent, but God always is close to those who are trusting in Him, giving support, wisdom, and deliverance in the hour of trouble (Psalms 46:1; 91:15).
God does not sleep, neither is He careless concerning the circumstances and tribulations of His children. God is vigilant when danger threatens His saints and He has the power to deliver us out of the hand of every enemy (John 10:28,29; Romans 8:38,39).
We can, with Jesus’ help, prevail over all the forces of the enemy, and we will do it.
… upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18)
And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly… (Romans 16:20)
Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. (Joshua 1:6)
(“The Rest of God”, 3125-1)