PRESSING PAST PENTECOST: FOURTEEN
PRESSING PAST PENTECOST: FOURTEENCopyright Š 2013 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
("Pressing Past Pentecost: Fourteen" is taken from The Feasts of the Lord, copyright Š 2011 Trumpet Ministries, found in the Kindle Library)
The Church, the Body of Christ, has been designated by the Lord as the instrument He will use to judge angelic and human sin (I Corinthians 6:1-3). Whenever two or more Christians assemble and pray concerning sin, the authority of Divine judgment is present. The Spirit of Christ will discern the origin of the action in question and forgive and remove all evil associated with it.
The blood of Jesus is the basis for the legality of all Divine forgiveness and cleansing, the written Word of God is the Law, and the Spirit of God is the Power who executes the sentence whether to life or to death.
There is, in the spirit realm, weighty significance attached to the judgments and decisions of Spirit-filled saints as to the righteousness or sinfulness of a motive or deed. Whatever Christians, who are walking in the Spirit, bind on the earth is bound in the heavens. Whatever Christians loose on the earth is loosed in the heavens. Sins are forgiven, and sins are retained, according to the prayers of Spirit-filled saints.
Christian elders, when they are acting in the Holy Spirit, possess the authority to remit and to retain sins (John 20:22,23).
Put such a word "on the shelf." Ask the Lord Jesus to prove it. Do not accept or reject it. If it is the Lord, sooner or later other people will testify that you are a prophet because they know you are godly and are speaking from the mouth of the Lord. You are not required to make any claims for yourself. "The proof of the pudding is in the eating" is a folk saying applies in this case. Your godly life and your prophetic word will speak for themselves.
Do not attempt to gloss over the sinfulness of your act or to justify yourself or your words. You have sinned, and there is no way to make the deed acceptable to God.
The fact that the other person "deserved" your spite is beside the point. Not for one minute will God accept our judging of another individual. We think, speak, and act in a holy manner because we are God's children, not because other people treat us fairly.
When you confess your vengeful words and motives to Jesus He may or may not require that you ask the other person's forgiveness. The requirements for release vary with the individual circumstance. We always must be led by the Spirit of God when we are judging the sins in our life (Romans 8:13).
Sometimes it is better to say nothing than to confess to people that we have hated them. On other occasions, asking a person's forgiveness and making an effort to obtain peace and reconciliation is the surest road to happiness and blessing for all individuals concerned.
If neither side can forgive the other it is impossible for the unforgiving persons to have their sins forgiven. They have cut themselves off from the benefits of Calvary. They are walking in darkness.
Their load of oppression and bondage will increase as the cancer of hatred eats into their spirit, soul, and body. The end result will be death and Hell. The same kind of venom that we give out returns to us in increased measure. "If ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses" (Mark 11:26).
The Spirit of God leads us in such a manner that specific sins are brought to our attention one or two at a time, similar to the manner in which the Spirit of God led Joshua against the cities of Canaan.
Confess the that you are aware of now and obtain victory over them through God's grace. Then the Holy Spirit will direct you to another "city," so to speak. Your sins must be forgiven and cleansed through Spirit-led confession and repentance.
We are not teaching that repentance and confession is the only manner in which we are released from our bondages, or that we are to make a ritual of confessing our sins each day, or that the Holy Spirit will reveal a new sin each day.
The point being emphasized is that spiritual cleansing is a continuing process in the life of the overcomer, and when sin in one's life has been revealed it is to be dealt with promptly and specifically. The process requires a period of time to accomplish.
Having dwelled on the need for our cleansing, it may be necessary to remind us that the Christian walk is a way of joy and confidence. Romans 8:1 is a good reference to keep in mind: "There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them which are in Christ, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."
Depression and gloom are not gifts from the Father. He commands us to "rejoice in the Lord alway" (Philippians 4:4). We may have one or two "Gethsemane" experiences along the way, but these are rare. Ordinarily, the Christian discipleship is one of proceeding with strength and confidence into the battle against the works of the enemy in our life.
If the believer is in a "valley" experience, do not let the preceding paragraph bring guilt or discouragement. There are prolonged seasons of weary, sometimes boring, seemingly endless, confusing, painful, plodding along. These are expected normal aspects of the Christian discipleship.
The saint always is to look up to Jesus, no matter how strenuous the particular battle and burden may be, and know there will come an end. We are more than conquerors through Christ. Our expectation and hope will not be cut off. We will dwell in joy and peace one day.
"This day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry, for the joy of the Lord is your strength" (Nehemiah 8:10).
The image of God is a holy, compassionate moral character. Holy strength of character has not been the image of the Christians, in many instances. As we begin to confess our sins, and as we behold the Glory of God in the face of Christ, a strong, holy, compassionate character in the likeness of the strong, holy, compassionate character of the Father and Christ is formed in us.
The saints are destined to be in the image of Christ in spirit, in soul, and in body. God never will cease working until the molding has been accomplished.
Perhaps it is significant too that of the doctrines mentioned in Hebrews 6:1,2, the last-mentioned doctrine, the one we leave to "go on to perfection," is the doctrine of eternal judgment.
We believe the "perfection" of Hebrews 6:1 is the "rest" discussed in Chapters Three and Four of Hebrews. The doctrine of eternal judgment corresponds to the Day of Atonement, and "perfection," or the "rest" of God, corresponds to the feast of Tabernacles that follows the Day of Atonement.
This would make perfection the seventh doctrine, and Tabernacles is the seventh feast. Students of the Scriptures believe the number seven denotes perfect redemption, in the numerical symbolism of the Scriptures. Also, it was on the seventh day that God "rested" from His work.
We are not implying that some people also may not finally arrive at the place in the everlasting fire. It appears some certainly will. But only those who cooperate with Satan and refuse to accept the forgiveness and lordship of Christ.
Nevertheless, God's judgment is directed toward evil spirits and it is they, not people, for whom the Lake of Fire has been prepared.
There is a profound spiritual significance associated with confession and atonement. Every act of rebellion, of sin, of confession, of repentance, and every application of the blood of Jesus, echoes between Heaven and earth. It appears the unfolding plan of God directly affects Heaven as well as earth. Whatever makes an impact on one world sends reverberations throughout the other (Matthew 16:19; John 20:23; Luke 10:18,19; Ephesians 3:10; Hebrews 9:23,24; I Peter 1:12; Revelation 12:5-12).
Remember that the Most Holy Place, as well as the remainder of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, was cleansed during the Day of Atonement. Since the Ark of the Covenant portrays, among other things, the heart of the victorious saint, one could state the cleansing of the Most Holy Place symbolizes the cleansing of the heart of the Christianthe heart of the Christian being, in a very real sense, a mercy seat from which God reigns.
It appears the Tabernacle in Heaven was cleansed through the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus:
It was therefore necessary the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: (Hebrews 9:23,24)
Moses saw the design of the Tabernacle of the Congregation when God called him up into the mountain (Hebrews 8:5). Perhaps Moses also beheld what is true in Heaven now, and what will be fulfilled in the Christian Church, the Body of Christ, the eternal Tabernacle of God.
All the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Christ. His Body, which is the Church, is the completeness of His Being. Christ is the Temple of God. His Church is the fullness of Him. John saw no temple in the new Jerusalem (Revelation 21:22) because the Bride of the Lamb is the true Tabernacle of God, the new Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2,3,9,10).
There is no temple in the new Jerusalem because the members of the Wife of the Lamb see God face to face. There is nothing between them and God, no temple to conceal His Glory.
Whatever else had to be cleansed in Heaven by the blood of Christ, one fact is certain: ChristHead and Bodyis the eternal dwelling place of God Almighty. Therefore the Body of Christ, being created from sinful human beings, must be cleansed from its innermost parts to its outermost parts.
The blood of Christ must be sprinkled upon and before the Mercy Seat, meaning that the blood of Christ must be brought into the innermost depths of the heart of the Christian believer, and also sprinkled on his actions. Otherwise he cannot be part of the Body of Christ, the Temple of God.
Adam was not the father of liars nor was Cain the first murderer. Jesus informed the Jews:
Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. (John 8:44)
If we would recognize that it is the ancient rulers of darkness rather than mankind who are the authors of sin in the world and in the churches, we might take a more compassionate attitude toward people and also act more effectively when dealing with sin.
This is not to excuse people from the responsibility for their actions because every person is obliged to accept Christ and to resist the devil. It is to localize and focus on the root of the problem so we may be able to attack the source rather than the symptoms.
Our purpose also is to explain that God's wrath is against rebellious spirits and that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, as Paul points out, but against the lords of darkness in the realm of spiritual personalities.
The Scriptures do not portray the details of the rebellion in Heaven. Ezekiel, Chapter 28 and Revelation, Chapter 12 are two passages that mention the dreadful revolution in Heaven.
Notice in Revelation, Chapter 12 that the removal of the dragon from Heaven is associated with his being overcome by the "brothers." Satan's power is being destroyed both in the heavenlies and also in the personalities of the Christians. It appears the doing of God's will in the earth is related to victories gained in the spirit realm. We cannot bring people into the liberty of the glory of the children of God until the strong man, Satan, has been bound.
The blood of the Lamb and the Spirit-directed testimony of the saints are a powerful force in Heaven and on the earth. We believe Heaven listens intently as the saint passes judgment on his own actions, measuring them against the written Word of God and declaring them to be righteous or sinful, as the evidence may testify.
If the saint judges an action to be sinful, then he can depend on the atonement made by the blood of Jesus to forgive and to remove that sin. He can go free, and the Holy Spirit can judge the prince of the world (John 16:11).
It is interesting to note the thinking of the Jews concerning their "Days of Awe." This is the term used by them to describe the serious nature of the ten days from Rosh Hashanah (modern equivalent of the Blowing of TrumpetsYom T'ruoh ) to Yom Kippor (the Day of Atonement).
The Jewish belief, which dates back to the second century, is that God judges the world on Rosh Hashanah, and the fates of all men have been decided by the time of Yom Kippor. These two observances are the days of judgment.
But the Divine atonement, or reconciliation, goes beyond the restoring of friendship. The atonement has not been fully wrought until perfect union with God has been accomplished. The Divine redemption removes the individual from Satan and Satan's works, changes his image to that of God's image, and brings him into perfect, complete union with God through Christ so the works of God are performed through him.
When we are considering reconciliation to God there are three areas of concern, three issues that must be dealt with thoroughly if we are to enter the rest of God.
Our choice of environment.
Our knowledge of the Lord.
Of the three aspects, it is gaining the knowledge of the Lord, including faith, trust, and hope in the faithfulness of God's Word, the conversion of our will to perfect rest in God's will, humility, total dependence on the Lord, and joyous obedience to the Lord, that is the unique purpose of life on earth.
Our personality can be transformed in the spirit realm or on earth, apparently, as we obey the Lord's commandments. But God uses the dark scenes and problems of earth to teach us how to please God and walk with Him.
We are not speaking of the guilt associated with our choice of environment, with our personality, or with our lack of walking with God; for the guilt was taken care of on the cross of Calvary. We already have been reconciled perfectly to God as far as guilt is concerned, provided we continue to abide in Christ.
It is that which is satanic and self-willed in the three aspects that must be completely converted until the Father through Christ is All in all.
Our choice of environment has to do with our willingness to have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness and our rejection of the holy, peaceful Presence of God and His angels. We are not referring to our rejection of the ways of the local churches, for they often are social clubs and abound in the works of the flesh. The Christian churches sometimes repulse people who have the potential for becoming servants of God.
As we pray to the Lord He gives wisdom and grace so we may be able to come out from the devilish frenzy of the world and lead a holy, meek, quiet life, separated to God. We prepare ourselves for life in the spirit Paradise and in the Kingdom of God.
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. (II Corinthians 6:17)
Notice that God does not receive us until we take the step of coming out from the uncleanness of the world. The true saint is not at home in the world. He prays, meditates in the Scriptures, and has fellowship with diligent disciples.
Numerous would-be Christians of our day cannot bring themselves to turn away from worldly companions and practices. They are not reconciled to God in this dimension of their personality. It would be cruel of the Lord to bring them to the spirit Paradise for they would be uncomfortable with the kinds of creatures they would find there.
We reveal whether we are candidates for salvation or for Hell by the choices we make concerning our environment. It is folly to speak of being "saved by grace," with the idea of being accepted in the spirit Paradise when we die, while we still love the way of sinners.
Many today receive Jesus only because they desire to escape torment when they die, not because they love the Lord or His environment. Salvation is not meant to be a ticket by which we escape torment, it is a conversion of our choice of environment, our personality, and our knowledge of the Lord.
Watching the television may be the greatest stumbling block in the area of choice of environment. Television watching can be a curse, a bondage. The true saints of the Lord do not sit in front of the television and gaze at the antics of the demons of covetousness, lust, murder, drunkenness, and sorcery.
The true saint does not fear the torment of Hell as much as he does the environment of Hell. No individual who dwells in joy in the Paradise of God would watch television if it were brought to him. He would recognize immediately that Hell had been brought into Paradise and he would flee from the ugliness, the demonic frenzy, of the sights and sounds.
If we love what we see on the television we do not love God or the environment of God. We still are filled with Hell. We have not been reconciled to God. We are not in the rest of God in this aspect. We still love what God despises. An atonement, a reconciliation, has not occurred in our choice of environment.
If you are bound by television watching, ask God for the strength to turn away from this source of demonic bondage.
We can escape worldliness as we pray to God for help, make the effort to turn off the television, and turn away from worldly friends. If God sees that we truly desire His environment He will take us to the spirit Paradise when we die. Also, He will assist us with our earthly environment, although much of it will remain unchanged because His purposes are being accomplished in the midst of the darkness and oppression.
Our personality also is in need of reconciliation to God. The indwelling sin of which Paul speaks is the satanic nature that dwells in the members of our body.
Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. (Romans 7:17)
Indwelling sin must be removed by the power of the Holy Spirit. If we obey the Word of the Lord, praying without ceasing, meditating in the Scriptures day and night, doing what we feel God would have us do, assembling with fervent saints on a regular basis (if we can find any fervent saints to assemble with), giving, ministering with the gifts God has given us, repenting of our sins and confessing them, then the Lord from time to time will remove part of the garment of sin, part of our fallen nature, and replace it with a robe of righteousness.
And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment. (Zechariah 3:4)
"I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee"!
As the indwelling sin is removed, part by part, the pure Nature and Substance of Christ can be formed in us. We keep on being born again, in this sense. Step by step the Divine Nature replaces the fallen adamic nature.
Replacing with the Divine Nature is symbolized as follows:
And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre [turban] upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord stood by. (Zechariah 3:5)
The "fair mitre" speaks of the renewing of our mind in the Lord, and the "garments" are the robe of righteous conduct placed on our personality.
... be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. (Revelation 2:10)
He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; . . . . (Revelation 3:5)
Deliverance from indwelling sin is our reward for serving the Lord faithfully. The crown of life and robe of righteousness are the rewards that will be given to the overcomer.
O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? (Romans 7:24)
Only the Lord Jesus by His authority and power is able to deliver us from indwelling sin. We always are to resist sin with the strength God gives us, but the change of raiment must come from the hand of the Lord.
One of the greatest misunderstandings in Christianity has to do with the very nature of redemption. The believers are under the impression they are supposed to go through life trying to be like the Lord Jesus even though they know they will keep on failing to meet His standard.
Since we are unable to keep the Lord's commandments, it is reasoned, the purpose of God's grace is to bring people to a godly environment on the basis of forgiveness. As soon as they arrive in the godly environment, Heaven, the spirit Paradise, they will be able to keep God's commandments.
But God is able to do more than this. Through Christ we can obtain a change in personality even though we still are living in the valley of the shadow of deaththe present world.
We must understand God does not expect our adamic nature to meet the standard set by the Lord Jesus. God has assigned our adamic nature to the cross of Calvary, to extinction. God is giving us a new nature, the Nature of Christ, that meets God's standards because it is Divine and not human.
If we would qualify for the removal of the sins of our fallen nature we must pray, read the Scriptures, assemble with fervent saints, obey the Lord, give of our material substance, minister with the gifts we have, and do all else the Scripture commands. We are to do this in our fallen, adamic nature. We are to keep on serving God to the best of our ability even though God as yet has not redeemed us totally from the chains of lust and self-seeking.
To actually meet God's standards of righteous, holy, and obedient conduct is not possible to our adamic nature but we are to keep on serving God with the strength we do possess. We can refuse to sin. We can and we must strive diligently and consistently against the desires of our flesh, soul, and fleshly mind.
If we pray consistently, meditate in the Scriptures, do what God has said to the best of our ability, then God will, from time to time, remove from us some of the aspects of our fallen nature and replace them with the Divine Nature of Christ. The redemption of our personality consists of removing sin and rebellion and replacing it with Christ's Personality.
However, such transformation will take place only as we obey God diligently. It will not take place if we are not faithful with all the opportunities, knowledge, gifts, and spiritual strength with which the Lord has entrusted us.
Our adamic nature can never be reconciled to God. Only Christ in us is accepted of God. If we wish to possess our souls, then we must faithfully do what God has instructed us. Only as we obey the Lord in our present difficulties will He come and give us a change of raiment.
Righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God come to us from Heaven as we faithfully keep the Word of the Lord.
We can be delivered from indwelling sin as the Lord hands us a change of garment. If we are faithful with the righteousness the Lord gave us upon receiving Christ, striving to obey the words of the Apostles, the Lord will keep removing our worldliness, our indwelling sin, and our self-will. He will give us a new heart.
Finally, when He comes, He will review our faithfulness. If we have sought continually to do His will, making full use of the Kingdom life and ability He has given us, He will complete the work of removing the flaws in our personality. He will crown the work of redemption by clothing our resurrected frame with a body of life, a body that seeks continually to walk in righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God.
To the person who loves God and seeks Him will be given righteousness, holiness, and an obedient heart. To the person who rejects God and His ways will be given delusion, uncleanness of heart and hands, and a spirit of rebellion.
And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: (II Thessalonians 2:11)
The Divine justice of God requires that those who refuse to accept the Divine transformation be brought into the spirit realm in their untransformed condition. The holy will be holy and the filthy will be filthy.
He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. (Revelation 22:11)
While we are on the earth we can hide our motives, and also our deeds to some extent. But in the spirit realm our motives as well as our deeds shall be open for all to see.
If we are a liar the lying nature will be clearly visible. If we are scheming to gain advantage over others, our motives and deceits will be apparent to everyone, including ourselves.
People are seeking to use the name of Jesus to escape the torment of the flames of Hell. But even more to be feared is to enter the spirit realm dressed in our laziness, our lust, our backbiting, our sorcery.
Perhaps the contempt of other people and of the angels of God, is more to be feared than the torments of Hell.
Notice carefully the following:
And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2)
What would it be like to come forth from the grave and be regarded with shame and everlasting contempt?
God is giving us every chance to repent and experience the Divine change of raiment. If we do, our reward will be great in the Kingdom. If we do not, we will experience shame and reproach. The expression "everlasting contempt" implies we never again will have an opportunity to be redeemed from our corrupt personality.
God has placed us on the earth in order that we might gain the knowledge of the Lord. As we stated previously, the knowledge of the Lord includes faith, trust, and hope in the faithfulness of God's Word, the conversion of our will to perfect rest in God's will, humility, total dependence on the Lord, and joyous obedience to the Lord. The unique goal of life on earth is to acquire the knowledge of the Lord.
Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness are blessed already for they will be filled. Those who hate God and His ways will be given their desirean eternity without God or His saints. Let the holy be holy and the filthy be filthythis is God's edict.
The wise person will put seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness above every other interest and pursuit in life.
A change in environment can be accomplished by a sovereign act of God, as we are brought from the darkness of earth to the light of Glory.
The transformation of our personality also is accomplished by a sovereign act of God, as the garment of sin and rebellion is removed from us and the Life and Nature of Christ are given to us.
However, as we understand it, it is the third area of reconciliation, the knowledge of the Lord, which is the unique purpose of life on the earth. We are placed on the earth so we might understand man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.
Apparently, the knowledge of the Lord, in particular humble dependence on God and stern obedience to God, cannot be learned in the spirit realm to the extent they can in our sin-cursed world.
We know the Lord Jesus was perfect in character. Satan could find no flaw in Him.
Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. (John 14:30)
The Lord Jesus was the Passover Lamb. As such, there could be no blemish in him.
Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: (Exodus 12:5)
Pilate testified to this fact:
Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man. (Luke 23:4)
Yet, the Scripture states that Christ was made perfect through sufferings.
For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. (Hebrews 2:10)
In what aspects was the Lord Jesus made perfect through sufferings?
First of all, He became better able to help us when we are tempted.
For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted. (Hebrews 2:18)
Second, He learned perfect obedience to the Father. Christ learned obedience by the things He suffered while serving God in human flesh on the earth.
Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; (Hebrews 5:8)
Let us consider this. The perfect Lamb of God, Christ, The Word of God from eternity, became better able to help those who are tempted, and He also learned obedience to the Father.
We know the Old Testament Prophets spoke first to Christ and then to the members of His Body. From the statements of the Prophets we believe Christ gained in the knowledge of God, including faith, trust, and hope in the faithfulness of God's Word, the conversion of His will to perfect rest in God's will, humility, total dependence on the Lord, and joyous obedience to the Father.
Christ, the Lord of Glory, was perfect in His Character. But, like all the sons of God, of whom He is the older Brother, He learned to trust God.
Some of the Psalms give insight into the agony of Jesus as He experienced the buffetings we also endure, especially as He hung on the cross.
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? (Psalms 22:1)
What is being put to the test here? What area of personality is being perfected so Christ could be the Captain of our salvation?
Faith, trust, and hope in the faithfulness of God's Word. God had said, "For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption" (Psalms 16:10).
The faithfulness of God's Word was all that stood between the Lord Jesus and everlasting torment at the hands of Satan. This was a terrible trialfar beyond our ability to comprehend.
O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. (Psalms 22:2)
Hear the sufferings of Christ! We are to share His sufferings, for through them we are made perfect in the knowledge of God.
When we cry to God day after day, night after night, and our prayers are not answered, we learn to hope in God, to trust in God, to rest in God.
But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. (Psalms 22:3)
The Lord Jesus learned, as we also learn, to glorify God even when in an agony of doubt and dread. How could such knowledge be gained in the Paradise of God? How could the everlasting Word, the eternal Logos, have had an opportunity to experience the majesty of praising God when all hope is gone, while He still was the Light of the ivory palaces of Glory?
Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded. (Psalms 22:4,5)
The patriarchs have provided us with an example of suffering and patience, and faith in God. Christ and His Body have gained the Kingdom by witnessing the travail of the patriarchs just as the patriarchs gained the Kingdom by receiving the atonement, and the Glory of the crucified and resurrected Lord Jesus; and also as they gain the Kingdom by witnessing the proof of God's faithfulness in us.
But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. (Psalms 22:6)
Jesus grew in humility by His life on earth. We too, the members of His Body, must be humbled. Through the Lord Jesus, the Captain of our salvation, our proud nature is brought down to the dust of the ground. We finally come to realize, like Job of long ago, that we are worms.
The Lord Jesus was brought lower than any man; therefore God has highly exalted Him and has given Him a name above every other name. If we are willing to learn humility we too will be exalted according to the will of God.
All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him. (Psalms 22:7,8)
Part of the suffering of Christ is rejection by people, even by our brothers and sisters in the Lord. As we share the suffering of rejection we learn to find our hope and joy in doing the will of the Father.
Trust in the Lord is learned as we are confronted with danger and dread. The Lord learned to trust God and we learn to trust God. When we call on the Lord in the midst of terror, the confidence and courage in God that He gained during His dark hour is given to us. Then we know no power in the heavens or on the earth can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ.
But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother's breasts. (Psalms 22:9)
The Lord Jesus hoped in God from the time of His birth. Some of us may learn to hope in God late in our lifetime. But hope in God saves us. As long as we are alive on the earth we know God loves us and is providing an opportunity for us to grow in the knowledge of the holy One.
I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. (Psalms 22:14-16)
We shall never experience the agony that the Lord suffered. We are not strong enough for such tormenting oppression. But if we have been called to rule with Christ we will share His suffering according to our measure. It is only as we suffer with Christ that we can rule with Him, because it is through our suffering on the earth that we gain the necessary knowledge of the Lord.
The majestic Christ, the Commander in Chief of the sons of God, went before us. He endured pain we never could bear. But each of us must share Christ's suffering. As we do, we learn the trustworthiness of God's Word as He also did. We learn obedience to the Father as He also did. We learn humility to God as He also did.
We are able to learn these lessons because His Life is in us. The Gold of His Divine Nature is given to us. Then it is hammered into shape, like the Lampstand of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, by the pressures that only life on earth can put on us.
Were it possible to learn faith, trust, and hope in the faithfulness of God's Word, the absolute conversion of our will from self-will to rest in God's will, humility, total dependence on the Lord, and joyous obedience to the Lord, while dwelling in the spirit realm, there would have been no area of personality in which the Lord could have been made perfect. But only in the valley of the shadow of death that the world is could He, and we, gain these aspects of the knowledge of the Father.
The pressures and problems of life are designed to teach the sons of God to cease seeking their own will, to cease relying on their on wisdom, understanding, knowledge, talents, and strength, and to commit their way to the Lord. The things that come upon us press us until we turn to God, until we learn to lean on the Lord in every matter, great and small.
And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live. (Deuteronomy 8:2,3)
It appears to be assumed in numerous Christian churches that there is no spiritual counterpart of the wilderness wandering of the Israelites. The idea seems to be that we sprinkle the blood of Jesus on our personality while we are in Egypt, in the world, and immediately we are ready for Heaven, for the land of promise (as we understand the land of promise).
However, such is not at all the case. If we are to learn of God, if we have been called to rule in His Kingdom, we must experience the school of the wilderness. It is in the wilderness of life that we learn the knowledge of the holy One of Israel.
When we come home to be with the Lord, and forever after, we are to remember the lessons we learned while enduring the battles and anguish of life on earth in a sinful body. We have been taught these lessons because one day we will be in a place of great responsibility.
Satan was created a perfect being in the hand of Christ. But Satan fell through pride. Christ is calling us to the highest throne in God's creation. Therefore He is making sure we will be humble of heart and keep all of God's commandments.
The Lord God has led us through the problems and pains of life in order to humble us. We must come to realize we are worms in God's sight. Until we do, we cannot be trusted with the powers of the age to come.
The Lord God has led us through anguish and tests of all kinds to see what is in our heart, whether or not we will keep His commandments.
Doesn't God know what is in our heart? Yes, He does. But it is our actions that God judges. We are judged according to what we do in our body.
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)
"According to that he hath done."
Many of us might prefer that God would judge us according to our intentions, but this is not what takes place. Our actions prove what is in us. God and we learn what is in our personality when we are in the fire of pain, dread, and perplexity.
The current overemphasis on imputed righteousness has caused a withdrawal from reality of many churches. They no longer are lamps of righteousness. The light of the testimony has been extinguished by sin and self-seeking.
Only the good works of the saints can serve as the light of the world.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)
Since God judges our heart by our reactions to the pressures and pains of life on earth, it is of great importance that we do not overemphasize imputed righteousness (righteousness ascribed through faith apart from our behavior). There is a place in the plan of redemption for imputed righteousness.
But if imputed righteousness is carried to the point that we do not learn to serve the Lord in the problems of life, preferring instead to act as any unsaved individual, not growing in faith, trust, and hope in the faithfulness of God's Word, the conversion of our will to perfect rest in God's will, humility, total dependence on the Lord, and joyous obedience to the Lord, then we have missed the whole purpose of our life on earth.
The testimony of Jesus is something God and men can see.
God humbles us and causes us to hunger and thirst after things or relationships or circumstances. He may deny our most intense desires for a season, giving only what is necessary for the moment. This too is part of the curriculum. God may keep us doing that in which we take no joy. These two arms of the cross, the delay in granting our desires and requiring us to continue in unpleasant circumstances, shape our attitude toward God until it is acceptable to the Father.
Neither we nor our fathers have experienced previously the "manna" with which God nourishes us and keeps us moving forward. God is God and He always is doing a new thing.
We eventually come to understand no person can truly live only by the things of a material environment. We are to live by every Word that comes from God's mouth. We are to be humbly dependent on God every moment of every day from now through eternity.
We can learn humble dependence on the Lord only in the valley of tears, of bitterness, through which we are passing.
It is important that we seek a holy environment. If we do, God finally will bring us to the spirit Paradise to be with the Lord, the saints, and the holy angels.
It is important that we keep the Word of the Lord, persevering until He grants us a change of raiment. If we are faithful in the work of sanctification now, then at His coming He will complete our transformation and we will be in His image and in complete union with Him.
Environment and transformation will be perfected in the spirit realm for those who have pleased the Lord by their conduct in the earth, who have shown themselves to be worthy of the Kingdom of God.
Our life on earth especially is for the purpose of giving us the knowledge of the Lord. It is here, by means of the problems and pressures of the world, that our proud strength is broken and we learn to depend totally on the Lord for every aspect of existence.
Our environment, our personality, and our knowledge of the Lord must be perfected before the Day of Atonement has accomplished its intended work and we have been reconciled fully to God.
The earth-wide deliverance that now is at hand is portrayed in the Jewish celebration of the Year of Jubilee.
Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubile to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land. And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family. (Leviticus 25:9,10)
"In the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land." The jubilee of release results from the judgment of the Day of Atonement.
The Blowing of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement mark the beginning of the new agricultural year (as well as the end of the old). The feast of Passover begins the religious year.
The Jews have two overlapping years, just as the United States has a calendar year and fiscal year that overlap. The Jews today seem to regard the new year that occurs at the time of the blowing of trumpets (Rosh Hashanah ) as being the New Year, just as the United States regards the calendar year that commences on January 1 as the New Year. July 1, the beginning of the fiscal year, is not as widely celebrated.
So it is with us Christians. We have a "year" that begins with "Passover" (our first approach to Christ) and a "year" that begins with the Blowing of Trumpets (the time when Christ the King comes to us to judge our sins). These both occur as part of the one redemption that we have in Christ.
We commence a new way of life at our "Passover" when by faith we sprinkle the blood of Jesus on our life and flee from "Egypt" (the world, the spirit of the present wicked age). We receive Christ and are baptized in water. Our "Passover" experience begins our life and walk with God.
It is not that we have come to a new Christ or a new cross or a new Holy Spirit. A Christian never should "remove the old landmarks" no matter how advanced in God he thinks he may have become.
Passover is supposed to be repeated annually. Today, thirty-five hundred years after the exodus from Egypt, the Passover is observed by the faithful of Israel. God's method of teaching is to have us do a thing again and again and again until it becomes part of our personality.
The Communion service is our equivalent of the Jewish Passover. At the Lord's Table we bring to mind the death of our Lord on the cross and our union with Him in His death and resurrection. The repetition of the Communion service implants the death of Christ on the cross in our personality and also imbues us with the concept that we continually must eat the flesh of Christ and drink His blood.
By talking about a "New Year" with Christ we are not suggesting that we are to forget or forsake our experience in Christ up to this time.
The original Passover occurred on the last day the Jews spent in Egyptian bondage. The first week of Unleavened Bread was observed during the first seven days of the Exodus (the Israelites left at midnight of the fifteenth of Abib, which is the high Sabbath, the first day of the week of Unleavened Bread). The remaining feasts took place at a later time because the celebration of them depended on the existence of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, the Levitical priesthood, and farmsnone of which the Israelites had at the time they departed from Egypt.
The land of Egypt is symbolic of the spirit of the age in which we live, and Pharaoh typifies Satan. We observe Christ, our Passover, on the last day of our bondage to Satan and his kingdom of darkness. Then we "come out of Egypt" under the mighty hand of God. Therefore, Passover begins the "first month of the year" to us (Exodus 12:2).
The year that begins with Passover contains the seven feasts, the last of which (Tabernacles) takes place in the middle of the seventh month. The year commencing with Passover is the year of redemption, of salvation. It is the period, symbolically speaking, during which the Lord God brings the believer all the way from the bondage of Satan and personal corruption to a wholly transformed creature in Christ, having been re-created in spirit, soul, and bodya perfect redemption.
There is another year, the year of kings, contracts, and birthdays. This year begins on the seventh month of the year that commences with Passover.
This new year does not go from Passover to Passover but from the Blowing of Trumpets to the Blowing of Trumpets. It follows the cycle of agriculture. It is oriented toward life on the earth rather than religious observances.
Whereas the year that begins with Passover symbolizes the redemptive revealing of God in Christ, the agricultural year, the year that commences with the Blowing of Trumpets, with Rosh Hashanah, portrays the setting up of the Kingdom of God on the earth.
So it is that we Christians begin a new year, so to speak, when we come to the Blowing of Trumpets. This new year begins with the culminating feasts of the work of redemption (Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles). Instead of being a year wholly devoted to the redemptive acts of God toward men its emphasis is the installation of the Kingdom of God in the earththe year of "doing business" through and with Christ.
As we start our "observance of Trumpets" we can begin actually to conquer our environment through Christ. We can begin to become a new creation in our daily living. We can begin to enter the rest of God. It is the start of our conquest of the land of promise and our rulership with Christ that extends into eternity.
We believe in the complete transformation of our spirit, soul, and body into the image of Christ. We believe in the fullness of the indwelling of the Father and the Son in us through the Holy Spirit. We believe it is God's will to pour out on the saints the fullness of the anointing of the Holy Spirit so we can bear witness of the atoning death and triumphant resurrection of Christ to every man, woman, boy, and girl on the face of the earth.
In time past we have been bound by the world, sin, and self-will. God has proclaimed the Year of Jubilee. The Year of Jubilee occurs every fiftieth year, the number fifty speaking of Pentecost, of the outpouring of God's Spirit on us.
The trumpet of the Jubilee sounds on the tenth day of the seventh month, on the Day of Atonement. The coming of the King to judge and cleanse us, in the spiritual fulfillment of the Day of Atonement, proclaims a jubilee of release to us. We are set free by the judging and casting out of the sin that is in us.
Because of the work of judgment of the Day of Atonement we now can look steadfastly toward God until total transformation, total indwelling, and total anointing are in our possession and operate in our daily lives.
Our progress toward absolute victory, toward absolute redemption, toward union with God through Christ, toward the doing of God's will on the earth as it is in Heaven, is as the light that shines more and more to the perfect day. Our service to Christ will continue throughout the ages of ages, world without end.
Passover is the beginning and Tabernacles is the ending of the plan of redemption. All redemption takes place through Christ and is Christ. Such is the "year" of redemption. Redemption is the bringing of us all the way from union with Satan to total, restful union with God through Christ.
The Blowing of Trumpets, the feast that begins the year that corresponds to the cycle of agriculture, portrays the beginning of our role as the servant of the Lord. Throughout eternity we shall be kings and priests of God through Christ. Only Christ will have dominion over us.
One of the major purposes of the working of God in us is to bring us to the place where only Christ has dominion over us. Many idols must be torn from our heart before we are ruled by Christ alone.