IN THE FIRE WITH THE LORD
IN THE FIRE WITH THE LORD Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
All of life on earth is a prison. Often the Lord permits Satan to put us into an even more confining prison. If we do not learn to behave, men may put us in a literal prison.
When it is God who is directing that we be put in prison, and we are not suffering because of our own wickedness, it is that we may be delivered from those behaviors that bring Divine judgment and torment on us. If we remain faithful during our imprisonment we will be issued the crown of life.
IN THE FIRE WITH THE LORD
Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. (Revelation 2:10—NIV)
"I will give you the crown of life"!
To be given the crown of life means we now have the authority and power to rule, under Christ, all things, circumstances, and relationships of the creation as they impact on us.
God the Father rules over all. Under God is the Lord Jesus Christ. Under the Lord Jesus Christ is His Church. Under the Church are all the works of God's hands. This is the hierarchy of the government of the universe.
So then, no more boasting about men! All things are yours, Whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, And you are of Christ, and Christ is of God. (I Corinthians 3:21-23—NIV)
For he "has put everything under his feet." Now when it says that "everything" has been put under him, it is clear this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so God may be all in all. (I Corinthians 15:27,28—NIV)
It is God's will that His Church govern, under Christ, all the works of His hands. God created the Church in response to the rebellion of the angels. Whereas the angels at one time were highly exalted in positions of authority and power, now they are ministering spirits. Their role is to serve God's sons. God has assigned all government to His sons. They are the rulers and judges of mankind and the angels. They are the royal priesthood.
But beginning with the firstborn Son, the sons of God must be brought very low. They must be imprisoned. Their most fervent desires must be deferred. They must be compelled to do that which is distasteful—sometimes for many years.
The Israelites, God's holy nation, had to be brought very low before they could be entrusted with the land of promise.
Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. (Deuteronomy 8:2,3—NIV)
The Apostles were arguing about who would be the greatest among them. The Lord Jesus warned Peter that Satan was going to test him, to sift his personality to see what was in there. Jesus did not offer to save Peter from the testing, nor did the Lord save Job when Satan desired to test him. But Jesus prayed for Peter that his faith would not fail.
"Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers." (Luke 22:31,32—NIV)
Then there was Joseph. The marvelous thing about Joseph was that though he was imprisoned he never became a prisoner in personality. The moment the Lord released him he was ready to govern Egypt.
And he sent a man before them—Joseph, sold as a slave. They bruised his feet with shackles, his neck was put in irons, Till what he foretold came to pass, till the word of the LORD proved him true. The king sent and released him, the ruler of peoples set him free. He made him master of his household, ruler over all he possessed, To instruct his princes as he pleased and teach his elders wisdom. (Psalms 105:17-22—NIV)
"Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life."
As we have stated, God is the Head of Christ who is the Head of the Church which is the heir of God's creation.
However, each one of us Christians has many relationships, things, and circumstances that stand between us and Christ. They govern us. They are our god and idols. They are chains that keep us in torment.
We do not know what they are. So God permits Satan, as He did in the case of Job, to put us in the fire of suffering, in some form of prison. We are shut up and cannot come forth. All of the older saints understand exactly what I am talking about.
As soon as we are imprisoned, the gods that stand between Christ and us begin to act up. We then have a choice. We can pray for deliverance and remain faithful to God, or we can force an escape from our painful, frustrating circumstances. When we do this we may break God's laws and we may obtain our own happiness at the expense of the happiness of someone who trusts us or is dependent on us. This the Lord will not accept and will send torment on us.
We hear Christians plead, "God wants me to be happy." Tell that to the Coptic Christians in Egypt or the Christians in Sudan, or China, or Peru who are being tortured and killed for their faith. God did not put us in this world to be happy but to be tested and to learn to trust Him. Our happiness will come later if we are faithful. But if we are not faithful to what we know to be God's will in the present life we will receive torment in the next. And grace and mercy will not save us from this no matter what the preachers of today are claiming.
The Christian man or woman who leaves his or her partner to live with another in order to be "happy" will soon realize he or she went from the frying pan into the fire.
The purpose of the fiery trial the saints endure is to free us from the gods that would rule us, to remove all of the forces and things that stand between us and the headship of Christ and put them beneath our feet. At times this is a very painful process. We love and worship our gods and want to serve them. To have them wrenched away from their position in our personality and crucified tears at our soul. But we can receive nothing from God of eternal worth until first it has been crucified with Christ and then resurrected with Him.
While we are in prison all sorts of things come forth from our personality—spirits we did not realize were present in us. If through Christ we confess those that are sinful, denouncing, renouncing, and resisting them with all diligence, drawing near to God at all times, we will overcome them. If we remain faithful to the point of death we will emerge as king over our circumstances. We will govern all things by the power of eternal life.
There is another promise to the believer who overcomes throughout his fiery trial. It is that he or she cannot be harmed by the second death.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death. (Revelation 2:11—NIV)
The second death is eternal separation from God. It is the Lake of Fire, the final prison.
The Lake of Fire has been given authority by the Father over certain types of behavior. The Lake of Fire retains this authority, even when we become a Christian. To have a personality that cannot be hurt by the second death, by the torment that follows Divine judgment, is a very desirable achievement.
The purpose of putting us in prison is that we might be delivered from those behaviors that result in the torment of the second death.
Let's take a look the kinds of personality that God will not permit in His Kingdom. They are found in the twenty-first chapter of the Book of Revelation.
The sexually immoral.
Those who practice magic arts.
When we are in prison God deals with us concerning cowardice, fearfulness, timidity. These will keep us from entering our land of promise.
Resolute courage is required if we are to enter the Kingdom of God. Fear and faith cannot dwell in the same heart at the same time.
Often the fear of physical death is the basis for our fearfulness. God will deliver us from the fear of physical death if we ask Him.
When we are in prison God deals with us concerning our unbelief. While we are living comfortably in a secure position we may think we have faith in God. But when we are severely tested we may lose our faith in God, or become angry with God or people. We are unable to believe God is still with us. It is the imprisonment that reveals our fundamental unbelief. The Lake that burns with fire and sulfur has authority over the unbelieving personality.
When we are in prison God deals with us concerning any vile practices found in us. Sometimes believers are willing to harm another believer in order to secure an advantage for themselves. This is vile behavior. On one occasion I heard an older man continually insult and deride a female relative, possibly his wife or sister. She took all this meekly, probably having experienced it for many years. This is vile behavior.
It has happened locally that thieves have broken into a warehouse filled with toys for needy children and have stolen them. This is vile behavior. Sexually molesting or abusing a child is vile behavior. Aborting a child for no good medical reason is vile behavior. Forcing our will on everyone around us is vile behavior. Taking credit for someone else's accomplishment is vile behavior. Starting a rumor about a person is vile behavior. Those who would separate friends are an abomination to the Lord.
Dishonesty, treachery, and lack of integrity, such as we see in the American government today, are vile and never shall be admitted into the Kingdom of God. Many ministers are saying we ought to forgive the wickedness in our leaders (even though there is no real repentance) and that all the treacherous are "saved by grace." These ministers are misguided and are leading our nation to destruction. Such behaviors are destined for the Lake of Fire. They can be hurt by the second death.
When we are in prison God deals with all forms of murder that are in us. These forms can range from actually killing someone physically to gossip and slander. Gossip and slander are so common in the Christian churches that it appears pastors and teachers have given up trying to remove such actions. But gossip and slander absolutely ruin the testimony of a Christian assembly.
Gossiping and slandering are direct works of Satan. As such they are to be confessed as abominable sins, denounced, renounced, and driven from the Christian personality. All types of gossip, slander, spite, revenge, bitterness, hatred, backbiting, come under the category of murder. He who hates his brother or sister is a murderer and has no eternal life in him.
All such hate and divisiveness belong in the Lake of Fire. The second death retains authority over them and can torment the individual who practices them whether or not he or she is a Christian.
When we are in the prison of testing God deals with sexual immorality. The United States of America is the world headquarters for sexual immorality. Hollywood is responsible for much of this as its giant sewer pipes pour forth moral filth from its cavernous cesspools of perversion and infidelity.
Divine judgment is not slow to respond to this thrusting aside of God's laws. Multitudes of Americans are afflicted with one or more kinds of venereal disease.
Much of the world views America as a Christian nation and an immoral nation. Think of the kind of testimony "Christian" America is giving to the world! It is no wonder the Muslims rage as they do about the "great Satan."
This is not to excuse the spirit of murder in the Muslims, but it does point out that America is sick and may already, as David Wilkerson has pointed out, have lost its place as the leader of the world.
God will never, never, never permit a nation to continue in the lusts of the flesh in the manner that is true of America at the present time. Every form of sickness, disability, and weakness will enter our country. Many of the politicians are becoming fatuous, vacuous, foolish children who are amazed at their own silly behavior. We see this also in some of the leaders of England—that nation that once stood for righteousness and strength.
America will not be able to defend herself against the warlords of more disciplined nations that are biding their time, waiting to conspire against the United States. Sexual immorality has destroyed the backbone of America and our country will be unable to resist the onslaughts of the future.
I am writing this toward the close of 1998. We shall see whether or not what has been written is the truth.
Marriage is honorable in all and the bed undefiled. But whoever engages in sexual activity in an unlawful manner can be hurt by the second death.
When we are in prison God deals with us concerning the practice of magic arts. I never thought I would live to see the day when Satan was worshiped in the United States. But I was wrong.
There have been many recent incidents of young people going on a rampage of murder. Sometimes the newspaper gives hints that Satan worship, the burning of incense, or a similar practice is associated with the murderers. You would think the public would wake up and realize the worship of Satan results in vicious criminal acts.
But I guess our worship of the god of free speech prevents our taking effective steps to prohibit the worship of Satan.
The idea of being a witch, or having spiritual power, appeals to people, sometimes to Christian people who want to control other people with their "words" or their dark, mysterious utterances.
There is a definite place in the Christian assembly for prophecy and words of wisdom and knowledge that come from the Spirit of the Lord. But these are to be administered in a down-home fashion, as plain and ordinary as your muddy work shoes. We are not to stir the pot, mutter incantations, or peep and mutter.
Speaking creative words, the word of faith, imaging, and so forth that have become fashionable are too close to the practice of magic arts to be comfortable. We do not bring the Lord's will to pass by imagining what we want or by making positive statements. We are to ask forthrightly in Jesus' name and look to the Lord for the answer. We are not to have faith in faith but in God!
At some point we may have expressed "faith" and a miracle occurred. Then we are put in prison and the miracles stop taking place. This is God's goodness to us so we do not get in the habit of trying to use spiritual principles in this manner and thus depart from a close fellowship with the Lord.
When we are in prison God deals with us concerning idolatry. As we said previously, God is over Christ who is over us. Any relationship, thing, or circumstance that has a hold on us is an idol. Only Christ, no one and nothing else, is to be our Lord, our Head. All else that we worship must be brought down and put beneath our feet. Much of the Christian experience consists of the Lord casting down our idols and putting them beneath our feet.
Physical lust is an American idol.
Romanticism is an American idol.
Trust in money to keep us safe and bring us happiness is an American idol.
Food is an American idol.
Professional sports are an American idol.
Education is an American idol.
Violence is an American idol.
Witchcraft is an American idol.
Entertainment is an American idol.
Material goods are an American idol.
Sometimes children are idols; on other occasions they are murdered.
All of these stand between us and Jesus. When we are put in fiery prisons these gods are burned out of us—that is, if we respond in our prison with prayer, faith, and steadfast faithfulness.
When we are in prison God deals with us concerning telling the truth.
God Himself is so pure, so forthright, so straightforward, always dwelling in the light of transparent truth.
Jesus Christ demonstrated the same straightforwardness while on the earth, never trying to "sell" the Gospel.
We humans have been "wounded in the heel." We do not stand upright. Our name is Mr. Con Man.
We are full of guile. There is nothing like one of God's prisons to burn the guile out of us so we stand upright and tell the truth.
The mark of God's firstfruits is that they are free from guile.
No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless. (Revelation 14:5—NIV)
The very essence of Satan is the lie. All Satan is, does, and says is a lie. There is no truth in him. He lies and is the father of lies.
Because of this, our whole world, which rests in the lap of Satan, is one monumental lie.
Satan is the wrong way, the lie, and the death.
Jesus Christ is the true way, the truth, and the life.
There is no way in which to make the world spirit acceptable to God. Whoever loves the ways of the world is the enemy of the Father.
Antichrist is the personification of the world spirit. This is why the Book of Revelation has so much to say about Satan. As the world spirit comes to maturity it will be exemplified in Antichrist. Whoever goes the way of Antichrist is heading toward fiery burnings in the Presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb.
A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: "If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, He, too, will drink of the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name." This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus. (Revelation 14:9-12—NIV)
The only people who will be able to escape the deceptions of Antichrist are those who obey God's commandments and remain faithful to the Lord Jesus. We Christians need to start obeying the commandments of Jesus Christ and His Apostles. If we do not our nation will be visited with catastrophes of every kind.
There will be increasing pressure on God's people to accept and conform to the ways of the world. We are looking for some dramatic "Antichrist" to come on the scene. This is not the danger. The danger is the slow, insidious seeping of the ways of the world into the Christian churches. I think this is especially true in America which is so rich in the things of the world.
But all of the "glorious" culture of America is part of the great lie of Satan. We are urged to present our body a living sacrifice that we not be conformed to the world but transformed by the renewing of our mind. Our mind is attacked daily by the proliferation of media, including the newspapers, television, and internet.
The American culture is a lie that says if we indulge in sexual lust and perversions we will find fulfillment and joy. The end of these excesses is the destruction of our personality and torment.
It is a lie that says if we pursue our romantic dreams we will find our castle in the sky and joy. The end of these romantic visions is delusion and cruel disappointment.
It is a lie that says if we amass enough money we will be safe and find joy. Nothing of true value, such as health, protection from accidents, or the love and respect of our family and friends, can be purchased with money.
It is a lie that says if we eat all we want at every meal we will find comfort and joy. The end of overeating is all kinds of serious physical ailments.
It is a lie that says if we entertain ourselves with professional athletics we will be pleasing to God and find joy. The Bible tells us to redeem the time because the days are evil. Sitting and watching professional sports on television is not what the Bible means by redeeming the time. Many of our brothers and sisters in other countries are being tortured and killed for the Gospel. And we should be occupying ourselves with professional athletes who are little more than court jesters, a great noise of very limited significance?
It is a lie that says an extensive education will bring meaning and joy to our life? The only important matter in life is to know God and walk with Him. Education more often than not is a hindrance to walking humbly with God.
It is a lie that says if we learn and practice the ways of violence we will find safety and joy. Those who live by the sword shall die by the sword. The way of the Lord is one of meekness and peace, not forcing our will on others by means of violence. God is our protection, not physical strength or weapons.
It is a lie that says witchcraft will bring us hidden powers and joy. Witchcraft will bring us under obligation to Satan. Once we use Satan to get what we want we will then discover he demands payment for his services. And he will never let go of us once he has us! Fortunate indeed are those who, through the Lord Jesus Christ, have managed to escape Satan after they have become indebted to him by seeking his assistance.
It is a lie that says continual entertainment will bring us contentment and joy. I do not believe it has ever been true before in the history of man that people have been exposed to the amount of entertainment furnished today by television. Yet watching television does not bring true rest and joy; it only postpones the facing of our problems.
If entertainment would actually bring contentment and joy, several major cities of the United States would not be in a state of near anarchy as gangs and drug dealers take over streets and neighborhoods. Inside the homes the people stay glued to the television screen or Internet monitor, being protected from the monsters that roam the streets by the steel bars on their windows—monsters who want to steal their little boys and girls and make them sex slaves or offer them as sacrifices to Satan. This is America as we approach the next millennium.
It is a lie that says if we possess enough material good, houses, furnishings, lands, automobiles, yachts, we will find peace and joy. If we look about us we see that the rich are no more peaceful or joyous than the poor. The poor person who lives by trusting Jesus is infinitely more peaceful, infinitely more joyous, than the wealthy individual who is occupied continually with increasing the size of his horde of gold and terrified he will lose some or all of it.
All of our experience in life, knowing people and reading about people, reveals clearly that the wealthy are no happier than the poor. Yet this delusion persists—if we only had millions of dollars we would have joy. This is not true and objective observation proves it is not true. The only lasting joy there is is that which is found in knowing God through the Lord Jesus.
We of America really need to be especially careful that while we are in the world we are not deceived by the lie that the world is. There simply is nothing in the world we need or want, whether we are young or old. It is God who supplies our needs and our wants, although He may use people or things of the world to do this.
Are you living a life separated to God? If not you already are receiving the mark of Antichrist even though you profess to be saved by grace.
When God puts you in a fiery prison, don't try to save your life. God is burning the lie out of you.
A disclaimer is needed here. We always are to pray that God will give us the desire of our heart, even release from our fiery trial. We never are to just accept trouble believing it is the Lord's prison. Be careful of this. We are not masochists. We do not enjoy pain. We always seek God that we not suffer unnecessarily.
Remember this, because some have not sought healing believing God had afflicted them so they would not be lifted up in pride. They would have been healed had they prayed earnestly. Don't get fooled by this. Always pray that you may be delivered and have joy returned to you. Eventually it shall take place. A gloomy Christian is a defeated Christian. We can find joy wherever we are, although some of our trials are quite painful for a season.
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. (I Peter 5:10—NIV)
Cowardice, unbelief, vileness, murder, immorality, witchcraft, idolatry, and lying are removed from us and put beneath our feet as we wait faithfully in the prison where we have been placed.
When the Lord has you in a place of waiting, be careful that you don't bolt and set out to "do great things for God."
Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the word of his servant? Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God. But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from my hand: You will lie down in torment. (Isaiah 50:10,11—NIV)
God has given us a splendid example of what it means to walk in the fire with God. It is the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
These three heroes of faith were bound in their clothes and thrown into a superheated furnace. Nebuchadnezzar saw four men in the furnace because the three young men were in the fire with Jesus.
The remarkable thing is that the fire had no effect on the three saints other than to burn away whatever they were bound with.
And the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them. (Daniel 3:27—NIV)
When Nebuchadnezzar called to them the three walked out, no longer being bound. How marvelous to be in the fire with the Lord!
When you are going through a really severe testing you may believe you are not going to survive. All is lost! But when you emerge you will discover nothing really was destroyed except your bondages.
Does suffering remove our bondages?
Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. (I Peter 4:1,2—NIV)
Yes, suffering changes us so we do not desire to sin any longer. Suffering is a part of the program of redemption.
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. (Romans 5:3,4—NIV)
We enter the Kingdom of God through much tribulation.
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:11—NIV)
No person having sound mental health desires trouble or suffering. Yet it is only as we suffer that we rule with Him. Otherwise our idols and our self-serving pervert our judgment, preventing us from being bread for the spiritually needy.
Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. (Revelation 2:10—NIV)
God permits Satan to put some of us in prison in order to test us. We are not to be afraid of what we are to suffer.
We shall be persecuted for ten days.
One of the most difficult features of the Lord's prisons is that we do not know when our suffering will end. If we only knew we could scratch the days off on the granite wall of our cell. But for all we know the confinement will continue until we die.
If we are going to come through the Divinely appointed experience successfully we must place all of our hopes and dreams beyond physical death. We must lay up our treasures in Heaven because we have no idea how long our troubles will last.
If we set a time, saying, "After ten years I will take myself out of this prison," you can be sure we will be left there for ten years to see what we will do.
No, we accept the fact that we may be delivered only by physical death. Then we will last through the trial. Indeed, it may in fact be relieved only by physical death! Abraham may actually be required to sacrifice Isaac!
We do not know when our pain will end. But we can be positive of one thing. God is in absolute control, just as He was in the case of Job. Our trial will not continue one second longer than God finds necessary to remove the idols that stand between Christ and us.
We shall receive the crown of life if we remain faithful to God. Then we can live before Him, free from those forces that were keeping us in miserable bondage even though we did not realize our condition before we were released from our chains.
Another great blessing is that we have no more fear of the torment that comes from Divine judgment on sin and rebellion. The second death can no longer hurt us in any manner. The Lake of Fire retains no authority over any part of our personality. We can approach God in utmost confidence.
So, as in all things, we enter our land of promise by overcoming the challenges placed before us. Life on the earth is so short, and eternity is so long, let us serve God with complete diligence and obedience while we are here.
We have a long, long time during the next life to contemplate our present decisions and actions.