ATTAINING TO THE FULLNESS

ATTAINING TO THE FULLNESS 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.

There is salvation through the blood atonement. Then there is the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Finally there is the fullness, the rest of God. Now it is God’s time for whoever will choose to do so to enter the fullness. Those who do not press into the rest of God may not be able to survive the days of moral horror that are coming upon us, and they will not be effective witnesses of God to the nations of the earth.

ATTAINING TO THE FULLNESS

Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. (Hebrews 4:1)

While I was in Bible School, in 1948, the Lord began to speak to me about "Christ in you," and about trusting God to do His own work.

A few years later, after Audrey and I were married, the concept of God doing His own work, or, as I have since come to understand the scriptural terminology, the rest of God, became an important issue in my life.

From the time I had received Christ, in 1945, I had been given the impression that souls were descending into Hell by the millions, and only through our efforts would any of them be saved. God was waiting for us to do something while multitudes were slipping into an eternity of torment.

I think I am a conscientious person, and you undoubtedly are also. I could not live with the thought that the responsibility of people going to Hell was on my shoulders when there was so little I could do about it except to worry. At that time I had no grace other than the ability to work and support myself and Audrey. She also worked to help out.

We thought seriously of going to Japan as missionaries. Why Japan? Probably because I had been stationed there while I was in the Marine Corps. We obtained some brochures from steamship lines that offered a cheaper fare than was true of passenger ships.

But there was no Divine impetus or guidance and so we just kept on working. Yet I knew while I was in the Marine Corps the Lord had called me to preach the Gospel.

So I came to a decision. I was not going to worry any more about crawling through rice paddies and burning out for Jesus. I noticed that those who were preaching we should "go out into the highways and byways and compel them to come in" were not doing this themselves.

I told myself "enough of this!" I am not going to do one more thing in the way of Gospel work until the Lord made it clear to me what I was supposed to do.

This is the way I have lived ever since. Sometimes I have been criticized for not doing more to "get people saved."

This decision was made over fifty years ago and I have stuck to it to the present hour.

After working several years in public education I now am pastoring a church. Some who have been with us for many years as members of the congregation are beginning to launch out into their own ministry. I have written over 500 pamphlets and books. We send out audio and video tapes. We mail thousands of books and booklets to third-world countries. We sell books and booklets to raise the money to send books free of charge to prisons and to those who are in full-time ministry. We send out a daily essay by E-mail to over 800 subscribers. We send out monthly a pamphlet on some subject of the Kingdom of God. We are getting over 14,000 visits a month on our WOR site on the Internet. Everything I have written is on this site and can be downloaded and copied out free of charge. Two churches have been born in addition to our own.

All of this has come about as I have looked to the Lord each day for His will and have refused to "step out in faith" in order to accomplish what I supposed was God’s will. Congratulations or even thanks are not in order, because whatever has been a blessing to God’s people has come from the Lord and not from my own wisdom or talents.

We used to say, "Only one life, it will soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last." This is not right. It should be, "Only what’s done by Christ will last."

All I am going to say in this brief essay is that if we are going to survive and be of use to God during the chaotic days to come we must cease from our own works and look to the Lord intently every moment of every day and night. We must be in touch with the living Christ. We must receive our guidance from Him.

There are at least six sources of inspiration and guidance by which we make the decisions of each day:

Satan, the fallen angels, and the demons.

Antichrist, the spirit of the world, money, education.

Our self-will and personal ambition.

The lusts and passions of our flesh and soul.

Our feeling about what ought to be, and our fears.

The Holy Spirit of God.

To enter the fullness, the rest, of God is to bring all of our decisions, great and small, to the Lord Jesus Christ. No decision is too small, no decision is too great—each and every one is to be brought to the Lord for His wisdom and will in the matter.

I like to tell our church that if you ask the Lord to help you tie your shoes in the morning you soon will get in the habit of asking Him for wisdom and help in all you do. This is the rest, the fullness of God.

We can be saved through the blood of the cross and still not be walking carefully each day in the light of God’s will.

We can be baptized with the Spirit, speak in tongues, prophesy, work miracles, and still not be walking carefully each day in the light of God’s will.

We can be working in the ministry as a pastor, evangelist, missionary, or teacher, and still not be walking carefully each day in the light of God’s will.

What, then, do we have to do in order to enter the rest, the fullness of God?

We have to cease from ordering our own life. We have to stop receiving inspiration and guidance from any source other than the Spirit of God.

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; For anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:9-11)

Notice the statement "rests from his own work, just as God did from his."

God created everything in six days. The creation includes everything from the birth of the earth, sky, and outer space through to the new sky, the new earth, and the new Jerusalem.

During the six days of creation your name was mentioned and a specific place and role in the Kingdom of God, the new Jerusalem, was designated as your possession.

After doing all this, God rested. God was not tired, He merely ceased working and the history of the world began, coming into being one day at a time according to His original Word.

Obviously you and I have one primary choice in life. We can set out to create our own heaven and earth, or we can cease from our own wisdom and efforts and seek to grasp that for which we have been grasped. We can continue in our own works, or we can cease from our own works and press into the rest of God.

There are several pressures that strive continually to prevent our entering that for which we were destined from the foundation of the world. We mentioned these previously:

Satan, the fallen angels, and the demons.

Antichrist, the spirit of the world, money, education, group pressure.

Our self-will and personal ambition, whether in a secular or religious setting.

The lusts and passions of our flesh and soul.

Our feeling about what ought to be, and our fears—particularly economic fears.

The Holy Spirit of God.

Five of the above six are enemies that follow us all day and through the night. They are attempting to take our crown of authority and life. They are enemies in our land of promise. They do not want us to just fear God and keep His commandments, they demand attention and service. They are hostile toward and upset with the idea of our ceasing from our own wisdom and efforts and seeking to press into the rest of God.

The Book of Hebrews was written to seasoned Jewish Christians. You would think the writer would comfort them and assure them they were prepared for the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth. But the Book of Hebrews is one long severe warning to these believers.

Just look at the degree of spiritual progress they already had achieved:

Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. (Hebrews 6:1,2)

The above were "elementary teachings," so you can understand from this the level of their spiritual maturity.

They were familiar with repentance, with the need to turn away from sin.

They were familiar with the need for faith toward God, as opposed to adherence to the Law of Moses.

They were familiar with baptism in water and baptism with the Holy Spirit.

They were familiar with laying on of hands, including the impartation of gifts and ministries accompanied by personal prophecy, and the healing of the sick.

They were familiar with the doctrine concerning the resurrection of the dead, including the relationship between our behavior now and what we will face in the Day of Resurrection.

Their familiarity with the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead puts them ahead of us. We of today are so ignorant of the nature of the resurrection that some are teaching the resurrection and being caught up (the so-called "rapture") are the same experience. One could attend numerous Christian churches and never hear one sermon on attaining to the resurrection to eternal life.

The teaching concerning eternal judgment, that Christians can pass before the Judgment Seat now, confessing and turning from their sins, is hardly known to us in the present hour. Yet the Apostle Peter informed us the Lord is ready to judge the living and the dead.

In addition:

It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, (Hebrews 6:4,5)

These Jewish believers had shared in the Holy Spirit.

They had tasted the goodness of the Word of God and the powers of the Kingdom Age that is on the horizon.

In addition:

Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. (Hebrews 10:32-34)

Unlike most of us at this time, they had suffered for the name of Christ.

We see, then, that the believers to whom the Epistle of Hebrews was directed were more knowledgeable than ourselves in doctrine, and had suffered persecution and the loss of their property.

Wouldn’t you expect the writer to applaud their steadfastness? Instead, the Book of Hebrews is a strong exhortation to believers concerning their lack of diligence, threatening them with cursing and fiery judgment.

But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned. (Hebrews 6:8)

If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, But only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. (Hebrews 10:26,27)

Whatever these born-again Jews were lacking, the same must be true of us: for they had experienced all of the aspects of salvation known to us and more besides—in addition to having been persecuted.

Thus it is remarkable that the writer reminds them they will not escape punishment if they neglect their salvation—neglect meaning they were not pressing forward to the fullness of God.

He compares them to Jews who died in the wilderness because the Jews had stopped short of the land of promise.

Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? (Hebrews 3:16-18)

Now the writer of the Book of Hebrews presents his thesis:

Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. (Hebrews 4:1)

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:9-11)

We who have been saved and baptized with the Spirit of God are admonished to make every effort to enter the rest, the fullness of God.

What can we say about the rest of God? What are its characteristics?

Basic salvation is typified by water to the ankles.

The baptism with the Spirit is represented by water to the knees.

Death to our own strength is portrayed as water to the thighs.

But the fullness of God, the rest of God, is shown to be water to swim in, a river that cannot be crossed over.

The fullness of God is the place of abiding and rest in the center of God’s Person and will.

The fullness that God has for us lives in stern obedience to the Father. Obedience is its chief component.

Righteousness and holiness are included in the fullness, and must be pursued continually.

Faith also is a component; so are trust and hope.

Divine love is high in importance among the elements of the fullness of God.

Courage is an important component of the fullness of the rest of God.

Peace, and joy are components of the fullness.

Patience and perseverance are included in the fullness to which we are seeking to attain.

Faithfulness is included in the fullness of God’s rest.

The knowledge of the Character of God, His will, His ways, and His eternal purpose in Christ have their place in the fullness toward which we are pressing.

The opposite of the rest of God is Antichrist. The mark of Antichrist is our willingness to be guided and inspired by self-will in our actions and thinking.

Babylon the Great is self-will in religious denominations and institutions.

Antichrist is self-will in the civil realm, in government and politics.

The False Prophet is self-will in the spiritual realm, the area of religious utterance and of the working of miracles.

Laodicea is self-will on the part of God’s elect, His lampstand, His church.

It may be noted that many of the leaders of institutional, denominational Christianity, of the local churches, and of our civil governments, are motivated by their desire for self-aggrandizement, as was Diotrophes. They will murder Christ and His messengers wherever they appear. This is because self-motivated people have doors in their personality that are open to Satan, who is the personification of self-will.

When we see self-will coming to maturity in the denominational structures, among those who have been gifted with ministry in the local churches, and in civil government, from that time forward those who die in the Lord, that is, who set aside their own life that Christ’s will might be done, will be blessed and fruitful—even throughout the heavy spiritual darkness of the closing days of the Church Age.

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. Then I heard a voice from heaven say, "Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Yes," says the Spirit, "they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them." (Revelation 14:11-13)

Notice the expression "from now on," that is, from the time Antichrist, the False Prophet, and Babylon come to maturity and are ripe for Divine judgment—from that time forward it will be possible to survive and bear fruit only as we lay down our life, take up our cross, and follow Christ with a pure heart.

If we are wise we will enter Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection today, in preparation for the catastrophic events which are at hand.

The Lord Jesus Christ Himself is the Personification of the rest of God, of the Fullness of God. Christ is the Word of God, the eternal moral Law of God, the Rest of God, made flesh. He is our Example. As He is, so are we in this world.

Jesus said to them, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working." (John 5:17)

Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these." (John 5:19,20)

Don’t you believe I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. (John 14:10)

The above three passages describe the rest of God perfectly. It is the way we are to live.

If any man who has walked the earth was able to do something by his own wisdom and strength, it was Jesus of Nazareth. However, Jesus refused to live His own life. He did only what He saw the Father do. We are to do only what we see Jesus do.

Not all of us are able to see the Lord clearly, or even to hear His voice. But if we will commit our way to Christ, acknowledging Him in all we do, He has promised to direct our path.

It is my opinion that as the spiritual darkness increases in the time to come, we will be able to see the Lord more clearly until at the hour of His appearing it will be an increase of what we already have been experiencing rather than a dramatic change.

It may be true that every passage of the Book of Hebrews must be interpreted in light of the central thesis, which is that the Christian disciple must never cease pressing into the rest of God, into that place in Christ where he no longer is thinking his own thoughts, speaking his own words, or performing his own works. Rather he or she is flowing with the flowings of the Godhead. The believer has become one in Christ in God, and God in Christ are in him. It is one Entity, one Being, the incarnation of God.

This is the supreme attainment of the program of redemption.

It is termed "God’s rest" because God is able to find rest in us, in that we have turned away from our self-will. We have chosen to die that we might live and bear fruit. The believer who is willing to obey God to the point of death to his own life makes possible all sorts of benefits in the Kingdom of God.

Our adamic nature, including our physical brain, degenerates with age. But if we sow our death-doomed nature to the eternal Life of Christ, we will march forward with full consciousness into the spirit realm when we die physically.

As we stated previously, every passage of the Book of Hebrews must be interpreted in light of the central thesis concerning pressing into God’s rest.

There is one passage that has an interesting message in this respect:

See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, "Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens." The words "once more" indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our "God is a consuming fire." (Hebrews 12:25-29)

Notice the expression, "Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens," the idea being that what can be shaken will be removed.

First, let us think about the spirit Heaven, the residence of the Father, Christ, and the holy angels.

Will the spirit Heaven be shaken? I think so, for this is where sin began.

Every person who has repented, been baptized in water, and been born again is, according to the Scripture, abiding in Christ at the right hand of the Father in Heaven.

For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3)

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, (Ephesians 2:6)

The question is: if a person has once been raised up with Christ and seated with Him at the right hand of the Father, can that individual ever be shaken from his or her position?

The answer, according to the Book of Hebrews, is yes. We must maintain our position at the right hand of God by pressing into the rest of God. To answer no is to claim once we have been truly saved we never can be removed from God’s Presence. The text of the Book of Hebrews, as well as several statements by the Apostle Paul, prevents this answer.

When the Lord spoke of escaping the things that are going to come to pass He did not mean leaving the earth and flying to Heaven, as is taught commonly. The Lord meant not being pulled down from our place in Christ by the abundance of sin in the last days.

Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man." (Luke 21:34-36)

When we think about it, there have been outstanding ministers of the past several years who undoubtedly were saved and positioned at the right hand of God in Christ. But the lusts of the flesh proved to be too strong for them and they were "thrown to the earth" (perhaps by the tail of the dragon!).

His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. (Revelation 15:4)

It is interesting to note how many outstanding events are related. It is at the time that Christ is to be formed in the Church to a much greater extent than previously has been true—at this very time Satan attempts to devour (swallow up) Christ before He is caught up to God, some of the stars are flung to the earth, and there is war in Heaven. I think these events are beginning in our day. What a momentous era in which to live!

If any self-will or rebellion remains in us, we surely will be thrown down from our high place at the right hand of God in Christ.

Perhaps we might be troubled at the idea of being thrown down once we have attained to residence in Christ in God. Our troubling thoughts might arise from our picturing God as being far away beyond outer space.

The truth is, when we say we are hidden in Christ at the right hand of God we are stating merely that right here and now—not in some far distant place—we are abiding in Christ in God. When we think of it this way we can see that it is not unusual for people to start off in Christ in God, and then be pulled away because of bodily lusts, personal ambition, fear, or some other seductive force. In fact, you might have seen something like this take place since you have been a Christian.

Distance does not impose, in the realm of spirits, the constraints to which we are accustomed. Right now, where we are, our inward born-again nature is in Christ at the right hand of God, if we are a true Christian. We have to fight the good fight of faith every day in order to maintain our position in Christ. Isn’t that so?

We see from Daniel it is because of rebellion that Antichrist is able to tear down some of the heavenly host and trample on them.

Because of rebellion, the host of the saints and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground. (Daniel 8:12)

The Scripture warns us clearly to be careful that no one take our crown of rulership and glory in Christ.

We are secure in Christ in God as long as we are not neglecting our salvation but are pressing into perfect rest in the very center of God’s Person and will, being sternly obedient to the Father in every aspect of our life.

Let us think again about the passage from Hebrews and how it is related to the thesis, that is, the idea of pressing into the rest, the fullness of God.

See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, "Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens." The words "once more" indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our "God is a consuming fire." (Hebrews 12:25-29)

The removal of created things is implied by the term "once more." "Once more" suggests this is the last shaking, and all that can be shaken shall be removed.

The earth and the heavens that are to be shaken may be the present earth, sky, and outer space—the shaking of created things.

Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, (Exodus 19:18)

"This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory," says the LORD Almighty. (Haggai 2:6,7)

Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. (II Peter 3:11-13)

Now, how is the removal of all created things, the destruction of the earth and the physical heavens, related to our thesis, which is that of entering the fullness of God?

It is as I said previously. Our original adamic personality, our body and brain, are decomposing as we grow older. If we do not press into the fullness of God, into the place where our every thought, word, and action is the product of the eternal Life of Jesus Christ, the hour will come when our heart ceases to beat and our body quickly becomes decaying protoplasm. There is nothing left of us—even though we have accepted Christ and been baptized with the Holy Spirit.

But if we press into Christ every day, attaining to the resurrection as the Apostle Paul would express it, a new creation is coming into existence. That new creation in the present hour is located at the right hand of God in Heaven. When the Lord Jesus appears, our new life will appear with Him, because He has become our life.

Now we can see the logical connection to God's rest of the concluding verses of the twelfth chapter of the Book of Hebrews. When the Lord God shakes the earth and the heavens, only the part of us that has been wrought in Christ will survive in the Presence of God. The part of us that has not been wrought in Christ will be removed from the Presence of God when the shaking comes. It is as simple and straightforward as this.

The reason for the serious warnings in the Book of Hebrews, the exhortations to cease our sinning and to press into the rest of God, become apparent.

"Our God is a consuming fire" is referring to the God of the Christian people. If we neglect to lay hold on our salvation, as the Apostle Paul did, we will not bear the fruit for which God is looking. In this case we are near to cursing and burning, according to the Book of Hebrews.

So whether we regard "heavens" as including the spirit Heaven makes no difference. In either case, we are courting destruction if, after having received the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior, we neglect to press forward every day, striving to grasp that for which we have been grasped since the beginning of the world.

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. (I Corinthians 3:11-15)

We have come to Christ for salvation. Now we are building on that foundation. If our works are wrought in Christ, they will endure the shaking. If they have not been wrought in Christ but have been inspired and guided by some of the forces we mentioned previously, they will be burned away by Divine judgment. We will be saved, but only as all we have accomplished has been removed from us. We will enter the Kingdom age as a naked spirit, having no inheritance.

Abraham was looking for a city that has foundations. How he knew about the new Jerusalem, I do not know. I do know Abraham is in Heaven with God, being one of the witnesses who surround us.

That city will come to earth one day. But it will not be of the adamic creation, nor will the new earth and sky be of the adamic creation.

If we are not moving past the Pentecostal experience to the fullness of God’s rest, then we will not be equipped and prepared to enter the Kingdom of God, for it is not of the adamic creation.

Let us therefore lay aside every weight of sin and self-will that so easily distracts us from the single-minded pursuit of Christ.

The penalties are severe if we fail to do this.

The rewards to be issued to the victorious saint are beyond our comprehension in the present hour.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1,2)

For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. (Hebrews 13:14)