LAYING DOWN OUR CROWN
LAYING DOWN OUR CROWN 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.
Surrounding the Throne of God in Heaven there are twenty-four thrones. On them are seated Gods elders. Who they are we do not know. Whether or not the number twenty-four is symbolic or literal we do not know. But we do know that the elders portray by their actions that which should be true of every Christian.
LAYING DOWN OUR CROWN
Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, The twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: "You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being." (Revelation 4:9-11)
The twenty-four elders continually perform two services to God. They worship God, and they lay their crowns before the greatest of all Thrones.
This is how God wants us to live our life. He wants us always to be worshiping Him. Also, He wants us always to be laying down our crown before Him.
Of all the issues facing todays Christians, the most important may be that of laying down our crown at the feet of Jesus.
One can notice in the design of the Tabernacle of the Congregation that, unlike the five posts at the door of the Holy Place, the four posts holding up the veil that hung in front of the Most Holy Place had no gold overlay on their tops. We saints have been appointed members of the royal priesthood. As such we go forth crowned with righteousness and eternal life. But when we come before Jesus Christ we are to lay down our crown, submitting to His supreme authority.
And they made five posts with hooks for them. They overlaid the tops of the posts and their bands with gold and made their five bases of bronze. (Exodus 36:38)
The gold overlaying the top of the five posts at the door of the Tabernacle portray the authority and power, under Christ, of the saints.
And then the four posts that held up the Vail that divided the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place:
Hang it with gold hooks on four posts of acacia wood overlaid with gold and standing on four silver bases. (Exodus 26:32)
There is no gold overlay on the top of these four posts because the bondslaves of God cast down their crowns before the Lord. When they go out to serve as the kings and priests of Gods creation they wear their crowns of authority and power. Therefore, there is a gold overlay on the posts of the door of the Tabernacle. However, when they come into the Presence of the Almighty God they cast down their crowns at His feet in acknowledgment that He is the supreme Lord and Ruler of the universe.
We are to worship God and the Lamb. We also are to lay down our crowns in deference to Their supreme authority. This is another way of saying "Not my will but Yours be done."
The Christians of today, particularly but not exclusively of the Pentecostal-Charismatic persuasion, have been made aware of the gifts of the Spirit and of the power and glory the Lord Jesus desires to share with His younger brothers. This is desirable, and necessary as preparation for the enormous outpouring of the Holy Spirit prophesied for the closing days of the Church Age.
There is great danger, however, and possibly many of the saints have fallen into the trap of presumption. The danger is that of trying to use our endowments without hearing from Jesus. Having been given gifts and an awareness of the power of the Holy Spirit, the ministers of the Gospel are not certain what they should do with their talents.
Although there is little basis in the Scriptures for such an emphasis, the expressed goal of some of the denominations is that we are to take our gifts and sally forth to deliver a "lost and dying world." Certainly the world needs saving and healing, but all such efforts must be undertaken under the precise supervision of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Our tendency is to have a good idea, and then ask God to bless us as we attempt to build His Kingdom We forget that it is "not by power nor by My Spirit." We suppose we are obeying the Great Commission.
There are at least five significant errors in our approach:
The Lord stated He would build His own Church.
The Gospel of the Kingdom is to be a witness to the nations, not the means of giving them a better life in the present world.
The purpose of our going forth into the world is to make disciples.
The gifts and ministries given to us by the ascended Christ are for the purpose of bringing each saint to maturity as measured by the stature of the fullness of Christ.
The fifth error is central to our problem. We are not laying our crown before Christ. We are seeking to use Him and our gifts. We are not to do so. We are to obey Christ in every detail. Faith, as defined by the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews, is obedience to the revealed will of God. It also is obedience to the written Word of God, but only as the Holy Spirit makes the Bible passages alive to us. This is altogether different from trying to "go forth and do great things for God," as the current presumption proclaims.
Lets think for a moment about these five significant errors.
First, the Lord stated He would build His own Church.
And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. (Matthew 16:18)
"I will build my church."
Christian leaders from the beginning of the Church Age have endeavored to build Gods Church apart from listening to God. Whether they supposed God would not speak to them and guide them, or whether they assumed Christ meant His servants would build His Church, I do not know.
But the results have been a grand mess of politics and division.
A review of the Book of Acts will show us that the Holy Spirit was perfectly able to make His wishes known:
While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." (Acts 13:2)
There is a teaching today that is without scriptural foundation, as far as I know. It is that God did some things in the early churches He is unwilling to do today.
Some believe Divine healing is not for today.
Some believe speaking in tongues is not for today.
Some believe there are no apostles today.
Yet, there is not a shred of evidence in the Scripture that any of this is true. If it is, perhaps we then should say that being born again is not for today. We cannot just pick and choose what we want from the New Testament. Either the whole book is for today or it is not.
The Holy Spirit directed the Apostles all through the Book of Acts. I think the reason we of today are not being led in this manner is that we are too anxious to assert ourselves in religious work, or else we think God has withdrawn and left it up to us to do His work..
How many denominations would be unwilling to close down if the Spirit of God told them to? Such denominations are out of Gods will. They are being carried on by the mind and desires of people. They are seeking to hold onto that which belongs to the Lord.
How many ministers of the Gospel are willing to wait on Christ and find out what He is saying before they make any significant changes in what they are doing; before they launch out into some new endeavor to "take the city for Christ"? These are the ministers that know Christ and are following Him. The remainder are as blind leading the blind. We have a lot of this blindness today.
"I will build My Church." Are any of us willing to get out of the way and do only what Christ is telling us to do, even if we are being pressed to "come down from the cross and prove we are of God"?
I know the Lord has marvelous things He wants to do. I am not certain what they are or how they are to be accomplished. I know only that the work will not be done by the money and talents of human beings. It will be performed by the Spirit of God; and He will show us at each moment what we are to do.
Are we willing to lay our crown before the high Throne, or are we going to keep on trying to build the Kingdom of God in the manner we think best?
Are we going to take our gifts and rush forth to save a lost and dying world? Or are we going to cast our gifts before the Lord and wait until we are certain how He wishes to use them?
I personally have no faith in distinguished leaders, or seminars, or new programs, or wonderful new management techniques. I want to hear from God! How about you?
Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he? (Isaiah 2:22)
The second significant error is that the Gospel of the Kingdom is to be the means of giving people a better life in the present world, rather than to be a witness to all nations.
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)
What is the difference between "healing a lost and dying world" and being a witness to all nations?
What is the difference between being a doctor and being a witness?
A doctor sets out to heal you if he can. It is not the job of a witness to heal you. The task of a witness is to describe to you something he has seen and heard.
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touchedthis we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. (I John 1:1-3)
We are to tell the people of the nations what we have seen and heard with the Lord Jesus Christ; not what we think is true or someone else has told us. What we think is true or someone else has told us is inadmissible in court.
The Apostle Paul told the nations what he had seen and heard with Christ. The other Apostles wrote what they had seen and heard with Christ. They did not spend their time trying to heal the nations but to bear witness.
The Gospel is that the Kingdom of God is soon to enter the world. If we hope to be spared in the Day of Gods Wrath we are to turn away from our sins and be baptized in water, showing we have placed our faith in Jesus Christ.
Sometimes this may result in our being healed. Sometimes our repentance and baptism may result in imprisonment or even martyrdom, or hostility on the part of our family members.
We can bear a successful witness whether or not people are saved or healed. The witness is to be that of God, His will, His way, and His eternal purpose in Christ.
If we go to the nations with the intentions of healing them we will compromise the demands of the Gospel. We will not declare clearly that to be a Christian, a disciple of Christ, we have to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Christ. We will attempt to sell the Gospel to people by making salvation attractive, showing them how they will benefit if they "accept Christ."
The doctors role is to heal you. The role of the witness is to describe to you something he knows to be true. These are not the same at all; and our perception of our task will color how we preach and teach.
How many pastors of today are bearing a true witness of Christ?
How many are seeking to sell the Gospel, to please their listeners? Their reasoning is that if they can draw people into the building, then the minister can challenge them with the demands of Christ. The problem is, the time never comes for the challenge because of fear the people, who have been drawn in with soft preaching and an attractive program, will leave.
This is no way to present the Gospel of Christ, and these assemblies will not stand during the age of physical and moral horrors that is approaching.
To cast our crown before Christ is to do what He says without trying to please people. I do not mean by this to be harsh. Whoever would feed the Lords sheep must be gentle. But he must feed them the food the Lord gives in a simple, sincere manner, even though such teaching can be extremely demanding on the listeners. We must never attempt to "sell" the Gospel. Jesus never did this.
Third, the purpose of going forth into the world is to make disciples, not to get people saved or to build churches. There is a gulf between these two concepts.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, And teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:19,20)
What is a disciple? Is he or she someone who "accepts Christ" in todays terms? I dont think so.
What is a Christian? Is a Christian someone who subscribes to our "Statement of Faith," attends church regularly, and pays tithes? I dont think so.
If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sistersyes, even his own lifehe cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26,27)
Does the above sound like the typical American church member to you?
A disciple is someone who turns away from his own life and sets out to follow Christ each day. There is no other kind of Christian.
Our task is to make disciples of all nations.
Our task is to teach them to obey all that Christ has commanded us.
Do we do this? We do not! We tell them all they have to do is believe in Christ. They do not have to keep His commandments, or those of His Apostles, because they are saved by grace.
We go forth to get people saved and to build churches.
The Lord commissioned His Apostles to go forth and make disciples, teaching them to obey (not disobey) Christs commandments.
This commission was not enjoined on all believers, only to apostles. In fact, an apostle is one who is sent forth from Christ.
When we tell the congregation that each one of them is to "obey the Great Commission" we impose guilt on them. They do not have the grace to do this. Christ does not expect it of them. The New Testament makes no such demand on them. It is just our desire to add numbers to our ranks.
We ourselves are blind. Now we extend our blindness to our listeners. Few of us are certain what we are doing. This is the condition of the Christian churches of our time.
There are numerous church members in our day, but not many disciples. Yet only the disciples are genuine Christians, followers of Jesus Christ. The remainder are good people; but American church members are going to have a difficult time in the days ahead because they have not been prepared to stand in an age of moral horror. The disciples will stand because they will follow Jesus into complete victory.
We lay our crown before the Lord by denying ourselves, taking up our cross of tribulation, and following Him faithfully and patiently in ways of pleasure and ways of pain.
Fourth, the gifts and ministries given to us by the ascended Christ are for the purpose of bringing each saint to maturity as measured by the stature of the fullness of Christ.
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, To prepare Gods people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-13)
Teachers of the Bible have sought to interpret the above verses to mean everyone in the church is to be an evangelist. It is not the role of the ministries given by the Lord to make everyone an evangelist. The ministries and gifts given by the ascended Christ have as their purpose to bring each saint, each member of the Body of Christ, to the unity of the faith, to unity in the knowledge of the Son of God, and to maturity described as the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
How many of todays church members have attained the unity of the faith, the unity of the knowledge of the Son of God, and the whole measure of the fullness of Christ? Very few, probably. Why is this? It is because the numerous ministries and gifts assigned to the believers by the ascended Christ are not operating.
Why are they not operating? They are not operating because we are advising the congregations that they all are to be evangelists, and not expecting them to look to the Lord to discover what their actual gifts may be.
Because we do not lay our crown before the Throne, because we think we know how the Kingdom of God should be built. we place tremendous emphasis on making proselytes. This is what they are, in many instances. They have accepted our doctrine. But have they actually met Christ? Are we bringing people to Christ or to our denomination and its beliefs?
Success is measured by the number of people under the roof of the building. We know better than this. We know in our heart that large numbers of people is not necessarily the sign the Kingdom of God is being built. If this were true, we would have to agree that the Catholic Church is the most successful builder of the Kingdom of God, for its membership far exceeds that of other denominations.
The Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Gods people in many instances have no idea what is meant by the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, supposing this is speaking of assigned righteousness. They do not understand that the purpose of salvation is to create people who behave righteously.
Many of Gods people do not have peace. They do not have peace because they are living in their sinful nature without realizing it. They go from bondage to bondage without recognizing that their unrest is coming from the Holy Spirit as He attempts to lead them in the ways of the Lord.
Many of Gods people do not have joy. In America, the believers often do not understand the difference between joy and fun. They plan parties and other social events so they will have fun. Therefore they are up one day and down the next. Only the disciple of Jesus possesses the deep well of joy that is present during the worst of difficulties.
The fifth error is central to our problem It is that of seeking to use the Lord and the Holy Spirit to help us build what we believe to be the Kingdom of God.
Without doubt the most destructive force in America today is not that of aborting children, as terrible as that is. It is not that of sexual perversion, that destroyer of the human personality.
The most destructive force in America today is the self-will, presumption, and arrogance of the Christian people. Because we are not living in daily interaction with Jesus but are following our own paths, there is no witness of good works that the people of the world can see. Consequently they are destroying themselves.
The greatest physical threat to the American people in our day may be the adherents of the Muslim religion. The Muslims perceive rightly that we are consumed with the love of money and material things. We show little evidence of love for God. Since the Muslim is very conscious of his god at all times, he believes we all are of the devil.
It is true that their women are forced to cover themselves completely and are denied many benefits. But American women, even Christian women, often wear clothes that are revealing. There does not seem to be some clothing midway between the totally veiled woman and the provocatively clad female of the Western nations. In addition American women sometimes are loud and crass in their demands. The Muslim sees this and believes our god must be Satan.
We know the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ is the only true God. The Lord of the Old Testament is the only true God. Allah is not the true God, we understand that. We understand also that fervent Muslims are murdering innocent people while thinking they are serving Allah. When they die they will not go to Paradise. God will not acquit people of murder just because they have been deceived by incorrect religious teaching.
We Christians need to pray much and continually for all Muslim people, even those terrorists that yet may destroy a substantial part of our nation and its population. They are continuing in deception because we are not following Jesus as we should.
We may have been alerted to the danger of involvement in the Antichrist world spirit. We may have been alerted to the danger of giving in to the lusts of our body. But as far as I can detect, the Christian churches have not been alerted to the same extent to the danger of living according to our own ideas.
We mustwe absolutely mustlay our crown before the Throne of God and of the Lamb. We must at every moment of every day and night seek for the advice of the Lord Jesus. We must be aware at all times of His will and His wisdom.
We are approaching the end of the age. This means both the tares and the wheat will come to maturity. Moral outrages we have imagined we never would witness will become our daily fare.
The night is coming when no man can work. The believers who are accustomed to adding their religious practices to their customary daily life will not be able to survive spiritually. They will have to decide between being a true disciple, and being the type of Laodicean believer that will be acceptable to the Antichrist world system.
The Lord Jesus Christ is building His own Church. There are members in the various Christian denominations. They are a minority, a remnant. They are hearing the call of the Bridegroom and in their hearts they are leaving that which is familiar of religion and launching out into utter dependence on the Lord Jesus. I do not mean by this they necessarily are leaving their churches, it is in the heart that the call to discipleship occurs.
They have been saved. They have been filled with the Holy Spirit. Now they are learning to abide in Christ, to live in Him and by Him every moment of every day.
When judgment falls on the United States the disciples will experience the Lords protection. So will their loved ones. But those believers who still are only church members, never having given themselves wholly to Jesus, will be as vulnerable as are the unsaved. The fleshly "Christians" will rush about in panic, seeking safety. But because they have not learned how to keep in touch with Jesus on a moment by moment basis, they will flee without knowing what they are doing and end up in a place of worse danger.
How many Christian people are willing to worship Christ and lay down their crown, bowing in obedience before the Throne? How many will choose instead to live according to their own understanding and try to convince God to endorse and bless their efforts to build His Kingdom?
How many will stand day and night beside the sea of glass mixed with fire, and sing the song of Moses and the Lamb?
And I saw what looked like a sea of glass mixed with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and over the number of his name. They held harps given them by God And sang the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb: "Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the ages. Who will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed." (Revelation 15:2-4)
There is only one song, you know. Whether we are of the Old Testament or the New, whether of Moses or the Lamb, it is one song acknowledging the great and marvelous deeds; the just and true ways; of the King of the ages. We saints of today, whether Jewish or Gentile by physical birth, are one with all who, from the days of Abel, have had faith in God.
He alone is holy. All nations are to hear about the King and His Kingdom. They will hear in these last days, because there shall be believers who lay their crowns before the Throne. They are looking to Jesus at all times. Jesus will empower them and send them forth in His own manner and at His own time. They will have the high praises of God in their mouths and the sword of Divine vengeance in their hands. And all the while they are exercising the will of God they will be laying their crowns before the Throne and worshiping God.
Would you like to live this way? You can, you know, if this is what you want with all your heart. God will see your intention; and the first thing you know you will be standing beside the sea of glass mixed with fire, bowing before the rainbow Throne and singing the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb.
"Who will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed."
"You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being."
If we will cease from our own works, lay our crown before the Throne, worship God and the Lamb continually, stand beside the sea of glass mixed with fire, and sing the song of Moses and the Lamb, we will be part of the massive display of Gods power and glory that will bear witness to every nation of the soon coming of Christ in His Kingdom.