TWELVE RESULTS OF CROSS-CARRYING OBEDIENCE

TWELVE RESULTS OF CROSS-CARRYING OBEDIENCE Copyright Š 2006Trumpet 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.

The fallen, adamic nature is so deceitful as to be beyond cure. God is not saving our adamic nature. He is crucifying it. God has given us our personal cross as the means of destroying our adamic nature. Christ is to be formed in its place. This is salvation and the Kingdom of God.

TWELVE RESULTS OF CROSS-CARRYING OBEDIENCE

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9)

Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." (Luke 9:23)

The fallen, adamic nature is so deceitful as to be beyond cure. God is not saving our adamic nature, He is crucifying it. God has given us our personal cross as the means of destroying our adamic nature. Christ is to be formed in its place. This is salvation and the Kingdom of God.

We have made a religion of Christianity. Christianity is much the same as any other religion. We have our special book, our hymns, our liturgies, our architecture. We have doctrines that are to be studied, believed, and acted on.

But this is not what true Christianity is.

The true Christian salvation is the destruction of our sinful nature and the creation of Christ in us. Eventually the Father and the Son will come and dwell forever in that which has been created in us. Also our resurrected flesh and bones will be clothed with a body that has been formed from our willingness to accept the crucifixion of our fallen nature and to endure patiently as the Holy Spirit forms Christ in us.

We are speaking of a change from one form of humanity to another—to a humanity that is as far above our original humanity as a human being is above an animal.

In the beginning God created man from the dust of the ground. Man is a son of God, male or female, and has been given rulership over the works of God’s hands.

The first true Man to appear on the earth is the Lord Jesus Christ. Having risen from the dead, Christ is the First of the transcendent humanity that is the Kingdom of God.

The first man is of the earth. The second man is the Lord from Heaven.

The first man was created a living soul. The second man is created a life-giving spirit.

So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being [soul]";  the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. (I Corinthians 15:45)

The Lord Jesus told us if we would be His disciple we must deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him. There may be few believers today who are doing what the Lord said. This is unfortunate because apart from cross-carrying obedience there is no true Christian salvation. It is the cross that destroys our fallen nature and makes possible the new, transcendent humanity.

We can believe in Christ, attend church regularly, participate in the services; but until such time as we choose to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow the Lord Jesus, we merely are a member of a religion. We are not participating in the development of the Kingdom of God, that is, the change from the adamic personality to the new man.

Following are twelve results of obediently carrying our cross after the Lord Jesus.

Stern obedience to all of God’s commands.

Untroubled rest in the Person and will of God.

Godliness of behavior that is profitable for the present world and the new world of righteousness on the horizon.

Dependence on God, on no one and nothing else.

Disclosure of what is in the depths of our personality.

Patience.

Understanding, willingness, and strength so we may embrace good and reject evil.

Perseverance in the peaceful ways of holiness and righteousness.

Humility.

The formation of Christ in us.

Transformation from a living soul to a life-giving spirit.

A body now in Heaven that will clothe our resurrected flesh and bones when the Lord returns.

Stern obedience to all of God’s commands.

Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, . . . (Deuteronomy 8:1)

The events of the Old Testament are recorded for our benefit, that we might learn from them. We notice that God directed Israel to wander in a barren environment for forty years. The purpose of the wilderness wandering was to prepare the Jews for their life in Canaan, in the land of promise.

So it is true of us Christians. God brings us through numerous tests and pressures to prepare us for our life in the world of righteousness that is on the horizon.

Perhaps one of the greatest mistakes a believer in Christ can make is to clutch the present life. Our present life in the world is of true importance for us only as it prepares us for the world to come. It is possible for us to be used in the Christian ministry but then to be unqualified for the eternal service for which we were to have been prepared.

There are numerous commands, in the New Testament, issued by the Lord Jesus Christ and His Apostles. These commands are to be obeyed. We have access to the very Holy of Holies in Heaven that we might pray for and receive the wisdom and strength we need if we are to do what we have been commanded.

The Lord Jesus informed us that we show our love for Him by keeping His commands.

If you love me, you will obey what I command. (John 14:15)

Current Christian doctrine states we are not able to keep the commandments of the Lord and therefore must be saved by grace, meaning our personality and conduct continue to be unrighteous but God "sees us through Christ" (an unscriptural concept and expression).

It is absolutely true that we cannot keep Christ’s commandments before we receive Christ. But after we receive Christ we are to study the Bible and do what it says. Divine grace will enable us to do this.

As we patiently follow Christ, bearing our cross, our rebellious nature dies and we take pleasure in obeying Christ and His Apostles. The believer who refuses to bear his cross is arrogant and proud. He will not diligently obey Christ and His Apostles. He will state he is saved by grace and no matter how he behaves, Christ will forgive him.

He is mistaken. He will never hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant." He has been neither good nor faithful.

This is the great error of our day—the concept that we are not bound by the numerous commands given by Christ and His Apostles. Therefore the plan of salvation does not proceed in our life, for our salvation depends on our praying and then obeying what is written in the New Testament. We are left with a static orthodoxy of belief that contains no saving grace whatever.

True faith never, never, never ignores the admonitions and exhortations of the New Testament.

When Jesus commands us to rejoice when people say all manner of evil against us because of our faith in Him, we do just that.

When Paul commands us to present our body a living sacrifice and not be conformed to the present world, we do just that.

When the writer of the Book of Hebrews commands us not to neglect our salvation, to press into the rest of God, not to forget to assemble with other Christians, to confidently approach the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need, we do just that.

When Peter commands us not to conform to the evil desires we had when we lived in ignorance, to add virtue to our faith, we do just that.

When James commands us to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to be angry, we do just that.

When John commands us not to love the world or anything in the world, we do just that.

We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love  is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: (I John 2:3-5)

The cross-carrying disciple will obey the commandments of Christ and His Apostles even when they are extremely difficult. But the believer who never has denied himself and who refuses to put up with the pain of his cross will not obey the commands found in the New Testament. He will "say no one can keep them"; "we have to sin while we are in the world"; "no one is perfect"; and so forth.

Untroubled rest in the Person and will of God.

For anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. (Hebrews 4:10)

Our fallen nature strives continually to creates its own earth and heaven. However, God finished all things in six days. Now God is resting. Bearing our cross helps us set aside the desires of our sinful nature that we might enter the rest of God; enter the completed creation; enter the Person and will of God to such an extent that our will and God’s will are completely and perfectly one will.

As we, with the help of the Spirit of God, diligently obey the commands of Christ and His Apostles, a spirit of obedience is formed in us. Soon we are obeying God instinctively. We enter untroubled rest in His Person and will.

Only the cross-carrying disciple will be able to endure the conflict that always arises when we determine to enter God’s Person and will. There are numerous adversaries. But the joy of being at rest in God is worth every pain that we suffer as we press forward to perfect victory.

Godliness of behavior that is profitable for the present world and the new world of righteousness on the horizon.

For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. (I Timothy 4:8)

Sometimes it is ventured that when we get to Heaven we no longer will be able to sin. This notion is erroneous on two counts. First, the life to come, of which Paul speaks, is not life in Heaven. It is life in the new world of righteousness that we will enter after we are raised from the dead.

Second, not only is sin possible in Heaven, sin originated in Heaven around the Throne of God.

As we bear our cross patiently after the Lord, godliness of personality and behavior is developed in us. Such godliness serves as a witness of God in the present world. More importantly, godly character and behavior make us suitable for life in the Kingdom of God when it comes to the earth.

The Kingdom of God consists of the rulers, and then those who are ruled. If we would be part of the ruling priesthood we must be godly in personality and behavior. God will have no sinful rulers.

The idea that we are being trained now for the world to come may be new to us. But if you stop to think about it, why would God go to the trouble that He does to teach His righteous ways to each of us if such training serves no purpose after we die?

You know, physical death will not change our personality. If we are a selfish person now, we still will be a selfish person after we die. If we are self-willed now, stubborn, always insisting on our own way, we will be like this after we die. Why would our personality be any different? The self-willed believer would bring pain into Paradise were he admitted, just as did Satan.

I gather from this that life after death may not be as we have supposed. Perhaps this is why the Lord and His victorious saints will govern with a rod of iron.

Just confessing Christ and being baptized in water does not in themselves conform us to the righteous, holy ways of the Lord. It is in denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and following Jesus that we make ourselves available for instruction in righteousness.

Dependence on God, on no one and nothing else.

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 8:3)

The Lord Jesus could have turned the stone into bread. But he told Satan that man does not live by bread alone but by each word that comes from God’s mouth.

For forty years the Jews lived by a miracle, as manna appeared on the ground each morning. In fact, a memorial jar of manna was stored in the Ark of the Covenant.

This idea of turning away from finding survival and security in the world and trusting God each day is very important in the development of the Christian. As we deny ourselves and carry our cross we learn to look to the Lord instead of to material resources.

We must choose to trust in God or trust in money. Money is the means of survival and security in the Antichrist system. The reason we Americans strive so hard to amass money is so we do not have to look to God for our needs. We trust in money to save us.

It is of the Lord that we work hard so we have enough material resources to take care of ourselves and others. Such behavior is of the Lord. But at the same time we must never get to the place where we trust in money to save us. If the day should come when, after having done all we can to help ourselves, there is no money for food or shelter, the Lord will provide for us.

The believer who is willing to carry the cross of deferred gratification and imprisonment in difficult circumstances learns to lean on the Lord for the strength and joy to keep on serving God. Looking to God instead of to human resources becomes second nature to him. He receives his daily manna, the grace of God through Christ, just as he needs it. There is never too much or too little; such is the total faithfulness of God.

But the world and people will fail us if we trust in them for our survival and security.

Disclosure of what is in the depths of our personality.

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. (Deuteronomy 8:2)

When we are enduring the long dry seasons of the cross, God finds out what is in our heart.

But doesn’t God know everything? Without doubt He does. But we are faced with the above statement that God tests us in order to know what is in our heart.

Also, notice what the angel of the Lord said at the time of the sacrificing of Isaac?

"Do not lay a hand on the boy," he said. "Do not do anything to him. Now I know you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son." (Genesis 22:12)

"Now I know you fear God." "To test you to know what was in your heart."

It appears that sometimes God sends down angels to find out exactly what is going on in the earth.

Then the LORD said, "The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know." (Genesis 18:20,21)

"If not, I will know."

I am a firm believer in the predestination of the members of the royal priesthood, for Paul presents this doctrine clearly.

Yet I know from other passages that while the entire history of the world was laid out in rough form from Genesis through Revelation, there is room for the individual to choose one path or another. If this were not the case, if our predestination produced inevitability, there would be no need for the dire warnings of the Apostles.

So we are faced with the fact that God knows everything and yet everything must be validated by testing. Somewhat like the rest of us, God accumulates information.

Our personal cross is the instrument God uses to test us. The cross is our wilderness experience. Will we keep God’s commandments when our soul desires something so desperately?

God is learning how we will behave in the world to come. God has experienced a tremendous rebellion of highly placed angels. He is determined to have no more rebellions. He does not want to lift us to a high place in His Kingdom and entrust us with authority and power, and then have us turn against Him as Satan did. If we did rebel under those conditions we could never again be redeemed, just as Satan and the fallen angels can never be redeemed.

If we can serve God faithfully while subjected to the pressures and temptations of the present world, having to fight against the spirit of the world, the temptations of the devil, and our own lusts and self-will, then, when we are with God in a paradisiac environment, having been clothed with a body that wants to behave righteously, God can be reasonably certain we will continue to obey Him. It is so difficult now! It will be much easier then.

But God has to learn what is in us, and such knowledge comes through deferred desire and imprisonment in undesirable circumstances.

Patience.

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)

You need to persevere so when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. (Hebrews 10:36)

Because you know the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:3,4)

Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. (James 5:10)

I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. (Revelation 1:9)

Picture the Lord Jesus as He patiently bore His cross to Calvary. This is a picture of the Christian discipleship.

The Lord leads us gently when we first are saved. After a period of time, perhaps years, the Lord decides we are ready for the transformation from the adamic soul to the life-giving spirit. In order to perform this transformation the Lord gives us a cross to bear.

The cross may be in the form of our being unable to possess that which we desire fervently.

The cross may be in the form of our being required to remain in a situation that we find distressing.

In either instance, we cannot obtain what we desire without breaking God’s laws, and often without betraying people who trust us, for whom we are responsible.

Satan will invite us to take a shortcut to our heart’s desire, just as he did the Lord Jesus. In fact, all the sons of God are tested in much the same manner.

Satan will reason with us and attempt to deceive us. We always are vulnerable to deception when there is some relationship, some circumstance, or some thing we desire fervently.

That which we covet so intensely is an idol. God will not permit us to have an idol, something we worship in place of God. His name is Jealous!

But the process of putting idols under our feet can be quite painful.

We scream like a slaughtered pig. The soul is wrenched out of us. This is part of the transition from the living soul to the life-giving spirit.

"I thirst! I thirst! I thirst!"

"Come down from the cross if you are a son of God."

How we writhe on the cross. And when will this pain cease?

But the day arrives when the test has been completed. The universe quiets down. The struggle becomes a fading memory. We now are at peace.

We see ourselves for what we truly are, a supplanter. But now our name has been changed to Jacob—he struggles with God.

Patience! Patience! Patience! The patience of the Kingdom of God. The patience of the cross. We have to wait patiently until God gives us the desires of our heart.

In many instances what we desire so fervently actually is God’s will for us. It is in our heart. But if we seek to possess our desires before God’s time we will lose everything.

What if Christ had yielded to Satan in the wilderness of temptation? What would have been lost in that case?

The same is true of us. If we yield to Satan while we are being tested, the loss to us, to God, and to mankind will be incalculable.

Understanding, willingness, and strength so we may embrace good and reject evil.

Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:13,14)

Adam and Eve had a cross to bear. The cross was the prohibition against eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

The tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil were both good for food. As far as I can tell, both of these trees are Christ. Christ is the only source of eternal life. Christ is the only source of the knowledge of good and evil. He is the Word of God made flesh.

The result of eating from the tree of life would have enabled Adam and Eve to live forever in their bodies. The tree was there. All they had to do was eat from it and they would have lived forever.

The result of eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil enabled Adam and Eve to recognize the shame of their nakedness.

And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:9)

And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die." (Genesis 2:16,17)

"You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (Genesis 3:4,5)

And the LORD God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever." (Genesis 3:22)

Notice in the verse above that eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil makes a person like God in that he is able to judge between what is good and what is evil.

Both trees were good for food. But the order in which they were to be eaten was critical.

We must eat of the tree of life first. Then we are able to profit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

In other words, God places Christ in us so when we recognize something we are doing is evil we can have the confidence and strength to put to death the evil, through God’s Spirit, and yet maintain our position of freedom from condemnation.

Because Adam and Eve were made aware of their shameful condition before they had partaken of eternal life, they hid from God. Their conscience was defiled. They died spiritually and physically, as God had warned.

God does not come to the unsaved individual and point out his or her sins. He invites them to receive Christ for the remission of their sins. Then He gives them to eat of eternal life, which is the body and blood of Christ.

This is where we are today.

Now God wants us to grow in the paths of righteousness, which is equivalent to growing in understanding, willingness and strength in order to be able to embrace good and reject evil.

Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:13,14)

In order to grow in understanding, willingness and strength such that we can embrace good and eject evil we have to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow the Lord. Our personality is a mixture of good and evil, light and darkness. The Holy Spirit is ready to help us separate the light from the darkness.

If we are not willing to bear the cross of deferred gratification and prolonged imprisonment in undesirable circumstances, we cannot find the strength to reject the evil that is in us. The evil is such a part of our personality, the worldliness, bodily lusts and passions, and personal ambition, that to reject it is painful—almost impossible at times.

The nominal Christian, the church-attender who never has resolutely set out to deny himself and bear his cross after the Lord, cannot bring himself to reject that which appears to be his very soul. In fact, it is his very soul! It is too painful. And so he remains a spiritual baby.

The only path to maturity is that of training ourselves by constant use to distinguish good from evil.

Perseverance in the peaceful ways of holiness and righteousness.

Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 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 12:10,11)

God is holy. This means there is nothing in God that is spiritually unclean.

God has called us to be holy as He is holy. This is why Paul refers to us as "saints"—holy ones.

The human personality without Christ contains numerous uncleannesses of flesh and spirit.

Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. (II Corinthians 7:1)

"Everything that contaminates body and spirit." This would include all the lusts and passions of immorality, murder, covetousness, lying, profanity, rage, slander, cruelty that drive the human personality.

The Apostle Paul tells us that those who do such things cannot inherit the Kingdom of God.

The only answer to these fiery passions that plague us is the sufferings of the cross. "He who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin," The Apostle Peter advises us.

After we have patiently borne our cross for many years we find our personality is much more pure than when we began. Why is this? It is because we have denied ourselves. We have not indulged the lusts of our flesh, the passions of our soul. We have doggedly followed the Lord wherever He has taken us.

The way of denial is not much "fun." But it does bring holiness and righteousness; and holiness and righteousness bring peace. Now we can enjoy the Presence of God without being driven about by our tumultuous animal nature.

Humility.

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 8:3)

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)

"To behave righteously; to love mercy; and to walk humbly with God." This always has been God’s goal for man. It is not at all true that we are in a new dispensation in which God’s goal for man has changed.

The Lord Jesus Christ experienced the humility of the cross.

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, But made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:6-8)

It seems to me that we Christians often are arrogant. We take the attitude that we are better than other people because we belong to God. This is a sinful attitude. We are to humble ourselves and submit to the death of the cross.

The righteous live by faith. This means we do not live by our own pride and abilities but by faith in God for everything we do and every decision we make.

See, he is puffed up; his desires are not upright—but the righteous will live by his faith— (Habakkuk 2:4)

The way of the cross is the way of faith, the way of humility. We deny our own abilities. We keep looking to Jesus; keep looking to Jesus; keep looking to Jesus for every aspect of life.

The cross dampens our enthusiasm, our tendency to rush about presumptuously. He who bears his cross walks humbly with God.

The formation of Christ in us.

We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so his life may be revealed in our mortal body. (II Corinthians 4:10)

My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, (Galatians 4:19)

Until Christ is formed in us! The forming and dwelling of Christ in us is the new covenant. It is the Kingdom of God. The sinful, fallen nature of man is to be replaced by the Divine Nature of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul was travailing in the pains of childbirth so Christ might be formed in the Christians in Galatia.

However, the Life of Christ cannot be revealed in our body except as we are crucified. Paul was crucified with Christ and Christ was (and still is) living in him.

I think every Christian desires to have Christ living in him. But the eternal, incorruptible, resurrection Life of Jesus Christ is formed in us and dwells in us only as we carry around in our body the death of Jesus. There is no other way.

All we desire comes from the death of our sinful, adamic nature. No part of that nature is suitable for the Kingdom of God. Flesh and blood cannot possibly inherit the Kingdom of God.

God is making all things new, and all things are of Christ. Christ must increase and we must decrease, as John the Baptist said.

Those of us who have carried our cross for many years are aware of how useless and destructive our original nature is. It brings only sorrow and pain to us if we yield to it. But the new nature of Christ in us brings righteousness, peace, and joy.

The Kingdom of God is Christ in us. As we are willing to deny the desires of our original nature, and follow Christ, the Kingdom is born in us. We cannot see or enter the Kingdom of God except as we are born again.

Today we use the term "born again" to refer to the initial accepting of Christ. I guess there is no harm in this; but we ought to realize this is not how the Apostles preached Christ.

Being born again means our old nature is dead and we now have a new nature. That new nature is the very Person of Christ.

Being redeemed through the atoning blood of the cross is one matter. Having the Seed of God planted in us is something else. Actually, it might be better to say Christ has been conceived in us. The Galatian Christians had been redeemed by the blood and had received the Holy Spirit. But Christ had not been formed in them. In fact, the term "formed" implies a process.

So it is that Christ is conceived in us when our sins have been forgiven. But bringing the new Life to term, we might say, requires a life of cross-carrying obedience.

There are multitudes of Christians in the United States who trust the atonement made through the blood of the cross of Calvary. But the development of Christ in them is in danger of being aborted because they are not being taught how to deny themselves, to take up their cross, and to follow Jesus each day in intense personal interaction.

The emphasis today is on grace-rapture-Heaven. These are externals. These are not the new covenant. The new covenant is the writing of the law of God in our mind and heart, which is equivalent to the forming of Christ in us. Actually, we Christians of today have invented a new gospel—the gospel of "receive Christ and then go to Heaven to live forever in a mansion."

This is not the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is the change from the adamic nature to the Christ nature.

Transformation from a living soul to a life-giving spirit.

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, (Philippians 3:10)

The third chapter of Philippians is of special importance because it presents Paul’s goal. Paul’s goal was to attain to the resurrection from the dead, that is, the first resurrection—the resurrection of the royal priesthood.

Paul speaks of counting all of his accomplishments as garbage that he might win Christ.

And then Paul speaks of knowing the power of Christ’s resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death.

So we see that resurrection life and the sufferings of the cross go together.

The concept seems to be that Paul was entering ever deeper into the death of Christ and ever higher into Christ’s resurrection life. Death, and life. Death, and life. Death, and life.

The end product of death to Paul’s nature and resurrection in Christ’s Nature is attainment to the resurrection from the dead. This means when Christ appears, Paul, already having been resurrected in his inner nature, will be eminently prepared to have his resurrected flesh and bones clothed with the glorious robe of the royal priesthood.

Our teaching today leaves the impression that everyone who has ever made a profession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ will be raised when He appears and caught up to meet Him in the air.

I do not think this is scriptural.

I think when the Lord appears, only those who have lived and died in Christ will be raised from the dead and then clothed with the white robe of the royal priesthood. They then will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air (not in Heaven) and will return with Him in thunderous fury for the purpose of installing the Kingdom of God on the earth.

The truth is, the majority of American Christians are not nearly prepared to participate with the Lord in the work of installing the Kingdom of God on the earth. They are still bound by worldliness, lust, and self-will. How then can they descend with Christ on the war stallions and defeat Antichrist and the False Prophet?

The deplorable truth is they already have been defeated by Antichrist. They already have the mark of the world, of trust in money, in their hand and their head. They do not have the name of the Lamb and of the Father written on their forehead. They have the name of money and the ways of the world written on their forehead.

Those who are raised in the first resurrection have nothing in their personality over which the Lake of Fire has authority. They have been victorious over all the enemies that have come against them.

They have denied themselves. They have carried their cross faithfully. They have followed Jesus, not stretching out their hand to take that which is unlawful for them; neither have they sought to escape from their imprisonment. These are the members of the royal priesthood, and it seems they are but a remnant among the multitude of those who adhere to the Christian religion.

They now are life-giving spirits. They will be placed along the banks of the River of Life. From them will flow the living water that will bring to life the members of the dead sea of mankind.

They have gone through the three deaths and resurrections of redemption: water to the ankles; water to the knees; and water to the thighs. Now they are living in waters to swim in, a river that cannot be crossed. This means they are living in God and in other people, their self-consciousness having passed away.

When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. He said to me, "This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah,  where it enters the Sea.  When it empties into the Sea,  the water there becomes fresh. Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live. (Ezekiel 47:7-9)

A body now in Heaven that will clothe our resurrected flesh and bones when the Lord returns.

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (II Corinthians 4:17)

Precisely what is the "eternal glory that far outweighs them all"?

The following chapter, Chapter Five of the Book of Second Corinthians, tells us. It is the body from Heaven that has been formed from the continuing crucifixion and resurrection of Paul’s inner nature.

It is as though we sow our body to death so it may be raised in life.

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. (I Corinthians 15:42-44)

There probably is no concept more needed in Christian thinking than the fact that how we live the Christian life determines the kind of resurrection we will have. I don’t believe I have ever heard this taught or preached. But it is true nevertheless.

If we patiently endure the cross of self-denial, Christ will be formed in us. How this will affect our life after death I am not certain. No doubt the more of Christ we have the more joyous we will be.

But in the Day of Resurrection, at the return of the Lord, each person will receive what he has done. Those who patiently have sown to the Spirit of God will reap eternal life in the form of a robe or body from Heaven that will clothe their resurrected flesh and bones.

Those who have lived according to the impulses of their fleshly nature will reap corruption—perhaps in the form of the kind of robe or body that will clothe their resurrected flesh and bones.

God will never be mocked. We cannot sow to our fallen nature and reap eternal life; not by grace, not by mercy.

At the Judgment Seat of Christ we will receive what we have practiced while living on the earth. Those who have been faithful to God will be rewarded with the approval of Christ and whatever else belongs to their inheritance. Those who have not been faithful to Christ will meet with disapproval and loss of inheritance.

I repeat: grace and mercy will not enter at that time. What we have sown we will reap. Grace and mercy operate now as God helps us change what we are sowing.

The results of cross-carrying obedience are all of the opportunities and positions of authority and power that we associate with the Christian salvation. What we must come to understand is that the Christian salvation is divided into membership in the Christian religion, on the one hand, and discipleship on the other.

All disciples are members of the Christian religion. But not all members of the Christian religion are disciples.

The disciple is he who has denied himself, taken up his cross, and is following Jesus each day. He or she is a victorious saint. He will inherit all the things that God has made new in Christ.