THE ETERNAL PURPOSE OF GOD
THE ETERNAL PURPOSE OF GOD Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Before the heavens and the earth were created God saw in His mind the new heaven and earth, and the new Jerusalem. When God created the first heavens and earth and all of earth’s inhabitants, including man, God knew every event that must transpire before it would be possible for Him to bring forth the actual heaven and earth He had in mind, and a government that would bring righteousness, peace, and joy to the inhabitants.
After all had been created in timeless vision, God rested. Our sole business in life is to enter that rest, that finished work of the Lord God and His Christ.
Each human being is occupied with creating heaven and earth according to his own desires, fashioning himself and his destiny as he sees fit. But God invites us to enter His rest, that is, into the heaven and earth God has chosen. Also, God knows what our destinies to be. All God asks is that we cease from our own works and receive the heaven and earth, and the personality and role, He has chosen for us.
Table of Contents
The Heaven Comes Before the Earth The First Heaven and Earth Must Pass Away There Will Be No More Sea Heaven Will Come to Earth Holiness to the Lord Jerusalem The Church Is Perfected in Heaven The Church Must Be Prepared The Church Is a Bride The Church Is Adorned for Her Husband The Church Is the Tabernacle of God Among Mankind
THE ETERNAL PURPOSE OF GOD
The Book of Revelation is unique in at least two ways. First of all it is presented as a direct revelation of God to Christ.
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: (Revelation :1)
Although every book of the Scriptures is inspired of God and is to be received as the Word of God, none except Revelation is presented as a direct vision of God given to Christ. For this reason the Book of Revelation is to be regarded by every member of the Body of Christ as being absolutely binding upon all that will transpire in the universe.
The second element of uniqueness is the curse that has been issued concerning changing the text of the Book of Revelation.
For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. (Revelation 22:18,19)
In the day in which we are living, every truth by which men guide their behavior is being challenged. One is considered to be sophisticated if he views with disdain any attempt to maintain a standard of behavior. Included in the disregard of moral law is the concept that man’s pleasures and desires are the most important aspect of the universe.
The visions of Revelation cut to the heart of such man-centeredness. God tells us what will take place—that which cannot be changed by any authority or power in the heavens, on the earth, or in the regions of spiritual darkness under the surface of the earth.
What Revelation states will happen will indeed take place. Not one word is to be changed. He who tampers with the text in any manner will suffer the severest of penalties.
These are events that "must shortly come to pass." They will take place in certainty, in fullness—precisely as written.
Before the heavens and the earth were created God saw in His mind the new heaven and earth, and the new Jerusalem. When God created the first heaven and earth, and all of earth’s inhabitants, including man, God knew every event that must transpire before it would be possible for Him to bring forth the actual heaven and earth that He had in mind, and a government that would bring righteousness, peace, and joy to the inhabitants. After all had been created in timeless vision, God rested. Our sole business in life is to enter that rest, into that finished work of the Lord God and His Christ.
Each human being is occupied with creating heaven and earth, and sometimes the government, according to his own desires, fashioning himself and his destiny as he sees fit. But God invites us to enter His rest, into the heaven and earth and the government He has chosen. Also, God knows what we are to become in personality and what our destiny, our role, is to be. All that God asks is that we cease from our own works and receive the heaven and earth, and the personality and role, He has chosen for us.
The Kingdom of God, and the nations over which the Kingdom is to rule, have all been completed in the mind of God. They will come into existence as He wills.
Each member of God’s elect has been called to serve God as a priest in the new world of righteousness. Whether or not we as an individual manage to lay hold on our own calling depends on the diligence with which we apply ourselves to doing God’s will. We can lose our inheritance! Many are called but only a few are chosen as kings and priests of God.
The last two chapters of the Book of Revelation do not show us much of the new age, considering the fact that this is the Divine portrayal of the eternity that faces each human being. We would like to know so much more! Nevertheless, all we need to understand at this time concerning redemption and the Kingdom of God is present in the Book of Revelation.
The vision of the new heaven and earth, and the new Jerusalem, is to be interpreted spiritually and also somewhat literally. The Book of Revelation is exceedingly rich in spiritual concepts.
Let us hold firmly to the glorious hope of a new world wherein dwells righteousness, for it shall certainly come into view. God will dwell on the earth and His servants will serve Him. The Lamb and His Wife will be the Light of the creation to the ages of ages.
Our present life is so brief! We have such a short time in which to demonstrate the faithfulness of our personality, our love for God, our responsibility toward God’s Christ, the Lord Jesus. We sing our song, utter the parable that is our personality. There is some laughter, many tears, and then the present life is finished. Now we have all eternity to consider how we behaved while under the dark pressures of earth.
Let us make the best possible use of every day, laying hold on the Lord with all the vigor we possess. A time of trouble is on the horizon. The Gentile holocaust is at hand. There will be many days of terror. The nations will be in turmoil, not being able to cope with what is taking place.
During this period of tribulation the Wife of the Lamb will undergo the separating and refining necessary for her union with Christ. Christ and Antichrist will work their works on the earth. God suddenly will confront Satan and demand an accounting of his behavior. Man will be seen as the insignificant dust that he is, for true power and authority exist in the spirit realm.
Only in Christ do we have any significance, any security, any hope.
We can, if we choose, press onward and upward until we stand in the fullness of glory in Christ. Or we can waste our life, as Satan intends we should, on the trinkets of the present lustful, violent world.
God has called us, especially we who are living in the end of the age, to places of authority and power in the Kingdom. These are days of fantastic opportunity and also terrible danger. Let us behave ourselves as sons of God so we may receive the fullness of the inheritance.
Let us pray without ceasing in order that we may escape the spiritual dangers that threaten us from every side with spiritual destruction.
Let us take up our cross and follow Jesus in stern obedience to God so we will be found worthy to stand in the Presence of Christ and not be ashamed before Him at His glorious appearing with the holy angels.
The last two chapters of the Book of Revelation are of supreme importance. They set forth the goal, the final result of the eternal purpose of God Almighty.
All else is scaffolding. All of our religious things and exercises are means to the ends presented here. No part of the vision can be changed in any manner whatever. It all will take place precisely as written.
Perhaps every concept of the Kingdom of God is included in these two chapters.
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. (Revelation 21:1)
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. (Revelation 21:1)
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. After the thousand-year Kingdom Age has been concluded, God will create a new heaven and a new earth. The heaven comes before the earth.
But Paul stated that the natural comes before the spiritual:
Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. (I Corinthians 15:46)
So it is that God has bound us in the prison of the flesh because we are not ready to be entrusted with the true value, with that which is eternal.
But when God begins to create what is to endure in His sight, what is of eternal value, He begins with the heaven, with the spiritual.
Today God is perfecting our spiritual nature. God is creating a new race of people in which the spiritual has been perfected. After the spiritual aspect has been developed to God’s satisfaction, God will provide a new environment for the new race.
. . . and to the spirits of just [righteous] men made perfect, (Hebrews 12:23)
Man’s desire is for a change of environment, a paradise. But God’s desire is to change the man. When the man has been changed, then God will change his environment.
Christ came to change us, to create righteousness, holiness, and obedience in us. Only when this has been accomplished will we be ready to receive the eternal life of God’s Presence and a paradisiac environment.
After we have been delivered from our wretched spiritual condition and restored to fellowship with God, God will give us the pure, peaceful, beautiful environment we desire.
The only problem with the garden of Eden was the inhabitants. God removed Adam and Eve from their marvelous surroundings and placed them in a setting of weariness and pain.
Current Christian understanding is that Christ has come to forgive Adam and Eve and to bring them back into Paradise on the basis of His (Christ’s) own worthiness. This is not the case. Christ has come in order to perfect in Adam and Eve a spiritual nature that no longer will rebel against God. Only after Adam and Eve, through Christ’s virtue, have been able to overcome sin will they be permitted back into Paradise—regaining access to the tree of life.
. . . To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. (Revelation 2:7)
Christian grace is not a covering of what man is so he can be permitted to reenter Paradise. Christian grace is the Divine Virtue of God in Christ given to man so he can become a fit inhabitant of Paradise. To allow unchanged man to reenter Paradise would be to set the stage for another rebellion against God.
There must be a new heaven before there can be a new earth, to speak figuratively.
It may be observed that the new Jerusalem is not brought down to the new earth until after the thousand-year Kingdom Age and the Day of Judgment have been concluded. It is not until after the Bride of the Lamb has been perfected, and every person who has been born on the earth has appeared before the Judgment Seat of Christ, that the holy city will make its appearance. All judgment must be accomplished first. Only then will God descend in His holy tabernacle to the new earth.
The order of the development of the Kingdom of God is as follows:
The perfect and perfected Head, Christ, died on the cross for the sins of all men, and then was raised from the dead as the Beginning of the new creation of God.
Christ is brought forth in the overcomers. The overcomers are a firstfruits of the Wife of the Lamb. The firstfruits are, after Christ, the beginning of the Kingdom of God and will be raised to meet Christ at his appearing. They will receive back their bodies from the dead and will be filled with eternal life when the Lord appears in the clouds of glory. This is the first resurrection.
The remainder of God’s elect, of the Body of Christ, will, as we understand the Scriptures, be brought to spiritual maturity during the thousand-year period. Whether the weaker believers also will be raised when the Lord appears but in an inferior state or whether they will receive back their bodies at a later date we are not sure. But of one fact we are certain: no person ever will partake of the tree of life until he or she has, through Christ, overcome the world, sin, and self-will (Revelation 2:7; 3:4). No individual has the right to partake of the tree of life until he or she is living a righteous and holy life before God (Revelation 22:14).
All the nations of the earth will be judged. The persons whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will be brought forward into the new world. The persons whose names are not written in the Book of Life will be thrown into the lake that burns with fire and sulfur.
The first earth and heaven will be destroyed and a new heaven and earth will appear. On the new earth will be the nations of the saved. The perfected Church—the Wife of the Lamb, the Body of Christ, the new Jerusalem—will descend from the new heaven and come to rest on the new earth.
The nations of the earth will walk in the light of the new Jerusalem. This means that the saints who make up the new Jerusalem will serve God by ruling, teaching, and blessing the members of the nations of the saved. All the nations of the earth will be ruled from the city of Jerusalem.
God’s purpose in redemption includes as part of its goal restoring man to Paradise. But such restoration is not accomplished by forgiveness alone. Restoration is accomplished by the creation of Divine government, beginning with Him who is King of kings and Lord of lords.
It is only as Divine government is established perfectly, with the accompanying development of righteousness, holiness, and obedience in all of God’s creatures, that the love, peace, and joy of God’s Presence can return to the earth.
The Kingdom of God is the doing of God’s will in the earth as it is in Heaven. God is concerned with obedience, with government, with righteousness, with holiness on the part of His creatures.
Notice that the last two chapters of Revelation, which are the climax of the Scriptures, present a walled city, not a beautiful garden. This is because God is interested in holiness and obedience. The wall represents the rejection of uncleanness and rebellion, the division between the more holy and the less holy, preventing the less holy from entering the more holy until the Divine laws are being obeyed. Until God is being obeyed it is not possible for mankind to enjoy Paradise.
There can be no harmony, no peace, no joy, no fruitfulness, no blessing until God is being obeyed completely. The walled city, the center of Divine government, comes first. After that will appear the Paradise for which all men long. It is so in us as individuals. It is so throughout the universe and for all time.
It is a fact that whatever is true on the grand scale in the past, the present, and the future, is true on a small scale in our individual life today. We can test the accuracy of our understanding of the future by examining what God is teaching us today in the seemingly insignificant circumstances and things of our daily life. Whatever is of truth now is of truth always. This is because God is unchanging.
We do not change because we die or because we are in the Kingdom Age or in the new Jerusalem. Change comes only as we receive Jesus and grow in Him. God does not solve the problem of sin and rebellion by bringing unchanged man to a better place. God solves the problem of sin and rebellion by changing man. Man’s environment improves (eventually) as man improves. This is an eternal reality.
We cannot find what we are looking for by moving from one place to another. What we desire can be found only in Christ. Our heart’s desire can be realized where we are now if we will look to Jesus.
But there may be delay. Sometimes God points out to us an eternal treasure of incalculable worth and lets us know He will give it to us. Then He does not bring His promise to pass for a season. God waits until we come to appreciate fully the quality of what He is giving us. An inheritance gained too quickly and easily cannot be appreciated. When the Lord is ready to give us an eternal treasure we must be prepared to exercise heartbreaking delay until God is able to explain to us thoroughly the fullness of the value of what He is giving to us.
It is impossible to have a new earth until there is a new heaven. Heaven is the place of God’s throne. The earth cannot be the place of God’s throne until Heaven and earth have become one. First there must be righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God. Then peace and joy will follow. It is not possible to set aside successfully this principle of the Kingdom of God, as world history teaches us.
People speak of the "cost" of discipleship, of serving God. In one sense there is no cost. Eternal life is given to us freely.
The reason there appears to be a cost is that it is not possible for us to receive the new heaven and earth until the old heaven and earth pass away.
We cannot receive Divine love while we are clinging to lust, to relationships that are not in God’s order, to hatred, or to a spirit of revenge. We cannot receive truth while retaining lies. We cannot receive holiness while abiding in filthiness. We cannot receive peace while engaging in violence and passionate outbursts. We cannot receive release while grasping our bondages.
God desires to give us a new heaven and a new earth, a new spiritual nature and a glorified body—and all of this in the most wonderful of surroundings. If only we would learn to trust the Lord completely!
In order to give life to us, God requires that we allow Him to remove what is obstructing our receiving His Presence. It is not that we pay a price, it is that we make room for the blessing.
If we open the door of a prisoner he must walk out of his prison if he would enter freedom. It would be foolish of him to speak of the "cost" to him of leaving his prison. It is foolishness for us to speak of the "price" of discipleship. When we take up our cross and follow Jesus we are walking out of the prison of self-will. God then asks us to give Him the aspects of our personality and behavior that are keeping us in bondage and death. Do we regard surrendering our misery to God as being a "price" we are paying? Can we be so blind as not to see that God is healing us?
It can be extremely difficult to surrender to God our most fervent desires, to believe that God always will give us what is meant for us, what will bring us joy. But to obtain something that is not meant for us or that God understands can never bring us peace and joy is not in our best interest. Even with this understanding, the restraint and trust God requires can be difficult to maintain.
If we weep too long about how it hurts us to give up Satan, or if we beg God to give us something before the appropriate hour arrives, perhaps we may persuade God to permit us to remain in confusion and pain. We must trust God and always look to Him in faith and patience in every detail of life.
The first heaven and first earth must pass away before we can be given a new heaven and a new earth.
We have stated previously that the last two chapters of Revelation are to be interpreted spiritually, and also literally to a certain extent.
As far as the physical oceans and seas of earth are concerned, they are useful for separating nations, for transportation, and as a source of food. Perhaps there will be no need in the new world for a separation of the nations, for transportation, or for food from the sea.
The seas often are places of danger, of violence. There will be neither danger nor violence in the new age. There will be no dark storms, no black violence of roaring waves to terrify the hearts of people.
There may be lakes and rivers, and perhaps actual oceans and seas—for these can be a blessing to people. It may be true that the marine life with which we are familiar, the fish, the porpoises, the whales, will exist in the seas and oceans of eternity. It is the writers’s conviction that all we have known and loved on the earth will be saved for our everlasting enjoyment. Only those elements that cause us to fear and that harm us will be removed.
The Kingdom of God is not found in removing man from earth or from the things of earth. The temporary pain and inconvenience the saints suffer is for the purpose of freeing us from Satan and from our self-will so we can enter fully into the Paradise of God.
The purpose of the Kingdom is not to cause people to suffer. The Kingdom of God is the coming of God into man and into his environment so that man will worship and serve God while enjoying all of the blessing of Paradise on the earth. This is the true Gospel of the Kingdom of God—that which Christ purchased for us by dying on the cross of Calvary.
Notice, however, that the Scripture does not state there will be no more seas, but no more "sea." There have been "seas" from the beginning (Genesis 1:10). If the Lord were referring primarily to the oceans of the earth He would have said, there were no more seas (plural). But since He has stated, "there was no more sea" we may look for spiritual significance.
From the spiritual point of view there will be no more "sea" of mankind from which Antichrist can arise (Revelation 13:1). There will be no more mass of people that can be swayed by Satan and evil people.
Notice in the following verses the use of sea to denote people:
Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee. (Isaiah 60:5)
Then said he unto me, These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed. (Ezekiel 47:8)
Every relationship will be triangular. Each individual will be related to another through God, as though God were at the apex of a triangle while the human relationship lay along the base. We shall not be related to one another along the base but up through the Apex (Christ) and down to the other individual. We will know one another in Christ and through Christ.
Every individual will be known to his Creator and will have some knowledge of his Creator. Christ will be the Center and Circumference of all persons and all things. The new world will be totally God-centered and filled with Christ. Every saved human being will have a portion of Christ in him, because the Kingdom of God, while it has an external dimension, is primarily an inner kingdom.
Satan’s way on the present earth is to remove the triangular relationship so that people are related directly to people without reference to God. The Laodicean churches will consist of people who are strongly related to other people. But Christ will not be included. The "believers" will talk about Christ but He will not be the One through whom they are related. The Laodicean "believers" will be part of the "sea" of mankind rather than part of Christ. They choose to be part of mankind rather than part of the Lampstand of God.
We notice this tendency today as churches stress togetherness. No amount of togetherness ever will create the Kingdom of God. In fact, there always is a danger in togetherness, in Christian people finding solace in other Christian people and in their church and religious exercises rather than in the Lord Himself. God does not approve of this. Such togetherness is characteristic of Antichrist and often leads to immorality.
God’s true saints are a delight to be near. They are loving, intelligent, sensitive people. Because there is light and glory resting on them they are attractive to people who enjoy them but who do not enjoy their God. Therefore God puts a wall around them. God wants such for Himself. They may minister to other people but they always are to return to their state of separation to God. In this way they are kept holy to the Lord. They no longer are part of the "sea."
The Creator’s name is Jealous. God works with individuals. He calls them to Himself and deals with them endlessly. He desires to be in all of their thoughts. He wants their undivided attention. He does not want them to find their solace, their strength, their help, their enjoyment, in other people—not until the Lord is totally satisfied they belong to Him and to Him alone. Then the Lord brings them into union with others as He alone determines, according to the predetermined eternal composition of the Kingdom of God.
A "sea" of people, an undifferentiated mass of human beings who have not been "spoken for" (Song of Solomon 8:8), is not at all to God’s liking.
Each human being is unique. God’s working always enhance our uniqueness. God enjoys bringing forth each flower in His garden. The new world will consist of unique worshipers of God, not of a sea of mankind that is tossed to and fro.
The closer we draw to Christ the more unique we become, the more our identity is enhanced and defined. Each member of the new Jerusalem maintains his identity but has lost his individuality. He forever is an integral part of God’s Being. He is one in Christ in God just as Christ is One in God. The names of God and of Christ are engraved in him. The name of the holy city is engraved in him. He no longer is an individual; he has been created part of God. So it is that we are becoming an eternal expression of God through Christ (John 17:21-23).
It is God’s will that the Life of Christ abide in every inhabitant of the new earth, whether the person is a member of the Wife of the Lamb or a citizen of one of the nations of saved peoples of the earth. There is to be no more "sea" of people who do not have the Life of Jesus in them.
Every human being on the earth or in the spirit realm abides in one of five spiritual states of being. The five spiritual states of being are as follows:
Every human being is dwelling in one of these five spiritual states. He is abiding in Zion, or in Jerusalem, or in the sea, or in death, or in Hell.
To abide in Zion is to dwell in Christ as an overcomer. As we eat His flesh and drink His blood we dwell in Him and He in us. Of the multitudes who claim faith in Christ, only a handful, it appears, are dwelling in Him and He in them to the degree the Lord prefers. To be part of Jesus requires a close relationship with Him. To abide in Jesus is to live by Him as He lives by the Father, always striving to attain a more perfect union with Him. Those who live by Jesus as He lives by the Father constitute the firstfruits of the Church, the Body of Christ, the new Jerusalem.
The Christians who, through Christ, overcome Satan, the world, and their own sins and self-will, will be raised to meet Him at His coming. The overcomers are the pillars of the eternal Temple of God. They will receive back their bodies from the grave. They are the kings and priests of the Lord. This is the first resurrection (Revelation 20:4-6).
To abide in Jerusalem is to be part of the Church of Christ. Zion speaks of the Holy of Holies while Jerusalem is the Holy Place, as we understand the Scriptures. At first glance it may appear fanciful and unwise to divide the one seamless robe of Christ into two parts. But the types and teachings of the Scriptures that portray such a division are compelling.
We have only to think of Gideon’s three hundred; of the separation of the Ark from the remainder of the Tabernacle; of the three foremost mighty men of David; of the three who were with the Lord on the Mount of Transfiguration; of the 144,000 of Revelation, Chapter 14; to become aware that there is strong support in Scripture for various ranks among the Lord’s people. Jesus revealed to the Apostles that they would be judging Israel (Luke 22:30).
The Song of Solomon singles out "one" who is closest to the Lord’s heart:
There are threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number. My dove, my undefiled is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her. The daughters saw her, and blessed her; yea, the queens and the concubines, and they praised her. (Song of Solomon 6:8,9)
The end of the new covenant is that "all shall know me, from the least to the greatest" (Hebrews 8:11). We understand from this that there indeed are least and greatest in the Kingdom of God, but every member of Israel will come to know Christ intimately.
Some believers, by election and by corresponding diligence in grasping that for which they have been grasped, become "pillars" in the eternal Temple of God. It seems likely that the "pillars" will be pillars throughout eternity (Revelation 3:12).
The Lord’s firstfruits, just as was true of Gideon’s army, come from Israel and remain part of Israel. Any believer can choose to live in Zion. But experience teaches us that the majority of Christians do not rise to the level of victory where they truly are overcoming the world, Satan, and their own sin and self-will. The "iron" and "fire" necessary to surmount the pressures of life appear to be lacking. The desperate earnestness, the willingness to be crucified personally in order that Christ may have His unhindered way in one’s life, are not always found in the believers. But apart from such earnestness and willingness it is impossible to "stand on the heights of Zion" (Revelation 14:1).
For those who are called to Zion, nothing short of perfect obedience and rest in the center of God’s will can suffice. (What scorching fires burn in the souls of "the only one of her mother"!) The remainder dwell in Jerusalem, and God loves them dearly. They are His family.
To abide in the sea is to be part of the mass of mankind. It often is true that the peoples of the nations hear Jesus gladly. While they may not be called to be part of Israel, there are many of them, nevertheless, who are God-fearing, upright people. Many members of the sea of mankind have not knowingly and willfully rejected God’s Christ. Neither have they destroyed their spiritual nature through excessive involvement in the world (although they do not have eternal life). They may inherit eternal life one day, depending on how they treat the Lord’s "brothers" (Matthew 25:40).
Part of the sea of mankind is wicked and will be judged and destroyed by the Lord. Antichrist will "rise up out of the sea" (Revelation 13:1). Although Antichrist will be among the fervent Christians at first, he will come out from among them because he never was of them. The "sea" always had been in his heart.
There will be "no more sea" in the eternal age (Revelation 21:1). Every inhabitant of the new earth will have a portion of Christ in him. God loves the peoples whom He has created. God loves the world but not the spirit of the present age.
In the Day of Judgment the sea is not thrown into the Lake of Fire; neither is it carried forward into the new heaven and earth. The members of the sea who are saved will become part of the Kingdom of God. While they are not pillars in the eternal Temple of God or members of the Wife of the Lamb, they nevertheless will have a portion in Christ.
As soon as God has brought forth the firstfruits of His people, the living waters will flow into the sea of mankind and it will live.
Then said he unto me, These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed. (Ezekiel 47:8)
Ezekiel 47:8-12 describes the Kingdom revival, the time when the Glory of God will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea—when the waters of eternal life will flow from the personalities of those who have become the Throne of God and of the Lamb. The Spirit of God will come from the saints who have become part of the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles and will cover the dead sea of mankind with the knowledge of the Glory of the Lord.
God has divided the development of the Kingdom of God into three ages: the Church Age, the Kingdom Age, and the Eternal Age.
The Church Age commenced with the resurrection of Christ and will terminate with the return of the Lord to the earth.
The Kingdom Age will commence with the return of the Lord to the earth and will terminate with the destruction of the present earth and heaven.
The Eternal Age will commence with the creation of the new heaven and earth and will never terminate.
Each of the three ages has a purpose.
The purpose of the Church Age is to call forth from among the ranks of mankind the members of the Church and to begin the work of perfecting them. Also, during the Church Age, the members of the Church are to bear witness to the world of the soon coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.
The purpose of the Kingdom Age is to complete the perfecting of the Church, the Body of Christ, and to bring the life of God to the "sea" of mankind on the earth. The Kingdom Age is the period of worldwide revival.
During the Church Age there have been and yet will be revivals, but they are not to be compared in power and holiness with the Presence of the Spirit of God that will be on the earth during the Kingdom Age.
The main purpose of the Church Age is the development of the Body of Christ, not the reviving to any great extent of the dead sea of mankind. However, the witness that is to be borne to the nations during the Church Age is important in the plan of God because God requires a basis on which to judge the nations.
The purpose of the Eternal Age is to bring peace and joy to God and to His creatures forever.
For two thousand years the Christian churches, not understanding the plan of God, have striven to accomplish the work of the Kingdom Age during the Church Age. Ambitious men have taken the things of Christ and have attempted to build their own little kingdoms from among the members of the nations.
As we have stated, God has two principal purposes during the Church Age. The first is to build the Body of Christ. The second is to bear witness to the nations of the soon coming of the Kingdom of God. He who believes in the Lord Jesus and is baptized will be saved when the Kingdom comes. It can be seen from this that the greater part of the efforts of Christendom are misdirected. We are attempting to revive the sea of mankind. That will come later.
But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months. (Revelation 11:2)
"The court (representing that which is not consecrated to the Lord at this point) leave out, and measure (judge) it not."
The task of today is the development of the Church, which is a valley of dry bones.
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: (Ephesians 4:11-13)
The purpose of the Christian ministry is to build the saints into the one Body of Christ.
First God must build up the members of the Body of Christ, the Wife of the Lamb, and bring them into the waters of His Life. We enter the waters of salvation, then into the waters of sanctification, and then into the waters of consecration. Finally we arrive at the waters to swim in—the life wholly given to God (Ezekiel 47:3-5).
As soon as the victorious saints of the Church attain the waters to swim in, which is the fullness of eternal life, God will return them to the bank of the river as trees of life. Now it is time for the waters to pour forth from within them into the dead sea of mankind. This is the schedule of events of the Church Age as it moves toward the Kingdom Age.
The world is groaning in the chains of the servitude imposed on it by Satan. No release can come to the world until the sons of God have come to maturity (Romans 8:19).
There are three elements that will lift the curse from the sea and bring into view the Paradise of God. The three elements are the city, the tabernacle, and the wall. These are set forth in the last two chapters of the Book of Revelation.
The city represents the government of God through His elect.
The tabernacle speaks of the abiding Presence of God and of His Christ.
The wall portrays resistance to uncleanness and rebellion, the separation of the holy from the unholy.
The coming of the sons of God to maturity means that the city, the tabernacle, and the wall have all been perfected in them (in the sons). The rule of God has been developed in them; the Father and the Son through the Spirit are dwelling in them; and they have the ability to distinguish good and evil and the strength through Christ to choose the good and reject the evil.
Release can come to the "sea" only through those who are the city, the tabernacle, and the wall.
We have mentioned previously that every human being abides in Zion or in Jerusalem or in the sea or in death or in Hell. It is of the utmost importance that every believer understand that physical death of itself does not change the state in which the Christian is living. One of the greatest confusions in current thinking is that worldly believers will become saints when they die because they have made the "correct" verbal profession concerning salvation. The state in which we are abiding in the world is the state in which we pass into the spirit realm. What we are, we are!
We can change from one state to another during our lifetime on the earth depending on how we respond to the knowledge of God that has been given to us.
Thus far we have discussed the inhabitants of Zion, of Jerusalem, and of the sea.
To abide in death is to have destroyed one’s spiritual life by involvement in the things and pleasures of the present world, or by rejecting or ignoring the light that God has entrusted to us.
But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth. (I Timothy 5:6)
Whoever lives in the flesh, indulging his bodily appetites, will slay his spiritual life. His thoughts, his time, his strength, his emotions, his motives, his desires, his speech, are wrapped up in the pleasures and things of the world. There is no light of God in such an individual whether or not he claims to be a Christian. He is dead spiritually.
For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. (Romans 8:13)
Those who have slain their spiritual life by their involvement in the things of the world are dead. They cannot see or feel God. They will not be any more dead when they die physically. Instead of passing into the place of rest where the members of the sea await the Day of Judgment, the dead will dwell in darkness—just as they do today. They will wander about aimlessly, their life on the earth having prepared them only for worldly pleasures and experiences.
The Christians who have spent their days in the pursuit of material riches will be distraught when they die. They will discover that they have killed the part of their personality that would have made it possible for them to rest in the spirit realm until the Day of Judgment.
Death and Hell always ride together (Revelation 6:8) and will be thrown into the Lake of Fire together. They are spirits. Death separates the human from the Life of God. Hell brings torment. The rich man was spiritually dead because he was ignoring God, and was thrown into Hell because in his wickedness he neglected to assist the beggar, Lazarus. Living in spiritual death leads the individual into wickedness, into Hell, into the place of torment.
It is the wicked who experience Hell. They experience Hell while still alive on the earth and their physical death will increase their torment. Just as the dead will realize their deadness more fully when they die, so those who while on earth are abiding in Hell among the demons will experience greater torment when they die.
Judas Iscariot experienced Hell before he died. He rushed into the presence of the chief priests and elders and hurled down the money that had purchased the betrayal of the innocent Jesus. Judas made his confession before the rulers of Israel because he was in Hell, in torment. His state did not change when he died. No individual’s state changes when he dies.
We are living in Zion, or in Jerusalem, or in the sea, or in death, or in Hell. Physical death does not change our spiritual state.
In the case of the spiritually dead and the wicked there may be substantial unclean spiritual involvement. Such may find that the bondages of lust or rebellion or pride or lying or stealing or violence or perversion or jealousy that they have permitted to rule their conduct are still part of their personality after they die. Those spirits may accompany them into the spirit realm. Physical death may not set us free from the demons we have embraced while living on the earth.
If we are living as part of Christ, our growth in the Lord will continue without interruption after we die. He who lives and believes in Jesus will never die. The Wife of the Lamb is destined to be without spot or wrinkle. The ministries of the Holy Spirit will continue without ceasing until we all come to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Every member of God’s Israel will know the Lord, from the least to the greatest.
The greater part of the Body of Christ is in the spirit realm. Those of us on the earth are but a fraction of the Wife of the Lamb. The entire Body is being built up in the Head, Christ. All of the parts of the Body are contributing to perfecting the whole Body. It is our point of view that the process of completing and perfecting the Body of Christ has little to do with whether we are alive on the earth or in the spirit realm. It is one Body, one Church of the Firstborn, and it is growing in Christ. All of us will come to perfection together (Hebrews 12:23).
The revelation of Christ comes through the ministry on the earth but it always affects the entire Body. The Body will be perfect. The Wife of the Lamb will be perfect. What God begins He finishes. Christ not only is the Alpha, He also is the Omega. The work was finished in God’s vision from the creation of the world, and through Christ it will be brought to completion in living reality.
Our part is not to build the Church or to save the world. Our task is to cease from our own works and to enter that perfect plan of God that always is unfolding. The Divine plan is causing all things to work together for good to those who love God, who are called according to His purpose. The Word of God, the most powerful of all forces, always is bringing forth and always will continue to bring forth what God has spoken from the beginning. Let us learn to rest in, to work in, and to flow with the perfect flow of God’s wisdom and power.
Those who are part of Christ cannot be shaken or moved. They are eternal. But each saint must walk carefully and prayerfully. We are partakers of Christ only as we hold fast our confidence to the end. It always is possible to lose our inheritance through carelessness. We have a formidable enemy.
At the conclusion of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, the spirits of the last two states, death and Hell, will be thrown into the Lake of Fire; for they are enemies of God. The state of the sea will cease to be. All who are permitted to enter the new heaven and earth reign of Christ will be part of Him, although the extent to which each individual possesses Christ will vary from person to person.
And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (Revelation 21:2)
All the glory and wonder we associate with "Heaven" is coming to the earth. The Kingdom of God is coming. What has been invisible to earth’s peoples will become visible.
The Kingdom of God is the joining of the Divine and the human, the spiritual and the material. It is God in Christ in the saints governing and blessing all of God’s creatures.
Apart from the light and Glory of God the earth is the valley of the shadow of death. While we are on the earth in our mortal bodies we are in prison. We are in an "honor camp," so to speak. If we misbehave we may be thrown into a literal prison on earth, confining us even more closely.
Let us understand that life on the earth in its present form is not life at all. The world of flesh and blood is a dungeon when compared with the freedom that all of the children of God will enjoy one day.
Mankind is living under the Divine curse. Those who receive the Virtue and Glory of Christ will be totally released from the curse in the Day of the Lord. They then will experience true life and liberty. The will of God shall be done in the earth in them as it is in Heaven.
The Eternal Age, which will commence with the coming to earth of the new Jerusalem, is an endless era of love, peace, joy, and glory for God and man. It is life as God intends life to be. Life on the earth during the Church Age, and during the thousand-year Kingdom Age, is subnormal. These two ages are periods of introduction and preparation for true life—for life as it will be enjoyed during the Eternal Age.
Those who obey God during their time of probation will be brought into eternal life and will enjoy the Eternal Age. The meek will inherit the earth.
Those who turn away from God and grasp this present evil world will never, unless they repent, be trusted with the light and glory of the new world. They have embraced imprisonment and darkness, and imprisonment and darkness will be given to them. They have chosen Satan over God, and Satan will be given to them. They have chosen spiritual bondage over spiritual liberty, so spiritual bondage will be given to them. God opens His hand and satisfies the deepest desire of every living creature.
The eternal destiny of saved people is eternal life on a new earth under a new heaven. The new earth will be filled with love, joy, and peace.
Best of all, God and His Lamb will be ruling over the nations of the saved. The Throne of God and of the Lamb will be located in the saints who make up the holy city, the new Jerusalem.
Holiness is spiritual purity. Holiness is the absence of unclean spirits. To be holy is to be reserved to God for His own purposes.
The term "saint" means holy one. The members of the Church have been called out of the world in order that they may belong to God in a special way. They form a holy priesthood.
We are not made holy by imputation (assigned righteousness) except in the sense that those who receive Jesus are counted as holy because of their faith in Him. But we must continue in the sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit. If we do not we soon lose the initial holiness that was given to us when we received the Lord.
The true saints continue to be washed in the blood of the Lamb. The Christians continue to be delivered from sin by the power of the Holy Spirit and by the abiding Presence of Christ Himself.
Each member of the Wife of the Lamb, the Body of Christ, will be perfectly holy. Inside the walls of the new Jerusalem there will be nothing that defiles—no unclean spirits of any kind whatever. There will be no lust, no lying, no fear, no unbelief, no violence, no hatred, no malice, no idolatry, no covetousness, no sorcery, no drunkenness, no stealing.
The Lord Jesus is perfectly holy. He will judge every spirit of the members of His Body until each saint is as He is—holy and free from unclean spirits.
All that is unclean will be outside the walls. Nothing unclean will be permitted to enter the new Jerusalem unto the ages of ages. The kings and priests of God must be holy for they will stand in the Presence of God for eternity. They, along with the seraphim, will cry, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts."
One of the greatest mistakes in Christian thinking is the belief that people who are "saved by grace" will compose the holy city. The expression "saved by grace" is employed today to mean our sins are covered so God no longer sees us as we are.
If the new Jerusalem consists of people who still are sinning, who still are self-willed, but who are forgiven through Christ, then the new Jerusalem is holy by imputation (assigned righteousness) but unholy in actuality. That would be the same condition that exists today in the churches.
Such is not the case. The new Jerusalem is not unholy. There are no unclean spirits dwelling there. The redemption that is in Christ is not complete until we have been delivered totally from all that is of Satan and of our self-will. Until we have been made perfect by the working of Christ we cannot be part of the holy city.
In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, Holiness Unto The Lord; and the pots in the Lord’s house shall be like the bowls before the altar. Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the Lord of hosts: and all they that sacrifice shall come and take of them, and seethe therein: and in that day there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the Lord of hosts. (Zechariah 14:20,21)
The new Jerusalem is composed of the spirits of righteous men "made perfect."
To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, (Hebrews 12:23)
The Scriptures speak of a perfected Bride:
That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5:27)
The ministries of the ascended Christ shall continue to operate until every member of the Body of Christ has been brought to perfection.
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: (Ephesians 4:13)
We believe the above passage indicates that the work of perfecting the saints will continue in the spirit realm after we die, for it is obvious that the members of the churches on earth are nowhere near the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
It seems that a firstfruits of the Church will regain their bodies at the appearing of Jesus, and that the overcomers not only will rule the nations of saved peoples of the earth but also will assist in bringing to perfection the weaker members of the Body who were not qualified to be glorified in body at the time the Lord returned.
The Body of Christ, the Wife of the Lamb, the new Jerusalem, will be brought to perfection before it descends from the new heaven.
The Eternal Age will be governed from Jerusalem, not from Paris, London, or Washington, D.C. Jerusalem is the only city God has chosen as the capital of the world.
The foreknowledge and election of God are demonstrated and emphasized here. God does not change. His gifts and calling are without repentance. The Hebrew Prophets revealed that the blessing of God is on Jerusalem and will continue to be on Jerusalem throughout eternity.
The moment King David installed himself in the Jebusite city of Jerusalem—from that moment the capital city of the eternal Kingdom was established. David chose Zion, part of Jerusalem, to be his headquarters and the resting place of the Ark of the Testimony.
We Christians have been occupied for so long with the heavenly, spiritual dimension of the Kingdom of God that it is difficult for us to keep in mind that there is an earthly, physical dimension of the Kingdom.
When we travel to the earthly city of Jerusalem and place our hand on the wall of the old city it helps us grasp the physical dimension of the Kingdom.
The reason Satan hates and fears the Jews as he does is that Satan understands it is through Israel that his earthly empire will be destroyed. Satan is not concerned about the Christians' desire to "go to Heaven." Satan came from Heaven in the first place. Satan is interested in the earth. He understands that Christ will sit on the Throne of David in Jerusalem and govern the whole earth from there.
It is helpful for us to realize that the various aspects of Judaism, such as the priesthood, the Tabernacle, and the Temple, were ordained of God. But the elements of the Christian religion, the pews, steeples, organs, cathedrals, never were ordained of God. They are human responses to our spiritual calling.
The heavenly Jerusalem of the Christians is the spiritual dimension of the Kingdom of God. Jerusalem on the earth is the physical dimension of the Kingdom of God.
When the Lord Jesus appears, the glorified saints of the heavenly Jerusalem will come back into the physical world and govern the nations of saved peoples of the earth. The Jerusalem of the thousand-year period will be the earthly Jerusalem; but its King will be Jesus and its princes will be from Heaven. The Apostles of the Lamb will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Luke 22:30).
Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment. (Isaiah 32:1)
The principle of convergence is of the greatest importance. The question often is raised of the relationship between physical Israel and Israel after the Spirit, including the Israelites after the Spirit (Christians) who by race are Jews. The answer is there will be a converging of spiritual Israel and natural Israel such that natural Israel becomes an integral part of spiritual Israel. All Israel will be saved. Revival is coming to physical Israel.
The only true Israeli is the Israeli by promise. There are descendants of Abraham by flesh and by promise. Isaac is an example of these. There are descendants of Abraham by flesh alone. Esau is an example of these. There are descendants of Abraham by promise alone. The converted Gentile is an example of these.
The Church started out with the descendants of Abraham by flesh and promise. After the Day of Pentecost there were descendants by flesh and promise, such as the Apostle Paul, and also descendants by promise alone, such as Cornelius. In the last days the promise of God will return to the children of the flesh so they will become descendants of Abraham by flesh and by promise.
True Israel, the olive tree, consists of the descendants by promise whether or not they also are children of the flesh. True Israel is composed of the foreknown—the elect of God. The children of flesh alone are not true Israel. All Israel will be saved in the last days because true Israel will enter the city of Jerusalem and the nation will be born again "at once." The Spirit of God will be poured on Jerusalem. Salvation will come to the earthly Jerusalem.
After the thousand-year period has come to an end, the earth and heaven that we know will pass away. There will be a new heaven and a new earth. Then the entire new Jerusalem, not just the firstfruits, will descend from the new heaven and find its eternal rest on a high mountain of the new earth.
The new Jerusalem will not be perfected on the earth and then ascend to Heaven. The new Jerusalem will be perfected in Heaven and then descend to the earth. The spirits of righteous men made perfect are in Heaven (Hebrews 12:23).
For two thousand years the Christian churches have sought to build the Kingdom on the earth. The cathedrals of Europe and South America are expressions of man’s attempts to build the Kingdom and glorify God on the earth.
Today the quest for spiritual improvement and for the Kingdom is revealed in the Laodicean "togetherness" emphasis. The idea is that the Christians can join hands and build the Kingdom of God through their righteous behavior.
One recent development is political activism. Christian political activism, while it may accomplish some temporary good, always will stumble eventually because secular governments are incompatible with the nature of the Kingdom of God. Christian political activism, unless directed by the Lord to meet a special need, is just one more attempt of the flesh to build the Kingdom of God.
The true Church always is built in Heaven. We already have been raised in Jesus to the right hand of God. The Church is a wonder in the heaven (Revelation 12:1). Our perfecting as living "stones" is taking place as the Lord Jesus through the Holy Spirit is imparting His own virtue, strength, and wisdom to us. We are being formed at the right hand of God while our body and soul remain on the earth.
Man’s perpetual mistake is his concentration on earthly tabernacles and activities. But Christ desires that we walk in the heavenlies in Him while He perfects our spirit.
The new Jerusalem is not of the earth, it is of Heaven. The Lord Jesus is fashioning an eternal Wife from His own body and blood, not from the body and blood of human beings.
Jesus is God. He cannot take to Himself a human bride. Our humanity serves only as "bare grain" that is sown in Divinity until what no longer is flesh and blood has its rise in the heavenlies. Flesh and blood cannot possibly inherit the Kingdom of God. The first man is of the earth—earthy. The second man is the Lord from Heaven.
The days ahead will be filled with bloodshed. Human resources will fail us. All that flesh and blood have accomplished will be torn down.
What is being fashioned in Heaven will become ever more glorious. Those who are walking in heavenly places in Christ will stand throughout every calamity and shaking no matter what comes to pass on the earth.
While destruction and death are hurling hundreds of thousands of people into the realm of spirits, the saint who lives in the heavenlies will be filled with peace concerning his own life and the life of his loved ones. He understands that God has control over all persons whether they are alive on the earth or are living in the sight of God on another plane of existence. No one has passed into oblivion. The deceased are hidden from our view for a short period of time.
Our strength, our wisdom, our food, our health, our glory, our joy, our peace—all come from God in Heaven. If we look to the perfection of the Church in Heaven, not to our human accomplishments on the earth, we will stand in the dark hour that even now is upon us.
The Church, the new Jerusalem, must be "prepared." One of the misunderstandings of today has to do with the definition of faith. Faith is assumed to be a belief that what the Scriptures promise has already taken place in those who profess belief in Christ, or will take place without any effort on their part.
It is as though the Israelite could sit in Egypt and "by faith" leave Egypt, "by faith" gain the lessons of the wilderness, and "by faith" enter the land of promise; "by faith" meaning maintaining a mental grasp on the statements of the Scriptures.
Faith becomes a sort of magic carpet by which we sail away effortlessly from the bondages of Satan and arrive at the Paradise of God.
It is true, rather that we must make the effort to leave Egypt (the ways and spirit of the world); we must endure the rigors of the wilderness; and we must fight our way into Canaan.
When we first receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior we are not fit to be the Wife of the Lamb. Even after many years of cross-carrying obedience we still are not fully prepared to be with the Lord Jesus. The Holy Spirit constantly is preparing us, preparing us, preparing us to walk with Jesus. Every element of our personality must experience the purifying virtue of Jesus if we would be ready to walk with Him who is glorious in holiness.
One of the main purposes of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, as we understand it, is the perfecting of the Wife of the Lamb. It is not until the thousand years have been completed that the new Jerusalem, the Wife of the Lamb without spot, wrinkle, or blemish is brought into view.
At the beginning of the thousand-year period a firstfruits of the Bride has made herself ready for the marriage.
Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. (Revelation 19:7)
But it is not until the end of the Kingdom Age that the entire Wife of the Lamb is ready for her eternal destiny as the Tabernacle of God.
And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (Revelation 21:2)
The most important concept of the Scriptures is that of union. No other concept approaches union in significance.
Christ is in total union with the Father. So perfect, so total is that union it is impossible to separate the Father and the Son. Although Jesus and the Father are two distinct Persons, neither One is an individual apart from the Other.
Where the Father is, there is Jesus. Where Jesus is, there is the Father. He who has the Son has the Father also. It is impossible to have One without the Other.
The same union is to be true of us.
That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. (John 17:21)
If we were not to be made an integral part of God through Jesus, Jesus would have told us so (John 14:2).
The greatest of the mysteries of the Scriptures is that Christ is in us. The Lord God of Heaven is creating a living temple for Himself of which the Tabernacle of the Congregation is a type. The Lord Jesus is the chief Cornerstone of the eternal Temple of God.
Christ is the House, and the only House, of the Father. But in Christ there are many rooms, many abiding places. Each saint is being formed as a room in the House of God, as a room in Christ.
Christ is being enlarged through us. We are the completeness, the fullness of Christ just as a wife is the completeness, the fullness of her husband.
The purpose of the two thousand years of the Christian Era has been to call the Church, the Body of Christ, out of the world. Some members of the Church are pressing through to the union with Christ that all the members will, to a greater or lesser extent, experience one day. It appears that the greater part of the Church will come into union with Christ during the thousand-year period.
The thousand-year period is, as we understand it, the time of the spiritual fulfillment of the Day of Atonement, the Day of Reconciliation, the Year of Jubilee. It is the day of union, the day of the Marriage of the Lamb.
The union of the firstfruits with Christ is not limited to a feeble attempt on our part to please Jesus. It is to be a total union, an integration developed in the hottest flames of Divine love and cross-carrying obedience, bonded for eternity by every possible combination of difficulties, pain, faithfulness, patience, and Divine Glory.
Since it does not appear likely that such an arena of temptation and testing exists in the realm of spirits, it may be true that the greater part of the Church, which we think will be brought into a more perfect union with Christ during the thousand-year period, will never experience the intensity of union with Jesus, or the strength of rulership, that are capable of being developed during the discipleship of the saint on the earth.
We know from the last chapter of the Song of Solomon that the Bride has immature sisters who are in need of assistance. But the Apostles of the Lamb are not immature sisters who are in need of assistance. The Apostles of the Lamb will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. It is obvious that there are markedly different levels of inheritance in the Kingdom of God depending on one’s diligence in responding to the invitation of Christ.
He who overcomes shall inherit all things. (Revelation 21:7)
God is not satisfied with the intensity of our union with Himself until every atom of our personality and behavior is found in God and God is found in every atom of our personality and behavior. Such total union results in a loss of our individuality and an enhancing of our identity.
We are becoming one in Christ in God just as Christ and God are One. The name of God will be engraved in us. The name of the city of God will be engraved in us. The new name of Christ will be engraved in us.
How will we appear to the nations of saved peoples of the earth? We will appear as the priests of the Lord, as the covenant of the Lord with man, as the revelation of God Himself.
It always has been God’s desire that Israel, His elect, be a holy nation, a kingdom of priests. God wants us to be separated to Himself and to be holy and pure.
God is making every member of Body of Christ a servant, a witness, a king, and a deliverer.
The race of Israel, and also the Christian people, have resisted marriage to the Lord. The Lord’s anointed priests desire to be part of the world and to give the Lord’s blessings, the precious gifts that He offers to His beloved, to the world. This is Babylon (man-directed Christianity), the great prostitute.
God’s people refuse to be separated from the world. As soon as they have relief from persecution and tribulation they become involved with the world.
But all through the history of the elect, from the days of physical Israel and continuing with the Christian Era, there have been people who have sought the Lord and who have kept themselves from the world. It is those who are chosen as the Bride of the Lamb.
The Lamb and His Wife will govern the nations of saved peoples of the earth forever. The union of the saints with God will increase throughout the timeless ages of eternity until they are one with God. Thus will God increase His own Being in love.
Each of God’s creatures will have access to God through a saint whose personality is well adapted to the needs of that particular creature.
One can understand from this how misleading is the concept of the new Jerusalem as a group of golden mansions sent down from Heaven. The new Jerusalem is the Body of Christ, the Wife of the Lamb. The holy city consists of the saints—those who have become one with God and the Lamb. The light of God shining from the Wife of the Lamb will illumine the nations of saved people forever, revealing the ways of God in which the nations are to walk.
Through the saints the nations will have access to the eternal life that is in Christ, who will be dwelling in His fullness in the saints.
What is true today will be true in glorified form in the better world that is to come. God is in Christ in the saints today, and God’s Presence and ways are revealed to the world through the saints. But the Presence and ways of God are obscured because of the sin and self-seeking of the believers.
God is in the process of removing the sin and self-seeking from the saints. As He does, what will be true in the ages to come is revealed. Many of the essential aspects of the new age already are in existence, although in immature form.
The last two chapters of the Scriptures are describing the descent from Heaven of the perfected Church and of God and the Lamb in the Church. Saved mankind will enjoy the Presence and Glory of God in the Lamb and His Wife throughout the ages of ages.
Many times Israel was rebuked by the Lord for spending the Lord’s favors on the surrounding nations.
And thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty: for it was perfect through my comeliness, which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord God. But thou didst trust in thine own beauty, and playedst the harlot because of thy renown, and pouredst out thy fornications on every one that passed by; his it was. (Ezekiel 16:14,15)
The Holy Spirit adorns the Church so she may be acceptable to her Lord. But all through the Christian Era the Church has sought to obtain blessings from God so that through these blessings she might buy the favor of the world. This is spiritual prostitution-in-reverse and it is taking place today.
The Christian churches seek to be involved with the world. They desire to be accepted by worldly people, particularly by those of wealth and influence. The churches hope thereby to gain security, popularity, prestige. All such spiritual fornication with the world is an abomination to God.
God has not called to Himself the secular nobility of the present age. God has chosen those who are not important in the opinion of the influential people of the world.
The poor of the world whom God has selected are more exalted than any earthly rulers. If the elect will turn from the world and keep their spiritual adornments for their Husband, Christ, they will be the head and not the tail. But if they attempt to offer their Divine endowments to the world, hoping to gain the approval and assistance of the world, they will be as salt that has lost its savor. They will be of no use to God or man and will be persecuted and slain by those people from whom they withheld the pure light of holy testimony.
Our spiritual graces, our wisdom and understanding, the gifts and ministries we have, the revelations that come to us, the knowledge and Presence of God we enjoy, the power in prayer we have, are to be kept for the Lord’s use alone. They never are to serve as a means of buying the blessing and help of the world.
God shows us when we are to lend a helping hand to the world or otherwise minister to the needs of the world. The teachings and example of the Lord Jesus have been of extraordinary help to the world. But the Lord Jesus served the God of Heaven alone. He never used His Glory to gain the approval of the world.
And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. (Revelation 21:3)
We have seen that the eternal purpose of God is to establish a holy kingdom on the earth, a kingdom that will rule, guide, and bless the nations of the earth.
We have noticed also that the Kingdom of God, while it has an outer, visible structure, essentially is an inner kingdom, a kingdom of the heart. The Kingdom of God is the rule of God in Christ in people, beginning with the saints whom God has called to be a royal priesthood. The tabernacle, or dwelling place of God, is the throne of the Kingdom.
God has called the saints out of the world to be His eternal temple. Christ, as we have stated previously, is the only House of God. The members of the Body of Christ are "rooms" in Christ, rooms in which the Father and the Son can settle down and find eternal rest.
The Tabernacle of God is the place from which God will direct the affairs of His creation. The Tabernacle of God, the new Jerusalem, is the governing city of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God begins with God in Christ in the saints ruling over and blessing all of the works of God’s hands. From the saints will spread the rule and Glory of God throughout all of saved mankind as the nations receive the Presence of God in Christ in themselves.
The Tabernacle of God is the Church, the Body of Christ, the Wife of the Lamb, the holy city, the new Jerusalem.
The feast of Tabernacles, the seventh of the feasts of the Lord, portrays the concept of God in Christ dwelling in His people, and His people dwelling in Christ who is dwelling in God. This is "a wheel in the middle of a wheel" of Ezekiel 1:16. The saved nations must come up to Jerusalem to participate in the dwelling of the Lord in mankind.
And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. (Zechariah 14:16)
From the beginning God has planned His eternal temple. All of the workings of the Lord are to bring forth the Tabernacle of God. The Church is to become the habitation of God. We have not been called only to associate with God. We are to become the house of the Lord, the place of His Being and working.
All the ministries and gifts given by the Spirit of God are for the purpose of making us one with Christ in God so that God may have a place of rest. When God’s rest has been perfected in His Church, God in Christ in the Church will descend from Heaven to the new earth. Saved mankind will be governed and blessed by the Lord Himself through His saints. The throne will be joined to the footstool, and the end will be eternal righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
This is the eternal purpose of God. It was completed in God’s mind before He created the heaven and the earth.
Let us make sure we are not attempting to establish our own heaven and earth. Let us labor to enter that rest, into that finished work of the Lord, so that for eternity we can enjoy the role for which the Lord God has created us.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)