CHRIST THE DELIVERER: NINE
CHRIST THE DELIVERER: NINECopyright Š 2013 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
("Christ the Deliverer: Nine" is taken from Behold My Servant!, copyright Š 2011 Trumpet Ministries, found in the Kindle Library)
We understand that in the creation of the world as we know it, God created the heavens and the earth. We know also that darkness covered the "face of the deep."
The next act of creation was the bringing forth of light. We know that the "light" of Genesis 1:3 was more than physical light, for two reasons: (1) the light was "divided" from the darkness; and (2) there was no physical source, apparently, from which the light originated.
First of all, one cannot "divide" physical light from physical darkness since physical darkness merely is the absence of physical light. However, spiritual light can be separated from spiritual darkness. One is not merely the absence of the other. Christ is infinitely more than the absence of Satan. Godliness is infinitely more than the absence of sin. Love is infinitely more than the absence of hate.
Second, the sun, moon, and stars had not as yet been created. There was no source of physical light.
We conclude that the "light" of Genesis 1:3 was the Word of God--the Logos.
We do not infer from this that there ever was any darkness in the Logos for assuredly there was not. Rather the concept is that in the beginning God made a distinction between the darkness and the light (they both were present), keeping them separate and naming them. God chose the Word, the Logos, over Satan.
Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. (Psalms 45:7)
Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. (Psalms 45:6)
In the beginning God separated the light from the darkness. From that time to the present the darkness has not been able to find any place in the light. The darkness cannot overpower the light, understand the light, have fellowship with the light, or have any relationship with it whatever.
The light is the light and the darkness is the darkness. God has separated the one from the other. Never again will the two be allowed to mingle. Never again will Satan be allowed to sit in the council of the sons of God. Rather, he will be cast into the eternal torment.
A major part of the Christian life consists of our cooperating with the Holy Spirit as He separates the light from the darkness in us so we can identify clearly the point of origin of our deeds, our words, and our thoughts. Light is truth, and Christ is the Truth and the only truth. As He grows in us we understand truth; we walk in the light.
It becomes obvious upon reading the first few chapters of the Book of Genesis that there was a spiritual quality in the creation, a Divine Life that left because of the disobedience of Adam and Eve.
The entire material creation came into existence through means of the Word of God, which is spiritual (Hebrews 11:3).
The "light" that will arise on the Servant of the Lord (Isaiah 60:1) is not physical light. It is the Glory of Christ, the Light that God separated from the darkness in the beginning.
In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not [did not understand or overcome it or have any relationship to it]. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. (John 1:4-9)
We can notice in the above passage that eternal Life is in Christ, the living Word of God. The eternal Life is the light of "every man that cometh into the world."
There is no other moral light by which men can see the truth or in which people can walk without stumbling.
Today, great emphasis is placed on education, on the acquiring of knowledge, of facts. But the meaning, significance, and profitable application of the facts can be perceived only in Christ.
In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. There exists only one Light by means of which people can perceive reality, can distinguish between what is true and what is false. The one true Light is Christ and those in whom His Life is being created and revealed; for it is His Life that is Light.
It is difficult to understand how life and light can be the same; how eternal life itself can be our light. But it is true! Christ does much more than inform us of the Person, the will, the way, and the eternal purpose of God. Rather, the Life itself that Christ is, is imparted to us, and that Life reveals to us the true knowledge of the Person, the will, the way, and the eternal purpose of God in Christ.
The Life of Christ given to us leads us into the knowledge of the Father. Christ Himself is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He Himself is our wisdom, our power, our authority, our sanctification, our redemption, our joy--all we ever shall need or desire.
This does not mean, as some have supposed, that because Christ is holy we are holy by imputation and identification; that because Christ has joy we have joy vicariously; that we actually are joyless but we say we have joy because Christ has joy. It signifies rather that Christ Is our Sanctification and Joy working in us. We live in Him and experience His holiness and joy because He is in us. In this manner His Life becomes our light by which we are brought to the place where we love righteousness and hate lawlessness. It is a new creation working in us.
The Law of Moses is light only. There is no life in that light. The Law of Moses informs us of the Person, will, and way of God in a negative manner but it does not provide the life that enables us to rejoice and practice righteousness. Light without life kills. The letter of the Word without the Holy Spirit kills rather than heals. It is the Spirit who gives Life--the Life that Christ is.
We understand that the true Light has shone from the beginning, and that the darkness from which it was separated by the Lord never has been able to overpower it or relate to it in any manner. The Light of Christ has been separated eternally from the darkness. All the Glory of Christ has been separated eternally from Satan. Satan has no more place among God's nobles. It is God's will that we Christians should be separated eternally from sin and rebellion.
It is the will of God that the rebellious angels be bound eternally in the chains of darkness, never again to partake of the Light of Christ.
One of the greatest of the problems found among the Christian churches is that we tell about the Light but do not reveal the Light itself. We preach about Christ instead of preaching Christ. We live and work for Christ instead of living and working by and in Christ. There is teaching about God rather than the experience of the Presence of God. As a result the Light is polluted. The world beholds the fleshly wisdom, knowledge, ambitions, talents, and energies of well-intentioned religious people rather than the Light of the world. "We would see Jesus"!
There are many ways in which the Church of Christ bears witness of and reveals the glory of the resurrection of Christ. The Holy Spirit always is involved in any testimony that has eternal significance. The Spirit provides the wisdom and power, the Divine Life. The Spirit is the "oil" of the Lampstand, the Light that leads all men to the blazing Shechinah of Almighty God Himself.
One important means of revealing Christ, the Life of God, the Light of God, is by mighty signs and wonders. Miraculous powers and signs were necessary in the first century and are needed just as much in the twentieth century. The Gospel of the Kingdom, if it is to be presented in scriptural form, must be accompanied by supernatural works of power.
Men can talk by the hour and tell all about God and what they plan on doing for God. But the demonstration of one Divine miracle shuts the mouths of people and the attention of all is turned toward the awesome Presence of Christ Himself.
This is the difference between preaching about Christ and preaching Christ. Where Jesus is there will be miracles.
But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me. (John 5:36)
God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will? (Hebrews 2:4)
The same is true today. Any man can preach any doctrine he wishes. But he who is walking in and with Christ is a worker of miracles.
A second means of revealing the true Light is by the gifts and ministries distributed by the Holy Spirit.
But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. (I Corinthians 12:11)
Every member of the Body of Christ possesses one or more gifts of the Holy Spirit by means of which he can minister to the Body. These gifts are supernatural forthshinings of the Spirit of God. They are given for the building up of the Body of the Servant of the Lord. They are the abilities, the "talents" given by the resurrected and ascended Christ and brought to us through the Spirit of God.
The gifts of the Spirit are not natural talents, such as music or art. Rather, they are abilities given to us after we are born again of the Spirit. They are revelations of Christ. We are to desire them fervently. They are God-given means of imparting the Life of Christ to people.
Many--perhaps most--of God's people do not realize that the Spirit gives special abilities to each member of the Body; neither do they understand the purpose of the supernatural gifts given to the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit. It is not common knowledge that the believer is responsible before the Lord to use what has been given to him.
The believers do not pray and seek the Lord with nearly enough diligence. This is why they do not understand what their own roles are in the Body. Yet they will be held to strict account, in the Day of Resurrection, for the employment of their gifts and ministries.
The churches prefer to march along in their own strength and wisdom, using music to take the place of the areas of supernatural revelation that are missing, telling God's elect about Christ instead of revealing Christ to them. As a result the elect remain perpetually in a state of babyhood. It requires the revelation of Christ through the Spirit in order for Christ to be formed in the saints (Galatians 4:19).
A third means of bearing witness of Christ, of the Light, is by teaching, living by, and holding fast to the words of the Scriptures, both of the old Testament and the New Testament.
Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain. (Philippians 2:16)
Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. (Titus 1:9)
If we are to be strong in Christ we must learn the Scriptures, live by them as the Spirit of God helps us, and affirm them to be true even during difficult seasons of trial. We are bearing a true witness of the Light when we live by the Scriptures and teach other people that the holy Scriptures indeed are the Word of God.
However, bearing witness of Christ in the above manner must be accomplished in the Holy Spirit. It often is true that those who teach the Scriptures do so by their fleshly energy and ability. Most preaching and teaching, it appears, is so mixed with the human there is little Divine Life and Light in it. Much Christian preaching brings delusion and spiritual death.
Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. (II Corinthians 3:6)
There is no eternal life in either the Old Testament or the New Testament. Only in Christ is there eternal life. There is a tendency today to make the Scriptures equivalent to Christ. Assuredly, the Scriptures are not equivalent to Christ. Mary did not ask the gardener where he had laid her Bible but where he had laid her Lord.
The fervent desire of the scholar to make an everlasting refinement of the exegesis of the words of the Epistles of Paul will never lead to the Lord of Paul. Analyzing every brush stroke will never reveal the grace and beauty of a portrait.
The Scriptures testify of Christ. The Scriptures are not an end in themselves; neither is there life in them. The Scriptures are an eternally true witness of Christ. But Christ is greater than the words that bring us to Him.
The Scriptures are a true witness of Christ only when the Spirit of God employs them, investing them with the Life they describe. Apart from the Holy Spirit the Scriptures are dead.
We are to study the Scriptures continually, meditating in them day and night. If we do this faithfully and diligently, walking in the Spirit and obeying the Lord, the time will come when the Day Star, Christ, is formed in our heart (II Peter 1:19-21).
Men may master the Scriptures but Christ masters men. The study of the Scriptures should cause us to look up and cry, "My Lord and my God!" Otherwise we commit the sin of the Pharisees, which is to worship the Scriptures instead of Christ.
The diligent study of the holy Scriptures is one of the most helpful exercises the Christian can pursue. But that study must lead at last to the true Light. The true Light is not the words of the promise but the Life that Christ is. Without the Presence of Christ we are preaching about Christ rather than preaching Christ.
Paul did not claim that the Scriptures were his life. Paul declared: "For me to live is Christ." Paul's life is Christ. Here is the all-important distinction.
Another means of bearing witness of Christ, of the true Light, is by telling others of our personal experiences with Christ.
Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this Christ? (John 4:29)
This woman's personal testimony led other people to Christ:
And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed Christ, the Saviour of the world. (John 4:42)
Notice that the woman was not preaching only of what she had learned but was telling of something she had experienced.
For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard. (Acts 22:15)
When someone who has been touched by Christ is led by the Spirit to recount his experience, there is a shining of the Glory of Christ. He or she actually is "preaching Christ."
Christ is seen also in the transformed character of the saint:
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven. (Matthew 5:16)
Our good works are the behavior described by the Lord Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew, Chapters Five through Seven). They have to do with our pure love for God, particularly as our love is revealed in showing compassion and justice toward other people.
The miraculous change in the sinner who becomes a disciple of Jesus, his godly, sincere, upright, and holy behavior, is the Light, the expression of the Life of Christ. It is Christ in him revealing the Person, will, and way of God to the peoples of the earth.
Of all the means by which the saints light the world, the most important may be their godly character and behavior. Righteous and holy behavior that proceeds from the Divine Nature of Christ being created in us and working out through us is the law, the testimony of God, to the nations of the earth.
A godly, upright life, having been created so by the Virtue of God, is the clearest revelation of all to men and angels of the truth concerning God Almighty. If our goal is to lead people to God and keep them moving forward with God, there is no substitute for the example of a human being who is portraying in himself the pure and holy character that has been created by eternal Life working in him.
The effect of the other means we have mentioned of bearing witness to the Light is greatly weakened and sometimes destroyed altogether when unclean behavior is practiced by the believers in Christ. That is why a minister of the Gospel, although he may be gifted with an extraordinary ability to present the Word of God, will eventually prove to be a liability rather than an asset to the Kingdom of God if he is walking in self-centeredness and sin. Although the Holy Spirit may use him to present the Word of the Gospel to multitudes of sinners, he will not be received of Christ in the Day of the Lord nor be permitted to rule with Jesus during the Kingdom Age.
In order for the sinning Christian to continue with his testimony, for his "lampstand to be restored to its place" (Revelation 2:5), he must repent sincerely and renew his untarnished consecration to God's holy will.
We stated previously that one of the ways in which the saint bears witness of Christ is by teaching and living the standards of behavior presented in the Scriptures. To live according to the principles of the Scriptures is to conduct one's self in a godly manner, for that is what both the Old Testament and the New Testament command.
As we keep the words of Christ, practicing them as He gives us the ability, a transformation takes place in us. Christ is formed in us and dwells in us. Now we begin to act like Christ because we are becoming an inseparable part of Him.
First we keep the Word. Our godly behavior reminds mankind that there is a God in Heaven and that He is holy.
Then the Word begins to keep us. God becomes our salvation. We act righteously by nature--the Nature of Christ in us.
Notice the transition described in the following passages:
Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. (John 14:23)
We have also a more sure word of prophecy [the Scriptures]; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: (II Peter 1:19)
Godly behavior is both a means to the end and the end itself. It is a means to the end in that if we keep the commandments of the Lord and His Apostles, Christ will come to us and make His abode with us.
It is the end itself in that the image of Christ is godly personality and behavior. We have been predestined to be changed into the image of Christ, and our participation in the inheritance and responsibilities of the Servant of the Lord depends on Christ being formed in us and His Personality and conduct being revealed in us.
First we point to the Light by bringing our conduct under the discipline of the Scripture, the Holy Spirit helping us. Then Christ enters us to an increasingly greater extent and becomes our salvation. As more and more of our personality is filled with Christ we become part of the Light itself, the light of the new Jerusalem.
Paul became part of the Light itself. He was crucified with Christ. The life that he was living in the world was not his own life but the Life of Christ dwelling in him. The Light of the world was dwelling in Paul.
You may be going through a terrific battle now. But the day shall come, according to the Word of God, when Christ will enter you to a greater extent than you have known. In that day your joy will be full. You will receive the inheritance of the conqueror. You will serve God by the Nature of the Light of God who has been formed in you and is dwelling eternally in you.
In the last days the fullness of the anointing of the Spirit will come upon Israel, upon the saints of the Lord. When that takes place there will be a Divine light, a witness to the nations of the earth concerning the Person and will of the God of Heaven. This is another manner in which the saints become the Light itself.
For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. (Isaiah 60:2)
The Scriptures teach us that what we Christians possess at the present time is a firstfruits of the Holy Spirit and that there is coming a far greater measure of the Spirit that will be poured on the Church at the beginning of the Day of the Lord.
And not only they [the material creation], but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. (Romans 8:23)
Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month. (Joel 2:23)
The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts. (Haggai 2:9)
In the present hour the Holy Spirit is bearing witness through us in gifts and ministries. Also, the Spirit confirms our word as we hold forth the Scriptures. But in the Day that even now is dawning the Holy Spirit will be the great Light abiding eternally on the Servant of the Lord--Head and Body.
Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest [pledge] of the Spirit in our hearts. (II Corinthians 1:21,22)
The word "earnest" means pledge , signifying that what we possess now is a pledge or deposit on the fullness yet to come.
The hour will arrive when the Body of Christ is filled with the actual Presence of God in Christ. The Spirit will abide on the members of the Body in His fullness. The spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit dwelling in the members of the Church.
I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (John 17:23)
The clearest light, the purest testimony the Body of Christ can give, is the shining of the resurrection Life of the Lord Jesus Himself. As Jesus Himself is seen in the saints, the saints become part of the Light of the world.
First we are as John the Baptist, pointing to the Light. Then, as Christ is formed in us, we become an integral, eternal part of the great Light of the world.
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. (II Corinthians 4:11)
The saints labor long and hard to do the work of the Lord. But there are occasions when the Lord Himself steps through the Church, as it were, and reveals His glory. Then the nations can see the Light of God for themselves.
The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. (John 12:21)
No doubt the peoples of the earth greatly desire to see Jesus.
It is not often one gets a glimpse of Jesus in His churches. More often than not we are presented with the religious works of well-intentioned people. One may search for Jesus in vain among the religious processions of His "relatives." But He Himself can be found only in His Father's house doing His Father's business.
We of the churches tend to exalt our own works and ascribe greatness to our leaders. But such efforts are unprofitable to the Kingdom of God. It is only as Christ Himself is lifted up that men and women are drawn to God.
We draw people to ourselves. Christ draws people into the Presence of God. He Himself is the only Good Shepherd. The rest seek their own, not the things that belong to God.
We Christians are but the side-branches of the one Lampstand, the one Christ. Christ Himself always is the Life that is the Light of every man, woman, boy, and girl born into the world.
Every person on the earth who does not possess Christ is abiding in darkness and death. Every person on the earth who possesses Christ has the eternal Life and Light of God. The Life of Christ in us brings us to the Person, the will, the way, and the eternal purpose of God.
In his letter to the saints the Apostle John points out that the Word of God, the eternal Life, the Light of the world, is a tangible Substance--the Substance of Christ Himself:
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked on, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) (I John 1:1,2)
Eternal Life, the "light of men," can be heard; can be seen with the eye; can be handled with the hands. Eternal life, in the scriptural sense, is infinitely more than everlasting consciousness. All spirits, good and evil, have everlasting consciousness. Rather, eternal Life is the Substance of Christ. It is the Light, the knowledge and Presence of God Himself.
Apart from the possession of Christ all persons are dead, although they may be alive in the knowledge and energy of the flesh and soul. All men and women, boys and girls are dead until they receive Christ into themselves. Our physiological processes, such as breathing, speaking, moving, digesting, and so forth are neither life nor light, from the viewpoint of God.
John goes on to say:
This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he [God] is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. (I John 1:5-7)
God Himself is Light. There is no darkness in God. Walking in darkness means we are walking outside of God, outside of eternal life. We understand from this that all that is of Satan, of sin, is outside of God.
Sin is darkness and death, and the Life and Light of God have been separated eternally from it and can never again be mixed with it. All that is of Christ is in God, is the Light of the Glory of God, and is eternal Life.
The Lord Jesus made the following declaration concerning the Church, His Body--the fullness of the Servant of the Lord:
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)
The Church is the light of the world because Christ, who Himself is the Word of God, the Resurrection and the Life, the true Light who lights every man who comes into the world, is the Head of the Church and is dwelling in the Church.
The Christian churches, in the earthly sense, are made up of flesh-and-blood people. There neither is life nor Divine Light in flesh and blood. There is nothing in the flesh or blood of Christian people that can bring eternal life or Divine Light to other people.
It is Christ, the Word of God, dwelling in the Church who is the Light of the world. Christ is the Substance of eternal Life. His eternal Life destroys the darkness of sin in us and brings the light of righteousness, holiness, obedience to God, joy, and peace into the spirit, the soul, and (at the resurrection) the body of the believer.
Christ is the eternal Light and Life of the Glory and Presence of God. By Him we come to understand and experience the Person, will, and way of God. As we, through the grace of God given to us in Christ, are enabled to act, speak, and think in the holy ways of Christ, we are brought into the Presence of almighty God.
Only the pure in heart ever will see God. Christ Himself is the Way to that purity. He is the Truth of God and the eternal Life from God.
The new covenant consists of people in whose mind and heart has been written the Word, the Torah , of God. Command upon command, rule upon rule, here a little and there a little the Spirit of God is transforming us into the Word of God, into the Light and Life of God. We are becoming the Word of God. We are becoming the light of the world. We are becoming eternal life.
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. (II Corinthians 3:18)
As the Spirit of God reveals to us the Glory of Jesus Christ we are changed into that same image. We are transformed into the Glory of the Lord by means of the working in us of the Word of God, the body and blood of Christ, and the resurrection power of the Holy Spirit. This is what the new covenant is--the transformation of a flesh-and-blood human into the "Lord from heaven" (I Corinthians 15:47). We become an inseparable part of the Lord. Here is the marriage of the Lamb.
The Servant of the Lord is the covenant of God with His creation. He is the tree of life, the eating of whose fruit brings eternal life. He is the light by means of which people can see, understand, and experience God. Healing comes to all mankind through the Servant of the Lord.
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the Glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (II Corinthians 4:6)
The "light" of Genesis 1:3 that shone out of darkness was the "light of the knowledge of the Glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."
This glorious light, this eternal life, is abiding and shining in the heart of every true saint. It is the way to the Father, the truth concerning the Father, and the life from the Father.
The Way which Christ Himself is leads us to the truth of God's Person, will, and ways. The truth teaches us to keep God's commandments, setting us free from all the works of the devil. Increasing freedom from sin brings us into increasing ability to receive resurrection life in our spirit, in our soul and (when Jesus returns) in our mortal body. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.
Christ Himself is the map, the road, and the destination. Jesus Christ never is the means to any end other than Himself. Jesus Himself is the End. This is the greatest truth any person can learn now or in eternity.
Each member of the Servant of the Lord must be willing to endure with patience the many lessons taught in the Holy Spirit's school of righteousness, holiness, and obedience. There is a wilderness wandering prior to our entering the land of promise.
We have so much to learn! So much to become!
If we will continue to persevere in Christ, setting our face like a flint, praising God for the pleasant experiences and seeking His face in the hour of trial, enduring patiently until our course has been completed, we will be ready for the fullness of resurrection life when Jesus returns.
Then we no longer will have the light of the knowledge of God in an "earthen vessel" but shall possess the Divine Life in a body like the glorious eternal body of our Lord Jesus Christ. We will be an integral part of the Light that illuminates the creation of God.
The Church of Christ, the Body of Christ, the new Jerusalem, the holy city, the Servant of the Lord, the Kingdom of God, is the eternal light that will reveal the Lord God to all mankind.
And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; (Revelation 21:10,11)
Eventually every one of God's saints will be prepared as a polished jewel and will find his place in the holy Jerusalem. When the inhabitants of the holy city have been perfected according to God's standard of perfection, which is the measure of the stature of the full completion and perfection of Christ, they will descend from the new heaven to be located on a high mountain of the new earth.
And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. (Revelation 21:15)
The virtue of the city is being formed now in the hearts of the saints.
The glorious light streaming from the new Jerusalem is radiantly beautiful, clear as crystal. The beauty of the city is the beauty of holiness. It is the holy city.
And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the Glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. (Revelation 21:23)
In Genesis, Chapter One we find that God created the sun, moon, and stars in order to divide the day from the night, for signs and for seasons, for days and for years, and to give light on the earth. But there is no night in the holy city. There is no need for signs or seasons because the Lamb always is present. Eternity is not governed by days and years. The original Light, the Glory of God and the Lamb, has now become the Light of the holy city of God.
And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. (Revelation 21:24)
And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 22:5)
God saw the light that it was good and God separated the light from the darkness. May God, who has created the Light of Christ in each saint, now completely separate that Light from the darkness that yet is in us. Then we, having been separated from all darkness and death, will be ready to go forth in the fullness of the glory of the Servant of the Lord, bringing justice and truth to the nations of the earth.
Christ, Messiah, the Anointed One, came two thousand years ago. He revealed in Himself the light of the knowledge of the Glory of God. He provided a foretaste of what it will be like when He appears in His glory, surrounded by His saints and the holy angels.
Why, then, did He not set up the Kingdom of God on the earth at His first coming? Why did He permit another two thousand years of war, famine, human anguish? Why does God allow sin to fester and raise into a hideous boil on the face of the earth?
One reason for the delay is that God is waiting for sin to come to maturity. God's purpose in allowing sin to come to maturity is best known to God and has to do with His own wisdom and ways of accomplishing His goals, particularly among the spirit inhabitants of the heavens.
To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by [through] the church the manifold wisdom of God, (Ephesians 3:10)
God's willingness to permit sin to come to maturity was expressed to Abraham:
But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full. (Genesis 15:16)
God must wait for both the wheat and the tares to come to maturity so that when God uproots the tares from His creation the wheat will not also be destroyed. It is God's way to wait until the spirits and their activities come to clear definition before He exercises His judgment.
A second reason for the delay is that God desires that all people come to repentance.
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. (II Peter 3:9)
A third reason for the delay is that the Body of Christ, the fullness of the Anointed One, was not in existence when Christ first came to the earth. The Body of Christ is being created from the broken body and shed blood of the Lord Jesus. This process has been continuing for the past two thousand years and now is approaching maturity in preparation for Christ's glorious appearing.
The sin and rebellion in the earth are assisting in the development of the Body of Christ, especially in the formation of the conquering character of the victorious saints. Our faith is as gold being refined in the fire.
How could an overcomer be formed if there were nothing to overcome? It is necessary for the accomplishing of God's eternal purposes that offenses come. Just as manure is used to fertilize the plants that yield the food we eat, so the presence of offenses assists the development of the fruit of righteousness as we overcome sin.
God is causing all things to work together for good to those who are called according to His eternal purpose in Christ.
The first and second appearings of Christ are revealed in the fifth chapter of the Book of Micah:
But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth: then the remnant of his brothers shall return unto the children of Israel. (Micah 5:2,3)
Christ, the Word of God, the Servant of the Lord, is the "ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting."
"She who travails" is the Church of Christ. The travail of the Church, when it truly is the travail of the Spirit of God, always brings forth Christ. All the ministries and gifts the Spirit has given to the saints are laboring to build the Body of Christ "unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ."
"The remnant of his brothers" are the members of Christ's Body. Christ has been formed in them through the travail of the Church.
As soon as Christ has been formed in the Church to the degree God has in mind, the Head of the Body will return. The result of the joining of the Head to the Body is described as follows:
And he shall stand and feed in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God; and they shall abide: for now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth. (Micah 5:4)
"They" who "shall abide" are the people of true Israel, the Lord's elect.
John 17:23 repeats the revelation of Micah 5:4:
I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (John 17:23)
Again, in Ephesians 1:22,23:
And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. (Ephesians 1:22,23)
The extent to which Christ is central in the plan of God becomes more apparent as we press into Him. The more we mature as saints the greater Christ becomes in importance to us.
All the promises of redemption and blessing found in the Scriptures are directed toward Christ. They are available to us only because of our relationship to Christ.
Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. (Galatians 3:16)
The promises of fruitfulness, of dominion over the enemies of the Seed, and of being a blessing to the nations of the earth were made to Christ. Christ is the only Seed of Abraham. All the promises made to the Servant of the Lord, as recorded in the writings of the Hebrew Prophets, are directed toward Christ. We are so accustomed to "claiming the promises of Scripture" we do not always realize that these promises are directed toward Christ.
In fact, the burden of prophecy concerning the Kingdom of God declared by the Prophets of Israel did not apply to the Jews of their day. The announcements leaped over their heads and settled down to abide eternally on the Babe of Bethlehem and on those who belong to Him.
Unto whom [the Hebrew Prophets] it was revealed, that not unto themselves [the physical Israelites], but unto us [the Christians--Jews and Gentiles] they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into. (I Peter 1:12)
Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. (Galatians 3:19)
The only utterances of the Prophets that apply to physical Israel are those dealing with the flesh and blood issues of their own day or with some physical characteristic of their future history. Every declaration of spiritual significance, including all those statements that have to do with the Kingdom of God, is directed toward Christ even though it is spoken to "Israel."
Christ Himself is the only true Israel of God, the only true Vine of God. No person is a member of the true Israel unless he or she is part of Christ. The Seed of Abraham is One.
No promise concerning the Kingdom of God applies to physical Israel or to any believer as an individual apart from Christ. The promises concerning the Kingdom of God apply only to Christ. A man, woman, boy, or girl must be in Christ in order to be a recipient of the promises of the holy Scriptures.
Perhaps the clearest prophetic picture of Christ to be found in the entire Scriptures is the Tabernacle of the Congregation. The Tabernacle of the Congregation is described in Exodus, Chapters 25-40. The Tabernacle is an illustration of the Person of Christ, Christ, the Anointed One, the Servant of the Lord.
Imagine, if you will, the Tabernacle standing on end with the Altar of Burnt Offering at the bottom and the Mercy Seat at the top. There you have Christ, the Servant of the Lord.
The Head of Christ is God Himself.
But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. (I Corinthians 11:3)
God is represented by the solid-gold Mercy Seat with its covering cherubim. Dwelling between the cherubim is the Fullness of the Glory of God Almighty. The Mercy Seat (Lid of Atonement) reveals to us the desire of God to reconcile to Himself the fallen race of man. Christ always is seeking to reconcile people to God (II Corinthians 5:20).
The two covering cherubim remind us there are two sides to God's Personality. God possesses a fiery, undefilable holiness. God is the great Judge, the great Lawgiver. The soul that sins shall die. That part of the Nature of God has not changed over the passage of time although some believe that it has.
God possesses also a great Father heart of love for His creatures and continually is seeking ways to save them. Gentleness always has been true of God, even on Mount Sinai. God does not change. We must accept both aspects of God's Nature if we wish to have a true understanding of Him. God is perfect fiery holiness. God is perfect redeeming love.
Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: . . . . (Romans 11:22)
The Head of Christ is the Mercy Seat. Crowning the Head is the Fullness of the Glory of God, including the fiery judgment of God and also the redeeming love of God.
The soul of Christ is represented by the Ark of the Covenant. Inside the Ark are the Ten Commandments (the law of God written in the mind and heart); the memorial jar of manna (continual reliance on every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God); and Aaron's rod that budded (the power of endless, incorruptible life that abides in and upon every priest whom God has chosen to stand before Himself).
The Altar of Incense is the voice of Christ continually offering to God worship, supplication, and intercession. Christ prays without ceasing. As Christ is formed in us we become part of that burden of worship, supplication, and intercession. Christ always is speaking and singing to the Father. This increasingly becomes true of us.
In the right hand of Christ is the golden Lampstand, the Spirit of Christ. The Lampstand of the Tabernacle represents the fullness of the seven Spirits of God who dwell in their fullness in and upon Christ.
And the spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; (Isaiah 11:2)
The Spirit of God without measure will abide on the Body of Christ as soon as the Head is joined to the Body. We Christians possess the firstfruits of the Holy Spirit. But in the Day of the Lord the fullness of the holy anointing oil, the priestly anointing, will flow down over the entire body of God's anointed Servant.
It is like the precious ointment on the head, that ran down on the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; (Psalms 133:2)
The fullness of resurrection life will abide eternally on the Servant of the Lord "as the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended on the mountains of Zion" (Psalms 133:3).
In Christ's right hand, then, is the fullness of revelation and power.
In the left hand of the Servant of the Lord, Christ, is the Table of Showbread. The Table of Showbread typifies the body and blood of Christ, the Divine Substance that is the Bread of God "which cometh down from heaven and giveth life unto the world" (John 6:33). It is the body and blood of Christ in us, by which we are to live, that will raise us up to Christ at His appearing.
Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. (John 6:54-57)
Christ is the Tree of Life. He is the Resurrection. He is the Life. The victorious saints have the opportunity to eat of Him (Revelation 2:7). The body and blood of Christ compose the Substance of the Word of God, the eternal Life that is Christ and from which the Body of Christ is formed. The members of the Wife of the Lamb can bring life and light to the nations of the earth because the members have been formed from and live by the body and blood of Christ (John 6:57).
In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:2)
The new Jerusalem itself is a portrayal of Jesus Christ, of each saint who has come to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, and of God in Jesus in all the true saints.
The bronze Laver represents the hip area of the Servant of the Lord. The Laver speaks of the righteousness, holiness, and obedience produced by the "washing of water by the word" (Ephesians 5:26).
Righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God form the basis for the fruitfulness and dominion that are the inheritance of God's Servant. Cleansing, fruitfulness, and physical strength proceed from the hip area of man.
Righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God are the moral image of Christ. Only as the image of Christ is perfected in us are we eligible to receive and capable of receiving the fruitfulness and dominion promised to "man" (Genesis 1:27,28). Christ and His Body are the firstfruits of "man" (James 1:18).
The feet of the Servant of the Lord are portrayed by the bronze Altar of Burnt Offering. The altar of sacrifice was constructed from acacia wood covered with bronze (Exodus 27:1,2). Bronze typifies that which can withstand the fire of God's judgment.
The bronze Altar is Calvary in its perfect and complete work of redemption, bringing the Divine reconciliation to the ends of the earth. The acacia wood reveals the humanity of Christ on the cross. The overlay of bronze speaks of the fiery judgment that always will fall on sin and rebellion against God, burning up all that is displeasing to the Lord.
Christ strides through the earth executing the judgment of God. He is the "new sharp threshing instrument having teeth" (Isaiah 41:15). It is given to the Body of Christ to judge men and angels. God will crush Satan under the feet of the saints.
We see, therefore, that the purposes of God will be fulfilled in and through His Servant who is Christ, the Anointed Deliverer who is to come.
The earth is rolling along in the grip of sin and death. The original curse still binds mankind and nature. The disobedience of Adam and Eve condemned every person born on the earth to a life of sorrow.
But Jesus Christ has come and has brought to mankind His Life, the life that is the light of men. Christ's death on the cross removed from Satan all legal right to the creation of God.
However, the removal of his "rights" does not prevent Satan from continuing with his actual influence on the affairs of the world. Today the earth is filled with lust, violence, covetousness, sorcery, rebellion against God, pride, and every other sinful and rebellious perversity. These manifestations of hatred and defiance against God always result in unrest, confusion, and anguish of spirit, soul, and body.
The world is "the valley of the shadow of death" of which David wrote. Every year that passes produces an increase in the work of demons among men, in the manifestation of the spirit of Satan. The earth is becoming an unfit place for the habitation of righteous people. As soon as God's purposes have been accomplished He will bring the present age to a close.
The ministry of Christ did not come to an end on the cross of Calvary. Instead, the Substance of the resurrected Christ has been sown and yet is being sown in millions of devout believers. A stupendous harvest of Christ is appearing on the horizon. Truly, God is bringing many sons to glory. Christ is being multiplied "as the stars of the heaven and as the sand that is on the sea shore."
At the precise moment designated by the Father, the Servant of the Lord--the branches as well as the Vine--will be empowered to bring judgment and deliverance, justice and truth, to the nations of the earth.
The judgment and deliverance, justice and truth, are being created now in the members of the Body of Christ. The Body is not yet mature in the area of judgment and righteousness. Full deliverance for the earth is impossible until the Church itself is walking in Kingdom righteousness and power.
As soon as God has brought Christ to maturity in the sons of God, the sons will be unveiled and all the creation will behold the image of Christ that has been created in God's holy ones.
So magnificent, so galactic in breadth and energy will be the Presence of God revealed in the sons of God, that the entire creation will be released into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. The release will take place in the "midnight hour," when the nations have fallen into the "inner prison," into the deepest dungeon of sin and death ever experienced on the earth. Can this period be far away?
And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed. (Acts 16:25,26)
In the last days of the present age another set of "two witnesses" (Christ and His Body) will be released from their "prison." Then will there be a great earthquake, and the kingdoms of the world will become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ (Revelation 11:11-15).
Hundreds of years before Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem, the Spirit of Christ in Isaiah commanded us: "Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth!"
Thus far in history we have seen the Lord Jesus. Jesus is the Head, and the Standard against which every other aspect of the Servant is being measured.
Christ, the Servant of the Lord, is being formed in the Church. God has mighty, eternal purposes that cannot be accomplished apart from the development of the fullness of Christ in the members of the Body of Christ.
Each day the members of the Body of Christ portray in themselves the death and resurrection of Christ; for the death and resurrection of Christ are the power of God unto salvation. "As he is, so are we in this world" (I John 4:17).
The Holy Spirit has been charged with maturing and unifying the Body of Christ.
Let us who are of the Church of Christ reach out toward the Lord Jesus with single-mindedness of purpose in order that we may grasp that for which we have been grasped by the Lord. If we do this we cannot fail, for He has promised to keep that which has been committed to Him against the Day when the Kingdom of God is brought into the earth by the Lord God of Heaven.
Our calling is exceedingly high. The One who is calling us is higher than all. He neither shall fail nor be discouraged with you or me if we will set our love on Him. We must be faithful in the small tasks set before us each day and continue to look to God for the wisdom and strength needed to achieve victory over the problems at hand.
If each of us will remain steadfast in our hope in Christ we will, in the not too distant future, serve God as an integral part of the eternal Servant of the Lord.
O God, grant to each of us the fervent desire to do Your will. Guide us into uprightness and holiness of thought, word, and deed. Help us overcome sin and self-seeking. Create in us a true love for the Lord Jesus.
Keep us from the evil one, we pray. We sanctify Your great Name in our hearts. Your Kingdom come. Your will be done in earth as it is performed in Heaven.
Come quickly, Lord Jesus. Amen.