JOHN, CHAPTER SEVENTEEN
JOHN, CHAPTER SEVENTEEN Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
The more Christ grows in us the more we become aware that the goal of our Christian discipleship is to become one in Christ in the Father. The true goal makes clear to us that godly behavior is a necessary part of salvation. The goal of salvation is not as much to get people into Heaven as it is to get the Life and ways of God into people.
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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. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 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 7:21-23
This may be the greatest promise in the Scriptures.
JOHN, CHAPTER SEVENTEEN
With the exception of the passages that describe the suffering, atoning death, and triumphant resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, the seventeenth chapter of the Gospel of John may be the "most holy place" of the Scriptures.
We find here the love of Christ for his disciples, the attitude with which a man or woman of God should face physical death, the Divinely ordained wall that separates the Church from the world, and the glorious destiny of the saints, which is union among themselves in the Son in the Father.
Why did Christ not bow His head and close his eyes as we do when we pray? Perhaps God was so close to Him and Heaven was so real to him that He could see into Heaven. May God grant to us that we too may set our hearts and minds on things above until we are walking in heavenly places in Christ.
One of the evidences we are becoming spiritually mature is the strengthening of our awareness of the Lord’s timing. While we are immature we tend to rush about in ignorance of God’s will concerning the time during which we should attempt to accomplish things. As we grow in grace we come to realize there is a time, a season, for the events of the Kingdom of God.
As we submit to Christ’s will and learn to flow in resurrection life, our sense of the Spirit’s timing becomes increasingly clear. This is where patience and trust are required.
In some ways the Christian discipleship is a "dance" in which Christ does the leading. When we attempt to lead and direct Christ, confusion and discord result.
Christ was thirty-three years of age at the time of this prayer. The hour had come for Him to leave the world and return to the Father in Heaven. The Presence of God and of faith were so strong in Christ that He did not weep and mourn because He was "too young to die." He understood that the hour of His departure was now and He was content to abide in the will of the Father.
King Hezekiah had an excellent record of service to God; but he is an example of what not to do when our hour has come to go to be with Christ.
When Hezekiah became ill he did not inquire of the Lord concerning God’s will for his life. He did not attempt to discover God’s opinion of what was best for him.
Then Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall, and prayed unto the Lord, And said, Remember now, O Lord, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore. (Isaiah 38:2,3)
As a result of Hezekiah’s mournful petition, God added fifteen years to his life. What happened afterward suggests Hezekiah would have fared better if he had accepted God’s timing for his life. In his joy over his recovery he became too friendly with the King of Babylon.
The Lord was not pleased with the warm welcome Hezekiah gave to the Babylonians. His splendid testimony was blemished.
Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store until this day, shall be carried to Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the Lord. And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon. (Isaiah 39:6,7)
The wise person seeks the face of the Lord until he understands the Lord’s will for himself. In all his ways he acknowledges the Lord and commits his desires to Him—even concerning the duration of his physical life. Then he abides in that will as Christ gives grace.
Christ was brought low in life and lowlier yet in death. He walked as a humble, poor man among men. He was despised and rejected, having no beauty that we should desire Him. In His death He was displayed as an object of ridicule.
Now Christ has been glorified, magnified, exalted. Much of the history of the world consists of the response of people to the Lord Jesus. Cathedrals and churches are found on every continent. Literature, music, and art abound with references to Christ.
The honoring and exalting of Christ results in the honoring and exalting of God the Father. Christ leads people to the Father. This always is true. The nature of the Personality of Christ is such that His glorification always results in the glorification of the Father.
This is not consistently true of Christ’s followers. Sometimes we seek Christ’s glory so we may glorify ourselves.
The mature saints live only for the glory of Christ. When they are honored and exalted the praise flows past them to Christ to God the Father. To God be the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
Christ owns all the peoples of the earth. He possesses authority over all mankind. We need to hold this fact firmly in our minds during the days to come.
Great spiritual darkness even now is coming upon the world. We can feel this heaviness today. We can behold the filthiness of the flesh as human beings attempt to rid themselves of all restraints on their behavior.
God’s response is to laugh at the pitiful spectacle of the dust of the ground trying to shake off the bounds set by its Creator (Psalms 2:4).
We see wicked, self-seeking men vying with one another for preeminence, each man hoping other people will think of him as God. This striving for mastery will continue in the world and in the churches until God permits a Satan-filled human to sit on the Mercy Seat in the Temple in Jerusalem—a human who works miracles and proclaims himself God Almighty. Then the Jews are to flee from Jerusalem into the wilderness, because great tribulation will result from this abomination that creates desolation.
It is the Lord Jesus Christ who, in the wisdom and power of God, is permitting these abominations to take place. He is the One who has been given authority over all flesh. The offenses are necessary for they are bringing into being the perfect Bride of the Lamb and the Kingdom of God.
But woe to the persons through whom the offenses come!
We are not to fret ourselves concerning the behavior of the wicked in the earth (Psalms 37 and 73). Rather, we are to lift up our heads because our redemption is drawing near. Christ will allow wickedness to come to maturity in the earth. Then He will reap the harvest, gathering it into the ovens of judgment to be burned. But the righteous will shine forth in the Kingdom of God.
Let us be of good cheer. Our Lord Jesus Christ has overcome the world. He is Victor and Lord. He will bring us into glory as soon as we have been prepared.
Christ gives eternal life to each person whom the Father has given to him. The doctrine of election, of Divine choosing, runs throughout the Scriptures. Sometimes it is difficult for us to understand how God can elect some people and not others. We cannot grasp how God can do that and yet leave us with a choice. Also, the doctrine of election goes against our idea of what is fair and what is unfair.
If we think about it, each human being makes choices throughout his life depending on the circumstances in which he finds himself. The human drama is far too large a canvas for us to comprehend. The Scriptures teach us that each person is judged in terms of his opportunities, in terms of what he has seen and experienced. Little is required of those to whom little has been given.
As for our idea of what is fair, what is equitable, on what basis are we to determine this? Our doctrine of fairness has been warped by the teachings of the past four hundred years that have attempted to make man into God. Rebellion against God, against all authority, has been implanted deep in us. Therefore we find it difficult to accept the doctrine of Scripture that God is the Potter and we are the clay. We cannot grasp the "fairness" of it. We are unable to judge righteous judgment.
We do know that God is all-powerful and absolutely righteous. It is fitting for us to trust His righteousness and "fairness." God Himself is the Standard of all equity. All men are wicked. God alone is good. Let God be true and every man a liar.
Christ gives eternal life to each individual who has been given to Him by the Father.
In the seventeenth chapter of John we behold the outlines of the highest, thickest, mightiest, most impenetrable wall in the universe—the wall between the world and God’s elect. The wall stands before us in its power and glory. It is the division between the nations of the earth and the Church of Christ—the towering wall of the holy city, the new Jerusalem.
What is life eternal? Life eternal is not perpetual existence. All spirits will live forever. Ten billion years from now, Satan, his angels, and the unrepentant of mankind will be suffering torment in the Lake of Fire. They will be consciously alive. The deadly virus of sin, rebellion, and stubbornness still will be present in the universe. But none of these rebels will ever possess eternal life.
It is the knowledge of God that is life eternal. When we first receive Christ we pass from death, which is separation from God and ignorance of God, into life, which is reconciliation to God and the beginning of our knowledge of God.
Being "saved" by believing in Christ should not be viewed as a "ticket to Heaven." We do not receive the fullness of eternal life when we accept Christ. Eternal life is not merely eternal existence, as we have pointed out.
Christ Himself is the Resurrection and the eternal Life from God. It is as we embrace Christ in our daily life that we embrace Eternal Life more completely.
Christ is the Door to eternal life, the Door to the knowledge of the Father. As we go through that Door we enter the pastures of eternal life. We must, as Paul exhorted Timothy, lay hold on eternal life. We must leave all else and press forward into eternal life, into the knowledge of God that Christ keeps on bringing to us and that always and only is in Christ and is Christ.
Eternal life is gained by running a race—a race against all the tides and currents of the world. The Christian race is an uphill, upstream push every inch of the way. If we would obtain the knowledge of God we must forsake all else and give ourselves wholly to the pursuit of Divine Life.
The route to eternal life is narrow—difficult to enter and difficult to follow. Sometimes it is a lonely path. The road to destruction is wide, easy to enter and to follow, and there is much company along the way.
We attain the first resurrection from the dead as we come to know the power of Christ’s resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death on the cross.
The Father and the Son come to the believer who guards and observes the Words of Christ. The Son knows the Father and reveals the Father to whomever He will. The knowledge of the Father brings rest to our soul. The knowledge of the Father satisfies the deepest longings of our heart. The knowledge of the Father is eternal life.
Let us say again, it is as we embrace Christ that we embrace eternal Life. It is His Life that is the light of men. The knowledge of God is not a theology we can grasp with our mind. The knowledge of God is the very Life of Jesus that enters us and is formed in us.
Life, wisdom, and knowledge are one, in this instance. The Lord Jesus is the Truth. Eternal life is a kind of life as biological life is a kind of life.
All persons on the earth, unless their spiritual nature has been warped, believe in God. People believe in God instinctively because that is the way we have been created. No human being ever finds rest until he or she finds rest in the Father.
The issue of life, of Divine rest, concerns Christ. The statement is being made today that Christ is the answer. Christ is not only the answer, He is the question!
Is He the One whom the Father has chosen? Is it true that we cannot come to the Father except through Christ? Are we to take our God-given trust in our Creator and place that most precious treasure in the hands of the Man—Christ? The most important question ever asked any human is: What are you going to do with Jesus who is called Christ?
Only a fool claims there is no God. We believe in God by nature. He who doubts the existence of God doubts the springs of his own being, the basis of his sanity. We believe in God instinctively, unless someone persuades us to adopt the unrealistic, distorted, inconsistent (with subjective and objective evidence) mental position that there is no God; that the testimony of all creation is a delusion.
We know instinctively and objectively that there is a God.
Now Christ stands at the door of our heart and knocks. God speaks from Heaven and declares: "This is My beloved Son. Hear Him." Then we begin to believe that Jesus of Nazareth is the Way to God, the Truth of God, the Life from God.
There is a difference between the truth and facts. Facts constitute the appearance of things at any given moment. The truth is the Lord Jesus.
The disciples showed Jesus Herod’s Temple. They pointed out the facts concerning it. The Truth (Jesus) revealed to them that Herod’s Temple was about to be brought down to ruin (as happened at a later time).
The Holy Spirit testifies to our spirit that Jesus is the One chosen by the Father and that we must put our faith in Him in order to please God Almighty, in order to obtain salvation.
We agree with the Holy Spirit. We place our faith in Christ and are baptized in water into the name of the Father (because we are His sons), into the name of the Son (because He is our Salvation—the Presence and Life of God to us), and into the name of the Holy Spirit (because the Spirit is our Guide throughout our days on the earth who prepares us for eternal fellowship with the Son and with the Father). This is what Christ has commanded us to do.
We suppose we have come to a genial teacher clothed in a white robe, wearing sandals on his feet. This is what we think is true.
The Holy Spirit begins to urge us to turn our eyes away from other interests and diligently seek a deeper, more intimate knowledge of the humble carpenter from Nazareth. After several years we begin to realize that this is an eternal quest. There is a breadth, length, depth, and height that invites exploration.
The gentle Rabbi starts to grow in our spiritual perception. His wisdom is Divine. His authority and power are universal. His size is galactic. We behold Him in the thunder and fire of Mount Sinai as His finger cuts the ten holy Words in the tables of stone.
Our understanding is enlightened. Christ is standing in eternity and by faith issues the awful edict: "Light be!" He separates the light from the darkness and proceeds to create the heaven and the earth, the sun, moon, and stars.
The Good Shepherd is revealed, and then He becomes the Lord of armies—the Lord strong and mighty in battle. He is surrounded by countless angels. Still He grows in our consciousness. He ascends to the highest throne of the creation—and then beyond that. He enlarges and ascends until He fills all in all. He engages in terrifying communication with the Father, the ultimate Power and Wisdom. The seraphim cover their faces and their feet.
The heavens reel to and fro and are removed. Hell trembles in horror. Every creature in the universe, every particle of the creation cries: "Christ is Lord of all! Jesus is the Center of all! Bow the knee to God’s chosen One!"
Now we understand that in Christ dwells all the fullness of the Godhead in bodily form. Now we know we have found the desire of our heart, we have found Truth, we have found God. We rest in His eternal love.
How could the eleven disciples, those faithful friends and followers of Jesus of Nazareth, be expected to perceive that their gifted and beloved Rabbi was the thundering God of Sinai, the Lord who spoke to Moses, the Radiance who dwelled between the golden wings of the Cherubim of Glory?
Today we, joining the Apostle Paul, exclaim fervently: that I may know Him! No matter how many years we have been pressing forward, following on to know the Lord, we keep discovering that there is far more in Christ than we can comprehend. He is grander and more glorious than we thought possible. He is far above our ability to imagine—far above the highest heavens.
Now we realize that the galaxies are upheld by the Word of His power. Yet, in a very personal manner He calls each of us by name.
Truly, Jesus of Nazareth is Christ, the Son of God. To comprehend and possess Him is to comprehend and grasp eternal Life. He Himself is the Resurrection and the Life.
God has sent Christ to the earth so mankind may be reconciled to God. It is as simple and marvelous as that.
Christ, while He was on the earth, honored and exalted the Father. One could say that the inhabitants of Judea never really beheld Jesus. What people witnessed was the Father.
Jesus denied Himself. He lived for, by, in, and with the Father. Christ did not speak His own words. His words, which remain as the greatest marvel of the world, are the Words of God the Father. Christ did not work His own works, He performed the works the Father showed Him and gave Him to do.
Christ did not seek His own will, His own pleasure, His own ambitions. He performed faithfully, exactly, conscientiously, diligently, what the Father assigned Him to do. Christ set aside His own life. He gave Himself to the will and work of the Father. As a result, the people of the earth who are believers realize that God Himself has visited our death-ridden planet.
But what about Jesus’ own desires and ambitions? What about His personal preferences, His likes and dislikes, His wishes? All these had to be set aside if the will and work of the Father were to be accomplished.
Will we continue in that sacrificial love?
It is not possible that the will and work of Christ can be accomplished in the earth unless some human beings are willing to set aside their own desires and ambitions, their own personal preferences, their own likes and dislikes.
The elect were born into the world for the purpose of honoring and exalting Christ in the earth; but they are not to attempt to do so in their own strength and wisdom. They must assign their own hopes and dreams to the fiery judgments of the cross so that the words and works of the Lord Jesus Christ can come to the peoples of the world.
Resurrection life flows only from saints who are bearing the cross of self-denial—from nowhere else.
We are required to defer our plans and ambitions. We are required to seek the will of Christ alone and to perform His will as cheerfully and diligently as possible.
If we do not we will leave only the fragrance of our personal attempts to accomplish religious works. If we are willing to go to the cross of self-denial we will leave among men the fragrance of the Lord Jesus Christ, as Christ has left among us the fragrance of God the Father.
To one of God’s conquering saints, the above sentence is among the most inspiring statements of all Scripture; for this is the attitude with which Christian people should face physical death.
There are two important concepts here—concepts that bear directly on each of God’s elect: (1) every saint without exception has been assigned a specific task to accomplish during his or her pilgrimage on the earth; and (2) it is possible to complete this task and to pass over to the other shore with the glorious satisfaction that we have accomplished our appointed task.
We cannot imagine a more marvelous hope than that of hearing the Lord Jesus tell us we have diligently and successfully completed our assigned task and now can pass over joyfully into the Presence of Christ, there to await with all saints the Day of Resurrection.
Truly, the nourishing "meat" that strengthens us to keep moving forward is to do Christ’s will and to finish that part of the work of the Kingdom given us to accomplish during our lifetime on the earth.
After years of observing Christians we have come to the conclusion that most of the Lord’s flock do not realize that each believer has a specific task to perform in the Kingdom of God. There may be a vague idea that somehow, somewhere, sometime, God has something for each of us to do. That may be as far as our understanding goes.
Why is it that the members of Christ’s Body do not know what their specific commissions are? It may be that we are not presenting our body as a living sacrifice so God’s will can be proved in our daily life. We may not possess enough zeal for the things of God.
Until we become willing to present our body a living sacrifice in total consecration to God we cannot know the will of God for our life on earth. Our heart is divided. Our mind is divided. Two competing interests and motives are abiding in us. Our own hopes, goals, and pleasures are competing with God’s hopes, goals and pleasures.
There may be a dim awareness in the back of our mind that Christ is expecting something of us.
A believer who never has received Christ as absolute Lord of his or her life is not actually a "Christian" in the New Testament sense of the term. The disciples were termed "Christians" (Acts 11:26). A disciple is one who has abandoned his own life so he or she may give attention to the hopes, goals, and pleasures of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Because the multitude of professing Christians are not all disciples, the doctrine of each believer having a specific task to fulfill in the Kingdom of God is not an idea that is set forth in every assembly of church members. In many instances the people are taught how to use the Scriptures in order to more successfully carry out their own plans and goals, not how to know the will of Christ in order to carry out His plans and goals.
Every member of the Body of Christ without exception has been assigned a part to play in the building of the Body, a talent to spend in the market place (Romans 12:6; I Corinthians 12:11). If we will seek the Lord in sincerity, committing our way to Him, acknowledging Him in all we do, He will lead us into the Divine plan for our life (Proverbs 3:5,6).
Then our daily food will be to do Christ’s will and to finish His work.
Christ died that we may live. Now we are to die so He may live in and through us, so His Divine Life may touch the people with whom we come in contact.
If we decide to save our life we will lose it. If we are willing to lose our life for Christ’s sake and the Gospel’s we will save it. Our life then will multiply because Christ will bless the offering of our life and feed the multitudes of the earth with the pieces of it.
We are speaking of losing our life in the sense of giving up our own ambitions and joys and turning our attention to serving the Lord.
Let us think for a moment about the attitude with which every man and woman, boy and girl, who is serving Christ should face physical death. Christ Himself is our Example as we study His prayer in John, Chapter 17. If we are a carnal believer, if we view the great purposes of our life on earth as eating, working, sleeping, playing, and reproducing, then physical death is, of course, a tragedy. We no longer are able to eat, work, sleep, play, and reproduce. Our "life" has come to an end. Our loved ones will mourn in anguish over us. Medical science will attempt to restore the beating of our heart.
The ultimate evil has befallen us: we have died!
We can, if we wish, fearfully clutch our piteous existence on this dark planet. We can battle our way along through the valley of the shadow of death, filled with dread that either we or one of our loved ones will be called home to the Presence of the Lord.
It is not wise for us to grasp in desperation our present evil existence to the point that God has to tear us away from it, or deal with us until we are willing to let go of some person dear to us whom Christ is ready to bring to a higher plane of living.
It is unscriptural and unreasonable for someone who belongs to Christ to cringe in fear of physical death or to be unwilling to let go of a saved relative or friend when the Lord is making it clear it is time for that person (whether elder or child) to come home.
Heaven is a land of beautiful residences and parks (the visionaries inform us), the place where God, Jesus, the elect angels, and our loved ones rejoice continually. Are we afraid to send a husband, wife, son, daughter, father, mother, or good friend to Paradise?
There is an altogether different viewpoint of life and death that Jesus is portraying in this chapter of John. It is the viewpoint that each of us has a specific work to accomplish. When our work has been accomplished to the Lord’s satisfaction we are permitted —not forced—to walk hand in hand with Jesus out of the prison of the flesh. We have finished the work Christ has given us to perform in the valley of sin and death, the battlefield of demonic opposition, perversity, and wicked people.
Our probationary period is over. The darkness has been driven from our personality. Now we are ready to come home.
The death of a saint is precious in the sight of Christ. He makes no mistakes concerning the time ordained for each of us to lay down his cross and go to be with Him in glory.
Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members [all the days of my life] were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalms 139:16)
The one thought that mars our joy is the grief our homecoming will bring to our loved ones on the earth. We shall find later on in Chapter 17 that Jesus was concerned about those disciples whom He had kept so diligently and now had to leave for a season.
We must realize that if we stay past our appointed time, the plan of God for our loved ones, their unique destinies, will be hindered. We must trust the Lord Jesus that He will keep through His own name those beloved family members so no harm will befall them.
While we were on earth the Lord enabled us to protect and provide for our family. It was always the Lord who provided the watchful care, not us. Can we doubt that His watchful care will continue now that our family has a greater need than before? Would it be like Him, whose name is Faithful, to abandon our family when we die?
Therefore we can walk onward hand in hand with our Lord Jesus having confidence that if we obey His will, our loved ones will be brought to maturity according to the loving plan of the Father for them. Also, their every need will be supplied.
There are several instances recorded in the Scriptures in which a saint was advised of the time of his death. Except for Hezekiah, the men of God who were notified did not mournfully beg God to change His mind. The Word speaks of their being gathered to their people; not of their perishing but of being gathered to their relatives and friends who had gone on before.
Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people. (Genesis 25:8)
"Was gathered to his people."
Jesus himself spoke, not of dying but of going to His Father. We understand, therefore, that physical death is a reestablishing of relationships.
Notice the dignity and strength in the death of the godly Jacob:
And when Jacob had made an end of commanding his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost, and was gathered unto his people. (Genesis 49:33)
We see here that Jacob’s time had come, his work was finished. Jacob yielded up his spirit. This reminds us of the Lord Jesus. No person was able to take Christ’s life from Him. He laid it down and He took it up again (John 10:18).
The deaths of Aaron and Moses are outstanding examples of victory over the grief and fear that ordinarily accompany physical death—and they took place under the old covenant at that! Perhaps their continued exposure to the Glory of God had rendered them somewhat immune to disease. God commanded them to die. He took their spirits.
Aaron and Moses died in obedience to the Lord while in the full vigor of their physical lives. No weaknesses claimed their bodies. They marched obediently into the midst of their deceased loved ones, laying down their flesh along the way.
And Aaron the priest went up into mount Hor at the commandment of the Lord, and died there, in the fortieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the first day of the fifth month. (Numbers 33:38)
Wasn’t that marvelous? Can you imagine anything more glorious than that? Aaron’s work was finished. For Aaron to have remained past his appointed hour would have blemished the perfection of the Lord’s work among the Israelites. Aaron’s generation was required to die in the wilderness in the forty-year period, and this was the "fortieth year." Of course, Aaron’s calendar had been established before he was born (Psalms 139:16).
How triumphantly Aaron was called home!
It was time for Aaron to be reunited with his people who had gone on before, including Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as well as his many relatives and friends who had perished in the wilderness.
Aaron climbed Mount Hor, as God told him to do, and passed into the spiritual realm—there to await the Day of the Lord along with his relatives and acquaintances. (He is still waiting, for he cannot be made perfect apart from us.)
We can picture the veteran priest, now one hundred twenty-three years of age, as he rose up in the morning, took one final look at his beloved Ithamar and the grandchildren. Perhaps he tenderly kissed the weeping Elisheba and then started up the slopes of Mount Hor with his staff in his hand.
Moses, and Eleazar, Aaron’s oldest living son, were with him. Before they had gone very far up the mountain, Moses removed Aaron’s priestly garments and put them on Eleazar. No matter how much anyone is used of the Lord, when he dies the priestly office in which he served on earth is taken from him and given to another. The servant of the Lord has passed into the spiritual realm but the burden of ministry must continue in the earth.
Take Aaron and Eleazar his son, and bring them up unto mount Hor: And strip Aaron of his garments, and put them upon Eleazar his son: and Aaron shall be gathered unto his people, and shall die there. (Numbers 20:25,26)
All of the congregation were watching for this was a very important event. Aaron was the first high priest of Israel. The glory was now passing to Eleazar.
Aaron mused over the events of his life: the days in Egypt; the fleeing of his brother Moses to the wilderness; the power of God Almighty resting on Moses and himself as they stood boldly before Pharaoh of Egypt; the terrible splendor of Sinai as the Lord’s Presence sanctified the stone of the mountain.
The never-ending pain of the deaths of Nadab and Abihu was still with him.
Aaron’s mind was touched with fear, then wonderment as he obeyed this last commandment of the Lord. What would happen when he reached the summit? Would the holy Shechinah blaze out from the rock and destroy him as it had his two sons?
The higher he climbed the stronger he felt. He could run if he wished, His feet were so light! A carpet of green grass covered the ground beneath him. Aaron had never seen such gorgeous flowers. Birds of every hue were singing more melodiously than he could remember.
Four people were walking toward him from just ahead. "Mother! Father!" Aaron exclaimed. "And there are my boys!"
Those watching from afar saw the empty husk of the first high priest collapse to the ground.
The passing of Aaron’s younger brother was as precious in the sight of the Lord.
Get thee up into this mountain Abarim, unto mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, that is over against Jericho; and behold the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel for a possession: And die in the mount whither thou goest up, and be gathered unto thy people; as Aaron thy brother died in mount Hor, and was gathered unto his people: (Deuteronomy 32:49,50)
Moses had been brought into such an intimate relationship with the Lord that the Lord himself buried Moses, in a valley in the land of Moab (Deuteronomy 34:6).
Moses and apparently Aaron also were in the best of health when they left the earth to go to be with their relatives. They possessed the physical strength necessary to climb a mountain. This is the way death ought to be: not an overcoming of our strength by the devil but a yielding up of our spirit when the appointed time comes.
How wonderful to take the last step (in the world) of obedience to God and to walk upright into the company of the heavenly host shouting Hallelujah all the way! May Christ give us the faith to walk on the water of death as He walked on the water of the Sea of Galilee.
It may have been difficult for Aaron and Moses and their families when they came to the hour of parting. Perhaps their wives had already gone on before them. Both men walked forward in joy to renew acquaintances with their relatives and friends who had died during the forty years of the wilderness wanderings.
We must remember that the Lord Jesus was a young man who was tested along the same lines as we. He too had a father and mother, brothers and sisters, as well as faithful disciples, whom He had to leave as He went to His Father.
But, as in every other matter, the Lord Jesus acted in unquestioning obedience to the Father, knowing that this always is (ultimately) the path of joy. His hour had come.
Jesus yielded up His Spirit on the cross of Calvary, but only when His work on earth was finished.
Paul had a strong desire to go home to be with the Lord, but the needs of God’s elect held him in the valley of tears.
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. (Philippians 1:21-24)
We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. (II Corinthians 5:8)
Finally the Lord notified Paul that his work was finished. Can you imagine Paul’s joy?
For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. (II Timothy 4:6)
No more chains for Paul. No more thorns in the flesh. No more whippings or stones or perils among false brothers. No more cold, dark, dirty Roman prison cells for this Hebrew of the Tribe of Benjamin. No more bonds keeping him tied to a Roman soldier or to a sinful body.
Before Paul’s joyful gaze the golden streets of Heaven were appearing, the way lined with cheering throngs as the Lord’s runner plunged the last few yards to the finish line. He could see the Judge standing to His feet and applauding with the multitude the faithful saint to whom alone had been entrusted the explanation of the transition from the Law of Moses to the grace of God through Christ.
Moses, Elijah, James, and others of Jesus’ "mighty men" stood in the welcoming committee. A smiling Stephen was holding out his hands in greeting.
And there was Jesus! Jesus Himself was coming to receive this determined Jew who, in obedience to God, had dared to abandon his faith in circumcision and the Law that he might trust in Christ alone for his eternal salvation.
The "new wine" in Paul swelled in adoration and glory until the old wineskin began to burst.
Compare this triumphant entry with the tormenting agonies the "believers" experience as one of their saved relatives or friends approaches the moment of physical death, sometimes with plastic and steel life-support equipment keeping his heart beating long past the completion of his task on the earth.
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: (II Timothy 4:7)
How did Paul know he had completed his appointed task? The Lord Jesus revealed it to him. May God grant that each of us may be walking in heavenly places so when our time comes the Lord Jesus may be able to rejoice our heart with the announcement we have completed our assigned task to His total satisfaction.
Each of God’s conquering saints lives for the moment when Jesus says to him or her, "Well done, well done, good and faithful servant. Enter the joy of your Lord."
There are no words in any language more blessed than these. Truly, this is the greatest reward that can come to any human being.
Christ’s commendation had come to Paul of Tarsus.
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. (II Timothy 4:8)
Peter also had been notified of his own homecoming:
Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me. (II Peter 1:14)
We understand, therefore, that death is not meant to be the cutting down of the believer by tragic circumstances at some unfortunate, ill-timed hour. As is true of all other areas of our Christian experience, our physical death is to come as a normal, necessary aspect of our pilgrimage.
Death is just one more act of obedience to Christ—the next figure in the dance, as C. S. Lewis would put it.
Our physical death is the completion of our work on earth (until we return to earth in our glorified body on the Day of Resurrection), and the beginning of our new assignment in the spirit realm.
Our only regret is the temporary parting from our loved ones. And that separation is but for a brief season while they are completing their assigned responsibilities.
The Lord will continue to care for them and us as He always has.
The meaning of the word with , as used in the above passage, appears to be "along with": "Glorify Me along with Your own Self"; "Glorify Me at Your side."
The Lord Jesus Christ is glorified as God the Father is glorified. The Son is not glorified apart from the Father. The Son is glorified as the Father is glorified, partaking of the same glory. The glory of the One is the glory of the Other. This has been true from eternity.
There are different ways in which Christian people attempt to bring honor and glory to themselves and to the works of their hands, hoping this will also bring honor and glory to the Lord Jesus Christ and to God through Him.
One of the customary ways in which the believers seek to exalt Christian worship is by constructing a fine example of church architecture. Great cathedrals and sanctuaries are designed to impress those who behold them with the glory and holiness of God. Sometimes a large choir is trained to professional excellence. The ministry may pursue a high level of education and speak in ways that move people emotionally.
Christ always chooses to be glorified, to be honored and exalted, along with the Person of the Father. As we think about Christ we can see it is the Presence of God’s glory that honors and exalts the Lord Jesus.
We too can choose how we wish to be glorified. We can seek glory in the construction of visible representations of Christianity, such as large and ornate buildings. We can seek glory in the learning and talents of human beings.
We can seek glory in the spirit realm by working miracles through prayer, through faith, through fasting. We can seek glory by living a life that obviously is ascetic and separated from the world to a degree not attained by most religious people.
Such choices may, in some instances, have merit. They may also come short of the Glory of God.
The wisest choice is to seek the Lord Jesus and to share in His glory, to flow in His resurrection Life, to be, act, think, and speak along with Him. For us to seek to glorify Christ by glorifying ourselves, whether our efforts be in the physical or spiritual realms, can lead directly to religious Babylon (man-directed Christianity) and to the False Prophet (spiritual life governed by the soul).
Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, (Philippians 3:8)
Our goal is Christ, not the things of Christ but Christ Himself. Let us flow with the flowings of the Godhead. Let us live by Christ’s Life. Let us think His thoughts. Let us speak the words that are proceeding from Him.
If we choose to please Christ by our own efforts our works will be consumed when they are tested by fire. But if we live by His resurrection Life we become indestructible and incorruptible because His Life is indestructible and incorruptible.
Let Christ be glorified along with God the Father. Let each saint be glorified along with Christ, along with the Father.
And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: (John 17:22)
And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. (Romans 8:17)
When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4)
In this realm Christ remains unique. It is true that God named each of His elect before the foundation of the world. But the living Word, Christ, was with God and was God from the beginning, and partook of all the Glory of God.
(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 1:2)
Christ is the Expression of God; He is the Word of God. He is the Revelation of the invisible God.
And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; (Revelation 3:14)
How is the Lord Jesus Christ "the beginning of the creation of God"? He is the Beginning of the Divine creation in that all things were made by Him.
All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. (John 1:3)
Christ came forth from the Being of God. He is the Word of God. Christ’s Being and Form are the Being and Form that are God’s Mind, God’s Idea. Christ is He whom God envisions as the representation of Himself.
In Christ we behold all God Is, we hear all God says. We come to perceive the mind of God, the will of God, the eternal purposes of God.
It was the Word who created all things in the heavens and on the earth. It was the Word who was the "Lord" of the children of Israel. It was the Word who spoke into being all the angels and also mankind. Indeed the Word was before Abraham.
All the material creation was brought forth through the living Word. The creation declares the eternal glory of the Word and is upheld moment by moment by the Word.
Psalms 45 speaks of the "ivory palaces" from which the Word descended, being made flesh and dwelling among us on this rebellious planet for thirty-three years. The Father proclaims: "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever" (Psalms 45:6).
The greatest fact of world history is that God, our Creator, became a man and lived with us for a season. Eternal Life was born as a human baby in a stable in Bethlehem of Judea.
Before God created the heavens and the earth the Lord Jesus Christ dwelled in the fullness of glory with His Father.
In addition to being with the Father from the beginning, Christ also is the beginning of the Kingdom of God. No person entered the Kingdom of God or was born again until the Lord Jesus rose from the dead.
And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. (Colossians 1:18)
Christ is first in eternity and first in the Kingdom of God.
There are two ideas here: (1) the revealing of the name of God; and (2) the separating of the elect from the world and the giving of them to Christ as His special possession, His peculiar treasure among mankind.
Precisely who is the God who created all things? This is one of the few truly important questions of life. The peoples of the earth worship many persons and things, including demons.
The Lord God of Heaven revealed various aspects of Himself to the Jews. He showed to them, His chosen people, that He is One and not many; that He Is the Shepherd, the Healer, the Warrior, the Provider, the powerful and fruitful One; that He will become whatever He chooses to become.
He is the great "I Am"!
The revelation given to the elect, the Church, through the Lord Jesus Christ, is that God is to be worshiped as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We are baptized in water into the names of these three Divine Personages.
To know the name of someone, in the sense in which Jesus is praying here, is to understand the person’s true nature—a nature that may have been concealed behind many activities, but partially disclosed as he chooses to provide glimpses of the various sides of his personality.
Sometimes we say people wear masks, intending to conceal who and what they really are, what their true identity is. Satan does not often disclose his horrible wretchedness, his hideous passion to destroy all that is virtuous and worthy. He and all other sinners will be unmasked and made manifest in the Day of Christ.
God keeps Himself hidden, and this is why the believer is required to seek the Lord continually.
It may happen that we come to understand our own name, our own identity, as well as the name of God, during a period of intense, prolonged conflict.
And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob [heel-snatcher; supplanter; schemer; swindler]. And he [God] said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel [contender with God]: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed. And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there. (Genesis 32:26-29)
Jesus came to reveal the Person of the Father to the elect, to God’s sons whom God has chosen to bring to glory.
For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:29)
All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. (Matthew 11:27)
Here we have a major doctrine of the new covenant—that Christ came to reveal the Father to the specific individuals whom the Father gave to Christ from the multitude of earth’s peoples.
The nation of Israel and the Church of Christ were separated from the world by the grace of God. The Gospel was preached first to the patriarch, Abraham. The Law of Moses added nothing to the eternal grace of God. The Law was provided as a judge of sin and a guide and guardian of the elect until it was time for Christ to be revealed.
The wall of separation between the Church and the world was established at the moment the Lord called Abraham and his family out of Ur of the Chaldees. From that point onward to the new Jerusalem and into eternity, the Church of Christ has been separated from the remainder of mankind by a Divinely ordained wall.
One would suppose the elect would praise God for His love and be thankful for the role of showing forth His righteousness and glory—the responsibility assigned to them as their purpose for being born into the world.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; (I Peter 2:9)
Will we (Jews and Christians) accept God’s plan? We will not! Because of our evil and rebellious hearts we insist on bringing the world into the Church. The moment we do, the Presence of God departs.
The Church of Christ is the only hope of the world—that it will be delivered from the chains of futility and decay and brought into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.
But the authority and power to deliver the world from slavery to sin and corruption is given to the Church of Christ only to the extent that the Church is separate from the world.
We desire to "save" the world. But we desire to do it in our own way and for our own glory. However it is God who will release the material creation from bondage. He will do it in His way, in His time, and for His own glory.
God’s true saints always rejoice over the righteous ways of the Lord. The name of the Lord is as a pure and fragrant perfume to them. But the Antichrist spirit that dwells in the midst of the churches always will despise the ways of the Lord, always will pervert and corrupt the truth.
The "Christians" who are serving Satan will go out from us in the present hour so it may be revealed that they are not of us. They will not be raised in the first resurrection as part of the royal priesthood (Revelation 20:4-6).
Whoever will choose to do so may make an eternal covenant with God through the blood of Jesus. But woe to those in the present hour who are filled with spiritual pride, who are not walking in continual repentance, who are not working out their own salvation with trembling in the holy fear of God!
The proud and unrepentant will be deceived and will not be able to inherit eternal life even though they are professing faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
God’s true saints will be able to hear what the Spirit of God is saying to the churches in the present hour. But the lukewarm church members are heading toward the Day of Wrath, toward the revelation of the righteous judgment of God Almighty.
The seventeenth chapter of John portrays the wall that separates the Church from the world. God has established the wall of separation. If we will honor what God has created we will be of service to the peoples of the earth in the days of shaking that even now have come upon us.
The Day of the Lord is at hand. Multitudes of people are being brought down into the "valley of decision." The decision each of us must make is the extent to which he desires to establish Christ as the Center and Circumference of all he is and all he says and does. The question is that of the Lordship of Christ.
We can choose to make a covenant of salvation with God by repentance, faith in Christ, and baptism in water. According to the Scriptures, God will receive us if we turn away from the world and receive the Lord Jesus. If we choose to believe in Christ and serve Him we are blessed indeed and will be delivered from the wrath to come.
The individual who attempts to hold on to both Christ and the world in the present hour will experience confusion and much pain, and may lose his soul.
The above statement, "thine they were," suggests to us that part of mankind belongs to the Father in a special way. Abraham, and those who are called in Abraham including every person on earth who is "in Christ," belonged to God originally.
(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) (Romans 9:11)
As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. (Romans 9:13)
The reason we Christian teachers have, in some instances, discarded the important scriptural doctrine of Divine election, is that the spirit of Antichrist, of Laodicea, of the "rights of people," is abiding in us. As soon as this satanic thinking is cast out of us we will be able to see what the Scripture reveals concerning predestination and election.
Some may ask, "What is the use of our doing anything if God already has determined what will happen to each individual? Who is able to resist God?"
Our problem here is one of ignorance and rebellion. The Scriptures inform us that God works in terms of foreknowledge and election. The Scriptures teach us also that each person on the earth may repent and turn to Christ and that it is God’s will for him or her to do so at once.
"But," we may protest, "we cannot understand how these two truths are reconciled." Here is the actual problem. We are so proud in our rebellious minds we will not accept a doctrine until we think we understand it.
God’s ways are as high above our thinking as the heavens are high above the earth. Our mortal mind is an enemy of the Lord. If God says a thing is true, it is true. A Divine truth is not affected by our ability to understand it.
Spiritual truths and spiritual realities exist in eternity. They proceed from the mind of God. Our pitiful brains are able to glean only grains of understanding from the universal barns of God’s infinite wisdom.
Shall we maintain that we will not accept what God has stated because we do not understand how God can be righteous and yet act in the manner in which He does? Some people today will not receive Christ as their Savior and Lord because they cannot understand why God would allow war and famine to exist in the world.
To maintain such foolish and ignorant criticism of the God of Heaven is nothing more than an evidence we are of Antichrist, that we are in rebellion against the Lord God our Creator.
God is so great He has planned all things from the beginning. God completed all of His works through to the new Jerusalem and then rested on the seventh day. The names of the elect were placed in the Book of Life from the beginning.
However, each person has some decisions he must make. Within this area of choice he can choose to fulfill his God-ordained destiny or he can neglect to pursue his "mark." Redemption always is an opportunity.
If this were not true the Lord never could say well done good and faithful servant because such praise would have no real significance. If God had caused the individual to do the right thing, then praise would be out of place. The truth is, we either are faithful to our calling or else we are careless and neglectful. The Scripture warns us concerning the punishment that will be administered to the servant who has buried his talent.
There appears to be a spirit of inevitability hovering over the Church of Christ. The believers are drifting in apathy, supposing that if they have been elected to glory, or have "accepted Christ," they will arrive in Paradise in spite of their actions. Nothing could be further from the truth. A Divine mark has been set before us. Whether or not we attain our high calling depends directly on the diligence and single-mindedness we apply to pursuing it.
There is an elect whose names have been written in the Lamb’s Book of Life from the beginning of the world. Every member of the elect must make his election certain by total consecration to the will of God. If he does not he is in danger of being cast into outer darkness, of having his name blotted from the Book of Life.
Let us read what Christ has prayed and prepare ourselves to believe exactly what He has declared, whether or not we are able to grasp all the implications of His words. Let us receive Christ and obey Christ.
We will see and understand everything in the Day of the Lord.
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. (I Corinthians 13:12)
Each of God’s elect belongs to Him. Now He has given the elect to His beloved Son, Christ. Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Peter, Paul, you and I—each of us belongs to the Father. Now the Father has given us to the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Scriptures, both Old Testament and New Testament, teach us that some people belong to the Lord in a special way. We do not wish to stress this truth to the point that it overbalances the equally important truth of each individual’s invitation to choose to believe in Christ and receive the authority to become a child of God.
Nevertheless, a clear understanding of the sovereignty of God in all of the affairs of His creation, particularly in His plan of redemption, is a rock on which the Spirit-anointed remnant will stand during the dark hours of Antichrist’s reign, which already appear to be coming upon us.
The Scriptures distinguish between the righteous and the wicked in a manner suggesting that the righteous are of God and the wicked never were of God.
The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. (Psalms 34:17)
The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies. (Psalms 58:3)
I will early destroy all the wicked of the land; that I may cut off all wicked doers from the city of the Lord. (Psalms 101:8)
The term wicked , as used in the Book of Psalms, provides a revealing study for the devout student, especially when it is kept in mind that it is the Spirit of Christ who is speaking in David.
After reviewing what the Scriptures have to say about the righteous and the wicked, one could gain the impression that some people who are born into the world have been chosen of God to work righteousness. They are the righteous.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)
Others are of Satan, who in some manner was their father. They are the wicked.
Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. . . . (John 8:44)
This is not to say that any individual born on the earth cannot if he or she so chooses turn to Christ and be saved from wickedness.
The Gospel of the Kingdom is given to all who will receive it in order to forgive their sins and bring them to the perfection of righteous behavior required of God’s children.
Let us ponder for a moment the parable of the wheat and the tares.
The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; (Matthew 13:38)
Keeping in mind the scriptural truth concerning election, the present writer has come to the conclusion that all persons born into the world were tares, having none of the wheat of God in them. We were born in sin—every one of us—even though we may be of God's elect.
To our thinking, the "good seed" of the parable of the wheat and the tares represent those who have received Christ into their personality. Now they have in them both the tares of Satan and the wheat of God.
The day in which we are living is one of removing the tares from the wheat. Each of us Christians must cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He seeks to remove the tares from us. If we cooperate with the Spirit we will be saved into the Kingdom of God. But if we do not cooperate with the Spirit, choosing instead to justify our behavior or to hide our sinful thoughts and motives, we will be removed from the Kingdom of God in the last days.
No matter how we interpret the parable of the wheat and the tares, it is obvious that God is with the righteous and against those who practice wickedness, whether or not faith in Christ is professed.
This is not to say we can substitute good works for faith in the blood atonement made by Christ after we have heard the Gospel. But faith in Christ is not to be used as a substitute for righteous behavior. It remains true that God supports the righteous and is angry with the wicked
We know that the Church of Christ is destined to be without spot, wrinkle, or blemish of any sort. It shall be the perfect, radiantly lovely Bride of the Lamb.
Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. (John 15:16)
In the last days the Lord Jesus will remove from His Church those who are among us now but who are "spots and wrinkles."
These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; (Jude 1:12)
The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; (Matthew 13:41)
Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. (Acts 2:47)
"The Lord added . . . such as should be saved."
For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city. (Acts 18:10)
The above verse parallels, "I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world." Perhaps the unscriptural emphasis on "going forth to save people from Hell" has obscured the fact that the purpose of the present age is to seek out those people who belong to God and to add them to the Church.
What about the rest of the people in Corinth? Were they the "tares"? Were they the "wicked" spoken of so frequently in the Book of Psalms?
God "owned" the elect of Corinth referred to here, and now He was giving them to the Lord Jesus by the hand of Paul.
And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. (Acts 13:48)
We know—especially from the ninth chapter of Romans— that Paul was convinced of the sovereignty of God in the building of the Church. What about Peter and John? Did they also perceive that the calling of God plays the principal role in the redemption of men?
But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption; (II Peter 2:12)
They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. (I John 2:19)
Today we have people who profess to be Christians. They attend the church services. They "worship" with us. But they are not striving after righteousness in the Lord. Therefore they are children of the devil (at this time) though they profess faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
We are not saying that some people are doomed to be wicked and others destined to be righteous and no change of state is possible. It always is in order for a wicked person to forsake his ways and turn to God for help in becoming righteous. God is willing that all come to repentance. Nevertheless both the Old Testament and the New have much to say about the godly and the ungodly. We Christians are apt to talk about the difference between believers and nonbelievers. But the significant difference is between the righteous and the wicked.
Even now the wicked are being separated from us so it may be understood that they are not of us and have no part with us. They are robbers of widows. They are adulterers and belong to the world even though they profess Christ and speak in tongues.
Jude, the brother of the Lord, speaks his mind:
For there are certain men crept in [to the assemblies of the saints] unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness [immorality], and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:4)
"Who were before of old ordained to this condemnation."
It can become discouraging to the Lord’s little flock to behold the unrepentant attitude of so many who profess to be Christians but who show in themselves the personality of Satan rather than the personality of the Lord Jesus. In their self-exaltation they behave like the people of the world.
As Jude stated, these wicked "Christians" turn the grace of God into an excuse for sin. So it is today. The covetous are accepted rather than being shunned by the saints. Adultery, fornication, hatred, robbery, partying and so forth are practiced by people who claim they are "saved by grace." Their works reveal they are children of the devil, not children of God.
We who love the Lord Jesus in sincerity are not to fight against them, defiling our own spirit. We are to keep our eyes on the Lord Jesus, understanding that in the last days the Lord’s angels will separate from the Kingdom of God those who are practicing wickedness.
Then the Bride of the Lamb will be pure and undefiled, shining as the light of the world.
What, then, is our conclusion? It is that in the present hour the Kingdom of God contains both "wheat" and "tares." The wheat are people who have been added to the Church by the Lord. They love God in truth, and through the virtue of Christ they are bringing forth in themselves a new creation that practices the righteous and holy works the Lord loves. In the present hour the Holy Spirit is removing the tares from their personality.
The tares are children of Satan. They claim to be of the Lord’s people but are of the congregation of Satan. They speak and act as though they are Christians, claiming to be born again. They preach the Gospel and sometimes they speak in tongues, prophesy, and work miracles. But Christ has never known them—never!
Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. (Revelation 3:9)
At the time of the Lord’s return to earth His angels will remove the devil’s children from among the saints. Then the righteous character and deeds of the saints will be witnessed by Heaven and earth.
The seed of Satan will be cast into the flames.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 13:47-50)
Let us say again that if the wicked will forsake his way and turn to righteousness his past wickedness will not be mentioned to him. If the righteous forsake his righteousness and practice wickedness, his righteousness will not be remembered (Ezekiel 18:21-24).
We reveal who our father is by how we behave. If our Father is God we will do the works of God. If our Father is Satan we will do the works of Satan.
If it is obvious to us that our works are wicked, and we want to be a child of God, then let us without delay begin to do the works of God.
If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work. Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (II Timothy 2:21,22)
The Lord’s true remnant, His elect, are distinguished by the fact that they guard and protect Jesus’ words. They listen to what Christ has spoken, and then seek God’s wisdom and strength so they may be able to do what the Lord has commanded.
They call Jesus "Lord," and then they do, by His grace, what He has commanded.
Matthew 13:47-50 (above) is a case in point. Christ’s true saints will read the passage and tremble. They will redouble their efforts to please the Lord in their deeds, their words, their motives, and their imaginations.
The lawless "Christians," who are not true Christians at all, will not even consider the dreadful warning Christ has given us. They will scoff at the exhortation. They will continue to steal, to murder, to lust, to covet, to lie. Then they will excuse themselves on one basis or another. A great part of the so-called "Christian" people have acted in this manner throughout the centuries of Church history. They have tortured and murdered innocent Jews as well as their fellow Christians.
One of the common excuses today is, we all sin while we are in this life but it does not matter because we are "saved by grace." By invoking the letter of a few verses of the New Testament the wicked hope to make the grace of God a covering for their devilish behavior.
Outer darkness has been reserved for the Lord’s disobedient servants (Matthew 25:30).
The true Christians, with the help of the Spirit of God, practice the Sermon on the Mount as well as the admonitions of the Apostles of the Lamb. The "tares," on the other hand, find ways to justify their covetousness and their spiritual pride. They will receive their proper wages at the coming of the Lord.
Those who hear Christ’s Word and then do what He has commanded will stand in the day of shaking. Those who hear Christ’s Word and do not do what He has commanded will not be able to stand in the day of shaking. They will be deceived by Antichrist.
The edict has gone forth from the eternal throne: the unrighteous are being confirmed in their unrighteousness; the filthy are being confirmed in their filthiness; the righteous are being confirmed in their righteousness; the holy are being confirmed in their holiness (Revelation 22:11).
Christ the King is demanding a straight, level highway for His royal feet. The lukewarm, the indecisive, the double-minded, will be cast out from His Presence. He desires we be either cold or hot.
Much of the Church of today is neither cold nor hot. Therefore the Lord will administer many devices that will cause us either to cleave to Him with all our love and strength or else to resist Him and serve Satan. There can be no middle ground in the days ahead.
Let us read God’s holy Word with the express intention of obeying it. If we will continue to come confidently and joyously to the throne of grace we will receive mercy, and also Divine grace that will enable us to forgive our enemies and do all the other things we have been commanded.
Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.
When first we are confronted with the Gospel the question comes to us, "How can we be sure Christ truly is from God?" It is not always easy for the seeker to assure himself he is not putting his trust in fables.
John 7:17 has proved to be a blessing to some who have had this problem: "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself."
Here is a contract: If we will receive and practice what Christ has spoken to us in the name of God, we will find for ourselves, to our own satisfaction, whether Christ is speaking from the Spirit of God or out from his own spirit.
Those of us (including the original disciples of the Lord) who have received Christ’s words and who live by them know that Christ came from God. We know that it was God who sent Christ to the earth.
When the author first came to Christ more than fifty years ago he questioned whether Christ actually was from God. The decision was made to obey what Christ has stated, hoping to determine the validity of the Gospel.
The circumstances of our life from that moment are undeniable evidence that Christ has come from God and is alive today. Christ is from God. We have done what He said when it was pleasant and when it was unpleasant; when we understood what was happening to us and when we did not understand what was happening to us.
The result is, we now know beyond all doubt that Christ is what He claims to be and what the Apostles claim He is—the Word and Son of God. Christ neither spoke His own words nor performed His own deeds. What He said came from God Almighty. What Christ did proceeded from the Creator of all.
We know also that Christ will come again in clouds, just as He departed in the sight of many witnesses. We know that one day the heavens and the earth to which we are accustomed will pass away and there will come into existence a new heaven and a new earth in which will dwell righteous behavior and praise to God through Christ. We know that the words Christ has spoken to us shall never pass away.
Here again we behold the massive wall God has established between His elect and the peoples of the world. Christ is not praying for the world. One would think the plight of the masses would have been weighing on the heart of Christ—and no doubt it was.
But the solution to the problems of the world will be found only in the mature and unified Church. Therefore, the emphasis of the past two thousand years should have been (and has been from God’s point of view) on the building of the Body of Christ.
The churches are determined to save the world. God is determined to perfect the Church. The churches are putting the cart ahead of the horse.
We think of the Christian ministries as existing for the purpose of saving the lost of mankind. But notice what the Word states:
For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying [building up] of the body of Christ: (Ephesians 4:12)
Two thousand years ago Christ prayed for our perfection, and He still is making intercession for us in the Presence of God.
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)
Christ is concerned about us because we are being made an integral part of Himself. As we are brought to maturity and unity it is He Himself who is being brought to maturity and unity, because we are the fullness of Him who is destined to fill the heavens and the earth.
As soon as the members of the Body of Christ have been brought to maturity and unity the world will believe that Christ indeed has come from God. The elect already know that Christ has come from God. The world will believe as soon as the Church has been perfected in Christ.
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)
Today the peoples of the world are suffering injustice as those who rule over them rob them, cheat them, abuse them, murder them. When the Lord Jesus returns He will bring justice and righteousness to the nations, ruling over them in and with His saints.
Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment [justly]. (Isaiah 32:1)
Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment [justice] to the Gentiles [nations]. (Isaiah 42:1)
Christ does not pray for the world but for those whom the Father has given to Him. Christ prays for the elect, whether they are Jews or Gentiles by physical birth. The elect are called from among mankind to belong to God in a peculiar way. The elect are the light of the world, the salt of the earth.
It is not that Christ does not care for all the peoples of the earth. In fact, it is the peoples of the earth, the nations, who are the inheritance of the Lord Jesus and also of the coheirs. But the nations cannot be reaped until the elect, who are the firstfruits to God from the earth, have been gathered into the barn.
The peoples of the nations of the earth are suffering greatly today because of the unjust actions of many of the political leaders as well as of the wealthy of mankind. When Christ comes with His Church justice will be established on the earth. The Christian churches, if they would understand the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, must come to realize that the purpose of the return of Christ is not to carry His Church to Heaven. It is to establish justice on the earth. The meek finally shall inherit the earth because the Lord and His saints will govern the nations in righteousness. This is the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth and is the purpose for which the Church was called out from the nations.
This is what the cross does for us. The death of the cross, which we die as we enter the sufferings of Christ, brings us into total giving to God and total receiving from God.
Everything Christ Is comes from God and belongs to God. The passage quoted here refers particularly to the saints—that they belong to God and also to Jesus. All Christ possesses, including the saints who are His most prized possession, belongs to the Father.
The part of the cross that is assigned to us brings us into the same relationship to God. We give all we possess, all we are, to the Lord. When we do this, God gives all He possesses, all He Is, to us.
And all things are of God, . . . (II Corinthians 5:18).
We begin to desire that all we are and possess be from God and be found in God, and that all God is and possesses be found in us. We are fervently seeking total union and total image. We give all we are and possess to God and He gives all He is and possesses to us.
This is why the individual who holds back part of himself from God suffers such tremendous loss. He holds back his pittance. In return, God holds back the wealth of the Godhead. It is only as we empty our cup in God that God can fill our cup with Himself. Think of Esau, who traded the inheritance of Abraham for a bowl of lentils!
We will not be able to comprehend this statement until the Lord appears in glory. It proclaims one of the most important concepts of all Scripture.
Christ will not be glorified apart from us. It is not that the Father is not able to glorify Christ apart from us; rather it is true that God has chosen to glorify Christ in the Church.
Let us think about Adam and Eve. Adam’s inheritance was that of fruitfulness—filling the earth with people in his image. But such fruitfulness was impossible apart from Eve. God made Adam dependent on Eve to obtain his inheritance.
In like manner, Christ’s inheritance is total fruitfulness—a filling of the heavens and the earth with His image. Such fruitfulness is not possible apart from His Body. God has made the Lord Jesus Christ dependent on the saints, the holy ones, to obtain His inheritance.
Christ is the Vine. We are the branches. Men gather grapes from the branches of a grapevine, not from the vine itself.
The difference between Babylon (the religious efforts of the flesh), and the redemption that is in Christ, is this: Babylon sets up a game between God and the worshiper. When the worshiper does this God is supposed to do that, and so forth. God’s plan, on the other hand, is to glorify Christ in the saints.
When a Christian teacher says, If you will give God a hundred dollars God will give you five hundred dollars, he is suggesting that you play a religious game. It is a "deal" between God and the individual. God’s will and glory do not enter this contract. The idea is, one can learn to use spiritual formulas in order to increase one’s power.
Fasting and praying, or exercising faith, in order to get what one desires from God, can prove to be a carnal, self-seeking game.
It is true that at certain points in our pilgrimage the Lord leads us to give, to fast, to pray, to exercise bold faith. When we do, it is an act of love and obedience to the Lord, not an attempt to convert the Divine resources to our own use.
It is our self-will that is at issue here.
The flesh seeks the things of God for its own glory. Christ seeks the things of God so God may be glorified. This is the difference between Babylon and the Christian salvation.
The true saints do not attempt to "get something" from God. Rather, we are being incorporated into God’s Life so all we are and possess belong to God, and all God Is and possesses belong to us. Because of this the glory never leaves the Father. God never will give His glory to a person who is not an integral part of Himself.
We are not separate from the glory of Christ, we are the glory of Christ. We are not trying to get His glory, we are His glory. Christ is glorified with us and in us and through us—never apart from us. We are glorified with Christ, in Christ, through Christ, but never apart from Christ. What He Is, we are.
What we become through His grace, He becomes, for we are the fullness, the enlargement of Him. We are not pulling Christ down from His throne, making Him one element in a universal "Christ" of which we all are equally important parts. Not at all! Christ eternally retains His royal splendor on the mightiest throne of God’s creation.
Jesus is the Lord. He is established forever at the right hand of the Father. We, the members of His Body, are as His regal train that fills the heavens and the earth. We are the "train" that fills the Temple of God (Isaiah 6:1). We are the sweet fragrance of His Divine Presence (II Corinthians 2:14).
In ourselves we are of little value. As an integral, eternal part of Christ’s Presence we are light and life to God’s creatures.
Christ Himself Is our Life. When He appears in glory we will appear with Him.
When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4)
If we are willing to share in His sufferings, in the self-denying labors of the ministry, in the reproach of the cross, we will share in His glory at His appearing with the saints and elect angels.
And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. (Romans 8:17).
Christ’s appearing is our appearing also. Perhaps it is true that we are the "lightning" that will fill the sky at His return. Christ’s glory will shine wherever a saint can be found, from the ends of the heavens to the ends of the four winds. We all will be glorified together because He—Christ—is being glorified, is being revealed, in us.
When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. (II Thessalonians 1:10)
Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. (Isaiah 60:1)
This statement reveals to us the extent Christ lived in the spiritual realm. He knew His days on earth were finished. He realized that soon He would be experiencing agony. He was aware also that eternal glory at the right hand of the Father would be His portion as soon as the work of atonement had been completed.
As we mentioned previously, Aaron, Moses, Elijah, Paul, Peter (and doubtless numerous others) knew when their days were finished. It requires considerable depth and strength of spiritual life to walk with joy and confidence in both the material and the spiritual realms at the same time, passing from one to the other with equal facility.
Jesus never was overcome by physical death. He allowed His body to be crucified. Then, through the Holy Spirit, He took His body again. This indeed is spiritual authority and power.
We Christians tend to become so involved in the pursuits of the flesh that our body is a prison rather than a vehicle for our spirit and the Spirit of God. We view physical death as a horrible tragedy, a nightmare that will come true at some dreadful point in the future. How sad that we needlessly permit ourselves to be bound by the fear of death! The Gospel of the Kingdom includes release from the fear of physical death.
And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. (Hebrews 2:15)
Are we in this world? Are we in the next world? It does not matter. The only reality is the Presence of God. It is supremely important that we are serving Him and accepted of Him.
We are in His Presence and serving Him now while in the prison of our earthly flesh. We shall continue to serve Him in the glad moment when we are set free from the body and are entirely in the spiritual realm. When the Day of Christ comes, our spirit and soul will be reunited with our flesh and the whole will be clothed with a body fashioned from incorruptible eternal life.
What we are in Christ does not change as we pass from one form to the other. The reality we must pursue and guard is our relationship to God. If we are in His Presence, serving Him and rejoicing before Him, all is well with us. What form or vehicle we are in is of little significance. Our concern is that God is pleased with us. If we are in rebellion against God we already are in death and Hell whether we are in the body or out of the body.
Our ability to walk with joy and confidence in both the material and the spiritual realms is of the greatest importance today. It is the author’s belief that severe Divine dealings even now are coming upon us. There will be much blood shed in various countries around the world. Millions of souls will pass in a short period of time into the Presence of their Creator.
During this upheaval the Christian who is living in the flesh may turn away from God, because all his physical senses will inform him his circumstances are hopeless. The Christian who is living in both the physical and spiritual realms will continue to serve God faithfully, because his spiritual senses will inform him that he is dwelling under the impregnable protection of the Lord God of Heaven.
Christ already was "no more in the world," because time does not bind the spiritual realm as it does the natural realm. We would say, "I soon will be no more in the world," in this manner expressing the hold time has on us.
Christ has an exceedingly great love for each member of His Body. While He was living on the earth He was able to protect His disciples from harm, watching over them constantly in the many hours of prayer spent before His Father in the mountains of Judea.
Now it was necessary for Christ to leave His cherished followers and return to His Father in Heaven. He was placing His disciples in the care of the Father.
We too must learn to place the people whom we love in the care of Christ and God. We take care of them and pray for them while we are with them. If we should be separated from them for a season, or if we or they should die, we have complete confidence that our loved ones are safe in God.
Such committal of people is not always easy to make. Once we make it and we know God has heard our prayers for their well-being, we have rest and peace concerning our loved ones. They are in the best of care. They are safe in the Presence of God whether on the earth or in Heaven.
The Spirit of God seems to be speaking that a period of great tribulation and danger soon is to come to the nations of the earth. In such an hour it will be critically important that we know how to place our loved ones in the hands of Christ for safekeeping.
The Lord Jesus was returning to the Father in order to prepare a place in the Father for the saints. It is important to recognize that the Lord stressed that He was returning to the Father, not to Heaven as to a place.
Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father, not to Heaven but to the Father, except through Him.
We know from other passages of the Scripture that the Lord Jesus indeed ascended to Heaven and is waiting there at the Father’s right hand until His enemies become His footstool. However, in the passage under discussion He is emphasizing going to the Father rather than going to Heaven.
If one of our friends stated he was going to England we would wish him well. He could be going for any number of reasons—business, pleasure, to visit relatives, to buy a special product, or for some other purpose.
But if he said he was going to take a trip to see the Queen, that he came originally from England, from the royal family, and the Queen was his mother, then this is a different matter.
The saints look forward with joy to being released from the physical body and entering the spirit Paradise. Such joy is understandable when we compare the pain, dread, and unrest of the world with the peace and beauty of the spirit realm.
But the more Christ grows in us the more we become aware that our Christian discipleship is not leading us primarily toward Heaven; rather, our goal is rest in the Father through Christ. There is a practical difference between viewing Heaven as our goal and the Father as our goal.
Christ kept speaking of going to the Father, not of going to Heaven.
What is the goal of the Christian life?
What was Paul’s goal?
We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. (II Corinthians 5:8)
"To be present with the Lord."
The Apostles of the Lamb had little to say about going to Heaven as to a place. In fact, our Lord didn’t either, according to the Gospel accounts. This is true also of the Old Testament writings. In them, Heaven never is presented as the goal of redemption.
The emphasis of the Old Testament is on life on the earth and the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth. The emphasis of the New Testament is on the coming of the Lord and the redemption that is to take place at that time.
Throughout the Scriptures the stress is on the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth and our relationship to the Lord as a Person, not to Heaven as a place.
The New Testament writings emphasize Christ dwelling in us and we in Him, and our being changed into the image of Christ—particularly in our behavior.
Since the above is true it is obvious that our entire Christian viewpoint concerning the purpose and nature of salvation is in need of modification.
At the beginning of John, Chapter 14 we find one of the best-known passages of all Scripture, a passage that has comforted multitudes of saints:
In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:2,3)
The question we are raising has to do with the expression, "In my Father’s house." What is the Father’s house? If the Father’s house is Heaven, and the "many mansions" are beautifully constructed houses, then Christ is pointing us toward eternal residence in Heaven and the traditional understanding of the Christian churches is correct.
But if the Father’s house is not Heaven, and the many mansions are not beautifully constructed houses, then Christ is not emphasizing our residing eternally in Heaven and the traditional understanding of the churches is incorrect.
What is the house of God? If Heaven is the house of God, then verses six through twenty-three of Chapter 14, the context of John 14:2, are not referring to John 14:2 for they are speaking of the Father abiding in Christ and the Father and Christ abiding in us, not of mansions or residence in Paradise.
If John 14:2 is speaking of houses in Heaven it is unrelated to what follows in context.
But if John 14:2 is referring to union with God through Christ rather than to going to the place termed Heaven , then John 14:2 is an integral part of the doctrine being presented in this chapter.
We submit that the subject of John 14:2-23 is the spiritual fulfillment of the Old Testament feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:34), that is, the adding of the believer to the Body of Christ so the Father may find rest in him or her.
Notice the following:
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)
The Greek word translated abode, in John 14:23, is translated mansions, in John 14:2.
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. (John 15:4)
The verb translated abide, in John 15:4, is of the same root as the noun translated mansions, in John 14:2.
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 explain John 14:2 in the context of the four passages quoted above we can see that Christ is not leaving the earth in order to prepare a place for us in Heaven. He is leaving to prepare a place for us in Himself for He, and He alone, is the Father’s House.
There is a difference between the goal of going to Heaven to live in a mansion, and working with the Holy Spirit as He prepares a place in Jesus for us and a place in us for Jesus and the Father. Our growth to spiritual maturity may be affected by which of the two goals we choose.
The traditional understanding of salvation is that we are trying to live in such a manner we will be eligible to go to Heaven when we die, and that if we profess faith in Christ we will be admitted to Heaven. The hope of Heaven has blessed the believers throughout the centuries of the Christian Era.
Is there a Paradise in the spirit realm to which the righteous go when they die? Yes there is, according to our understanding. What it will be like to live in the spirit Paradise we do not know, for the Scriptures do not have much to say about this phase of our life. The Scriptures stress the return of the Lord and the resurrection from the dead. Nevertheless, we are persuaded with Paul that to depart and be with the Lord is better than life on earth.
We are not seeking to remove the hope of rest and peace for the saint after he leaves this valley of pain and dread. Yet, because the coming of the Lord is so near, it is of practical importance that the believers understand we are to be pressing toward Christ Himself, not merely toward a world without pain.
There are two fundamental misconceptions in the traditional Christian understanding of salvation: (1) the goal of redemption is eternal residence in Heaven, in the spirit Paradise; and (2) salvation is a "ticket" to Paradise rather than what it is in actuality—the wisdom and power to become free from the way of sin and death and to enter the way of eternal life, the way of the Spirit of God.
We could prove our point from any of the New Testament books, including the four Gospel accounts. Some passages are especially helpful. For example:
And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. (II Corinthians 6:16,17)
Can you see that the goal expressed here is not eternal residence in Heaven but our becoming the house of God? Can you see also that the way to becoming the house of God is not merely a profession of belief but withdrawal from the sin and uncleanness of the world?
The goal of the New Testament saint is union with the Father through Christ. The way of the New Testament saint is that of a disciplined walk in the Spirit of God: denying one’s self, taking up one’s cross, and following Christ each day.
The wrong goal and wrong way will cause practical mistakes in the Christian life. A multitude of believers are holding their "ticket to Heaven" while they continue to live in the flesh instead of pressing forward each day to union with the Father through Christ, which is eternal life (John 17:3). They are missing the plan of redemption while they are waiting to go to Paradise.
That Heaven is the eternal home of the saint, and that the way to get there consists primarily of a mental and verbal assent to the fact of the atonement, are well-intentioned, traditional misconceptions preached in many Christian assemblies. Believers are added to the churches, souls are saved and blessed, sick bodies are healed, and other blessings follow. But the believers remain babies (if they are not aborted altogether) because they are pursuing an unscriptural goal in an unscriptural manner.
How much more would be accomplished in the Kingdom of God if we would follow the Scriptures instead of our traditions!
Let us return to our original thought. Jesus was leaving the earth to go to His Father. Christ was returning to the fullness of the Presence of God in Heaven, there to wait until His enemies have been made His footstool.
Our goal as victorious saints is to enter that rest in God through Christ whether we are on the earth or in Heaven. We too are waiting until Christ’s enemies have become His footstool. When He returns to earth to receive His inheritance we shall return with Him. We shall be revealed in glory together with Him.
Our goal is the fullness of the Presence of God through the Lord Jesus Christ. Directing our efforts toward the correct goal will change our daily behavior.
The doctrine of "making Heaven our home" may result in some changes in our moral behavior (although the current overemphasis on "grace" may prevent even this modest transformation from taking place). The doctrine of going to the Father, of living in the Presence of the Father, creates total change in all we are and do.
We cannot come into union with God in our old nature, our old ways. Neither can we enter the new Jerusalem in our old nature. Since going to Heaven is far off in the future (we trust), and since the relationship of our present personality to the personality we will have in Heaven is not clear, we may delay making a determined effort to walk in the Spirit in the hope we will enter the new Jerusalem anyway through "grace."
What if it is true that going to Heaven does not change our personality? What if we go to the part of Heaven (or Hell) occupied by people who behave as we do and we are not allowed to go anywhere else? Will you be satisfied if such is the case?
Does it state in the Scriptures that going to Heaven will change our personality? Is it only our tradition that states we shall be changed in personality when we go to Heaven?
We must keep in mind that the New Testament never once promises us that if we accept Christ we will go to Heaven (or be delivered from Hell for that matter). Receiving Christ "saves" us (if we continue in Him). Being "saved," however, is not speaking of going to Heaven or being delivered from Hell but of preservation in the Day of the Lord.
The New Testament deals with the issue of preservation in the Day of Christ and with eternal life—never with "going to Heaven." So if we are a Bible-believing person we must adjust our hope in terms of what the Scriptures teach, not what our traditions teach.
There is some evidence from those who have had visions of Heaven that we pass into the spirit realm in much the same spiritual condition that we leave the material realm. We cannot be sure, from the Scriptures, what difference believing in Jesus has on where we go when we die.
We do know that if we wash our robes in the blood of the Lamb, if we cleanse our personality by means of the authority and power of the blood, we will pass into the Presence of God when we die.
But an abstract assent to theological facts concerning the Lord Jesus apart from a radical change in our behavior brings nothing of benefit in the spirit realm. Today people "accept Christ" but do not repent. Therefore they receive neither eternal life nor a guarantee of where they will go when they die.
Multitudes of people "make a decision for Christ." But many of these do not make a decision for Christ concerning each problem of each day. They point back to the time when they "made a decision for Christ." But from that time forward (sometimes for thirty years) they have decided for Christ in few situations and circumstances. They make their daily decisions according to their worldly ways, their fleshly appetites, their desire to bring glory to themselves, not according to the will of Christ.
Such never have truly "received" Christ nor do they put their trust in Him each day.
We must at some point in our life make a decision to receive Christ. We must continue to make that same decision every day of our life on earth or we may be cut out of the Vine.
The Book of Hebrews is an exhortation to experienced Jewish saints to press toward the rest of God. These Jews had been persecuted for the Gospel but had accepted the suffering joyfully. Now they were neglecting their salvation. They were not assembling as frequently as before and were being chastened by the Lord that they might be partakers of His holiness.
The writer of the Book of Hebrews warns them again and again of the perils of neglecting to press forward each day.
The author of Hebrews uses the journey of Israel from Egypt to Canaan to illustrate his warning. The idea is (and its application to Christians is confirmed by Jude) that the Israelites, having been saved out of Egypt, died in the wilderness because of unbelief and disobedience.
Because the New Testament on different occasions informs us that the history of Israel is an example of the Christian salvation, we must adjust the definition of what it means to be "saved."
Are we "saved" when we come out of Egypt (the world)? Are we "saved" when we are murmuring and growing bitter because of the pain we are experiencing while journeying through the wilderness (life in the world)?
According to the Scriptures, to be "saved" is to journey in faith and confidence throughout our lifetime, obeying God each day.
What does it mean to be "saved"? It means to continue in confidence in Christ each day of our discipleship. We are not "saved" in the scriptural sense until we arrive at the rest of God. "Rest," as used in the fourth chapter of Hebrews, means rest from our enemies. Through Christ we have overcome every enemy of our soul and have gained the moral Character of the Lord and are resting in the Father’s perfect will. This "rest" is our Canaan, our land of promise.
We do not partake of Christ, and consequently do not find rest in the Person of the Father, unless we stedfastly continue in belief and obedience to the end of our life on earth.
Does the New Testament actually teach this?
For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; (Hebrews 3:14)
We are made a part of Christ only if we keep moving forward each day in belief and obedience. This is the message of the Book of Hebrews.
We have no firm basis in the Scriptures to hope we will go anywhere when we die except to the area where people behave as we do. We will be "gathered to our people."
It is in the present life that we demonstrate our faith by repenting and truly serving the Lord Jesus. If we do this we will be saved.
To be "saved" is to be preserved from destruction during the Day of the Lord and to enter the new world of the Kingdom of God.
Coming into union with Christ (the marriage of the Lamb) must take place now—each day of our Christian discipleship. An immediate, practical effort must be made to seek the Lord’s will in every aspect of our life.
Can you see the important difference between these two understandings of salvation? If Heaven is our goal, our principal task is to wait patiently until we go there. If union with the Father through Christ is our goal, our principal task is to devote every day of our discipleship to the attaining of this union. We must begin the process of transformation now.
We must become a new creation if we are to come into eternal fellowship with the Divine Fire of Israel.
The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil; (Isaiah 33:14,15)
It is not possible to have fellowship with God, with the "devouring fire," solely on our profession of faith in Christ. Fellowship with God is possible only as we walk righteously and speak uprightly (I John 1:6). The righteous always have walked by faith in God. This was and is true under all covenants. Living by faith means that God rather than sin and self is the center of our personality, our motives, and our actions.
God never intended doctrinal belief in the Lord Jesus Christ to be a substitute for, an alternative to, true scriptural faith, the faith by which the righteous of all ages have lived. The eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews, drawing on the lives of the patriarchs, gives us some examples of what it means to live righteously by faith.
Righteousness always is imputed (ascribed) to those who think, speak, act, hear, and see by faith in God. The saints of the old Testament and the saints of the New Testament are the same in this respect. The difference between the two covenants is that today we have more Divine grace by which we can live and move and have our being in the Presence of God.
It is God’s intention that faith in the Lord Jesus Christ be the source of all forgiveness, wisdom, and power so that the saint learns to think, speak, act, hear, and see in righteousness in the same manner in which God thinks, speaks, acts, hears, and sees.
One reason our goal must become union with Christ rather than eternal residence in Heaven is that the true goal immediately makes clear to us that godly behavior is a necessary part of the Kingdom of God.
Godly behavior is of first importance in the Kingdom of God (the Kingdom is first, righteousness—Romans 14:17). Righteousness is the only pathway to eternal fellowship with the Father through Christ.
Apart from righteousness and holiness no person ever will see the Lord. It is the pure in heart who see God.
The purpose of the grace of God in Christ is to convert sinners from lawlessness to godly behavior.
The Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit wherever we are, not evacuation to the spirit realm.
The effort, the goal of the Kingdom of God is not to get people into Heaven, it is to get the life and ways of Heaven into people.
Back to John 14:2. The critical question here is, what is God’s house? If God’s house is Heaven, Jesus has gone to prepare houses for us in Heaven and we are in error in what we are teaching in this booklet.
We understand that we do have "a house which is from heaven," a spiritual body with which we shall be clothed (II Corinthians 5:1,2). Also, we have no doubt that when we die we will go to a fine dwelling place in the spirit realm—perhaps to God’s own palace. We find pleasure and hope in this thought.
Our point is, however, that houses constructed from cedar, mahogany, and marble are not under discussion in the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John.
What is God’s House?
Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? (Acts 7:49)
What is Heaven? Heaven is the Throne of God.
What is earth? Earth is the footstool of God.
In the Lord Jesus Christ the footstool is connected to the throne.
Well then, what is the house of God?
In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:22)
Speaking of the "bride, the Lamb’s wife," John says: "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men" (Revelation 21:3).
Christ Himself is the House, the eternal Temple of the Father. You and I are rooms in the eternal House of God, which is Christ—Head and Body.
We are not aware that there is one verse in the entire New Testament (or Old Testament) that refers to Heaven as the house of God. But there are several verses that state plainly that Christ and His saints are the dwelling places of God. We must abide by the written Word.
What did the Lord mean by saying, "I go to prepare a place for you"? Jesus meant He was going to Gethsemane, the judgment hall, and the cross; and from the cross down into Hell itself. Finally Christ ascended into Heaven and sprinkled His blood before the Mercy Seat in Heaven.
But Christ must also prepare us to be a room in God’s eternal temple.
Now he that hath wrought [prepared] us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest [pledge] of the Spirit. (II Corinthians 5:5)
Christ poured the Holy Spirit upon us, giving gifts of ministry to men. Christ is making intercession for us before the Throne of God, and is working with the believers confirming with miraculous signs their preaching of God’s Word.
Jesus Christ has prepared a place for us in Himself. He is the Father’s House. Each member of His Bride is selected by the Father and given to the Son. Since the selected person is a unique individual who is to be joined in personality to the Lord forever, there must be a process of accommodation that takes place in the Lord Himself, and also in them, concerning the addition to His Personality.
Jesus struggles with God in intercession for the new member of His Body. The Father works through the Holy Spirit to perfect the personality of the member, refining each element. The Holy Spirit is charged with presenting to the Son a Bride without blemish of any kind.
Grace is given to the member as he interacts with the Personality of the Lord. Each believer must pass through the Valley of Achor, so to speak, the place of judgment, until rebellion is gone from his personality; lawlessness is gone; independence is gone.
It is a romance, a dance. We wish to lead but it is Jesus who is to lead for eternity.
It is the story of Adam and Eve. Eve is being created from Adam, and yet must choose of herself to yield her independence of thought and action.
As a result of our marriage to the Lamb, the Lamb loses His individuality while preserving His identity. Each member loses his individuality while preserving his identity. It is an entering into oneness with Jesus as He is One with the Father.
The struggle, the process of union brought about through intense interaction, takes place in the Lord Jesus and in the member of His Body. The Lord prays to the Father. The disciple copes with difficulties of many kinds, particularly with the denial of his desires. There can be prolonged periods during which problems remain unresolved and there is little knowledge of what is taking place.
The deferral of desires, the bearing of the weight of problems, the period of time during which the mind seeks understanding of what is taking place, result in the development of perfect dependence and trust. The Bride must be righteous, holy, sternly obedient to God, and must rest in the Lord in dependence and trust.
This is the marriage of the Lamb and it takes place each day of the true disciple’s life.
This is how the new creation, the Kingdom of God, the new Jerusalem, is brought into being.
Christ is preparing a place for each believer in the House of God, which is the Body of Christ. We are being brought into eternal union with the Father through Christ. Union with God through Christ is our supreme goal. All the ministries of the Body of Christ are working with the end in view of perfecting the House of God, Christ—Head and Body (Ephesians 4:8-16).
Jesus knew He would lose sight of His beloved followers for a season. Therefore, He was committing them to the care of the Father. Christ was asking that God would place His own name, the name of God, on each of his beloved followers. This would cause the Holy Spirit and the elect angels to view each of them as belonging to God—a most important distinction in the spirit realm.
From now on the believers are to be regarded by all the creation as belonging peculiarly to God, as being the special possession and charge of God. They always and in every circumstance are to remain under God’s specific protection. Whoever would harm them will find himself attacking God.
No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord. (Isaiah 54:17)
Let us imagine what the Lord Jesus was experiencing at this point.
Jesus was and is a man. We are not discussing now His almighty Divinity or Lordship but His manhood.
The man, the carpenter, was a human being in the fullest sense of the word. He was tempted in all points as we are. He felt what we feel.
Divine love and human love merged in the adamic form. Jesus was of Adam, through Mary, although without sin in His personality.
Jesus felt as a person. These men and women were His treasure, His chief love except for His love for the Father. Both Divine and human love were present here.
At this point Jesus was laying down His human love and, by faith in the Father, preparing Himself for crucifixion and then for entering His Divine inheritance. He would see His beloved again, by the Word of God, but no longer as an adamic human.
The human, the adamic, was dying.
We can see the Lord as He approached this hour, going up into the mountains alone. He pictured His followers, His supreme treasures, more precious to Him than a thousand heavens, and His heart went out to them in human as well as Divine love. Now the human was to die. Adam was to die. Human affection was to die.
We see Him bowed under this weight, putting His hands on a rock, crying out in His agony, "God help me! God help me!" Adam was in his death throes.
Jesus was a young man with all of a young man’s passion. Now He was entering death, not through a debilitating sickness or a painful accident but while in perfect health.
"I won’t see them again on earth as I am but in an unknown way. Will I really have them? Can I talk to them? Will they know me?"
Then He entered the Presence of God and the angels ministered to Him. His faith and trust in the Father were increased. He received the assurance He would know His beloved in a better, fuller, richer way after death. Nothing would be lost.
The Son of God and Son of Man agonized, and then His conquering joy returned. He came back down in the morning, rejoicing in the certain knowledge that soon He would have His beloved again—and this time for eternity.
Now He could say in joyous confidence, "Holy Father, keep through your own name those whom you have given me."
A young man, Jesus was, with a young man’s heart. If this were not true He would not have been tempted in all the ways we are tempted. Let us never forget that. Through prayer and faith He was able to overcome the flesh.
Sometimes we are called upon to share Jesus’ sufferings. When we do, we know He understands and can feel what we are experiencing. Then we, through Him, can achieve victory by prayer and faith.
The expression "that they may be one, as we are" truly is an awe-inspiring thought. It would be difficult to find a more remarkable doctrine in the entire Scriptures.
Does Christ mean exactly what He is praying here? We believe He does. He is praying that the members of His Body will be one in Christ in God as Christ is one with the Father.
How is Christ one with the Father? Christ is of the Father’s Substance, Nature, Person, Spirit, will, purpose—His entire Personality. Also, Christ is filled with all the Fullness of the Father. A more complete union is not possible.
We of the Church are being brought into and becoming an eternal part of that union, being of the same Substance and Nature, being filled with Christ and God in Him.
It is not possible that the members of the Body can become one while they have an adamic nature. Our personalities are individualistic, abrasive, sinful, and rebellious. We can cooperate with one another to a limited extent, but after that we find ourselves preserving our privacy and independence.
Sometimes efforts are made, both in the secular and Christian realms, to break down this privacy. Through intense fellowship, communication, confession, and prayer, an attempt is made to bring a group into oneness.
Our opinion is that such efforts are premature, that they are an awakening of the Bride "before she please." They may bring about a close union of people, but each person will be subject to the group opinion and possibly to a strong leader rather than to the Lord Himself.
Antichrist may seek such union among his followers.
The Lord prayed we would be one as He and the Father are one. This perfection of union with one another can come about only after each member has been brought into total union with Christ.
It is not that we arrive at union among ourselves and through this attain union with Christ and the Father. Rather, we arrive at union with Christ and the Father and through this union with God we attain union with one another.
Perhaps in time past we may have overlooked or ignored the startling statements of John Chapter 17 because they appear to be beyond us. Not only are they beyond us they are more marvelous than any idea that at any time has entered our thinking.
These statements, which have to do with our being incorporated into the union existing in the Godhead, startling and "impossible" as they are, are a part of God’s eternal Word. We always are to say yes and amen to God’s Word whether or not we can grasp it.
The Kingdom of God is found in union—the dwelling of the Father in Christ in people. People enter the Divine Oneness as they are prepared for such a holy state by the Lord. The love that binds the members of the Body together is Divine, fiery, intense. It is holy beyond all holiness. It brings us into union with God, Jesus, and one another.
If the Lord Jesus Christ has prayed that we be brought into union with one another in Christ in the Father, let us grow beyond our lesser understanding of redemption so we may lay hold on the greater. It is not that we lose what we already have attained, it is that we press into the fullness of union to which Christ has called us.
We do this by asking God to increase our faith until we are able to overcome all obstacles and gain the crown and throne God is offering to His victorious sons (Revelation 21:7).
We believe the spirit Paradise, Heaven, is a place of peace and joy—a welcome relief after our grief and dread in the present world. We believe also we will be given beautiful places of abode that will bring the greatest joy to us. We believe this, not because there is any mention of it in the Scriptures but because of dreams and visions the saints have had.
But then what? Are we humans of such a nature we would be happy reclining eternally beside a flowing stream without any goal, any challenge, any areas of growth or success? It does not appear that many of us have been created that way. Also, what need will we have of a "mansion" after we have been clothed with a body like that of the Lord Jesus?
Our deepest desire is neither gold, nor silver, nor precious stones. These never can satisfy the human heart.
Our deepest desire is to enter the Person of our Father and into union with Christ and other people. We want to be with God, in God, acceptable to God, and never again separated from God. We want to be an eternal part of Jesus and to share with Him the people who are His inheritance.
Then, as Christ keeps on being enlarged throughout the universe for the eternity of eternities, we shall be enlarged with and in Him, and those who have become an integral part of us will be enlarged with us. This is the Kingdom of pure love that the Lord will bring with Him. The relationships among the members are eternal because they are not adamic but of Divine Substance.
To love and guide the nations of the earth—this is the inheritance. We are being created the living Presence of God in Christ so that Christ in us can minister to other human beings. No other inheritance can compare with an inheritance consisting of people.
Christ will share the nations of the earth, which are His inheritance, with His coheirs.
Christ has given each of us into the keeping authority and power of His Father in Heaven. No person or spirit can force us from the Father’s hands. That keeping authority and power are bringing us into the Oneness that exists only in the Divine Godhead.
The Father’s House is Christ. We are being created individual rooms in the one eternal House.
The doctrine of keeping, of guarding, appears several times in Chapter 17. The Apostle John employs this term in the sense of our keeping and guarding the Word of Christ (John 14:23; Revelation 3:10), and of Christ keeping us safe in His care during seasons of temptation (John 17:15; Revelation 3:10).
While the Lord Jesus was on the earth He kept His disciples safe from the wiles of Satan. Christ accomplished this through prayer, praying that the authority and power of the Father’s Name would be a wall of protection, an unmovable rock surrounding each member of the little band of disciples.
Even today the Name of the Almighty God covers each true believer in Jesus. The whole family of the elect in Heaven and earth is named from the Father.
For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, (Ephesians 3:14,15)
We understand from the Spirit of God and from the conditions of the world about us that fearful days are ahead for all the inhabitants of the earth. Another war may be just around the corner. In many countries the value of money is unstable. Multitudes of human beings are suffering famine and homelessness. God is testifying that judgment is coming on the world because of our sin and rebellion.
The saints are in the world. We know that as long as we are in the world we shall experience tribulation—much tribulation. We must never forget that the Name of Almighty God is protecting us.
The saints will suffer and the sinners will suffer. The difference is, the hand of God is covering the saints and their tribulations result in the perfecting of their personalities in Christ (if they receive them correctly, praying to the Lord continually for strength and guidance).
The hand of God is not covering those who are not of Christ and they are exposed to unrelieved, nonredemptive tragedies and despair. Therefore we saints point every person on earth toward the Ark of safety—the Lord Jesus Christ.
Those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition [destruction]; that the scripture might be fulfilled.
How terrible to be lost ! Judas Iscariot was lost—lost from the Presence of His Creator forever. And for thirty silver coins!
Judas Iscariot was one of the twelve disciples. There was nothing unusual about Judas except his love of money. He carried the bag of money, the common purse of the disciples. Money meant so much to Judas he would steal the money belonging to his comrades, his fellow disciples.
This he [Judas] said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. (John 12:6)
Jesus referred to Judas, Simon’s son, as "the son of perdition" (son of destruction). Jesus declared, "it had been good for that man if he had not been born" (Matthew 26:24).
This indeed is a fearful statement. How would you like to hear your Creator say it had been good for you that you never had been born?
Judas was not a man without a conscience. His future conduct portrayed conscience and remorse. But Judas loved money. The love of money provided the door through which Satan was able to enter him.
The moment Judas’ despicable deed was performed his conscience spoke to him. Judas repented and brought back the thirty silver coins to the priests and elders of Israel—the price of the life of God’s Christ.
"I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood," Judas cried. Judas’ sorrow was not that he had betrayed Christ of Israel but merely an innocent human being.
Judas went and hanged himself. Truly, the love of money is the root of all evil.
What must have been Judas’ terror when he discovered, as he was descending into the bottomless pit, that he had betrayed God’s holy Son to the Romans? What will be our terror if we discover when we enter the spiritual realm that we have failed Christ because of our love of money?
Can you imagine the agony of Judas’ soul and mind? Christ was not the only person who suffered the pangs of death and Hell during those terrible hours. But Christ’s agony led to the throne of glory while Judas’ agony increased a thousand times as he entered the frightful caverns of darkness that are the abode of Satan, the fallen angels, and the most vile people of history. It was no comfort to Judas to realize he was surrounded with spirits like his own.
Christ was welcomed by the Father and the holy angels. Judas was greeted by fallen angels and demons, the sight of whose faces surpasses in horror any other experience possible to human beings.
There were three crosses on Golgotha: God was crucified; the saved criminal was crucified; the unsaved criminal was crucified. Nor did Judas escape. He also was "crucified," so to speak.
There is no way to escape crucifixion in the world. Those who enter willingly into the cross of Christ are lifted in His omnipotent resurrection.
Those who choose the way of the riches of the world, trusting their money will give them the power to escape the tribulations of life, destroy their relationship with their Creator. In the end, all are "crucified" in one manner or another, and the possession of great wealth cannot prevent it.
Balaam, Gehazi, Judas, and Ananias and Sapphira testify to us from the eternal darkness that riches are deceitful, that the love of money indeed is the root of all evil.
"Christian" ministers today are teaching that the Lord’s people ought to be rich in the world’s goods and we should exercise faith in order to gain wealth. These Balaamite prophets, adorned in the finery of the present world, cannot see the bony ribs of the dying in Africa; neither can they hear the moans of despair coming from the parched lips of the mother attempting to nurse her starving infant.
These lovers of gold cannot see or hear the torments of the world’s population because the pursuit of wealth has blinded their eyes and stopped their ears. Yet they are preaching the saints should seek after money. The blind are leading the blind. Shall they not bear their judgment?
The hour will come when the false prophets of money will be in outer darkness, clothed in rags, begging for a taste of the water of life. The poor of the earth, rich in faith, will be reveling in the sumptuous riches of the Kingdom. They will be dancing and singing for joy, playing with the children in the grassy meadows of glory under a radiant sky.
The teachers of the love of money will see from their oppressive dens the wealth and glory of the Kingdom in the distance. They will hear faintly the strains of the music of the angels. They will smell a bit of the fragrance of the heavenly air. But they will be kept at a distance until the Day of Judgment.
They became rich from their preaching but now they are impoverished. They should have laid up treasures in Heaven so at their death they could have rejoiced in the beauty and love of the spiritual Paradise. Instead they are in rags, awaiting the most terrifying of all court appearances.
This is the certain fate of Christian pastors, evangelists, and teachers who have chosen to use their profession to gain material wealth and comfort. When they die they will gnash their teeth in torment while the poorest of the saints will be dwelling in perfect joy and peace.
One of the conspicuous aspects of the reign of Antichrist will be the love of money, of material gain. The world government and the gigantic Christian organization of the last days will be dominated by the love of money. They all will be destroyed in the end.
Spiritual darkness has settled on the world today. Many of the Lord’s people already have been deceived. If the believers do not abandon at once the Antichrist love of material gain their fate will be torment with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and the Lamb (Revelation 14:10).
Where will their pastors and evangelists be then—they who pampered the believers and assured them that even though they were not bearing their cross behind Jesus they had no need to worry? These false prophets have taught their followers that God loves them too much to deny them anything they desire. What will they say to their flocks when they are looking with horror at each other in outer darkness?
Some who are teaching a "pre-Antichrist rapture" may not realize that they and their disciples already are serving and preaching Antichrist. Because they have chosen the riches of the world they will not be given the true riches of the Kingdom of God.
As far as we know, Judas was an ordinary human being.
At one time Judas had been a little boy, playing games around his home in the village of Kerioth. Could the lad Judas have realized that one day his Creator would say of him, "It had been good for that man if he had not been born"? Could Judas have known that one day his name would be a symbol for treachery throughout the world?
What if Christ were to say that about me, about you? Are we immune for some reason? Was Judas immune? Were Ananias and Sapphira, who held back part of the proceeds from the sale of their land because of their desire for money, immune to the wrath of God because they were members of the early Church?
The holy Scriptures by commandment and example teach us to flee from the love of money, from the deceitfulness of riches. It is impossible to serve God and money. We must choose between these two masters.
Esau traded the Messianic inheritance for a bowl of lentils. Judas sold Emmanuel for thirty pieces of silver. Gehazi exchanged the trust of Elisha, and his own health, for some clothes. Balaam, Ananias, and Sapphira gave their lives for material gain.
During the reign of Antichrist the members of the Laodicean churches will trade their part in the Lamb’s Book of Life for economic security.
We have made our choice. How about you?
"That the scripture might be fulfilled," Jesus prayed. Christ knew from the beginning who it was that would betray Him.
Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve. (John 6:70,71)
Judas was mentioned by the Spirit of Christ speaking through David:
Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me. (Psalms 41:9)
There are the wicked and there are the righteous. To what extent some people belong to God before they receive Jesus, and others are wicked and not of God, we cannot say. It is obvious that Judas was condemned from the beginning. However, the Scripture holds true that if any person comes to Jesus he will not be turned aside.
Judas betrayed Christ with the kiss of friendship. How truly treacherous and perverse is the spirit of covetousness! Indeed, covetousness is idolatry. It is the worship of the god of riches, the god of the world. Of all the heathen gods worshiped in His day, Christ spoke only of one—Mammon (money).
Antichrist begins his career among the people of God, as we can see concerning Gehazi, Judas, and Ananias and Sapphira. But those who are of Antichrist never were of God even though they may have a spiritual gift. Jesus never knew them even though they worked miracles in His name.
They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. (I John 2:19)
It is not true, as some teach, that Balaam was a false prophet. Balaam was a true seer. God came to him when he prayed.
If Balaam had been a false prophet he would have been able to curse Israel with no trouble. The problem arose because he was a true seer. Gehazi, and Ananias and Sapphira, chose death when they were fellowshiping with eternal life. Their conscious remorse will make Hell all the more unbearable for them. In like manner, Judas was one of the twelve who were closest to Christ.
We have no doubt that Antichrist will come from the Christian churches. Remember, Antichrist is not the opposite of Christ, he is the counterfeit of Christ.
Skillfully made counterfeit money can be detected only by an expert. It virtually is identical to genuine currency. It differs only in its source.
So it is true of Antichrist. He virtually is identical to Christ. He appears as an angel of light, not of darkness. He differs from Christ in his source. The Source of Christ is God the Father. The source of Antichrist is Satan.
Antichrist, "the son of perdition" (II Thessalonians 2:3), no doubt will come from among fervent Christian believers. Judas, another son of perdition, emerged from among the original twelve disciples.
Perhaps Antichrist will be the minister of a Christian church who sees in Christ the means of becoming wealthy and powerful. Little by little he will be drawn into Satan’s power, as was true of Judas Iscariot, until he is thoroughly deceived. He will lead a multitude of other believers astray with him just as the preachers of money are leading multitudes astray in our day.
Judas did not realize Satan was using him, that he was a tool in the hands of the lords of darkness. Perhaps Antichrist will not realize Satan is using him—at least not in the beginning. No human being deliberately chooses eternal confinement in the lake burning with fire and sulfur.
How about today? Are we being led to believe we should use Christ in order to gain wealth, power, fame, success, positions of leadership, better jobs, houses, lands? Are we viewing material gain as godliness?
If we are, we need to read about Balaam, Judas, Antichrist. Covetousness will open a door in our personality through which Satan will enter and cause us to betray Christ. He who would love money is taking the first step toward the Lake of Fire.
Christ has warned us clearly. No man can serve God and money. Paul exhorted us to flee from the presence of those who teach that gain is godliness or that godliness is a means of acquiring money (I Timothy 6:5).
The disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ must choose between two ways of living. He can choose the way of self-denial and cross-carrying obedience to the Lord Jesus, or he can choose the way of trust in money, a path that appears to evade the cross and yet lead to Paradise. However, the believer who seeks to evade the cross makes himself vulnerable to spiritual deception.
The love of money, being a counterfeit of the love of God, leads to spiritual deception.
One path that seeks to evade the cross is overemphasis on the grace (forgiveness) of God. This false path stresses that salvation is by a profession of belief in doctrine apart from works of repentance.
Today’s stress on a profession of belief opens the way to a life of covetousness, the lust for material riches, and other non-Christian attitudes and practices, while the doctrinal position is held that we are saved by "grace" and our works do not matter.
The teachers who advocate the "Jesus did it all" concept of salvation may have some knowledge of the Scriptures that announce our position in Christ, but they certainly are unaware of the warfare that is necessary if the Divine vision is to become reality in our personality. We must make every effort if we are to enter the rest of God, the Divine vision that portrays our position in Christ at the right hand of God.
To stress our position in Christ and not balance the position with an equal emphasis on the necessary warfare is a wresting of Paul’s teaching, and will lead to the destruction of every person who allows himself or herself to become persuaded that God and Christ would participate in such an empty redemption.
To use the blood of Jesus as a "covering" while we continue in the love of money is to destroy the new covenant. The blood of Jesus is to serve as the means of keeping us acceptable to God while we, through the Holy Spirit, are driving the sin from our personality.
True faith in the Lord Jesus Christ produces a "new creature" who reveals in himself the righteous works of the Divine Nature from which he was born. If there is no new creature who is performing works of righteousness, who shuns the covetousness of the world, the new covenant is not operating in the personality.
Branches in Christ that do not, after a season, bear the fruit of righteous behavior, are cut out of the Vine (out of Christ). Trees that finally do not bear the fruit of the image of Christ are removed from the orchard.
And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down. (Luke 13:9)
God is seeking to bring about the worship of Himself, and obedience to Himself, on the part of the inhabitants of the earth. If the Gospel of Christ does not result in righteous, holy, and obedient conduct, in freedom from covetousness, how is it accomplishing the eternal purpose of God? Is it not inferior to the old covenant, which at least required an abstention from moral transgressions?
The mature fruit of the moral image of Christ does not spring forth in our personality in a moment. Godly character requires years of patient discipline as the Holy Spirit slowly works redemption in our nature.
The Christian salvation is moral and character transformation. This is what salvation is. This is what the new covenant is. To define grace to mean that righteous works are unrelated to our salvation entirely misses the meaning of what God is performing through the new covenant.
A second path by which the money-lovers seek to evade the cross is the current overemphasis on God’s love. God is Love—this is what the Scripture teaches. The Scripture teaches also that God is a consuming Fire. Sodom and Gomorrah dramatically portray this fact.
The flood of Noah is a warning to every creature, revealing that God is an all-powerful Spirit who is to be feared. The individual who does not fear God is foolish and ignorant.
God has not changed. Christ has not changed. The God of Noah and Abraham has not changed. We have boldness in Christ, not because God has changed but because of the adequacy of the atonement made on the cross of Calvary. Jesus warned His elect that He has not changed. He emphasized the fact that as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the day when He is revealed.
An emphasis on God’s love that causes the believers to cease to fear God and to continue in the delusion that they love God while they are frolicking in the world and amassing money, is of Satan. The spirit that pretends to sympathize with the plight of man, teaching us to shun the cross of self-denial, proceeds from Satan. We have the words of Christ to Peter as follows:
But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. (Matthew 16:23)
Where there is no fear of the Lord there is no wisdom.
The true saint both loves and fears God. He loves God with all his strength. He also has experienced the terror of the Lord. He works out his salvation with fear and trembling.
The saint understands he will not have an excess amount of "oil" to share with the unwise in the Day of Christ. He knows that even those of righteous conduct are saved with difficulty (I Peter 4:18).
Extreme positions on grace or on God’s love place in jeopardy the redemption of the believer. They are false, satanic teachings.
A third path that appeals to those who trust in money, that seeks to evade the cross, centers around the teaching of the first resurrection and ascension of the saints. When comforting the relatives of deceased Christians, Paul mentioned the first resurrection, the resurrection of the royal priesthood, to the church of the Thessalonians (I Thessalonians 4:13-5:3).
The term "rapture" has now been applied to the ascension that will follow the first resurrection of the dead. As is true of the first two errors mentioned (extremism concerning grace and concerning God’s love), the doctrine of the "rapture," as it is taught today, is a departure from a fundamental truth of God’s Word. It is a misapplication of Divine truth, bringing harm instead of blessing to the Lord’s people.
The ascension of the saints is being preached as the means God has provided for our escape from the great tribulation. God indeed has provided for our escape from the spiritual harm that will be caused by the great tribulation. God will enter His saints in that hour in fulfillment of the Old Testament feast of Tabernacles. The saints finally will overcome the deceptions of Antichrist because greater is He (Christ—the Spirit of truth) who is in us than he who is in the world (I John 4:4).
It is true that the saints will not suffer from the pouring out of the vials of God’s wrath at the time of the destruction of Antichrist. When the saints go out from the midst of the wicked of the earth the wrath of God will fall on the ungodly, just as Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed the moment Lot had been pulled to safety by the angels.
A fourth path that seeks to evade the cross has to do with using "faith" to gain wealth, power, and success. This is a modern symptom of the perennial attempt to be a Christian and not live righteously; not walk in the wholesome fear of God; not experience tribulation in the world.
The four evasions of the cross have a common denominator. They are compatible, each enhancing the other three. They produce an overfamiliarity with Christ and His Gospel, an "ease in Zion," a mystique, an aura surrounding the Christian salvation that is far removed from the text of the Old or New Testaments.
The common denominator of the errors of the evangelical mystique is the concept of the Christian salvation as an eternal, unconditional amnesty whose purpose is to admit the believer to Paradise when he dies. It often is true that those who follow this path trust in money. They do not walk each day in humble obedience to Christ.
The angel of the evangelical "gospel" is rebuked today by the Spirit of the Lord Jesus for its love of money and pleasure. It is telling God’s people that Jesus has done everything for them; and while they should try to live a godly life out of appreciation for the goodness of the Lord to them, it is not critically important that they do so because they already are eternally secure in their hope of eternal residence in Paradise after their physical death. It is a potpourri of myths and errors.
The sincere saint should examine carefully what he is being taught today. He should study the modern Christian trend of thinking and attitude and determine if it corresponds to the thinking and attitude of the Apostles of the Lamb.
Concerning the current we-can-get-rich-by-faith doctrine, the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews is clear that faith follows, not precedes, the expression of God’s will. Faith is not a matter of deciding what we want and then commanding God to give it to us.
The fruit of faith is shown (in Hebrews, Chapter 11) to be works of righteousness, not the acquisition of ease in the world, or money, success, or luxury. Rather, the opposite is true. God Himself spoke to the men and women mentioned in the eleventh chapter, such as Noah, Abraham, and Moses. God spoke. Then the saints demonstrated their faith by obedience, courage, patience, trust, and persistence—often in the face of much suffering and adversity.
When we put faith (presumption) first, before God gives us direction, in a self-centered attempt to use Christ for our benefit, we enter a dangerous deception. We are employing presumption, not faith, and presumption is a transgression against God. It reminds us of Satan who attempts to be like God apart from union with God.
Devout teachers of today are exposing the error of attempting to acquire material wealth and success by the exercise of "faith" in Christ. We would add our support to them in deploring the fascination with money and comfort. Such "faith" efforts are not even close to being Christian. They are just one more attempt to evade the cross. They blind their adherents with the love of money, which is the destroyer of all that is of God and Christ.
Extremism in grace; overemphasis on the love of God; the unwillingness to believe that the Lord allows his saints to suffer tribulation; and now the use of faith in His name in order to become rich—all add up to an "eat, drink and be merry" attitude. The desire is to "have fun in the Son," as someone expressed it.
If this truly is the attitude of the Lord Jesus, our teaching that the Christian discipleship is a rugged road of repentance, self-denial, and cross-carrying obedience to Christ is not accurately reflecting the will of the Father in Heaven.
Yet we do appreciate and trust in God’s grace. We do experience God’s unfathomable love. We do enjoy the Lord’s protection. We do walk in miracle faith.
Which is the right way? Perhaps Balaam, Jezebel, Gehazi, Judas, Ananias, Sapphira, and Demas could now provide us with the answer.
The truth can be found in the writings of the Apostles.
If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (I Timothy 6:3-10)
The choice is between the cross and the world. No person will be destroyed by Antichrist or the False Prophet if he cries out to Christ continually for the truth, if he prays to the Father to be kept from temptation, if he accepts his cross and carries it faithfully each day of his pilgrimage.
The area of spiritual deception is complex and will not be dealt with in depth in this writing. However, the saints should be cautioned that Satan will attempt to deceive the elect. We should not walk with a sense of false confidence just because we are attempting to behave righteously and are sincere.
To believe we can enjoy Christ and the world at the same time is to openly invite deception. He who "gives part of the proceeds of the land" under the pretext of giving all to God, attempting to gain the best of both worlds, will be deceived. God will send a delusion on him.
No one wishes to spend eternity in torment, separated forever from his Creator. Let us flee from this Antichrist, pleasure-loving, world-embracing "gospel."
Judas was lost. The Scripture that spoke beforehand of the one who would betray Christ was fulfilled. Judas became the "son of perdition."
Does this mean that, like Esau, Judas was hated of God before he was born? We know that the Scriptures teach Divine foreknowledge and predestination. We know also that God is willing that all repent and come to the knowledge of the truth.
The Word of God remains true. If we will choose to come to Jesus and practice righteousness we will be received of God. But if we choose to not do what the Lord Jesus has commanded, preferring instead to seek riches and pleasure in the present age, we will be deceived.
There is no guarantee that we, although having been at one time a sincere Christian, will not end up in the ranks of the tormented. There are Christian teachers who would assure us that such could never happen. But they are mistaken. They themselves are heading toward the outer darkness.
Let us not be proud but work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.
Remember the tormented Judas. Remember the covetous Ananias and Sapphira.
What is the joy of Christ?
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)
Most people wish to have joy. In the opinion of the world, joy is gained by the acquiring of material possessions or by eating, drinking, and making merry in a festive atmosphere. Some persons seek power, or success and the accomplishment of their endeavors. Others strive continually to gratify the lusts of their flesh. Joy is the goal.
The ways of the world do not bring lasting peace and joy to our heart. Those who possess many material possessions do not demonstrate that they are the happiest people on earth. Eating, drinking, and making merry in a festive atmosphere is pleasurable for the moment, but then the following morning has to be faced and endured.
World rulers and leaders are not noted for revealing peace and joy in their personalities. Those who succeed in business often are plagued with worries, competition, lawsuits. Business reverses can result in suicide. Fornication, alcohol, drugs, and other lusts of the flesh lead their victims into remorse, betrayal of trusts, and various physical and mental illnesses.
For those who choose the temporary pleasures of the world there is uncertainty, confusion, and dread concerning their reception in the spiritual realm when they die. The sword hangs over the head of each sinner while he fills his mind and his time with the frantic pursuit of "fun."
It is certain that it is appointed to each human being to die, and then he or she will be judged. How wretched is the state of those who seek the pleasures of the world!
The true saint turns away from the temporary pleasures of this life. He chooses to know the power of Christ’s resurrection and to share in Christ’s suffering. He embraces the way of the cross, of self-denial, of discipleship.
The sincere Christian is not too concerned with acquiring material possessions beyond the immediate needs of his family and himself. Having food and clothing he is content. He does not participate in revelry, because he has learned that any time spent in abandoned gaiety provides a direct opportunity for Satan to strike him. The experienced saint much prefers to watch continually in prayer.
The genuine disciple of Jesus is not seeking power nor is he preoccupied with success or material accomplishment. He works diligently at whatever is placed before him. He is not a religious "drifter" not a "floater" expecting hard-working people to feed him.
In some instances the Christian may be successful and respected in the eyes of worldly people. This was the case with Daniel, for example, who was a true man of God.
The saint is first of all a person of prayer and devotion to the Lord Jesus. He follows the Lord each day. Jesus comes first. If Christ should direct him to leave his secular employment there is no hesitation. He followed the Lord diligently in material success and now he follows the Lord diligently apart from material success. He follows the Lord!
Christ while living on the earth was a man of the greatest joy and peace. He possessed enough joy and peace for Himself and for all His followers as well.
In view of the harassment directed toward Him, how could this be?
Jesus owned few material possessions. He was not a carouser. Although Christ ate and drank with people He certainly was not a glutton or drunkard. His nights were spent alone in the mountains in fellowship with His Father in Heaven.
The Roman Empire, a typical worldly society, was oriented toward power, success, and accomplishment. But Christ lived in the Spirit of God. He refused the opportunity to become wealthy and powerful in this life. Fornication, lust, lying, drunkenness, covetousness, had no place in His Personality. What is the nature and source of the joy and peace of the Lord Jesus Christ?
Christ alone possesses, and is able to give to others, the joy and peace that all the world is seeking.
This joy can be experienced only by those who have forsaken all and are following Jesus. Lukewarm Christians can know moments of peace and joy. But the deep, pervading, eternal joy and peace of which Christ speaks is experienced only by the single-minded, intensely consecrated disciples of the Lord.
One of the penalties suffered by the compromising, worldly Christian is that the joy of the Lord is denied to him or her. The worldly follower of Christ is weak in the Lord because he is not given the joy, the strength, of the Lord.
Those who have forsaken material possessions experience the joy of having the Lord supply their needs miraculously. Those who give themselves to prayer and waiting on the Lord come to know the close fellowship of the Father and the Son—and there is no other joy like that.
Those who have been humbled under the mighty hand of God possess the authority and power given only to the overcomer. The faithful whom the Lord makes barren receive the joy of beholding fruitfulness and dominion on a great scale.
Those who deny the lusts of their flesh experience spiritual delights that have no sorrow added to them. Blessing is heaped upon blessing, and increased fruitfulness and dominion are the result.
The Lord’s conquering saints are looking forward to joy and glory, after they die, beyond the mind of man to conceive. There is no uncertainty, confusion, or dread surrounding their physical death.
Death is gain for the saint. He will be received by Christ with the open arms of love and will hear the Son and the Father exclaiming over a job well done in this life. Only God Himself understands the pleasures awaiting those who forsake all and serve God in the present world.
Christ overcame all things and is seated on the Father’s throne. He was able to endure the cross because of the joy set before Him. If we choose to live victoriously through Christ, one day soon we will be seated with Him on His throne. We too can endure the cross because of the joy set before us.
The dedicated disciples of Christ experience more joy than any other group of people in the world. The joy of Christ is theirs. It is with them at all times, especially when they are in trouble. The joy of Christ dwells in the saint when he is imprisoned for Jesus’ sake. The joy of Christ abounds in the Christian martyr as he or she is led before the executioner.
There may be periods of time when the saints are brought very low and suffer prolonged seasons of grief or dread. But the Lord brings them out of all these as soon as they have been set free from the particular bondages with which the Lord is dealing.
Only those who take up their cross and follow Jesus are given the fullness of joy. By losing their life for Christ’s sake and the Gospel’s they finally gain the greatest treasures available in the world (fellowship with God, the love and respect of their families, an untroubled conscience, and so forth) and eternal life in the world to come. The righteous indeed are blessed beyond all other people. But the way of the transgressor is hard.
I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
Again we come to the Divinely constructed wall that stands between the elect and the world. The scriptural passages that control the destinies of each of the Lord’s chosen can be found throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament. These passages are clear: there is a Divinely ordained difference between the elect and the remainder of mankind.
For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth. (Deuteronomy 14:2)
Consider the awesome implications of such a passage!
For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life. (Isaiah 43:3,4)
Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth [declares to be righteous]. (Romans 8:33)
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; (I Peter 2:9)
And so on and on throughout the Scriptures.
Each member of the elect must keep his part of the covenant by cleaving with all of his strength to the Lord who has called him out of the world. If he does not, the Lord will bring him under discipline. If he refuses to be disciplined he will discover he is facing an angry God even though it had appeared he was a member of the elect.
The doctrine of Divine election stands as one of the principal ideas of the entire Scriptures.
In John 17:14, Jesus acknowledges to the Father in Heaven that He has given the Father’s Word to the elect. Hasn’t Jesus given the Word of God to everyone? Not in the sense meant here.
Jesus spoke to the multitudes in parables but He explained the meaning of the parables to His chosen. Only three from among the chosen disciples were allowed to behold His transfiguration. We can see three levels of opportunity displayed here: the multitudes, the chosen, and the three from among the chosen.
A level of opportunity in the Kingdom of God is not earned, it is assigned by Divine election. (Although who can say what God will do on the behalf of any individual who seeks Him with a perfect heart?)
Notice, in the following quotation, how a level of opportunity is assigned by election. We say level of opportunity because it is just that—an opportunity. We are not forced to do anything; neither are we guaranteed that we will not lose our inheritance. The opportunity for glory is there. It is up to us to grasp the prize, the goal for which we have been grasped by God the Father in Christ.
But to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared. (Mark 10:40)
The expression "for whom it is prepared" reminds us of John 14:3: ". . . I go to prepare a place for you."
When God planned in advance the structure of the Kingdom of God He identified two or more persons who would be at the right hand and left hand of Christ when He returns in glory.
Who are these rarely blessed individuals? It has not yet been revealed. We do know that these positions of incomprehensible glory and authority, of closeness to the Master, have been prepared by the Father from the beginning for specific persons.
At some point in the history of mankind each of these highly placed human beings was born (or will be born—for many that are last in time will be first in the Kingdom). He or she was nursed as a baby, learned to walk and talk, attended school, experienced adolescent emotions and confusion, entered adulthood, worked at one or more occupations, lived for his or her assigned period of time, and then died and went to Paradise.
He may have been famous or obscure. She may have been a gentle teacher or perhaps a flaming evangelist. He may have possessed the nobility of a Daniel, or the remoteness of a John the Baptist, or the cheerful dependability of the friend who lives next door.
Those who have been chosen to stand so close to the Lord Jesus began life just like the rest of us. Their destiny is to reign over the universe from a supremely exalted position of unimaginable glory and authority.
However, this glorious destiny is an opportunity they were invited (or will be invited) to grasp with dedication and diligence. Indeed, they will drink the cup of suffering to the last drop. All the sons of God are obligated to take the Kingdom of God by faith and determination.
Christ gives the Word of the Father to the elect, to each person whom the Father has given to Him. Christ will not give the understanding of the Word of God to anyone who is not of the elect.
And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. (Matthew 13:10,11)
It is the giving of the Word of the Father to the elect, to the chosen, that causes them to be separated from the world. As a result, the world hates God’s elect. Every member of God’s Israel was called out from the world. Israel is an elect, a chosen, a firstfruits of mankind. The world, and those of the church people who never were called of God, hate God’s chosen and will murder them because of envy.
Whenever the Word of the Father is given to a person, and the person receives that Word in faith and embraces it, he is born from above, from Heaven. He no longer is a part of the world system. His spiritual life from now on is at the right hand of the Father in Christ. He has become a part of the Kingdom of God, the family of God, the Church of the Firstborn.
As the Word begins to grow in him he commences to act, speak, and think in a manner the world hates. He becomes the feared enemy of the world system because he testifies of the world that its works are evil. Satan stands before him and resists Christ who is being formed in him.
His citizenship is in Heaven, and until the Lord returns he is a stranger and pilgrim in the world. It is the Word of God that separates each of God’s elect from the world.
It is our point of view that many if not most of the "Christian" people of today have never been born of God. They were born of the churches, not of the Spirit of God.
The period of time in which we now are living is one of shaking, of separation. The fires of persecution and tribulation are testing the genuineness of each individual who professes Christ.
It appears that the Divine shaking will produce two separate churches: (1) the Church, the Body of Christ, formed from God’s elect, His remnant; and (2) a much larger group of Christian "believers" who will appear in many ways to be members of the Christian faith. They will have the reputation of being "alive" but will be spiritually dead.
There is a willingness on the part of professing Christians to believe unscriptural concepts, such as an emphasis on "grace" to the extent that behavior is not critically important; on the love of God to the exclusion of the fear of God; on the "rights" of people to the neglect of the adoration and service of God; on the ascension (rapture) of immature believers to the neglect of the spiritual life that is absolutely necessary if we are to participate in the first resurrection from the dead (Philippians 3:11).
It is being taught and believed that Christians always must be comfortable and must not experience suffering or tribulation of any kind.
There are those who fear God who believe that this entire trend of preaching and teaching has no part in Christ even though its proponents are "fundamental" in doctrine, aggressive in evangelism, and, in some instances, speak in tongues, claiming to be filled with the Spirit of God.
It may be true that the Charismatic (Pentecostal) believers, of whom the writer is one, may be the most vulnerable to deception. We tend to look toward spiritual experiences rather than toward stedfast adherence to the Word of God.
Also, we are more than willing to believe in miracles and angelic visitations and often do not examine carefully their source. We do not "try the apostles," especially if they use our familiar terms or act in accustomed patterns of behavior. We Charismatics often are as wise as doves and therefore are as harmless as serpents.
In addition, we have reacted against the formality of the "dead" churches to the extent we have become overfamiliar with the Lord Jesus Christ. Sometimes we speak as though Christ is our servant, believing He is willing to be used by us for our purposes. This is a deception, a lying spirit.
Overfamiliarity with the Glory of God can lead to death.
Our mind goes back to the days when the Ark of the Covenant was abiding in the house of Abinidab in Kirjath-Jearim. The Ark was in Abinidab’s house for fifty or more years. The family became familiar with the Ark, and familiarity led to presumption and irreverence.
Abinidab had two sons, Uzzah and Ahio, who were accustomed to seeing the Ark in their home. Were they not close friends with God Almighty? Do not we Christians think we have God in our pocket?
And when they came to Nachon’s threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God. (II Samuel 6:6,7)
We must keep in mind that there always is death, as well as life, in the Presence of God.
We may think God is obligated to bless us because our doctrine is "correct." Instead we should be in fear and trembling, understanding that even the Christians of righteous behavior are being saved with difficulty (I Peter 4:18).
Will we prophesy over people who give us a specified amount of money, as some have done? Will we prophesy immunity to disease to people who give us money? Will we sell prayer cloths and other amulets and fetishes in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ?
Will we state, being filled with presumption, that the Apostle Paul could have avoided his troubles if he had possessed the "faith" we have today? Has man become sovereign in the Kingdom of God? Is this not the False Prophet?
Will we be rich in the world? Will we command and force God to do our bidding? Is Christ our slave? Is God the Father smiling on our sin, our rebellion, our complacency, our presumption?
Will no person among us be reproved in the Day of Christ? Will we all, like the godly Enoch and Elijah, ascend in the clouds in the first resurrection whether or not we have overcome the world through the Spirit of Christ?
Are we more precious to God than all past generations? Or are we not, in fact, terribly deceived and facing the greatest judgment in history?
Will not Sodom, Gomorrah, Capernaum, and all other cities and nations that have been judged by the Lord rise up in the Day of Christ and bear witness against the "Christian" nations of today?
Is it a time for smugness and complacency because we speak in tongues, or should we not cry out to the Lord in sincere repentance so He may protect us and our loved ones during the tribulation that is at the door?
Which voice is of Christ? One voice is assuring us there is no need to be concerned because at any moment we may fly away, leaving the world and the Jews to the sorrows of the great tribulation.
The other voice is warning us to turn to God, confess our sins, and cease our wicked practices because we are entering the Bride’s baptism with fire (Isaiah 4:4).
Which voice is the voice of Christ? Do you know? One thing is certain: both voices are not coming from the same source.
A shaking is coming. A separation is near. The Spirit of God is bringing the Word of Christ to the churches of today. God’s chosen people will hear the Spirit and will become strangers and pilgrims among the peoples of the world and among the spiritually deaf church people.
Those who have not been chosen by the Lord will continue in their delusion that they are God’s "pets"—the favored of Christ. They think that Jesus never would rebuke or discipline them for their lukewarmness.
The Pharisees who howled for Jesus’ blood believed they were the favored of God.
God’s elect of today who can hear His voice must redouble their efforts to walk carefully and prayerfully before Christ, turning to Him in sincere repentance and humility of mind.
Has there ever been the amount of deception present among Christian people that is true of today?
Should we be looking forward to the coming of Christ with gleeful overconfidence in a spirit of presumption and familiarity with God?
Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord! to what end is it for you? the day of the Lord is darkness, and not light. As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him. Shall not the day of the Lord be darkness, and not light? even very dark, and no brightness in it? (Amos 5:18-20)
True, we may object, but those statements concern the unfortunate Jews who will go through the tribulation while the lukewarm Gentile believers are watching the misery of Israel from their beds of ease in Paradise.
Is this sound doctrine? Would we split the Body of Christ, the one new Man, the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16), that seamless robe, into Gentile and Jewish believers in defiance of all that Paul taught (Ephesians 2:11-19)?
Listen to the scriptural warning given to all believers, to all of God’s elect; because there is no difference between Jew and Gentile in Christ:
For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous [Christians who keep God’s Word concerning righteous behavior] scarcely [with difficulty] be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? (I Peter 4:17,18)
The above passage hardly supports the overconfident, assured attitude so prevalent among us today.
The Lord Jesus Christ is not the good-natured fellow the spiritually careless, smug church-attenders believe Him to be.
A study of the fourth chapter of I Peter will reveal that our suffering in the world is Divine judgment, a judgment that is saving us so we may be prepared to meet the Lord when He appears in the clouds of heaven. This message from I Peter does not agree with current Christian teaching.
Christ is giving His Word to the elect of today. Each individual who hears the Word of God will discover before too long that the Word that has come to him is separating him from the world and—in some instances—from people whom he always had considered to be his brothers and sisters in the Lord.
The Lord of the churches is walking among the "lampstands" in the present hour. His eyes are flames of fire. He is not appearing as an amiable, soft Jesus who loves and forgives us whether or not we are doing our part in the work of redemption that is to take place in our personality.
Perhaps the question is, will the Lord Jesus actually spit from His mouth all the lukewarm believers of today, or will He accept them anyway because they are "saved by grace"? The writer is firmly persuaded, in accordance with the written Word of God, that Christ indeed will spit them out of His mouth.
How about you, dear reader? Your eternal destiny is the issue here. Will you gamble that the "prophets" of today who advise us not to worry, that after we have confessed Christ we can sit back and wait for the "rapture," actually are speaking by the Spirit of the Lord God of Heaven?
The present writer is stating that their message is not coming from the God of Heaven. Will you take a chance on being cast into outer darkness, there to gnash your teeth in an agony of remorse because of the memory of opportunities forever lost?
Or will you instead turn to the Scriptures, particularly the New Testament, and find for yourself if the Apostles of the Lamb, or the Lamb Himself, ever taught or in any manner suggested all that God requires of us is a statement of faith in Christ?
While you are examining the writings of the Apostles, do not extract one, or two, or ten verses in order to prove a point. Read the entire epistle and attempt to grasp the main thought and important ideas.
One or two passages from Paul’s writings would appear to support the current overemphasis on grace; but the theme of Paul’s arguments in each epistle reveals that the overemphasis on the grace of forgiveness (the notion that godly living is not critically important in our salvation, in the Kingdom of God) is a poisonous wresting of Paul’s gospel.
It may be helpful to go through and underline the passages of the New Testament that indicate godly behavior is a necessary part of our entrance into the Kingdom of God.
Such passages are numerous in the New Testament, appearing in the writings of all the Apostles. The passages that might be interpreted to mean that righteous conduct is not necessary are few in number. Righteous conduct is the doctrine of the entire Scriptures (under the new covenant it is righteous conduct resulting from our union with Christ, not from our own efforts apart from Christ).
Keep in mind that our righteous behavior does not earn salvation. Rather, righteous behavior results from salvation. Where there is no growth in righteousness no salvation is taking place.
The Scriptures do not teach that the grace of God causes God to overlook the sins of the believers. The Scriptures do not teach that God’s love prevents Him from punishing believers who sin. The Scriptures do not teach that God’s people will be caught away to Heaven to escape the great tribulation. The Scriptures do not teach that believers should attempt to use faith to gain money or other forms of material wealth. All of these doctrines are filled with the spirit of man making himself a God and come from the spirit of the False Prophet.
Verses must be lifted out of context in order to appear to support such distortions of God’s holy Word. They must be isolated from "the whole counsel of God."
It is your salvation! If the Word of God comes to you so that you see the need to turn to God in repentance, we pray you will give all your attention to this supremely important matter.
The desire and the ability to repent are gifts from God. These are the most precious treasures in our possession and we must guard them with the utmost care. Some have neglected them and lost them.
Do not place your hope of eternal joy in the hands of the overfamiliarity with Christ that is so prevalent today, until you can find in the Scriptures a basis for such confidence (Psalms 2:10-12).
If you should become persuaded, from your searching of the Scriptures, that all of us must turn to Christ and repent of our lukewarmness, do not be surprised if the world begins to hate you. Neither be surprised if the church people begin to avoid you.
However, you are not alone. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are with you. The elect angels are with you. In addition, you are being created an eternal part of the Body of Christ with its many members on the earth, and many more in Heaven surrounding you as a cloud of witnesses. They are cheering you on as you press forward to victory in Christ.
Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. (II Peter 1:10,11)
The above sentence may be translated as follows: "I do not ask that You should take them out of the world but that You should keep them from the evil one."
The verb keep contains the idea of guarding in protective custody. The word from , as employed in the King James, no doubt conveys the thought accurately: "keep them from [out of] the evil [one]."
The same grammatical construction is used by the same writer, in Revelation 3:10:
Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
The above verse, Revelation 3:10, is one of the foundation verses of the erroneous "rapture" teaching. Notice that this verse does not in any manner speak of a withdrawal of people from the surface of the earth but of a guarding of them during a period of temptation. To see in this passage a withdrawal of the Church from the earth in order to escape Antichrist or the great tribulation is an example of the tendency of people with a preconceived notion to add to the Word of God that which it does not state or imply.
Christ is not praying that the Father would remove us from the world but that He would protect the elect from all the influences of Satan.
Previously in this booklet we emphasized the idea that Christ was preparing to go to the Father rather than to Heaven as a place, and that we also are being prepared to go to the Father as to a Person rather than just to a delightful place. In fact, we are being prepared to be brought into eternal union with the Father through Christ.
As we have stated, there is a practical difference between viewing Heaven as the destination of our spiritual pilgrimage and viewing eternal union with the Father as the destination of our spiritual pilgrimage and discipleship. Our choice of goals has an effect on how we live as Christian people.
In the passage we are examining now we intend to view the negative dimension of our redemption—what we are being saved from .
We have suggested that we are pressing toward rest in the Father.
But what are we moving from ?
If it is true, as we maintain, that we are moving toward a Person rather than merely toward a place, is it true also that we are moving from a person rather than from a place?
Are we being redeemed from the earth or are we being redeemed from the image and power of Satan? Is God redeeming us from the land or from the enemy? Is our journey from earth to Heaven or is it from Satan to God?
Our understanding of what we are being saved from, as well as the destination we are moving toward, directly affects the manner in which we apply ourselves to our discipleship.
The common understanding of the work of salvation is that we will be removed from the world of pain and fear and brought to a different world (Heaven) where there is no pain or fear.
The scriptural description of the work of salvation is that we are being removed from the person and power of Satan and brought into the Person and power of God in Christ. Whether we are in the world or in Heaven has little to do with the plan of salvation, with the work of redemption.
The common understanding of the Christian redemption is that our salvation primarily is a journey from this dark planet to the light and glory of Paradise. The scriptural description of redemption is that our salvation primarily is a transformation of our personality such that we become the temple of God instead of the slave of Satan (John 8:34-36).
The first doctrine stresses movement from one place to another. The second doctrine emphasizes the transformation of all that we are and do and our absorption into the Divine Godhead.
According to your understanding, do the Scriptures teach that the work of redemption is a journey from earth to Heaven, or a changing of what you are as a person—a journey from Satan to God?
The writer believes the Christian redemption to be one of moving away from spiritual bondage and toward the place of the permanent blessing of God.
What we are, we are, whether we are in Heaven or on the earth; although it may be easier to serve God in Paradise than it is on the earth. Perhaps God forms His kings and priests on the earth because it is more difficult to serve Him here. Here is the place where Christian character is formed. The members of the Bride are not to be merely innocent, as was true of Adam and Eve, but radiant with militant righteousness. They are to love righteousness passionately and to hate sin and rebellion passionately.
Of late we seem to be becoming aware of the continuity of life after we die—when we pass into the spiritual realm. We shall continue to be what we are now, although apparently there will be some change because of the loss of our sin-prone flesh and because of the righteous and holy spiritual environment of Paradise.
If we are lukewarm and self-centered here it is likely we will be lukewarm and self-centered there. If we are fervent lovers of Jesus here it is likely we will be fervent lovers of Jesus there.
Pride and self-centeredness originated in the spiritual realm, in Heaven, among Satan and his angels. Why should our physical death, our removal into the spiritual realm, change our personality? If it is true, as it seems to be, that we will pass unchanged in personality into the spiritual realm, then it becomes very important that we enter the Christian redemption to the extent that our personality is transformed (II Corinthians 3:18; 5:17,18).
We have but one sure Word from God—the holy Scriptures. Is there any passage of Scripture that reveals to us that dying and passing into the spiritual realm will transform our nature, our personality?
The Kingdom of God is internal with respect to Christ being formed in us, and external with respect to the appearing of Christ and of those in whom Christ has been formed.
To our knowledge, no passage of the Scriptures implies that our arrival in Heaven will result in a change in what we are or that Heaven will be our permanent home. In fact, the Scriptures suggest that the earth is the eternal home of mankind (Revelation 21:3). We always must abide by the written Word of God.
There is a passage of Scripture which, at first glance, appears to teach that the goal of salvation is to pass from the earth into Heaven. Let us examine it carefully, for doctrine that comes from the Lord Jesus never contradicts the Scriptures.
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city. (Hebrews 11:13-16)
If the above passage were stating that salvation is the shifting of the permanent home of the saved of mankind from earth to Heaven it would be in opposition to the Book of Revelation. The Book of Revelation reveals that the overcomers will be on earth with Christ during the thousand-year period, ruling the nations with a rod of iron. We shall "ever be with the Lord," and the Lord Jesus will rule from the Throne of David in Jerusalem, according to our understanding (Luke 1:32).
In addition, the Old Testament in many places teaches that the saints will be prominent on the earth during the thousand-year period (Isaiah 61:9, for example).
Then, during the new heaven and earth reign of Christ that follows the thousand-year period, the Church, the Bride of the Lamb, the new Jerusalem, will not be established forever in Heaven but on the new earth (Revelation 21:24).
Neither during the thousand-year period nor during the new heaven and earth reign of Christ will the saints be abiding permanently in the place called Heaven (although the life and ways of Heaven will be in us and we will be able to go to Heaven whenever we desire). The new covenant does not bring men from earth to Heaven, it brings the Life of God to men and women while they are in the earth, and returns them to the earth in the day of resurrection. The Kingdom will come to the earth. God’s will shall be done in the earth.
Hebrews 11:13-16 (above) is not in opposition to the remainder of the Scriptures. The doctrine of the heroes of faith looking for a heavenly country does not mean they were attempting to move from the earth to Heaven.
Rather, the concept is that the patriarchs were attempting to move from the sin, death, and instability of the present world system to a place in God that has foundations. The place, the city that has foundations, is the Lord Jesus Christ and God in Him. It is the "Jerusalem which is above" which is the "mother of us all," the new Jerusalem (Galatians 4:26).
The new Jerusalem is in the heavenlies now. After the thousand-year period has been concluded the new Jerusalem will descend to its eternal resting place on a "great and high mountain" of the new earth. This is the true character of the Kingdom of God—that which the patriarchs were seeking.
The saints of old were looking for a city that is to come to the earth.
For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. (Hebrews 13:14)
Let us examine three facts indicating that the pilgrimage of the heroes of faith is not from earth to Heaven but from the person and rule of Satan to the Person and rule of Christ:
. The context of the Book of Hebrews.
. The "promises" the patriarchs have not as yet received.
. Hebrews 11:40.
When interpreting any passage of Scripture it is helpful to view the overall concept, the general idea of what is being taught. What is the Book of Hebrews all about? The Book of Hebrews is a warning to Christian people, saved people, believers who had suffered persecution for the Gospel’s sake, not to neglect their salvation but to press into the rest of God.
Is the "rest" of God Heaven? Are we who have been saved for many years, as were the saints to whom Hebrews was addressed, still attempting to press into Heaven?
When Hebrews, Chapter Four speaks of our coming short of the "rest" of God, is the author suggesting that those Christians may not be candidates for Heaven even though their property had been confiscated for the Gospel’s sake (Hebrews 10:34)?
Or is he not rather referring to growth in Christ, speaking of those who are spiritual babies and still need milk (Hebrews 5:12-6:9)?
The Book of Hebrews is an exhortation to Christian people to mature spiritually and to enter the rest where every enemy in our personality has been overcome and we are abiding in Christ in God.
The goal of redemption addressed in the Book of Hebrews is as follows:
Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. (Hebrews 4:1)
The "rest" of God refers to the inheritance, the land of promise, Canaan.
God’s elect are moving from Egypt (the world system, not the earth) to Canaan. What does Canaan typify? Does Canaan symbolize Heaven?
The tribes of Israel were organized into an army so they could invade the land of Canaan and drive out the inhabitants. God told them to totally destroy the Canaanites. In some instances the Israelites destroyed the inhabitants. In other instances the Canaanites proved too strong for Israel and either kept their territory or else became slaves of the Hebrews.
Every time the Israelites sinned against God, God strengthened the Canaanites and they rose up and made the Israelites their slaves. Much of the history of Old Testament Israel is a record of the battles between the Israelites and the Canaanites. This is true of the Book of Judges, for example.
The Israelites adopted the demon worship of the Canaanites.
Can any devout believer seriously consider Canaan to be a type of Heaven? Will we have as difficult a time in Heaven as the Israelites had—and still are having—in Canaan?
What does Canaan typify? Canaan symbolizes the earth, the material creation, especially in the present hour our own personalities and bodies. It is the material creation that is our land of promise. Here is where the enemy is entrenched. Here is where we fight and sometimes conquer, and sometimes lose.
The passage from the eleventh chapter of Hebrews we quoted above (verses 13-16), which appears at first glance to teach that the goal of salvation is to pass from the earth into Heaven, must be interpreted in the context of growing up spiritually and entering the rest of abiding in Christ in God. The rest of abiding in Christ will bring us to the full apprehension of the inheritance, which includes dominion over all the works of God’s hands.
For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. (Hebrews 2:5)
It is not that we are going to another place. It is that another world, a new world in which dwells righteousness, a world governed by the Lord Jesus and His saints, is coming to the earth.
In addition to the context of the Book of Hebrews, we may wish to consider the kind of "promises" that the saints of old were pursuing ("These all died in faith, not having received the promises"—Hebrews 11:13).
The Book of Hebrews, addressed to Jewish Christians, exhorted the believers to gain the promises of God by faith—that is, the promises given through the Prophets. None of these promises have to do with Heaven, the spiritual realm. Every one of them has to do with the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.
As we study the Old Testament we do not find, to the writer’s knowledge, any emphasis on the value of dying and going to Heaven. In fact, physical death often is treated in the Old Testament as one of the worst tragedies that could happen to an individual. When the Israelites were slain in battle, no mention was made that they were passing on to their reward. Their death appeared to be a disaster.
For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks? (Psalms 6:5)
O Lord, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit. (Psalms 30:3)
I am counted with them that go down into the pit: I am as a man that hath no strength: Free among the dead, like the slain which lie in the grave, whom thou rememberest no more: and they are cut off from thy hand. (Psalms 88:4,5)
Wilt thou shew wonders to the dead? shall the dead arise and praise thee? Selah. (Psalms 88:10)
But we do find in the Old Testament some passages that speak of the resurrection from the dead and of fruitfulness and dominion to come at the end of the age. It is not life in the spirit realm that is the hope, but life once more on the earth.
The main emphasis of the Prophets, as later was true of John the Baptist, Jesus, and the early apostles, is on the Day of the Lord and the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth; never on dying and going to Heaven.
For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: (Job 19:25,26)
The above passage is not the hope of life in Heaven.
And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2)
But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days. (Daniel 12:13)
Daniel was invited to rest until his life is renewed at the end of the age. This is pointing toward the resurrection from the dead, not toward Heaven, as being Daniel’s goal.
That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; (Genesis 22:17)
The above is one of the main promises of the Old Testament. Yet, it hardly could be construed as having anything to do with making Heaven our home.
The pilgrimage of the patriarchs, as they sought the fulfillment of the promises of God, was not to make their home in Heaven, it was to escape the evil of the present world system and to find rest in Divine glory, that is, in Christ. The goal was to "possess the gates of the enemy."
Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead. (Isaiah 26:19)
Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. (Ezekiel 37:12)
These passages are typical of the "promises" the patriarchs were pursuing. Never is there so much as a suggestion that Heaven is the long-awaited home of the righteous.
The following quotation sums up the burden of the Hebrew Prophets:
And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. (Isaiah 2:3)
Christ Himself, as revealed in the fullness of the new Jerusalem, is "the city that hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God."
We do not find in the Old Testament an emphasis on dying in order that we may leave the earth and go to Heaven as to a place. We do notice the promise of the coming of the Messianic Kingdom to the earth.
Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice Before the Lord: for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth. (Psalms 96:12,13)
The words of Jesus are in keeping with the promise of the Kingdom: "I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil [one]."
The third fact emphasizing that the pilgrimage of the heroes of faith is not from earth to Heaven, with Heaven being the permanent goal, is Hebrews 11:40:
God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.
The verse preceding the above verse (11:39) states that while they did receive a good report through faith, the patriarchs did not receive the promise.
Now, beyond question, the patriarchs are in Heaven around the Throne of God. Yet the Scripture states that they did not receive the "promise." What promise? And what does the expression mean, "that they without us should not be made perfect"?
If eternal residence in Heaven is the goal of the saint, and the patriarchs now are in Heaven around the Throne of God, Hebrews 11:39,40 does not make sense. They already are perfect, if going to Heaven is the "rest," the perfection of God. Why should they be waiting for us in order to be "made perfect"?
But if the goal of the Christian faith is our being made perfect , our personal transformation into the image of Christ in spirit, in soul, and—at His coming—in body, the bringing forth of an entirely new creation, then Hebrews 11:39,40 does make sense. It is in accord with the remainder of God’s Word.
The patriarchs in Heaven cannot be made perfect apart from us because the Bride of the Lamb, of which the patriarchs are members, will be raised from the dead and ascend to meet the Lord when He appears. The saints of every age will be raised together and perfected in the resurrection.
The city that the patriarchs sought is coming to the earth.
For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. (Hebrews 13:14)
There is another line of thought that may prove to be edifying to us. The writings of the Apostles speak of our growth into the image of Christ and the growth of the Christian Church into the fullness of the stature of Christ.
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 4:12,13)
The question is, Why must the focus of the Christian ministry be on the perfecting of the saints, on their coming to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ?
Is such perfecting important in the plan of redemption, or do we believe it is commendable but not necessary that we make progress in faith, knowledge, and spiritual maturity?
If our goal is to leave the earth and attain eternal residence in Heaven, then spiritual maturity may be desirable but the main objective is to get to Heaven.
If our goal is to work alongside Jesus in the Kingdom of God, then conformity to His death and resurrection, and the untroubled abiding of Christ in us, are necessary for the attainment of the goal.
Can you see the practical aspects of what we are teaching? People under pressure do what is necessary, not what merely is commendable.
We believe spiritual maturity will be an asset to us while we are in Paradise awaiting the day of resurrection, the Day of the Lord. It is possible we shall be assigned to a place of service in Paradise and to a fellowship of kindred spirits, according to our spiritual maturity. If so, we will be very glad indeed, when we go to be with the Lord, for every bit of the growth of Christ that has occurred in our personality.
It is true that when we die and go to Paradise we shall be free from the main source of our problems—our physical body. Also, there will be no devil, no demons to plague us continually. There will be no pressure from our environment to cause us to rebel against God.
In addition to this freedom from negative influences there will be all kinds of positive forces acting on us to press our deeds, our words, our thoughts, our imaginations, our motives, into what is pure and holy.
Wicked people will have been led away into the abodes of darkness. We will be surrounded by the saints, the holy angels, and—best of all—by the love of God in Christ who then will be visible to us.
We may bring some of our problems with us, because it is appointed to people to die once and then be judged. I will discuss our problems in a minute.
If we will be relieved from so many negative influences, what, then, is the purpose for the endless dealings of the Holy Spirit with the saints? Why are we tested, prodded, pushed, pulled, pressed, in every conceivable manner? Why is spiritual maturity emphasized to such a great extent in the New Testament writings if we will have no need of it in Paradise?
The reason is, Heaven is not the end of our journey. The end of our journey is the resurrection from the dead and life once again on the earth.
Let us consider three aspects of the fruit of the Spirit: self-control, patience, and faithfulness.
Of what use are self-control, patience, and faithfulness in Paradise? Will we have need of these virtues in Heaven? Will there be pressures on us in Paradise to cause us to lose our self-control or our patience, or to provoke us to unfaithfulness?
It is not likely, although we must remember that sin and rebellion began in the spiritual realm.
Perhaps the primary lesson we learn in the world is faith in God . He who would come to God must believe that He exists and that He is a rewarder of everyone who seeks Him.
But of what use will faith in God be when we can behold Christ and hear His Words from His mouth (although it may be true that if we do not believe Him now we will not believe Him then, even though we are looking directly at Him)?
Are all these virtues, which have been developed in us so slowly and painfully, of use only while we are on the earth? Will they be discarded as unnecessary when we enter Paradise?
However, if Heaven is not our eternal home, if we are being prepared to be kings and priests of God and of Christ and to serve Them on the earth, then all the virtues of the fruit of the Spirit are necessary and must be developed in us. We will not be able to participate in the work of the Kingdom if we do not possess them.
In addition, passing into the spiritual realm may be quite different from what we are expecting. The Scriptures have practically nothing to say about what happens to us (sinner or saint) when we die physically. It appears that most of our Christian assumptions in this regard are based on our traditions.
It may be true that the moment we die we will find we are intensely conscious and in much the same spiritual condition that was the case before we died. If we were holy we will be holy. If we were filthy we will be filthy. If we were free from sin we will be free from sin. If we were bound by sin we will be bound by sin. We may discover that we already are living and walking among those whom we will see when our eyes are opened after physical death.
It is a fact that our body will have been separated from us. But it is not likely that what we are as a person will have been separated from us. There are some sins that are bondages that dwell in our body. These bondages may leave us with the death of the physical body; or perhaps they may not!—for all sin is spiritual in nature and ultimately is of the devil (I John 3:8).
There are other sins that proceed from our personality, such as lukewarmness toward Christ. These are not bondages dwelling in the flesh, like adultery, but are conscious choices we make. It may be true that these personality traits will pass with us into the realm of spirits.
One thing seems to be certain: there is no unconsciousness in the spiritual realm. It is only the living who can become unconscious. All the dead are very much alive and intensely conscious.
Think about the future! The Lord Jesus will descend from Heaven with His army of saints in order to establish His Kingdom on this earth. According to the Scriptures, Christ and His army will be resisted with violence. But the army of Heaven, led by Jesus Himself, will attack the wicked and destroy them. The saints will crush all wickedness out of the earth.
What about the believers who never have grown in the Lord? Will they be able to participate in an engagement such as the Battle of Armageddon? Will they rule as kings during the age to come?
Indeed they will not! Self-control, patience, faithfulness, and all the other attributes of the image of Christ are required in the setting up and operating of the Kingdom of God (Revelation 1:9).
Since the setting up of the Kingdom of God is the purpose for the first resurrection from the dead (Revelation 20:4-6), it is likely that only the overcomers will participate in this supremely glorious event. Truly, there is a reward for serving the Lord.
Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6)
The writer is a firm believer in the idea that the righteous dead go to Paradise. There are several books on the market today that describe the experiences of those who have died and have seen the beauty of the spiritual realm, and then have returned to tell of its wonder and glory.
We are persuaded that many of these are valid experiences, even though the Scriptures do not speak of the parks and flowers that some of the saints have seen in Paradise.
May we state again, however, that the purpose of the Christian redemption is not to move us from earth to Paradise. The purpose of the Christian redemption is to remove the "hell" from our personality and to fill us with "heaven." The Kingdom of God is the doing of God’s will in earth as it is in Heaven.
God has no problem bringing people to Heaven. In fact, if God wanted man in Heaven He would have created him in Heaven. The desire of the Lord God is to get "Heaven" into people, especially people on the earth. Christians are being made the light of the world, not the light of Heaven.
God is creating people who can bring "Heaven," which is Christ, into every situation in which they find themselves.
Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them [festive processions to Zion]. Who passing through the valley of Baca [of weeping] make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools. They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God. (Psalms 84:5-7)
God is creating saints so strong in Christ that the rule and worship of Heaven is present wherever they are. This is the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Heaven.
There are believers in Christ who bring peace, healing, strength, and blessing wherever they go—even under the most unlikely and depressing circumstances. Such are peacemakers, and the sons of God.
There are other "believers in Christ," who may or may not be saved in the Day of the Lord, who bring gossip, bitterness, confusion, wherever they go—even where there readily could have been righteousness, peace, and joy.
Although they profess faith in Christ they actually are servants of Satan. They promote division, confusion, hatred, strife, lies, arrogance, rebellion—every evil, satanic work. Disaster follows in their wake. Their actions, words, and motives are of Hell not of Heaven.
Sometimes it is difficult to determine who truly is of Christ. Only God knows for certain, and we are commanded not to judge (I Corinthians 4:5). At the present time there are many "believers" who still are strongly influenced by Satan. They are among us but are not of us. They have not been redeemed from the hand of the enemy.
There are righteous Christians and unrighteous "Christians" (although an "unrighteous Christian" is a contradiction in terms). How can we account for the obvious difference in personality and behavior between these two sets of people? The Scriptures do not teach that all who profess Christ will be received of God and enter the Kingdom of God (Matthew 7:21).
Have both the righteous and the unrighteous believers attained the first resurrection from among the dead, the resurrection of God’s kings and priests? Are both groups "going up in the rapture"? Is spiritual growth in Christ actually essential to entering the Kingdom of God?
As we have said, a correct concept of where we have come from and where we are going makes a difference in the manner in which we behave as Christian people. If we are being converted from the power of Satan to the power of Christ, we are looking to God each day for the wisdom and strength to cooperate with the transforming work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
But if our objective is to move from the earth to Heaven, we are waiting to die so our goal may be achieved. Also, we hope God’s preachers do not take too many of our pleasures from us because we would like to enjoy ourselves as much as possible while we are waiting.
It is this incorrect goal and the consequences that flow from holding this goal that are producing the love of the world we behold in the churches of Christ. We think we have our ticket to Heaven so why not enjoy ourselves while we are waiting?
If, however, our objective is freedom from the authority and power of Satan and complete union with the Lord Jesus Christ, then the preachers who are "taking away our pleasures from us" actually are assisting in the work of redemption in us. They are unwinding the graveclothes from us. They are moving us from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.
Can you see the practical difference between these two concepts of salvation?
The hope of the Christian Church is the resurrection from the dead. The resurrection from the dead will be the glorious fruit of the work of redemption taking place in us today. The resurrection of the elect from among the dead is the objective toward which the efforts of the Kingdom of God are directed. "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death" (I Corinthians 15:26).
Over the period of time from the first century to the present, the goal of the Christian Church has changed from the coming, the return of Christ to the earth (and the accompanying resurrection of the dead bodies of the saints), to the going of the saints to Heaven. The doctrine of Christ returning to set up His Kingdom on the earth, which is the major burden of the Prophets, has been altered by our traditions to a brief, invisible return of Christ to carry away His people to Heaven.
There is no basis in the Scriptures for this alteration of the message of the Kingdom of God.
The first-century apostles did not emphasize going to Heaven. The apostles always emphasized the Day of Christ, the return of Christ to the earth, the coming of the Kingdom of God (the same message preached by John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus).
Based on this change of goal the emphasis was removed, in the nineteenth century, from the resurrection of the dead bodies of the saints and placed upon the ascension of the saints to Heaven. This is error heaped upon error; for Paul does not teach that we shall be caught up to Heaven but rather that we shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air.
The ascension that will follow the resurrection of the overcomers has been stressed in evangelical preaching until the doctrine of the resurrection has become obscure and confused in the minds of the elect. The concept of the first resurrection as a special resurrection of the royal priesthood, a reward that must be attained (Philippians 3:11), is not heard in today’s preaching. Yet, Paul set forth attaining the resurrection to eternal life as the goal of the Christian discipleship.
Never once, of which we are aware, did Paul groan that he might be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. Paul groaned for transformation, for the resurrection, for the redemption of "the body of this death." Paul did not groan for transformation so he would escape tribulation or the Antichrist (which is being taught today). Rather, Paul groaned for personal transformation so he would enter Christ more completely, so he would be more righteous.
The proponents of the rapture do not appear to be seeking righteousness but safety and comfort in the Day of Christ.
Notice the attitude of the Apostle Paul:
And not only they, 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)
Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. (Philippians 3:21)
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (I Corinthians 15:52)
We see nothing in the above three verses that suggests the elect will ascend to Paradise. Rather, they state that the saints will be raised from the dead and their bodies will be transformed.
There is nothing in the term resurrection that implies ascension. To be resurrected is to be animated and raised to a standing position. The emphasis is on the change, the transformation. Christ was raised from the dead (He stood on His feet) and we shall be raised from the dead at His return (I Corinthians 15:23).
A month and ten days elapsed between Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and His ascension to His present position at the right hand of the Father.
Why have the churches added to the New Testament passages that speak of the resurrection of the elect and the coming of the Lord, the concept that these events have to do with our going to Paradise? It is because of the prevailing confusion surrounding the objective of the Christian salvation.
Because the objective of redemption is understood commonly to be our journey from earth to Heaven we have inserted into the New Testament writings doctrines not present in them and not present in the Old Testament writings.
Adding confusion to confusion, the "rapture" of the saints, a term applied currently to the ascension that will follow the first resurrection from the dead, is viewed as the means by which the Lord Jesus will "take His Church to Heaven."
There is no need for a resurrection or an ascension to bring us to Heaven. We go to Heaven when we die, not when we are resurrected from the dead.
The Church, with the exception of those members who will be alive on the earth at the time of Jesus’ return, already is in Heaven in Christ at the right hand of God.
Paul’s teaching concerning the first resurrection and the ascension of the saints has nothing to do with the escape of the living saints to Heaven but is to assure the living saints that the deceased believers will share in the Kingdom when the Lord Jesus returns to the earth.
But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. (I Thessalonians 4:13,14)
"That ye sorrow not" concerning "them which are asleep."
If Paul was accustomed to teaching that the goal of salvation is to go to Heaven, the "brethren" would not be sorrowing. Why should they sorrow if the deceased saints already have attained bliss in Paradise?
If Paul’s teaching here is for the purpose of relieving the anxiety of the living saints of Thessalonica concerning the deceased saints who already are in Paradise, why doesn’t Paul comfort them by stating that when they die they will go to be with their loved ones in Paradise?
If the emphasis is on attaining residence in Paradise, why does the Apostle Paul stress that the deceased saints will return from Paradise with Christ at the time of His appearing? It is obvious that I Thessalonians 4:13,14 is stressing the return of Christ with His saints, not the removal of the Church to Heaven. The believers were hoping to be reunited with their deceased loved ones on the earth.
The Thessalonians were concerned that the deceased would not participate in the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth. This concern reveals that the Apostles did not preach our going to Heaven. They preached the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth, which is a different message.
Current Christian doctrine is resting on an unscriptural assumption concerning the goal of the Christian redemption; consequently, its portrayal of the requirements of the Christian life is not accurate or effective.
Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, John the Baptist, Jesus, Paul, Peter speak of the coming of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth. The purpose of the return of Christ in His Kingdom is to establish justice among the nations of the earth. The Kingdom will be installed with violence because the unrighteous governments of the earth will strive to maintain their positions of rulership.
Christ is laboring unceasingly to bring His Body to perfection so we may be able to work with Him in the establishing of justice on the earth, to participate in the setting up and administration of the Kingdom of God on the earth.
We need a physical body in order to live once again on the earth, and this is the purpose for the resurrection. This is why the saints now in Paradise will return with Christ at the blowing of the last trumpet.
The purpose of the ascension to meet the Lord in the air, which follows the first resurrection from the dead, is that the Body of Christ may be joined to the Head, the army of the Lord may be gathered to the Commander in Chief. In Jesus’ case the ascension followed forty days after the resurrection and there may be a similar interval of time in our experience.
The joining of the Body to the Head is the beginning of the revealing of the sons of God. It is the manifesting of the marriage of the Lamb, of the Kingdom of God, to the nations of the earth. This is the coming of the Kingdom of God spoken of by the Old Testament Prophets, and by John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus, and all the apostles, prophets, and teachers of the new covenant.
The saints will not be lifted up from the earth, after their resurrection from among the dead, for the purpose of being protected from God’s judgment or from Antichrist.
That is not the purpose for the ascension. In fact, it is the saints who will administer the Divine judgment (Psalms 149:9; I Corinthians 6:2,3).
Not one time in the entire Scriptures, Old Testament or New Testament, to our knowledge, does the Holy Spirit suggest that the purpose for the resurrection and ascension of the saints is that they may be evacuated from the great tribulation that is to take place in the last days, the tribulation that will result from the enthroning of a man in the Temple of God.
Neither does the Scripture once mention that the saints will disappear, which is part of the "rapture" teaching.
Because the teaching of the pre-tribulation "rapture" of believers is preventing Christian people from preparing for the judgment that is coming, it is absolutely incumbent upon every person who regards himself or herself as a minister of God to go afresh to the Scriptures concerning the "rapture."
If the minister cannot find a clear scriptural basis for the belief that the postresurrection ascension is for the purpose of removing the believers from trouble, and in view of the fact that those who are attempting to warn the saints to prepare for the suffering to come are finding that their warning is being ignored because of the "evacuation" error, then he or she should in all conscience join with us in preparing the saints to stand in the age of moral horrors that is at hand.
Let us repeat, the passage of I Thessalonians intended to comfort the relatives of deceased believers does not refer to an avoiding of the tribulation or a disappearing of the saints. It does not imply that the world will continue on its course for an additional seven years without the presence of the Church or the Holy Spirit.
The saints in Thessalonica were looking for the imminent coming of Christ in the glory of His Kingdom. As time went by, some of the older Christians died. Those who remained became concerned that their deceased loved ones would not be on hand to witness the glory of the coming of the Lord in His Kingdom and that, having died, they would not participate in the Kingdom. This fact alone proves that the saints in those days did not view Paradise as the goal of salvation.
Paul was comforting them by saying that their departed loved ones would return with the Lord Jesus, and that the deceased, having received from the ground their sleeping bodies, would rise to meet Jesus in His Kingdom together with the living believers.
The resurrection and ascension of I Thessalonians, Chapter Four is the second coming of the Lord. It is not a special secret coming that will occur seven years before Christ destroys Antichrist. This can be seen clearly in the parable of the wheat and tares. Both the wheat and the tares grow side by side to the time of harvest. Then the tares are burned in the fire.
The same pattern can be seen in verses two and three of Chapter Five of First Thessalonians.
Still speaking of the coming of Christ and our ascension to meet Him in the air, Paul states:
For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. (I Thessalonians 5:2,3)
The reign of Antichrist will achieve a seeming peace and safety throughout the world. Then the Lord Jesus will appear. The trumpet of God will sound. The dead in Christ will be resurrected. The saints of all ages will ascend together from the surface of the earth to meet the Lord in the air. Immediately the wrath of God will fall on Antichrist and his followers.
The day that Lot goes out of Sodom, on that day the wrath will fall!
This order of events can be further established by referring to Paul’s follow-up letter to the Thessalonians (II Thessalonians).
There is no need for resurrected saints in glorified bodies to be protected from Antichrist or from any other spiritual or physical harm or danger.
As soon as the trumpet blows and the saints are raised from the dead, and then ascend to meet the Lord in the air, the wrath of God will fall on the earth. The judgment will be executed under the administration of the saints and will come to a climax in the Battle of Armageddon.
The Battle of Armageddon is not a third or fourth world war. The Battle of Armageddon is the coming of Christ and His saints to execute judgment on the ungodly.
Paul links the "sudden destruction" that will come on the world with the resurrection and ascension of the saints (I Thessalonians 5:2,3; compare Revelation 11:12,13). It is not that the saints are raised and caught up so they may escape trouble. Rather, it is the saints who will bring the trouble: first, in the form of the two witnesses, and later as Joel’s army, the army of Christ.
And the Lord shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it? (Joel 2:11)
After we have been raised from the dead we shall have no more fear of Antichrist or of wicked people. Rather, Antichrist and wicked people will have good reason to fear us. We then shall be alive eternally in Christ and will bring the Divine wrath upon the ungodly.
We go to Heaven when we die physically, if we belong to Christ. But physical death is a defeat, not a victory of redemption. We go to Heaven, to Paradise, when God allows our body to be overcome by the enemy.
The last enemy that will be destroyed is (physical) death (I Corinthians 15:26).
We die physically because of the rebellion of Adam and Eve. By means of physical death, Satan, our enemy, is able to drive us out of our inheritance (the earth) into the spiritual realm from which he originated. This is not a victory for God or for us.
In the sense in which we are speaking here, death is a defeat, an overcoming of us by the forces of Hell. Yet, physical death is anticipated joyfully by the saint because it means he will go home to be with the Lord ("home" in the sense that he will be with the Lord Jesus, not that he will remain in the spiritual realm after the Lord returns to earth to establish His Kingdom).
The grand victory of the Lord Jesus Christ was not His ascension to Heaven, although in that ascension He led captivity captive and gave gifts of grace to men. The supreme victory of the Lord Jesus was His resurrection from the dead. Death and Hell were not able to hold the Spirit, Soul, or body of Christ.
Christ was dead but now is alive forever. Christ is alive. Christ is alive from the dead. This is victory. Where He is at any given moment is not the victory. The victory is that He is eternally alive in the Presence of God. Because He lives we also live in the Presence of the Father.
God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son, not that whoever believes in Him should go to Heaven but that whoever believes in Him should not perish. The issue is not our passing from earth to Heaven, the issue is our passing from death to life.
The issue of Christianity is not Heaven. The issue of Christianity is life. Eternal life. Immortality. An incorruptible, sin-free body.
After Christ’s resurrection He possessed a body of flesh and bone. It is the same body that walked the shores of Galilee, although clothed with eternal, incorruptible resurrection life.
The saint who lives an overcoming, victorious Christian life will be given back his body at the coming of the Lord. Whatever we give to God He brings down to death. Then, if it is worthy, He raises it and returns it to us as our eternal possession. Let us, therefore, present our body to God a living sacrifice.
The mortal body of the conquering saint, the faithful disciple, will be clothed with eternal life. This is the first resurrection from the dead, the resurrection the Apostle Paul was striving to attain (Philippians 3:11). Each believer who attains the first resurrection will be able to rule with Christ over the earth throughout the thousand-year period (Revelation 20:4-6).
There is no truth of the Scriptures more neglected than that concerning the bodily resurrection from the dead. All persons who have ever lived on the earth will be raised from the dead. The resurrection is inevitable. What is significant and not inevitable is what will take place after we are raised.
If we have followed the Lord Jesus diligently, laying down our life for His sake and the Gospel’s, then we will attain the first resurrection. Our resurrected body will be clothed with a body of life that will reflect in itself the victories we have gained through Christ.
If we have not followed the Lord Jesus diligently, have not laid down our life for His sake and the Gospel’s, but instead have lived in the passions and appetites of the soul and flesh, then we will not attain the first resurrection. Our resurrected body will be clothed with a body that contains in itself the corruption in which we lived. We may be spared from destruction in the day of Divine wrath, but our condition in the Kingdom will not reflect the life of victory in the Lord Jesus. Also, it may be true that a great part of our personality will be burned away by the fire of Divine judgment and we will enter the Kingdom of God without any inheritance carried over from our life lived on the earth.
The thoughtful reader will understand why Paul had laid all else aside that he might attain the out-resurrection from the dead.
The challenge placed before each Christian believer is to attain eternal resurrection life. Christ did not pray we would be taken out of the world but that we would be kept out of the evil, out of the power of sin, out of the spiritual death that results from sinful behavior.
Two powers are competing each day in each Christian. Eternal life and eternal death are struggling for mastery of his or her personality. Each day the saint yields to one or the other of these two spiritual forces.
When we believe in Christ we pass from death to life. We awaken to spiritual life as our spirit is brought into union with the Spirit of God. The Father receives us because of the blood of Jesus that has been sprinkled upon and before the Mercy Seat in Heaven.
Now the warfare, the race, the wrestling match, commences in earnest. The warfare, the struggle, is waged in our personality. Will we allow the sin and death that dwell in our body to conquer our new spiritual life? Or will we, through the Presence of Christ, conquer the deeds and lusts of our flesh and soul?
If our adamic personality wins we die spiritually. We lose the first resurrection from the dead. If we, on the other hand, overcome the deeds of our mortal body we attain eternal resurrection life (Romans 8:13).
Eternal life is the Presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, and God in Him, dwelling eternally in our spirit, our soul, and our body.
Passing into the spirit Paradise upon our physical death is not the victory salvation brings. The Divine salvation will be revealed in the Day of the Lord, in the time of the resurrection from the dead. Once we die physically our struggle to attain the first resurrection may have been terminated.
If we, through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, have overcome the world, Satan, and our lusts and self-will, we will be given the crown of eternal life in the Day of Christ. Through God’s grace we have overcome, we have won the race.
If we have sown to the flesh we will reap corruption, not eternal life, in the Day of Christ.
For if ye [Christian believers] live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify [put to death] the deeds of the body, ye shall live. (Romans 8:13)
For he [the Christian] that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. (Galatians 6:8)
If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. (Philippians 3:11)
When Adam and Eve sinned they were denied access to the tree of life. God kept them away from that tree so they could not partake of immortality.
And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: (Genesis 3:22)
It seems likely, since a spirit once created cannot die but endures forever, that God is referring to the danger of Adam and Eve living forever in their flesh on the earth in the bondage of sin and rebellion against God.
Christ is our Tree of Life. When we receive Him we gain access to the Mercy Seat in Heaven so we may be able to obtain Divine help in our times of need.
Even though we through Christ’s blood have gained access to the Mercy Seat, our goal has not been attained as yet. Our goal is the restoration of all that was lost in Eden. We want to gain access to the tree of life so we may live on the earth (and everywhere else) without perishing from the effects of sin.
As we eat the flesh of Christ and drink His blood we receive eternal life in our spirit and soul (John 6:54). When the Lord returns that eternal life will extend into our mortal body, if we have not destroyed it by living in the passions and appetites of the soul and body. Then our redemption will be complete.
The process of redemption does not remove us from the world, it removes us from Satan’s influence. The workings of redemption are delivering us from every particle of Satan’s personality and ways. All the power and effects of sin and rebellion are being washed from us: from our mind, from our spirit, from our nerves, from our emotions, from our will.
Our redemption is complete when Satan comes and can find no part in us.
Christ is the Way to eternal life. The Way leads to the Truth, which Christ is. The knowledge of the Truth and the possession of the Truth release us from sin. The result of being set free from sin is eternal Life—that which Christ is.
Death results from sin. Eternal life results from holiness to the Lord.
But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end [of righteousness and holiness is] everlasting life. (Romans 6:22)
"But now being made free from sin."
Christ’s prayer for His elect, His chosen, is not that we be removed from the world, for it is in this wicked world that we are being taught meekness and obedience so we may inherit the earth. The earth and its peoples are our inheritance in the Lord. This is where God formed Adam and Eve, our ancestors, and this is where God intends for man to dwell.
Our removal from the earth to Paradise by physical death is a temporary measure while the Body of Christ is being formed. When the firstfruits of the Body has been brought to the "measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" the Lord Jesus will return. The Head will be joined to the Body. The Head and Body will be dwelling in glorified bodies, filled with the Fullness of the Father and anointed with the Fullness of the Holy Spirit.
This Entity is the Kingdom of God.
The Kingdom of God will invade the earth, destroying all who resist the Lord Jesus Christ. Each saint will be assigned his part in the program of creating obedience and worship in the lives of the peoples who have been preserved alive (saved) on the earth.
A marvelous work of restoration is just ahead of us (Isaiah 61:4).
The Christian people of today who are living in sin and disobedience will have no part in the glorious victory because they still are resisting God, they still are choosing death instead of life. In fact, they are enemies of the Kingdom of God, of the rule of God. They will be required to learn obedience to God before they will be allowed to participate in the joys of the Kingdom.
The first resurrection from the dead is for Christ’s overcomers.
We are in the race for eternal life, for the fullness of eternal life. The objective is to overcome all death in our spirit, our soul, and—at the coming of Jesus—our body.
This is Christ’s prayer for each of His elect. Christ is concerned, not that we be removed from the world but that we be kept from Satan.
If we will guard the word of Christ’s patience during the present distress, Christ will guard us so we do not fall during the season of temptation that is near at hand—and even now upon us.
God’s elect are in the world. Now His Word has come to them and separated them from the world, just as the Word of God called out Abraham from Ur of the Chaldees.
To what extent are the elect not a part of the world system? To the extent that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself is not part of the world system.
The Lord’s people always have resisted this separation, this uniqueness. God warned the Israelites repeatedly that if they did not keep themselves separate from the Canaanites they soon would be worshiping demons and would come under the wrath of God. The Jews refused to cleave to the Lord and sought continually to enter alliances with the tribes and nations around them.
This stubborn refusal to be separate is true also of the Christian churches. The Lord’s people are determined to be accepted by the world and to be a part of the world. Some scholars believe that the involvement of the Christian churches in the world is the "deeds of the Nicolaitans," mentioned in Revelation 2:6. The believers fall into sin and come under the wrath of God when they do not keep themselves separate from the world.
The Lord Jesus Christ never became a part of the world system. He was touched by all the infirmities of people. He walked among the poor primarily, although some of His followers were well-to-do. He partook of the frailties of mankind. But Christ never at any time sought to be a part of the world. He was of Heaven and revealed the Life of God in every circumstance.
Elijah and Elisha were strong enough and determined enough to keep themselves separated to the Lord. They both lived in the midst of a backslidden Israel. Yet, they shone as the stars in the firmament. They remain a glorious example of a Divine witness that is not polluted by being mixed with the world.
The church of the Laodiceans is on the horizon. It is the church that will be supported by Antichrist. Laodicea will resemble closely the true Christian Church in doctrine except that it will promote the concept that Jesus accomplished all the spiritual warfare for us, and while we ought to try to do good we know that God loves us and no harm will come to us even if we do sin now and then.
The Laodicean Christians will be a part of the world’s attempt to better itself apart from a personal relationship with God and His Christ. The church of the Laodiceans will be comfortable in the world system. It will be an abomination to God.
Jesus prophesied that the Gospel of the Kingdom would be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations and then the end of the age would come. The time of the worldwide witness is here now. Now is the hour of the Kingdom testimony.
Jesus prophesied also that whoever believes in Him would perform the works He performed, and greater works, because He was returning to His Father. The time for the same works and the greater works is here now.
The Lord’s army of witnesses are being trained so that through them the Word of the Kingdom may fill the whole earth. The message is: Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand. Jesus is coming soon.
The Lord’s witnesses are to heal the sick, cast out devils, and raise the dead.
The Lord’s army of witnesses are to keep themselves separate from the world. We are not part of the world system. Whoever would seek the world’s friendship makes himself or herself the enemy of God.
We have a witness to bear to the peoples of the earth concerning the coming of the Kingdom of God. Whoever will believe in Christ and be baptized in water for the remission of his sins will be saved in the Day of Wrath. Whoever will not receive the Lord Jesus Christ will be judged in the Day of the Lord.
We do not seek the help of the world or the friendship of the world.
Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. (James 4:4)
Our help comes from God. Our help and comfort come from the Spirit of God. We need no other assistance, no other comfort.
We have a testimony to give. Our testimony is a witness against the ways of the world. Whoever will come out of the world and receive Christ shall be saved. Woe to the person who, having heard the Gospel, refuses Christ, choosing to remain a part of the world system!
The Day of the Lord is near in the "valley of decision." The Lord’s people are being forced down into the valley of decision. Let us make a clear choice. We must choose to go into the world or into the Lord. We cannot serve two masters. The lukewarm will be vomited from the Lord’s mouth.
There is no way in which we can hold on to both the Lord and the world. In our day we have doctrines that show the Lord’s people how to be a success in the world and in the Kingdom of God at the same time. This word is not from Christ. It is the historic compromise, the ancient unwillingness of God’s elect to be separate from the world.
God has chosen the poor of the world who are rich in faith and heirs of the Kingdom of God. It is very difficult for a wealthy person to enter the Kingdom of God. His material gods are crying for worship at all times.
When the Lord Jesus commands the wealthy individual to give liberally to the poor he will turn away in sorrow. He cannot obey the Lord because his money is a chain around his neck and is leading him about. It finally will drag him down to the dark caverns beneath the surface of the earth.
Delilah found the secret of Samson’s strength. When Samson’s hair was cut his Nazarite vow of separation was broken. In that moment his supernatural strength left him.
The supernatural strength of any saint, or any assembly of saints, leaves the moment the world pollutes his or their separation unto the Lord.
God called Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldees. From that time until now God has desired that His elect be separate from the world. God will not accept any mixing of His elect with the peoples of the world.
Our day is the period of the church of Philadelphia. An open door has been set before us. We hold the key of David, the key of the Kingdom of God. It is the Lord’s will that we go forth and bear a powerful witness of the Kingdom to every person on the earth, casting out devils, healing the sick, and raising the dead.
Our availability to the Lord to work such miracles of grace depends on our willingness to come out of the world system and stay out of the world system. If we will remain separate from the world there is no limit to the glory the Lord can channel through us.
The moment we enlist the support of the world the glory shall depart.
We are not of the world as the Lord Jesus Christ is not of the world.
The term sanctify means to set apart to the Lord as belonging peculiarly to Him for His special ownership and purposes. Those who are sanctified are holy to the Lord. They are to abstain strictly from the spirit of the world, from sin, from Satan, and from self-will.
As we mentioned previously, it is the Word that comes to the elect that sets them apart for God’s possession and use. The understanding of the truth of God is given only to His chosen, the remainder of mankind being left in spiritual darkness for a season.
Those who have been called out from the world have been given much. Of them will much be required. If they turn away from the holy calling they will be beaten with many lashes.
Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ before the world began, (II Timothy 1:9)
Each of God’s elect, His saints, has been sent into the world by the Lord Jesus just as the Father sent the Lord Jesus into the world.
The Father sent Jesus into the world to bear a true witness of the Father. The Lord Jesus has sent each of His chosen into the world in order to bear a true witness of the Lord Jesus. Such is the calling of the saint.
We hear people say this Christian is called to be a doctor, or that Christian is called to be a construction worker. This is not a scriptural concept. No Christian is called to be a doctor. No Christian is called to be a construction worker.
A Christian may become a doctor or a construction worker in the leading of the Lord. This may be God’s will for him or her. We all must do heartily to the Lord what our hands find to do. But this is not our calling.
Jesus’ calling was not to be a carpenter. Paul’s calling was not to be a tentmaker. Peter’s calling was not to be a fisherman.
Daniel’s calling was not to be a ruler in Babylon. Daniel’s Divine calling was to be a saint and a prophet, a true witness of the Lord. Jesus referred to Daniel as a prophet, not as an administrator of civic affairs, although Daniel was a high-ranking official in Babylon.
The calling of every disciple is to be a saint, a holy one, a revealer of the Nature and will of Christ. Every other employment is for practical, temporary purposes.
Our calling as a saint, a servant of the Lord, is our true, significant, eternal calling.
The Father did not send Christ into the world to be a carpenter and Jesus did not send any member of the elect into the world to be a plumber. A saint may earn his living by working as a plumber, but that is not his Divine calling. Aquila and Priscilla were not predestined to be tentmakers nor are their names included in the Word of God because of their trade.
The calling of each saint is to reveal the Glory of God in Christ. This does not mean every saint is a preacher or teacher or is called to leave his job and trust in Christ for his wages. It does mean that the foremost responsibility of every member of God’s elect, his purpose for being on the earth, is to reveal Christ in his life and behavior.
Each Christian is called to be part of the Light of the world.
When we study the various endowments listed in the twelfth chapter of the Book of Romans and the twelfth chapter of I Corinthians, we do not find that the Holy Spirit has given to any person the gift of picking figs or tending sheep or any other occupation in keeping with the economic life of the Middle East.
Instead we find that the Holy Spirit of God is interested in tongues, in prophecy, in teaching, in giving, in showing mercy, and so forth. These are the kinds of gifts and ministries that proceed from the Spirit.
Many human beings are born with artistic, academic, or industrial abilities. These are our human endowments. We may spend much or all of our life in such employment. Moses devoted forty years to tending sheep. Whatever we do we should do in faith as to Christ, looking to Him for wisdom and strength in every aspect of our lives.
When we are born again we receive our eternal calling. Our spirit becomes one with the Spirit of God. We enter the ranks of God’s elect. We become an eternal part of the Body of Christ, the Servant of the Lord.
We are baptized by the Holy Spirit into the Body of the Anointed Deliverer. Then the Holy Spirit gives to us one or more of the talents of the Kingdom of God. As we put our talents to work we are given more talents depending on our diligence and wisdom.
The talents of the Kingdom of God are of the Spirit of God. They are supernatural in origin. However, whatever is before us to do in assisting the work of the Lord, whether it be giving, serving, building, helping, is considered a talent for which we will be held responsible even though it is not a spiritual gift. Musical ability is included in the category of nonspiritual gifts.
The gifts of the Spirit of God are supernatural in origin, not inherited as are human "talents."
Many people of the world are highly gifted. Such gifts and talents are of the soul. The gifts and talents of the members of the Body of Christ proceed from the Holy Spirit of God, not from the soul or training of a human being.
In our day the human talent of music has been employed so widely in the work of the Gospel that it is viewed as though it were the work of the Holy Spirit. The truth is, music often is used to compensate for the lack of the Spirit of God.
Any true gift of the Spirit will build up the Body of Christ. However, an oratorio or solo, no matter how expertly performed, may do nothing more than entertain the believers and lead them away from the Spirit of God.
Music plays an important role in the activities of the Christian churches just as it will throughout eternity in the Kingdom of God. In our day the Holy Spirit is adding pageantry, mime, drama, and other artistic expressions because of the need for a more active participation in worship, a more vibrant and demanding expression of the things of the Gospel. Because of the intensity of evil in our environment a church service must consist of much more than the routine singing of a few hymns from a hymnbook followed by a lecture from the pulpit. There must be increasing fire and life during the assemblies if the saints are to stand spiritually in the present darkness.
Artistic and triumphant expression will strengthen and guide the worshipers only if it is guided by the Spirit of God. It is the responsibility of the elders of the assembly to carefully observe every activity, endorsing and strengthening that which they discern to be of the Spirit of God and preventing that with which they feel uncomfortable. Satan and his demons are always ready to add a few activities of their own, following on the heels of that which the Spirit has provided.
The elders must be strong in the Lord and the people must be obedient to the elders if the several musical and dramatic expressions are to result in true worship and effective portrayal of the Word and will of God. Unprofitable exhibitions, such as rolling on the floor, making animal sounds, unseemly or immoral actions, are to be stopped lovingly but firmly. No assembly of saints ever is to be out of the control of the elders. Either the meeting will be guided by godly, experienced elders or the meeting will guide the elders. When the meeting begins to guide the elders it will not be long before there are demonic manifestations.
The doctrine of Divine calling is crucial to our understanding. The economic opportunities of the world have become so varied and absorbing that the saints are beginning to suppose God has called them to be teachers or administrators or sales engineers. This is not the case. God has called each member of the elect to be a saint, to be a contributing member of the Body of the Anointed Deliverer.
A believer may be tempted to accept the doctrine that he has been called to nursing or agriculture, or to some other occupation needed by the developing nations of the world, with the idea in mind of using the occupation to evangelize those countries. The world is quick to endorse any Christian who gives of his energies and abilities to contribute to the betterment of mankind.
In some instances the Spirit of God may lead an individual to utilize a natural talent or human training in order to gain access to a country or to help people better their health or their living conditions.
But it was not Jesus’ carpentry or Peter’s fishing or Paul’s tentmaking, that opened the doors before them or brought about eternal value. It was not their proficiency in an occupation that formed their Christian testimony. It was the signs and wonders performed by Christ and the Apostles that announced their Divine mission.
It was the healing virtue of Jesus accompanying Peter, not the smell of fish on his garments, that brought the crowds into the streets where he passed.
The same is true today.
Our calling as a Christian is not to better the living conditions of mankind, neither is it to demonstrate that we are more capable athletes or more successful salesmen. Our calling as a Christian is to bear a true and faithful witness of the Person and will of God in Christ. We command people everywhere to repent, by what we are and by what we do and say.
If people will repent and serve the Lord, their living conditions ordinarily will improve. Or, they may be persecuted and die for their faith. In that instance we have not improved their living conditions at all. We have brought suffering and death to them.
We are not called to bless the world or to make it comfortable. We are called to rebuke the world, to warn it of the Day of Wrath that is on the horizon. When we cease to do this we are false prophets. We are not true friends of the peoples of the world when we refuse to warn them of the terror of the Day of the Lord or to point them to Christ as the only way of salvation.
The saint who fails to warn the world of the wrath of God, or to point to the crucified and risen Christ as the only hope of salvation from that wrath, is the worst, the deadliest enemy of the nations of the earth. He has failed to fulfill his calling. He is of no use to the world and he is of no use to God. He is fit only for the garbage heap. There he will be placed by the world and by the Lord.
The world of today is blind. The nations are bound in mind, spirit, soul, and body by Satan. They are destroying themselves while they are groping for truth, for justice, for peace, for joy.
When we look to the Lord He shows us how and when to bear witness of His salvation.
The only source of truth, justice, peace, and joy is the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ has sent us into the world so that through His Spirit we may continue His work of destroying the works of the devil. It is only through the destruction of the works of the devil that truth, justice, peace, and joy can come into the world.
We saints, as Christ dwells in us, are the light of the world and the only light of the world. The world never will be released into the liberty of the glory of the children of God until the Church has been made one in Christ in the Father.
The horrible condition of the world today is not the fault of the world. The world is being victimized by Satan, and only Christ dwelling in the saints is able to overcome Satan. The churches are not to be waiting for the world to repent. It is the world that must wait until the churches repent.
God’s people will have to repent of their sin and self-seeking before Christ will be able to release the nations through them. It is God’s people who must repent.
Each of us deplores the condition of the world of today. Each of us ought to be willing to do what he can to make a better world in which people can live in righteousness, peace, and joy.
However, this can be done neither through humanistic endeavors nor through alliances with secular organizations. Only by the Spirit of Christ working in the saints can righteousness, peace, and joy be brought to the nations of the earth.
The greatest assistance any member of the Body of Christ can give the world is to seek the Lord with his whole heart. Our occupation in the world provides food and shelter for us and for those who are dependent on us. But such necessary work is our practical responsibility, not our calling.
God the Father did not send the Lord Jesus Christ into the world to make better chairs and tables for the inhabitants of Nazareth, or to clean up the corruption in the palace of the Caesars, or even to multiply bread for the hungry of Jerusalem.
God the Father sent the Lord Jesus Christ into the world in order to destroy the works of the devil; to loose human beings from the power of Satan and bring them into union with God. God desires obedience to His will and praise to His holy name on the part of all the peoples of the earth. We are to pray that such obedience and praise come into being.
He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. (I John 3:8)
The world and the worldly churches profess to be greatly occupied with the physical needs of mankind. But many charitable institutions are seeking their own glory.
God is very concerned about the sin and rebellion in the world. God could remedy the physical problems of any nation in a moment of time to an extent a million workers could not duplicate in one hundred years. God possesses that kind of power. God easily could heal every sick person in the world if He chose to do so.
Why does God not alleviate the ills of mankind? It is because He is concerned primarily with the problem of sin. It was sin that crucified the Son of God. As soon as sin has been overcome, the physical circumstances can be remedied easily and quickly.
The Lord Jesus Christ has sent you and me into the world just as the Father sent Him into the world. The world and the worldly churches will not embrace us when they discovers Christ is in us. They will reject us. They will hate us. They will persecute and kill us until the hour when the Father opens the eyes of the nations so they may believe (John 17:21).
Let us recognize, therefore, that we are not friends of the world at this time. We are the witnesses whom God has appointed to reveal His Christ, His Nature, His will to the peoples of the world. Let us not become absorbed in repairing pipes or selling cars to the point we forget that our calling in life is to bear the holy anointing oil of our God, to show forth the praise of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.
Christ had every right to lead a normal life. He was a righteous, law-abiding Jew. The promises of long life and abundance of material blessings were His. Under the Law he deserved to pursue His trade of carpentry, build a home, buy some livestock, marry a wife, and settle down to enjoy the respect of His neighbors, children, and grandchildren.
If Jesus had done this the witness would not have been borne, the atonement would not have been made. You and I would be dead in our sins.
Instead He sanctified Himself. He set Himself apart to the service of God. He bore witness to the truth. The truth of Christ has set you and me apart today—many centuries later.
Saul of Tarsus had every right to lead a normal life. After his conversion he continued to be a righteous, Law-observing Jew. The promises of long life and abundance of blessings were his. Saul deserved to pursue his trade of tentmaking, buy a home, marry a wife, and pass his days enjoying his family and the work of his hands (Ecclesiastes 2:24).
But Christ sanctified Paul to the work of the Gospel. Therefore this righteous Jew was denied the material blessings the Scripture promises to the righteous Israelite (Deuteronomy 28:1-13).
Paul suffered much hardship as we know. He spent his latter days in prison writing his Epistles. But no human being could estimate the amount of spiritual fruit borne by the Epistles of Paul.
How about you and me? We have a "right" to lead a normal, average life. We can choose to walk in the righteous ways of the Scriptures. The promises of long life and abundance of material blessings are ours if we cease our sinning. We can pursue our "vocation," buy a house, and spend our time enjoying the good things of the world (provided we live in one of the wealthy nations of the world).
But if we save our life we will lose it. In addition, we will bear no eternal fruit. Those persons—perhaps some yet unborn—who would have been created as eternal servants of God will live out their lives in darkness while we are occupying ourselves with making money, buying a new car, mowing the grass, looking for new furniture, and otherwise hiding our spiritual light under the bushels of materialism.
Each member of the Body of Christ has been called to reveal the Lord Jesus Christ to the world. In addition he has been given one or more talents by the Holy Spirit at the time of his new birth.
How does the believer, particularly of the affluent nations, determine what his or her talents are?
In the first place, he must recognize that the members of a wealthy culture are at a disadvantage in the Kingdom of God. The Gospel is to be preached to the poor. It is the poor who are the heirs of the Kingdom of God (Luke 6:20; James 2:5).
The abundance of the material environment makes it difficult for the believer to determine his role in the Kingdom of God. The world expends time and energy attempting to convince him he must buy this or that. But he can never possess these "needed" things. They will possess him. They will dictate his joy and sorrow. They will determine the use of his time. They will require his attention and energy.
Each saint must wrench himself away from the distractions of the surrounding culture. He must seize the time and energy to seek the Face of God continually. He must turn away deliberately from the material and seek the spiritual. Such an action requires strength and wisdom on the part of the saint, and God will provide such strength and wisdom if they are requested.
The disciple must present his physical body a living sacrifice. Only by doing this can any individual prove the will of God for his life.
It is not easy to find our place in the Kingdom of God. It requires a determined, energetic approach. The world, Satan, our friends, our flesh, our self-will—all conspire to pull our attention down to the pleasures and problems of the world.
Sometimes the saint must struggle upward alone in the night, as it were. The whole world appears to be against him as he struggles with God.
It is only as we make a total effort to seek the will of God that we begin to recognize the Divine plan for our life. What is at stake is our crown. It is the crown, the reward, the rulership, that men would take from us.
In the affluent nations it nearly is impossible to develop one’s calling. Riches are so deceitful! It requires all the consecration that can be exercised by the most convinced and dedicated believer if he is to escape the crushing imprisonment and death that result from excessive involvement in the things of the world.
Truly, the Gospel is to the poor. God has chosen the poor of the world but who are rich in faith, as was true of the Christians in Smyrna, to inherit the Kingdom of God.
There is much deception in the land today. "Preachers of the Gospel" are proclaiming to a people already destroyed by excessive concern with material possessions that if they will only believe they can gain more money, more things, more "chains." Are these men apostles of Christ? We do not believe they are. We do not believe Christ has sent them or that they are proclaiming Christ’s will.
What are we to do in an age of error? Each of us must do as Jesus did, for as He is, so are we in the world. We must set ourselves apart unto Christ so other people also may be set apart unto Christ. We must continue in Christ’s love so others may become one with us in Christ in God.
We must purify ourselves from all sin and self-seeking. We must devote ourselves to the work of the Lord. The talent the Lord gave us may appear to be small and unimportant. But no talent from the Lord is unimportant. The Holy Spirit who gives us the talents of the Kingdom of God has a purpose in all He does.
If we will diligently employ in the work of the Kingdom what we have been given, the Lord will entrust us with greater responsibilities. We can gain "ten talents" if we will give ourselves to the tasks at hand. Such diligence and faithfulness please the Lord very much.
Many—perhaps most—of God’s people have little idea what their roles are in the Body of Christ, in the Kingdom of God. There may be many excuses for such ignorance, but the Kingdom suffers as a result. It is important in the present hour that each saint begin to do something about his or her responsibility in the Kingdom.
"I have a wife and family."
"I am too young."
"I am too old."
"I am not trained."
"I am too busy!"
"I will do the Lord’s will when I retire."
On and on the excuses go but God accepts none of them. The point is, we are to seek first the Kingdom of God. Otherwise our crown will be removed from our head and placed on the head of another who is faithful to the Words of Christ.
The world rocks along toward the reign of Antichrist. Millions are born and millions die. Moral filth is increasing. A tiny minority has been entrusted with the Word of God. God requires that those who have been so entrusted lay aside all diversions and recognize that being a saint is a full-time calling.
Each member of the Body of Christ has been called to the work of the Kingdom of God. This is his responsibility in the world, the meaning of his life.
We can choose to set ourselves apart to growth into sainthood, to the responsibility and work of establishing the Kingdom of God on the earth. If we do we will lose our life for Christ’s sake and the Gospel’s and gain eternal life and fruitfulness in the Kingdom of God.
We can choose to make our occupation in the world the focus of our time and energy. We may gain friends, acclaim, material wealth, every physical comfort. We can portion out some of this gain for the work of the Gospel when such giving does not require a painful sacrifice on our part.
The moment we die physically our choices will be evaluated. The believer who has dedicated his life to the work of the Kingdom will be greeted joyfully by Christ. He will be welcomed to the fellowship of the saints, to the ranks of those who also have dedicated their lives to the work of the Kingdom of God. His gladness of heart will know no bounds.
But the believer who has struggled so laboriously with the affairs of the world will recognize immediately that he has been deceived. His dedication to the world and neglect of spiritual values will be revealed for all to behold.
One of the most searing pangs of Hell will be the bitter remorse over opportunities forever lost. To think we could have spent our life for eternal gain! Instead we so foolishly chose to occupy ourselves with tinsel, baubles, the cackling approval of worldlings. What sharp claws will tear our soul in that moment! It could have been so different. So different.
Let the foolish among us choose to occupy their time and strength with the visible world—that which will be done away when the universe is consumed in God’s fire.
Let the wise among us choose to set ourselves apart to the Kingdom of God As we do so a multitude of others also will be set apart to God by means of the truth our life has become through our Lord Jesus Christ.
We are not suggesting, by the preceding words, that the believer should neglect his family responsibilities. Whether we are husband or wife, father or mother, we have certain commitments that must be taken care of diligently and faithfully. If we do not fulfill our family obligations we are of little use to the Kingdom of God. God will not bless our efforts in Kingdom work.
Neither is it true that the Christian should quit his job and "trust God" for his income. Most members of the Body of Christ must work for a living and they are to perform their work as unto the Lord. The person who is faithful in the lesser will be faithful also in the greater.
The believer who is faithful to his family obligations and his employer will be faithful also in the work of the Kingdom that God assigns to him. The "believer" who "floats" from place to place, not being faithful to his family, not being willing to work conscientiously and energetically, is worthless to the Kingdom of God.
Christ’s faithful Apostles chose to set themselves apart to His work. They were called by the Lord. They then passed into the ranks of the chosen by their determination to abandon all else in order to follow the Lord Jesus. Their faithfulness was demonstrated as they spent the remainder of their lives spreading the Gospel throughout the Roman Empire.
Christ was praying for them and also for the millions of the elect who since have believed in Christ because of the faithfulness of those first apostles in holding forth the Word of Life. Where would you and I be today if they had not set themselves apart to Christ’s service?
The prayer of the Lord Jesus in John, Chapter 17 reaches out to include the entire elect, the Bride of the Lamb, the Body of Christ. He does not pray for the world. Christ prays for those whom the Father is creating in His image as a part of Him, as brothers of His, as fellow heirs of God’s salvation.
Jesus’ prayer will be answered. Not one detail will remain unanswered. The course of the entire world is being regulated in terms of the creating of the Wife of the Lamb. All people, events, and things are being governed by the hand of God so they will bring about the answer to this prayer. The maturing and unifying of the elect is the significance and focus of world history.
The Word of Christ still is coming forth from the saints today. It sets all of God’s chosen apart from the world and consecrates them to the eternal purpose of God. Those who were not given to Christ by the Father may start out among the believers but they will not be able to endure to the end. No person can come to Christ as one of His chosen unless it was given to him to do so by the Father in Heaven. The elect are the elect!
The religious activities of men and women will proceed with full vigor until the Lord returns. But the only work that will stand will be that which was created by the Word of Christ proceeding through the Lord’s chosen remnant. Those who have not been touched by God will eventually go out from us so it may be revealed that they never were truly of us. But what Christ has done will stand forever.
For what does the Lord Jesus pray?
The above statement may be the most significant of all of the inspired Scriptures. It is a promise so stunning, so surpassingly Divine in origin and intent, that we have to take hold of our spirit so we do not stagger at the promise of God through unbelief.
If Christ had prayed that we all become one in mind and heart we could grasp that. Unity is the aim of all organizations—that the membership will be united in motive and action. What is being prayed here is as far above the idea of membership in a group as the heavens are far above the earth.
What Christ is asking here is not unity but union—the union of the saint with the Godhead. Can you grasp that? We are being invited to become an eternally inseparable part of God Himself.
It is not unusual for Christian people to speak of unity among themselves or unity with Christians of other affiliations. Their motives may be of Christ or of Antichrist. When Christian people join together the same danger is present that the Lord perceived in the building of the Tower of Babel.
And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. (Genesis 11:4)
The people of the world were seeking unity and common accomplishment. Their motive was of Antichrist, not of Christ.
It is not that the Christians become one that is supremely desirable. It is that we become one in Christ in God. This is a specific kind of oneness. When Christians join together, people among them seek positions of prominence. But when we become one in Christ in God, the Lord alone is exalted. That is the difference between oneness in Christ and human unity.
The Christian churches shall become united in the last days. But the product will be Babylon.
When the Church becomes one in Christ in God we shall have the purity of the eternal Person and purpose of God. All else in Christianity pales beside the sublime prospect of the Lord’s people being enfolded by the God of Heaven. Compared with union with God, going to Heaven merely as to a place is insignificant.
The man-centered churches will become unified in the days immediately preceding the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ. They will merge by means of doctrinal compromise and the jockeying for position of the leading men and women. The true saints also will become unified but, unlike the man-centered unity, the oneness of the saints will be brought about by the Father and the Son entering them in fulfillment of the Levitical feast of Tabernacles.
The oneness coming to the Church in the near future is the oneness in God for which the Lord prayed. The way will be made straight for the coming of the Lord: the wicked will mature fully in wickedness and the righteous will mature fully in righteousness.
At the time of the coming of the Lord from Heaven, the Father and the Son will take up Their eternal abode in the heart of each saint. Then the Lord Himself will appear in the clouds of heaven. There will be light in each of the true saints and then the greater Light will appear in the heavens.
The lesser lights will be drawn up to the Greater until there is one blazing manifestation of the Glory of God in Christ in the saints.
The Body will be joined to the glorious Head and will be an inseparable part of Him forever. The peoples of the earth will witness the ascending of the saints to meet the Lord in the air, as some witnessed the ascending of the Lord into the heaven as described in the first chapter of the Book of Acts.
When the world perceives that the saints are one in Christ in the Father, the world will believe that God indeed is the one who sent the Lord Jesus Christ into the world.
God the Father, the Creator of all, dearly loves the peoples of the earth. They are His creation. God has given the elect to Christ as a firstfruits of the inhabitants of the earth.
One of the main purposes for the perfecting of the elect in Christ is that the remainder of mankind may behold the Glory of God through the elect.
The Christian churches have labored a little to bring about God’s eternal purpose but a great deal to bring about their own conflicting purposes. The people who are called by the Lord’s name have largely ignored the Spirit of God and have placed human beings in control of their efforts.
We see in our time the product of man’s efforts to use the Gospel in order to glorify himself. We have an immature set of believers who are divided into a thousand factions, each group seeking its own glory.
It is time now for the nation of God to be born "at once." God will quickly bring into maturity and unity every believer who will abandon his own program of righteousness and obey the Holy Spirit of God. The release of the nations from the bondage of wickedness is dependent on our becoming one in Christ in God. The saints are the only light of the world, the only salt of the earth.
Those who have come into the Charismatic movement are in the place of the greatest danger and also of the greatest opportunity. If we seek to use the things of the Spirit of God we will fall into deception. If we use our gifts and knowledge to enter union with Christ in God we will be brought to the fullness of Divine Life such that the material creation will be released into the liberty of the children of God.
We are God’s firstfruits. We shall receive the double portion of the Spirit of God, not so we can become proud and self-seeking but so we may assist each member of the elect, and eventually the people of the saved nations, as he or she seeks to find righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit of God. This is the Kingdom of God that is coming into the earth at the appearing of the Lord Jesus from Heaven.
Who can comprehend a promise as mighty as this?
God the Father has given to Christ His own glory—the very Glory of God. It is the awesome, blazing majesty that the firmament declares. Christ in turn has given this same glory, this supreme majesty, to the saints. Each saint who receives of the Glory of God becomes one with every other saint and one with Christ in God.
Here is the crucial element of the Kingdom of God. All else is secondary. It is important that the individual believer seek and find his or her place in the Being of Christ. This is the central issue of Christianity.
Doctrine and practice that do not bring us into union and identification with the Godhead are not of the Holy Spirit.
God’s eternal purpose is to express Himself: first in Christ; then in those who are in union with Christ. Such fruitfulness and dominion are created in and by the fires of Divine love. Only in union with the Father through Christ can any human being find rest. All other goals are of self, of Babylon, of confusion.
Many forces will be applied to the people of God in order to bring us into the one Body of Christ. The greatest of these forces is the Glory of God. There will come into being a perfect and complete Body of Christ. When the perfected Body is joined to the Head and filled with the Presence of the Father and the Son, the world will believe that God has sent Christ into the world.
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.
Why is it so important that the world understand that God has sent Christ and that He has loved the elect as He loves Christ? It is because it is only through the elect that the world can gain release.
Christ and we who belong to Him are God’s servants, God’s witnesses, God’s covenant. We are the new testament, living epistles, the flesh being created the Word of God. Christ is the Word made flesh. We are the flesh being made the Word.
The following is the commission given to the Lord Jesus Christ and to each of God’s elect:
I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles [nations]; (Isaiah 42:6)
God’s saints are the only light of the world, the only salt of the earth. Only in the Christian Church can be found the Light capable of illuminating every person born into the world.
During the thousand-year Kingdom Age the saved nations of the earth will come of their own will to seek God in the saints. During the new heaven and earth reign of Christ the light of the Glory of God in the Church will guide the saved nations (Revelation 21:24).
The holy city, the new Jerusalem, the Bride of the Lamb, is the complete and perfect expression of the Glory of God given to the elect.
When the world comes to understand that God has sent Christ and that He loves the elect as He loves Christ, many nations of the earth will accept the light, life, and love of God that the saints will bring to them.
Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side. (Isaiah 60:4)
"They come to thee."
Notice, in the above verse, that the saved nations do not come to the Lord, they come to the saints. It is to God in Christ in the saints that they come, for it is the purpose of the saints to reveal Christ and the purpose of Christ to reveal God.
And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people: all that see them [the elect, the saints] shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the Lord hath blessed. (Isaiah 61:9)
Today the nations of the earth are imprisoned in a dungeon, bound in the chains of darkness, awaiting the maturing and unifying of the Church of Christ. There will be no true, lasting solution to the world’s problems until Christ appears in and with His saints.
Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.
Where is the Lord Jesus Christ? He is in and with the Father and the Father is with and in Him. This is where Christ wants us to be—in and with Him and the Father.
Our attention may be fixed on the hope of dying and going to the peace and joy of the spiritual realm, and this is a wonderful goal. But the attention of the Lord Jesus Christ is fixed on us, on our being with Him. This is an even more wonderful goal.
We do not love the Lord Jesus as much as He loves us. Therefore we cannot really appreciate His great desire that we be with Him always. As spiritual children we still are occupied and fascinated by the things of Heaven. Some day we will understand that the true importance of redemption is found in our relationship to God and to people.
It is Christ’s prayer that the elect behold His glory. Our capacity is so limited in this area! We envision Jesus as the gentle Rabbi holding children in His arms; the watchful Shepherd tenderly leading the nursing ewes. These are true understandings of the Lord.
The writer’s concept of the Lord Jesus always had been that of the framed pictures in the Bible book stores, combined with the oil paintings of the masters: a man of average height and physique, clothed in a white robe and wearing sandals, wavy hair falling to the shoulders, forceful, rugged, and yet gentle of countenance.
One Friday evening at the conclusion of a teaching service, while the congregation was singing in the Spirit and worshiping God, one of the believers began to experience a portrayal of the Lord Jesus.
His vision was of the left profile of a Person who was seated in the heavens. He could sense, but not see clearly, the Presence of God Almighty behind this seated Personage. He felt he was being made aware of the Lord Jesus.
There was one surprising, shocking feature. It was the size of the Individual who was seated. He was galactic in size, universal in strength. It was a Person of greater size than our solar system.
He could understand then how Jesus upholds all things, including the stars, by the Word of His power. He could perceive also that it would require many millions of saints to form a "wife" for this one Individual.
As he watched, amazed but rejoicing in spirit, this massive Personage began to rise to His feet. Slowly, majestically, as though the firmament itself were rising, the Figure stood up. His hands began to lift in praise. He started to turn toward His left and the believer received the impression that the huge Figure was turning toward the Father in order to praise and worship Him.
The Word came to the believer: "In the midst of the church will I sing praise to thee" (Hebrews 2:12).
Perhaps the reason John the Revelator fainted when he saw the Lord had to do with the awesome size of the Person who spoke to him. The great High Priest may have appeared as a snow-crowned mountain whose eyes of fire were as erupting volcanoes, whose feet of glowing bronze would cause a continent to tremble.
The Lord Jesus appears to us as a gentle Teacher so we may be able to relate to Him and communicate with Him. If He so desired He could appear as a powerful Emperor, a cunning, fearless, ferocious Warrior compared with whom the Caesars would appear as cooing doves.
Jesus can be a playful Child, a sacrificial Lamb, the Lord of Armies. He is gracious, and terrible; meek, and yet fearful to contemplate.
If we ever should behold Christ in the fullness of His glory we would be witnessing the light and power of a million suns. He has prayed that we may behold His almighty, galactic, universal glory. Jesus is Christ, the Son of God. He is King of all kings; Lord of all lords.
God loved Jesus long before the foundation of the world. Jesus was the One through whom God created all things, including all the angels. Jesus is the Word of God from eternity. Apart from Him there is neither truth, nor light, nor life, nor joy, nor true love, nor lasting peace, nor wisdom, nor knowledge, nor power, nor any other thing of value to God’s creatures.
God’s eternal purpose is to fill the universe with Christ. We of the elect are the firstfruits of the fulfillment of that purpose. No authority or power in the heavens, on the earth, or under the earth, can in any manner prevent the total, perfect, complete fulfillment of God’s plan to fill the universe with Christ.
One day Antichrist will be certain he has overcome the Father’s will. But then Antichrist will be cast into the Lake of Fire and will be tormented forever. So will every other creature who resists the Lord Jesus Christ.
O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.
The world is ignorant of the Character and purpose of God. The world always is seeking God in one manner or another. But God never will be found or pleased through means of the varied efforts of religious people.
The ways of God are an abomination to the world and the ways of the world are an abomination to God. The world through wisdom will never find God.
Christ knows God because He is of God and in God, and God is in Him. Christ always does those things that please the Father.
We of the elect know that Christ has come from the Father. Our lifetime of trusting Christ has removed all doubt as to Christ’s Divine Nature and origin.
A certain young man was raised as a heathen. His parents sincerely desired his good but they did not know the Lord. They never had received Christ as their Lord and Savior.
At the age of nineteen, while stationed in Hawaii during World War II, the Lord brought to the young man through some fellow marines the understanding of the Gospel. It was clear that the Gospel of Christ was superior to other philosophies and he wished to believe in it. But it was difficult to believe in the existence of God.
He prayed one evening that if there was a God, He would grant him enough faith to believe He existed. The prayer was answered at some point during the night.
Then one day the Scripture came to his attention, "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself" (John 7:17).
The challenge was easy to understand. The task was to do the will of God as set forth in the Scriptures. God’s responsibility was to prove that Christ indeed had spoken from the mouth of God.
He resolved to follow the Scriptures and see what happened since it appeared there was nothing else in the world worth giving one’s life for.
That was more than a half century ago. With many mistakes he has followed the Scriptures from that day to the present time. He can say truthfully that he now is convinced there is a God and that Christ came from Him and is His only begotten Son.
He has witnessed the evidence in his life every day as the years have passed. He knows now that the Scriptures are the inspired Word of God and that God the Father—the one true God whom men seek—sent Christ into the world to be the Lord and Savior of all persons.
And I have declared to them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.
The saints realize that God is our Father. He is not an abstract force in the universe. He is a Person who loves us. He knows every detail concerning each of us and He cares for our welfare.
God’s Spirit dwells in our hearts and cries, "Dear Father." We know that God has given Christ, the Lamb, for our salvation and that we now belong to God forever. Each day of our life Christ brings us to a more intimate knowledge of Himself and the Father.
The love of the Father dwells eternally in Christ. Now God’s love is being formed in us as Christ is formed in us. It is the love of Christ that passes knowledge that is in us, as Paul stated.
Faith and hope are pillars of the Kingdom of God. But the most important aspect of the Kingdom of God is the love of God that is in Christ in us.
Perhaps the most abominable aspect of life in the present world is the hatred that abounds. Murder, robbery, violence, self-seeking, envy, strife, and every other vicious spirit fill the peoples of the earth. Murderous envy and hatred are the personality of Satan. They caused the first man born on the earth to murder the second. Satan was a murderer from the beginning.
The believer who becomes a conquering saint is the one who learns to overcome evil with good. No human being possesses in his personality enough good to overcome the bitter hatred, perversity, and envy with which he is attacked constantly.
Christ has overcome the world. God’s love that is in Christ flows to us. Indeed, it is a powerful force! God’s love overcomes all envy and strife, all hatred and selfishness.
Christ is being formed in us. God’s love is being created in us. God’s love flows through Christ to us, and through us to other people. In this manner the whole creation will become a part of God’s love that is in Christ. God is enlarging Himself in love and making Christ central to all relationships, events, circumstances, and things.
The flowing of the love of God is the principal force of the universe. All that is desirable in human existence results from God’s love. Whoever would possess eternal life must receive the love of God into himself by receiving Christ into his personality.
God is love and dwells in love. The love of God in Christ reaches out and brings us into that love. We become an eternal part of the Divine love. It does not stop there. The love of God in Christ in us reaches out to others, as God directs. They also become one with us in Christ in God.
The Kingdom of God is based on two laws: our relationship of love to God through Christ, and our relationship of love to other people as God’s love in Christ in us flows forth to them. All the other laws of God are fulfilled in us when our personality is brought into harmony with these two principal laws of the Kingdom.
When we have been made perfect in God’s love we have boldness in the Day of Judgment. Then we are of the Nature and Life of God. Then we have attained the highest goal of the human being: we have become one with God and are in His image.
And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. (I John 4:16)