THE NEGATIVE AND THE POSITIVE

THE NEGATIVE AND THE POSITIVE Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

There are two major parts of our redemption. The first is the forgiveness of sin and removal of the sinful nature. The second is the forming of Christ in us. Both of these parts are essential if a repeat of the original catastrophe is to be avoided.

THE NEGATIVE AND THE POSITIVE

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

There are two major parts of our redemption. The first is the forgiveness of sin and removal of the sinful nature. The second is the forming of Christ in us. Both of these parts are essential if a repeat of the original catastrophe is to be avoided.

There was no guilt resting on Adam and Eve before they disobeyed God. In addition, they had no sin nature, no compulsion to sin. Furthermore, they had no experience in dealing with sin.

Why, then, did they sin?

Adam and Eve sinned because they have a will. They are able to make moral choices.

As I stated, Adam and Eve had no experience with sin, no training that taught them how to judge between good and evil and the necessity for rejecting the evil and embracing the good.

Their personality was as a blank slate.

If Christ had been formed in them, if they had been trained to judge between good and evil and to reject the evil and embrace the good, they would have been able to resist the suggestion that they disobey God.

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

But they did not have a Bible that could explain to them how to serve the Lord in righteousness and the penalty for not doing so. Also, they had not been born again. They did not have any portion of the Divine nature in them. They had no eternal life in them. They were intelligent dust.

God created Adam and Eve in a shameful condition. It is a shame to be naked, which they discovered when they partook of the law of God, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Did God know what He was doing? Does He know what He is doing when He permits us to be born with a sinful nature?

After many years as a Christian I have come to know beyond doubt that God knows precisely what He is doing.

God has created man to be His house, a place of rest; to be associates for His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ; to be a helper suited to His Son; to be a body, a fullness of His Son; to be judges of the rebellious; to provide God with a family whom He can enjoy forever.

God sent His Son as a sacrifice for the sins of the world, but also as an example of what He expects of mankind.

It is important to understand that God does not want puppets. He easily could have created us docile creatures who would do His will by directive, having no ability to resist. But God is a gambler of sorts. He created us little gods with a mind and will of our own.

So He created us naked, in a shameful condition. He permits human beings to be born with a sinful, rebellious personality. The sacrificial Lamb was slain from the beginning of the world because God knew what the naked gods would do.

I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. (Revelation 3:18)

No doubt if there was a better way to achieve His purposes, God would have chosen it.

God deliberately created an arena in which we could sin if we chose to do so. Then He stepped back and permitted the inevitable to take place.

Why? So He could educate us concerning the need to be obedient to God and to walk in His righteous ways, and so we would choose righteousness because of our love for God and our desire to please Him.

Our choices and our words are extremely important to God!

We need more than education, however. We need the Divine Nature that will build an immune system in us, a resistance to sin. It is not enough just to have the desire to please God. We must possess His Nature so we have the emotional and spiritual strength to actually behave in the manner we judge to be appropriate, that is, pleasing to God.

After all, righteousness is not a standard of behavior we finally attain. Righteousness is nothing more and nothing less than obedience to God at any given moment. We always are righteous for the moment. The future provides additional challenges to the individual who seeks to please God.

When we consider these basic facts we are brought to the conclusion that the Divine redemption, if it is to be effective, must take care of two needs. First, we must be forgiven our sins and delivered from the sinful nature. Second, we must be educated concerning the knowledge of good and evil; and we must have Christ, the Divine Nature, formed in us so we possess the willingness and the strength to embrace the good and totally resist and reject the evil.

To the present hour the Christian message has consisted primarily of the good news that through Jesus Christ we can have the guilt of our sins removed. This is the all-important first aspect of redemption; for a sure knowledge that we are without condemnation permits us to approach God with joy and confidence.

Christian teaching has proceeded from the biblical truth of our forgiveness through Jesus Christ, to a Gnostic-type concept that by believing in Christ we have no real need to be changed morally. There has been added to the notion of a Gnostic salvation through belief alone a mythology concerning mansions in Heaven, derived from an old translation (mansion) of the Greek term meaning nothing more than place of abiding.

There has arisen from time to time in Church history people who have insisted on righteous behavior as an inseparable aspect of salvation.

I do not know if deliverance through the Holy Spirit has been practiced much in time past; but today we are aware that if we are willing to confess our sins, there is power in the Holy Spirit to take the compelling life from our passions and to enable us to gain the upper hand over them.

So let’s say we are acquainted with the first major area of salvation. We know that through the Lord Jesus Christ our sins can be forgiven apart from any adherence to the Law of Moses. Thus it is a "gift" of life, or rather a gift of the opportunity to gain life.

The Bible tells us that if we sin we will not inherit the Kingdom of God. And so we can turn to God, confess the sins we are practicing, and receive forgiveness and cleansing. The Holy Spirit enables us to put these behaviors to death.

This initial action of salvation brings us back to the Garden of Eden. We are without guilt. We also are in the process of having the sinful nature destroyed from us.

Do you see the problem here? The problem is, if the innocent Adam and Eve disobeyed God in Paradise, and yet had no compelling sin nature, what is to prevent us from repeating the same catastrophic error?

The common assumption is, "Once we get to Heaven, to Paradise, we will never sin again."

To begin with, this assumption has no scriptural support whatever. There is not one verse in the entire Bible that suggests passing into the spirit realm will prevent our rebelling against God.

We must realize that sin came into existence in the presence of the Throne of God when the guardian cherub, Satan, decided to take the place of the Father.

Then sin came down from Heaven to earth into Paradise. There the original rebellion was repeated.

If it is true there is not one verse in the entire Bible that suggests passing into the spirit realm will prevent our rebelling against God, and if it is true that sin originated in Heaven around the Throne of God and then passed down into Paradise on the earth, our assumption that "Once we get to Heaven, to Paradise, we will never sin again" probably should be reexamined. Don’t you think?

Here we are, guiltless through the atoning blood of Christ, and being set free from our sin nature.

This is the negative dimension of salvation, the removal of the guilt and power of sin. What is the positive dimension?

The positive dimension of redemption is the changing of us into the moral image of Christ, the coming of the Father and the Son to dwell in our transformed nature, and finally the resurrection of our flesh and bones and the clothing of them with a righteous body from Heaven—a body formed as we allow the Spirit to crucify our adamic nature and raise us up to walk in the resurrection Life of Jesus Christ.

The negative dimension is the removal of sin, restoring us to the position of Adam and Eve. The positive dimension is the development in us of the knowledge of what is good and what is evil, and a tremendous willingness and power in us to embrace the good and totally resist and reject the evil. The positive is accomplished as we are formed in the image of Christ, and then the Father and the Son come and make Their eternal home in us.

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:29)

Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. (John 14:23)

I think the Christian Church as a whole is facing this issue today. Are we willing to cling to the Gnostic-type belief that if we believe in the Name of Jesus we will go to Heaven to live in a mansion whether or not we experience moral change? Or will we accept the fact that most of the New Testament views receiving Christ as the means of moral transformation, apart from which there is no Kingdom of God?

It is interesting that when Jesus spoke of our eye causing us to sin He suggested we should gouge it out.

If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. (Matthew 5:29)

We would say today that if our eye causes us to sin we should accept Christ and be forgiven. Then we will go to Heaven when we die because of His righteousness. This is the current teaching.

But the Lord did not say at this point, "This is the work of God that you believe in Him whom God has sent." He said, if your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out. Otherwise your whole body might be thrown into Hell.

We preach that believing in Christ causes us to escape Hell. But the Lord Jesus told us that we escape Hell by ceasing to sin.

The argument presented currently is that the Words of Jesus Christ do not apply to us today because we are "saved by grace." (How cunning Satan is!) Stop and think. If Matthew 5:29 does not apply to us today, then we might as well discard the entire four Gospels, including the need for being born again. Beyond all doubt we are not free to pick and choose what verses of the four Gospels apply today and what do not!

The truth is, Christ and His Apostles never, never, never presented receiving Christ as a means of escaping Hell and going to Heaven. The Apostle Paul does not even mention the term "Hell."

The Good News is not escape from Hell, it is eternal life.

No sinner in his or her right mind would desire to go to Heaven and be placed among saints who spend their time worshiping and obeying God. A sinner belongs in Hell until through Christ his desires are transformed, and he puts his sin aside and begins to serve God.

When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways. (Acts 3:26)

The salvation and grace that are in Christ Jesus turn us from our wicked ways. If the Gospel does not turn us from our wicked ways, then we have not received the scriptural Gospel.

Until we are turned from our wicked ways we belong in Hell, not in Heaven among the saints. This is true even if we "accept Christ." Would we fill Paradise with people who still love the world, yield to their passions, and insist on having their own way even when doing so injures God and people? Do you want to go to this kind of Paradise? Neither do I!

But won’t we be changed by going to Paradise? Living in Paradise didn’t change Adam and Eve! It did not keep them from obeying Satan! There is no passage of Scripture that informs us going to Paradise will change what we are. In fact, according to the Scriptures, the Day of Christ will reveal what we have become, as in the parable of the talents.

Accepting Christ is not a means of avoiding Hell, it is the means of receiving eternal life. And eternal life has nothing to do with Hell or Heaven. Let me explain.

Several years ago I had a heart attack. I had severe angina pain. This lasted until the medics came and put an oxygen mask over my face. Then the pain abated.

They rushed me in an ambulance to Palomar hospital. After a while my body had adjusted itself and the nurses were able to remove the oxygen mask.

Now notice: entering the hospital did not and could not alleviate the pain. It was the oxygen that alleviated the pain. Even though I was in the hospital, if they had taken off the oxygen mask before my body adjusted itself the pain would have returned.

In fact, later, when they were inserting two stents into an artery, the same pain returned for a brief season.

The point is this: entering the hospital did not remove the pain. Entering Heaven will not remove sin. It is Christ, the "oxygen mask," that removes the sin.

Right now, if we are following the Holy Spirit, we are being built as an eternal home for the God of Heaven.

And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (Ephesians 2:22)

Every time we choose to turn away from sin, calling on the Lord for wisdom and power, a part of us dies. In its place comes eternal life.

Our Christian discipleship consists of a daily sowing to the Spirit of God. The result of sowing to the Spirit of God is a reaping of eternal life.

The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:8)

If we choose to yield to our sinful nature, we will reap destruction—now, and in the age to come. This is true whether or not we "accept Christ." Paul was writing to the Christians in Galatia, not to the unsaved.

How could an unsaved person sow to please the Spirit?

Paul is stating that if we as a Christian choose to please our sinful nature, out from that very nature we will reap corruption. As I said, the corruption will be evident when we die and also in the Day of Resurrection, according to my present understanding.

The negative dimension of redemption is the removing of the guilt and power of sin from us. The positive dimension of redemption includes training us until we understand what is good and what is evil, forming Christ in us, and, finally the coming of the Father and the Son to dwell in us accompanied by the raising of our flesh and bones from their place of interment and clothing them with a body from Heaven like the body of the Lord.

Unless we were thus transformed into the moral image of the Lord we would be like Adam and Eve—innocent and without a sin nature. But we could be provoked or deceived into sin, even though Satan and his helpers have been removed from the earth—which they shall be in due time.

How, then, are we trained in righteousness?

We are trained as we read our Bible, pray each day, gather with fervent saints, and follow the Holy Spirit closely. Each day the Spirit points out to us some aspect of evil. We are to go to prayer, turn away from the evil, and receive in the spirit realm the body and blood of the Lord. In this manner Christ is formed in us.

As we are ministered to and minister, the Word of God is written in our mind. We come to recognize what is good and what is evil.

At the same time Christ is being formed in us, since we are partaking of His body and blood. In this manner the Word of God is written in our heart so we have the desire and the ability to embrace what is good and totally reject and resist that which is evil.

This is how we are built into the stature of the fullness of Christ. This is how we become an eternal home for God in Christ.

If we are faithful in pursuing the daily turning away from evil and embracing of the good, the time will come when the Father and the Son will make Their home in us. Finally, in the Day of Resurrection, our body will be made incorruptible by being clothed upon with a house from Heaven, a house that loves righteousness.

Then our warfare will have been accomplished. We have been resurrected inwardly as we have learned to live in the power of Christ’s resurrection. Then we have been resurrected outwardly. We have attained the first resurrection from the dead, the resurrection of the members of the royal priesthood.

Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6)

God wants us to enter His rest. He wants us to cease from our own goals, plans, imaginations, motives, and efforts, and seek His will for our life. He wants us to do this every day we are on the earth.

Either we are going to live according to our own will, or else we are going to seek the Lord’s will.

When we speak of pressing into the rest of God we are reminded of the Israelites and their entrance into Canaan. Canaan is the primary Old Testament symbol of the rest of God, of that which we are to strive to enter today.

Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. (Hebrews 4:1)

When the Israelites left Egypt they were escaping slavery. They were not soldiers, they were former slaves. God did the fighting at that time.

During their sojourn through the wilderness, and then as they entered their inheritance, they were forced to learn how to wage war. They had to fight. God helped them, but they had to risk their lives in battle.

The same is true of us. Christ did all the fighting that was necessary to free us from the authority of Satan.

But when we speak of entering the rest of God, we are referring to the conflict of the ages.

We have been completely forgiven our sins. Now the Spirit is ready to show us how to enter the rest of God, to possess our inheritance, to take the Kingdom of God.

We are not accustomed to spiritual warfare, most of us. We had hoped to do nothing but maintain our membership in the Christian religion without making an intense effort to seek the fullness of salvation. We had hoped we would go to Heaven "by grace," that is, by doing nothing but make a profession of belief.

Now we discover that Heaven is not the rest of God. The rest of God is that place in the center of God where His will and ours become identical.

We really prefer the fig leaves of our religion! Surely the Lord will accept our fig leaves so we can have fellowship with Him for eternity!

No, our religious fig leaves will not bring us into fellowship with God.

God is endeavoring to make us His eternal dwelling place, His rest. In order for this to be true we must cease attempting to "buy off" God with our religion. We must recognize that what God wants is us, not our religious practices.

The true Divine message of our day is infinitely demanding on us. We must come to God with our whole heart, making Him preeminent in every area of our life. Nothing is to be held back.

Once we decide to enter God’s rest, to embrace fully both the negative and the positive dimensions of redemption, numerous obstacles will confront us. Our Christian beliefs turn into a savage warfare. And believe me, live ammunition is being fired at us.

The Lord Jesus is approaching His people today in fulfillment of the Jewish feast of the Blowing of Trumpets. The Lord is coming as a man of war. He is commanding: "Open up the eternal doors of your heart and let Me come in. I am the Lord, strong and mighty in battle."

As Christ is formed in us we will discover that a tremendous desire to do God’s will has entered our personality. "I come to do your will, O God. Your law is in my heart."

Christ delights to do His Father’s will. He wants us to delight to do His Father’s will. Without the perfect performance of God’s will there is no Kingdom of God. For the Kingdom of God is the doing of God’s will on the earth as it is performed in Heaven.

The Lord Jesus is strong and mighty in battle. He desires a warlike bride who is strong and mighty in battle.

The Lord Jesus always does the will of the Father. He desires a bride who always does the will of the Father.

The Lord Jesus loves the Father above all else. He desires a bride who loves the Father above all else.

If we hope to be a member of the Bride of the Lamb, a brother of Christ, a room in God’s eternal home, then we must be warlike concerning sin. We must always do the will of the Father perfectly and completely. We must love the Father above all else.

Can God create such virtue in us while on the earth? Yes, He can, if we will obey Him faithfully and diligently. Also, we have verses that tell us the gifts and ministries of the Body will labor until we all come to maturity as measured by the stature of the fullness of Christ. For this to be true, growth in Christ must take place after we die for those who have done the will of Christ in the present life.

Now, think what it would have been like in the Garden of Eden if Adam and Eve had been trained to recognize good and evil and had been equipped to embrace the good and totally resist and reject the evil. What if the moral Nature of Christ had been formed in them? What if the Father and the Son had been dwelling in them? What if they had been clothed in a righteous house from Heaven instead of being naked or covered with fig leaves?

You guessed it. When Satan approached them they instantly would have cried out: "Get behind us, Satan. You are the enemy of God and of all righteousness. You are death. You bring agony and insanity. You are a liar and a murderer. You would destroy this beautiful garden. You corrupt and pervert everything that is good and wholesome. We will serve no one except the Lord!"

What would Satan have done then? He would have fled. "Resist the devil and he will flee from you."

Now do you see what God is doing?

God is not intent on bringing people to Heaven. Our home is Paradise on the earth. First God must fill us with eternal life. This He does through Jesus Christ, not by bringing us to another place. Going to another place would only bring our problems to the new area. Our help comes from Christ and other people, not from our location.

When God, having brought us through fiery trials, is satisfied that we will serve Him though He slays us, having filled us with His Nature and Person, He will return us to Paradise. Then Paradise will be returned to the earth at the hands of Christ and His brothers. The knowledge of the glory of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.

But the original catastrophe will not be repeated. Why? Because God has changed us from innocent people (the negative aspect of redemption) into warriors who will enforce righteousness and holiness among all God’s creatures for eternity.

God will surround Himself with sons, including His first Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. God’s sons will make sure that rebellion never again enters the creation.

It is time now for the Christian people to look once again to the Lord. They will find He is ready to move us to a new plane of salvation. We have been at Pentecost for a century. Next is the celebration of the Blowing of Trumpets, then the great Day of Atonement in which the creation finally is reconciled to God. Finally the climax, the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Tabernacles, when every creature has been brought into subjection to Christ and Christ is in subjection to the Father that the Father may be All and in all throughout His creation.

For he "has put everything under his feet." Now when it says that "everything" has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all. (I Corinthians 15:27,28)

Are you and I willing to give to God all He is asking for that His glorious plan may find fulfillment?