THE THEOLOGY OF ROBERT B. THOMPSON

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THE THEOLOGY OF ROBERT B. THOMPSON, D.ED.A complement to Godwill CastleCopyright Š 2012 by Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved

Some passages of Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSIONŽ, NIVŽ Copyright Š 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

Some passages of Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLEŽ, Copyright Š 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Table of Contents

Introductory Comments

Not by "Faith Alone"

A Change of Theology

Serving the Lord

Remaining in Christ

Deliverance From Sinful Behavior

Fighting the Good Fight, or Just Believing?

Being a Disciple

Being an Elder

The Wall

Rebuilding the Gates

The Law of the Spirit of Life

Living by His Life

Eternal Life

Living in the Spirit of God

Laying Hold on Eternal Life

Not on Food Alone

The Battle for the Body: I

The Battle for the Body: II

The Battle for the Body: III

The Resurrection of the Body

The Awakening of the Mortal Body

The Temporary and Then the Eternal

The Day of Resurrection

Attaining to the First Resurrection From the Dead

The Fullness of God

Trees of Life

The Christian Redemption

The Redemption of the Body

The Sinful Nature

Set Free From the Law of Sin and Death

The Baptism With Fire

Holiness

The Firstfruits

The Raising of the Firstfruits

We Can Overcome!

He Who Overcomes

The Overcomers

World Leadership

Reborn and Renewed

God Is My Salvation

Government Intervention and Righteousness

The Inner Becomes the Outer

The Ministry of Angels

Believing About Christ or Eating Christ?

The Throne of God

God's Throne Comes to the Earth

Becoming the Throne of God: I

Becoming the Throne of God: II

Changing the World

Knowing the Father

The Father

The Creating of the Witness

The Two Witnesses

Divine Personages

Many Mansions

Two Trees

From Adam to Christ

The Existence of God and the Spirit World

The Righteous Shall Live by Faith

The Saved People of the Nations, and the Tabernacle of God

The Royal Priesthood: I

The Royal Priesthood: II

Self-determination

The New Covenant

The Rest of God

Entering God's Rest

Canaan, and the Rest of God

Circumcised Again

To Will and To Act

Election

The Fourth Level

The Early Marriage

The Seventh Trumpet

Babylon

Antichrist, and the False Prophet

The Hour of Testing

Integrity

The Coming of the Lord: I

The Coming of the Lord: II

The Servant of the Lord: I

The Servant of the Lord: II

The Ruler

The Three Testings of God's Sons

Union and Families

The Seven Feasts of the Lord

The Day of Atonement

The Tabernacle of the Congregation

Messiah

Bearing Fruit

Hearing and Obeying Christ

Sing, O Barren

True Bible Faith: I

True Bible Faith: II

True Bible Faith: III

True Bible Faith: IV

The Day of Vengeance of Our God

War in Heaven

Deliverance From Foes Too Strong For Us

The Shelter of the Most High

The Endgame: I

The Endgame: II

Further Thoughts

Following the Cloud and the Fire

Who Is in Control?

John 3:16

The Lord's Prisons

Dying in the Lord

Holding Firmly to the End

Crossing the Jordan

From Moses to Joshua: I

From Moses to Joshua: II

From Moses to Joshua: III

Possessing All of Our Inheritance

The Two Worlds Reunite

The Problem With Fretting

The Period Between the First Resurrection and the Catching Away

Galatians 2:20

The Chain of Command

Fruitfulness and Rulership Out of Death

From Doctrine to Christ

The Father's House

The Climax of the Conflict of the Ages

The Great Rebellion

The Coming of the Kingdom

The New World of Righteousness

From the Concealed to the Revealed

A Final Note

Introductory Comments

Divine grace is the favor of God given to us through our Lord Jesus, apart from obedience to the Law of Moses. The purpose in giving us Divine grace is that we might be conformed to Christ's internal and external image and brought into perfect, complete rest in the center of God's will. The end result is a new creation of righteousness, holiness, and stern obedience to the Father?

Christ Himself is Righteousness. When we receive Christ as our Savior, righteousness is ascribed to our actions and holiness is ascribed to our person. Then the program of redemption commences. Our first personality is crucified, and Christ begins to gain control of our actions. Thus, that which at first was ascribed to us is now seen in our daily behavior toward people and displayed in our attitude toward God.

Christ Himself is Holiness. As we cooperate with the Spirit of God in putting to death the deeds of our sinful nature, which is the new-covenant fulfillment of the practice of circumcision of the old covenant, Christ begins to grow in us. In other words, holiness begins to grow in us. Thus that which at first was ascribed to us is now being worked out in us as we keep increasing in the desire to become part of God.

Unlike righteousness which is absolute, holiness becomes part of us in stages. Christ is formed in us to an extent that is in agreement with our predestined role in the Kingdom of God: some thirtyfold; some sixtyfold, some a hundredfold.

We see this pattern in the Israelites. The entire nation was regarded as holy people separated to God for his special purposes. Then we see the Levites, more holy than the rest of the people. Then, the sons of Aaron. Then, the High Priest. Also, the Nazarites were set apart as unusually holy.

None of this was true of righteousness. All were required to be righteous in behavior. Generally speaking, righteousness has to do with our dealings with people. Holiness has to do with our dealings with God.

As I have stated, Christ Himself is Holiness. As He is formed in us, Holiness is formed in us. It is God's supreme desire to dwell in people. However, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit will not dwell permanently in the children of Adam. We must be born again. Christ must be conceived and then formed in us. Christ formed in us is a new creation. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit will dwell only in the new creation; in Christ formed in us; only in the Holiness formed in us.

When the holy city, which is the assemblage of the glorified bodies of the God-filled saints, comes from Heaven through the new sky to be established on the new earth, it then it can be said truly that "Emmanuel" has come. God now is with mankind forever.

Not by "Faith Alone"

I do not pretend to be a Church historian. I have gathered from what reading I have done that the concept of "faith alone" was a reaction against Catholic theology, especially against indulgences and penances, including self-abuse. The cry went forth by the Reformers: "We are not saved by religious works but by faith."

Whether or not my conclusion is correct, this watchword currently is being used to mean that we are not to attempt to obey Christ and his Apostles. Salvation, it is maintained, is a sovereignly imposed work of God and we are not to seek in any manner to add to it. We are saved by faith alone.!

Perhaps we ought to try to do good, as long as we keep firmly in mind that our behavior has no impact on our salvation, which is by "faith alone." This is what is claimed by so many of today's Christian teachers.

However, trying to do good doesn't go very far in our demon-infested atmosphere!

The faith that is stressed by the "faith alone" proponents is not Bible faith. Bible faith is obedience to the written and personal Word of God, not belief concerning the several facts relating to Christ. Belief in Christ has come to mean belief about Christ, or about theologic facts.

Since Satan and all his helpers are only too aware of the several facts relating to Christ, it is quite obvious that belief about Christ does not bring about salvation from Hell, or eternal life. Satan and his helpers, while well versed in the facts concerning the "holy One of God," are of Hell and have no eternal life.

The last two verses of the third chapter of the Book of Hebrews may reveal that obedience and belief are synonymous:

And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief. (Hebrews 3:18,19—NASB)

If we believe in Christ we will obey him. How could we say we believe in Christ, and then not do what He and his Apostles have commanded? This assuredly is a delusion.

The third chapter of the Book of Hebrews is using the account of the Israelites attempting to conquer Canaan as an example of our attempting to enter the rest of God. The rest of God is that place where we are resting in the fullness of the inheritance God has promised us, and God is resting in us.

Some of the aspects of the rest of God to which we are to enter, are as follows:

We have been promised that if we overcome we will sit on the highest Throne with the Lord Jesus Christ.

We will be termed "God's sons."

We will inherit all that God makes new after the present heavens and earth pass away and the new world of righteousness comes into view.

We will be filled with all the fullness of God, the same fullness that has been written concerning our Lord, although Christ remains the supreme Head and Lord of all.

We have a physical body now, which even the angels do not have. Also, we have the opportunity to attain to the resurrection of our inward nature so we will be qualified and competent to have our body filled with eternal resurrection life in the Day of Christ.

We will rule the nations of the earth with a rod of iron.

We will be loved by the Father as He loves his Firstborn Son.

We will receive the glory which has been given to the Lord Jesus.

We will be conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus.

We will dwell in Christ as part of the Father.

We will be crowned with righteousness and eternal life.

We will be more than a conqueror through Christ.

We will be filled with the Spirit of wisdom and revelation.

We will attain to the standard which is the full measure of Christ.

We will bear much fruit—reproducing Christ's image in ourselves and others.

We will inherit the nations of the earth.

We will bring justice to the nations of the earth.

We will inherit the farthest reaches of the earth.

We will be a living stone in the eternal Temple of God.

We will receive an eternal, Spirit-filled body in the Day of Resurrection.

We will know the Father.

We will see God.

We will be a member of the Royal Priesthood.

We will be a brother of Jesus Christ.

We will gain total victory through Jesus Christ over all sin and disobedience.

The problem with entering the rest of God, that which has been promised to God's Royal Priesthood from the beginning of the world, is that there are enemies living in our inheritance. We have to fight continually to make our way into the good things of God. Instead, we have created a doctrine of "grace" that permits the enemy to live with us in peace. No deadlier device could be invented by our enemies.

In addition to the current perversion of the intent of the Protestant Reformers, we have misunderstood the Apostle Paul's use of the term "works." We of today are defining "works" as attempts to live righteously, to cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit.

If Paul meant that "works" were our attempts to overcome our sinful behavior, and we are not saved by "works" but by faith, contrasting godly behavior with "faith," he would be contradicting much of what he had written in his epistles, including Galatians, Ephesians, and Colossians.

The expression "the righteous shall live by faith," means that we are not to follow our self-will but to walk hand in hand with Christ, looking to Him for every aspect of our thinking, speaking, and doing.

When Paul spoke of "works" he was referring to the works of the Law of Moses, such as circumcision, not to our efforts to obey the commands of Christ and his Apostles. Such a simple misunderstanding but so profoundly destructive of the moral character of Christian people!

A third force driving the current misunderstanding of salvation by faith is the influence of the religion of Gnosticism. This ancient religion has iinvaded Christian thinking from the days of the Apostles, apparently. Since Gnosticism emphasizes the primary virtue of knowledge and of man's spirit, viewing the flesh and the rest of the physical realm as evil, it does not emphasize righteous conduct.

In actuality, righteous conduct is the scepter of Christ's Kingdom. There is no Kingdom of God apart from righteous conduct.

Gnostics teach that since our flesh is evil, it does not really matter how we behave. The issue of importance is the special knowledge we receive.

There is no question in my mind but that the prevailing Christian understanding that spirit is good and flesh is evil, and that if we profess correct knowledge concerning Jesus Christ we will enter a spirit realm superior to the physical world, is far more Gnostic than it is apostolic. The truth is, once the spirit world becomes one with the physical world, when Christ returns, this new world of righteousness will be far more wonderful than either the present physical world or the spirit world.

The Bible teaches us that when God made the physical world, including people, He pronounced it "very good." The evil came from the spirit world in the form of the serpent. Interestingly, one branch of the Gnostics claims to have received secret knowledge from a serpent.

The philosophy of Humanism, which began about 1400 A.D., is powerfully affecting the thinking of people today, including Christian believers. Humanism discards supernatural factors in favor of human reasoning and values. Humanism is the agent behind the current movement to do away with the thought of Hell, the idea being that God is too "good" to put anyone in Hell. All people eventually will be brought to Heaven because of God's "love" for human beings.

Our Lord Jesus stated that if our eye offends us we would do well to tear it out rather than to have our whole body throne into Hell. Yet Christian ministers of our day are playing with the notion that there is no Hell. They are in love with themselves and their congregations. They are not prophets of God or witnesses of God. They do not understand the goodness of God because they do not understand the severity of God!

So we see we have four forces affecting the current teaching of salvation by faith alone.

First, the change from the Reformers' use of the term "works" to refer to Catholic religious practices, to the modern definition of "works" as attempts to obey the commands of Christ and his Apostles. Thus we are saved by "grace" rather than by obeying Christ and his Apostles, it is maintained.

Second, the misunderstanding of Paul's use of the term "works." Whereas Paul was referring to the works of the Law of Moses, the term "works" currently is used to mean any effort on our part to obey the commands of Christ and his Apostles.

Third, the Gnostic emphasis on spirit as good and flesh as evil. The Christian redemption is pointed toward the resurrection of our physical body. We will answer to Christ at the Judgment Seat for what we have done in our body, whether good or evil. We will reap corruption rather than a body of eternal life if we continue to live in the desires of our sinful nature.

Fourth, the deadly epidemic of humanistic thinking that suggests God loves people too much to assign them to Hell or to the Lake of Fire. The teachers of Humanism do not understand that, after making every effort to convince people that the Lord Jesus Christ is their lawful King and must be obeyed diligently, God will incarcerate people in areas of torment.

The people who are admitted to the new world of righteousness will aid in preserving righteousness, love, joy, and peace. If the willfully disobedient, those driven by self-love and self-will were permitted to enter the paradise that soon will come to the earth, they would destroy the righteousness, love, joy, and peace, in short order.

During my career as a public school teacher, I noticed that if unruly children were permitted to disrupt the class, the obedient children were distressed. They wanted to do their studies. They were pleased when the teacher disciplined the trouble makers. For this reason there indeed is a Hell and a Lake of Fire.

One self-willed individual would destroy the righteousness, love, peace, and joy of Paradise, bringing misery to all those whose desire is to serve the Lord Jesus. Therefore God, in his unfathomable love for his creatures, indeed will remove incorrigible people from his new world of righteousness; just as a loving, strong teacher will remove an incorrigible, unruly child from a classroom.

It is apparent that Satan is determined Christian people shall not live in a godly manner. Why do you suppose this is? Why does Satan emphasize that we will go to Heaven regardless of how we behave? Why does Satan emphasize knowledge about Christ (referring to knowledge as "faith"), while minimizing the importance of our obeying the commands of Christ and his Apostles?

Why does Satan point toward eternal residence in the spirit world (Heaven) as the goal of salvation? Why does Satan emphasize a pre-tribulation "rapture" of God's people so they are removed from the earth and confined in the spirit world?

Why are our attempts to obey Christ regarded as an affront to God's plan of salvation?

The answer to these questions is that Satan regards the earth and the bodies of people as his domain. He desires to have unhindered control of the bodies of people. Satan would be pleased if every devout Christian were removed to Heaven so Satan could inherit the earth.

What then is the result of trusting in faith (knowledge; belief) alone to present us faultless before God?

There are at least two primary results of relying on our faith (belief and knowledge about Christ) instead of pressing forward in Christ each day as we endeavor to overcome the aspects of our personality that are not in the image of God.

First, we do not have the rod of iron righteousness created in us that is necessary if we are to govern the nations with the Lord Jesus. The rod of iron is created as we renounce that which is evil and embrace that which is righteous.

Second, we cannot enter the rest of God, which is our goal. The rest of God can be entered only as we overcome through Christ the enemies currently striving to maintain their residence in our inheritance.

Let us deal with the first issue, that of the rod of iron righteousness. As we strive to obey Christ each day, both as to his general will found in the Scriptures and also his specific will to us as it is impressed upon us personally, spiritual iron is formed in us. As we follow the Spirit of God, renouncing evil behavior and embracing righteous behavior, we are fed in the spirit realm with the "hidden manna," that is, with the body and blood of Christ.

The body and blood of Christ are the power of endless resurrection Life. They contain far greater power than any other form of life. If we persevere in obeying Christ, we finally gain the crown of righteousness and life. In the Scriptures, eternal resurrection life follows righteous behavior. We shall govern the works of God's hands throughout the endless ages of eternity by the power of an endless life, by the rod of iron righteousness, by the Life of Christ.

If we are content to receive the righteousness ascribed by initially receiving Christ, and then do not press forward into righteous behavior, the Life of God we were given at the first will leave us. We will be spiritually dead. No rod of iron righteousness will be formed in us. We then will be unable to preserve the righteousness, love, joy, and peace of Paradise when God returns Paradise to the earth..

Righteousness is ascribed to us when we, in obedience to God, first place our confidence in Christ. But if after that we do not obey Christ, we no longer are regarded as righteous. We no longer will be qualified or competent to be clothed with immortality when the Lord returns to earth and thus work with Him in the task of installing the Kingdom of God on the earth.

How many millions of "Christians" are looking forward to a pre-tribulation "rapture" into Heaven, or to being changed into immortality when Christ appears? Their hope is in vain, unless they are serving Christ diligently day and night. Their hope does not conform to the Scriptures, only to the traditions of today, which are based on misunderstanding, self-love, and a touch of Gnosticism.

Going to Heaven by "faith alone"? Not if the Bible is the Word of God!

If no rod of iron righteousness has been formed in us, we are not competent to install the Kingdom of God on the earth when the Lord returns. If we have not lived as an overcomer, we are not qualified in terms of the Scripture to receive the promises to the overcomer, which include governing with Christ. Faith (head knowledge; mental assent) alone leaves us incompetent and unqualified to have fellowship with Christ and to rule with him.

Faith apart from a new moral creation is "dead." True faith lives in behavior.

The second deadly result of the "faith alone" error is that we accept the enemy in our personality and surroundings. We compromise with him. He dwells in and with us without being dislodged. He steadfastly enjoys that which God has offered to us.

Spirits do not have a physical form. Satan and his angels do not have gender, as people do. Therefore Satan and his demons use every device they know that will enable them to enter and influence people. In this manner they maintain their position in that which God has given us, especially our physical body.

How many times did God tell the Israelites to totally destroy the Canaanites who were living in the area God had assigned to them! The Lord commanded the Jews to show no mercy. The reason for this destruction was that God knew if Israel permitted the Canaanites to live among them, the Jews soon would be worshiping the idols of Canaan.

And when the LORD your God delivers them before you and you defeat them, then you shall utterly destroy them You shall make no covenant with them and show no favor to them. (Deuteronomy 7:2—NASB)

The original land promised to the Jews included a far greater area than is viewed today as "Israel." All of the east bank of the Jordan to the Euphrates, and the land of the Hittites, for example. But the Israelites were not faithful to obey God.

Had they done what the Lord commanded, it is possible they would to the present hour have the full possession of the land promised to Israel. But, as in the case also of us Christians today, they were not diligent to wipe out the enemy. They compromised, using the aliens to serve in various sorts of duties, such as cutting firewood.

The Israelites fell further and further away from the Lord's commandments until they were conquered by the Assyrians and the Babylonians. It is a sad story. They never again were able to regain the glory they had experienced under David and Solomon. To this day the small part of their inheritance that they have held onto is being threatened. What a lesson we can learn from this!

But we have not learned the lesson. We have allowed Satan to frighten us. Our heart in many instances is not set on possessing the marvelous promises that have been made to us, such as being a coheir of Christ; sitting on the Throne of Glory with Christ; being filled with the Fullness of God; attaining to the inward resurrection in preparation for the giving of eternal life to our body in the Day of Christ. All we want to do is to flee to Heaven where we will live in a mansion and do nothing of consequence for eternity.

Yet we know from the Book of Revelation that the marvelous promises found therein are to whoever conquers the enemies that have come against him or her. Still we speak of grace, grace, grace, faith alone, faith alone, faith alone. How ridiculous!

We cannot enter our inheritance in Christ until we are willing to fight the enemy in Jesus' name until he is totally destroyed. There is no question of compromise. The enemy, Satan, is to be crushed under our feet, as the Apostle Paul wrote.

We do not waste our time rebuking Satan. There is no scriptural basis for the believers rebuking Satan. Rather, we resist the devil. We fight by patiently carrying our cross behind Jesus; by practicing righteous behavior; by obeying our Lord diligently every hour of every day and night.

Who among us has a heart to fight, not by rebuking the devil but by resisting the temptation to do what is evil? Who among is ready to discard the unscriptural notion that all we are to do is believe that Christ has done it all for us?

Christ has not done it all for us! It is the sword of the Lord and of Gideon. If Gideon does not do his part, neither will the Lord. We cannot enter our inheritance in our own strength and wisdom. But Christ will enable us to be more than a conqueror if we put on our armor and hold up the shield of faith. The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit, by far the most powerful weapon in the universe.

But the Spirit will not wield his sword until we stand resolutely in Christ and obey Him every moment of every day and night.

"Faith alone?" By no means. The Apostle James informs us that faith without works is dead. It is only our self-love, spiritual laziness, ignorance of the Scripture, and perhaps cowardice, that cause us to be unwilling to press with all our might toward the fullness of the inheritance. Yet the Apostle Paul exhorted us to maintain the attitude of conquest, using himself as our example.

Spiritual growth is an increase in the ability to recognize evil, and the willingness and strength to totally reject the evil and embrace righteous behavior. This is the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which is our Lord Jesus Christ.

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—NIV)

A Change of Theology

I have concluded that numerous theologians do not know the God of Israel, in that they have deduced a sovereignly imposed salvation not affected by the behavior of the believer.

When we make eternal residence in Heaven the goal of salvation, and add to this the idea that there is absolutely nothing we are to do to get there, God has done it all and asks only that we believe He has done it all, we have a witches brew of poison that prevents spiritual growth.

Such a destructive concept is arrived at by cutting and pasting certain verses removed from their contexts, and then deducing doctrine from the collage. The effect of this widespread doctrine has been a lack of moral strength in so many Christian churches. Our political leaders in America, no longer able to receive moral guidance from the Christian churches, have been reduced to blind, pragmatic decision-making The end result will be the removal of the United States of America as a significant power in the world.

God made America great. The removal of God will leave America a crippled society.

We are not saved from earth to Heaven but from the image of Satan to the image of God.

He who believes and is baptized shall be saved. "Shall be saved"! This means that instead of being destroyed in the Day of Judgment, the believer will be permitted to endure the rigors of redemption. We enter the Kingdom of God through all sorts of tribulations. Patience is required if we are to endure this sometimes painful, dangerous program.

We are being "saved" today if we are accepting the Lordship of Jesus Christ, whether we are in the body or in the spirit world. To be fully saved is to be at rest in God's Person and will. This means we have grasped that for which we have been grasped and are instantly obedient to the Lord Jesus Christ in every aspect of our being and doing.

I came to Christ in 1944. I was taught by fellow Marines that the purpose of the grace of the new covenant is to forgive us, since we are unable to meet God's righteous demands. Then we would be eligible to go to Heaven when we die. Since that time, probably before you were born, I have found this to be the prevailing doctrine of most, if not all, Christian churches.

According to the Scriptures, this is not the purpose of the grace of the new covenant. The purpose of the grace of the new covenant is to forgive all of our sins so we will be able to leave the Law of Moses and focus on the work of the Holy Spirit as He creates the Life of Christ in us. As the Life of Christ is formed in us, we begin to meet God's righteous demands. The objective of the new creation is to create us in the image of God in order that we might please God and have fellowship with God wherever we are.

If we are to make a success of our life in Christ, and attain to our destiny, we must honor God in all our ways and always do what pleases Him.

The entire Bible is about righteous behavior. Under the old covenant we are to obey the Law of Moses. Under the new covenant we are to obey the Spirit of God, the Law of the Spirit of Life, in every aspect of our behavior, the New Testament writings serving to keep us from deception.

The purpose of imputed, ascribed righteousness is to get us started on the path of actual righteousness.

God imputes righteousness to the believer under the old covenant when he obeys the Law of Moses. God imputes righteousness to the believer under the new covenant when he seeks Christ and obeys Him. The writings of the Apostles must be obeyed until the believer is able to walk with Christ.

It is not true that there were no righteous people under the old covenant. The Old Testament speaks of those who were righteous before the birth of Jesus Christ.

The above statements are key to my theology. What I write cannot be understood apart from this viewpoint. My book, Godwill Castle, must be viewed in the light of the statements above.

As far as I know, the expression "accept Christ" is not found in the major translations of the Bible. Rather, we are to abide in Christ for the rest of our life.

We teach today that if a person says, "I accept Christ as my Savior," God will overlook his behavior now and receive him to an eternal residence in Paradise when he dies.

The truth is, if we hope to be saved from wrath, we must receive Christ as a living Person, not as a statement of doctrine. Then we must count ourselves dead to the world and alive in Christ. From now on we are to be seeking to do his will at all times.

We have died with Him and we have been resurrected with him. Living like this brings us into fellowship with God whether we are in Heaven or on the earth.

This is the true God and eternal life.

Perhaps I might introduce my theology by explaining what it means to be "born again." If we truly receive Christ, and not just adopt the theological position of a church, the Spirit of God deposits the Divine Seed in us. This is conception.

Another way of looking at what takes place is that our inward spiritual nature is born of God. We now have a physical, exterior nature that has not been born of God, and a new nature that has been born of God and is seated with Christ at the right hand of God. Each day we choose to support and nourish our life that is hidden with Christ in God, or to support and nourish only our life which is of the earth.

After conception occurs the process of gestation. This is a long, difficult pilgrimage through a wilderness of problems, frustrations, pains, and bewilderment.

If we survive the process of gestation without running away from God, the cells become an embryo and the embryo becomes a fetus. Finally the child is capable of breathing on its own, and so it comes forth and the umbilical cord is cut, we might say. It is at this point that our personality has been born again of God and we more fully can see and enter the Kingdom of God.

Why don't we ask the unsaved (and Christians also) if they will accept Jesus Christ as their personal Lord? When they do, the "Savior" part will take care of itself. The Lord Jesus Christ already has purchased us with his blood. When we are willing to obey him, He will forgive our sins.

Why does religion emphasize belief in doctrine rather than direct obedience to the living Christ? Perhaps it is because by stressing belief rather than obedience, man can remain in control of his salvation.

Actually, true belief and obedience are the same thing. We see this in Hebrews 3:18,19.

If an individual makes a profession of faith in Christ, and then lives according to his sinful nature, does that individual really believe in Christ? Is that person really saved? The answer given today by numerous evangelical pastors and teachers is, "Absolutely yes!" The scriptural answer is, "Perhaps yes, perhaps no, depending on several factors."

The doctrine that teaches we receive Christ as a ticket to Heaven without any change in our behavior is so unscriptural, so illogical, as to appear silly when placed against the truth of the new moral creation and the consequent fellowship with God.

The concept of a "grace" that allows people to be willful, self-centered creatures and yet walk with God in Paradise is a product of humanistic thinking. It is man's way of attempting to change God until He is conformed to what rebellious, sinful people desire.

We may suppose that it is a loving God's way of sparing people from having to endure the consequences of immoral behavior. It is not. It would be an abandoning of God's knowledge of right and wrong so that people will love Him and not be angry with Him.

Since sinful, rebellious people do not love their neighbors as themselves, God would not be sparing them pain by overlooking their behavior. Rather, because of his lack of character, God would be letting people destroy themselves. Satan would really enjoy a God who issued a grace that releases people from any form of punishment when they disobey God's commandments.

We can see this disaster operating when parents will not discipline their rebellious children because they want their children to "love" them. Such parents betray their children by not correcting them, because life itself sooner or later will reward undisciplined people with the consequences of their actions. This pattern of indulgent parents is fairly common in the United States and produces delinquent young people.

The truth is, no one "gets away" with anything. If the self-willed individual does not reap corruption in the present world, he or she assuredly will in the next world. The current doctrine of "grace" assumes an indulgent God, and the product is sinful, rebellious people.

We speak of people being saved. But what do we mean by "saved"? Does being "saved" mean we go to Heaven when we die, or does it refer to a change in us that is independent of a place, such as Heaven? Does it refer to fellowship with God wherever we are?

It appears to me that we pastors and teachers should begin to emphasize the difference between the current erroneous view of the meaning of the term "grace," and the understanding of what Divine grace actually is under the new covenant.

The only thing grace replaces is the Law of Moses. "The Law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." Now that the Law of Moses has been replaced, we have to obey Christ through the Spirit of God instead of by learning and obeying the Law of Moses. Divine grace is not an alternative to righteous behavior, to obeying Christ and his Apostles. Rather, grace is the means whereby righteous, obedient behavior is accomplished.

I was not raised in a Christian home. While in the Marine Corps, during World War Two, I was placed in a tent with another Marine, a Baptist boy who had had Bible teaching. This took place at the U. S. Marine Corps Sixth Base Depot (I believe I have the name right). This particular military depot was on the island of Oahu, which is part of the Hawaiian chain.

When we went back to Oahu a few years ago, I could not find this installation.

The Baptist boy (Gene something or other) told me about the plan of salvation in Christ, as he understood it. Gene's explanation included the concept of "grace" as described in the notes of the Scofield Bible. So I became grounded in Dispensational theology, including the "pre-tribulation rapture" of everyone who would make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ.

After hearing Gene's explanation, I sought God until I had a definite born-again experience. I have further described, in Godwill Castle, my born-again experience on Oahu, and also my subsequent call to the ministry, which occurred in Sasebo, Japan.

My understanding of "grace" as the God-given alternative to righteous behavior was maintained throughout Bible school (1947-1949), although during my time in Bible school the Lord began to give me insight into his Word. Nevertheless I continued in my belief in Dispensational theology for several years after Bible school, until I was teaching the fifth grade in an elementary school in Palo Alto, California, 1967 or thereabouts.

Prior to this, the Lord had intervened in my life, impressing on me some wonderful truths from the Old Testament. This would have taken place, probably around 1950. A Bible teacher by the name of Oliver Ellenwood came to the tent in San Diego where we were worshiping. J. O. Dowell of the Assemblies of God was the pastor of the tent, which was on the border of National City, next to San Diego.

Brother Ellenwood had excellent charts and he taught from them. During one of his lectures, Brother Ellenwood mentioned, in passing, the seven feasts of Israel. I had never before heard of these seven celebrations. But the moment Brother Ellenwood mentioned them I had a strong witness that the seven feasts of the Lord were a topic I should pursue.

And pursue them I have, for several decades. These Jewish celebrations are an excellent series of events for the portrayal of the program of salvation, of redemption. They begin with the Passover, speaking of God's Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ. They conclude with the feast of Tabernacles, the forming and dwelling of the Fullness of God, the Throne of God, in the believer.

The sixth of the seven observances is the solemn Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur of the Jews). On this one day only, the High Priest of Israel was permitted to move past the ornate Veil into the Most Holy Place. When he entered he sprinkled the blood of the slain goat upon and before the Mercy Seat, which was placed on the top of the Ark of the Covenant.

The ceremony of the Day of Atonement included the confession of the sins of Israel, laying these sins on the head of a living goat and sending that "scapegoat" into an uninhabited area. This action also was referred to as an "atonement."

Thus, there were two significant Divine actions symbolized by the two goats of the Day of Atonement. The first action was the removal of the guilt of sin. The second action was the removal of the sin itself; in other words, deliverance from the compulsions of sin. Atonement cannot be made apart from the shedding of blood. The removal of sin was based on the blood of the slain goat.

So it is today. The removal of sin that has begun today gains its authority from the blood that was shed on the cross of Calvary two thousand years ago.

I am speaking now of my experience in about 1950. I believe God spoke to me clearly at that time that the Day of Atonement portrays judgment on the sin in God's people, the removal of their sin, as symbolized by the removing of the scapegoat from the camp. They already have been forgiven and now are awaiting the removal, the Day of Redemption.

From then until the present hour (1950-2011) I have grown in my understanding of the spiritual fulfillment of the Day of Atonement. I am aware now that the fulfillment has begun in our day and will continue until the final resurrection and judgment, which will occur at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age. Ultimately, the presence of sinful desires, of all rebellion against God, shall have been removed entirely from the creation.

In about 1965 I began writing the concepts that had been developing in my mind since 1948, when I was a student in the Berean Bible Institute in San Diego. I commenced work on a book titled, The Tabernacle of the Congregation.

Please keep in mind that my beginning instruction as a Christian had been in Dispensational theology. In this theology, minimal or no importance is placed on the numerous New Testament exhortations and warnings concerning righteous behavior. I was reading my Bible through the "grace screen," which prevented me from seeing what the Apostles actually had written.

In fact, in some extreme cases, the Bible teachers of today are saying the important thing is that we profess belief in Jesus Christ. Our behavior is almost of no consequence. We are saved by "faith alone." Of course, the "faith" they are referring to actually is "belief" in a certain theologic position, not the genuine faith of the Prophets and Apostles.

I know now that obedience to Christ and his Apostles is more important than "belief" in Christ, unless by belief we mean obedience to Christ.

I started a chapter, in the Tabernacle of the Congregation, titled "The Holiness of the Tabernacle." As I thought about the concept of the holiness of the Tabernacle, and the numerous statutes concerning the Tabernacle itself as well as the conduct of the priesthood, I began to wonder what the New Testament said, if anything, about the behavior of the believers in Christ. Can you imagine such blindness! But this is the result of accepting Dispensational theology.

(Pastor Frederick Richards the Third, in my book, Godwill Castle, is the sad fruit of Dispensational teaching.)

When I first became a Christian it was impressed on me by fellow Marines (1944) that the Bible is God's Word, what we might refer to as the plenary verbal inspiration of the Scriptures. I was to meditate in it, memorize it, and obey it. This in spite of the adherence of these friends to Dispensationalism. Like so many today, they had inconsistent compartments in their thinking.

So now, many years later, I resolved to go through the New Testament to determine if there were any admonitions to godly behavior, and if so, were they expressed as being important to our salvation. I proposed to write down all I found and then think about them. I began with the Gospels. After all, God's very Word is more to be relied on than is true of theology.

Many of Jesus' exhortations to godly behavior are by inference, like "blessed are the pure in heart." The Lord Jesus did give us some moral guidelines, and informed us of the consequences of not following them. "If you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." I can just hear our scholars of today saying, "This does not apply to those who are saved by grace."

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth." "Do not judge, or you too will be judged." Our scholars would exclaim, "But grace supersedes these commands! Anyway, these commandments of Christ are directed toward the Jews," the scholars would respond.

It seems to me inconsistent to say the commands of Christ in the Gospels are superseded by grace, or apply only to those of the Jewish race, and then insist that we must be born again, when this advice was given to the Jew, Nicodemus. I began to think to myself, "There is something not right here!"

I listed the moral guidelines I found in the four Gospels, noting the warnings of not obeying them. I did not have too much of a problem with Jesus' instructions, with reconciling them to the grace teaching I had had; although I noted that He said if we love him we will keep his commands. However, I was not fully persuaded as yet that I had been taught error.

Also, the Book of Acts does not have much to say about righteous behavior, except some remarks about works that signify repentance. However, I did notice in Acts that the Apostles in their preaching stressed repentance and did not once portray salvation as asking Jesus to come into our heart.

I was not completely convinced my theology was incorrect until I came to the Epistles of the Apostle Paul and of the other Apostles of the Lamb. When I began writing down the exhortations to godly behavior found in the Epistles I soon gave up. I did not want to spend this much time—the list would have been far too long. The few admonitions I began with soon convinced me that I indeed had been taught error.

Then I looked to see if Paul's exhortations contained warnings that if we did not live righteously there would be severe consequences. I discovered in Galatians and Ephesians that if we believers in Jesus Christ continue to live in the desires of our sinful nature we shall not inherit the Kingdom of God. We shall reap corruption. I would regard that as a serious consequence, wouldn't you?

The sixth and eighth chapters of the Book of Romans warn us we shall die (not attain to the redemption of our body in the Day of Resurrection) if we continue to practice sinful behavior.

I do not know who wrote the Book of Hebrews. But this Book alone proves that the current teaching of unconditional grace is an error of great magnitude; although there are scholars who attempt to prove, by using principles of the Greek language unfamiliar to most of us, that the passages of Hebrews do not mean what they state clearly.

I began to understand that I had been grievously deceived and that the theology of multitudes of fundamentalists is in error!

When we read a command in the Bible, or the Lord speaks to us, are we then to say, "No, I can't do this. I must be saved by the grace of forgiveness"?

Or are we to pray, "Lord, help me to do what you have commanded"?

What is your answer to this question?

You know, my favorite saying, since I discovered I had been taught error, is, "iron righteousness, fiery holiness, stern obedience to the Father." This has been my watchword for many years. I hope it is carved on my tombstone.

Interestingly enough, while I am writing these comments, someone sent me an E-mail warning me that if I taught "stern obedience to the Father" it would cause some believers to lapse into self-righteousness.

This doesn't make sense to me. How could seeking to obey the Father cause self-righteousness? I agree that endeavoring to strictly observe some religious program might cause self-righteousness. But obeying God?

There are some who teach that we have been commanded to obey the words of the New Testament. It is not necessary, they say, to hear from Christ because He already has spoken in his word. "When the Bible speaks, we speak. When the Bible is silent, we are silent." This attitude will certainly produce self-righteousness.

It is true rather that we always must seek Christ concerning every scriptural commandment in order to gain his wisdom and strength that we may apply and obey the commandment properly and promptly.

In his Sermon on the Mount Christ commanded us not to resist anyone who would sue us or borrow from us but to give him what he asks. To obey this commandment without going to Christ for his wisdom is to invite self-righteousness. To obey Paul's commandments about women teaching, without going to Christ for his wisdom, is to invite self-righteousness and perhaps to go against God's will.

The new covenant is a covenant of the Spirit, not of the letter of the Scriptures. To seek to obey the commandments of Christ and His apostles without looking to Christ for wisdom and help will produce a religious, self-righteous spirit that will not bring forth the fruit of righteousness and holiness we desire. It also will create division among the believers, if they hold to the letter of the Scriptures and do not look to the Lord Jesus for wisdom.

The idea that we are not supposed to attempt to obey God, but only to profess belief in Christ, is so pervasive in Christian thinking that the thought of "stern obedience to God" threatens some who "believe in Christ."

My secretary just told me of a bumper sticker she saw recently on a car ahead of her. The sticker read: "Christians are not perfect, they are just forgiven." My secretary knows we have been commanded to be perfect, and we can be perfect for the day—we just haven't been perfected as yet.

The bumper sticker reveals the depth of the misunderstanding of the Gospel that appears in Christian thinking. I was taught in Bible school that no one really is able to obey God, and that the world is waiting for someone to obey God completely because then amazing events will transpire. Can you imagine such foolishness? I actually was taught this.

Where do you suppose the teaching is coming from that insists no one can obey the Father and there is no need to make much of an effort to do so?; obedience to God is not necessary and will lead to self-righteousness? I think I know where it is coming from. Christian teaching today is pitifully, destructively in error! It is coming from the one who counseled: "You shall not surely die if you disobey God."

There may be scholars, who hold the Bible to be inerrant, who will declare that the passages I found in my search, and the stern warnings in the Book of Hebrews, have nothing to do with those who have "accepted Christ." These teachers will direct the warnings toward the Jews, or the unsaved.

Such misdirection, misapplication, of the Apostle's warnings, is not defensible. It is clear evidence of the willingness of Bible scholars to defy sound principles of interpretation, even common sense, in order to prove to God's people that they "shall not surely die" even if they practice the works of the sinful nature. I am not certain whether they are trying to please people or to make room for some sinful practice of their own.

It seems clear to me that the whole crowd of evangelical believers who press the point that the thief on the cross entered Paradise without having lived a godly life are trying to convince themselves that their misbehaviors will not affect their going to Heaven to live in a mansion. They must be motivated either by fear that they cannot gain victory over sin, or else by a desire to not give up their sins. "Lord please forgive us for this which we are about to do"—this sort of thing.

There must be some reason why they have been led astray so easily by the false teaching that is going on.

I think the Spirit is saying that there is going to be much American blood shed in the future. It really behooves us, if we wish to stand in that day, to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow the Lord. The current grace-rapture-Heaven teaching is unscriptural and will leave the Christian unprepared for the Divine judgments that will fall upon America.

This reminds me of evolutionists who defy all common sense by teaching that the physical creation came into being by random occurrences. It makes one wonder if they are seeking to convince themselves that there is no God so they will not have to answer for their behavior!

Perhaps ministers of the Gospel, who insist that the exhortations of Christ and his Apostles do not apply to those who have made a profession of belief in Christ, are leaving room for themselves and their hearers to sin. There has to be some explanation why intelligent, devout scholars cannot understand the New Testament.

Recently I gave my secretary, a college-age girl, a statement to read by a well known Bible pastor and teacher describing how Divine grace overlooks our sinning. My secretary has been raised in our church and has never heard the current "grace" doctrine preached. She was amazed. She said (and I thought this was quite perceptive!), "it sounds as though he is inviting people to sin."

This certainly is a man-pleasing spirit, perhaps resulting from the entrance of the philosophy of Humanism into Christian scholarship. When pastors attempt to please people by their preaching they are the blind leading the blind.

"We have been saved by a sovereign grace and our behavior is inconsequential" will be maintained, even though the position of the Bible scholars could be disproved easily by a high-school student who knew his Bible.

I now was convinced that Dispensational theology is nothing less than a sophisticated form of rebellion against Christ and his Kingdom.

In fact, it is by the act of continually controlling the desires of our flesh and blood nature that we gain the character needed by the future rulers of the Kingdom of God. The current doctrine of grace removes the need to continually overcome the desires of our fleshly nature. Thus it prevents our becoming a ruler in the Kingdom of God.

And as far as the pre-tribulation rapture is concerned, a removal of believers in Christ lest they suffer at the hands of Antichrist or during the Great Tribulation, there is no sound scriptural support for this common teaching. The pre-tribulation rapture doctrine disarms the believer with the result he will not prepare himself to stand in the evil day. The verses used in its support are not supported by their contexts.

The pre-tribulation rapture doctrine is just another man-pleasing teaching, not worthy of scholarly investigation.

These two doctrines, sovereign grace that relieves us of the necessity to live righteously, and the pre-tribulation rapture, which is a handmaiden of the "grace" error, have destroyed the moral strength of the believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. The two doctrines eventually will be viewed as destructive errors in Christian theology.

Let me add that the doctrine of the so-called "rapture," whether pre-tribulation or mid-tribulation or post-tribulation, is not of God. At no time is God going to remove his Church from earth to Heaven in order to protect it from Antichrist or the Great Tribulation.

The basic "rapture" passage in the fourth chapter of the Book of First Thessalonians is describing the coming of Christ with all the saints of history to call up to Himself the victorious Christians so they may descend with Him and install the Kingdom of God upon the earth. The description is of the coming of the Lord, not the going of the Church. This can be understood clearly by any person who has an unbiased mind.

In the time to come, the doctrine of the "rapture" will be viewed as an error in Christian thinking.

It is my point of view that the current moral decline in the United States, which assuredly is leading our nation to destruction, is due largely to these two doctrines (Divine grace as an alternative to righteous behavior, and a "rapture" to deliver the believers from suffering); since the Christian Church is the main source of moral principles for our government and our citizenry.

From the time of the writing of the Tabernacle of the Congregation to the present I have written about many topics, including the disaster in Christian thinking termed "Dispensationalism." In actuality, the purpose of the Christian Gospel is to produce people who have been made righteous in behavior through Divine Virtue (grace) so they may participate in the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.

Dispensational teaching wars against this purpose.

The Bible is rightly termed "the good Book" because it is supposed to make people good. Just as simple as that!

Another product of my newly found willingness to depart from current Christian thinking is the discovery that the Bible, New Testament and Old, does not view permanent residence in Heaven as the goal of salvation.

Rather, our goal, our land of promise, is the possession of the Fullness of God, an inheritance of people, and the farthest reaches of the earth itself. I have described my thoughts on the goal of salvation in a book titled, The Land of Promise.

The current doctrinal errors, such as Divine grace as a substitute for righteous behavior, and the unscriptural "pre-tribulation rapture," are based on the concept that the goal of salvation is to bring us to Heaven when we die. If we substitute the scriptural goal, which is change into the image of Christ and untroubled rest in the center of God's Person and will, for the current "mansions in Heaven" goal, then the current errors are seen for what they are. I will have more to say about this later.

While I am slaughtering sacred cows, let me mention also that the way the Trinity sometimes is defined can be misleading and cause problems. If the Trinity is defined as three Persons forming one Godhead, all in perfect oneness, all Divine in Substance, then there is no problem.

However, when the Trinity is conceived as three Gods, all equal, then we have two problems. The first problem is that we rightly can be accused of polytheism, a concept the Jews and the Muslims find repugnant.

Please notice, in the following passages, that Christ is not equal in knowledge to his Father, and that He is required to obey his Father. The Father is Christ's God. The Father made the universe through Christ.

In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. (Hebrews 1:1,2—NIV)

You heard that I said to you, "I go away, and I will come to you." If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. (John 14:28—NASB)

Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." (John 20:17—NIV)

He said to them, "My cup you shall drink; but to sit on My right and on My left, this is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by My Father." (Matthew 20:23—NASB)

Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; (Hebrews 5:7,8—NIV)

But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. (Matthew 24:36—NASB)

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John, (Revelation 1:1—NASB)

If you think about it, our will is our uniqueness as a person. When our Lord said to the Father, "not my will but yours be done," He was revealing beyond all question that He and the Father are two different Persons, although united in will by the choice of Jesus.

I think numerous Christian theologians would object strongly to the concept that the Father is greater than the Son. They may contrive a tortured explanation as why these straightforward comments do not mean what they state. In this they are found to be at fault. Whenever we have to set forth a complex explanation as to why a passage does not mean what it says to the ordinary reader, we probably are in error.

Scholars do this sometimes by resorting to elements of Greek grammar that most of us are not familiar with, and make statements that are contradicted by clear teaching of the New Testament.

Not only can we not understand the simple statements of the four Gospel accounts, when we insist that the Father and the Son are equal in authority, but we make genuine fellowship with our older Brother impossible.

God the Father has chosen the Word to be Lord of all the creation. It is as though God has removed himself from his creation (of course He hasn't) and has entrusted everything to his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Bible says Christ is subject to God the Father. Why, then, is the position maintained that there are three equal Gods, or that there is one God in three forms?

Each saint is called to be an eternal part of Jesus Christ. Thus he or she becomes a part of the invisible Father, just as the Lord Jesus is.

By saying that Jesus Christ is not equal to his Father, we are not subtracting from his Divinity or Lordship. Rather we are adhering to the New Testament Scriptures. After all, the Father has decreed that all of the creation shall be summed up in Christ. He is Lord of all.

It simply is not scriptural that there are three equal gods, all at the same level of authority. Now we see our great Lord Jesus Christ as He worships the Father, and invites us to worship the Father. We are entering a true, living fellowship with our Lord Jesus as his brothers.

You know, there is a technique used in corporations for getting rid of a lower-level executive who is not functioning profitably but who is too popular to just fire. They refer to this technique as "kicking him upstairs." By this they mean, promoting the non-productive person to what appears to be a higher-level position in the company where he cannot do as much harm.

This is what theologians have done with the Lord Jesus. They have "kicked Him upstairs" to where we cannot have a friendly relationship with Him as our Brother. Maybe they do this so they can build his Church without pausing to see how He wants it built, worshiping Him afar off as they go about their business carrying out their own plans. That is the way it appears sometimes!

The dear Catholic people seem to look to Mary more than they do to Jesus. Have they kicked Jesus upstairs? I really doubt He is pleased with this. I think He wants us to know him. Paul exclaimed, "That I might know Christ," not "that I might know Mary." The idea that we have to go through Mary to get to Christ is so totally unscriptural it is a marvel the Catholic scholars, who obviously are erudite, cannot perceive this.

Of all people, Mary, the mother of Jesus would be the first to reject any notion of her being the way to Jesus. If we asked Mary anything, she would respond, "Whatever He says to you, do it." We have fellowship with Jesus, not with Mary. We are not called to be brothers of Mary, or to be created in Mary's image, but brothers of Christ.

How happy it makes Jesus when we seek to enjoy fellowship with Him as our Brother, as a Son of God as we are although in a vastly higher position of authority. How happy that makes us! Because of Him we have before us an eternity in which to grow and develop until we truly are God's sons and brothers of Jesus Christ in the truest, fullest sense of the Word.

Our Lord Jesus has been born of God and born of man. Such is true of us also when we have been born again. We have been born of man and then born of God. But it may require a long time for us to grow, under Christ, into the fullness of our new personality.

Adam came from the ground and is of the ground. Eve came from Adam and is of Adam, in that sense. Christ came from God and is of God. The members of the Bride of the Lamb came from Christ and are of Christ.

The Lord Jesus Christ, as a Man, is the only Begotten of the Father, and then the Firstborn of the resurrection. We also have been born of the Father and will be raised from the dead by the power of the Father, our body being "adopted." Thus it is true that Jesus Christ, although Lord of all, is our Brother, we having the same Father. The Father is our Father and the Father of the Lord Jesus. The Father is our God and the God of the Lord Jesus.

For myself, I care little or nothing about theological niceties. Rather, my purpose in dwelling on this point is not to attempt to be more correct than someone else, it is to invite everyone into the fellowship I have with Jesus.

When Jesus and I talk it is Brother to brother, Friend to friend. We do not use King James English or even a stilted palace language. We converse in common language: "How are you doing," this sort of thing.

I want you to know Jesus as your very best Friend, just as I do.

That which seemed clear to me was not, apparently, clear to other believers. As a result, I often yelled when I preached. I was known by some as "wild man Thompson."

Please understand: I was not yelling at the people or angry with them. My frustration was directed at what appeared to be unnecessary error in Christian thinking, at least in the part of Christendom I was familiar with.

If you wish to hear some of those early sermons, as I sought to combat the unscriptural doctrines emphasized in those days, such as the "faith" and "prosperity" notions, "eternal security," the pre-tribulation rapture, the sovereignty of grace such that righteous behavior is not essential to our salvation, you can order early recordings from Mount Zion Fellowship (P.O. Box 1522, Escondido, California)

Why was I so upset? I think you would be too if you were placed in a culture that insisted two plus two equals five, or that the earth is flat.

Someone said if a lie is repeated often enough it becomes accepted as truth. I suppose this is a fact, if the lie is what people wish to believe. This is Satan's way, isn't it? It appears to me that most people do not seek truth; they seek for that which will make them comfortable and, hopefully, secure.

If people persisted in the idea that the earth is flat and the sun is in an orbit around the earth, in spite of what you showed them to be the truth, how would you feel? How would you react? Would you be a "wild man"?

The people who taught me Dispensational theology when I was a new Christian were sincere, dedicated Christians. While I was with them in the Marine Corps I could see they were living the life of prayer and obedience to God. They were influential in bringing many Marines to Christ prior to the major battles of World War Two, in which some of their converts were killed.

They were true disciples, no doubt about that, and I am very thankful for the part they played in bringing me to Christ. It may be a fact that their innate sense of what is godly and right kept them from the destructive conclusions of Dispensational theology.

So my frustration was not directed at them or toward any group in particular. It was just my immaturity being demonstrated as I mishandled what the Lord Jesus had graciously shown to me.

The people of Mount Zion, our church, have told me I have calmed down a lot. This probably is due to the fact that now there are numerous believers who are aware of the error of the "grace" and "pre-tribulation-rapture" messages. They represent only a small fraction of the ranks of Christendom, it is true. But I notice that here and there the Light flashes in someone's heart.

I have given up attempting to anticipate who will gain understanding of what we refer to as "the Kingdom message" (for want of a better term). It is obvious that it is a waste of time to try to explain to someone what the Spirit of God is saying today, unless the Spirit himself is touching the mind and heart of the individual.

But as I said, there now are many Christian people who understand that the Christian must walk in the way of righteousness, both imputed, and also created in him as Christ is formed in his personality. To seek to use imputed righteousness as a permanent means of maintaining fellowship with God, ignoring the critical need for moral transformation, is to abort God's intention under the new covenant.

Because of these sturdy pilgrims who can explain their faith from the Scriptures, I am able to relax somewhat. I still get excited at times and yell, thinking, I suppose, that the louder I speak the more that truth will be established.

Oh well . . .

There you have it. I have been busily writing the insights I believe the Lord Jesus has given me. In fact, I still am attempting to make what I am seeing just as clear and simple as possible so everyone can understand it. I have sought to share what I believe is truth.

The doctrine of "grace" as a means of God having fellowship with unchanged man, and bringing him to live forever in a mansion in Paradise, is extremely insidious. Once it gets into our thinking it is extremely difficult to dislodge. We always feel if we do not do what Christ commanded we still will be on our way to Heaven. It has taken many years of thought before I have been able to identify what precisely is wrong with Dispensational theology.

You know, the Lord Jesus said He would return and receive us to himself so we would be with Him where He always is. The Lord Jesus wants us to be with himself. This is the voice of love calling to us. He wants us to be with him!

Most of us are oblivious to what Christ desires. We do not care about being "with him." We want to go to Heaven where we can live in a mansion, have fun all the time, and not have any problems. We do not really care about Christ or what He wants. We just want to go to Disneyland in the sky.

We simply are in love with ourselves, not with Christ!

Tell me I am incorrect!

I, along with many others in our day, am endeavoring to build up the highway of holiness so God's redeemed can walk on it and not stumble. It is time to build the wall against sin. Until the wall against sin is constructed in the churches, Satan will be able to enter at his will and destroy whatever we build.

Dreadful sin is being practiced in the United States at the present time, and the indications are our traditional moral standards are going to be removed to an astonishing extent. All the political activism the Christian leaders can undertake will keep being weakened and destroyed until the wall against sin is built.

The believers of the first-century churches were as sinful as we are. The time for deliverance from sin had not come as yet. But it is here now!

It is interesting to observe how God has waited during the hundreds of years of the Christian era before installing the climactic work of redemption, during which time scholars have developed fanciful ideas about going to Heaven to live forever. But no matter. Now we are seeing that Christ will come to the earth and justice will prevail. The meek shall inherit the earth. The proud boasters will occupy a dry land in which there is no water of refreshing.

How often it is true that God allows us to misinterpret the Scriptures, and to not perceive the darkness in our own personality, until the time comes for practical actions and understanding to take place. Our God never wastes anything. He withholds understanding until it is needed for our redemption. He gathers up the fragments after we have been given the right amount of food.

God understands that if people have light they are not able to walk in, it becomes death to them.

Everyone who has ears to hear and a heart to understand can now experience the glad message: "The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the good news."

I trust that the foundation of truth laid during my life will not crumble and vanish after I die. There are faithful people who can carry it on.

You know, God is making man in his image. This means that sin and self-seeking must be removed from him, and he must be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. The reason for this is that God desires to embrace man as part of himself. This is not true of angels, who cannot enter union with their Creator.

There are five parts of the legacy I would like to leave with people on the earth, when I enter the true, eternal world. The first is that our goal is not eternal residence in Heaven. Our goal is the full possession of God; change into the moral image of Christ; untroubled rest in the Center of God's Person and will; the people whom God gives us as an inheritance; and the farthest reaches of the earth. We are coheirs with Christ!

The second is the firm understanding that Divine grace is not a substitute for righteous behavior, a new way in which God relates to people. Rather, it is an improvement upon the Law of Moses in that the eternal moral law of God now is written in our heart and mind.

It is time now to build the wall against sin in the lives of God's people.

The third part of the legacy is that all saved people are supposed to walk humbly with Jesus now and forever, listening to Him and obeying Him in every circumstance. We are to work with Him as He builds his Church, not try to work for Him and attempt to build his Church according to our own notions.

The fourth part of the legacy is new to my thinking. I have been somewhat aware of the importance of the resurrection of the physical body. Now I see that the resurrection of the body is a central aspect of the Divine redemption. It is because the physical, material aspect of our salvation has been neglected that the tradition of Heaven being our eternal home has gained the enduring strength that it has. We will not need a physical body when we are in Heaven.

The truth is the opposite. Redemption includes the making alive of the physical body, at the coming of the Lord. The purpose of the redemption, the resurrection, of our mortal body, is that we might resume life on the earth. Man has been created as spirit, soul, and body. Until the body has been redeemed, redemption has not accomplished its intended work.

Ordinarily when the New Testament speaks of eternal life, as in John 3:16, the reference is to immortality, that is, eternal physical life. Up to the present hour, God has been working on the new birth, the transforming of our inward nature, because such transformation is the prerequisite for the making alive of the outward nature. Thus the change of our body from death to life is the crowning act of redemption, the restoration of that which was lost in the Garden of Eden, the destruction of the last enemy.

When we make living in a mansion on a golden street the crowning act of redemption we miss the central message of the Gospel of the Kingdom.

The resurrection of our physical body, our body being a mere seed when compared with the body that shall come forth from the seed if we are willing to die in Christ, will take place when the Lord returns. We are sowing this seed, our physical body, during our lifetime on the earth.

A fifth area I believe I am to communicate has come to me while writing Godwill Castle. This is, the nearness and practicality of the spirit world (Heaven).

I was especially moved this morning (3/24/2010) as I noted in the newspaper the terrible pain and grief of the King family of Poway, California. Their daughter, Chelsea, an outstanding high school senior, was raped and murdered. If they but knew it, their lovely daughter is not now a ghost robed in white with a pumpkin for a head. She still is the same buoyant girl, busily engaged in something of interest to her. Best of all, they can look forward to that day of all days when they die and the same Chelsea they always have known receives them with open arms and glad smile into the real, eternal world.

I believe Chelsea will be dressed in her normal fashion.

I think this terrible tragedy has given the lively community of Poway a reminder of God and of the serious purposes of life on the earth.

Three or four years ago I became unusually aware of the spirit world, after having been a Christian for over sixty years. Instead of being "up there somewhere," the spirit world appears to be all around us. "We have come to Mount Zion," as it were. This new awareness has persisted until the present hour.

I think Jesus intimated to me that so many people will be facing death in the fairly near future He wants us all to realize that dying is nothing to fear. The Book of Revelation speaks of the death of a third of the population of the earth.

But to him who overcomes the desire to preserve his own life so he may enter God's Person and Life, will be given all things of the new creation. God will be his God and he will be God's son.

Let each of us then pray that for eternity we will be found abiding in the very center of God's Person and will. There we always shall have righteousness, love, joy, and peace.

I have been concerned about children who are afraid of dying—and other folks as well. So I have written three books: Heaven—God's Wonderful World; Godwill Castle; and John and Mary Visit Heaven. Every one of us, children and adults alike, should be looking forward to our death as children look forward to school being out for the summer.

The following is from a letter I received yesterday.

"Thanks again for sending me the book (Heaven—God's Wonderful World). It has arrived and I managed to read the first chapter to my daughter last night. She got all excited and said: 'Mum, death is wonderful.'. . . Well, I wish I was like her. . . . We are going to read it every day, so she can make a picture for herself. . . . I think she`s planning to colour pictures as well. . . . Many thanks."

What are deceased people doing in the spirit world? They are happily working at the kind of activities they enjoy. The social climate is wholesome.

If they behave in a manner that interrupts the peaceful atmosphere of the spirit world, such as thievery or violence, they are taken to a place of instruction and an effort is made, by people and angels, to correct the warped personality.

If they are a wicked person, one who consistently has lived to himself and has harmed other people, they are placed at death in one of the areas of the Land of Darkness, there to await the Day of Resurrection. In the Day of Resurrection God will make the decision whether to attempt to redeem them or to throw them into the Lake of Fire.

God will make every effort to save an individual into the new world of righteousness. Some, however, will never accept the rulership of the Lord Jesus Christ and will be banished from God's Presence, and from human society, for eternity. Hopefully such wretches will be few in number.

This is my understanding in the present hour.

If we have been a decent person, and have not knowingly rejected the lordship of Christ, dying and passing into the spirit world is like awakening from a nightmare. Our present world is "the valley of the shadow of death," as King David mentioned.

I had not written for about a year. Then, when this increased awareness of the spirit world occurred, four books came into my consciousness and I began writing them. The first and perhaps the most important, is Godwill Castle. This was followed by Heaven—God's Wonderful World. As I stated previously, these two works are designed to allay the fears of children when they are facing their own death or the death of a loved one. I have a great concern for the welfare of children.

Then I wrote John and Mary Visit Heaven.

Finally, I thought I had better describe my theological position, an understanding with which the three books are in harmony; and so the present book came into being.

It is important for believers now and in the future to hold the present world lightly, realizing they will enter their true, eternal life, for which our life now is a preparation, when they die. Thus there is no reason whatever to fear death, unless we are a truly wicked person. Most people are not truly wicked, just confused about the meaning of life and the reality of the eternal world..

Every thought, word, and action of our life is to be worked out in continual interaction with the Lord Jesus. This is the "rest" of God, mentioned in the Book of Hebrews. This is the best possible way for anyone to live.

If you want to live this way, tell the Lord Jesus about it. He really does answer prayer! Tell God you want always to live by the Life of Jesus.

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. (II Timothy 2:15—NASB)

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.(Philippians 2:12,13—NIV)

Serving the Lord

The current Christian teaching does not follow the New Testament. I think it has been deeply penetrated by the philosophy of Humanism and the religion of Gnosticism.

The philosophy of Humanism places the welfare of man above all else and denies supernatural influences. The religion of Gnosticism places specialized knowledge above all else and views the physical world as evil.

We see the philosophy of Humanism in the prevailing view of the Apostle Paul's teaching of "grace" as being the Divine covering of the sinful behavior of people. We see the religion of Gnosticism in the idea that confessing Christ and believing God raised Him from the dead removes the need for the new creation of righteous behavior.

Think about these two concepts, the idea that God wants to cover our sinful behavior and is not especially interested that the believer in Christ becomes a new creation of righteous behavior.

Then compare them with the following verse:

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, (Hebrews 12:1—NASB)

The great cloud of witnesses is described in the preceding chapter of the Book of Hebrews. These all are heroes of faith. They suffered every kind of rejection and privation as they strove to attain to a better resurrection.

Can you imagine a believer of today dying and passing into the spirit world, standing in the heavenly Jerusalem among the saints described in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews, many of whom were tortured and martyred, and telling them how he escaped all suffering because he was saved by grace?

Our silly doctrines of today that teach us we will be "raptured" into Heaven before we possibly could suffer any inconvenience simply are not from the God of the Christian martyrs. The truth is, we have been deceived.

The way things are shaping up in the world the believers of today well may have opportunity to stand and proclaim Christ in the midst of the flames of persecution, and thus join the ranks of God's witnesses.

What can we do about our feeble spiritual condition?

"Let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,"

Does the above verse sound as though God sees us through Christ and so we no longer have to be concerned about our behavior? "Lay aside." That sounds to me like something we are to do.

Lay aside what? "Every encumbrance." An encumbrance is something that weighs us down, attempting to prevent our attaining to our objective. What is our objective? It is to serve the Lord faithfully every day. What encumbrances weigh us down? The attractions of the world, particularly of the American culture.

Do the electronic gadgets of our day weigh us down? They certainly do. We have been commanded to redeem the time; to make the best possible use of the time God has given us during our lifetime on the earth. We are busy at our school and work. We need to set aside time every day to pray and read our Bible.

Our fun with iPhones, iPads, and electronic instruments and games use up time. They do not build us up in the Kingdom. We are going to have to answer for wasting what God has given us. Our inheritance will be given to another and we will be sent into the Land of Darkness when the Lord appears.

Attempting to attain to our high calling in Christ while amusing ourselves with the electronic gadgets is like running a race with iron shoes.

"Lay aside the sin which so easily entangles us." Where does "grace" enter in here? God's grace authorizes us to turn aside from the Law of Moses and seek the Lord Jesus. As we cooperate with the Spirit of God, He points out the sin that is binding us. Then God's grace, his power, enables us to lay aside the sin that has been pointed out to us by the Spirit.

"Run with endurance." Running is hard work. Running spiritually is hard work. Running is painful. Running spiritually is painful at times. We have to endure hardness, the Bible says, as good soldiers. How does this line up with today's doctrine of easy "grace"?

"The race that is set before us." "What race," today's coddled believer may ask, "I thought all I had to do was say I accept Christ and I will go to Heaven when I die and live in a mansion on a golden street!"

The "race" is that of pressing forward against the many encumbrances, the many problems, the many doubts, the many lusts and passions of our flesh and spirit, the many criticisms and mockings, the barrage of garbage bombarding us continually from the media. All of these strive mightily to persuade us to live in the swamp of fleshly thrills.

"A little slumber, a little folding of the hands"—thus we Americans sleep on as the forces that hate America gather their resources and plot our annihilation.

I am not certain we can save our country. But each of us as an individual can flee in our heart from the current preaching that is telling us how much God loves us and will never permit us to be harmed.

How soon disaster and chaos will strike, I am not certain. But when it does, only those who are obeying Hebrews 12:1 will stand victoriously in our Lord Jesus Christ and assist their loved ones and friends.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.

Remaining in Christ

I do not believe enough attention is being paid to the development of Christ in us, and then the abiding of the Father and Christ in that which is developed in us. It is true that when the New Testament speaks of our gaining eternal life it is referring to immortality in the body. Nevertheless, the gaining of immortality in the body depends on the forming and dwelling of Christ in us.

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. (John 15:4—NASB)

It is of the utmost importance in the present hour that we remain in Christ; that we learn to live by the Life of Christ. We are facing chaotic days in America. The light commitment of so many churchgoers will not survive the dark pressures of the future. Satan is being released, it appears, and many Americans are showing murderous hatred toward each other.

Our present government seems bent on leaving the old ways of America. While the old ways were far from perfect, there was an attempt to at least show respect toward the moral standards set forth in the Bible. The recent hostility toward Christians in America is true also in England at the present time, we may notice.

There are alien gods seeking to influence our country, gods our fathers would never have accepted. Actually there appear to be two Americas at the present time: one America that is longing for the old, familiar folkways; another newer America that is espousing moral standards that are repugnant to many of us.

Although the media do not seem to recognize this, the division no longer is between conservative and liberal thought, it increasingly is between those who are holding to previous moral standards and those who reflect global, secular values.

The pressure in the coming days will be too much for the average American churchgoer to resist. He may wonder what the country is coming to, and fret about the changes in thinking and behavior. But there will be little he can do about it except voice his indignation. The truth is, the conflict is between Christ and his adversaries, and human efforts to effect change are not sufficiently powerful or wise.

Because of our inability to successfully combat this new level of evil, Christ is urging all today who will obey Him to lay aside all their former methods and plans and seek to remain in him, to live by his Life. Religious efforts that may have borne fruit in time past no longer will avail.

How, then, do we remain in Christ? We remain in Christ by seeking Him every moment of every day and the part of every night in which we are awake. We pray without ceasing, as the Apostle Paul admonished us. We keep looking to Jesus at every point of decision, talking to him, asking his guidance and help, giving thanks for each answer to prayer.

You may notice the proliferation of electronic devices, the various cell phones, tablets, and so forth. These increasingly fascinating devices serve to keep us from looking to Jesus. In America we have numerous distractions, including the television and the Internet. The various manufacturers of electronic communication instruments and games are laboring day and night to gain our attention so they might make more money. You may notice also the ever increasing emphasis on sexual activity, particularly involving nakedness.

We are in the closing days of the Church Age and the tares are coming to maturity. It also is time for the wheat, the Lord's righteous people, to come to maturity. Our maturity is the fullness of Christ in us. This maturity will completely overcome the tares of wickedness; but mere human efforts will not survive the conflict.

The Lord Jesus has given us a period of time in which to learn to remain in him. There is unrest and rebellion in some parts of the world, and a bit of this in America in the present hour. We are not accustomed to see such displays of rage. But rebellion against authority is being exercised at this time.

We absolutely must learn to walk with Jesus in every part of our daily life, not just during Sunday worship or other religious observances.

Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. (John 15:2—NASB)

Not only are we in danger from the forces of spiritual darkness that are increasing, but God has warned us that if we do not bear the fruit He is looking for, we will be removed from Christ, from the Vine. The fruit is the moral image of Christ in ourselves and in those whom we influence. The only way in which we can bear the moral image of Christ is by remaining in his Presence and will at all times.

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. (John 15:4—NASB)

All of our religious efforts will come to nothing if we are not remaining in Christ.

I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. (John 15:5—NASB)

A tree does not have to strain to bear fruit, but it must remain in the ground in order to do so. Neither do we have to strain to bring forth the image of Christ in ourselves and in others. But we do have to remain in Christ.

If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love. (John 15:10—NASB)

The massive error of our times is that of emphasizing believing in Christ when we should be emphasizing obeying Christ. The current message is that by grace we are relieved from obeying the commands of Christ and his Apostles. "We are saved by grace rather than by works," it is maintained vigorously.

We understand that Paul meant we are not saved by the works of the Law of Moses. However, numerous Christians are not at all clear about this. To interpret Paul's exhortation to mean we are not saved by obeying the commands of Christ and his Apostles is the worst possible error. The emphasis on grace rather than on obedience to Christ has destroyed the testimony of God in the United States.

If we keep the commands of Christ we will remain in his love. If we do not keep the commands of Christ, and those He gave through His Apostles, we will not remain in his love. We will not bear fruit. We will be cut out of the Vine.

This idea that grace excuses us from having to obey God and Christ is firmly entrenched in fundamentalist Christian thinking. But it is false and destructive. The effect of this widespread error is directly responsible for the weakening of our country.

The grace error is based on the fact that we cannot possibly keep the commandments of God and Christ. It is true that we cannot keep God's commandments in our own strength and wisdom. But there is wisdom and power under the new covenant to deliver us from Satan and to enable us to obey Christ.

Is it a new thought to us that the Lord Jesus Christ has the authority and power to enable us to obey him, his Apostles, and his Father? He kept his Father's commandments. We are to keep his commandments. What could be plainer than this?

If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love. (John 15:10—NASB)

If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love.

Now I am yelling at you. Could we be so bold as to venture that if we do not keep the commands of Christ we will not remain in his love—in fact, we will be cut out of the Vine?

When I first was brought to Christ while in the Marine Corps, I was taught that we must believe the Bible is God's Word. I believe the Bible is God's Word. Do you?

Who do you believe is the source of the concept that grace takes the place of keeping the commands of the Lord Jesus Christ? Do you have any idea? I do, and it isn't God!

So we have a tremendous lie, a new gospel that is taking the place of denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and following our Lord at all times.

Certainly the Lord said that if we do not remain in Him we will not bear fruit and will be cut out of the Vine. Certainly the Lord said that we remain in his love provided we keep His commands.

Oh yes, the Lord said those things. But we know better. We know that Paul told us we are not saved by works, and so Paul knows better than Christ. Do you believe this? Neither do I.

What did Paul mean when he said we are not righteous by works? He meant that we no longer are found righteous by observing the works of the Law of Moses. How come everyone doesn't understand this? It is no wonder I yell. People, we are supposed to go by the Bible, not by the traditions of Bible teachers!

There are many unscriptural teachings brought forth every Sunday in the United States of America. But beyond all doubt, the most horribly destructive is the idea that Paul taught we do not have to keep the commands of Christ. What doctrine possibly could be more against the will, ways, and purposes of God? It is a false witness of God! Maybe this is the doctrine of the Nicolaitans mentioned in the Book of Revelation. It certainly has conquered the people!

I don't claim that it really is that doctrine. But if anything it may be worse!

I am too old to be carrying on like this. But I do hope to see a giant turn around before I die, in which God's people are walking with the Lord Jesus and obeying his commands. Wouldn't that be the most wonderful thing that could happen!

If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. (John 15:6—NASB)

Deliverance From Sinful Behavior

I believe the sixth chapter of the Book of Romans may be either the most greatly misunderstood or the most largely ignored of all the passages of the Bible. If our Christian leaders had preached this passage as it stands, we would not be in the current disaster in which Divine grace is portrayed as an alternative to godly personality and behavior, on the part of the believers.

The very first verse of the sixth chapter shows that the current teaching of sovereign "grace" is a destructive error.

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? (Romans 6:1—NASB)

The Apostle Paul understood that his emphasis on righteousness apart from the works of the Law of Moses would be interpreted to mean righteousness apart from godly behavior. Actually, sin is the breaking of the eternal law of God, of which the Law of Moses is an abridged form. The power of sin is the Law!

Therefore, the Apostle issued a disclaimer: "I am not saying that as we turn from the Law of Moses and place our faith in Jesus Christ we now are free to sin. It is only as we put to death the deeds of our body through the wisdom and power of the Spirit of God that we lay hold on eternal life.

"You do not understand God at all if you think for one moment that He has issued a new covenant that permits sin. Rather, the new covenant is the writing of God's eternal moral law in our minds and hearts, not the abandoning of God's law. God's law is what He is, and He cannot have fellowship with those who reject his Person, way, and will."

May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? (Romans 6:2—NASB)

The key to understanding this chapter is the expression: "who have died to sin." Exactly what does this mean? Are we saying we can't sin? Of course not. If we claim that we do not sin, the Apostle John would refer to us as a liar.

"Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase," Paul asks.

Are we saying it does not matter if we sin? This position would go against many passages of the New Testament.

No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. (I John 3:6—NASB)

Does the expression "we who died to sin" mean, as so many are saying today, that when we sin God sees us through Christ so it is just as though we did not sin?

Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God I speak this to your shame. (I Corinthians 15:34—NASB)

If God does not see our sinning because of Christ, then what sense does the above verse make?

Well then, what does the expression "who have died to sin" mean? How have we died to sin? We have counted that we have been crucified with Christ. Because of this we are free from the Law of Moses. But we never are free from the way of righteousness. We are to take the position by faith that we have been crucified with Christ. Now we have died to sin. Now we are free to turn from Moses and place our faith in Christ.

Christ has given us the Spirit of God, whose task it is to lead us in putting to death the actions of our sinful nature. When we are cooperating with the Holy Spirit, it is as though we had kept the Law of Moses perfectly, even if we have never read the Law of Moses. The righteousness of the One who kept the Law perfectly and completely is imputed to us.

So that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:4—NASB)

If we are to receive the ascribed righteousness promised to those who turn from Moses to Christ, we must be cooperating with the Spirit of God as He leads us in putting to death the actions of our sinful nature.

Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? (Romans 6:3—NASB)

The above verse is the attitude we must take throughout our entire Christian discipleship. When we are baptized in water we are dramatizing the fact that we are being baptized into Jesus' death on the cross.

Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:4—NASB)

After we have been baptized in water we are to hold firmly throughout our lifetime to the fact that we have been baptized into the death of Christ so we may live a new life, which actually is his life. We keep on being brought down to weakness and futility and keep on being raised by eternal resurrection life.

Since we are living in resurrection life along with Christ, it is expected that we do not keep sinning; and when we do sin, and confess that sin, there is authority to forgive the sin and power to give us victory over that compulsion in the future. Meanwhile, we continually count that we are dead and alive in Christ.

For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, (Romans 6:5—NASB)

Our hope (and I cannot emphasize this too strongly!) of being raised from the dead when Christ next appears depends on our living today in union with his death and resurrection. We are working out our resurrection today, although the manifestation of what we are maintaining by faith will not occur until the Lord appears.

(As I reflect on what I am writing at this point I realize it may be "over the heads" of the majority of the Christian people in America; not because they are stupid but because they have not been taught.. But perhaps there may be one or two in each assembly of Christians, a remnant, who will hear and obey what is declared in the sixth chapter of the Book of Romans.)

Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; (Romans 6:6—NASB)

Our "old self" refers to our original adamic personality. The "body ruled by sin" is speaking of our sinful nature. In order that sin may be removed from us, so that we no longer are slaves to it. our entire first personality, the adamic personality, the good and the bad of it, must be crucified. It is only as we are willing to participate in the sufferings of Christ that the Spirit of God can get at the sinful nature that dwells in our flesh, and destroy it.

This is how we are delivered from the sin that dwells in our body.

For he who has died is freed from sin. (Romans 6:7—NASB)

When we count that we have been crucified with Christ, we are asserting that we have died. God regards this as a genuine death, and that is why judgment follows our profession of faith. When we die in Christ in this manner, we legally are free to leave Moses and be married to Christ.

Our past sins, then, are no longer remembered against us. So our remaining problem is to follow the Holy Spirit as He sets us free from the compulsions of sin. This He does, one at a time, as we follow Him diligently.

This is the program of redemption. It proceeds until finally, at the Lord's return, physical death itself is overcome and we are removed from its authority and power. Such is a primary goal of the Christian warfare—immortality in the body.

Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, (Romans 6:8—NASB)

Remember, Paul in this chapter is telling us that by saying we attain to righteousness apart from the works of the Law of Moses, he does not mean we are free to sin. What Paul is teaching in Chapter Six of Romans is how we can be set free from sin. Not from the guilt of sin, because that was accomplished on the cross. But from the power of sin to keep us in slavery to it.

The solution to the problem of slavery to sin is to live with Christ. This means we continually, night and day, invite Christ into every aspect of our thinking, speaking, and acting. For us to live is to remain in Christ in all that we do. We have died with Him that we might live with him. This is what it means to abide in Christ. The fruit of our abiding is freedom from the power of sin, and transformation into Christ's moral image.

Knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. (Romans 6:9—NASB)

Physical death has no power over Christ. The program of redemption works in us until it will be true of us that physical death no longer has mastery over us. "The sting of death is sin." As through Christ we gain victory over indwelling sin, we are gaining victory over the authority and power of physical death.

Mankind lost access to immortality, in the Garden of Eden, by being denied access to the Tree of Life. As we, through Christ, are able to gain victory over the compulsions of sin. we are permitted to eat from the Tree of Life, the Lord Jesus Christ. This is how we attain to the resurrection unto eternal life and glory, the resurrection that was the goal of the Apostle Paul.

Through our Lord Jesus we thus are able to regain our lost inheritance—that of immortality. Such is the promise of John 3:16.

For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. (Romans 6:10—NASB)

Our present sufferings will one day come to an end. Let us therefore live our life unto God, as did the patriarch, Enoch. We are not of this present world. We have been called out of the world that we may become a member of the Royal Priesthood. We must always keep this in mind so it will be revealed in our personality and behavior.

Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:11—NASB)

Let us consider that we have died to sin once. We have been freed for eternity from the guilt of sin, provided we follow the Holy Spirit until He completely destroys our sin nature. The Bible teaches that God intends to "put and end to sin" once and for all, and to "bring in everlasting righteousness":

Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place. (Daniel 9:24—NASB)

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, (Romans 6:12—NASB)

For so long the Christian churches have taught that we cannot gain victory over sin! We must rely on "grace" as a substitute for growth in Christ. But this is a lie, and an exceedingly destructive one at that. The Spirit of God in the Apostle Paul commands us to not let sin govern our actions; to "not obey its evil desires."

When we teach that it is no use trying to keep from sinning we are doing the devil's business. (Such darkness reigns in the Christian churches!) Of course we cannot overcome sin by our own strength and wisdom! But through our Lord Jesus Christ we indeed can overcome any and all sinful actions, provided we carefully follow and obey the mighty Spirit of God.

Jesus Christ is stronger than Satan! Let all the saints of God say, "Amen!"

And do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. (Romans 6:13—NASB)

Here is a choice each one of us must make. We can offer ourselves to sin, or we can offer ourselves to God. If we are to gain victory over sin, we must live a consecrated Christian life. This means to set aside time to pray each day; to read our Bible each day; to attend the assembling of fervent believers consistently; to give of our means as the Lord directs; to seek the gifts of the Spirit so we can serve the Body of Christ; to look to Christ continually throughout the day and night.

We absolutely must present our body a living sacrifice so we may prove the will of God for our life. We must keep away from the activities of the world as much as possible, praying carefully about all we are doing. The Bible commands us to "redeem the time." This means we have no time to spend on that which is worthless, such as on the ever growing array of electronic gadgets.

In all that we do, we must look to Jesus to see if we are spending our time wisely, using our talents and resources to help with the building of the Kingdom of God. Nothing less than what I have just written is an acceptable Christian life.

If we do not do these things, we will not lay hold on eternal life. We will not grow in the ability to resist sin. We will not be able to stand, or to help our loved ones to stand, during the moral chaos that America is entering, as God removes his Presence from us because of our sinning. Every part of our personality is to be an instrument of righteousness.

For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace. (Romans 6:14—NASB)

When we are seeking to live righteously by obeying the Law of Moses, sin masters us. The Law tells us what is sinful, but it does not provide us with the grace of God. The grace of God is the Lord Jesus Christ. He gives us victory over sin if we walk with Him at all times.

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! (Romans 6:15—NASB)

Apparently there were people in Paul's day, just as there are in our day, who taught that because we no longer are under the Law of Moses but under Divine grace, we now are free to sin. Thus we are wresting Paul's teaching to our own destruction, just as they did so many centuries ago.

Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? (Romans 6:16—NASB)

If we want to we can choose to be the slave of sin. This will lead us to spiritual death, even though at one time we received Christ and were baptized in water.

Or we can choose to be the slave of Christ and obey him. This choice will lead us to righteousness in God's sight, and eternal life.

But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, (Romans 6:17—NASB)

"You used to be slaves to sin." Does that sound to you like we are compelled to keep on sinning while we are in this world? If we are willing to obey from our heart Christ and His Apostles, we will free ourselves from slavery to sin. We will save ourselves. We will lay hold on eternal life.

Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you. (I Timothy 4:16—NASB)

And having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. (Romans 6:18—NASB)

One of the great areas of misunderstanding of our day has to do with the difference between the guilt of sin and the power of sin. When the above verse speaks of being set free from sin. the preceding verses show us beyond all doubt that Paul is not speaking here of the guilt of sin but of the power of sin to control our behavior.

I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification. (Romans 6:19—NASB)

I do not see what could be clearer. Think of the preaching about "grace" today, and then see how different it is from the idea that we must offer ourselves as "slaves to righteousness leading to holiness."

For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. (Romans 6:20—NIV)

This is an interesting thought, isn't it? It appears we Christians are controlled either by sin or by righteousness. This does not leave anyone in the middle, I guess.

Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. (Romans 6:21—NASB)

Remember, this chapter is addressed to Christians who have been baptized in water. If we choose to be the slave of sin, we will die spiritually. This means when the Lord appears, we will not be raised from the dead and ascend to meet Him in the air.

I have never heard a minister preach this. It appears that the majority of Christian pastor and evangelists tell us we ought to try to do good, but if we fail it does not matter because we are going to go to Heaven by "grace."

The prevailing error in Christian thinking is that Christ came to bring us to Heaven. There is no basis in the New Testament for this idea. The issue is life, not Heaven, especially immortality in the body. Christ is our Redeemer. He came to enable us to regain what we lost through Satan's trickery.

What we lost was not residence in Heaven, it was access to the Tree of Life so we would not die physically. Isn't that what John 3:16 says? The term "perish" is used in the Gospels to mean the loss of physical life.

I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. (Luke 13:3—NASB)

Notice, in the following two verses, how the term "perish" is employed in the context of the resurrection. "The last enemy to be destroyed is physical death." Therefore the "perishable," in verse 53, refers to the death of the physical body. God so loved the world that the physical body of the believer in Christ would not perish but through the enveloping of the Holy Spirit in the Day of Christ would attain to immortality.

This was the goal of the Apostle Paul. The true goal of redemption has been lost as Christian thinking has concerned itself primarily with spiritual death and spiritual life.

The last enemy to be destroyed is death. (I Corinthians 15:26—NIV)

For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. (I Corinthians 15:53—NIV)

Sometimes I wonder how all of this is going to work out. It seems as though most Christian people of today are not presenting their body a living sacrifice. Rather they are waiting to go to a mansion in Heaven, being carried there in a "rapture." This is so unscriptural it is ludicrous.

I do not believe they all are going to Hell or the Lake of Fire, unless they are wicked. I think if the sixth chapter of Romans were carefully explained to them, numerous believers would come to Christ that they might gain victory over sin.

There is no way that anyone is going to be raised from the dead and ascend to Christ until first that individual has appeared before the Judgment Seat of Christ and has confessed and renounced his or her sins and stubborn disobedience.

There is doctrinal chaos today, no two ways about it.

But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. (Romans 6:22—NIV)

Please remember that in context, "set free from sin" is not speaking of being set free from the guilt of sin but set free from the power of sin to control us.

The Divine gift of eternal life, including immortality in the body, results from holiness of personality and behavior. Holiness of personality and behavior results from our choosing to be slaves of God and of righteousness, rather than slaves of sin.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23—NASB)

Perhaps you will think I am exaggerating, but Romans 6:23 actually is being preached today to the unsaved rather than to Christians, to whom it is written. The current idea was presented on a sign outside a church. The sign said, "Come inside and find out about a free trip to Heaven." "A free trip to Heaven!" How unscriptural can you get?

I have heard it said that If someone handed you a fifty-dollar bill you would take it. Why won't you accept the gift of eternal life?

I suspect that many true Christians have come to Christ and eternal life in this manner. But if they did, they had to at some point turn away from slavery to sin and embrace slavery to God and righteousness.

The gift is that of the opportunity to gain bodily immortality, that which was lost in the beginning. Our Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ, enables us to escape the clutches of Satan and embrace God and his righteousness. Christ has redeemed us, that is, He has paid for us with his blood on the cross.

As we day by day turn away from sin and seek to live righteously, we grow in holiness. The result of growing in holiness is growth in resurrection life, in bodily immortality. Immortality will be given to us when the final trumpet blows and Christ appears.

I think it is time for God's people to take a careful look at the sixth chapter of Romans. It appears that at some point we have gotten off the Gospel track.

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? (Romans 6:1—NIV)

Fighting the Good Fight, or Just Believing?

About forty years ago I was at a low place emotionally. The psychiatrist at the University of Rochester diagnosed the depression as "graduate anxiety." I was working toward the degree Doctor of Education.

One night as I was lying in bed a spirit (or the Lord) came to me. He said to me, "I love to fight." From that moment I began to recover. It took me about two years to recover completely from anxiety, but I finally did.

About ten years ago I was on my prayer walk. I said to the Lord, "Why don't Christian people fight instead of complaining and feeling sorry for themselves?"

The Lord lifted the fighting spirit from me for a few moments. Then I realized that the willingness to fight is a gift from the Lord.

You know, a considerable part of the Old Testament has to do with war. Many of the Psalms, for example. The New Testament exhorts us to endure hardship as good soldiers of Christ. But I am not hearing much about fighting in the preaching of today. Are you? Rather, the emphasis is on how wonderful and pleasant everything will be if we will only "accept Christ."

I have not found everything to be pleasant since I accepted Christ. Have you? Wonderful, but very challenging. Pleasant, no—especially when we are being sifted by Satan!

The Book of Revelation tells us that the rewards we normally associate with being a Christian are reserved for the "overcomers." Like ruling with Christ, or walking in white as a member of the Royal Priesthood, for example.

The term "overcome" implies victory over some sort of opposition. The Book of Revelation was written to Christians, wasn't it? So "to overcome" means more than "accepting Christ."

Has it been true with you, as it has with me, that every day (I have been a Christian for 65 years) we are faced with the decision to resist our sinful nature, or with other sorts of challenges to our abiding in Christ; and we have to choose whether to do what is right or to do what is pleasing to us?

Often to do what is right or to do what is pleasing to us are not the same; and it is at this point that the godly remnant are distinguished from so many church-attenders.

Am I the only one with whom such a daily battle takes place? I don't think so, after reading the testimony of other Christians.

So what does it mean "to overcome"? It means to be able to look up to the Lord Jesus at every moment of the day and night and know we have done and are doing what He is requiring of us.

I understand numerous Christians live under perpetual condemnation, having been taught that "no one is perfect." If they dare consider their own actions they realize their behavior is questionable at best. But they ave been taught "grace," "grace," "grace."

They throw off any questions they have about their actions and trust that the "grace teaching" is of God and they will go to Heaven and live forever in a mansion, even though their behavior has not been in accordance with the standard set by the New Testament.

They never have denied themselves, taken up their personal cross, and followed the Lord Jesus into the battle against the great lie the world system is.

Some while back a student at a Bible college told me that a lady had mentioned to the teacher that she felt guilty about a certain action. The teacher responded by saying that God saw her through Christ so she could not possibly be condemned or guilty. Where is this expression in the Bible?

In another instance, a student at a different Bible college told me that when in their study they came to Second Corinthians 5:10, about the Judgment Seat of Christ, the professor comforted them by saying they had no need to worry, this verse does not apply to them.

But it certainly applied to the Apostle Paul!

Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences. (II Corinthians 5:11—NIV)

The student recounting this incident to me said you could feel a wave of relief go through the class, all of whom were studying for the ministry. Imagine! All these believers studying for the ministry, and they felt a wave of relief when they were being taught error. This should warn us of how easy it is to be deceived!

These two incidents actually took place. The two Bible colleges are part of a large Pentecostal denomination.

Can you see how Satan has disarmed God's potential warriors? They have no need to fight. There is no battle. Christ has done it all. We remain in Christ by doing nothing but believing we are remaining in Christ.

When I was younger, and this horrible travesty of the new covenant became clear to me, I was not pleasant to listen to. I yelled and ranted, thinking that my listeners were deliberately being blind to what the Bible said.

Actually they weren't. They merely were believing what they had been taught.

The result of the disarming of the believers, due to the preaching of "easy believability," is that much sin is being practiced in the United States. As long as our culture seemed to proceed relatively intact, the Christian people continued to live their comfortable life, listening to the late-night comedians utter their blasphemies. But now we in America have asked for Tash, and Tash has come, as Lewis said in The Last Battle.

Now we have a President and a Congress who appear to be moving our nation away from our traditional values. Slowly but surely the American people are awakening to the fact that our way of life is being threatened.

I am not certain there is enough grief over the major sin, which is abortion. The main concern has to do with our economic system and our "rights" to privacy and self-determination. These are not important to God. But abortion is important enough to remove the United States of America from its role as a major power down to the place of a third-rate nation, while the leadership of the world moves to the East.

If such destruction does not begin to occur within ten years I am quite mistaken.

The battle to preserve the American way of life cannot be won by political action, or even by civil war. It is a spiritual problem. It can be won only by a massive return to godly behavior on the part of the Christian people. Such a return will not take place as long as our Christian leaders maintain that we are saved by belief in forgiveness (grace) alone and our behavior is secondary, if not inconsequential, in importance.

Since I do not believe the leaders are going to change their message, I am pressing as close to Jesus as I can and am encouraging all who listen to me to do the same. I don't think we can save our country, but we can save ourselves and our loved ones if we will seek Christ at all times, day and night.

Do you remember how God took care of Jeremiah when the people of Israel were being carried off to Babylon and their nation ruined? God can save an individual in the midst of chaos.

How does the new covenant, the plan of salvation, actually work—that is, that which has taken the place of the Law of Moses?

Under the Law of Moses, the believer attained to righteousness by observing to do all that the Law stipulated. These observances were increased in number by the Jewish interpretations of the Law, such as the Talmud.

Then "grace and truth" appeared in the Lord Jesus Christ. But I fear the grace and the truth have been misunderstood and misapplied.

The widespread belief, at least in America, is that we now are free from the Law of Moses, and mercy and forgiveness have taken the place of the Law. Also, that the freely given righteousness insures we will enter Heaven when we die and live forever in a mansion. There we will be praising God for eternity.

(This is an interesting concept, in that most believers have a problem praising God for ten minutes!)

So we now have an unscriptural plan of salvation and an unscriptural goal (eternal existence in a mansion in the spirit world).

Let me discuss these two elements: the plan, and then the result of the plan, the actual goal of salvation.

We know that presenting the plan as an eternal forgiveness that operates independently of our behavior is incorrect, because in several passages the Apostle Paul tells us that if we continue to obey our sinful nature we will not inherit the Kingdom of God. In the Day of Resurrection we will experience corruption. Also, the Lord Jesus told us plainly, in the last chapter of the Bible, that He is going to reward each of us according to our works.

Thus we have an unscriptural plan.

But what then is the covenant, the plan that replaces the Law of Moses. The plan is as follows:

I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:19-23—NIV)

Does the passage above sound like the current preaching?

What plan replaces the Law of Moses? The power of Divine grace that sets us free from the bondages of sin so we might become a slave of God and thus receive immortality.

We are forgiven through the blood atonement. Then the problem is our sinful nature. As the new birth develops in us, our old sinful nature is rendered powerless. Christ is formed in us. The Holy Spirit continually is renewing us in the Life of Christ. These Divine renewals were not available under the Law of Moses. It is a new covenant. This is transformation, not just forgiveness. It leads to "doing what is good."

Our unscriptural goal is eternal existence in a mansion in the spirit world. What, then, is the scriptural goal?

There are two dimensions of the scriptural goal. The first dimension is our complete transformation into the image of God in personality and behavior, and then into the likeness of God in our appearance.

Change into the image of God means that we behave as God behaves. Change into the likeness of God means we look like God. The change in likeness depends on the change in image. The change in image begins now. But both will require ages to accomplish fully.

The second dimension of the scriptural goal is what the Book of Hebrews terms the "rest of God." The rest of God is our eternal Sabbath. As we enter the rest of God we begin to think as God is thinking; speak as God is speaking; act as God is acting. We are at perfect rest in the very center of God's Person. We always do his will by nature and delight in it, just as our Lord Jesus does.

I have no idea how long it will take for Christian thinking to change from the forgiveness-mansion mind set to the transformation-"rest of God" mind set. But until it does, the churches will continue to be filled with believers who are living in the sinful, adamic nature, pursuing their independent life according to their own plans and ambitions.

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (Galatians 2:20—NASB)

Being a Disciple

From listening to believers I have come to the conclusion that Christian people in America regard being a disciple as something different from being just a Christian person. This concept reveals how low the standard is today as regards to what it means to be a true Christian.

A Christian is a disciple of Christ. A disciple of Christ is a Christian. The terms are absolutely synonymous. There is no basis whatever for viewing a disciple as some sort of superior Christian.

And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch And for an entire year they met with the church and taught considerable numbers; and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. (Acts11:26—NASB)

"The disciples were called Christians." I seriously doubt that at that time there was another group of believers who were called Christians but who were not disciples. How do you feel about this?

If such is the case, then at what point in church history were there believers in Christ who were not disciples?

But let us think for a moment about what a disciple is.

And he said, "The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life." Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels." (Luke 9:22-26—NIV)

We can insert the term "Christian" and be perfectly consistent with Bible usage.

"If anyone would be a Christian, he must deny himself."

What does it mean to deny ourselves? It means to make the Lord Jesus the focus of our lives. When what Christ wants is pleasant for us, then we are to follow his leadership. When what Christ wants is very unpleasant for us, then we are to pray for wisdom and strength and obey Christ. Always! There is no exception to this for the individual who wants to be a Christian, a disciple.

"If anyone would be a Christian he must take up his cross daily and follow me."

What is our cross? It is some aspect of our life that is not pleasing to us. It may be that what we want we cannot have without disobeying Christ. It may be that we are required to remain in a situation we detest, but we cannot leave without disobeying Christ.

For the true Christian, there is no exception to this. If he does step out of the Lord's will, then Christ may, out of his love, bring much trouble on his disciple. If the disciple repents and returns to the discipline required of him, then the Lord will forgive him and he is to press forward in Christ.

The true Christian follows Christ daily. His whole life is centered on finding the Lord's will for him each day, and praying for wisdom and strength so he can do it perfectly. This is the true Christian walk. There do not seem to be a great many church members who take up their cross and follow Christ each day; but these, and these alone, are the Christians. The rest are only church members. They are not "in Christ" and they will not die "in Christ," and therefore will not be raised to meet Him in the air when He appears.

From the mutterings and rumblings I have heard here and there, I think we are at the beginning of a period, at least in America, when true Christians realize that what goes on in numerous Christian churches has little to do with Christ, his Gospel, and the Kingdom of God. What we have are organizations that operate as a business. The goal is to acquire more money and more people. It often is true that there is not an emphasis on cross-carrying obedience to Jesus Christ.

I believe it is entirely possible that the true Christians will leave the traditional churches and develop forms of fellowship that emphasize a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus. Perhaps the destruction of our American way of life at the hands of wicked people will serve as a catalyst that will hasten the removal of the true disciples from the fleshly churches of our time.

"If any person wants to save his or her life, he or she will lose it."

How is it that if a person seeks to save his life he will lose it? Christ has called us to turn away from our own life and to live according to his will for us. If we choose instead to follow our own path, we will lose our inheritance as a child of God and come to an unpleasant end. We sought to grasp what we desired, and in doing so we lost everything of eternal value.

"If any person loses his or her life for Christ, he or she will save it."

If instead of following our own desires we live each day in the Lord's will, then all that will bring righteousness, love, joy, and peace to us will be given to us. By turning away from our own path, we gain everything of value. This Adam and Eve did not do, and reaped misery.

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. (John 12:24-25—NIV)

If we live in our own pleasures, we will live and die alone. If we lose our life in Christ we will have an inheritance of God and people.

"What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?"

Most of us look to the world for our survival, security, and comfort. We may yield to the lusts and passions of our flesh and spirit. We may strive to be preeminent, to gain power and fame, or wealth. We may want to "be somebody."

But what if in the pursuit of our own goals we lose our very personality, our soul, our uniqueness as an individual? This is what it may mean, you know. We lose our soul, that gift from God that makes it possible for us to be in his image. Then what are we?

And also forfeited our body. As Paul said, if we yield to our sinful nature we will reap corruption. By this Paul meant that in the Day of Resurrection our animated flesh and bones will not be clothed upon with a house from Heaven, a body of eternal life.

To lose our uniqueness as a personality indeed is a fearful prospect!

"If anyone is ashamed of Christ and his words, Christ will be ashamed of him when He comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels."

The day will come when Christ appears to this world. Then those who have served Him faithfully will rejoice exceedingly when they see Christ in the fullness of God's Glory, accompanied by the mightiest angels of Heaven.

But we do not see Him as yet.

I have lived in America all my life. I never thought I would see the day when it was a shame to speak of Christ in our country. But it is true now. In fact, I think Christ is becoming ashamed of our country!

According to a report in the media, it is alleged that a man who had worked as a counselor for a number of years spoke comfort to a dying patient by saying, "Place your trust in God," or something to that effect. It was reported that he was fired for saying this.

Perhaps we do not know the whole story, but it is well known that people, young and old, who profess Christ publicly, may face scorn or some form of punishment. And this in America! While growing up and serving in the United States Marine Corps, I would not have believed that I would live to see the day that to hold up the name of Christ in America would be considered a disgraceful act.

That day is here now. What does the Lord tell us? He tells us that if we are ashamed of Him and his Words, He will be ashamed of us when He returns in his glory. I don't want Christ to be ashamed of me, and I am sure you do not want Him to be ashamed of you in that Day.

So we see that the standard of discipleship is the same standard that must be met by any person who desires to be a genuine Christian. Those who today are maintaining that a disciple is some sort of super-Christian are reflecting the abysmal depths to which our standards have fallen in America in the present century.

And He was saying to them all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me." (Luke 9:23—NASB)

Being an Elder

As I drew near, the throne room seemed to me to be representative of an exceedingly larger area. I think the twenty-four elders, mentioned in the Book of Revelation, is a symbolic number referring to what probably is more like twenty-four hundred thousand elders worshiping before the throne. What we see in the Throne Room may be but a small fraction of those who are there but are not readily visible.

Notice in the Bible that the elders always are casting their crown before the Throne of God, and giving praise to him. This is symbolic of how we, if we intend to rule with Christ, must continually be doing. We must at all times and circumstances be surrendering to God our right to govern, meanwhile giving praise to him. "Not my will but Yours is to be done" must govern every aspect of our life.

In the beginning God gave to each person (and the angels, apparently) the ability to make his own decisions. Then He has let six thousand years go by, so that people, and the angels of Heaven also, could see for themselves the result when God's creatures live their lives apart from him.

But God's ultimate goal is that each creature choose do God's will rather than his own. Throughout the history of mankind, God has found people who choose to do his will rather than their own. Abraham is the classic example. These are God's elders, the persons who will govern the Kingdom of God.

When the predetermined number of elders have been identified, the Lord Jesus will return with his elders.

It is not all those who "accept Christ" who will return with Christ and govern the world to come, it is rather those who overcome the desire to do their own will rather than God's will. These are God's elders. They follow the Lamb wherever He goes.

Even when they are on missions throughout the universe, they always remain before the Throne of God, casting down their crowns, their governing authority, before the throne of God, and worshiping God.

They have loved not their own will, their own life, to the point of death. They have "died in the Lord." Thus their works, which were wrought in Christ, have "followed them."

Around the throne were twenty-four thrones; and upon the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white garments, and golden crowns on their heads. (Revelation 4:4—NASB)

(Taken from Godwill Castle. Copyright Š 2011, by Robert B. Thompson.)

The Wall

There is a great wall surrounding the new Jerusalem, the perfected and glorified Christian Church. That jasper wall, whose foundation consists of precious stones, portrays the wall against sin that has been formed in each individual who is one of those who compose the city.

There was no wall surrounding the original Garden of Eden, the birthplace of mankind. Satan had ready access to Adam and Eve. Had there been a wall, Satan could not have entered.

God is going to restore Paradise to the earth. But for eternity Paradise shall be surrounded by a wall through which no rebellion against God's will can enter.

There shall be no more unwalled Edens!

You may wonder why, when you are serving God with all your might, you are having so many problems; so many testings. It is because God is creating in you a wall against all rebellion and uncleanness.

The Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem, including the wall. Some seventy years later the work of rebuilding Jerusalem began.

Nehemiah, the cupbearer to King Artaxerxes of Persia, heard from Hasani, his brother, that the wall of Jerusalem had been broken down and the gates burned with fire.

Since the ruined city of Jerusalem was surrounded with enemies, who certainly did not want the city rebuilt and become a threat to their domains, the construction of a wall and gates was of first importance. As long as Jerusalem was not protected, the Samaritans and Ammonites would tear down whatever was built.

So Artaxerxes agreed to send Nehemiah to see what he could do to assist those Jews who had left the comforts of civilization that they might restore their holy city.

May I say that this condition exists today in the Christian churches of America. The wall against sin has been torn down and the gates burned with fire, so to speak. Because of the pressures being exerted by the Muslims, the homosexuals, and the Socialists, Christian people are becoming concerned that our traditional way of life is vanishing. They wish to restore the old values of America, but there is no wall.

There are brilliant comments by various scholars, but there is no wall. There are plans by conservative politicians to overthrow the present regime, but no wall. There are public and individual protests of one sort or another. But as soon as a stand is taken, the enemy enters and tears down the flimsy construction that has been attempted.

When the righteous are not righteous enough, the wicked prevail.

I suppose numerous Americans do not realize this, but America has been wealthy and powerful because of the Presence of God, not because of democracy or our Bill of Rights. Now there are abortions and other sins being practiced, and God is leaving us. The problem is spiritual, and our physical weapons, such as politics, cannot prevail.

The wall has been broken down and the gates burned with fire.

The wall is the resistance to disobedience to God and to moral uncleanness.

How has the wall been broken down?

The wall has been broken down by the Christian teaching of Divine grace as an alternative to godly character and behavior. It is just as simple as that.

It does not take a professor of psychology or a doctor of sociology to grasp the fact that if you tell people God sees their behavior through Christ (which is unscriptural) and they are going to go to Heaven regardless of how they behave; and stir into the pot the demon-filled atmosphere of America; no wall against sin will be created in them. They will not grow spiritually. They will continue in their unchanged nature. They will keep on sinning.

The wall against sin has been broken down in the Christian churches of America. The Muslim people are appalled when they witness the moral behavior of the American people. And well they may be. Our behavior in America, to a great extent, is satanic, not godly; not Christlike.

How can we expect a Muslim to come to Jesus when he sees the immoral activity of Americans; when Americans are supposed to be influenced by Christianity? Christ has not called us to make converts but to testify of him. When He is lifted up He will draw all people to himself regardless of race, religion, gender, wealth or poverty, or age. But He is lifted up when we show in our conduct his ways, and we are not doing this at all!

I notice that the main concern of American people over the President's policies has to do with economics. If we really were serving the Lord Jesus, our main concern would be with the practice of abortion, the murder of developing children, and other perversions of morality.

What, then, is to be done?

First, each individual Christian must turn to Christ and find his will for himself or herself. I have done this. The Lord is not speaking to me about trying to save the nation but about my personal walk. Jesus is demanding that I keep Him in my consciousness every waking moment, asking Him for his guidance in every decision, to the smallest detail.

I know that the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) is being emphasized today by the Spirit of God. We must confess our sins as the Holy Spirit points them out to us. We then must accept our forgiveness and, with the assistance of Christ, turn away from our sins resolutely.

If we are to do this, we must search the New Testament to assure ourselves that God is not seeing us through Christ but is well aware of our behavior. For example, if the Corinthian believers took the Communion when their heart was not right they became ill or died. That would not be the case if God was "seeing them through Christ."

We must become absolutely convinced that we are going to reap what we are sowing. This is true whether or not we name the name of Christ. In fact, I do not think that most Christians in America actually believe that if we are to be a disciple, that is a Christian, we must deny ourselves, take up our cross, our personal imprisonment, and follow the Master.

The Gospel of the Kingdom is not always being taught. The wall against sin has been broken down in our country because of unscriptural teaching and preaching. The enemy is announcing from the pulpits of America: "You shall not surely die even though you are yielding to your sinful nature."

Well, we may not be able to convince the ministers of the Gospel that they have departed from the Scriptures. We may not be able to stop the murder of the infants. But there is one thing we can do. We can draw close to Jesus with all the strength we have until we are certain we are doing his will.

About three years ago Audrey and I were at a pastor's conference. Part of the audience consisted of young people preparing to enter the ministry. A strong word came to me. I resisted it because I did not want to call attention to myself. Finally I knew it was the Lord. So I went to one of the people in charge and said, "I have a prophecy." Then I went back to my seat. I was not called on to give it.

This is what the Lord said, to the best of my remembrance:

"The days ahead are going to be filled with difficulties and perplexities. You (speaking, I believe, to the young ministerial candidates at the convention) are not to focus on what is familiar. I am going to work in new and surprising ways (this was emphasized) that will be more than adequate to overcome the difficulties and perplexities. Follow me carefully and be strictly obedient."

Two nights later, after having forgotten about the incident, the Lord let me know that He was grieved because the young candidates did not hear his message. Since then I have had several opportunities to tell people that Jesus is going to do "new and surprising things and not to cling to the old ways of ministry."

Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. (Isaiah 43:18—NASB)

I am not certain what the "new and surprising ways" will be. I think one of them may be that Christ is going to enter in a greater measure into those who are looking for him, in fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Tabernacles. We are going to need this kind of Divine Presence, wisdom, and power if we are to be able to stand spiritually and assist others. I know this is true.

So I am resolved to save myself, my loved ones, and all who will listen to me by exhorting us all to turn away from the fascinations of the media and the electronic toys, and pay strict attention to Jesus.

Our King is mightier than all the forces of Hell. He proved this in his resurrection from the dead. He sits as King of the flood. The nations are as a drop in the bucket.

The Father knows the sparrow that falls to the ground. In fact, He knew about that particular sparrow and when it would fall when through Christ He created the heavens and the earth.

The Father has given Jesus, our very best Friend, unlimited authority and power! Whoever will call on Him in the catastrophic days that lie ahead, whether the individual is a Christian, Muslim, Hindu, homosexual, Socialist, Buddhist, of no particular religion, or an atheist, will be helped.

God's Word, that cannot be changed, states as follows:

For, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Romans 10:13—NIV)

Rebuilding the Gates

It may be true that many Christian people are feeling the need for a reformation of Christian thinking. Because of the warping of Paul's doctrine of "grace," the current teaching leads one to believe that how the believers behave is of little consequence. The main emphasis is to maintain a belief in the facts associated with the salvation that is in Christ. This attitude seems to me to be more Gnostic than Christian!

I suppose it is a common practice among the religions of the world to view belief in the various doctrines and the practice of the liturgies of the religion to be more important than the personality and behavior of the individual. Perhaps these mystical belief systems are accepted by the people of the world as part of life on our planet.

However, such separation of the doctrines and practice of the religion from the personalities and behavior of the converts is particularly deadly when it comes to Christianity. The purpose of the Christian salvation is to provide, through Christian people, a true witness of the Person, will, and way of God, and his eternal purpose in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Well, I am up to my old tricks. I am endeavoring to convince people that when Paul was comparing grace and "works," he was comparing belief in Christ with the "works" of the Law of Moses, not belief in Christ with godly behavior. This fact, although it can be presented clearly, logically, and scripturally, seems to be unknown to most Christian leaders and their followers.

When our belief in Christ does not result in a change in our behavior, it is not genuine belief in Christ. I would imagine we all would assent to this. But the heavy emphasis on "faith alone," assuredly not a scriptural emphasis, does not accept the simple fact that when our belief in Christ does not result in a change in our behavior it is not genuine belief in Christ.

So because of this glitch in Christian thinking, the testimony (not the preaching, which continues enthusiastically as though it were Bible based!) of the Christian people is so weak our government is running afoul of just about every moral standard we always have sought to maintain.

False doctrine has led to spiritual weakness and the destruction of the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ. I think Jesus is telling us it is time for a reformation of Christian doctrine and practice.

Let's think about the third chapter of Nehemiah, and the rebuilding of the gates of Jerusalem.

Each of these gates tells us something about the direction the work of reformation should take.

Notice that the first gate to be rebuilt is the "Sheep Gate." The tremendous emphasis of the Christian organizations of our day is to "go out and get the 'fish' saved." However, the tremendous emphasis of the Spirit of God is on building up the Christians, the "sheep," into the full stature of Christ.

The gifts and ministries given to the Body of Christ are, for the most part, enablements designed to build believers to maturity in Christ. They are not addressed to the world.

The "sheep" today need to be fed the Word of God. They cannot grow on the traditions of the pre-tribulation rapture, and a sovereign grace that does away with any need for self-denying discipleship.

It is true also that there is a great need for the operation of the gifts and ministries given to the Body of Christ. I think there are going to have to be changes in how the Christian churches operate in America before we have the widespread operation of gifts and ministries that are necessary if the believers are to be brought to spiritual maturity.

As far as the need to be fed the Word of God is concerned, three important doctrines of the new covenant are almost never preached. One such important teaching has to do with what it means "to overcome." The promises to the overcomer are those rewards we ordinarily think of as being the rightful inheritance of all Christians. But the promises are not made to all the members of the churches, only to the overcomers of those churches.

When was the last time you were taught about what it means to be an overcomer?

A second important doctrine is "the rest of God." Leaving our own plans behind and pressing into God's rest is the thesis of the Book of Hebrews.

When was the last time you were taught about what it means to labor to enter the rest of God?

A third doctrine has to do with the stated "mark" of the Apostle Paul. It is that of attaining to the out-resurrection from among the dead.

When was the last time you were taught that you must lay aside all else in order to attain to the first resurrection from the dead?

What were you taught? Probably how you can have a more successful life if you "accept Christ." Probably how the "rapture" may take place before next Sunday and you will go to Heaven to live forever in a mansion.

Probably that God sees you through Christ, and even though you are drinking alcohol and watching pornography on the Internet, God sees only the purity of Christ, and is having fellowship with you as you watch men and women behaving like lust-filled animals.

You are not going to grow on this diet. When the Lord comes to give resurrection bodies to his warriors, you are not going to be ready. You are not going to be able to stand during the bloody days that are on the horizon for America.

Please notice, in the third chapter of the Book of Nehemiah, that the Fish Gate comes after, not before, the Sheep Gate.

Why is this? It is because the Lord's "sheep" must be built up before the "fish," the unsaved of the world, will come to Christ.

Jesus said that when his elect are one in Him and the Father, and with one another, the world will believe. Today we are trying to get the world to believe when the Christian people are not one in Christ and the Father or with one another. Is that true?

So it is time for a reformation of Christian thinking.

As we read on through the third chapter of Nehemiah we see the "Old (Jeshanah) Gate."

We need to seek the old paths, the good way. The destructive doctrine of Dispensationalism has cut us off from the Old Testament as though we were in some new kind of relationship to God. Will we ever understand that God and Christ do not change? They always demand righteous, holy, obedient conduct on our part. We ought to know better than to believe God has given us a covenant that permits ungodly behavior!

We notice the beams and bolts and bars. This is because we lost that which was given freely to the Apostles of the First Century. Now we have to build it back up, a beam, a bolt, and a bar at a time.

The basic story of mankind, as well as of us as individuals, is that we cannot retain that which we are given freely. We lose it, and then have to get it back by a lot of hard work and discipline—that is, if we live to have a second chance.

Because of the fear of God held by the pioneers of our country; because many citizens were taught the ways of the Bible; and because of hard work; America became the richest, most powerful nation on earth.

But, as was true of Samson, we Americans have embraced the ways of the world. The world always has been and always will be a prostitute. It will sell its favors to the highest bidder.

Now God is abandoning us so we can find out why we were so prosperous. Our eyes have been put out. We do not have the strength or the wisdom sufficient to overcome the numerous ungodly forces invading America.

The wise men of the media, the scholars, the philosophers, the professors of economics, present one opinion after another. But they do not realize that the problem is God. We have left God and now He is leaving us.

I am not hearing from God that we are going to be able to bring our nation back to its former prosperity. What the Spirit seems to be saying is that each believer is to turn to Christ as never before. By so doing he (or she) will save himself and those for whom he is responsible.

May Jesus help us save ourselves and our loved ones, because our beloved country is giving away its Christian heritage to that which is not of the Lord.

Until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:13—NASB)

The Law of the Spirit of Life

God respects integrity and righteousness of behavior. The ultimate righteousness is obedience to what God is saying to an individual specifically at a specific time and place.

Our current traditions sometimes maintain there is no law but the "law of love." This tradition is based on the idea we are in a new dispensation in which God sees us through Christ. It might be nice to behave in a godly manner as well as we can. But when we "accept Christ as our personal Savior" we can forget about any law governing our behavior. Our judgment was completed on the cross and now we will go to Heaven instead of to Hell when we die.

Am I correct? Are there Christians who believe these things and are living accordingly?

I used to fume and roar about these errors. I don't anymore. I am calm and soft-spoken—most of the time.

But for old times sake, let me once again, peaceably and quietly, point out the problem with the current traditions.

There is no law but the "law of love."

We are in a new dispensation, a "dispensation of grace."

God "sees us through Christ."

When we "accept Christ."

Our judgment was "completed on the cross."

Our goal is "to go to Heaven."

There is no law but the "law of love." There is a law that is part of the new covenant. Paul calls it "the law of the Spirit of life." The law of the Spirit of Life requires that we live in the Spirit of God and not in the desires of our sinful nature. Thus the law of the Spirit of Life is far more comprehensive than the Law of Moses, in that it governs at all times what we think, what we say, and what we do.

So that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:4—NASB)

We are in a new dispensation, a "dispensation of grace." There is no statement in the New Testament that declares we are in a new dispensation. There is, however, a statement concerning a new covenant, which is the writing of God's eternal moral laws on our heart and in our mind.

The Apostle Paul used the term "dispensation" to mean a "trust" or "stewardship." The term "dispensation of grace" is not found in the New International Version or the New American Standard Bible. "Dispensation of grace" is not a new-covenant concept.

The following verse may be the source of the destructive doctrine of a "dispensation of grace."

If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: (Ephesians 3:2—KJV)

The above is the King James version.

But the New International version gives the actual meaning.

Surely you have heard about the administration of God's grace that was given to me for you, (Ephesians 3:2—NIV)

Can you see from this what Paul meant by "the dispensation of the grace of God?" Paul was not speaking of a new kind of covenant, but that he had been entrusted with an understanding of God's grace, which in its finest sense is the Lord Jesus Christ himself, to give to the Gentiles.

The concept of a "dispensation of grace" that regards people as righteous although they are living according to their sinful nature is without doubt one of the most grievous misunderstandings ever to enter Christian thinking.

God "sees us through Christ." There is no such statement in the New Testament. God always sees what we do. He knows our works, as stated so many times in the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation. The idea that God sees only the righteousness of Christ when He sees us is not a new-covenant concept. It would mean that when we commit adultery God sees the purity of Christ.

Do you really believe that? I don't imagine you do; but we Christians often compartmentalize our thinking. We hold both ideas in our mind at the same time:

God sees us through Christ.

But our conscience tells us that God does not see the purity of Christ when we are behaving immorally.

Is this consistent? Does God see us through Christ, or does God not see us through Christ? It is time we checked out our thinking to see if it is rational and consistent. Do you agree?

When we "accept Christ." There is no statement in the New Testament that we are to "accept Christ." We cannot even come to Christ except the Father draws us. At that point we are to believe in Christ to the extent of learning to live by his body and blood. (Think carefully about the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John.)

It is fine to speak of accepting Christ as long as we mean accepting Christ into our personality every moment of every day and night.

Far too often when we say someone has "accepted Christ" we mean he has conformed to the requirements of a denomination. He has not really come to the Man and laid down his life, determined to carry his cross behind Jesus wherever Jesus may lead him.

Christ stands at the door of our heart today. We are to invite Him into our personality. He is to dine on our obedience and worship. We are to dine on his body and blood, which are given to us in the Spirit every time we turn away from the deeds of our sinful nature and choose to follow the Spirit of God.

The Bible does not teach us that we are to "accept" Christ, as though we are to be given a ticket to Heaven. Rather, The Bible teaches us to "abide in Christ." This means that in all we do at all times we look to Jesus for wisdom, guidance, and strength.

Our judgment was "completed on the cross." This can be construed from a passage or two when we ignore the contexts. But the fourth chapter of the Book of First Peter shows this to be a false idea. Also, the eleventh chapter of First Corinthians, where we read of the consequences of participating in the Communion service when our heart is not pure. Why would we get sick or die if God does not see the sin in our heart and judge it?

There are several passages in the New Testament that warn the Christians about the danger of living according to the sinful nature. These would make no sense whatsoever if our judgment was finished on the cross.

Our goal is "to go to Heaven." There is no such idea presented in the New Testament. The expression "go to Heaven" is not found in the Bible.

When we make residence in Heaven the goal of our salvation, we simply cannot understand the Bible. The idea of the Kingdom of God coming to the earth, which we pray for faithfully in the "Lord's Prayer," is negated as far as having any concrete meaning in our mind.

Our goal is not residence in Heaven but the "rest of God," according to the fourth chapter of the Book of Hebrews. The rest of God is our Canaan, our land of promise. We are in the rest of God when we are living peacefully in the Center of God's Person and will. This is our goal. Heaven is not our Canaan, our land of promise. Rather, Heaven is a place of waiting until Christ comes and sets up his Kingdom on the earth.

Really, the eighth chapter of the Book of Romans is a marvel. All anyone needs to be firmly established in the Christian salvation are the sixth and eighth chapters of the Book of Romans. This is my opinion.

What is the eighth chapter of Romans telling us? It is saying we can turn away from the Law of Moses and be without condemnation.

It is telling us that because of the obedience and death of Christ on the cross, the full righteousness of the Law of Moses will be assigned to anyone who turns away from his sinful nature and follows the Spirit of God at all times. It is as though the believer had kept the Law of Moses perfectly even though he knew nothing about the Law of Moses.

It is telling us our mind is to be kept a prisoner of the Spirit of God.

It is telling us God intends to make alive our mortal body by filling it with the Spirit of God.

It is telling us we are not obligated to obey our sinful nature.

It is telling us that if we continue in our sinful nature we will die spiritually; we will not attain to the making alive of our body.

It is telling us the sons of God are they who are led by the Spirit of God.

It is telling us we are God's children and coheirs with Christ, and will share in his glory if we share in his sufferings.

It is telling us the material creation is in bondage, waiting for the sons of God to be revealed—they who will release the creation from frustration and bring it into the freedom that comes as we live in the Spirit of God.

It is telling us our reborn inner nature will be clothed with a body fashioned from eternal, incorruptible life when God adopts our mortal body. It is the adoption of our mortal body that is our hope, not eternal residence in Heaven!

It is telling us that all of man's history, including today's wicked events, exists for the good of those who have been called to be the brothers of the Lord Jesus.

It is telling us there is no power on earth, or under the earth, or in the heavens above, that can in any manner separate us from God's love that comes to us through our Lord Jesus Christ.

It does seem to me that there ought to be some Christians who believe and teach the sixth and eighth chapters of the Book of Romans instead of the gallimaufry, hodgepodge, mishmash of errors that compose today's supposedly Christian teaching.

So that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:4—NIV)

Living by His Life

It may be true that the greatest confusion in Christian thinking lies in the transition from Moses to Christ. Are we under at least part of the Law? Are we completely free from the Law? Does being under "grace" mean there are no laws governing our behavior?

I have never heard this problem resolved clearly. It seems today, in Evangelical thinking, the majority opinion is that "we are not under the Law but under grace," meaning that if we believe in Jesus we will go to Heaven when we die no matter how we behave. Yet somehow we still are under the Ten Commandments, especially the rule concerning the Sabbath Day.

I came to Christ in 1944. I was taught by fellow Marines that the purpose of the grace of the new covenant is to forgive us, since we are unable to meet God's righteous demands. Then we would be eligible to go to Heaven when we die. Since that time (probably before you were born) I have found this to be the prevailing doctrine of most, if not all, Christian churches.

According to the Scriptures, this is not the purpose of the grace of the new covenant. The purpose of the grace of the new covenant is to forgive all of our sins so we will be able to focus on the work of the Holy Spirit as He creates the Life of Christ in us. As the Life of Christ is formed in us, we begin to meet God's righteous demands. The objective of the new creation is to create us in the image of God in order that we might please God and have fellowship with God wherever we are. Who could disagree with that?

Paul was upset with some of the Christian Jewish leaders.

But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, "If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?" (Galatians 2:14—NASB)

Then the Apostle Paul explained the only manner in which we can be free from the demands of the Law of Moses:

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (Galatians 2:20—NASB)

It simply is not true, and an error of the greatest magnitude, that because of "grace" we are free from the laws that govern our behavior. It is only as we have died to our first life and now are alive in Christ, and living by his Life, that we are free from external laws.

Until we are learning to live by the Life of Christ we are under the moral laws of the Old Testament. There never is a time when a person is not under one of God's laws. Either we are living by the Life of Jesus, and therefore being directed by the Spirit of God; or we are under the Law of Moses. There is no place in between, that is, for a person to be lawless and still be accepted of God.

Even if we could obey the Ten Commandments without living by the Life of the Lord Jesus, we still would not enter the Kingdom of God. The only way in which we can enter the Kingdom of God is by being born again and then obeying Christ throughout every day and night.

There are at least six major goals toward which the disciple is to press. Each of the six is to be true of us eternally: righteous in character and behavior; completely holy; totally obedient to God; having love for God and our neighbor; always filled with joy; abiding in peace in our calling. The only way in which these goals can be attained to is to live by the Life of the Lord Jesus Christ.

There is no greater challenge to the disciple of Jesus than to live by his Life. From the time of our birth we are endeavoring to stay alive in our original inward and outward natures. We are a person. Like all the other creatures of God we fight for our life.

Then along comes the Lord Jesus. He tells us that if we would see and enter the Kingdom of God we must be born all over again.

Now what? We are not speaking of religion at this point but of killing our first nature as we choose to live by a new Life that has invaded our personality. If you think such death and resurrection are easy to experience, you have not attempted to make this transition.

We cannot make such a radical change in a moment. This is why the current teaching that states the moment we "accept Christ" we are born again is so misleading. The expression "born again" is not used many times in the New Testament, although what the expression implies is the heart of the new covenant.

We might be more accurate if we said, "I have decided to die with Christ and live with Christ; and if I am faithful through the years the day will come when I am a new creation, that is, I have been completely born again in Christ."

What does it mean to live by the Life of Christ? It means our thoughts, our imaginations, our motives, our words, our actions, while they are part of who we are and what we are doing, have continually been presented to Jesus so they reflect his thinking, imagining, motives, words, and actions.

To enter this blend of us and the Lord we must pray without ceasing. This does not mean we continually are beseeching God for our needs; it signifies rather that we keep looking to Jesus and listening to Jesus as we go about our daily business.

Right now as I am typing I am looking to Jesus and listening to Jesus. I desire that he speak to his people in this hour. In fact, I looked to the Lord for the current burden—that which I am to preach next Sunday. At the time I went to sleep last night, and the moment I woke up, I was asking God what his Word is to me right now.

I asked the Lord what the topic should be. Immediately I "heard," "living by his Life." As I began to type, the paragraphs were formed in my mind. This is how all my writing has been done. It is a combination of his thoughts and my efforts.

The process, or program, I am describing actually is steps to the first resurrection from the dead, the inward resurrection that always must precede the outward. Also, it is the new covenant—the writing of God's eternal moral law in our mind and heart.

My latest four books, Godwill Castle; Heaven—God's Wonderful World; The Theology of Robert B. Thompson D.Ed.; and John and Mary Visit Heaven; and also the piano composition "God Is My Salvation," came rather suddenly with a Divine impetus, after about a year of not writing.

It is interesting, and just like the Lord's sense of humor, that I, who have preached over and over that Heaven is not our eternal home, should find myself writing about the spirit world, which is becoming increasingly clear to me. I tell you, learning to live by his Life is an adventure with a surprise at every turn.

Another interesting thing: I had titled the children's book (written for children who are facing death) "God's Wonderful World." But then I thought, people will think it is about the present world (which I do not regard as wonderful). So I added the word "Heaven." It sure is a good thing I did. I did not realize how many books are on the market with "God's Wonderful World" as the title.

So God was leading all the way. I felt Jesus telling me to hurry up and get out Godwill Castle, and Heaven—God's Wonderful World, because a lot of blood is going to be shed in the United States as God's covering is withdrawn from our nation because of our sin.

Heaven—God's Wonderful World is currently available in bookstores. Hopefully some publisher will pick up the other three books.

Each moment of each day and part of each night we choose whether to keep Christ in our consciousness, or whether to pursue our own thoughts, pleasures, and ambitions. Sometimes to choose what we think Christ desires, rather than our own lusts and passions, is a real crucifixion leading to an increase of our possession of the Life of Christ. This is why the Apostle Paul spoke of being crucified with Christ, but living nevertheless by the Life of Christ.

Living by the Life of Christ is the "rest," the primary thesis of the Book of Hebrews. We have to fight continually to enter the rest and remain in the rest. God has planned our life from the foundation of the world. Now we have to labor continually to attain to that which from the beginning was spoken concerning us.

I will say one more thing: The evil approaching our country is so great no human will be able to survive spiritually and do the works of God. But Christ can survive spiritually and do the works of God. We absolutely must die to our first nature that Christ may live in us. When we do, we will reign with Him throughout the dark days of Divine judgment on the United States of America.

For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. (Galatians 2:19—NASB)

Eternal Life

God Himself is Eternal Life. The Holy Spirit is Eternal Life because He is of the Person of God. The body and blood of the Lord Jesus are Eternal Life because they are of the Person of God. The more we have of God, the more Eternal Life we possess.

I think we sometimes regard eternal life as a reward we receive for "accepting Christ." It is our ticket to Heaven and immortality. I don't suppose most of us think much past the idea of going to Heaven and living there forever. Sometimes added to this is the idea that once we get the ticket we never can lose it.

I do not believe these are scriptural concepts. Eternal life is the Life of God that comes to us through the Spirit of God. It is substance. It is the body and blood of Christ. He Himself is the Tree of Life.

Unlike the ticket concept, we can have eternal life in degrees. Each day we are to lay hold on eternal life by exercising godly behavior. Eternal life is the fruit of our pursuit of righteousness and holiness.

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. (Romans 6:23—NIV)

It is clear from the above passage that deliverance from sinful behavior and slavery to God lead to holiness. The continual practice of such behavior results in eternal life.

It is interesting to note that eternal life is a transformation of what we are in personality. At one time we lived by the sinful life of adamic flesh and blood. Now the Lord Jesus has given us of Himself so that we live a holy life, the very Life of God. This new life by which we now are living has little to do with where we are, whether in Heaven or upon the earth.

Just because we are in Heaven does not mean we have eternal life. We receive eternal life through interacting with the Lord Jesus. We do not receive eternal life by going to Heaven. If there is a passage of Scripture that states that all the creatures in Heaven have eternal life, I am not aware of it. If there is a truth more needed in Christian thinking today, I do not know what it is.

The following is a passage that is very important to me:

Just as the living Father has sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me shall live because of me. (John 6:57—NIV)

The point here is the idea of "feeding." The prevailing viewpoint seems to be that if we once make a profession of Christ, we have our "ticket." We have eternal life. We will go to Heaven when we die and live there in a mansion forever.

However, eternal life does not come to us as a ticket but as "food" which we must feed on continually. The "food" is the body and blood of Christ. Christ is the Tree of Life. We must eat of Him every day.

If we are to partake of Christ each day, and thus lay hold on more of eternal life, we must practice Christian behavior. Man is to live on every word that comes from the mouth of God.

God gave his Son that we might not perish but have eternal life. Until we receive the Life that is in the Son of God we are dead spiritually, little more than an intelligent animal.

God's goal for us is that we might live for eternity in our body. Our opportunity to receive this gift was lost when Adam and Eve disobeyed God. Now through the Lord Jesus Christ, the Tree of Life, we can gain eternal life in our body.

But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. (Romans 8:11—NASB)

The redemption of his body in the Day of Resurrection was the goal of the Apostle Paul.

We attain to the redemption of our mortal body in two steps. The first step is the resurrection of our inward nature. We lay hold on inward eternal life each day of our discipleship, by pursuing righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. We save ourselves by doing these works.

Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you. (I Timothy 4:16—NASB)

If we are faithful in the work of laying hold on inward eternal life, when Jesus next appears our flesh and bones will be raised from their place of interment and clothed with our body of eternal life that has been formed in Heaven. Our body of eternal life is formed in Heaven as we lay hold on inward eternal life today.

This program of redemption does away with the last enemy, which is physical death.

There are several errors in today's preaching. Perhaps one of the most damaging is the concept that God is going to save our present personality by bringing it to Heaven to live in a mansion. This would be humorous if it were not so harmful to Christian growth.

True salvation proceeds as we surrender our first personality to Christ, day by day, line upon line, that we may replace it with a new life. Another way of saying this is that as we live a victorious life we are given to eat of the Tree of Life.

It is the new life that inherits the Kingdom of God and is the Kingdom of God. It is the new life that will be clothed with the spiritual house from Heaven. As far as location, whether our redeemed body is on earth, in the air above the earth, or in the spirit world, is not significant. Redemption is not a change of where we are but of what we are.

Christ entered the world and walked among us. He is the Tree of Life. We are dead flesh until we begin to partake of him. He is God's gift to us, but we have to prove ourselves worthy of this unparalleled gift by setting aside our own life as we follow the Spirit of God at all times, every day and every night.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16—NASB)

Living in the Spirit of God

The Spirit of God guides us in the two great works of redemption: release from all that is of Satan; and change into Christ's image and rest in the center of God's Person and will. We must live in the Spirit; think in the Spirit; behave in the Spirit; speak in the Spirit. Little by little we are to bring our entire personality under the control of the Spirit of God.

Those of us who speak in tongues refer to ourselves as "Pentecostal." This name is derived from the fourth of the seven Jewish celebrations. The Holy Spirit fell on the assembled disciples when the Jewish celebration of Pentecost had come. This is why so many Jews were assembled in Jerusalem to witness this event.

My wife and I have been "in Pentecost" for over sixty years, so we have had considerable experience with Pentecostal people. I will say that the Spirit of worship in a church in which speaking in tongues is exercised is more fluent than in other Christian churches, regardless of the level of righteousness and holiness of the other churches. This can be verified by experience.

God knows what He is doing. When He established speaking in tongues as the way of entering the rest of God, then that is the way we enter the rest of God. It is my firm belief, however, that many fine Christians have the Spirit of God although they never have pressed through to speaking in tongues.

I am of the opinion that most of us do not understand the role of the Spirit of God in our life. It may be noted that Jewish people, who often have a sense of God's workings, associate the celebration of Pentecost with the giving of the Law on Sinai. It is believed by some scholars that the Law was given at the time of the feast of Pentecost, that is, fifty days after the first Passover.

So the Holy Spirit is more than the Comforter who guides us into all truth. He is our Law, the law of the new covenant. He is to be obeyed as He leads into deliverance from sin, and also into the development of Christ in us.

The expression, "As many as are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God" (Romans 8:14), follows and explains the preceding verse, which warns us about living according to our sinful nature. The Spirit of God, if we are listening to him, is always leading us to put to death the actions of our sinful nature and to press into the eternal life that results finally in the immortality of the body.

For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (Romans 8:13,14—NIV)

The Law of Moses is the servant who brings us to Christ. This relationship between the Law of Moses and the new covenant is not always explained clearly.

Are we under any part of the Law of Moses? No, if we have "died with Christ" and are living by his Life, the Life of the Spirit of God.

When we are following the Spirit of God each day, we are without condemnation. The righteousness of the Law is fulfilled in us.

So that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:4—NASB)

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. (Galatians 5:18—NASB)

What does the Apostle Paul mean when he states that the new covenant is not of the letter but of the Spirit?

Who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (II Corinthians 3:6—NASB)

Now, precisely what does Paul mean by "the letter kills but the Spirit gives life"?

Paul means that attempting to obey the text of the New Testament, which consists of the words of Christ and his Apostles, without looking to the Lord for guidance and strength, results in confusion and a self-righteous spirit.

The reason there are so many divisions among the Christian denominations is that the ministers as well as the people are endeavoring to follow the text of the New Testament as though it were the same as the Law of Moses. Since one person interprets a passage one way, and another person interprets the same passage in a different way, we have division.

The Scriptures did not come through the human mind. The Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, came through holy men who were moved by the Holy Spirit. The Scriptures can be rightly understood only as holy people are moved by the Holy Spirit.

Take the Book of Revelation, for example. How many devout teachers of the Bible have constructed timelines in connection with their explanation of the meaning of the Book of Revelation? It appears that every such teacher disagrees with the other teachers.

The only manner in which the words of Christ and his Apostles can be interpreted is by the Spirit of wisdom and revelation. They cannot possibly be understood or applied correctly by scholars using their intellectual processes.

In order to understand and apply the words of the New Testament we have to have apostles. Teachers learn from other teachers, and soon we have a hodgepodge of error. This is true today. Every once in a while God sends apostles to the Body of Christ. They are people whom Christ draws to himself and explains what He has said, is saying, and yet will say to the Body of Christ.

If ever a generation needed an apostle it is the present generation. There are ministers today who claim to be apostles, but it is not evident that they are. And so error is heaped on error.

There are numerous errors in current Evangelical theology. Perhaps the most damaging of all is the current presentation of Divine grace as an alternative to growth in righteous behavior. The emphasis on an "any-moment rapture" of the believers also is damaging, because it is leaving the Christian people unprepared for the moral chaos we are entering.

The pattern of redemption that God has followed in the Protestant Reformation is revealed in the seven feasts of Israel. We have been at feast number four, Pentecost. Now the Spirit of God is moving us into the fulfillments of the last three celebrations: the blowing of Trumpets; the Day of Atonement; and the feast of Tabernacles.

The true apostles of Christ will be explaining to us the fulfillments of the final three observances, because this is what the Spirit of God is telling us about today. This does not mean they necessarily will refer to the seven feasts of Israel. But they will emphasize the fulfillments: the Lord coming to cleanse His people; the reconciliation of our whole personality to God; God making us his Throne and settling down to rest in prepared saints.

Those who are following the Spirit of God are finding themselves moving into these fulfillments, although they do not always understand what is happening to them.

In conclusion let us say that the new covenant is a covenant of the Spirit, not of the letter of the New Testament. The Spirit will never lead us contrary to what Christ and his Apostles have spoken and written. But the Spirit, using both the Old Testament and the New Testament, will tell us what Christ is saying today.

The Spirit will enable us to correctly understand and apply the Scriptures, both Old and New Testament, until the Morning Star arises in our heart and we think, speak, and act in the Spirit of God, just as our Lord Jesus always does.

So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. (II Peter 1:19—NASB)

Laying Hold on Eternal Life

The expression "eternal life" is not referring primarily to living a long time. Rather, eternal life is the knowledge of God and Christ; and is found also in the body and blood of the Lord Jesus. "Eternal life" does not refer primarily to duration of existence. Rather, it is a kind of life.

I suppose the main difference between the "ticket" doctrine of eternal life, and the true, covenantal doctrine of eternal life, is that in the covenantal doctrine, eternal life is not viewed as a one-time pass into Heaven but is seen as a daily working out of the Divine redemption. Also, unlike the "ticket" doctrine, it is understood that we possess eternal life in degrees, according to the effort we have made to walk with God.

It always must be kept in mind that when the New Testament speaks of eternal life it ordinarily is referring to bodily immortality. John 3:16 is speaking of bodily immortality. However, before bodily immortality is possible, the Life of God must first have been developed in our inward nature.

It absolutely is true that eternal life is a gift. However, it is the gift of an opportunity to attain to eternal life, not a ticket that is handed out to us on the basis of our "accepting Christ." I enclose "accepting Christ" in quotes because what often happens is a religious confession of sorts, not a genuine receiving of the Man, Christ Jesus.

That eternal life is "the gift of an opportunity to attain to life" can be seen in the following passages:

But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (I Timothy 6:11,12—NIV)

Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you. (I Timothy 4:16—NASB)

Today too much emphasis is placed on what Christ does in the work of redemption. It absolutely is true that all redemption proceeds from Christ. But the New Testament teaches plainly that many responses are expected from us, such as presenting our body a living sacrifice; taking up our personal cross and following the Lord Jesus. If we do not do our part, the work of redemption ceases.

Can you imagine how greatly this understanding is needed today in the Christian churches?

It is obvious from the Book of Romans that eternal life is not a package tied with a bow that is just handed to us. Eternal life is now available to us. But we have to "take hold" of it by pursuing godly behavior.

The Apostle Paul toward the end of his life was still endeavoring to "take hold" of the inward resurrection which is the prerequisite for receiving the first resurrection, that is, the redemption of the physical body that will occur when the Lord next returns to the physical world.

It appears we have made eternal residence in Heaven the goal of the Christian redemption. It assuredly is not. The goal of redemption, according to the Apostle Paul, is the making alive of our inward nature, and then, when the Lord returns, the making alive of our physical body.

I think sometimes Christians believe being resurrected means going to Heaven. Resurrection has nothing whatever to do with going to Heaven. Resurrection means making alive what has been dead. The term applies first to our inward personality, which passes from death to life. Then to our physical body, which also passes from death to life.

"Dead" means the Spirit of God is absent.

The Apostle Paul had as his goal the complete resurrection of his inward nature. This would mean he was living by the Life of Jesus rather than by his own life. Such resurrection of the inward nature is the necessary prerequisite for the making alive of the mortal body. God never shall make alive the physical body of any person until first the inward nature has met God's requirements for that individual.

Our body will not be raised from the dead so we can go to Heaven. We go to Heaven by dying. Our body will be raised from the dead so we can live once more on the earth.

Faithful Enoch, and also Elijah, were carried into Heaven, apparently. But that is not resurrection. Rather, God was exercising his ability to move that which is physical into the spirit world.

In the parable of the sower, the Lord spoke of three degrees of fruit bearing in those who have a noble and good heart.

The fruit that is to be borne is always from the Spirit of God. The more of the Spirit we have, the more fruit we bear. The fruit is the moral image of Christ, and untroubled rest in the center of God's Person and will.

The forty-seventh chapter of the Book of Ezekiel also tells us of levels of the Spirit. There are the three levels that follow the Divine judgment on us, and then there is the fourth level, the waters to swim in.

The three levels of Ezekiel speak of the increasing work of redemption. The fourth level is the Fullness of God. At this point we are planted by the River of Life and have become a tree of life—like our Lord, because we are filled with our Lord.

The water of eternal life will go out from us into the dead sea of mankind, bringing eternal life to all who will receive it. Thus there is a vast inheritance for those who will never cease pressing forward in the Lord Jesus. This was how Paul lived.

Both the Spirit and the Bride say, "Come." All who are thirsty may come and drink freely of the water of eternal life.

It is my point of view that every member of the new world of righteousness will have a portion of God's Spirit in him or her. There will be no more "sea" of people who are living according to their fallen nature and who can be swayed by demagogues.

How much of the Spirit we possess depends on the diligence with which we obey God each day. God gives his Spirit to those who obey him.

If we will bear our personal cross and follow Jesus diligently all our life, we will be of enormous benefit to God and mankind, and also to ourselves and our loved ones.

Let's do it!

But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (I Timothy 6:11,12—NIV)

Not on Food Alone

There are two kinds of people in the world. The life of the one kind is restricted to that which comes from food. The life of the other kind derives its physical sustenance from food, but its guidance and strength come from the words that proceed continually from the mouth of God. The first kind are intelligent animals. The second kind are the sons and daughters of the Kingdom.

Animals live on food alone. Their guidance and strength are supported by food. They eat, sleep, play, work, and reproduce. This is their life.

Such is and always has been true of the majority of the people of the world. Their life and strength is supported by food. They eat, sleep, play, work, and reproduce. They are more intelligent than the other animals, but, like them, they are dead spiritually. The life of God is not in them. Yet, unlike the animals, they have a spirit that can reach out to God. This is not true of any animal.

The flesh makes a fine show for a season. Then it grows old, withers, and perishes. It is beautiful and handsome at one time. After a brief season it is wrinkled, weak of body and mind. This is true of the strongest of people.

The Lord Jesus has entered this charnel house, bringing the Life that He himself is. Whoever lives by continually interacting with Him will perish physically one day but will keep on living in the spirit world. By this I mean, he or she will keep on serving Christ in the spirit world. Then, in the Day of Resurrection, these faithful servants will be clothed with a body that is spiritually alive. Such is the end product of the Christian redemption.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16—NASB)

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25,26—NIV)

Did you notice the expression, "whoever lives by believing in me will never die"? It is not a case, as so often is presented, of making an initial acceptance of Christ. Rather, it is a case of living by believing in Him.

I believe today's preaching has altered John 3:16 to mean that by making the correct religious profession concerning Christ we have a pass out of Hell and a ticket to Heaven.

John 3:16 actually means that those who want to escape the life of living only on food, and thus perishing, now have the means of gaining eternal life. Instead of perishing they, through the Lord Jesus Christ, can continue to live and serve Christ after they die; and when he returns can receive an imperishable body that will clothe their resurrected flesh and bones.

We have made going to Heaven to live in a mansion the centerpiece of the Christian redemption. It assuredly is not. The centerpiece of the Christian redemption is the attainment to life in the Presence of God in our inward nature; and finally, immortality in our body. We then are not confined to the spirit world.

Paul placed attaining to the resurrection of his body as his goal. He counseled us to do the same. We have not done as Paul commanded. We have placed going to Heaven to live in a mansion as our goal. For this reason numerous believers are pitifully weak in spiritual strength.

I often have wondered why Christian people do not influence their nations more than they do. America and Europe, with their rich Christian tradition, are turning to the lusts of the flesh. This has been true historically, and more so today.

I believe it is because the Christian salvation has been presented as a ticket to Heaven rather than a life that lives by eating the flesh and blood of Christ at all times; by receiving continually the guidance and strength that come from living in the Presence of Jesus Christ.

It was in Lutheran Germany that the Holocaust took place. It is from Christian America that moral filth fills the airwaves. It is in Ireland that the Catholics and Protestants kill and maim each other. All of this because of the "ticket" doctrine, the reliance on the beliefs and practices of religion instead of an emphasis on abiding in Christ at all times.

The potential for a new world of righteousness always has been present in the Gospel of the Kingdom, but it has not been realized as yet. It shall be realized some day, for God cannot be frustrated or defeated.

How do we attain to the inner resurrection that must precede the immortality of the body? We do so by interacting with the Lord Jesus throughout each day, and the part of the night that we are awake. This is what the Apostle Paul meant by praying without ceasing. We keep up a dialogue with the Lord Jesus at all times.

To abide in Christ in this manner we always must be presenting our body as a living sacrifice. Our sinful nature constantly is pressing us to confine our life to food alone. The idea of denying our desires, accepting our imprisonments, and following Christ instead of our own reasoning, is not acceptable to our animal personality.

It seems that just about every day there is a pressure from our sinful nature, our culture, our friends, or the electronic media, to live according to our own understanding and desires. It is easy to just follow along with everyone else, meanwhile struggling to survive and perhaps excel in our culture.

For most of us there are frequent perplexities, frustrations, sorrows, pains, fears, and other afflictions that threaten our peace of mind. Anyone who does not realize this world is the valley of the shadow of death has not lived here for very long.

And you know, God did not put us in this world to be happy. He placed us here that we might learn about Himself, and also that He would have a population from which to choose rulers for the coming world of righteousness. Jesus told us that in the world we would have tribulation, and we do.

But it is these various pressures that are the key to our learning to live on every word that comes from God, instead of just on food. If we choose to take the way the Spirit is pointing out to us, not blaming people or cursing the darkness, we will find opportunities each day to call on Christ for guidance and strength. Thus the words coming from God's mouth, that are directed to us as an individual, result in our gaining eternal life from the pains and problems of our daily battles.

So life and death are set before us, as they always have been for God's people. We can choose to live by following Christ each day and partaking of his resurrection Life; or we can endeavor to always live a pleasant life, which means that the people around us, instead of being strengthened by our faith, will be hindered in their own walk.

We can be a giver or a taker.

How wonderful it is that God has given us this opportunity to be shaped in his image and thus attain to eternal life. It is not easy. It is not always pleasant. There are a few occasions when we are brought to the end of our ability to cope. But Jesus always is walking with us in the fire. If we will look constantly to him, asking his help in all circumstances, great and small. we finally shall hear his "Well done."

And that, my brother and sister, is worth everything!

Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man shall not live on bread alone." (Luke 4:4—NIV)

The Battle for the Body: I

It may be true that we do not understand the importance of our body in the plan of redemption. You know, Satan has no body, nor do the fallen angels or demons. This is why these evil forces seek to inhabit and control human beings.

The righteous angels do not seek to inhabit or control human beings. Although they do not possess a body, they are content with their state.

Our physical body does not really belong to us. Our body is the temple of the Spirit of God. This is a profound mystery. If I am not mistaken, the new Jerusalem is the assemblage of the glorified bodies of the saints.

Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple. (I Corinthians 3:16,17—NIV)

Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both of them Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body. (I Corinthians 6:13—NASB)

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! (I Corinthians 6:15—NASB)

In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (Ephesians 2:21,22—NIV)

Thus says the LORD, "Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest?" (Isaiah 66:1—NASB)

However, the Most High does not live in houses made by men. As the prophet says: "Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord. Or where will my resting place be?" (Acts 7:48,49—NIV)

I may be incorrect in saying this, but I think the idea of God making us a dwelling place for Himself is not emphasized sufficiently in today's teaching and preaching. Our focus today is getting people into Heaven. But is that God's focus? Or is God more interested in getting Heaven into us?

The mystery of the Gospel is not Christ with us, as important as that is. It is Christ in us, the hope of Glory.

I think it is time now, in the twenty-first century, to begin to think about what is involved in the fact that Christ desires to be formed in us and also to dwell with the Father in that which is being formed in us. Obviously this is a much different issue than that of going to Heaven, of Christ merely being with us.

Christ must be formed in us before He and the Father can dwell in us. God will not dwell permanently in the adamic nature. If we truly desire to be the dwelling place of God we must be born again, that is, a new creation must be formed in us as our first personality is brought down to the death of the cross.

This was Paul's prayer for the saints in Ephesus, wasn't it, that they would be strengthened in their inner nature so they may be filled with the fullness of God.

And to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:19—NASB)

But is there anything we are to do if we desire to be the dwelling place of God? Yes, there is. We must keep the commands of Christ. The popular gospel of today is that if we believe in Christ, "grace" insures us that we do not actually have to obey the commands of Christ and of his Apostles. But this is a false doctrine.

Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him." (John 14:23—NASB)

But what if we do not obey Christ's teaching or that of his Apostles? The Father will not love us, and the Father and the Son will not make Their home with us. The tragedy of the "grace" teaching is that we need only believe in Christ, whether or not we obey his commands. As I said, it is a false doctrine. Eventually the current "grace" teaching will be seen as a major error in Christian thinking.

It is God's desire to dwell in our inward nature today, even though our body is dead spiritually because of the sinful nature that resides in our flesh. The Apostle Paul spoke of the sinful nature dwelling in the members of his body. Paul was looking forward to the redemption of his body when Jesus appears, that is, the entire removal of the sinful nature and the clothing of his mortal body with his body from Heaven.

Paul's body from Heaven, as is true of ours also, was fashioned as the Spirit of God enabled him to overcome his numerous afflictions and temptations.

Here is the point at which the current "grace" teaching robs us. Because we are placing belief ahead of obedience, no Spirit-filled house from Heaven is being formed for us. When Christ appears, instead of being clothed with a supremely glorious robe fashioned by the Spirit of God, we will be clothed with the corruption we have created as we have yielded to our sinful nature.

For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:8—NASB)

How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. (I Corinthians 15:36,37—NIV)

This is what Daniel meant when he said some would be raised to shame and everlasting contempt.

The goal of the Apostle Paul was to attain to the resurrection to eternal life and immortality, the making alive of his corrupt body. Paul counted all else as garbage that he might lay hold on the prize, the redemption of his body. Paul said that we ought to have the same viewpoint.

I do not like to be redundant, but can you see how Paul's attitude toward the Christian experience is so profoundly different from what is being preached today?

God wants to have a physical body so He can dwell on the earth among his beloved creatures. It is not possible to dwell on the earth unless one has a body. This is why the evil creatures of the heavens seek to inhabit the bodies of human beings.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the Cornerstone and Headstone of the eternal habitation of God. You and I are living stones in this great temple. We endure many frustrations and pains as we submit to the rebirth and renewal of our personality. But it will be worth it all, as the old hymn says, when we see Jesus.

So our goal is not to go to a mansion in Heaven, it is to let God have his wonderful way with us until we are filled with all the fullness of God. Then we always will be at home, whether on earth or in Heaven.

The battle is for the body, isn't it? We are tested, tested, and tested while we are in a flesh and blood body to see if we are worthy of the Kingdom of God, which is Christ formed in us and dwelling in us. How our first personality battles against the working of the Lord!

But we must, we absolutely must, work out our salvation with fear and trembling. When we fall, we are to confess our failure to Christ, and then, with his assistance, receive our forgiveness, get back up on our feet, and press forward toward the goal of being clothed with a body like his glorious body.

We can do it, you know, every one of us, if we will keep looking to the Lord Jesus and battling forward in him. If we have an honest and good heart, the Divine Seed in us will grow until it is an oak of righteousness.

We have all of eternity to rejoice over our victory in Christ, to be rested up from the pain of our cross and to dance with Christ on the mountains of spices.

However, if we neglect to make the effort to conquer with Christ, we have all of eternity to endure the torment of the memory of opportunities thrown away; of people who would have reached maturity in Christ had we been faithful; of having betrayed loved ones who looked to us for guidance and help.

There are rooms in the spirit world that contain people with tormented consciences. Let's you and I keep those rooms in mind and make certain we are going to hear "Well done, good and faithful servant."

And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. (Romans 8:23—NASB)

The Battle for the Body: II

It may be difficult for us to realize that God needs a body, a physical form in which He can dwell and be seen by the people whom He has created. But He does. This is what the Lord Jesus Christ is—the visible form of the invisible God.

Christ is the visible form of God. The Lord Jesus Christ is God's Body we might say. But, as the Lord said, in God's Body, or House, there are many rooms. This is what each of us is—a room in the Temple, or House, or Body, of God. Christ Himself is the Cornerstone and the Capstone. We are the fullness of the Body, the Incarnation of God.

You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (I Peter 2:5—NIV)

Since each of us is a living stone in the eternal Temple of God, our behavior in our body is important. We only are custodians of our bodies. They actually belong to the Lord.

We are told that our daily troubles are forming a body in Heaven that will clothe our flesh and bones in the Day of Resurrection.

For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, (II Corinthians 4:17—NASB)

We will appear in that Day as we actually are. If we are unrighteous, it will appear in the body that clothes us. We will be seen as shameful and contemptible. If we lead many to righteousness, we will shine as the stars, as Daniel informs us.

Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. (Daniel 12:2,3—NIV)

Second Corinthians 4:17 speaks of an "eternal glory" that far outweighs our troubles. The eternal glory is referring to our "eternal house in heaven," mentioned in the following verse:

For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. (II Corinthians 5:1—NASB)

The idea is that as our afflictions and persecutions keep bringing us down to death, the Spirit of God keeps raising us up. Every time we experience this death and resurrection our house in Heaven is made more glorious.

Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. (II Corinthians 5:2,3—NIV)

Christian mythology has us longing to go to our house in Heaven. The truth is, our eternal house in Heaven will clothe our flesh and bones in the Day of Resurrection. More to the point, that eternal house will reveal in itself the kind of Christian discipleship we have lived. We are going to be clothed upon with our own behavior.

If we keep obeying the Holy Spirit throughout our Christian life, from that Spirit we will reap a marvelous body like that of the Lord Jesus. If we keep yielding to our sinful nature, then out from that sinful nature will flow the corruption that will be seen in the body that clothes us in the Day of Resurrection. This may mean that we will be a creature that for a long time—possibly forever—occasions shame and contempt.

This is why the Apostle Paul was concerned about the resurrection, always pressing forward in order to attain to the first resurrection, that is, the resurrection to life and glory, so he will not be found naked in that Day.

For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. (II Corinthians 5:4—NASB)

Paul is saying here that it is not his desire just to die, to lose his physical body, but that his physical body will be "swallowed up by life." I do not believe I have ever, heard, in my many years as a Christian, a church member say he wants to have his physical body swallowed up by eternal life. Have you?

It may be true that when people use the term "resurrection" they are thinking of our being carried up to Heaven. But the word "resurrection" has nothing to do with being carried up. It means only passing from death to life. Where we go after that is another matter entirely. We can be resurrected while standing on our feet or sitting in a chair.

The truth of the resurrection, the triumph of the Christian plan of redemption, has been hidden by a false doctrine—the doctrine of the "rapture." Even the term "rapture" is misleading, because the Greek term means "catching up." In the English language we do not ordinarily use the noun "rapture" to mean a catching up from some power that is seeking to hold us down.

The doctrine of the "rapture," in combination with the unscriptural view of Divine grace as an alternative to growth in Christ, leaves the believers with the mistaken idea that at any moment they, even though their consecration has been shallow or virtually nonexistent, are going to be caught up in their untransformed condition to a mansion in Heaven. To say the least, this is a wild and totally unscriptural belief!

The true doctrine, that we are going to be clothed with a house formed from our behavior, urges the believer to live a wholly consecrated life as he or she hopes to be robed in eternal splendor in the Day of Resurrection, the Day of Christ.

Can you see, in II Corinthians 5:4, that the Apostle Paul was not groaning to be caught up to a mansion in Heaven? It is a good thing that this was not his fervent desire, because no "rapture" has taken place for two thousand years (nor will it ever take place)!

But there is a Day of Resurrection that indeed will take place, for it is the destruction of the last enemy—physical death.

Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge. (II Corinthians 5:5—NASB)

God has prepared us so that "what is mortal may be swallowed up by life." God has worked with us all our Christian life that our mortal body may attain to immortality. God wants us to have an immortal body so He can be seen in us, just as He is seen in Jesus Christ.

Compare this vision with the current vision, which is that we will caught up to Heaven to live in a mansion. The current vision would be laughable if it were not so destructive of Christian growth.

God is building a house for Himself to dwell in. That house is the assembling of immortal bodies known as the holy city, the new Jerusalem. Our deepest desire should be that we might be an integral part of the new Jerusalem. To be a part of the holy city we have to be clothed upon with a robe of eternal life so that God can be seen in us.

The Holy Spirit who dwells in us now is a deposit, a guarantee that if we remain faithful the time will arrive when we are clothed with immortality.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (II Corinthians 5:10—NIV)

I prefer the American Standard Version (below):

For we must all be made manifest before the judgment-seat of Christ; that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (II Corinthians 5:10—ASV)

I believe the American Standard Version is closer to the truth. It is not that we receive the things due us for the things done while in the body, it is that we receive the things themselves that are done in the body. We do not just receive what we deserve, we actually receive the things themselves.

Notice how this agrees with Galatians 6:8:

For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:8—NASB)

We reap destruction out from our own sinful nature, not just as a reward for yielding to our sinful nature. Also, we reap eternal life from the Spirit whom we have been obeying, not just a reward for following the Spirit.

I think the idea that we will be given the actual things rather than a reward for righteous or unrighteous behavior is closer to the concept of sowing and reaping, and does away with uncertainty and confusion about our experience in the Day of Resurrection.

We do not just appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ. Rather, we are "made manifest" before the Judgment Seat of Christ. Quite a difference! That manifestation consists of receiving the things done in our body. If we have done good things, these will be portrayed in our house from Heaven that clothes us in the Day of Resurrection.

If we have done bad things, these bad things will be portrayed in our house from Heaven that clothes us in the Day of Resurrection. This is true for all people, including those who have "accepted Christ," unless we have confessed and renounced the "bad things" that the Spirit points out to us.

God needs a body, a temple, a house in which He can dwell and be seen by His creatures. God does not dwell in angels nor they in God.

Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple. (I Corinthians 3:16,17—NIV)

In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (Ephesians 2:21,22—NIV)

Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him." (John 14:23—NASB)

The Battle for the Body: III

Second Corinthians 4:7 through Second Corinthians 5:10 should be one chapter, titled, "The Battle for the Body."

"The Battle for the Body." What do we mean by this?

When we die we can see deceased loved ones that we recognize. How can we recognize their faces when they have no skin? We recognize them for we are seeing them as they really are. Their speech and mannerisms identify them. This is true even if their face should look different from that to which we have been accustomed.

It sometimes is true that a wicked, conniving, grasping individual has a kindly face. Conversely, someone with plain features may have a lovely personality. We do not see the individual as he or she actually is. But this is not true in the spirit world. We see the real person, no longer hidden behind facial skin.

"Beauty is only skin deep" is a common saying. The Apostle Peter spoke of the "unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight."

And so it will be after the resurrection. The skin of the restored face no longer will hide what the person is. We will see the real person. The wicked, conniving, grasping individual will look like a wicked, conniving, grasping person, unless God has granted a change of personality. The loving, generous person will be seen as just that. The truly righteous will shine with the Glory of Christ.

Regarding Second Corinthians 4:7 through Second Corinthians 5:10, the subject is the battle for the body, that is the pursuit of an immortality that is filled with the Glory of God.

There is, and always has been, the Tree of Life in the midst of Paradise. That Tree is the Lord Jesus Christ. Whoever overcomes his own sins and self-will has access to the Tree of Life. He is qualified to feed continually on Christ. In this way he gains the Resurrection, who is Christ. He passes from death to life.

Now, what does it mean to pass from death to life? Does it mean that he or she now will have eternal spiritual existence? This cannot be the meaning, because Adam and Eve died, in accordance with God's Word. But Adam and Eve no doubt still exist in the spirit world. They have eternal spiritual existence although they died physically.

To eat from the Tree of Life does not mean the person will now have eternal spiritual existence. It appears to me that all people will have eternal spiritual existence, whether or not they eat from the Tree of Life. But not all will spend eternity in the same area.

God told them that when they ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil they would die. And they did—physically.

When the Scripture tells us that whoever believes in Christ will not perish but have eternal life, it is referring to bodily immortality. Bodily immortality is victory over the final enemy, physical death. Paul's goal was to attain to the redemption of his body, his adoption as a son of God.

And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. (Romans 8:23—NASB)

We must keep in mind, however, that all persons, not just those who are saved to the new world of righteousness, will be judged in their body and rewarded or punished in their body. Every human body will be raised from the dead and exist somewhere, whether in torment or in the new world of righteousness. So in this sense we might say that all human bodies are immortal, some being placed in areas of blessing and some in punishment.

And they will go out and look on the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind. (Isaiah 66:24—NIV)

The verses we are considering are telling us about the path to immortality. Immortality meaning our body will never be separated from the Life of Christ—unless, of course, after having attained to the resurrection to eternal life we choose to disobey God, as did Satan.

Following is the pattern:

II Corinthians 4:7-12 announce the fact that our tribulations are accomplishing two Divine operations. First, our troubles crucify our adamic personality. The resurrection Life of Christ that lifts us up from our crucifixion brings that same Life to those to whom we minister.

Second, the crucifixion of our adamic personality destroys our sinful nature. As our sinful nature is destroyed, in particular our self-will, then our robe, our house from Heaven, experiences a corresponding enlargement. The enlarging of our house from heaven is set forth in II Corinthians 4 17 as "an eternal glory that far outweighs them all" (all of our tribulations).

For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, (II Corinthians 4:17—NASB)

The house from Heaven is discussed in Second Corinthians 5:1-5.

The conclusion of the entire discussion is summed up in the following verse:

For we must all be made manifest before the judgment-seat of Christ; that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (II Corinthians 5:10—ASV)

Let us consider what we have expressed thus far.

We are in a battle for our body. Physical death is an enemy, according to Paul. God did not create mankind with physical bodies (which is not true of the other spiritual creatures of God) so that the body would last for a few years and then return to the dust. This is not the way of the Kingdom of God.

Through the Lord Jesus Christ, God has made a way for us to undo the calamity that occurred in the Garden of Eden. We are in a battle for our body. This is what the Gospel is all about; not people dying physically and going to Heaven, but people gaining immortality in their body.

To those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life: (Romans 2:7—NASB)

The last enemy that will be abolished is death. (I Corinthians 15:26—NASB)

For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. (I Corinthians 15:53—NASB)

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory." (I Corinthians 15:54—NIV)

But now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, (II Timothy 1:10—NASB)

Now we can see the relevance of the following:

For we must all be made manifest before the judgment-seat of Christ; that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (II Corinthians 5:10—ASV)

If we have reckoned ourselves dead with Christ, the above verse is taking place in us now; because death is followed by judgment. If we really are a disciple of the Lord Jesus, our personality is being revealed in the Presence of Christ.

Our love for the world, the lusts of our flesh and spirit, and our rebellious nature are coming up before Christ for judgment. As the several aspects of these major areas are shown to us, we are to confess each one clearly and specifically. Then we are to call on Jesus to help us renounce each one with all the determination we can summon.

As our various sufferings bring us down to the death of the cross, the spiritual darkness of our personality rises to the surface and is to be skimmed off.

If we thus confess and renounce our sins, Christ is faithful and righteous to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. This process is forming our house from Heaven in righteousness, holiness, and stern obedience to God.

This is the meaning of "each one may receive the things done in the body." When Christ appears, if we have ignored and not confessed and renounced our sinful actions, they will be displayed in the body that clothes our resurrected flesh and bones. In this manner we reap precisely what we have sown.

This is exceedingly good news for the faithful disciple who has borne patiently with God as he continually is struck down and raised; struck down and raised; struck down and raised again. He is building an exceedingly surpassing weight of glory in the form of a body from Heaven.

But for the careless or rebellious person, it is the most terrifying, most horrible, most dreadful of all prospects.

In the Day of Resurrection the person who has yielded to sexual lust will appear as the personification of sexual lust. You can imagine what he will look like. He will be demonic in appearance. (Maybe this is where the demons come from, the leprechauns, the elves, and other creatures that we have assumed are mythological. These creatures certainly never were angels; and Satan cannot create life. So where did they come from? Just a thought.)

How about the hate-filled, unmerciful, unforgiving individual. How will he or she look when he or she receives what has been done in the body? Will this person be the picture of hate and meanness? The Lord spoke to me one time about an unmerciful person. The Lord said, "He has not shown mercy and no mercy shall be shown to him!"

Can you imagine what a spiteful, envious, stubborn person will look like?

How about the person who has practiced witchcraft; the believer who continually has brought division and dissension; the stingy person; the liar; the one who keeps on disobeying God? Each one shall be raised to shame and everlasting contempt, Christian or not.

I did not make up all this. What I have said is stated in the inerrant Word of God. Just because the American churches are filled with a humanistic spirit does not change one word of the Bible. I think the pastors often compromise the Gospel as they endeavor to please carnal Christians in order to draw them to the assembly. Their excuse is that carnal believers are babies and they cannot eat strong meat. But what about the remainder of the congregation? Are they doomed to eat baby food for the rest of their lives?

So we are in a battle for our physical body, our outward appearance. The Book of Second Corinthians informs us we will experience the sufferings of Christ. As we do, two operations occur. First, we are able to minister eternal life to those whom we seek to help. Second, we are putting "weight" on the house, or robe, that will clothe our resurrected flesh and bones.

Paul states that God has prepared us with a view to receiving a body of glory. No doubt God is thinking of preparing our body for Himself as an eternal dwelling place.

Perhaps when the Lord Jesus said, "I go to prepare a place for you," he was speaking not only of cleansing the defiled sanctuary in Heaven with his own blood, but also of working with us so we can be a living stone in God's eternal Tabernacle. Thus he is at once preparing a place for us in Himself and a place for Himself in us. The Holy Spirit is our guarantee that this is what is happening to us.

Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge. (II Corinthians 5:5—NASB)

The Resurrection of the Body

I think an incorrect goal has been presented to Christian people. The traditional goal of salvation has been, and is today, to go to Heaven, probably to live forever in a mansion in the spirit world. The true scriptural goal, however, is the resurrection of the body to eternal life in God's Kingdom, not in Heaven necessarily.

It seems a primary purpose of salvation is to give us a better appearance, that is, a better resurrection, when the Lord returns.

People always are rewarded or punished in their body, whether they have done good or have done evil.

Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. (John 5:28,29—NIV)

Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2—NIV)

If we are wise we will serve Christ diligently. In this manner we gain a better resurrection in the Day of the Lord.

Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; (Hebrews 11:35—NASB)

The central issue of the Divine plan of redemption is not forgiveness, or going to Heaven when we die. Neither of these would solve God's problem of rebellion. The central issue is the developing of stern obedience to God in us.

When we have been changed from our will to God's will, this inward change will be followed by the resurrection of our body; and not just the resurrection of the body, but the resurrection of the body to eternal life in the Kingdom of God.

The Lord Jesus Christ is our Redeemer. To redeem a thing or an individual is to give back to its original owner that which was lost. Mankind did not lose residence in Heaven, because of the disobedience of Adam and Eve, but immortality in the body. God drove the two first people from the garden so they would not be able to eat of the Tree of Life and thus attain to bodily immortality while they were alienated from God.

The price of our redemption was paid by the blood of the Lord Jesus.

The reason the Christian churches have emphasized eternal residence in Heaven as the goal of redemption is that they view salvation as being the salvation of our spirit. If salvation were only the salvation of our spirit, then it would make sense to view residence in Heaven as our goal. One does not need a body to reside in Heaven.

Because the Kingdom of God is destined to come to the earth and be installed here ("Your Kingdom come"), the body must be resurrected (changed from death to life). We must have a body if we are to live on the earth.

The idea that the Christian salvation is for the purpose of bringing our inward spiritual nature to a spiritual Paradise when we die is derived from the teaching of Gnosticism and is similar to the hope of other religions as well. The Christian salvation is the opposite of this. It is the hope of immortality and renewed life on the earth.

When God saw the first two people in their physical form, and all else of the material world, God declared his work was "very good." The Gnostic concept, as I understand it, is that God's work was very bad, and mankind must flee to the spirit world to find fulfillment.

I have noticed a tendency of Christian people to view flesh as evil and spirit as good. There are religions that emphasize this, but it is not true of Christianity. In fact, the evil of our flesh is caused by wicked spirits that come from the spirit world. The flesh is delivered from evil when the wicked spirits have been conquered and driven from us.

Most religions, it seems, view the physical world as evil—suspect at best. They present the hope that man must die and enter the spirit world to find fulfillment. Perhaps this is why the Catholic church forbids its ministers to marry. It is as though there is something less than holy in physical marriage. The result of this unscriptural, unnatural directive is sinful behavior, as the repressed personality seeks to escape its boundaries.

We are coming in our time to the true, scriptural concept, that the material world is "very good." Though it fell into the hands of Satan through man's disobedience, our Redeemer has paid the price of our redemption and we now are free to pursue and regain immortality. Then Paradise will be restored to the earth, as Isaiah informs us.

The Kingdom of God is the Divine Life of God incarnate in a material world, and shall be installed on the earth when Jesus returns.

When the New Testament speaks of eternal life, it often is speaking of immortality, not of eternal spiritual life in the spirit world.

The famous John 3:16 state that we will not perish if we place our faith in Christ. However, spirits do not perish. It is the body that perishes.

Compare the use of the term "perish":

So also is the resurrection of the dead It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; (I Corinthians 15:42—NASB)

For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. (I Corinthians 15:53—NASB)

If you stop to think about it, what people want is bodily immortality, not endless existence in the spirit world. The good news of salvation is that our body is going to be resurrected so it can live once again as part of a normal human being. A normal human being is spirit, soul, and body. This is how God made us in the first place. Physical death is an unnatural state. Man is not "man" when his or her physical body is absent.

It is interesting to note that when people speak of resurrection they are picturing going to Heaven. Resurrection has nothing whatever to do with going to Heaven. Resurrection is the making alive of the physical body, that is, filling it with the Spirit of God.

This simple fact is not understood at all by most Christian people, it appears. But it is what we want. Bodily immortality was and still is the goal of the Apostle Paul.

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10,11—NIV)

To those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; (Romans 2:7—NASB)

The last enemy that will be abolished is death. (I Corinthians 15:26—NASB)

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory." (I Corinthians 15:54—NIV)

But now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, (II Timothy 1:10—NASB)

Notice the following:

But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. (Romans 8:11—NASB)

And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. (Romans 8:23—NASB)

It appears that we have come to a change in our thinking. Our concept has been that we are forgiven so we can go to Heaven. This is surprising, in that nowhere does the Bible speak of going to Heaven as a product of salvation. I don't believe that any of the Apostles of the Lamb spoke of residence in Heaven as being our goal.

Why is it that now, in these days, we are becoming aware that our goal is to attain to bodily immortality in the Kingdom of God, and that we are destined to live once again on the earth? Probably because the coming of Christ and his Kingdom is at hand.

The unscriptural doctrine of the so-called "rapture" of the believers has largely done away with the pursuit of the resurrection, the redemption of our body. Ask any believer you know about the resurrection of our body. If they have been taught about the rapture, they likely will not be clear at all about the resurrection.

They probably will say that the rapture is the resurrection. This point of view hardly is scriptural. Can you imagine the Apostle Paul saying, "If by any means I might attain to the rapture?"

The truth is, there is a great difference between resurrection and ascension (rapture). The Lord Jesus was raised from the dead, was on the earth forty days, and then ascended to Heaven.

A central goal of the Christian redemption is the resurrection of our body, filling it with the Life of God. This is the destruction of the last enemy. This is the climax of redemption. The ascension (rapture) is not part of redemption. It is an act of Kingdom power to get us ready to descend with Christ so we may participate in the installing of the Kingdom of God upon the earth.

When the fourth chapter of the Book of First Thessalonians speaks of the dead in Christ rising, that means giving Divine Life to their bodies. This is the resurrection. It does not mean rising into the air. The catching up comes later.

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. (I Thessalonians 4:16—NASB)

When we think of the resurrection of our body we need to clear our mind of the idea that this refers to our body going to Heaven. It means our physical body has been made alive in Christ. Paul refers to the resurrection as "our adoption to sonship." Can you see that this is speaking of a change in our state, not a change in our location?

And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. (Romans 8:23—NASB)

I understand that viewing the resurrection of our body unto immortality as our goal may be a new thought to some of us. But it was Paul's stated goal, and he urges us to take the same view.

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10,11—NIV)

Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; (Philippians 3:15—NASB)

The practical difference in viewing the resurrection of our body as our goal is that there is something we are to do about it today. We are in a battle for our body. Satan wants it for his possession. So does the Spirit of God. It is up to us each day to decide who owns our body. We are only the caretaker of our body.

But if we view dying and going to Heaven by "grace," perhaps in a "rapture," we will not work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Do you know, we do not work for our salvation. But we certainly have to work it out. If we do not, we may lose it.

What we will experience in the Day of Resurrection depends on how we are pursuing our discipleship today. If we are like the Apostle Paul we will be seeking to know Christ, counting the spirit of the world as so much garbage. We will be denying ourselves so we may know Christ, the fellowship of his sufferings, and the power of his resurrection.

If instead we are yielding to our sinful nature, living in the impulses of the soul and spirit, we can look forward to corruption in the Day of Resurrection. Our flesh and bones will be raised and then clothed upon with the corruption we have practiced. Thus we will be an object of shame and contempt.

Let us rather press forward into the Lord Jesus each day so we may experience a better resurrection, a resurrection to a Glory-filled immortality.

The sufferings we are experiencing now are, in effect, a sowing of our body unto death. We can think of our present body as seed that is sown. In the Day of Resurrection, what we have sown, if to Christ, will spring forth as a body of glory beyond our imagination to picture at this time.

How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. (I Corinthians 15:36,37—NIV)

When a plant grows from a seed, the seed is in the full grown plant. So it is true that our new body will still have the old body in it. The old body will not be left somewhere to decompose.

Following are some passages that emphasize when the New Testament is referring to "life," it often means immortality in the body.

"Stop grumbling among yourselves," Jesus answered. "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: 'They will all be taught by God.' Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me. No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." (John 6:43-51—NIV)

I believe the Lord is teaching here that as we come to Him and partake of Him each day we gain inward resurrection life. Such inward life is the necessary prerequisite for receiving immortality in the body when the Lord returns.

Jesus said to them, "Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever." He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. (John 6:53-59—NIV)

The ancestors ate manna and died physically. Whoever feeds on Christ will live forever physically. The passage reveals the relationship between the inward resurrection and the outward resurrection.

And the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades. (Revelation 1:18—NASB)

Christ was dead physically and now is alive physically.

But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. (Hebrews 12:22,23—NIV)

The Lord Jesus Christ is the Firstborn from the dead, and so his Church is referred to as "the church of the firstborn," that is, the church of those who like Him are to be raised from the dead.

And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life, says this: (Revelation 2:8—NASB)

I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4—NIV)

The believers who had not worshiped the beast or its image certainly had been alive spiritually prior to this event. So when the Scripture states, "They came to life," it must mean their body at that time was imbued with the Spirit of God. I believe this is a clear indication that when the New Testament speaks of Christ giving us "life," the meaning is immortality in our body.

Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, (Hebrews 2:14—NASB)

And the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades. (Revelation 1:18—NASB)

And from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood—(Revelation 1:5—NASB)

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God. (Revelation 2:7—NASB)

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25,26—NIV)

Jesus spoke the above words just prior to raising Lazarus from the dead.

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. (I Corinthians 15:20-23—NIV)

It may be noted in the verses above that, "in Christ all will be made alive." The sentence following that expression speaks of those who belong to Him being made alive when He comes. So even though they were alive spiritually before He came, just as is true of us today, they were not fully alive until He came and raised their bodies from the dead.

A careful study of the above passages will show, I believe, that it is time now for a change in our Christian thinking. The emphasis is on the resurrection (redemption) of our body.

In view of what I have just written about the resurrection of the mortal body, I believe we can say that the wise individual will base his or her decisions during their life in terms of the resurrection of the body. It is certain that our daily behavior in the present world will have a direct effect on the kind of resurrection we will experience.

Our present life is so short! Our life after our body has been made alive by the Spirit of God will endure for eternity. This scarcely is comprehensible to us, but it is more certain than any other experience we will have. As I stated previously, I believe the concept that the Christian salvation is largely spiritual and has to do with our spiritual residence in Paradise when we die, probably reflects the influence of Gnosticism on the early churches.

Eternal life is the knowledge of God and of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The fullness of that knowledge is first developed in our inward nature. Then the new creation of the inward nature must incorporate the body before we fully have become a son of God. Such is the manner of our adoption as a son of God.

And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. (Romans 8:23—NASB)

The Awakening of the Mortal Body

As far as I can tell, the New Testament is not focused primarily on gaining eternal life in our inward man but on gaining immortality in the body when the Lord Jesus appears.

When we die our body sleeps, according to the Scripture. So the resurrection will be an awakening. People often speak of a glorified body, as though we are going to lose our present body and get a new one. However this is not true.

The truth is, the body we have now will be made alive at the coming of the Lord, if we have lived a victorious Christian life. It appears the New Testament is not addressed primarily to our gaining eternal life in our inward man, as important as that is, but on attaining to immortality in the body when the Lord Jesus appears. At least that was Paul's goal.

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10,11—NIV)

But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. (Romans 8:11—NASB)

In the present hour our body is dead spiritually because of the sin that dwells in it. But our inward nature is alive because the righteousness of Christ has been imputed to it, and because we are making every effort to obey the Law of the Spirit of Life, that is, the Holy Spirit.

Our inward nature is alive because we have put our faith in Christ. The Life of God always proceeds from righteousness, first imputed as we come to Christ, then actual as the Spirit of God begins to make us a new, righteous creation.

But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. (Romans 6:22—NASB)

Notice in the above verse that eternal life is a result of freedom from sinful behavior, and obedience to God. The great error of our time is the notion that if we make a profession of Christ we have eternal life, even though after a period of time there is no evidence of a change in our behavior.

God will give life to our mortal body because his Spirit is living in us. This is referring, of course, to the Day of Resurrection. If, however, we as a Christian continue to obey the sinful compulsions of our body, God's Spirit will not dwell in us.

This means that when the Lord returns our body will not be made alive. We have killed our spiritual life. If our inward nature has died because we have not chosen to put to death the actions of our body, our body will not be made alive at the coming of Christ.

Because confusion concerning the resurrection seems to be prevailing in our day, partly because of the unscriptural doctrine of the pre-tribulation "rapture" of the believers, I would like to emphasize that it is our present body that will be made alive.

"Will give life to your mortal bodies." Not only will our body be raised from its place of internment, but it will be clothed with a body from Heaven that has been formed according our actions during our lifetime on the earth. The heavenly body has been fashioned by the Spirit of God. Our mortal body will be made alive by being clothed with our heavenly body.

For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. (II Corinthians 5:4—NASB)

This is what will take place for those who are "asleep in Jesus" when Christ returns. To be asleep in Jesus means we have steadfastly maintained our commitment to Christ while living on the earth. We have remained in him. We have lived a victorious Christian life.

To have our mortal body made alive and filled with the Spirit of God is the crowning work of salvation. The last enemy has been destroyed. Now we are alive forever in the Presence of Christ and of God. This was the goal of the Apostle Paul, and is to be our goal also.

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

Notice that our present mortal body is perishable. If we continue to live victoriously in Christ, then, when He appears from Heaven, our body will be raised from its place of internment and clothed with our house from Heaven. The clothing of that which is mortal with that which is immortal was prefigured by the gold that covered the wood of the Ark of the Covenant.

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

Now here is a marvelous thing. As soon as our body has been raised and clothed with its house from Heaven, it will be able to give eternal life to God's creatures. In that day we will bring forth with exceeding joy, from the Throne of God that has been established in us, the Water of Life that will cause the creation to live.

This is why Paul wrote that the creation will be made alive when the sons of God, those who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, are revealed in their glory.

For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. (Romans 8:20,21—NIV)

The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. (I Corinthians 15:47—NASB)

We need to remember that in our first form was created from dust. We may view ourselves as someone great, but we actually are of the dust of the earth. The second man is of Heaven.

Both the old man and the and the new man from Heaven are "Adam," that is, "man." This is true of both men and women. Because of the curse, women have been made subject to man. The fact is, once the curse has been lifted it will be seen that the woman, along with the man are both in God's image. The woman shows one aspect of God. The man reveals another aspect of God.

Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. (I Corinthians 15:50—NASB)

Notice that the first man in his or her mortal body cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. Our animal form cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. We must be changed. Our flesh and bone will be preserved, and then covered with the Spirit-filled body of eternal life. The Lord Jesus was in this new form when He ate the piece of the broiled fish with the disciples.

It is the new man, having the newly created inner man and clothed with the House from Heaven, who inherits the Kingdom. This is why Paul advised us that if we continue to live in the sins of the flesh the Spirit of God will leave our inward nature and we will not inherit the Kingdom.

Of interest here is the term "perishable." This reminds us of John 3:16, that informs us if we believe in Christ we will not perish. Spirits do not perish. As I see it there is no way to kill or destroy a spirit once it has been created.

When I refer to our inward nature being killed I mean that the Spirit of God has been withdrawn from it, not that our spirit has been obliterated. A spirit once created endures for eternity, as far as I know. It will be conscious somewhere in the universe.

Also, it appears evident that the body of the wicked does not ultimately perish. From the passage below, it seems true that the body of the rebellious experiences a prolonged second death.

"And they will go out and look on the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind." (Isaiah 66:24—NIV)

The influence of Gnosticism can be seen as Christians view the flesh as evil and perceive their salvation as eternal residence in the spirit Heaven. The truth is, God is going to make alive our flesh such that it has immortality. John 3:16 is speaking of gaining immortality, not of going to Heaven.

To those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; (Romans 2:7—NASB)

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory." (I Corinthians 15:51-54—NIV)

But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. (Romans 8:11—NASB)

The Temporary and Then the Eternal

Yesterday I went to the dentist. A crown on one of my teeth had broken. The dentist took it off. Then he inserted a temporary crown. He said, "Come back at a later time and I will remove the temporary crown and replace it with a permanent crown."

I was praying in the early hours of this morning. Suddenly it came to me: The temporary crown and then the permanent crown are an excellent example of what takes place as we endure the rigors of redemption.

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

I sometimes have wondered why God requires that we allow Him to crucify our first personality. We have so much good in us and so much that is evil. Why didn't God make us the way He wants us in the first place? Why go through this prolonged, painful process of crucifixion?

I cannot answer the question "why." But it is clear that this is the way God works. First there is the flesh. Then there is the Spirit.

The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor. So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man. (I Corinthians 15:41-49—NIV)

"The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor. So will it be with the resurrection of the dead." Paul is telling us here that when we are raised from the dead and assume our eternal form, we will reveal a splendor that we have not known while in our original adamic form.

We were of the dust of the earth. Now we are a "heavenly man." But we still are "Adam." This is true of both male and female persons.

We will be raised in an imperishable form. Here is John 3:16 fulfilled: "Whoever puts his faith in Christ will not perish but have eternal life," that is, immortality.

"All flesh is grass," the prophet proclaimed. So it is true. Our first form is of the earth and is temporary. Our second form, if we are remaining in Christ, is eternal. Our resurrection from the dead will result in our being a son or daughter of God—that which we always were meant to be.

I hope I can communicate in this brief essay the fact that our present life on the earth is not only temporary, it is an animal existence compared with the life-giving spirit that we are destined to be. Such a change requires that we remain in Christ, obeying Him at all times. The inheritance is "to him who overcomes."

"The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body."

Perishable; dishonorable; weak; fleshly. Such is our present body. If we remain faithfully in Christ, we one day will have a form that is imperishable; honorable; powerful; filled with the Spirit of God. Such is our great hope.

I have written previously that what we have now is a guarantee on the full redemption that will be ours when we are raised from the dead. In several passages we find that we will not be "alive" until we have been raised from the dead. Notice carefully the following passage:

For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. (I Corinthians 15:22,23—NIV)

Notice in the above that we are not "alive" until Christ comes, that is, until we have attained to the resurrection from the dead.

Again:

Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4—NASB)

Now think about this. John is telling us about Christians who had not worshiped Antichrist. John says, speaking of the first resurrection from the dead: "They came to life." Obviously they had been spiritually alive prior to this time. But they were not "alive" in the scriptural sense until Christ returned.

I believe Christian theology has been influenced to a great extent by the religion of Gnosticism—so much so that we have lost sight of the fact that the good news of the Christian salvation is that we will regain what was lost in the Garden of Eden.

If I understand the Gnostic religion, it views the flesh as evil and the spirit as good. This is not at all true of the Christian salvation. The flesh itself is not evil, it is the spirits that inhabit the flesh that are evil. There is wickedness in our spirit also, and the program of redemption makes our spirit holy.

What was lost in Eden was immortality in the body. Christ has come to overturn this curse and restore immortality to us. This is our great hope, not that of a "rapture" in which we flee from the earth and live in a mansion in Heaven. How utterly ridiculous!

Notice Paul's hope and goal:

And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. (Romans 8:23—NASB)

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10,11—NIV)

Now, what does all this mean to us as individuals? It means that we have a temporary form and an eternal form. The first is weak and perishable. The second form is powerful and eternal.

Seeing that such is the case, the wise person will always be looking toward the day when the Lord Jesus appears and changes him or her from a perishable, weak individual into a glorious, powerful, eternal individual.

We may think of ourselves as person A and person B, with A being the perishable form and B being the imperishable form. If we are to be changed from A to B when Jesus returns, we must be remaining in Him at all times, always looking to Him for every detail of our life.

The promises of glory found in the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation are reserved for the victorious saints. I am convinced that our most difficult battle is that of learning to live by the Life of Jesus.

It appears that we were born with a fierce desire to control our own life. I do not know of many Christians who have turned over their life to Jesus so they can say truthfully, as did the Apostle Paul: "I am living no longer but Christ is living in me." We all seem to be filled with self-determination.

But I am persuaded that our present life is little more than that of an intelligent animal—at least compared with life B. Therefore we should devote our attention to listening to Jesus so we may obey Him diligently and continually.

Given what we know about the two forms of man, the animal and the Divine, the wise person will see to it that he each day attains to the inward resurrection. We must prepare ourselves so that when Jesus appears we are qualified and competent to be changed into the form befitting the offspring of God.

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

The Day of Resurrection

The Day of Resurrection should be the focus of our attention throughout our lifetime. I notice that as far back as the time of Job, people knew that in the last days, those who are in the graves will come forth and stand before the Lord God of Heaven.

I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; (Job 19:25,26—NIV)

The resurrection from the dead marks the destruction of the last enemy, which is physical death. It also is the time when people will be judged according to how they have behaved during their lifetime.

The fear of judgment is a powerful deterrent of sinful behavior for most people. This precisely is why the dogma of evolution is so appealing during our present age, when people are in love with themselves. "If there is no final judgment, I do not have to worry about pleasing God by my behavior."

This also is why the unscriptural doctrine of the "rapture" is so attractive during our present age, when people are in love with themselves. According to the "rapture" doctrine, everyone who makes a profession of faith in Jesus Christ need no longer fear judgment but soon will be carried up to a mansion in Heaven where there will be no worries or distress of any kind.

Have you ever noticed how the doctrine of the "rapture" has done away with the hope of the resurrection, which is the central hope of the Gospel of the Kingdom? Have you ever heard any preacher speak about the resurrection, except perhaps on Easter or at a funeral? This is because the unscriptural doctrine of the "rapture" has shoved aside the scriptural doctrine of the resurrection.

Ask a fellow Christian about the relationship of the "rapture" to the resurrection from the dead. The response you get will tell you the damage that has been done by the doctrine of the "rapture." Satan has managed to eliminate the resurrection as our goal, substituting for it an unscriptural ascension into Heaven, with no resurrection taking place.

The Lord Jesus told us that every person who has died shall come forth from the grave at the sound of his voice. Some will come forth to eternal life in his Presence. Some will come forth to condemnation.

The reason for the difference in destinies is not that one has "accepted Christ" while the other has not. Rather, the reason for the difference is that one has done good and the other has done evil.

Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. (John 5:28,29—NIV)

I am not teaching here that we can reject the salvation that is in Christ, and then save ourselves by "doing good." What I am saying is that in the current teaching we can make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, continue to live sinfully, and then "rise to live."

We can't, and this is the destructive error of our day.

The nature of our resurrection depends on whether we have done good or done bad, just as Jesus stated, and as the Apostles of the Lamb wrote in their epistles.

We have been deceived!

Now I will explain the perfect justice of God. The body that will clothe our resurrected flesh and bones is being prepared for us in Heaven. Every thought we think, every word we speak, every action we take, is shaping that body.

When we are raised from the dead, that body will cover our flesh and bones. We will be clothed in our own deeds. This is what the Apostle Paul meant when he wrote to the Christians in Galatia that if they continued to live in their sinful nature they would reap corruption.

When the adulterer is raised he will be clothed with adultery. He will look like adultery.

When the liar is raised he will be clothed with lying. He will look like a lie.

When the thief is raised he will be clothed with thievery. He will look like thievery.

The Lord Jesus Christ did not come from Heaven to scold us because of our sinning, or to condemn us. He came to set us free from the chains of our sin so we could delight in behaving righteously. Christ came to bring to us righteousness, love, joy, and peace—all through the Spirit of God.

If we will confess our sins and turn away from them, the Lord Jesus will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. But if we insist on continuing in sinful behavior, our experience in the Day of Resurrection will be as I have described.

It is appointed unto people once to die and after that be judged. We can choose "to die" now, so to speak, by counting that we have died with Christ and have risen with him. The moment we take that stand, having been baptized in water if possible, our judgment begins. We continually are coming before Christ, the Spirit is showing us our sins, and we are confessing and turning away from them through the wisdom and power that Jesus gives us.

This deliverance is taking place today for everyone who can hear his voice. We are responding by confessing and turning away from our sins. If we will be faithful in doing this, then, when we are raised from the dead, we will be clothed with the white garments of the righteous conduct that Christ has created in us.

"Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) (Revelation 19:7,8—NIV)

Now we will enter eternal life in the Presence of the Lord Jesus, for eternal life always follows genuinely righteous behavior, in spite of what the Christian teachers of our day are proclaiming.

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 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 6:7,8—NIV)

Attaining to the First Resurrection From the Dead

The concept of the first resurrection from the dead, although it is set forth clearly in the Scriptures, does not seem to be familiar to many Christians.

(The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. 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 20:5,6—NIV)

There are two advantages of attaining to the first resurrection of the dead. First, you will have a physical body for a thousand years while other people, including Christians, are still spirits. Second, you will not have to worry about being judged at the major resurrection, which takes place at the end of the thousand-year period.

Your judgment took place during your lifetime on earth, as you confessed and turned away from your sins before the Lord appeared from Heaven. The sentence passed upon you when He appeared was to receive a glorious physical body, filled with eternal life, and to be with Him as He establishes His Kingdom upon the earth.

I think the current belief is that the first resurrection is for all who have made a profession of belief in Christ. But this does not fit the words of the passage. Rather, the first resurrection is the regaining of the bodies of those who have, through Christ, overcome the Antichrist spirit of the world, the lusts and passions of their flesh and spirit, and their self-determination.

It ought to be clear to any sincere reader of the Book of Revelation that the promises we ordinarily associate with being a Christian are reserved for the "overcomers." But the idea of only the overcomers inheriting the promises of the second and third chapter of the Book of Revelation is not always preached and taught with emphasis, as it should be.

The second resurrection, which comes at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, is for every individual who did not attain to the first resurrection. At the second resurrection, the majority are carried over to citizenship on the new earth. The minority are imprisoned in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur.

We notice in the third chapter of the Book of Philippians that the Apostle Paul was striving to attain to the resurrection that is out from among the dead. It would be ridiculous to believe this meant Paul was striving to be saved, to go to Heaven instead of Hell when he died.

If Paul was not attempting to attain to salvation, what then had he set before him as a mark? Whatever it was, or is, we certainly do not hear much about it today.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14—NIV)

Paul was laying aside everything, counting it all as garbage, that he might attain to the resurrection that is out from among the dead, that is, the first resurrection.

What is so special about the first resurrection? The first resurrection is that of the kings who will govern the nations of people who survived the return of Christ with his saints.

The second resurrection does not need to be attained to. Every person who was not in the first resurrection will rise in the second resurrection, at the end of the Kingdom Age, whether they are of God's elect or of the remainder of mankind. At that time, those in the Book of Life will be separated from the wicked and saved to the new world of righteousness.

I believe the Scripture is clear enough concerning the firstfruits of the Royal Priesthood who will govern the nations throughout the thousand-year Kingdom Age, those who attain to the first resurrection.

Also, I may be correct in saying that those who attain to the resurrection out from among the dead will not only govern the saved nations, but also will minister to the majority of the Royal Priesthood. The majority of the Royal Priesthood will be prepared, during the thousand-year Kingdom Age, to serve the citizens of the new earth. This is my understanding, based on the eighth chapter of the Song of Solomon.

Thus the ruling kings will be able to govern people on the earth for the thousand years, and also minister to the rest of the Body of Christ who still are in the spirit world. The victorious saints will be able to be in two or more places at once, just as is true of the Lord Jesus.

Having stated my view of the advantage of being in the first resurrection, that which will take place when the Lord Jesus next appears to the earth, let me proceed to discuss how one attains to the first resurrection.

We note first, as I said previously, how the Apostle Paul laid aside all else and pressed forward with singleness of purpose in order to attain to the first resurrection. Such fervency is required if one is to be with Paul and the other Apostles when the Lord returns.

We must attain to the resurrection of our inward nature if we are to participate in the resurrection of our outward nature, that is, our physical body.

From my point of view, the resurrection of the inward nature is described best in the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John. A careful review of the sixth chapter will reveal the relationship between partaking of the body and blood of Christ, and the inner resurrection.

He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:54—NASB)

Is Jesus referring to the outward resurrection in the passage above? Let us think of it this way: The inner resurrection is to be taking place each day of our discipleship. The death resident in our old nature must be being replaced by the life that is in the body and blood of God's Lamb, Jesus Christ.

The outward resurrection, then, will take place as a final step of attainment, having been preceded by the daily steps of exchanged life throughout the life of the disciple. The outward resurrection will take place when Jesus returns.

Now, how do we eat the flesh of Christ and drink his blood?

Each day we have at least one opportunity to choose whether or not to do what we feel Christ would have us do. Sometimes we have several opportunities.

When we pray for wisdom and strength, and do the right thing, we are fed in the spirit realm with the body and blood of God's Lamb. When we continue to walk in our own desires we are not fed with the body and blood of God's Lamb. We remain in our dead spiritual state.

When we are fed with the body and blood of the Lamb we receive eternal resurrection life in our inward nature. When we continue in our fleshly, adamic nature we do not receive eternal resurrection life in our inward nature. We remain unchanged.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it. (Revelation 2:17—NASB)

The "hidden manna" is the body and blood of the Lamb. The white stone is a voting pebble, meaning that the recipient is being voted into the ranks of the chosen.

The thoughtful reader can see instantly that as we make godly decisions each day we are attaining to the resurrection of our inward nature. At the coming of Christ, that which we have attained to by following the Lamb and obeying Him will extend to our outer form.

When the Lamb appears in the sky, those "eagles" who live by his body and blood will be caught up to Him because they are an integral, eternally inseparable part of him.

One of my favorite verses is found in the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John. It is as follows:

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. (John 6:56,57—NIV)

Here is my personal affirmation of faith: I am learning to say, one step at a time, "What's next, Lord?" I want to live this way forever, living by the Presence and Life of the Lord Jesus.

You may remember the morning and evening lamb of the Old Testament. Twice a day two young lambs were offered as a burnt offering. While they were being offered, wine was being poured out next to the Table of Showbread in the Holy Place of the Tabernacle.

This ceremony tells us that each day we are to be partaking of the body and blood of God's Lamb, as we present our body a living sacrifice to the Lord.

Say to them: "This is the offering made by fire that you are to present to the LORD: two lambs a year old without defect, as a regular burnt offering each day.

Prepare one lamb in the morning and the other at twilight.

The accompanying drink offering is to be a quarter of a hin of fermented drink with each lamb. Pour out the drink offering to the LORD at the sanctuary." (Numbers 28:3,4,7—NIV)

Aren't the above passages a wonderful portrayal of the daily walk of a consecrated Christian? Each day we eat of the slain Lamb and each day we drink his blood, thus attaining to the first resurrection, the resurrection that is out from among the dead.

Dear reader, you can do it. You can, through the Lord Jesus, overcome the Antichrist spirit of the world, your own sinful nature, and your insistence on living your life apart from the Lord Jesus.

For myself, I am finding righteousness, love, joy, and peace by living by the wisdom and strength of Christ in every aspect of thinking, speaking, and acting. I do not claim to have attained, to have reached perfection, but I am pressing on the upward way.

In the third chapter of Philippians Paul says he had not attained. But by the time he wrote Second Timothy, the crown of righteousness and life was his.

It can be this way for you and me. If we keep on pressing forward in Christ we can attain to the first resurrection, the resurrection of the firstfruits of the Royal Priesthood, who will be given back their physical bodies when Jesus comes.

(The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. 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 20:5,6—NIV)

And so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection (Greek: out-resurrection) from the dead. (Philippians 3:11—NIV)

The Fullness of God

There are at least three major platforms in the work of redemption. There is the basic platform of forgiveness through the blood atonement. There is the development of the Life of the Spirit in us. Finally there is what the Apostle Paul sets forth as the "fullness of God." These three platforms are pictured by the three levels of water, in Ezekiel, Chapter 47.

The fourth level, of Ezekiel, is that of service as a tree of life growing on the bank of the River of Life. Isaiah, Twelve, that describes the personal testimony of those who are filled with the Fullness of God, speaks of how they with joy bring forth the water of Life to the dead people of mankind. The Lord Jesus also, during the feast of Tabernacles, spoke of the living water coming from those who believe in Him.

And to know this love that surpasses knowledge that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:19—NIV)

Paul's prayer for the saved, Spirit-filled saints in Ephesus was that they might be strengthened in their inner nature until they were filled with all the fullness of God.

As we press forward in the operation of redemption we experience three deaths and three resurrections before we can bring forth eternal life to others to the extent God desires.

The first death is our death to the world. We die this death when we are baptized in water, signifying that we have died to the world and have risen to live with the Lord Jesus in newness of life.

We experience the second death (not the second death of the Lake of Fire) and resurrection as we resolutely put to death through the Spirit the evil deeds of our old personality and come to life in the Spirit of God.

We enter the third death and resurrection as we keep saying, "Not my will, but yours be done." We maintain this attitude while we patiently are enduring the prisons we are placed in. Our motivations must be given over to the will of God so that his will is done in the earth. This is the Kingdom of God, the rule of God over our personality.

Then, as we continue in the three resurrections we enter the "waters to swim in," and our life from then on is found in God and in those persons whom we inherit.

Throughout our lifetime on earth (and perhaps for eternity, I do not know) we are to keep on knowing more of Christ, experiencing more of Christ.

Have you noticed in the Scriptures some of the startling passages concerning our life in Christ? The following is one of my favorites.

Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. (John 6:57—NIV)

I can't speak for you, but it is the desire of my heart to feed on Jesus until his Life is my life. This promise is in the Scriptures, so it is available to whoever will claim it and act on it.

Another passage that has been very meaningful to me is as follows:

That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:21-23—NIV)

Now take a deep breath and notice carefully what is being said here. This is one of the most remarkable prayers in the Bible.

"That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you."

The Father and the Son are totally One, because the Father is in the Son in his Fullness and the Son is in the Father in his Fullness. The members of the Wife of the Lamb are to be fully one in the Oneness that is God.

"May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me."

The purpose of our being created one in God is that the world may believe that the Father is the One who has sent the Son. This is the true goal of our election. It is not that we might spend eternity in Heaven. It is that the people of the nations may come to realize that Jesus Christ is from the Father. God wants the world to hear his beloved Son and obey him.

"I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one."

The Lord Jesus has received the fullness of the Glory of God because He is an inseparable part of God. We cannot receive from Christ the Divine Glory until we are an inseparable part of Christ. God will never give his Glory to another!

"May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me."

Here is an extremely interesting statement. God's purpose is to bring the members of his Church into the oneness with Him that is true of Jesus Christ, so that the world will understand that God loves his elect just as He loves his only begotten Son.

It is time for us Christians to grow up into the fullness of Christ. We have been redeemed through the blood atonement, it is true. But the world does not see God in us.

We have been baptized with the Spirit of God, it is true. But the world does not as yet see Christ in us. In fact, in many instances the people of the world are disgusted with the antics of the church people.

But God gave his Son so that the spiritually dead of mankind might not perish in their corruption but come to Divine Life. This resurrection cannot take place until the elect are willing to do God's will rather than their own, are filled with the Fullness of God, and are in their places as trees of life growing on the banks of the River of Life.

Then he led me back to the bank of the river. When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. (Ezekiel 47:6,7—NIV)

If you wish to be a tree of life bringing eternal life to the dead sea of mankind, then tell God about it and press forward in Christ. If you do, Isaiah, Chapter Twelve will become your personal testimony:

These promises are for you and me; but we are going to have to pursue Jesus with total diligence if we are to attain to all the fullness of God!

"Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation." (Isaiah 12:2,3—NIV)

Trees of Life

Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Tree of Life who always is in the Paradise of God. His body and blood are our resurrection life. If we would eat and drink of Him we must overcome our sins and self-will. As we partake of Him we grow in inward resurrection life, which is the necessary requirement if we are to receive outward resurrection life in the Day of Resurrection.

I believe the following passage speaks of the purpose for our transformation into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ.

So also it is written, "The first man, Adam, became a living soul." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. (I Corinthians 15:45—NASB)

Man is body, soul, and spirit. God's Spirit is a projection of his Soul. Our spirit is a projection of our soul. If we are to be a life-giving spirit, and our spirit is the projection of our soul, then it seems that our soul must become a source of God's Life.

If our soul is dead in sin and self-will, then it is obvious what we will project is spiritual death, no matter how theologically correct we may be. In order for us to be a life-giving spirit, our soul must be made alive in the Lord Jesus.

For our soul to be alive in Jesus, we must be more than a casual church member who professes belief in Jesus Christ. Many, perhaps the majority of those who attend Christian churches in the United States, are spiritually dead even though they have "accepted Christ." How do we know this? By their behavior.

You can recognize a tree by its fruit. If its fruit tastes good and is nutritious, then it is a good tree and the fruit is good to eat. If its fruit tastes bitter and is not nutritious, then we know that the fruit of that tree is not good to eat.

So it is with those who attend Christian churches. If a member projects love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control, then we know that the soul of that individual is filled with the Life of God.

If, however, a member projects hatred, bitterness, misery, unrest, impatience, harshness, wickedness, treachery, boastfulness, lack of self-control, as is true of multitudes of those who profess belief in Christ, then we know that the soul of that person is not filled with the Life of God.

We know them by their fruit, as the Scripture states. This is true whether or not the individual professes Christ and is engaged busily in some sort of Christian work.

A true Christian is known by his or her behavior, not by any declaration of belief in Christ. If this is true, and the Bible appears to support this idea, there are not as many Christians in the United States as we might wish.

How is a person to become a life-giving spirit, planted along the River of Life? He or she becomes a life-giving spirit by possessing a soul that has been transformed by being filled with Christ.

How then does an individual become transformed by being filled with Christ? He or she must live each moment of each day by the Life of Jesus.

Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. (John 6:57)

There you have it. We must live at all times by the Life of Jesus. We must feed on Christ continually.

How do we feed on Christ continually? By submitting all of our thinking, speaking, and acting to Him for his approval.

If we have not been accustomed to abiding in Christ in this manner, we might think such a life is difficult or impossible to attain to. Actually it is not, but one must practice it and grow strong and proficient in it.

The first thing when we wake up, while our mind is on many different problems and concerns, we say, "Good morning, Jesus, I love you." Then we think of some things to thank Him for. Perhaps we don't feel like it this morning. Jesus didn't feel like going to the cross either. It is important to begin to pray the moment we wake up.

Then we pray: "Lord Jesus, fill my mind with Your Person and will. Cause me to do Your will today. Take charge of my thinking, my speaking, and all that I do."

It is a good idea as we go to sleep to think of something to praise the Lord for.

Then, according to our circumstances and our culture, we begin the day. Immediately we are confronted with decisions to make, or with fears and dreads, or with occasions for thanksgiving, for example.

We bring each decision to Jesus. We bring each fear and dread to Jesus so He will remove them and give us his peace.

If there is an occasion for thanksgiving, an answer to prayer for example, we look up to the Lord and give Him thanks. Always remember to thank the Lord when a prayer is answered. Sometimes we feel that the problem just solved itself, and forget to thank the Lord. He likes to be thanked!

Being 85 years of age my memory sometimes lets me down. So I make a practice of asking Jesus to remind me of things I must not forget. He always does remind me—without fail!

One of the concepts of computer technology is that of the "cloud." The idea, as I understand it, is that data is saved in a cloud of memory on several servers, to which many clients have access, rather than on the hard disk of our own computer. That is the way in which I visualize my memory. The facts are not stored in my brain. God has all I ever will need to know in a cloud of memory. When I ask Him to remind me of something, He goes to the cloud and brings forth the desired information.

If you start to fall down or otherwise are in immediate danger, begin to pray instantly. Begin to pray before you hit the ground, so to speak.

Does such a plan seem difficult to follow? It is no more difficult than fretting and worrying about our decisions and actions. Practice makes perfect. As we keep on looking to Jesus like this, it becomes easier.

He always is standing at the door to our personality. He always wants to dine with us. Our part is to keep opening the door and inviting Him into all we are thinking, saying, and doing. There is no aspect of our life that Christ does not want to be involved in, I mean, absolutely no aspect!

It is not accepting Christ but abiding in Christ that saves us. He continually is knocking and we continually are to be opening to Him every day and every night.

The great error of religious thinking is that of accepting Christ as a ticket rather than as a way of life.

I am a pastor of a Christian church. It may happen on an occasion that someone wants to do something that involves the church. The person may say, "I don't want to bother Pastor with this," and then he goes ahead and do what is on his or her heart.

There may be circumstances the individual does not realize. The result is, Audrey and I may have to try to clean up the mess. It would be so much better all around if that person, no doubt having a good heart, would tell us about it beforehand.

It is like that with the Lord Jesus. There is no detail of our life that Christ is not interested in. One of the great mistakes we often make is to proceed on an assumption. In the demon-inspired culture in which we are attempting to serve the Lord, it is wise to assume nothing—no matter how familiar—and to pray about everything. Remember Joshua and the Gibeonites; and the defeat at Ai!

Sometimes we have a passionate desire to do something, but we have a feeling it may not be the Lord's will. We may derive this sense from the written Word or from something Jesus has said to us.

If we will obey what we feel is Christ's best for us, and not plunge ahead in our own lusts, Christ will feed us with the hidden manna; with his body and blood. In this manner He is increased in us. We then are living by his Life.

If the desired action is pleasing to the Lord, He will give us peace and wisdom and show us how to attain to our desires. There is no disappointment in Jesus. He always is leading us to righteousness, love, joy, and peace. We can depend on this utterly.

In Chapter 47 of the Book of Ezekiel we are told of three levels of water. These represent three deaths and resurrections our soul must endure if we are to be filled with all the fullness of God.

If we will be absolutely obedient to Christ, cooperating with the Spirit of God as He directs us, the time will come when there are "waters to swim in." Then we are planted by the River of Life.

Now we are a source of eternal life to the people of the nations of the earth. We along with the Spirit of God invite all who will do so to come and partake of the Life of God without cost.

Now we have become a life-giving spirit. There is nothing more wonderful than this!

The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let the one who hears say, "Come!" Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life. (Revelation 22:17—NASB)

The Christian Redemption

The current understanding of the Christian redemption, or salvation, is that we are forgiven so we may go to Heaven when we die. The purpose of bringing us to Heaven when we die is that we may be happy and not experience any more pain or worry.

In actuality, the purpose of redemption is to conform us to the image of God and to create in us stern obedience to the Father. Another way of expressing the purpose of redemption is that it moves us from Satan to God, not from earth to Heaven. Salvation is not a change of location but a change in us. Salvation includes immortality in our body.

The fact of the matter is that the purpose for the existence of the present world is to select and prepare rulers who will be able to serve God faithfully, maintaining Paradise once God restores it to the earth.

The works of redemption that are in addition to forgiveness are the primary subjects of the writings of the Apostles. But it often is true that these additional subjects are not even mentioned much less taught. This is because the Christian people, believing they have been forgiven and are on their way to Heaven by Divine grace, see no reason to become too concerned about further works of redemption.

For example, the "rest of God," which is the thesis of the Book of Hebrews, is seldom mentioned in today's preaching in America. This is true also of the concept of "attaining to the out-resurrection," which is the stated mark of the Apostle Paul.

The purpose of conforming us to the image of God and creating in us stern obedience to the Father is that we might be able to have fellowship with God; fulfill all of God's needs and desires; and assist in the building of his Kingdom.

Four examples of God's many needs and desires are: a living temple for himself; a bride for the Lamb; brothers for God's Son, Jesus Christ; and restorers and maintainers of Paradise on the earth.

Let me point out that the goal of today's preaching is that we might go to Heaven and be happy. However, the actual goal of redemption is that we might be conformed to God's image and enter rest in his will so He can use us to build his Kingdom. Also, and of prime importance, is that we might have fellowship with God.

Of these two different goals, which sounds to you like it may be the correct, scriptural goal? If you have chosen the first, that the goal of salvation is eternal residence in Heaven, I can't help you. It is not scriptural.

If you choose the second, as I have, that the goal of salvation is to be in the image of Christ and at rest in God's Person and will, I may be able to say something that will be helpful to you as you pursue the scriptural goal.

Let us proceed to describe seven steps that we have to take if we are to be able to satisfy God's needs and desires as He builds his Kingdom.

It is important to remember, as we encounter these several phases of redemption, that we, in water baptism, have chosen to regard ourselves as having been crucified with Jesus Christ and raised from the dead with Jesus Christ.

This position, firmly established in our mind, frees us completely from the authority of the Law of Moses.

Having been crucified and raised with the Lord Jesus, we now are legally free to turn away from the Law of Moses and to follow the Spirit of God as He leads us through the program of redemption. The Law of Moses cannot condemn us because we by faith have become an integral part of Christ's death and resurrection.

Except for forgiveness and the resurrection of the body, the seven phases of redemption do not take place in order. They all are in the Lord Jesus Christ. They are applied to us at various times and in various manners until they are brought to maturity in our personality.

The first aspect of redemption is the forgiveness of our sins. Christ has made an atonement for the sins of the whole world. This was a sovereign act of God. Our task is to receive the atonement by faith. We then are completely forgiven, and qualified to follow the Holy Spirit in the next six aspects of redemption, not having to worry about the Law of Moses.

The second aspect of redemption is deliverance from too much dependence on the world system for survival, security, and pleasure, such as entertainment. God helps us with this as we pray and seek his guidance. He sends suffering upon us so the world no longer is pleasant.

There may be sickness in our family. We may experience loss of income. Our children may become incorrigible. We may be sued. People may treat us unjustly and harm us. All sorts of things may happen so we will turn from unnecessary involvement in the world and seek the Lord.

The third aspect of redemption is that of following the Holy Spirit as He proceeds to point out the various elements of the body of sin that dwells in our flesh. Because we have counted ourselves crucified with Christ, the Law of Moses no longer can condemn us. The Law has no authority over "dead" people. We are free to follow the Spirit of God at all times.

We can think of the "body of sin" as a suitcase filled with poisonous snakes. It is baggage we bring with us when we enter Christ. As we confess and renounce these motivations, turning away from them by the power of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit takes the life out of them so we can reject them readily in the future.

If we follow the Spirit of God in our daily life, the righteousness which would have been ours had we kept the Law of Moses perfectly, is ascribed to us. We are free from condemnation while we are following the Spirit of God.

God can remove the suitcase full of poison snakes totally from any person at any time, just as He has the power to remove a disease and give us perfect health. But He doesn't do this, because it is in the battle against the snakes that the conquering spirit is formed in us. The conquering spirit formed in God's saints will be necessary during the ages to come to prevent future rebellions against God.

Also, the house from Heaven that will clothe our resurrected body is formed as we press through every testing and overcome all that the enemy brings against us.

God uses the body of sin plus all sorts of pains and frustrations in order to shape our inward personality, according to the design He has in mind for each individual.

The fourth aspect of redemption is that of learning stern obedience to the Father. As in the case of freedom from dependence on the world system, God has to create obedience in us through suffering. God permits Satan to put us in some kind of prison, into some situation that we do not enjoy. It is our responsibility to remain in that prison. If we try to break out, we will not learn the lessons of obedience and will lose our crown of rulership.

The suffering God sends to make us holy, to separate us from the filthiness of the world system, cannot be avoided. All we can do is pray and seek wisdom as to how to survive our pain and gain victory. Perhaps a son or daughter is taken from us by death or sickness, and there may be nothing we can do.

But the tragedy may turn us away from the world as we seek Christ for his wisdom and guidance and place our hope in Heaven. The same is true if we are seriously injured in a car accident. Perhaps we are being sued unjustly and are not able to defend ourselves successfully.

However, unlike the suffering that is designed to turn us away from the world system, the suffering God sends to teach us stern obedience to God can often be avoided. For example, Abraham could have refused to offer Isaac. Christ could have refused to drink the cup of suffering. The husband or wife who leaves his or her mate for another who seems more desirable, is unwilling to remain in an unpleasant situation.

It is by refusing to break out of God's prison, though we may have our hopes deferred for many years, that we gain the crown of life. We always are to pray that God will give us the desires of our heart; but we are not to move until we know God has released us.

It is your cross of suffering. You can choose to bear it patiently, or else to escape from under it. If you choose to escape from your cross, choosing the path of pleasure instead, you will lose your crown of life.

The fifth aspect of redemption is that of being born again. When we repent of our ungodly life and are baptized in water, the Seed, Christ, is planted in our personality. We must patiently nourish this new Life with prayer, daily Bible reading, gathering with fervent disciples, giving, serving, and communing with Christ constantly.

As we faithfully nourish our new Life, our first, adamic, animal nature becomes increasingly weak while the new Life becomes increasingly strong. This is the Divine Nature of God that has been born in us and it will bring forth an entirely new creation. The new creation itself is the Kingdom of God.

It is possible to kill the new Life by not taking care of it properly.

The sixth aspect of redemption is the resurrection from the dead. Our mortal body, minus its blood, will be raised from the dead. Then our behavior during our lifetime on the earth, which has taken the form of a house, or robe, in the spirit world, will emerge from the spirit world and clothe our mortal frame.

If we have obeyed the Spirit of God, our house from Heaven will be a body of eternal life like that of the Lord Jesus. If we have obeyed our sinful nature, our house from Heaven will be filled with the corruption we have sown. We will be raised, as Daniel prophesied, to shame and everlasting contempt. In this case we have not been redeemed. We have perished.

We have to overcome our sinful nature before we are eligible for the desired change in our body. The last enemy will be overcome is physical death.

If we still are living on earth when Christ appears, our mortal body will be "changed." When this change occurs, there will be no more poisonous snakes in our flesh. This particular means (resisting the snakes) by which we attain to the conquering personality, that is, by resisting sinful tendencies, no longer will be present.

But first we must attain to the inward resurrection before the outer change in our body is possible.

We attain to the inward resurrection as through the development of Christ in us we gain complete victory over all aspects of our sinful nature.

Those who do not attain to the inward resurrection will not be resurrected until after the thousand-year Kingdom Age has taken place. Then God will save to the new world of righteousness those who have sought to live with integrity. But the wicked will be thrown into the Lake of Fire.

To those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; But to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. (Romans 2:7,8—NASB)

Today's Christian teaching stresses "grace," "accepting" Christ, and imputed righteousness. The need for righteous behavior is mentioned but not emphasized. In actual fact, The emphases of the New Testament are first, Jesus Christ as supreme Lord; second, righteousness and eternal life through Christ rather than through the Law of Moses; third, righteousness and holiness of being and behavior.

The seventh aspect of redemption is the coming of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to dwell with us in our new body. We now are seated with Christ on his Throne as He is seated with his Father on the Father's Throne. The Throne of the Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and us is the human personality.

What I have just set forth are the seven aspects of redemption. Faithfully pursued they will conform us to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ and bring us into perfect rest in the center of God's Person and will. Then we will be qualified and competent to fulfill all of the roles in the Kingdom of God to which the Father may assign us.

A prime work of the Kingdom is the casting out of us spiritual darkness, including wickedness, uncleanness, and death. When we add to this the forming of Christ in us, and the dwelling of the fullness of God in that which has been formed in us, we have the Kingdom of God.

The spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Day of Atonement will last from now until the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age. It will affect all individuals in the physical and spirit worlds. It is the removal from God's creation of the forces of sin from everyone who desires such removal.

The most marvelous Heaven would be ruined by the presence of one self-seeking individual. Personality transformation must come before Paradise.

After we have been fully redeemed, what then is true of us personally as we fulfill our roles throughout the coming ages of eternity?

We are obedient to Christ at all times.

God is first in our life in all matters.

We love our neighbor as ourselves.

We walk humbly with God, we being the patriarch of our clan, in iron righteousness and fiery holiness forever—ages without end.

Once redemption has been completed in our personality we are ready for our predestined inheritance of God and people, and an appropriate environment. We are eternally at home in our immortal body.

God himself has become our salvation.

Then we are "home" at last.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 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 8:28,29—NIV)

The Redemption of the Body

Two expressions refer to the making alive of the mortal body. The first expression is, "the resurrection of the body." The second expression is, the "redemption of the body."

The "resurrection" of the body refers to the making alive of the body by Divine energy, the raising up of that which lies helpless. The "redemption" of the body refers to rescuing the body from the power of death and Satan and filling it with God's Spirit. When we refer to "resurrection" in this present essay we are speaking of the making alive of the body; of the resurrection of the body; and of the redemption of the body.

In the following two passages the Apostle Paul points out that the resurrection of his body is his goal:

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10,11—NIV)

Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. (Romans 8:22-25—NIV)

Why do you think Paul would want to attain to the resurrection (literally out-resurrection) from the dead? It is because this is the first resurrection. Those who attain to the first resurrection from the dead will rule with Christ during the thousand-year Kingdom Age.

Anyone who understands that the resurrection of the dead will be in two stages, and is aware of the glory and honor associated with the first resurrection and the opportunity to install with Christ the Kingdom of God on the earth, likely will desire fervently to attain to the first resurrection.

Blessed and holy are those who share 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.

In view of the glory which is part of the first resurrection it is readily understandable why Paul was laying aside all else that he might attain to such fellowship with the Lord.

I do not believe I ever have heard anyone teach about the first resurrection. Have you? This is surprising, isn't it, in that attaining to the first resurrection should be our goal, according to Paul.

Perhaps because of the general viewpoint of Christian people that Satan will never be defeated, and that as long as we are in the world we have to sin, Christian teachers and preachers have made eternal residence in Heaven the goal of our salvation. They assume that our physical death and entrance into Heaven will deliver us from sin. But there is not a hint of such a goal or such deliverance in the Old Testament or the New Testament.

However, the Old Testament tells us that sin finally shall be driven from the creation of God. The New Testament states that Satan shall be crushed under the feet of the saints.

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. (Romans 16:20—NIV)

The Good News of the Kingdom of God is that Satan shall be overthrown and sin shall be brought to an end. This Good News is infinitely better than the "Good News" that God's people shall be moved from earth to Heaven so that Satan can inherit the earth.

"Seventy sevens" are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place. (Daniel 9:24—NIV)

But the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever. Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him. (Daniel 7:26,27—NIV)

Physical death itself shall be destroyed under the powerful hand of the Lord Jesus Christ.

For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. (I Corinthians 15:25,26—NIV)

In light of the above we can see how we have been deceived. The purpose of the Divine redemption is not to bring God's people to Heaven to reside forever. The purpose of redemption, or salvation, is to destroy Satan and all of his works and followers from God's creation.

We are to be pressing toward the redeeming of our body from the power of death and sin. This is our hope. Not to go to Heaven but to live by the Life of Jesus Christ as the Father puts all of Christ's enemies under his feet. We are to work with Him as He installs the Kingdom of God upon the earth.

If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. (John 14:3—NASB)

"Receive you to Myself."

"So shall we ever be with the Lord."

"These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes."

"To walk humbly with your God."

That where He is, there we may be also. This is the highest of all goals—that we might be with the Lord Jesus where He is, at all times; in all circumstances. Our fellowship with Jesus is to take place today—right now—not sometime in the future or after we die.

Such is the original Gospel of the Kingdom of God. The myths about mansions in Heaven have been developed throughout the centuries of the Christian Era until the idea of the coming of the Kingdom of God has been buried under the rubble of tradition. The original Gospel is being restored in our day.

I said at the beginning of this present essay that the making alive of the physical body, the resurrection of the body, and the redemption of the body, all refer to the same Divine salvation. I have just been discussing the resurrection of the body. Now I wish to treat the concept of redemption.

The redemption of the human body is the deliverance of the body from the authority and power of Satan and death. Notice Paul's hope in the following passage:

Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. (Romans 8:23-25—NIV)

We already have mentioned why Paul would desire attaining to the "resurrection" of his body. But why would he hope for the "redemption" of his body? Both "resurrection" and "redemption" are referring to the making alive of the body, its change into immortality, its being clothed with the "house from Heaven."

The following passage is the reason for Paul's hope:

So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? (Romans 7:21-24—NIV)

The Apostle Paul desired the redemption of his body, its release from the bondage of Satan and sin, so he could live righteously.

Because we Christians have the tradition of going to Heaven and living there forever, we find some of Paul's writings to be difficult to understand. Paul at one time told of his desire to be with the Lord. But he never spoke of wanting to go to Heaven to live forever.

Paul's goal was the redeeming of his physical body so he could serve God in righteousness. This should be our goal also.

It appears to me we are due for a reformation of Christian thinking. Much good has been accomplished by the Christian religion throughout the Christian Era. Now we are beginning to understand what the Gospel of the Kingdom really is all about.

We always have prayed "Your Kingdom come. Your will be done in the earth as it is in Heaven." But we have not believed our own prayer. We have assumed, it seems to me, that Satan and sin never could actually be banished from the earth, and so our best hope is to go to Heaven to live.

But this is not what the Bible teaches, is it? The Bible teaches that the Lord Jesus Christ shall return with his saints and holy angels and establish his Kingdom on the earth—just as the Christians have prayed for so many centuries.

The Kingdom of God is coming. It is at hand! When the Lord returns He will bring with Him those who have died while abiding in him. Then they shall be raised to immortality. Also at this time we, the living, shall be changed so that we also have an immortal body.

After a time of fellowship, all of us who have immortal bodies will be raised from the earth, in the sight of the people of the world, to meet the Lord Jesus in the air. Then we will be mounted on the white war stallions.

The vials of wrath will be poured out on the earth. Then we will descend with the Lord Jesus. Antichrist and the False Prophet shall be hurled into the Lake of Fire. One mighty angel will bind Satan and throw him into the Bottomless Pit. Now the Lord Jesus and his saints will govern the earth with a rod of iron. They shall rule from Jerusalem on the earth, as I understand it.

If we desire to be associated with our Lord in these epochal events, we must press forward in Christ each day, gaining victory over the world, our flesh, and our self-will. Many Christians will not deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Christ. If my understanding is correct, even though they profess faith in Christ they will not pass from mortality to immortality when the Lord appears.

We are well advised, I believe, to emulate the Apostle Paul by laying aside all else that we might attain to the resurrection from the dead.

In a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. (I Corinthians 15:52,53—NIV)

The Sinful Nature

As we attempt to describe the sinful nature, and the way Christ deals with it, we need to distinguish between the sinful nature and the adamic personality.

The adamic personality is our human personality. Before we are redeemed, the adamic personality includes our sinful nature. However, it may be useful to distinguish between our adamic personality and our sinful nature.

When the adamic personality was created along with the rest of the physical world, "God saw all that He had made, and it was very good." Adam and Eve were without a sinful nature when they were created.

Where, then, did the sinful nature come from? It came from Satan, who was not content with the position in which God had placed him. It may be true that part of his discontent arose because God did not give him a physical body like that of Adam and Eve. Also, Satan may be upset that he was not gifted with gender, with the ability to be in union with another personality.

Satan came to earth and put discontent in the heart of Adam and Eve. It seems to me that all sin comes from our not being content with our present situation. Could that be a fact?

Am I saying that it is wrong to have desires? Not at all. But we must pray continually that God will put his desires in our heart. We are to pray that we will receive what it is we desire, meanwhile giving thanks for our present blessings. Then we are to wait patiently for our desires to be fulfilled.

Sin often is characterized by the demand to get what we want right now! But patience is of the Kingdom of God.

According to the Apostle Paul, the sinful nature comprises a set of impulses that dwell in our flesh.

As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. (Romans 7:17—NIV)

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. (Romans 7:18—NASB)

For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. (Romans 7:22,23—NASB)

Paul is telling us that his inner being, his true self minus the sinful nature, delights in God's law. He loves righteous, holy behavior and obedience to God. This same goodness of the adamic nature is revealed as the Lord speaks of those who receive the Word in an "honest and good heart" (Luke 8:15—NIV).

So here we have three separate natures in one individual. One is the "inner being," the human personality born of our parents. A second is the sinful nature—sinful impulses living in the individual's flesh, within the members of his or her body. A third is the developing Divine Nature, Christ being formed in him or her.

PauI says, "As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me." I believe the term "living" is important to note. When speaking of "the sinful nature" we are not referring to some sort of abstractions that are part of the biologic makeup of the person, the chemical, electrical, or muscular elements. The impulses that cause us to sin are living forces. No doubt they are spirits that we have inherited due to the fact that our forefathers rebelled against God; or else they are bondages we have acquired as we have succumbed to the temptation to do evil.

They are spirits that God desires to judge and remove—and here is our hope of redemption!

In the sixth chapter of the Book of Romans, Paul distinguishes between the two natures. Paul claims that if we are to destroy the sinful nature we must present our entire first personality, including the sinful nature, to the cross with the Lord Jesus. Once we have "died," in this sense, the Holy Spirit can begin the work of judging and removing the unclean spirits of sin from us.

For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. (Romans 6:6,7—NIV)

Did you note the difference between "our old self," and "the body of sin"? Our old self is just that—our first personality. It itself is not the sinful nature.

"Our old self" is our first personality, born of our father and mother. Our old self must be crucified if we are to get rid of the sinful nature.

"Him" is the Lord Jesus Christ.

"The body of sin" refers to the unclean spirits, the sinful inclinations that dwell in our flesh.

"Might be done away with" means these spirits have been judged by us as not fit for the Kingdom of God. We have put them to death through the Spirit as we turn away from them. They finally shall be removed from our personality at the coming of the Lord. This work of judgment and removal must always be under the supervision of the Spirit of God.

A problem of understanding may arise when one is studying the New Testament. The reader must be clear in his mind whether the guilt of sin is being discussed, or the sinful impulse, the evil spirit itself. If the distinction is not made clear, then, when we have such an expression as "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world," we are apt to think Christ can only remove the guilt, not the sin itself. Such misinterpretation is a contemporary error of great magnitude. The entire concept of redemption from the bondage of Satan is robbed of the strength and fullness of its meaning.

In my book, Godwill Castle, I have distinguished between learning the righteous ways of Heaven, and the creation of the Kingdom of God. All people, whether of God's elect, or the members of the saved nations, must learn the righteous ways of Heaven. Each person of the new world of righteousness must place God first in everything in his or her life, must treat his neighbor as he himself would be treated, and must be absolutely obedient to the Lord Jesus Christ.

The creation of the Kingdom of God is another matter. The creating of the Kingdom of God proceeds along two main dimensions. The first dimension is the removal of all worldliness, the lusts of the flesh, and self-seeking from the believer. The second dimension is the growth to maturity of the Divine Seed in the person, and then the coming of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to dwell in Their Fullness in that transformed personality. This is the rest of God to which we are to attain.

Our next consideration has to do with the fact that we are dealing with two groups of saved people. By "saved," I mean that God has authorized them to be citizens of the new world of righteousness, which will be installed on the new earth when it comes down through the new sky. One group is that of the members of the nations who have chosen to believe and be baptized according to the command of Christ. The second group consists of God's elect, of the members of the Royal Priesthood, the Wife of the Lamb.

The following six paragraphs are not found in the Scriptures. They have proceeded from an increased awareness I am experiencing of the spirit world, and are described in my book, Godwill Castle. I do not expect anyone to accept them unless he or she chooses to do so.

All saved people must learn the righteous, holy ways of Heaven. How this is accomplished is described in my book. Each individual must be taught the righteous ways of Heaven during his lifetime on the earth, or while in a confined area in the spirit world. The righteous ways of Heaven are to love God with all of our heart, soul, strength, and mind, and to treat our neighbor as we would have him treat us.

No individual, whether of God's elect or of the nations of the saved, will be permitted full liberty in the new world of righteousness until God's workers have determined that he or she is free from rebellion against God and free from antisocial behavior.

The first opportunity for social growth arises from the challenges to our personality while we are living on the earth.

Most of us, when we die, will be placed in a confined area in the spirit world where we will be taught the righteous ways of Heaven. Our teachers will be either angels or mature saints.

The next place of social growth is that which takes place in a community of people in a suburb and city in the spirit world.

After having experienced successfully life in a community, whether on the earth or in the spirit world, the members of God's elect move on to life in the new Jerusalem. There they are prepared to govern, along with the Lord Jesus Christ, the members of the nations who have been saved to life on the new earth.

There are three principal differences between the members of the elect, and the saved people of the nations of the earth. The first difference is the degree of Christ that has been formed in them. Every person in the new world of righteousness will have a portion of Christ in him or her. But the members of the elect will have much more of Christ in them.

The second difference is that the members of the elect are the Body of Christ, the Wife of the Lamb, the Church. They are part of Christ in a way that is not true of the saved people of the nations.

The third difference is that the members of the elect will govern the people who have chosen to serve Christ but are not members of the elect. The elect are the Royal Priesthood, the new Jerusalem. They shall rule with Christ forever.

But getting back to the sinful nature.

The removal of all sinful spirits from God's Kingdom is spoken of as follows:

As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. he who has ears, let him hear. (Matthew 13:40-43—NIV)

The above passage tells us of the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Day of Atonement. The blood of the first goat, of the Day of Atonement, illustrates the forgiveness that is given to us based on the blood atonement made by the Lord Jesus Christ when He was crucified.

The weeding out of God's Kingdom of everything that causes sin and all who do evil is illustrated by the removing of the living scapegoat, during that same Day of Atonement, from the presence of the assembled Israelites.

From the passage in Matthew we might conclude that such weeding out of sin will occur almost instantaneously. The truth is, the weeding out has begun in our day and will continue until the end of the Thousand-year Kingdom Age. It is the purpose for the Kingdom Age. The Kingdom Age is the great Kingdom-wide spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Day of Atonement, during which people are reconciled to God.

Notice carefully the seeming discrepancy between the following two verses:

"The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins," declares the Lord. (Isaiah 59:20—NIV)

And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins." (Romans 11:26,27—NIV)

"The Deliverer will come to Zion." "The Deliverer will come from Zion."

However, as all experienced saints have found, there are no actual discrepancies in God's Word.

In Isaiah, the Spirit of God is declaring the same operation found in Matthew. Christ shall come to God's elect who have a repentant heart. He shall redeem the repentant. All of this glory will come to those who are willing to turn away from their sins.

As soon as the repentant have been set free from their sins they will work outward from their special place with the Lord and turn godless behavior away from all others who have been chosen by the Lord. Sin shall be removed from all Israel.

When sin has been removed from all of God's elect, then righteousness and praise shall spring forth in the sight of the nations of the earth. The Glory of God shall be revealed in his elect. Then the members of the nations can choose to serve God's Israel, or else incur the displeasure of God. It is in serving God's elect that the members of the nations will inherit the Kingdom of God and enter eternal life.

Then the King will say to those on his right, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me." (Matthew 25:34-36—NIV)

For the nation or kingdom that will not serve you will perish; it will be utterly ruined. (Isaiah 60:12—NIV)

Ordinarily people have to be actively involved in the removal of unclean spirits. Such removal can take place whether we are alive on the earth in our physical state, or in the spirit world, as the fourth chapter of First Peter indicates.

Usually the person to be delivered becomes aware of an evil element in his or her personality, either by the conviction of the Spirit of God, or by another means such as preaching, reading the Bible, or by instruction in an institution such as I have described in Godwill Castle.

I use the terms "ordinarily" and "usually" because I do not wish to suggest God cannot deliver in any manner that pleases him.

Next, the person to be redeemed from evil must confess each sinful motivation specifically and clearly as it is pointed out to him or her by the Spirit of God. He must denounce it as evil, and then renounce it, stating forcefully that with the Lord's help such behavior never again will be practiced by him.

Christ has given to man to exercise such judgment. Man permitted Satan to enter the earth. It is up to man to drive Satan from the earth, but he cannot do it by himself. He must have the wisdom and power of the Spirit of God.

Once the evil inclination has been confessed clearly and specifically, God has promised to forgive the sin and cleanse the personality of all unrighteousness. Then the fellowship of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit will be restored to the believer.

Please note that the Divine judgment is on the evil spirit, not on the individual who faithfully has confessed the spirit. It is the eternal judgment of Satan.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9—NIV)

Set Free From the Law of Sin and Death

The explanation of redemption, beginning in Chapter Six of Romans and ending with Chapter Eight, is not the easiest argument to understand.

In Romans, Chapter Six, which numerous Bible teachers incorrectly apply to the unsaved, Paul tells us that when we have been baptized in water we should count that we are dead with Christ and alive with Christ in order that the body of sin that lives in us may be destroyed.

Paul states that if we then continue to sin we will die spiritually, because the wages of sin is death. God, on the other hand, will give us the gift of eternal spiritual life provided we continue in slavery to righteousness and holiness.

Chapter Seven is written to "men who know the Law," that is, to Jews. Paul is saying that under the Law, while our inner nature wants to practice righteousness, our sinful nature causes us to act as a slave to sin.

I realize that Gentile Christian teachers often use Paul's words to the Jews as an excuse for sinful behavior, maintaining that as long as we are alive in the present world we can be compelled to sin. They are misapplying Paul's argument. Paul is saying that trying to be righteous under the Law is futile, because of our sinful nature. He then proceeds in Chapter Eight of Romans to show us how under Christ, instead of under the Law of Moses, we can be set free from slavery to sin.

The important issue to the Jew is whether he can abandon Moses and look to Christ, and remain righteous in the sight of God. This is why Paul, as he begins to explain how Christ can set us free from bondages of sin, starts off with "There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ." You can leave Moses, come to Christ, and still be counted righteous. This is an awesome concept to the Jew who has lived under the Law for many years.

When speaking of being set free from sin, we are not referring to being set free from the guilt of sin but from the sinful bondages that cause us to sin against our will. In other words, we are referring to righteous behavior.

The monumental error in the Christian thinking of our day is that Christ forgives our sin, but He cannot set us free from slavery to sinful behavior—that is, not in this present world. This misunderstanding arises perhaps from applying Chapter Seven of Romans to Christian people.

Because our tradition holds that to be saved is to be ready to go to Heaven when we die, it is difficult to understand substantial parts of the New Testament. Actually the subject of the New Testament is the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth, not the going of saved people to Heaven when they die.

The Father promised Christ that his enemies would be made Christ's footstool. All the works of Satan are to be crushed under the feet of Christ. Putting to death the actions of our sinful nature is equivalent to Christ's enemies being put under his feet. We realize, therefore, that it is time now for God's saints to begin to work with the Spirit of God in putting to death all of the sinful actions of our body.

The eighth chapter of Romans is not primarily about deliverance from the guilt of sin but deliverance from the practice of sin.

Consider the following carefully, remembering this is written to "All in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints":

And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (Romans 8:11-14—NIV)

Please notice that we are not obliged to live according to our sinful nature.

Does the above passage sound to you like deliverance from the guilt of sin or deliverance from the practice of sin?

There are two aspects of redemption we might consider. First, the critical role of God's Spirit in delivering us from the practice of sin.

Second, the above four verses (Romans 8:11-14) follow Paul's statement that if we diligently live in continual obedience to the Spirit of God, then eventually the Spirit of God will redeem our physical body by filling it with Himself.

The following passage confirms what we are saying in this essay:

So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (Galatians 5:16-25—NIV)

Notice the sorts of behaviors we are to crucify:

Sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.

These spirits dwell in our flesh. God has designed our battles so He may choose from among his elect those who will govern his Kingdom. If we do not put these behaviors to death through the Spirit of God, we will not be given an incorruptible body when the Lord comes. But if we do put them to death through the Spirit of God, if we are an overcomer, if we are a victorious saint, we will govern the creation with Christ at his appearing and his Kingdom.

So we see we have a part to play in our destiny. If we choose to live in victory, we will live and reign with Christ. If we choose to live as most Christians in America do, we will live and die as any other person, and then be raised and judged at the final resurrection of the dead.

Paul's point is this: The making alive of our physical body, which will take place when the Lord Jesus next appears, depends on our being faithful in putting to death the sinful deeds of our body. If we thus are faithful during our discipleship, then, when Jesus appears, at the sounding of the last trumpet, those who sleep in Jesus will be raised from the dead, and the bodies of those who are living on the earth at that time will be made alive in the Spirit of God.

The redemption of his body, which was Paul's goal, would enable Paul to have that freedom from his "body of death" that he so desired—freedom from the desire to sin.

One reason we Gentiles have a difficult time correctly interpreting Paul's writings is that Paul's goal was righteous behavior, whereas our stated goal is eternal residence in a mansion in Heaven. The true goal of the Divine redemption is righteous people. It is a change in what we are as a person, not the transfer of us from earth to Heaven.

As long as we view eternal residence in Heaven as the goal of our redemption we will not make the effort necessary to live the life of victory over sin.

Romans 8:13 offers us the redemption of our body if, through the Spirit of God, we keep putting to death the desires of our sinful nature. But—Christian or not—offers also the assurance that if we continue to live according to our sinful nature we will not experience a change in our physical body when the Lord appears.

Paul says the same thing in the Book of Galatians:

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—NIV)

Perhaps we could sum up Paul's statements in the sixth through the eighth chapters of the Book of Romans by saying that if we choose to obey the Spirit of God each day, the guilt of our sin incurred under the Law of Moses is removed on the basis of the blood atonement made by the Lord on the cross of Calvary.

Now we are free to be led by the Spirit of God rather than the Law of Moses. The Spirit is ready, willing, and able at all times to guide us in each aspect of our daily behavior. As we choose to turn aside from behavior that we know to be displeasing to God, the Spirit strengthens us and puts to death the sinful compulsions that are in us.

The process, or program, I am describing consists actually of steps to the first resurrection from the dead, the inward resurrection that always must precede the outward.

In light of some of the current teachings, let me utter a word of caution. It is true that the Spirit of God performs every act of significance in the Kingdom of God. We have fellowship with him, as well as with the Father and the Son. We are baptized into the Name of the Spirit of God.

However, the fellowship is to be one-sided. The Holy Spirit speaks to us and guides us. But we never are to speak to Him or attempt to guide him. We never are to pray to him. We never are to sing to him. We never are to worship him.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the Lord of all. He died for our sins. The Spirit did not die for our sins. Christ is the Bridegroom. The Holy Spirit is not the Bridegroom. Christ is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. This is not true of the Spirit of God. Jesus Christ is our elder Brother. The Holy Spirit is not our elder Brother.

Think of the Spirit as One whose Presence we feel, a Presence that comforts us. Whatever we need, we are to go to Christ who in turn goes to the Father. We can go to the Father in Jesus' name directly, if we wish. Then the Father guides and empowers the Son so he can direct the Spirit to assist us in our hour of need. This is the actual, scriptural, management pattern of the Kingdom of God. This is what the Spirit guides us to do.

If we look to Jesus at all times, in all situations, the Spirit of God will continue to guide and strengthen us. We have been delivered from the guilt of sin and now are being delivered from the power of sin to control our behavior.

The Holy Spirit, as was true of Eliezer of Damascus, Abraham's servant, has been charged with bringing a suitable wife to the Son of God. The Spirit delights in this task and does not seek our attention.

Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (Romans 8:12-14—NIV)

The Baptism With Fire

There is a baptism with the Holy Spirit. This is the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish observance of Pentecost. There is a baptism with fire. This is the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish observance of the Day of Atonement. During the previous century, numerous believers were baptized with the Holy Spirit. During the present century, numerous believers will be baptized with fire. Our God is a consuming Fire!

"I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." (Matthew 3:11—NIV)

As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. (Matthew 13:40-43—NIV)

Notice the timing: "At the end of the age." We are here now.

Please notice also that at the end of the age, everything that causes sin will be weeded out of the Kingdom of God. Also, all who do evil will be weeded out of the Kingdom of God. All this at "the end of the age."

It appears that for the two thousand years of the Church Age, the Christian salvation has been regarded as one of forgiveness, grace, and mercy. Now a radical change is here. The Christian salvation still is one of forgiveness, but the emphasis is on the removing of sin and sinners from the Kingdom of God. The Savior has become the Man of War. Moses has become Joshua. The twenty-third Psalm has merged into the twenty-fourth Psalm.

It has to happen sometime, doesn't it? We know intuitively that the Kingdom of God is not a kingdom of people who are continuing to sin. The new Jerusalem is not a city of those who do not do God's will. But when will the sin be removed—not the guilt of sin, but the sinning itself?

"At the end of the age." The time is now. The place is wherever we are. The program involves God and our cooperation with God.

Christ will not do it alone. We cannot do it alone. It is the sword of the Lord and of Gideon, so to speak.

The Fire of God will burn the sin out of our personality. If we refuse to cooperate with the Lord, we ourselves will be removed from the Kingdom of God—Christian or not. It is a purging of the Kingdom, not a purging of the world!

Each one of us carries a suitcase loaded with snakes. Our snakes are in three categories: our love for and trust in the world system; the lusts of our flesh; and our self-will, self-determination. The Holy Spirit deals with each of these areas of sin in a different manner.

Concerning our love for the world spirit: we take the first step by being baptized in water, reckoning ourselves crucified with Christ. Then each day we make an effort to keep our involvement in the world, in the Antichrist spirit, to a minimum. We are not of the world and we need to act like it.

As we make this determination, God helps by bringing tribulation on us so that we have to keep praying fervently in order to come successfully through our problems. When we do our part by being in the world but not of the world, the Fire of God gives us the wisdom and strength we must have if we are to live a victorious life in the Lord Jesus.

Concerning the lusts of our flesh: the Spirit of God keeps pointing out to us the specific uncleannesses in our thinking, speech, and actions. Sexual lust is a major problem in the world today. Numerous leaders in the government and the churches are falling into sexual sin.

When we become aware of a specific fleshly sin, we are to confess it, denounce it as fit for the Lake of Fire, renounce it, turning away from it with all the strength we have, and then come to the Lord Jesus for wisdom and help so we do not fall into the same pit again. Many believers of today are going to be torn down from their high position in Christ because they are yielding to the fiery temptations that afflict our flesh.

Satan works with deception, particularly but not exclusively in the area of sexual lust. The only manner in which we can avoid being deceived is to take up our personal cross and carry it behind Jesus each day. This world is not Heaven, and when we try to make it heavenly we fall into deception.

Also, we are to pray constantly, "Do not lead me into temptation but deliver me from the evil one." God hears this prayer if we are sincere and fervent.

Concerning our self-determination: of the three areas of sin, self-determination is the most difficult to deal with, and the most prevalent in Christianity.

I believe God has impressed on me that the only way to survive the coming age of moral horrors in America is to be very close to the Lord Jesus. I make it a practice at all times to talk to Jesus about everything I am doing, sometimes praying for help. In this manner I keep in the Lord's Presence.

But as I look at how the denominations and the churches approach their work, it is as though they are doing what they think is best for Jesus and his Kingdom, but they are not actually hearing from him. They are taking for granted that he wants everyone on earth to make a profession of faith in Jesus. But is this actually what Christ wants? They are guessing, I believe.

There has been much talk about the timing of the so-called "rapture." But has anyone heard from the Lord about a "rapture," or are they offering their opinion?

Concerning the welfare of America: there are calls for repentance so our nation will be saved. But is this what Christ wants? Or has the practice of abortion-on-demand pushed America over the edge where Christ is not willing to hear our prayer for our nation? Do we know for sure or don't we? It is not enough to just assume this is what God wants.

The principal problem of mankind is that of making decisions apart from Christ. This problem began in the Garden of Eden. It has continued to the present day. It exists in secular society and it exists in the Christian churches.

How many believers of our day are listening to Jesus and obeying Him diligently? I think there may be numerous believers who do walk with Christ through the day. But I do not know of a Christian organization or group that waits on the Lord. They all seem to have an idea of what Christ wants; but their decision so often is mental, not prophetic.

What would happen if every Christian organization stopped what it is doing and assigned some people to pray until God revealed his will?

According to what I was told by Einar Gislason, an Icelandic pastor, it was by assigning an individual to remain in an oxhide tent until he heard from God that Christianity was chosen as the religion of Iceland. It is a thrilling story!

To put it simply, we Christians must cease taking things for granted, assuming what Jesus wants today. Rather, we are to keep petitioning Him to make our wishes known. I do this. He has instructed me to seek Him fervently in every decision of life down to the smallest detail, and to encourage others to do the same. No decision we make during the day or night is too insignificant to merit the Lord's attention,.

I think Jesus is saying that we now are entering the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Day of Atonement. It is a time of being reconciled to God as He points out the various sins of our personality. We confess our specific sins as being unworthy of the Kingdom of God. We judge them as evil. We denounce and renounce them with all of our strength, plus Jesus' help.

Some denominations may have a true call to go forth and bring the Gospel to the spiritually dead people of the world. But I believe Jesus is telling me that what He desires is that his people turn from their sins and listen to Him at all times for directions for their life.

Those who make the change from self-determination to the rule of Jesus over their life will save themselves and those who hear them, throughout the coming age of moral horrors in America.

It is time for the baptism with fire that we might be reconciled to the Consuming Fire.

But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner's fire or a launderer's soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, (Malachi 3:2,3—NIV)

Holiness

God is holy. He has commanded us to be holy as He is holy. Without holiness no man shall see the Lord. Holiness is that important. But what exactly is holiness? Holiness is God himself.

God himself is Holiness. All that is of God is holy. All that is not of God is not holy. Thus we see that Divine calling, and obedience to God, are part of true holiness.

There is "holiness" of dress and of speech. But these are not holy unless God has ordained them. They are nothing more than religious practices, although the believers may be people of integrity and sincere in their actions.

We must be careful at this point, however. In the early Pentecostal churches there were strict opinions about dress, makeup, hairdos, usually aimed at women as we see. Then there was a reaction to these outward holiness guidelines. The pendulum swung too far the other way. Now Christian people can go to X-rated movies, swear, drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, and do as they please. "To the pure all things are pure," they cry.

However, not all things are pure to the Lord Jesus. The "liberated" believers simply do not know the Lord and how important holiness is to God. I guess they forgot Paul said, "Come out from among them and touch not the unclean thing."

The truth is, a Christian should look like a Christian; talk like a Christian; dress like a Christian; act like a Christian. Common sense tells us this; but sometimes common sense is in short supply, isn't it?

If a believer does not know how to act like a Christian or look like a Christian, all he or she needs to do is to ask Jesus, or an unsaved person. Either one will set the record straight.

The filthiest aspect of the human personality is self-will. The Pharisees murdered the Lord because of their self-will, reflected in their love to be preeminent.

There is no foolishness, silliness, giddiness, joking, mischief, abandonment to revelry, spite, insincerity, lying, or duplicity in God. These are unclean spirits. They are not holy.

When we are brought before God our speech must be sound, sincere, void of craft or guile of any sort. This is why little children can stand in his Presence.

There is an ultimate sincerity and lack of foolishness in Gethsemane and Calvary. The thought of them is a comfort to us when we are suffering and at the end of our strength.

There is a romantic spirit that comes from God and is holy. God created such things as music, poetry, sunsets, and sunrises. This spirit leads us to the new Jerusalem.

There is a romantic spirit that comes from Satan and is unclean. This spirit results in treachery, despair, and sexual perversions. It leads to torment and finally to Hell.

A matter is holy if it includes the Presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. A matter is not holy if it does not include the Presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.

How are righteousness and holiness related? Righteousness has to do with our behavior toward people. Holiness has to do with the relationship of our thinking, speaking, and acting toward God.

Ordinarily, truly holy people will behave righteously and are people of integrity. However, God may choose someone to be holy; but while he is coming to maturity he may from time to time behave unrighteously. We see this in the case of Jacob lying to his father.

One way of looking at holiness is that there is an absence of unclean spirits. God is totally spiritually clean and wants us to purge ourselves from all spiritual filthiness of the flesh and spirit. The Holy Spirit will accomplish such purging if we will cooperate with him.

When we are totally in God's moral image, totally free from unclean spirits, and totally at rest in the very center of his Person and will, then we will be totally holy. May God grant this for each one of us.

I think the essence of holiness is obedience to God. It is true that God may regard us as holy if we are seeking to please and obey him, and yet not be behaving in total obedience to him. But in the final analysis, the person who truly is holy is the individual who is committing all of his or her ways to the Lord.

Our God is a Consuming Fire. All that does not proceed from Him cannot possibly survive his Presence. The time soon will be here when God shakes the heavens. Then all that has not been wrought in Christ, especially religious people and their works, shall be removed.

At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, "Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens." The words "once more" indicate the removing of what can be shaken, that is, created things so that what cannot be shaken may remain. (Hebrews 12:26,27—NIV)

When the above passage mentions "created things" it is referring to the works of human thinking and ambition. None of them will survive the Divine shaking. Only that which God brought forth in Christ is holy and unshakable and will remain in God's Presence.

As I grow older I increasingly am aware of how much Christian work and activity is coming from the good intentions of Christian organizations and people. How often do denominations cry, "Let us go forth and save the world." They are assuming that this is what God wants, because of the Great Commission.

But they do not seem to realize that the New Testament describes a covenant of the Spirit of God, and must be interpreted and obeyed only as we wait until we hear from the Lord Jesus. The Spirit of God must teach us how to apply any passage of the Bible.

Thus our well-intentioned Christian work may not be holy and may be subject to shaking and removal. God may not be authorizing it.

For years I have been making it a practice to listen carefully to what Jesus is saying. His word to me has been consistent: "It is time for God's people to listen to his Spirit as He points out to them those areas of their personality that are not holy. They are to diligently confess, denounce, and renounce these unclean areas. The Holy Spirit will help all along the way."

God is not speaking to me about going forth and trying to save the world. Is He to you? Rather He is telling me to advise his people to listen to Him and to obey him. God has new and surprising things to show us that will survive the shaking and will enable us to stand in Christ throughout the age of moral horrors that America is entering, and to help others to stand.

Is Christ saying this to you, or is He urging you to go out and save the world?

The behavior of the leaders of our government and their supporters in the mainstream media is difficult for some of us to understand. It appears obvious to me that our nation is being destroyed from within. So many people seem to be devoid of common sense!

I realize this is God's punishment because of our tolerance of abortion-on-demand and other abominations. We have been given minds void of judgment. So our country increasingly is being weakened. If I am not mistaken, other nations of the world are seeing this destruction and are rejoicing that the once mighty America is falling to its knees, like so many great empires of the past.

Numerous sincere Christians are humbling themselves and praying that God will restore America. May God hear them and grant their prayer, provided we do not return to the present abominable practices.

There came a time in the history of Israel when God declared that He would not spare the nation from destruction. On one occasion God told Jeremiah that the people who surrendered to the Babylonians would be spared.

My point is, we need to hear from God before we tell Him what we want Him to do. Do you agree with that, or are you willing to pray against what God has determined? If we keep praying, and keep listening, then we will be able to pray in line with God's Spirit.

"Be holy, because I am holy," says the Lord. If we would see the Lord and live in his Presence we must be holy.

What does this mean? It means each day we are to bring more of our thinking, speaking, and acting into conformity to Christ's will for us. It increasingly must be true that our personality and behavior are reflecting the current Word of God to us.

"Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. (II Corinthians 6:17,18; 7:1—NIV)

But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do. (I Peter 1:15—NIV)

The Firstfruits

The idea of a firstfruits occurs many times in the Bible. For example, The Lord Jesus Christ is the Firstfruits of the saints who will be raised from the dead.

Anyone who does farm work understands what "firstfruits" are. They are the first reaping from the vine, for example, and they are the best of the fruit and vegetables. Subsequent reapings are good but not as tasty as the first. Also, as in the case of a grain offering, God expects to receive some of what is reaped before the remainder of the harvest is put to our use.

God always requires the firstfruits of that which we are to offer to him. Sometimes Christians give God what is left over of their time and money, after they have taken care of their own needs and pleasures.

In the case of the Christian Church, there is a firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. They are the first reaping of the earth. They are the finest, most faithful, most obedient of the believers. God places them ahead of the remainder of those who are saved of earth's people.

I do not believe our democratic ideas welcome the idea of a part of the Christian Church who are closer to God and Christ than is true of other believers. Also, the current teaching of grace militates against the concept of people whose devotion has earned them a special place with God.

It is true nevertheless. There are those whom God regards as a firstfruits of the earth.

Then I looked, and behold, the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads. (Revelation 14:1—NASB)

The hundred and forty-four thousand are not the entire Church, the entire Body of Christ. They have been chosen to stand with the Lamb on the holy mountain of God's Presence. The Father's name is written on their foreheads, meaning they always do God's will. The Lamb's name written on their foreheads signifies that they belong to the Lamb.

They are the special possession of God and the Lamb.

I don't know about you, but when I found out one could aspire to a special place with God and the Lamb, that became the goal of my life. The idea is not to be some great one, rather it is to be pleasing to God and Christ.

The idea of 144 thousand may be symbolic, since it is a multiple of twelve. Or, it may be a literal number of people. My guess would be that it is symbolic.

Mount Zion is the city of God.

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel. (Hebrews 12:22-24-—NASB)

The fact that the 144 thousand are standing with the Lamb tells me they are ready to move with Him wherever He leads. How many Christian believers are ready to move instantly with Christ without having to go through numerous complications first? That is, if they are willing to move at all!

It appears to me in the present hour that a good part of the churches in America are sitting on Mount Zion rather than standing with the Lamb. I hope I am not correct in this.

I believe difficult times are coming to America as well as the to rest of the world. If we have had trouble running with the footmen, how are we going to be able to compete with the horses?

And I heard a voice from heaven, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder, and the voice which I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps. And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one could learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been purchased from the earth. (Revelation 14:2,3—NASB)

Could you imagine a voice sounding like a grand symphony? This is the voice of the 144 thousand. Those on the Throne of God could hear them.

The four Cherubim of Glory could hear them. These cherubim are exalted beings who reveal in themselves the Personality of the Lord God of Heaven.

The 24 elders could hear them. These are God's rulers who always are casting down their crown, saying, "Not my will but Yours be done."

Those on the Throne, the four Cherubim of Glory, and the 24 elders, these all being the highest Personages of Heaven, could not learn the song sung by the 144 thousand who had been redeemed from the earth.

Why is this? It is because each member of the 144 thousand has overcome Satan by the blood of the Lamb; has overcome Satan by his testimony of the faithfulness of God; and has overcome Satan by dying to his own will and embracing in its place the Life of the Lord Jesus Christ.

They are the "only one" of their mother, the Church. While there have been multitudes of fine Christian people, the 144 thousand have been the "cream of the crop," one might say. The love God and Christ has for these goes far, far beyond any love we could imagine.

Why could no one else learn the great symphonic song? It is because the song comes straight from the Heart of God and of the Lamb. It is not a song that can be learned by listening. It can be learned only by the very sternest and complete obedience and devotion to God.

The whole earth is a field. God found a treasure in the field. The treasure is the 144 thousand who love God above all else. The Lord Jesus Christ purchased these with his blood. No other purchase price was adequate for this greatest of all transactions.

These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. (Revelation 14:4—NASB)

Since the Scripture tells us that marriage is honorable in all and the bed undefiled, we understand that the above verse is not referring to relations with a human woman. Rather the reference is to those relationships, circumstances, and things we idolize.

We cannot bring a loved one, a friend, a talent, money, or anything else when we come to the Lord. He wants our undistracted attention. Until He gets that, we cannot be of help to our loved ones and friends. We have to keep ourselves pure, in the sense that there is no relationship, circumstance, or thing that we would not give to Christ the moment He asks for it.

We are to follow the Lamb wherever He goes. This means we must be living in His Presence at all times so we always know his will for us. This is not as difficult as some might think who never have lived this way.

It appears that at times the churches take the attitude that they should go forth, and Christ should follow them and bless whatever they are doing. It does not work that way, no matter how worthy our intentions may be. We are to follow the Lamb wherever He goes. He is not bound to follow us wherever we decide to go.

They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless. (Revelation 14:5—NASB)

The 144 thousand are the first and best of the crop. They have presented their bodies as a living sacrifice that they might prove God's will in every thought, every word, and every action.

"No lie was found in their mouths." This condition is of utmost importance. The Antichrist world spirit is one huge lie. The media keep presenting to us one lie after another. It requires a long, painful discipleship for most of us before all lies are burnt out of us.

God does not lie. The Lamb does not lie. We are not in God's image when we lie. The first act of Satan in the Garden of Eden was to lie. As Jesus stated, "Satan is a liar and the father of lies."

What a wonderful state we are in when we speak truth from our inner nature. If we find that we tend to exaggerate, or to continually be attempting to sell our point of view, or to gossip about others in order to make ourselves look good, or to cheat in business transactions, or to modify the truth, even a little, in order to get out of a difficult situation, just remember that the Lamb would not do this. His Father would not do this. We cannot lie and at the same time follow the Lamb wherever He goes.

The 144 thousand will be raised from the dead at the coming of the Lord, and work with Him at the task of installing the Kingdom of God on the earth. The remainder of the Church will not be raised until the conclusion of the thousand-year Kingdom Age. This is the first resurrection. It is worth every effort we can put into it, every denial of self, every painful struggle, just as was true of the Apostle Paul, to attain to the early resurrection from the dead.

Let us make attaining to the first resurrection our highest priority, our supreme goal, while America and the rest of the world descend into the moral filth and chaotic environment of the Antichrist world government.

These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless. (Revelation 14:4.5—NIV)

The Raising of the Firstfruits

The Lord Jesus will not appear until a firstfruits of his Body have been prepared. The goals of the preparation are as follows:

They maintain an unswerving faith in the blood of the cross for their forgiveness.

They maintain a continual grasp upon their faith that they have been crucified with Christ and resurrected with Christ.

They have overcome their dependence on the world system for survival, security, and pleasure.

They follow the Holy Spirit as He proceeds to point out the various elements of the body of sin that dwells in their flesh.

They have learned stern obedience to the written Word and to the Lord's personal Word to them.

Christ has been conceived and developed in them. They live by his body and blood.

They are in untroubled rest in God's Person and will.

There would be no purpose in Jesus raising from the dead people who do not meet the above seven criteria. They cannot work with Him in establishing his Kingdom on the earth. They still are part of the problem of rebellion. They are not as yet part of the solution.

These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless. (Revelation 14:4.5—NIV)

We Can Overcome!

I had the following dream in the early 1950s, when we were living in a trailer on the grounds of the tent in which Pastor J. O. Dowell was holding services. The tent was located on the border of National City, just before you come into San Diego.

I was on a ship. The ship was foundering in the waves. Many of the passengers were jumping over the side.

I also jumped over the side, and was paddling around, keeping my head above water. I had done a lot of swimming while I was growing up and am at home in the water.

I could see the shore in the distance, maybe a hundred yards away. I could make out the sailors standing on the beach. Perhaps they got there in the lifeboats. They had joined hands and appeared to be playing "Ring Around the Rosy," or some other childhood game such as that.

I looked back toward the sinking ship. I could see the passengers in the water. They were thrashing about and drowning in their terror.

I suddenly noticed that my feet kept touching the bottom. So I stopped thrashing and stood up. The water was only waist deep. The passengers were panicking and drowning in waist-deep water!

I looked again at the shore. The sailors still were playing their game.

I turned back toward the passengers to tell them to stop struggling and stand up straight.

Then I awakened.

I wondered what the dream meant. I knew it was from God.

After about three days the interpretation came to me. "Although the churches (the sailors) do not always tell us so, it is entirely possible to overcome sin and live righteously."

God's people remain bound and guilty when it is not necessary to live in such a condition. They have not been taught how the new covenant operates. They do not understand that the same grace that forgives their sin has the power to set them free from sin.

When I got out of the Marine Corps I went to Bible school, because the Lord had called me to preach while I was in the service.

Although I had several Christian friends while still in the Marine Corps, the Berean Bible Institute in San Diego on South Boundary Street was my first immersion in the contemporary Pentecostal culture. I had not been raised in a Christian home.

The teachers and students of the Bible institute were good people and sincere Christians. But I heard the same idea expressed in different ways: "As long as we are in the world we have to sin. We will keep on sinning until we get to Heaven."

Some go so far as to say we keep on needing to be saved by grace (forgiveness) after we are in Heaven.

How's that for preaching victory in Christ? We already are defeated, so why try?

As I think about it, it must have been God who put it into my heart to decide that we do not have to sin. Through Christ we can overcome sinful bondages.

I can't remember what I did or said about this decision, except I repeated the vow to God I had made while in Bible school that I would do his will whatever it proved to be, provided he gave me the grace (wisdom and power) to do it.

When I had the dream about the sinking ship, which occurred a couple of years after Bible school, it came to me that God's people are ignorant of the victory over sin we can have through Christ. We can overcome sin!

So I have been preaching ever since that through Christ we can overcome sin each day. We can be perfect one day at a time. Finally, if we do not stop somewhere along the way, we will be perfected—fully redeemed from sin. Then we have eternity to grow into the image of Christ.

It may be noted that the promises we ordinarily associate with salvation, such as ruling with Christ, are reserved for "him who overcomes."

I have never in my sixty-five years as a disciple of the Lord heard a sermon on what it means to overcome, or a discussion of the rewards to the overcomer.

Someone said recently that every person who makes a profession of belief in Christ is automatically an overcomer.

But stop and think. The second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation are addressed to the seven churches of Asia Minor. It can be assumed, I believe, that most of the members of these seven churches professed belief in Christ.

If this is true, then all the members of the seven churches were overcomers by virtue of the fact that they had made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ. In this instance, the two chapters do not make any sense at all.

Every day of our Christian experience we have the choice of yielding to sin or not yielding to sin. Every day we choose either to do what is right or to disobey God.

I would like to add two thoughts. First, when Jesus next appears, only the victorious saints will be raised from the dead, receive their new bodies, be caught up to meet Him in the air, and descend with Him to participate in the work of installing the Kingdom of God on the earth.

Second, there will be a tremendous victory that will occur prior to the return of the Lord Jesus, a victory that will prepare the way for the Lord's appearing and the coming of the Kingdom. The victory I am referring to is the hurling to the earth of Satan and his angels from their vantage point in the heavens.

There will be victorious saints in the last days. Christ will have been formed in them and they will be living by his Life. As a result, God will empower Michael to drive Satan and his angels from the Heavens. This victory shall have been made possible because some of the believers will have overcome Satan by resting in the authority of the blood of the Lamb; by cooperating with the Holy Spirit until their mind, speech, and actions conform to the Scriptures.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, they have chosen to love not their own life to the point of death. Because it is not they who are living but the obedient Christ who has been formed in them and is dwelling in them, the accusations of the Accuser, Satan, no longer are regarded as valid by the Father. Thus the Father feels justified in empowering Michael to drive from the heavens the ancient cherub and his followers.

You can be one of those who is raised when Christ appears. You can be one of those who overcomes the Accuser by the blood of the Lamb, by the word of your testimony, and by loving not your own life to the point of death.

I am here to say that each day you can choose to do what is right, and the grace of God that is given to us through the Lord Jesus Christ will enable you to do so.

You can overcome through Christ.

You can live in victory over sin.

Stand up straight and fix your eyes on Christ.

The water is only waist deep.

He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. (Revelation 21:7—NIV)

He Who Overcomes

The second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation speak of the rewards to "him who overcomes." Personally, I do not believe enough attention is paid to these two chapters. It is like they are not in the Bible; or else they apply to all believers whether they are living in defeat or in victory.

An even more startling statement is made in the twenty-first chapter of the Book of Revelation, where God has said that the believer who "overcomes" will inherit all the promises made in the first six verses of this chapter, and God will be his God and he will be God's son. What does this say about the defeated believers?

There is one thing about the Bible. Either we believe every word or we don't. I choose to believe that every word of the accepted manuscripts is the Word of the one true God.

This adherence to the Scriptures has led me into positions that are not in keeping with much of today's presentations. I certainly adhere to the fundamental view concerning the blood atonement and the literal return of the Lord. But so much tradition has been added to this fundamental view that I find myself at odds with the current preaching and teaching.

If we are to take the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation, and the seventh verse of the twenty-first chapter, we must conclude that the believers in Christ are divided into two groups. There are those believers who overcome the obstacles presented in the two chapters; and then there are those who do not overcome these obstacles.

Even more challenging is Revelation 21:7. Are we to conclude that only those who live victoriously in Christ are God's sons?

He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. (Revelation 21:7—NIV)

And the Greek term here is "son," not "child" as in John 1:12. Also, as many as are led by the Spirit, they are God's sons, we find in Romans.

Now, are we to say that there is a difference between God's children and God's sons? I do not like special, mystical interpretations of the Bible. I want an interpretation that comes on boldly in both Testaments, like a huge truck on which you can kick the tires. You know what I mean?

I don't like to dabble with novel interpretations. If it doesn't lie clearly in the Book and lead to righteous behavior, then I don't have time for it.

But you know, there is something here of value. The second and third chapters of Revelation tell us of many rewards, or increments of growth, or positions of responsibility, however you wish to view them, that are the inheritance of those who live victoriously.

Now, this is the problem. These increments of growth, or spiritual capabilities, are those we assign ordinarily to all "saved" people!

Some have taken the position that all believers are overcomers by virtue of their having "accepted Christ." But I do not think this position can be defended. The two chapters are written to the churches, so I think it is reasonable to assume that everyone addressed has "accepted Christ."

If every believer in the "seven churches in the province of Asia" is an overcomer by being a member of one of the seven churches, then the two chapters do not make much sense. After all, each of the seven churches is rebuked by the Lord because of its works.

If we are going to adhere to a straightforward interpretation of the Book of Revelation, then we must conclude that Jesus is saying: "To each one of you who chooses to overcome the problems present in your church I am giving increments of spiritual growth which qualify you for the first resurrection, and will climax with your being seated with me on God's Throne."

And, I might add, being referred to as God's son.

While the two chapters do not mention the first resurrection, it is implicit in the fact that the victorious saints will be governing the nations with Christ during the thousand-year Kingdom Age.

So we have here a line of thought that definitely is contrary to the gospel to which we have been accustomed. We are saying that there are members of Christian churches, and then there are individuals who through Christ are able to gain victory over the problems that beset their churches.

It is these individuals who will inherit the increments of spiritual growth promised to the victorious saints, and who—possibly forever after!— will be designated as God's sons.

I hope you can see how radical this position is. But the important thing is not that it is radical, the important aspect is that it obviously is what the infallible Word declares.

If we conclude that the position we have outlined indeed is true to the Scriptures, then there should be some evidence in the Old Testament that God intends to have a Church that is divided into two parts: those who were able during their lifetime on the earth to overcome the numerous forces coming against them; and those who believed in Jesus but for whatever reason did not live in victory.

There are several examples in the Old Testament, as well as statements in the New, that portray this division of the Christian Church. One of the prominent examples is that of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. The Tabernacle Tent was divided into two parts. There was the Holy Place, and then the Most Holy Place, separated by the ornate Veil. Please keep in mind that the Tent is a portrayal of the Church, the Body of Christ.

Also, we think of David's reign over part of Israel, and finally over the entire country. And then there was the division between Judah and Israel.

In the Book of Revelation we find the two marriages of the Lamb. The first at the beginning of the thousand-year reign. The second at the coming down from Heaven of the new Jerusalem.

And notice the "firstfruits" of the fourteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation. They are treated differently from the remainder of the elect.

The eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation tells of the two Lampstands. One Lampstand is the Lord Jesus. The other Lampstand is the Lord's firstfruits.

In any case, the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation portray clearly that there are the churches, and then there are the victorious saints.

Why would there be a division of the one Church? It is because there are many members of God's elect—in fact the majority of members—who simply are not willing or able to overcome the deceptions of the enemy that abound in the "valley of the shadow of death" (life on the present earth). Those who do overcome these deceptions are a minority.

If you find this hard to believe, look at the members of any Christian church and notice how many are denying themselves and patiently following Jesus each day. If you find one out of a hundred of the members who really is a cross-carrying saint, you may be in a church that is above average in spiritual growth.

If the important issue were that of dying and going to Heaven, living in victory in the earth would not be so crucial to God's purposes. But God is looking for individuals who prove, by their willingness to stand true regardless of the opposition, that they have a personality strong enough in righteousness to govern the works of God's hands. God then will appoint them in places of rulership when He sets up his Kingdom.

And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever. (Revelation 22:5—NASB)

Jesus Christ overcame that which came against him, and He is King over all. They who through Him manage to overcome, are the nobility of the Kingdom. It is just as simple as that.

It seems to me that this separation between the victorious saints and the defeated saints will endure throughout the Kingdom Age (which we term the Millennium). But how long after that I am not certain. Perhaps we can notice that David's "mighty men" always were an integral part of Israel. Yet they continued to be famous because of their exploits in war.

It may be true that those who overcome always will be referred to as "God's sons," while the rest are children of God. I do not wish to make a big point of this and start a new denomination called "God's sons." But I am aware that the Book of Revelation is sealed with a special blessing and a special curse; and that if two of the twenty-two chapters are devoted to the subject of overcoming, we certainly should be hearing more about this subject than is true today in America.

Suffice it to say, there is a reward for serving the Lord. If any person, male or female, young or old, chooses not only to believe in Christ but also to follow Him in genuine discipleship, forsaking all else in order that he or she may cleave to Christ at all times throughout his or her lifetime, I believe he or she will find himself or herself one day transformed into a great pillar of light and glory who will serve as a patriarch over a vast multitude of people throughout the endless ages of eternity.

He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. (Revelation 21:7—NIV)

The Overcomers

Honestly, I have written and preached so much about the overcomers that the word has taken on a special meaning in my mind. It is as though overcoming is part of the Gospel message and everyone knows about it.

I checked out "the overcomers" on an Internet search engine. There are numerous Internet addresses. I only looked at a few. Some seemed solid. Others were a bit flaky, in my opinion. But it is evident there are believers like myself who are aware that overcoming is an important Bible issue.

What does it mean to "overcome"? What if we do not overcome? Do we really lose anything of worth by not pursuing the victorious life in Christ? Why are two whole chapters of the Bible devoted to "him who overcomes"? Since "overcoming" has been a central aspect of my preaching and teaching for many years, I would like to add my two cents to the array of available material on this subject.

Let us notice first of all that the "rewards" to those who overcome are offered to Christians. The second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation are addressed to churches in Asia Minor. They are not presented to non-Christians.

I point out this obvious fact because some are teaching that all Christians by virtue of their having made a profession of faith in Christ are overcomers. If this were the case, the two chapters would make no sense. If every member of the seven churches automatically were overcomers, what is the meaning of "to him who overcomes"?

Those being addressed had made a profession of Christ, in that they were part of one of the churches. What sense would it be to challenge them to be overcomers if they already were overcomers?

It is not unusual for those who speak of "overcomers" to be engaged in weird references. "The sons of God marry the Bride of the Lamb," and so forth. Such strange ideas are not presented clearly in the Scriptures, in my point of view, and I cannot for the life of me see how they lead to righteous behavior. It is my position that all Christian teaching should lead to righteous behavior.

Speaking of righteous behavior, I have noticed that some who are teaching about overcoming stress that the concept does not refer to a change in behavior but to a change in attitude. It is held that we never could experience any comprehensive change in our behavior, only in our attitude toward salvation. Here is the deadly influence of the grace-dispensational teaching of the present time.

Over and over the Lord stresses that He knows our works. Check out Revelation, Chapters Two and Three. See if this is so. See if He says, "I know your attitudes."

After reflecting on the teachings of Christian theology for over sixty years, I have concluded that there is a grievous, destructive idea present, at least in Evangelical theology. The idea is that Christ can forgive us but cannot make us a new righteous creation. He is the Overcomer. We are overcomers by believing that He is the Overcomer. How this travesty of the Gospel must disappoint our Lord!

You know, it may be true that the fact that our redemption includes our deliverance from the authority and power of Satan has not been widely understood throughout the Christian Era. I think also that Gnostic thinking has influenced the Christian Gospel—the idea that if we hold the correct beliefs we will go to Paradise when we die.

I have noticed also—perhaps stemming from Gnosticism—the concept that spirit is good and flesh is evil. Believe it or not, the reverse is true. When God created the material realm He pronounced it "very good." Actually, the flesh is morally neutral. Sin began in the spirit world and entered the physical world as a serpent. To this very day our problems are coming from unclean spiritual forces.

Whatever additional influences there may be, the conclusion in so much of today's preaching is that while we ought to try to please Christ by our actions, righteous behavior is neither possible nor necessary in order to gain the rewards promised to the overcomer.

Maybe I am coming with good news. I hope so. In the present hour of moral decline in the world, especially in the United States, the Holy Spirit is ready to remove sin from us and to enable the growth of Christ in us.

First, how does the Spirit remove sins from us? As we are following Christ, some unclean aspect of our behavior will manifest itself. We then are to confess our action to the Lord clearly. "I have stolen." "I have lied." "I have fornicated." "I have harmed someone in a fit of anger." "I have gossiped about someone." "I have practiced sexual acts that the Scripture condemns."

Then we are to confess that what we have done is vile and does not belong in the Kingdom of God.

Next we are to renounce the specific behavior, declaring that we want nothing more to do with it ever again.

Finally we are to draw near to Christ with a clear conscience. We have done what the Scripture has commanded. We through the Spirit have put to death a sinful practice of our body.

Part of living the overcoming life is that of keeping our involvement in the world to a minimum. In America it is easy to waste time playing with electronic toys; or acquiring wealth we do not actually need; or wasting time on entertainment; or surrounding ourselves with luxuries.

We are not to be conformed to this world but renewed by the transforming of our mind.

Perhaps the most vital ingredient in the overcoming life is that of denying ourselves, taking up our cross daily, and following the Lord Jesus. If we are a sincere Christian, God will see to it that we are confined in one kind of prison or another. We do not enjoy our circumstances. There is something we desire intensely and we are not getting it.

The purpose of such prisons, such crosses, is to kill our self-will. We absolutely must die in the Lord if we are to overcome Satan. There is no other way.

Permit me now to discuss the difference between works and fruit. When we state that the actions I have mentioned above are necessary if we are to live the life of victory in Christ, a great cry goes up to Heaven. It reminds us of the people shouting "Great is Diana of the Ephesians"!

"He is teaching works! We can't have that! He is a legalist! He is detracting from the sovereignty of God in the work of salvation! We are saved by faith (translated 'belief') alone! Anything we do, any effort we make, takes away from the grace of God!"

This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men. (Titus 3:8—NIV)

How ignorant so many believers are! They would acknowledge that God wants us to live a righteous life. But they have been taught that it is impossible.

The good news is that He who stretched forth the sky above us has the power to enable you and me to do good works, so that people who see us acting in this manner will glorify God. Do you believe this? I know you do. We just have been taught error.

Does Christ save us in our sins or from our sins? What do you think?

Well, to sum it all up, an overcomer is an overcomer, not just someone with a better attitude. Each day there comes some sort of pressure or influence to provoke us to do something we know would not please Christ. How are we to respond?

Are we to pray, "Dear Lord, I thank you for your grace. I know you are kind and forgiving. I know that God sees me through Christ. As long as I am in this world I have to sin. I wish I could do better."

Or are we to pray, "Dear Lord. You have the power to help me resist this temptation. Help me right now, in Jesus' name."

Then do not do it! As you turn away from the temptation, Christ will feed you in the spirit realm with his own body and blood. These will build you up in Christ so that the next time you are tempted you will have the strength to resist Satan. "Resist Satan and he will flee from you"!

There is a difference between trying to save ourselves by our own works, and the works that proceed from our daily interaction with the Lord Jesus. The first are dead religious works. The second are the fruit of abiding in Christ.

Works, and fruit. Can you see the difference.

The "rewards" we associate with the Christian life, such as ruling with Christ, are reserved for those who pursue victory in Christ. The rewards actually are steps of authority and competence that lead to the first resurrection, the resurrection of the ruling priests. They shall be raised and receive the making alive of their bodies when Jesus next appears.

To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (Revelation 3:21—NIV)

World Leadership

I noticed the cover of the Newsweek magazine for May 12th, 2008. The caption reads, "The Post-American World." It is the title of Fareed Zakaria's latest book. The article by Mr. Zakaria speaks of how other nations are rising up. No longer is America supreme in the world.

I have had a continuing impression concerning the future of America. I believe it is of the Lord. Some contemporary incidents, and the statements of commentators who contribute to the media, tend to confirm what I think I have been shown.

You be the judge of this and form your own opinion.

There is a major revival coming to America, but it will take place in the midst of great trouble. There will be some kind of war or devastation and much blood will be shed. In fact, it is because of this premonition that I wrote Godwill Castle. My thought is that people reading it, or hearing it read, particularly children, then would not be terrified of death, believing it will be, for decent people, the entrance into a wonderful new world in which love, joy, and peace abound.

How do we define decency? Decency is the rules of behavior dictated by the conscience of all people until their conscience becomes perverted through religion, or "education," or group pressure of some sort. The Lord Jesus defined decency, in the parable of the sower, as an "honest and good heart."

America shall survive, but as a third-class nation. The leadership of the world shall pass to an Eastern nation. I was not made aware of the particular nation. It possibly may be Russia, based on the prophecy made by a distinguished Russian prelate, a Bishop of the Kremlin, Father Aristocoli.

If I am hearing from the Lord Jesus, the primary reason for the destruction of the strength of America is the practice of abortion-on-demand.

It is true that the practice of homosexual behavior brought the wrath of God on Sodom (I wonder if the people of Sodom had gotten into gender confusion, as we see in America today). But the practice of abortion for no reason other than to demonstrate that the mother has such "freedom," or because the mother does not wish to be embarrassed or inconvenienced, will not be tolerated by our Father in Heaven. There may be an extenuating circumstance, such as rape or a critical medical reason for an abortion.

Homosexual activity, which appears to be increasingly common in America, may damage those who participate in such behavior. It certainly is condemned by the Scriptures. But abortion is the murder of the innocent. The mother may have a choice but the baby does not. For this reason the Divine covering, that America has enjoyed since its founding, is being removed.

God gave us children to love and care for. They are very close to God's heart. He delights in them. Their angels see God's Face. The Kingdom is of such as these.

To then murder the developing child as though it were garbage to be deposed of is so heinous a crime that God is forgetting the missionary and charitable works that America has performed throughout its history. As God did to Israel when they turned away from his laws, worshiping idols, burning their children in the fire as an offering to Moloch, God is lifting his protection from us and raising up enemies that will destroy us.

There is no remedy. We have crossed the line in our country. The best any American can do is to save himself and those who hear him, by following Christ closely and obeying his every command.

An abortion in the name of freedom of choice is utterly abominable. It denies everything motherhood stands for.

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. (Psalm 1:5—NIV)

Reborn and Renewed

I was not a Christian when I enlisted in the Marine Corps, at the age of seventeen. I went through boot camp, electronic training, and then was shipped to Hawaii.

I had asked God to give me some purpose in life.

When I got to Hawaii, at Sixth Base Depot, I was moved into a tent with a Baptist boy. He had been taught the Bible. I do not remember how the conversation got started, but I began to ask him questions about Jesus Christ and salvation.

He told me about the blood atonement, and the Veil of the Temple being torn from top to bottom by unseen hands. As he was telling me this it seemed somehow as though I already knew it. Yet I never had heard the story before.

But I lacked faith. One evening I asked God to give me faith. In the morning when I woke up I heard the words, "You have faith." That must have been the Lord, because I have had faith ever since—65 years later!

Although I never had heard the Gospel, I always had believed in God as a child and prayed to God about matters that concerned me. So I was having a little trouble transferring my faith and reverence to Jesus Christ. But when I understood that God had given Christ to us as his Representative, I turned my faith toward Christ, in obedience to God.

Then I found a Christian book and began to read it. In the book I read that we must be born again, and when we are, everything will look new.

I read also in that book that if we wanted to make certain that Jesus Christ was from God we should do his will and then He would prove himself to us. All I knew to do at the time was to cease using profanity, stop drinking beer, and stop going to the movies on the base. No one told me to do this, it just seemed right to me.

Also I started to read the Bible, memorizing passages. I was encouraged to do this by some new friends who were members of the Navigators. Dawson Trotman, the founder of the Navigators, visited us at that time and gave us great encouragement.

I began to gather nightly with the other Marines who attended a service in a Quonset hut. One evening the Chaplain was reading from the Old Testament. I think it was the Book of Ezekiel. He read, "If you will be my people, I will be your God."

I half rose from the chair. I said, "Did God say that?" I thought, "It should say, 'We will be your people if you will be our God.'"

We should be doing the begging, not God!

Then the love of God struck me. I thought, "This is what it must be like to be born again."

When I walked out of the Quonset hut, the stars looked different. Everything was new; as it was as we beheld, in Godwill Castle, the creation of the new stars and the new earth.

I might add that at the time of my being born again, I wrote to my mother in Los Angeles. Our letters crossed in the mail. She had written: "When I woke up this morning there was a 'man' standing at the foot of my bed. He was shining." Somehow she could see his shoes. They also were shining. It made my mother think of me.

The last time I had seen my mother was in West Haven. She had noticed at that time that my shoes were shining. The shoes of Marines are always shined. My mother was not accustomed to her boy shining his shoes.

The "man" said, "I have been reborn and renewed." Then he disappeared. Think of that!

For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. (I Peter 1:23—NIV)

God Is My Salvation

In 1948, over sixty years ago, God opened my mind to the Scriptures. The statement in the Book of Revelation that the overcomer will be a pillar in the Temple of God impressed me so much that I wrote it in large letters inside the back cover of my Rotherham Bible and drew a picture of a pillar. I still have that Bible.

The most comprehensive illumination at that time, however, was the spiritual interpretation of the seventh feast of the Lord, the feast of Tabernacles. As a result, I wrote the first version of The Temple of God in a burst of enthusiasm, some twelve pages in length. As time has gone on The Temple of God has grown so large I divided it into two books: The Temple of God and Christ In You.

Those were glorious Bible-school days. Isaiah, Chapter Twelve, became my food and drink, and is to the present hour.

In that day you will say: "I will praise you, O LORD. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me. Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation." With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. In that day you will say: "Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing to the LORD, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you." (Isaiah 12:1-6—NIV)

I was unaware in those days that this passage was sung during the Jewish celebration of Succot, the feast of Tabernacles. I just knew it was what I wanted.

I wanted God himself to be my Strength, my Song. I wanted God himself to be my Salvation, not just give me strength or give me a song, or give me salvation.

The Scripture states in another place that God himself desires to be our Righteousness. Have you ever pondered what this statement means?

What is righteousness? Righteousness is the absence of Divine condemnation and the presence of Divine approval, isn't it?

To be righteous at any given moment is to be doing God's will at that point. Would you agree with that statement?

On one occasion, God says, "Believe that Jesus died for your sins and you will be righteous." On another occasion, God says, "Forgive your enemy" and you will be righteous.

Now, when God says forgive your enemy and you will be righteous, we cannot ignore this command and say "I believe Jesus Christ died to forgive my sins and therefore I am righteous."

Righteousness in God's sight always is obedience to God's will at the moment. King Solomon at one time was blessed for his righteous attitude. Later in his life he no longer was righteous and God became angry with him. The consequence was the dividing of the nation of Israel. We see also that God reversed the promise He had made concerning Eli because of Eli's lack of faithfulness.

But if a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits sin and does the same detestable things the wicked man does, will he live? None of the righteous things he has done will be remembered. Because of the unfaithfulness he is guilty of and because of the sins he has committed, he will die. (Ezekiel 18:24—NIV)

What does the statement mean, "God himself is my righteousness"?

This statement means we have not obtained Divine approval and removal of condemnation by performing good works, such as giving alms, or keeping the Law of Moses. Rather we have gained the Divine approval by obeying God at each particular moment.

God has become our righteousness, our salvation, in two ways. First, He has forgiven us through means of his own sacrifice. Second, He has filled is with his own Person so that at any given moment we know what his will is; we have a desire to do his will at that moment; and we have the power to do it.

In this manner, God himself becomes our righteousness, our salvation, that is, our freedom from condemnation. We are blessed with the presence of his approval. Corruption, pain, and death, are being removed from us, along with the bondages of sin and self-will, and we are entering eternal righteousness, love, joy, and peace, in his Presence.

Today's interpretation of "God Is my righteousness" either is, "I am righteous because He is righteous and I partake of his righteousness by being identified with him"; or else it is, "he has assigned perpetual righteousness to me because of a correct religious profession or action on my part or because of my continual belief that I am righteous because He calls me righteous."

"I am to keep believing I am righteous, although my behavior proceeds from my sinful nature and my desire to live my own life apart from God."

I don't know about you, but to me such a belief clearly is a delusion. This delusion has created believers who are not being made in the image of God; who are not witnesses of God's Person, will, way, and eternal purpose in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The delusion of righteousness by Divine decree apart from continual obedience to Christ in every aspect of thinking, speaking, and doing is a satanic deception, a sophisticated form of rebellion against God. It is Satan's attempt to destroy the righteous Kingdom that God has determined to create.

I am amazed by the fact that the spiritual interpretation of the Jewish feast of Tabernacles was given to me as long ago as 1948, and today, in 2011, it holds as "an anchor within the Veil."

God himself is my Joy, my Strength, my Peace, my Righteousness, my Song. The initial revelation has lasted more than 60 years, and is much more of a reality today than it was in the early days.

It has been purified in the fire!

In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness. (Jeremiah 23:6—NIV)

In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The LORD our righteousness. (Jeremiah 33:16—NIV)

It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption (I Corinthians 1:30—NIV)

Government Intervention and Righteousness

American authors sometimes express themselves about the danger of governmental surveillance and the imposition of whatever behaviors the government endorses. The resistance to any kind of inroads into the privacy of the American people can be fierce.

However, the chaos of the future, before Jesus returns, will demonstrate clearly that a world in which righteous behavior is not forced on people will always result in the worst kind of bondage. The citizens of such a proclaimed "free society" will discover they are imprisoned by the expressions of wicked people who claim they have a "right" to act in a manner repugnant to decent, upright, honorable people.

The "freedom" that was presented as releasing people so they can attain their potential, will be found out to be a means by which Satan can express the moral filth and rebellion against Christ of Satan's personality.

The people of the United States of America in their blind subservience to the "rights of people," including "freedom of speech," will soon become aware that the result of such subservience will be moral depravity. Honorable people will not be able to remove their children and young people from the moral horrors that will be practiced in our nation, because such abominations will be enforced by national and local laws. Those who protest the ungodly behavior and laws may be imprisoned in the near future.

Also, religions hostile to Christianity will take advantage of the worship of the rights of people found in the Western nations, and freely set up their own gods and religious practices because of the ideals of democracy. Thus it is true that the democratic ideals of the Western nations contain within themselves the destruction of the nations that espouse them.

I am of the opinion that once a false religion take advantage of our democratic tolerance and establishes its own laws, it will not be tolerant of other religions, particularly the Christian religion. Thus its religion teaches its adherents to be lying hypocrites. Its members will take advantage of our tolerance, and then seek to enforce intolerance.

Because the earth is the Lord's along with all its inhabitants, the day soon will come when God reduces America to a third-class nation, and a more disciplined, sensible culture takes its place.

We Americans resist vehemently any interference with our privacy, rights, and freedoms. The truth is, our privacy, rights, and freedoms are destroying us and we can't even see it. When one person's rights are preserved it often is at the expense of another person's rights. We do not understand even that simple logic!

God alone knows what will bring us righteousness love, joy, and peace. God knows that lasting righteousness, love, joy, and peace are possible only as we behave justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. God wants us to have love. God wants us to have joy. God wants us to have peace. But He is going to have to force us in some instances to avoid pain, corruption, and death.

In order for righteousness to be enforced by the government, the government itself must be righteous. Since the governments of today are constantly revealing lying, self-serving, graft, and other forms of corruption, it is not possible for such a government to enforce God's laws of righteousness effectively.

God knew when He created man that if man were left to his own devices he would bring ruin upon himself. Therefore He has allowed the six thousand or so years of human history to take place as an eternal reminder of what life apart from God always will be like.

Soon God will remove the present sky and earth and create a new sky and a new earth. From that point forward only God's shall be done in the earth. People shall live by every word that comes from the mouth of God.

When the human mind is directing society there always will be suffering and corruption of every kind. When people are living in obedience to God's word to them personally, love, joy, and peace eventually shall follow.

The virus of "the rights of the people" is currently spreading to the Eastern nations, while their leaders are attempting to contain this destructive influence. But few if any governments have enough strength to compel people to do what is virtuous, once their citizens get a taste of the Western corruption.

Does our Creator have the right to interfere personally in our life and tell us what we must do and what we cannot do? If not, why not? Through his death, the Lord Jesus Christ saved us from spiritual death. Does He have the right to be our King and tell us what we must do and what we cannot do? If not, why not?

Isn't it true that we show our love for Christ by keeping his commandments? Isn't it true that the love God requires is for us to choose to keep his commandments and to treat others as we would have them treat us?

"Who is to say what is right?" the public responds. "Who made you a lord over us?"

Thus the poison of self-determination is polluting the thinking of people worldwide until many nations will accept the concept of each person being his or her own god.

Here is the reason for the biblical rule of the rod of iron. Even though a great victory will be won on the Plain of Megiddo, and the wicked spirits and wicked people will be driven into confinement in the spirit world, that satanic concept, that most malevolent of all ideas, that human beings are to live their lives apart from the will of God, still will fester in the personalities of the peoples of the nations.

The only solution to the unrighteousness and injustice of the present world is for the one righteous King, the Lord Jesus Christ, to appear and establish his government by force.

A government that will not enforce morality, morality as defined by the Bible, will be removed by the Lord.

The God of Israel spoke, the Rock of Israel said to me: 'When one rules over men in righteousness, when he rules in the fear of God, He is like the light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning, like the brightness after rain that brings the grass from the earth. (II Samuel 23:3,4—NIV)

The Inner Becomes the Outer

I suppose the greatest problem in Christian thinking, at least in evangelical thinking, is that God has fellowship with us now through forgiveness (grace) or mercy, and that at some point—probably when we die, or when the Lord comes—we suddenly will become consecrated saints, diligent disciples.

This is not true. What we are, we are. Dying will not change this. The coming of the Lord will not change this. Going to Heaven will not change this. What we are, we are.

Notice the following passages, which are commenting on Christian behavior:

Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy. Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. (Revelation 22:11,12—NIV)

But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. (Matthew 25:10—NIV)

Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 25:28-30—NIV)

The three passages above show us that when we come face to face with Christ, whether at our death or when He appears, we will not be changed into righteousness. Rather it is true that we will face the consequences of our behavior.

I take no pleasure in telling you that numerous pastors and Bible teachers in the United States will inform you that these three passages do not apply to those who have "accepted Christ." The sad truth is, the pastors have no basis whatever to make such a claim. They are mistaken, whether they know it or not.

There is a way to change, however. It is by interacting with the Lord Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit of God. As we practice such interaction continually, we begin to be changed into a new creation.

First, there is the change termed "redemption" (salvation), which is the removal from us of all worldliness, all uncleannesses of the flesh and spirit, and all self-will and disobedience. Redemption has a specific beginning in our life and a specific conclusion. There indeed shall come a time when we have been completely redeemed; completely saved from Satan's person and influence.

Second there is the change of growth into God's image, which will continue for eternity as we partake of the Tree of Life and the River of Life, and obey Christ completely.

It may be noted that our change, both in deliverance from darkness, and of image, begins in this present world. It then will continue in the next, but only if we have been faithful in the present life.

If we are not faithful to Christ in our present life, then, when Jesus returns, what has been given to us shall be removed and given to someone who has been diligent with God's riches. We ourselves, in this instance, will be thrown into the Land of Darkness and may never again have a chance to be redeemed, that is, to be changed.

It is of the utmost importance to understand that forgiveness and mercy are not in and of themselves redemption and do not bring eternal fellowship with God. Divine grace provides the forgiveness, the power, and the authority to press into the work of redemption, of change of personality. But the forgiveness, power, and authority are not the change itself.

It is a fact, rather, that the Kingdom of God consists of true behavioral righteousness, true love for God and people, true untroubled peace, and true fullness of joy.

Until this simple fact is grasped by Christian people they may continue in the delusion that the Kingdom of God consists only of righteousness assigned to us because of our theological position.

What we are, we are, until Christ forgives us and then changes us into God's image. Our present body does not reveal what we are. Our resurrection body will reveal what we are and the role in the Kingdom we have been given. Our resurrection body, our outer form, will grow as we grow in the image of God and in our role in the Kingdom—for eternity.

When we are born of our human parents our personality is one whole. The body and the soul function well together. Our spirit reaches out to God. When Christ begins the work of the redemption of our personality, this wholeness of personality is disturbed. We become two persons at war with each other. Even our human mind is opposed to our doing God's will.

It is interesting to note that our body in the present world is, in a manner of speaking, a creature separate from ourselves. It is born and grows in terms of the parent from which it came. It has certain talents, dispositions, of its own, often quite at odds with God's will for us or with the desires of our conscience.

In the program of redemption, God leaves the body in a dead spiritual state because of the sin that dwells in it. God then ascribes the righteousness of the Law of Moses, and the resulting spiritual life, to our inward nature, our spirit. This is true while we are obeying the Spirit of God at all times. It is not true for the individual who makes a profession of belief in Christ and then lives in the directions and appetites of the body.

To force this creature, our body, to obey the Lord Jesus Christ is a lifelong battle, because the desires of our body often are at variance with the will of God for us. God has assigned this struggle against the sinful, self-seeking body to the members of the governing priesthood for the purpose of developing in them the iron strength of righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God that will be required if their eternal rulership is to satisfy God's intention.

This division between our inner and outer personality will not be the case, however, with our resurrection body in the new world of righteousness. There our body will be what we are in personality, not just an external house.

Whether we are righteous, or wicked, or selfish, or lustful, or covetous, or unforgiving and bitter, or honorable, or obedient to God, or ambitious, or truthful, or faithful—all of this will be revealed when we are raised from the dead and receive back our body.

This is what the Scripture means when it states that when we have been made manifest at the Judgment Seat of Christ we shall receive what we have done in our body.

(The more I think about it the more I realize that a body that delights in doing God's will is the very best reward a victorious saint could desire!)

Can you see that mercy and grace play no role at the Judgment Seat of Christ? Mercy and grace operate previously. They help us sow good seed. But the Kingdom law of sowing and reaping is absolutely irrevocable; absolutely just, righteous, fair.

It is not of God that we can sow sin and reap eternal life!

So it is true that before the work of redemption begins in our personality, our body is in harmony with our sinful nature and our actions portray what is true of us. If often is difficult for us to admit that when we lie we are a liar. We prefer to think that we really are a truthful person, and the fact that we lie is not a true portrayal of what we are in actuality.

This illusion concerning ourselves is true more often than not, I believe. It is seldom we will hear a person who acts wickedly say, "I really am a wicked person." It more often is true that the person who behaves wickedly will be convinced he or she actually is a righteous, decent person. Sometimes, however, a person who does evil things will finally recognize that he or she is evil.

The current doctrine of "grace" plays into the human trait of perceiving ourselves as something other than what we are. Christian grace may persuade us that we really are righteous, although it is clear we are bound with sexual lust, hatred, unforgiveness, self-seeking, arrogance, gossip, and every other evil work.

While the work of redemption is progressing, we may be in conflict. We desire to act righteously, but our body behaves in a manner of which we don't approve. Thus our body does not portray the righteousness being developed in us. But over a period of time, as we are faithful in confessing our sins and turning away from them, the light of good works begins to shine from us. Our good works will lead other people to glorify God because of what they see in us.

Our resurrection body, on the other hand, will not oppose our desire for righteousness. It will desire to serve God just as our inward nature does. It will portray our Christ-filled inward nature. It will portray also the role which the Father envisions for us and for which He has created us. Our body, our outer form, will be what we are, if you see what I mean.

That is something, isn't it, that our willingness to make the effort to live righteously, even though at times it is quite difficult, results in a Spirit-filled body that desires to live righteously! Isn't this just like the Lord?

We shall be placed in whatever role the Father envisions for us and for which He has created us. Our body will be in harmony with that role. It will not be as it is today where our body fights us at every turn. There will be no conflict. Our body then will be a harmonious member of our one personality.

This is why the Apostle Paul groaned for the redemption of his body. Paul's goal was to be able to live righteously, not to go to Heaven. For this reason we sometimes have difficulty understanding his writings.

I would not be surprised if God causes those who govern to be larger than the rest of the population. The individuals appointed to be patriarchs governing millions of people may keep growing inwardly and outwardly for eternity. They may continue to enlarge until they are huge, light-filled beings, possessed with enormous abilities as well as extraordinary love and concern for those whom they govern.

Every seed in nature brings forth that which is like the parent. We were born of God!

All of Christ's rulers and patriarchs will govern in the fear of God and will obey Christ completely in every detail. They then truly will be a part of God. Christ is King and Lord of all the kings and lords. They all are an eternally inseparable part of Christ and God and reflect God's Glory, his Person, and his will in their inward nature and outward form, which have become one whole.

These holy ones, chosen by God from the beginning of the world, and tried in the fire of their earthly discipleship, will govern their inheritance of people for the ages of ages, continually growing in the image of the Father.

When we give Christ everything He gives us everything.

And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. (Romans 8:11—NIV)

The Ministry of Angels

After serving the Lord Jesus for over sixty years, I have become more aware than ever of the presence of angels. I did not realize the number of angels there are and that God keeps creating them as He sees the need. As I wrote Godwill Castle, the presence and ministry of angels became more clear to me.

God through Christ created angels before the world that we know was created. God understood that the angels He had created knew nothing about righteousness. This is why through a man on earth, Moses (God's revelation always comes through people on the earth, even though communicated to a spokesman by angels), God issued his Ten Commandments. It was so people, and angels as well, could understand what righteousness is.

"Hear O heavens, and give ear O earth!"

It was inevitable that some of the angels, knowing nothing about God's Person or righteous, holy Character, and the folly of resisting his Omnipotence, could be tempted to rebel against his will. God, with a wise purpose in mind, just let things take their course.

As God knew in advance that such would take place, one of the mightiest of the cherubim, a guardian of the Throne, fell through personal ambition. He was able to persuade many of the angels that he would exalt them and they then would have a better place, a better role than that in which they had been created. God understood in advance that such a rebellion would take place.

The rebellion was necessary so God can teach angels and people what righteous behavior is. The Ten Commandments were given to us through a man, although communicated to Him by angels. We understand from this the dreadful consequences of the "grace" teaching, in which the necessity for righteous behavior is removed.

"The power of sin is the Law!"

The angels who rebelled against the Father, choosing not to serve him, were cast down and bound in chains in the darkness of the spiritual prisons where they can do no harm. Meanwhile some of the most highly placed of the rebellious angels are permitted to continue to exercise their influence from their position in the heavens.

One of the primary goals of the rebellious angels is to forestall the Father's judgment and the punishment which has been pronounced. It is this pernicious influence which, in the name of humanistic concern for the welfare of people, motivates current "Christian" society to continue to lessen the severity of the punishments applied to criminals and to emphasize the "rights of people."

The idea hopefully (from the point of view of Satan and his angels) will evolve into mankind rising up against God and demanding that He forgive Satan, the rebellious angels, and all other sinners. The concept that man is to forgive Satan and all other sinners is a major influence that operates behind the scenes, so to speak. Satan is attempting to enlist human beings along with his angels so together they may be able to topple the Father and his Christ from their Throne.

We can see the thinking of Satan in the philosophy of humanism, as it seeks to remove all that would be distressing to mankind. This is the motive behind "the rights of people," so beloved of some of the modern nations.

God has two purposes in permitting this abominable rebellion to occur. First, He has created man, God's judges, and is training them through Christ, God's chosen Ruler. God is developing in his new creatures a hardness against all sin and rebellion.

Second, through the events of the history of the world, God is portraying to all of his creatures, including people and angels, the frightful consequences of rebelling against the will of the Father—the only valid will of the universe.

The elect angels are those whom God has chosen to serve the heirs of his salvation. They understand and agree totally and completely with God's rules of righteousness, holiness, and obedience. They are in absolute agreement with the necessity of serving Christ as their lawful King, just as they serve his Father.

The angels that God creates in the future, as more angels are needed in the ever expanding new world of righteousness, will be shown what took place, and the consequences of what took place, during the era of rebellion. The new angels, having seen what happened, hopefully will resist any attempt to persuade them to be caught in the same error.

Angels do the work of the creation, including fighting the battles. Our rule as humans is to provide companionship for God and his Christ. One of our chief roles is to look beautiful, to provide beauty for God and Christ to enjoy. The Song of Solomon is all about Christ rejoicing over the beauty of his Bride.

"Do you love me?" He asks continually.

Some possibly may balk at the concept of our being created to love the Lord and worship Him while the angels do the work. They forget what Christ said to the believers at Ephesus about leaving their first love. In fact our leaders may say our first love is to "win souls." They turn the love that Christ wants into the work the churches want.

"Get out and save souls! We must be busy about our Father's business. Our work is God's work!" Babylon cracks the whip and yells "Work; work; work! Build the kingdom!"

Yes, but whose kingdom?

The Book of Revelation has two chapters devoted to "Babylon the Great." Babylon the Great is religious man attempting to make a better world apart from the Presence of God. "And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth." Babylon murders God's true prophets because of her envy, personal ambition, and pride.

The opposite of "Babylon, the Great" is the "rest of God," which is the thesis of the Book of Hebrews. To live in the rest of God is to cease from our own works, our own planning, our own striving, and to look to the Lord Jesus for everything we think, do, and say.

You know, God made certain that the resurrected Christ, at his moment of greatest triumph, was met by a woman. She wanted to hug him. This is what it is all about. Really!

If Peter had been the one to meet the resurrected Christ he would have asked the Lord how many tents or buildings he was to construct, not realizing that Christ is able to do anything and everything He desires. At that moment of all moments, Christ wanted someone who loved him! You know, after Christ's resurrection He asked Peter if Peter loved him!

Indeed it is true there are times when we are commanded to work hard. And we must do just that or be accounted as a wicked, lazy servant. But the tendency of the believers is to work during the times when they are supposed to rest and to just know that God is God, and to worship him.

God cannot have fellowship with angels just as Adam could not have fellowship with animals. Humans are different in kind from angels. They have souls just as God has a soul. Angels do not have souls as far as we know. Perhaps it is for this reason that angels cannot make moral judgments. Neither can God enter union, into oneness with them. Angels do not have bodies as humans do. Angels can never be the temple of the Spirit of God.

I cannot picture the Lord Jesus saying to an angel, "Do you love me?" Can you?

We were created so God and Christ may have fellowship! Angels do the work of the creation.

There are warrior angels. There are guardian angels. Angels are everywhere in the creation working at their tasks. There are angels of every kind of ability and talent, in the arts, science, mechanics, business, education and learning, and every other activity. There is a seemingly endless multitude of angels who are engaged incessantly in their duties.

Whatever area of endeavor there may be, there are angels who have been created to do all these things, as well as to hold up the heirs of salvation lest they trip over a stone.

It is the duty of angels to make possible the functioning of the new world of righteousness, of the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. Remember, we do not command the angels, as some misguided teachers are claiming. The angels serve God, not mankind.

When we humans have a need we can ask Christ for help. Then Christ can ask the Father to send to us whatever angelic assistance is needed.

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; (Psalms 91:11—NIV)

Believing About Christ or Eating Christ?

In the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John the Lord said, "This is the work of God, that you believe in the One He has sent."

I could be mistaken, but I do not believe most Christians today, or through the centuries, define or have defined correctly the term "believe in Christ." I think the expression means, to most believers, "believing the truth about Christ." Each denomination has a "Statement of Faith." These articles of faith present the truth about Christ, they hope.

But to believe in Christ does not mean to assent to the articles of a Statement of Faith, such as Christ was born of a virgin; or Christ is coming again. To believe in Christ is to obey Christ, to make choices that reflect obedience to Christ. Only in this instance do we receive eternal life.

When soldiers "believe" in their officer they follow him and do what he says, assuming that he knows what he is doing and will lead them to safety. They do not say "I believe in my company commander," and then go about doing as they please.

Let us say a man claims to be a policeman. Let us say further he orders us to slow down while we are driving or we will be arrested. Now, we might say we believe the man is a policeman. But if we do not do what he says, we might believe he is a policeman but we do not believe obeying him is necessary. Nevertheless, if we do not do what he commands, we will have an unpleasant experience, even though we say we believe he is a policeman. It is obedience that reveals what we really believe.

We may say we are righteous and are saved because we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. However, if we do not obey Christ in all He says; if we say we are "saved by grace" and yet do not obey his commands; do we really believe He is our Lord? I don't think so!

There is a mystique associated with the current idea of believing in Christ. It is as though the belief itself is a sort of magic that produces righteousness apart from any moral change in us. Have we forgotten that the demons believe that Jesus is "the holy one of God"?

I think the concept of belief as a mental or verbal charm or formula that produces righteousness has resulted from the emphasis the Apostle Paul placed upon believing in Christ rather than obtaining righteousness by making the effort to obey the Law of Moses.

So it is true that if we do not obey the commandments of Christ and his Apostles, while we may believe what we have read about them, if we do not do what they command, our belief about them is of no value. Such belief certainly does not save us or give us eternal life. We have to believe in them enough to do what they say.

When the term "belief," or "faith," is used in the New Testament, it means to be persuaded that we must choose to be obedient to the commandments given. We are obedient because we believe that to obey will bring us eternal life. To not obey will cause us to not inherit the Kingdom of God.

As I said previously, true belief and obedience are the same thing. We see this in Hebrews 3:18,19.

If Christ has "done it all," and when we "believe" we are in the land of promise and there is nothing more to do but wait to go to Heaven, what is the meaning of the third chapter of the Book of Hebrews?

In the case of the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John, belief is associated with eating the flesh of Christ and drinking his blood. Each time we choose to obey Christ, we are given to eat of his flesh and drink of his blood in the spirit world. We may not see it or feel it, but our personality actually is being nourished in the spirit world.

Each time we turn away from sin and do what we know to be right, we are given to eat and drink of Christ. Each time we are given to eat and drink of Christ we have more ability to overcome the next testing. And so on and on. It is a cycle leading up to the fullness of redemption.

In this manner we attain to the resurrection from the dead. As Jesus said in the sixth chapter of John, "I will raise him up at the last day."

The resurrection is in two main parts. There is a resurrection of our inward nature during our discipleship on the earth; then, at the coming of the Lord, our body will be raised from the dead and clothed upon with the choices we have made while living on the earth.

When the Apostle Paul spoke in the third chapter of the Book of Philippians about attaining to the resurrection from the dead, He was referring to the inward resurrection, which is the basis for the outward resurrection when the Lord returns.

We can attain to the inward resurrection today as we learn to live continually by eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. The Lord Jesus Christ himself is the Resurrection.

Jesus said He would raise us in the last day. I believe we now are approaching the last day, and the inward resurrection, the prerequisite for the outward resurrection, is increasing.

Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. (John 6:57—NIV)

The Throne of God

Man has been created to be the Throne of God. There was a rebellion in Heaven among the angels. Rather than moving immediately and destroying the rebels, the Father, in his infinite wisdom, created from the dust of the earth a new race, the race of mankind.

It is God's plan to make kings and judges from the new race—judges who will pass judgment on the rebellious angels as well as on people. Because these saints have been faithful under very trying circumstances, they are the guarantee that never again will there be a rebellion against God. This is the master plan. It must be the background for our perception when we think about the Kingdom of God.

It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. But there is a place where someone has testified: "What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor and put everything under his feet." In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him. (Hebrews 2:5-8)

Notice carefully: "God left nothing that is not subject to him." We are speaking here of absolute authority, the authority given to the Lord Jesus Christ and those who are part of his Body, who are coheirs with him. It is all authority in Heaven and upon the earth.

Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in Heaven and on earth has been given to me." (Matthew 28:18—NIV)

In short, the Lord Jesus is the supreme Throne of God.

To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. (Revelation 3:21—NIV)

Please do not count me among those today who are getting God's people all puffed up with how great they are. The Word of the Spirit today to the believers is: "Confess your worldliness, the deeds of your sinful nature, and your self-seeking. I will help you as you confess and renounce your sins with all the determination you can bring to the conflict."

I said years ago that the Charismatic move will be divided, with the majority walking according to their own plans on how to save the world, and a minority who forsake their own plans and wait patiently on the Lord Jesus. In fact, the majority will become the False Prophet who will support the self-driven Antichrist.

Any individual who speaks false words in the name of the Lord, who bears a false witness of God's Person, will, way, and eternal purpose in Jesus Christ, is part of the False Prophet. Many of the palace prophets of the Old Testament were part of the False Prophet. Many of today's pastors with huge congregations are bearing a false witness of Jesus Christ. They do not know Him or his will for the present hour. They are part of the False Prophet who will support Antichrist (self-directed or demon-directed political leadership) in the last days.

Please notice the following prophecy from Jeremiah:

"In those days, when your numbers have increased greatly in the land," declares the LORD, "men will no longer say, 'The ark of the covenant of the LORD.' It will never enter their minds or be remembered; it will not be missed, nor will another one be made. At that time they will call Jerusalem The Throne of the LORD, and all nations will gather in Jerusalem to honor the name of the LORD. No longer will they follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts." (Jeremiah 3:16,17—NIV)

"They will call Jerusalem The Throne of the Lord."

Now notice how this is fulfilled in the new Jerusalem. Remember, the new Jerusalem is the glorified Christian Church, the Wife of the Lamb:

No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 22:3-5—NIV)

"The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city."

Man has been called to the highest of all thrones:

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, (Ephesians 2:6—NIV)

There is a Divine principle that must be kept in mind when we are considering the high destiny of the new race. It is this: God will never give his Glory to another. The reason the Lord Jesus Christ has received the fullness of the Divine Glory is that he is not separate from the Father. He is an integral part of the Father.

It follows then, that if we are to attain to the high calling that is on us we must become an integral part of the Lord Jesus Christ, and through Him an integral part of the Father. This concept is crucial to our understanding if we are to proceed past the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Pentecost.

I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols. (Isaiah 42:8—NIV)

If we are to receive the fullness of the Glory that has been promised, we must become part of God. There is no other way.

That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: (John 17:21,22—NIV)

I think it is clear from the Scriptures that man has been created to be the Throne of God, and that this is possible only as man becomes an integral part of God through the Lord Jesus Christ.

If we are to govern the works of God's hands, as an integral part of Christ, and of God through Christ, our character must be formed so we are competent to serve effectively as God's kings and rulers. Our character is formed under the heat and pressures of life on the earth, as portrayed by the precious stones in the twelve foundations of the wall of the new Jerusalem.

All of the tests and trials, the sufferings and denials, we experience, when we are following Christ, bearing our cross patiently after him, are for the purpose of producing a godly personality, a personality that will rule and judge in a manner pleasing to God. The following traits are an example of what our daily experience should be producing:

Stern obedience to God at all times.

Righteous behavior.

Moral cleanliness.

Compassion and understanding.

Patience.

Courage.

Humility.

Faithfulness.

Wisdom.

Generosity.

Not a lover of money or power.

If we lack these, our ability to govern and judge righteously would be hindered.

The twentieth century was the "Pentecostal Century," in that the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Pentecost spread throughout many Christian churches of the world. The twenty-first century is the "Tabernacles Century."

There are three more feasts to be fulfilled: the Blowing of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and finally, the feast of Tabernacles. These three compose the goal of the present century.

The three observances have as their purpose bringing the believer into perfect union with God through the Lord Jesus. The "Pentecostal" experience is anointed flesh. The "Tabernacles" experience, on the other hand, is that of man becoming the Throne of God. As he does, as described in the twelfth chapter of the Book of Isaiah, the living Water, the Spirit of God, that always flows from the Throne of God, from nowhere else, will pour out from him that eternal life might be brought to the dead sea of mankind.

This is why the invitation to drink of eternal life is given by the Spirit and the Bride.

The spiritual fulfillment of the twelfth chapter of the Book of Isaiah is the high calling mentioned by the Apostle Paul in the third chapter of the Book of Philippians. All who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ are invited to press forward to the attainment to this high calling.

God is more than willing that we find our place with Christ on the highest of all thrones. It now is up to us. The price of our admission was paid on the cross of Calvary.

The third chapter of Philippians describes the extreme lengths to which Paul was willing to go in order to attain to this early resurrection. All worldliness must go. All yielding to our sinful nature must go. All determination to manage our own life must go. Christ will enable us to accomplish these three deliverances if we follow Him closely.

Make no mistake. This highest of all callings is being announced in our day, Some will count all else as garbage and reach forth with all their might in order to attain to the "out-resurrection," the first resurrection, which is out from among the dead. The remainder of the believers may not be ready to renounce everything in order to gain Christ.

Will we leave all and follow Jesus? He is patiently waiting and knocking. Will we open the door of our personality that the King of Glory may enter and dine with us; we on his body and blood, He on our obedience and worship?

To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. (Revelation 3:21—NIV)

God's Throne Comes to the Earth

The Life of God slowly is being withdrawn from the Christian religion throughout the world. The Christians are not aware of this but are continuing with the same liturgies, singing the same songs, preaching the same messages, just as they always have.

But the era of the Christian religion, as we have known it, is over. We are entering a period of moral horrors, as we can see in our country, the United States. Little by little that which hinders the Antichrist world spirit is being removed. A drying up of the Life of God is taking place. As the Apostle Paul prophesied, people are in love with themselves.

Many Christian churches are continuing in their familiar activities with little Presence of God. They do not understand that they are losing the Presence of God. They soon will be cooperating with the Antichrist government.

Such a change already is taking place in America, and I believe, in nations in Europe that historically have been centers of the Christian faith.

To some of us, the issues in the present presidential campaign appear to be a choice between good and evil, between old American values and new American values—much more so than has been true in the past when the choice was between those of a liberal persuasion and those who rank themselves among the conservatives. It certainly seems to me that the division increasingly is between good and evil—at least good and evil as defined by the Bible.

But, as the Lord told me some months back, although horrors will take place, He is going to do new and surprising things that will be more than adequate to counter the destruction of the American moral values and ideals. I do not believe the "new and surprising things" will do much for the nation of America or the nations of Europe. It is the individual believer who will be able to surmount the moral abominations in a new and surprising way.

One of the new and surprising thing is, God shall move the center of his Person from his position in the heavens into the hearts of those who are living by the body and blood of the Lamb. We have been at Pentecost. Pentecost is the water of the Spirit from above, the planting and harvest rain.

We now are moving into the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles. This fulfillment will result in the water of the Spirit issuing from the Throne of God within us. The Throne of God is being established in those who believe in Christ to the point of obeying Him sternly in every aspect of their existence.

In the future it will not be possible to be saved or filled with God's Spirit in the Antichrist-governed cities of the earth. This is because Antichrist will be given the authority to ascend into the heavens such that he can tear down some of the host of the saints. Meanwhile he will block our ability to take advantage of the blood atonement or to be filled with the Spirit of God. Think of it!

But there will be a remnant of believers who walk in total obedience to Christ because they really believe in him, not just the facts about him. God and Christ will enter them, and out from them will issue the waters of eternal Life. These waters always flow from the Throne of God, from nowhere else.

The spiritual life of the Christianity we have known is dying at the roots. But each Christian can choose to be one of those who stands with Christ on Mount Zion. We must give our life to him, not just in talk but in actual practice. Only then can we escape being deceived by the spirit of delusion that is beginning to fill the churches.

It is time to move into the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Tabernacles. The Father and the Son will take up Their eternal residence in each believer who will keep the commandments of Christ. We must be obedient to God! The current teaching that we do not have to obey Christ, just believe the facts about Christ, is resulting in immorality and disobedience to God. This is why the Life of God is withdrawing from so many churches.

You can save yourself, your loved ones, and those who will listen to you. You can become a tree of life, a fountain of eternal life. But in order to become a source of Divine Life you must—you absolutely must—deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus.

The Kingdom of God is God in Christ in the saint doing God's will wherever the saint is. This is why an individual must be born again in order to see and enter the Kingdom.

The central aspect of the Kingdom of God is the doing of God's complete will in every aspect of thinking, speaking, and doing.

The average American churchgoer is not a disciple and knows little about discipleship. He and his loved ones will move blindly into the dead religion that soon will prevail in America and Europe. More than this, he never will understand that he is living in a delusion. Christ left him a while back and he did not realize it!

During the hour of greatest moral darkness there shall continue to be salvation and deliverance in Mount Zion and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call.

The Spirit and the Bride say, "Come."

The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life. (Revelation 22:17—NIV)

Becoming the Throne of God: I

God intends for Christ, Head and Body, to be his Throne. The holy city, the new Jerusalem, is Christ—Head and Body. The new Jerusalem shall govern the creation for eternity.

The work of placing his Person, his Throne in us, has begun today. We may notice in the Book of Revelation that to the last of the churches our Lord says, "I stand at the door and knock." Then he says that to him who overcomes will be given to sit with Christ on his Throne just as He overcame and sits with his Father on the Father's Throne.

"Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." (Revelation 3:20-22—NIV)

From my point of view, the passage above is telling us that Christ wants to enter and have fellowship with us. As He does, we become the Throne of God. Christ himself is the Throne of God, and when He is dwelling in us, we become the Throne of God.

I am glad He said He would eat with us and we with him. He dines on our obedience and worship. We dine on his body and blood. He did not claim that because He enters us we would become a powerful person who will control or save the world.

It appears to be inherent in human beings that we want to govern other people. The desire to rule other people is a curse. We need to ask God to remove it from us. God's true rulers have the heart of a servant.

In some individuals the desire to govern others is so strong they become politicians. Then their intense desire to gain and maintain a political office often leads them to make decisions that do not truly benefit those over whom they rule, just as long as they can remain in office.

Obviously, to such people the concept that God is setting his throne in us can be seen as a means to power and glory. This is the reverse of what God has in mind.

Even the disciples of Jesus argued among themselves as to who would be the greatest. Jesus responded that whoever is to be greatest must be the servant of all. The politicians of today, regardless of their philosophy of government, speak of how they are going to benefit the people. Very seldom is this the truth. The truth is they want to rule other people and enjoy the perquisites of their office.

To say to such a person that he or she is supposed to serve, not seek preeminence, would be a mortal wound. He would have to experience a change of heart before he would be glad to serve others without thought of how it would benefit himself.

I do not believe there is a major government on the earth today that is not filled with lying, bribery, treachery, self-seeking, love of preeminence, supplanting, gossip, backbiting, dishonesty, and every other satanic trait. As far as I know, such has been true of most governments throughout history.

When God is on the throne of our heart we are free from such guile and treachery. We have a love for those whom we are serving. Our heart is pure toward God and toward people.

So no, the fact that God is installing his Throne in us does not mean that now we can order people and circumstances to conform to our will. Rather we are learning to wait patiently on Christ as He shows us his will and then guides and empowers us so we may perform his will.

You may remember that Satan offered Christ the kingdoms of the world. Jesus replied that He never would worship Satan, only God. Those today in positions of political leadership are often doing the will of Satan although they may not realize it.

I have been saying for years that in our day the Christians are going to be divided into two groups. The majority will seek power so they can go forth and minister to a "lost and dying world," doing great things for God, as they imagine. There will be a minority who will continually seek increased fellowship with the Lord Jesus so they may do his will and only his will.

You can see the difference. The majority will attempt to use God to accomplish what they believe to be pleasing to Christ. The minority will worship and obey Christ; and out from their close fellowship with Him will be borne the powerful testimony of the closing days of the Church Age.

A prophecy was given recently to a Christian denomination. The Spirit said to this large group of believers that there were problems in their midst and they needed to repent and make things right. What the leadership interpreted from this prophecy was that the denomination is to go forth and save the world.

Now we can understand why the Word says, "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

How do we get ears to "hear" the Spirit, and eyes to "see" God? I know that if we are to see God we have to be holy, to have a pure heart.

I do not know how we get "ears" to hear. Maybe it is by waiting on the Lord and not running ahead of him. Or maybe it is by Divine appointment. I am not certain. But to derive from this recent prophecy that we are to go out and save the world reveals that not everyone has "ears" to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.

The fifteenth chapter of the Gospel of John exhorts us to "abide" in Christ. Now, what does it mean to abide in Christ and He in us? It means that we are to be continually inviting the Lord Jesus into every word we speak, every thought we think, and every action we take. Our whole personality and life is to be filled with Jesus. We are members of his Body; and it is his greatest wish that we would open the door to Him at all times so He can live his Life in us.

If Jesus is living his Life in us, is it not true that we now are the Throne of God, in that Jesus is the Throne of God?

The fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John speaks of many "rooms" in the Father's House. The Father's House is Christ, plus the members of his Body. The proper inhabitants of each room are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

When we are ready, and at rest in God's Person and will, we then can express our personality in our "room." Now there are four persons in our room, the Father: the Son, the Holy Spirit, and ourselves.

Next, after we are in proper relationship to God, God gives us people to love and care for. Some members of Christ's Body can receive a few people as an inheritance. Others are destined to be patriarchs in the new world of righteousness. They will share with Christ millions of people whom God accounts worthy of salvation.

It is paradoxical but true that by being more concerned with God than with people we do the most good for people. It flies in the face of today's emphasis on how good people are; how we always ought to be concerned with their rights and comforts regardless of God's will for them; how God is so in love with people He never would permit them to suffer. The paradox is that the more we love God the more able we will be to bless and help people.

It sometimes is stated that Christ left the ivory palaces and went to the cross because of his great love for people. The truth is, Christ came and offered Himself to God in obedience to the Father. His will was to throw away the cup, not drink it!

The majority of believers, whom we mentioned earlier, will think of our being made the Throne of God as an opportunity for self-aggrandizement. They will seek miraculous powers, as so many Christians are doing today.

Christian people, who are not content to follow after Jesus bearing their cross, and are seeking powerful gifts of the Spirit, are becoming the False Prophet. They will assist Antichrist during the closing days of the Church Age.

The "love" of the "beautiful" Christ for us is an expression of the philosophy of Humanism. We are so in love with ourselves it is difficult for us to comprehend this.

The minority will think of our being made the Throne of God as that which their heart cries out for—a close fellowship with God. They will enter the eternal dance with their Lord. Although they place pleasing God as the most important aspect of their life, and serving people second in importance (as always is true of the Lord Jesus), they will, as does Jesus, succeed in being the greatest possible blessing to the world.

The concept that everyone eventually will be saved, because God is too good to let people suffer very much, is a satanic lie. It comes from Satan who is hoping that people will persuade God to save him from the Lake of Fire. The truth is, he, and all those who love him, will spend eternity in the fire.

As far as rebellious people are concerned, those who will not obey Christ, the Prophet Isaiah tells of their eternal destiny:

"As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me," declares the LORD, "so will your name and descendants endure. From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me," says the LORD. "And they will go out and look on the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind." (Isaiah 66:22-24—NIV)

Notice in the above that the "dead bodies" are not permitted to vanish. The worms feed on them continually and the fire burns them eternally. The familiar physical death is the first death. Confinement in the Lake of Fire is the second death.

People always are judged in their bodies and rewarded in their bodies.

The above is the Word of God to us. Let God be true and every man a liar!

"In those days, when your numbers have increased greatly in the land," declares the LORD, "men will no longer say, 'The ark of the covenant of the LORD.' It will never enter their minds or be remembered; it will not be missed, nor will another one be made. At that time they will call Jerusalem The Throne of the LORD, and all nations will gather in Jerusalem to honor the name of the LORD. No longer will they follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts." (Jeremiah 3:16,17—NIV)

Becoming the Throne of God: II

A throne is the center of decision-making. The person who sits on a throne exerts his or her will in selecting among alternative actions. Thus a throne is the position of exercising will.

The very essence of the Kingdom of God is the doing of God's will. "Your Kingdom come. Your will be done." The Kingdom of God came into existence when the Lord Jesus Christ cried out to his Father, "Not my will but yours be done."

Christ was being tested to see if He would do God's will even though it meant the loss of God's Presence—perhaps for eternity! Realizing who Christ is and his background, this test passes our ability to comprehend.

Christ passed the test, an angel being sent from Heaven to strengthen him. As a result, Christ now has all authority and power in the heavens and upon the earth. He is Lord over all other lords; King over all other kings.

We read in the second chapter of the Book of Hebrews that to "man" is given authority over all the works of God's hands. We do not as yet see this authority given to man, but we see Jesus. Jesus is representative "man," the first of many brothers. Yet He is exalted above all his brothers and is the Firstborn from the dead.

God has led his people through many dangers, toils, and snares, as the old hymn says. There has been a purpose for each crisis, each intervention. These trials are not aimless. The Divine plan of redemption is pointed toward a specific goal. The goal is men and women who are to sit with the Lord Jesus on his Throne.

It is in our day that the climax of redemption is approaching. Thus the most important issue in our life today is that of learning to do God's will on every occasion.

In the Book of Revelation Jesus told us He is knocking at the door, that is, at the door to our personality; in particular, the door to our will. Then a verse or two later, He tells us that the person who overcomes, as He overcame, will sit with Him on his Throne, which is the Throne of God.

This is what is taking place today. Jesus is asking us to let Him enter. When He enters us He has fellowship with us. He dines on our obedience and worship. We dine on his body and blood. He now is present with us and also in us. We are abiding in Christ and Christ is abiding in us. Now we will bear the fruit of his moral image, and also the fruit of being in perfect rest in the center of God's Person and will.

In order to be at perfect rest in the center of God's Person and will we must obey Christ in every situation. This means, at every point of decision in our life, from the smallest to the greatest, we must look to Jesus for the right choice, the correct action, the action that is in line with the will of God.

We do not open to Christ on one occasion and from then on He is dwelling in us. He is knocking at the door every time we make a decision. He constantly is knocking at the door. We constantly are opening to Him that He may dine with us and that his will may be known to us. This is the Kingdom of God—the doing of God's will in the earth.

Every time we look to Christ when we are faced with a decision, and choose to do what seems to be what He desires, the next decision becomes easier. We keep on looking to Jesus and obeying him. This is what it means to overcome. We overcome, as Jesus helps us, every factor that would cause us to be disobedient.

The New Testament speaks of "overcoming." What we are to overcome is our willingness to act independently of God.

Man has been created to be the throne, the resting place of God. We cannot possibly find perfect fulfillment until God is reigning within us. It is only as God is living and ruling in him that man is more than an intelligent animal.

Babylon is man acting independently of God in the ecclesiastical world. Laodicea is man acting independently of God in the realm of God's elect. Antichrist is man acting independently of God in the secular world. The False Prophet is man acting independently of God in the world of spirits.

Becoming the Throne of God is a definite experience. It takes place as we keep inviting the Lord Jesus into our life, looking carefully to Him in all matters, day and night. This means we are praying without ceasing, as the Apostle Paul exhorted us.

Such is the new covenant—the putting of God's will in our heart so we want to do it, and the writing of God's law in our mind so we understand what it is that God wants.

God does not make his will known to each of us in the same manner. Some believers hear God's voice in their inner consciousness. Others may just sense what God wants. Still other believers may seek to obey the Scriptures, praying constantly for guidance.

Perhaps the fifth and sixth verses of the third chapter of the Book of Proverbs are of great significance in our day. We are told to trust in the Lord with all our heart and not lean to our own understanding. We are promised that if we will acknowledge the Lord in all our ways, He will direct our paths, making the right way straight before us.

The antichrist world spirit derives its wisdom and knowledge from education and the media. Since the media are proliferating in our day, the minds of most people are being conformed to the tremendous lie that the world spirit is.

Paul advises us not to be conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. In order to be transformed by the renewing of our mind we have to constantly invite Jesus into our decisions, great and small.

The ability to keep looking to Jesus and listening to Him is going to be of supreme importance in the coming days. Little by little a one-world government is approaching. The idea is to put an end to wars between nations.

However, as we notice, every government on earth is corrupt, filled with lying, treachery, slander, self-seeking, and every other destructive attitude and practice. This will be true of the coming one-world government. It will be governed by evil people—people who profess to be seeking the good of others but who do not have God's wisdom because they do not glorify God, only themselves.

This especially may be true in the United States of America. In time past the leaders of our government, although they were not without sin and self-seeking, did give glory to God and exhorted our citizens to pray.

It is not so today. God is being ignored. The leaders are their own god. The idea, as someone expressed it, is that thinking is more profitable than praying. There are few other lies as great as this.

From the time of Adam and Eve, mankind has been under the impression that we are supposed to carve out our own destiny. This is the opposite of God's desire. God wants people to seek Him and his will in every circumstance of our life. Only then do we obtain righteousness, love, peace, and joy.

But our country and its leaders are not doing this, choosing to better the world by their human efforts. They do not glorify God nor do they seek his help in solving our numerous problems.

Thus the United States is on its way to having a much lower place among the nations. Finally its values and traditions will be swallowed up by a one-world government, which will be presided over by self-seeking men and women who do not know the Lord Jesus.

We Americans are not to fret over this. Rather, each one of us is to live as closely to the Lord Jesus as he can. In so doing the individual will become part of the Throne of God. Also, he will save himself and his loved ones throughout the chaotic days ahead of us.

The new Jerusalem is the glorified Christian Church that will be established on the new earth after the thousand-year Kingdom Age. Notice that the Throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, located in the saints on the earth for eternity.

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. (Revelation 22:1-3—NIV)

Changing the World

"For the law shall forth from Zion and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem."

If you are a Christian, your calling is to work with the Lord Jesus Christ in changing the world to conform to the Laws of the Kingdom of God. You may be able to make small changes now; but total change will take place with the coming of Christ with his saints to install the Kingdom of God, the rule of God, on the earth.

Your witness is important. When people see your good works they will glorify God. This is how you can change the world today.

But the reason God deals with you as He does is that you might be prepared to work with Christ in the future. The world is in terrible shape. If you are to work with Christ in establishing the Laws of the Kingdom of God, you will have to cooperate diligently with the Holy Spirit as He brings forth in your personality a new creation that lives by the Life of the Lord Jesus.

The adamic man, no matter how hard he tries, simply cannot bring the required changes. Only Christ can do that. It has pleased the Father that Christ use those people who pursue the victorious Christian life to make the changes. They then become coheirs with Him of the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth.

We cannot change the world by means of our own talents and energy. We absolutely must wait upon Jesus until we learn from Him what it is we are supposed to do, just as He waits on his Father to learn what to do.

So Jesus said, "When you have lifted the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me." (John 8:28—NIV)

Our country is being transformed. The moral and financial state of the United States has been weakened. The American way of life is giving way to various pressures, such as the Muslim religion, socialism, and sexual perversions of one kind or another.

One of the greatest of all abominations is abortion-on-demand. How many millions of boys and girls have been murdered for no good reason? There also are the various sexual perversions and gender changes. God is not at all pleased with these, and Divine judgment will follow. The Day will come when we can do something about the distortions of God's intentions.

We ought to know better than to spit in the Face of our loving, gentle Creator!

We can respond by fretting, but there is a better way, a better world view.

There are many statements in the Bible about the saints ruling God's creation. But I do not believe these are really clear in our thinking. They just do not seem real. The reason is, we have been told that one day we will go to another place—Heaven—and there we will have no problems.

However, our going to Heaven is not the solution to bringing us to righteousness, love, joy, and peace, and certainly not the means of making the world a better place. Going to Heaven is not presented in the Scriptures as the goal of salvation. This hope comes from our Christian mythology, influenced, at least in part, by the religion of Gnosticism.

Dying and going to Heaven will not bring us to righteousness, love, joy, or peace. These come only from the Lord Jesus Christ. He can give us these right now on the earth, and in Heaven later. Actually, we are protected here on earth just as much as we will be protected in Heaven. Our troubles come from spirits, not from the physical things of earth, although physical things and circumstances may appear to be our troubles.

The whole universe of spiritual darkness came to earth from the spirit world. The earth and all its inhabitants were pronounced "very good" by the Lord Jesus when He created them. And they shall be very good once again when the Kingdom of God comes to the earth.

Right at this point is where Christian thinking must be changed. The Scriptures do not teach that man is to be removed to the spirit world to live forever. The spirit world is not our home. The earth is our home. The spirit world is a temporary residence for us until the Kingdom of God comes to the earth.

We are not aware of it, but the spirit world is not far away in some distant area of the firmament. The spirit world is all around us. We "have come to Mount Zion."

But Jesus went up in the sight of his disciples and He will come again from "up there." Will he? How about the believers in China, of whom there are millions? Will He also come from "up there"? Perhaps the world is a small sphere inside a larger sphere, which is the spirit world.

Direction is different in the spirit world, as are many of the other dimensions we are accustomed to. For example, Jesus at the same time can be talking to you and to someone across the world from you. (I think someday we will have the same ability if we remain faithful to the Lord!)

The spirit world is all around us. For the past five years, now, I have had an increased awareness of the spirit world. It is a wonderful world, that is, the "Heaven" part of the spirit world where God and Jesus are. The Lord told me He is giving me this experience so I can tell people, especially children, that if they live a decent life, and receive Jesus when He is presented to them, that there absolutely is no need to fear death.

Jesus said He is having me do this, and perhaps many others whom I do not know, because a great multitude of people are going to be dying in the near future and He wants them not to be afraid of what they see and experience.

Perhaps now you can understand the reason for the many passages of Scripture that speak of the Christians being given the power and authority to govern, through Christ, the works of God's hands. While such power and authority may on occasion take place now, through prayer, the main exercise of government will occur when the Lord returns.

The weapons of our warfare are not physical, they are those of righteousness, prayer, and truth. We are to place all of our treasures in Heaven where they are safe. Then when the Kingdom comes to earth they will be our possession for eternity. Our treasures are relationships, circumstances, and things.

The needed changes in the world will not take place because the Church goes to Heaven. The needed changes will come through the saints when they return with the Lord. May I say that in the future, people who have been called, chosen, and have proven faithful, will be on the highest Throne with the Lord Jesus Christ.

At that time every person either will rule, or be ruled by the believers who have pursued the life of victory in Christ. There will be no individual who is not a ruler or else ruled. The rulers will be relatively few in number, we know, because most believers of today are not pursuing the life of victory in Christ, although they could if they would put their mind to it.

Following are some of the passages that tell of the rulership of the victorious believers. They will bring the desired changes to the world when they appear with the Lord Jesus:

When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4—NIV)

To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. (Revelation 3:21—NIV)

I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who share 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 20:4-6—NIV)

There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 22:5—NIV)

Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor's crown. (Revelation 2:10—NIV)

Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him. (Daniel 7:27—NIV)

To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations—that one 'will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery'—just as I have received authority from my Father. (Revelation 2:26,27—NIV)

Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (II Timothy 4:8—NIV)

Did you ever wonder why John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus did not preach about our going to Heaven? Rather, they bore witness to the rule of God (which Matthew calls "the Kingdom of Heaven" and the other writers refer to as the "the Kingdom of God"—same kingdom!).

"The Kingdom of God is at hand"! "Your kingdom come. Your will be done in the earth as it is in Heaven." Such is the testimony of John and Jesus.

The present spirit of the world is Antichrist—against Christ. But the earth and all its resources, including the nations, are the inheritance of Jesus Christ and of those who are coheirs with him.

It is evident that the changes we desire will not occur when we die and go to Heaven. They shall take place when we return with the Lord Jesus and govern with the rod of iron. Only then will there be peace on earth. No political effort will accomplish this, only the return of our Lord Jesus Christ and his victorious believers.

But the holy people of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever—yes, for ever and ever. (Daniel 7:18—NIV)

Knowing the Father

All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Father chooses to reveal him. (Matthew 11:27—NIV)

The above verse alone should be sufficient to alert the believer that the Father and the Son are two different Persons. But today it is as though the statement made by the Lord Jesus has never existed.

The inability of devout, intelligent Christian scholars to perceive what has been stated so clearly by the Lord could lead one to believe that, as Jesus said, the Person of the Father has to be revealed to us.

Have we forgotten that Christ is the Way to the Father; the Truth concerning the Father; and the Life of the Father? The current preaching is that Christ is the way to Heaven. Is there a difference between Christ being the way to Heaven and Christ being the way to the Father?

Let me ask this question: Is there a difference between going to England, and going to the Queen of England? Must different preparations be made depending on our destination?

And then there is the fact that we can go to the Father right now; but we cannot go to Heaven right now unless we die.

Also, Christ did not say He would reveal Heaven to us, but the Father.

I would not be surprised if the remainder of the twenty-first century is distinguished by an emphasis on knowing the Father, just as the twentieth century was marked by an emphasis on the Holy Spirit. The emphasis concerning the Holy Spirit was on various gifts of the Spirit, especially speaking in tongues. The emphasis concerning the knowledge of the Father is on stern obedience to God.

One of the most significant of Jesus' comments concerning the Father can be found in the Gospel of John.

"Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you." (John 14:19,20—NIV)

Here is a fact. Scholars have for many centuries debated the relationship of Christ to the Father. They have put together the doctrine of the Trinity, that the Father and Christ are manifestations of the one God. This is misleading and will not suffice in our day when Christ is revealing the Father to us.

The truth is, one cannot understand the Godhead except by obedience to Christ's commands. It is when Christ becomes our very life that we realize that He is in the Father and we are in Christ and Christ is in us. We learn of the Father as Christ lives in us and shares his fellowship with the Father. The knowledge is intuitive, not intellectual.

It appears most preaching today deals with various aspects of Christian living. The preaching and teaching is directed toward our adamic nature, our original personality. Christ is presented as the One who can make us a better human being. This approach to the Divine salvation will not result in our knowing the Father.

Christ indeed does make us a better person. But He does so by crucifying what we are; not by fixing up what we are. There is no aspect of our original nature that enters the Kingdom of God. All must die in Christ. All must be raised in Christ, a new, Divine creation.

We have been to the cross of the blood atonement. We have been at Pentecost and have spoken in tongues. Now we are ready to enter the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Tabernacles. Christ is asking entrance to our personality so He can create the Throne of God in us. He and the Father will reign supreme in our personality. We then can bring forth with exceedingly great joy the water of eternal life for the nations of the earth.

To know and have fellowship with our Father, of whom we have been born, has been made possible by the unimaginable sufferings of our Lord Jesus. Let us now hasten to know him, that we may learn to obey him diligently and completely in every aspect of our thinking, speaking, and doing.

Therefore I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1,2)

The Father

From what I have read of the history of the Christian Church it appears that in the early centuries there had been considerable discussion about Jesus Christ. Some were holding that Christ was half-man and half-God. Other were maintaining that Christ is totally God. Thus we have the Trinity, which, as I understand it, holds that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are equal in Divine Essence and may be regarded as one God.

The Wikipedia encyclopedia has this comment concerning the Trinity:

"The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, and are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial. Put another way, the three persons of the Trinity are of One."

However, they cannot be co-eternal. There had to be a point at which Christ came forth from God, which means the Father existed before Christ came forth from Him. When the Bible says, "In the beginning," it cannot possibly be referring to the Father. The Father is without beginning or end. But it could refer to the time that Christ came forth from the Father and the Father created all things through Him.

But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. (Hebrews 1:2)

It is rather obvious that God is not the same as "his Son."

Again:

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. (I Corinthians 15:27)

After being subjected to the doctrine of the Trinity, the ordinary church member, not being a theologian, would conclude that somehow, though no one seems to know exactly how, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three different people and yet one Person. It appears that in spite of the words of the New Testament, and the problem of viewing three People as one Person, the majority of Christian people are content with this paradox.

I do not understand why the doctrine of the Trinity should suddenly be called into question by people such as myself, when for hundreds of years it was held by devout, intelligent church leaders. But it is clear to me that if a believer takes the words of the New Testament as they are written, without resorting to a tortured explanation of why they do not mean what they state plainly, the doctrine of the Trinity is found to be unscriptural.

Let us begin by stating emphatically that when I am teaching that the venerable doctrine of the Trinity does not fit the statements of the New Testament, I am not subtracting from the Divinity, Glory, or Authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. God has made Christ God and Lord over all the works of God's hands.

Let me state also that I am not interested in novel interpretations of the Bible that do not lead to righteous behavior. However, there are two very practical reasons for looking into this commonly held belief. First, it makes us virtually unable to have a true sense of our heavenly Father. Also, it makes us virtually unable to have fellowship with Jesus as our Brother.

Having upheld the preeminence of the Lord Jesus in the creation of God, and advanced the reason for our investigation of a cherished belief, let us proceed.

If we would think about the relevant passages of the New Testament we would see at once that Jesus did not come to earth to bring mankind to Himself. It absolutely is true that if Christ is lifted He will draw all people to Himself. But Christ draws people to Himself that He might bring them to the Father. Jesus Christ is the Way of the Father, the Truth of the Father, and the Life of the Father—at one time in flesh and blood and now in glorified flesh and bone.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the Way to the Father. We do Him no service, and, in fact, defeat His purpose, when we make Him the Father.

Jesus Christ is not the Father! Such a viewpoint is refuted by many passages of the New Testament. He brings us to the Father. He teaches us about the Father. The Father dwells in Christ in His Fullness.

It is true also that it is the will of the Father that we Christians be filled with all the Fullness of God; that we be one with God as our Lord is. The difference between Christ and us is not that He is both Human and Divine; we also are human and have been born of God and given the Divine Nature. If this were not the case, we could never be genuine brothers of the Lord Jesus.

We ourselves are being made the Word, the testimony of the Father in that we are being conformed to the image of Christ and filled with all the fullness of God.

Some have ventured that when Christ came to earth the Throne of God in Heaven was vacated. It is possible that one who would teach such a thing does not have a full concept of how great the Father is.

The Father fills all things. He did not move from Heaven to the earth. God is everywhere in Heaven and the earth at all times. After Christ demonstrated total obedience in Gethsemane, the Father has given to Christ to be everywhere and in all things at all times just as the Father is.

Christ overcame all the enemies that came against Him and now sits with the Father on the Father's Throne. To the believer who overcomes the pressures that come against him or her, Christ will give the right to sit with Christ on Christ's Throne.

To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. (Revelation 3:21)

The differences between us and Jesus Christ are many. He is the Firstborn from the dead. None of us will ever be the firstborn of the dead.

He shed His blood as an atonement for our sins. We will never shed our blood for the atonement of anyone's sin.

It is the will of the Father that the entire creation be summed up Christ. This is not true of you or me.

Christ is the Bridegroom of the Church. This is not true of any of us.

We of the Church are His fullness. He is not our fullness.

We pray to the Father in Jesus' name. No one can pray to the Father in my name or your name.

No doubt there are many more differences, but I can't think of them right now. Perhaps you can. But I think I have mentioned enough to assure you that when I say the Father is not the same Person as Christ, that the Father is greater than Christ, you will not regard me as one who is in any manner diminishing the preeminence of Christ in all things.

Have you ever wondered about John 17:21-23? Have you ever really and truly taken these words of Christ at face value—as meaning precisely what they state?

That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us. Does this mean what it states? Is it true that you and I may be in the Father and the Son just as the Father is in Christ and He is in the Father?

Here is a verse that is one of my favorites:

Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. (John 6:57)

We are to feed on the body and blood of Christ so that we may live by His Life just as He lives by the Father's life.

I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. I think it is right at this point that people become confused. The Father is in Christ in His Fullness. We can say that Christ is the Father, in that sense. However, the same is true of you and me. If the Father is in Christ, and Christ is in us and One with us, and I do not believe that anyone who knows the New Testament would dispute that fact, then it is clear that the Godhead is being enlarged.

God is in Christ. Christ is in us. We are in Christ. Christ is in the Father. This is the wheel in the wheel mentioned in Ezekiel, I believe.

What troubles us is the idea that we are thinking of ourselves as God. This is all nonsense. None of us is God in the sense that the Father is God. The Father has made Christ, who came out from Himself, to be God. And so He is. Christ is God because the Father made Him God. Therefore we can pray to God the Father in Jesus' name, or we can pray to Jesus Himself. This is not because Jesus is the Father. It is because the Father has made Christ God.

If the Father is not greater than Christ, then Christ crying to His Father (and our Father) in Gethsemane, saying not My will but Yours be done, is just so much confusion. Where there are two wills there are two separate and distinct Persons, and in Gethsemane the Lesser is being obedient to the Greater.

Jesus loves to bring us to His Father. You can almost sense this in the following words:

Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" (John 20:17)

Is the Father actually Jesus' God, as it says in the verse above? How then do we have three equal Gods?

The conclusion most believers have drawn from the doctrine of the Trinity is that Jesus and the Father actually are the same Person, although they play different roles somehow. Now look at John 20:17 and tell me that Jesus is the same Person as the Father only in a different role. Is this clear thinking? Is this a reasonable conclusion?

Do you remember that I said the doctrine of the Trinity makes it difficult if not impossible for us to relate to Jesus or the Father? However, in John 20:17 our relationship to Them is simple and clear. Jesus is our Brother, although greatly exalted. God is the Father of Jesus, and our Father as well. That makes us genuine brothers. And so we are, and we have eternity to grow into the likeness of our elder Brother.

God is our Father. Jesus is not our Father. The Holy Spirit is not our Father. The Father is not the Bridegroom of the Church, nor did He propitiate His own wrath by dying on the cross for our sins. That was not the Father on the cross. That was the Anointed Jesus who takes away the sin of the world.

The Holy Spirit is not the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. The Church is not the Bride of the Holy Spirit. The Father is not our elder brother. The Holy Spirit is not our elder brother.

I am endeavoring to point out that there are three Persons in the Godhead, and they are not interchangeable. They are One just as we are one in Christ and the Father. But they are not the same Person. Each has a unique identity just as each of us has a unique identity. Yet we have lost our privacy, our right to be independent, by becoming one with each other in Christ in God. Can you see that? It is an essential understanding.

The Father is not the Servant of the Lord, of the forty-second chapter of the Book of Isaiah. Christ, Head and Body is the Servant of the Lord. The Lord is the Father, the one God. "Shema yisrael Adonai eloheynu Adonai echad." "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord."

Although I believe the Lord Jesus to be the Lord of the Prophets, He was so by the anointing of the one God. There is only one God; and Christ, the Anointed One, came from Heaven to reconcile us to God, not to Himself.

King David spoke: "The Lord said to my Lord." The first Lord is the Father. The second Lord is the Lord Jesus. Christ pointed this out.

Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory. (I Timothy 3:16)

The above passage obviously is referring to the Lord Jesus Christ. It was Christ, known originally as the Word, who appeared in a body, not the Father. It was Christ who was vindicated by the Spirit and seen by angels. It was Christ who was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, and was taken up to Heaven in glory.

The only true God has no name. The Lord Jesus calls Him "Father," and reveals Him to the faithful. The true difference between Christianity and other religions is not a difference of religion, it is a difference of gods. There are not many roads to God. There is only the one Road. His name is Jesus Christ.

In their zeal to maintain the Divinity and supremacy of Jesus Christ, the theologians have "kicked Him upstairs," so to speak. We find it difficult to think of Him as our Brother. If you have been born of God, and Christ has been born of God, then you and He are true brothers.

If the Lord Jesus Christ is co-equal and co-eternal with the Father, then there are two Gods. One is not the son of the other. By all the standards of nature, a son is not the same person as his father in a different role or manifestation. Christ is His Father's Son and Heir, but He is not His own Father.

No human knows the Father, only Christ knows the Father, and the individual to whom Christ reveals the Father. Coming to know the Father is the "rest" of God, of which the Book of Hebrews speaks.

All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. (Matthew 11:27)

If the Father commits all things to Jesus, would that make the Father greater than Jesus? I think so.

If the Son chooses to reveal the Father to someone, does that mean Christ is revealing Himself to that person? I would find that difficult to believe.

The Book of Revelation was given to John by the Lord Jesus, who, in turn, received the vision from the Father. Does this suggest that there are three Gods equally in authority, as the doctrine of the Trinity states?

Jesus told the mother of James and John that He (Jesus) did not have the authority to place her two boys at His right and left hands. These positions are reserved for those chosen by the Father. Does that sound like there are three Gods equal in authority and knowledge?

Jesus Himself stated that the Father is greater than He, and always prayed to the Father in Heaven. Jesus did not pray to the Father within Himself but looked up to Heaven. When Jesus looked up to Heaven and prayed to His Father, I do not believe He was praying to Himself. Do you?

You heard me say, 'I am going away and I am coming back to you.' If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. (John 14:28)

After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: "Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began. (John 17:1-5)

Was Jesus praying to Himself?

The Apostle Paul described the Christ-filled life. Paul was living by the Life of Jesus, which is our goal. It is the rest of God to which we are to aspire.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

You know, Galatians 2:20 reminds me of the way in which Christ is related to the Father. It is true that Paul did not come forth from Christ, as the Word did from the Father. Nevertheless, Paul stated that he no longer was living but Christ was living in him. Christ could very well say that He no longer was living but the Father was thinking, speaking, and acting in Him.

It is right at this point that most people are confused, I think. Jesus said that He and His Father are one. But isn't Paul saying the same thing? Isn't he saying that he and Christ are one? Yet Christ is Christ, and Paul is Paul, and the Father is the Father; even though they are one in thought, word, and deed.

It is true, of course that the union of Christ and the Father is vastly superior to the union of Paul and Christ. Nevertheless, I do not believe that the difference is in kind. The union of Paul and Christ will approach the union of Christ and the Father as the eons of eternity proceed. How do you feel about that? Do you believe we will have a better union with Christ as time goes by, or are we doomed to remain flesh and blood animals?

The title of the present essay is "The Father." We have known Christ to a certain extent. We have known the Holy Spirit to a certain extent. I believe it is time now to come to know the Father.

What an incomparable blessing it is to begin to realize that God is our Father and we have been born of Him, just as He is the Father of our elder Brother, the Lord Jesus.

It is my point of view that theologians, as intelligent and devout as they are, have attempted to understand the Godhead by means of human reasoning. This simply cannot be done. The Father has to be revealed to us, as the Lord Jesus said.

"Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him." Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, "But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?" 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. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me." (John 14:19-24)

Could anyone read these declarations by the Lord Jesus and not have a strong desire to know God as his or her Father? That is the way the words affect me!

I am going to make a few statements. Check and see if I have been true to the above six verses.

As we mature in the Lord we will begin to see Jesus, to experience His Presence in all that we are and do.

We will live because He lives. This is to say, no matter what Divine judgments fall on our country in the future because of abortion and other sins, we will continue to live because Jesus lives. We will be living by His Life, which is the "rest" of God.

On that Day, the time when all other idols have been removed from our life and the Lord alone is exalted, we will realize that Christ is in His Father, we are in Christ, and Christ is in us.

The believer who truly loves Christ is the one who has Christ's commands and obeys them. It is at this point that current preaching is in error. We are being taught that Divine grace is our alternative to keeping the commandments of Christ, and if we attempt to keep them we are trying to save ourselves by works. Could any doctrine be more destructive of God's will than that which teaches that grace is a substitute for obedience. The truth is, grace with its wisdom and power enables us to obey Christ.

Whoever shows his love for Christ by obeying His commands will be loved by the Father of Christ. Also, Christ will love him and reveal Himself to the obedient believer. Does this sound to you like Christ and the Father are the same Person?

If any person shows his love for Christ by obeying Christ's commands, the Father will love Him. The Father and the Son will come to that believer and make Their home with him.

The words that Christ spoke at this time were not His own, they came from the Father who sent Him.

Have I been true to the Father's words that were given through our Lord Jesus?

You can understand now why I am stating that the doctrine of the Trinity simply is not true to the New Testament.

However, my point is not to argue theology. Rather it is to give us a desire to know God as our Father and Jesus Christ as our elder Brother. We really have just started to know Christ, as the Apostle pointed out. We spend our entire discipleship coming to know Christ.

As we diligently seek Jesus, to know Him, guess what? We begin to realize that there is a Father in Heaven whom Jesus came to portray. Jesus introduces us to His Father, and this is the greatest of all joys to our Lord.

Just think! We have a Father in Heaven. Jesus enabled God to be reconciled to us and us to God by means of His death on the cross. Jesus was willing to spend three miserable years ministering in this cesspool, this valley of the shadow of death in which we strive to live, allowing God to speak and act through Him.

Now it is our turn to die to our own original nature that Christ might live in us and bring others to the knowledge of our heavenly Father.

We always ought to proclaim how wonderful Jesus is. But there is something even more needful than that. It is to do what He says. And what He says to us is to obey His commands in the Word, and also spend time each day listening to what He has to say to us personally. It is more important to Jesus that we obey Him in every aspect of our life than it is to proclaim His Lordship. Both are necessary, but obedience is better even than the sacrifice of praise.

To come to know the Father is a sublime undertaking. The most important aspect of coming to know the Father is obedience. We will love God as we come to know Him. But the supremely important characteristic of the Kingdom of God is the doing of God's will. We absolutely must do God's will in all areas of our life. Any part of our life that is not in obedience to God is an area of rebellion, stubbornness, and idolatry.

Knowing Jesus and His blood atonement is our necessary orientation to the Kingdom of God.

Knowing the Life of the Spirit is necessary if we are to overcome sin and minister our gift to the members of the Body of Christ.

Now it is time to know the Father. When we cry "Abba, Father," we are not speaking to the Lord Jesus but to our heavenly Father.

The purpose of redemption is not to bring us to Heaven. It is to bring us into the rest of God, into that state of being in which we dwell in the center of God's Person, performing His perfect and complete will at all times.

In view of the emotional reaction that often occurs when one questions the "rapture" doctrine or the Trinity, one could wonder if the enemy is entrenched in these two confusing, and sometimes destructive, concepts and does not wished to be dislodged.

I have written all this so you would want to know God in an even greater way than you do now. Please join with me as we make our journey to the heart of the Father. Jesus is the Way and the only Way to the Father. We have to overcome, by His power, so many distractions, pressures, and dangers that would prevent us from coming finally into the full Presence of our God and Father.

But we shall be victorious because our Lord Jesus has opened the way for us. We shall inherit all things of the new creation. Best of all, God will be our God and we shall be His sons and daughters.

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

The Creating of the Witness

Christians often speak of our need to "witness." Actually, what we mean by this is telling others what we understand about the Christian salvation.

But bearing witness of Christ, and of God's purposes in Christ, is infinitely more than telling others about our understanding of the Christian religion.

"You are my witnesses," declares the LORD, "and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me." (Isaiah 43:10—NIV)

Notice that the emphasis, in the verse above, is on knowing God. It is not on telling others what we think may be true of God and his salvation.

I hope I am mistaken in this, but it seems to me that while we have an abundance of preaching in the United States, a true witness of God and Christ is not as abundant.

When we read of Paul's determination, in the third chapter of the Book of Philippians, we notice his goal has to do with knowing Christ. Honestly, when you hear of some of the things that are said and done in Christian circles, you wonder if we know Christ at all!

We read in the New Testament that in the last days the Gospel shall be preached as a witness to every nation. The number of people who "accept Christ" is not the measure of a true witness. A true witness is borne only when the Person, will, way, and eternal purpose of God in Christ is presented, whether or not anyone is "saved."

It may on occasion be a good thing, and result in lasting fruit in the Kingdom, when a zealous believer tells someone about the salvation that is in the Lord Jesus Christ. But it might be better to refer to this effort as personal work, or as evangelizing or proselyting, rather than as "witnessing." To bear witness is to describe something we have seen or experienced, without drawing a conclusion.

In court a witness is directed to just tell the facts he or she has experienced and let others draw conclusions.

Notice what the Apostle John has to say about bearing witness:

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. (I John 1:1-3—NIV)

Most of us have not seen the Lord Jesus Christ living on the earth, as did John. But God in his own time and ways will reveal Christ to us. Then we can tell what we know, what God has shown to us. We then can actually bear witness.

Speaking personally, I have had what may be an unusual number of Divine interventions during my 65 years as a Christian. I have mentioned several of these in my new book, Godwill Castle. These are actual events I have experienced.

Also, as is true of all disciples of the Lord Jesus, God has answered numerous prayers and has shown himself to be absolutely true and faithful throughout my many years of patient, cross-carrying discipleship.

During the last few years the spirit world (Heaven) has become more real to me. Just when I thought I was going to be called home I am becoming aware of what is taking place in the invisible world.

What I am "seeing" is a very ordinary world, with people doing all the things people do. If I am hearing the Lord correctly, He has told me that many will be dying in the near future and He wants people to be prepared and not panic when a loved one dies, or when they themselves are facing death.

So much for going home! Oh well, I guess my work is not finished as yet.

I have just finished three books based on my new perception of the spirit world: Godwill Castle, John and Mary Visit Heaven, and Heaven—God's Wonderful World. This third book is being prepared for publication. It should be being advertised pretty soon. It is somewhat ironic that after having spent the last forty years telling believers that Heaven is not our eternal home (which is true!), I now am describing Heaven. Isn't that just like Jesus?

When telling about the spirit world, I am bearing witness of what I am experiencing. I am not writing doctrine, as I have for so many years.

Let me repeat this verse. I think it is of the essence:

"You are my witnesses," declares the LORD, "and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me." (Isaiah 43:10—NIV)

We can bear a true witness of God after He has dealt with us for a period of time. It may be true that we have had a dramatic Divine intervention at the time we first were saved, and we can tell about that as the Lord leads us. But for most of us, we come to know, believe, and understand God after a lifetime of problems and frustrations.

We may imagine that once we die and go to Heaven we will see God, and then we will have faith. This is not the case. Even if it is given to us to actually see God, that would not increase our faith. Faith is a gift from God, and it increases in us as God gently leads us from victory to victory. Satan was right next to the very Throne of God, but that did not give him faith!

I think those who have been appointed to a high rank in the Kingdom of God are dealt with more severely than those of a lesser calling. The higher the building the deeper the foundation. The Lord Jesus Christ occupies the highest rank in the Kingdom of God, and He was tested more severely than any other individual.

"Can you drink of my cup and be baptized with my baptism?" the Lord would ask those who dream of being a ruler in the Kingdom of God. We must be perfected in obedience before we are assigned to a position of rulership. Perfecting a human being in obedience to God is a long, painful process.

We are brought through fire, and we are not consumed because of God's faithfulness. We are brought through water, and we do not drown because of God's faithfulness. Fire, water, and seemingly endless problems until we learn to obey God at the moment and not worry about the future.

I like to say to people, "Jesus has been my best Friend for 65 years." This is a true testimony. It is my way of bearing witness, I suppose. It does not seem to offend anyone. I hope that the people who hear me will remember my words. America is approaching a time of chaos and destruction. Perhaps some individual who hears my statement will decide to call on Jesus for assistance during the dark hours ahead.

"Whoever will call on the name of the Lord shall be saved!"

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. (Isaiah 43:2—NIV)

The Two Witnesses

God always has a witness of himself in the earth, and shall up to the time that the Lord Jesus appears. God's witness tells of his Person, his will, his way, and his eternal purpose in Christ. There is a great deal of preaching today, but I think a true witness may be in short supply.

According to the Bible, there will be one last witness before the Church Age comes to a close. The witness is set forth as "two witnesses," because it will be composed of Christ bearing witness with and within his victorious saints.

The tenth and eleventh chapters of the Book of Revelation really should be one chapter. The vision begins with the coming down from Heaven of a huge, powerful angel, with one foot on the sea and the other on the land. He is fiery, representing Divine judgment; and he has a rainbow over his head, revealing that his authority comes from the very Throne of Almighty God.

Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars. (Revelation 10:1—NIV)

I think this mighty angel has come already. The seventh (last) trumpet is about to sound. When it finally sounds, we will be changed into immortality.

The mighty angel shouts causing the seven thunders to speak. The seven thunders are the fullness of Divine power. But they cannot be released as yet because the Christian ministry at this time is characterized by self-will, self-direction.

And he gave a loud shout like the roar of a lion. When he shouted, the voices of the seven thunders spoke. (Revelation 10:3—NIV)

Although the seven thunders are being restrained, the hour has come for the mystery of God to be accomplished. The mystery of God is Christ in us. The Scriptures, both Old Testament and New, show us that in the final hours of the Church Age, Christ will come to maturity in those who are living by his body and blood rather than by their own natural life.

"But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets." (Revelation 10:7—NIV)

The final witness that is to be borne will be given by those who "eat" the Word of God rather than merely read it. It will be as honey in the mouth, but it will crucify the inner nature until Christ is formed in the saint.

I took the little scroll from the angel's hand and ate it. It tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour. Then I was told, "You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages and kings." (Revelation 10:10,11—NIV)

The words on the scroll are the prophecy that is to be given at the closing of the Church Age.

The saints, who eat the book, are destined to "prophesy again" about peoples, nations, languages, and kings. The Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached as a witness to all nations, and then the end of the Church Age will be here and the Kingdom will come to the earth through Christ—Head and Body.

Notice the "prophesy again." The first prophecy was on the Day of Pentecost. These are not prophecies to build up the members of the Body of Christ but prophecies to the world of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.

But first the saints must be judged (measured), especially those who are crying "Not my will, but yours be done." While this judgment is taking place, the weaker Christians will be trampled on by the ungodly. I believe we can see the beginning of this prophecy today, as there is a separation between those who are living by the Life of Jesus and those who are casual concerning Christ and his Kingdom.

I was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told, "Go and measure the temple of God and the altar, and count the worshipers there. But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles." (Revelation 11:1,2—NIV)

As soon as the saints have been judged, the power of the seven thunders will be given to them. They no longer are self-directed. Christ, the one Witness, is directing them. The saints constitute the other witness.

The two olive trees speak of the double portion of power, symbolized by the power given to Elisha. This is the "again prophecy," the first prophecy occurring when the Spirit of God was poured out at the beginning of the Church Age. First the power of Elijah. Then the power of Elisha.

These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. (Revelation 11:4—NIV)

The end-time saints will not be primarily teachers of the Bible. Rather, their role will be to announce and bear witness of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth. Notice that Elijah and Elisha were not characterized by what they taught. Rather they were witnesses, reminding the Jews of their God.

This tremendous witness will be given over a specific period of time. Then the power of the witness will be withdrawn, and the results of the witness will be sifted. Many who bore the witness will succumb to lust, worldliness, and personal ambition (Sodom, Egypt, and Jerusalem). Those who are able to stand will be hidden away by the Lord.

When an unusual anointing is bestowed, marvelous acts are performed. When the anointing is lifted, character is revealed.

In the last days there will be spectacular signs and wonders. The two witnesses, Christ and (with and in) his victorious saints, will work colossal miracles, as described in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation.

But there is another set of people who also will work miracles. These are described in the thirteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation.

Then I saw another beast, coming out of the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon. He exercised all the authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men. (Revelation 13:11-13—NIV)

The above miracle worker often is referred to as the False Prophet.

So now we have two sets of people who work miracles in the days of Antichrist. The False Prophet is composed of people who work miracles but are not cross-carrying disciples. They speak with the voice of the dragon (I will! I will!) while they demonstrate the double portion of power (the two horns of the Lamb).

The two witnesses, on the other hand, are judged before they are entrusted with the power of the seven thunders. They have died to their own self-will.

These two kinds of people are in the earth today. The first group is seeking power rather than to walk in humility with the Lord Jesus. The second group, the true, victorious saints, are learning each day to look to the Lord Jesus for his will in every detail of their life.

Now when they (the two witnesses) have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them. (Revelation 11:7—NIV)

Now we have come to the time when Antichrist will be allowed to exercise great power. His spirit and way will prevail in the earth. However, even in the deepest moral darkness, when ignorant people are crying "Peace and Safety," there will be deliverance available in the remnant whom God has hidden away.

At the time of the greatest spiritual darkness ever to be experienced on the earth, Christ will appear. The power of the witness will be restored. The true saints will be caught up to Christ in a cloud.

But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them. Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here." And they went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies looked on. (Revelation 11:11,12—NIV)

Do you remember how the dead man touched Elisha's bones and came to life?

Now the seventh angel will sound his trumpet, and the saints will receive immortal bodies. They will descend with the Lord, and the kingdom of the world will become the Kingdom of God and of his Christ—Head and Body.

God is preparing his witnesses in the present hour. They are measured, and measured, and measured again. Every particle of their personality is being examined. They must become dead-living people before they can be entrusted with the total power of the seven thunders. Their inner nature must be as a white flame that has consumed everything except that which is of Christ.

It is possible to cooperate with the demands of the Holy Spirit as He prepares us for the final witness. But we must be prepared to give everything to Christ.

This final, terrifying witness is God's love for mankind. God wants as many as possible to repent so they will be saved when the Kingdom of God comes with power and by force is established among the nations of the earth.

The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever." (Revelation 11:15—NIV)

Divine Personages

We all know the passages in which the Lord Jesus spoke of his relationship to the Father, and our relationship to him. "He who has seen me has seen the Father." "I am the Vine. You are the branches."

Jesus is God's Son and the eternal dwelling place of God. We are the Body of Christ, the Wife of the Lamb.

Perhaps we do not pay enough attention to such statements. Their implications are awesome and go far beyond the usual expectations of our religion, I believe.

Jesus is an eternal Part of the Father's Being. We are an eternal part of Jesus' Being. So we have God in Christ in us. This is the Kingdom of God, whether in Heaven, or on the earth, or wherever else.

When God is in Christ who is in us, along with the Holy Spirit, we have four persons who compose a Divine Personage. We do not like to think of ourselves as Divine. Our modesty at this point is understandable and commendable. But we must not let our feeling of modesty keep us from believing what Christ has said.

Through Christ we have the right to be a child of God. We have been begotten by the very Word of the Father, just as we were begotten by our mother and father. Thus, like our Lord Jesus, we are both son of man and son of God. If this were not the case we never could be a genuine brother of Jesus Christ.

I think the "religion" part of Christianity keeps dealing with us as though we are nothing more than a human being who believes in a religion; as though we never have partaken of the Divine Nature. Thus we do not understand the concept of being "not of the world"; of being born again; of being a new creation.

Now let us think carefully about the following passage:

That they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. (John 17:21-23—NASB)

"That they may all be one."

"Even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You."

"That they also may be in Us."

"So that the world may believe that You sent Me."

"The glory which You have given Me I have given to them."

"That they may be one, just as We are one."

"I in them and You in Me."

"That they may be perfected in unity."

"So that the world may know that You sent Me."

"And loved them, even as You have loved Me."

"That they may all be one." We know who "they" are, as we read the seventeenth chapter of the Gospel of John. "They" are the people whom God has called out of the world and given to Jesus Christ, that Christ may give them eternal life.

If we are to understand the concept of the Divine personages, we must accept the fact that each of such personages has been singled out that he or she may be a member of the elect, the Royal Priesthood that shall govern the new world of righteousness.

We Americans may find it difficult to believe that God chooses the members of the elect, the Church. We may be under the impression that true Christians are nothing more than honorable people who have chosen to join a Christian church. However, it is not so.

The elect are the elect—human beings called out from the ranks of mankind to be unusually holy; to be close to God; to be used of God in a special way.

There are people who are chosen to be close to God, as was true of Jacob's children. This is the case with genuine Christians. Until we are at rest in our mind concerning the fact that God chooses whom He will, uses whom He will, exalts whom He will, and abases whom He will, we will not understand God's workings. They are not democratic, and often not even understandable or defensible in our framework of understanding.

"Even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You." This aspect of the Divine personages is not quite comprehensible to us. Think about the relationship of Christ to the Father. What kind of Oneness is that? It reminds us of the following passage:

As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. (John 6:57—NASB)

Is the above verse saying that we are in relationship to Christ as Christ is in relationship to the Father? Christ lives by the Father. Do we live by Christ in precisely the same manner?

I am at a loss to know why John 17:21-23 and John 6:57 are not preached more often, They show us something of extreme importance. The Divine redemption is not a religion. It is an intervention of God in mankind, selecting out for himself a holy priesthood who will govern the new world of righteousness that God is preparing.

As Jesus said, the elect are not of this world as He is not of this world. The members of the elect have been chosen to be an integral part of God. Thus God is making them into Divine personages. The process of creating the elect to be an eternal part of God is quite painful.

For those who feel called to participate in this program of re-creation, let me remind us that the key is our willingness to sacrifice our independence such that our life becomes one with the Life of God and Christ. We never lose our uniqueness as a person. But we no longer can be found separate from Christ. Where Christ and God are, we are. Where we are, Christ and God are.

Some may find it difficult to become part of Another, preferring instead to travel around the universe as an individual entity. Nonetheless, abandonment of our independence is absolutely necessary if we are to become part of Christ and of God.

"That they also may be in Us." I cannot overemphasize the importance of our entering the rest of God, that is, the rest where we choose to look to the Lord Jesus for all we think, say, and do.

The Life of the Lord Jesus Christ consists of his will, his God-given mind, guidance, energy, understanding, and so forth. We do well to choose to live by his Life rather than our own.

It is fashionable today to urge Christians to take their gifts and go forth to "save a lost and dying world." This is to create Babylon. Rather, after we know God's will for our life, we are to look to God every moment that He may carry out his own will. "It is God who works in us both to will and to act according to his good pleasure." God performs his own work, and uses us as He sees fit.

"So that the world may believe that You sent Me." Traditional Christian thought is that whoever accepts Christ is saved and will live forever in a mansion in Heaven. What a false picture this is! It is true rather that God is preparing us so we can, for eternity, bring righteousness and praise, through the Lord Jesus Christ, to the nations of the earth.

"The glory which You have given Me I have given to them." Here is another incomprehensible statement. God has given all of his Glory to his Son, Jesus Christ. Christ will give us of that Glory as soon as we are willing to become an eternal part of him. God will never give his Glory to another person.

"That they may be one, just as We are one." Just as We are one. Such oneness is infinitely more than a group of the children of Adam finally agreeing on doctrine. Rather it is the Oneness that is of the very Nature of God, now filling those whom God has called out of the world to be part of himself. Such are one by nature.

Each member of the elect has his or her own relationship with Jesus Christ, perfected during the years of his discipleship. When he is living by the Life of Christ he automatically is of one Nature and Substance with all who have been made a part of Christ.

"I in them and You in Me." The individual is to be filled with Christ just as Christ is filled with God. Such a new creation is a Divine personage.

"That they may be perfected in unity." Rather, may be perfected in the Oneness that is God. "Unity" can suggest some kind of human compromise, which in no manner is related to the Unity of nature and substance that God has in mind.

"So that the world may know that You sent Me." The home of the Divine personages is not Heaven. The home of the Divine personages is the earth—that they may serve as the Light of God to the nations. We are being created part of God so we may bring the Presence and will of God wherever we may go.

"And loved them, even as You have loved Me." Such statements! But we must accept exactly what the Scriptures proclaim. The Scriptures are the only truth in the universe. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Scriptures made flesh. We are the flesh being made the Scriptures. Thus Christ and we are the truth and the only truth. God loves us because we now have become part of Him whom God loves, even Jesus.

As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. (John 6:57—NASB)

Many Mansions

Even though it has been made clear to numerous Christians that John 14:2 is not speaking of fine houses in Heaven, this misinterpretation still is a strong, durable tradition in the churches of our day.

Let's take a look at the verse that has inspired Christians for centuries.

In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. (John 14:2—NASB)

If I am not mistaken, there is no verse in the Bible that states Heaven is the house of the Father. Isaiah does say Heaven is God's Throne, but never his house.

I would suggest, in terms of the following verses in the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John, that the Father's house set forth here is the Lord Jesus Christ himself. God dwells in Christ in God's Fullness. Christ is the eternal abode of the Father.

Notice that the New American Standard Bible does not speak of a "mansion." The Greek term monee or monai has nothing to do with a fancy house, a structure. The term "mansion" in the Authorized Version may have been employed as nothing more than a dwelling place, or abode, in 1611 AD, at the time of the translation of that edition.

Here is another fact. Nowhere in the Bible is it stated that to be saved means to go to a palatial house in the spirit world when one dies. In fact we, being in a spirit body, would probably not find a large manor a suitable place in which to reside.

Isn't it interesting that in our generation, so many traditional beliefs are being examined to determine if they actually are supported by the Scriptures!

If there is no scriptural support whatever, either in the Bible or in the Greek language for our destiny being a mansion in Heaven, should we not stop talking and singing about going to our mansion in Heaven? It seems reasonable to me that we should cease doing this.

Several years ago I discovered that residence in the spirit world (Heaven) is not the goal of the Christian salvation. There is no basis in the Bible for this venerable tradition.

Is there actually a Heaven to which people go when they die? Yes, there is. It is divided into the Land of Light and the Land of Darkness, according to recent impressions I have had of the spirit world. The Land of Darkness is a place of punishment. The Land of Light is a much more matter-of-fact world than our mythologies have described. People go about their business. After all, our world was made from the invisible spirit world, so one would expect the two worlds to be similar.

My recent impressions of the spirit world are contained in a new book titled Godwill Castle. It may be several months before it is published.

Any believer who continues to view a mansion in Heaven as his eternal destiny, when there is no scriptural support for this, is not too interested in his or her, salvation, I guess.

What, then, is the goal, the objective of our redemption, our salvation?

There are two dimensions of our objective. First, to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, both internally and externally (image and likeness). The second dimension is to be in untroubled rest in the very Center of God's Person and will.

Now stop and think. Can you see that our movement to a place and a mansion would not solve God's problem? God's problem is that his creation, both spirit and physical, is in rebellion against him. Some of the angels are in rebellion against God, not willing to serve Jesus Christ. Most of the world, including the majority of Christians, are in rebellion against God, not willing to invite Christ into all their decisions.

Let us say we die and enter the invisible spirit world. Has that caused us to want to serve Christ in all aspects of our life? No, it has not. Why would we change? What we are, we are. If we were going to change, we would have begun to obey Christ while living in this present world.

Sin began with one of the two cherubim that guarded the Throne of God in Heaven. So it is not likely that entering the spirit world would take the rebellion out of us.

What if we go to live in a mansion? Would that solve God's problem of rebellion, or even our problem? Living in an ornate manor would not remove rebellion from us. And it would not bring us to righteousness, love, joy, and peace which are the hope of every sane person.

If living in a mansion would bring us to righteousness, love, joy, and peace, then we would expect wealthy people on the earth to be righteous, loving, joyful, and peaceful. Are they?

Perhaps I am mistaken, but I think we Christians have many traditions that we have not thought about carefully. Could this be true?

If such is the case, what then is John 14:2 referring to? It is referring to the fact that if we keep Christ's commands, the Father and the Son will make us Their eternal dwelling place, Their tabernacle. God in his Fullness will live in us. Also, in addition there may be a multitude of people living in us as our inheritance. Oh yes. When we are made God's dwelling place we may be a palace, or castle, or anything else that is needed so people will be able to live in the Presence of God.

Do you have people living under your "covering" today? Do you have room for them in your heart? I'm sure you do.

We will have room in our heart for God and others. How does that sound to you? Are you willing to die to your self-determination so you can live in "waters to swim in" and be a tree of life along the banks of the River of Life? God has given us this opportunity, but we must "sell all" to take advantage of it.

The Greek term for "abode" is found in John 14:2, and 23; also in the fifteenth chapter of John in its verbal form, and is translated correctly, "Abide in Me."

It appears to me that in our day there will be a reformation of the Christian understanding of the Gospel of the Kingdom. It is interesting, isn't it, that at a time when the American way of life is in danger of being changed radically, God is opening to us the Scriptures. What is being shown to us has always been there. But we were not able to perceive what was being said. We just did not have the apostolic viewpoint.

I have been prophesying for thirty years that there will be a mighty revival in America, but it will occur during a time of great trouble. I think the hour is here, or very close.

There are at least three aspects of any true revival: first, there is repentance; second, there is an enlarged understanding of the Scriptures; third, there is worldwide evangelism. These three aspects characterized the Pentecostal revival of the Twentieth Century.

There must be an enlarged understanding of the Scriptures if any revival is to bear permanent fruit.

Today, much error is being taught:

There is to be momentarily a carrying up to Heaven of all professing Christians.

God has given us grace as an alternative to living righteously.

Our goal is to go to Heaven to live in a mansion.

Christians must not suffer but should be wealthy and enjoy every material blessing, including perfect health.

The size of a congregation in numbers is a measure of success or lack of it.

We can move the physical world by metaphysical practices, such as "speaking the creative word."

We are to take our gifts and go forth to save a lost and dying world. There is no need to wait to see if this is what Christ expects of us.

We can be a Christian without denying ourselves and carrying our personal cross behind the Lord Jesus.

Jesus is our personal Savior but not our personal Lord. We are free moral agents.

There are three Gods, all equal in authority and power. Therefore Christ would not have to obey the Father unless He chose to do so. Can you imagine that this actually is believed?

There probably are many more errors being taught, but I can't think of them offhand, and you probably see my point by now.

It is time for a reformation of Christian thinking. Would you agree to this?

Please let me conclude by saying there are no "mansions" in Heaven except for the Lord Jesus Christ and the members of his Body. As soon as we cease thinking in this unscriptural manner we will be able to rightly perceive the true spirit world, which is remarkably like our present world in that our present world was made from the spirit world.

Yes, people go about their business in the spirit world without the pain and tiredness that we experience at the present time. In the spirit world, if we have been a decent person, there always is that "Christmas" feeling that we try to capture during the holiday season.

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—NIV)

Two Trees

There are two trees in the middle of Paradise. One is the Tree of Life. The other is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. We must partake of both trees if we would be healthy and grow to maturity.

Both trees are the Lord Jesus Christ.

To eat from the Tree of Life is to partake of the body and blood of Christ, of resurrection life. To eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is to become aware of what is good and what is evil, such knowledge being contained in the Lord Jesus, who is the Word of God made flesh. The Book of Hebrews tells us that possessing such discernment is a sign of maturity and enables us to receive the solid food of the Word of God.

Actually the two trees work together. The more of Christ we have the more we are able to recognize good and evil, and the more willing we are to embrace what is good and renounce and reject what is evil.

Every time we embrace what is good and turn away from that which is evil we are given more of the "hidden manna," that is, more of the body and blood of Christ. This increased "manna" in turn enables us to further discern between good and evil, and to embrace the good and renounce the evil.

Adam and Eve were physically naked. They also were spiritually naked. To be spiritually naked is to have all of our personality open for others to see. Christ does not want this. He is jealous over our personality, just as a husband is jealous over his wife's body, not wanting others to see it.

It is interesting that the Communist government in Russia used to insist on periods of confession, during which the people were coerced into baring their souls, revealing all of their thoughts. This is because by inspecting the individual's "nakedness" they were assuring themselves of control over the person.

Christ advised the members of the Church of the Laodiceans to buy from Him the white clothes of righteous behavior to cover their shameful nakedness. Then when God and people saw their integrity, mercy, and humility, the members would not be ashamed.

Adam and Eve were spiritually and physically naked. It is shameful to be naked. Satan was able to see that they had not had a spirit of obedience to God formed in them as yet. God was perfectly willing to be their covering, both physically and spiritually. But in order for such covering to be in place, they had to be obedient to the Lord.

Adam and Eve did not realize they were naked, so there was no shame in their own minds. Several times in the New Testament we are told we are not guilty until we know God's will and then disobey it. Ignorance of the law is an excuse in the Kingdom. But when we break God's laws we may suffer the accompanying penalties, even though our conscience is clear; such as the person who repents of a lifetime of smoking, is forgiven, and then dies of lung cancer.

If Adam and Eve had waited for God's time, He would have had them partake of the two trees in the proper order and in the proper amount. They would have grown in Divine Life and in wisdom concerning good and evil. When they became aware of being naked, God would have clothed them.

This is how He deals with us. The Spirit of God shows us the sins we are practicing. If we confess and turn away from them, we are forgiven immediately and cleansed from all unrighteousness. Then we can draw near to Christ with all confidence. Christ himself becomes our Clothing, our Righteousness.

Adam and Eve died spiritually, and eventually physically, for four reasons. First, because they disobeyed God. Then they experienced guilt because they became aware of their nakedness. Then they fled from God's Presence, which God knew would happen. Then sin was crouching at the door.

Death was caused by their disobedience. Then death was caused by eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil causing them to have a guilty conscience. Then death was caused by their fleeing from God's Presence. Then death was approaching them so it could create in them a sinful nature.

This same quadruple action occurs in the matter of eternal life. When we receive Christ we receive eternal life because we are obedient to what God has commanded. Then we receive eternal life because we are eating of Christ, who himself is eternal life, and we have a sense of sins forgiven. Then we have eternal life because we begin to know God. Then we receive eternal life because our behavior after that is righteous, in that the Life and knowledge of Christ encourage us to practice righteous behavior.

Eternal life always results from the righteous behavior that proceeds from Christ. Eternal life is the knowledge of God, and this knowledge always is increasing in us as we think, speak, and act in the Presence of Christ.

God has purposed to return Paradise to the earth. But then there will be trained rulers who will prevent disobedience. Paradise once regained must be retained.

Let us think further concerning eternal life and the Tree of Life. Both trees are the Lord Jesus Christ, as we stated previously. Both are necessary if we are to be healthy and grow to maturity in God's image.

There are four areas of life: first, what we might term mechanistic life; then the River of Life; then the fruit of the Tree of Life; and finally the leaves of the Tree of Life. All of these represent energy that comes from the Spirit of God.

By mechanistic life I mean the energy that created the physical world, including the heavenly bodies, the earth, and nature. I am including human biologic life in this category. There is Divine energy that is of the Spirit of God, but does not contain the Divine Life that accompanies the Presence of God, the body and blood of Christ, as does the Holy Spirit we are accustomed to.

The River of Life is the Spirit of God, the Person of God in motion.

The fruit of the Tree of Life is the body and blood of Christ. It is Life that is Divine in Substance. It is the eternal life that is the knowledge and Presence of God.

The leaves of the Tree of Life are that part of the body and blood of Christ that repair any damage that has occurred to the human personality.

The human life of flesh and blood is mechanistic life, as I am using the term. We can move, speak, think, imagine, work, eat, drink, lift weights, study, laugh, make music, and do all else of which the body is capable. This is the life that was breathed into Adam in the beginning.

Every human being who has ever lived on the earth but does not have the Life of Christ in him will, when he dies, continue in the spirit world without the Life of Christ. In the Resurrection, his flesh and bones will be raised and resume mechanistic life, but not by the energies of flesh and blood. The energy that will activate him or her at that time will be the same energy that activates angels and the physical universe.

Every human being, every angel, as far as I know, will exist forever. Once having been created, individuals never will be destroyed.

According to my understanding, when a member of the Royal Priesthood dies, he or she does not really die. The saint enters the spirit world alive in the Presence of Christ, just as was true when he was living on the earth. The extent of this eternal Divine Life of Christ life varies according to the consecration of the individual. I am assuming that the individual has lived victoriously in Christ.

Here is the Scripture fulfilled: "I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in me shall never die."

It may be true, although I hope it isn't, that most believers in America are not filled with eternal life. I think there are many who have no eternal life at all. They just have made a profession of belief in Christ but they do not abide in Christ.

When the Lord said, "Whoever lives and believes in me shall never die" he meant those who are spiritually alive and abiding in Him.

I do not know where all the nominal (dead) Christians go when they die. Perhaps to a place of instruction where they have a chance actually to receive Christ into their lives or else to reject Christ altogether. American people do love their independence of thought, speech, and action.

When Christ returns, the flesh and bones of the spiritually alive Christian will be raised by the power of Christ. Then his living inward nature and resurrected flesh and bones will be clothed with a body that has been reserved for him in the spirit world. That body was formed by the Spirit of God and is of the Spirit of God. This is because the individual has chosen to live by the Spirit rather than by the prompting of his sinful nature.

The Holy Spirit of God is a member of the Godhead. We are baptized in water into his name. He conducts all Christian ministry. He has been charged by the Father with bringing to the Son, Christ, an unblemished Bride. He is resurrection Life. He is eternal Life. The Holy Spirit himself is eternal Life. Jesus Christ himself is eternal resurrection Life because the Father has filled Him with the Spirit without measure.

Every time a Christian chooses to obey the Spirit and turns away from a sinful temptation, he is fed with the body and blood of Christ. He is given to eat of the Tree of Life which is in the middle of the Paradise of God. This is how Christ is formed in him.

Every member of the nations of saved people, who has been given the right to live on the new earth in the new world of righteousness, is authorized to go through the gates of the new Jerusalem and partake of the fruit of the Tree of Life. This Life will renew him and give him immortality in his body. Otherwise, if he had only mechanistic life, he would grow old and infirm.

Every person who lives on the new earth will have a portion of Christ in him. There will be no "sea" of people who have no life of God in them.

Sometimes people are wounded in body, soul, or spirit. Eating of the leaves of the Tree of Life, that is, of the health of the Lord Jesus, will restore the wounded individual in body, soul, and spirit. Christ, the Servant of the Lord, will strengthen the "bruised reed" until the individual has been brought forth to total victory.

The members of the Royal Priesthood have access to such healing now. The members of the nations who live on the new earth will have access to healing at that time, the life and healing that flow from the dwelling of God, which is the Christian Church.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. he will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." (Revelation 21:3,4—NIV)

But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:14—NIV)

From Adam to Christ

We must be born again if we are to enter the Kingdom of God. Our adamic personality cannot see or enter the Kingdom of God. Our adamic nature can be drawn up to Heaven, as we see in the case of Enoch and Elijah. But our adamic nature, our flesh and blood personality, cannot see or enter the Kingdom of God.

Our first birth was as a descendant of Adam and Eve. The adamic race is that of intelligent animals with a spirit that can reach up to God. It is a prototype of the eternal mankind. The adamic race was never meant to be permanent. It came to an end on the cross of Calvary. It was finished there.

God is making all things new. Everything that is to be saved in the new world of righteousness is being made new in the Lord Jesus Christ. God has declared that Christ shall be head over all, and that all the universe shall be summed up in him.

The temporary form of mankind descended from Adam and Eve through Noah and his wife. The eternal form of mankind will descend from God, having been born of God.

Thus every individual in whom the Divine Seed is planted becomes two individuals. There is the adamic personality, the intelligent animal. Then there is another personality who has been grafted into the first adamic personality.

If we count the sinful nature as separate from the adamic personality, which it indeed is, there are three natures at work. However, for the purposes of this discussion we will consider the adamic personality and the sinful nature as one personality.

Our entire Christian discipleship is based on the fact that each of us is two personalities. Our experiences and our reactions to our experiences proceed from the fact that we are two personalities. The first personality is human. The second personality is human but united with Christ. The first is temporary while the second is eternal.

This double personality accounts for the pains and struggles of our discipleship. We have a carnal mind that is an enemy of God. Why would God give us a mind that is opposed to him? Why must we suffer frustration and be imprisoned in one manner or another? What sense does all this make?

Our rigorous discipleship makes perfect sense once we understand that God is creating a Kingdom that could be constructed in no way other than first creating a flesh and blood humanity and then grafting into it a Divine personality. It is while we are in the flesh and blood humanity that our inward nature is formed. It is formed as we struggle to obey God.

When the inward nature has been shaped according to God's plan for us, the donning of the body from Heaven will occur "in the twinkling of an eye." At that point we will be at rest in the Kingdom of God.

Sometimes when I am endeavoring as a pastor to come to a better understanding of a member of our church, I ask the Lord to remove for a moment my perception of the animal part of the person, the first personality. I wish to get a glimpse of the new nature of the individual. I want to understand his or her progress in Christ.

Today all sorts of objectives are emphasized in the Christian churches. The stress may be on going out and getting souls saved. In other instances it is on attaining a remarkable emotional experience; or the emphasis may be on mental, emotional, or bodily healing. There are occasions when some of these objectives may be of the Lord and worthy of our pursuit. But they easily can distract us from the main objective of our discipleship.

The primary objective of our discipleship is the growth of the new creation, the new inward nature. It is the new man, not our adamic nature, who will be clothed with eternal life in the Day of Resurrection. It is the new personality who is eternal, who sees and enters the Kingdom of God, who itself is of the Kingdom of God. It is the new personality who will bring Paradise to the earth and maintain it. It is the new personality who, along with the Holy Spirit, will be the source of life and healing for the people whom God has saved to his new world of righteousness.

In contemporary America it is not unusual for a minister to emphasize how we may have a better, happier life in Christ. This usually means a better, happier animal personality, an adamic life without pain or problems.

However, a happy adamic life without pain or problems is not the best environment for the coming to maturity of the new, eternal man.

Being made helpless in some manner may enable us to do the Lord's work as He would have it done. In addition to all his problems, the Lord apparently afflicted the Apostle Paul with poor eyesight. Samson killed more Philistines by his death than he ever did by his God-given strength.

Since our time on the earth is brief at best, we might wish to give some thought to the transition from our adamic life to the new creation in Christ. John the Baptist summed up our redemption when he exclaimed, "He must become greater; I must become less."

We must be ready for this transition from Adam to Christ every moment of our discipleship. While we are following the Spirit of God, Christ may ask us to release some part of our animal, or sinful, nature. When we do, He takes it and replaces it with his Divine Substance and Life.

In this manner our second personality becomes greater. Our first personality becomes lesser.

The victorious saint makes good progress in the transition from Adam to Christ while he is undergoing his discipleship on the earth. He has made this transition while experiencing fierce opposition from Satan. The conquering of such resistance forms a rod of iron in his or her personality. The forming of the rod of iron qualifies him or her to govern as a king or priest in the new world of righteousness.

Most true Christians make a bit of progress during their lifetime in the transition from Adam to Christ. After they die, this transition will keep occurring if they make an effort to put into practice what they are being taught in the spirit world. This is my understanding at the present time.

However, they must resist temptation and keep themselves from sinful behavior. If they do, they will have access to the Tree of Life so Christ can be formed in them; and to the Water of Life of the Holy Spirit so they can live to an increased extent in the Spirit of God.

If they have some kind of infirmity they can be healed by the leaves of the Tree of Life.

If a Christian believer while living on the earth makes no progress in the transition from Adam to Christ, he will not immediately inherit the Kingdom of God. According to my understanding at this time, when he dies he will be sent to a confined area in the spirit world to be taught. If after having been taught he refuses to walk in the ways of Heaven, he will be sent to the Land of Darkness.

If while living on the earth he has been entrusted with some knowledge or aspect of the Kingdom of God, and ignores what he has been given, choosing to live his life in worldly pursuits, when he dies, that which has been given to him will be taken from him. His Kingdom riches will be given to another, and he, after having been rebuked by the Lord, will be sent to the Land of Darkness.

If he then proves incorrigible, he will be cast into the Lake of Fire and eventually become part of Satan. When he becomes part of Satan in the Lake of Fire, repentance, a change of behavior, no longer will be possible.

After we die and are living in the spirit world, if we are not willing to deny ourselves and resist the temptation to envy, or hatred, or pride, or lying, or coveting, or any other antisocial behavior, we will be denied access to the Tree of Life. Then we no longer can be renewed in Divine Life or healed. Unless we are willing to be corrected we may end up separated for eternity from the Kingdom of God.

The work of redemption is for the purpose of enabling us to love God with all our heart and our neighbor as ourselves. The adamic nature cannot do this. In order to keep God's two great laws we must be filled with the new Life of Christ.

We cannot have lasting fellowship with God or enjoy our role in his Kingdom when we do not love Him above all else, and our neighbor as ourselves. Eating Christ's body and blood fills us with his Divine Nature. Drinking often of the Water of Life, the Holy Spirit, gives us the power to reveal Christ's Nature in our thinking, speaking, and acting. Then our new nature will be able to keep the two laws of God.

Those who persist in sin can never inherit the Kingdom of God, not now, not ever!

And as for the concept of experiencing judgment and redemption in the spirit world after we die:

For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit. (I Peter 4:6—NIV)

The Existence of God and the Spirit World

The Bible states that the things we see were made from a world we cannot see.

It is fashionable today in the modern nations to speak and act as though there is neither a God nor a spirit world. In fact, in America the argument is advanced that if, in a public institution, we suggest that there is a God and a spirit world from which the physical world was created, we somehow are opposing the Constitution of the United States of America. We are involving the state in religion.

Although such a position certainly was not in the minds of the framers of our Constitution, it nevertheless is maintained as though it were valid and sensible. It is clear that the fear that mankind might have to answer someday to a supreme Being is giving rise to this indefensible position.

In actuality, the reality of God and of the spirit world, while it is associated with religion, is factual entirely apart from religion. A religion is a set of ideas and activities that have been developed by people as they seek to accommodate their lives to their beliefs about God and his will.

Sometimes God intervenes in the affairs of people, and a religion then is constructed around this occurrence. This certainly has been the case with the Judaic and Christian religions.

In time past, religious organizations have intervened in politics and also have persecuted severely those who had different ideas about God and his will. It is this destructive activity that the framers of the Constitution were resisting, not the fact that there is a God and a spirit world. Those are just facts, like the existence of the stars in the firmament.

To deny the existence of God and the spirit world is to be as blind as those who at one time vigorously asserted that the earth is flat or that the earth is the center of the solar system. To insist there is no God and no spirit world, refusing to consider this point of view, is dogmatic and easily can become destructive of intellectual freedom.

If we wish to resist a religion or religions, that is our choice. But to deny the existence of God and the spirit world goes against much evidence. The natives in the bush know better than this!

It may be true that most people have in their heart of hearts a memory of the Garden of Eden, the first home of mankind. Sometimes beautiful music evokes a picture of a land where there is all the beauty of nature and no problems, pain, or death. There also may be a rainbow-covered castle in our imagination.

Did this ideal setting for which we may long evolve from amoeba? Not likely. It is a part of our consciousness because we were created in a garden, in the Paradise of God.

People find it hard to believe that the physical world in which we live came from nothing. It had to originate from somewhere at some point, even if its arrival was piecemeal. Isn't that so? Yet educated people parade around in their assurance that the world just happened. But they do not actually know where they came from; neither can they comprehend infinity nor eternity.

We are like bugs on the ground who carry off pieces of garbage, meanwhile waving their feelers at us. This is what we resemble when we claim there is no God and no spirit realm.

All people, even the most assured, are remarkably fragile. We have been created with a need to place our trust in Someone greater than ourselves who can and will meet our needs and help us survive in this world. King David accurately described the world as "the valley of the shadow of death."

Indeed there is a spirit world and a God who created the world and us. When we in our arrogance and self-will attempt to cut Him out of our lives we are left with little more than confusion and frustration.

What hope do the godless have? When they die (and life on earth is short at best) they are gone, they think. Finished, they suppose. They imagine it will be as though they never had existed. Their loved ones hope to see them in Heaven. The hope of seeing our loved ones again after death is instinctive with people. But according to the godless, it is a vain hope. Thus they take away the chief hope of ordinary people, even of their own loved ones, although they have no way of knowing if they are correct.

The presidents of our country hope to leave a worthwhile legacy. But who cares? The president dies and we continue with our problem-filled existence. Whether our memory of the president is favorable or unfavorable, it makes no difference to him or to us. He exists no longer. So all of his painful travail has not brought love, joy, or peace to him. He has resigned himself to the fact he no longer will exist; but he hopes after he is dead, people will honor his memory.

In actuality, the very opposite is true. The deceased president will have a conscious existence somewhere. He may be at peace, looking down on the benefits he has brought to his nation by doing what he believed to be in the best interests of the people.

Or else he may have yielded to the pressures applied by wicked individuals, or to his own desire for self-aggrandizement, and made decisions that caused problems for his nation in the future. In which instance he will be viewed with scorn in the spirit world, and perhaps later in the resurrection.

There is no telling how long a period he may be given to rejoice exceedingly because he was conscientious and brought strength to those who trusted him; or to agonize because of his tormented conscience, due to his self-seeking and cowardice. One or the other will be his true legacy.

Sholom Aleichem, the famous Jewish writer, had many misfortunes in his life. One among them was the instances in which he had very little money. Now he can look down from the spirit world and see the millions of people who have enjoyed and yet are enjoying his writings. We need to think much about this, because some people who have greatly enriched our lives produced their works while they themselves were suffering.

The publishers who deprived Sholom Aleichem of his due profits may not be as content as he when they realize their own wickedness and the pain it caused the author. There are, I believe, rooms in the Land of Darkness reserved for those with tormented consciences. Also, he will be viewed in the spirit world as a greedy person.

In the time to come, people shall give an account for every idle word they have spoken. Nothing shall be hidden. What was done in secret shall be proclaimed from the housetops.

There is a reward for patiently doing the Lord's will while we are persevering through afflictions. It is that we will be able once we are in the spirit world to see the good we have done.

My opinion is that the normal, natural response of a human being to his journey through life on the earth is to place his faith, trust, and hope in a God who is able to help him right now, and who will be there when he dies to bring him into that land of never-ending love, joy, and peace that was on the earth in the beginning.

Many scientists assume there is no One who designed nature. But a person of average intelligence looking at nature can see the design, unless he is trying to deny the existence of God. If there is no God, he reasons, there will be no day of reckoning in which he will have to account for the things he did he knew were wrong.

Sometimes when I am learning a piano composition of classical music I think of the multitude of subtle operations that are required in addition to the contact of fingers on the keyboard. Hearing and feeling work together, as well as mental analysis and memory, and a sense of rhythm and beauty. How utterly impossible this would be to evolve! Also, for the composer of the music to evolve. This is nonsense!

The wide range of emotions we feel listening to the symphonies and operas of the various composers certainly did not evolve from random divisions of cells.

Music came from Heaven. It did not originate in random movements of atoms and molecules. As the Lord Jesus stated, "A man can receive only what is given him from Heaven."

Over no period of time would random occurrences ever produce the ability of a classical pianist to perform Chopin's Preludes, Opus Twenty-eight, with suitable expression; nor could an ape evolve to the point he could compose such piano compositions.

The hypothesis of evolution is nothing more than an attempt of people to live their lives without God. Otherwise they could see the intelligent design in nature—unless they were educated to the point of blindness. The evolutionist himself or herself is the final proof that evolution has not taken place. We of today appear to be less wise than those of ancient times, as measured by our behavior.

The pursuit of evidences of evolution, or of life on other planets, is an indication that man is trying to assure himself there is no God.

Please notice also that no animal, no matter how brilliant, worships God. But the most primitive people worship and fear God, having a sense of God, until their mind is blinded by "scientific deductions and explanations." It is evident there is a difference in kind, in the matter of worship, between the most intelligent animal and the least "civilized" human being.

There is an aspect of creation that geologists do not always factor in. A thousand years is as a day with the Lord. Scientists think of geologic time in terms of billions of years, not realizing that in the spirit world, time is not significant. God could experience billions of years of biologic time as a moment in which he contemplated his acts of creation.

On one occasion while recuperating from a sickness I watched a documentary on the television. The documentary explained the reproductive system of the human female. I was astonished at the complexity of the various parts of the system and how they interacted in the process of birth.

Then I thought, "I'll bet the male system is just as complicated." It came to me at that point that there is no way in which two parallel systems that interact the way these two systems do could evolve, whether by the survival of the fittest or by a chance mutation. This is nonsense of a high order!

As we consider the issue of whether or not there is a spirit world, we remember the sense that people historically have had, and yet do have, that there is a spirit world, and most likely a God or gods who operate from this unseen dimension. The historical, universal assumption by most people—even today—that there is a spirit world and a God, must figure into the evidence. After all, the basis of science is describing what is, not what we assume or conjecture. Isn't that correct?

The main problem in accepting the existence of a spirit world is that it is invisible, that we cannot measure or weigh it. Actually, the same may be said of energy. We can come to the conclusion that heat is related to the movement of molecules. But precisely what is heat? Precisely what is it that increases as molecules are agitated? Heat can be measured and felt, but does that tell us what it actually is, other than a form of energy? Is energy an emanation of the Person of God?

An investigation into the exact nature of the phenomenon known as "heat," or the attraction between certain metals known as "magnetism," would be honored by any scientist, I suppose. But not a discussion of the design we see in the physical creation. Could it be that this is because the former do not present the prospect of a Day of Judgment?

We can observe and measure the effects of energy, such as heat and movement, but the original source of energy and its exact nature is somewhat mysterious, isn't it? We claim energy can neither be created nor destroyed nor added to the universe in any manner. (My personal opinion is that God on occasion does add energy to the universe. The scientists are reckoning without God, it seems to me.)

We accept energy as a fact, not because every aspect of its nature is understood by us but because of certain manifestations.

But, someone may protest, "We can control energy and govern and measure the outcome."

This is a fact. But stop and think. If we could control God and govern the outcome, God would not be God. Would he? If we could measure God he would not be God. Would He? If we could define and measure God, controlling Him and governing and measure the outcome, He would not be God, the Source of all energy and matter.

I will tell you one thing from my own experience. For over sixty years I have hypothesized (assumed) there is a God and a spirit world, and have acted accordingly. I have reasonable intelligence and a good education. There is a God! There is a spirit world! I have proven this, to myself at least.

To this day some aspects of light and gravity are not thoroughly understood. When they are, and can be controlled, we may have no more problems with transportation.

It is evident there is a physical world, and also that the physical world is a form of energy. But the physical world either is a product of intelligent design or it is the product of random forces.

If we hypothesize that the physical world is a product of random forces, then we might expect a lack of predictable design.

If we hypothesize that the physical world is a product of intelligent design, then we might look for some evidence of this. There is much in nature that suggests design. One example is the frequent occurrence of the Fibonacci series of numbers that occur in nature. Another is the consistency of the laws of physics, such as energy always is equal to mass times the speed of light squared. The predictable nature of mathematics itself is hard to account for if one subscribes to a world of random occurrences, it seems to me.

Another factor is the number of specific answers to prayer that are far, far too numerous to be discounted as though they form no evidence of the spirit world and of God. It is possible that the person reading these words has had specific answers to specific prayers.

Perhaps the reader has read one or more of the many accounts of people who have died, in that their heart has stopped, and then have been revived to tell us of the marvels they have observed. Also numerous individuals have had supernatural experiences, visitations from deceased relatives, dreams, visions, etc.

I have no doubt whatever that over the course of world history there have been several million instances of visitations and episodes that cannot be accounted for by explanations that do not include the supernatural. In other words, there are far more witnesses of God and the spirit world than would be necessary to prove the case in a court of law.

Two excellent accounts of a supernatural experience are (Return From Tomorrow, Dr. Ritchie, a psychiatrist, Chosen Books, Waco, Texas, 1978); also the visions of the Chinese children in the Adullam orphanage in China, (Visions Beyond the Veil, H. A. Baker, Osterhus Publishing House, Minneapolis, Minn.).

Anyone reading one or both of these accounts will be persuaded, I am sure, that they are valid. There are many more published accounts of similar supernatural experiences, some doubtful, others that appear to be authentic.

The scientist who is making a case for evolution by carbon dating and examining bones is missing the forest while examining the trees. He needs to step back and consider the entire range of human experience. Determining whether or not there is a God and a spirit world by carefully examining bones could be compared to digging up Beethoven's body and cutting it up carefully in an attempt to discover the source of the Ninth Symphony.

Actually, it often is true that the whole is more than the sum of its parts!

Given the lack of final proof of the source of the physical world and of the evolution of human beings, and the lack of our ability to measure and weigh and otherwise describe God and the invisible spirit world, we must consider the probability of each viewpoint in terms of what we have experienced in life or what our common sense indicates. Isn't that a fact?

Since it goes against our normal thought processes that the existence and apparent design of the physical world just "happened," and since there is a possibility that there is a God who brought our habitable world into existence and who appears to answer specific prayers in a specific manner, and belief in Him is historically and universally the attitude numerous people have—even some well educated people of today, I think it reasonable that the probability of the latter being true is greater than that of the former.

It is possible that an individual who, in spite of the wealth of evidence to the contrary, holds it is more probable that there is no God and no spirit world from which the material world originated, has an agenda that is affecting his reasoning.

A young person from our church entered college. There she encountered students who were questioning the existence of God. She asked me to help her out with some proofs.

My response was, "Tell the students that if they want to know if there is a God and if Jesus Christ is his Son, then ask him. God can talk and He will answer your question."

If you want to know if someone is in the next room, knock and then ask.

When I was nineteen years of age I wanted to know if there is a God. I read in the Bible where Jesus said, "If you want to know whether I came from God or whether I am speaking out of my own Spirit, then do what I say and you will get your answer."

In the glorious idealism of youth, I responded, "Okay. I will do what you say. If the Bible proves out to be as incomplete as other philosophies I have investigated I will declare that the Bible is a fabrication."

"But if I can see that God is behind the Bible, and it is true and unfathomable, I will testify to that." I was very serious about this, being an idealistic type of person.

I was nineteen then. Since that time I have progressed in the study of education to the point of being awarded the degree of Doctor of Education from the University of Rochester in New York, a respected institution. During the doctoral program I studied the mathematics of probability. The results of the research carried on in advanced programs are often reported in terms of probability. I do solemnly declare that the probability of the events of my life occurring randomly is so low as to be not significant.

I truthfully can say I know there is a God, that Jesus Christ is his Son, and that the Bible in its entirety is the authentic, absolutely dependable Word of a living God. I have lived by the words of the Bible for all these years.

This is my testimony, and I declare it before God, his Son, his angels, and the entire world of mankind. I am keeping the promise I made when I was nineteen years of age, on the Island of Oahu, in the State of Hawaii.

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. (Hebrews 11:3—NIV)

The Righteous Shall Live by Faith

To be "righteous" is to be free from Divine condemnation and to be pleasing to God in Heaven.

The watchword of the Protestant Reformation is, "The righteous shall live by faith." As I understand what took place, the Catholic Church, at the time of the Reformers, was emphasizing penances—various acts of self-mortification or devotion intended to secure righteousness for the believer.

"The righteous shall live by faith" was a reaction to these penances. The concept is that we are free from Divine condemnation and pleasing to God through Jesus Christ by placing our faith in Christ, apart from any acts of self-mortification or devotion.

Inasmuch as several hundred years have occurred since "the righteous shall live by faith" became the watchword of the Reformers, the understanding that the expression has to do with the rules of the Catholic Church appears to have been lost. Now the understanding is that we are righteous by believing correct doctrine, and any effort on our part to obey the commandments of Christ and his Apostles is to be regarded as "works of self righteousness."

The result is, numerous Christians of our day appear to know less about righteous behavior than any other group of people in the world. Since God's Kingdom is one of righteousness of behavior, significant impairment of God's intention through our Lord Jesus has occurred because of our misunderstanding of the new covenant.

The term "the righteous shall live by faith" is stated three times in the New Testament, but its origin is in the Old Testament:

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

Now, what is being contrasted here? Is it a person who is seeking to live righteously as opposed to a person living by faith in God? Or is it a person who is arrogant, having his own unjust desires, as opposed to a person living by faith in God?

Obviously, the contrast is between a person who is arrogant, having his own unjust desires, as opposed to a person living by faith in God. Would you agree with this? It is certain that this verse is not contrasting living righteously with having faith in God.

Would you agree with me that the Apostle Paul undoubtedly had the scriptural contrast in mind when he wrote that the righteous are to live by faith?

This scriptural concept has been altered in our day to, "the people whom God regards as righteous are those who believe the facts about Jesus Christ, even though they are arrogant and have unjust desires."

Am I correct? If I am, it assuredly is time for a reformation of Christian thinking.

The righteous shall live by faith means the righteous submit every aspect of their thinking, speaking, and acting to Christ for his direction and enablement. I like to say that the most destructive of all possible practices in which a human being can engage is to pursue his own way without looking to the Lord Jesus Christ for guidance and strength.

We have a lingering shadow of the Catholic emphasis in our own efforts to secure righteousness when we stress various formulas by which we hope to convince God to pour out his Spirit on us. The truth is, as Peter said, "God gives his Spirit to those who obey him." It is obedience to God that brings righteousness and God's Spirit. Obedience is better than sacrifice!

We have brought ourselves into this confusion by turning what should be a daily walk with the living Person of the Lord Jesus into a religion that operates according to our own understanding. We look to our religion instead of to Christ himself for how we should live.

I had an interesting experience when I first became a Christian. I was living at a Marine Corps depot near Honolulu, Hawaii. I had been a Christian for a few weeks, and here came an elder from the Seventh Day Adventist church in Honolulu. How he knew I had become a Christian I have no idea.

He spoke to me convincingly about Saturday as the Sabbath Day. I believed what he said. It caused a problem, however, in that when we practiced drilling on Saturday I was not certain whether or not I should carry my rifle on the Sabbath day.

I was in a quandary to be sure. Carl Hoferer, an experienced Christian who lived in a barracks close to me, began to pray for me with such intensity he became ill. I remember that!

Then I received a book through the mail from my aunt, Gertrude (Boots) Sallies. She knew nothing about my conversion to Seventh Day Adventism. The book is titled The Robe, written by Lloyd Douglas.

In The Robe, Douglas tells how a Jew would carry an empty scroll for a specific distance from his home on the Sabbath. Then he would throw the empty scroll down on the ground and go another Sabbath day's journey, because the scroll would be regarded as his possession, his home.

When I read that about the scroll nonsense, something clicked in my mind (due no doubt to Carl's fervent prayers). Somehow I knew the stress on not working on Saturday had nothing to do with my salvation. Don't ask me how reading about the scrolls showed me I was getting off the track.

I just remembered, as I am writing about this incident, that as I was attempting to use the Bible to convert Carl to Seventh day Adventism, Carl, who was a member of the Navigators and a confirmed believer in the plenary verbal inspiration of the Scriptures, exclaimed, "I don't care what the Bible says. This is wrong!" Knowing Carl, this was a remarkable statement—kind of funny in a way.

Let me say that I am convinced there are any number of Adventist people who really love Jesus. I am not by any means seeking to cast aspersions on them or their churches.

This experience taught me something I never have forgotten, and I think it is the real issue in today's misapplication of "the righteous shall live by faith."

Once I became convinced that I was under the Ten Commandments, especially the commandment to do not work on Saturday, when Saturday came I did not look to the Lord Jesus as to whether or not I should carry my rifle.

You may not understand why I put the above words in italics. It is because this is the very heart of the matter. As Paul taught us, under the old covenant we obtain righteousness by doing what the Law of Moses commands. Under the new covenant we obtain righteousness by looking to Jesus at all times and doing what He commands. This is what it means to live by faith in Jesus.

Can you see that the two cannot be mixed? Either I look to the Law and not carry my rifle on Saturday, or I look to Jesus to see what I should do concerning this issue, and all other issues, on Saturday.

Someone might say, "When it is written in the Scriptures we do not need to pray." My answer is, "Under the new covenant the believer must always—and I mean always—look to the Lord Jesus as to how to fulfill any passage of Scripture. This is the manner in which the new covenant operates. The new covenant is of the Spirit, not of the letter."

I can see this clearly now. But in those days, I just knew somehow that this business of the empty scroll was nonsense.

I have been in Jerusalem many times. I love that city, although as Paul says, it is in bondage with its children. Actually, we Christians have no city on earth that we can call our own, except Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the closest thing we have to a holy city.

I occasionally have lived in a high-rise while in Jerusalem. These stone structures are many stories high, and there are elevators, of course. It is interesting to see how the Orthodox behave when they want to go up to their apartment without having to push a baby carriage up many staircases. You see, they are forbidden to push the elevator button on Saturday. So they must wait for a Gentile to do that.

I admire their faithfulness to Moses, but I cannot see that pushing an elevator button has anything to do with practicing righteousness, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God. Also, I do not understand how pushing a button is work and pushing a baby carriage is not. Do you?

But that is not my point. My point is that living by faith in Jesus Christ does not mean subscribing to the Statement of Faith of a Christian denomination. Rather it means to look to Jesus for all we think, say, and do.

The sons of God are those who are led by the Spirit of God. As we follow Christ closely, we become increasingly aware of our sinful nature. We are guided to vigorously, fiercely renounce and reject the actions of our sinful nature and to vigorously, fiercely embrace the righteous path along which the Spirit is leading us.

Contrast this with the casual believer in America who lives almost completely in the desires of his flesh, giving way to his sinful nature continually while claiming he is righteous because God sees him in Christ. Such would far rather believe in what he thinks is true about Christ, and hold to the statement of faith of his denomination, than to give his life entirely to Jesus and grow every day in the ability to accurately follow the Spirit of God.

What a deplorable misunderstanding. This error is the reason why the Muslims refer to America as the "great Satan." They see our behavior, while we smugly are claiming that God pays no attention to what we are doing because we profess belief in Christ.

Righteousness exists in obedience to God at every moment. There is no overarching imputed righteousness that exists when a person is being disobedient to God.

There indeed is an overarching righteousness that keeps a believer acceptable to God, provided he is working with the Holy Spirit in the program of redemption, that is, in putting to death the actions of his sinful nature. But the belief that there is an overarching righteousness imputed to a Christian who is not obeying Christ is a destructive error.

When we believe there is something Christ wants of us and we do not obey him, we are unrighteous even if we profess belief in Christ. Obedience is better than sacrifice.

The concept that we are righteous by belief rather than by living righteously does not promote fellowship with Christ. Religion develops a set of doctrines we are to believe, declare, and adhere to. The set of doctrines is derived from deductions from axioms that have been chosen. This is the case with the Protestant denominations as well as with the Catholic Church.

Scriptural truth is not arrived at deductively. It is gained inductively from a lifetime of prayerfully meditating in the Scriptures.

True faith in Christ is not a religion. It is a conscious fellowship with a living Person.

As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. I think in numerous instances the Christian religion is more involved in its doctrines than it is in being led by the Spirit of God. Am I incorrect in this?

When we are listening to Jesus and obeying Him in every detail of life, we are behaving righteously. The scepter of King Jesus is that of righteousness. Where the Lord Jesus is, there is righteous behavior. To believe otherwise, to believe that God is smiling down on our sinful behavior because we say we believe in Jesus, borders on blasphemy, doesn't it?

How could we be so blind as to believe that God has given us a covenant that is unlike all of the other covenants God has made with man, in that it does not insist on righteous behavior?

Well, we have been mistaken, perhaps due to our humanistic leanings. It is time now to return to God and his holy pathway—that which the saints of all ages have followed, even though it often has cost them much suffering.

When the Spirit of our older Brother is in us, we delight to do God's will.

I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart. (Psalms 40:8—NIV)

The Saved People of the Nations, and the Tabernacle of God

There is a concept basic to the Kingdom of God that is assumed in the Twenty-first and Twenty-second chapters of the Book of Revelation. This basic concept is that at the end of God's working there will be two classes of people on the new earth. The first class is that of the elect, the called-out, the Church, the Tabernacle of God.

The second class of people, the great majority, is that of the people of the nations of the earth whom God has saved to eternal life on the new earth.

Revelation, Chapter Twenty-one tells us that the Tabernacle of God is with men. The Tabernacle of God is the Christian Church, the Body of Christ, God's elect, his Israel, the Wife of the Lamb, the eternal Temple of God.

If the new Jerusalem is the Christian Church, who, then are the "men" with whom the Christian Church is dwelling on the huge new earth? Did you ever wonder about this?

The "men" whom the Church is with are people who have been saved from among the nations but who are not part of the Church. I find this simple statement causes bafflement and confusion when I present it, but it is set forth in the last two chapters of Revelation as clearly as can be.

Until the design that I have just presented is understood, much of the Bible remains unintelligible. Also, Gospel work can be ineffective if the workers are laboring in terms of a faulty concept. Actually, the correct design is simple and easy to understand. It becomes difficult to understand when we try to blend it with our traditions. Then there is confusion.

The end product of much of God's working is his Tabernacle. God intends to plant his Tabernacle among the nations of saved people on the earth so He can guide and bless them. That's all there is to it! Not so difficult, after all.

Contemporary Christian thinking is that there is only one class of people, namely the saved. They are the Church. They are destined to live forever in Heaven. This idea is not scriptural. It does not at all fit the last two chapters of the Book of Revelation, or much of the writings of the Prophets, particularly Isaiah.

Until we understand that God is creating a Church that He will use as a dwelling place, through which He can have fellowship with the people of the world and become their God, their Father, and their Helper, how can we interpret correctly what God is doing with Christian people?

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

God is coming to the new earth to live in his Church, his eternal Temple. Then the saved people on the earth can come up to God's House and be blessed. Can you think of anything more wonderful than that!

Today the emphasis is on getting as many people of the world "saved" as we can, meaning, they will go to Heaven and not Hell when they die. Because of this emphasis, numerous pastors preach nothing but basic salvation.

Perhaps every member of their congregation has been "saved" for fifty years. It doesn't matter. There always is the possibility that someone will enter the building who is not "saved." Therefore, every Sunday the Pastor preaches about the need to get "saved."

The remainder of the believers go without most of what is taught in the Bible. The result is churches filled with people who never have grown in the Lord. Tell me I am incorrect in this!

Because the people of the congregation are not being fed, they are filled with adultery, hatred, meanness, unforgiveness, a desire to be preeminent, gossip, covetousness, jealousy, hatred, divisiveness, selfishness, and the love of pleasure more than the love of Christ. They are starved spiritually.

Are such people "saved"? Saved from what? No, they are not saved. They are revealing Satan in their personality rather than the Lord Jesus. But they will go to Heaven when they die because they have "accepted Christ," won't they? They may have received Christ at some point in their life, but then they did not keep on receiving Christ each day.

Why not? Because they have not been taught this is what they are supposed to do. While the pastor is trying to get other people "saved," the flock under his supervision is not entering the Kingdom.

The 2000 years since the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ might be termed the "Church Age." It is not the Kingdom Age. It is not the age during which the people of the nations are to be saved. It is the "Church Age." The other ages will come later.

What is to be done during the Church Age? During the Church Age the Gospel is to be preached to every person. Those who believe shall be saved in the Day of Wrath.

Then what is to happen? God is to choose, from among the people who have been saved, those whom He wants for his Church, his Tabernacle.

God has given the Lord Jesus Christ absolute authority over all mankind. Then from among the people of mankind, God has given Jesus certain people that Jesus may give them eternal life. Christ does not pray for the world but for those whom God has given him.

You can notice the difference between simple salvation, and the determination of the Apostle Paul to attain to the resurrection. Paul had believed and been baptized in water. To what, then was he pressing toward? Have you ever thought about that?

Obviously there are people who believe in Christ for salvation; and then there are others, the members of the royal priesthood, who pursue a mighty struggle during their discipleship as they seek to obey what Christ is commanding of them.

These people with whom God deals so intensely are the elect, the Church. They will become the Body of Christ, the Bride of the Lamb, the eternal Tabernacle of God, if they submit to the work of the Holy Spirit. If they do not submit, they will be judged for not using the talents God has blessed them with.

God has given all kinds of gifts and offices that those whom God has called may be brought to maturity—maturity as measured by the Standard that Jesus Christ is.

Now, what is God's purpose in building up the members of the Body of Christ to the full stature of Christ? It is so that in the last days God can pour out his Glory on the mature saints. When He does, the nations will come running to the light. That which the Church hopes to achieve by its own money and efforts will be done quickly and easily once the members of the Body of Christ come to maturity.

Realizing this, would you say we ought to emphasize getting new converts, or should we emphasize building up the church members? I am not speaking of ignoring the need to gain converts, I am speaking of emphasis—the major application of time, money, and energy. This is not really a difficult question, I think.

There is one more point I wish to make. The Lord Jesus said when the people God has given Him from the nations of the world, the Church, his elect, have arrived at oneness in Christ in the Father, the world will believe that Christ is from God. With this in mind, should we be trying to get the world to believe, or emphasizing that the Christians become one in Christ? Instead, the denominations compete against one another.

Here is the critical issue: In order to become one in Christ in God, a believer must trade his right to be an individual in order that he or she may become an integral part of Christ. We find this difficult, don't we? We find it hard to live every moment saying, "Not my will but yours be done." But until we do, the world will never believe and come to God for his blessing.

Why is this? It is because God will not give his Glory to another person. God gives his Glory to Jesus Christ because Jesus Christ lives as part of God, not as a private individual. God will not give his Glory to another person, not even to the Lord Jesus if Jesus chooses to live as an individual apart from God.

Now it comes down to us. Are we willing to trade our right to be an individual (which "right" consists largely of our self-will) in order that we may become an integral part of the Lord Jesus Christ? We cannot have it both ways. We cannot do our religious dance from the vantage point of our individuality, telling God what we are willing to do to gain his favor.

I like the story of the woman who washed Jesus' feet with very expensive perfume. She did not sell the valuable perfume and give the money to the poor, thus serving God on her own terms. Instead she "wasted" it all on Jesus.

What a lesson this is for us, isn't it? Are we willing to "give up" as we realize we cannot make a success of life by our own efforts? Are we willing to give up and become part of Jesus; or are we going to say with Job, "Though He slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face"?

God is looking today for believers who will surrender all their hopes, ambitions, and plans to Jesus in order that the individual may be an eternal part of the Glory of Christ. Are you willing to give up trying to be someone important? Are you ready to be nothing that Christ may be everything?

I will tell you why Christian people do not abandon their own ways and walk humbly with God. It is because they don't understand this is what they are supposed to do.

Why don't the believers know this is what they are supposed to do? Because their pastors and teachers all too often neglect them so that they can "get more people saved" who in term are to go out and "get more people saved" who are to set forth and "get more people saved" etc. etc. etc.

This is why the believers do not come to maturity and then take their maturity and wash Jesus' feet with it. No one ever told them that this is what God wants.

Until we become one in Christ in God, the world will not believe.

I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:23—NIV)

Following are a few of the passages that point out the difference between the nations of saved people, and Israel—the Tabernacle of God:

For the nation or kingdom that will not serve you will perish; it will be utterly ruined. (Isaiah 60:12—NIV)

Then the King will say to those on his right, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world." (Matthew 25:34—NIV)

In the above instance, people from the nations are given the Kingdom of God because they ministered to Christ's brothers when they were in need.

You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (I Peter 2:5—NIV)

And you will be called priests of the LORD, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast. (Isaiah 61:6—NIV)

For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations. (Isaiah 61:11—NIV)

The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. (Revelation 21:26—NIV)

"It," in the above verse, is the Wife of the Lamb.

The Royal Priesthood: I

Perhaps we have not given much thought to the training that must be given to each member of the Royal Priesthood if he or she is to serve God successfully in the role of a governing priest. Each of us Christians, if he is to serve as a member of the Royal Priesthood, will have to experience long, thorough training if he is to fulfill his role properly throughout the coming ages.

The basic design of the Kingdom of God is easy to understand, but it appears it is not preached very often. The Kingdom of God is in two primary parts: the Royal Priesthood, of which the Lord Jesus Christ is the High Priest. Then the multitude of saved people who are the inheritance of the elect and whom God will save into the new world of righteousness.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (I Peter 3:9—NIV)

It is impossible to understand the Kingdom of God unless one realizes that the Christian Church, which is the Royal Priesthood, has been called out of the world to govern and bless the multitudes of saved mankind.

There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 22:5—NIV)

Many passages of the Old Testament refer to the rule of God's saints over the saved peoples of the earth. The saints are neither Jewish nor Gentile as such. Rather, they are the members of Christ's Church, whether Jewish or Gentile by natural birth.

For the nation or kingdom that will not serve you will perish; it will be utterly ruined. (Isaiah 60:12—NIV)

The nation and the kingdom of the above passage are the peoples of the earth who have survived but who are not members of the Church, God's elect. "You" are the members of the Church, the Royal Priesthood.

And you will be called priests of the LORD, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast. (Isaiah 61:6—NIV)

The "priests of the Lord," the "ministers of our God," again are the Church, the members of the Body of Christ. The saved of the nations will contribute their wealth to the saints.

This is a simple, easy to understand model, but it does not seem clear to numerous church people. They envision their future to be that of sitting in a mansion doing nothing of significance. It is no wonder they become confused when God begins to chasten them in order to prepare them for their eternal role as his priests.

In the present hour there are two kinds of saved people: God's ruling priests, and then people from the nations who have believed in Christ and been baptized in water. The purpose of the present age, the Church Age, is to call out the elect from the people of the world, and to prepare them for their role as ruling priests who will represent God to people and people to God. They are as a ladder reaching from earth to Heaven, one might say.

It is easy to see that God has his hand on certain people, and that the Gospel of the Kingdom is first to them. Notice the following passage, for example:

"For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city." (Acts 18:9,10—NIV)

God is saying to Paul, "Spend time in Corinth because many of my elect are living here."

Also:

I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. (John 17:9—NIV)

But then we have the following:

He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned." (Mark 16:15,16—NIV)

The above passage is just as much God's Word as the preceding passages, which emphasize election.

What is going on here? On the one hand we have the Lord pointing out that He is concerned about his elect. On the other hand, He is telling us that He wants his Gospel preached "to all creation."

The answer is simple. We are in the Church Age, when God's purpose is to select and train the members of the Royal Priesthood. At the same time, everyone is to hear the Gospel; and whoever believes and is baptized shall be saved, meaning, preserved in the Day of Judgment and brought into the new world of righteousness when it appears.

But the emphasis during the Church Age is on the elect. God will select his elect from among all who hear the Gospel, believe, and are baptized. He will give gifts to them that they may come to unity in the fullness of the stature of Christ.

Preparing to serve as a ruling priest requires an almost total overhaul of our personality. Some suffering is involved, as necessary. We must be willing to serve the Lord when we do not know what is happening. God will give us a strong love for those to whom we will be bringing to himself. There will be long periods when we are just waiting on Christ and putting one foot in front of the other.

We will be serving God as a priest for eternity. Right now we are in the process of preparation for this awesome responsibility. This means we must draw close to Jesus and listen for his guidance at every moment.

How about those who are not of the elect? God will save them, as He stated. However, it is when the Church becomes one in Christ in God that multitudes of the peoples of the earth will believe that it is God who has sent Jesus to save those who believe in him.

Am I saying that the great ingathering of those who are saved but not of God's elect will come at the end of the Church Age? Yes, this is exactly what I am saying.

Now notice:

Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. (Isaiah 60:3—NIV)

And again:

That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (John 17:21—NIV)

What is my purpose in pointing out that multitudes will be brought to God through the Church once the Church is filled with God's Glory? It is so we will know what we are doing; what we should emphasize.

Today the emphasis of many Christian denominations is to "go forth and save the world." But the Spirit of God is emphasizing that the Christian people need to come to know the Lord Jesus Christ. They must confess and turn away from their worldliness, the lusts and passions of their flesh and soul, and their determination to pursue their own life in their own way without opening the door to Jesus so He can guide their decisions.

If we are not emphasizing what the Spirit is emphasizing, how can we expect God to bless us? We are as the blind leading the blind, which often is the case with religious people.

I don't know if you have ever noticed what the Apostle Paul stated when he presented the goal toward which he was striving.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14—NIV)

Does the above passage sound like "He who believes and is baptized shall be saved"?

No, it does not. Toward what was Paul "straining"? To be saved? To go to Heaven? To avoid Hell?

Paul says, rather, he was striving to attain to the resurrection from the dead. We of today, many of us, do not have any idea what Paul was talking about. Is that true?

Paul was pressing toward the first resurrection, the resurrection that will take place when Jesus returns, the giving back of their bodies to the blessed and holy members of the Royal Priesthood.

Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6—NASB)

There is a practical course of action here. We need to begin to describe to God's people what is at stake. Each of us must adopt the determination of the Apostle Paul and press forward in order to lay hold on that for which God has grasped us. If we do not, it is highly likely that we will not be raised from the dead when the Lord returns, much less be carried up to Heaven.

Why will we not be resurrected when Jesus next appears? It is because we have not followed the Holy Spirit in putting to death the sinful deeds of our body. We, although we profess faith in Christ, are dead spiritually because we have been living in the uncleannesses of our flesh and spirit.

Any experienced Christian can see how far off we have gotten with the modern preaching of sovereign grace, an any-moment "rapture," and eternal residence in Heaven with no responsibilities.

If the Apostle Paul was pressing forward with all his might to grasp that for which God has grasped him, exactly what are we doing?

Recently a person with a true gift of prophecy addressed a fundamental Christian denomination. He represented the Spirit of God as saying that the denomination had internal problems that needed to be resolved.

The response of the leadership was, "Now we must go out and save souls." Can you believe that this actually took place?

I think what is needed today is Christian leaders who are able to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches. When they do hear, I doubt seriously it will be that we are to go out and save souls. I think it will be that we Christians need to get closer to the Lord Jesus as the Holy Spirit points out the areas in which we need to be reconciled to God.

It is time now to prepare the members of the Royal Priesthood so they will be ready to bring God to the saved people of the nations.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (I Peter 3:9—NIV)

The Royal Priesthood: II

The Book of Isaiah has a lot to say about the Royal Priesthood. The Royal Priesthood is the Body of Christ. All of the elect are members, all whom God has chosen to be part of the great High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The term "Israel" is employed. "Israel" refers to the Seed of Abraham. All who are descended from Abraham are not the "Israel" who compose the Royal Priesthood, as it is written: "Jacob have I loved but Esau have I hated." Both Jacob and Esau were in the bloodline of Abraham, being descended from Isaac. But true Israel, the Royal Priesthood, the elect of God, the Body of Christ, is only by God's calling of the individual.

Is God going to turn once more to the physical nation of Israel? Yes, He is. He is going to save many Israelis according to the Scripture. "All Israel shall be saved." But again, not "all Israel" are of "Israel," the Royal Priesthood. Only those whom God calls to be in Christ. He or she is the one Seed of Abraham, the one true Olive Tree.

So when we are referring to the Kingdom prophecies found in Isaiah, we are not speaking of all who are born Jews. We are speaking of the one new Man, Christ, and those who are of his Body, God's elect, the one true Church. Some of these are Jewish by natural birth; some, Gentile.

In the last days, when the full number of Gentiles who have been called to be part of the Royal Priesthood are "in Christ," God will pour out his Spirit on the physical Israel. Then a multitude of Jews will be made part of Christ, just as Joseph, after having married the Gentile, Asenath, revealed himself to his family.

For so many centuries the Christian people have viewed eternal residence in Heaven as their destiny, as the goal of salvation. One wonders how long it will be before they discover their destiny in the Book of Isaiah as members of the Royal Priesthood. Perhaps this understanding will come suddenly during the seemingly chaotic years of the closing days of the Church Era.

The forty-second chapter of the Book of Isaiah announces the Servant of the Lord. The Servant of the Lord is Christ, Head and Body. The Kingdom of God is God in Christ in the saints, in the members of the Royal Priesthood, in true Israel. This kingdom is destined to govern for eternity the new world of righteousness.

One of the destructive results of the unscriptural model of Bible interpretation termed "Dispensationalism" is to cut off the very prophecies that tell us of God's plan for his Church. By referring to a "Jewish Church" and a "Gentile Church," total confusion as to our role and destiny is hidden from the believers.

It is time now that we abandon this man-made scheme of interpretation and adopt the "one new Man" of whom Paul spoke. The "one new Man" is Christ, the one Seed of Abraham, and all who are part of Christ, whether they are Jew or Gentile by natural birth.

The term "Christ" ("Messiah, Anointed One") comes from the following passage:

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners; (Isaiah 61:1—NASB)

"Christ" ("Messiah") is the One whom God has anointed with his Spirit to bring the Kingdom of God to the earth. We Christians are members of the Body of the Anointed One, and this is why we have been given the Spirit of God—it is so we can bring the Kingdom of God to the earth. This is our eternal role.

Notice our responsibility: "to preach good news to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,"

Because we are saints, holy ones, members of the Royal Priesthood, we are being trained throughout our lifetime on the earth that we might be competent to minister to those people of the nations whom God has chosen to save to the new world of righteousness.

Therefore do not be surprised when the Lord chastens you. He is making you a partaker of his holiness so you may serve Him effectively.

Compare this destiny with sitting in your mansion and doing nothing for eternity. For myself, I think it is a better future. How about you?

Christ may use some of us in the present hour to help people in the manner set forth in Isaiah. But it is obvious that the fulfillment of our ministry will be throughout the ages to come. The important task right now is to follow Christ as He prepares us through the Spirit for our ministry that will begin when He returns to the earth.

Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. (Isaiah 60:3—NASB)

Continuing in Isaiah, Chapter 61:

To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, (Isaiah 61:2—NASB)

When the Lord Jesus, in his home synagogue in Nazareth, read Isaiah 61:2 from the scroll, He stopped short of "the day of vengeance of our God." He did not read this phrase because the day of vengeance had not arrived as yet. It has arrived now!

Now the Spirit of God is bringing judgment on the sin in his Kingdom. It has begun with his disciples, with those living close to him. Yet it is not a judgment on them as such but upon the sin that is dwelling in them.

If we will be faithful to confess the sins we are committing, Christ will be faithful to forgive these sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. We must confess them specifically; denounce them as evil; renounce them, turning away from them as Christ helps us. Our actions in doing this constitute an eternal judgment on these spirits. They will not be mentioned to us when we appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ.

God is beginning to put the enemies of Christ under his feet, as He has promised. The judgment has begun with us.

To grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting so they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified. (Isaiah 61:3—NASB)

We notice, in the verse above, that one of the ministries of Christ and his Body is to Zion, that is, to his Church. This is telling us that there will be a firstfruits of the Church who will minister to the remainder of the Church. The strong will assist the weak, which is pleasing to God.

The firstfruits will be given their new bodies when the Lord returns. The remaining members of God's elect will be given their new bodies at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, as I understand it, so that the entire Church, the new Jerusalem, may descend from Heaven through the new sky and be established forever on the new earth as the ruling Kingdom of God.

I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who share 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 20:4-6—NIV)

The firstfruits, those who participate in the first resurrection, will rule with Christ over the nations of the earth, during the thousand-year Kingdom Age, and also will have access to the Zion in Heaven so they may contribute to the growth of God's elect in preparation for their role as the new Jerusalem.

We have a young sister, and her breasts are not yet grown. What shall we do for our sister for the day she is spoken for? If she is a wall, we will build towers of silver on her. If she is a door, we will enclose her with panels of cedar. (Song of Solomon 8:8,9—NIV)

There are many today who "grieve in Zion." The stronger members of the elect will provide them with a crown of beauty and a garment of praise until they are "oaks of righteousness." They were saved by means of imputed righteousness. Now they are in the image of Christ, sturdy in righteous behavior that God may be glorified. They are the result of the ministry of the stronger saints.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. (Isaiah 61:4—NASB)

When Christ returns and sets up his Kingdom on the earth, He first will conquer Antichrist and his armies. Then will take place the cleansing of the earth of the institutions of man-directed civilization. It is my point of view that this cleansing is described in the second chapter of the Book of Joel.

Before them fire devours, behind them a flame blazes. Before them the land is like the garden of Eden, behind them, a desert waste—nothing escapes them. (Joel 2:3—NASB)

Now it will be the task of Christ and his firstfruits, during the thousand-year Kingdom Age, to rebuild the earth in a manner pleasing to God. There will be nations of people on the earth at this time who were not destroyed when the Lord appeared and conquered Antichrist and his armies. These nations will give of their wealth to Christ and his saints.

Many peoples will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths." The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. (Isaiah 2:3—NIV)

For the nation or kingdom that will not serve you will perish; it will be utterly ruined. (Isaiah 60:12—NIV)

It is my hope that what I have written will serve as a key that some can use in order to understand the passages in Isaiah that have to do with Israel—the Servant of the Lord, and with the coming Kingdom of God.

When you stop and think about it, preparing ourselves to be a part of Christ's firstfruits so we may receive our new body and work with Him as He establishes the Kingdom of God on the earth, is much more desirable than waiting during our lifetime so one day we can sit in a mansion in Heaven doing nothing of significance. It may not be desirable to you but it sure is to me.

Anyway, I think a search of the Scriptures will confirm what I have written here.

These are the ones who have not been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves chaste These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb. (Revelation 14:4—NASB)

Self-determination

Obedience to Christ, including the forcing of constructive social relationships upon people whether they like it or not, will be mandatory throughout the Kingdom of God. We might call it placing obedience to the will of Christ ahead of self-determination.

The Western philosophy of self-determination coupled with the stress on the rights of people is contrary to the concept of absolute obedience to Jesus Christ. While self-determination and democratic government seem to be Christian, and are in fact sensitive to the needs of people in many instances, yet they are the opposite of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is the compelling in the earth of the rule of God in Christ.

Thus self-determination, and democracy, meaning an emphasis on the will of people, are seen to be the opposite of the Kingdom of God.

We pray for this absolute rule in the Lord's prayer when we petition, "Your Kingdom come, Your will be done in earth as it is in Heaven." We pray this prayer in one breath, and in the next breath emphasize the value of self-determination rather than God-determination.

In America we are pursuing happiness rather than righteousness; we are emphasizing the rights of people rather than the rights of God; we are dedicated to self-determination rather than God-determination. These values have brought the Western nations into rebellion against God and his moral standards.

Therefore God is raising up the Muslim nations, who rightly perceive our moral condition as the abomination it is. We rapidly are abandoning the wholesome moral code of conduct that used to be largely true of America. We need to understand that we have brought the enmity of the Muslims on ourselves by choosing to follow our own will instead of the will of Christ. They oppose fiercely the values of the Western nations, as well they should.

The Muslims can see the fleshly sins of today's Christian people. The Christian people can see in the Muslim practices what to Christians are abominations, such as the way women are treated. This is because God's Personality is seen in the Lord Jesus, not in either the Muslim or Christian religions.

Those who follow Shariah law obey what is written in the Koran. I am not certain the Koran leads the worshiper to a personal walk with Allah. The new covenant of the Christians also have a holy book, the Bible. The difference is, the Bible leads the Christian to the living Lord Jesus Christ and to obedience to him, rather than to the letter of the Bible.

I know the imposition of the rule of Christ would be intolerable from the standpoint of numerous—perhaps the majority—of American people. The idea of being forced to do the will of Christ would be to many of our citizens, including Christians, the very worst of all possible worlds. Yet, this is what is coming in the future. This is the nature of the Kingdom of God.

I would ask such people, "Look around you. What is your opinion of the world that is being conducted by people who think as you do; who insist on behaving according to their own will? Are you happy with the world of today, the world created by the self-will of man?"

The misery of mankind is due largely to the self-seeking of the political leaders. God's response is the creation of a kingdom governed by people who have the heart of a servant. The problem of corrupt government is not solved by the rule of the people but by officials who fear God and govern justly and mercifully.

If you are content with the current social conditions, I must say I cannot understand your point of view. It is my hope that a world ruled by the Lord Jesus Christ soon comes to the earth; and it is this hope, the hope of the Kingdom of God where God's will exclusively is done in the earth, that inspires me to press forward toward the coming of Christ.

Are we actually so blind because of our worship of self-determination that we cannot perceive the insane chaos of our world, the agony of so many helpless victims who have been abused by evil, greedy people?

What was Satan's original sin? Was it not to set his will against God's will? Have not all forms of sin proceeded from Satan's self-determination?

What is Antichrist? Is the spirit of Antichrist not the exalting of the self-will of man and his "rights"? Does not such self-exaltation lead to horrible moral corruption?

The sign of rebellion against God in the United States today is the decision to remove the Bible and Christianity from public institutions, while compelling people to be involved in these institutions, such as the public schools.

The founding fathers of America appear to have been, for the most part, God-fearing men, although their behavior in some instances left something to be desired. Little did they understand that in the Declaration of Independence from England they were planting seeds that when grown into mature plants would result in our nation rejecting the Bible and the Lord Jesus Christ, thus bringing our citizens into abject moral slavery.

The basic nature of the Kingdom of God is the doing of God's will in every detail of life. In many instances, the ministers of the American churches do not appear to understand that we are called to obey Christ, and that such obedience is vastly more important than belief in "correct" theology.

The plans of the various religious organizations for saving the world leave the impression that God does not know what He is about. We take matters into our own hands, using our own wisdom and strength, using our own techniques to build the Kingdom into the form we assume God desires.

Our goals invite moral chaos. Because we assume large numbers of people are an indication that our techniques have been successful, we often are preaching a traditional evangelical "Gospel of salvation" that is unscriptural and makes virtually no demands on the lives of the believers. "Take your thousand-dollar obligation and agree to pay two hundred dollars." In other words, ignore the terms of discipleship that our Lord presented to us, and serve Christ according to your own standards.

We do not go forth to make disciples but to make converts. The way to acquire a large number of converts is to minimize the demands of Christ. We have fallen into this trap because we are trying to build the Kingdom of God according to our own notions, and with our own idea of what the finished product should look like, without waiting to hear from Christ.

In actuality, we have not been called to make converts but to bear witness of Christ. If He is lifted up He will draw all people to himself.

All of this because we have been taught to "step out in faith" presumptuously, rather than to wait carefully for the directions of Christ that He might build his own Church, using his own methods, to accomplish the vision the Father has given Him of the complete, perfected Church. The Lord Jesus proceeds only as He is moved by the will of the Father and the wisdom and power of God's Spirit.

Does what I am teaching mean we should do nothing but sit around and wait for God to construct his Kingdom, meanwhile occupying ourselves with whatever is of interest to us? Of course not! It means rather that we are to pour our strength, energy, and time continually into endeavoring to understand and to perform the immediate directions coming from the Lord Jesus.

The Lord always is speaking and revealing his will to us if we will but listen. We should be living and guided by every Word coming from his mouth.

Moses is our example as he faithfully carried out God's detailed directions concerning the Tabernacle of the Congregation rather than inserting his own creative ideas of how the Tabernacle should be constructed and operated. Moses was very careful to direct the dress and actions of the priests who ministered in the Tabernacle, precisely as Christ had commanded him.

Perhaps people of the Muslim faith would find it easier to accept the will of Christ than would a Westerner, who has been taught that he is supposed to follow his own will. However, the acceptance of whatever happens, the idea of fatalism that sometimes is associated with the Muslim faith, may not include the opportunity for change that can occur when someone approaches God in faith.

The sincere follower of the Lord Jesus finds that a spirit of fatalism is to be rejected. For the individual who is willing to obey God, all things are possible.

God in the beginning could have created man such that disobedience to God would be impossible. But this was not the kind of creature He desired. Apparently the same thing may be said of the creation of angels. They also have the ability to disobey God.

If the Lord Jesus Christ is to have brothers, and if God is to have a family of sons who offer loving service to him, it is necessary that mankind be created such that people will have the ability to love God and to do his will of their own choice, or the ability to rebel against his will.

It seems there have been a few saints who have chosen to serve God under very difficult circumstances. It may be true that such people have made worthwhile to God the problems arising from the existence of those of mankind who have not been as determined to obey God.

Perhaps the believers who have striven for iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to God have made the rest of the creation acceptable. Such people are a kind of firstfruits, aren't they? God found a treasure and purchased the whole field.

Yet, God loves the whole field of people with a love far, far past our ability to comprehend.

Also, we must take into consideration that, according to the Scripture, a fierce determination to serve God is a gift from God. This, of course, is what Paul is referring to when he speaks of the Potter and the clay. Salvation always is of the Lord lest anyone should boast.

So the creation of people, their behavior and their individual destinies, remains a deep mystery hidden in the heart and mind of God.

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. (Romans 12:1—NASB)

The New Covenant

Perhaps it is true that there is not much said today about the new covenant. Most of the preaching is about how to "get saved." We say we are under a different dispensation when the Bible says we are under a new covenant. These two concepts are not at all the same in the way they work out in practice. I believe the new covenant is summed up in the words of Peter when he told us to take heed to the Scriptures until the day dawns and Christ, the Morning Star, arises in our heart.

This teaches us that if we are to bring forth Christ, we, in a sincere adamic personality, must read the Scriptures and pray for help in being obedient to the Word until Christ is formed in us. Such is the true approach to salvation, to the new creation.

Here are the traditional "four steps of salvation":

All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.

We cannot save ourselves.

Christ died to forgive our sins.

When we die we shall go to Heaven to live forever in a mansion.

There is no moral transformation, no new creation, in the traditional four steps of salvation. Therefore this is an unscriptural way of salvation.

Here are four steps of salvation that would agree with the new covenant described in the Book of Hebrews:

We repent and turn away from our sins.

We are baptized in water into the death and resurrection of Christ.

We live as a disciple, pray, read our Bible, deny ourselves while patiently carrying our cross after Christ, and obey God in everything while Christ is being formed in us.

We have eternal fellowship with God and Christ.

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. (II Corinthians 3:18—NASB)

My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you—(Galatians 4:19—NASB)

So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. (II Peter 1:19—NASB)

I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. (John 15:5—NASB)

The Apostle Paul travailed in birth until Christ was formed in the believers in Galatia. By doing so, Paul was travailing that the new covenant would be formed in the believers. Christ Himself is the New Covenant!

You know, the Book of Hebrews states clearly what the new covenant is. I don't believe I ever have heard anyone teach from the Book of Hebrews exactly what the new covenant is. However, it no doubt is true that numerous Bible scholars have taught the new covenant clearly and scripturally.

What I have heard consistently from the time I became a Christian is the famous "four steps of salvation," including the ideas that all people have sinned; we cannot save ourselves; Christ died to forgive our sins through his atoning blood; if we believe and profess this we will go to Heaven and not to Hell when we die.

I think this approach to salvation must proceed from dispensational theology. It certainly is not laid out as clearly in the New Testament as the new covenant is.

A study of the Book of Acts will reveal that the emphasis was on repentance, that is, on turning away from sin. Then the believers were to be baptized in water and continue to serve the Lord while the new covenant was taking effect.

The American Christians are so weak morally, because of the unscriptural application of Divine grace, that they cannot prevail against the spiritual forces that are driving abortion and homosexual behavior in our country? They are attempting to battle against Satan with political activism instead of with righteous behavior, holiness of personality, and stern obedience to God.

When the righteous are not righteous enough they will be overcome by the wicked.

How do you feel about this? Is this what you have been taught—that God's grace is a substitute for moral change?

Compare the "four steps of salvation" with how the Scriptures describe the new covenant:

This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. (Hebrews 8:10—NIV)

The passage above from Hebrews is a quotation from the Book of Jeremiah. The thought is that God was not satisfied with the results of the Law of Moses. There was nothing wrong with the Law itself; but the sinful nature of man prevented satisfactory obedience to the various commandments and statutes.

Right here is the point I am pressing. God has given us a new covenant because the people did not keep his laws. Do you think God's solution to our sinning is that God no longer will regard our behavior as sinful, having come to the conclusion that we are hopelessly bound in disobedience? Or would it not be reasonable to conclude that the new covenant is a better covenant because it enables us to obey God's laws?

What do you think would be a "better" covenant from God's point of view?

The current teaching is that because we could not keep God's laws under the covenant of Moses, God, through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, now counts us righteous whether or not we are obeying his laws. Am I correct or incorrect in my understanding of the present teaching?

Perhaps some would be troubled by the fact that God made the new covenant with the "house of Israel," not with us Gentiles. You may have heard the expression "the Gentile Church." There is no such institution. There only is the one Olive Tree, the one house of Israel, the one Seed of Abraham, the one new Man.

When we receive the Lord Jesus Christ and become part of him, we are true Israel. All of God's Kingdom promises are to the true Israel, although God has promised to visit physical Israel with salvation, at the end of the Church Age.

According to current teaching, the writer of Hebrews should have said, "God has mercy on the people of Israel because they are bound in sin. Therefore He took the penalty of sin upon himself, dying on the cross that they might be forgiven. Now they are reconciled to God forever through the authority of the atonement made on the cross of Calvary."

How do you feel about this? Does what I have just written correspond with what is being taught in America as being the plan of salvation, the new covenant?

But is this what the Word of God states?

Now, let us compare what the Bible says with what is being taught today and see if we can determine whether God has concluded that we are helpless sinners and must please him only by being forgiven regardless of our conduct, or whether the new covenant does something to correct our behavior.

There really is a vast, practical gulf between these two conclusions regarding the new covenant.

Think about the following carefully, and compare it with the popular conception of the Christian salvation:

"I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts."

Contrast this with:

"We are reconciled to God (made righteous) forever through the authority of the atonement." Can you see any significant difference, any practical difference between the two understandings?

What is the significant, practical difference? The scriptural version of the new covenant is that of writing God's laws in our mind and on our heart. The current version is that of forgiveness alone. The current version does not contemplate a change in what we are or how we behave, except in an incidental manner: "We ought to try to do good in appreciation for what Christ has done for us on the cross."

But there is no power in that stance. There only is the good will of the believer. Such good will cannot possibly survive in the demon-infested culture of the United States of America. Our endeavoring to please Christ out of appreciation for what He has done for us is not mentioned by the Spirit when setting forth the new covenant. This approach to our redemption from the hand of Satan does not possess enough strength to resist the present wave of pornography, for example.

Let me clarify what is meant by the laws of God. The laws of God that are to be written in our mind and on our heart are not the same as the Law of Moses. They are the eternal moral laws of God. The eternal moral laws of God are what God Is. They compose his moral image. They have existed from eternity and shall exist into the future, ages without end. God never changes what He Is.

The Ten Commandments and the remainder of the Law of Moses never were intended to be the permanent covenant of God with man. They are a reflection of the eternal Divine Character. Their purpose was to keep sin under control until the Seed of Abraham, the Lord Jesus Christ, came making it possible for the eternal moral law of God to be created in the personalities of God's sons.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the Word of God, the eternal moral law of God, made flesh. We, through Christ, are the flesh being made the Word of God, the eternal moral law of God, the moral image of our Father, God.

We conclude that if God's intention is to make man in his moral image, conforming him to the Firstborn Son, then forgiveness alone is not going to accomplish God's purpose.

But precisely how does God go about putting his eternal moral laws in our mind and writing them on our heart? First we notice that it is God who does it. It is not merely a program of memorizing the Scriptures and then attempting to obey them.

I think there is a passage in the Book of Second Corinthians that provides some insight into the process of writing God's eternal moral laws in our mind and on our heart:

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. (II Corinthians 3:18—NASB)

When the statement is made about the "unveiled face" it means the Glory of the Lord no longer is hidden from us, as the covering over Moses' face concealed the Divine Glory from the people of Israel.

But precisely what is the mirror into which we are to look in order to see the Glory of the Lord.

That mirror is, first of all, the Scriptures. It is the Scriptures that reveal the Glory of the Lord. It is the Scriptures that show us whether our face is clean or dirty.

The Scriptures work together with the things that happen to us, the problems and challenges we encounter.

We do not see all the dirt on our face all at once, but little by little, line upon line, commandment upon commandment.

This is how it works. Paul, in the first chapter of the Book of Romans, tells us that those who gossip are worthy of death. It may happen that someone points out to us that we are gossiping. We may become angry and justify ourselves, saying, "I am no worse than anyone else in the church!"

Then the next morning, during our devotions, we happen on Paul's statement in Romans. The Holy Spirit causes the word "gossips" to stand out. We are convicted of sin.

So we go to prayer. We tell the Lord Jesus that we are sinning. We are gossiping. We are slandering others. We are judgmental. We confess this attitude as sin. We ask for forgiveness, resolving that with the Lord's help we never again will gossip.

Because of our confession and resolve we are given to eat of Jesus Christ, the Tree of Life. In this manner the power of the new covenant is increased in us.

By the way, our actions here result in the driving out of the spirits of gossip. This is the doctrine of "eternal judgment" mentioned in the sixth chapter of the Book of Hebrews. It is an eternal judgment of evil spirits.

What happens when we do this? The result of our prayer indeed is profound and has eternal consequences. First, God is faithful and righteous to forgive us for gossiping, our hateful, judgmental attitude.

We do not realize it, but by confessing our sin and resolving to turn away from it, we have partaken of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. We are more able now to recognize that which is good and that which is evil. This is how Adam and Eve became aware of their nakedness, isn't it?

In addition we are given to eat of the Tree of Life, which is the body and blood of the Lord Jesus. It is eternal resurrection life, the Life of Christ. We now have strength that we did not have before to embrace that which is good and renounce that which is evil.

We are more in the image of God than we were before we confessed and turned away from the sin of gossiping.

Whenever the Israelites obeyed God strictly, slaying all the inhabitants of the designated cities, as they did under Joshua, they prospered mightily, But when they became careless and did not pursue the enemy ruthlessly, they were defeated and forced to permit their enemies to live among them.

So it is if we are not ruthless in dealing with the sins of our flesh and spirit, parts of our sinful nature will cling to us and may even profess to help us.

God now has written his eternal moral law in our mind so we understand that gossiping is evil and not of the image of God. It belongs in the Lake of Fire with all other aspects of murder and hatred.

God has written his eternal moral law on our heart so that we desire to cease gossiping and from now on seek to speak that which builds up our fellow members of the Body of Christ.

While we are undergoing this transformation into the image of the Glory of the Lord, God forgets our sins of the past and overlooks those aspects of our behavior that He has not dealt with as yet.

What I have just described is the operation of the new covenant. It is a better covenant, not because God only forgives us but because God redeems us from all the works of darkness, from the person and image of Satan, from all that is not of the image of the Lord God of Heaven.

If we will be faithful to confess and turn away from our sins as the Spirit of God points them out to us, God will give us an inheritance among those who have been made holy, as they obediently have cooperated with his Spirit throughout the process of creating the believers in his image.

The Book of First John states that God has forgiven the sins of the whole world. Forgiveness is on the table. We have to eat of it by faith. Christ never will be crucified again.

There is no provision, under the old or new covenants, for willful sin, only for sins of ignorance; or when someone suddenly and fiercely is tempted, falls, and then is in an agony of repentance. But the Christian who willfully and knowingly keeps on sinning would be crucifying Christ again and again, and God will not stand for this. That individual is near to cursing and burning.

The new covenant presumes that the sins of every believer have been forgiven once and for all—the sins of the past, present, and future. The new covenant presumes also that the believer is a consecrated Christian who is not following his sinful nature but is praying and seeking the Lord every day.

Thus we see that the new covenant is a covenant between two or more people. It is not a testament, in which a person bequeaths money or property to chosen people and the recipient has no obligation but to receive the inheritance.

The blood atonement, on the other hand, is a testament, requiring the death of the Testator. It is not a covenant. We are obligated only to receive by faith the forgiveness paid for by the death of Jesus. Thus forgiveness comes as an inheritance, we might say. The new covenant includes the testament of forgiveness, but its primary purpose is to change the character of the person entering into the contract with the Lord God of Heaven.

The new covenant is a covenant, not a testament. It is a contract. If one of the parties defaults on the contract, the other party is not obligated to fulfill his part of the contract.

In every contract there are considerations—benefits that accrue to each signer of the contract. So we need to think what benefits accrue to God, and what benefits accrue to us if we keep our end of the contract. God always will keep his end of the contract if we are faithful to do what we have agreed to do.

The benefits that accrue to God, if we are faithful to follow Christ each day, begin with God receiving a loving, obedient son or daughter. The son and daughter then can become living stones in the eternal tabernacle of God, the tabernacle through which God can govern and bless the nations of the earth.

Additional benefits include brothers of the Lord Jesus Christ; a Wife for the Lamb; judges of men and angels; soldiers in an army that shall install with force the Kingdom of God on the earth; and the means of fulfilling all of the other roles and tasks that must be performed in God's Kingdom.

The benefits that accrue to us are first, we are counted righteous in God's sight. We are approved of God. This was the Apostle Paul's main goal.

And then the following: We now can have fellowship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We will live eternally in the fullness of the Presence of God. We will have immortality in our body. We will inherit people whom we can love and serve as members of the Royal Priesthood. All these considerations and many more will accrue to the individual who keeps his or her part of the new covenant.

The doctrine that teaches the benefit that accrues to the faithful disciple is eternal residence in the spirit world, and that he arrives there by grace apart from any moral transformation, has destroyed the witness of the Christian churches in America. Therefore Divine judgment is in store for us. The Christian people cannot serve as lights of the world when they have not been transformed morally.

Our nation may be past the point of restoration, as in the days of King Josiah. But the Book of the Law has been found, so to speak. If we will repent, as did King Josiah, God will bless us and our loved ones with righteousness, security, love, peace, and joy throughout the coming Gentile holocaust, even though, because of abortion and other abominations, our nation loses its position of leadership in the world.

Christ is the eternal Covenant of God with man. If we are obeying Christ, we are becoming through Christ the eternal Covenant of God with man, the flesh being made the Word of God. This is the new covenant.

This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. (Hebrews 8:10—NIV)

The Rest of God

Sometimes people are tempted to create their own Heaven and earth. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth the way He wants them. The design was completed, all the way through to the coming down of the new earth from the new sky. The life of each one of his elect was written on the pages of a book. Then God rested. All He asks of us is to enter his rest.

It is not true that every individual lives according to what is written in the book of his or her life. Some are disobedient, preferring their own way to God's way. In this case, God makes an adjustment so his eternal plan will be fulfilled. But when this happens, and it may happen more often than we could wish, there is an eternal loss for God, for the individual, and for mankind.

The thesis of the Book of Hebrews is the "rest of God." The fourth chapter of Hebrews exhorts us to "make every effort to enter that rest," to cease from our own works. We can perceive that by the phrase "make every effort" we are not speaking of relaxing into a state of passivity but of fighting forward against every obstacle that would attempt to keep us from doing God's perfect will for our life.

As far as God's elect are concerned, those chosen to be conformed to the image of Christ that they may become his brothers, their destiny and role in the Kingdom of God was planned from the beginning of the world. Then God rested. Now the Spirit of God shall bring all this to pass.

Each member of the elect, of the Royal Priesthood, is to endeavor to cooperate with the Spirit of God until he is living every moment in that perfect will of God, the will that is leading him to his foreordained destiny.

The work of conforming us to the image of Christ and bringing us into the role in the Kingdom we are to perform for eternity is already established in God's mind. But God has given us a will of our own whereby we can choose to live our own life apart from the Spirit of God, following our own desires and ambitions and the numerous ideas and suggestions that seek to entice us away from abiding in Christ.

Or we can employ our time and strength in striving to find and press into the Spirit of God each moment of each day and night.

It is of the utmost importance that we strive always to do God's will, to seek in this manner to enter God's rest. All things in the creation are working for good for God's elect. When the firstfruits of the elect have been brought to maturity they will be revealed with Christ to the created world. It will be their task, as Christ guides and empowers them, to set the creation free from the bondage of corruption.

During six days, God created all things through to the coming down from the new sky of the magnificent new earth. The destiny and role in the Kingdom of God of each member of the elect was finished during the six days. Then God rested, having completed his work.

The eternal decree was pronounced in the beginning:

Man is to be a son of God.

Man is to be in the image and likeness of God.

Man is to be male and female. It requires male and female to complete the image of God.

Man is to be fruitful and multiply.

Man is to have dominion over all the works of God's hands.

Each part of the eternal decree has an animal fulfillment. Each part of the eternal decree shall have an enormously superior fulfillment in Jesus Christ.

Our task in life is to enter that rest, that finished work of God, that we might attain fully to the destiny and role in God's Kingdom that at the time of the creation has been spoken concerning us as an individual.

In fact, if we are to be able to stand throughout the age of moral horrors that is approaching the United States of America, and to help others to stand, we will have to be dead-living saints. In the dark hour that is ahead, only Christ can work; and He will work through us.

We must be able to testify as the Apostle Paul did, "I am crucified with Christ. I am living, but actually it is Christ who is living in me." This must be our testimony if we are to be among the Lord's firstfruits who will appear with Him and install the Kingdom of God upon the earth.

Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. (Hebrews 4:1—NASB)

Entering God's Rest

God worked for six days. Then He rested. During those six days He created not only the physical creation but also the Kingdom of God, all the way through to the coming down of the new Jerusalem to rest upon the new earth—and beyond. At that time the names of his elect were written in his book. Since this is true, our task in life is to press into that to which we have been predestined. As Paul said, we are to grasp that for which we have been grasped.

My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (Psalms 139:15,16—NIV)

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 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. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. (Romans 8:28-30—NIV)

It seems to me that the passage above implies that mankind is divided into those who have a special calling, an election assigned to them, and those who do not.

There have been many arguments in time past about the possibility of an elect who are predestined to be saved. These arguments are vain, for the following reasons:

First, the elect are not called to be saved but to be brothers of Christ, being conformed to his image.

Second, the Scriptures teach with utmost clarity that there is the Church, the new Jerusalem, the elect, and then nations of saved people who walk in the light of the new Jerusalem.

Third, being predestined and called does not mean we are going to attain to our high calling no matter how we live. It is entirely possible for us to lose our crown of life and righteousness. The Scriptures teach this fact also with utmost clarity.

Since any believer can validate the above three facts by searching the Scriptures, I would like to pass on to the present burden: entering the rest of God.

Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. (Hebrews 4:1—NASB)

Entering the rest of God is the thesis of the Book of Hebrews, although not all of the topics in Hebrews appear to be directly related to this primary thesis. It is evident, however, that Hebrews has largely to do with pressing on past the initial works of redemption.

As far as the elect are concerned, the goal of their life is to enter the rest of God. This means we must believe that God has called us to be a member of the Royal Priesthood. Therefore we are not to scheme how we may arrive at some other goal of our own choosing. Our task in life is to seek Christ constantly, to lay aside all else, as did the Apostle Paul, and grasp that for which we have been grasped.

To enter our assigned role in the Kingdom of God necessitates our patiently enduring numerous tribulations. Our most intense desires remain unfulfilled while we wait as cheerfully as we can in God's prison. As the Prophet mentioned, "We are shut up and cannot come forth."

Every one of those who are called to be the brothers of Christ must experience the sufferings of Christ, the sufferings of the cross. Our personal cross is not a delight. It is painful at times. If we fasten on it, it will grind us to powder. We must continue to think of our blessings, what we do have and can do, and not what we do not have and cannot do.

There are those who have been called to the Royal Priesthood, the governing body of the Kingdom of God, who come quite a ways toward their goal. Then the stress becomes too much for them and they fall back into the ways of the flesh. How disappointing this is to the Lord who had such high hopes for them.

We can come out from the bondage of the world spirit and put to death the sins of our flesh as the Spirit points them out to us. But it is that third area at which some believers draw the line. They are not willing to give up their personal desires and obey Christ as He leads them toward the goal God has set before them.

What often happens is that the believer is placed in a situation in which people do not meet his or her standards. The believer becomes so enraged at the seeming injustice he is suffering that he no longer can hear the quiet voice of the Spirit.

When we find ourselves becoming angry with people, that often is a sign God is using them to perfect us. Why should we be angry with the tools God uses? That does not make sense. Let us rather look to Jesus to see what He wants us to do. Anger prevents us from hearing clearly the gentle voice of the Spirit.

We must accept the fact that we are not going to be treated fairly in this present world. The Lord Jesus was not treated fairly. Pilate handed Christ over to be crucified when Pilate could find no reason for doing this. Christ was entirely innocent and Pilate knew it.

This sort of injustice may cause us to fret until we, like Christ, give ourselves over to the will of God. Only then will we be able to hear that still, small voice of the Spirit and know what the next step on our journey is to be.

We always are to pray, and keep on praying, that God will give us the desires of our heart. And He will in his time. But we must not give in to our fleshly impulses and take matters into our own hands, as Satan counseled Eve to do. The minute we do this we no longer can hear what Christ is saying to us through the Spirit.

I do not doubt there have been many ministers of the Gospel who have explained clearly the rest of God and how we are to press into it. However, I have not heard this subject preached. This suggests to me that it is in our day that the Lord Jesus is explaining to his disciples this all-important subject.

Well then, what exactly is our goal, our rest and God's rest in us.

Perhaps the strongest of the Old Testament types, concerning the goal of the Christian discipleship, is Canaan, the land of promise. The Israelites were saved out of Egypt in order to have their own home in Canaan, the land of milk and honey.

But what does Canaan stand for? I would say it stands for the rest of God, that is, the condition in which our life is focused on doing Christ's will at every moment. It stands for pressing past our natural life and entering the resurrection Life of our Lord. It is God's intention that we find perfect righteousness, love, joy, and peace in the very center of his Person and will.

So many Israelites died in the wilderness and never attained to their goal! The writer of Hebrews warns us about this and urges us not to stop moving forward until we have entered God's rest.

Beyond all doubt, one of the greatest hindrances to a clear understanding of the Kingdom of God is the traditional belief that the spirit Heaven is the land of promise, the fulfillment of the symbolism of Canaan. It assuredly is not! While there certainly is a spirit Heaven, where Christ, his saints, and the holy angels may be found, residence in Heaven is not the rest of God, the goal of the Christian redemption.

First of all, there is no passage of Scripture that points toward residence in the spirit world as the goal of redemption. Second, we would have to wait until we die in order to enter God's rest.

When we die, we are not faced with walls of Jericho, so to speak. The land is not divided up among us. We do not have to drive out the enemy. The entrance of Israel into Canaan is nowhere near being a type of the rest spoken of in the fourth chapter of the Book of Hebrews.

To go to Heaven is a change of place. To enter God's rest is a change of personality, a change of what we are, how we conduct ourselves. Contrary to popular belief, dying and going to Heaven does not change what we are. The only way we can be changed is by interacting with Jesus on a daily basis.

I don't believe the term "Heaven" is found in the writings of Paul. Paul expressed his goal. Paul's goal is to attain to the resurrection that is out from among the dead, the first resurrection. This is the resurrection of the members of the Royal Priesthood. They will be raised when the Lord next appears.

This first resurrection must be attained to, as Paul pointed out so clearly in the third chapter of the Book of Philippians. To maintain that Paul was laying aside all else so he would be qualified to go to Heaven when he died is so unrealistic as to be not worthy of discussion.

Truly, the venerable tradition that our goal is to go to Heaven prevents any logical thinking concerning the salvation we are to work out with fear and trembling.

There is a multitude of Christian people who look to the Lord Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins. There is a smaller number who have learned to walk in the Spirit of God to a lesser or greater extent.

Now Jesus is looking to see how many will press forward until they find rest in God's Person and will. Doing so requires that we abandon our own plans for our life in favor of resting in that plan written in God's book during the original creation. The plan is to make man in God's image. The number of those who have enough faith to trust God to this extent may be quite small.

But to him who overcomes the desire to preserve his own life in order that he may enter God's Person will be given all things of the new creation. God will be his God and he will be God's son.

Let each of us then pray that for eternity we will be found abiding in the very center of God's Person and will. There we always shall have righteousness, love, joy, and peace.

Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. (Hebrews 4:1—NASB)

Canaan, and the Rest of God

Traditionally, Heaven has been viewed as that which is symbolized by Canaan, the land of milk and honey. Thus, going to Heaven when we die is considered to be the goal of our salvation. This concept well may be the most destructive of all the man-made interpretations of the Scriptures.

The major doctrinal errors of today, such as the ideas that "grace" is an alternative to righteous behavior, "eternal security," and the unscriptural "pre-tribulation rapture," are all based on the idea that the goal of our salvation is to go to Heaven when we die and live there forever in a mansion.

I have walked with the Lord Jesus for more than sixty-five years. During the last four or five years, I have become more aware of the spirit world. The spirit world is much like our own world, which is not surprising since our world was made from the spirit world. In fact, if the curse were lifted, and the Spirit of God filled the earth, and God removed Satan and all his works (and that actually is going to happen), I think we would be pleased to stay right here after we died.

Something to think about, isn't it?

But let us consider for a moment the true goal of salvation, the inheritance of the righteous. It has nothing to do with moving from earth to Heaven. Our primary inheritance is to be changed into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ, both internally, and then, at his coming, in outward form.

Equally important is that we be at rest in the center of God's Person and will. When these two objectives have been fulfilled, then the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit will make us Their eternal dwelling place.

Canaan, the land of promise, is akin in meaning to the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Tabernacles. Canaan speaks of the coming of the Father and the Son to make us Their home. Once we have been saved and filled with God's Spirit, we then are to press forward into the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles.

Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him." (John 14:23—NASB)

Included in our inheritance are those whom God has given us to care for, and then the farthest reaches of the earth.

You easily can verify these aspects of our goal, our inheritance, by examining the Scriptures.

Is there a Heaven where God, Christ, the saints, and holy angels are? Of course. But it is not our home, except during the period before Christ sets up his Kingdom on the earth. Eventually the spirit and physical worlds shall become one new world of righteous behavior.

I stress "behavior" because for so long we have been accustomed to believe that the only righteousness we ever can know is that which is ascribed to us by "grace." We always will be miserable sinners, it is supposed. The truth is, Christ desires to make us a new creation of righteous behavior.

The Kingdom of God does not consist of miserable sinners who are righteous only by ascribed righteousness but victorious saints who are in the image of the Lord.

Now let us think for a moment about the practical outworking of what I am teaching. The practical aspect is that we do not enter our land of promise by dying and entering the spirit world. We enter our land of promise now, today, by following the Lord Jesus as He guides us through his Spirit.

The Book of Hebrews refers to our Canaan, our land of promise, as God's "rest."

God's rest is our state of being when we are abiding in the center of God's Person and will. Obviously, there is a great difference between waiting to die so we can go to Heaven, and pressing each day into God and his will.

Can you see why I said at the beginning that the concept of our goal being to go to Heaven when we die is not only unscriptural, it is a major hindrance to most believers? It puts them in a waiting mode rather than pressing forward, as did the Apostle Paul, into that which God has appointed for them.

All I wish to say in this briefest of essays may be found in the third and fourth chapters of the Book of Hebrews.

The Jewish believers being addressed in the Book of Hebrews were seasoned Christians, having been saved through faith in the blood atonement, filled with the Spirit of God, and had survived persecution and also tasted the powers of the coming age. They were more spiritually advanced in the things of Christ than is true of most of today's Christians, it appears.

We would expect the writer of Hebrews to congratulate them on their religious accomplishments, comfort them with the assurance of salvation, and point them toward their mansions in Heaven as their reward when they died.

Instead the Book of Hebrews is largely a rebuke, an exhortation to them to enter further into God, that is, into God's Person and will for them.

Notice in the third chapter of Hebrews how the writer compares our salvation with the journey of Israel from Egypt to Canaan. I would suppose most of us recognize that Israel coming out of Egypt is a type of our being saved by repenting of our life in the world, and being baptized to show we now are dead to the world and alive in the resurrection of Christ.

Perhaps a smaller number of us view the time spent in the wilderness of wandering as symbolic of the rigors of our discipleship. I think some reject this symbolism because it does not fit their understanding of Divine grace. However, it is clear that the writer of Hebrews accepts the wilderness wandering as a portrayal of the many dangers and sufferings of our pilgrimage.

But then the writer warns his audience that they were in danger of not inheriting the land of promise, just as the Israelites, except for two people, did not enter the land of milk and honey. It is obvious the writer believes that it is possible for a Christian to "die in the wilderness" and not attain to the goal set before him.

And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief. (Hebrews 3:18,19—NIV)

The "believers" often do not seek to lay hold on that for which God has grasped them!

Then the writer exhorts us to "make every effort to enter that rest," that is, into the state of being where we are resting in God's Person and will.

In some instances, the Israelites did not "make every effort" to enter their inheritance. God told them to show no mercy but to destroy utterly the enemy that was living in their land of promise.

You shall consume all the peoples whom the LORD your God will deliver to you; your eye shall not pity them, nor shall you serve their gods, for that would be a snare to you. (Deuteronomy 7:16—NASB)

When we seek to enter into the state of being where we are resting in God's Person and will, we are resisted by the forces of Satan, whether dwelling in our flesh or in the atmosphere around us. It is up to us to show these spirits no mercy but to ruthlessly drive them out by the authority and power of Christ.

Moreover, the LORD your God will send the hornet against them, until those who are left and hide themselves from you perish. (Deuteronomy 7:20—NASB)

The unclean spirits may go into hiding, or attempt to persuade you that they are harmless, or "everyone is doing it," or "God wants you to be happy," or they are not dwelling in you any longer. This is why in order to enter the rest of God you have to meditate in the Scriptures, pray continually, and gather together on a regular basis with fervent believers.

If some of these efforts are not possible, you might ask God to make them possible. You have to be diligent if you are to be successful in driving the enemy from your "land."

In many instances the Israelites settled down and did not make the supreme effort to obey God by utterly destroying the enemy. They are suffering to the present hour for this lack of diligence.

But the sons of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites who lived in Jerusalem; so the Jebusites have lived with the sons of Benjamin in Jerusalem to this day. (Judges 1:21—NASB)

But Manasseh did not take possession of Beth-shean and its villages, or Taanach and its villages, or the inhabitants of Dor and its villages, or the inhabitants of Ibleam and its villages, or the inhabitants of Megiddo and its villages; so the Canaanites persisted in living in that land. (Judges 1:27—NASB)

It came about when Israel became strong, that they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but they did not drive them out completely. (Judges 1:28—NASB)

"And you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down their altars.' Yet you have disobeyed me. Why have you done this? And I have also said, 'I will not drive them out before you; they will become traps for you, and their gods will become snares to you.'" (Judges 2:2,3—NIV)

God in His Word has given his Church numerous promises, including total victory over the enemy—more than conquerors. But we have chosen instead to flee to Heaven. We also have created a doctrine of "grace" that permits the enemy to live with us in peace.

As God has declared, these spirits and gods we have accepted have become snares to us. The result is, our country, America, is overrun with sexual lust. It is in danger of being weakened until it no longer is a leading nation of the world.

So the issue is, what does Canaan represent? If we think of Canaan as representing going to Heaven when we die, then the idea of making every effort to enter God's rest does not make sense. Either we, as Paul, are pressing with all diligence that we may grasp that for which we have been grasped, or we are waiting to die until we go to Heaven.

It easily can be seen that we are facing a major problem in Christian thinking. Either we are to be "saved," filled with the Spirit, and then wait to die to enter our land of promise; or we are to be entering it today as we follow the Spirit of God in all of our thinking, speaking, and doing.

How often the Christian salvation is viewed as being a waiting to go to Heaven where (we think) our problems will be solved! Our dangers and afflictions are thought of as being random attacks of Satan.

Thus when we die we are unprepared for what we will face in the spirit world.

Would we be more able to march in victory, ready to walk with Jesus when we die, if we perceived our daily battles as part of the process in which we move toward our goal, the rest of God?

There are different ways of coping with our tribulations. We can become angry with God, or feel sorry for ourselves, or blame people. God is not pleased with these responses. The correct manner in which to respond to problems is to keep seeking Jesus for understanding and deliverance. In this manner we grow in God's Person and will, entering our land of promise.

One primary characteristic of Canaan is that it was filled with enemies who had lived there for hundreds of years. God told Abraham he could not possess the land until the sin of the Amorites had matured. So it is today, isn't it, that sin is coming to maturity? Consequently God is ready to give us the land; but we have to take it by fighting the enemy that dwells in us and with us.

There are three major enemies that prevent our dwelling contentedly in the Person of Christ and his will for us. The first enemy is our looking to the world for our survival and security. The second enemy is the sinful forces that dwell in our flesh. The third enemy is our self-will, our determination to live our life the way we want instead of looking to Jesus for every decision we make.

If we are to enter God's rest, our Canaan, we have to be ruthless. There is to be no compromise with the spiritual darkness that has lived in and around us throughout our lifetime.

First, we must refuse to be involved in the world spirit any more than is necessary. This world is not our home. The earth is our home, but the spirit of the world is Antichrist, and we can never find peace in it except as we follow Jesus carefully.

Second, as the Spirit of God points out to us the sins we are committing, we are to confess them specifically; denounce them as evil; renounce them with all our might, and turn to Christ for forgiveness and cleansing.

Third, we must remain in the prison in which Christ permits Satan to place us. We cannot have what we intensely desire. We are forced to remain in situations that are unpleasant. This crucifixion may persist for many years. Thus we have to place our treasures in Heaven.

It is in God's prisons that the self-will is burned out of us. We have to suffer just as the Apostle Paul had to suffer; just as Christ Himself had to suffer. We have to be made weak until we are living by the wisdom and strength of Christ rather than by our own wisdom and strength.

Until these three areas of spiritual darkness are overcome, we cannot possibly find eternal rest in God's Person and will.

So today we have been brought to the Jordan. The Jordan River symbolizes death to our self-determination. We have left Egypt, the world. We have received the Law of the Spirit, symbolized by Mount Sinai. And now we are at the Jordan. We must be circumcised in our heart. The daily manna is about to cease and we will be given to eat of the grain grown in the land of Canaan, that is, of Christ who is being formed in us.

Who among us is willing to take up his or her cross and follow the Master into Canaan, into the rest of God? It will cost us everything. But not to do so will result in eternal loss that may be irreparable. We may never again have the chance to follow our heavenly Joshua into the fullness of our assigned inheritance.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9—NASB)

Circumcised Again

The Christian Church was birthed on the original Day of Pentecost, when the worshipers spoke in tongues for the first time. Since then the Church has been going through a wilderness of tribulations and frustrations. Nevertheless, much Kingdom work has been accomplished.

Now we are in the Plains of Moab, to speak figuratively, preparing to cross Jordan and enter the land God has promised to us. We have not been here before. The daily manna is about to cease and we will be "eating" of the Presence of God being formed and dwelling within us. It is a new day. I guess we never thought we would get here.

Since circumcision had not been practiced during the wilderness wandering, the new generation had to be circumcised. This is as true today as it was then.

Their children whom He raised up in their place, Joshua circumcised; for they were uncircumcised, because they had not circumcised them along the way. (Joshua 5:7—NASB)

The new covenant fulfillment of the old covenant practice of circumcision is the putting off of the deeds of our sinful nature.

When I first became a Christian I was taught that God has applied "grace" to us such that our sins, past, present, and future are automatically forgiven. We ought to try to do good as well as we can, but God is bringing us to Heaven in any case. The idea is that we can't overcome sin, so God has forgiven us through Christ if we will but believe it.

The concept of grace being an alternative to growth in godly behavior is believed more widely than one would suppose, in that the Scripture does not teach this. Intelligent men and women who subscribe to the inerrancy of the Scriptures believe and teach that God does not see our sinful behavior as long as we profess faith in Christ.

Some years after I had been following Christ I decided to examine the New Testament to see if it actually is true that the Apostles taught we are saved "by grace" even though we lapse into known sin occasionally. How important is it that we overcome sin? Are there penalties if we do not pray for strength to gain victory over sin?

Let me put it succinctly: When we are tempted to sin, are we to claim that grace is excusing us; or are we to pray to the Lord until we are able to overcome the temptation?

Obviously, this is the most important question one could ask concerning the operation of the new covenant.

So I searched the Epistles of Paul. I found that the current teaching of "grace" is not found in Paul's writings. Furthermore, in several places Paul told us if we yield to our sinful nature we will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Any intelligent person can read the writings of Paul and verify my findings.

I have concluded that the fundamental Christian churches, for the most part, are teaching error. Because of this error sin abounds in our land, the standard of righteous, holy behavior is not being raised in so many instances. The result is that our government is filled with lying and treachery; children are being aborted daily; and foreign gods are coming to our shores demanding recognition.

Our incorrect doctrine added to our subscription to freedom of speech and religion is leading us into behavior that common sense is advising us is wrong and destructive.

Here is one example of Paul's attitude toward how we should deal with sin:

For if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:13—NASB)

The verse above (and there are many others!) does away completely with the current teaching of "grace."

This is clear to me. Since I am not an intellectual giant, how is it that other Bible teachers and preachers cannot see that we must put to death the deeds of our sinful nature if we are to live? To "live," in context, is to attain to the making alive of our mortal body in the Day of Resurrection.

What could be plainer? If we yield to our sinful nature we will die spiritually. In the Day of Resurrection we will not be raised to eternal life. Remember, the eighth chapter of Romans obviously is addressed to Christians.

If we are to pass over Jordan and enter our land of promise, which is to be filled with all the fullness of God, we have to be circumcised. This means we have to put to death the sinful actions of our body.

Let's take a look at some of the deeds of the sinful nature that Paul said were sufficient to prevent our inheriting the Kingdom of God:

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;(excessive or immoral activities involving sex, alcohol, food, or drugs) idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, arguing, cliques and envy; drunkenness, wild parties, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21—NASB)

Well, does the above apply to Christians or not? Obviously it does. "Those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God." Right or wrong?

Notice that the first area of sin to be mentioned is sexual immorality. Sexual immorality evidently was a significant problem in Paul's day, according to the number of times he mentioned it in his Epistles.

It may be true that the two greatest sins in America today are the pursuit of money, and sexual immorality. It seems the temptation to commit moral sins, such as adultery, fornication, and sexual perversions, is powerful and becoming more powerful each day. This is because our nation to a great extent is discarding Christ and the Bible. The rejection of Christ and the Bible is permitting demons to enter our nation and inflame the citizens with passions they cannot control.

Almost every day in our local newspaper there is an account of a teacher or principal or political leader or some other prominent person being accused of sexual misconduct. Child molestation abounds. Great efforts are being made to present homosexual practices as natural and acceptable. The foundation of personal liberty on which our nation is founded skews our normal judgment when aberrant sexual practices and false religions strive for recognition.

It is not kindness on our part to persecute those who practice alternative lifestyles. But I think if people, particularly young people, recognize that their body is either male or female, and refuse to be persuaded that they are something other than what their physical form indicates, the temptation to adopt a male or female persona will finally leave. One has to take a stand for what is right and normal. The Bible speaks out against confusion of gender.

Sometimes a person inherits a spirit of rage, or drunkenness, or fear. A conscientious individual will not say, "I am filled with rage and have a violent temper, and you are obligated to regard this as normal because it is what I am." The same holds true for drunkenness and fear. The Lord Jesus Christ can deliver us from odd, unfruitful, or unlawful behavior if we will ask him, even though we may have thought that such behavior was an essential part of our personality.

In the above passage the Apostle Paul lists several behaviors which are often true of people. How do we put these to death so the fire and life leave them and we are able to resist them successfully?

The first step is to name the sin clearly to the Lord Jesus. Say to Christ what you actually are doing, not what you think you might do. "I am stealing." "I am lying." "I am fornicating (living intimately with someone who is not my wife or husband)." Do not be afraid of shocking God with your fantasy life. He already knows all about it.

The second step is to name your behavior as sin, as wickedness. You have to judge it as evil. If you do not, the spirit will retain its life and power.

The third step is to renounce your behavior, telling the Lord that by his help you never, never, never will do this again.

In order for your deliverance to be effective you will have to live as a disciple. This means denying yourself, taking up your personal cross, and following Jesus at all times, day and night. Listening to Him and obeying Him diligently. Spending some time in prayer each day. Reading your Bible each day. Attending a fervent, Bible-teaching church regularly (if you can find one). Sharing your material goods if the Lord directs you to do so. Looking to the Lord for an area of service. Coveting a gift of the Spirit.

If the same temptation returns, go to Christ immediately and ask Him to help you resist it. Never give in to sin. Never give up. You must be found worthy of the Kingdom of God.

No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. (I John 3:6—NASB)

This is a plain indication of God's righteous judgment so that you will be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering. (II Thessalonians 1:5—NASB)

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. (I Corinthians 10:13—NASB)

If it is your desire to be raised from the dead, given a new body, and work with our Lord Jesus when He returns to establish the Kingdom of God on the earth, you must obey the ordinance of circumcision, putting away the actions of your sinful nature. The fullness of God is there for you to attain to, but you will have to pursue it with all your strength.

However, if you do not make the effort to cooperate with the Spirit of God in putting away your sinful deeds, you will not enter the fullness of God. You will not be raised from the dead and work with Jesus in the work of establishing the Kingdom of God on the earth.

You still are part of the problem, not of the solution!

And in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; (Colossians 2:11—NASB)

To Will and To Act

Therefore my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. (Philippians 2:12,13—NIV)

"God who works in you to will and to act."

It is my point of view, as I have elaborated in my book, Godwill Castle, that in the new world of righteousness God is preparing in the present hour, every inhabitant will obey God in all aspects of his or her life. God's will shall be done in the earth as it is in Heaven.

Doing God's will in all aspects of our life may seem undesirable or even impossible of attainment. However, it is the manner in which numerous disciples of the Lord Jesus are living at the present time. It is the "rest" of God, the thesis of the Book of Hebrews.

It is far more restful and pleasant to enter the will and Life of God than to be driven by one's own ambitions and fears.

How much misery can be avoided when we look to Christ for all matters! Eve had merely to ask God's judgment when Satan made his suggestions. Would the history of the world have been changed if Eve had sought God's wisdom?

So it is with you and me. We can plan our own way; make our own decisions based on our desires and experience. Or we can look to Christ continually for all we think, say, and do.

The Lord Jesus Christ will walk in the garden of our heart if we ask Him to. As He does, we are not to ignore Him but to look to Him continually until it can truly be said of us, "It is not he who lives but Christ who lives in him."

However, if it is to be said of us that it is not we who are living but Christ who is living in us, two factors must be operating: first, God must be revealing His will to us; second, it must be God who then performs His own will.

It is not enough for us to pray until we know God's will. As soon as we know it, we then must pray for God to carry out His own will, whether or not He uses us to perform some part or all of it; or whether our role is to pray and have faith that God's will is being performed.

It is the task of salvation to bring us to the place where we abandon our own schemes and seek to determine God's will. Then, having found God's will, we are to look to Him and not ourselves for the performing of His will. Enabling us to thus forsake our own life that we may be an expression of God's Person and will is the result of the perfect work of salvation.

I have been preaching for over thirty years that God is asking each Christian to forsake his own way, his own plans to save himself and the world, and to seek the will of Christ. A further step must be taken if we are to perform the work of the Kingdom of God and obtain eternal results. We must learn that God intends to accomplish His own work, as we obediently and faithfully do whatever He asks of us.

For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13—NASB)

Election

Arminianism and Calvinism are two somewhat divergent philosophies regarding being saved. Arminianism appears to emphasize that being saved is the free choice of each person. Calvinism, on the other hand, appears to emphasize Divine foreknowledge and election regarding being saved.

The seeming discrepancy between free will and election proceeds from seeking to interpret the Bible deductively—fastening on a few passages and ignoring the others. The Bible has to be interpreted inductively. The believer must accept every passage of Scripture as God's Word. Any seeming contradictions must be understood as proceeding from our limited understanding of the whole counsel of God.

The Scripture teaches clearly that whoever believes the Gospel and is baptized in water shall be saved.

The Scripture teaches clearly that God draws to Jesus whom He chooses.

Are these two truths contradictory? Not at all! As we follow Christ diligently we understand that both are true.

One aspect of the problem is that scholars often do not seem to recognize that there are two classes of saved people. One class consists of God's Royal Priesthood. The other class is the members of the nations who believe and are baptized.

Whoever, of the nations of the earth, believes the Gospel and is baptized shall be saved. This is God's unchanging promise. They shall be spared from wrath and held over to citizenship in the new world of righteousness.

Then there are those, like the Apostle Paul, who are struggling to the end of their days to grasp that for which they have been grasped. This struggle is true of every member of God's elect priesthood. They are "Israel." They struggle with God.

The saved members of the nations must seek to live a righteous life in Christ; for it is possible to turn back into the world after having been baptized in water. Then they are as a dog that returns to its vomit. They leave themselves open to severe chastening if not the loss of their salvation.

The members of the Church, the elect, must make their calling and election sure by embracing the virtues of godly behavior. Then they are to abandon their own life that they may pursue the indwelling of the fullness of God. They, as Paul, count all else as garbage that they may lay hold on that to which God has called them.

In no case, whether of the elect or the saved members of the nations, does Christ "do it all." We could wish that He would! But He doesn't. The New Testament is filled with exhortations to righteous behavior. I know that some teach that salvation is ordained of God and no matter what we do we will, when we die, go immediately to Heaven to live in a mansion.

They are mistaken as to means and ends.

The position that any person can choose to attain whatever position in the Kingdom he or she desires is acceptable to the American ideal of equality of opportunity. However, this is not true of the Kingdom of God. Our position in the Kingdom is God's choice.

If the members of God's elect are to grasp that for which they have been grasped by the Lord, they have to obey Jesus Christ strictly and consistently. It is entirely possible for someone to steal our crown of righteousness, life, and authority if we are not diligent.

For those who follow Christ consistently, there is the reward of passing from the ranks of the called to the ranks of the "chosen." Those who then continue with Christ in spite of all opposition shall become members of "the called, the chosen, and the faithful." These shall stand with Christ as He overcomes the spirit of Antichrist.

For many are called, but few are chosen. (Matthew 22:14—NASB)

Jesus answered them, "Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil?" (John 6:70—NASB)

These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful. (Revelation 17:14—NASB)

The people of Israel are an excellent example of election, and also of the danger of not obeying God after we have been called out from the nations of the earth.

God has dealt with no other nation on earth as He has with the Jews. This election continues on through to the new Jerusalem, the gates of which are inscribed with the names of the families of Israel. The gifts and callings of God are without repentance.

The ninth chapter of the Book of Romans includes clear teaching on the matter of Divine election. If we are to accept this chapter as being the Word of God, we cannot in conscience deny the reality of election. "God has mercy on whom He wants to have mercy, and He hardens whom He wants to harden."

Again, Paul states that before the twins were born, God loved Jacob and hated Esau.

If we cannot accept Paul's statements about election, why should we accept anything Paul wrote? Of course, the idea that God loved Jacob and hated Esau before they were born seems unfair. I think we Americans are just going to have to get used to the fact that God is the Potter and human beings are the clay. The Potter can form the clay into whatever He wishes.

Can any person choose to follow Christ? Of course. Jesus will never turn away anyone who comes to him, unless that individual knowingly and willfully has chosen to disobey Christ.

Where all of this comes together is that no person can even want to come to Jesus unless the Father draws that person. Even the desire to come to Jesus proceeds from God.

Sometimes people are worried that they have blasphemed the Spirit of God and are afraid they are doomed. I tell such people that if they have a desire to be accepted by the Lord they have not gone past the point of no return. However, they must make an effort to get right with God.

So much depends on our desires! If we are wise we will ask God to give us his desires for us. I pray this prayer frequently. We do not know what will bring us love, joy, and peace; so we are wise if we ask God to give us his desires for us. When our desires are God's desires for us, God then can give us what we want.

There is a practical effect of clearly understanding the role of election. It helps us realize we are not of the world. Christ has called us out of the world to be part of the Royal Priesthood. We are not of the world as He is not of the world. The word "Church" means "called out." Did you know that?

We are not to compare ourselves with the unsaved. The local assembly is infinitely more than a social gathering. It is supposed to be the Light of God among men. It is a prophet, a lampstand, a witness of Almighty God. The local church should have a healthy social component, but its first purpose is to reveal God to the world.

The follower of Jesus Christ is a "saint," a "holy one." As such he is to come out from the world, as the Spirit enables, and not touch that which is unclean, that is, not acceptable to Christ. He is to purify himself in the fear of God, putting out of his personality all that is not clean in the Lord's sight.

I mentioned before the conflict between the "free will" and the "elect" philosophies of salvation. At one time the "elect" emphasis prevailed. Today the "free will" emphasis is prevailing. Hopefully the pendulum will swing back to the middle so that both election and free will are assigned their rightful places in Christian thinking.

Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? (Romans 9:21—NASB)

The Fourth Level

There is a fourth level in Christ. The first level is water to the ankles, that is, basic salvation from wrath. We learn about our Lord and Savior at this level.

The second level is water to the knees. This is the level of the Holy Spirit, as the Spirit gives us victory over sin, and also wisdom and power to minister.

The third level is water to the waist. It is as this point that we began to learn about the Father and the utter importance of stern obedience to him.

The fourth level is waters to swim, the river of the Spirit that cannot be crossed over. This is the level of the Fullness of God. This is the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Tabernacles.

I would say that the Charismatic people are approaching the third level at this time. They know about Jesus as Savior, sometimes as Lord. They are acquainted with the Spirit of God. They are not well acquainted with the Father and with stern obedience to him.

Our Lord said He is the only One who knows the Father, but He is going to reveal the Father to those whom He chooses. In order to be a candidate for the knowledge of the Father we will have to obey all of Christ's commands and those He has given us through his Apostles.

The major issue facing us today is that of obedience to God. I realize there are great needs in the churches and the world that need attention. But the most important task before us is to learn to listen to what Christ is telling us and to be careful to be obedient in every detail.

Some of us are now at the Altar of Incense, so to speak, ready to pass through the ornate Veil into the Most Holy Place, wherein are the Ark of the Covenant and the covering Lid of Atonement. But in order to make this transition we are required to abandon our self-determination and learn to listen to the Lord Jesus at all times. We are to labor to enter the "rest of God," where every decision of our day and night is brought before Jesus.

The rest of God is the fourth level of salvation. It is the eternal Sabbath, the Sabbath in which the Lord Jesus lives from eternity to eternity.

"If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD's holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob." The mouth of the LORD has spoken. (Isaiah 58:13,14—NIV)

Think about the passage above, and then compare it with the Lord's own testimony of how He lives:

I can do nothing on My own initiative As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. (John 5:30—NASB)

And then with the following:

As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. (John 6:57—NASB)

Perhaps we intend to overcome the accuser by the blood of the Lamb. Perhaps we intend to overcome the accuser by the word of our testimony. But are we ready to love not our own life to the death?

The critical issue of our day is abandonment of our self-determination and instant obedience to King Jesus in every situation and in every relationship.

The "seven thunders" cannot reveal their perfect power until those who are moving past the Lampstand, so to speak, prostrate their self-will before the Altar of Incense, crying out, "Not my will, but yours be done."

The god of Antichrist is power, power guided by his own self-will. This also is the power of Satan. The "seven thunders," of the tenth chapter of the Book of Revelation, speak of the perfect power of God. One member of Christ's body when loving not his own life to the point of death, represents more power than the combined governments and armies of the world.

We may note that the power of the seven thunders is operating in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation. The two witnesses. who represent Christ in and with His victorious saints, bear witness in the irresistible power of the seven thunders. First they must be judged, as portrayed in Revelation 11:1,2. They must say, "Not my will, but yours be done" until their life and character are coming only from Christ.

The two witnesses are not preachers, but witnesses who portray in themselves God's Person, will, way, and eternal purpose in Christ. They shall present the Gospel of the Kingdom to every nation. But only as they are abiding at the fourth level, that is, at the place where it no longer is they who are living but Christ who is bearing witness in and with them. It always must be Christ in all things. Otherwise the seven thunders cannot speak.

This is a new day for us. The sin in the world is greater than ever. However, the grace being offered to us is far, far greater than the contemptible wisdom and power of the world spirit.

The fourth level of salvation is spoken of in the third chapter of the Book of Ephesians, where Paul prays that we might be filled with "all the fullness of God."

All the fullness of God always and eternally makes its home in our Lord, Jesus Christ. But Christ is the chief Cornerstone and Capstone of the eternal Temple of God that includes many rooms, numerous saints. We are living stones in that same Temple, and are destined to be filled with all the fullness of God.

If we are a candidate for the fourth level of salvation, we will be brought down to very distressing situations. Then we are to call on the Lord and not attempt to deliver ourselves by working our spiritual "moves," whatever they may be.

When we call on the Lord Jesus, the "valleys of the sea were exposed and the foundations of the earth laid bare." This means that the source of our life and the elements of our character are uncovered, as were Job's.

If we will give over to Christ our life-force and the principles that govern our decisions (our spirit and our character), then God will come down and avenge us on our enemies.

How utterly wonderful and marvelous it is that in our day such a door has been opened. Are you a candidate for the fourth level of salvation? I am! Let us then fasten our seatbelts and prepare ourselves for the most important experience we will have throughout eternity.

There is one fact we must keep in mind, however. This glorious Fullness of God is not given to us so we can feel good or have self-aggrandizing power. It is so a multitude of people can drink of the water of eternal life. The Spirit and the Bride, not just the Spirit of God, but both the Spirit and the Bride say, "Come. Come drink of the water. Whoever is thirsty for the Life of God, come and drink without cost."

We see this plan in the forty-seventh chapter of the Book of Ezekiel. After we arrive at waters to swim in we come back to the banks of the River of God and stand as a tree of life. Then the Life of God will flow into the dead sea of mankind, bringing eternal life to whoever will partake.

The spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Tabernacles (Succot) is described in the twelfth chapter of the Book of Isaiah. The Throne of God is established in our personality and with joy we bring forth water from the well of salvation that for eternity is in us. "Rivers of living water," as our Lord said during the celebration of Succot.

On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them. By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified. (John 7:37-39—NIV)

"On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him." Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, "But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?" 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 14:20-23—NIV)

Are you willing to give to Jesus every aspect of your character and life, your thoughts, words, and decisions? Am I?

Let's do it. Of course, there is a cost associated with pressing into the fourth level of salvation. It is true also that there is a loss associated with not pressing into the fourth level of salvation. Are we willing to suffer that loss?

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (Galatians 2:20—NASB)

The Early Marriage

I never have heard anyone preach about the two marriages found in the Book of Revelation. Someone told me that Watchman Nee referred to this subject, although I have not read many of his messages and have not seen it. However, it is clear in the Book of Revelation that there are two marriages of the Lamb. The first is set forth in the nineteenth chapter of Revelation. The second is mentioned in the twenty-first chapter of Revelation. The two marriages are separated by the thousand-year Millennium, which I term the "Kingdom Age."

The concept of the two marriages, the early and the late, is vital to our understanding of the manner in which the Kingdom of God is being constructed. The idea that the one Church, the Body of Christ, will be established in a firstfruits, and then completed at a later time, is found throughout the Bible in several types and statements.

There is a "firstfruits to God and the Lamb." In a way, the firstfruits are prefigured by David's "mighty men." Although David's mighty men are one of the minor types of the temporary division of the Christian Church, it does have the advantage of showing that the firstfruits, "the only one of her mother," will be "as terrible as an army with banners." She is distinguished by her prowess in battle—much more so than the remainder of the Church.

The firstfruits are addressed in the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation as "he who overcomes." Can you see in that expression the concept of fighting?

The term "Zion," although associated with all Jerusalem, represents the militant aspect of the Church. You remember that the Ark of the Covenant was at Zion throughout the reign of King David before it was swallowed up in the Temple of God in Jerusalem.

Zion was a suburb of Jerusalem, and David had placed the Ark in a tent in his city of Zion. It is interesting to note that the peace of the new heaven and earth reign of God and the Lamb is secured by the previous rule of the rod of iron, just as the peace of King Solomon's reign was secured by the previous victories God had wrought through King David.

The reign of David typifies the thousand-year Kingdom Age. The reign of Solomon typifies the new heaven and earth rule of God and the Lamb. The Ark will be swallowed up by the Tabernacle of God, so to speak. Can you see the powerful symbolism here?

"In those days, when your numbers have increased greatly in the land," declares the LORD, "men will no longer say, 'The ark of the covenant of the LORD.' It will never enter their minds or be remembered; it will not be missed, nor will another one be made. At that time they will call Jerusalem The Throne of the LORD, and all nations will gather in Jerusalem to honor the name of the LORD." (Jeremiah 3:16,17—NIV)

The difference in the two Brides of the Lamb is that in the nineteenth chapter of Revelation the Bride is clothed in her own righteous deeds. She has "died in the Lord," and so her righteous deeds follow. They are expressed in her, although they actually are proceeding from Christ who is living in her.

The change from our works to Christ's works are essential in the present hour, because the power of Antichrist is beginning to overcome the ability of Christian people to live a godly life in their own strength. We see this as pastors fall into the trap of sexual lust.

However, in the twenty-first chapter of Revelation, the Bride of the Lamb is made ready by others, that is, by those who had attained to the early marriage. This is nothing more than the building up of the weak by those who are stronger in Christ, which has been commanded by our Lord. The building up of the less mature members of the Bride of the Lamb is set forth in the eighth chapter of the Song of Solomon.

When Christ who now is our Life shall appear, we, the "eagles" who live by his body and blood, shall appear with him. The early marriage of the Lamb is occurring today in the case of those who are willing to die to their own works and live by his body and blood. The key to this transformation is to cry out continually in total sincerity: "Not my will but yours be done." Such people have been "beheaded" because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the Word of God.

The first resurrection of the dead is the manifestation of the early marriage of the Lamb, the marriage that is taking place right now as we cease from our own works and live by the Life of the Lamb. We are losing our "head," our self-direction.

There shall be a division of stern-faced warriors, who are the Word of God incarnate, who will return with the Lord and destroy all the works of the Antichrist world spirit. I am referring to those who have attained to the first resurrection of the dead, that is, who are given back their bodies at the time of Christ's appearing. These are they who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These are the firstfruits from among men to God and the Lamb.

The "first resurrection" is mentioned in the twentieth chapter of the Book of Revelation. Those who attain to this resurrection are distinguished by being "blessed and holy." I believe this is the resurrection to which the Apostle Paul was seeking to attain.

The current teaching, I am led to understand, is that the first resurrection includes all who have "accepted Christ." They are "blessed and holy" by grace. No books are opened, because their judgment was accomplished on the cross.

The current teaching proceeds to claim that everyone at the general resurrection of the dead, that which will occur at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, is thrown into the Lake of Fire. The judgment at that time is not genuine, in that all already are lost. People are judged according to their "works," but are not really judged because all of our works are as "filthy rags." No one is rescued from the Lake that burns with fire and sulfur.

If my understanding is correct, the current thinking is that every individual who has not "accepted Christ" is thrown into the Lake of Fire, even if that person has never heard of Christ.

In a local Christian school, a student asked his teacher if the baby that had died in his mother's womb (due to a miscarriage) would go to Hell. The teacher's response was, "Yes. The baby never had accepted Christ. Therefore, according to the Scriptures, it must go to Hell."

Believe it or not, it is taught in some places that our righteous, compassionate, merciful God sends all those to the Lake of Fire who never have heard of Christ. I suppose this—I must say "blasphemous"—thought is intended to spur an interest in foreign missions.

How unreasonable and unscriptural the prevalent Christian teaching is in so many instances!

The truth is, the first resurrection is for those blessed and holy saints who have lived a victorious life in Christ, whose robes are sparkling white because of the righteous deeds that have followed them as they have given up their own lives that Christ might live in them. It is not for everyone who has "accepted Christ," according to the way the language of the passage (Revelation 20:4-6—NASB) is used ordinarily.

Here we see the enormous, destructive error produced by the current misinterpretation of what the Apostle Paul meant by "grace."

The second resurrection includes every individual who is not included in the first resurrection. If I understand the wording correctly, the minority, those whose names were not found in the Book of Life, shall, after having been judged according to their works, be assigned to the Lake of Fire.

Everyone who participates in either the first or the second resurrection shall be raised in his or her body. According to the Book of Daniel, those who turn many to righteousness shall shine as the stars in their glory. Others shall be raised to shame and everlasting contempt. Jude maintains that some shall become wandering stars for whom the blackness of eternal night has been prepared.

Whether the Lake of Fire, shame and everlasting contempt, and eternal night are all the same destiny, I am not prepared to say. I merely am referring to what the Bible says.

It is the resurrection from the dead that should be occupying the mind of the believer, not residence in Heaven. Our eternal destiny will be determined at either the first or the second resurrection from the dead.

I cannot speak for you, but I am determined to attain to the early resurrection from the dead. When we read the third chapter of the Book of Philippians we can see the extraordinary consecration of the Apostle Paul. Yet, according to himself, he had not as yet attained to that supreme goal.

Perhaps some will be discouraged reading this. If you, no matter what your shortcomings may be, give your whole life to Jesus, denying yourself, taking up your cross, following the Lord Jesus patiently at all times, the next thing you know you will be standing on the earth with all of those who have put Christ first in their life. You will have a body more wonderful than your wildest dreams.

Best of all, Jesus will be looking straight at you. He will be saying, "Well done, good and faithful servant. I am so pleased with you and the sacrifices you have made for my name! You shall be caught up to the clouds just as soon as you have had fellowship with others like yourself whom you love. Then you will descend with me and help with establishing the will of God on the earth.

"From now on you shall receive the fullness of love, joy, and peace. The fullness of joy and pleasures are yours throughout the endless ages of eternity.

"Come dance with me. A billion years from now, as though it were earth-time, our romance will be just beginning.

"I am Jesus, the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the Author and Finisher of your faith. I swear to you now with upraised hand that what I have told you is the truth, and there is no power or authority in the Heavens or upon the earth who can decree otherwise."

"Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) (Revelation 19:7,8—NIV)

The Seventh Trumpet

The seventh trumpet is the last of the trumpets of the Book of Revelation. Paul says that in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet, we will be changed and our mortal body will be clothed with immortality. I think we are living now "in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet."

The tenth and eleventh chapters of the Book of Revelation really should be one chapter of thirty verses. They both are speaking of the colossal spiritual events of the last days—a period that will culminate with the installing of the Kingdom of God, God's will, on the earth.

This climactic period begins with the coming of a supremely powerful angel who is ready to bring God's righteousness to the earth. The angel is so large he can plant one foot on the sea and the other foot on a continent.

The seven thunders, of Chapter Ten, represent the fullness of God's power. Such power will not be available to God's witnesses to use until they have been released from the bondages of sin, particularly the bondages of self-will and self-glorification.

With a powerful oath the huge angel swore there shall be no more delay. The mystery of God, which is Christ in us, shall be accomplished suddenly. This means that in anticipation of the tremendous, ultimate, final struggle between good and evil, the Spirit of God will bring Christ to maturity in the saints. It is the maturing of Christ in us that will enable us to stand and to help others to stand throughout the age of moral horrors that even now is coming upon us in America.

We must take the little open scroll from the hand of the angel. During the previous several hundred years of church history there have been some advances in the understanding of Bible doctrine. But the new covenant has not been understood clearly. We have not eaten the little scroll, only read it.

May I add that in America, at least, people trust in big churches; multitudes of people. This can cause us to miss that which comes in a "little" scroll.

The massive doctrinal error of our day has destroyed the Christian testimony. The error is that of making belief in Christ more important than obedience to Christ. We are believing about Christ instead of eating Christ. We are reading the scroll instead of eating the scroll.

The little scroll is open today, and those believers who care enough about the Kingdom of God to tear themselves away from the fascinations of the contemporary cultures are beginning to understand the mysteries that have been hidden throughout the Christian centuries.

In the beginning, Satan told the first people they could disobey God and not die. Today's teaching of Divine grace is that we can disobey the commands of Christ and not die because we "believe in Christ." It is the same basic lie only dressed in fancier clothing.

The scroll is a "little" book. The Gospel of the Kingdom is a little, unpretentious seed. Today's emphasis on crowds of people, big names, big programs, is missing the way of the Lord. The gentle, quiet voice of the Lord Jesus is drowned out by the clamor of fleshly ambition, self-aggrandizement, and enthusiasm.

The true Word of God is bright with the promises of endless righteousness, life, peace, and joy. But when we eat the Word, instead of just reading it, our stomach turns sour. A knife is thrust into our first personality.

Once we have accepted the death produced by our personal cross and imprisonments we are ready, in the hour of the greatest moral darkness when no person can work, to bear the testimony of God, his Person, way, will, and eternal purpose in the Lord Jesus Christ. Now the fullness of the power of the seven thunders will assist us. We have died. It no longer is we who are alive but Christ who is living in us.

The three messages of the eternal Gospel of the Kingdom are proclaimed to all who live on the earth:

First, we must worship God rather than our idols. Every one of our idols shall be judged!

Second, we must make certain our religious activities are directing us into the path of righteous behavior; into the love of mercy; and into walking humbly with God at all times and in all circumstances. Religion sometimes produces insane, destructive, Christ-murdering, behavior.

Third, we must forsake our trust in the spirit of the world, the spirit that teaches our survival, security, and well-being are derived from the buying and selling carried on in the world economic system. Those who seek money and material wealth are condemned to perpetual restlessness. Those who "die in the Lord" will gain righteousness, love, joy, peace, and fruitfulness in the Kingdom of God.

Then comes, in the eleventh chapter of Revelation, the measuring, the judging of God's saints, especially those who are at the Altar of Incense crying out, "Not my will but yours be done." These must be judged and made perfect until they are prepared to bear witness to many peoples, nations, languages, and kings.

The two olive trees, of Chapter Eleven, represent the double (Elisha) anointing so the disciples may bear the witness of God effectively. The Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached to every nation for a witness, and then the end of the Church Age will be here. Spiritual darkness and the resulting moral filth will fill the cities of the earth during the closing days of the end of the age.

The two lampstands represent Christ and his Body. Instead of the seven lampstands that represent the entire Christian Church, the one golden lampstand portrays the overcomers who come out of each of the seven churches. The other golden lampstand represents the Lord Jesus Christ himself.

As in the case of the Father and the Son being two Witnesses, although only Jesus was seen; so it will be true that Jesus and the saints will actually be two witnesses, but only the saints will be seen.

And as was true that it was the Father who was performing the works Jesus did and the words Jesus spoke, so it will be true that it will be Jesus bearing witness from within the saints, and God in him.

This witness of unprecedented power will continue for a predetermined season. Then the power to bear witness will be lifted. God will permit the saints to be overcome by the lusts of the flesh, the love of material wealth, and personal ambition. Those who survive spiritually of the disciples who bore the witness have "died in the Lord" and are living by the Life of Jesus. They cannot be overcome.

When the witness has been overcome, Antichrist shall be revealed. He shall extend his rule in the major cities of the earth, including Jerusalem. The rule of Antichrist, of man making himself God, will cause the great tribulation to occur.

Finally the power of God shall come upon the saints. The witness shall be revived. The seventh trumpet shall sound. The saints shall be clothed with immortality.

The saints shall be caught up to Christ, and then descend with Him and work with Him at the task of installing the Kingdom of God, God's will, upon the earth.

But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, then the mystery of God is finished, as He preached to His servants the prophets. (Revelation 10:7—NASB)

Babylon

The Christian religion ought to bring people to the Lord Jesus Christ; and after they have been brought to Christ, should nurture and guide them until they are perfect and complete in all the will of God, are in the image of Christ, which is the image of God, and are filled with Christ.

However, the Christian religion often draws people to itself rather than to Jesus Christ.

I am not sure why that is so. But it certainly is a fact. Instead of producing people who are becoming more like God each day, its congregations are distinguished from the rest of society only by being church members.

It seems to be true of religious systems that the organization becomes the place where demons congregate and multiply: demons of pride, demons of presumption, demons of arrogance, demons of jealousy, demons of hatred and murder, demons of division, demons of greed, demons of covetousness, and every other unclean spirit,.

I have seen that adherence to religious beliefs divides people. People of various religious systems often hate each other and sometimes act viciously toward those of a different persuasion.

It is true that Christ himself brings division. But the division Christ brings is of a different kind than the division caused by doctrinal positions and church membership.

The division created by the Presence of Christ occurs when He draws one person to himself and not another, although the two people in time past may have been close relatives or friends. David and Jonathan are a good example of the division caused by the Lord's calling on an individual.

The Christian religion rightly exercised produces men and women who love the righteous ways of Christ; who live with the consuming Fire that God himself is, because they have requested to be in this position.

"Babylon" is a major subject of the last part of the Book of Revelation. But what does Babylon stand for? We know from the Book of Genesis about the building of the city, and of a tower "whose top will reach into Heaven." It was a group effort the purpose of which was to preserve the group. The city was called "Babel." It was the place of confusion and scattering.

It is difficult for humans to believe that God deliberately would frustrate such a group effort, scattering human beings over the earth and confusing their language. Such scattering and confusion laid the foundation for the future wars.

It seems Christians would like God to be "nice." God is not "nice." In his Personality is the fiercest of all tigers, the wisest of all snakes, and the most innocent and gentle lamb that has ever existed.

God is not fair by our standards. He chooses whomever He will from among the ranks of mankind and invites that individual to pursue eternal life, which is the knowledge of Himself.

God incited King David to number Israel because God was angry with the Israelites. Then God sent punishment upon the Israelites because David acted sinfully when he numbered the people.

God hardened Pharaoh's heart, thus causing him to sin against God. God hardened the hearts of the kings of Canaan so "he might destroy them totally."

We certainly do not understand God. Maybe it would be best to not lean to our understanding and begin to trust the Lord. How do you feel about this?

We are wise when we pray "Lead us not into temptation." As I said, God provoked David to number Israel, which was a sin and brought down judgment on the people. Temptation is effective, as far as Satan is concerned, when the temptation is to do something we already desire to do.

Babylon, in the Book of Revelation, is another name for "the spirit of Religion." The Christian religion is no exception. I expect that before the Lord comes, the religions of the world will unite into one massive organization with its headquarters at the ancient site of Babylon in the country of Iraq.

How can I say that? Because the desire of most if not all religions is to create the largest group it can, and through its own efforts reach Heaven.

I am not pointing the finger at any group. Religion is a spirit. It can be found in the smallest chapel and the largest cathedral. It is not peculiar to one group. Religion is nothing more than the efforts of a human being to please God when he does not know what God wants of him at a specific moment in time.

The desire of every religion, it seems, is to create a group that have the same beliefs, the same Statement of Faith. Religious organizations place great stock in their Statements of Faith, not realizing that faith is not a statement of doctrinal belief but moment by moment obedience to the living Lord Jesus Christ.

I think this is the heart of the spirit of religion—to perform some sort of work, using a group effort. Religious organizations often emphasize the plans they have drawn up. Sometimes they pray that God will help them accomplish their goals. Religious institutions always "have their hand on the Ark."

It appears that religions believe if they are lifted up they will draw all men to themselves. But people drawn to them receive spiritual confusion, not eternal life.

Now please consider this point: The original builders of the city of Babel and its tower were not hearing from God. Yet, there had been godly men prior to them, such as Enoch and Noah.

It may be observed that as soon as the builders of Babel were confused and scattered so that the work of building ceased, God spoke to Abraham and began God's ladder that reaches to Heaven. Likewise, in the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation, as soon as the religious monstrosity built by man has been torn down, we see the marriage of the firstfruits to the Lamb.

The world will not believe it is God who has sent Jesus Christ to the earth until the members of the Church are one in Christ as the Father and the Son are One. And the Church will not be in this perfect, Divine Oneness until all of its members have been released from the spirit of Babylon.

Babylon, the spirit of religion, always persecutes, rejects, despises, and sometimes tortures and murders God' prophets, his Antipases who are "against all." The Jewish leaders murdered Christ. Jesus himself called the Jewish leaders the children of Satan, the descendants of those who murdered the Prophets of Israel.

How many Protestant teachers and followers have been murdered by the Catholic organization?

Referring to the Catholic organization (in which there are many fine people), I notice that the watchword of one of the popes was: "Mary, I am yours." This is strange to me. Why wouldn't his watchword be, "Lord Jesus, I am yours." Did Mary die for our sins? Is Mary the head of the Body of Christ? Did God give Mary that whoever believes in her would have eternal life? I don't think so. Given the fact that the Catholic scholars assuredly are competent, all the emphasis on Mary rather than on the Lord sounds to me like deception operating at a high spiritual level.

Because God chooses whom He will to do the outstanding works of the Kingdom, the rest of the family of God, who sometimes are involved in their own religious schemes, may become incensed. Think of Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and the 250 other leaders of Israel. How about the brothers of Joseph?

Consider Abraham, Moses, and the Apostle Paul. We know from the Bible that they were only men. They did not descend from Heaven. They were not perfect in their ways. But God chose them and led them to perfection in his sight.

But what about the other millions of Israelites?

How the "high hills" do leap; but God chooses Zion.

The reason why the leaders of Babylon, of organized religion, will murder the people God chooses for his work, is that the leaders are ambitious. They are filled with their own ways. They always seek preeminence. They cannot accept the fact that all of us are clay. The clay simply is in no position to tell the Potter what he can and cannot do.

Today it is as it has been since the time when Cain murdered Abel. There are those whom God has chosen to stand before him. The remainder of mankind is to be content with this. To strive in envy, seeking to supplant God's elect, invites spiritual death.

Thus the story of Aaron's rod that budded has two lessons for us: first, God appoints whom He will to stand before him. Second, those who bring the Presence of God to people must be dead rods before life will come forth.

Ambitious religious leaders know nothing of the death of the cross, of what it is like to give everything to Christ that Christ might live in them. But those whom God intends to use in a mighty way must give over their Isaacs before what God has spoken concerning them can be realized.

Korah is an example of the severity of the punishment that may be administered to religious leaders when they act in their own will.

The disease in Paul's eyes remind us that God's strength is made perfect in our weakness.

But the ambitious religious leaders often know nothing of surrendering Isaac or ministering from a platform of weakness. They would consider this religious fanaticism. They know nothing of God's displeasure when they vaunt themselves in front of people. They know nothing of being struck down with a disease so God can be glorified.

When they are afflicted they blame Satan or people, not realizing that Christ always remains in control. Our struggle is with Christ. "Israel" means, "He struggles with God."

It always has been this way. It always shall be this way until the Wife of the Lamb has been brought to perfection and descends from Heaven through the new sky to be established forever upon a high mountain of the new earth.

The spirit of religion is every bit as wicked as it is portrayed in the Book of Revelation.

Religious men never can grasp, it appears, that God works with individuals, his "stars," not with groups. This has been true since the days of the patriarchs and prophets of ancient times. It is just as true today.

The spirit of religion in the first apostles cast lots to choose the twelfth apostle. God ignored them and chose Saul of Tarsus. It always is so. God works with men and women whom He chooses, not with human administrations and systems.

When God has decided to no longer permit the spirit of religion to operate in the earth, He shall move in five areas of the religious organization of the last days:

Music, one of the most prominent features in religious activities, will never again be heard in the context of man-operated religion. Of course, Heaven will be filled with the music that God inspires.

No kind of craft will be employed in a religious setting, no building of cathedrals of other kinds of church structures.

No kind of commercial activity will be involved in religion. It is interesting to note that in America it is the business conducted during the celebration of Christ's birthday that determines the economic strength of many corporations.

There will be no educational or philosophical pursuits having to do with religion. There will be no theology or "Statements of Faith," only the continual personal interaction with the Lord Jesus. Whoever desires knowledge of the things of God needs only to go to Jesus and ask him. In Him are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Imagine, God himself was walking in the garden. Adam and Eve readily could have asked Him about the serpent's suggestion. But, just as today, they chose to trust their own judgment.

The voice of the Lamb and his Bride will never again be heard in a religious organization.

How can all this be? How can the spirit of religion, of man striving to reach God rather than God reaching down and choosing people, be done away? The spirit of religion will be removed from human culture as the Kingdom of God comes to the earth. The Kingdom is the doing of God's will in the earth. People will be compelled with a rod of iron to obey God. The earth will be filled with the Glory of the Lord, with his Presence. Thus religious ambition and plans will be nonexistent.

Only the will of the living Lord Jesus Christ shall be obeyed. This is the Kingdom of God, and in the beginning it shall be installed and operated on the earth by force. When every enemy has been put under the foot of Christ, it will be maintained by the rulership of the saints. They shall govern God's creation for eternity. We are being prepared for this office now by numerous kinds of suffering and testing.

God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the Bible exist in the spirit world. There are no churches or religions in that world. Religions come from demons operating through the self-will and self-love of people. When the Kingdom of God enters the world, there will be no religions, only God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the Bible.

If you desire to be at peace in the Kingdom of God, and free from the murderous, adulterous spirit of religion, then look to Christ every moment of every day and night. Do not lean to your own understanding. Commit all of your ways to Christ, and He will be faithful to direct you into the path of eternal righteousness, love, joy, and peace.

To kill someone because of his religious beliefs is murder. Thus the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim religions (Babylon) will answer at the Judgment Seat of Christ for the blood on their hands.

And he cried out with a mighty voice, saying, "Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird." (Revelation 18:2—NASB)

Antichrist, and the False Prophet

You may notice that Antichrist is mentioned in the Book of Revelation, as is true also of the False Prophet. This is because Antichrist, and the False Prophet as well, will be especially active during the closing days of the Church Age.

Antichrist is the "beast" that comes up out of the "sea," out of the mass of the people of the earth; while the False Prophet is the beast that comes up out of the "earth," that is, out of the soul of man.

Antichrist is the spirit of the world. The False Prophet is Christians who want the power of Christ but who are self-seeking. They do not know what it means to turn away from the world, deny themselves, and follow Christ carrying their personal cross.

Such are Antichrist and the False Prophet.

Antichrist, the spirit of the world, is man making himself God. He has been operating at least since the days of the Apostle John. According to the Book of Daniel, it appears that while the spirit of Antichrist is in every person who is not walking in the Light of God's Presence, he finally will appear as a human being who will personify the ultimate expression of man making himself God. Thus his number is 666.

Six is the number of man, in that man was created on the sixth day. Three is the number of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Three sixes, then, is man making himself God.

A review of history will reveal that man acting apart from God has been more the rule than the exception. However, it is in fairly modern times that philosophers, teachers, and other leaders have sought to impress us that the most important of all values is the "rights of people"; not the rights and pleasure of God but the rights and happiness of people.

In the twenty-first century in America we are noting that, while many Americans express a belief in God, the corruption of the Apostle Paul's doctrine of "grace" has resulted in talk about Christ but not obedience to Christ. Christ is our Savior but not our Lord, it is taught. Christians indulge in unlawful sexual activities. Christians worship money instead of God. Christians follow their own will and self-aggrandizement.

Because the Christian moral testimony has been weakened, the conduct of our governmental leaders and the decisions of the courts are becoming hostile to the moral precepts of the Bible. An effort is being made to drive every mention of God from the land.

Right now, while I am writing (October 8, 2008), it has been announced that the country's largest atheist group is suing President Bush because of his endorsement of the National Day of Prayer. The National Day of Prayer has been a longstanding observance. Any intelligent person may notice that as the Bible and faith in Christ are being driven from our public institutions, an increasing number of moral abominations are being practiced; and our economy, once the envy of the world, is staggering. How difficult is it to connect cause and effect?

Money is the power of the Antichrist world spirit, the counterpart of the Spirit of God. Education is the counterpart of the Spirit of wisdom and knowledge. Every form of fleshly pleasure, no matter how debased, is becoming acceptable. It may be true that incest in families, the sexual exploitation of children, and intercourse with animals will be protected by law in the fairly new future.

America today resembles Sodom, Pompeii, and the last days of the Roman Empire. Consider that the compulsory worship of the emperor, the bloody scenes in the arenas, the persecution of the Christians, the declining morals, caused Christian people to abandon the cities of the Roman Empire and live underground. Will it become necessary in America before too long for the godly remnant to flee from the centers of civilization and live in more primitive surroundings?

The Apostle John told us that if any person loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him or her. Antichrist means "against Christ" and is the spirit of the world and of lawlessness.

The reason Antichrist is discussed in the Book of Revelation is that the spirit of the world, of materialism, will become, along with self-motivated religion, the primary emphasis of the cities of the world during the closing days of the Church Age. However, fearful punishment will be the fate of those who are at home in the world spirit, accepting its values and ways. They have made themselves the enemy of God.

We notice in the thirteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation that the False Prophet who comes up out of the earth, that is, out of the soul of people, has "two horns like a lamb and he spoke as a dragon." This means he exhibits a double portion of power like the power of the Lamb, Christ. But when he speaks he glorifies himself and not Christ.

As far as I can understand, the "False Prophet" is referring to Christians who have prayed for power but who are self-seeking. They are not bearing their cross patiently after the Lord Jesus.

We see quite a bit of this today as evangelists claim to be accompanied by the power of Christ, but their actions show they are seeking their own glory.

Now here is a mystery. If the False Prophet really consists of Christians who are seeking power but who are not bearing their cross of self-denial, how is it that they are aiding Antichrist, telling people to make an image to Antichrist? Why would self-seeking, miracle-working Christians support the self-seeking of the world spirit?

I can think of one possibility, based on what is happening today in America. I think it is possible that a cunning president will seek the help of the Christian leaders of all denominations. I believe the crafty president will support the churches with money, asking their assistance in solving the problems of poverty, famine, health, and so forth.

If a president would do this, inviting to the White House the leaders of the various Christian organizations, endeavoring to bring them into unity, I believe that numerous Christian leaders would join with the president, believing they were having a moral influence on him.

A president would be stupid not to seek the help of the churches, pretending to be sympathetic to their beliefs and giving them money and influence.

From my point of view, I think numerous powerful Christian leaders, who today are seeking to harmonize homosexual practices with the Bible, would not realize it was Satan who was giving the president this wisdom.

As far as the believers are concerned, if little or no demands are made on them personally, as is true in the "grace" message of today, and it looks like their government is helping them with their monetary needs and charitable works, it seems likely they would not perceive that the Spirit of God had left them.

In fact, the Spirit of God already is leaving the churches and they do not realize it.

It may be true that numerous American Christians do not know the difference between the Kingdom of God and democratic government, believing them to be one and the same. Also they suppose that capitalism is a Divinely approved economic system.

Today there often is an emphasis in evangelical Christian churches stressing that God wants us all to be wealthy, and we can use our faith (or angels) to increase our wealth. This sort of thing is what happens when ministers preach their ideas rather than the Bible.

How much of a stretch is it then to believe that some of the large churches may join with the American government in an effort to bring material prosperity to everyone on the earth, in the meanwhile encouraging the recipients of their benefits to "accept Christ"?

It may be that giving "breath" to the image of the world spirit so that it can "speak,"and causing those who do not cooperate with the new world order to be "killed," and limiting buying and selling (the principal occupation of the world spirit) to those with an approved mark on their hand or forehead, may be symbolic expressions indicating that Christian leaders and congregations are speaking on behalf of the government, forcing people to take part in the economic system endorsed by the government.

All of this in the name of Christ, of course!

In any case, it is obvious that the False Prophet, with two horns like a lamb and who speaks as a dragon, will give substantial support to the world spirit of Antichrist. We readily can see how powerful the spirit of deception will be.

We understand, therefore, that in the last days of the Church Age, the period we now are entering, there will be four major forces as well as some side issues:

There will be the Laodicean church, with its emphasis on the "rights of people," on humanistic values. These values always are hypocritical and void of truth. An example of hypocrisy and lack of truthfulness emerges as "Christian" people are saying we ought to have a mosque near the World Trade Center ruins, in the interests of religious tolerance. They are ignoring the feelings of those who lost loved ones because of the attack by those who worship in mosques.

There will be Babylon, which is the religious spirit that does not recognize the fact that God chooses whom He will to do the work of the Kingdom. Babylon never will understand or accept the fact that God wills, and then God acts according to his own will. Rather, Babylon employs talented people to do the work of the Kingdom. However, since Babylon does not know Jesus, its efforts will come to nothing in the end.

There will be Antichrist, the world spirit that worships money.

There will be the False Prophet—Christian people who seek God's power that they may use it for their own aggrandizement.

One of the side issues may be the delusion that God in his love and mercy is extending such grace that everyone, including Satan himself, is welcome to come to the Paradise of God in Heaven and worship Christ along with the elders and elect angels.

Ours is a period of time when God is preparing his kings of the future. Consequently there are numerous problems and testings. The way is very difficult and the rewards are fantastic. There are many spiritual dangers and many various opportunities. The spiritual atmosphere in which we are struggling to serve Christ is becoming increasingly dark. The Presence of Christ and his enabling wisdom and power are becoming ever more clear and powerful.

We must continue to practice righteousness, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.

We must embrace iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to God.

If we are to survive in the future and help others to survive, we must love God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind; we must love our neighbor as ourselves; and we absolutely must be strictly obedient to the King whom the God of Heaven has placed over us, the Lord Jesus Christ.

May God richly bless those who set themselves to live according to these principles.

And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore. Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names. (Revelation 13:1—NASB)

Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb and he spoke as a dragon. (Revelation 13:11—NASB)

The Hour of Testing

There is coming to the earth an hour of testing. This is not the same as the Great Tribulation. We can think of tribulation as "chastening." Its purpose is to refine the work of redemption. We enter the Kingdom of God through much tribulation.

Testing, on the other hand, is an opportunity to sin. The Lord Jesus (as will be true of the rest of the sons of God) endured three major temptations, or testings, not three tribulations. Much of today's preaching warns of the Great Tribulation. This is the response of the natural man to the prospect of pain and trouble. The actual danger is not tribulation; we profit from tribulation and are made holy. The danger is the hour of testing.

Satan has employed a grand strategy. It is to convince Christian leaders that new-covenant grace provides a covering such that God does not see the behavior of the believers. How they behave is not really critical. The one essential action is to profess faith in Jesus Christ.

Satan's purpose in this grand strategy is to disarm God's people so that when the Hour of Temptation arrives, they will yield to sin, believing that God wants them to be happy and plans on bringing them to Heaven by "grace."

Godly evangelists, pastors, and teachers should have realized that God never would give us a new covenant that made it possible for the Christians to proceed in their ungodly practices, and then be received into the presence of the holy saints and angels. But for some reason, multitudes of the Christian scholars and leaders have been blind to what their common sense would have told them had they applied it.

I believe the hour of testing, of temptation, has arrived. How many Christian young people and adults are watching pornography on the Internet or on their cell phones or on their E-mail? There probably are millions by now.

There is no question that pornography is one of the most compelling attractions of this century. It takes strong determination to turn away from it. If we believe we are saved by grace and faith alone, we probably will be unable to summon will power strong enough to turn away from pornography and other sexual enticements.

The following is a verse that is employed on occasion in a misleading manner:

Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. (Revelation 3:10—NASB)

The word "kept" may be translated "guard." The thought is, if we are faithful to patiently guard the commands of Christ, He will guard us from the hour of testing that is to test those who live on the earth.

This does not mean we will not be tested. Christ himself was tested. It means we will be strengthened against (given enough grace to overcome) the nearly irresistible urge to disobey God that is to come upon the whole earth, and may, in fact, have begun.

How many Christians, including pastors, are being enticed into viewing pornography on the Internet? They know what they are seeing is the antics of demons working out the lusts of Satan in human flesh. Yet the drawing toward these scenes is almost past their ability to resist.

Satan has been preparing us for this seduction by warping Paul's teaching of grace to mean our behavior is not critical because of the sovereignty of the Divine salvation. When we trust we are saved by "faith alone," and faith is defined as our agreement with a "Statement of Faith," and then are presented with the pornographic scenes, we are led away captive by Satan.

The Bible has much to say about the overcoming of the saints in the last days.

I kept looking, and that horn was waging war with the saints and overpowering them. (Daniel 7:21—NASB) (The "horn" is Antichrist, the spirit of the world in the last days.)

And on account of transgression the host will be given over to the horn along with the regular sacrifice; and it will fling truth to the ground and perform its will and prosper. (Daniel 8:12—NASB) ("It" is Antichrist)

I heard the man dressed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, as he raised his right hand and his left toward heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever that it would be for a time, times, and half a time; and as soon as they finish shattering the power of the holy people, all these events will be completed. (Daniel 12:7—NASB)

Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. (Matthew 24:12,13—NIV)

Can you see from this verse that the saints will be tested; and if they are to be saved they must stand firm? Doesn't this remind us of Revelation 3:10 (above)?

The following two passages are written to Christians:

Submit therefore to God Resist the devil and he will flee from you. (James 4:7—NASB)

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. (I Corinthians 10:12,13—NIV)

The Greek word for "temptation," (peirasmos), as used in the above verse, is the same word used in Revelation 3:10 for "testing." This is not the Greek word for "tribulation" (thlipsis).

In today's Greek, peirasmos has the meaning of "to attempt to mislead someone"; "the desire that pushes man to sin." (New Lexicon and Thesaurus of the Greek language, Elementary and Monotonic Language. International Publishing Organization, Christos Giovannis.)

Temptation may be related to "tribulation" in a secondary sense. Our problem in America today is not tribulation, it is the arousing in us of an intense desire to sin. As I think about it, it probably is true that because of the sin resulting from the Hour of Temptation, wickedness will increase to the point of causing the love of the majority of Christians to grow cold.

The rebellion of the majority of Christians will remove the testimony that restrains the full revelation of Antichrist. The wickedness and the full revelation of Antichrist will cause God to impose on the earth the Great Tribulation. This no doubt is the relationship between the Hour of Temptation and the Great Tribulation.

Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, (II Thessalonians 2:3—NASB)

Temptation and testing may have the same impact on us. When the problem is temptation to sin, it is coming from Satan. When the problem is testing, it is coming from God. It is Satan who is tempting us but God who is testing us. Sometimes God permits Satan to tempt us, and that is why we are to pray, "Lead us not into temptation."

If you will compare the following three passages, you will see that God will permit Antichrist to reach into the heavens and tear down the saints who are not firmly established in Christ. This is taking place today as we see ministers of the Gospel fall into sin.

At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, "Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens." (Hebrews 12:26—NIV)

It grew up to the host of heaven and caused some of the host and some of the stars to fall to the earth, and it trampled them down. (Daniel 8:10—NASB)

And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child. (Revelation 12:4—NASB)

It is doubtful that the "stars" (above) refer to evil angels. Satan would not fling his army from the heavens to the earth. They more likely are members of God's elect who at one time were at God's right hand in Christ, but who fell because their hearts were not grounded in obedience to God. We have seen in the last few years prominent ministers of the Gospel who have been flung from Heaven to the earth, haven't we?

"If we think we are standing firm we need to be careful we do not fall"!

I know that Satan cannot move us from God with any power of his own. But we of today, if we do not stand fast and resist the increasing temptations of our age, will be deceived and will consent to what Satan is offering. Be warned, for this is a real danger facing each one of us!

There are two problems with yielding to sin. To begin with, when we die we will be placed with people like ourselves. God does not want any mixtures in the spirit world. "Let the filthy be filthy still." "Make straight the way of the Lord."

After that, in the Day of Resurrection, what we are will be revealed clearly. The Book of Daniel speaks of those who are raised to "shame and everlasting contempt."

Notice the following destiny of some who are raised. Notice also that the wicked are punished in their bodies.

"And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind." (Isaiah 66:24—NIV)

Today's preaching is leaving the Christians with the idea that God has unconditional love for us, so even if we do yield to temptation, God loves us so much He will bring us to Heaven so we will be happy.

This is not true. What we sow we are going to reap. What we are in personality, we are. Our entrance into the spirit world will not change that; neither will the coming of Christ.

It appears the greater part of the Christian believers are in deception. There is going to be anguish and crying when our casual American churchgoers suddenly realize they have died and those whom they are placed with are self-centered, spiritually lazy people who are occupying undesirable habitations in the Land of Darkness.

We will be placed with people like ourselves, not with the victorious saints who are enjoying the righteousness, love, peace, and joy of the Land of Light.

Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them. Their bodies will lie in the street of the great city, which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. (Revelation 11:7,8—NIV)

The killing of the witness is accomplished by Sodom, Egypt, and Jerusalem; that is, by the lust of the flesh, by the love of the world, and by spiritual pride and self-will.

The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. (Revelation 13:5-7—NIV)

The testimony of Jesus Christ already has been destroyed in the United States of America, by sexual lust, by the love of the world, and by self-love and self-seeking.

Make no mistake! America has asked for Satan, and Satan is being given to her. The "pharaohs" that have assumed leadership of our land do not know Joseph. The old American ideas and ways are rapidly passing away. Our children are being taught from kindergarten up that homosexual relations are normal, and possibly preferred. The kindest thing that could be said about this public-school curriculum is, it is wildly insane!

But then, the Apostle Paul said the Lord gives the wicked a mind void of judgment.

How could our nation deteriorate so quickly as to install a president who supports abortion on demand, a supreme evil that is causing God to withdraw his protective covering from us?

We Christians are so bemused with the late-night comedy television blasphemers we do not realize the America we once knew has been lost.

Now our task is twofold: first, to make sure we are keeping Christ's commands and not listening to those who are preaching that grace excuses our sinful behavior. By so doing we will save ourselves and those who hear us. Christ will give us the strength to refuse to consent to Satan's invitations.

Second, we are to pray for believers of every nation and race. It is time for us to look past America and see the Body of Christ. Before the Lord returns, the Body will be one in Christ in God. Then the world will believe that God has sent Jesus Christ.

So do not waste your spiritual energy mourning over the works of Satan in America. They are going to become much worse. Keep your mind on that which is lovely, pure, and honorable. Keep your eyes on Jesus. He is not experiencing confusion, poverty, or weakness. He is sitting as King of the flood of the chaos of the world.

He will sit as King of the flood of your life if you will present your body a living sacrifice; deny yourself; and carry your cross patiently after the Master.

Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. (Matthew 24:12,13—NIV)

Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. (Revelation 3:10—NASB)

Integrity

I believe every Bible school or seminary should have at least one class devoted to integrity of character and behavior. When one begins to associate with Christian pastors it soon becomes apparent that integrity is in short supply in the Christian world. I am employing the term "integrity" to mean honesty, faithfulness, and truthfulness of character and behavior.

The idea of integrity, of decency and trustworthiness, seems to have been diminished greatly in our country, and perhaps in other countries as well, in addition to its lack in our churches.

Perhaps "integrity" is another name for "righteousness"! However, there may be a slight difference in the way the terms are used.

To be righteous in the sight of God is to be pleasing to Him at any given moment.

Integrity refers to sincerity, truthfulness, and honesty of character and behavior, regardless of our knowledge of the Lord.

The question that needs to be raised in today's Christian preaching is, "Can a person be righteous in the sight of God but lacking in integrity in the sight of people?"

"Absolutely," roar the "faith alone" proponents.

"It depends," responds the thoughtful Christian. If a believer obeys the Spirit of God at all times, that individual is righteous in the sight of God. If he is lying or stealing or committing adultery, the Spirit will point out his sins and enable him to overcome them. So while he is growing spiritually, he still may be lacking in integrity but righteous in God's sight.

The problem with today's preaching is it offers a perpetual righteousness to whoever makes a profession of belief in Christ, even though the individual is not obeying the Spirit, and not growing in integrity.

It is as though we are permanently righteous in God's sight even though we continue to obey our sinful nature.

We do not need to be a Bible scholar to see immediately that the New Testament does not teach we can continue behaving according to our sinful nature and then inherit eternal life. The New Testament certainly does not support this point of view. It has been deduced by selecting a few verses, taking them out of their contexts, and them using them as axioms.

I remember as a boy the anecdote about George Washington telling the truth about what happened to the cherry tree. Also, there was a story, that I remember as having originated in England, about the man who walked several miles barefoot to borrow a pair of shoes he needed to participate in a wedding. He returned home barefoot, carrying the shoes.

After the wedding, he carried the shoes back to the owner, walking barefoot so as to keep the shoes in the best possible condition. Many of today's Americans would laugh at and scorn such ideals. The late-night comedians would find this uproariously funny and many "Christians" would laugh along with them.

And then we wonder why our country is in so much trouble!

Mothers wanted their sons to grow up to be President of the United States, implying that only the very highest and purest of mortals could ascend to that lofty position of honor and purity of character.

And then we have President Clinton and his aide and their behavior. The difference between their behavior, and that held as exemplary as recently as a hundred years ago, is just about unimaginable. And he still is perceived by many Americans as a distinguished politician! Also, I think he is viewed, by himself at least, as a Christian.

Men prided themselves on returning a borrowed tool in better condition than when they were given it: the axe was sharper; the crescent wrench was oiled and polished. A man's word was his bond, they used to say. A person's promise was as dependable as a written contract.

When one is selling or buying a property, there are twenty or thirty forms that must be signed or initialized. All this paperwork is designed to protect against dishonesty. But there was a day in time past when it was only necessary to agree and shake hands on it.

Well, it is not true today. We have become more "civilized," I suppose.

Perhaps how people behave is none of my business.

But being a pastor, a Christian leader in that sense, I think that how Christians behave is indeed my business. Perhaps we assume that "accepting Christ" results in an individual of greater integrity than that of non-Christians. Then we remember that the Protestants and Catholics of Ireland are murdering each other. They all worship the same Christ, and yet they rejoice as they cripple and murder each other.

Perhaps the most dramatic illustration of the inability of the Gospel to reform a nation is the fact that the Holocaust occurred in Lutheran Germany, not in Iran or Saudi Arabia. America, with its churches on every corner as someone said, is what well be the greatest source of moral corruption in the world. Perhaps it is significant that Lutheran Germany and multi-denominational America are strong proponents of "faith alone."

How can this be? Is there no power in the blood and Spirit of Jesus Christ to make better people? Is being "born again" nothing more than a religious slogan? When we review the history of Christian people we see that the majority are little different in character from the non-Christians. Can this be true? Did the Christians in England force opium on the Chinese? Did wealthy Christians in America engage in the slave trade, and steal land from the Indians? It is little wonder so many of the world's people are not overly impressed with the Christian religion.

Yet God has promised that righteousness and praise shall spring forth before the nations of the earth; and, in spite of at least one current translation, this is not "imputed righteousness" but actual righteousness of character and behavior. How could imputed righteousness spring forth before the nations?

For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes the things sown in it to spring up, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations. (Isaiah 61:11—NASB)

For Zion's sake I will not keep silent, And for Jerusalem's sake I will not keep quiet, until her righteousness goes forth like brightness, and her salvation like a torch that is burning. (Isaiah 62:1—NASB)

Did the Lord Jesus teach that we should let our good works be seen so that people would glorify God? Have we not been deceived? Could this account for the Holocaust and the murderous strife in Ireland?

It appears the power of the Divine redemption has not had its full effect as yet. The goat of the blood atonement has been operating, but the goat of removal is not in effect as yet, referring to the Jewish Day of Atonement.

I have noted on several occasions a lack of integrity on the part of Christian pastors and evangelists. I have been surprised at this lack. I was not raised in a Christian home or under any other kind of Christian influence. However, while I was growing up I looked on churches and ministers with respect and confidence, although I did not want to attend services.

But now, after many years as a Christian, both as a member of congregations and also as a pastor, I see that various forms of immoral behavior characterize many Christian leaders, ranging from a lack of disciplined character to outright dishonesty.

I have speculated on the reason for this undisciplined character and lawless behavior. As I see it, there are several causes.

It may be true that one primary cause for the paucity of integrity is that through the centuries the Christian salvation has consisted largely of words, of philosophy one might say, rather than of power that transforms character and behavior.

I do not claim to be well versed enough in Church history to make definitive statements about the Christians of the past, but I can venture my impressions. As I outline what seems to be the bulk of the record of the Christian religion, it must be kept in mind that throughout the Christian Era there have been outstanding saints.

Also, it is clear that the Christian religion has influenced the nations positively in which Protestant Christianity is the dominant religion. There are efforts in the "Christian nations" to treat people humanely that we do not always see in non-Christian nations.

Having issued this important disclaimer, let us proceed.

Prior to the Protestant Reformation, the dominant religion in Europe was Catholicism. I would say that the emphasis of Catholicism at that time was on obedience to the various aspects of the religion rather than on transformed character.

I believe I am correct in stating that the same is true today. While the Pope stands resolutely against abortion, as I do also, the concept of the Divine transformation of the individual seems to be set aside in favor of various penances. Perhaps I am incorrect here.

The Protestant Reformation may have reacted against the religious works of Catholicism, such as self-abuse, by overemphasizing the role of belief. "Faith alone!" But as I have listened to this watchword for many years, I have come to the conclusion that it is interpreted as "belief alone."

Why do I say this? Because "belief" suggests a mental acceptance of the theologic facts about Christ. "Faith," however, includes obedience to the commands of Christ and his Apostles. The strident call to "faith alone," at least in our day, means "belief alone."

I have been criticized many times for teaching "works." What I actually am teaching is the behavior that results from the work of the Holy Spirit in us. However, the "faith alone" crowd will have nothing to do with any suggestion that true salvation always results in a new moral creation, not the same old creation which by some magical "grace" is seen by God to actually be righteous.

Obviously, if one views "faith" as belief in the principles of theology subscribed to by a denomination and portrayed in its "Statement of Faith," then even the most feeble attempt to emphasize integrity will be viewed with suspicion if not outright hostility.

What a mess we are in today! It is no wonder our government has lost its moral compass!

It appears the basic cause of our lack of integrity (righteousness) is the confusion about Christ's work of redemption. It seems to have been true over the past period of time, perhaps throughout the entire Christian Era, that our salvation is principally "forgiveness" so we can go to Heaven and not Hell when we die.

The fact is, the genuine Christian salvation primarily is not forgiveness but deliverance from the chains of sin plus the desire and willingness to behave righteously, that is, to demonstrate integrity of character. God's salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ brings forth a new moral creation, a person in God's image.

Until the confusion about the purpose and nature of salvation is taught clearly, I do not believe that integrity will become a part of the Christian experience. Yet God will not dwell where there is a lack of integrity.

So the current lack of integrity on the part of Christian people and their leaders may not be due to a willingness to behave dishonestly but to confusion concerning what Christ can do for us. And because the Christian people do not reveal in themselves the good works that are the light of the world, the rest of mankind plows forward in the mud, so to speak, not realizing that the problems and frustrations they suffer continually are the result of their behavior.

Another reason for the lack of integrity is the sense of sins forgiven. When an individual comes to Christ for forgiveness he experiences a lightness of spirit. A sinner has come home. This is why many Christian adults behave foolishly, not exhibiting the discipline and restraint of unsaved people.

Yet another factor leading to lack of integrity is the example set by older Christians and their leaders. When we are young, or a new Christian, we are apt to regard the older saints with awe. We suppose they are pillars of holiness and obedience to God.

After a period of time, as we see repeated instances of a lack of sincerity or even of truthfulness and basic honesty, we become disillusioned. We had supposed that the older Christians behaved during the week as they did during Church on Sunday. We were not aware of the Christian "game," of the practice of repeating the expected phrases of carrying our cross and serving Christ on Sunday, and then living as a worldly person during the week.

When Audrey and I went to pastor a church for the first time, an influential lady in the congregation asked us, "When are you going to get real?" She meant when were we going to "let our hair down" and have a party or two. She did not believe people actually lived like my wife and I were teaching.

The pastor you looked up to when you were a youth leader in his church, who left his wife and moved to a distant city in order to live with another woman.

The evangelist who appointed someone in the audience to stand up and say he would give the first thousand dollars.

The pastor who arranged for air to blow through the air conditioning ducts so people would think it was the Holy Spirit.

The evangelist who had all the young people starry-eyed, who actually was fornicating with women of the church.

The evangelist who sent out workers to the homes of widows to get them to change their wills so their inheritance would go to the evangelist rather than to their children.

The televangelist who bundled up the prayer requests and put them in the garbage.

The evangelist who tells his audience that if they will give him a thousand dollars they will never get cancer.

The lying evangelist who makes up stories about incidents that never took place.

The patriarchs of orthodox churches who fight with one another over property.

The thousands of priests who have molested children.

The "Christian" woman who leaves her husband and goes off with another man who also left his spouse. Then the two of them go from church to church singing musical "specials." They also record CDs.

The pastor is too busy figuring out how much of the morning offering to hide from the IRS to spend time inquiring about the integrity of his musical evangelists. Yet the Bible warns us about deceivers, about wolves in sheep's clothing.

I could easily enlarge this list.

Why is this? Why does the religion that bears the name of the Lord Jesus Christ not change people?

I will tell you why. It is because no religion actually changes the hearts of people. It is only a personal walk with Christ that really changes people. Whenever a Christian church places more emphasis on the faithful practice of its sacraments and rites than it does on growth in integrity of the individual communicant, that church is more of Satan than it is of Jesus Christ.

I know from personal experience that there are fine Catholic people. But when the Catholic churches emphasize penances rather than genuine, heartfelt repentance, a turning away from sin, they are not doing the work of God.

Do you remember the story of the "old prophet" who caused the death of the younger man of God? So it is that a minister as he grows older may neglect to follow Christ. He may go into selling insurance or real estate. He may remember the days when the Spirit of God rested on him. But he has fallen short of what God had for him.

When we say someone has been converted we often mean he has accepted Christian theology as being truth. He did not actually enter the death and resurrection of Christ when he was baptized in water. He went down dry and came up wet. No one ever told him he now is dead to the world that he may live in the Presence of Christ and keep his commands.

I think denominations often regard the local church as a business. The pastor is the chief executive officer of a business. The mark of the successful pastor is an increase in the offerings and in the number of people who attend. "Nickels and noses," as someone said.

This being the case, the pastor may be wise not to tell the people that in order to be a disciple, a Christian, we have to deny ourselves, take up our cross (our personal imprisonment), and follow the Lord Jesus every day and night. The pastor will choose either to preach what God wants, or else to curry favor with the people so the church grows in numbers. It reminds us of the parable of the unrighteous steward.

There simply is no middle ground. Either we faithfully present the burden of the Word of the Lord, or we keep in mind how what we are preaching is going to affect the offerings and the attendance.

Sad to say, in addition to the above examples of weak, worldly ministers of the Gospel, there are a few who are blatantly wicked. They have learned how to move congregations with their "great swelling words," as the Apostle Paul said, and obtain a great deal of money in this manner. But they are of their father, the Devil, so there is no use even discussing them.

After reviewing in my mind the sorts of things that take place in the Christian religion, I have concluded that "Depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness" will be the reception numerous Christians are going to receive when they die and stand before Christ.

Integrity! God will not work where there is lying and treachery. It does not matter if ten million souls "accept Christ." The end never justifies the means with God. Man-directed Christianity, with all of its self-seeking and moral filthiness, will never be accepted by the Lord Jesus.

Those who continue in their sinful nature might just as well leave the Gospel and pursue some other philosophy or religion; for God and his Christ do not know them and have not accepted their works. They are doing harm rather than good!

So he called in each one of his master's debtors. He asked the first, "How much do you owe my master?" "Eight hundred gallons of olive oil," he replied. The manager told him, "Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred." (Luke 16:5,6—NIV)

The Coming of the Lord: I

Many, perhaps the majority, of evangelical Christians are looking forward with joyful expectation to the return of Christ to the earth. For some believers the return of Christ will be the most wonderful event of their lifetime. But unless I am mistaken, for numerous professing Christians the return of Jesus Christ will be out of the frying pan into the fire, so to speak. We have been taught a lie. That is all there is to it!

As I prayed I sought the Lord to know what He is saying today. I haven't preached on the coming of the Lord in some while, as I remember. A few of the issues went through my mind:

The fourth chapter of First Thessalonians, the so-called "rapture" passage. The verses included in this chapter are telling us about the invasion of the earth by a huge number of saints who will accompany Christ, not a carrying off to Heaven of the nominal, casual lukewarm "believers" of our day.

The twenty-fourth chapter of the Book of Matthew, which reveals that the coming of the Lord will not be a secret but an open manifestation of the power of God. This gathering together of God's elect will take place after the time of distress.

The third chapter of the Book of Colossians, where Paul says when Christ appears we will appear with him.

Several Old Testament passages that speak of the great Day of the Lord.

The first chapter of the Book of Second Thessalonians, which tells us we shall be avenged on those who have persecuted us.

Isaiah asks us if we are ready to walk with the Devouring Fire.

Revelation says every eye shall see him.

Amos states the Day of the Lord will be darkness without a ray of brightness.

The second chapter of the Book of Joel is interesting. The Spirit warns us of the coming of a powerful army. I used to think this army was the same as that found in Revelation, Chapter Nineteen.

But as I wrote my book, Godwill Castle, I began to realize that Joel's army is not the return of Christ with his saints to destroy Antichrist and the False Prophet, but the time when the saints go through the earth, after the power of Antichrist has been broken, to destroy the institutions of the earth that have not been constructed according to the will of God.

Stop and think about it. Because the world has placed material prosperity in first importance, and God's law that we love Him and our neighbor way down at the bottom of our list of priorities, the "advancement" of civilization has succeeded in developing ever more destructive weapons with which we can kill each other. Does this make sense to you? How do you feel about this?

The discovery of nuclear fission, which may contain the answer to our energy crisis, has been used to develop bombs that can destroy whole areas of the earth in one explosion. Still we push forward in scientific endeavor, without stopping to reflect on the outcome of our efforts, and refer to this rather stupid, blind effort as "progress."

The Book of Psalms teaches us that God is going to come to the earth and compel us with the rod of iron to do his will. This is the only manner in which worldwide peace can be secured. It is like bringing a child to the doctor for a shot. The child screams, but the parent knows that otherwise there will be much more pain in the future.

Not only the people of the world, the believers of today in many instances do not live their lives according to the will of Christ. I do not know about other countries, but in America, most of the believers have accepted Christ as their Savior as long as He does not interfere with their daily lives.

The idea that they should not lean to their own understanding and must commit each aspect of their life to Christ for his guidance and enablement is difficult for headstrong American believers to accept.

Savior? Yes. Lord? Not yet.

The Christian people think that if they believe certain doctrines they will go to Heaven when they die (which actually is Gnosticism), not realizing the expression "the righteous shall live by faith" means the righteous walk humbly with God, obeying Him in every aspect of their behavior.

So we have Joel's army and the destruction of the "Eden" that has been constructed by people who do not walk humbly with God.

What then of the coming of Christ? Will it be a merry "rapture" in which fleshly "Christians" are caught up into the "Happy Hour" in Heaven, or will it be the great and terrible Day of the Lord?

We have been at Pentecost. The twentieth century was the century of the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Pentecost. Many spoke in tongues. Many were converted. Many were healed. Much missionary work has been accomplished.

What's next? According to the symbolism of the seven feasts of Israel, the next move of God is war—war against God's enemies, beginning with the spirit-enemies in his Church. Finally, when the war has been won, the Father and the Son will come to dwell for eternity in God's House, his Tabernacle that is destined to be established on the earth.

So spiritual warfare is the present truth. This warfare is beginning with those who are living close to Jesus. We are being made aware of the acts of our sinful nature. We must confess each of these acts as they are pointed out to us, and seek the help of Christ that we may be successful in turning away from them. If you are not having this experience, look for it. Pray for it. You may be surprised at the power to overcome sin that is available right now.

Jerusalem shall be comforted. Her warfare shall have been accomplished.

We live in the most wonderful, the most dangerous, era of all history. Antichrist and the False Prophet are on the rise. Christ is coming to those who are looking for him, bringing enough wisdom and power with Him to enable each faithful disciple to be more than a conqueror through earth's darkest hour. The careless believers will be carried about by the tremendous forces to be unleashed in the earth as God and Satan, Christ and Antichrist, and the Holy Spirit and the False Prophet, face each other in the conflict of the ages.

The issue is the removing of sin from the spirit world and the physical realm. God is ready now to put an end to sin; to make the enemies of Jesus Christ his footstool.

The way of the Lord shall be made straight. It must be made straight in my heart and your heart. Every valley must be filled in; every high place brought down; every crooked path straightened out; every rough place made smooth—in your heart and mine. It is time to prepare the way of the Lord!

The coming of the Lord is the Day of fiery judgment. It has begun with us. We simply must confess our sins—every last one of them. We must live a victorious Christian life. If we do, we will save ourselves and our loved ones throughout the coming American holocaust. If we do not thus prepare ourselves we will be swept aside as the titans of the spirit world battle over truth and righteousness.

By "save ourselves" I do not mean we will not be harmed physically in any manner. Some will be killed for the Gospel's sake. I mean rather that we will not lose our faith in Christ. We will keep our eyes on Jesus during every possible form of testing and finally stand in victory before the Son of Man.

The present period is one of preparation for those who are to inherit the Kingdom of God. All the foolish, unproductive aspects of our life must be set aside. We can accomplish this through prayer. The future events will overcome all but the most sincere, dedicated disciples of the Lord. The age of moral horrors is upon us, as we see in the events taking place and the words being spoken during the current presidential campaign.

What has America come to? What has happened to the old values?

I will tell you what has happened. Since the days of the Civil War, America has been sowing seeds of humanism and fleshly entertainment and pleasures that at one time seemed innocent enough. People danced the "Big Apple." They sang, "Yes, We have No Bananas." They saw Hoot Gibson win against the bad guys. The innocent comic strips of "Tarzan" and "Our Boarding House" amused us.

Innocent enough, but not building the strength in us that we need if we are to stand throughout the closing of the Church Age.

The days of church people wresting a living from the frozen countryside of New England have degenerated into the sexual perversions of Hollywood and the socialism and atheism of the universities. Today America is Sodom, Pompeii, the last days of Rome.

Why the wars? Why the economic disasters? It surely couldn't be God, could it? Is it true that after the great San Francisco earthquake the ministers rushed to assure their congregations that God and the wickedness of the people of San Francisco had nothing to do with the disaster?

Today the intellectuals dither about evolution, intelligent design, and how biblical it is that two men or two women are married and remain faithful to each other, when the sexual activities of homosexuals are far more depraved than that of animals. Surely God could not object to this, or to the teenage girl who is forced to murder her offspring so her parents will not be embarrassed!

America. At one time the hope of the downtrodden. Today, the scorn of the Muslim world, which at least understands that a woman or girl who is serving God should be modest in her apparel; although the Muslim treatment of women in some instances is atrocious—worse than generally understood.

One commentator said that the political contestants who wish to continue with the old American values are doomed to fail, because that world is gone forever. For myself, I think he is accurate. Our misery may be prolonged but the end is in sight. It has to be. The way of the Lord must be made straight. Severe judgments shall come from the hand of God. They always come upon the practices of Sodom, Pompeii, and Rome.

The Bible commands us to instill the Lord's Word in our children. In many—perhaps the majority—of instances we have not done this. The generation of young people, with some noteworthy exceptions, are far more versed in electronic communication devices than they are in the Bible.

The complexities and delusions of lawlessness must give way before the simplicity and transparency of righteousness.

"Come, Lord Jesus. Come with your saints from ancient times. Come with those who walk in the flames of God's Person. Come with those mighty angels who do your will, who stand guard in their majesty around the rainbow Throne.

"I do not ask that you preserve the filthy moral practices of us Americans. I do not ask that you do nothing as that fetus, that little girl destined to discover the cure for cancer, is thrown into the garbage and does not have the chance to serve God on the earth. I do not ask that you carry up to Paradise the careless 'Christian believers' who rush home after the Sunday service so they do not miss their favorite athletic event.

"I do not ask for the American abominations to continue. Rather I say, Come, Lord Jesus. Come with your saints. Come with your holiest of angels. Come in the fullness of the power of God. Burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. Remove all sin and sinners from your kingdom.

"Then will the righteous rejoice. Then will the meek inherit the earth. Then will the oppressed receive justice. Then will the panther play with the lamb. Then will the child play on the earth without harm or danger of any sort, having lions and tigers for pets.

"Come, Lord Jesus, and bring the righteousness, love, joy, and peace that God wishes all people to have."

"Look, he is coming with the clouds," and "every eye will see him, even those who pierced him"; and all peoples on earth "will mourn because of him." So shall it be! Amen. (Revelation 1:7—NIV)

The Coming of the Lord: II

The disciples asked the Lord Jesus what would be the sign of His coming.

As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" (Matthew 24:3—NASB)

If we want to know about the return of the Lord Jesus, then we must consider His answer to His disciples.

The first thing we notice is that there will be no "rapture" prior to His coming. Given the fact that the neither the Old Testament nor the New Testament speaks of a rapture of God's people to Heaven prior to the coming of the Lord, it is amazing how widespread this deception is. I think the "rapture" deception will fall by the wayside as world history unfolds.

The truth is, there will be no special "rapture" before the coming of the Lord. There only is the one coming of the Lord, except for the coming to each disciple personally, as described in the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John.

You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains. (Matthew 24:6-8—NIV)

Wars and rumors of wars are not the sign of the end, nor are famines and earthquakes. These are the beginning of the birth of the Kingdom of God and of the new world of righteousness that is on the horizon.

Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. (Matthew 24:12,13—NIV)

Wickedness is increasing in our day. There is coming a worldwide revival, as portrayed in the two witnesses of Revelation. It may be true that most people in the world will believe in Christ because of the revival. But there will be so much evil, the love of the majority finally will grow cold. Then the believers must stand firm to the end if they are to be saved.

So when you see standing in the holy place "the abomination that causes desolation," spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. (Matthew 24:15-22—NIV)

"For the sake of the elect those days will be shortened." Since it is the Great Tribulation that is being discussed, does it sound to you that the elect will be present or absent during the Tribulation?

The doctrine of the pre-tribulation "rapture" of the Christians is a foolish, fatuous, fanciful, totally unscriptural teaching. It is part of the Dispensational-grace theology which is nothing less than a sophisticated rebellion against God.

Whoever is teaching a pre-tribulation "rapture" of the Christian people is preventing them from being prepared to stand during the chaotic days that lie before us.

I think "the abomination that causes desolation" will be the figure of a man sitting on the Mercy Seat in the Holy of Holies in the Temple in Jerusalem; and also the statue of a man standing on top of the Temple, at the place where Jesus was tempted. Perhaps the man (or woman) himself will sit on the Mercy Seat. That assuredly would bring about the Great Tribulation.

The idea is that man is supreme. The spirit of Antichrist is that of man making himself God, as is promoted in America today. However I think that Daniel is clear that there will be a human being, man or woman, who will exemplify the ideal of man rejecting all other gods and being his own god.

Whenever man usurps the place of God, every sort of desolation follows, financial, educational, military. This why the strength of America is diminishing.

For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. (Matthew 24:27—NASB)

The coming of Jesus Christ will not be a "secret rapture." This is the very thing Christ warned us against!

Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. (Matthew 24:28—NASB)

The "carcass" is the slain Lamb in the sky. The "vultures" properly "eagles" are those who live by His body and blood.

Immediately after the distress of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken. Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. (Matthew 24:29-30—NIV)

Does the above sound to you like a "secret rapture"? It doesn't to me either.

And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. (Matthew 24:31—NIV)

Now think for a moment. How could there be a secret rapture before the worldwide return of Christ, when it is at his return that the angels gather Christ's elect from one end of the heavens to the other? Are there two gatherings of the elect? This is ridiculous? It is totally illogical and unscriptural.

Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. (II Thessalonians 2:1,2—NIV)

The above is Paul's description of the same event. There is only one time that we are gathered to Christ, and that is during the Day of the Lord. The same Greek term for "coming" is employed in Matthew 24 and First and Second Thessalonians.

Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. (Matthew 24:33,34—NIV)

It may be true that "all these things" are the signs in the heavens, the darkening of the sun and moon, and so forth. The generation that experiences these signs will live to see the Lord's return.

Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. (Matthew 24:40.41—NIV)

From the wording it is difficult to determine whether the one who is taken is the one who is saved, or whether he or she is the one who is lost, as in the case of those drowned during the days of Noah. In any case it is clear that the judgment of God will carefully divide between the closest of people.

We must conclude that it is not enough just to "accept Christ," unless by this we mean receiving Jesus into our life every moment of every day and night. In this manner we "keep watch" so the coming of Christ does not catch us unprepared.

How different this exhortation is from the current comfortable teaching that once we make a profession of Christ we are saved eternally no matter how we behave.

If we are cruel to people, not helping them along the way, then we will not be blessed by the Lord when He returns. Rather, we will be cut to pieces and assigned to a place with the hypocrites.

There is no question in my mind but that we have been lied to, having been taught that all we need do is make a profession of belief in Christ. After that it does not matter how we behave, just as long as we keep on "believing in Christ." I don't know about you, but since my eternal welfare is at stake, I prefer to act according to the admonitions of the Scriptures rather than trust in the traditions of today's Bible teachers.

If through prayer and obedience to Christ we are able to escape the carousing, drunkenness, and anxieties of life of these last days, we will stand in victory in the Presence of Jesus Christ. He who endures to the end shall be saved.

Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man. (Luke 21:34-36—NIV)

The Servant of the Lord: I

The Book of Isaiah tells us about the Servant of the Lord. The Servant of the Lord is Christ, Head and Body. Each of us who is a member of the Body of Christ finds what our role is by studying Isaiah, Chapter Forty-two, and related passages.

Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. (Isaiah 42:1—NASB)

The passage above is speaking directly to each member of the Body of Christ. It is telling us that he or she is God's servant. The Christian preaching of today seems to be stressing that God is our servant. He is not. God's will is the only legitimate will in the universe.

There is no part of the Bible that tells us good will come to us if we do not do God's will instead of our own. But for those who set themselves to do God's will, and only God's will, the Bible offers us an inheritance more glorious than our wildest hopes and imaginations.

Each member of the Servant of the Lord, the Body of Christ, is upheld by the Father himself. This means that during the chaos that is approaching America, the believer will find that the everlasting Arms are under him or her.

Each member of the Body of Christ is a chosen individual. Many people are called to partake of the Kingdom of God. But to qualify for the responsibilities and inheritance of the servants of the Lord, we must pass from the ranks of the called to the ranks of the chosen. We do this by faithfully following Christ, bearing our personal cross.

God puts his Spirit upon us because we are obedient to Him.

"He will bring justice to the nations." This thought may be new to us. The traditional view is that once we "accept Christ" we will go to Heaven when we die. What we will do there is not clear, except that we will recline at our ease forever in our mansion while an angel pops grapes into our mouth.

It becomes apparent at once that the traditional view of the Christian salvation is far removed from what the Scriptures tell us. We have not been saved, filled with God's Spirit and built up by the gifts of the Spirit so we can spend eternity doing nothing of value. God has called us, chosen us, and built us up through the ministries of the Body of Christ so we can bring justice to the nations of the earth.

As we look about us today we can see the efforts being made to bring about a world government with the power to enforce its rules on the citizens of every country. This might be beneficial, if it were not for the fact that the rules of the world government will conflict with the values of Christian people.

There finally will be "peace and safety," but it will be a peace and safety in line with Satan's personality and desires. We Americans had better awaken from our comfortable sleep, because our nation rapidly is being prepared to be a part of this world government that does not know the fear of God and does not honor God.

The Servant of the Lord has been chosen by the Father to bring justice to the nations. The stated purpose of the antichrist world government will be to bring justice to the nations. But the antichrist world government always will fumble and end up denying justice to many people. This is because the evil nature of unregenerate people will prove out to be self-serving, personally ambitious. The result inevitably will be iniquities, lies, and treacheries of every kind. Governments always are like this, it seems.

However, it is not God's desire that the nations of the earth live in injustice. God has permitted the past 6,000 years of agony and insanity so angels and people could see what happens when angels or people follow their own will.

I think the time is up. The audio-visual instruction has been completed. A few more agonizing, insane years of the rule of self-seeking man and self-seeking angels, and Christ shall appear with his righteous angels, and called, chosen, and faithful saints. The resistance of the nations will be smashed with the rod of iron created in the victorious saints. Righteousness, love, peace, and joy will fill the people of the nations of the earth as the saints, having been filled with Christ and taught by Christ, assume the thrones that govern the earth.

"He will bring justice to the nations." This is the Word of God, less shakable than Gibraltar. It shall take place! We who have been chosen to be members of the Servant of the Lord must endure many frustrations and pains while the rod of iron is created in us. But our inheritance is God and the people of the nations whom God chooses to save.

It will be worth it all when we see Jesus and are invited to share with Him the greatest treasures of all—people.

I am the LORD, I have called You in righteousness, I will also hold You by the hand and watch over You, and I will appoint You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the nations, (Isaiah 42:6—NASB)

"God so loved the world He gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." Perhaps we would change this to say, "God so loves the Church." But this is not what is written. God loves the world!

God does not love the present world spirit, for that spirit is Antichrist. But God loves the people of the world, and He desires that as many as possible have eternal life instead of a dead spiritual nature that does not know God or have fellowship with him.

Because of his desire, God has called out of the world his Church, his servant. For two thousand years God has been calling out his servant, the members of the Body of Christ, and bringing them through every conceivable testing and experience. God is not doing this so his servants will be happy doing nothing in Heaven but so they will be able to bring eternal life to whoever will come and drink of the Spirit, and thus come to know God and to have fellowship with Him.

God makes us a covenant for the people of the nations. If they will do what we say, we on our part will open their eyes to God; we will bring them out of the prison of spiritual death and separation from God; we will open the door of their dungeons so they may come out into the Light of God's Presence.

Perhaps God makes it possible for us to do some of this work today. But the redemption of mankind will come with the return of Christ and his saints and holy angels. The creation is travailing in pain today because the Kingdom of God is about to be brought forth.

The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. (Romans 8:19-21—NIV)

The Servant of the Lord: II

The Servant of the Lord, announced in the forty-second chapter of the Book of Isaiah, is Christ—Head and Body. It appears to me that not every person who professes belief in the Lord Jesus Christ is part of the Body of Christ at this time. There is a firstfruits of the Church, of God's elect, in the present hour. It is they who will be raised from the dead and raised to meet Christ in the air at His coming. They will perform the work of Christ described in the Book of Isaiah.

The rest of the Church will come to maturity in time to be part of the new Jerusalem as it comes down through the new sky and is established as the Kingdom of God upon the earth. I have written in other essays about the temporary division of the Church, the Body of Christ, and so I will not go into detail at this time. It reminds one of David and his mighty men. They were part of Israel but distinguished by their proficiency in war.

I do not advance lightly the radical thought of a temporary division of the Christian Church into a firstfruits and then the balance of the Church. However the Book of Revelation mentions a firstfruits (Revelation, Chapter Fourteen).

Also, when one thinks about the Lord saying that no person can be his disciple without denying himself and bearing his cross after Christ, and then notices in the Book of Acts that the original Christians all were disciples, it is seen that only a small percentage of today's churchgoers actually are Christians. The standard set by Christ and His Apostles simply is not attained to by most believers.

Perhaps this is why the Gospel has been watered down in our day, such that anyone who "accepts Christ" (a term not found in the Bible) is eternally assured of residence in Heaven regardless of his or her growth into a new creation of righteous behavior.

Any individual who examines objectively the Christian churches of our day can observe that not very many "believers" are presenting their body a living sacrifice and have no intention of doing so.

So when we declare the Servant of the Lord is Christ and his Body, and that only a firstfruits of the Church of the present hour qualify as a member of the Servant of the Lord, we have objective evidence that such is the case.

The forty-third chapter of the Book of Isaiah continues with Divine statements concerning the Servant of the Lord, whom we believe consists at this time of the most consecrated believers. They will appear with Christ and establish the rule of the Kingdom of God on the earth. The remainder of the Christian people must wait until the final resurrection before taking part in their predestined role as members of the Royal Priesthood, as an integral part of the new Jerusalem.

I am the LORD, I have called You in righteousness, I will also hold You by the hand and watch over You, and I will appoint You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the nations, (Isaiah 43:1—NASB)

Whenever Isaiah speaks of the Servant of the Lord, referring to him as Jacob, he is not speaking of the Jews by physical birth but of those who are called to be members of the Royal Priesthood, whether Jew or Gentile by physical birth. They are the one Seed of Abraham, in whom the nations of the earth shall be blessed.

Each such member is a special creation, called from the beginning of the world to be part of Christ. God forms such individuals into new creations of righteous behavior. God already has redeemed us. God has called us by name. We belong to Him in a special way, just as was true of the members of the Aaronic priesthood.

And these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. (Romans 8:30—NASB)

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you when you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you. (Isaiah 43:2—NASB)

Every true Christian disciple experiences this promise. We go through very deep waters indeed, but they do not go over our head; we do not drown. We go through hot fires, but somehow, like the three young Hebrew men, we are not burned.

God delights in those whom He has called to be members of the Body of Christ, of the Servant of the Lord. He watches over and cherishes them. Although there are times when they feel forsaken, He always is there making certain they are not tested beyond what they are able to bear.

Don't ever give up. Keep on pressing forward. God always is there watching. If your testing is severe, it is because God has prepared a throne for you from which you will govern and bless your inheritance of people.

It may seem at times like you will drown or be set ablaze, but you won't. Just keep trusting, if your tests last for many years. And they may!

Since you are precious in My sight, since you are honored and I love you, I will give other men in your place and other peoples in exchange for your life. (Isaiah 43:4—NASB)

There is no need for us to fear the tumult in the world. All of these chaotic conditions have as their purpose to bring forth the brothers of Christ. This may not seem fair or democratic, but it is the truth.

I think many of God's people do not realize what it means to be called as a "saint," a holy one of God. It doesn't seem fair that God would call out from the ranks of mankind a special people for his own use. But this was true of the nation of Israel, wasn't it? The Israelites were called out from the rest of the nations, although there was no merit in them that would cause God to do this.

This calling remains on the nation of Israel to the present day. There are some who would destroy Israel. But they labor in vain. Israel is the only nation that God has chosen to know Him in a special way, and He will defend Israel when necessary.

Those of us who are Gentiles by physical birth have been chosen to be part of the one Seed of Abraham, along with those Jews who have been chosen in like manner. We ought therefore to seek God with all our might that we might be found worthy of this high calling. We are not of the world, because the God of Heaven has called us out of the world that we might be a special treasure for Himself.

This may not seem fair to us. But it is the truth. If we are wise we will serve the Lord with a perfect heart. Otherwise our crown may be removed from us and given to another.

I will say to the north, "Give them up!" and to the south, "Do not hold them back." Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth—everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made. (Isaiah 43:6,7—NIV)

Our Lord Jesus told us that when we Christians are one, the world will believe that it is the God of Heaven who has sent Jesus into the world. That day is coming. The time of denominationalism is nearly over. There will be pressures in the future that will compel the true believers to come out of the man-made structures and become one in Christ.

This will be true of everyone whom God created for his glory, whom He formed and made. As I said, there are a relatively few Christian churchgoers who reveal in themselves the new creation of righteous behavior. The remainder are good people, (although some are malicious and do not have the Spirit of Christ). But they are not abiding in Christ. They are not living in the Spirit of God but in the lusts and passions of the flesh.

The day will come when the firstfruits of the Bride of the Lamb will be filled with the Glory of Christ. All who see them will acknowledge that they are the Seed whom the Lord has blessed. They will be referred to as the ministers of God, The Lord Jesus said that this revelation of Himself will be seen by all mankind, causing numerous people to believe and turn to the Lord.

Bring out the people who are blind, even though they have eyes, and the deaf, even though they have ears (Isaiah 43:8—NASB)

The people of the world see, but they do not see. The members of the Servant of the Lord do not see, but they see. Each of us needs to pray that we do not see the world as the world sees itself, but we see the world as God sees the world. That which is highly esteemed among men often is an abomination to God.

All the nations have gathered together so that the peoples may be assembled who among them can declare this and proclaim to us the former things? Let them present their witnesses that they may be justified, or let them hear and say, "It is true." (Isaiah 43:9—NASB)

It is the way of the world to boast of its prowess and to proclaim what the future will be. This especially is true in our day because of the increase of electronic media. Such prideful boasting! But the world spirit is one massive Antichrist lie. Only that which has been proclaimed by the Lord Jesus will prove in the end to be the truth.

"You are my witnesses," declares the LORD, "and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior." (Isaiah 43:10,11—NIV)

There is a great deal said in the Christian churches about "witnessing." Actually, what is meant is preaching to others, telling them about the salvation that is in Jesus Christ.

However, true witnessing occurs when we know and believe Christ. God alone makes witnesses of Himself. I think it requires quite a long period of time before we can bear witness as God intends.

When we go through the waters and not drown, then we can testify of that. When we pass through the flames and are not destroyed, then we can testify of that. Many experiences through the years teach us about God's faithfulness. We then can bear witness of His faithfulness. Isn't it so?

So preaching and personal evangelism are one thing. Witnessing is something else. There is a great deal of preaching in America in our day; but the witness being given is not always a true representation of God, his Person, his ways, his will, and his eternal purpose in Christ. Would you agree to that?

Even from eternity I am He, and there is none who can deliver out of My hand; I act and who can reverse it? (Isaiah 43:13—NASB)

There is so much unrest among nations in our day. But we have no need to fear. No one can deliver from God's hand those appointed to judgment. If we are serving the Lord Jesus, God will keep us safe from those who would harm us.

The nations will scheme and rage. But all of this uproar is the pains of birth as the Kingdom of God and the new world of righteousness are ready to be brought forth. We have no need to fear the boastings and threats of evil men. They soon shall be brought down to nothing.

However, if we are to be safe during these terrible days, and to be able to help our loved ones and friends, we must—we absolutely must!—learn to live by the Life of Jesus. Again I say, we must live by the life of Jesus. It must be said of us that we are living no longer but it is Christ who is living in us.

We can learn to live by the Life of Jesus, but we must continually ask the Lord to help us do this.

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (Galatians 2:20—NASB)

The Ruler

The Father has made the Lord Jesus Christ the Ruler of all God has created. The Father has ordained that the Lord have a number of brothers who are to govern along with him. In order for this to occur, Christ must be formed in his brothers. According to the Scriptures, the brothers of Christ will be brought forth in the closing days of the Church Age.

Notice the following prophecy, the Word that I think gave the three travelers from the East the knowledge that Christ was to be born in Bethlehem:

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times. Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor gives birth and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites. (Micah 5:2,3—NIV)

"Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor gives birth and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites." This is speaking of the "ruler in Israel," who obviously is the Lord Jesus.

The Lord Jesus had not asserted his rulership over the nation of Israel, because the time had not come for the Church to bring forth Christ in the members of his Body. Jesus has determined that his brothers shall rule with Him and share in the inheritance.

I am inclined to believe the time has come for Jesus and his brothers, the members of the Body of Christ, to return and deliver the Jews from their oppressors; and this is why the Scriptures are opening to us the way they are.

The following passage may suggest that the forming of Christ in the members of his Body will be a somewhat sudden event:

"Hear that uproar from the city, hear that noise from the temple! It is the sound of the LORD repaying his enemies all they deserve.

Before she goes into labor, she gives birth; before the pains come upon her, she delivers a son.

"Who has ever heard of such a thing? Who has ever seen such things? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children.

"Do I bring to the moment of birth and not give delivery?" says the LORD. "Do I close up the womb when I bring to delivery?" says your God. (Isaiah 66:6-9—NIV)

Before the Church went into labor, the Son, Jesus Christ was born. But then, just as soon as Zion travailed in birth, she brought forth the brothers of the Lord. This warns us that events in the spirit realm will develop quickly from this point forward. The spiritual darkness will increase, but so will the Light of God.

First the Son, born without travail. Then the travail and the brothers are born.

Notice the travail of the Church:

"She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth."

Do we find evidence in the New Testament of the birth of the brothers of Christ?

The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. (Revelation 12:4,5—NIV)

The child who is born at this moment is not the Lord Jesus. It is his brothers. The "woman" here is not Mary, it is the Church.

The members of Christ's Body are caught up to God and to his throne. This is an event we experience. As we keep praying until we "pray through," we feel in ourselves that we have overcome the darkness of the world. We sense that we have been caught up to the Throne of God and are seated with Christ in the heavenlies.

Are the saints actually going to govern along with Christ?

Notice the following:

In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13,14—NIV)

Of course, the Person "like a son of man" is our Lord Jesus.

But notice carefully the following:

I, Daniel, was troubled in spirit, and the visions that passed through my mind disturbed me. I approached one of those standing there and asked him the true meaning of all this. So he told me and gave me the interpretation of these things: "The four great beasts are four kingdoms that will rise from the earth. But the saints of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever—yes, for ever and ever." (Daniel 7:16-18—NIV)

The interpretation of the vision is that "the saints of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever—yes, for ever and ever."

The "one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven," is the Lord Jesus. But the interpretation of the vision is that "the saints of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever."

I take from this that either "the clouds of heaven" are the saints with whom the Lord comes, or their coming is the same as his coming in that He is in them and they are living by his Life. Even if they are the clouds of heaven mentioned here, it still is true that it is Christ in them; for it is certain we cannot rule apart from the Life of Christ in us.

Or perhaps the Ancient of Days is the Lord Jesus Christ!

When Christ walked the earth it was the Father who was doing the works and announcing his own Words. This is what Jesus told us. But the Father himself was not visible to us.

I do not think it is too much of a stretch to think of the appearing of the governing saints to be actually the governing of Christ who is in them; but yet when the Lord returns, in some instances it will be only the saints who are visible. It is true and scriptural that we are to be made one with Christ as He is One with the Father. This is the prayer of the Lord. Also, Paul, in Romans, tells us that we have been predestined to be conformed to the image of Him who is the Firstborn among many brothers.

So, in accordance with the Scriptures, Mount Zion, the Church of the Firstborn, is in travail today. You and I are experiencing these birth pangs. They demand our compliance in the deepest roots of our being.

We have been destined to sit with the Lord Jesus on the highest throne of all. The price attached to such an exalted position is the highest possible. All that we think, say, and do must be given to Jesus until we are living by his very Life. Only then will we be a part of the One to whom the Father has given authority, glory, and sovereign power over all peoples, nations, and men of every language. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

God is not building up the members of the Body of Christ so they can go to Heaven but so they can return with Christ and bring justice to the peoples of the earth.

To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations—He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery]— just as I have received authority from my Father. (Revelation 2:26,27—NIV)

The Three Testings of God's Sons

We can read in the fourth chapter of the Book of Luke about the three testings of Christ. Every son of God is tested in the same three manners. The first testing has to do with our physical needs, such as food, clothing, and shelter. The second testing is in the area of pleasure. The third testing reflects our willingness to think and act only as directed by God, by Christ.

These are the three areas of our life as human beings—our physical needs, our pleasures, and the manner in which we make our decisions.

The temptation in each of these three areas is to pursue the accomplishment of our desires apart from looking to the Lord, apart from walking humbly with God, apart from waiting until we hear from the Lord.

The first area, that of our physical needs, has, in America, largely to do with money. Money is one of the two great gods of Americans, the other being sexual lust.

Right now God is attacking the god of money. In time past a severe blow to the American economy has caused people to commit suicide. Can you imagine? Those who killed themselves because they lost money reveal that money was their chief interest in life. There were no warm, loving family relationships to cherish, nothing to look to bring them out of their despair. They lost money. Therefore life was not worth living. Can you imagine that?

The Father speaking through Jesus, as recorded in the Gospel accounts, told us clearly that we are not to lay up treasures on the earth but in Heaven where they are secure. We must take our things, relationships, circumstances, traits of character, and environment and deliberately and forcefully keep placing them in Heaven. Everything we are and possess must be kept on the altar of God.

If we try to save our life in the world we will lose it.

Among the treasures we are to lay up are traits of character, such as faithfulness, honesty, kindness, mercy. If we lay up such in Heaven, they, and the results of them, will be given to us in the Day of Resurrection—and sometimes before that! These traits will appear as characteristics of our new body, in the Day of Resurrection.

God warned us that we cannot serve both money and him. Either God or money has to be first in our heart.

God told us not to worry about our life, what we are to eat or drink, or about our body, what we are to wear. He reminded us that God feeds the birds and that we are more important to God than birds. God clothes the flowers. We are more important than flowers. Do we truly believe that God cares for us?

God said that if we will seek first his Kingdom and his righteousness, our physical needs will be provided.

What does it mean to seek first God's Kingdom and his righteousness? It means that in every decision of our life, beginning with the smallest decision, we are to ask God to give us the wisdom and power so we can make the right choice. When God tells us what to do and enables us to do it, we are living in his Kingdom and enjoying his righteousness. We are living by every Word that is coming from the mouth of God.

Each of the three testings is the same, as I said previously. It is to measure our willingness to seek the accomplishment of our needs and desires without looking to Christ for wisdom and help.

In these difficult economic times in America we are to learn to look to Christ for our material needs. It may be that the economy will be much worse in the future, and we need to learn now how to trust God for our daily needs. We cannot trust the government to meet these needs for us. If we place our trust in the government we will become part of the one-world Antichrist government of the future, to which the present distresses are leading.

In the thirty-seventh Psalm the writer testified that he never had seen the righteous forsaken nor their seed begging bread.

In the fourth chapter of the Book of Philippians, Paul advises us that God shall supply our needs.

We are to live by every Word coming from the mouth of God. God always is speaking wisdom to each individual. We are to learn to listen and make our decisions based on what God is saying at each moment.

The second testing is that of all the pleasures, passions, motives and agendas of our flesh, including the desire to rule other people. It is the realm of Satan and of our sinful nature. Paul told us in the Books of Galatians, Ephesians, and Colossians that we shall not inherit the Kingdom of God but shall reap corruption if we live according to our sinful nature.

The Apostle John in his first letter informs us that whoever is committing sin is of the devil. We may reject this thought, but it is true. When we are committing sin we are worshiping Satan. When referring to the kingdoms of the pleasures of the world, Satan asked Jesus to worship him. Jesus told Satan that the sons of God are to worship God only.

We may not enjoy the thought that when we sin we are worshiping Satan. This is especially true in the area of sexual lust. Adultery and fornication usually head the list when the Apostle Paul refers to the acts of the sinful nature.

Pornography on the Internet is proving to be a powerful testing in our day. Numerous Christians, pastors and evangelists included, look at the filthy immorality on the Internet. Would they continue to do this if they realized they actually are worshiping Satan?

The Bible says: "The one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil." (I John 3:8—NASB)

Would you like to be "of the devil"? Neither would I. If this is so, we had better look to Christ for wisdom and strength when the Spirit of God points out sinful behavior in our life.

Remember, the second testing is to seek our pleasures apart from Christ by yielding to Satan. The godly way is to commit every desire for pleasure to the Lord Jesus that He may give us the pleasures we should have—pleasures that will bring us love, joy, and peace, not remorse and sickness.

Every mentally healthy person realizes there is a God and a spirit world. Atheists may talk themselves out of this fact, but harm themselves and their hearers by so doing.

Yes, there indeed is a God and a spirit world. This realization is in the consciousness of most people who have lived or yet are living on the earth. The less educated peoples do not have nearly as much trouble with the concept of God as do the more "sophisticated."

The problem is, how are we to approach and please God? Thousands of religions and witch doctors give us the answer. Most of them are incorrect, I believe.

For myself, I am a pastor of an evangelical church. But I do not have much faith in any religious body. Religious organizations usually end up with an assortment of plans they have derived from their own ideas of what God wants. Individual Christians who walk humbly with God, listening to the Spirit's call, are not as plentiful as one could wish.

There is the high point of the roof of the Temple in Jerusalem, the test of presumption; the temptation to act apart from God according to our own understanding. This was the original temptation, wasn't it?

The Book of Psalms says that God's angels will keep us from stumbling. Therefore in order to prove we are a son of God we should jump off the roof of the Temple. This is Satan's advice.

The point is to test God to see if his promises are trustworthy. We are not to do this. It is presumption.

From what I can see, most religious efforts are presumptuous. The leaders get an idea from the Bible concerning what we are to do to please God. Then every believer is to fall into line and do these things, which they usually do not have the grace to do. They continue to sit in church while the exhortations to action go on and on and on until the churchgoers cannot "hear" them anymore.

"Let's step out in faith. Let's try this or that. Maybe that will bring in more people so we can add them to our year-end report."

From listening to the Christian organizations you would think that the main subject of the New Testament is evangelism—"getting souls saved." Some day, when you have a moment, check out the number of times the word "evangelism" or "evangelist" is employed in the New Testament.

What, then, is the subject of the New Testament? The main subject is the building up in faith of the believers as they learn to turn away from sin and worship God through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Why do we emphasize what is not emphasized in the New Testament, and minimize what actually is emphasized?

I may be incorrect, but I think the reason is the Christian organizations measure their success in numbers of converts, not in how many believers grew substantially in Christ. It may be true that denominations are more concerned with the welfare of the organization than they are with the welfare of people. We see this as the Catholic Church, it is reported, appears to be more concerned about the dignity of the priests than about the children they molested.

We must keep in mind that Satan is not threatened by new converts, only by true disciples who are dying to their own lives that Christ may live in them.

Can't you imagine a Christian organization in its year-end report listing the number of members who gained victory over unforgiveness, bitterness, hatred, self-seeking, pornography, boasting, seeking preeminence!

Don't wait for denominational year-end reports to report Christian growth, although Christian growth is the objective of the denomination. Growth in numbers of converts and growth in income or in missions-giving, are included in the year-end reports. Perhaps growth in the image of Christ is difficult to measure and report. Maybe so. But this is the true index of church growth, isn't it?

A church of ten thousand members may make no significant impact on the Kingdom of God, while one believer who is devoted wholly to the Lord may make eternal improvements in the Kingdom. So if we use the number of people who join our group as a measure of success, we are using an incorrect measure. Consequently we are using incorrect methods in the operations of our system.

Think of God's stars, like Oswald Chambers, Andrew Murray, A. W. Tozer, and how they have affected millions of people. They without doubt have made eternal improvements in the Kingdom, perhaps more eternal improvements that have been made by huge megachurches.

If I am hearing the Spirit of God, He is not speaking about saving America, or an imminent "rapture." He is not speaking to me about all the believers going forth and "saving souls." Perhaps He is saying this to some people. I may be opening myself to censure by mentioning this, but I do not have a "passions for souls." I do, however, have a passion for obeying Christ as his will is made known to me.

I believe the Spirit is telling us Christians to look to Him that He may deliver us from the sins of the flesh. I think personally this is the greatest need in America right now. Our government is floundering in the realm of ethics because the evangelical churches are preaching about the evacuation of the Christians in a "rapture" instead of teaching the believers how to show the light of Christ by their good works.

No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. (I John 3:6—NASB)

Union and Families

One of the most powerful longings of the human heart is that at death the individual will see once again his or her loved ones. It may be a husband, wife, sweetheart, son, daughter, father, mother, grandparents. I cannot think of a more cherished hope, one that is encouraged by the promise that through the Lord Jesus Christ we have eternal life. How do you feel about this?

When we picture being once again with the object of our affections we ordinarily do not think of a ghost in a white sheet with a pumpkin for a head. Our little girl has not become an "it." The person we hope to see is real in our mind, not a ghost. We understand the relationship will not be of flesh and blood, but we most certainly hope there will be a genuine, loving relationship.

In the resurrection it is our metabolism that will be changed. Our metabolism no longer will be of flesh and blood but will be of God's Spirit, if we have lived in victory in Christ. Also, our resurrected flesh and bones will be clothed with a body fashioned from the Spirit of God, if we have put to death through the Spirit the lawless activities of our sinful nature.

If I really do at this time have, as I believe, an increased spiritual awareness, there are communities in the spirit world. There are families living in houses. There are people brought together by the Spirit of God. There are boys and girls. I truly believe this is so in the spirit world and will be on the new earth. God has promised us the desires of our heart. Personally I would not care for a world in which there were no boys or girls and no families.

For most of us, whether of God's elect or a member of the nations of the saved, our most cherished, most fulfilling experiences have to do with our family. It is true there are people who find complete fulfillment in serving others in a leper colony, or in the perfection of a talent, or in an intellectual pursuit of some sort.

In numerous instances, however, our husband, wife, son, daughter, sweetheart, is our most consuming interest—more important to us than ten thousand Heavens or any other novel environment. Love is highest in our priorities.

It makes one think of Mary throwing herself on the resurrected Jesus. Peter would have begun building tabernacles. But Mary understood what life is all about. So does God, and that is why Mary and not Peter was the first to meet the resurrected King.

But, as Paul wrote, some have one calling and some a different calling. We are to remain contentedly in our calling, as the Lord directs.

However, there are two Bible passages that at first glance seem to greatly diminish our universal hope. The first was announced by the Lord Jesus. The second was declared by the Apostle Paul.

Jesus replied, "The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God's children, since they are children of the resurrection." (Luke 20:34-36—NIV)

Let us focus on "neither marry nor be given in marriage."

Jesus said this in response to the hypothetical question concerning seven brothers who had the same wife. Whose wife shall she be in the resurrection?

Paul told us that the marriage contract is broken at death, so this hypothetical wife was not bound legally to any of the seven brothers after their and her deaths.

Flesh and blood marriage is for the physical world. The marriages often are the result of the desires of the physical bodies involved. After a few months the inner natures of the couple may appear, each having its own will. From then on the marriage is held together by integrity, in many instances.

Often marriages are not unions at all and become distressing. I think I read that the divorce rate in the United States is somewhere around fifty percent. To some couples, who fight continually but have too much integrity to obtain a divorce, death may come as a welcome release from their obligation.

Human marriage under these circumstances is not a situation to be perpetuated in the resurrection from the dead. God has promised us fullness of joy if we are serving him.

It should be kept in mind that the problems that arise in marriage are one of the most effective means of slaying the self-will and self-love in us. When we break the union, without the Lord's permission, we do not gain that selflessness of personality that is a necessary part of our preparing to rule with Christ.

I think it possible that in the event a lasting union has occurred between the man and woman, it may be true that after Christ has been formed in both of them, the union may be of eternal, Divine quality. I feel confident that there are married couples who hope this may prove to be the case. And it well may be. I see nothing in what Jesus said to prevent this from taking place.

But Jesus said they "neither marry nor are given in marriage." May I point out that in the spirit world, every single activity is guided and enabled by the words that flow continually from God's mouth. God's will is done in Heaven. I see no reason why God could not put a man and woman together by his wisdom and power, thus establishing an eternal union. God alone knows what two people have the kind of compatibility that would result in a union producing continual righteousness, love, joy, and peace.

It is the fondest hope of most people that they will be reunited with their loved ones after death. I believe this will be the case whenever this is what the people involved want. But the legal aspect of earthly marriage does not persevere after death; so people will be reunited and remain united only to the extent they desire.

Did you ever consider the fact that Adam and Eve did not experience a wedding ceremony?

I hope no one uses my reasoning to support people living together without being married legally. To live together without legally sanctioned marriage is fornication and will prevent the participants from entering the Kingdom of God. Or to cast about looking for their "soul mate." They will end up in confusion if not in something worse, probably breaking God's laws in the process.

The spiritual cannot be mixed with the physical in this manner. The solution is to look to Jesus concerning one's desires. Jesus will not direct us to do something unlawful or unprofitable; but it is extremely easy to become deceived in this area.

It is my point of view that every aspect of the original proclamation concerning man will never be done away. First there was an animal, flesh and blood fulfillment. Then there will be a vastly superior spiritual fulfillment that lives in the Spirit of God.

So no, there shall be no flesh and blood marriages, a fact the Sadducees were using to destroy the hope of the resurrection. Jesus answered them in their folly.

But would you want a world in which there were no families; no children? Neither would I.

But how about children? How will they be born? I have no idea. I seriously doubt they will be born in the customary animal fashion but in a different and exceedingly wonderful manner. But I am not certain of this. The animal creation was finished on the cross.

Does the Old Testament seem to signify there will be children in the next ages?

During the Kingdom Age:

The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper's nest. They will neither harm nor destroy in all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:6-9—NIV)

Then on the new earth:

Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; he who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere youth; he who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed. They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. (Isaiah 65:20,21—NIV)

You may disagree with my interpretations, but it sure sounds to me like there will be families and children in the next ages.

It is no wonder people fear death. When a loved one dies, or they die, they are not certain whether or not this is the end of the relationship.

The prospect of death means to many of us the end of that which is most fulfilling. It is instinctive with us in many instances to want to see our loved ones when we die. Are we mistaken in this? Will there no longer be son or daughter, husband or wife, sweetheart who is special to us?

Sometimes people go to a medium, hoping to contact a deceased loved one. The medium will mutter "woo woo." The table may elevate. There may be knocking. There may be a sepulchral voice: "I am Elizabeth. I am fine." Then the lights go back on and the medium wants her pay.

Such foolishness! What I have seen in my new spiritual awareness is a world much like our own, with ordinary people going about their ordinary business. It is a bright, happy world with lots of trees, birds, flowers, children, animals. This is the world of decent people, not wicked people who follow some religious practices.

By "decent" people I mean those who behave in a manner approved by the consciences of most people.

There are realms where wicked people are placed. These realms vary in unpleasantness and darkness, according to the depravity of the individual, with the lowest level being Hell. There souls in great pain wander in fires, being tormented by demons.

But let us take a look at the idea of gender, of male and female:

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:26-29—NIV)

"There is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

If gender is not to be continued, the original proclamation has been abrogated. This cannot be. Man is "man," male and female, and always shall be so if we are to have the full image of God. Isn't that correct?

It is a frightening thought, isn't it, that there would be no more boys and girls, only "its." But I think if we look carefully at what Paul is talking about we will discover that Paul is not saying there will be no gender in the coming ages.

First of all, what is the Apostle Paul arguing about in the Book of Galatians? Paul is saying there is no difference between Jew and Gentile because all who are in Christ are the one Seed promised to Abraham. That Seed is Jesus Christ, the one Olive Tree, the one true and eternal Israel.

When Christ has been formed in a man and woman, there is no difference as far as being in Christ is concerned. This was the case while Paul was still living. Paul at this point in his letter to the Galatians was not referring to the ages to come but of the fact that all who are in Christ are of the one new Man.

Christ is in the man but he still is a man. Christ is in the woman but she still is a woman. Christ who is in each of them is himself the one Kingdom of God, and those in whom He has been formed and dwells always and in every detail do God's will wherever they are in Heaven or on the earth.

Do you remember the curse on the woman? The curse on the woman, and it holds true as long as we are dealing with the physical world, is that there will be pain in the bearing of children; her desire will turn away from God and toward her husband; and her husband shall rule over her.

This tells me that when a Christ-filled woman enters the next world her desire will turn back to the Lord and she shall love God with all her heart. The pain of bearing children, should that still take place in the manner we are accustomed to, will decrease. And Christ instead of her husband will rule over her.

If that thought is not enough to make a godly woman rejoice, I don't know what would.

The curse has not been lifted as yet. Women still are subject to their husbands, unless Christ in a particular instance decrees otherwise (be careful here!); and in Christ or not, childbirth still is painful.

By the way, as far as I know, Judaism and Christianity are the only religions that treat women decently. A woman is a very special creation, and to beat her with a stick, or regard her as a possession as one would regard a horse, is not of God. It is, in fact, a terrible wickedness.

If we will consider what I have written we may notice that Paul is not addressing a change of gender in the next age. Rather Paul is speaking of the fact that everyone who now is part of Jesus Christ is of the one Seed of Abraham. There is no distinction between Jew and Greek, slave and free man, male and female. We all are one in Christ. Does this seem reasonable to you?

So, yes. I think there will be union and families in the ages to come. God is not making all new things but all things new. However, all relationships, things, and circumstances will have Christ in them. They will be infinitely better than they are now. I hope this thought pleases you as much as it does me.

This is my judgment. based on what I think I have seen and felt in the spirit world. For many of us it will be cause for the greatest rejoicing. We are assured that what we treasure most will be part of us for eternity.

Now Christ's promise of eternal life takes on a desirability it may never have had previously. With this hope firmly in mind, we no longer fear death. All that we cherish, our treasures if you will, are waiting for us in Heaven.

They will build houses and inhabit them; they will also plant vineyards and eat their fruit. (Isaiah 65:21—NASB)

The Seven Feasts of the Lord

I use four types of the Bible to present the seven primary aspects of redemption: the seven feasts of the Lord; the Tabernacle of the Congregation; the journey of Israel from Egypt to Canaan; and the seven days of creation. Of these four major types, I use the feasts of the Lord most frequently. They offer such a clear picture of our salvation. The seven feasts are found in Leviticus, Chapter Twenty-three and in other places in the Old Testament.

Please notice in the in the following text how I apply the seven celebrations to the work of salvation in the personality of the believer. It appears that not all Christian believers are aware that our salvation has a specific beginning, a specific process or program, and a conclusion, a fulfillment in Christ. When we do not understand this we may perceive our daily experiences as unrelated, perhaps unsupervised, random happenings.

The first of the seven feasts is the Passover (Leviticus 23:5). The Passover lamb was slain. The blood of the slain lamb was sprinkled on the doorposts of the Israelite dwellings. God did not speak about deliverance from sin at that time but about preservation when the destroying angel passed over Egypt. So it is at the beginning of our salvation. God covers us with the blood of Christ, not to remove our sins but to mark us as holy, separate from the world, belonging to God in a special way.

This is holiness by assignment. Holiness by actual deliverance comes later in the work of salvation.

The next observance is Unleavened Bread. This ceremony typifies water baptism. When we are baptized in water we are to put away our worldly practices. When we pray, God will show us what we must do to come out of the world and begin our sojourn in the Kingdom of God. The demands may be somewhat difference from one believer to another. This is not deliverance from sin, it is our determination to count ourselves dead with Christ and risen with Christ to the right hand of the Father.

The world of many American young people of today is that of electronic gadgets. The truly consecrated Christian young person will avoid participating in most of these and spend his or her time seeking the will of Christ for his or her life. Only the most devoted of our young people will be able to escape the influence of the electronic devices; and ever more fascinating toys are on the way.

I certainly do not mean by this that the young person is to spend all day praying and reading his Bible. Before and after school and work hours, and during holidays, there is time to look to the Lord for direction and to meditate in the Scriptures. At least a half hour a day. Then there are sports, reading, hobbies, and other pleasant and constructive things to do.

There is no question in my mind but that most of the electronic games and the social-networking sites are not only a waste of time, they are stressing values that are not Christian. And they seem to be getting worse. The young person who is attempting to be a disciple of Jesus is wise if he looks to Christ at all times to see what he should do, at the same time praying for guidance. The social-networking sites and the electronic games contain much that is evil.

The rapid increase of communication technology is resulting in fascinating devices. The sincere disciple will recognize this and keep away from electronic devices unless in some manner they are assisting him as he or she serves the Lord.

Our faith in Christ should be revealed in our lifestyle, reflecting new values and attitudes. This is repentance. The Book of Acts speaks about repentance, and I believe more should be said about repentance today by the Christian leadership. A true Christian thinks, speaks, and acts like a Christian. If the believer is not different in some manner at school or at work, he better ask the Lord if he really is serving Christ!

Virtual reality programs may present the greatest danger to the development of Christ in the believer. It is well if the young person learns right now to avoid "My Space," "You Tube," "Face Book," as well as the other social- networking programs, and the new cell phone programs. Then, when the attractions of virtual reality have increased he will have the strength to keep away from them. They are of the world. They are the leaven we are to remove from our life.

As I write, I am thinking about a convocation to be held in San Diego next Saturday. Thousands of Christians will gather to repent and seek the face of Christ for our nation. I believe they are doing the right thing and Christ will honor their dedication. But they are acting inconsistently if their doctrine teaches God sees their behavior through Christ. If such were the case, which it certainly is not, of what would they repent? Such confusion reigns today in Christian actions and beliefs! Indeed, it is time for a reformation of Christian thinking.

Assigned holiness and protection in the time of judgment; death and resurrection with Christ. What is next?

The third feast is firstfruits. This feast represents the born-again experience. A part of our personality is reaped and brought up to the right hand of God in Christ. The bulk of our personality remains on the earth.

When we place our faith in the blood of the cross, turn away from the world, consider ourselves crucified with Christ and risen with Christ, and are baptized in water to dramatize our crucifixion and resurrection, God will place a portion of his Divine Life within us.

Now we have two lives, that which is adamic and that which is Divine. How successful we are in the program of salvation depends on whether we spend our time and strength in pleasing our adamic nature, or whether we assign enough time and strength to our new, Divine Nature by praying, meditating in the Scriptures, and obeying Christ and his Apostles.

Our new Divine Life always lives in Christ at the right hand of God in Heaven. This is why the Apostle Paul exhorts us to place our heart on things above, not on earthly things.

The firstfruits of our personality, our born-again nature, is holy unto the Lord, and so our entire personality is holy. But our personality still may be filled with worldliness, the sinful nature, and self-will.

Assigned holiness, repentance, a new birth. What is next?

Now comes Pentecost and speaking in tongues. Speaking in tongues, whether known languages or unknown languages, is our entrance into the rest of God. We now are able to pray in the Spirit. From this point forward we are to learn to bring every thought, word, and action under the control of the Spirit of God.

Remember, our natural mind and intellect is the enemy of God. It does not understand God. But the Spirit knows the things of Christ and applies them to us. We choose each day to live in accordance with the Spirit of God or else according to our sinful mind. The mind of sinful man is death. The mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. Speaking in tongues has as its object to bring us to the mind controlled by the Spirit.

The Spirit of God guides us in the two great works of redemption: release from all that is of Satan; and change into Christ's image and rest in the center of God's Person and will. We must live in the Spirit; think in the Spirit; behave in the Spirit; speak in the Spirit. Little by little we are to bring our entire personality under the control of the Spirit of God.

This is the "rest," and we enter it each day as we pray, read our Bible, and obey the commands of Christ and his Apostles in the New Testament, and Christ's personal commands to us.

I would like to make a comment at this point. When an individual places his or her faith in the blood atonement, is baptized in water, and then is born again of the Spirit of God, that person has the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is eternal life and is in him or her.

What may be lacking is speaking in tongues. It is speaking in tongues that brings us into the rest of God, into life lived in the Spirit. If the individual is a genuine Christian having the Life of Christ in him, he does not have to pray to receive the Holy Spirit. What he may be led to do is to spend time in prayer until he is able to speak in tongues. Christ will assist Him to enter into this ability to express the Spirit of God, because it is the way we learn to cease from our own works and function in the Spirit of God.

So far we have come through four observances: our protection under the Passover blood; turning away from the world and entrance into the Kingdom of God; being born again by the Word that comes from God; and learning to live by the wisdom and power of the Spirit.

What's next?

From this point forward we begin to experience the work of the Kingdom as it approaches the earth.

The Blowing of Trumpets announces the coming of King Jesus to wage war against his enemies in his people. The trumpet blows in Zion. Little by little Christ puts his finger on the sins that dwell in us. Through the Spirit of God we confess and turn away from these sins. We put them to death through the Spirit. The sons of God are led by the Spirit to put to death the actions of their sinful nature.

The warfare against Satan and his accomplices has begun. It will continue until all sin has been driven from God's creatures. All sin! Prepare your heart for total victory. Christ will make you more than a conqueror over every sin in your personality.

The Lord is a Man of War. Open the gates of your heart and let the Commander-in Chief enter you. He will give you victory over every unclean spirit.

The Passover protection; coming out of the world; a firstfruits of our personality caught up to God's Throne; life in the Spirit; and war against the unclean spiritual forces in our personality.

What is next?

Next is the Day of Atonement, Day of Reconciliation. The Blowing of Trumpets prepares us for the Day of Atonement. During this aspect of redemption, which shall continue until the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, the Spirit of God, who yearns over us with a godly jealousy, will work with us until our whole personality has been entirely reconciled to God in every possible aspect.

The Spirit will bring us through enough suffering to cause us to no longer trust in the world for our survival, security, and well-being.

The Spirit will cast out of us the sins dwelling in our flesh.

The Spirit will put us in prison until the self-will is burned out of us.

The Spirit will feed us with the body and blood of Christ until Christ is formed in us.

The Spirit will guide us into perfect rest in the center of God's Person and will.

This is the Day of Reconciliation, the time when we can be brought to untroubled fellowship with the Father and with his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Day of Atonement is an extremely important observance of the Jews. It is equally important to us Christians, because it is the work of God's Kingdom in us that results in our total reconciliation with the Person, will, ways, and eternal purpose of God in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thus far we have traveled through the six preparatory works of redemption. We come now to the feast of Tabernacles, signifying the coming of the Father and the Son to dwell in us for eternity.

The spiritual fulfillment in us of the feast of Tabernacles is God's ultimate purpose. It is the "Omega" of salvation. It is the final goal of our redemption toward which we are to press. Because we have kept the commandments of Christ faithfully, the Father and the Son have settled down to rest in our personality for eternity. God's Throne has moved from Heaven into the hearts of the members of the Body of Christ.

Salvation has a specific beginning, a specific process or program, and a specific fulfillment in Christ. God has needs which are satisfied only as He can find rest in his elect, his Church.

In order to understand God's need and its fulfillment, the following must be clear to us.

There is the Church, the elect of God. Then there are the nations of the earth who are not of the Church, not called to belong to God in the special manner that is true of the members of the Church.

The Church is to become the eternal dwelling place of God through Christ. Christ is the chief Cornerstone of this eternal Tabernacle. We also are living stones of the structure.

In Chapter Twenty-one of the Book of Revelation we notice that the Church, the eternal Tabernacle of God, comes down from Heaven through the new sky and is located on a high mountain of the new earth. This is Emmanuel, God's Presence among mankind.

God through Christ through the members of the Church will abolish death, misery, sickness, sadness, crying, pain, and all else that affect people. Each member of the nations of saved people can come and drink of eternal life from the saints, who themselves have become trees of life along the banks of the Water of Life.

The eternal Tabernacle of God shall be placed among the peoples of the earth. This is God's ultimate plan. Every part of the work of redemption is designed to bring the house of God into reality on the earth.

We cannot comprehend the extent of the longing of God to make his Person approachable to the people of the world until He shares with us his love for his creatures. "God so loved the world." To experience that love in its fullness would paralyze all of our faculties. We could not bear such passion for more than a moment.

But God will give us just a small part of his love toward the people who are our inheritance that we may govern them the way their loving Father wants them governed. People are the greatest of all inheritances, except for our inheritance of God and Christ.

God is moving us past Pentecost today to the last three feasts of the Lord. Whoever chooses to do so may cease going around the Pentecostal mountain and move forward with God.

Those with courage and faith will leave what is familiar and comfortable and move forward with God. The casual American "Christians" will continue to entertain themselves with the television, motion pictures, and the Internet until the broom of destruction sweeps them into the spirit world.

What a terrible, wonderful day we live in. There are high thrones waiting to be occupied by whoever wishes to make the effort. There are inheritances of people to be gained. As I said, the inheritance of people is the greatest of all inheritances, barring the inheritance of God himself.

Who has the courage and faith to move forward with God's warriors? Do I? Do you?

The spiritual fulfillments of the feasts of the Lord make us think of the journey of Israel from Egypt to Canaan. It is clear that the Divine redemption is a process. It must be worked out with fear and trembling, because our Adversary is skillful and can deceive us until we are led away from Jesus. The path of the righteous is a minefield!

The feasts of the Lord present the seven dimensions of the one salvation, which always is of the Lord Jesus Christ. He himself is the Fullness of our redemption. He himself is the Kingdom of God. To know Him more each day is our goal.

So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. (II Peter 1:19—NASB)

A further discussion of the seven Feasts and how they apply to our salvation may be found in my book The Feasts of the Lord. This book can be read at: http://www.wor.org/booksmain.htm.

The Day of Atonement

Last night as I was praying, the spiritual fulfillment of the Old Testament Day of Atonement came to mind along with the Scriptures I have used so frequently in time past. These are old fires to warm my hands by. The baptism with fire is one of the primary revelations Jesus gave to me so many years ago.

Of the seven feasts of the Lord, the Da of Atonement is number six. Pentecost is number four. The Blowing of Trumpets is number five.

The twentieth century beyond all doubt was the "Pentecostal Century," with speaking in tongues spreading throughout the world.

The Blowing of Trumpets is the next step in the program of redemption after the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Pentecost. This step signifies the coming of the Lord Jesus to declare war on his spiritual enemies—Satan and the demons.

The Jews celebrate the Blowing of Trumpets as New Year's Day. It is the first day of the year of kings and contracts, of doing business in the earth. This is why we are hearing more from Christian leaders and songwriters about the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.

Notice how the twenty-third Psalm begins with "The Lord." The twenty-fourth Psalm begins with "The earth." This change is not happenstance. The twenty-third Psalm speaks of the spiritual blessings of the believers. The twenty-fourth Psalm refers to the entering of the Man of War into the personality of the saint. Both Psalms help us today, but it is the twenty-fourth that is of particular emphasis in the present hour.

The Day of Atonement is the period when Christ reconciles us to God by removing the sins in our personality. It is the judgment of his spiritual enemies in mankind, beginning with his spiritual enemies in his Church. The Day of Atonement has begun now and will continue throughout the thousand-year Kingdom Age, often referred to as the "Millennium."

The coming of Christ that is taking place today, in fulfillment of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement, is mentioned in John 14:21-23. Jesus stands knocking at the door of his people today. He wants to enter us and become our very Life.

How can you tell when the King has come to you? The Spirit of God will make you aware of the sins you are practicing. When you become aware of a specific sin you are to confess it clearly; denounce it as evil; renounce it, saying clearly and firmly that you want nothing more to do with it forever. Then you are to look to Jesus knowing you have been forgiven and cleansed. You will discover that you now have the ability to resist this behavior (I John 1:9).

It is the eternal judgment of that spirit. It will not be mentioned to you at the future Judgment Seat.

The Day of Atonement rightly may be termed the "Day of Reconciliation." There are three areas of our personality that are to be brought into harmony with God's personality:

First, our love of the world spirit such that we look to the world for survival, security, and comfort.

Second, our sinful nature. All sorts of unclean spirit dwells in our flesh. Each of these must be presented to the Spirit of God for removal, once He shows them to us.

Third, our desire to maintain our self-determination. We want to conduct our life as we see fit.

When Christ cried out "It is finished," He meant the guilt of the sins of mankind has been atoned for. It is true also that He meant the adamic race has come to an end. God desires that each of us by faith die with Christ on the cross of Calvary. Now we are to live by his resurrection Life.

To live by the Life of Jesus means we are to meditate in our Bible every day (if a Bible is available to us). More than that, we are to live in a state of prayer, bringing every decision to the Lord Jesus. We are to live by his Life in our thinking, speaking, and acting.

In the spiritual fulfillment of the Old Testament Day of Atonement we are baptized with the fire of Divine judgment. All that is chaff must be burned up.

It is interesting to note that the trumpet of the Jubilee was blown on the Day of Atonement. The demons are condemned and we go free.

Allow the Holy Spirit to bring you into complete freedom from the Antichrist world spirit.

Allow the Holy Spirit to remove every trace of Satan from your flesh.

Allow the Holy Spirit to lead you throughout the program of death to your self-will and entrance into the Life of Christ.

Note that Lazarus was raised on the fifth day, the day of the Blowing of Trumpets. (John 11:13,14)

Borrowing a phrase from Isaiah 61:2, we just have been discussing "The Day of Vengeance of our God."

Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. (Revelation 3:20—NASB)

Christ dines on our obedience and worship. We dine on his body and blood.

Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. (Psalms 24:7,8—NIV)

The Tabernacle of the Congregation

I use four types of the Bible to present the seven primary aspects of redemption: the seven feasts of the Lord; the Tabernacle of the Congregation; the journey of Israel from Egypt to Canaan; and the seven days of creation. Of these four major types, I use the feasts of the Lord most frequently. They offer such a clear picture of our salvation.

Perhaps the other model that I use most often is the Tabernacle of the Congregation and its furnishings. The Tabernacle is described in Chapter Twenty-five of the Book of Exodus continuing through to the end of the book. The number of chapters devoted to the Tabernacle may be an indication of its importance to us. The articles and events of the Old Testament are a visible portrayal of the invisible aspects of the Christian redemption.

I realize there have been excellent portrayals of Christ as the antitype of the Tabernacle and its furnishings. I understand that the Tabernacle can represent Christ, the Christian Church, and the work of redemption in the believer. It portrays also the installing of the Kingdom of God on the earth, if the furnishings are viewed in reverse order.

The installing of the Kingdom begins with the Presence of God himself, portrayed by the Lid of Reconciliation, and progresses until the cross, the Altar of Burn Offering, has influenced every saved person on the earth.

I am surprised that I have not encountered any author who treats the Tabernacle as a portrayal of the process of redemption we experience. There may have been many books about the Tabernacle, but most authors seem to view Christ as the Antitype of the Tabernacle. And indeed He is!

But the Tabernacle's portrayal of our personal redemption seems to stand out to me, and so without diminishing the importance of the other interpretations, I will proceed with the explanation of our salvation from the standpoint of the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle and its furnishings really are a wonderful set of pegs, we might say, on which we can hang the several dimensions of the one redemption.

I will not go into much detail now; but you can examine further what I have to say, in my book: The Tabernacle of the Congregation.

The Tabernacle tent itself is a portrayal of the Church, the Body of Christ, the Bride of the Lamb, the new Jerusalem, with the Courtyard representing the citizens of the new world of righteousness who are not members of God's Royal Priesthood.

The tent was divided into a holy place and a most holy place. This division speaks of the temporary separation of the firstfruits of the Church from the main part of the Church. The Most Holy Place indicates those "blessed and holy" individuals who will receive back their bodies at the first resurrection of the dead. The larger part of the tent, the Holy Place, represents God's elect who did not participate in the first resurrection.

The first furnishing was the Altar of Burnt Offering. Here is the portrayal of the cross, revealing that all people, not just those of the Church or of the "tent" so to speak, will be drawn to Christ. The four horns of the Altar point in the four directions of the compass.

The second element was the bronze Laver. The Laver signifies the washing of water by the Word, that is, the purifying that we experience as we look in the "mirror" of the Word of God and see what part of our personality is unclean. Then we repent, confessing our sin and turning away from it by the power of the Lord.

The Laver was constructed from the bronze mirrors of the women who served at the entrance to the Tabernacle. So it is that the Laver tells us how God's Word helps us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit.

The third furnishing of the Tabernacle was inside the tent, meaning it is of special meaning to the Church. It was the Table of Showbread. This is the place where we Christians eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Lamb of God. The body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ are our eternal life, our resurrection from the dead.

The lambs offered twice daily shows us that all through the day and night we are to choose to follow Christ so He may nourish us with his body and blood. While the daily lambs were being offered, wine was poured out in the holy place of the tent next to the Table of Showbread.

The fourth article of the Tabernacle was in the tent, across from the Table of Showbread, to the left as one entered. It was the golden Lampstand, representing the Holy Spirit of God. The solid-gold Lampstand tells us that the Holy Spirit is responsible for building up the Body of Christ, for presenting to the Lamb of God a perfect counterpart, a perfect Bride.

Anything that is done in church work that is not accomplished through the Holy Spirit has little or no value in the Kingdom of God.

The next item, just this side of the Veil that conceals the Most Holy Place, and in the center, apparently, was the Altar of Incense. As we notice in the Book of Hebrews, the Altar of Incense was moved into the Most Holy Place. This change of location may have been due to the fact that the Ark had been removed and the Most Holy Place was empty. But the original location of the Altar of Incense was in the Holy Place.

When you entered the tent, the Table of Showbread was on your right. The Lampstand was on your left. Straight ahead, but still in the Holy Place, was the Altar of Incense, standing just this side of the heavy Veil.

From my point of view, numerous believers, in their journey toward the fullness of redemption, have arrived at the Altar of Incense. We have moved past the Lampstand, representing Pentecost, and now we are by the Altar of Incense deciding whether we are going to do God's will or our own will.

Christian people enjoy the fact that Jesus Christ is their Savior. I am not certain that the majority of Christian believers, in America at least, are anxious for Christ to become their Lord. They want to use the blood atonement and the Holy Spirit in whatever manner they desire. The idea of giving over their will to Christ so He can tell them what they can and cannot do may not be appealing to them. They are happy to receive Christ as their Savior, provided He does not make demands on them or try to direct the details of their lives.

Nevertheless, doing the will of God is the supreme issue of our time. Christ is looking for those who will do his will no matter what the consequences to themselves may be. They are prostrate before the Veil , crying out, "Not my will but yours be done!"

When the believer finally yields to Christ to do his will in every aspect of life, the ornate Veil is set aside. The believer now is able to enter the Most Holy Place.

The two final furnishings were in the Most Holy Place: the Ark of the Covenant, and the solid-gold Mercy Seat (Lid of Atonement).

Within the Ark, a chest made from acacia wood, were the three symbols of the victorious Christian life: Aaron's rod that budded; the memorial jar of manna; and finally, the Covenant, the Ten Commandments, from which the Ark derived its name.

Aaron's rod that budded states that the victorious saint does not act presumptuously in the things of God but remains "dead" until God brings life into whatever service God desires.

The memorial jar of Manna points out that the victorious saint lives day to day by the Divine Virtue that God provides for the day and night.

The Ten Commandments, the most important of the three items, inform us that God is righteous and holy and will not have fellowship with any sort of unrighteousness or uncleanness. It is true that God protects us from judgment with his Passover blood. But God cannot have fellowship with a believer who is living in spiritual uncleanness.

On top of the Ark, the wooden chest overlaid within and without with gold, was the solid-gold Mercy Seat, or Lid of Reconciliation. The Lid of Reconciliation was a cover on top of the wooden chest. The Mercy Seat, as it is termed frequently, portrays the Presence of God himself. Beaten from the gold of the Mercy Seat, and overshadowing the Mercy Seat, were two cherubim.

We begin the work of redemption at the Altar of Burnt Offering. This Altar represents Calvary. No human being can approach God unless he receives the blood of the atonement, the reconciliation to God, made by the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross.

Then, as we pray, read our Bible, and obey the commands of Christ and his Apostles, we come to the Laver of repentance; the Table of Showbread of the body and blood of Christ; the golden Lampstand of life lived in the Spirit of God; the acceptance of God's will at the Altar of Incense; the forming of our character into the image of Christ at the Ark of the Covenant; and finally untroubled rest in the center of the Presence and will of God.

There is only one plan of redemption. It all is in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The seven dimensions of redemption are not experienced as if we were going from one grade to another in an elementary school. Rather our progress occurs in a manner similar to going up a spiral staircase.

Say we experience the Laver. Then as we make progress in Christ, going up the circular staircase, we come again to the Laver, but now at a higher level and possess a greater appreciation of its meaning. Then further up in Christ on the circular staircase to a more profound Laver at a yet higher level. The same is true of the other six dimensions of the one redemption in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you. (Exodus 25:8,9—NIV)

A further discussion of the Tabernacle of the Congregation and its furnishings may be found in my book The Tabernacle of the Congregation. This book can be read at: http://www.wor.org/booksmain.htm.

Messiah

Anyone who reads my writings will understand clearly that I hold the Lord Jesus Christ in the highest possible position. Although we Christians also are sons of God, He is The Son of God, the Creator of all things from the beginning. This is not true of us. God has given Jesus Christ all authority in Heaven and upon the earth. This also is not true of any of us. The Lord Jesus Christ is unique!

Having issued this disclaimer, I wish to discuss a concept that is not always presented in Christian teaching. It is that "Christ" is not the last name of Jesus. If Jesus had a last name it would be Bar-Joseph, the son of Joseph.

"Christ" is the Greek term for "the Anointed One." "Messiah" is the Hebrew term for "the Anointed One." Thus, to the best of my knowledge, "Christ" and "Messiah" are synonyms, although it often is true that in usage they are thought of as different somehow.

What is not always presented clearly is that "Messiah," the "Anointed One," is not applied to the Lord Jesus alone. The term refers to the total anointed Royal Priesthood, of which the Lord Jesus Christ is the exalted head. Please understand what I am saying when I maintain the Christian Church is the Messiah, the Body of Messiah, therefore an integral part of "Messiah." Thus, the entire new Jerusalem, the glorified Christian Church, is Messiah who is to come.

For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. (I Corinthians 12:12—NASB)

Now stop and consider this. I am not presenting an idea to get us puffed up beyond all semblance of humanity. Rather, I wish for us to consider the awesome implications of what is being stated.

The Jewish people are awaiting the coming of Messiah. "When Messiah Comes"! But when Messiah comes, the One whom God has anointed with the Spirit of God, it will be the Christian Church, of which Christ is the Head.

When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. (Colossians 3:4—NASB)

While Jesus himself perhaps may be seen by the people of the world, it may be true also that for the most part He will be seen in the saints.

When He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed--for our testimony to you was believed. (II Thessalonians 1:10—NASB)

Glorified in front of the world in his holy people, and also marveled at among the believers, who may be able to view Him as One of themselves.

I suppose the idea that the Christians are an integral part of Messiah, the Anointed Deliverer from God, could cause some to become inflated temporarily. But I want you to know that we have just been saddled with a tremendous responsibility, that is, with being the servant of God and bringing justice and righteousness to the peoples of the earth.

Perhaps this is the reason why the Spirit of God is emphasizing obedience in our day. We are not being made part of Messiah so we can sit in Paradise and eat candy without getting fat. We have a job to do, not in our own wisdom and strength but as members of the Servant of the Lord. We absolutely must learn obedience to Messiah Jesus. If not, we can forget about being resurrected when the Lord appears.

Let's think for a moment about the Servant of the Lord.

Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. (Isaiah 42:1—NASB)

You might not have thought about this, but the fact is that God anointed you with his Spirit that you might do the work of the Servant of the Lord.

Notice that the Servant of the Lord is a chosen Person. You were called from the foundation of the world to be a brother of Messiah Jesus and to be conformed to his image.

God always upholds those who are serving Him with their whole heart, obeying God sternly and doing his work. To be upheld by the Father may prove to be of utmost importance during the coming American holocaust.

God delights in those who are part of the Anointed Deliverer, who are serving God. You may pass through fiery tests; but never forget—God is watching over you, upholding you, and delighting in you.

Your task is to bring justice to the nations of the earth. This is why you were called out of the world. This is why God deals with you, deals with you, deals with you until you begin to think He has forsaken you. A mother may forsake her child, but your Father will never forsake you!

He will not cry out or raise His voice, nor make His voice heard in the street. (Isaiah 42:2—NASB)

You do not have to strive to do God's work. He has called you into his rest, that is, into the work that has been accomplished in God's vision from the beginning of the world. All you have to do is abide in Christ at all times, abiding in Him so that you are living by his wisdom and strength rather than your own.

If you try to bring justice to the world according to your own ideas you will fail and become discouraged. Have you found that to be true?

A bruised reed He will not break and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice. (Isaiah 42:3—NASB)

You and I must learn to be patient concerning the weakest members of our church. We may run roughshod over people in our zeal to be a successful minister, or as we seek to drive ourselves and others to be more religious. The Lord Jesus always is patient, working with the weak until they become strong in the Lord.

He will not be disheartened or crushed until He has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law. (Isaiah 42:4—NASB)

No matter what social chaos we see about us today, justice yet shall be established on the earth. The Father's will shall be done here as it is in Heaven. There is no power or authority that can prevent this.

Some Christians understand that the Kingdom of God is coming to the earth. What is not always clearly understood is that it is the perfected Church, the new Jerusalem, the fullness of Messiah, that is coming to the earth and shall perform God's will here.

Before the fullness of Messiah comes to rest forever on a high mountain of the new earth, there will be a period of time, perhaps a thousand years, that I refer to as the Kingdom Age. During this period the victorious saints, those blessed and holy ones who attain to the first resurrection, will govern the nations of the earth. However, the main purpose of the Kingdom Age (the Millennium) is the perfecting of those members of the elect who did not attain to the first resurrection.

What does that mean to us today? It means that the Spirit of God is looking at those who profess faith in Christ to see who is willing to follow the Spirit into the fullness of deliverance from sin; to the moral image of Christ; to total obedience to God and rest in the center of the Father's Person and will.

These, and these alone, will receive their resurrection bodies when Christ next appears. They shall govern the nations of the earth with a stern, unrelenting vigilance until the majority of believers, whether on earth or in the spirit world, are brought to the perfection God insists on.

The Messiah, the Servant of the Lord, Christ, Head and Body, is the new Jerusalem. It has to be made ready for its eternal service as the government of the new earth.

Meanwhile you and I can choose to be a firstfruits of God's Kingdom. We do this by following Jesus Christ resolutely in every detail of our life, day and night. Nothing less than our total consecration and diligence will be sufficient to qualify us for the first resurrection.

The period of time from the resurrection of the Lord Jesus to the present might be termed the "Church Age." When the firstfruits of the Church is ready, Christ will appear and install his Kingdom, his government, on the earth. Then, when the people of the nations see the Glory of God on believers who are one in Messiah in God, they will believe it is God who has sent Jesus the Messiah.

We have been commanded to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized shall be saved, the Bible says. We also have been directed to make disciples from the nations.

What is not always made clear is that the primary purpose of the present age is to call out from the world disciples—those whom God has chosen to be part of Messiah, and, through the gifts and ministries of the Spirit, build them into the unity of the faith and the fullness of Messiah.

Until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:13—NASB)

I am afraid the above purpose often becomes obscured as we emphasize getting every one in the world "saved so they can escape Hell and go to Heaven when they die." I do not think this present emphasis is stated clearly in the Scriptures. How do you feel about this?

The Apostle Paul travailed in birth that Christ (Messiah) might be formed in the believers.

My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you-- (Galatians 4:19—NASB)

This is the primary objective of the Church Age. Gifts and ministries have been given to each member of the Body of Christ so that Christ may be formed and come to maturity in us. When such maturity has been accomplished we will be one in Christ in God. Then the Father will direct us to do the work of the Servant of the Lord, and Messiah shall be lifted up throughout the heavens and the earth.

Ours is a terrible, wonderful, dangerous period of history, in which the Scriptures are being opened as never before. Many believers of the last days will have the opportunity to attain to high rank in the Kingdom of God.

God is facing Satan. Christ is facing Antichrist. The Holy Spirit is facing the False Prophet. Truth is facing the great lie that the world system is. Righteousness is facing wickedness. These are spiritual titans, far too wise and powerful for us, but not for Jesus Christ.

The only manner in which we are going to be able to survive and help others is to die in the Lord. We must—absolutely must!—give our whole life to Christ right here and now. Then we will stand and be a witness of Christ in his wisdom and strength. But if we continue in our own wisdom and strength, no matter how religious and determined we may be, we will be deceived. We will fall. We will remain part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

Be of good cheer. Remember, the best part of our life will begin after we die physically, if we have given up our life to Jesus during our lifetime on the earth.

For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. (I Corinthians 12:12—NASB)

Bearing Fruit

In the fifteenth chapter of the Book of John, Jesus tells us that God is a Farmer, He, Jesus, is a Vine that God has planted, and we Christians are branches growing out from himself.

We can see from this that the Christian salvation is different from all other religions. In fact, the Christian salvation is not a religion, although humans have made it so. It actually is God's intervention in the lives of people.

What other religious teacher refers to himself or herself as a vine that God has planted, and that his followers are branches growing out from himself? Perhaps God would not permit a human being to make such a blasphemous statement.

If we do not bear the fruit the Farmer is looking for, we are cut out of the Vine. We are removed from Christ. God is a Businessman, as we see in the parable of the Talents, and He insists on interest on his investment. The fruit we are to bear is the image of Christ in ourselves and in the others whom we influence.

If we bear fruit, God prunes us. This can be a devastating experience, as we learn from the pruning of Job.

God gambles when He prunes us that we will not turn away from him. If we continue with faith in God's faithfulness, our new fruit bearing will be very much more abundant than previously. God, we, the Body of Christ, and mankind in general will profit from our steadfastness.

But what is the fruit God insists upon?

One of the three realms of fruit bearing is our transformation into Christ's Character. God is looking for the change from the adamic personality to the righteousness, love, joy, peace, courage, kindness, strength, and all the other attributes of Christ that God values. God is looking for his image in us, and Jesus Christ is that Image.

The Divine salvation has as its purpose the making of better people, not just the forgiveness of fallen man.

Another of the three realms of fruit bearing is our entering the rest of God, that is, being brought into perfect, untroubled rest in the very Center of God's Person and will. To be in the image of Christ, but not at rest in God's will, is to be another satan in the universe.

A third realm of fruit bearing is found in the realm of gifts of the Spirit. Every true Christian without exception has been given by the Spirit of God a ministry to the Body of Christ. The ministry comes to us in the form of a gift or gifts of the Spirit.

How important it is that we find our Kingdom talent and exercise it is revealed in the parable of the Talents. If we do not employ our ministry in the building of God's Kingdom, our gifts will be removed from us and given to another more diligent believer. We will be sternly rebuked by Christ as being a wicked, lazy servant. We will be led away into the Land of Darkness.

If we are diligent with what has been given us, we will be blessed by the Lord. We will be given the abilities that have been removed from the lazy believers. We then will be assigned a position of responsibility in the Kingdom of God.

Being unfruitful will result in our being removed from Christ and his blessing. Being fruitful will result in our receiving the favor of God; and in time, if we continue to serve Christ faithfully, our possibly becoming a great pillar of Divine Light, an eternal patriarch responsible for the welfare of millions of people, as God guides us.

Remember, the present world is nothing more than a training ground, an environment in which we can come to know Christ. During our stay here, God can determine our role in his Kingdom, whether we indeed have laid hold on the destiny determined for us at the beginning of the world.

Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12—NASB)

Hearing and Obeying Christ

In the Book of Proverbs we are exhorted to trust in the Lord with all our heart and not lean on our own understanding. If we do this, God has promised to direct our paths. Will God really direct our paths if we trust Him implicitly and do not trust our own reasoning ability? Do we Christians really believe this passage is the infallible Word of God?

From what I have seen during many years as a Christian, and now a pastor, I have come to the conclusion that most Christian work is done without hearing from the Lord Jesus. The plans and programs continue without anyone hearing from Christ—whether or not this is what He wants done. This may be true also of the personal lives of numerous believers—how they behave and make their decisions.

Yet the Lord Jesus said, "On this rock I will build my Church." While the argument rages about who or what the rock is, the point of what Christ said often is overlooked. He did not say, "The rock will build my Church." He said, "I will build my Church."

No doubt it is true that well intentioned people put together a plan and ask Christ to bless the work of their hands. Then they think Christ is building his Church. My personal opinion is that this is not Christ building his Church.

Now I will tell you what I think. I think the most difficult aspect of the Christian life for numerous believers, including our national Christian leaders, is to hear and obey Christ. This seems to be true concerning the plans made by Christian organizations. It equally is true concerning the individual believers as they go about their daily business, including their religious activities.

I have been making a practice over the last several years of looking to the Lord Jesus for everything I think, say, and do during the day and night—right down to the smallest detail. "I have set the Lord at my right hand, that I should not be moved." I am thankful to be able to say that right now, as I am typing, I am aware of his Presence.

The Book of Hebrews exhorts us sternly to enter the "rest of God." The rest of God is exactly what I am talking about. The rest of God is that way of living in which we continually hear Christ and obey Christ. I am ready to say this is the most wonderful way in which to serve the Lord Jesus. Every day and night is an adventure leading to that glorious day in which He is completely visible to us.

What did Christ mean when He said to Simon Peter, "I will build my Church." I think He meant He will build his Church—that the directions and resources will come directly from him. I believe Christ will be our Moses who will see how the Father wants the Church designed, just as Moses saw the design for the Tabernacle of the Congregation.

But that would mean Christ would have to speak to us. Exactly. But ambitious religious people are so anxious to do something they don't wait to hear from Christ. Or perhaps they do not think Christ can speak or will speak or wants to speak. So the blind are leading the blind in numerous instances.

Christ speaks clearly to me, I believe, and tells me what to do during the day as well as what to preach on. I do not believe I am special. I believe Christ will speak to anyone who is willing to cease trying to building the Kingdom until he or she knows what Christ is saying. This does not mean He will speak to us in an audible voice. The Lord guides people in many different ways.

Well, suppose He doesn't say anything? Then we wait until He does, meanwhile performing the necessary tasks set before us. If we wait until we die and pass into the spirit world, before Christ uses us in Kingdom work, so be it. I told the Lord I would do nothing until I knew what He was doing. A lot of young ministers have passed me up along the way. But I did get some things done in the Kingdom, and I believe they have accomplished eternal good because I did them at Christ's directions.

I have preached for more than thirty years without notes, trusting the Lord during each service to take over. Christ has never failed me in that time, and He won't fail anyone else who obeys him. Christ directed Audrey and me to pastor the church where we are. We have made no plans, other than those having to do with ordinary pastoral responsibilities. We are trusting Him to tell us what to do.

Now, let's see if the Bible indicates we can trust God to direct us, or if we have to say "Our work is God's work" and rush forth to do what we suppose is God's will.

Did God direct the people of the Old Testament, or did they "step out in faith" and do what they thought might be the Lord's will? Is "faith" going forth and doing what we think God wants, or is "faith" obedience to the will of Christ at the moment? What is your opinion?

How about Joshua approaching Jericho? Did he draw up a battle plan, or did God speak to him and tell him what to do? The way the Israelites marched around the wall is not the way generals usually plan.

How about Moses building the Tabernacle of the Congregation? Did Moses plan the Tabernacle or did God direct Moses down to the last detail? Moses' total faithfulness to God in constructing the Tabernacle according to what was shown to him, without adding his own touch of creativity, has always been an inspiration to me personally. Here is an example of the kind of faithfulness to God we do not always see.

Did David wait until he heard the marching in the Mulberry trees? David did not do this at every battle, but it does show how God can lead us if we are listening.

Was it Gideon's idea to go against the Midianites? Did God work with Gideon in a specific manner? The whole story about Gideon has to do with God's assignment to him. Gideon did not just decide to go against the Midianites.

Did God speak to Abraham and tell him to leave Ur of the Chaldees and finally settle in Canaan? Did God lead Isaac and Jacob in a specific manner?

The life of Abraham is an example of God intervening in the life of an individual, just as God did in the case of Israel as a whole nation. Neither Abraham nor Israel just decided to do the things they did. God took the lead and they obeyed.

The stories of Isaac and Jacob also are examples of God's personal directions to people. Of particular note is the manner in which God distinguished between Isaac and Ishmael. Also, how God revealed himself to Joseph, the son of Jacob, making Joseph the savior of his family, Egypt, and other nations of the world.

Was God specific when He led Lot out of Sodom? Lot was told to go to the mountains. He had a better idea and remained in Zoar. This did not work out so well, did it? Always wisest to do what God commands rather than to use our own reasoning.

Was the Passover lamb Moses' idea or did it come from the Lord? The story of Moses and the exodus of the Israelites is one long portrayal of God's personal, detailed intervention in the lives of people.

Did the Prophets of Israel go to school and learn how to preach from the Law and the Prophets, claiming that their preaching was prophecy? Isn't it true, rather, that God dealt with his Prophets in a personal way? Think, for example, of the conversations between God and Jeremiah.

When we review in our mind the accounts in the Old Testament we realize that God intervened and gave the directions and the resources. The episodes describe God taking the initiative, not man. Elijah and Elisha are good examples of men who hear from the Lord.

Did God cease to speak to the Israelites after they had the Law, saying, "Now that you have the Scriptures you do not need for me to direct you any longer." Something like that is sometimes said in our day, isn't it?

What about the New Testament? Does God speak in a specific manner since the days of the Old Testament? It appears so. Some say that because we have the New Testament we do not need to hear from the Lord. We have our marching orders in the New Testament. It is my opinion that those who hold this position are in error. The truth is, we cannot obey the commands of the New Testament unless we receive wisdom and strength from Christ in order to do so.

The Israelites had the Law and the Prophets. But God gave them also the Urim and the Thummim so they would know what to do in specific circumstances.

I would like to point out a few passages that indicate God did not stop speaking to people after Malachi passed away.

The birth of the Lord Jesus was accompanied by Divine revelation. God came to Mary. I believe Mary was a righteous Jewish girl, but I do not read that she was seeking God in an unusual manner. God according to his own will chose Mary, for his own reasons.

The birth of John the Baptist was accompanied by Divine revelation. As in the case of Mary, Elizabeth was singled out to be the mother of John the Baptist. We do know she and her husband obeyed the commandments of the Law of Moses.

The wise men were directed by Divine revelation, and then escaped Herod by Divine revelation. Here is a case of God intervening in the lives of Gentiles, just as God directed Cyrus the Great to order that the Temple be rebuilt.

Joseph was warned to take Jesus and Mary and flee to Egypt. God did not desert Jesus, Joseph, and Mary after the child was born. They did not have to figure things out for themselves.

We think of Anna and Simeon in the Temple. While the masters of the Law were busily engaged in doing what they thought was God's will, Anna and Simeon, who had heard from God personally, entered the Temple and presented God's Messiah.

Our Lord Jesus declared on several occasions that He did not speak from himself or act from himself, it was the Father who was doing the speaking and acting.

Jesus told the Apostles where to fish. They brought up 153 great fish and yet the net did not break.

The Apostle Paul was called to Macedonia by a vision. I learned in Bible school that the Apostles decided where the most effective areas of ministry would be. I see no such decisions discussed or made, in the Book of Acts.

The Apostle Paul was forbidden to preach in Bithynia, an important province in northwestern Turkey, by the Spirit of God. I do not believe many of today's Christian leaders would accept the fact that God's Spirit had declared some area out of bounds for Gospel outreach.

The Lord told the Apostle Paul to remain in Corinth. Are the preachers of today sensitive to when God wants them to stay in a certain place; or to leave an area where they have seen much success? Are they listening to Jesus?

The Apostle Peter was told that soon he would die. It would take a person who was walking with the Lord to be able to hear he was going to die and not become depressed. God will tell us of our approaching death if we will listen to him, provided God sees that such knowledge is in our best interests.

The Bible, Old and New Testaments, is a lengthy portrayal of God speaking to people and telling them what to do. But in every generation, including our own, religious people would rather do what they think is correct, and pray or just hope that God will bless their efforts.

The leaders of the Catholic Church murdered Protestants. It is obvious it was not Jesus who was telling the priests to murder Protestants. How could these leaders profess to be men of God when they did not know God's will?

How often does such religious blindness occur today?

Many Protestant preachers proclaim a "rapture" that will remove God's people from suffering and trouble. Yet they never heard this idea from the Spirit of God. I am a Pentecostal minister. I never have heard a believer speak in the spirit of prophecy concerning a pre-tribulation rapture. And I never will, nor will you, because the doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture does not come from the Spirit of God.

There is much error in today's evangelical theology, because the evangelical doctrines came from deductions made by human mental processes. However, the Scriptures came into being when holy men of God spoke by the Spirit of God. The Scriptures can be interpreted correctly only as holy people of God learn their meaning from the Spirit of God.

The most grievous, most destructive error that has come from human deductions is that if an individual makes a profession of belief in Jesus Christ he is righteous forever in God's sight regardless of his subsequent behavior.

This single error is largely responsible for the destruction of the Christian testimony in the United States of America. The result of this destruction will be all kinds of calamities in the near future, resulting in a weakened, impoverished America no longer able to be a world leader.

When we struggle with abortion, homosexual behavior, economic chaos, we are treating symptoms. The cause of our trouble is false doctrine that prevents spiritual maturity. The Christian churches, because of false doctrine, are not bearing the testimony of righteous behavior.

A wonderful country, the United States of America, but now being destroyed from within by the values of Hollywood and the universities, which the churches are unable to resist because of their unscriptural doctrines.

I was born in America and have lived in America all my life. It indeed is a grief to me to see what godly people built, now being thrown away by their descendants. It is a tragedy worthy of another Book of Lamentations.

Israel was destroyed by its sins, and now we are being destroyed by our sins. I guess we Americans and our Jewish friends are condemned to never learn from history. Speaking of the Jews, they need another prophet. It appears they are seeking the assistance of the world rather than the power and wisdom of their God.

The difference between the world of today and the righteous world of tomorrow is obedience to God, and that means obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Disobedience to Jesus Christ is Antichrist.

Until we learn to forsake our own will and obey the Lord Jesus Christ we are not doing God's will. The more we do the will of Jesus Christ the more we are of the Kingdom of God and in the Kingdom of God. Otherwise the spirit of Antichrist is in us.

If we are wise we will begin to learn to obey Christ right now. There always will be a certain amount of pain we will experience until our obedience has been perfected. This was true even of the Lord Jesus as He struggled in Gethsemane. It was true of Abraham as he and Isaac walked hand in hand to the moment of truth on Mount Moriah.

Pain yes! But its severity depends to a great extent on our willingness to die to our own will and to place our trust in the goodness and faithfulness of God.

The critical issue in salvation is not saying we believe in Christ, although that confession is our orientation to truth. The critical issue is stern obedience to God, which means stern obedience to Jesus Christ.

We eventually must be willing to forsake our own will and pride and walk humbly with God with our hand in the hand of Jesus Christ. If we do not ever learn to do this, our dwelling will be with Satan, Antichrist, and the False Prophet and all others who refuse to obey Christ. The Lake of Fire will be our eternal home.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8—NASB)

His mother said to the servants, "Whatever He says to you, do it." (John 2:5—NASB)

Sing, O Barren

Those who have spent time in one of the Lord's prisons will understand readily what it means to be "barren." Other believers appear to be prospering. They are having no problems, apparently. But we seem to be desolate. Has God forsaken us? Are his promises no longer valid? Where is he, the One who is supposed to be faithful? Is He a liar, as Satan declares so often?

But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. (Psalms 73:2,3—NIV)

The route to fruitfulness is barrenness. Why is this? It is because Christ wants to be the One who prospers us. He Himself wants to be our strength, our joy, our song, our wisdom, our hope, our peace, our fruitfulness.

Perhaps we have had some success as a Christian. We have brought forth some fruit in personal growth and in ministry to others. We have a solid testimony of godly behavior. We may have come to the conclusion that this is all there is to the Christian discipleship.

Then God sees we are ready to bear more fruit and much fruit. So He begins the pruning process. Little by little what we have trusted in is removed from us. We do not understand what is taking place in our life. We may have been taught that Christ wants us to be happy; He suffered so we do not have to suffer; He was poor so we may be wealthy. Now we are confused.

I am afraid perpetual happiness and wealth are sometimes being taught in our day; but such teachers have not walked very far with the Consuming Fire of Israel. They have not shared in the sufferings of Christ. They never imagined they would have their own Gethsemane.

When I first became a Christian I was taught that if any person is in Christ, he or she is a new creation. I did not realize that this passage of the Bible is literally true. But stop and think! If we are to become a new creation, what then happens to the old creation? Obviously the first creation, the natural man, must give way to a new personality.

All fine and good. But what must take place if the first personality is to give way to a new creation? The first creation must be removed, obviously. I must add that the first creation cannot be modified and adapted to the Kingdom of God. Our natural abilities are as clay. The new creation is as gold and silver. They do not mix.

As the sixth chapter of Romans informs us, the old creation must be crucified so our sinful nature may be dealt with and removed.

If we have prospered in our natural state, Christ will replace this with his form of prosperity. We may be reduced to poverty until we have to look to Christ in order to survive. It may get down to one day at a time. This is the lesson of the daily manna. Such utter dependence on Christ must become part of our character, just as the jar of manna was placed in the Ark of the Covenant.

If we have been strong spiritually and physically, Christ will bring us into circumstances that weaken us until we have the sentence of death in ourselves. Only then can He replace our natural strength with his unlimited, eternal strength.

The weakening process is not pleasant, in any case. But we can make it easier by not holding on to our own way of doing things and by looking to Jesus constantly that we may live and work in his strength.

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (II Corinthians 12:9—NIV)

It may be true that we are a naturally joyful person, optimistic, looking at the bright side of things. Christ may bring us into situations in which it is difficult to rejoice. But Paul commanded us to rejoice in the Lord always—and this when he was in prison!

We may have been brought very low. Anyone can rejoice and praise the Lord when he is surrounded with pleasant prospects. But to praise the Lord when we are in the midst of dreadful prospects is an act of majestic faith and very pleasing to the Lord. We may have to pray much before we are able to rejoice in the midst of adversity.

The first personality can sing hymns and choruses when in church and his circumstances are reasonably pleasant. When we are in one of the Lord's prisons it may be easy to fret and complain. But Christ can be our song at that time. His song does not depend on our circumstances.

We may be an intelligent person and careful in our decisions. Yet we will learn from our experiences never to take anything for granted; never to rely on our own judgment. The more we look to Jesus for his wisdom in every situation, the more we will avoid the traps set by Satan. We may be wise. But Christ is infinitely wiser; and true wisdom on our part is to ask Jesus about everything throughout each day and night.

Christ wants to be our hope. We never can make a success of the victorious Christian life until we place all of our treasures in Heaven. It is so easy to grasp things, relationships, and situations, believing we will find love, joy, and peace in these. But they all will fail. For this reason we absolutely must place all of our treasures beyond the grave into the next world. If we do not, we will not be able to make the transition to the new creation.

Peace is a treasure of incalculable worth. The history of the world is largely the attempt of people and nations to find peace. But enduring peace always seems to elude the sincere attempts of people and nations. Certainly an abundance of money does not bring peace. The individual possessing one million dollars is miserable because someone else has two million dollars.

The supreme goal of the intelligent individual is righteousness, love, joy, and peace. But outside of Christ there is no lasting peace. He Himself is the Prince of Peace and there is no other. The peace of Christ dwelling in our heart is able to overcome adverse circumstances.

To be fruitful is to have the Nature of Christ developed in our personality, and to assist in the growth of Christ in other people. This is not possible until we have been pruned such that our natural strength and abilities have been replaced by the Virtue that is in Christ.

We do not have to strain in order to bear such fruit. Rather we have to abide in Christ. In order to abide in Christ we must, through him, overcome the myriad of forces that come against us that would cause us to look back to our own strength and wisdom instead of dwelling in Christ.

This is why the barren rejoice. True, they have endured a season of grief during which it seems the Lord has forsaken them. They remember that God has promised joy, although weeping endures for a season. They stand on the promise that those who weep now will rejoice later.

"For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back. In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you," says the LORD your Redeemer. (Isaiah 54:7,8—NIV)

For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning. (Psalms 30:5—NASB)

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." (Matthew 5:4—NASB)

One of the main problems of today is that of fretting about the wickedness in the world. We American Christians are seeing the trampling of our values as the government pursues its own objectives. But if we are to be elders, standing always before the Throne of God, we must keep on casting down our crowns in the Presence of God and the Lamb. This means that we keep saying "Not my will but Yours be done."

It has been given to the saints to govern the works of God's hands; but not in our natural wisdom and strength. We must patiently await God's time so that it always is Christ and not we ourselves who is prevailing. God has promised that the events of history are working for our good. Realizing this, fretting about the current evil is a sign of our unbelief, of our unwillingness to rejoice as God works His works in the earth.

Whenever we read the Bible promises that we will be made barren, we notice that they are followed by Divine treasures of restoration and glory.

Our prisons, our barrenness, are bringing toward the new heaven and earth reign of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will rebuild you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with lapis lazuli. I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of sparkling jewels, and all your walls of precious stones. All your children will be taught by the LORD, and great will be their peace. (Isaiah 54:11-13—NIV)

True Bible Faith: I

True Bible faith is infinitely more than our assent to invisible facts. True Bible faith is obedience to God's will as it is revealed to us. We are motivated to obey God's will by our hope of a reward for doing so. True Bible faith is revealed in our behavior rather than in our theology.

Our belief that God is good and that there is a Heaven gives us hope and courage when we encounter the pains of life on the earth, particularly severe illness, or disfigurement, or death. But if we do not seek the will of Christ every day, we do not have what the Bible means by faith, even though we believe the facts presented in the Scriptures.

God rewards those who seek Him diligently and earnestly.

I will tell you what got me started on this subject. Since it is obvious the protecting hand of the Lord is being withdrawn from the United States because of abortion-on-demand and other sins, some godly Christian leaders are encouraging us to fast in order to change God's mind about the coming American holocaust.

I most assuredly exhort every Christian to fervently seek God, and when fasting will intensify the effort, as it often does, to fast as the Lord leads. However, I do not recommend that young people fast from their necessary nourishment of food, but to give over to the Lord for a specific season some activity or thing that is important to them, such as an electronic device, for example.

It would not hurt older people to miss a few meals, unless their daily work is strenuous. In that case, they may wish to set aside something they enjoy, such as the television, until their fast has been completed.

What I wish to discuss is not fasting but the concept of "changing God's mind." I don't believe God ever changes his mind nor are we called on to attempt to change God's mind. The repentance of Nineveh did not change God's mind. Rather, it changed the behavior of the people, and so severe punishment no longer was necessary.

In the case of sustained prayer for the Holy Spirit in order that we may have eternal life to give to others, this is not a changing of God's mind. It is God's pleasure to give us more of the Holy Spirit. God directs us to ask and keep on asking for more of the Spirit of God. Also, the Book of Acts tells us that God gives his Spirit to those who obey him.

Sometimes God changes the destiny of an individual because the person did not obey God, but this is not a changing of God's mind. God always punishes transgressions, and when we transgress we suffer for it.

There may be a passage in the Bible that tells us we can "twist God's arm" by fasting so He will change his mind, but I am not aware of it at this time. We do not fast to change God's mind but to enter into a closer fellowship with Him so we can find out what God wants, and then pray and act along that line.

What about the coming American holocaust. Do we wish to prevent this? Why should we want God not to judge America? Do we want to bless and protect sin and rebellion?

It would be proper to fast and pray that God would stop the abortions. When I pray along this line, the Lord tells me that America has crossed the line and shall be punished accordingly.

Does God ever tell one of his servants to warn his people that punishment is on the way and to accept God's decision. Yes, He does. Do you remember that God told the Israelites to seek the peace of Babylon, because that is how they would find prosperity? Perhaps God wants us to find out from Him what we should do about the coming judgment, rather than to waste our time trying to prevent what God has determined.

This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: "Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper." Yes, this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: "Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them," declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 29:4-7—NIV)

"And he will take Zedekiah to Babylon, and he will be there until I visit him," declares the LORD. "If you fight against the Chaldeans, you will not succeed." (Jeremiah 32:5—NASB)

You can fight God if you want to. Religious people often do. But once you pray until you know the mind of God, there is peace in "letting go and letting God have his wonderful way," so to speak.

The palace prophets would never tell the king of Israel he already was defeated, because they were liars seeking their own advantage. We need to hear the truth today. It would have done the Jews no good to try to get God to change his mind. So it is today. We need to go with God rather than against him. We need to learn from Christ how to stand in the Day of Judgment and help others to stand.

The expression "step out in faith" is another way of trying to force God to do something. Stepping out in faith, unless Christ is directing us to do so, is not scriptural faith. It is presumption. It is the same idea as Satan urging Jesus to jump off the roof of the Temple. We are not to test God in this manner.

When we study the "faith chapter," the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews, we do not find people trying to force God to do anything. Rather the heroes of faith were marked by obedience to the will of God..

But my righteous one] will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him. But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved. (Hebrews 10:38,39—NIV)

The eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews sets forth what is meant by "the righteous will live by faith."

Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. It is not a means of getting God to do what we want.

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command. God acts sovereignly in all He does. We are not called on to try to get Him to change his mind. This would put man in control, and we certainly do not want that!

By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain did. Cain was a farmer and offered his crops. Nothing wrong with that. But we can tell from Cain's actions that although he made an offering, his heart was far from God. When God reproved him, Cain did not ask God what was wrong with his offering. He chose instead to murder his brother. It often may be true that people engage in their religious practices while their heart is far from God. They just are going through the motions.

Christian people may be faithful to the beliefs and practices of their religion even when Christ does not know them! They never really had faith in Jesus, the kind of faith that results in fellowship with Christ.

By faith Enoch was taken from this life so that he did not experience death. Enoch demonstrated his faith by walking humbly with God. To walk humbly with God is the very highest form of faith.

Anyone who comes to God must believe He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek him, not those who attempt to force God to do what they want.

Noah was warned of the flood because he was a righteous person. He showed his faith by building an ark. This action was righteousness in God's sight, the righteousness that comes by faith.

Abraham's entire life was one of obedience to God, beginning with his obedient belief in God's promise. I read of no instance in which Abraham "stepped out in faith." He did make intercession for Lot, and intercession directed by the Lord is a valuable ministry. But Abraham did not change God's mind. Sodom was destroyed. God knew there were not ten righteous people there.

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, although he did not know where he was going. By faith Abraham, even though he was past age—and Sarah herself was barren—was enabled to become a father because he considered Him faithful who had made the promise. Notice the sovereign hand of God here. None of this was Abraham's idea.

The heroes of faith lived by faith and died in faith. They did not receive the promises but saw them in the future. They lived as aliens on the earth. Their kingdom was not of this present world. They were waiting for the new Jerusalem to come down from Heaven. Compare this attitude with the brashness with which we are going to put on our "administrative hat" and usurp the place of Christ, going so far as to direct angels and command the spiritual lords in positions of authority over cities, or even direct the Spirit of God!

Some today are teaching that if we want something from God, we are to say we have it, with the understanding that if we keep on saying this and believing it, will happen. This is not Bible faith. It is a metaphysical practice. Others are suggesting that we can persuade the Holy Spirit to do as we wish.

We can ask God for a spiritual gift, but we are not to say we have it until we actually receive it. The idea that we can believe something into existence is a major error of Christian thinking in our day. The idea of positive thinking, or speaking the creative word, is a way of attempting to use the power of Christ to accomplish one's own desires. It has the "two horns of the Lamb" (of Christ) but it speaks with the voice of self-determination of the dragon (Revelation 13:13).

Are we not man-centered and humanistic in this?

By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future. Isaac did not attempt to change their future.

By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph's sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff. There was no attempt here to direct God.

By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions about his bones. Joseph was acting in faith according to what God revealed to him about the coming exodus of the Israelites from Egypt.

By faith Moses' parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king's edict. The faith of Moses' parents was that God was greater than Pharaoh and would preserve Moses. We are going to need this sort of faith during the coming American holocaust.

I do not know when I first encountered the idea that we are supposed to move God to do certain things. It may have been from fellow believers when I first was saved in the Marine Corps. It may have been in Bible school.

But you know what? As I contemplate this notion, that God is waiting to be moved by man because He doesn't know what He is doing, or doesn't have a definite program, I think it must have arisen with the rise of Humanism. I see no inkling of it in the Old or New Testaments. Do you?

How can we enter the rest of God, that place where we cease from our own works and look to Jesus for every breath we take; every thought we think; every word we speak; every desire we have; every plan we make; every action we take; and then try to persuade God to do something?

How can we enter that perfect Sabbath rest, in which Christ eternally exists, if we are scheming how we are going to get God to do what we want? It seems to me that the rest of God, and fasting and praying to get God to do what we want, are incompatible approaches to our walk with the Lord.

Where am I incorrect in this?

I believe it was in Bible school that I heard of someone who had preached on the topic "God in the hands of a man." The good Lord deliver us if such ever occurs. I suspect that the idea was taken from Jacob wrestling with the angel.

But notice that Jacob was not "stepping out in faith." He was seeking to survive the encounter with his brother, Esau. Now it may have been true that Esau was planning to avenge himself on Jacob because Jacob cheated him out of his birthright. And it may have been true that God changed Esau's heart because Jacob prevailed, although the Bible does not state any of this.

But if such was the case, this change of heart accomplished God's greater will, because God had promised Jacob an inheritance that did not include Jacob being murdered by Esau.

Here is the very point. When God wants something done, He works circumstances so someone will pray to the end that what God wants will be accomplished. Can you see how different it is for us to blindly decide what we want done and to try to get God to do it?

Now I ask you: "Does God desire that America be spared God's judgment on us when we are practicing abortion-on-demand?" Do you know the answer to this question? If you do not know what God has determined, how can you fast and pray that America will go on its way safely and securely murdering fetuses? Would it not be better to seek God, fasting if it will help, to find out what God desires, and then pray along that line?

As I said, there may be a bit of humanistic man-centeredness in the preaching that teaches us if we have faith we can have all the money we want; or if we fast and pray, God will permit America to prosper in every way even though the moral abominations increase every day. Do we actually know what God is thinking, or are we assuming that we know what He is thinking and his attitude toward America at this time?

Tell me: "Do we want to change God's attitude, or do we want to find out what it is and fast and pray that his will shall be done?" How do you feel about this?

I heard a minister say that if we pray, and then say "Your will be done," we do not have faith. The truth is, "Your will be done" is the strongest of all prayers.

By faith Moses, when he had grown up, chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. We see from the life of Moses that faith is our belief that we will be rewarded for serving God and turning away from sin.

Moses' actions, after God called him to deliver Egypt, were those of obedience. From his warnings to Pharaoh to the construction of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, Moses followed the Lord all the way. Moses did not have a "good idea" about how he would help God out. Rather he remains one of our finest examples of stern obedience to God.

It is true that Moses interceded for Israel. But he did so within the confines of God's intervention in his life. Moses was not a "free moral agent" who decided what God needed and tried to get God to do it.

By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land. This miracle was accomplished under the direct intervention of the Lord. It did not come from the decisions of the Israelites.

God gave specific directions for the attack against Jericho. The people did not pray until the walls fell down or otherwise exercise their own creativity. The leaders heard from the Lord and did what He commanded.

Rahab, a member of the heroes of faith, had heard from the caravans the miracles God had did on behalf of Israel. She put her faith in the God of Israel and protected his messengers.

When we meditate on the miracles and victories that accompanied Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets, it is clear that it was God who initiated their actions. Kingdoms were conquered. Justice was administered. The mouths of lions were shut. They gained what was promised. Flames were quenched. They escaped the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became powerful in battle and routed armies.

People were raised from the dead. Some of these heroes were tortured and refused to be released, for they were seeking a better resurrection.

Their faith was wrought out in obedience, not in the good intentions of human beings. They were jeered. They were flogged. They were chained and put in prison. They were stoned. They were sawed in two. They were killed by the sword.

They were poorly clothed, destitute, persecuted, mistreated. They were people of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered about in deserts, mountains, caves, and holes in the ground, having no dwelling place.

Can you imagine an American charismatic believer dying and meeting the above heroes of faith, and telling them how he avoided all suffering and became rich by using "faith"?

God's holy Word that cannot be changed said such pilgrims were commended for their faith. Yet, they have to wait for us. We of the last days will have our challenges, and they will be just as severe as were theirs, if not more so.

One day, if we have live in victory in Christ, we shall join that elite group of followers of the Lamb, his firstfruits from the earth. Then we all shall descend with him, pick up our flesh and bones from wherever they have been interred or scattered, and then be clothed upon with that house from Heaven that has been constructed from our response to the crucifixions we have experienced.

Each one of us, as we are clothed with our reward, will receive a better resurrection. It will be a personal expression of love from Christ. It will be his expression of love for that creature of the dust who chose to lose his or her own life that Christ might be exalted.

I don't know about you but I want to be a member of that group.

The greatest prayer of all, the prayer that in the long run requires the greatest faith, is: "Not my will but yours be done." When we do not pray this prayer we may be attempting to force our will on God.

"I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart." (Psalms 40:8—NASB)

True Bible Faith: II

God has not given us faith so we can change God's mind. God has given us faith so we can hear God's voice clearly and obey Him diligently. The righteous are to live by faith, according to Habakkuk and the Apostle Paul. This is how we are to live. Living by faith is not speaking about theological belief. The contrast, in Habakkuk, is between those who are "puffed up" and have unrighteous desires, and those who are not puffed up and who have righteous desires.

The person who is living by faith is walking humbly with God, not thinking and acting according to his or her own desires and goals.

The eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews is one long definition of "the righteous shall live by faith." It tells us what the Bible means by "faith."

We are informed that "faith is being sure of what we hope for." The term "hope" is significant. Many of the errors of today emphasize getting what we want "now" from God. Actually, the Christian redemption is a vision of the future. This is why patience is such an important part of our salvation.

"Sin" is a shortcut to what we want. We become deceived when we seek to live in pleasure with our desires satisfied immediately.

God commended the heroes of faith of history because they lived their lives according to the vision of God they held, not in terms of their present circumstances.

When we look about us at the marvelous works of the universe, we become aware of the might and glory of God. We glorify God by faith because of his handiwork in nature, although He remains invisible to us.

Abel's sacrifice was acceptable to God because in his heart, Abel was worshiping God in faith. Cain gave his offering out of duty. His heart was elsewhere, as sometimes is true of the church people of our day when they are singing hymns.

Abel's faith instructs us that God is more aware of our heart than He is of our offerings or our religion. If our heart is not in our religious service, then God is not pleased with us.

Enoch was obsessed with God. Because of Enoch's faith, his thoughts continually were focused on the Lord rather than on his earthly circumstances. God was pleased with Enoch's attitude; and God is pleased with our attitude when we keep Christ in our consciousness at all times.

Noah's obedience to God is an excellent portrayal of faith. Notice that Noah did not "dare to believe God," as we say today. Rather Noah "dared to obey God." "Faith" and "obedience" are synonymous.

I wish to emphasize this concept. Faith is not our attempt to change God's mind or get God to do something. Faith has to do with our seeking God until we know what He wants of us, and then obeying Him promptly and diligently.

The errors in today's Christian teaching seek to put man in control. Man is to discover and practice spiritual principles that will move God's hand. Man in control of the power of Christ is nothing less than the "False Prophet," the deceiver who will assist Antichrist in his effort to gain control over the nations.

Historically, neither the religious nor the secular realms have emphasized the daily, diligent doing of God's revealed will. This is the central problem of life on the earth, and it will not change until Christ returns in his Kingdom and his will is done in the earth as it is in Heaven.

Faith is used today as a synonym of "presumption." This is what we would expect of a society that is in love with itself, that seeks pleasure rather than God. There are many books and tapes that tell us how to have power with God; how to move God's hand. There does not appear a hint of such an attitude in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews.

Rather, the focus in the "faith" chapter of Hebrews is on seeking and obeying God. None of the people described here were trying to "do great things for God" by "stepping out in faith." Rather they were occupied with obeying God, and in some cases with their very survival.

What do we hear today? We by "faith" are to take spiritual dominion over our city. Try to find that sort of thing in Hebrews, Chapter Eleven!

The temptation of Christ in which Satan counseled Him to jump off the roof of the Temple in Jerusalem is the sort of action that is presented today as faith. "Find a passage in the Bible and dare God to fulfill it at your command." This is what Satan was saying, along with many Bible teachers of our day.

"Take hold of God and make Him do what you want." Can you imagine such an attitude? Yet, how is this different from "take the gifts of the Spirit and go out and save a lost and dying world"?

"Dare to be a Daniel." Personally, I do not believe even Daniel would have dared to be a Daniel. Rather, all Daniel wanted to do was to be left alone while he prayed to God.

We have a choice today, don't we? We can go to the Lord Jesus, and at every moment of our waking hours ask Him what He wants us to do. This is how we live by every word that comes from the mouth of God. This is how we live by faith. (What a wonderful adventure such a life is!)

Or we can do, as I was taught in Bible school, "Go forth to the nations and burn out for Christ." Of course, none of our teachers had any intention of doing this; but it was what everyone seemed to be saying.

I wish we all would cease from our own works and find out what Christ wants each one of us to do. Our nation, America, is sinking into sexual lust rapidly and no human agency can arrest this trend.

But how about prayer? When I pray, the Lord seems to tell me that we American people are getting what we deserve, the kind of government we deserve. We have asked for Tash, and Tash has come (to quote C. S. Lewis).

The word of the Lord to me is: "Encourage everyone to get close enough to Jesus to hear what God's word is to them as an individual. Then they will save themselves and their loved ones when God begins to judge America because of its love of money and excessive and perverted sexual activity; and also because of the practice of abortion-on-demand."

For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. (Hebrews 4:10—NASB)

True Bible Faith: III

The righteous are to live by faith, according to Habakkuk and the Apostle Paul. This is how we are to live. "Living by faith" is not speaking of theological belief. The contrast, in Habakkuk, is between those who are "puffed up" and have unrighteous desires, and those who are not puffed up and who have righteous desires.

In our day, faith often is viewed as a sort of magic by which we can manipulate the spirit and physical worlds and get what we want. However, that does not fit the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews, does it? I think the "faith chapter" would suggest that faith is the act of persevering in the face of difficulties because of our confidence in the word and faithfulness of God.

There are at least three misconceptions believers have concerning "faith."

The first misconception is that by faith we can manipulate the physical and spirit realms. Faith is a kind of magic. This thought obviously appeals to people.

The second misconception is that the adamic personality can generate faith. If we try hard enough we can believe something into existence.

The third misconception is that we can use "faith" as we see fit. The truth is, all genuine faith in God resides in God Himself. Sometimes God gives faith to us as a gift, but only to accomplish his own purposes.

Joshua commanding the sun to stand still, and Jesus multiplying food and cursing the fig tree, give the impression that if we could just believe strongly enough we could work miracles. In actuality there do come times when God invites us to command one thing or another. But these incidents originate in God, not in our desire to work miracles.

Miracle-working faith is one of the gifts of the Spirit. But to utilize properly the gift of miracles, the believer must be walking in the light of God's will, closely following the Lord Jesus at all times. In the last days, Christian people will seek spiritual power in order to glorify themselves. These Christians compose the False Prophet.

When it comes to healing the sick, or raising the dead, or turning water into wine, we are not to thrash around, trying to believe for the miracle. Rather we are to follow the Lord Jesus as closely as we can, continually looking to Him to see what He is going to do and what part we are to play.

Jesus' mother said, "Whatever He says to you, do it." This precisely is the way we are to work miracles. If it is to fill the pots, or take the hand of the dead man and raise him up, or put clay on someone's blind eyes, we are to do it. We are to obey Christ in every detail. We are not the healer, the miracle worker. The Lord Jesus is. We exercise true Divine faith when we look to Jesus and obey his command.

The faith by which the righteous live is not that of working miracles. Rather it is found in gaining victory over the spirit of the world, over the lusts of the sinful nature, and over acting according to our own plans rather than seeking to obey Christ. True faith always obeys Christ. It is not an attempt to believe for something we think is a good idea.

The faith by which the righteous live is that of "persevering in the face of difficulties." Every true Christian learns that much of our life includes persevering in the face of difficulties; working out our salvation with faith and patience. We have to learn to endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ.

One example of faith might be that of parents whose daughter has joined the army. They receive notice that their daughter has been captured by the Taliban. Jesus whispers to them that Sally is fine. They continually battle the mental pictures of Sally being raped and tortured by the Taliban soldiers, choosing by faith to believe what they have heard from the Lord.

There may be a person seeking employment. Without a job he will not have enough money for food or to pay the rent. He has a wife and children to support. By faith he keeps believing God will help him in his trouble, meanwhile doing all he can to earn enough money to keep going.

We American Christians have not experienced a great deal of persecution. The day may come when we by faith have to stand true to the name of Jesus. This may mean jail and forced association with wicked people. We remember that if we deny Christ, He will deny us before the Father.

A young person might have to endure mocking and rejection, if his faith requires that he not go along with his friends as they drink alcohol and take drugs. The young Christian must exercise consistent faith by refusing to go along with the crowd, when his friends are inviting him to do sinful things. The Christian girl must by faith keep herself pure.

In America of the future it will require strong faith to resist the temptation to engage in sexual misconduct. Sexual lust is becoming so intense in America that it is difficult to resist. Only the Christians of strong faith will be able to overcome the temptation to engage in immoral, even unlawful immoral, conduct. By faith we turn away from that which is unclean, and the Spirit of God helps us when we hold up the shield of faith against moral temptations.

It is so easy to grumble and complain when things go wrong in our life. By faith we keep on rejoicing in Christ, even when we feel we are in the lowest level of a pit.

The Bible commands us to rejoice in the Lord always and not to fret. As we see the evil practiced by the leaders of our government, as the wicked boast themselves, we have to exercise faith if we are to obey the Bible command to not fret because of evildoers. To refrain from fretting will be especially difficult as we see our moral standards being abandoned.

Sometimes we feel the Lord is requiring us to do something we see no reason for. Perhaps Noah wondered if it really was necessary to build a huge ark. When we are certain it is the Lord who is speaking to us and we are not being deceived, we must exercise faith and obey Christ. We must trust Christ even when we do not understand him.

To be a disciple we must deny ourselves and turn away from the world. Faith is required if we are to do this.

It requires faith if we are to be content where God places us. Discontent with one's assigned position is the original sin.

We by faith must continue to believe there is a reward for serving the Lord. We must place our treasures in Heaven, realizing we may never possess them until we die and enter the spirit world..

As we mentioned previously, an outstanding high school senior in our city, Poway, California, recently was raped and murdered. Her parents scarcely are able to cope with their loss. But cope they must; and coping will be possible if they have faith that their Chelsea is in a delightful land, far, far more pleasant than what is true today on the earth, and that when they die they will see their daughter at her loveliest.

On occasion God promises us something. The fulfillment of the promise may be many years away. Meanwhile circumstances may arise that seem to prevent our ever gaining what has been promised to us. By faith we keep on trusting God to keep his word. It is in the interval of time between the vision and its fulfillment that holy character is formed. "Faith is being sure of what we hope for."

By faith we do not grasp this present world. We understand it is preparation for life in a better, eternal world. The purpose of the present world is to teach us about God and to select and train the future rulers of the Kingdom of God.

By faith we understand that our present physical world was made from the spirit world, and the two worlds therefore are similar. It is the spirit world that is full of peace and love, and is eternal. The present world is temporary. It is the valley of the shadow of death. It is a shadow. By faith we know this to be true and are looking forward to our death as release from a nightmare.

By faith we know that God loves us and is leading us to joy, even though our present circumstances are miserable. By faith we understand that God is good; and if we obey Him we will attain to the love, joy, and peace that are eternal.

Every true Christian is given a cross to bear. This may mean he is denied something he wants fervently, or is forced to endure a situation he detests. By faith he does not force his way out of this prison, thus breaking God's laws. He endures patiently, knowing that by doing so he will acquire a better resurrection, meanwhile looking to the Lord for release. We always are to let our desires be known to God.

The above statements describe how the righteous live. When we try to escape the demands of discipleship in order to have a more pleasant life, we open ourselves to deception.

If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:25,27—NIV)

True Bible Faith: IV

I have written previously that "faith," and "obedience" to the revealed will of God, are synonymous. Because of the prevailing misunderstanding of what it means to "live by faith," and because of the chaotic era we are entering in America due to Divine judgment, during which we shall survive only by living by faith, I once more am going to emphasize what saving faith actually is.

Perhaps the first problem that should be addressed is that of saying "faith" when we actually mean "belief." It is my understanding that a religion was active in the first century termed "Gnosticism." If I am correct, the most important aspect of Gnosticism is that the believer adhere carefully to the doctrines of Gnosticism, and that doing so will insure one's entrance into Heaven.

"Holding and professing the correct knowledge is vital to salvation," if I understand this complex religion correctly. The religion of Gnosticism predates Christianity.

The Apostle Paul, as he sought to turn Jews and Gentiles to Christ, placed heavy emphasis on "faith." We do not obtain righteousness by obeying the Law of Moses but by believing in Christ.

We readily can understand what took place. Many of the believers would fall into the trap of confusing the Gnostic teaching of the importance of correct knowledge, with Paul's teaching of salvation through faith in Christ. The important thing is what one believes, not a change into righteous behavior.

Whether or not my analysis of what has taken place is correct, it is obvious today that Evangelical teaching actually is a form of Gnosticism. Confess your faith in orthodox theology and you will go to Heaven when you die.

In many instances, this doctrine leads to the idea that we are to place little or no emphasis on righteous behavior, because this would be an affront to God's offer of salvation by grace. Sometimes the idea of God's sovereignty in salvation by grace is brought to the place that once the believer takes his stand on the "four steps of salvation," he never can lose his place in Heaven. This concept is so utterly opposed to the tenor of the New Testament writings that one wonders how intelligent people could not recognize the inconsistency here.

The idea of going to Heaven by "faith alone" is widespread among devout, sincere Christian people. Yet eternal residence in Heaven is not the scriptural goal of salvation; and we are not saved by believing the facts about our Lord Jesus Christ. Such emphasis on belief in a statement of faith, rather than on coming to know and obey Christ, is popular in the present hour. But it is not at all God's plan of redemption.

The expression "the righteous shall live by faith" is set forth four times in the Bible, once in Habakkuk 2:4, and three times in the New Testament.

In Habakkuk, the contrast is not between works of righteousness and faith in God, it is between wicked people and those who have faith in God.

Behold, as for the proud one, his soul is not right within him; but the righteous will live by his faith. (Habakkuk 2:4—NASB)

We of today are interpreting this passage to mean that the unrighteous are trying to save themselves by righteous works, whereas the truly righteous do nothing but believe. This is a farfetched interpretation. I dare say that the demons believe most of what is included in the Statements of Faith of many Christian denominations. But this belief does not save them. Why not?

The New Testament definition of "the righteous shall live by faith" is contained in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews. This chapter is introduced by the following verse:

"But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back." (Hebrews 10:38—NIV)

Can you see in this expression from the writer of the Book of Hebrews the idea of conflict, of overcoming, rather than that of a belief system?

Let us return for a moment to an earlier chapter of Hebrews:

And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief. (Hebrews 3:18,19—NIV)

"Who disobeyed—their unbelief."

My position is that belief always must lead to obedience. If it does not, it is only a mental assent to facts. It is clear to me that the present-day proponents of "faith alone" are maintaining that if we hold certain facts in mind we will go to Heaven when we die, whether or not we obey Christ each day by keeping his commandments in the New Testament and by obeying his Word to us personally.

Christianity has a way, doesn't it, of making conformity to its doctrines more important than gaining a personal knowledge of Christ and obeying Him throughout the day. We can see this error by the fact that the Catholic and Protestant believers in Ireland maim and kill each other because of their belief systems. Is either group serving the living Lord Jesus? I think not!

"Faith without works is dead," the Apostle James declares. This makes me think James was battling against the influence of Gnosticism.

Any person who is really following the living Jesus knows well that the correct head knowledge of the living Jesus is not of great importance. What is of great importance is walking each day with our hand in the hand of Christ. This, and only this, is what it means when the Scripture refers to "living by faith."

Now, as I said, the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews is one long definition of the expression "the righteous shall live by faith." Let's think for a moment how God's people demonstrated their faith. Was it by theological correctness? Or was it by a personal knowledge of God and obedience?

Enoch believed that God exists, and sought Him earnestly.

Noah built an ark to save his family.

Abraham obeyed God and journeyed to a land new to him.

By faith Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice.

Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning their future.

By faith, Jacob blessed each of Joseph's sons.

By faith Joseph gave instructions concerning his bones.

By faith Moses' parents hid their baby.

By faith Moses chose to be mistreated along with God's people.

By faith Moses kept the first Passover.

By faith the tribes of Israel passed through the Red Sea.

By faith the walls of Jericho fell.

By faith Rahab welcomed the spies.

There are many more examples in this chapter of Hebrews, but these may be enough to reveal to us that "faith" is not what we are calling faith in our day.

We see from the above that faith is not belief in doctrine. We understand that faith is not magic. It is not an attempt to change God's mind.

Would you agree with me, drawing from the above examples, that true faith is an involvement with God such that we understand what He wants and are obedient, no matter what the cost?

How does true Bible faith differ from mental assent to doctrinal beliefs? True Bible faith differs from mental assent in that faith was revealed in the things that the saints did. It is behavior, action, obedience to the living Christ, rather than a doctrinal position.

All of the above may seem like a trivial discussion. It hardly is that. I estimate that the majority of Christian believers in America are more Gnostic in their thinking than they are faithfully following Jesus.

The result of our misunderstanding is churches that make little or no demands on the behavior of their congregations. Once they get an individual to accept their doctrines they urge him or her to go out and convert others to their doctrinal stance. The end result is believers who are spiritual babies instead of moral giants.

The political leaders of our country, although many may not realize this, are dependent on the Christian churches to strengthen them in their moral decisions. Instead what they find are thousands upon thousands of believers who are not growing spiritually while they are waiting to be "raptured" into Heaven.

In fact, if you can believe this, some churches practice getting ready for the unscriptural "any-moment rapture" by having their members jump up and down next to their seats.

This practice portrays a total ignorance of the first resurrection and the receiving of spiritual bodies. The members are picturing themselves being caught up through the roof of the church building and ascending above the clouds while they still are in flesh and blood bodies. They are fleeing from Antichrist, you see.

What a mess we are in, we fundamentalists!

There was an old man who had waited twenty-five years for a son. Can you imagine what that boy meant to him when he was born!

The boy, now twelve years of age, walked three days with his father, carrying the wood on which he was to be cremated, according to the command of God. The father had three days to imagine the death of his son, and how Sarah would feel when he returned home alone.

Abraham was a dead-living man. So are all God's true saints. They have been crucified with Christ. Now they are eternally alive. But the man ascending Mount Moriah is their father, because of his faith.

There is that word "faith." What does it mean? Is it belief in doctrine? Is it a way of getting God to do what we want? Is it presumption, daring God to act? Is it membership in a group? What is it?

Well, I think faith is a rugged determination to obey the living God, based on the fear of God plus the years of experience in which we became increasingly aware that God's way is always best; always leading us to righteousness, love, joy, and peace.

The Apostle Paul's determination was to know Christ more than he did. Compare the attitude of Abraham and Paul with those of today who throw ten-dollar bills on the platform, hoping to get back a thousand dollars. There are "believers" who (according to them) can never suffer or be sick because they believe Christ loves them too much to permit them any kind of pain or inconvenience.

If such are "raptured" it will be downward, I think.

We are in a huge doctrinal mess in America. Divine judgment is on the horizon because of abortion, and because we are permitting alien gods to enter our country under the guise of tolerance. Tolerance is stupidity when it causes us to act against our common sense.

As for me, I have chosen to seek Christ every day with all the strength I have, with the intention of obeying Him whether I understand Him or not.

Will you please join with me in this? We may not save our country, but we might save ourselves and our family.

For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. (James 2:26—NASB)

The Day of Vengeance of Our God

In the work of evangelism we ask people if they will accept the atonement made by the Lord Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins. Perhaps we should ask people if they will accept Jesus Christ as their King and do what He commands. When they accept Christ as their King, their sins of the past automatically are forgiven.

If you will read through the Book of Acts you may notice that today's method of getting people "saved" is not set forth there. The Apostles did not advise their listeners just to ask Christ to be their Savior and forgive their sins. They did not present the "four steps of salvation." Neither did they suggest that people let Christ into their heart or be "born again." Our current approach is unscriptural. It is misleading and destructive.

In the Book of Acts the implication is that it is repentance that brings forgiveness. To repent is to turn away from our sinful, rebellious nature and present ourselves as slaves to King Jesus. When we do this, our past sins are completely forgiven.

So today we ought to say to sinners, and believers as well: "Accept Christ as your King. Resolve to obey him. Then be baptized in water as a sign you have died on the cross with Christ and now have risen to walk in the newness of his Life." This is the proper way to bring someone to salvation in our day. "You are to obey Him in every aspect of your life."

For two thousand years the forgiveness of sins has served as a down payment on the redemption to come. The forgiveness is a beginning aspect of deliverance from the authority of Satan. It is a guarantee that when the Father's time comes to make Christ's enemies his footstool, giving Him the authority and power to redeem us from all that is evil, we will be "saved," that is, we will be a candidate for perfect, complete redemption from the hand of wicked spirits.

Here are a few passages that speak of the present redemption and of that which is to come:

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace. (Ephesians 1:7—NIV)

Who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory. (Ephesians 1:14—NASB)

Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30—NASB)

Who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (I Peter 1:5—NASB)

Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. (Romans 13:11—NASB)

Can you see from the above that we have a beginning of redemption through the blood of the cross, and that this redemption is a deposit on the full redemption that is to come in the last days? At that time, our entire personality will be redeemed from the image and works of Satan?

It is my point of view that the Day of Redemption, the Day of Vengeance against all that is the enemy of Christ, has begun. It is a new and surprising work of God that will enable us to be more than conquerors throughout the fierce judgment that is to come upon the United States of America because of our sinning.

The forgiveness of sins we acquire by placing our faith in the atonement made through the blood of Christ is not the primary work of redemption. Rather it is the starting point and the necessary prerequisite for redemption. The Divine redemption from the hand of Satan occurs when the Lord Jesus Christ by his power frees us from worldliness, our sinful nature, and our self-determination.

The requirement previously was to ask the Savior to forgive our sins. The issue now is to ask the King to deliver us so we can do his will. We have arrived at the Day of Vengeance of our God.

I suppose most believers have run across the following verse:

The Lord said to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet." (Matthew 22:44—NIV)

It appears that the Father has invited Christ to sit at his right hand until the Father puts Christ's enemies under subjection to him.

Let's think about who Christ's enemies are:

Satan.

The angels who followed Satan.

The demons.

Antichrist.

The False Prophet.

The spirit of the world, which actually is the spirit of Antichrist.

The lusts and passions that dwell in the flesh of people.

The self-will of man, his desire to govern his own life apart from Christ.

There may be other enemies of Christ but I can't think of them right now.

During the Day of Atonement, an atonement was made employing two goats. One goat was slain and its blood sprinkled in the Most Holy Place. The other goat was led out of the camp and left in a wilderness area.

The atonement made by these two goats reveals the two actions that must be taken if sin is to be dealt with properly. First, the sin must be atoned for by the shedding of blood. Secondly, an atonement (reconciliation to God) must be accomplished by removing the sin itself.

He is to cast lots for the two goats—one lot for the LORD and the other for the scapegoat Aaron shall bring the goat whose lot falls to the LORD and sacrifice it for a sin offering. But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the LORD to be used for making atonement by sending it into the desert as a scapegoat. (Leviticus 16:8-10—NIV)

If God is to be reconciled to man, and man is to be reconciled to God, sin must be forgiven, and then removed. When sin is only forgiven, as in most of the current evangelical preaching, the atonement has not been completed.

The Gospel message shall never be changed. When we say that our preaching must change from only the forgiveness of sins to forgiveness of sins plus the removal of sins plus stern obedience in every aspect of our life to our King, the Lord Jesus Christ, we are not preaching another gospel. Rather we are affirming what the Bible teaches: that God's ultimate goal is for his will to be done on the earth.

What has taken place? Have we come to a step forward in the Divine redemption? Is the issue now that of obeying the King instead of only asking the Savior for forgiveness? Have we come finally to the Day of Vengeance of our God? Is the Father ready now to make the enemies of Christ his footstool?

How about repentance? It is repentance that is stressed in the Book of Acts when someone is presented with the need to be saved. When we set ourselves to do the will of Christ we automatically have repented. Repenting does not mean feeling sorry for our sins, it means to begin to live righteously.

At the time of the birth of the Christian Church, those who were present, being convicted of sin, asked Peter and the other Apostles what they should do. Notice carefully that Peter did not advise them to "let Christ into their heart."

Rather, Peter stressed repentance, that is, that they turn away from sin.

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call." (Acts 2:37-39—NIV)

At my first encounter with the Divine redemption I was taught the famous "four steps of salvation": "Admit that all people are sinners and have come short of the glory of God. We cannot save ourselves by good works. Christ died on our behalf and we must confess Him as our Savior. Accept God's gift of salvation by faith and ask Christ to come into our heart."

There are some evangelicals who add that we must agree to turn away from sin. But then they may emphasize the grace of perpetual forgiveness to such an extent that the requirement for repentance is largely negated. A bloated justification obscures the new-covenant necessity for sanctification.

In the Book of Acts, repentance is revealed in works of righteousness. Making works of righteousness a necessary part of salvation is unacceptable to numerous American pastors, teachers, and evangelists.

The emphasis of the Book of Acts is on turning away from sin. Asking Christ to come into our heart is not mentioned even one time.

How about forgiveness of sin? We find in the Book of First John that Christ already has died for the sins of the whole world. By accepting Him as our lawful King we already have repented and been forgiven the sins of the past.

The full Divine redemption does not result in sinning people who have been forgiven, but transformed people who do the will of Christ in every detail of their lives. The issue from now on is obedience to Christ.

This means that all of today's Christian church-people who have received Christ as their Savior from sin must now receive Him as their personal Lord, telling Him they are ready to cease from their own works and to look to Him for every aspect of their lives, including their religious practices.

Every person in the physical and spirit worlds absolutely must subject himself or herself to the will of Christ. To not do so, after every effort has been made to correct the rebellious nature, is to insure eternal residence in the Lake of Fire with Satan and his angels.

You may have wondered why the Lord stopped in the middle of a passage when He was reading from the scroll in his local synagogue in Nazareth.

The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. he has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor. Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." (Luke 4:18-20—NIV)

If you will take a look at the sixty-first chapter of the Book of Isaiah you may notice that the next phrase after "the year of the Lord's favor" is: "and the day of vengeance of our God." Jesus did not finish the thought in Isaiah. The great Day had not come at that time. It is here now!

It had to come sometime, didn't it? The Father promised his Son that He would put the Son's enemies under his feet. Well, guess what! The Day of Vengeance upon the enemies of Christ has begun, and it has begun with those who are pressing into Christ and crying "Not my will but yours be done."

I am being very bold when I announce that a new dimension of the one work of redemption has begun. But let us put my words to the test.

Are you a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ? Has there been some sin in your life that you have wrestled with and can't seem to gain victory over? Then try this, and you will find out for yourself if things are changing in the spirit world:

Name that sin clearly to Christ. Don't cloud the issue with words. Instead say, "I stole," "I lied," "I committed fornication," "I am addicted to pornography," "I am taking drugs," and so forth. The more specific you are the more specific your deliverance will be.

Now tell the Lord you need his help to never practice this behavior again—not even one time!

At this point Christ will forgive this specific sin completely and set in motion wisdom and power that will deliver you completely from this behavior.

Try what I have said and see for yourself if something has changed in the spirit world; if God is ready now to put that behavior under the feet of Christ. Or maybe we now have the faith to claim the deliverance from sin that always was available.

From this point forward the Holy Spirit will bring to your attention, over a period of time, every bit of spiritual uncleanness in your personality. When the Spirit shows them to you, you must confess them, denounce them as filthy spirits, and renounce them with all the force you can summon. Christ will help you do this.

What I am talking about is the Day of Vengeance of our God. It is not vengeance against you at this time, it is vengeance against the enemies of Christ.

Judgment always begins at the household of God, and with those nearest to God. The work of the Day of Vengeance will continue until the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age that often is referred to as the "Millennium." All sin must be removed from the creation so there will be no sin or rebellion of any kind whatever during the eternal reign of Christ over the new earth.

God shall appoint judges on the new earth who will insure that sin and rebellion never again will trouble God and his children.

I am ready to keep pressing forward until all sin has been removed from myself and from the creation, and God's will is done on the earth as it is in Heaven. Would you care to join me in this endeavor? I do not believe we are going to be able to stand during the days that are coming unless we learn to walk carefully with the King!

Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place. (Daniel 9:24—NASB)

War in Heaven

The Bible states there was war in the heaven. We may not have thought much about this. But apparently there were numerous skirmishes of various kinds as the forces of righteousness attacked the wicked. Angels were involved in the battles.

This accounts for the expression, "Be glad, heavens, and those who tabernacle in them," when Satan and his forces are cast down to the earth. So we have much to learn concerning the battle between God and Satan; Christ and Antichrist. I believe this battle is beginning in our day, as we see ministers of the Gospel, because of sexual lust, fall from their high position in Christ.

Satan is being torn down from the heavens and he is bringing down with him those who spiritually have been raised in Christ but who never have submitted to the crucifixion of their will.

Indeed, ours is a dangerous era. Each of us who names the name of Christ must be exceedingly careful to maintain the Presence of Christ at all times lest he be deceived. Also, he must pray to the Father, "Lead me not into temptation but deliver me from the evil one."

Those who insist that once we believe in Christ we never could fall back are in error. We must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, praying that we not be led into temptation and deceived. Indeed, it is entirely possible for someone else to receive the crown of victory in Christ that originally had been in our possession.

I think we have changed what fundamentally is a battle of God against Satan, righteousness against wickedness, truth against the lie, into a religion, the Christian religion. It appears that numerous church-attending believers have little or no understanding that their life is to be a daily battle against wicked spirits. Perhaps they have not been taught to endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ.

And they did overcome him because of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life—unto death; (12:11—YLT)

Deliverance From Foes Too Strong For Us

We assuredly are heading into dark days in America. Our traditional values are being trampled underfoot. The vilest sexual practices take place in public streets while the police stand by doing nothing, even though such activities are against the law. Some of the literature available to public-school students, from kindergarten on up, is so inappropriate in its content of a sexual nature that we know America is heading toward destruction.

America is becoming "Sodom."

Most of us have not experienced such abominations before. All experienced Christians have had to battle against various forms of spiritual darkness; but nothing compared to what we are faced with today. We can be certain there are powerful spirits of darkness that are influencing people in positions of authority, especially when we hear of kindergarten children being taught about alternative sexual life-styles.

I realize numerous Americans (and not only Christians!) agree that we are watching helplessly as our nation sinks slowly into a cesspool of moral depravity. We really are going to have to know Jesus if we are to be able to survive morally, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually during the coming days. We need to know how to pray until we gain personal victory. In the eighteenth Psalm, King David tells us of his own victory in prayer.

There will come occasions when the enemy is too strong for us. I think sexual lust is intense enough now that Christian people are succumbing to the temptation to perform immoral acts. They do not want to do such things. But the temptations are so strong and fiery that they yield to them while their minds are telling them this is wrong.

He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me. (Psalms 18:17—NASB)

Now, what did David do in order to be rescued from an enemy who was too strong for him?

In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried to my God for help; He heard my voice out of His temple, and my cry for help before Him came into His ears. (Psalms 18:6—NASB)

David called upon the Lord. He did not attempt to use some formula for success. He called upon the Lord! I cannot emphasize this too strongly.

It is the practice of many of us American Christians to look for something that will "work." To this end we buy books, booklets, and tapes that will tell us what to do to get victory over this or that. How many Christian books and tapes do you know of that show us how to get what we want from God? If we forgive our enemies we will be healed of arthritis. If we speak the word of faith, the material world will respond in the manner we desire.

"If we will hold steady in faith, God will heal our child of appendicitis, or diabetes, or swine flu. If we take him or her to the doctor we are showing that we do not believe the promises of God. We can get God to do whatever we want if we just keep 'believing.'"

One time our presumption will work, or seem to. On another occasion it does not work, and we assume we have not believed hard enough.

Brother, Sister, will you ask God right now to deliver you from this presumption, this false faith?

I went to the DMV a few days ago to renew my driver's license. The lady at the window said to me, after testing my vision, "Your eyes are stronger than mine!" I am eighty-four years old.

I had been wearing glasses for nearsightedness from the age of seven, I believe. About forty years ago I was praying for a healing line after I had preached. A young girl asked me to pray that she would not need glasses. It is my custom to pray for whatever people ask.

I never heard that she was healed. Three days later when I woke up I forgot I could not read my watch without my glasses, and checked the time. Not only could I see the face clearly, I could read the other fine print on the watch face.

I couldn't believe my eyes! And I wasn't prayed for. The Bible says God will heal those who walk uprightly before him.

On another occasion, when I was principal of an elementary school, I developed severe arthritic pain in my right knee. When it hit, it was so sharp I could not stand on my right leg. It was like a knife stabbing my knee!

When I went home I prayed and asked the Lord what I should do. I felt He wanted me to go to the doctor. So I did. I always ask the Lord whether or not I should go to the doctor. If He indicates I should, I go. While I am on the way I ask the Lord to give the doctor wisdom.

The doctor injected cortisone, I think it was, into my knee. He said, "It will return and you will be on crutches." An elementary school principal on crutches!

Okay. A week or so later my knee began to swell. I thought, "I'd better get back to the doctor." We were living in Palo Alto, California at the time, which has nothing to do with this story.

While I was preparing to go to the doctor, I felt the Lord touch my knee. I had felt that touch before so I knew what it was.

I said to Audrey, "I have been healed!" I began to jump around the front room, landing heavily on that leg. To this day if I feel pain in that knee, I jump up on down on my right leg. You see, I am determined to keep that healing.

After a couple of weeks the swelling was gone completely.

Why am I saying all this? It is so you will understand that my family and I have experienced Divine healing. My wife Audrey was healed totally of a congenital thyroid condition.

So when I speak about presumption, I want you to understand I know what I am talking about. I know what it is to be healed. I have experienced the sensation of having God touch me, of being actually healed, not just believing I was healed.

Divine healing is real.

But "stepping out in faith" apart from hearing from Jesus is not faith. It is presumption.

Ten thousand formulas for spiritual success, and they earn a considerable amount of money for those who advance these formulas.

Now I am going to tell you the one correct formula: Call on the Lord, as David did. Be polite when you do. Remind the Lord you are doing his will to the best of your knowledge. Then ask courteously but forcefully. Blow the trumpet so God will know you have a problem.

Whatever you do, do not say you are healed when you have not been healed, or Christ has not told you, you have been healed. This is the power of positive thinking. It is not Divine healing. It is a metaphysical practice and may work on certain occasions. But it will not bring the Presence of Christ. It will not bring the response that David enjoyed when he called on the Lord.

The earth trembled and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains shook; they trembled because he was angry.

Smoke rose from his nostrils; consuming fire came from his mouth, burning coals blazed out of it.

He parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under his feet.

He mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind.

He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him—the dark rain clouds of the sky.

Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced, with hailstones and bolts of lightning.

The LORD thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded. He shot his arrows and scattered the enemies, great bolts of lightning and routed them.

The valleys of the sea were exposed and the foundations of the earth laid bare at your rebuke, O LORD, at the blast of breath from your nostrils.

He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.

He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me.

They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the LORD was my support.

He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. (Psalms 18:7-19—NIV)

How would you like that kind of answer to your prayer for deliverance?

Well, you won't get it by practicing a formula for spiritual success or by thinking positively. Call on the Lord. Do so several times a day, courteously but forcefully. Keep it up until the Lord delivers you or He tells you what He wants you to do.

Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. (II Corinthians 12:8—NASB)

The Shelter of the Most High

It seems to me the Spirit of God is warning us that chaos is approaching the United States of America. If I am hearing the Lord correctly, much blood is going to be shed. Then the United States will slip down to a lower status in world affairs and the power of the world will move to the East.

I am not certain that a great deal of prayer is going to alter the destiny of our country. I think the Lord is saying that it is up to each believer to save himself and his loved ones and whoever else listens to him or her.

There are millions of professing Christians in the United States but not that many genuine disciples. A true disciple of the Lord Jesus is someone who denies himself (turns away from his own will and does the Lord's will); take up his cross (accepts the "prison" in which he has been placed); and follows the Lord Jesus at all times, looking to Him for every decision that is made throughout the day.

Notice the following verse:

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. (Psalms 91:1—NASB)

"Dwells in the shelter of the Most High." This is speaking of abiding in Christ; living in Christ at all times. I have found that the best way to do this is to keep up a running conversation with Jesus throughout the day and night.

So many decisions have to be made each day. We can reason our way through all these, or we can keep on referring each decision—in fact, all that we are doing—to the Lord Jesus. "Help me Lord with this." "Thank You for helping me with that," and so forth. Do you do this? It is an excellent way of maintaining the Presence of Christ throughout the day and night.

There is no way in which I could overemphasize the importance of looking to Jesus at all times, in every situation. We are to keep opening the door to Him and dining with Him, not just on one occasion but all the time.

We are to keep up this dialogue with the Lord Jesus until we are living by his life. There is no life worth living except that which is shared with the Lord Jesus. He and He alone is our wisdom, power, righteousness, and holiness.

The night of moral chaos is approaching rapidly when no human being will be able to work the works of God. But the Lord Jesus can and shall through us if we are willing to "die in the Lord."

Do you remember that the Lord said whoever believes in Him shall never die? Whoever is serving Jesus now, when he or she dies will continue in full memory and consciousness to serve the Lord. The remainder of mankind will be assigned to their appropriate places, some pleasant and some unpleasant, until they come back to life in the Day of Resurrection. Therefore no true Christian need be terrified when the Divine judgment on America commences.

The believer who is living in the Presence of the Lord Jesus, under his shelter, will find perfect peace and rest in God's shadow. Whatever takes place on the outside cannot possibly reach through and harm the person who is living under the shadow of the Lord. The angel of the Lord surrounds those who fear Him and delivers them whenever danger is present.

The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him, and rescues them. (Psalms 34:7—NASB)

I will say to the LORD, "My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust!" (Psalms 91:2—NASB)

We Americans, most of us, may not in time past have seen the need to have a refuge or a fortress. But I believe we will in the coming days. It can be difficult to keep trusting God for our preservation when all around us destruction is occurring. We have to keep exercising our faith and trust rather than to give way to fear and dread. Faith and fear cannot dwell in our heart at the same time.

For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper and from the deadly pestilence. (Psalms 91:3—NASB)

Jesus advised us to pray, "Lead me not into temptation but deliver me from the evil one." The "fowler" continually is laying traps for us. If we are wise we always will post a guard. There are many occasions when Christians let down their guard, when at a party, out shopping, or just at home with their family. If we do not pray without ceasing, we will fall into some sort o