Copyright © 2012 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

We learn about the Son when we first become a Christian. We learn about the Holy Spirit when we receive the baptism with the Spirit. I believe it is now, at the present time, that we are being alerted to the fact that the Lord Jesus did not come only to bring us to Himself, but also to bring us to the Father. Jesus is the Way to the Father. It is time now for us to learn about the Father.

We gain the forgiveness of our sins through Christ. We gain victory over our sins through the Holy Spirit. We gain the crucifixion of our self-will as we learn to obey the Father sternly and completely. For this reason, we go through a period of suffering, like Job, so we may learn that we are the merest dust and only through Christ can we come to know the Father.

Compare the following two passages. Do you see how his tribulations changed Job and brought him to a fuller knowledge of the Father?

Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face. (Job 13:15)
My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes. (Job 42:5,6)

Job began as a righteous man. But the self-will in his was still very much alive. We can be a Christian and serving the Lord, and still be filled with self-will while we are doing our religious activities. But we cannot come before the Father in our self-will.

Before we can enter the rest of God, that state of being in which we are living by the Life of Jesus, we must through Christ gain victory over worldliness, the lusts and passions of the flesh and spirit, and self-will.

We can make an effort to withdraw from the security and pleasures of the antichrist world-system, and be involved in the world only as much as is necessary to provide for ourselves and our family. The Holy Spirit will guide us in our effort to be cleansed from the love of the world.

When the Spirit of God points out to us an area of spiritual uncleanness in our personality, we can confess that darkness specifically and turn away from it with the help of Christ.

However, deliverance from self-will is another matter. We cannot conquer our self-will by using will-power. Using will-power is merely another act of self-will.

After we have been saved through Christ and have learned to walk in the Spirit of God rather than in our sinful nature, the next step is for God to deal with our self-will. He does this by placing us in various prisons, giving us a cross to bear. From personal experience, I would say we bear our cross throughout our lifetime, although I must say after all these years, my cross has grown quite a bit lighter than it was.

The cross, or prison we are in, has two main features:

  • We are denied what we desire fervently;
  • Or we may be compelled to endure a situation that we dislike intensely.

In addition to the two main features, we may not be told why we are suffering or when it is going to end.

I think what I have just written applies to every Christian who is determined to press through to the fullness of Christ.

After a few years, we learn to bear our cross patiently. We place all relationships with people, all things, and all circumstances in the Lord’s hands. We put all of our treasures in Heaven, knowing that Christ will keep them in a position of safety we could not possibly equal on the earth.

One lesson I have learned is that, if we are to survive, we must not focus on our cross, on what we can’t have. Rather we place our attention on something we enjoy. It is seldom we are in a situation where there absolutely is nothing to enjoy, nothing to be thankful for, no little flower in our valley.

One other lesson: always pray for deliverance from your trouble. Do not take anything for granted, such as, “God is having me suffer to perfect me or humble me.” That might not be the case at all. Perhaps all that is needed is for you to pray for deliverance or healing. So do not break out of God’s prison, but keep on praying, night and day, for deliverance, although your prayer is not answered for many years.

We can be forced to endure for a season extreme physical, mental, or emotional pain. I think that such a rare crisis seldom lasts for longer than a year for most of us, but our cross or prison may endure for many years—in some form or another for our entire life on earth.

II Corinthians contains several passages that tell of the sufferings of the Apostle Paul. Jesus told Paul that it was in Paul’s weaknesses that the strength of Christ was made perfect. I can think back through history, and of the present, and marvel at the fruitfulness of the Apostle Paul. But we must keep in mind that such resurrection life came forth from a lifetime of cross-carrying obedience.

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. (II Corinthians 1:8,9)

Perhaps most of us have read of the tribulations of Job, and how he came to know God as a result. The prophet Jeremiah had no easy time of it. His prophecies have strengthened numerous believers, but they proceeded from much trouble.

It requires hot fires and considerable suffering before we truly are ready to say to our Father, “Not my will, but Yours be done.”

The three Hebrew young men found Christ in the fire. So it is that we find God in the fire.

He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” (Daniel 3:25)

The Lord Jesus told His disciples that they would be grieved because He was going to the Father and they would not see Him for a while.

I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. (John 16:20-22)

Notice what the Lord said after this:

Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father. In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father. (John 16:25-28)

Jesus was informing His disciples that He would leave, and then return to them. He was not speaking of His worldwide appearing, but of His coming to His disciples to tell them about the Father. So we see we must endure grief before we learn about the Father.

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. (John 14:19,20)
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)

Speaking of prisons and crosses:

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 the crown of life. (Revelation 2:10)

After we have received double judgment for our sins, God comforts us.

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins. (Isaiah 40:1,2)

It is true that all our sins were forgiven on the cross of Calvary. We have been forgiven completely. Yet we find that what we have sown during our life, even after becoming a Christian, we reap.

The spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Day of Atonement has commenced and will continue until the end of the last resurrection. This is the period during which God is reconciled to man and man to God. Though our sins have been forgiven, we find that we go through “hard service”—prisons and crosses as I have said previously. We are to suffer hardships as good soldiers of Christ, continuing to trust God, remaining as cheerful as we can as the Father draws near to us that we may be fully reconciled to Him.

“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)

Today, God’s Firstfruits are approaching maturity. When the full company that Christ has decided upon has met His standard, then He will appear and gather them to Himself, some from the earth but most from the spirit world.

Those in the spirit world have been marching along with the members on the earth, as God is moving us forward in His plan of redemption. The emphasis today is on confessing and renouncing the actions of our sinful nature, and especially on stern obedience to our Father.

Notice, in the following description of God’s firstfruits, how both the Father and the Son are involved:

Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. (Revelation 14:1)
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. (Revelation 14:4)

The fact that each member of the Firstfruits has the name of the Lamb and the name of the Father written on his forehead signifies that he belongs in a unique way to the Lamb and His Father and always does their will.

And then we see that these Christians were purchased from among mankind and offered as a firstfruits to God and the Lamb, indicating that they have been received in advance of the remainder of Christian people who compose the balance of the harvest.

Many of us today are experiencing prisons and crosses, the deferral of our intense desires. These fires are absolutely necessary if we are be a part of this Firstfruits company, this army of judges, who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. It is these pains and afflictions that bring us to the knowledge of the Father.

God’s Firstfruits will release the physical people of Israel from the bondages of sin; build up their less mature brothers and sisters into increased maturity in Christ; and govern the nations of the earth during the thousand-year Kingdom Age.

How utterly marvelous to come to know the Father in these areas of service. How utterly marvelous to follow the Lamb wherever He goes. How utterly marvelous to work alongside Christ as He installs the Kingdom of God, the will of God on the earth.

You are invited to be a part of the Father’s army of judges. Don’t waste one minute of the time given to you. Press into Christ every day until you are living by His life.

There may be some suffering along the way. But remember that the woman in travail has pain. But when she is delivered, she forgets the pain for joy that a child has been born into the world.

(“Coming to Know the Father”, 3374-1, proofed 20211009)

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