WAITING FOR MATURITY
WAITING FOR MATURITY Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
God always has been able to command Michael and his angels to drive Satan from the heavens. But God has chosen to wait until His saints arrive at the maturity required for the removing of evil from the creation.
Table of Contents
WAITING FOR MATURITY
And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled downthat ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. (Revelation 12:7-11)
The above is one of the most significant of all the passages of the Bible.
Just look at the concepts:
There was war in Heaven. This in itself is remarkable in that we do not usually think of Heaven as being a place of war. In fact, many of our ideas about Heaven are not found in the Scriptures. They are traditions that have been handed down.
Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. Again, we think of angels as cute little babies or ladies with wings that belong on Saint Valentines Day cards, not as armies fighting against each other.
But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The implication is that previously Satan was strong enough and was able to maintain his place in Heaven. This thought gives rise to the thesis of the present essay, which is that God is waiting until enough saints came to maturity before He will empower Michael to remove Satan from Heaven.
The great dragon was hurled downthat ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. Satans power was destroyed on the cross of Calvary. Now Satan must work through deception. He must deceive us into disobeying God, just as he deceived Adam and Eve.
Satans desire is to be like God and to usurp Gods place. God is creating man in Gods image. Satan wants to create man in Satans image. Satans image is one of self-will. The Satan-directed individual is a self-willed person. Satan encouraged Eve to set her will against Gods.
All sin springs from self-will, from our determination to act according to our own desires rather than according to Gods desires.
He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Satan desires to control the earth but he wants to do so from a heavenly vantage point. Now he has been cast from Heaven down to the earth. This is Gods wayto cause the person who has insisted on going his own way to gorge himself on his desire until he is nauseated.
Satan craves the flesh of man, the dust. He has been condemned from the beginning to eat dust. Now he is cast down to the earth that he may gorge himself on dust until he is more than satiated.
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ." Salvation, power, the Kingdom of God, and the authority of Christall come into being when Satan is brought down from Heaven to the earth. The burden of the Spirit today is for the saints to come to the stature of the fullness of Christ so Michael may be empowered to drive Satan from his heavenly vantage point.
The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. (Romans 16:20)
The accused saints and the tormented world are waiting for a remnant of saints to give their all to Christ so He may bring them to maturity in Himself.
At present we wrestle against the satanic lords in heavenly places. But the passage from the Book of Revelation we are studying tells of the end of the wrestling match.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)
For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. Did you ever wonder why there is so much slander and gossip in the churches? It is because Satan looks for self-willed people whom he can influence. Because they have not taken up their cross and are not following the Lord Jesus, as they have been commanded to do, Satan urges them to accuse their brothers and sisters.
In addition, Satan keeps up a continual accusation against the saints before the Throne of God. He mentions your name and my name from time to time. In many instances we give him grounds on which to accuse us.
Now we find there shall come a time when these same brothers who have been accused are able to overcome Satan. Because they have overcome Satan, God is able to empower Michael to drive Satan from Heaven into the earth.
We understand, therefore, that the Church and the remainder of the creation are waiting for a remnant of saints to come to full maturity so Satan may be removed from his vantage point in the heavens.
Previously, in the twelfth chapter of the Book of Revelation, we see that the woman travails in birth until the male Son is brought forth and is "snatched up to God and to His throne." This means the Church will travail until the conquering Christ is formed in us. The moment He is, that inner conquering life is caught up to God.
This is another way of saying a maturity has been gained that enables the saints to overcome the accuser, with the result that Michael is empowered to drive the dragon from Heaven.
In spiritual warfare two armies are involved. The army of angels, under Michael, do the actual fighting. It is angel against angel.
The other army is the army of saints. This is an army of judges. When the saints exercise judgment, then the warrior angels are authorized to wage war.
Do you not know the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! (I Corinthians 6:2,3)
I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." (Matthew 16:19)
If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven. (John 20:23)
The problem is, we of the churches have been too immature to exercise Divine judgment. Because of the prevailing unscriptural doctrine that emphasizes lawless grace and a flight to Heaven in a "rapture," we have not grown in the ability to judge. We are too immature to be able to make a clear distinction between good and evil, and to have the willingness and strength to renounce the evil and to embrace the good.
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)
We of the Christian churches do not understand what righteous behavior is or what role righteous behavior plays in the Divine redemption.
Christians may be the only people in the world who are confused concerning righteous behavior.
The spirit of judgment is lacking in the churches. We cannot possibly overcome Satan until we are able to judge between wickedness and righteousness. Therefore, the world must wait until we grow in the ability to judge with righteous judgment. For the army of angels cannot act until the saints, the army of judges, is able to exercise Gods judgment.
The Church is in travail today to bring forth Christ. When Christ is brought forth in us we are able to judge between good and evil. In fact, the one sure sign that Christ has been formed in us is that we recognize evil and are able to renounce it; and we recognize righteousness and are able to embrace it.
Such is the burden of the Spirit in our day. It is the spiritual fulfillment of the Old Testament Day of Atonement.
The saints overcome the accuser by the blood of the Lamb, by the word of their testimony, and by loving not their lives to the point of death. Perhaps we need to take a look at these three components of victory over the dragon.
They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.
Because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. (Hebrews 10;14)
We like to sing, "There is power in the blood." And with reason! It is the blood of the slain Lamb of God that makes it possible for us to gain victory over the accuser.
The blood of the Lamb pardons our transgressions.
The blood of the Lamb expunges the record so God no longer remembers our transgressions.
The blood of the Lamb is our protection when God judges the world.
The blood of the Lamb is our necessary drink. It nourishes our spiritual nature.
The blood of the Lamb is the basis on which the Spirit of God is able to give us victory over our sinful cravings.
The blood of the Lamb is the basis on which the presence of sin in our personality finally will be removed.
God has never fully exercised His wrath from the time the angels rebelled in Heaven. Do you remember the demons were terrified that Jesus would torment them before the time? The demonic world is well aware there is a Day of Judgment coming.
So fierce will be the wrath of God in that hour that even the Leader, Jesus Christ, is dressed in a robe dipped in His own blood.
We could not begin to overcome the accuser were it not for the blood of the Lamb.
The blood of the Lamb pardons our transgressions.
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of Gods grace (Ephesians 1:7) We have perfect forgiveness of our sins through the atonement made by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary.
The blood of the Lamb expunges the record so God no longer remembers our transgressions. It is as though our transgressions never had taken place. Our sin is cast behind Gods back, never again to be remembered
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)
As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. (Psalms 103:12)
Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back. (Isaiah 38:17)
Sometimes we accept Gods forgiveness but still are troubled about the past. Satan accuses us even though we have been forgiven. When we keep on blaming ourselves, not accepting the fact that God has erased the record, we are hindered in the task of overcoming the accuser.
The verses above remind us that when God forgives He forgets. Two of the above verses are from the Old Testament. How much more will God cast our sins behind His back now that His Son has shed His blood on the cross?
Let us not insult the authority of the blood. Let us receive our forgiveness and forget the past. We then will be better able to get on with the job of overcoming Satan.
The blood of the Lamb is our protection when God judges the world. He passes over us. This is true provided we are behaving according to the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus and not according to our sinful nature.
In order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:4)
The blood of the Lamb acts like the Jewish Passover blood sprinkled on the doorposts of the homes. The angel of judgment sees the blood and passes over not only us but all those who are part of our home. It is a lamb for a house.
The original Passover blood was a protection over Israel until they came to Mount Sinai and received the Law. At that time they also were assigned the blood of animals to make an atonement for their souls.
So it is with us. The blood of the Lamb protects us from judgment until the Holy Spirit, who is our Law, reveals our sins and helps us get rid of them. The Passover blood is a protection until the blood of atonement takes effect.
In order to remain under the protection of the blood we must obey the Spirit of God each day. We cannot continue in our sinful behavior and expect that God will protect us from the exercise of judgment.
The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt. (Exodus 12:13)
Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat. (Exodus 12:3,4)
Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeastas you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. (I Corinthians 5:7)
For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. (I Corinthians 7:14)
They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be savedyou and your household." (Acts 16:31)
It is a great help to parents to understand that when they are serving God the protection of the Passover blood acts as a shield over all the members of the household who remain as part of the household.
The blood of the Lamb is our necessary drink. It nourishes our spiritual nature. The body and blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, are our eternal life and the substance of the resurrection in us before it is called up to the Lamb from whom it came.
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)
The Wife of the Lamb is formed in us as we partake of the body and blood of the Lamb, just as Eve was formed from the substance of Adam. When the Lamb appears, that which has been formed in us will rise to be joined with Him. It is not our profession of belief that will raise us in the Day of Christ but His own Life that has been created in us.
Those who eat the flesh of Christ and drink His blood will be raised in the Day of Resurrection. Those who feed on Christ live by Him as He lives by the Father.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:54)
Whenever we choose to deny ourselves and do the will of Christ we are fed with the body and blood of Christ. Each day we have a choice to reject our sinful impulses and choose the way of the Lord. Whenever we do we are nourished with the body and blood of Christ. This is how we grow in Christ.
But when we choose to obey the tendencies of our sinful nature we do not grow in Christ even though we have accepted Him as our Savior.
Resurrection life is not a matter of theology but of living in obedience to the Spirit of God so we are nourished continually with the body and blood of Christ.
Each day we have an opportunity to say no to our sinful nature, to put its deeds to death by confessing, denouncing, renouncing them vigorously, resisting them and drawing near to God. When we do this they are weakened to the point that we are able to overcome them. In this manner we increase in eternal life.
But when we yield to our sinful nature, and do not put its deeds to death by confessing, denouncing, renouncing them vigorously, resisting them every time they appear, and drawing near to God, we increase in corruption and spiritual death.
The blood of the Lamb is the basis on which the Spirit of God is able to give us victory over our sinful cravings.
The weakening of our sinful nature in the above manner depends on the blood of the Lamb for its effectiveness.
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, (Romans 8:13)
The blood of the Lamb is the basis on which the presence of sin in our personality finally will be removed. All deliverance looks to the blood of the Lamb for its authorization.
Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:25-28)
When the Lord Jesus appears He will remove the sin nature from our personality and clothe us with the body of righteousness that has been formed in Heaven as we resolutely have overcome sin during our lifetime. We have been faithful in the least and therefore will be entrusted with the greater. This is the salvation, the redemption that is to come at the end of the Church Age.
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30)
Who through faith are shielded by Gods power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (I Peter 1:5)
But if we do not resolutely overcome sin during our lifetime, and yet have been given the opportunity, then, when the Lord appears, we will be clothed in the sin we have practiced. We indeed shall reap corruption.
Again, the blood of the Lamb is the basis upon which we are authorized to put to death the deeds of our sinful nature, and is the authority for the final removal of all sin from the victorious saints, at the coming of the Lord.
We overcome the accuser of the brothers by the blood of the Lamb.
There is an interesting portrayal of the removing of Satans ability in the last days.
When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the LORD! They took Dagon and put him back in his place. But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the LORD! His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained. (First Samuel 5:3,4)
The toppling of Dagon occurred in the first century of the Christian Era. The cutting off of the head and hands of Dagon will occur at the end of the Christian Era.
Every Christian bears witness of God by what he or she is and does. If his witness is in accordance with the truth, Satan will be overcome. If his or her witness is not in accordance with the truth, Satan will not be overcome.
By bearing witness in accordance with the truth I do not mean the individual has taken a specific doctrinal position; I mean he or she is hearing from God, is abiding in Christ, and the Holy Spirit is testifying of the Person, will, way, and eternal purpose of the Father in Christ Jesus.
Many Christian believers of our day are testifying by their life that God does not require righteous behavior. They may preach and teach the Bible and minister in other ways, but by their ungodly behavior they are denying the Nature and will of God and thus cannot possibly overcome the accuser.
It is useless to speak of going out and witnessing for Jesus when we are not living in the Spirit of God; and we are not living in the Spirit of God when we are not living in righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God.
The United States of America is filled with Christian ministries of all kinds, but the true testimony of the Person, will, way, and eternal purpose of God is often deficient. Thus Satan is not being overcome but is expressing himself in numerous ways.
Our testimony is that which we are proclaiming concerning the Person of God, His will, His ways, and His eternal purpose in Christ Jesus.
We proclaim the truth concerning God by how we behave.
We proclaim the truth concerning God by what we say.
We proclaim the truth concerning God by the miracles we perform in the name of the Lord Jesus.
The servants of Satan proclaim the truth concerning Satan by how they behave, by what they say, and sometimes by supernatural works of power, as demonstrated by witch doctors.
How, then, can we determine which is the true testimony of God and which is not the true testimony of God?
The criterion is the Scriptures. Whatever is contrary to the Scriptures is not the true testimony of God no matter how persuasive or accompanied by how much power.
We have to "eat the book." The testimony of God that overcomes the accuser does not proceed from someone who has studied the Bible and thinks he or she understands Gods plan of salvation.
It is not until we are undergoing the process of having Christ formed in us that we become aware of the truth. Christ is Truth. The more of Christ we have the more truth we have.
We have Christ formed in us as we "eat Christ." We eat of Christ every day as we do his will with a pure heart.
I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. (John 6:51)
Also we have to be led by the Spirit of God. We have no power to bear witness of Christ until we receive the Holy Spirit and are living in the Holy Spirit.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
We have a real problem today in Christian thinking and teaching. We are not bearing witness of the truth of the Scriptures. Errors have accumulated in Christian thinking until what is being preached is largely mythological. For instance, the idea that when we die we will go to live in mansions in Heaven for eternity. There is not a shred of Scripture to support such a wild notion.
The most important testimony a Christian can give is that of righteous behavior. Good works are the light that will cause people to glorify God. Yet, because of the current teaching of lawless grace, the unscriptural "state of grace," the unscriptural "rapture out of tribulation," the believers remain spiritual infants. Consequently their behavior is similar to the behavior of unsaved people.
A Christian cannot overcome Satan until he or she is living and preaching what the New Testament commands.
There is an amazing ignorance of the New Testament among believers. Christians are trusting in the myths they are being taught, just as the ministers are going by what they were taught in the seminaries. The footnotes of popular Christian translations frequently contradict or confuse the plain meaning of the passages they are trying to illuminate.
For example, one popular Bible has in its footnotes the statement that we are not saved by enduring to the end because we are saved by a sovereign grace. Yet it was Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who stated we are saved by enduring to the end.
The contemporary doctrines of "once saved, always saved," and the so-called pre-tribulation rapture, can easily be disproved from the New Testament. They are emotional positions, not scholarly interpretations.
The dragon, the accuser of the brothers, cannot possibly be overcome when we are living and teaching that which is not scriptural.
We of the Christian churches in America speak much of going out and bearing witness of Christ. But we are bearing a false witness by how we behave and by what we say.
Instead of obeying the Great Commission and teaching disciples to obey the commandments of Christ and His Apostles, we are teaching church members that there is no need for them to obey Christ or His Apostles because we are saved by grace and not by works.
We will never overcome Satan until the word of our testimony follows precisely the written Word of God. The truth is, we are bearing a false witness of God, His Person, His will, His way, and His eternal purpose in Christ. God is not the Santa Claus being presented in America. He is, always has been, and always shall be, a Consuming Fire. He demands that we deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow the Lord Jesus. When we do not do this we are bearing a false witness of God, His Person, His will, His ways, and His eternal purpose in Christ.
To overcome the accuser of the brothers we absolutely must put our trust in the blood of the Lamb of God.
To overcome the accuser of the brothers we must live according to the commandments of Christ and His Apostles and we must speak what the Scriptures state, not the accumulated, unscriptural tradition so popular in our day.
To testify of Christ we must know Christ for ourselves.
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 touchedthis 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 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)
How can we bear witness of someone or something we have heard about but have not experienced personally? Such is not a witness but a conclusion. It will not be accepted in a court of law. We have to have lived with Christ for awhile if we are to tell others about Him.
This is not to say a new Christian cannot share his new-found joy with others. He can say with truth that he has accepted Christ and has experienced a sense of sins forgiven, and now has purpose in life. This is true and a valid witness and will overcome the accuser at this point.
But we must have more than this today. We must have people who truly know Jesus and are hearing from Him, because the demonic powers are increasing in numbers and strength.
You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)
In the above verses Jesus tells us that our light, our testimony, consists of the good deeds that are proceeding from us as He is being formed in us. It appears to me that this passage ought to be emphasized more than it is. We are overemphasizing grace until the believers think we can live an ungodly life and please God. If we are not living a righteous life we cannot bear witness of Jesus. We can preach and teach the Bible, but we cannot bear witness of Jesus.
The Christian Church is the great Lampstand of God. It is the light of the world because the true Light of the World dwells in it. The purpose of the gifts and ministries given by the ascended Christ is that the Lampstand might be brought to maturity.
"Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." (Matthew 4:19)
So often new Christians are told they must go out and "save souls." Such an exhortation is not found in the New Testament. Rather, the Lord told us He would make us fishers of men, not to just go out and fish according to our own wisdom.
The Lord builds His own Church in His own way. Our responsibility is to wait on Him and serve Him until we know what He wants.
Notice in the following that the Christians were not preaching or teaching, just having fellowship. But the Lord was adding to His Church.
Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, Praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:46,47)
God makes witnesses of Himself, and sometimes they must endure prolonged trials and tribulations before they truly are reflecting His Glory.
"You are my witnesses," declares the LORD, "and my servant whom I have chosen, so you may know and believe me and understand I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me." (Isaiah 43:10)
Gods saints go through fire and water without being harmed. Then they are able to tell others of the faithfulness of God. Such is a true witness and it will overcome the accuser.
But when we are not bearing a true witness of God we cannot overcome the accuser of the brothers.
We have said that we are to bear a true testimony of the Person, will, way, and eternal purpose of God in Christ.
What can we say about Gods Person?
God is faithful, compassionate, jealous, truthful, merciful, righteous, humble, holy. God is love and also a consuming fire.
The testimony given today in America tells of Gods love and mercy but not of His wrath. It is a false testimony. God is a very loving, very strict Father. He loves us, but if we are disobedient He chastens us severely.
To bear a true witness of Gods Person we must reveal His goodness and severity in what we are, in our speech, and in our actions. This testimony will overcome the accuser of the brothers.
The God of the Old Testament is the God of the New Testament. The difference is, Christ has died for our sins, so God is able not only to forgive us, as was true in the Old Testament, but additionally in the New Covenant, God is able to completely remove our sins.
Christ is gained as we follow the Lord faithfully into deliverance from each sin He brings to our attention. With each deliverance, a portion of Christ is gained. Therefore, to walk in disobedience to God is to slay our own resurrection; for Christ will not be gained.
What can we say about Gods will?
It is Gods will that all men bend their knee and receive the Lord Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. It is Gods will that the believers deny themselves, turn away from involvement in the Antichrist world spirit of covetousness and malice, and follow the Lord Jesus every day.
To bear a true witness of God we must reveal in our personality, speech, and actions that God wants us to receive Jesus Christ and be His disciples. This testimony will overcome the accuser of the brothers.
What can we say about Gods way?
Gods way is one of peaceful trust in Him. Gods way is one of righteousness, mercy, and humility.
To bear a true witness of God we must show righteousness, mercy, and humility in our personality, our speech, and our actions. This testimony will overcome the accuser.
What can we say about Gods eternal purpose in the Lord Jesus Christ?
We can say that Christ is coming again to the earth to judge all men. Those who have obeyed the light that God has given them, have loved righteousness and hated wickedness, have been persistent in doing good, will inherit glory, honor, and immortality.
Those who have rejected the truth and have followed evil will inherit wrath and anger.
But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of Gods wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God "will give to each person according to what he has done." To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism. (Romans 2:5-11)
To bear a true witness of God we must portray the true nature of the coming of Christ in our personality, speech, and actions.
The doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture is not a true testimony of Gods eternal purpose in Christ. It has removed the fear of God from the believers. They are under the impression that even though they have not been persistent in doing good they will be removed from suffering and brought to Paradise in the spirit realm. This testimony will never overcome the accuser of the brothers.
First we overcome by the blood of the Lamb.
Second we overcome by the word of our testimony.
Third we overcome by loving not our life to the point of death. Until we give our life to Jesus and are prepared to follow Him to the death, whether or not we receive any of our fervent desires, we cannot possibly overcome the accuser.
I have been preaching for years that the Charismatic movement will be split over the issue of suffering.
It appears the majority of Charismatic believers are ready to take their ministries and gifts and sally forth to save a lost mankind. However, they are not that ready to suffer patiently under the hand of God.
Perhaps a minority are returning to Christ with their ministries and gifts and are waiting for Him to show them what to do.
I guess it always has been this way. There is the nation of Israel; and then there are the prophets, who usually are put to death by their own people.
There are the priests in the Temple, and then there are Simeon and Anna.
There seem to be few who are hearing God today, but there are some.
Nowhere in the New Testament are we commanded to just go forth and do what we think is correct. The Book of Acts is a record of preachers who were following very closely the Spirit of God.
I was taught in Bible school that the Apostles discovered the centers of influence in the world at that time and spread the Gospel from there. I knew even then that the Apostles did nothing of the kind. They did what the Holy Spirit told them to do, just as we must today.
But so few are willing to die this death, the death of waiting on the Lord until He tells us what to do.
In our own assembly we have been waiting on the Lord for twenty-five years. We have been accused of getting fat, sitting in the pews, while we should be out "saving souls from Hell."
Well, we have waited patiently on the Lord. Leaders have been trained.
Now, all of a sudden, more doors have been opened than we ever expected. Those "fat" people are ready to go out and bring to others that which God has showed us through the years, particularly in the area of fervent worship and pageantry.
We must have the high praises before we can bring the two-edged sword, and so God is sending out Judah (praise) in front of the army of judges.
Once we decide we simply are not going to charge out in our own wisdom and strength, even if the whole world goes to Hell, we are brought into a period of waiting before the Lord. During this season He may require many things of us that cause us to pray fervently.
You know, if we are going to overcome the accuser we have to put our treasures and hopes in Heaven. We have to determine that if we never in our lifetime receive what we hope for, or what God has promised us, it makes no difference.
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:20,21)
Like the heroes of faith in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews, we will die in faith, being fully persuaded what God has promised He shall fulfill.
All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. (Hebrews 11:13)
If we are not willing to deny ourselves to this point we cannot overcome the accuser. We will do as Abraham did, we will attempt to fulfill the promise by our own methods. The result of that misadventure has caused the Jews problems to the present hour.
I remember something that took place in my own life about thirty years ago.
I would have been about forty years of age at the time. We were living in Palo Alto, California.
When in Bible school, in my early twenties, the Lord had showed me the things I preach today. But there I was in Palo Alto, California, twenty years later, having very little opportunity to express that which was burning in my spirit.
One morning, during my prayer time, I told the Lord if He never wanted me to give what I had been given, I would assume He just wanted me to have faith to believe in the vision. I genuinely accepted this role of just believing.
Within a week or two, Brother Pickthorne, a pastor in Palo Alto, stopped by the house and asked me what I believed. I regaled him for a period of time, clicking off the vision to him as though I were reading from an outline.
Brother Pickthorne said, "You ought to put that in writing."
I got up at about four oclock the next morning and began to type feverishly. Books and booklets began pouring out of the typewriter (now the word processor). First came The Feasts of the Lord. Then, The Land of Promise. Next, the Tabernacle of the Congregation.
It was while writing the Tabernacle of the Congregation that I became aware of the unscripturalness of the Christian teaching of the "state of grace." Soon after, I noticed the pre-tribulation rapture teaching was not based solidly in the Scriptures.
The point is, we have to wait until it is God's time for the fulfillment of the vision He has given us.
In the Book of Revelation we read the following:
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)
If we are not faithful to the point of death we can forget about overcoming the accuser. Satan will find that spot in our personality we are unwilling to release and he will hammer on it until we either put it on the altar of God or else choose to cling to our idol. If we cling to our idol, Satan has an opening in us. Every time we try to overcome the accuser he will threaten us with the loss of our idol.
Samson killed more Philistines by his death than he ever did by his life. We will accomplish more in the Kingdom of God if we are willing to die to our own personality and life and choose to live by the resurrection Life of Christ.
Dagon fell on his face, in the first century.
When the saints of the last days come to maturity, Dagons head and hands will be cut off.
If we are willing to give up our Isaac, our seed will posses the gates of its enemies.
It is only as we are willing to die that Christ can live. And it is only Christ who can overcome the accuser.
We are not to kindle our own fire and walk in its light.
But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from my hand: You will lie down in torment. (Isaiah 51:11)
The Apostle Paul commanded us to count ourselves as dead. He himself claimed to be crucified with Christ. This is the only scriptural orientation to the new covenant.
The Lords army comprises dead-living people. Everything in them has died and what Christ desires of their personality has been raised in Him. Thus they are invulnerable.
We may trust in the blood of the Lamb, and we may be giving a true testimony of God. But if there is some point in our personality we are not willing to put on the altar of God we simply cannot overcomer the accuser.
Being willing to die in the Lord is the primary burden of the Spirit in our day, as I see it. When we come into the reign of Antichrist it is only those who have died in the Lord who will be able to show forth the works of Christ. The spiritual darkness will be such that no human being will be able to serve God in his own wisdom and strength.
Then I heard a voice from heaven say, "Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Yes," says the Spirit, "they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them." (Revelation 14:13)
The Book of Second Corinthians has much to say about God bringing us down to death so the Life of Christ may be revealed in us.
For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. (II Corinthians 4:11)
Paul was brought so low he despaired of life. He had "the sentence of death" in himself. He received a thorn in the flesh so he would be utterly dependent on the Lord for strength. Yet Christ continually raised Paul from the dead, and his Epistles are the overflow of resurrection life.
There are three great elements of the Christian life.
First there is the atonement. Second, the new righteous creation. Third, obedience to the Father.
This is all there is to the Christian life, as far as I know.
These three elements work in us throughout our discipleship. If they are not working in us, we merely are a church member, a nominal believer. We are not a true Christian, a saint of God.
The Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, is emphasized in the atonement.
The Holy Spirit is emphasized in the new righteous creation.
The Father is emphasized in the creation of utter obedience to the Father.
There is iron righteousness, the work of the atonement.
There is fiery holiness, the work of the new righteous creation.
And then there is stern obedience to the Father.
To be filled with these three is to be filled with all the fullness of God, to have arrived at maturity in Christ.
The atonement has to do with our overcoming by the blood of the Lamb.
The new righteous creation has to do with the word of our testimony.
Stern obedience to the Father has to do with loving not our life to the death.
As we have stated, the atonement has to do with our overcoming by the blood of the Lamb. Today the only aspect of the atonement that is emphasized appears to be forgiveness. But, as we have pointed out, the atonement includes forgiveness, the erasing of the record, the covering with the Passover blood, the nourishing of our inner man, the deadening of the acts of our sinful nature, and finally, at the coming of the Lord, the complete removal from our personality of the very presence of the compulsion to sin.
Obviously, we are coming short of the glory of God when we take advantage only of forgiveness, the first of six aspects of the atonement.
We cannot overcome the accuser if we are aware only of forgiveness. All six components play their part in overcoming the adversary.
The new righteous creation has to do with the word of our testimony. The term "word" is not referring to a spoken word or a written word. It is word in the sense that the Lord Jesus is the Word of God. The Lord Jesus is not a spoken or written word. Rather, He is the Communication of Gods Person, will, way, and eternal purpose. He is the way, the truth, and the life. He is the grace of God. In Him is the fullness of the Godhead. He is the WORD!
So it is with us. We overcome the accuser, not primarily by words we speak or write but by what we are. We are to be the communication of Gods Person, His will, His way, and His eternal purpose in Christ. We are to be these virtues and substances.
We are to share eternal life with people, not just the teaching about how to come to Christ, but the very Life itself. We are being made trees of life, life-giving spirits.
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 from heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven. (I Corinthians 15:45-49)
We are to be living epistles, known and read by everyone, written with the Spirit of God.
You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. (II Corinthians 3:2,3)
It is the new creation in us that is the word of our testimony, and one of the three components that overcome the accuser of the brothers.
First, we ourselves are being accused and so we must overcome the one accusing us.
Then we are able to show forth the Person, will, way, and eternal purpose of almighty God so Satan's efforts to. to destroy other people are thwarted.
We overcome the accuser by means of the six elements of the atonement and by the fact that a new righteous creation has been formed in us.
Now we are faced with the original issue, the issue that arose when Satan rebelled against God, the issue that arose in the Garden of Eden. That issue, which is the foundation of the Kingdom of God, is stern obedience to the Fathers will.
There is nothing more important in the universe than strict obedience to God. It absolutely is impossible to overcome the accuser unless we obey God completely.
There is a lie circulating in Christian churches. The lie is that no one can obey God, and God does not expect us to be able to obey Him.. The purpose of grace, it is claimed, is to save us because we cannot obey God.
This may be the greatest lie ever told. God is our Father. He never commands us to do something we cannot do with His help. If this were not so, God would not be a loving Father but some kind of ignoramus who had no idea what he was doing.
God is not an ignoramus. God is our Father. He does not frustrate us. His commandments are not grievous. Every commandment God has given us is to be obeyed strictly. When we find it difficult to obey God we are to go to God in prayer and receive help until we can be obedient.
Either we are obedient to God or we are a rebellious person. There is no middle ground. There are not three wills of God, as sometimes taught. There is only one will for us at any given point in time. Either we obey God or we disobey God.
No disobedient believer will ever inherit the Glory of God. All of the inheritance goes to the victorious saints, those who obey their Father.
The original sin was disobedience. All sin proceeds from Satans disobedience to the Father.
Today God is emphasizing not only the blood atonement, not only the word of our testimony, but also the need for Christians to declare to God they are going to perform His will in detail as He grants them the grace to do so.
We have to die to our adamic nature in order to be sternly obedient to God. Why is this? Because many things that God requires of us displease our sinful nature. We think we can receive Christ, receive the Holy Spirit, and then live as we please. We cannot. God expects us to present our body a living sacrifice at all times, to deny ourselves continually, and to take up our cross and follow the Lord each day.
If we do not do this we are not a disciple of Christ. We are not a Christian. We are only a church attender making a nominal profession of faith in Christ.
We cannot possibly obey the Father, and thus overcome the accuser, until we count that we have been crucified with Christ, that we have risen with Him to the right hand of God, and now are living in resurrection life. In order to live in resurrection life we have to obey the Father at all times and in every aspect of life.
Most Christian believers trust they will be raised from the dead when the Lord appears, and then will rise to meet Him in the air. Yet they are not obeying the commandments of Christ and His Apostles. Therefore their hope is not based on the Scriptures. They have been deceived. Those who will be raised at that time are the victorious saints. They will rise to meet Christ in the air and then will descend with Him to help in the establishing of the Kingdom of God on the earth.
No person who is not sternly obedient to God has any hope of being raised when the Lord appears. They may have the lamp, the Bible, but they do not have the oil that is given only to those who are sternly obedient to God. They are foolish, lazy, careless servants. The door will be closed in their face. Their talent will be given to another. Then they will be thrown into the outer darkness. This is what the New Testament teaches, and is a true witness of the eternal plan of God in Christ.
We want revival today and we are praying for it.
But we want more than revival. We want Satan to be driven from the heavens so there will be an end to the wrestling match.
However, God will not empower Michael until enough Christians are willing to give up their own lives so that Satan may be overcome.
We trust in the blood of the Lamb.
We line up our behavior and our teaching with the written Word of God.
We choose to give up our own life so Christ may come forth in us and overcome the accuser.
We are the army of judges. When the Lord God of Heaven sees we have been tested to the limit and have clung faithfully to the Word of God, then He will know He has been totally vindicated in His judgment against Satan. There remains nothing more to accuse us of, nothing more for Satan to say.
Michael will feel the power of the Father entering him as it never has before. He will raise his sword. The commanders of the legions will raise their swords. The members of the legions will raise their swords.
Then the host of Heaven will attack in thunderous, invincible fury, an irresistible force moving faster than the speed of light.
Satan always had been able to resist such attacks. No longer. He has been defeated by Christ in the saints. He and his angels will fight back, but the oncoming army is too strong. The power of the Father is in Michael and his angels.
Satan and his angels can find no place in Heaven where they can rally and defend themselves. It is an utter rout.
Down, down, down in weakness, confusion, and hopelessness will fall the once mighty lords of the heavenlies.
Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short. (Revelation 12:12)
Now the heavens have been cleansed of evil. Now the heavens can rejoice.
But what about the sea of people on the earth?
As C. S. Lewis would say, "You have asked for Tash, and now Tash has come."
Earths multitudes have delighted in the things of Satan, and now Satan has come.
Satan understands that soon he will be removed from the earth into the bottomless pit. Therefore he is furious, and he will take out his fury on all those who are not protected by the Lord Jesus.
In order to abide under the protection of the Lord Jesus we have to guard the word of His patience today. We have to die in the Lord. Then our righteous works will follow us, even in the day of terror.
Numerous believers of today are completely unprepared to stand when Satan and his angels enter the earth. Their church activities, many of which are so much tinsel, will be swept away as the titans of wickedness take out their anger on the dust of the ground.
If we would stand in the evil day we must cease from our unscriptural lawless-grace-Heaven-rapture teaching. We must put on the whole armor of God. We must learn to live by the body and blood of Christ. We must line up our life and our speech with the written Word of God. We must endure patiently before the Lord as He slays our sinful nature and makes us a new creation in Himself.
We can stand in the evil day, but only by obeying the New Testament commandments diligently and resolutely. The current church services may prove to be too weak to prepare valiant saints who will be able to stand and help others to stand during the age of moral horrors we are approaching.
We can be more than a conqueror in Christ if we choose to do so. We can be one of those who overcome the accuser by the blood, by our testimony, and by our death in Christ.
But if we do not use the present hour to prepare ourselves, we may discover the coming days will sweep us off our spiritual feet until we, without realizing it, are worshiping the Antichrist spirit of the world, the world of money and education. The mark of the world will be in our mind and our actions, and we will suffer torment at the hands of the angels of God.
Serious days! Marvelous days! Days of unprecedented opportunity and unprecedented danger!
He who overcomes will inherit all things, and God will be his God and he will be Gods son.
But the careless, lukewarm believers will not escape. They will lose their talents and be thrown into the outer darkness.
We can press forward to victory in Christ, or we can drift into final corruption and despair.
It is up to us to choose.