GOD IS BUILDING CHARACTER
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. 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.
Before He created the heavens and the earth God established roles and tasks that are to be performed, places that are to be occupied, by the members of His Kingdom. As each of these members is born into the world, God sets about to create in him or her the traits of character necessary for the successful performance of his or her appointed role in the Kingdom.
GOD IS BUILDING CHARACTER
Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.” (Matthew 20:23)
For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. (I Timothy 4:8)
“These places belong to those for whom they (the places) have been prepared.”
It appears God has prepared places, roles and tasks in His Kingdom. These places have been prepared for specific individuals.
Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, “So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’” And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world. (Hebrews 4:3)
God’s work was finished in six days. God’s work included the assigning of places in His Kingdom for specific individuals.
We know from the parable of the talents that it is possible for us to lose our assigned place, for our gifts to be given to another. God did not receive the interest He was looking for, and so He gave the talent to another more diligent servant.
Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. (Matthew 25:28)
From this we see that God has laid out His Kingdom in advance, and God shall accomplish His objectives. However, whether any given individual is successful in arriving at his or her preordained place is up to that individual. God’s will shall be done; the talent shall be invested that it might bear interest; the perfected Bride of the Lamb indeed shall one day descend through the new sky to be located forever on the new earth.
But the part any person plays in the final outcome depends on his diligence in laying hold on that for which he has been grasped by the Lord.
The reason we have been placed on the earth in an animal body is that God might be able to build character in us—the kind of character that is necessary if we are to function effectively in the role assigned to us.
In our present state we are weak. We often are confused. We suffer pain and become afraid. We are buffeted about and experience various pressures. Why?
Because if we respond in a correct manner to our various sufferings, not blaming other people but looking ceaselessly to Christ for wisdom and strength to bear our pain, the kind of character will be created in us that is necessary for the successful completion of the tasks God has laid out for us to perform.
Also, God is looking to see what we will do when we are tempted to stray from His will. God is gathering information on each of us. God wants to know in advance what we will do should He give us an important role in His Kingdom.
But doesn’t God know everything? Not according to the Bible. God leads us through wilderness experiences that He might find out what is in our heart.
Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the LORD promised on oath to your forefathers. Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. (Deuteronomy 8:1-3)
God is forming our character and testing us while we are suffering the problems and pains of the present world. His purpose is to prepare us for the wonderful new age in which God makes all things new.
Our character must be formed in terms of the demands that will be made on us.
Also, we must be tested repeatedly so God will know what is in our heart, whether we will keep His commands when we are entrusted with a position of responsibility in His Kingdom.
The Lord Jesus Christ in Person and through His Apostles issued numerous commandments. These are found in the New Testament. We are to obey them. The Holy Spirit will enable us to obey them as we keep going boldly to the Mercy Seat in Heaven for help in our time of need.
The new covenant performs its work in our mind and heart only as we keep the commandments of the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is interesting that the Christian preaching and teaching of our day maintains that God is offering Divine grace as an alternative to keeping His commandments. The predictable result has been Christian churches that are morally bankrupt.
We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (I John 2:3,4)
Following are eighteen of the roles and tasks that must be fulfilled if the Kingdom of God is to bring to the earth the eternal love, joy, and peace that are the desire of the Father for us.
To prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:12,13)
The purpose of the ministries and gifts of the Spirit of God is to perfect each member of the Body of Christ in these roles and tasks according to his or her unique calling:
- A member of the Bride of the Lamb (Revelation 21:9)
- A part of the Temple of God (Ephesians 2:22)
- A member of the Body of Christ (I Corinthians 12:12)
- The salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13)
- The light of the world (Matthew 5:14)
- A part of the vehicle for the end-time revival (Isaiah 60:1,2)
- A restorer of Paradise to the earth (Romans 8:21)
- A source of eternal life and healing for the nations (I Corinthians 15:45)
- A member of the royal priesthood (I Peter 2:9)
- A witness of God (Isaiah 43:10)
- A son of God (Revelation 21:7)
- A brother of the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29)
- An overcomer of the accuser (Revelation 12:11)
- A governor of the nations (Revelation 2:26,27)
- A soldier in the army of the Lord (Joel 2:11)
- A judge of men and angels (I Corinthians 6:2,3)
- A wall of defense around the Glory of God (Revelation 21:14)
- A part of the revelation of Himself—God in Christ in the saints (Revelation 3:12)
Now let us think about these eighteen roles and tasks. What kind of character must we have if we are to participate in these? We understand each believer has a unique place assigned to him or her, and he or she is to lay aside all distractions and press toward his or her own mark.
First of all, we realize we, as members of God’s elect, are to be conformed to the image of Christ. Second, we are to enter untroubled rest in the Person and will of God. It is impossible to satisfy fully our designated role, to occupy fully the place we have been assigned, while we are not in the moral image of Christ or are not at rest in the Father’s will. Conformation to the image of Christ and rest in the Father’s will is required for every member of the Body of Christ.
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)
A member of the Bride of the Lamb.
One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” (Revelation 21:9)
What change has to take place in our character if we are to be a member of the Bride of the Lamb?
Our adamic nature must be destroyed. We must become a new creation created from the body and blood of the Lamb.
The Lamb, being Son of God and Son of man, cannot be united with that which is corrupt, with the sinful, fleshly nature of man. The Lamb can enter union only with that which is of Himself.
If Eve had been an angel, or an animal, or had been brought forth from some other source, she could not have been one person with Adam. Eve was Adam in another form because every inch of Eve was drawn from Adam.
The oneness of the Lamb and His Bride is similar to the oneness of God and the Lamb. The Lamb lives, moves, and has His being from the Father—altogether from the Father. The individual who eats the flesh of the Lamb and drinks His blood lives by the Lamb as the Lamb lives by the Father.
The union is to be total.
To be a member of the Wife of the Lamb is to lose our individuality in favor of becoming one with the Lamb. We never lose our uniqueness as a created person. Paul will always be Paul even though he is living no longer and Christ is living in Him. But each member of the Wife of the Lamb is an integral part of the Lamb, consequently an integral, eternal part of God.
We understand, therefore, the totality of what God is inviting us to.
Consider: the Logos, the Lamb, has always been an integral part of Him who is called the Father. Now we are being invited into this Oneness. The change of character amounts to total crucifixion of our first personality and resurrection into the Person of the Lamb and of God.
On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. (John 14:20)
Nothing—absolutely nothing—that comes short of our becoming a new creation will suffice for this eternal marriage. All of God’s elect have the opportunity to lay all else aside and cleave to the Lamb. This is what He wants.
A part of the Temple of God.
And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (Ephesians 2:22)
God’s plan is to have a living house in which He can dwell and through which He can govern and bless His creatures.
Human beings have been created to be the house of God.
Any one of us who builds or moves into a house is particular about what is included in the house. The house will reflect our personality after we have lived in it for awhile.
The things that do not please us we remove from the house. We bring in desirable items.
So it is with God. He is very particular about His house.
In God’s house there are many rooms. God’s house primarily is the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ is the major room. In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead in bodily form.
But God has chosen to have many rooms in His great house. So He has made the Lord Jesus the chief Cornerstone, the Beginning of many living stones.
The important thing for us to remember is that we represent the Lord. Since God is dwelling in us, and wants to govern, bless, teach, and deliver people through us, then we cannot be worldly, lustful, or self-willed. In particular, we must not be exhibiting our personal ambition and desire for aggrandizement.
The day will arrive when the nations of the earth come to the Church, to Mount Zion, that they may be taught of the Lord. In that day we are not to be revealing our own sinful, grasping, self-seeking as is so often the case today with the Christian ministry. Our character must have been changed into the lowly image of Christ, who is known by His devotion to His Father without revealing any self-centeredness, no seeking to gather fame or wealth to Himself.
The human personality is to be transformed until it is a perfect, restful dwelling place for the Father and the Son.
A member of the Body of Christ.
The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. (I Corinthians 12:12)
It may be true that we Christians often view the concept of the Head and Body of Christ as an interesting, colorful analogy drawn from the human body. I believe the concept embraces much more than this. It actually is true that Christ, the Christ, comprises an exalted Head and also a Body (capitalized because the Body is part of Christ) through which the Head expresses Himself.
The Head and Body of Christ constitutes the Servant of the Lord mentioned in the Book of Isaiah, the great Deliverer who will bring justice to the nations.
The change in our character required if we truly are to be a member of the Christ includes, as we stated previously, that we be in the image of Christ and dwelling in untroubled rest in the Person and will of the Father.
More specifically, each member of the Body of Christ must set aside his or her own will and learn to look to the Head for every decision of life—great and minuscule.
How different Church history would have been had the Christians looked to the Head for every decision. How extraordinarily, utterly different!
How different the Church activities of today would be if each believer would look to the Head for every decision!
But man is driven by his self-will.
In America we celebrate the individual who takes control of his life and “makes something” of himself or herself. We applaud the ambitious youngster who demonstrates an interest in some branch of science, or art, or technology, or business, or politics, or the medical arts, or the military, and sets out to attain a position of importance. Perhaps this is all well and good.
But if we are to become a member of the Body of Christ we have to look past all personal motivations and ambitions. We are to become the expression of another Person’s will, who in turn is the Expression of God Himself.
You can picture the Lord walking with us and dwelling in us. He has things He desires to do at every moment of the day and night. Some of these objectives He wants to accomplish through us as an individual.
Are we prepared to respond and desirous of responding to the slightest will of the Lord Jesus? Or do we have plans of our own that conflict with and distract from the Lord’s will for the moment?
Most of us, perhaps, have to endure the curriculum of a prolonged, intense school before we are able to respond to Christ as our body responds to our own will.
Our character must be transformed from an independent organism to a chariot of God, if we are to be a member of the Body of Christ, of the Body of the Servant of the Lord.
The elect have been predestined to be members of the Body of Christ, of the great High Priest of God. He is the Vine, we are the branches. He chooses not to bear fruit of Himself and we cannot bear fruit of ourselves. The fruit is borne on the branches when the branches are living parts of the Vine.
The fruit is the image of Christ.
Each member of God’s elect, God’s family in Heaven and on the earth, has a choice. He can choose to live his own life, looking to the Lord for mercy and assistance. Or he can choose to forsake his own life that he might serve as a vehicle for the accomplishing of the will of Christ.
It is not a case of our surrendering the driving forces of our personality that we might become an “empty vessel.” Not at all. Our human body is not an empty vessel. Our body is full of muscles, nerves, and brain cells that operate. The question is that of our mind. We can choose to obey the Spirit of God, or we can choose to follow our own inclinations.
Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:11)
God never takes away our will. If we are to avoid passivity, as we seek to enter the rest of God, our will must remain razor sharp. The issue is not that of having no will, rather it is to set our will in the direction the Spirit is leading.
It is like power steering in an automobile. Nothing happens until we turn the steering wheel in one direction or the other. The moment we turn the steering wheel, the power steering motor turns the front wheels of the car in that direction.
We choose to follow Christ or to follow our own advice. If we turn the steering wheel in the direction of Christ, the power of the Holy Spirit accomplishes God’s purposes. If we turn the steering wheel in the direction set by our own wisdom and ambitions, the will of Christ is not performed. We then are as a human body that is either spastic or paralyzed because it is not obeying the directions of the brain. In this case we may believe Christ is our Savior and Lord, but we are not functioning as a member of His Body.
The salt of the earth.
You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. (Matthew 5:13)
What changes in our character must be made if we are to be the salt of the earth?
Salt is that which makes food delicious. There are many dishes that are bland when they are not salted. Such food can be eaten and is nutritious. But it is not appetizing.
It is God’s will that the members of the elect, the royal priesthood, serve to make His work in the earth appetizing to Him.
How do we make God’s work appetizing to Him?
We behave righteously. We cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit that we may be holy before Him. We obey His every command diligently. In addition we continually offer praise and thanksgiving.
When God looks down on the nations of the earth He sees people going their own way without thinking about God. He hears the screams of violence and hatred. He smells the stink of perverted sexual activity. He witnesses the abuse of children and the aborting of developing children.
If there were no believers who were obeying Him and continually offering praise to Him, I do believe God would give up on mankind. All the inhabitants of the earth would be destroyed—the entire cesspool of moral filth and rebellion.
“I will sweep away everything from the face of the earth,” declares the LORD. “I will sweep away both men and animals; I will sweep away the birds of the air and the fish of the sea. The wicked will have only heaps of rubble when I cut off man from the face of the earth,” declares the LORD. (Zephaniah 1:2,3)
It requires only a few righteous people in order to save a nation from destruction. But if not one righteous person can be found, the end is near for that civilization.
I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none. (Ezekiel 22:30)
In the ages to come, all of God’s people will be righteous. Perhaps at that time no salt will be needed. Or, it may be true that God’s elect will yet serve as salt so God may be willing to accept the members of the saved nations who still are making up their mind whether or not to do what God is commanding through His servants.
Then will all your people be righteous and they will possess the land forever. They are the shoot I have planted, the work of my hands, for the display of my splendor. (Isaiah 60:21)
In any case, whoever would desire to serve as salt must be willing to deny himself, take up his cross, and follow the Master each day until the necessary character transformation takes place.
The light of the world.
You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. (Matthew 5:14)
The Lord Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. John declares that the Life of Christ is the Light of men.
In him was life, and that life was the light of men. (John 1:4)
Life is light.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the Light of the world and the only light of the world. We are light only as the Life of Christ dwells in us. The Life of Christ is formed in us as we live by His body and blood.
We live by Christ’s body and blood when we refuse to yield to the passions of our sinful nature, our love of the world, and our self-will. As we keep making decisions in terms of the Lord’s will rather than our own will, we are fed with the body and blood of Christ in the spirit realm.
Living by the body and blood of Christ results in changes in our behavior. We begin to reflect the righteous, holy nature of Christ. We become as Mount Zion—a city set on a hill.
We live on a beautiful planet, a planet perfectly adapted to the need of human beings. We have mastered many arts and sciences. But there is one art in which we have failed miserably. I am referring to the art of human relationships.
I am writing this essay on December 14th, 2001. Numerous destructive relationships exist in San Diego County where we live. Numerous destructive relationships exist in the world at large, particularly in the land of Israel. The world is at war in several places.
The record of history is one of wars, wars, wars, murder, rape, revolution. We have failed miserably in the art of human relationships.
If in the future we manage to establish a school of astronomy on the planet Mars, the people of the school will fight among themselves because of jealousy or the love of preeminence.
In other words, we are dwelling in nearly total darkness in the realm of relationships.
The Lord Jesus Christ, and only the Lord Jesus Christ, is the answer to the problem of relationships. The several religions of the world advocate peace and love but often are filled with strife. This is true even of the Christian religion, as we see in northern Ireland and in other places where Christians battle Christians or the members of other religions. Belonging to the Christian religion does not of itself make us a genuine Christian, a disciple of Christ.
Christ, and Christ alone, is the answer to the problem of destructive relationships. One of the most moving sights one will ever see occurs each year at the celebration of the feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem, held under the auspices of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. There one can behold members of numerous nationalities coming together in genuine peace and love—all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. This gathering includes Arabs and Jews who have become Christians.
If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I would not have believed it possible.
How then must we be changed so we may be able to serve as the light of the world? We must be so filled with the Life of Christ that our attitudes and behavior reveal the manner in which constructive relationships may be established. These attitudes and behavior include love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, and self-control. When the people around us behold such attitudes and behavior in us they will be influenced toward peaceful, loving relationships, and will worship God. Thus we serve as the light of the world.
We can profess salvation and preach Christianity as much as we like; but if in our own personality and attitudes we exhibit hatred, misery, anger, impatience, harshness, evil, treachery, arrogance, and uncontrolled behavior, we will not serve as a light in a world pressed down with the darkness of destructive relationships.
God must build Christ in us if we are to serve as the light of the world.
A part of the vehicle for the end-time revival.
Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you. (Isaiah 60:1,2)
At the time of the coming of the Lord there will be great spiritual darkness in the world. Suddenly the Glory of the Lord will appear over God’s faithful remnant.
When this occurs, the peoples of the nations worldwide will come to these who are shining with the glory of God. We who participate in this revelation of glory will be overcome with love as we behold the various races and tribes being drawn to us because of what they are seeing and feeling.
However, we must be prepared in advance for such a harvest. Today there is much strife and envy among the members of the Christian ministry. Each minister seeks to outdo the others as he builds his private kingdom.
Such self-seeking will not be permitted during the great day of Divine glory that is coming. Those who are prepared to receive the nations will have passed through waters to the ankles, to the knees, to the thighs, and have come to the river that cannot be crossed.
- Waters to the ankles portrays the initial work of salvation.
- Waters to the knees symbolizes the life that is led by the Spirit.
- Waters to the thighs represents the experience of dying to our self-will that God’s will might be done.
- Waters to swim in, a river that cannot be crossed, refers to the place of maturity in God, the fullness of God, where our life is lost in God and in other people.
Then, and only then, are we adequately prepared to receive the nations of the earth who want to come to God that they might be blessed and healed; that they might be taught the peaceful, productive ways of the Lord.
In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. 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 we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. (Isaiah 2:2,3)
God is love. He loves the various nations of people whom He has created. God is creating a royal priesthood through whom He can successfully govern His creatures. However, we are not competent to serve as God’s vehicle until we have been changed in character from self-centeredness and self-seeking to Christ-centeredness and Christ-seeking.
A restorer of Paradise to the earth.
That the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. (Romans 8:21)
At one time Paradise was located on the earth, probably in the area of Iraq. All that man could ever desire in the way of “heaven” was found in a garden eastward in Eden.
Paradise was removed to the spirit realm. Why? Because of the character of Adam and Eve. They had not been changed in character to the point they could live successfully with the Lord God in the garden of Eden.
The Christian people long to go to Heaven. Who wouldn’t? The memory of that garden is still in our subconscious mind.
What we may not realize is that until we have been changed in character, until Christ has been built up in us, we could not live successfully with God in Paradise.
We suppose we will live in Paradise by grace; that is, God will keep forgiving our wretched behavior while we continue with our destructive relationships. What nonsense is this! Until we are conformed to the image of Christ we will continue to destroy all the good things God gives us.
We here in Southern California live in a natural environment that leaves little to be desired. But the people are lawless. Consequently there is an abundance of destructive behavior of every imaginable kind. How can we enjoy the beauty of the landscape when we have to be careful someone does not shoot us because we are not driving in a manner that meets his approval?
Children are being molested and raped. Yesterday two robbers overturned a man in his wheelchair and stole his money. The carousel of murders and robberies rotates continually to the wild jungle beat of contemporary music. This in what by its own confession is “America’s finest city.”
But God is building character in His sons. As of now the work of the master Sculptor is veiled. When His work has been completed He will unveil the masterpiece.
Through the sons of God will issue the Paradise we have been hoping for after we die. Heaven will come to the earth through the sons of God. The Holy Spirit will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. All will be love, peace, and joy. A dead nature will awaken from its long sleep and clap its hands joyously.
It is easy for us to understand that if we are to serve as a restorer of Paradise to the earth, God must transform us from an adamic soul to a life-giving spirit. God accomplishes such transformation by forming Christ in us.
God will never permit sin to enter Paradise. If we would eat of the Tree of Life in the Paradise of God we first must overcome, through Christ, all the works of the enemy that come against us.
Paradise is a perfect environment. Now we must be made perfect so we can inhabit the perfect environment.
A source of eternal life and healing for the nations.
So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. (I Corinthians 15:45)
It is obvious the people of earth’s nations need eternal life. They also need healing, both spiritual and physical.
But where will such life and healing come from?
The Bible tells us there are Trees of Life on the banks of the River of Life. The Bible informs us also that the Spirit and the Bride of the Lamb invite whoever will to come and drink of the water of life without any cost to them.
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)
What is God telling us?
God is telling us that His answer to the need of the peoples of the nations for the Life of God, and for healing, is to prepare an elect who will serve as sources of life and healing.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the only Tree of eternal Life. But it has pleased God that out from the roots of Christ will grow other trees of life—that they also may serve as sources of God’s Life and of healing for needy people.
But our adamic nature has little to offer the nations in the way of eternal life and healing. Therefore our adamic nature must be crucified and Christ must be formed in its place.
God brings His elect through three great platforms.
- The first platform is what we might term basic salvation.
- The second platform is that of the Holy Spirit, where we learn to live under the control of the Spirit of God.
- The third platform is represented by the Jewish feast of Tabernacles. The spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles is the Kingdom of God, one might say. For as we experience “Tabernacles” the Throne of almighty God and His Lamb is established in our personality. We become the Throne of God.
The River of Life, the river of the Holy Spirit, always flows from the Throne of God—from nowhere else.
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 (Revelation 22:1)
In the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Pentecost we experience the Holy Spirit as rain coming down from God in Heaven.
In the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Tabernacles we experience the Holy Spirit as a river flowing from our inner being, just as the Lord Jesus promised as He celebrated the feast of Tabernacles.
On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” (John 7:37,38)
The river that is within us will flow into the dead sea of mankind. Everywhere the river of life flows the people will come to life. By come to life I mean they will be touched with the eternal Life of God. Human beings are dead until they are touched with the eternal Life of God.
Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live. (Ezekiel 47:9)
As the saints minister to mankind, healing will take place. The woman who was molested as a child will be freed from all psychological damage. Painful, destructive memories, and bitternesses long held, will be obliterated. All physical needs will be met. Chains of every kind will be broken.
All of this life and healing will issue from the Bride of the Lamb. Therefore the Spirit of God and the Bride issue an invitation to whoever will to come and live, and be healed.
We can see that our adamic nature can do little more than submit to its own crucifixion that Christ might come to maturity in us—maturity as measured by the stature of the fullness of Christ.
God is building character in us. God is building Christ in us that we might be able to fulfill the various roles and perform the various tasks that are part of the work of the Kingdom of God in the earth.
God is making all things new through Christ—not all new things, but the things to which we are accustomed made new.
And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, To be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. (Ephesians 1:9,10)
Christ is the Center and Circumference of the new creation of God.
A member of the royal priesthood.
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 2:9)
Sometimes the Jewish people are not pleased that God has called them to be a holy people, separated from the world that they might belong specially to Himself.
The same is true of Christians. Numerous Christians find the idea of their being different from the world quite unsatisfactory. They desire to be like everyone else.
But we cannot be like everyone else. We have been called to be saints, that is, holy ones. This means we have been called out from the world to belong to God in a special way.
The calling to the royal priesthood is eternal. The wall of the new Jerusalem portrays the fact that God’s elect, the Bride of the Lamb, the Throne of God and of the Lamb, will forever be separated from the world. The separating of God’s elect commenced when Abraham, the father of all of God’s elect, was called out from Ur of the Chaldees.
I think the main purpose of the two thousand years of the Church Age has been to call out from the ranks of mankind God’s Israel, that is, God’s chosen people whether Jewish or Gentile by physical birth.
God will deal at a later time with the people whom He saves from the nations. The emphasis now is on the royal priesthood.
What changes in our character must occur if we are to be a member of the royal priesthood?
Our relationship to God must be perfected and our relationship to people must be perfected.
In order to be rightly related to God we must cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of our flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness. We must come out from the spirit of the world, from the reliance on money for our survival and security. Above all, we must be sternly, totally obedient to God in every decision we make, not matter how significant or how seemingly insignificant that decision may be.
In order to be rightly related to people we must be righteous. We must be honest and peaceful in our dealings with our fellows. We also must be merciful and compassionate, but not foolish. We must be recognized as a person of integrity, a faithful friend, someone who is trustworthy. We must not be self-seeking but aware always of the needs and expectations of others.
If we are to be a priest of God, people must think of us as being ready to hear their problems and to help them make a success of their situation. We will be bearing the name of God and the name of the new Jerusalem in our personality. We are, through Christ, as Jacob’s ladder, reaching from earth to Heaven.
The priest has one hand on God and the other on people. Sometimes he is as God looking at people and sometimes as people looking at God.
No man can see God and live. Christ is our great High Priest. Christ can see God. Some day we will be able to see Christ.
But the saved people of the world will not, I think, be able to see Christ. Rather they will meet Christ in us. God will meet man through Christ through us.
People need healing, deliverance from problems, sympathy, instruction, and to know they are pleasing God. They need also to be governed with a loving but totally stern hand—the rod of iron.
The only inheritance worth having, outside of God and Christ, is people. People are the inheritance of Christ and the inheritance of us as coheirs with Christ.
But when people come to us they must not be met with our self-seeking personality but with Christ. We must be as the donkey that carries Christ on our back, as it were.
“We would see Jesus,” People cry. And so the vital change in our character is from our personal aggrandizement to the aggrandizement of Christ. He must be glorified and God in Him.
The fully mature Christian character is that which finds its being in God and then in other people. rather than in self-centeredness and self-will.
A witness of God.
“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)
Christians speak much about witnessing. There is no harm in this, I suppose, but they do not mean witnessing. They mean preaching and teaching. We are to go out and tell others what we know about Jesus.
True biblical witnessing is somewhat different from preaching and teaching. There are Christians who may be gifted preachers and teachers, but because of their behavior are not witnesses of God.
The witness of God knows God. The witness of God reveals in his words and his actions the Person, will, way, and eternal purpose of God in Christ.
The youngest Christian may speak to others what he has learned about God and from God. He may describe how his faith in God has saved him from a destructive way of living.
The older we get, if we have been following the Lord closely, the more effective our testimony becomes. Through the years God, by numerous, sometimes quite painful, experiences teaches us of His Person, His will, and His ways. We come to know, believe, and understand the Lord is the only true God. The remainder of the gods who are worshiped are demons or manmade creations of one sort or another.
How long does it take God to make a fisher of men, a winner of souls to righteousness, a testimony on earth (and perhaps in Heaven also) of God and of Christ His Son? Quite a while for most of us.
The United States of America can boast of numerous Bible teachers and preachers. But the witness of God given by some of them is not a true testimony. Many American believers view God as the great Santa Claus in the heavens. The American populace probably sense that the antics of television preachers have nothing to do with God but are just another moneymaking scheme, a program to rob widows of their life’s savings.
Prophets, such as Elisha and Elijah, are needed in America today. Or true apostles who are sent forth from Christ to declare the current emphases of the Spirit of God. These must be men and women of total integrity, not ambitious “stars” who are building their personal kingdoms.
I think we are going to see such true witnesses in the near future.
To be a witness of God a human being must accept the wrenching transition from the adamic nature to the Christ-filled nature. We cannot bear witness of God until God has taught us concerning Himself. We must come to know the Lord, to be judged and delivered from sin until we can dwell with the Consuming Fire of Israel.
The witness of the Lord steps forth from the Divine Fire and reveals in his words and actions that he lives in God and is portraying God. Then he returns to his rest in the Fire until there is a further need for God to be represented.
We can tell what we know about the Christian religion and what we have learned about the program of salvation. But we can bear witness only as God changes us from a well-intentioned mortal to a living epistle. We must ourselves become the true testimony of God. Only then can we overcome the accuser of the brothers.
When we walk in the fire with the Son of God and come forth without the smell of smoke on our clothes, we then are able to bear a true witness of God.
When we can sleep without harm with the lions in their den, we then can offer contagious praise to God.
Every witness of God is eternal. Noah, Daniel, and Job still are speaking to us.
God’s needs witnesses today. He is ready to make each of us a witness, but we must be willing to permit the necessary adjustments in our personality.
A son of God.
He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. (Revelation 21:7)
Each member of God’s elect has been called to be God’s son and an heir of all that God has made new in Christ. This is our destiny. We will be able to grasp that for which we have been grasped provided we overcome all that seeks to turn us away from God’s perfect will for our life.
Current Christian teaching leaves the impression that all who take “the four steps of salvation” will, on that basis alone, be great kings in God’s kingdom and rule with Christ over the nations of the earth. All such are heirs of the works of God’s hands. All shall receive the promises of glory and responsibility—it is supposed.
This is ridiculous. How is the average church-attender supposed to ascend such a throne of glory? Is he or she prepared by taking the four steps of salvation? This is unscriptural and illogical, to say the least.
We have a young lady in our church who is studying to be an accountant. Let us say she had not gone to school to study accounting but instead had gone to a business firm and sought employment as an accountant. Let us say further that the firm, desperately needing an accountant, had been so foolish as to not verify her credentials. Instead they placed her in an office and gave her the company accounts to balance.
Knowing nothing of accounting practices, what will take place when she is faced with the bills and receipts of the company? The answer is, she will not be able to do the work.
If this is true of a minor problem such a balancing the books of a large business firm, what would be true when an individual is placed on one of the thrones in the air that govern life on the earth? Because he has taken the four steps of salvation, confessing Christ as Savior and Lord, is he prepared to mediate between God and man and bring harmony and peace into the creation?
As I said, our present teaching is ridiculous, defying all we know about practical living and working, not to mention the Scriptures.
If we are to manage the creation, as heirs of God, we have to overcome the evil forces that come against us. We have to learn, through Christ, how to conquer the evil and potential for evil that always will exist as long as people and angels have wills and can make their own decisions and choose their own paths.
We absolutely must, as we have stated previously, be conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ. Also, we must be dwelling in untroubled rest in the Person and will of the Father. In addition, we must be changed in personality in terms of the specific place in the Kingdom God has marked out for us.
Total personality transformation is in order for the heirs of all the works of God’s hands.
A brother of the Lord Jesus Christ.
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:29)
Now, here is a remarkable statement. The Lord Jesus Christ is to be the Firstborn among many brothers. That we are to be Christ’s brothers is based on the fact that we have the same Father, God.
Notice, in the verse above, that if we are to be a brother of Christ we must be changed into His likeness.
Now, why is this? It is because God is creating a family. The Firstborn is Christ. God is well pleased with Christ. Therefore He wants all of us to think, speak, act, and, in general, resemble Christ.
It is impossible for the adamic nature to imitate Christ, although we all ought to behave like Jesus as much as possible.
However, it is the new creation, that which is formed in us when we submit ourselves to the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, that actually can be fashioned into the very image of Christ.
“That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death,” Paul cried. In this manner, by becoming like Him in His death, every aspect of our personality is transformed by being filled with incorruptible, eternal resurrection life—the very Life of God.
We see, then, that the brothers of Jesus Christ are not cardboard imitations. They, like Him, have been born of God. Divine Life is increasing in them. They are being delivered from the spirit of the world and the lusts and passions of the flesh and adamic soul. They, like Christ, are learning stern obedience to the Father through the things they are required to suffer.
The Lord Jesus remains the Firstborn with all the rights of the firstborn. God has made Him our Lord, and the great anointed Head of the anointed Body.
It is of critical importance we continually recognize that God is not making many Christs. There is but the one Christ. We are members of His Body. We are branches from the true Vine. The anointing of the Holy Spirit flows down over the Head until the entire Body is covered with the Glory of God.
We may think of Jesus Christ as the Ark of the Covenant, and we along with Him. The Glory of God Almighty rests on top of the Ark, dwelling between the wings of the guardian Cherubim. The whole is one Divine Entity. This Entity is destined to be located forever on the new earth in the form of the holy city, the new Jerusalem.
The original Ark of the Covenant will not be mentioned from here on, as Jeremiah prophesied. Jerusalem itself will be the Ark of the Covenant, the Throne of God. The members of the saved nations of the earth will come to Jerusalem to be made alive, and delivered, by the Divine Glory dwelling in Christ in the saints.
And it shall come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith the LORD, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the LORD: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more. (Jeremiah 3:16)
We can understand, therefore, the total change that must be made in our personality if we are to serve as the Throne of God, if we are to be Emmanuel—God with us. So great is the destiny to which the brothers of Christ have been called.
An overcomer of the accuser.
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 12:11)
We ordinarily do not suppose there ever will come an end to the wrestling match between the saints and Satan, but an end shall come. It most assuredly shall come!
In the last days there will be saints who will fulfill God’s requirements concerning trust in the blood of the Lamb; who will be an accurate representation of God’s Person, will, way, and eternal purpose in Christ; and who will not shrink from the death of the cross. They will lay down their lives that the will of Christ might be performed.
Once God possesses such a remnant He will not be slow to act. He will empower Michael and the righteous warrior angels so they may attack Satan and his angels with such power, speed, and fury they will be hurled to the earth. This victory will occasion great rejoicing in Heaven, but will be a time of woe for the earth.
How must we be changed if we are to serve as an overcome of the accuser?
We must learn to trust in the perfect forgiving authority of the blood of God’s Lamb, Jesus Christ.
We must be conformed to Christ’s death and resurrection so we may give a clear testimony of God in our behavior and our speech, as well as with the gifts of the Spirit God gives us.
Perhaps most importantly, we must be faithful unto death. We cannot hold onto any aspect of our life and still overcome the accuser. Our death in the Lord must be absolute.
Now God will be pleased to cast Satan from the heavens. Satan no longer will be able to hinder our prayers. The Throne of God now can move from Heaven into the hearts of His victorious saints. At this point the termination of the Church Age will be at hand. Christ will return, call up His conquerors to Himself, and proceed to establish the Kingdom of God on the earth.
We can have no part in this glorious climax of the Church Age until the required changes have been made in our personality.
A governor of the nations.
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)
The problem came into being when Satan sought to set his will against the will of the Father. The history of the earth has been one of tragedy and terror as a result of the rebellion of the angels.
The Lord Jesus advised us to pray that God’s Kingdom would come; God’s will would be done in the earth as it is in Heaven.
The great Head of the Church, the Lord Jesus Christ, had to be made perfect in obedience before He could be given full authority and power over all the works of God’s hands.
The key to the Kingdom of God is obedience—absolute, stern obedience to the Father. Christ is sternly obedient to God. We are to be sternly obedient to Christ, for thus the Father has commanded us.
No Christian believer is to think of reigning with Christ as a governor of the nations until he or she has learned stern, total obedience to Christ as his or her personal Lord.
Coming out of the world is an act of dedication on our part.
We accomplish cleansing from the power of sin by following the Holy Spirit carefully as the Spirit leads us in putting to death the deeds of our sinful nature.
Becoming totally obedient to the Father is another matter. This requires the putting down of our self-will and self-centeredness. Since self cannot overcome self, God takes a hand in our deliverance from self-will.
God conquers our self-will and self-centeredness by putting us in various kinds of prisons and causing us to suffer various kinds of pain.
We, as Christ did, learn obedience through suffering. We hunger! We thirst! We long for escape from our prison! But we cannot escape without breaking God’s laws.
Little by little our self-will is replaced by the Kingdom of God. Self is removed from the throne of our personality that God and Christ may rule from Their place in our personality.
Death to self and resurrection into the rule of God is absolutely necessary if we are to serve as one of God’s kings.
“Can we sit on Your right hand and Your left hand?”
“Yes, you can, if God has so ordained. But you must drink the cup of suffering that I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with.”
As we suffer with Him we govern with Him.
It is absolutely unthinkable that God would give to any person the authority and power to govern other people, in the Kingdom of God, until God is completely assured of that individual’s strict obedience to every desire of the Lord.
We of today have been as far as basic salvation through the blood, and the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Now we are being challenged to set aside our own life that we may obey Christ perfectly without thought as to the consequences to ourselves.
I have said for years that the Charismatic movement will be split on the issue of suffering. A militant remnant will accept the suffering and learn obedience to Christ. The majority of Christians will reject suffering in the attempt to make Christ their servant. This is the origin of the False Prophet. The False Prophet is the Christian who keeps his self-will intact and seeks to use the power of Christ to his own advantage.
Such were the so-called “prosperity” and “faith” messages. This is the head of man on the Body of Christ.
If we have been called to a high rank in the Kingdom, even as high as sitting on the right or the left hand of Christ at His return, you can be sure we will suffer years of imprisonment, of temptation, of testing, of frustration.
This is a call to God’s elite. Only those who have been called and chosen, and then have been proven utterly faithful, will be able to grasp that for which God has grasped them. The less diligent, those with less faith, the fearful, will fall by the way during such rigorous training in leadership.
A soldier in the army of the Lord.
The LORD thunders at the head of his army; his forces are beyond number, and mighty are those who obey his command. The day of the LORD is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it? (Joel 2:11)
It is not clear to me that every believer in Christ is destined to be a soldier in the army of the Lord. Perhaps there is no reason they should be; although Paul exhorts us to endure hardships as good soldiers of Christ.
The story of Gideon and his 300 suggest that the climactic battles of the Church Age, perhaps the Battle of Armageddon itself, may be fought by a small minority of God’s elect.
In any case, whoever would desire to be a soldier of Christ must set himself or herself to come under discipline.
The Christian people of America are anything but disciplined. They do pretty much as they please. The American people as a whole tend to despise authority. They feel they can vote in or out whoever displeases them. Also, many are ready to sue, at the slightest provocation, those who inconvenience them.
Not all Americans by any means are so undisciplined. But there are enough to give the entire country an aura of lawlessness.
I remember once returning from Iceland. When we landed at the American terminal the atmosphere was like Vanity Fair compared with the orderliness of the Icelandic culture.
This idea of the freedom of the individual to do as he or she pleases has carried over into the churches, I believe. The concept that Jesus is to be absolute Lord of our life may be repugnant to some. They are willing for Jesus to suffer for their sins, but to consider themselves the slaves of Christ is more than they can bear.
The soldier in the army of Christ is absolutely obedient to Christ and to those Christ places over him. He does not scorn or ignore authority. He marches in a straight line. He cannot be wounded by the Word of God because he is a dead-living person. By this I mean he has died to his self-will and is living in the Life of Jesus.
If we are to be a soldier in the army of the Lord we must escape completely from the American spirit of doing as we please. We must accept the fact that there is a deadly battle going on between the Father and Satan; between Christ and Antichrist; between the False Prophet and the Holy Spirit.
The weapons of our warfare are not the weapons of the world. No eternal victories are won as Christians with ever so much money charge forth in their enthusiasm to “do God’s work.” Our battles are not won by the wealth or talents of human beings. Our battles are won as the Spirit of truth in us overcomes the lies of Satan.
We must be righteous. We must be holy. We must be sternly obedient to God if we expect to succeed as a soldier in the army of the Lord. All of our fleshly impulses and enthusiasm must be driven from us because Satan is not a human being and cannot possibly be conquered by human devices. Satan is defeated only as the Father moves through the Son, and the Son through us.
It is important to understand Satan finally shall be defeated. All sin shall be removed from the creation. But such total victory is not possible to us until we have learned to march according to the Lord’s will for us.
Also, we must never, never, never injure the soldier marching next to us by criticizing and slandering him or her. We give Satan an advantage when we criticize and gossip about a fellow believer.
All such criticizing, gossiping, and slandering must be completely removed from us or we cannot win spiritual victories now or in the future.
A judge of men and angels.
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)
God has created man to serve as the judges and rulers of the works of God’s hands. Man will judge even the angels. This indeed is a remarkable thought, and probably is not given much consideration in Christian circles.
Yet judging and criticizing other people is one of the prominent characteristics of the adamic nature. We are full of a judgmental spirit. I wonder if the angels judge each other as we do?
Judgment, gossip, and slander is a destroyer of churches and has been with us since the first century.
For I am afraid when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. (II Corinthians 12:20)
The Lord Jesus Christ, in whose image we are being created, has been given all authority of judgment. The Father judges no one. He has given all judgment to the Son. This truly is fearful power!
The Lord, however, does not judge according to what He sees and hears. He waits until He understands from the Father the rightness or wrongness of a situation.
Christ intends to give to His disciples the authority of judgment, of retaining or releasing sin. But He cannot do this until we are mature enough to wait until we hear from Christ the truth of what we are confronting.
To wait to hear from the Lord until we pass judgment is by far one of the most difficult changes of character we are required to make. It is so very difficult not to pass judgment when our eyes and ears persuade us of what is righteous and what is unrighteous.
But have you found it true that we often are incorrect in our assessment? How many times have we taken part of the evidence and rushed to judgment?
As a school principal I often was called upon to settle differences among children. A child would come crying to the office with a tale of woe. I would become incensed and was ready to punish the offender. But I learned to wait until I had heard the other side of the story. The other side of the story, more often than not, would change my opinion dramatically.
Sometimes as a pastor one partner of a marriage will come and explain how he or she is being abused. But when the other partner comes with his or her viewpoint, the picture is quite different. Usually, but not always, marriage difficulties are contributed to by both husband and wife—although it is quite difficult for either the husband or wife to appreciate how much of the problem actually is coming from him or her.
What patience! what maturity! what wisdom is needed if we are to serve as a judge of men and angels! We must always wait until we hear from the Lord before we make a decision. This is true no matter how clear the issues may seem to us.
The actual truth may be quite different from what at first is “obvious.” If we will quiet our adamic tendency to make a snap judgment, and wait for the truth of God to filter into our mind, we will spare ourselves and others the folly of actions taken on the basis of incomplete information and faulty perception.
A wall of defense around the Glory of God.
The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. (Revelation 21:14)
The wall that surrounds the new Jerusalem is being constructed in you and me. While there may be a literal wall surrounding a literal city, the important fact is that the eternal wall that actually keeps out evil exists within the personality of the transformed saint.
The problem with the garden eastward in Eden was it was not protected by a wall. Satan could come and go as he pleased. There was no literal wall around the garden and there was no wall in the personalities of Adam and Eve.
Because it always will be possible for people and angels to rebel against the will of God, God will never again permit Paradise to be without the protection of a wall.
But how is the wall against sin constructed in us?
- First we must be freed from guilt by accepting by faith the atonement made by the blood of the Lamb.
- Second Christ must be born in us.
- Third we must have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us.
- Fourth we must be faced, little by little, with the worldliness, lust, and self-seeking in our own personality.
City by city, so to speak, the Spirit leads us to the awareness of a disfigurement in our personality. As each area is revealed, we are to confess, denounce, and renounce this area as sin; as not fit for any location but the Lake of Fire. We are to diligently denounce and renounce the specific attitude or behavior, looking continually to the Lord for total deliverance.
As we thus confess and renounce sin, the Holy Spirit takes the life out of it. The Spirit kills it. Then Christ grows into that particular area of our personality.
Christ is God’s wall against all sin. As Christ is formed in us a wall against sin is formed in us.
If Adam and Eve had eaten of the Tree of Life, which is Christ, they would have had eternal life formed in them. Then God would have given them permission to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which also is Christ, the eternal moral law of God, as I understand it.
They would have recognized they were naked; but because of the Life of Christ in them they would have had the confidence and strength to go to God for the right kind of clothing. And thus they would have done with all sin they were tempted to perform. A wall against sin would have been constructed in their personality.
Then, when Satan came with his evil suggestions, as he always does, bringing down from Heaven his rebellious ways, Adam and Eve would have had the strength and the knowledge to repulse Satan and to run to God for additional strength and wisdom.
It is so today. When we encounter Satan we repulse his suggestions. We run to God for additional strength and wisdom.
Growth in Christ actually is growth in the ability to recognize good and evil, and the willingness and the strength to reject the evil and embrace the good. Such maturing brings us to an increasingly greater knowledge of God and His holy Personality and ways.
The coming world will contain the Kingdom of God, which is the glorified Christian Church, the Bride of the Lamb; and also nations of people whom God has saved. These nations are the inheritance of Christ and His coheirs.
Christians have thought there can be no sin in the new world of righteousness. The truth is, there is nothing to prevent sin except the Presence of Christ. Angels and people retain wills of their own.
This is why the saints will govern the new creation. They will serve as a wall against sin. People will not be permitted to sin. They will be taught and trained. They will understand they cannot enter the new Jerusalem and drink of the water of life until sin has gone from their personality.
The saints will not permit sin in the future. The wall of sin constructed in their personality during their discipleship on the earth will prevent their own sinning and enable them to prevent sin on the part of those whom they are governing.
The new world we are moving toward is much more practical, much more straightforward and understandable, than we may have realized!
A part of the revelation of Himself—God in Christ in the saints.
Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. (Revelation 3:12)
This is what the history of mankind is all about. God is making a living temple for Himself.
We understand God has a great temple in Heaven. But God has decided to make a living house for Himself through which He can have fellowship with the people He has created.
At the time of the creating of Adam and Eve God did not reveal that His intention is to inhabit man, to make man His throne, His chariot. But it is becoming increasingly clear to us that this precisely is what God is doing.
The Jewish feast of Tabernacles, the last great festival of the Jewish ceremonial year, portrays in symbolic form God’s intention to dwell in man, not just to be with man.
The name of the new Jerusalem will be “the Lord is there.” God is coming to dwell in us, particularly in the new Jerusalem, as well as being with us.
The distance all around will be 18,000 cubits. And the name of the city from that time on will be: THE LORD IS THERE. (Ezekiel 48:35)
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 22:3)
Hard to imagine, isn’t it, that God is coming to live permanently on the earth. People will pray to God in Jerusalem rather than in Heaven.
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 3:17)
It will be Emmanuel—God with us.
The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel—which means, “God with us.” (Matthew 1:23)
Notice in Revelation 3:12 (above) that the believer who overcomes, that is, who emerges victorious over the enemies that come against him during his discipleship in the present world, will occupy a most important position in the eternal house of God. He will be a “pillar,” that is, an integral part of the strength and beauty of the whole.
Also, the name of God, of the city of God, and Christ’s new name, will be written on him. This means wherever he goes, there God goes; there the city of God goes; there Christ goes. It appears the new Jerusalem is a living city that will be wherever the saint is. The saint never leaves the city, the city is wherever he is. This is the way I understand it.
We refer to the revelation of God in Christ as the Incarnation. So it is. It is the appearance of God in the flesh. We also, if we emerge victorious in the struggle, will be an integral part of the incarnation of God, of the making visible of the invisible God.
Such an idea would be blasphemous were it not one of the central concepts of the Bible. “What throne will you build Me?” God asks. “What is the place of My rest?”
Then the answer is given.
This is what the LORD says: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the LORD. “This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word. (Isaiah 66:1,2)
Who will become the eternal resting place of God? The believer who is humble and contrite in spirit, who trembles at God’s Word.
Isn’t that interesting! So much of the Christian religion has been characterized by pomp and arrogance—especially among the leadership.
God, who is vastly greater than all comprehension, is never impressed by our status or accomplishments. God looks for humility and contriteness, for those who fear Him. God is humble and lowly of heart, like a child. He holds off the proud at a distance.
So if we intend to fulfill the Kingdom role of the revelation of God, we must be changed in character until we are humble, are sorrowful and repentant when we offend God, and tremble when God speaks. This is so different from the American temperament. Americans are proud, we justify our actions when we offend, and we do not fear God. We may be willing to reverence God, but we are too proud and independent of spirit to actually fear the greatest of all Sovereigns.
We say we love Christ but we are unwilling to keep His commandments.
We seek to use Christ to gain our own ends. The idea of being the slave of Christ is repugnant to us. We are not willing to be anyone’s slave. Because of this we live in the chains of Satan without realizing it.
Because of our religious arrogance and smugness, our assurance that we are better than other people and are just about to be “raptured” into Heaven so we will avoid the suffering that is to come upon those “poor unfortunate people who are not part of our group,” we are not revealing the true Person and will of God. We are revealing only the myths of our particular sect.
Let us, particularly us Americans, turn to God in contrition and humility. Let us adopt the attitude of the Apostle Paul who sought to lay hold on that for which God had laid hold on him.
Each member of God’s elect has been called and justified in advance. The individual’s name is on some specific place, some role or task, in the Kingdom. Now it is his responsibility to seek to enter the rest of God; that is, to cease from his own works that he might lay hold on that to which he has been called from the creation of the world.
The full power of God in Christ stands ready to assist the saint as he struggles to conquer the forces that are attempting to take his crown of rulership. He can overcome all hindrances and distractions if he will keep his eyes on the Lord Jesus.
But if the believer is not diligent, if he because of cowardice, laziness, or some desire of his own does not set aside all else that he may grasp that for which he has been grasped by the Lord, he will suffer tremendous remorse in the Day of the Lord. When Jesus Christ requires an accounting of his stewardship he will be found unfaithful. The endowments which had been given to him that he might gain the destiny marked out for him will be removed from him. They will be given to another who has been faithful and diligent.
The offender will be thrust into the outer darkness, unable to enter the light and joy of the Kingdom of the Lamb.
He has lost the Kingdom because of his negligence. Christ has suffered loss. The Body of Christ has suffered loss. The people who were to be his inheritance have suffered loss. All have suffered loss because of his faithlessness and treachery. He was willing to occupy himself with the foolishness of the world rather than to bring the good things of God to those around him.
There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth due to the anger and remorse of those who always before had found a way out of the consequences of their self-centered actions, but who now have come up against the iron of God’s will.
Friend, God has something wonderful for you. Eye has not seen. Ear has not heard. It has not entered into the heart of man to imagine what is in store for you if you will set aside all other goals, counting them garbage, that you might lay hold on that place in the Kingdom that God has reserved for you from the creation of the world.
(“God Is Building Character”, 3382-1)