MOVING TOWARD THE GOAL

OF SALVATION

MOVING TOWARD THE GOAL OF SALVATION

A STUDY GUIDE SERIES: BOOK THREE

Five essays on the victorious Christian life by Robert B. Thompson

Compiled and Edited by

Edward J. Reiter

Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Preface

The Two Shall Be One

    Summary#1

    Questions#1

Making Trees of Life

    Summary#2

    Questions#2

The Administration of the Kingdom of God

    Summary#3

    Questions#3

The Goal

    Summary#4

    Questions#4

Christ and His Saints Go to Work

    Summary#5

    Questions#5

Answer Guide

Bibliography

About the Author

Preface

How well do we understand the relationship between Jesus Christ and the Church, and what is the end result?

For what destiny are we being prepared as members of the royal priesthood of God, and what place does suffering have in it?

Are the gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit for our own benefit, or does God have a say in how they are used and to what end?

Does eternal life in a new body mean anything to us, or is a change of location our only concern?

Will justice ever come to the peoples of the earth, and if so what role will the saints of God play in establishing it?

The answers to the questions above may reveal much about the current state of Christianity as a whole, as well as the condition of our individual hearts.

This book is not only an effort to provide scriptural answers to these questions but also aims to provide the guidance necessary to grow into obedient followers of Jesus Christ.

Each essay is followed by a summary review and five questions drawn from the reading. An answer guide is provided at the end of the book.

May God enable us to increasingly move toward the goal of salvation and grow into His fullest measure of righteousness, holiness and obedience.

Edward J. Reiter

Escondido, California

January 2001

The Two Shall Be One

The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman’, for she was taken out of man. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. (Genesis 2:23,24—NIV)

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:31,32—NIV)

"But I am talking about Christ and the church."

Human marriage is not a mystery but the marriage it foreshadows indeed is a mystery. The mystery has to do with the oneness of Christ and His Church.

It is interesting that the Lord Jesus, when He appeared to His disciples after His resurrection, said, "A spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have."

And in the two passages above: "The two will become one flesh." Perhaps because of the influence of Gnosticism, a philosophy that stresses the spiritual nature of man, we do not realize the importance of the flesh and bones body with which we have been endowed. What an angel wouldn't give to have a flesh and bones body so it could enjoy the material creation!

Comparing the two passages above gives rise to a very profound thought, a mystery. It causes us to see a parallel between Adam and Eve, and Christ and His Church.

It appears that at some point in timeless infinity before the spirit or material realms were created, the Lord Jesus Christ came forth from God. The Lord Jesus, the eternal Word, is the Son of God.

He now is also the Son of Man, having been born of Mary. The Lord Jesus Christ is Son of God and Son of Man.

We too having been born of woman and also born of God are son of man and son of God. This is why we can be wed to the Lamb. Like must marry like.

So the Lord Jesus was brought forth from God in timeless infinity. Then through Him God created the universe of spirit creatures, such as the angels, the cherubim, and the seraphim. Even Satan was created by the Word. Now the Lord had many companion spirits but not a helper suited to Him.

This would be comparable to Adam being surrounded with animals but not having a helper suited to him.

When God said "it is not good that man be alone" He was referring primarily to His Son, the Lord Jesus. When God brought forth Jesus He did not envision He would be alone but that a wife, a counterpart, a helper suitable for Him would in time be created from His Substance.

God knew that Satan, being so competent, so highly placed, so gifted in wisdom and beauty, would fall through pride. It was necessary that Satan's fall take place so that when the new heaven and earth reign of Jesus Christ begins (the real world—that which God planned from timeless infinity) the problem of sin and rebellion would be addressed and their proper consequences, solutions, and penalties revealed.

We are not saying by this that God made Satan fall or that Satan obeyed God by falling. God cannot be tempted with sin. Satan, as well as the rest of God's creatures, sin when they are drawn away by their own lusts.

The spirit realm and the creatures thereof were created by the Word. All this was in preparation for the master plan—that of creating a counterpart for the Word, the Logos, the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God.

Then, through the Lord Jesus, God created the physical universe just as previously the spirit realm had been formed with its creatures. All of this was for and by the Son.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, (Colossians 1:15-19—NIV)

The plan of God is to create a great house and a family for Himself. His Son from the beginning is the Lord Jesus. The Son is the chief Cornerstone of the eternal House of God. Next God is creating a bride for His Son. After that will come the children—those born of the union of the Son and His bride.

So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. (Romans 7:4—NIV)

Notice that the New Testament never refers to the bride as the bride of Christ or the bride of the Son of God. The Church always is the Bride of the Lamb or the Wife of the Lamb. This is because the Bride is formed from the body and blood of the Lamb. She is wed to Him as she learns to live by His body and blood. It is the body and blood that are the covenant.

No wedding ceremony was needed for Adam and Eve because Eve was formed from Adam. She could marry no other. She was Adam in another form.

There will be no Anglican ceremony to unite the Lamb and His Wife. We are being married to Him today as we live by Him. When the Bible says "the marriage of the Lamb is come" it is referring to our being revealed to the world as His possession and our being clothed with the wedding garment, the robe from Heaven that will clothe our resurrected flesh and bones.

So it is true that the Wife is formed from the Lamb. She can marry no other. She is the Lamb in another form.

As we said, it is God's love, His delight, to see Himself in Christ, to find His Life in another, as it were. So it is the Lamb's love, His delight, to see Himself in another, His wife.

When God decided to enlarge Himself by creating a counterpart, a fullness, for His Son, He created the physical universe. The purpose of the physical universe is to be a visible expression of the invisible God.

The Lord Jesus Christ, born of Mary, is the beginning of the Kingdom of God, the eternal House of God, the Temple of God, the Tabernacle of God of which the Tabernacle of the Congregation is a symbol.

There is coming a day when the Lord Jesus Christ, once God has brought all in subjection to Him, will Himself be subject to God. Then God will be All in all. All the physical creation will be an expression of Jesus Christ and God in Him.

Nothing, no person, no creature, no aspect of nature, no incident, will exist apart from the Lord Jesus Christ and God in Him. God will be All in all!

This is why we must be born again if we would enter the Kingdom of God. We must be born of the physical realm and then be born of God. The Kingdom of God is all the Glory of God housed in a physical form. We see this when the Lord emerged from the cave of Joseph of Arimathea.

Every created thing, if it is to endure through the ages of eternity, including man, must die and then be raised in Christ. Even Christ Himself died and then was raised as the beginning of the Kingdom God. He Himself is the Firstborn from the dead.

The entire creation that came through Christ: the Church which is His Fullness, the nations of saved people, the physical universe, were all envisioned in the mind of God in a past so distant from us as not to be comprehensible. In fact God did not originate at any point and so when we say time past it has no meaning. There was no time at that time, so to speak. It was the era before the beginning. This our minds cannot grasp for we are finite creatures.

It is enough to know God is in control of all things and all shall take place exactly as He has planned.

The Lord Jesus referred to the many rooms in His Father's House. Jesus Christ is the Father's house, the eternal dwelling place of God. Now is coming into being the Body of Christ, the Body of the Father's House, the Wife of the Lamb, so that Christ will have a fullness that will include all areas of the creation.

It can be seen from this that God's ultimate intention is to express Himself in flesh and bones. Each Christian who is willing to suffer denial is being created a room in God's eternal tabernacle.

Eventually every person saved to the new heaven and earth reign of Jesus Christ will possess in himself a measure of Christ, some thirty, some sixty, and some a hundredfold. To the measure that Christ is formed in us, in that measure God can find His rest in us.

As we have stated, the Wife of the Lamb is married to the Lamb by eating the Lamb and by drinking His blood.

This is how it works. Each day we make a multitude of decisions, most minor and a few major. As we grow in Jesus Christ, we learn to bring all decisions to Him. We seek to always live in His Presence, to be aware of His Presence and His will in all that we are and do.

From time to time we discover that our joys and ambitions are not His will. When we come to a decision, something that we want to do oh so badly, and become aware that this is not God's will; or when we become aware that God is telling us to do something we do not want to do, like Abraham being told to offer Isaac (although wrenching decisions of such intensity are rare, being necessary only for those destined to govern in the Kingdom), we must choose to either deny ourselves or else do the Lord's will. Have you been there?

When we disobey the Lord we continue in our adamic state. We do not grow in Christ, in the Kingdom of God, in eternal life. We remain a soulish animal. We save our life only to lose it.

When we choose to deny ourselves, to do what the Spirit of God is directing, a part of our adamic nature perishes. It is at this point that we are fed the body and blood of Christ in the spirit realm. We are given to eat of the tree of life.

This is the process that results in the formation of the Body of Christ, the Wife of the Lamb, the Kingdom of God. There absolutely is no other way to become an integral part of Jesus Christ other than by learning to live by His body and His blood. They are our eternal life. They will raise us to Him when He appears.

If we choose to save our life we will lose it. If we choose to lose our life for Christ's sake and the Gospel's we will save it.

Everything we are and possess is temporary and corruptible. All we can bring into the Kingdom of God is that which we give over to death in Christ. When we yield to the death Christ is demanding, then that which we have given to Him is raised in Him and given back to us, provided it is worthy of the Kingdom and will bring us eternal joy.

That which we first are given is temporary and corruptible, whether relationships, things, or situations. That which dies and is raised again in Christ is eternal and incorruptible. This is why Jesus said if we save our life we will lose it.

The fruit of the Kingdom is born only as we are sown to the death of the cross.

When we die in Christ we are legally free from the Law of Moses. We are free to be married to Christ. The union of Christ and the believer, after a season, will bring forth fruit. The fruit is the image of Christ in the believer and then in those whom the believer influences.

A period of great change has come upon us. The two thousand years of church history have brought us to the present hour. Now God is ready to reveal to us His eternal plan to bring forth a fullness for His Son, a fullness formed from the Son's Substance and Virtue. The fullness is the Body of Christ, the Church, the Wife of the Lamb.

We are in a new day with new challenges. The world around us is changing. It is difficult to predict the changes that will occur in the church world. But from this maelstrom of confusion will emerge the Bride of the Lamb.

During His sojourn on the earth the Lord Jesus Christ always was filled with all the fullness of the Godhead in bodily form. He thought, spoke, and acted from the Presence and Life of the Father who dwells in Him.

Yet, when Jesus prayed to the Father He did not address the Father dwelling in Himself but the Father in Heaven.

So it is that we, being created the fullness of Him who fills all in all, must keep in mind that Christ is not only being formed in us and dwelling in us but also is in Heaven at the right hand of the Father. There is the internal Christ and then there is the external Christ.

We are not to pray to the internal Christ but to Christ at the right hand of the Father.

Jesus is never to become one member of a many-membered Christ. Jesus is the Lord of the Church, the heavenly Bridegroom. He is from eternity. We are none of these things. The concept of the many-membered Christ is a trap that some fall into in their zeal to show we really are part of Christ.

Indeed we actually are being formed an integral, incorruptible part of God's Christ. But Jesus remains Head and Lord and we pray to Him in Heaven.

Let us keep our balance. We love and serve the same Jesus as did those saints who went before us. His return to earth is at hand and so the Scriptures are opening to us. We can now perceive the eternal plan of the Lord God to provide a complement, a helper suited to His beloved Son. The Lord Jesus will find His life and joy in His helper—someone with whom to share the new physical creation that will appear after the thousand-year Kingdom Age has transpired.

God Almighty can experience loneliness. This is not possible to the angels. God brought forth a Son, Jesus Christ. All God's pleasure is in His beloved Son in whom He is well pleased.

Now God is providing for the loneliness of His Son by creating a Wife for Him on His body and blood.

Abraham found joy in Isaac. Abraham sent Eliezer as God has sent the Holy Spirit, so to speak, to bring back a bride for Isaac.

So it is today. The faithful Holy Spirit comes laden with the wealth of the Father to seek a bride for the beloved Son, the only Son. The household of God will be occupied with the wealth that has arrived from Heaven but the Bride will be thinking only of the Son. She will return immediately with the Holy Spirit, forgetting the wealth that had been brought by the Messenger.

The true Bride of the Lamb is occupied with the Son. Although this is not her motive, the fact that she has gained the Son means she has gained the inheritance as well.

Let others be occupied with the things of God. Let us remember the unbelievable event that is taking place in our lifetime. God is preparing an eternal helper for His Son. You can be part of this marriage if you are willing to turn aside from your own life and ambitions and learn to live by His body and blood.

The prophets are speaking of change—change in the world and change in the Christian churches. I believe this is a true word.

James told us the Judge is standing at the door. The Judge is the Lord Jesus Christ. God has entrusted all judgment to Him.

The door is the door of the human heart. Today when we approach a seeker we do not say, "Repent and believe the Gospel and you shall receive the forgiveness of your sin." This is what the Apostles preached, according to Acts. Maybe this is what we should be preaching.

Somehow we find ourselves saying, "Let Jesus into your heart." This the Apostles did not preach. Perhaps it is because the Judge is standing at the door of the hearts of people as never before.

I do not think "standing before the door" has anything to do with time. I believe James is referring to the fact that Christ is drawing near to the people on the earth.

In the last church, that of Laodicea, we find:

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20—NIV)

The above is a marvelous promise and was given to the worst church of all, the lukewarm assembly of Laodicea.

Change is coming. What kind of change? The tares of wickedness are coming to maturity. The tares of righteousness are coming to maturity.

The wicked will be swept up into the bosom of Satan. The righteous will be swept up into the bosom of God.

Make straight the way of the Lord.

The church systems we have known will suffer revision in order to work successfully in the Lord's vineyard. The pressure is on to bring forth a church without spot or wrinkle (notice it is the <MI>Judge<D> who is at the door.) The customary pulpit-congregation ministry may continue in some form but there must be much more participation by the saints (formerly referred to as the congregation).

The days of the spectator sport is over. The customary choir must be enhanced by dancing, banners, tambourines, marching, mime, dramatics, prophecies acted out, and other innovations the Spirit may bring in.

Such greatly increased participation will be accompanied by all sorts of false paths. It is the responsibility of elders to watch for the moving of the Spirit and to encourage what the Spirit is doing, in the meanwhile lovingly but firmly stopping those behaviors that bring an uncomfortable, disquieting atmosphere.

The elders must not be afraid to stop that which is not edifying, which is not scriptural! It is not enough just to have change or excitement. We must govern the house of God diligently. We have been commanded to test the spirits, and test the spirits we must or we are going to have pandemonium.

Deception will increase in the last days. We already have much deception in our Christian doctrine and the Spirit is bringing us back to the Word of God. Scholars are becoming aware that the philosophy of Gnosticism has heavily infiltrated Christian thinking to the extent that we have defined the goal of salvation as eternal residence in the spirit realm. Also the bodily resurrection of the flesh and bones of the saints, which is the destruction of the last enemy and the consummation of the Christian redemption, is virtually ignored; while our ascension into the clouds to meet Jesus and to be prepared for the attack of Armageddon has been altered to a flight to Heaven to escape Antichrist and the great tribulation.

We are in need of a reformation of Christian thinking. We have been deceived.

There is no new revelation coming forth today. Rather the Holy Spirit of revelation is removing the seals from the Scriptures so we can understand them. The Godhead is becoming more comprehensible to us, not as we grow more intelligent, more capable in theology, but rather as we experience the Godhead. Jesus told us that no one knows the Father except the Son and the individual to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.

In the midst of the Church Jesus is worshiping the Father. As we worship the Father, Jesus is with us worshiping. How utterly splendid!

We have been saved through the blood of the cross. We have been given power to lead a holy life and to bear witness of Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit.

Now it is time to learn strict obedience to the Father. Iron righteousness of behavior, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to the Father must become our watchword, our rallying cry.

The Ark is moving. Many will put their hands on it and die. Others will press forward to the fullness of the Glory of God.

If we attempt to make changes in the Christian services without hearing from the Holy Spirit we will only create a babylon.

Numerous traps will be laid by the enemy. Deceptions will confront the Christians that are diabolically clever in their ability to enter the thinking even of the elect. Many experienced Christians who are accustomed to getting words from the Lord will begin to give credence to impressions that are coming from Satan.

Remember, Peter at one moment had the revelation that Jesus is the Christ and in the next moment spoke with the voice of Satan as Peter sought to dissuade the Lord from going to Jerusalem to die.

Remember, we can be on target one moment and deceived the next. The only solution is to look to the Lord Jesus constantly, asking Him to remove deception from us, to deliver us from the craftiness of the evil one. Even then each step must be taken carefully and the fruit, or consequences, of our behavior must be continually examined to see if we really are hearing from Jesus. The moment we doubt something is from the Lord we are to hold it before Him, asking Him to put the fire of Divine judgment on it until we are sure of its source.

You may be an experienced Christian. You may pray and read your Bible daily, which helps. You may have an impression identical to that which always before has been the Lord. Now it may be the enemy.

The best protection against the enemy is to take up your cross of self-denial and follow Christ. Usually when we are deceived it is because there is something we desire intensely. Intense desires will influence your prophecies, your teaching, and your thinking. Keep looking to Jesus until the fires die down and only ashes remain. Then, if it really is the Lord, your desire will be given you when you are more spiritually and emotionally poised. Remember this. It may save you enormous grief in the days ahead.

If you think you can never be deceived you already are deceived. The characteristic of deception is that we do not know when we are deceived. If there are things you are hiding, be extra careful. "They would never understand." Satan works in the dark.

The goal to keep in mind is the spotless counterpart, the unblemished complement of the Lamb that is being formed. This is what God is pursuing. It is the forming of the Bride without spot or wrinkle that is the reason for the change that is upon us. All the universe, usually without realizing it, is standing at attention that the perfect Bride may be presented to the Lamb.

You are a Christian, hopefully. The Lord wants to come to you personally, to be more real to you. Read the Song of Solomon with this in mind.

Listen carefully for the Lord in all you do. Cultivate His Presence. He is at the very door of your heart. Let Him come in to your life and take part in every decision you make during the day and night. Do not try to do anything apart from the Lord Jesus.

The days are growing spiritually dark. This means it is time for the Lord to draw near to His churches, His people.

See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. (Song of Solomon 2:11,12—NIV)

Isn't it just like the Lord to choose the time when spiritual darkness is increasing in the earth to call His Bride to Himself? In this way the Lord God shows His utter contempt for His enemies.

Where does He set a table for us? You guessed it. In the presence of our enemies. Why does He do this? To show His utter disdain for those angels and spirits who would challenge His wisdom and power.

As sin increases grace will increase all the more, not only the grace of forgiveness but the Divine grace that has the power to lift us above the clutches of the evil one, to cause us to sing and dance in righteousness and holiness in the heights of Zion when the world is in flames.

"Oh Brother Thompson, you don't care about the people in the world." I care about the people in the world and I know they cannot be helped as we dwell in the darkness with them. They can only be released as we are released. When people see you rejoicing in your hope in the Lord they will ask you how you can have peace and joy when the world is in turmoil. You then can bring them to Jesus so they too can be in the ark of safety. Isn't this the truth?

We can do the people of the world no good by drowning with them. We can do the world supreme good by drawing closer to Jesus each day, hearing from Him concerning every decision we make, whether in the home, at work, in the school, or at play.

The Lord is very jealous concerning you, what your desires are, how you spend your time and strength. He wants you to look to Him constantly. Listen for His voice! You will discover He indeed is knocking at the door of your heart.

If you allow Him to enter He will dine with you on His body and blood. You will learn to live by Him as He lives by the Father.

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

The Holy Spirit is ready to bring you to the Son. Are you willing to leave all that is familiar—now?

Then he and the men who were with him ate and drank and spent the night there. When they got up the next morning, he said, "Send me on my way to my master." But her brother and her mother replied, "Let the girl remain with us ten days or so; then you may go." But he said to them, "Do not detain me, now that the LORD has granted success to my journey. Send me on my way so I may go to my master." Then they said, "Let's call the girl and ask her about it." So they called Rebekah and asked her, "Will you go with this man?" "I will go," she said. (Genesis 24:54-58—NIV)

Summary#1

When God said "it is not good that man be alone" He was referring primarily to His Son, the Lord Jesus. When God brought forth Jesus He did not envision He would be alone but that a wife, a counterpart, a helper suitable for Him would in time be created from His Substance.

The plan of God is to create a great house and a family for Himself. His Son from the beginning is the Lord Jesus. The Son is the chief Cornerstone of the eternal House of God. Next God is creating a bride for His Son. After that will come the children—those born of the union of the Son and His bride.

The Lord Jesus referred to the many rooms in His Father's House. Jesus Christ is the Father's house, the eternal dwelling place of God. Now is coming into being the Body of Christ, the Body of the Father's House, the Wife of the Lamb, so that Christ will have a fullness that will include all areas of the creation. It can be seen from this that God's ultimate intention is to express Himself in flesh and bones. Each Christian who is willing to suffer denial is being created a room in God's eternal tabernacle.

The goal to keep in mind is the spotless counterpart, the unblemished complement of the Lamb that is being formed. This is what God is pursuing. It is the forming of the Bride without spot or wrinkle that is the reason for the change that is upon us. All the universe, usually without realizing it, is standing at attention that the perfect Bride may be presented to the Lamb.

When we disobey the Lord we continue in our adamic state. We do not grow in Christ, in the Kingdom of God, in eternal life. We remain a soulish animal. We save our life only to lose it. When we choose to deny ourselves, to do what the Spirit of God is directing, a part of our adamic nature perishes. It is at this point that we are fed the body and blood of Christ in the spirit realm. We are given to eat of the tree of life.

This is the process that results in the formation of the Body of Christ, the Wife of the Lamb, the Kingdom of God. There absolutely is no other way to become an integral part of Jesus Christ other than by learning to live by His body and His blood. They are our eternal life. They will raise us to Him when He appears.

Abraham sent Eliezer as God has sent the Holy Spirit, so to speak, to bring back a bride for Isaac. So it is today. The faithful Holy Spirit comes laden with the wealth of the Father to seek a bride for the beloved Son, the only Son. The household of God will be occupied with the wealth that has arrived from Heaven but the Bride will be thinking only of the Son. She will return immediately with the Holy Spirit, forgetting the wealth that had been brought by the Messenger.

The true Bride of the Lamb is occupied with the Son. Although this is not her motive, the fact that she has gained the Son means she has gained the inheritance as well.

Let others be occupied with the things of God. Let us remember the unbelievable event that is taking place in our lifetime. God is preparing an eternal helper for His Son. You can be part of this marriage if you are willing to turn aside from your own life and ambitions and learn to live by His body and blood.

Questions#1

1. When God said "it is not good that man be alone" what was He describing?

2. Describe the relationship between the bride and the Lamb:

3. Describe the process that results in the formation of the Body of Christ, the Wife of the Lamb:

4. Describe the threat that deception poses for even the fervent Christian:

5. What hope do we have in the coming days of darkness?

Making Trees Of Life

So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being" the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. (I Corinthians 15:45—NIV)

Down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:2—NIV)

The Christian fight is against spiritual death. We are in a never-ending (in this world) struggle against the spiritual death that is in our personality and our environment. The overcomer is given the right to eat of the Tree of Life, of Jesus Christ.

It is God's will that we attain the first resurrection from the dead, that is, the fullness of eternal life in our inward nature and—at the coming of the Lord—in our body as well.

But there is a destiny beyond this. It is that we dwell for eternity in the midst of the Holy Fire and thus serve as a tree of life for God's children.

The present essay is a continuation of a previous essay, titled "Problems and Pain." In that writing we discussed the manner in which our tribulations in the present world: Purify us from sin. Teach us obedience to God. Change our blood-life to resurrection-life. Enable us to minister and bear fruit by resurrection-life.

The present essay continues the concept of our struggle to pass from spiritual death to spiritual life in Christ. One of the chief agents that God employs to change us from living souls to life-giving spirits is tribulation—the fiery trials, the problems and pains we experience throughout our discipleship.

The last two effects of tribulation of the four just above, changing our blood-life to resurrection-life, and enabling us to minister and bear fruit by resurrection-life, come together in practice. As we pass from the adamic blood-life to the resurrection-life of Jesus Christ we minister eternal life to those around us.

This is God's eternal purpose in Christ—to raise up sons who live by His Spirit to such an extent they are able to give eternal life to all of God's children. God is making trees of life—all springing forth from the one great Tree of Life, the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is God's will that all who place their faith in Jesus Christ might not perish in their adamic corruption but receive eternal, incorruptible resurrection life.

In the following passage we see that God made certain the Apostle Paul was not living and ministering in his own conceit and strength but by the Lord's Spirit.

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so Christ's power may rest on me. (II Corinthians 12:7-9—NIV)

The fruit borne from the ministry of Paul passes all reckoning. To the present hour Paul is ministering eternal life to us. But in order that Paul's service might proceed from God's grace and not Paul's native ability and ambition, God allowed Satan to put affliction upon Paul. The result was the diminishing of Paul's ability and the increase of the Presence of Jesus Christ.

The power of Paul's life was changing from that of his flesh and blood personality to the energy coming from the power of Christ. The result has been an unsurpassed revelation of God's Person and His will in Christ. In fact, Paul's letters have become Holy Scripture.

Isaiah gives us a picture of the believer who continually is buffeted by the Lord until he is completely captured in God's will, God's rest.

So then, the word of the LORD to them will become: Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule; a little here, a little there—so that they will go and fall backward, be injured and snared and captured. (Isaiah 28:13—NIV)

God's Word is applied to us line upon line, rule upon rule, a little here, a little there, until we have been snared by the Lord. When we commence we do not realize this is what is going to happen to us. The Lord is very cunning as He draws us away from our self-life into the waters to swim in.

The theme of Paul's continual death and resurrection appears throughout the Book of Second Corinthians. Of note is the following:

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. (II Corinthians 4:8-10—NIV)

Compare:

"So that they will go and fall backward, be injured and snared and captured."

"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed."

Paul's natural adamic life was constantly being knocked down that the Life of Jesus might come forth. Paul was suffering the death of Jesus, the humiliation, rejection by the Jews, persecution, treachery, perplexity (why have You forsaken me?), the insults, the denial of the ordinary comforts and pleasures that people enjoy, the physical pain.

The result of such suffering was twofold: first, Paul's inward nature was growing in resurrection life; second, the Life of Jesus was being revealed in Paul's body. He was becoming a tree of life. To the present day we are experiencing the life found in the epistles of Paul, the eternal life present in his writings because of the crucifying of his natural life.

All true ministry and fruit-bearing proceeds from the individual who is being crucified with Christ and in whom the resurrected Christ is living.

It is our opinion that Ezekiel's Temple is a picture of the inward personality of the believer who has become a new creation in Christ. Whether or not such is the case, it is clear that the river described in the forty-seventh chapter is the River of Life, the Holy Spirit that always and only flows from the Throne of Almighty God.

As the man went eastward with a measuring line in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits and then led me through water that was ankle-deep. (Ezekiel 47:3—NIV)

When we first receive Christ as our Savior, His righteousness is ascribed (imputed) to us and on this basis we are given a portion of the Spirit. The Spirit of God comes only where there is righteousness, ascribed, or manifested in our behavior. The "measuring line" speaks of the initial judgment that comes on us when we are first saved. God requires that we repent of our former worldly ways in order that we may receive His forgiveness through the blood of Jesus.

This is a beginning righteousness and a beginning deposit on the fullness of life that will be ours if we remain faithful to God. It is water that is ankle-deep.

Many Christians never get past this beginning stage of salvation. They are in the water of life at one moment and back into the flesh the next.

He measured off another thousand cubits and led me through water that was knee-deep. He measured off another thousand and led me through water that was up to the waist. (Ezekiel 47:4—NIV)

I like to think of the water to the knees as the Pentecostal experience. We have moved further into resurrection life. It is becoming increasingly easy to remain in the Spirit of God. Yet we can, if we choose, churn our way back to life in the often-sinful passions and appetites of the flesh. The measuring line now begins to reveal the sin that is in our personality. The Holy Spirit leads us and enables us to put to death the deeds of our body that we may attain resurrection life.

"Water that was up to the waist" symbolizes our willingness to enter the sufferings of Christ; to forsake our own will in favor of making God's will the main consideration of all we think, do, and say.

The issue facing the Charismatic move of today is that of the water to the waist. Are we willing to give our gifts back to Christ and seek His will in all we do? Or are we going to save our life and attempt to use the things of Christ to accomplish what we desire?

The recent "prosperity message" reveals the readiness of Charismatic people to attempt to make Christ their servant. They think they are building His kingdom. The truth is, they are seeking to use Christ to build their own kingdom.

If we have been as far as Pentecost we need to recognize that we have not as yet died to our self-will. We have been saved, and in some cases have made progress in deliverance from moral sin. But the big issue is self-will.

God gets at our self-will by putting us in various kinds of prisons, as Paul indicated when he mentioned his tribulations. Every kind of denial and suffering is sent our way in order that our self-will may be struck down and God's will revealed.

There is much talk today about power and about worldwide fruitfulness in the things of God. Power and fruitfulness will be given only to those who are willing to lose their own strength and wisdom that Christ may become the power of their life.

This is water to the waist. First we die to the world. Then we die to the lusts of our flesh. But the third death is by far the most important in terms of entering our land of promise. It is death to our self-will, to our right to be ourselves, in order that we may become part of God.

God will not give His glory to another. As long as we insist on rushing about according to our own understanding of what God wants we will have to be content with mercy drops. The fullness of the torrent of glory and power designated for the closing days of the Church Age will be given only to those who have returned to Christ, have picked up their cross of self-denial, and are following patiently after Him. The seven thunders of power will not speak until there are saints who forsake their own ways and look to Jesus alone.

There is a fourth area of judgment followed by the fullness of eternal life.

He measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in—a river that no one could cross. (Ezekiel 47:5—NIV)

After we have died to the world, to sin, and to self-will, we are to move forward with God to the place where we no longer are conscious of what we are receiving. It is the area of total immersion in God, in His Person, in His will. This is the way Jesus lives. He does not have the Spirit by measure. Jesus does not see through a glass darkly, operating by gifts of the Spirit. He has the fullness of the Spirit, waters to swim in, a river that cannot be crossed. The same shall be true of us one day if we remain faithful to God.

This is that which is perfect. It is God's love brought to the full in us until we have become a source of God's Presence for His creatures.

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (I Corinthians 13:12—NIV)

And to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:19—NIV)

Now that we have passed through all four levels we are ready to return to the bank of the river.

When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. (Ezekiel 47:7—NIV)

The "trees on each side of the river" are the believers who have proceeded as far as the waters to swim in. They all are growing from the common root of Christ. They are ready to bring the Spirit of God to the nations of the earth. They are trees of life.

He said to me, "This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Sea. When it empties into the Sea, the water there becomes fresh. 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 47:8,9—NIV)

The above passage is telling us that when the sons of God appear with the Lord Jesus, at His coming, they will bring eternal life to all who will come to them. The invitation will be given: The Spirit and the Bride will say, "Come to the living water and drink freely. It is given to you without cost."

Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy; the wealth on the seas will be brought to you, to you the riches of the nations will come. (Isaiah 60:5—NIV)

This is the revealing of the sons of God—that which will release the material creation from the bondage imposed on it, that is, the corruptible, frustrating life of flesh and blood.

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—NIV)

The promise God made to Abraham that the nations would be blessed through his Seed was referring to the Holy Spirit that would be given through Christ—Head and Body.

You and I have the firstfruits of what one day will fill the earth. All people who are saved will receive the Life of the Spirit of God.

Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:23—NIV)

There is no joy that can be compared to that of being used of God to bring eternal life to other people. The Lord Jesus, speaking during the eighth day of the feast of Tabernacles, declared that those who believe in Him will bring up the water of eternal life from within themselves.

Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him. (John 7:38—NIV)

That this pronouncement was made on the eighth day, the high Sabbath of the feast of Tabernacles, not on the feast of Pentecost, is of the greatest significance to us today.

Many of the Christian churches have been at Pentecost, so to speak, throughout the twentieth century. But Pentecost is not the last feast of the Lord, it is the fourth of seven celebrations.

The greatest of the feasts, the feast of Tabernacles, has not been fulfilled in us as yet, but we are moving toward it.

The Jewish feast of Pentecost symbolizes the rain of the Spirit from Heaven.

The Jewish feast of Tabernacles symbolizes the creating of the Throne of God and Christ within the believer so that the water of eternal life flows from the inward personality of the believer rather than coming down as rain.

In order to pass from Pentecost to Tabernacles, thus becoming a tree of life capable of bringing eternal life to the saved nations of the earth, we must have the Throne of God and Christ created within us. God will create His throne in us but it requires that we surrender all aspects of our personality to God.

If we do not give the Lord the key to every room in our heart He will not accept the key to any room. He is God and He will be worshiped. He will not share His Glory with another person. If we are to receive the fullness of the Glory of God we must give up our right to be an independent person. As long as we remain separate from God, retaining our right to exercise our own will, we are another god in the universe, a competitor of the only true God.

There is only one legitimate will in the universe, and that is the will of the Father. The Kingdom of God is the doing of God's will in the earth as it is in Heaven.

We have known the Glory of Christ in salvation.

We have known the holiness and fellowship of the Spirit in Pentecost.

Now we are approaching the level of stern obedience to God. For the past twenty or so years in America we have been trying to make Christ our servant. He is not our servant. He is the King and we are His servants. If He wishes to call us up higher, that is fine. But He has purchased us with His blood; therefore by right we are His bondservants.

I think most sincere Christians would like to bring salvation and release to the peoples of the nations. God intends for us to do just that. While we may have opportunity to minister to people in the present age, God is preparing us for a future age, for a worldwide ministry of bringing eternal life to the prisoners of the earth, to those condemned to the frustrating, corruptible life of flesh and blood.

Let us take a look at the twelfth chapter of the Book of Isaiah. This is what was chanted during the feast of Tabernacles. This is what we will experience as we pass from the Pentecostal experience to the Tabernacles experience.

In that day you will say: "I will praise you, O LORD. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me." (Isaiah 12:1—NIV)

"In that day." That "day" is the Day of the Lord, the day in which the flesh is cast down and the Lord alone is exalted in our life.

As we commence our Christian journey we experience many tribulations. This is because God is angry with the sin and rebellion in our personality. If we do not quit but remain faithful to God, the time comes when God comforts us. He consoles us for the problems and pain we have experienced, problems and pain that have come from His hand.

After we thus are brought low, having humbled ourselves under the hand of God, receiving His chastening with a good spirit, He raises us up. Then we cease attempting to exalt ourselves and begin to praise the Lord. The Lord becomes our focus, instead of ourselves and what we are going to get from the Lord.

Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. (Isaiah 12:2—NIV)

In the Tabernacles experience, God becomes our salvation. He makes us part of Himself. Instead of giving us power, joy, life, righteousness, He Himself becomes our Power, our Joy, our Life, our Righteousness. No longer are we seeking just gifts, although there is a time to desire fervently the gifts of the Spirit, and they are needed in these days that the Body of Christ may come to maturity.

But beyond the gifts there is the Presence of God Himself. This is the highest and best, the rest of God, the eternal Sabbath—the fulfillment of all God intends the Sabbath to be.

Because we no longer are trying to "get" salvation from God, we learn to trust, to lean on the Lord. The life of trust in the Lord is characteristic of the Tabernacles experience.

Fear and dread are a major part of life on the earth. The only complete relief from fear and dread occurs as we become part of God, continually resting in His Presence. It is not easy to get rid of all fear, but it is possible as we keep pressing into Him and learn by experience that He always is faithful to keep us when we are trusting in Him.

The Lord becomes our Strength—not just gives us strength, He Himself becomes our Strength. And why not? He has brought us down and raised us up a number of times until we now have no strength of our own. Unless He gives us strength and wisdom we cannot function! What a wonderful place to be, and yet terrible. Wonderful to our spiritual nature. Terrible to our human nature as we realize that we have been crucified with Christ and our life now is Christ. Only then can we serve as a tree of life for other people.

The Lord is my Song. We stand with our harp, our song of praise, on the sea of glass mixed with fire. We sing the song both of Moses and of the Lamb, for the plan of redemption is one plan. It is not broken into dispensations. There is a song that can be sung only by those who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. God grant we may be able to sing that song.

God Himself has become our salvation. It is not just that He saves us, He has become our Salvation. This is the end result of pressing forward into Christ all the days of our pilgrimage.

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. (Isaiah 12:3—NIV)

I feel certain these were the words being chanted when the Lord spoke of living water coming from the inward nature of those who believe in Him. No greater joy will ever be ours than that of serving as a tree of life for those who have been bound with corruption. The wells of salvation are created in us as we are willing to remain in the prison where we are placed and patiently wait for the Lord to deliver us.

In that day you will say: "Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted." (Isaiah 12:4—NIV)

The end result of pressing forward in Christ each day is that our attention is turned away from ourselves, how we are going to benefit, to Christ and how He is going to benefit. We then are prone to be thankful for all our blessings; we find ourselves calling on the Lord throughout the day and night.

When we thus are lost in God we always are making known among the nations what God has done. We always are declaring that His name is exalted.

How wise God is that He is able to bring us all the way from a worldly, sinful, self-centered individual to a new creation fashioned in the moral image of Christ and dwelling in untroubled rest in the Center of God's Person. This is the program and process of salvation.

For eternity we shall be an integral part of God and Christ, living in the glorious Holy Fire, serving as a tree of life to those who are weak and despondent. This will be our life and greatest joy.

What is the spiritual fulfillment of the physical Canaan?

It is, first of all, life lived in the fullness of the Spirit of God rather than in the frailties and corruption of flesh and blood.

Our inheritance is God Himself. After that, our inheritance is the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth.

Eternal, incorruptible resurrection life; the fullness of God; the nations to love; the farthest reaches of the earth to enjoy—an earth from which the curse has been totally lifted. Finally a new sky and new earth.

This is our Canaan, our inheritance through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Sing to the LORD, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. (Isaiah 12:5—NIV)

God has done glorious things. This is our song, our joy, our reason for boasting.

Sometimes, it seems, Christian ministry becomes a chore, a business, an endless labor to persuade people to join our religion and grow in it. Such work appears to be necessary in the present hour.

However, there is coming a better way.

The highest witness is a song of praise. It is to inform the whole world of the glorious things God has done. Perhaps when the nations hear that song and see that glory they will receive Christ and eternal life without studying our catechism or taking "the four steps of salvation."

The glory of the latter house shall be greater than the former. He has kept the best wine until now. The knowledge of the glory of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.

Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you. (Isaiah 12:6—NIV)

We who believe in the Lord Jesus are members of the Church of the Firstborn, the heavenly Jerusalem. God is dwelling in us. The Holy One is great among us.

Our present life is that of the animal. We are bound to the earth in our flesh and blood existence. If this is all we were to be given we would perish in our corruption.

But the Tree of Life, Jesus Christ, has come so that whoever believes in Him should not perish in the corruption of flesh and blood but have eternal, incorruptible resurrection life—the Life of God.

Such life was lost to us because of the rebellion that occurred in Eden. For six thousand years mankind has groaned in the chains of futility, frustration, corruption.

Now God is preparing trees of life who will serve to release the creation from the bondage of decay.

Each of us is called to be a tree of life. God will make us a tree of life if we will permit Him to have His unhindered way with us.

So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being" the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. (I Corinthians 15:45—NIV)

If our first personality is that of the living soul, and our second personality is to be that of the life-giving spirit, then we can understand why God deals with us constantly, night and day, requiring that we forsake the spirit of the world, gain victory over the appetites and passions of our flesh, and die to our self-will, our personal ambition.

Only the Lord Jesus Christ is of the eternal, incorruptible Life of God. We of the adamic race were fashioned from the dust of the ground. We do not have the Divine Life within ourselves to give to other people. It is only as we are crucified with Christ and Christ lives and speaks in us that eternal life is brought to other people.

We have made Christianity a religion as we have sought to adapt the words of the New Testament to daily life in the world. But strictly speaking, Christianity is not a religion in the ordinary usage of the term. Christianity is a personal relationship with the living Lord Jesus Christ. When we are deeply involved in church work it is easy to forget this fact.

It is well that we bring to other people the knowledge of the facts concerning Jesus Christ. They can learn these things and choose to believe them.

But the plan of God is that we ourselves, because Christ has been formed in us, become trees of life so that people can "eat" from us, so to speak, and receive into themselves the Life of God that sets us free from the life of flesh and blood.

Because of what it will mean to God, to other people, and to us to become a tree of life, let us lay aside every hindrance as the Holy Spirit brings us through the appropriate experiences of Divine Glory and fiery trials that our inward nature may be filled with eternal life.

If we keep on pressing forward to the attaining of resurrection life in our inward nature, then, at the coming of the Lord, our flesh and bones will be brought forth from the grave and clothed with our body from Heaven, a body of incorruptible eternal life.

This transformation having been accomplished, we now will be ready to descend with the Lord Jesus and install the incorruptible, imperishable Kingdom of God on the earth, serving for eternity as trees of eternal life.

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb Down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. (Revelation 22:1-3—NIV)

Summary#2

Each of us is called to be a tree of life. God will make us a tree of life if we will permit Him to have His unhindered way with us.

God will not give His glory to another. As long as we insist on rushing about according to our own understanding of what God wants we will have to be content with mercy drops. The fullness of the torrent of glory and power designated for the closing days of the Church Age will be given only to those who have returned to Christ, have picked up their cross of self-denial, and are following patiently after Him. The seven thunders of power will not speak until there are saints who forsake their own ways and look to Jesus alone.

We have made Christianity a religion as we have sought to adapt the words of the New Testament to daily life in the world. But strictly speaking, Christianity is not a religion in the ordinary usage of the term. Christianity is a personal relationship with the living Lord Jesus Christ. When we are deeply involved in church work it is easy to forget this fact.

It is well that we bring to other people the knowledge of the facts concerning Jesus Christ. They can learn these things and choose to believe them.

But the plan of God is that we ourselves, because Christ has been formed in us, become trees of life so that people can "eat" from us, so to speak, and receive into themselves the Life of God that sets us free from the life of flesh and blood.

One of the chief agents that God employs to change us from living souls to life-giving spirits is tribulation—the fiery trials, the problems and pains we experience throughout our discipleship. Two effects of tribulation, changing our blood-life to resurrection-life, and enabling us to minister and bear fruit by resurrection-life, come together in practice. As we pass from the adamic blood-life to the resurrection-life of Jesus Christ we minister eternal life to those around us.

All true ministry and fruit-bearing proceeds from the individual who is being crucified with Christ and in whom the resurrected Christ is living.

This is God's eternal purpose in Christ—to raise up sons who live by His Spirit to such an extent they are able to give eternal life to all of God's children. God is making trees of life—all springing forth from the one great Tree of Life, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Because of what it will mean to God, to other people, and to us to become a tree of life, let us lay aside every hindrance as the Holy Spirit brings us through the appropriate experiences of Divine Glory and fiery trials that our inward nature may be filled with eternal life.

Questions#2

1. What role does tribulation have in the eternal purpose of God?

2. What was the result of Paul's suffering in Christ?

3. What must we do to pass from the Jewish feast of Pentecost to the feast of Tabernacles, to become a tree of life?

4. How does Isaiah Chapter Twelve summarize the move from Pentecost to Tabernacles?

5. What is end result of pressing forward in Christ each day?

The Administration Of The Kingdom Of God

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1,2—NIV)

We read in the thirteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation that the False Prophet will support Antichrist. According to our understanding Antichrist is the administration of man in the political realm and the False Prophet is the administration of man in the religious realm.

Let us think for a moment about the Godhead. There are three Persons in the Godhead. Although the three Persons are One they are never confused as to identity. The Father is the One whose will is to be performed in the Kingdom of God. The Lord Jesus is the Word of the Father, the Expression of the Father's Person. The Holy Spirit is the wisdom and power of the Father who creates the universe according to the will of the Father as expressed through the Administrator, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Lord Jesus came to bring us to the Father. He is the way to the Father.

The Lord Jesus is the Bridegroom of the Church as well as the beloved Son of the Father.

The Lord Jesus is the Lamb of God who died to make an atonement for our sins.

It pleases the Father that all the universe should become an expression of the Son. The Son is to become the Center and Circumference of all things.

It pleases the Father also that the saints should be the fullness of the Son. The Father loves the saints as He loves the Son.

The Son is the King. His scepter is righteousness. He is the Faithful One from the Father. It has been given to the Son to govern, to administrate all the wealth of the Kingdom. Although the Son will share the Kingdom with the saints so they become coheirs, yet the will of the Father always is expressed through the Son, the living Word.

The Holy Spirit always moves according to the will of the Father issued through the Son. This is why it is written that all things were made by Him, that is, by the Son.

The King was sent into the world and then was crucified for our sins. Now the King, the Divine Administrator and Judge, has returned to the Father.

The Holy Spirit has been sent into the world to bring us to the King. The Holy Spirit is as Eliezer who was sent by Abraham to gain a bride for Isaac, the son.

The Holy Spirit never seeks to be worshiped, to be preached, or to be exalted in any manner. The Holy Spirit always speaks of the Son and glorifies the Son. He is faithful in performing His role.

Something is going wrong today in religious circles, particularly among the Pentecostal-Charismatics (of which we are one). The ministers of the Gospel are seeking to use the Holy Spirit to perform works of power in order to glorify their ministry, to draw people to themselves. They do not recognize that their motive is to glorify themselves but suppose if all these people come to them then Jesus is automatically glorified.

The believers are being encouraged to come and take advantage of the power and blessing of the Spirit. This is not in Divine order. The Spirit is never to be preached, sung to, prayed to, or commandeered in any manner whatever. It is Jesus whom we are to be seeking and glorifying.

When Jesus is lifted up He will draw all men to Himself.

Perhaps the ministers will protest they really are lifting up Jesus. But their advertisements and pronouncements reveal otherwise. They are seeking to use the power of the spirit according to their own wisdom and desires. This is the False Prophet and in the future will be the supporter of man-centered government.

Because the ministers are seeking large numbers of people they are not bringing the seekers to the death of the cross. They are encouraging them to come and experience a thrill of one sort or another. While the name of Jesus may be recited over and over again as some kind of ritual (like the prophets of Baal), it is a feeling or experience that is being sought.

What, then, are people receiving, because it is obvious spiritual experiences and manifestations are exhibited? Perhaps it is a spirit of delusion.

One can note that those who participate in such extravaganzas do not come away lifting up Jesus. What they talk about is their experiences. Believers with money can travel about to such centers of "refreshing" but the critical demands of discipleship are not usually enjoined upon them.

It is not scriptural to pray to the Holy Spirit or to seek His Presence in this manner. It is scriptural to seek Jesus Christ with all of our might. When we do this the Spirit will always be present to help and bless us.

When we attempt to direct the Spirit of God we are taking away from the Lord Jesus His God-given authority to administrate the resources of the Kingdom of God. Man is in the driver's seat. This is the False Prophet.

One can see the pathway of complete delusion being prepared for the people of the United States and other parts of the world. The believers have been led away from the Lord by the teaching of unconditional grace, the pre-tribulation catching up of the believers, the prosperity and faith messages, reconstructionism, togetherness, and now the receiving of a spirit whom they do not question. "The spirit makes me feel good and so it must be the Lord."

Why don't you, as I have done, ask the Lord what spirit is active? I do not receive any spirit into my personality until I am absolutely positive the spirit is from the Lord Jesus. Do you test the spirits or are you going with the crowd?

As I said, the pathway of complete delusion is being prepared. Soon there will be tremendous supernatural signs, perhaps some of them taking place in a Catholic environment. Will you receive these because they present Jesus?

The dear Catholic people have elevated the physical mother of Jesus to a position not found in the Scriptures. Such elevation is not acceptable to a true disciple of the Lord. But what if powerful signs seem to verify that Mary indeed is co-redemptrix with the Lord Jesus?

Are you oriented toward the Word of God or toward experiences and phenomena?

One doorway that Satan may be using to bring in his counterfeits is the cult of bigness. The Christian thinking of today equates large numbers of people with success in the ministry. A church of twenty-five people is nothing and less than nothing. A church of ten thousand people is really moving for God.

Yet it may be a fact—and all reasonable believers would surely agree—that there is a possibility more eternal Kingdom good is occurring in the church of twenty-five people than in the megachurch.

We know this is true. No one would disagree. We understand in our heart that a large number of people may indicate God is moving or it may indicate a people-pleasing, ear-tickling message is attracting believers who do not wish to become disciples.

We know all this, but the cult of bigness has prevailed until the only measure of a church's worth is the number of people who attend.

Do you think the Lord Jesus is pleased with this attitude? I know He is not. He is more liable to be interested and available when someone is helping a small child than He is when a highly magnified minister is leading a pastors' conference of thousands.

The cult of bigness is familiar to us and we may regard it benignly as being the "way it is." But it may be this very cult that has opened the door for the mass meetings where the believers, looking for a thrill, a supernatural experience, are letting down their guard and accepting whatever comes down the road.

The seven feasts of the Lord are one of the symbols the Lord has put in His Word to show us the way He is traveling. The seven feasts are found in the twenty-third chapter of the Book of Leviticus as well as other places in the Scriptures.

The first three feasts, Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits, portray basic salvation. We have the Passover blood, repentance, water baptism, and the born-again experience. He who believes and is baptized shall be saved from wrath when the Lord comes in His Kingdom. The Lord Jesus is made real to us when we take the steps of basic salvation. These three celebrations are celebrated in one week, the week of Unleavened Bread.

The fourth feast, Pentecost, represents the Holy Spirit. The Church has been enjoying the works of the Holy Spirit throughout the twentieth century. The fourth feast stands by itself, coming fifty days after the week of Unleavened Bread. Perhaps this is because the work of the Holy Spirit is so important in bringing the Bride to the Lamb.

The last three feasts also take place in one week. They are the Blowing of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the feast of Tabernacles.

We just now are coming to the spiritual experiences represented by the last three feasts. Obedience to the Father, perfect rest in His Person and will, are beginning to be emphasized by the Spirit of God.

To those familiar with the seven furnishings of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, the feast of Pentecost is equivalent to the Lampstand; the Blowing of Trumpets is equivalent to the Altar of Incense; the Day of Atonement is equivalent to the Ark of the Covenant; and the feast of Tabernacles is equivalent to the Mercy Seat.

The feast of Pentecost is equivalent to the Lampstand of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. Pentecost and the Lampstand are each number four in a series of seven symbols. Four is midway between one and seven.

When we are at Pentecost, at the Lampstand so to speak, we are at a place of decision. The significance of the decision cannot be overstated. It is the decision whether to permit Jesus Christ to administrate the Kingdom of God or whether to attempt to use our own wisdom and strength ("with the Lord's help" of course) to administrate the Kingdom.

The issue is the personal cross of the believer. If we are willing to lay down our life, our religious ambition, take up our cross, and follow Jesus, we can pass from Pentecost to the Blowing of Trumpets (announcing the Kingdom of God). We can pass from the Lampstand to the Altar of Incense.

The Altar of Incense is the place where we bow in death to self-will and cry out, "Not my will but Yours be done." Have you been there?

If we are not willing to lay down our life, our religious ambition, but insist on trying to get the Holy Spirit to follow our will, we cannot pass from Pentecost to the Blowing of Trumpets, from the Lampstand to the Altar of Incense.

Instead we follow the path to the False Prophet. The False Prophet comes from the earth, that is from the soul of man. The False Prophet has "two horns like a lamb." This means he desires to use the power of Christ. But he speaks like a dragon. So it is today as the ministers seek power! more power! yet more power! But they speak like a dragon, that is, they exalt themselves just as Satan does.

The ministers are seeking power, not Jesus Christ. They say they are seeking the will of Christ. The truth is, they are seeking their own will and they are attempting to use the Holy Spirit for their own purposes. They want to administrate the Kingdom of God in terms of their self-aggrandizement.

They do not know Jesus Christ. They do not understand the gentle, humble ways of the Lord. In the Day of Christ they will hear, "I never knew you." Why will they hear this? Because the lowly Jesus never knew them even though they were working miracles in His name. They thought He was impressed by their mighty spiritual accomplishments. Yet He does not know them.

How do we keep from being deceived by the tremendous spiritual currents being unleashed in our day? We must turn away from our personal religious ambition, take up our cross, and follow Jesus. It does not matter whether we are ever heard of again. For us to live is Christ and to die is gain. All that matters is that Christ is magnified.

The next move after Pentecost is portrayed by the Blowing of Trumpets. The King stands before us and declares war on His enemies in our personality. He also disciplines us as a member of His army.

Now we are brought into the spiritual fulfillment of the solemn Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur of the Jews.

The Day of Atonement is the day of reconciliation to God. Every area of our personality without exception comes under the Divine scrutiny. All the love of the world and the ways of the world that are in us must be forsaken and in their place must be developed the iron righteousness of Jesus Christ.

All the lusts of our flesh must be put to death and in their place must be developed the fiery holiness of the Spirit of God.

All of our self-will must be crucified and in its place must be developed stern obedience to the Father.

You might think such transformation is impossible for you. Did you save yourself? No, God saved you by His grace.

Did you fill yourself with the Holy Spirit? No, the Lord Jesus Christ did that.

Well, the same is true concerning iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to the Father's will. You cannot accomplish these by yourself but God can if you will cooperate each day with His Spirit. Tell God this is what you want. Hunger and thirst after righteousness, holiness, and obedience. You shall be filled, make no mistake about this. The Creator of the galaxies has enough wisdom and power to transform you into the image of His Son and to bring you into untroubled rest in Himself through Christ.

All of us who love God are at a fork in the road. We have been given the Holy Spirit. Now we have to choose. Will we try to use the Spirit of God to build the Kingdom, thus becoming the administrators of God's resources, or will we take all of our gifts and lay them at the feet of Christ and permit Him to be the Administrator?

This is a real choice and it has to be made with clarity and vigor.

You have to get before God and ask Him to help you let go of all your religious ambition, your desire to "do great things for God," to be something in the Kingdom. Let it go! Become nothing! Turn your life over to Christ!

Seek the face of the Lord. Don't try to get God to bless what you are doing. Ask God to show you what He wants you to do. You may not hear for a while as your decision is tested. God wants to know whether you are part of the False Prophet or part of His Son. He cannot know all that is in your heart until He tests you.

The temptation to be a great apostle or prophet may be placed before you. What are you going to do? The Lord Jesus refused to jump off the gable of the Temple. He fled when they tried to make Him a king. He went straight to the cross just as we must.

After the Day of Atonement, the program of reconciliation to God, takes place in our personality, we will be brought to the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles. This is the place of perfect rest in God through Jesus Christ, a highly desirable attainment.

Now we are the chariot of God. Now we flow with the flowings of the Godhead. All things of God are ours because all things of ours have been given to God. This is the way Jesus is. This is the way He wants us to be.

Let go! Let go! Let go of the ambition to be something in the Kingdom. Let Jesus be everything. Be content to be nothing.

If the Lord desires to exalt you, to let you back on the throne of your life, He will—but only when He is sure of you.

There is so much personal ambition in the ministry! All such personal ambition produces division, confusion, and destruction. It is a Christ-murdering spirit. The religious ambition of people always will crucify Christ wherever He appears. Big Christian organizations in time past have tortured and murdered heretics, that is, the lowly believers who really knew the Lord.

These babylonish, man-centered organizations that bear the name of Christ are as high hills, leaping in their desire to be prominent. But the righteous Lord dwells in Zion, His true body of believers.

The Lord likes a place where He can come, kick off His shoes, and talk for a while with lowly people who love Him and are not trying to use Him in some great operation of their own creation. He wants to dine with us without getting indigestion because of our frantic religious posturings and demands.

Jesus loves us just as we are without babylonish cosmetics or ecclesiastical productions.

Here we are at the end of the twentieth century. The Lord Jesus has in mind to entrust fearful authority to His saints, as portrayed by the symbolism of the two witnesses, in Revelation, Chapter Eleven.

Before God could entrust Christ with all authority in heaven and on earth He first had to prove His obedience beyond all question. Christ had to be brought lower than any man.

Before Christ can share with us His majesty and authority He first must prove our obedience beyond all question. We must be brought very low.

There is rest in the lowly place. The quiet waters of Shiloah flow there.

The decision we must make is: "Will we try to make Christ our servant to accomplish our will in religious matters or will we become the servant of the Lord?"

There is no place in the Kingdom for a will other than that of the Father. There is no place in the Kingdom for a King other than the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no place in the Kingdom for wisdom and power other than that which proceeds from the Spirit of God.

We are not to seek to establish our own will, our own kingship, or our own wisdom and power.

We are to be sternly obedient to the will of God. Apart from stern obedience to the Father we cannot possibly pass from Pentecost to Tabernacles, from the Lampstand to the Mercy Seat, to the rest of God.

We are to exalt Jesus Christ as the King of all kings and Lord of all lords. Our own kingship and lordship can be arrived at only by suffering. It is suffering that destroys our self-will, self-love, self-seeking, self-centeredness, our rebellion and stubbornness. There is only one Christ, one King. We are to be part of Him. When we are an integral, eternally inseparable part of Him, then we can reign with Him.

There are no queens in the Kingdom, only the Body of Christ.

We are not to try to use the Spirit. We are not to sing to the Spirit, pray to the Spirit, invoke the Spirit, worship the Spirit. It is scriptural to pray to Jesus for more of His Spirit but we never are to address the Spirit Himself. The Spirit obeys the will of God that is administered by Jesus Christ alone, never by us.

We are not to advertise the Spirit. We are to advertise Christ. We are not to exalt the Spirit. We are to exalt Jesus Christ and Him alone.

The desire to use the Spirit, to invoke the Spirit, to pray to the Spirit, is proceeding from the self-will of Christian leaders who are building their own kingdoms. They are attempting to use the wisdom and power of the Spirit to do this. They suppose they are pleasing Christ but Christ does not know them.

There is a place for mass evangelism. The Gospel call goes forth. Multitudes believe and are baptized and thus are saved from the wrath that is to come in the Day of the Lord.

Then the believers must come under the Great Commission. They must be discipled. They must be taught to keep the commandments of Christ.

There always is a need for evangelism. But it appears the greatest need today is for discipling, for fulfilling the Great Commission. We have multitudes of spiritual babies, but it seems there are only a few ministers who are teaching the babies so they grow up to be mature sons and daughters of God.

Into this huge crowd of babies are stepping ministers who are telling them to look for thrills and spiritual experiences. Such spiritual-emotional occurrences may inspire the self-centered babies for a brief while. But eventually these experiences will wear off and then the ministers will have to come up with some new idea to hold the interest of the baby Christians and keep them coming to the assembly.

This is not how discipleship works. Discipleship is accomplished by the Word of God. It is as the Word comes to us line upon line, command upon command, that we begin to grow in the Lord.

But discipleship does not draw crowds ordinarily. It is practiced with a few people at a time who place themselves under an experienced, godly elder who faithfully listens to the Lord and feeds His sheep.

The Lord Jesus always drew the multitudes. But it was eleven disciples who, after having been taught by the Lord, went forth and changed the course of history.

Jesus loves the multitudes. But when He begins to talk to them about living by His body and blood they will leave for more interesting events. It is those who turn away from everything and are taught by Him who finally can bring about eternal growth in the Kingdom of God.

So it is today. The Lord has ministers who have a true call to worldwide evangelism. They are to follow His Spirit as He brings them to great arenas of people where thousands and hundreds of thousands believe and are baptized.

But there is an equally great (if not greater) need for faithful pastors and teachers who will be content with a handful of people and patiently bring them up as their own family in the Lord, loving them, bearing with them as the Lord brings them through the day of reconciliation.

There are true evangelists and there are true pastors and teachers. Each has a significant role to play in the building of the Kingdom of God.

But being an evangelist is nothing and being a pastor or teacher is nothing. It is consistent, rugged, diligent obedience that pleases the Lord, that counts in the Kingdom.

There is no place for the evangelist, the pastor, the teacher who is seeking his or her own glory, who is not hearing from the Lord, who is driven by personal ambition and the lust for glamor and "bigness" in the ministry. These will turn into the False Prophet in the days to come.

There is a smell of rain in the air. Our Lord Jesus is ready to pour the water of life on all who are thirsty for righteousness.

There also are other waters that we are not so sure of. Gideon's army was selected on the basis of how the soldiers drank the water. This is still true today. We are not to jump into the pool like so many fools without watching carefully for the enemy. We always, always, always are to test the spirits—even if the leadership encourages us to just accept the spirit that is present and give ourselves to it.

There are waters that are not of God. Then it is not a case of how we drink the water but of making sure the water we are drinking actually is the Holy Spirit.

How can we tell? It can be difficult. Seasoned warriors, believers and elders of substantial experience are rushing to partake of the "waters of refreshing and renewal."

Yet I am disquieted in my soul. I asked the Lord what spirit this is that is becoming prominent in America. The only answer I received was, "delusion."

Was this the Lord? Some experienced ministers that I respect would answer, "Never!"

But I am not certain. I see red flags. When there are exhibitions that obviously are not of God and the eldership is not stopping them, how am I to believe Jesus Christ is in control?

When I hear believers telling how wonderful their experiences were but who are not glorifying Christ, how can I be certain this is God?

When I see advertisements about how the "bar is open" and we should come and drink, drink, drink, and yet no mention is made of presenting our body a living sacrifice, of taking up our cross and following the Master, I have serious doubts. Do you?

I do not see the bloody nailprints! I do not hear the call to the cross, to the crucifixion of the adamic nature! I know the majority of the churchgoers of our day are babies. Do the babies need to hear how they can go and have more fun because the bar is open? Or do they need to hear about the moral age of horrors that is upon us and of their need to grow in the Lord until they are prepared to stand and help those around them when the Gentile holocaust arrives?

The incessant repetition of grace, grace, grace, rapture, rapture, rapture has created multitudes of churchgoers whose idea of preparing for the Kingdom of God is to jump up and down next to their pews so they will be ready for the "rapture."

Can you imagine taking a group like this and telling them the bar is open and the drinks are on the house? All they need is more spiritual fun. Right?

This is why I see red flags. The renewal movements are not following the patterns offered by the great types of the Scriptures. After Pentecost is to come judgment, war, and personal reconciliation to God, not more fun as we splash merrily about in the waters (from whatever source).

Can you see why I am cautious concerning what is taking place? I do not see Jesus Christ and Him crucified in the present frolicking. It reminds one of the people when Moses went up on the mountain. The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play. Aaron did not restrain them because he feared the people.

From many years of experience as a Christian I know we have a choice in every service. We can run the service or we can let the service run us. We can always choose to accept a spirit that is present or we can decide that it is not appropriate and refuse to yield to it.

If our goal is to honor the Lord Jesus Christ, to feed His sheep, then we are going to restrain people even if it means they will not return. But if our goal is large numbers of people then we will be tempted to allow the people to let their hair down, so to speak, and act out whatever spirit seems to be seeking to manifest itself through them.

If we stop manifestations that we believe to be unprofitable, aren't we then usurping the Lord's role of being the Administrator? Not at all. If Christ has placed us as an elder in that assembly we are to see to it that all things are done decently and in order. We obey the chief Administrator by insuring that His Word through His Apostles is obeyed. Also we have to pray carefully over each move we make in order to be certain we are following Christ's wishes in every detail.

But when we become personally ambitious, then we are going to make large numbers of people in attendance our goal. To attract large numbers of American people we may give a token message and then leave plenty of time for spiritual "fun." We will not place the rigorous demands of discipleship on them. We will not exhort them to present their body a living sacrifice.

We are going to emphasize the various phenomena so the people are sure they are having a good time.

In the days of Elisha the sons of the prophets determined to build a larger place for themselves. But they had a borrowed axe.

In the course of building the axe head flew off, the iron was gone leaving only the helve. This can happen when we are trying to "build a larger place."

They cried out, "Master, this was a borrowed axe and now the head is gone in the pond!"

Elisha said, "Throw a stick into the water."

They did and the iron swam to the top.

Today the churches in many instances are building with a borrowed axe, an axe that came from men and women of God of earlier time.

Now the iron is gone from the helve and they are beating the trees ineffectually, hoping to accomplish something by unscriptural means.

There is only one solution. It is the "stick." The cross must be thrown into the water. Then the iron will come to the top and we will be able to do something of eternal worth in the Kingdom of God.

It is time for the latter rain to be outpoured. We have believed and preached for many years that the greatest revival of all time is at the very doors. We think the latter rain revival, the double portion, is symbolized by the two witnesses of the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation.

We want more of God. But we are watchful. We know Satan would love to move in and destroy any work that seriously threatens his kingdom.

The move of God today concerns righteous behavior. God wants the Christian people to begin to keep the commandments of Christ and His Apostles.

There are several doctrines in Christian preaching that work against the keeping of Christ's commandments. Perhaps the most powerful of these is the concept of the "dispensation of grace"—the idea that God no longer requires righteous behavior, only that we believe the facts of theology concerning Christ.

Such teaching and practice is contrary to the Scriptures and destructive of the Kingdom of God. It is the result of men attempting to administrate the Kingdom of God. They proceed blindly, not hearing from the Lord.

The Lord Jesus, the King of the Kingdom, is looking for those who will cease from their own works, their own programs, and listen to His voice. He desires that we make disciples of all nations, teaching them to keep His commandments.

This is how we can determine whether any current "move of God" is authentic. If the exciting spiritual milieu lifts up the Lord Jesus Christ and commands us to practice righteousness, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God, then we have reason to believe God is present.

But if the inspirational gathering stresses feelings, manifestations, spiritual phenomena, emphasizes the Holy Spirit and various exhibitions and displays, does not command us to obey Christ and His Apostles, does not stress the requirements of discipleship and the severe demands Christ makes on His followers, then we have reason to believe we are witnessing a deluding spirit that proclaims the name of Jesus but is coming from Satan.

Remember, the girl with the demon spirit spoke the truth: "These men are servants of the most high God who show us the way of salvation." The demons know that Jesus is the Christ and they are well able to proclaim His name. Remember also that Satan is wise enough to give a little in order to gain a lot, to sacrifice a lesser piece in order to checkmate the king, to stress Christian works if the program will keep people at a childish level, preventing them from coming to the full stature of Christ.

Ours is a day of deception in Christian circles. If I am hearing from the Lord the problem of deception is going to grow very much worse in the days to come.

There is only one solution. It is for godly men and women, boys and girls, to cease from their own works and to seek the Lord with diligence. We are to take our hands off the Ark. We are to return the right to administrate the things of the Kingdom to the true and only Administrator. As we guard the word of His patience He will guard us against delusion. He will keep our feet on the highway of holiness.

Best of all—when we see Him He will know us. Perhaps we will have not worked great miracles or accomplished mighty things in His name. But He will know us, and, as far as I am concerned, that is all that really counts.

How about you?

Summary#3

Something is going wrong today in religious circles, particularly among the Pentecostal-Charismatics. The ministers of the Gospel are seeking to use the Holy Spirit to perform works of power in order to glorify their ministry, to draw people to themselves. The believers are being encouraged to come and take advantage of the power and blessing of the Spirit. This is not in Divine order. The Spirit is never to be preached, sung to, prayed to, or commandeered in any manner whatever. It is Jesus whom we are to be seeking and glorifying.

The desire to use the Spirit, to invoke the Spirit, to pray to the Spirit, is proceeding from the self-will of Christian leaders who are building their own kingdoms. They are attempting to use the wisdom and power of the Spirit to do this. They suppose they are pleasing Christ but Christ does not know them.

The Holy Spirit never seeks to be worshiped, to be preached, or to be exalted in any manner. The Holy Spirit always speaks of the Son and glorifies the Son. He is faithful in performing His role.

When we attempt to direct the Spirit of God we are taking away from the Lord Jesus His God-given authority to administrate the resources of the Kingdom of God. Man is in the driver's seat. This is the False Prophet.

How do we keep from being deceived by the tremendous spiritual currents being unleashed in our day? We must turn away from our personal religious ambition, take up our cross, and follow Jesus. It does not matter whether we are ever heard of again. For us to live is Christ and to die is gain. All that matters is that Christ is magnified.

All of us who love God are at a fork in the road. We have been given the Holy Spirit. Now we have to choose. Will we try to use the Spirit of God to build the Kingdom, thus becoming the administrators of God's resources, or will we take all of our gifts and lay them at the feet of Christ and permit Him to be the Administrator?

This is a real choice and it has to be made with clarity and vigor.

You have to get before God and ask Him to help you let go of all your religious ambition, your desire to "do great things for God," to be something in the Kingdom. Let it go! Become nothing! Turn your life over to Christ!

Seek the face of the Lord. Don't try to get God to bless what you are doing.

There is only one solution. It is for godly men and women, boys and girls, to cease from their own works and to seek the Lord with diligence. We are to take our hands off the Ark. We are to return the right to administrate the things of the Kingdom to the true and only Administrator. As we guard the word of His patience He will guard us against delusion. He will keep our feet on the highway of holiness.

Questions#3

1. What do the seven feasts of the Lord show us?

2. What is the significant decision we must make at the fourth feast, Pentecost, and what are the consequences of this decision?

3. How do we keep from being deceived by the tremendous spiritual currents being unleashed in our day?

4. What must take place before Christ can share with us His majesty and authority?

5. How is discipleship accomplished?

The Goal

For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. (I Corinthians 15:22,23—NIV)

And so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:11—NIV)

The goal of the Christian redemption is the raising of our body into eternal life. John 3:16 is referring to the restoration of that which was lost in the Garden of Eden, that is, eternal life in the body: ". . . that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." The Apostle Paul had set everything to one side in order to attain the resurrection to eternal life.

What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ And be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, (Philippians 3:8-10—NIV)

I have written much on the subject of the resurrection, attaining to the resurrection, and the first resurrection from the dead. The concept of the resurrection is growing in my mind to such an extent that I would like to add some recent thoughts.

One of the most significant, from my point of view, passages from Paul's writings is found in the third chapter of the Book of Philippians, verses 4 through 21. I view the passage as significant because in this text Paul tells how he has set everything aside to pursue his goal. His goal is to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

The Book of Philippians is not the only place where Paul speaks of pressing toward the redemption of his body.

Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:23—NIV)

For some reason, perhaps from the influence of the philosophy of Gnosticism, the goal of salvation has been changed from attaining to the resurrection, to residence in Heaven. The resurrection to eternal life and residence in Heaven are not at all the same thing. Heaven is a place in the spirit realm. The bringing of the human body into eternal life is the very goal of what is taking place in our salvation. It is the restoration of what was lost in the Garden of Eden.

Paul would never set aside everything in his life that he might enter Heaven. Residence in Heaven was not Paul's goal.

Paul groaned for deliverance from the body of sin and death. This was because Paul desired to be free from sin so he could serve God in righteousness. In addition to freedom from the compulsion to sin, Paul, chained in a Roman prison at the time of the writing of Philippians, must have imagined what it will be like to have a glorious body like that of the Lord Jesus—to no longer be confined in a corruptible, animal body, no longer subject to weariness, pain, and death!

In order to fully grasp what Paul is telling us in the third chapter of Philippians we must begin to view salvation as a program that is bringing us to the resurrection from the dead, to the redemption of our mortal body.

The sixth through the eighth chapter of the Book of Romans tell us how to attain the resurrection to eternal life in the body. Every person who has ever lived on the earth will be resurrected sooner or later. It is not the resurrection itself that must be attained, it is the resurrection to eternal life in the body. This is the first resurrection, the resurrection toward which Paul was pressing with all his might.

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

If we would follow the thinking of the Apostle Paul we must learn to regard the Christian fight of faith as being for the purpose of laying hold on eternal life in the body.

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (I Timothy 6:12—NIV)

Our goal as a Christian is eternal life in our body, not in our flesh and blood body but in our body that has been resurrected at the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ. This resurrection must be attained to. It must be attained to by laying aside all else that we may reach our goal.

We have stated that the sixth through the eighth chapters of the Book of Romans describe the path to the resurrection to life of the mortal body.

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? (Romans 6:1—NIV)

In the preceding three chapters Paul had shown how we become righteous by putting our faith in Jesus Christ rather than by diligently obeying the commandments of the Law of Moses.

Since Paul's teaching could be interpreted to mean that there is nothing we need to do to be righteous other than believe in Christ, that we may continue to sin if we like because we are saved by grace, Paul wrote chapters Six through Eight. These chapter reveal the true grace of God, not the prevailing Christian concept that we are saved by a mental assent to the facts concerning Jesus Christ.

Shall we go on sinning so grace may increase? Never! This would make the new covenant the Divine encouragement of sinful behavior.

By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? (Romans 6:2—NIV)

What does this mean?: "We died to sin."

Does it mean we no longer have a sin nature? No. This would contradict the remainder of Chapter Six.

Does it mean we sin but God does not see our sin because it is hidden from His eyes? No. This would contradict the remainder of Chapter Six.

"We died to sin" has to do with our basic orientation to salvation, which is that our adamic nature has been crucified with Christ and our inward nature has been born of God, has been raised from the dead with Christ, and has ascended to the right hand of God with Christ. Therefore for us to continue in sin is to deny the position we have taken by faith.

For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3—NIV)

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, (Ephesians 2:6—NIV)

Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? (Romans 6:3—NIV)

When we were baptized in water we dramatized the fact that we have chosen to place our entire adamic nature on the cross with Christ.

How many churchgoers have placed their entire adamic nature on the cross with Christ? These are the genuine Christians. The remainder have never started on the path to the resurrection into eternal life in the body.

"But I believe!" Belief is only mental assent until it seeks Christ with its whole heart and obeys the commandments of Christ and His Apostles. Mental assent does not produce eternal life or salvation.

The only correct response to the Gospel is to assign our whole first personality to the cross with Christ.

Sometimes people pray for years for deliverance from spiritual bondages only to discover that the bondage continues. Deliverance from sin is the reward for doing what God has said. If we do not count that we are dead with Christ; if we do not present our body a living sacrifice; if we refuse to set aside our own life, take up our cross, and follow Jesus, then we have not started on the path that leads to eternal life in the body. And while we may experience some deliverance, there will be other bondages that are not broken. This may be because we have not done what God has commanded in His Word.

God will not do what He alone can do until we do what we can do.

God does not intend to deliver people so they can run about according to the desires of their flesh and soul.

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. (Romans 6:4—NIV)

The purpose of assigning our first personality to the cross with Christ is that we may, by the power of God's Spirit, live a new life. The new life is one of righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God. If we really believe that we have been crucified with Christ, and have been resurrected with Him and ascended to the right hand of God in and with Him, this fact will be revealed in our behavior.

If we are not living a new life it is because we have not laid hold on the Christian salvation in the correct manner.

If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. (Romans 6:5—NIV)

When the Apostle Paul uses the term "resurrection" he is thinking primarily of the resurrection of the body. While it is true that we have a portion of eternal life now, in our inward nature, the whole purpose is that we will attain to the resurrection of the body.

We will not completely be "alive," in the scriptural sense, until our body has been made alive.

Think carefully about the following passage:

For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. (I Corinthians 15:22,23—NIV)

We will not be alive until Christ returns. This means we will not be eternally alive in our body, which is the way God intends for man to be.

I think the reason we have not been too concerned with the resurrection of the body is due to the poisonous influence of Gnosticism. Gnosticism teaches that salvation is in the mind and what happens to the body is not significant. This is the very opposite of the Christian salvation, which is pointed toward the redemption of the body—much more so than has been preached in the Christian Era, I believe.

We will be united with Christ in His resurrection, in an inward "firstfruits" sense now, and then fully at His return. But our union with Christ in His resurrection must be attained to, as Paul emphasized. It does not just happen because we at some point have taken "the four steps of salvation."

For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— (Romans 6:6—NIV)

"Our old self" refers to our original, adamic personality. The "body of sin" is speaking of the sin that dwells in our adamic personality. God crucifies with Christ our first personality—all of it—in order to get at and destroy completely the body of sin that is in us. All things are to be made new in our personality and all things are to be of God.

The purpose of doing away with the body of sin in us is so we no longer will be in slavery to sin. It is at this point that those who view Paul's discussion in the sixth chapter of Romans as referring to something existing abstractly, a sovereign state of grace, leave the doctrine of the Apostle Paul. Paul is not referring to an abstract sovereign forgiveness but to release from the bondages of sin; to an actual, observable change in our behavior. Such change is absolutely necessary if we are to attain to the resurrection into eternal life.

Because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. (Romans 6:7—NIV)

When we die we automatically are freed from the Law of Moses. The Law has dominion over us only as long as we are alive in our adamic personality.

It is true also that a dead body does not sin. It does not behave in an unlawful manner.

Paul is exhorting us to count ourselves dead with Christ so we may be freed from the legal obligations of the Law of Moses. Also, since our adamic nature, our first personality, now is on the cross with Christ, having died with Him, we no longer are obligated to live in our old, sin-prone nature. It is not reasonable, not fitting that we should do so. We have no obligation to that which is crucified with Christ to live according to its desires. Having died on the cross we no longer are slaves to sin.

Paul wrote Romans 6:7 to show the benefits we derive from dying with Christ on the cross, a position we are to take by faith and maintain by faith every day of our Christian discipleship. When we depart from intense fellowship with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ we go back into a vain religion that operates through the talents and efforts of human beings. Fellowship with the death and resurrection of Christ is the mainspring of the Christian salvation.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. (Romans 6:8—NIV)

Our purpose in dying is that we might live. Resurrection always comes from crucifixion with Christ, from nowhere else. It is only as we are willing to share in His sufferings that we can live by His resurrection Life.

For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. (Romans 6:9,10—NIV)

Christ took upon Himself our sins, He had no sin of His own. Having been raised from the dead He is immortal. Death cannot control Him any longer. Thus Christ died to sin once for all time and now lives to God alone.

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:11—NIV)

We are to live in precisely the same manner. We are to identify ourselves with Christ on the cross, then with His resurrection, then with His ascension. We have died to sin once for all time. We now live to Christ alone and to God through Him.

But is there sin in us? Yes, there is. But the Holy Spirit brings to our attention only a small part of our worldliness, lust, and self-will. We must deal with what we have been shown if we expect to remain without condemnation. We must confess, renounce, denounce, turn away vigorously from whatever problems we are shown. The blood of Jesus keeps forgiving the part of our personality that has not as yet been dealt with.

As the Spirit reveals the death that is in us we must ask God to forgive us and remove it from us. This is what it means to walk in the light of God, and as we do, God forgives us and cleanses us from all sin.

This is how we attain to the resurrection into eternal life in the body. Our body is dead because of the sin that is in us. Our task is to cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He attacks the sin that is causing the death of our body. If we are faithful in putting to death the deeds of our body, then, when the Lord returns, He will finish the work of redemption and clothe us with eternal life.

But if we do not follow the Holy Spirit in putting to death the deeds of our body, then we can forget about being raised into immortality when the Lord returns. It will not take place. We have not overcome sin and therefore we will not be given to eat from the tree of life.

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. (Romans 6:12—NIV)

Because we are in a fight to lay hold on eternal life we are not to let sin govern our actions. If we will patiently do all the New Testament commands, God will do His part and give us victory over the sin that always is waiting to control us. This is how we attain to the resurrection to eternal life in the body.

But if we do not do what the New Testament commands we will not gain victory over our sinful impulses. In this case, we will be as the foolish virgins. When the Lord returns He will not know us. The door will be shut in our face.

Be sure you understand what I have just written. Much error is being taught in our day. The believers in Christian churches are not, in numerous instances, correctly oriented to the plan of salvation, supposing that any moment they are going to be carried off to Heaven so they won't suffer. This is deception!

Let's turn now to a further discussion of how we attain to the resurrection into eternal life in the body.

But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. (Romans 8:10—NIV)

Think carefully about this statement. All human bodies are spiritually dead because of the sin that dwells in them. This is true for the saved as well as the unsaved.

There is something different about the saved. Although their body is dead because of the sin that dwells in it, their inward nature is alive because of the righteousness of Christ that has been imputed to it.

Eternal life always is a result of righteousness whether actual or behavioral.

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. (Romans 6:22—NIV)

Eternal life is the result of holiness and righteousness. Holiness and righteousness are the result of our choosing to be the slaves of God rather than of sin.

Our inward, spiritual nature is alive because of the righteousness of Christ that has been imputed to it, and also because of the beginning acts of righteousness that occur in our personality because we have chosen to be the slave of God rather than of sin.

But our body remains spiritually dead.

The goal of the Christian salvation is, as we have said, to redeem our body from death.

Notice the next verse:

And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. (Romans 8:11—NIV)

The Spirit of the resurrection already is living in us. God's intention is to one day give life to our mortal body by means of that same Holy Spirit of Life.

But if this is to be true, if we are to attain to the resurrection into life in our body, we must obey the commandments of Christ and His Apostles.

Paul was laying aside all else that he might know Christ; that he might gain Christ; that he might know the power of Christ's resurrection; that he might share Christ's sufferings.

Paul was doing this that he might attain to the resurrection from the dead, that is, the resurrection that is to eternal life in the body.

The implication is that if we do not follow Paul in utter consecration we stand in danger of not attaining to the resurrection into life in the body.

We have to sow to the Spirit of God at all times. We must live in the Spirit.

The Law of Moses was engraved in granite slabs. The law of the new covenant is the Holy Spirit Himself.

As we follow the Holy Spirit the righteousness of the Law is imputed to us.

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—NIV)

But if we do not cleave to the Holy Spirit we will reap destruction in the day when the Lord returns.

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

This is a cause and effect relationship. It has nothing to do with grace or mercy. The law of sowing and reaping is an unchangeable law of the Kingdom of God.

We are in pursuit of the resurrection into eternal life in the body. That pursuit requires that we give ourselves to Christ completely at all times. Anything less than total consecration and diligence will not suffice. This is war!

The second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation tell us of the rewards of life, authority, power, service, and closeness to God that are given to him who overcomes. To overcome means we have chosen to turn aside from the appetites and passions of our body and soul and to seek Christ with a whole heart. By so doing we gain victory over worldliness, lust, and self-seeking.

If we desire to be a member of the royal priesthood, to attain to the first resurrection, we must live a victorious life in Jesus Christ. This is what the Bible clearly teaches.

Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. (Romans 8:12—NIV)

Because our inward nature is alive because of righteousness, because our body is dead because of the sin that dwells in it, and because it is God's intention to bring eternal life into our body, for these reasons we do not have an obligation to live according to the sinful nature of our body. It does not make sense to do so and will only prevent its resurrection into eternal life.

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

If we choose to live according to our sinful, dead body, we will die. What does this mean? It means the eternal life that God had given us when we received Christ will be withdrawn. We have not sown to the Spirit of God but have lived our life in the desires of our flesh and soul. When the Lord returns our body will not be redeemed.

We shall die!

It is our responsibility each day to cooperate with the Spirit of God in putting to death the sinful actions of our body. The Spirit leads us from one area of darkness to another. As we walk in the Spirit we do not fulfill the lusts of our flesh. We subdue our fleshly, soulish desires by the power of God.

The sons of God are those who are led by the Spirit in the warfare against the sinful passions of the physical body.

If we live in victory over our flesh and soul, if we overcome their desires, we will be fed with the hidden manna. This means the body and blood of Christ will be fed to us in the invisible spirit realm.

If we do not live in victory, carelessly neglecting our salvation, yielding to our fleshly nature and ignoring the prayer and meditation in God's Word that are essential to nourishing our new inward nature, we will die spiritually.

This is the meaning of the parable of the virgins. Those who were careless, who did not provide enough oil, were turned away at the coming of the Lord. The "oil" represents the Life of the Holy Spirit. The "lamp" represents the Word of God. It was not enough to be theologically correct. They had to be filled and remain filled with the Spirit of God. Only then could they go to be with the Lord at His coming.

We have been warned by the parable of the sower that it is possible to have the Life of Christ germinate in us and then die.

We have been warned by the Lord that if we do not abide in the Vine and bear the fruit of Christ's image we shall be removed from the Vine; removed from Christ!

Hebrews and Jude warn us about starting out from Egypt and then dying in the wilderness.

There are other warnings also. But how can this be? If upon receiving Christ we die with Him, are resurrected with Him, and then ascend with Him to the Father, how can it be that the Life of Christ can germinate in us and then die? How can it be that if we do not abide in the Vine we shall be removed from Christ?

How can it be that we can start out from Egypt and then die in the wilderness?

Once having risen with Christ, how is it possible to turn from the way of righteousness so that our latter end is worse than if we never had received Christ in the first place?

How can these things be possible?

I don't know. I do know that the Scripture is clear that if we do not choose to be the slave of God, of righteousness, if we do not refuse to permit sin to rule our actions, we shall die spiritually.

The famous last verse of the sixth chapter of Romans, "the wages of sin is death," refers to the Christian who has not chosen to turn away from slavery to sin.

I think the issue is centered on the body. It appears we shall be rewarded in our body or punished in our body. Some shall be raised to eternal life in their body. Others shall be raised to judgment in their body.

I am not speaking now of Heaven, Hell, or the Lake of Fire, the destinies of the wicked. I am pointing toward the idea of dying spiritually, or reaping destruction, of receiving, at the Judgment Seat of Christ the bad we have done.

I believe we are overemphasizing the idea of destiny (Heaven, Hell, the Lake of Fire) and not calling attention to the sowing and reaping aspect of judgment.

We imply to the unsaved that if they will receive Christ they will not go to Hell but to Heaven. However this is not the emphasis of the New Testament, particularly of the Epistles. Paul does not even mention Hell in any of his Epistles, which would not be the case if the Gospel of the Kingdom had to do primarily with going to Heaven and escaping Hell.

Rather, the Gospel has to do with the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth and our status in the Kingdom (greater or less in the Kingdom). The Gospel of the Kingdom has to do especially with attaining to eternal life in the age to come.

Will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life. (Mark 10:30—NIV)

"In the age to come, eternal life."

But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, And they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God's children, since they are children of the resurrection. (Luke 20:35,36—NIV)

"Worthy of taking part . . . in the resurrection from the dead."

There will be some believers who lead a victorious life in Christ and then, at His return, receive from His hand a body like His all-powerful body. These are God's conquering saints. They have attained to the resurrection into eternal life.

There will be some people, unfortunately, who finally are lost to God. They will be thrown into the Lake of Fire with the devil and his angels. This is a fate so terrible as to be incomprehensible.

It may be true that in between these two extremes will be a multitude of people who have not lived a victorious life in Christ, and yet have not been wicked enough to be cut off from God's Face for eternity. Perhaps some of these shall receive lashes. Others will have their talent taken from them and be thrown into the outer darkness. Still others will be resurrected to shame and everlasting contempt, as in the twelfth chapter of the Book of Daniel.

This is the only scheme that appears to me to satisfy the whole New Testament.

In any case, it is certain that if we choose to live in the appetites and desires of our flesh and soul, we shall not be raised and given a body like the Lord Jesus. Of this much I am positive from the Scriptures. This is a fact and it includes all people, even those who have received Christ.

We shall not receive the rewards assigned to the overcomer unless we are an overcomer. If this is not the case the Bible is not the true Word of God.

This is all we really need to know. What will happen to the believer who does not choose to live the life of victory in Christ is not clear to me. The New Testament speaks of lashes, outer darkness, being cut in pieces and appointed our portion with the unbelievers, losing our talent, not escaping the wrath of God because we have neglected our salvation, ending up in a worse condition than if we never had accepted Christ, spiritual death, corruption, rejection by the Lord at His coming.

We can speculate about some of this, but not about the fact that the rewards are assigned to him who overcomes, and this means overcome sin—for our battle is against sin and consequent spiritual death.

I would suggest that we not gamble that we can trifle with the demands of Christ and still hear "Well done, good and faithful servant." The present Christian teaching of grace-Heaven-rapture-unconditional love is not solidly based on the Scriptures. The standard of Christianity in America is far, far below the standard set by the Bible for a disciple of Jesus Christ.

I think America is going to be severely damaged by terrorist attacks and perhaps weather catastrophes. In the future, if you are still alive, you may or may not be able to repent of your carelessness and turn to Jesus. You may discover in that hour that the spiritual oppression is so great you are not able to pray. Waiting until the last minute to serve Christ indeed is a dangerous risk.

A man who remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed–without remedy. (Proverbs 29:1—NIV)

Our doctrine about the rapture is incorrect and this may be made clear to most of us in the days of moral horror and calamity that are approaching. When it comes to your attention that you have never denied yourself, taken up your cross, and set out after the Lord, why don't you do this instead of panicking with the rest of the country?

Our goal as Christians is the same as Paul. It is to attain to the resurrection into eternal life in the body. This is the mark that has been set before us. To receive immortality in the body, to have a body like the Lord Jesus, is a hope so superior to anything we can imagine that it is well worth the effort, like the Apostle Paul, to turn away from everything of our life that has not been wrought in Jesus Christ.

Notice the comment of the Apostle John:

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure. (I John 3:2,3—NIV)

Our hope is to be like the Lord Jesus when He appears and to see Him as He is.

But if we really have this hope in us we must purify ourselves just as He is pure.

Several verses that follow, in Chapter Three of First John, tell us how important righteous living is in the Christian life.

For example:

But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. (I John 3:5—NIV)

We can see readily from the above verse that Christ did not come just to forgive our sins but to take away our sins. This is probably one of the most important truths that we Christians are to embrace in the present hour.

No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. (I John 3:6—NIV)

This passage, First John 3:6, alone condemns present-day Christian teaching and preaching.

No person who is dwelling in Christ continues to sin.

If we continue to sin we have neither seen Christ nor known Christ.

Think of it! How far we have gotten away from the doctrines of the New Testament! We claim we are saved by grace apart from righteous behavior. What we are teaching is Gnosticism, it is not the Christian salvation. Our current doctrines are actually heresy. We need to repent!

He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work. (I John 3:8—NIV)

The above verse does not mean that when a Christian sins he has not been saved or that he or she is possessed by the devil. Rather, John apparently is reacting against those who were teaching in his day the "lawless grace" message being presented in our time. John is saying that a true Christian is pressing into Jesus Christ and overcoming sin. When he sins he confesses his sin, takes his forgiveness and cleansing, and presses forward to victory.

The Son of God did not appear to forgive the sins of the devil, the sins we Christians commit. The Son of God appeared in order to destroy the works of the devil that come forth from our personality.

We Christians are preaching and living that which is not scriptural!

There is no doubt that the grace of forgiveness has been greatly overemphasized in our country. The grace of the ability to purify ourselves and to keep the commandments of Christ and His Apostles has been neglected, I believe.

Let as many of us who will, now turn back to the Lord and begin to serve Him as a disciple should. By so doing we shall attain to the resurrection into eternal life in the body.

Summary#4

The goal of the Christian redemption is the raising of our body into eternal life. John 3:16 is referring to the restoration of that which was lost in the Garden of Eden, that is, eternal life in the body: ". . . that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."

The Apostle Paul had set everything to one side in order to attain the resurrection to eternal life. If we would follow the thinking of the Apostle Paul we must learn to regard the Christian fight of faith as being for the purpose of laying hold on eternal life in the body.

Because we are in a fight to lay hold on eternal life we are not to let sin govern our actions. If we will patiently do all the New Testament commands, God will do His part and give us victory over the sin that always is waiting to control us. This is how we attain to the resurrection to eternal life in the body.

But if we do not do what the New Testament commands we will not gain victory over our sinful impulses. In this case, we will be as the foolish virgins. When the Lord returns He will not know us. The door will be shut in our face.

The sixth through the eighth chapter of the Book of Romans tell us how to attain the resurrection to eternal life in the body. Every person who has ever lived on the earth will be resurrected sooner or later. It is not the resurrection itself that must be attained, it is the resurrection to eternal life in the body. This is the first resurrection, the resurrection toward which Paul was pressing with all his might.

Mental assent does not produce eternal life or salvation. The only correct response to the Gospel is to assign our whole first personality to the cross with Christ. The purpose of assigning our first personality to the cross with Christ is that we may, by the power of God's Spirit, live a new life. The new life is one of righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God. If we really believe that we have been crucified with Christ, and have been resurrected with Him and ascended to the right hand of God in and with Him, this fact will be revealed in our behavior.

Our purpose in dying is that we might live. Resurrection always comes from crucifixion with Christ, from nowhere else. It is only as we are willing to share in His sufferings that we can live by His resurrection Life.

It is our responsibility each day to cooperate with the Spirit of God in putting to death the sinful actions of our body. The Spirit leads us from one area of darkness to another. As we walk in the Spirit we do not fulfill the lusts of our flesh. We subdue our fleshly, soulish desires by the power of God.

The sons of God are those who are led by the Spirit in the warfare against the sinful passions of the physical body.

Our goal as Christians is the same as Paul. It is to attain to the resurrection into eternal life in the body. This is the mark that has been set before us. To receive immortality in the body, to have a body like the Lord Jesus, is a hope so superior to anything we can imagine that it is well worth the effort, like the Apostle Paul, to turn away from everything of our life that has not been wrought in Jesus Christ.

Questions#4

1. Summarize the goal of the Christian redemption:

2. How has the philosophy of Gnosticism influenced the goal of salvation?

3. What does this mean: "We died to sin."? (Romans 6:2)

4. What is the purpose of identifying with the death of Jesus Christ?

5. What are the consequences for the believer who lives according to the sinful nature?

Christ And His Saints Go To Work

Introduction

The world is heading toward chaos in every area of human life: morals, education, medicine, economics, the military, the arts and sciences, the vocations. While there are advances in knowledge, justice and wisdom in the use of the knowledge is not always present. For example, the Internet, a significant leap forward in communication techniques, is sometimes used to defraud the unwary, to purvey pornography, to instruct young people in the construction of explosives. With all the progress in science and technology, a small percentage of the earth's population is overweight while multitudes are starving.

The more that human beings attempt to straighten matters out the more corrupt the situations become. This is because the heart of man is corrupt. We are ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

The solution to the chaos is the return of Jesus Christ to govern the nations. This is the blessed hope of the Christian Church, although our hope has become confused because of the unscriptural emphasis on a "rapture" of the believers to Heaven in order to escape Antichrist and the great tribulation.

It is time now to refresh the original blessed hope of the Church, because the way we view the purpose of the return of the Lord, and our role in His return, directly affects the diligence we apply to our discipleship today.

I'll tell you what got me started on this essay. I was doing my devotional reading last night and it so happens I am in the Book of Isaiah.

I ran across several passages that have to do with Christ returning and bringing justice to the nations.

For example:

Listen to me, my people; hear me, my nation: The law will go out from me; my justice will become a light to the nations. My righteousness draws near speedily, my salvation is on the way, and my arm will bring justice to the nations. The islands will look to me and wait in hope for my arm. (Isaiah 51:4,5—NIV)

"My justice will become a light to the nations."

Just prior to this promise of justice to the nations we see that God is going to bless His people.

The LORD will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the LORD. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing. (Isaiah 51:3—NIV)

Here is the pattern. God will build up Zion. As soon as He does, Christ will appear with His saints and bring justice to the nations of the earth.

For the LORD will rebuild Zion and appear in his glory. (Psalms 102:16—NIV)

I laid my Bible down and began to think. The world is in terrible shape today. Tonight on the news we heard about the fall of the stock markets around the world, the worsening problem in Iraq, and the slaughter of men, women, and children in Kosovo. Not a bright picture. Any one of these dangerous situations has the potential to radically disrupt the lives of multitudes of people.

As we think about the governments of the world we realize they are controlled by self-seeking leaders who will do anything to retain their power, even if millions of their countrymen suffer. We know there are super-rich individuals who play their games with money without considering what is happening to the rest of us.

There is no hope for the bringing of justice to the ordinary members of the nations.

Yet there is a hope, a future for the world. The Bible promises that Jesus Christ will return with His saints and powerful angels and bring justice to mankind. Isaiah has quite a bit to say about this, as does the Book of Psalms also.

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, Selah That your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations. May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you. May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples justly and guide the nations of the earth. Selah May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you. (Psalms 67:1-5—NIV)

God will return in Jesus Christ and in the saints to bring justice and gladness to the people of the nations of the earth. This is the good news of the coming of the Kingdom of God.

And then I asked myself, how in the world did we get into this mansions in heaven idea, golden slippers, rapture, and all the rest of the mythology? How did Christianity ever become so self-centered, forgetting what the Scriptures say about the Gospel of the Kingdom, the bringing of justice to the nations?

How did the Christian salvation get turned into a means of bringing untransformed Gentiles into Paradise without regard to the bringing of justice to the nations? How were we able to turn faith in Christ into an escape from Hell instead of the transformation of believers into new creations of righteous behavior who would be able to serve as the moral lights of the world?

How did we drift so far away from the Bible?

When I was in Bible school I was taught that God has two brides, a Jewish bride and a Gentile bride. The Gentile bride is destined to go to Heaven to recline on sofas in fabulous mansions while the Jewish bride will fulfill on the earth what the Hebrews Prophets have spoken.

I have been out of Bible school for fifty years and have had a chance to read the Bible for myself. I am here to tell you this idea of a Gentile kingdom in Heaven and a Jewish Kingdom on earth is totally unscriptural. It is this teaching that has cut off the Christian churches from the Prophets, leaving us with no clear vision of our destiny in Christ, why we were saved, why we must press forward to maturity in Christ, why the Lord deals endlessly with us night and day.

Any smart high-school student could prove easily from the New Testament that the two-kingdom doctrine is absolutely against the plan of God.

For example, Paul taught in Galatians that those who are in Christ are the one seed of Abraham. Paul's teaching here is clear, without possibility of ambiguity.

If Christ and those who are part of Him, whether Jewish or Gentile, are the one Seed of Abraham, and beyond doubt the nations will be blessed through the one Seed of Abraham, where, then, is the Jewish Kingdom?

If we Gentiles, having received Jesus Christ, have been grafted into the one Olive Tree, which is Christ, where then is the other olive tree?

The two-kingdom, two-bride doctrine is woefully unscriptural.

But more than that, this unscriptural philosophy removes the motivation from Gentile Christians to press forward to maturity in Christ. If our goal is to recline on a sofa in a mansion in the spirit realm, what need is there to press forward to maturity? But if our goal is to return with Jesus Christ to bring justice to the meek of the earth, and if bringing justice to the nations will necessitate a confrontation with all the forces of Hell, then spiritual maturity is required of us.

Satan has managed to drive a wedge between Israel of the Old Testament and the Church of the New Testament. He has done this because the Kingdom of God will always be associated with the nation and land of Israel, and yet derives its authority and power from Jesus Christ.

The truth is, Israel of the Old and the Church of the New are one olive tree. They are absolutely one new man, inseparable, the one Seed of Abraham through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul taught that those who receive Christ, whether Jewish or Gentile, are one new man in Christ. Once we are born again of the Spirit of God we no longer are identifiable by race in terms of the Kingdom of God. As to culture, yes, we may be quite different. But in the Kingdom of God we are of the one body and blood of Jesus Christ. This is what the Scripture states. This is what is true.

All of the promises of the Messianic Kingdom, the Kingdom of God, that are found in the Hebrew Prophets, have to do with Jesus Christ and those who are part of Him. There are promises in the Prophets that apply to the physical land and people of Israel. But the promises referring to the coming Kingdom of God apply only to Jesus Christ and His Body.

Paul said that the Deliverer would come from Zion and remove godlessness from Jacob. This means that when Christ appears with His saints they will bring salvation and the Presence of God to the physical people and land of Israel.

If you as a Christian want to read about your destiny, read the Hebrew Prophets. You, being part of Jesus Christ, are spiritual Israel, the one Seed of Abraham, a branch of the one Olive Tree that has its roots in Abraham and the other patriarchs and prophets of the Old Testament.

This is why the Book of Hebrews, when it teaches us the meaning of "the righteous shall live by faith" uses exclusively the saints from the Old Testament. They are one with us and we all shall be made perfect together in one Body of Christ.

And so the doctrine that there are two kingdoms and two brides of God, a Jewish kingdom and bride and a Gentile kingdom and bride, is as destructive a teaching as could be developed. Let us who love the Lord flee from this unscriptural doctrine at once.

The Necessity for Cultivating the Heavenly Life

Recently I have been dwelling on the duality of the Christian personality. We have an earthly adamic life on the earth, and then we have a new born-again life in Heaven at the right hand of God.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4—NIV)

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, (Ephesians 2:6—NIV)

It is God's will that we cultivate our heavenly life each day. To do this we count that our earthly nature has been crucified with Christ. We cooperate with the Spirit of God as He requires that we put to death our love of the world, the lust and appetites of our flesh and soul, and our self-will. The reason Christians have a problem with such total sanctification is they do not understand that their adamic nature, their entire adamic personality, is to be placed on the cross and kept there as a living sacrifice to God.

Neither do many Christians understand clearly that they have a new life in the heavens with the Lord Jesus Christ. They are seated with Christ at the right hand of God on a throne above every other authority and power in the universe.

Our life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life shall appear we shall appear with him from our position at the right hand of Power.

But for this to take place it must be true that Christ is our life. We have many chances each day to make Christ our life. Whenever we are faced with a decision to either give way to our adamic nature, or else wait on the Lord until we obtain His grace, we can choose to make Christ our life. We can choose also to yield to our earthly nature and thus miss the opportunity to nourish our life that is in Heaven.

It is as simple as this. The Christian fight of faith is the struggle each day to strengthen our life in Heaven at God's right hand, or else to satisfy the impulses of our flesh and carnal mind.

When we read the Prophets we understand that God intends to bring justice to our weary planet. The point is, God is going to bring that justice through Christ and His saints. It is useless for the Lord to return until His saints are mature enough to work with Him in establishing His righteous Kingdom on the earth. We can, according to Scripture, hasten the Day of the Lord by living in a godly manner.

Can you see now why it is imperative we have a clear understanding of what will take place when the Lord returns, what our role will be and why we have to press forward to maturity?

Do you see why the teaching of a "pre-tribulation rapture" in which immature believers fly away by grace to a mansion in Heaven, there to do nothing but enjoy themselves for eternity, is so misleading and destructive?

Can you see the grief we bring to the Lord Jesus Christ by our flight-to-Heaven doctrine? He is waiting at the right hand of God for His enemies in us to be brought under His feet so He can claim His bride, return to Jerusalem to be united with His physical brothers, and then inherit the nations of the earth. When we spend our time jumping up and down next to our pew in the hope we will be removed to Heaven where we can enjoy ourselves, can you understand how the Lord is grieved at this total departure from what is written in God's Word?

It is time now for all sincere Christians to get on with the job of putting to death through the Spirit the sins of our flesh, and strengthening our new life in Heaven so we can return with the Lord and bring justice to the nations. We must set our hearts on things above, praying, studying the Word, gathering with fervent saints, finding out what our gifts and ministries are so we may build up ourselves and the other members of Christ's body, giving of our means, not being conformed to this world but being transformed by the renewing of our mind that we may prove God's will.

The Return of the Lord

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.<R> After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (I Thessalonians 4:16,17—NIV)

The above passage is the foundation for the unscriptural teaching of the pre-tribulation rapture to deliver the believers from Antichrist and the great tribulation.

If you will read the passage carefully you will see there is no mention whatever in the verses or their context that the purpose of resurrecting the dead in Christ, or catching up the saints to meet the Lord in the air, has anything to do with escaping Antichrist or the great tribulation.

Paul wrote these words, not to give the believers hope that they would be removed from trouble but to comfort them concerning their dead relatives. I use the passage at funerals, telling the grieving relatives and friends that they will see their loved ones again.

Notice there is no mention of leaving the earth and going to Heaven. The saints meet the Lord in the air. They go up to meet Him as He descends to the level of the spiritual thrones that govern the earth. These thrones had been occupied by wicked spirits. The thrones in the air are now vacant, ready to be taken by those saints for whom they have been prepared.

Notice that the dead in Christ, many of whom have been in Heaven for thousands of years, have returned with the Lord to claim their bodies from their place of burial. Now they are standing on the earth in glorified bodies.

The living saints, who are spiritually mature enough to sustain the change from mortality to immortality while standing on their feet, are also glorified.

This is the army of the Lord. Do you think these warriors in glorified bodies, living by the life of the Spirit of God, could be harmed by Antichrist or the great tribulation? Let us not be foolish!

Slowly, majestically, in the sight of Antichrist and the wicked of the earth, the army of the Lord will rise to meet the Commander-in-Chief in the air. There they will mount the white war stallions in preparation for the onslaught of Armageddon.

Don't you think the heroes of faith who have returned with Christ and received back their bodies from the ground would be somewhat dismayed at the thought of returning to Heaven to wait another seven years before they can assume their places of rulership (as is often taught)? They are kings and they are anxious to inherit their kingdoms!

You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth. (Revelation 5:10—NIV)

The moment they rise from the earth the fury of God's anger will fall on those who have been left behind. This is not the great tribulation but the Day of Wrath.

Notice the following verses, which are in context with the above passage.

For you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. (I Thessalonians 5:2-4—NIV)

To say that Paul has changed the subject, that I Thessalonians, Chapter Four is not speaking of the historic Day of the Lord, and that Chapter Four is not speaking of the same event as the first and second chapters of Second Thessalonians, is to defy every principle of biblical interpretation. The "pre-tribulation rapture" is a "private interpretation." It is one of the deceptions that Jesus warned us would be prevalent in the closing days of the Church Age.

We see, then, that a close look at the "rapture" passage causes the doctrine of the "pre-tribulation rapture' to evaporate like dew when the sun rises. It is not verified by the Scripture. It is a myth, a delusion, a device to keep God's people from preparing themselves to stand in the evil day.

I think it is time for God's leaders and statesmen to turn this thing around and bring a true description of the future to the Lord's people.

The Army of the Lord

After the Israelites passed Mount Sinai the Lord directed them to organize as an army in preparation for the invasion of Canaan.

In Bible typology, Mount Sinai is representative of the Jewish feast of Pentecost. The next feast after Pentecost is the Blowing of Trumpets—war, in other words. Thus in the type of the organizing of Israel into an army, and the feast of the Blowing of Trumpets, we see that the next event after Pentecost, after the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, is preparation for war.

We notice today that the choruses being sung are often on the subject of war. It is time for the Christian people to be organized into an army, the army of the Lord.

When the Lord Jesus returns with His saints they will be resisted by the armies of the wicked. Therefore they must return as a disciplined army—saints who are invincible because they already have died and been brought back to life in Christ.

Having been associated with Christian churches for over half a century it is my opinion that many of us older people will neither understand nor enter into what God is doing today. We have fought our fight to this point and now we are ready to let the next generation take over.

However, there may be a few Joshuas and Calebs among us who can make the transition from "Sweet Hour of Prayer" to "He Is the Living God." Perhaps you are such a person.

It is obvious to those who work with children that there is an unusual spirit of understanding on the younger generation. They are called to "go across Jordan."

Now what does this mean? It means they will be willing to leave their earthly nature, the worldliness, lust, and self-will, on the cross with Jesus and press forward until they lay hold on their life at the right hand of God. They will actually do what our generation has only talked about.

In America, at least, this spiritual maturing probably will take place during a period of great trouble. Our nation today is in a horrible condition before God. We can expect severe Divine judgment until we cease aborting babies and get rid of the filthy television shows with their endless emphasis on lust and marital infidelity.

We in America are as Sodom and Gomorrah and we can expect a similar destiny. God is not a respecter of persons.

It is my opinion that out of this cesspool of moral horrors God will prepare Christian warriors who once and for all will put Satan behind their back and press forward to the right hand of God in Heaven. Then we will see the conflict between God and Satan, and finally the return of the Lord with His mature saints to bring justice to the nations of the earth.

A terrible, wonderful future awaits us. Terrible for the ungodly and the hypocrites. Wonderful for those who love Jesus.

What is the true vision of the Day of the Lord?

Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming. It is close at hand—A day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness. Like dawn spreading across the mountains a large and mighty army comes, such as never was of old nor ever will be in ages to come. (Joel 2:1,2—NIV)

A large and mighty army. A great people and a strong. This is the true nature of the return of Jesus Christ to the earth. He will not appear until these saints are ready to appear with Him. He must become their life—the life of each one of them without exception. There can be no Achans in this camp!

Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: "See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones To judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him." (Jude 1:14,15—NIV)

A careful study of the context of this passage from Jude will reveal that this army will judge the hypocrites in the Christian churches. These will be the first to be dealt with by the army of the Lord.

This is why the trumpet is blown in Zion. This is why fearfulness surprises the hypocrites.

The sinners in Zion are terrified; trembling grips the godless: "Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?" (Isaiah 33:14—NIV)

It is the sinners in Zion, in the churches, who will experience terror at the coming of the Lord. There will be trembling and a rupture rather than a hilarious "rapture." Only those who are walking in iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to the Father can dwell with the consuming fire.

When the Lord Jesus appears His saints will appear with Him.

On the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you. (II Thessalonians 1:10—NIV)

When the Lord appears from Heaven His name will be "Faithful and True." To be faithful and true is to have integrity. Those who ride with the Lord also will have integrity. There will be no church foolishness and deviousness, immorality, covetousness, seeking of preeminence, gossip, slander, malice, in this army. These are a kind of Christian we are not always accustomed to.

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. (Revelation 19:11-14—NIV)

The fine linen is the righteous behavior of the saints—behavior that reflects the formation of Christ in their personalities.

At their faces the hypocrites of the churches and the wicked of the earth will be horror stricken, realizing that the game is over. Judgment has come and it knows no favorites.

But the meek of the earth will come with rejoicing, bringing their children with them to present to the Lord. What a day for the righteous, as justice has finally come to them. What a nightmare of agony for those who have lived for their own pleasure on the earth, harming other people in order to secure their own comfort and satisfaction.

The day of reckoning has arrived, administered by the saints.

May the praise of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword in their hands, To inflict vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, To bind their kings with fetters, their nobles with shackles of iron,  to carry out the sentence written against them. This is the glory of all his saints. Praise the LORD. (Psalms 149:6-9—NIV)

Driving Satan From the Earth

When we think about the Garden of Eden we are amazed. How could Paradise actually have existed on the earth? But it did.

Man permitted Satan to enter. We have had six thousand years of agony as a result.

Now, this is important to understand. Jesus Christ did not appear in order to drive out Satan by himself, He appeared to enable us to drive Satan out.

This begins with us as an individual. From what I have seen I think some of the believers expect Jesus to do all the work in their salvation. He will never do it. Rather, Jesus guides and empowers us, but we have to do the casting out.

Say you are bound with profanity. The thing to do is to tell Jesus you do not want this in your personality any longer. Renounce profanity. Denounce it. Assign it to the Lake of Fire where it belongs. Get rough with it.

When you take your stand the Lord Jesus will help you. You finally will get totally free from it.

But if you wait for the Lord to remove the profanity without any effort on your part you will be disappointed with the results.

The reason people do not get delivered from alcohol is they do not pray until they really want to get rid of it. Until you really want to get rid of this devil it will remain in you no matter how many times you are prayed for.

And so with all the rest of our worldliness, lust, and self-will. We have to pray and follow the Lord until we are strong enough to make up our mind we are through with the sin. Then the Lord will help us drive it from us.

The same is true of the whole world. The sin will not be removed until the Lord appears with people who really want it removed. Then He will empower them to drive it totally from the earth. These are God's "untouchables." When Satan comes he can find no place in them. You can be one of God's untouchables but you will have to work at it. It is a hard fight.

Then you will trample down the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I do these things, says the LORD Almighty. (Malachi 4:3—NIV)

The wicked will be ashes under your feet, not under the Lord's feet but under your feet.

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. (Romans 16:20—NIV)

We are the Body of Christ, including the feet of the Body of Christ. The feet burn as bronze in an oven, the bronze of judgment. The Lord will make the place of His feet glorious because they will drive sin from the earth.

We had believed that we would never get the final victory over sin while living on the earth, that victory over sin would come about somewhere in Heaven. This is faulty reasoning because sin began in Heaven. Deliverance from sin is not found in Heaven, only in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is only as we abandon our earthly life to the cross with Jesus and press into our new life at the right hand of God that we can gain the strength to renounce sin.

Sin is a question of truth and choice. Jesus Christ has all power. To obtain deliverance we must decide this is what we truly, finally want. We can lay hold on the power to decide what we truly want by going to the Lord constantly. Once we make the decision we do not want to sin, in whatever area we are concentrating on, the Lord will furnish the power. He came to destroy, not forgive, the works of the devil.

Sin has power only as long as we yield to it. Once we can gain the determination to renounce and denounce the sin, the power of the Lord is at hand to destroy the works of the devil.

When the sons of God appear with the Lord they will denounce and renounce all sin. Then it requires only one angel to chain Satan and cast him into the bottomless pit.

The Release of the Material Creation

The Christian churches for a long time, maybe from their beginning, have not understood that God intends to remove sin from the earth. Paradise was on earth in the beginning. Paradise will once again be on earth when God has finished redeeming the earth, only this time Paradise will be protected by a great wall.

Paradise is in the spirit realm at the present time. And so traditionally the goal of salvation has been presented as eternal life in Heaven. This goal has served to the present hour. Now that the Kingdom of God is ready to come to the earth the Spirit of God is opening the Scriptures to us so we can see that the goal of redemption is not eternal residence in the spirit realm but the release of the material creation into the liberty of the children of God.

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—NIV)

You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. (Isaiah 55:12—NIV)

The release of the creation will not come about as God pours out glory from the clouds. Rather the release will come at the hands of the sons of God. Man permitted sin to enter the earth and produce corruption and death. Through Jesus Christ, man will be able to drive sin, corruption, and death from the earth and fill all nature with the Holy Spirit.

This is the meaning of the following:

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." (Revelation 21:3,4—NIV)

The dwelling of God is the Church, the Body and Bride of Christ. When the Church comes down from Heaven to rest on a high mountain of the new earth the Presence of God will be here. Then through the Church God will wipe every tear from the eyes of the people of the saved nations, bringing death, mourning, crying, and pain to an end.

It is as simple as this.

The problem is that of removing sin from the Church and bringing Christ to maturity in the Church. For until sin has been removed from the Church, and Christ has been brought to maturity in the Church and is dwelling in the Church, it is not possible for God in the Church to release the nations and the physical creation into the liberty of the children of God.

In the days of the Apostles the Spirit of revelation and power was present on the earth, not in the atmosphere but in the Apostles. We know from the Epistles that the members of the churches were as carnal as we are today. Nevertheless the truth of the Kingdom of God was preached. The groundwork was laid well.

When the Apostles died the Spirit of revelation and power was withdrawn. Then began the long struggle by God's people to regain for themselves that which had been present in the Apostles.

Today much of the original revelation has been restored. Now it is time for the conflict of the ages to begin—God against Satan; the Holy Spirit against the False Prophet; Christ against Antichrist.

The main problem of the last days will not be worldliness or physical lust, although these will be very present. The main problem will be self-will. Man will be exalted. Man will be in control. Man will look for "the god within him." This is Antichrist.

Opposed to this will be the godly remnant who will suffer the crucifixion of their deepest self that Christ may be formed in them. Although they will be despised by the world and most of that which terms itself "Christian," those in whom Christ is formed will prevail in the end.

There will be mighty revival in the closing days of the Church Age. Out of this revival will come a handful of people who are willing to lay down their earthly life and pursue their new born-again life in Heaven at the right hand of God. These are the ones who will rule with Christ, appearing with Him in the Day of the Lord and bringing release to the material creation.

The end-time, latter-rain revival of the closing days of the Church Age is symbolized by the two witnesses of the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation.

The forming of Christ in the saints and their pursuit of life at the right hand of God is symbolized by the birth of the male Son of the twelfth chapter of the book of Revelation.

It is the Ruler of the age to come that is being formed in us. This is why we must be willing to let the Spirit remove worldliness, lust, and self-will from us.

Remember, the wonderful glory of the Day of the Lord will not drop down from the clouds. It will come to the earth through Christ and His saints and be managed by them.

The Rule of the Iron Scepter

Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery. (Psalms 2:8,9—NIV)

God the Father invited God the Son to pray. The Son was to pray for the nations and the ends of the earth. The Son is to govern the nations with a scepter of iron, dashing all resistance as one would smash a clay pot with an iron bar.

This is total rule, allowing no resistance of any kind.

We see therefore that Christ will return and rule the nations of the earth, although first He had to be offered for the sins of the world.

But Christ will not rule alone. There are coheirs of the nations and the ends of the earth.

To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations —He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery —just as I have received authority from my Father. (Revelation 2:26,27—NIV)

The rule of Christ and His saints will be righteous, bringing justice to all people on the earth. This does not mean every person will be saved. There will be "goat nations" who refused to aid Christ's brothers during their sufferings on the earth. These will be led away into the fire.

It can be seen that the Christian salvation has a lot to do with rulership. If Christ were to rule alone He would have set up His Kingdom two thousand years ago. He certainly had the power to do this. But He has chosen to divide the spoil with the strong, to have many associates governing with Him and inheriting the wealth of the nations.

See, a king will reign in righteousness and rulers will rule with justice. (Isaiah 32:1—NIV)

We may not appreciate in the present hour the desirability of inheriting the nations, but we shall some day.

As we used to say, the cross goes with the crown. So it is that if we are to govern with Christ we must suffer with Him first.

If we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; (II Timothy 2:12—NIV)

We have to suffer because we are made perfect through suffering, just as Christ was made perfect through suffering. We have to learn obedience through suffering just as Christ learned obedience through suffering.

When we suffer in the flesh we stop our sinning, as Peter tells us. It is only through suffering that we are enabled to live by the resurrection life of Jesus Christ. As long as we are strong in our own strength we cannot be trusted with the degree of power and wisdom that is to be allocated to the brothers of Jesus Christ. We must be brought down to weakness and helplessness so that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us.

The peoples of the nations want to see Jesus. They want God. They do not want well meaning religious people going through their fleshly antics. It is only as Jesus lives in us that we are bread for people.

The Book of Second Corinthians in several passages tells of the extraordinary sufferings of the Apostle Paul. Yet from this ever-dying man came the Epistles that have changed the course of the history of the world. Tremendous fruitfulness requires tremendous pruning.

We may start out wanting to be a great apostle or great leader of some kind. But when God begins to reveal to us what such elevation would require we may decide the wisest course is to settle for what God wants us to be, for we will just be able to manage to cope with those requirements.

We may desire to be at the right hand of Jesus when He appears. But can we drink the cup? Can we be baptized with the baptism? We can if this is the place appointed for us.

The Going Forth of the Law From Mount Zion

Many peoples will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths." The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. (Isaiah 2:3—NIV)

I think the above verse reveals the convergence of the spiritual Israel, the Christian Church, with the physical people and land of Israel. Mount Zion will consist of the physical people and land of Israel brought to life by the coming of the Lord Jesus and His saints to dwell among them.

And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob." (Romans 11:26—NIV)

The Deliverer, Jesus Christ and those who are an integral part of Him will descend from the heavenly Zion and save the earthly Zion. From there they will govern the nations of the flesh, that is, "Esau."

Deliverers will go up Mount Zion to govern the mountains of Esau. And the kingdom will be the LORD's. (Obadiah 1:21—NIV)

The "many peoples," of Isaiah 2:3, are the members of the saved nations.

I believe they will be going up to Jerusalem to experience the Presence and blessing of God, as well as to be taught and guided in His righteous ways.

I believe also that the house of the God of Jacob is Jesus Christ and those who are part of Him. There is no house of God other than Jesus Christ and those who are an integral part of Him. God no longer will dwell in a temple made with human hands.

So here we have a picture of Christ and His saints bringing the Presence and blessing of God to people on the earth, and teaching them the eternal moral law of God. The eternal moral law of God is written in our mind and in our heart as Christ is formed in us, because He alone is the Word of God.

The Sermon on the Mount gives us some idea of the eternal moral law of God, of which the Law of Moses was an abridged, covenantal, negative version.

I think, from the types of the Old Testament, that when the Lord comes He will establish His throne in Jerusalem. He will be surrounded by those who have appeared with Him.

All of those living in Israel at that time will be brought into the Kingdom of God, just as Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus was brought into the Kingdom of God almost against his will, so to speak. God has the power at any time to bring someone into His Kingdom.

The saints will govern the earth throughout the thousand-year Kingdom Age. They will be ruling over flesh-and-blood nations, as far as I know, governing them with the iron scepter of the Spirit of God.

I don't think the whole Church will be involved at this time. Most of God's elect will still be in Heaven, it appears.

After the thousand-year Kingdom Age the earth and sky to which we are accustomed will pass away with a great noise. Then a new sky and earth will come into view. Down from the new sky will descend the new Jerusalem to be established on a high mountain of the new earth. The new Jerusalem will consist of all of God's elect, not just the firstfruits that governed during the Kingdom Age.

It seems likely that the nations living on the new earth will not be flesh-and-blood people, because the former things have passed away. What they will be like we will have to see when we get there.

But the pattern will be the same as during the thousand-year Kingdom Age. The nations will come up periodically to "keep the feast of Tabernacles." This means they will come to enjoy the Presence of God in Christ and the saints, being nourished and healed as they partake of the Spirit of God and of the fruit and leaves of the Tree of Life and the other trees of life growing from the roots of the main Tree, Jesus Christ.

Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.<R> If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, they will have no rain. (Zechariah 14:16,17—NIV)

Bringing Justice to the Nations

Listen to me, my people; hear me, my nation: The law will go out from me; my justice will become a light to the nations. My righteousness draws near speedily, my salvation is on the way, and my arm will bring justice to the nations. The islands will look to me and wait in hope for my arm. (Isaiah 51:4,5—NIV)

The nations of today are in sore need of justice. Whether governed by a democracy, a socialist system or a feudal system, we can see that the leaders lay up wealth and comfort for themselves while multitudes of those being ruled are often without even the necessities of life.

Whenever a wealthy nation attempts to send food to an impoverished country the food ends up on the black market and the wealthy and powerful become even more wealthy and powerful. It is sickening!

For thousands of years the meek and poor of the earth have tried to keep alive and maintain their families, sometimes successfully, sometimes unsuccessfully.

The Bible does not have much good to say about the wealthy. God loves the poor. God is with the humble, the needy, the orphans, the widows. Those who assist the poor and needy are approved of God.

The Gospel is to the poor, the Lord Jesus said, and the common people heard Him gladly. It is always this way. Occasionally there is a person of means who really loves the Lord. But these are the exception.

God's way is to bring down the high and elevate the lowly. The whole world is an example of this principle. Those who mourn now shall be comforted in the future. Those who laugh now will mourn later. The rich man was in the torments of Hell. The poor man was in Abraham's bosom in the midst of peace and glory.

Those who are high shall be abased. Those who are least esteemed in this world shall be exalted.

Justice is coming to the nations with the return of Jesus Christ and His saints. Until they come the lack of justice shall prevail. This is why all who would aspire to the life that is hidden at the right hand of God must learn to be meek and lowly, to set others before themselves, to be purged from all self-seeking and self-aggrandizement.

We know that when the Lord Jesus is governing the earth we all shall be treated fairly. The saints who come with the Lord must be worthy of that same confidence. The ruling saints will be untouchable as far as graft and favoritism are concerned. They will judge fairly every situation that comes before them because they will not judge according to their own eyes and ears but what they see and hear with God. This is the way Jesus judges.

We must learn to be blind and deaf today if we would be perfect in judgment. We must cease our criticizing of the actions of people and wait until we hear from God before we form an opinion. Such restraint is impossible to Adam. Only the new man who abides in Heaven with God is able to stop judging according to man's judgment and wait to hear the heavenly verdict.

Rebuilding the Ancient Ruins

They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. (Isaiah 61:4—NIV)

The saints who appear with Christ will have the responsibility of rebuilding the places of ruin and devastation on the earth.

Antichrist is the abomination that creates desolation. Whenever man acts according to his own will and judgment, not looking to the Lord for guidance, he creates havoc.

We see today in the places of greatest education the moral desolation that is taking place. Today in America the families are at risk. During holidays the strife in families is so great that the police can scarcely cope with the emergency calls they receive. Often when the police go to a house to answer a call they themselves are killed.

In America murders are being committed by young people and children. Some of the largest cities are nearly in anarchy. The police cannot control the gangs or the traffic in drugs. Violence abounds to such an extent that a person would be safer at night in the jungles of Africa than on the main street of a large American city.

Washington, D.C., our nation's capital, should be a showpiece of community life, reflecting the highest ideals of the American way. Instead it is a wretched place of drugs, alcoholism, of murder and other forms of violence.

When man governs, desolation results. When the Antichrist world is crying peace and safety there will be unbelievable desolation on every hand. As long as man can express his own will he thinks he is living in Paradise, even though it is apparent to those looking at him that he is in a wretched condition.

Such perversity and blindness are true today where our government is attempting to force the American way of life on other countries, not recognizing that in some respects these other countries have a more wholesome social structure and are more moral than we.

We are the blind attempting to lead the blind, when one considers the urban areas of our nation. We are ready to colonize Mars but we cannot cope with AIDS or gangs or drugs or alcoholism or violence. Before we investigate life on Venus we ought to pour these billions of dollars into cleaning up New York City and not leave it all up to David Wilkerson to do. What blindness!

In addition to the devastation caused by self-seeking man, when the sons of God invade the earth at the coming of the Lord they will destroy the works of the flesh.

Before them fire devours, behind them a flame blazes. Before them the land is like the garden of Eden, behind them, a desert waste—nothing escapes them. (Joel 2:3—NIV)

The earth and its peoples must be purified by Divine judgment and fire before righteousness, peace, and joy can be established. All that is of wickedness must be torn down before justice can prevail. God wounds before He heals. He expresses His anger before He comforts. This is His way.

So we see that a great work of rebuilding will proceed under the administration of the sons of God.

The concept of building up the saints before the saints can rebuild the world is found in Isaiah, Chapter Sixty-one.

Here we find that the Spirit of God rests on the Lord Jesus that He may build up the members of His Body in preparation for the great work they have to do when He appears with them.

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, (Isaiah 61:1—NIV)

When the Lord Jesus ascended He took of the Spirit resting on Himself and distributed it on the members of His Body in the form of gifts and ministries. The purpose of the gifts and ministries given by the ascended Christ is to build each member of His Body to maturity as measured by the stature of the fullness of Christ.

To proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, (Isaiah 61:2—NIV)

The people of the Christian churches are bound with many sins, fears, and problems. It is time now for God to execute vengeance against His enemies that keep the saints from the fullness of joy. The things that bind us are destined for the Lake of Fire as we let the Lord remove them from us. If we cling to them, then we ourselves are candidates for the Lake of Fire; for the Lake of Fire has authority over all the enemies of the Lord. Christ must wait until God brings all these under His feet.

And provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. (Isaiah 61:3—NIV)

Zion must be built up before the Lord can appear. The saints who are to appear with the Lord Jesus must be oaks of righteousness, beautiful in holiness, glad and joyous in the Lord, always praising God for His faithfulness, thus displaying God's splendor to the world.

Only when the saints have thus been built to the stature of the fullness of Christ are they eligible to appear with Christ, capable of working with Him in restoring the desolated earth.

Do you see what comes about as soon as the saints become oaks of righteousness?

They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. (Isaiah 61:4—NIV)

Notice how the saved peoples of the earth will refer to those who appear with the Lord.

And you will be called priests of the LORD, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast. (Isaiah 61:6—NIV)

People will recognize the members of the royal priesthood and minister to their needs. We know from the description of the sheep and goat nations that the factor that brought one group to eternal life in the Kingdom of God and the other group to the fire of destruction was the manner in which the individual responded to the needs of the brothers of the Lord.

We see how God brought Rahab into His family because of her response to the needs of Israel.

This same principle will continue in the next age.

For the nation or kingdom that will not serve you will perish; it will be utterly ruined. (Isaiah 60:12—NIV)

We understand, therefore, why it is so utterly important that we work with the Holy Spirit as the members of the Body of Christ minister to each other, building up the whole Body to the standard that God requires if we are to serve Him in the establishing of His Kingdom on the earth.

Bringing the Immature "Sisters" to Maturity

As we look about us in the churches we see so few who are really living for God, who are denying themselves, taking up their cross, and following the Lord. How many of these are neglecting their salvation and will be judged severely, and how many are weak and undeveloped because of circumstances beyond their control, is impossible for us to judge.

In any case, the overcomers, the victorious saints who truly are living in spiritual victory, appear to be in the minority in the churches.

I have written quite a bit on the subject of the less mature members of God's elect and will not, therefore, go into the same amount of detail in the present brief essay. I will give you my opinion, which is based on several types of the Old Testament, and perhaps it will provide some useful thoughts

First of all, we must recognize clearly that the victorious saints are definitely in a minority in the Christian churches. There are not many overcomers, many believers who really are denying themselves, taking up their cross, and following the Lord Jesus each day.

But there are some, and it is these, I believe, who will appear with Christ when He returns to earth.

But what about the majority who have not gained spiritual victory, who have not denied themselves, taken up their cross, and followed the Lord Jesus?

It appears that most Christians die before they receive full deliverance form worldliness, lust, and self-will. Since no worldliness, lust, or self-will shall be permitted in the Kingdom of God, where and how will this multitude of people be reconciled to God in these areas of their personality?

I think we have always assumed that once they die and are in the spirit realm, or when the Lord comes, they will be transformed in personality. But there is no passage of Scripture to support this assumption. Also, if the Lord can wave a wand and transform people after they die, why does He require that we overcome these challenges while living on the earth? His demands on us are stern, insisting that we present our body a living sacrifice to God. Also, Jesus gave warnings of severe punishment, found in the Gospel accounts, to be inflicted on those who bury their talents, run out of oil, or live unrighteously. Jesus said that those who do not bear fruit will be cut out of the Vine, that is, out of Himself.

There are dreadful warnings in the New Testament addressed to the Christian believers concerning continuing in sin.

This being the case, how can we assume that after a believer dies, or at the coming of the Lord, his or her behavior will be dismissed as irrelevant? If the growth of Christ in us is so slow in the present world, how can we assume that Christ will be formed in us at once when we die and enter the spirit realm?

I think it would be more scriptural to believe that the immature believers will be helped to maturity by the stronger, by those who attain the first resurrection from the dead, the resurrection and ascension that will occur when the Lord returns.

It is a scriptural principle that those with the double portion assist the remainder of the household. The stronger Christians should help the weaker in every way they can.

So it is our point of view that the thousand-year Kingdom Age is the fulfillment of the Levitical Day of Atonement; that one of the tasks of the victorious saint will be to work with the immature believers until each one finds his appointed place in the new Jerusalem.

We have a young sister, and her breasts are not yet grown. What shall we do for our sister for the day she is spoken for? 9 If she is a wall, we will build towers of silver on her. If she is a door, we will enclose her with panels of cedar. (Song of Solomon 8:8,9—NIV)

A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; (Isaiah 42:3—NIV)

The two verses that follow may indicate that after the two "days" of the Church Age the Lord will bring His salvation not only to the remnant of Jewish people but also to the less mature of the Christians.

After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence. (Hosea 6:2—NIV)

And He said to them, Go and tell that fox, "Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I reach My goal."(Luke 13:32—NIV)

It seems that the purpose of the two thousand years of the Church Age is to bring forth and perfect a firstfruits who will be especially close to the Lord—perhaps for eternity. When this governing priesthood has attained maturity as measured by the fullness of the stature of Christ, then God will proceed with the development of the remainder of His Kingdom.

These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless. (Revelation 14:4,5—NIV)

The Last Great Rebellion

When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison And will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God's people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. (Revelation 20:7-9—NIV)

It seems incredible that after a thousand years of righteous government the nations of the earth could be deceived into attacking God's people. This tells us two things about people.

First of all, self-will is so deeply entrenched in the adamic race that no matter how justly, wisely, and compassionately people are governed, there remains the potential for rebellion. Indeed the human heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, although we could wish it were otherwise. It is going to be an occasion for the greatest sorrow to see people whom we have served so diligently be so ready to turn against us.

As God said to Samuel, "They have not rejected you, they have rejected Me."

The second thing we learn from the Gog-Magog rebellion is that Satan always has an entrance into our personality when any self-will remains. As long as there is a trace of self-will in us, Satan will find his way into us. Immediately we will find ourselves attacking the true work of God.

We will think we are serving God. We may be speaking in tongues and engaging in evangelistic work. But we also will be gossiping about and slandering the people who truly are abiding in Christ.

How do we get rid of self-will? God's answer to the problem of human self-will is the personal cross of the believer, the prisons into which we are cast.

Sometimes our prison is a marriage which, after ten years or so, has become "unbearable." There are children involved. Yet we feel we cannot take the "injustice" and "perversity" one more minute.

There are times indeed when the Lord will direct an abused spouse to leave a violent or unfaithful mate. But so often the case is not one of abuse or adultery but the clash of two self-willed people.

If this is the case, and one or the other decides he or she cannot put up with this pain any longer, and decides to leave, the damage will be great. Also, the person who bolted out of God's prison will likely never again have a chance to be among the Lord's heroes of faith. There is a first blush of the heavenly romance between Jesus Christ and the believer. If the believer chooses to avoid the route over which the Lord is leading him or her, the relationship of trust is violated. How can it ever be the same again?

One can look at David and possibly others who have sinned against the Lord and then repented. Nevertheless, this is a very, very risky business. The odds are that things will never again be the same. The individual, though he or she charges out enthusiastically "in the Lord's work," will never recover that which would have been the case had they held steady in the fire.

Of course the trials can become severe. Kings are not made in paradise. Even the Lord Jesus, the Greatest of all, was perfected and learned obedience in the fiery mortar of earth.

How much more then shall we suffer as the self-will is beaten out of our personality and we come up out of the wilderness leaning on our beloved.

So few, it seems, are willing to wait on the Lord and trust Him to this extent. Yet these, and these alone, are qualified to return with Him and go about the business of installing the Kingdom of God on the earth.

Conclusion

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:6,7—NIV)

We are heading toward a Kingdom so glorious we cannot imagine the least part of it. Each believer who overcomes will inherit all this glory. Overcoming is a matter of grasping the truths of the Scriptures and choosing to obey them in the Spirit of God. Overcoming is not a matter of power. Christ retains all power. It is a matter of choosing truth and living it with the help of the Lord.

The rewards for choosing to obey God's truth are assuredly not within my ability to convey even if I knew them all. But I do know that those who have set aside their own joys and hopes, have taken up their own cross, and have followed the Master patiently day after day, year after year, to the very end, will awaken to glory that cannot be imagined today.

"To us a Child is born, to us a Son is given." This alone is what is important. Man has made a religion of Christianity. The Christian religion (when it is not opposing the Son) is nothing more than a scaffolding that shall be done away in time.

All that matters is the Son. He who has the Son has the all things of God. He who does not have the Son has nothing of eternal value.

The government is on the shoulders of the Son. Eden demonstrated what will inevitably take place when Paradise is not guarded by righteous government. This is why there is a wall surrounding the holy city. This is why we who trust God suffer throughout our lifetime. It is so the self-will of Satan may be destroyed out of our personality and stern obedience to the Father created in its place.

There must be a righteous government of iron determination and strength that rules all the works of God's hands for eternity.

There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 22:5—NIV)

The saints, under Jesus Christ, will govern God's creation forever—ages without end.

Jesus Christ is Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Can you see in these offices all that mankind needs to obtain survival, security, joy, and achievement? God has placed in Jesus all we shall ever need.

The government of Jesus Christ will increase for eternity. As a result, peace will increase for eternity.

Christ will sit on David's throne. This is because the political, earthly aspect of the Kingdom of God always will be associated with the physical land and people of Israel. The gates are named after the sons of Jacob. The names of the Jewish Apostles of the Lamb are in the foundations of the wall.

The reason Satan has worked so diligently to separate the Christian Church from Israel is that he understands the Kingdom of God includes both the physical land and people of Israel and the Christian Church. The two shall converge in the last days.

There can be no Kingdom of God apart from the physical people and land of Israel. There can be no Kingdom of God apart from Christ and His Church. The two are destined to be one. They are the one Olive Tree whose roots are in Abraham.

Whenever you hear talk of two kingdoms, a Jewish kingdom and a Gentile kingdom, just ask the persons involved to point out a passage of Scripture that clearly presents the two-kingdom theory. When they fail, as they certainly will, you can show that the Apostle Paul, in the Book of Ephesians, refers to the eternal house of God, built on the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief Cornerstone of the building, as "one new Man."

Jesus Christ will govern forever, seated on David's throne.

The Kingdom that is coming will be established and upheld with justice and righteousness forever.

The zeal of God Himself guarantees all this.

The original Gospel was the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. "Repent, believe the good news, the Kingdom of God is at hand."

Somehow the good news of the coming kingdom was changed into the good news of going to Heaven when we die. God permitted this alteration to exist throughout the Church Age, so apparently no harm was done.

But now the Kingdom is at hand. We are being commanded to turn aside from our earthly life and start concentrating on our life that is in Christ at the right hand of God. This is where the battle will be fought. This is where Antichrist will be permitted to reach up and tear down those of God's host who still have rebellion in their hearts.

We can and we shall overcome if we keep choosing truth, keep bearing our cross, keep following the Lord Jesus. But there will be many who will attempt to take our crown from us. There will be many distractions and diversions as Satan attempts to draw our attention away from our position in Christ at the right hand of God.

If Satan succeeds, or if we permit people—perhaps people who have the best of intentions—to talk us down from our high position in Christ, then we will not appear with Jesus when He returns to earth.

The spiritual struggle has commenced. It shall continue over the next few decades as we await the Lord's return. Let us turn away from the pull of our adamic nature, using each pressure that comes on us to drive us further into Jesus Christ. We can and we shall gain God's fullness if we do not turn back but keep our hand to the plow.

Summary#5

The world is heading toward chaos in every area of human life: morals, education, medicine, economics, the military, the arts and sciences, the vocations. While there are advances in knowledge, justice and wisdom in the use of the knowledge is not always present. The more that human beings attempt to straighten matters out the more corrupt the situations become. This is because the heart of man is corrupt. We are ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Yet there is a hope, a future for the world. God will return in Jesus Christ and in the saints to bring justice and gladness to the people of the nations of the earth. This is the good news of the coming of the Kingdom of God.

When the Lord Jesus returns with His saints they will be resisted by the armies of the wicked. Therefore they must return as a disciplined army—saints who are invincible because they already have died and been brought back to life in Christ.

The earth and its peoples must be purified by Divine judgment and fire before righteousness, peace, and joy can be established. All that is of wickedness must be torn down before justice can prevail. God wounds before He heals. He expresses His anger before He comforts. This is His way.

So we see that a great work of rebuilding will proceed under the administration of the sons of God.

The problem is that of removing sin from the Church and bringing Christ to maturity in the Church. For until sin has been removed from the Church, and Christ has been brought to maturity in the Church and is dwelling in the Church, it is not possible for God in the Church to release the nations and the physical creation into the liberty of the children of God.

When the Lord appears from Heaven His name will be "Faithful and True." To be faithful and true is to have integrity. Those who ride with the Lord also will have integrity. There will be no church foolishness and deviousness, immorality, covetousness, seeking of preeminence, gossip, slander, malice, in this army. These are a kind of Christian we are not always accustomed to.

It is time now for all sincere Christians to get on with the job of putting to death through the Spirit the sins of our flesh, and strengthening our new life in Heaven so we can return with the Lord and bring justice to the nations. We must set our hearts on things above, praying, studying the Word, gathering with fervent saints, finding out what our gifts and ministries are so we may build up ourselves and the other members of Christ's body, giving of our means, not being conformed to this world but being transformed by the renewing of our mind that we may prove God's will.

It is time now to refresh the original blessed hope of the Church, because the way we view the purpose of the return of the Lord, and our role in His return, directly affects the diligence we apply to our discipleship today.

Questions#5

1. Identify two reasons why Christians have a problem with total sanctification:

2. Utilizing the seven feasts of the Lord what can we expect to take place after Pentecost?

3. What is the true vision of the Day of the Lord?

4. Describe the mighty revival in the closing days of the Church Age:

5. If we are to govern with Christ we must suffer with Him first. Why?

Answer Guide

The Two Shall Be One

1. When God said "it is not good that man be alone" He was referring primarily to His Son, the Lord Jesus. When God brought forth Jesus He did not envision He would be alone but that a wife, a counterpart, a helper suitable for Him would in time be created from His Substance.

2. The plan of God is to create a great house and a family for Himself. His Son from the beginning is the Lord Jesus. The Son is the chief Cornerstone of the eternal House of God. Next God is creating a bride for His Son. After that will come the children—those born of the union of the Son and His bride.

So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. (Romans 7:4—NIV)

Notice that the New Testament never refers to the bride as the bride of Christ or the bride of the Son of God. The Church always is the Bride of the Lamb or the Wife of the Lamb. This is because the Bride is formed from the body and blood of the Lamb. She is wed to Him as she learns to live by His body and blood. It is the body and blood that are the covenant.

No wedding ceremony was needed for Adam and Eve because Eve was formed from Adam. She could marry no other. She was Adam in another form.

There will be no Anglican ceremony to unite the Lamb and His Wife. We are being married to Him today as we live by Him. When the Bible says "the marriage of the Lamb is come" it is referring to our being revealed to the world as His possession and our being clothed with the wedding garment, the robe from Heaven that will clothe our resurrected flesh and bones.

So it is true that the Wife is formed from the Lamb. She can marry no other. She is the Lamb in another form.

3. As we have stated, the Wife of the Lamb is married to the Lamb by eating the Lamb and by drinking His blood.

This is how it works. Each day we make a multitude of decisions, most minor and a few major. As we grow in Jesus Christ we learn to bring all decisions to Him. We seek to always live in His Presence, to be aware of His Presence and His will in all that we are and do.

From time to time we discover that our joys and ambitions are not His will. When we come to a decision, something that we want to do oh so badly, and become aware that this is not God's will; or when we become aware that God is telling us to do something we do not want to do, like Abraham being told to offer Isaac (although wrenching decisions of such intensity are rare, being necessary only for those destined to govern in the Kingdom), we must choose to either deny ourselves or else do the Lord's will. Have you been there?

When we disobey the Lord we continue in our adamic state. We do not grow in Christ, in the Kingdom of God, in eternal life. We remain a soulish animal. We save our life only to lose it.

When we choose to deny ourselves, to do what the Spirit of God is directing, a part of our adamic nature perishes. It is at this point that we are fed the body and blood of Christ in the spirit realm. We are given to eat of the tree of life.

This is the process that results in the formation of the Body of Christ, the Wife of the Lamb, the Kingdom of God. There absolutely is no other way to become an integral part of Jesus Christ other than by learning to live by His body and His blood. They are our eternal life. They will raise us to Him when He appears.

If we choose to save our life we will lose it. If we choose to lose our life for Christ's sake and the Gospel's we will save it.

4. Remember, Peter at one moment had the revelation that Jesus is the Christ and in the next moment spoke with the voice of Satan as Peter sought to dissuade the Lord from going to Jerusalem to die.

Remember, we can be on target one moment and deceived the next. The only solution is to look to the Lord Jesus constantly, asking Him to remove deception from us, to deliver us from the craftiness of the evil one. Even then each step must be taken carefully and the fruit, or consequences, of our behavior must be continually examined to see if we really are hearing from Jesus. The moment we doubt something is from the Lord we are to hold it before Him, asking Him to put the fire of Divine judgment on it until we are sure of its source.

You may be an experienced Christian. You may pray and read your Bible daily, which helps. You may have an impression identical to that which always before has been the Lord. Now it may be the enemy.

The best protection against the enemy is to take up your cross of self-denial and follow Christ. Usually when we are deceived it is because there is something we desire intensely. Intense desires will influence your prophecies, your teaching, and your thinking. Keep looking to Jesus until the fires die down and only ashes remain. Then, if it really is the Lord, your desire will be given you when you are more spiritually and emotionally poised. Remember this. It may save you enormous grief in the days ahead.

If you think you can never be deceived you already are deceived. The characteristic of deception is that we do not know when we are deceived. If there are things you are hiding, be extra careful. "They would never understand." Satan works in the dark.

5. The days are growing spiritually dark. This means it is time for the Lord to draw near to His churches, His people.

See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. (Song of Solomon 2:11,12—NIV)

Isn't it just like the Lord to choose the time when spiritual darkness is increasing in the earth to call His Bride to Himself? In this way the Lord God shows His utter contempt for His enemies.

Where does He set a table for us? You guessed it. In the presence of our enemies. Why does He do this? To show His utter disdain for those angels and spirits who would challenge His wisdom and power.

As sin increases grace will increase all the more, not only the grace of forgiveness but the Divine grace that has the power to lift us above the clutches of the evil one, to cause us to sing and dance in righteousness and holiness in the heights of Zion when the world is in flames.

Making Trees of Life

1. One of the chief agents that God employs to change us from living souls to life-giving spirits is tribulation—the fiery trials, the problems and pains we experience throughout our discipleship.

Two effects of tribulation, changing our blood-life to resurrection-life, and enabling us to minister and bear fruit by resurrection-life, come together in practice. As we pass from the adamic blood-life to the resurrection-life of Jesus Christ we minister eternal life to those around us.

This is God's eternal purpose in Christ—to raise up sons who live by His Spirit to such an extent they are able to give eternal life to all of God's children. God is making trees of life—all springing forth from the one great Tree of Life, the Lord Jesus Christ.

2. The result of such suffering was twofold: first, Paul's inward nature was growing in resurrection life; second, the Life of Jesus was being revealed in Paul's body. He was becoming a tree of life. To the present day we are experiencing the life found in the epistles of Paul, the eternal life present in his writings because of the crucifying of his natural life.

All true ministry and fruit-bearing proceeds from the individual who is being crucified with Christ and in whom the resurrected Christ is living.

3. The Jewish feast of Pentecost symbolizes the rain of the Spirit from Heaven.

The Jewish feast of Tabernacles symbolizes the creating of the Throne of God and Christ within the believer so that the water of eternal life flows from the inward personality of the believer rather than coming down as rain.

In order to pass from Pentecost to Tabernacles, thus becoming a tree of life capable of bringing eternal life to the saved nations of the earth, we must have the Throne of God and Christ created within us. God will create His throne in us but it requires that we surrender all aspects of our personality to God.

If we do not give the Lord the key to every room in our heart He will not accept the key to any room. He is God and He will be worshiped. He will not share His Glory with another person. If we are to receive the fullness of the Glory of God we must give up our right to be an independent person. As long as we remain separate from God, retaining our right to exercise our own will, we are another god in the universe, a competitor of the only true God.

There is only one legitimate will in the universe, and that is the will of the Father. The Kingdom of God is the doing of God's will in the earth as it is in Heaven.

4. Let us take a look at the twelfth chapter of the Book of Isaiah. This is what was chanted during the feast of Tabernacles. This is what we will experience as we pass from the Pentecostal experience to the Tabernacles experience.

In that day you will say: "I will praise you, O LORD. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me." (Isaiah 12:1—NIV)

"In that day." That "day" is the Day of the Lord, the day in which the flesh is cast down and the Lord alone is exalted in our life.

As we commence our Christian journey we experience many tribulations. This is because God is angry with the sin and rebellion in our personality. If we do not quit but remain faithful to God, the time comes when God comforts us. He consoles us for the problems and pain we have experienced, problems and pain that have come from His hand.

After we thus are brought low, having humbled ourselves under the hand of God, receiving His chastening with a good spirit, He raises us up. Then we cease attempting to exalt ourselves and begin to praise the Lord. The Lord becomes our focus, instead of ourselves and what we are going to get from the Lord.

Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. (Isaiah 12:2—NIV)

In the Tabernacles experience, God becomes our salvation. He makes us part of Himself. Instead of giving us power, joy, life, righteousness, He Himself becomes our Power, our Joy, our Life, our Righteousness. No longer are we seeking just gifts, although there is a time to desire fervently the gifts of the Spirit, and they are needed in these days that the Body of Christ may come to maturity.

But beyond the gifts there is the Presence of God Himself. This is the highest and best, the rest of God, the eternal Sabbath—the fulfillment of all God intends the Sabbath to be.

Because we no longer are trying to "get" salvation from God, we learn to trust, to lean on the Lord. The life of trust in the Lord is characteristic of the Tabernacles experience.

5. The end result of pressing forward in Christ each day is that our attention is turned away from ourselves, how we are going to benefit, to Christ and how He is going to benefit. We then are prone to be thankful for all our blessings; we find ourselves calling on the Lord throughout the day and night.

When we thus are lost in God we always are making known among the nations what God has done. We always are declaring that His name is exalted.

How wise God is that He is able to bring us all the way from a worldly, sinful, self-centered individual to a new creation fashioned in the moral image of Christ and dwelling in untroubled rest in the Center of God's Person. This is the program and process of salvation.

For eternity we shall be an integral part of God and Christ, living in the glorious Holy Fire, serving as a tree of life to those who are weak and despondent. This will be our life and greatest joy.

The Administration of the Kingdom of God

1. The seven feasts of the Lord are one of the symbols the Lord has put in His Word to show us the way He is traveling. The seven feasts are found in the twenty-third chapter of the Book of Leviticus as well as other places in the Scriptures.

The first three feasts, Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits, portray basic salvation. We have the Passover blood, repentance, water baptism, and the born-again experience. He who believes and is baptized shall be saved from wrath when the Lord comes in His Kingdom. The Lord Jesus is made real to us when we take the steps of basic salvation. These three celebrations are celebrated in one week, the week of Unleavened Bread.

The fourth feast, Pentecost, represents the Holy Spirit. The Church has been enjoying the works of the Holy Spirit throughout the twentieth century. The fourth feast stands by itself, coming fifty days after the week of Unleavened Bread. Perhaps this is because the work of the Holy Spirit is so important in bringing the Bride to the Lamb.

The last three feasts also take place in one week. They are the Blowing of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the feast of Tabernacles.

We just now are coming to the spiritual experiences represented by the last three feasts. Obedience to the Father, perfect rest in His Person and will, are beginning to be emphasized by the Spirit of God.

2. When we are at Pentecost, at the Lampstand so to speak, we are at a place of decision. The significance of the decision cannot be overstated. It is the decision whether to permit Jesus Christ to administrate the Kingdom of God or whether to attempt to use our own wisdom and strength ("with the Lord's help" of course) to administrate the Kingdom.

The issue is the personal cross of the believer. If we are willing to lay down our life, our religious ambition, take up our cross, and follow Jesus, we can pass from Pentecost to the Blowing of Trumpets (announcing the Kingdom of God). We can pass from the Lampstand to the Altar of Incense.

The Altar of Incense is the place where we bow in death to self-will and cry out, "Not my will but Yours be done." Have you been there?

If we are not willing to lay down our life, our religious ambition, but insist on trying to get the Holy Spirit to follow our will, we cannot pass from Pentecost to the Blowing of Trumpets, from the Lampstand to the Altar of Incense.

3. We must turn away from our personal religious ambition, take up our cross, and follow Jesus. It does not matter whether we are ever heard of again. For us to live is Christ and to die is gain. All that matters is that Christ is magnified.

4. Before Christ can share with us His majesty and authority He first must prove our obedience beyond all question. We must be brought very low.

There is rest in the lowly place. The quiet waters of Shiloah flow there.

The decision we must make is: "Will we try to make Christ our servant to accomplish our will in religious matters or will we become the servant of the Lord?"

There is no place in the Kingdom for a will other than that of the Father. There is no place in the Kingdom for a King other than the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no place in the Kingdom for wisdom and power other than that which proceeds from the Spirit of God.

We are not to seek to establish our own will, our own kingship, or our own wisdom and power.

5. Discipleship is accomplished by the Word of God. It is as the Word comes to us line upon line, command upon command, that we begin to grow in the Lord.

But discipleship does not draw crowds ordinarily. It is practiced with a few people at a time who place themselves under an experienced, godly elder who faithfully listens to the Lord and feeds His sheep.

The Lord Jesus always drew the multitudes. But it was eleven disciples who, after having been taught by the Lord, went forth and changed the course of history.

Jesus loves the multitudes. But when He begins to talk to them about living by His body and blood they will leave for more interesting events. It is those who turn away from everything and are taught by Him who finally can bring about eternal growth in the Kingdom of God.

The Goal

1. The goal of the Christian redemption is the raising of our body into eternal life. John 3:16 is referring to the restoration of that which was lost in the Garden of Eden, that is, eternal life in the body: ". . . that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." The Apostle Paul had set everything to one side in order to attain the resurrection to eternal life.

2. For some reason, perhaps from the influence of the philosophy of Gnosticism, the goal of salvation has been changed from attaining to the resurrection, to residence in Heaven. The resurrection to eternal life and residence in Heaven are not at all the same thing. Heaven is a place in the spirit realm. The bringing of the human body into eternal life is the very goal of what is taking place in our salvation. It is the restoration of what was lost in the Garden of Eden.

3. Does it mean we no longer have a sin nature? No. This would contradict the remainder of Chapter Six.

Does it mean we sin but God does not see our sin because it is hidden from His eyes? No. This would contradict the remainder of Chapter Six.

"We died to sin" has to do with our basic orientation to salvation, which is that our adamic nature has been crucified with Christ and our inward nature has been born of God, has been raised from the dead with Christ, and has ascended to the right hand of God with Christ. Therefore for us to continue in sin is to deny the position we have taken by faith.

For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3—NIV)

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, (Ephesians 2:6—NIV)

Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? (Romans 6:3—NIV)

When we were baptized in water we dramatized the fact that we have chosen to place our entire adamic nature on the cross with Christ.

4. Our purpose in dying is that we might live. Resurrection always comes from crucifixion with Christ, from nowhere else. It is only as we are willing to share in His sufferings that we can live by His resurrection Life.

For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. (Romans 6:9,10—NIV)

Christ took upon Himself our sins, He had no sin of His own. Having been raised from the dead He is immortal. Death cannot control Him any longer. Thus Christ died to sin once for all time and now lives to God alone.

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:11—NIV)

We are to live in precisely the same manner. We are to identify ourselves with Christ on the cross, then with His resurrection, then with His ascension. We have died to sin once for all time. We now live to Christ alone and to God through Him.

But is there sin in us? Yes, there is. But the Holy Spirit brings to our attention only a small part of our worldliness, lust, and self-will. We must deal with what we have been shown if we expect to remain without condemnation. We must confess, renounce, denounce, turn away vigorously from whatever problems we are shown. The blood of Jesus keeps forgiving the part of our personality that has not as yet been dealt with.

As the Spirit reveals the death that is in us we must ask God to forgive us and remove it from us. This is what it means to walk in the light of God, and as we do, God forgives us and cleanses us from all sin.

This is how we attain to the resurrection into eternal life in the body. Our body is dead because of the sin that is in us. Our task is to cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He attacks the sin that is causing the death of our body. If we are faithful in putting to death the deeds of our body, then, when the Lord returns, He will finish the work of redemption and clothe us with eternal life.

But if we do not follow the Holy Spirit in putting to death the deeds of our body, then we can forget about being raised into immortality when the Lord returns. It will not take place. We have not overcome sin and therefore we will not be given to eat from the tree of life.

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

If we choose to live according to our sinful, dead body, we will die. What does this mean? It means the eternal life that God had given us when we received Christ will be withdrawn. We have not sown to the Spirit of God but have lived our life in the desires of our flesh and soul. When the Lord returns our body will not be redeemed.

We shall die!

It is our responsibility each day to cooperate with the Spirit of God in putting to death the sinful actions of our body. The Spirit leads us from one area of darkness to another. As we walk in the Spirit we do not fulfill the lusts of our flesh. We subdue our fleshly, soulish desires by the power of God.

The sons of God are those who are led by the Spirit in the warfare against the sinful passions of the physical body.

If we live in victory over our flesh and soul, if we overcome their desires, we will be fed with the hidden manna. This means the body and blood of Christ will be fed to us in the invisible spirit realm.

If we do not live in victory, carelessly neglecting our salvation, yielding to our fleshly nature and ignoring the prayer and meditation in God's Word that are essential to nourishing our new inward nature, we will die spiritually.

This is the meaning of the parable of the virgins. Those who were careless, who did not provide enough oil, were turned away at the coming of the Lord. The "oil" represents the Life of the Holy Spirit. The "lamp" represents the Word of God. It was not enough to be theologically correct. They had to be filled and remain filled with the Spirit of God. Only then could they go to be with the Lord at His coming.

Christ and His Saints Go to Work

1. The reason Christians have a problem with such total sanctification is they do not understand that their adamic nature, their entire adamic personality, is to be placed on the cross and kept there as a living sacrifice to God.

Neither do many Christians understand clearly that they have a new life in the heavens with the Lord Jesus Christ. They are seated with Christ at the right hand of God on a throne above every other authority and power in the universe.

Our life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life shall appear we shall appear with him from our position at the right hand of Power.

But for this to take place it must be true that Christ is our life. We have many chances each day to make Christ our life. Whenever we are faced with a decision to either give way to our adamic nature, or else wait on the Lord until we obtain His grace, we can choose to make Christ our life. We can choose also to yield to our earthly nature and thus miss the opportunity to nourish our life that is in Heaven.

It is as simple as this. The Christian fight of faith is the struggle each day to strengthen our life in Heaven at God's right hand, or else to satisfy the impulses of our flesh and carnal mind.

When we read the Prophets we understand that God intends to bring justice to our weary planet. The point is, God is going to bring that justice through Christ and His saints. It is useless for the Lord to return until His saints are mature enough to work with Him in establishing His righteous Kingdom on the earth. We can, according to Scripture, hasten the Day of the Lord by living in a godly manner.

2. After the Israelites passed Mount Sinai the Lord directed them to organize as an army in preparation for the invasion of Canaan.

In Bible typology, Mount Sinai is representative of the Jewish feast of Pentecost. The next feast after Pentecost is the Blowing of Trumpets—war, in other words. Thus in the type of the organizing of Israel into an army, and the feast of the Blowing of Trumpets, we see that the next event after Pentecost, after the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, is preparation for war.

We notice today that the choruses being sung are often on the subject of war. It is time for the Christian people to be organized into an army, the army of the Lord.

When the Lord Jesus returns with His saints they will be resisted by the armies of the wicked. Therefore they must return as a disciplined army—saints who are invincible because they already have died and been brought back to life in Christ.

3. Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming. It is close at hand— A day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness. Like dawn spreading across the mountains a large and mighty army comes, such as never was of old nor ever will be in ages to come. (Joel 2:1,2—NIV)

A large and mighty army. A great people and a strong. This is the true nature of the return of Jesus Christ to the earth. He will not appear until these saints are ready to appear with Him. He must become their life—the life of each one of them without exception. There can be no Achans in this camp!

Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: "See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones To judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him." (Jude 1:14,15—NIV)

A careful study of the context of this passage from Jude will reveal that this army will judge the hypocrites in the Christian churches. These will be the first to be dealt with by the army of the Lord.

This is why the trumpet is blown in Zion. This is why fearfulness surprises the hypocrites.

The sinners in Zion are terrified; trembling grips the godless: "Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?" (Isaiah 33:14—NIV)

It is the sinners in Zion, in the churches, who will experience terror at the coming of the Lord. There will be trembling and a rupture rather than a hilarious "rapture." Only those who are walking in iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to the Father can dwell with the consuming fire.

When the Lord Jesus appears His saints will appear with Him.

On the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you. (II Thessalonians 1:10—NIV)

When the Lord appears from Heaven His name will be "Faithful and True." To be faithful and true is to have integrity. Those who ride with the Lord also will have integrity. There will be no church foolishness and deviousness, immorality, covetousness, seeking of preeminence, gossip, slander, malice, in this army. These are a kind of Christian we are not always accustomed to.

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. (Revelation 19:11-14—NIV)

The fine linen is the righteous behavior of the saints—behavior that reflects the formation of Christ in their personalities.

At their faces the hypocrites of the churches and the wicked of the earth will be horror stricken, realizing that the game is over. Judgment has come and it knows no favorites.

But the meek of the earth will come with rejoicing, bringing their children with them to present to the Lord. What a day for the righteous, as justice has finally come to them. What a nightmare of agony for those who have lived for their own pleasure on the earth, harming other people in order to secure their own comfort and satisfaction.

The day of reckoning has arrived, administered by the saints.

May the praise of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword in their hands, To inflict vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, To bind their kings with fetters, their nobles with shackles of iron,  to carry out the sentence written against them. This is the glory of all his saints. Praise the LORD. (Psalms 149:6-9—NIV)

4. There will be mighty revival in the closing days of the Church Age. Out of this revival will come a handful of people who are willing to lay down their earthly life and pursue their new born-again life in Heaven at the right hand of God. These are the ones who will rule with Christ, appearing with Him in the Day of the Lord and bringing release to the material creation.

The end-time, latter-rain revival of the closing days of the Church Age is symbolized by the two witnesses of the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation.

The forming of Christ in the saints and their pursuit of life at the right hand of God is symbolized by the birth of the male Son of the twelfth chapter of the book of Revelation.

It is the Ruler of the age to come that is being formed in us. This is why we must be willing to let the Spirit remove worldliness, lust, and self-will from us.

Remember, the wonderful glory of the Day of the Lord will not drop down from the clouds. It will come to the earth through Christ and His saints and be managed by them.

5. If we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; (II Timothy 2:12—NIV)

We have to suffer because we are made perfect through suffering, just as Christ was made perfect through suffering. We have to learn obedience through suffering just as Christ learned obedience through suffering.

When we suffer in the flesh we stop our sinning, as Peter tells us. It is only through suffering that we are enabled to live by the resurrection life of Jesus Christ. As long as we are strong in our own strength we cannot be trusted with the degree of power and wisdom that is to be allocated to the brothers of Jesus Christ. We must be brought down to weakness and helplessness so that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us.

The peoples of the nations want to see Jesus. They want God. They do not want well meaning religious people going through their fleshly antics. It is only as Jesus lives in us that we are bread for people.

The Book of Second Corinthians in several passages tells of the extraordinary sufferings of the Apostle Paul. Yet from this ever-dying man came the Epistles that have changed the course of the history of the world. Tremendous fruitfulness requires tremendous pruning.

We may start out wanting to be a great apostle or great leader of some kind. But when God begins to reveal to us what such elevation would require we may decide the wisest course is to settle for what God wants us to be, for we will just be able to manage to cope with those requirements.

We may desire to be at the right hand of Jesus when He appears. But can we drink the cup? Can we be baptized with the baptism? We can if this is the place appointed for us.

Bibliography

The essays, summaries, and answers for this study guide series were provided from the following works of Robert B. Thompson, as published by Trumpet Ministries, Inc., Escondido, CA. Copyrights for the original and revised manuscripts if indicated. To view these materials click on the hyperlinks found below:

The Two Shall Be One (1998)

Making Trees of Life (1999)

The Administration of the Kingdom of God (1997)

The Goal (1999)

Christ and His Saints Go to Work (1998)

About The Author

Born in Portland, Maine, in July 1925, Robert B. Thompson spent his formative years along the coastline of New England. He was converted to Christ in 1944 while serving with the U.S. Marines in Hawaii on the island of Oahu. A year later, after the conclusion of WWII, he was called to preach the gospel while stationed in Sasebo, Japan.

A former educator, lecturer, and public school administrator, he holds the degree of Doctor of Education from the University of Rochester, New York, and possesses three Life Credentials in the State of California. After many years of work in secular education the Lord burdened his heart to write concerning the works of redemption which come after the Pentecostal experience.

He and his wife, Audrey, have served since February 1976 as pastors of Mount Zion Fellowship in Poway, California. Dr. Thompson has authored more than three hundred books and booklets concerning the Christian salvation.