WALKING WITH GOD
Copyright © 2012 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
After more than 65 years as a disciple of Jesus, I have learned a few things. I would like to share them with you.
Of primary importance, I believe, is that of dedication to God’s will. Much of what we hear today in Christian circles sounds to me like people trying to get something from God, or trying to persuade God to do one thing or another. It seems they are trying to use God for their own purposes. Did it ever strike you that way?
Perhaps an older person is dying, or a younger person has a fatal disease. What is the first thing we do? We storm Heaven asking that the individual be healed. While we may know mentally that the spirit world is a far better world than the valley of the shadow of death in which we are seeking to survive, yet emotionally we regard death as the worst of all catastrophes that can afflict mankind.
The truth is, for the decent person, providing he or she has not rejected Christ when He was presented to him or her, dying and passing into the spirit world is like the summer holidays after school is out and (for some people) after the spring piano recital is past. For myself, the summer holiday was a time of swimming, walking through the woods, flying a model airplane, doing whatever I felt like. I realize it is not that way with all children in our cursed world. I look forward to death that way—like Christmas morning with the presents around the tree.
Clamoring for God to spare someone from death is certainly not a good idea until we hear from God what His intentions are. Why don’t we go to God first and find out what He wants? Then if God wants prayer that He might save someone’s life, then we get busy and pray. Do we want God’s will for the sick individual, or our own will?
The greatest prayer of all is, “Your will be done.” When we can’t pray that, we have an idol. We cannot walk with God with that attitude!
I remember one time my son David had rolled his car and injured his back. The hospital had x-rayed his spinal column and it appeared to be uninjured. Yet he kept complaining of pain in his back. They nurses wanted to dismiss him, and so they told him to be brave and the pain would go away. I went down the elevator and into the parking lot of the Kaiser hospital. I prayed (and it was not an easy prayer), “God, if you want to take David home to You, then I am willing.”
I took the elevator back up to David’s room. Dr. McCarberg, our family doctor, had left his office in the Escondido Kaiser branch and had driven down to the main Kaiser hospital in San Diego. Dr. McCarberg walked into David’s room, reviewed the situation, looked at the x-ray, and said, “Take another x-ray with a side view instead of a front view.” The front view looked straight. The side view was crooked.
When I saw David on the next visit, he was face down in bed. A weight was attached to his head and hanging down to pull his spine straight. Then, when his spine was straight, they inserted a metal rod in his back to maintain the position of the spine.
David is over fifty years old at this time, twenty or more years after the accident. His back is straight and does not hurt. The metal rod has never been removed. He has been very active ever since the operation.
My point is, we must be willing to let God have His way. I thought at the time, while walking in the parking lot, that God might see that David would have turned to wickedness had he lived.
I am not suggesting that we do not pray fiercely that God will answer our desires. We must, or else lapse into passivity or double-mindedness, which get nowhere with God. The point is, not matter how intensely we pray, we always tell God we want His will above all. Until we can say that, we cannot walk with God.
Jesus taught us to persist in prayer. This is what we must do if we expect to get our prayers answered. So learning how to pray vigorously, and at the same time yield to God’s will, is an art; and like all arts, mastery requires much practice.
I am a pastor. For the past few years, I have been emphasizing over and over to the congregation that we must learn to live by the Life of the Lord Jesus. We are to think as Jesus is thinking. We are to speak as Jesus is speaking. We are to act as Jesus is acting. You can see how this ties into doing God’s will at all times.
This may seem impossible to you, to dance with Jesus this way. It is not impossible. It is a way of living that is readily available to you. But, as I said concerning the balance between persistent prayer and saying “Your will be done,” living by the life of Jesus is an art. Learning to live by the Life of Jesus is an art that must be practiced every day and every night. As we practice this, we grow toward mastery of the art—although “mastery” is not exactly the right term, because just when we think we have arrived at mastery, the Lord opens another vista of His will.
It really is simple and pleasant to live by the Life of Jesus. You may notice that all through each day and part of each night, you are faced with a decision, or some kind of worry, or fear, or lustful thought. You just keep asking Jesus to give you His thoughts on the matter. You don’t need to stop what you are doing; it is a matter of disciplining your mind, of bringing every thought into subjection to the Lord Jesus.
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (II Corinthians 10:5)
Now, you are not going to perfect living by the Life of Jesus the first time you try it. Neither are you going to press a 300-pound barbell over your head the first time you try it. Start with twenty-five pounds and see how that goes. Try taking one of your problems and ask Jesus His thoughts on it. You can handle that twenty-five pounds, most likely. Also, you can bring one problem, one decision, one worry before Jesus while you are doing something else.
Try it. Do it. The next day, try thirty pounds. The next day, try two problems and concerns. I do not say you ever will get to where you can press 300-pounds over your head. But if you keep on giving to Jesus some of what you are thinking, some of what you are saying, and some of what you are doing, the day will come when you find that you are living by His Life.
Perhaps your current Christian experience has sufficed to bring you this far. But I say in Jesus’ name, the day is not far off when men’s hearts will be failing them for fear. In that day of Divine judgment, the believer of average Christian experience in America will not stand spiritually, nor will he or she be able to help others to stand.
But if you and I will start today living by the Life of Jesus, we will stand, and help others to stand, throughout the days of Divine judgment that are on the horizon for America as well as for the other countries of the world. Each one of us needs to begin walking with God, as did Enoch of old.
The battle today is for the mind. The development of electronic media is accelerating. From every direction, we are being bombarded with information, values, ideas, lies, moral filth. The Apostle Paul commanded us to bring every thought into subjection to Christ. This is difficult, but possible.
One major problem is that of fretting. Because we continually are confronted with the decisions and actions of wicked people, it requires constant vigilance if we are to cease from fretting, worrying, cursing the darkness. We absolutely must keep our mind free of fretting. The media and television are going to keep bringing to our attention the sinful, self-seeking ways of the political leaders of the world. We must make every effort to avoid these thoughts and keep our minds stayed on Christ at the right hand of God. If we do not, we are going to be torn down from our high place in God and wallow in the mud with the rest of the world.
As King David said, this world is the valley of the shadow of death. Anyone who is content with the drift toward moral uncleanness, especially in the United States where we ought to know better, is no friend of God.
But we are never to fret. The Lord Jesus Christ exercises absolute control over the people of the world, and when we fret and complain, we may be fretting and complaining because of what God is doing. This is why the prayer “Your will be done” is essential.
There are righteous Americans who are infuriated over the direction our government is taking. Most of us can do little besides fret. But what about asking God what His judgment is? Does God care who is President? Is it God who decides who is President? If the people do the deciding, do we really know which man or woman will guide our country in the path God desires?
Unless we hear from God, we may be acting against His will. Think about the fact that America is supporting rebels who are seeking to overthrow tyrants in the Middle East. Yet it is these tyrants who, by and large, have protected the Christian populations, according to what I have read.
I am not suggesting we should not aid the people rebelling against the tyrants, or that we should help them. What I am saying is that in all the decisions we make, we should ask God for wisdom, for there may be unintended consequences.
If the tyrants are replaced by Muslim leaders, albeit through a democratic process, the Christian populations may be killed or driven from the country. This is a good example of being inflamed by information from the media. Also, it is possible our leaders who are making these geopolitical decisions are not going to God to hear His side of the controversy. It could be true that the leaders of our government are not asking God for His wisdom, whether or not we should be meddling in the political affairs of the Middle East. What if it is true that by helping one side or the other, we are laying the groundwork for Muslim unity and a massive jihad against Christians everywhere, or against our nation?
Sometimes the political leaders appear to be arrogant. This attitude is unacceptable, seeing that so many problems are getting worse instead of better. We all need to call on God!
Which brings to mind another matter, and that is the difference between democracy and the Kingdom of God. Actually, the best form of government would be a monarchy in which the king is truly righteous and fears God. From the way they talk, one could wonder if many of the democratic leaders of today do fear God. A leader, whether emperor or democratic, who does not fear God, may be the greatest curse that could fall on a nation.
Some of the founders of America left England because of religious persecution by the established churches. They wanted to be left alone to worship God according to their own beliefs. This is understandable. But another force entered America. This was a secular revolution against the English policy of taxing the colonists when the colonists had no representatives in the English Parliament. You can see how confusion entered. The Gospel of the Kingdom of God became entangled in the minds of the American people with the secular concept of democratic government and the rights of man.
Thus when President Obama, as it is reported, stated that America is not a Christian country, there was not the uproar there would have been a hundred years ago. The President did not say America is not a democratic country; he said, it is reported, that it is not a Christian country.
I am certain there are numerous Christian people in America who deeply resent that statement by the President. But there is not enough civil discontent to make the statement the basis for wholesale rebellion. Some of the polls have reported that a large population of America is not certain what religion the President believes in, although he claims to be a Christian.
So little by little it is becoming apparent that the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and democracy are not at all the same philosophy. It seems to me that those who are stalwart in resisting the current government are outraged over financial considerations. On the other hand, true Christians are outraged over abortion and sexual perversions. Right at this point you can see the divergence between the Kingdom of God and democratic government.
If President Obama had said publicly that America was not a democratic nation, there certainly would have been an uproar. He could not have gotten away with that statement. But there was no uproar (which I am aware of) when he stated America is not a Christian nation. Right here we see the difference between the two belief systems.
I for one believe the President spoke truly. When you consider the moral filth that flows from Hollywood, California, like a huge sewer line of garbage, one hardly could call America a Christian country.
Or one could review the teachings and practices of Christian churches that are preaching unscriptural doctrines, such as lawless grace and escape-by-rapture. Perhaps this is why so many Christians, including pastors, do not have simple integrity of character.
In actual fact, our casual church-attenders who flock to worldly ministers to have their ears tickled are not genuine Christians, no matter what profession they may make. They do not appear to be walking with God!
This reminds me of the parable of the unjust steward. So many ministers are telling the people, “Change your debt from one thousand dollars to one dollar.” In other words, Christ’s demands on you are much less than you might imagine. Jesus said the unjust steward was wise to make friends with the debtors, because when he dies, the debtors will receive him into the everlasting homes. So it is true that when the ear-tickling minister dies, those he lied to will receive him into their everlasting homes. He probably will not be happy living in the homes with the debtors, but it is better than wandering in the spirit world with nowhere to go!
Democracy teaches that we must have freedom of speech. The New Testament teaches that we should speak as an oracle of God. Democracy teaches that we should welcome all religions to our shores. The Bible teaches that there only is one true God, and the Lord Jesus Christ is His Son.
Right now in America we see a willingness to hide the name of Jesus so the members of other religions will not be offended. I will tell you how that reads in Heaven: “You are guilty of denying our Lord.” The penalty for denying Jesus is to have your name denied before the Throne of Heaven.
Again we see how Christianity and democracy are not at all compatible. Yet Christianity will continue to flourish even if every country in the world becomes democratic, which I think will happen. Christianity was born and spread in the Roman Empire, and will survive and flourish in any form of government.
Which brings me to the topic of multiculturalism. This social concept is hostile to Christianity. At one time, I was principal of a public elementary school. Multiculturalism was coming into vogue. The first effect was a directive to rename the Christmas holidays the “spring vacation.” There was to be no evidence of Christmas in the classrooms. I used to roar around asking, “What happened to the ‘melting pot’ idea. Isn’t America supposed to be a melting pot?”
The removal of all evidence of the Christian religion is increasing in America at this time. We boast of religious tolerance. But the effect is the removal of the name of Christ from our stores and institutions. We are so blind we cannot see what is taking place in front of us. I have never heard the President of our country mention the name of God publicly. Perhaps he has at some event. I will tell you one thing: God likes to have His name proclaimed at all times.
Nebuchadnezzar’s dream explains why a multicultural society will not last.
Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay. As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay. (Daniel 2:41-43)
I suspect that when the Lord Jesus returns, and sends out His kings from Jerusalem to govern the world, He will break up America into several smaller countries, with a king over each country. When a country becomes as large as America, it is impossible to enforce righteous laws. No matter what law is passed, there will be people who will resist it.
Also, when America no longer is the wealthy Vanity Fair it was at one time, some of the people who have immigrated to America may return to be with those of their own race and culture.
We in America are not one race. Therefore, the idea of patriotism is greatly weakened. How can one be proud of America when there is an influx of foreigners who are determined to tear down our cultural heritage and impose a culture which is new to us and which many of us abominate? The issue finally must be decided by force because of the strength of the opinions on either side. The result will be a third-class nation, no longer a significant voice in world politics.
All of this because of the prevalence of sin and the moral weakness of the Christian churches.
I notice that even today, given the unprecedented wildfire in Colorado, and the flood in northern Florida, the leaders do not suggest that we should ask God for help. Their advice is if we all work together we will be fine. I wonder how the thousands of people in Colorado whose homes have been burned to the ground feel about this advice!
The idea is that the human spirit will prevail. I don’t believe so. It is the Spirit of God who will prevail. Why can’t we understand that simple, observable fact?
If we in America are going to save ourselves and our families, we must be careful about the prevalence of sexual sins. Sexual lust is a large part of the offering of the media. There is a drive toward public nakedness. I believe this emphasis will increase because there is not enough moral strength to resist it.
The problem with democracy is that rule is from the bottom up. Our politicians are constantly polling the people to see what they want. The primary desire of the politicians is to remain in office. The people do not desire laws that will cause them to forego their pleasures. Consequently the government will be sure to furnish the “bread and circus.” This, of course, is what we are seeing today.
A government ruled by the governed will never impose God’s righteous laws on the populace. Since the purpose of government is to promote God’s moral laws, the government that does not do this cannot endure.
The true Christian life is a way of righteousness. King David said that God guides us in paths of righteousness for His own name’s sake. The Christian message being preached today often does not present a path of righteousness, but a path of belief in certain theological facts, such as the Divinity of Jesus Christ and the blood of atonement. Consequently, the Christian people do not know what righteousness is. Righteousness is righteous behavior, as God judges it.
One time while I was on an airplane, I was writing on my portable computer. A stewardess said to me, “I am a Christian too. What subject are you writing on?” I replied, “Righteousness.” She replied immediately, “I hate that word!”
Now, of all the topics of the Bible, I imagine that righteous behavior is among the most discussed. God loves righteous behavior and wants it practiced everywhere.
Whenever I write the word “righteousness,” I add “behavior.” That should not be necessary. But it is necessary because Christians will read what I am writing, and if I write “righteous,” without adding “behavior,” they will say to themselves, “I am righteous by faith in Jesus Christ.”
Now think about this. If you say someone is righteous, what do you mean, ordinarily? You mean the person has integrity, is honest, tells the truth, is loyal to his wife. Is that correct? Is that what you would mean? Or would you mean that person is righteous because of his or her faith in Christ?
George Washington was a righteous president, by all accounts. Does this mean he had accepted Christ, or does it mean he was loyal, truthful, and faithful to his duties? There is a legend that when Washington was a boy, he confessed to his mother that he had chopped down a cherry tree. Parents and teachers used to tell this story to children because they wanted the children to be righteous. Today many of the secular people would scorn such a tale and seek to prove it never happened.
Today, many church people and their leaders would tell us that it does not matter whether the story is or is not true, because we are saved by grace through faith, not by behaving righteously. What a moral mess our country is in!
You can see what a tremendous issue this is! Christians, in their man-made covenant, “the four steps of salvation,” state that no individual who has ever lived, except Christ, has been righteous. Yet there are numerous persons whom the Bible terms righteous, beginning with Noah.
This is the account of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God. (Genesis 6:9)
This reminds me of a statement by Geronimo, a famous Apache warrior. Late in his life Geronimo converted to Christianity. He told his followers that he had chosen Christianity instead of one of the Indian religions. “I have advised all of my people who are not Christians, to study that religion, because it seems to be the best religion in enabling one to live right.”
The Bible used to be called “The Good Book” because it teaches people to live right. Not any longer, we think. The Bible tells us what to believe, not how to behave, we claim. This is a gross error of understanding. It has wrecked the moral strength of the Christian churches. This makes Christianity just another of the many religions of the world that also make belief more important than character and behavior.
The Christian mentality is split. On the one hand, we deplore the moral filth into which our country is sliding. While on the other hand, we reject the concept that if we are to walk with God, we must be actually righteous in behavior. Our religion so often teaches what we must believe instead of how we must act.
When the Lord Jesus told us to let our light shine so people would glorify God, He was referring to our behavior, not to our belief system.
I wonder how long it will be before some famous Christian leader grasps what is wrong with our present understanding of the Kingdom of God, and announces that we have been wrong all this time. This is what it will take, you know, for true revival to begin. The Christian people absolutely must repent of their personal sins and turn away from them. This is what Jesus wants, so He will help us with this.
The actual new covenant, not the “four steps of salvation,” points us toward a new person—an individual who has the eternal moral law carved in his or her mind and heart. Thus the new individual, the “life-giving spirit,” can come into existence only as we are willing to put our first nature to death through the Spirit of God.
As we trudge along after the Lord Jesus, obeying Him strictly, we come to the conclusion that salvation is of the Lord. People can only do what God puts into their heart and mind to do.
Are you spiritually stronger than most Christians you know? Do not boast. God has put in your heart the desire to follow Christ fervently. Is someone else sort of fluttering around, not being able to make up his mind about the Lord? Do not criticize. There but for the grace of God go you, whether or not you realize it. Pray for that double-minded person. Jesus will hear your prayer. You must pray for the weak members of the Body if you are to walk with God.
Our hope one day is to see the face of the Father, as it says in Revelation chapter 22. If that isn’t a wonderful goal, I do not know what is!
This brings me to another important concept. There will be two distinctly different groups of people who will constitute the new world of righteousness:
- There will be the Church, the royal priesthood, whom God has called from the beginning of the world.
- Then there will be the saved people who are the inheritance of the priesthood.
If you will read Revelation chapter 21, you will see the Church, which is the new Jerusalem, and then the nations of saved people who walk in the light of the Church. You will see these two groups in Matthew chapter 25. There are Christ and His brothers, who are the Church, the royal priesthood, and then there are the “sheep.” The Kingdom of God is the inheritance of the sheep. The sheep are people chosen from the nations on the basis that they were kind to Christ’s brothers.
Christ and His brothers are the Kingdom of God, the royal priesthood. They rule and guide the sheep. The sheep walk in their light, thus fulfilling the words of Christ, “You are the light of the world.”
The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. (Revelation 21:24)
When people say they are “saved,” and do not care to press forward in Christ, it reminds me of the story by Sholem Aleichem in which the beggar, who died, went to Abraham’s bosom, and was offered whatever he desired in Heaven. The beggar asked for a hot roll with butter. So it is when Christians who have been called to the royal priesthood want just to avoid Hell and go to Heaven. That is enough for them—a hot roll and butter. God has much more for us than escaping Hell and entering Heaven.
After our forgiveness through the blood atonement, perhaps the next most significant act of redemption is our resurrection from the dead, that is, the redemption of our mortal body from the hand of Satan.
There are two major resurrections. The first will occur when the Lord returns. The second will take place at the time of the final judgment, at the conclusion of the thousand-year Kingdom Age (Millennium).
I suppose the general opinion is that Christ will come, bring up to Heaven all the professing Christians, and then at some later time gather the Christians who have been reclining in their mansions, teach them to ride the war-stallions, and then tell them they must return to earth to wage war against Satan. Won’t they be delighted? If they behave then like they do today, they will tell the Lord, “No thanks!”
If I am not mistaken, when the Lord comes, He will bring the heroes of faith of the preceding centuries, and raise their bodies from the dead. Then He will transform the bodies of the called, chosen, and faithful saints who are alive on the earth when the Lord appears. Then, after a period of time to give the risen saints a chance to get used to their new bodies, He will gather both groups and lift them to where He is in the air, and mount them on the white war-stallions. Then Christ at the head of His two armies, the saints and the warrior angels, will descend and destroy the armies of Antichrist.
That is the first resurrection. It is the resurrection of the members of the royal priesthood who will, alongside Jesus Christ, govern the nations of the earth.
The second resurrection is the bringing to life the bodies of every person born on the earth who was not brought to life in the first resurrection. This is a much larger group. Then the Lord Jesus will separate the sheep from the goats. The sheep will be placed as citizens on the new earth when it is created. The goats will be thrown into the Lake of Fire. This is the scenario as I understand it at the present time.
The first resurrection must be attained to. It is worth every effort we can make to be counted among the called, chosen, and faithful. The Apostle Paul made the first resurrection the goal of his discipleship.
The worst part of the Lake of Fire is that the longer the individual is there, the more he or she will become like Satan. The best part of being forever with the Lord Jesus is that we will become more and more like Him.
We often hear that our goal as Christians is to escape Hell and go to Heaven when we die. Heaven is our home, it is proclaimed. But there is no scriptural basis whatever for this venerable tradition.
The Lord Jesus is our Redeemer. This means He is restoring to us what was lost in the beginning. What was lost in the beginning was Paradise plus the opportunity to become immortal by eating of the Tree of Life. Christ came to restore immortality to mankind (“should not perish but have eternal life”). But before we can enjoy immortality, we must confess and turn away from our sinful, self-willed personality and put on the new man. When we have attained to immortality, Paradise will be restored to us; although now it will be governed by the Kingdom of God, the members of the royal priesthood.
Thus we see that going to Heaven is not our goal; it is the attaining to immortality through Christ that is our goal. He is redeeming us from the hand of the enemy, not from the earth.
“In My Father’s house are many mansions.” First of all, the Father’s house is not Heaven, it is the Lord Jesus Christ. The “mansions” are rooms in Christ in which we are to dwell. Christ is the chief Corner Stone. The entire building, Christ and us, is the dwelling place, or Tabernacle, of God, mentioned in Revelation chapter 21.
The whole effort of the Divine redemption is to build a resting place for God.
Every Christian at some point must experience God’s anger. When we come to this period in our life, we may be dismayed. But God is displaying His anger toward our original personality.
There is no need to worry. After God has torn us apart, He will put us together according to the design He has in mind for us. I’ll assure you that after God has torn you to pieces and then has bound you up, you will be an infinitely better person. You will have a better understanding of God, as was true of Job after his experience with God.
“No man can see God and live.” We never will be able to see God until we are a new creation in Christ and have a pure heart. Actually, we must become as a child. We must “grow down” until we are like God.
Did you ever see people play volleyball? Back and forth goes the ball over the net. When we are immature in Christ, we play volleyball with God. We pray, and then God answers. But if we follow Christ diligently, the hour will arrive when we are on the same side of the net with God. Then we learn what God is doing and we do the same thing, without expecting any sort of reward.
God Himself has become our Salvation.
One of the most destructive ideas that Christians have is that Christ “did it all.” Perhaps they get this idea from Jesus who said, “It is finished.” What was finished on the cross actually was the entire first creation.
If people would read the New Testament, they would discover that there is much we must do if we want to make progress in the program of redemption.
- We must keep on pressing forward in Christ.
- We must put off our old sinful nature and put on the new man.
- We must present our body as a living sacrifice.
- We must pray without ceasing.
- We must confess our sins and turn away from them.
No, Jesus did not “do it all.” It is the sword of the Lord and of Gideon. If Gideon does not do his part, there will be no victory. If we are to make a success of the life of victory in Christ, Christ must do His part and we must do our part.
If we try to fight the battle in our own strength, we will become frustrated and defeated. If we wait for Christ to do it all, nothing will happen. This is a simple truth and clear in the New Testament. Yet we still have preachers saying there is nothing whatever we are to do, and that Christ did it all on the cross. How utterly ridiculous, in the light of the teaching of the New Testament.
I might mention another bit of unclear thinking. When we say Jesus takes away our sin, we are interpreting this to mean Jesus takes away the guilt of our sins. Taking away guilt, and taking away sins, are two distinctly different operations of redemption and have distinctly different consequences.
- Taking away the guilt of our sins means that God has forgiven us and now will help us to walk in the paths of righteousness.
- Taking away our sins means the compulsion to sin has been removed from us and we will not behave in that manner any longer.
Be careful when you are reading the New Testament to notice whether the passage is speaking of taking away guilt or taking away the sin itself. People cannot always see the results when our guilt has been taken away. But they always can see the results when our sinning has ceased. This is our light that we are supposed to allow to shine so people will glorify God.
The relationship of Christians to the Ten Commandments is not always made clear. The Christian is not under any aspect of the Law of Moses. The Law governs our first nature. When our first nature is “dead,” the Law no longer has authority over us. The Ten Commandments are the eternal moral law of God. They are being written in our mind and heart if we are following Christ. However, they are in a greatly expanded form.
The commandment that may trouble Christians most is that concerning the Sabbath Day. The stipulation that the person stop working on one day of the week and pay attention to God, seeking God’s pleasure, governs our first personality, which we are counting as dead. The Sabbath Law finds its perfect fulfillment in the new nature of the Christian, as he seeks the pleasure of God every day of the week, continually growing in his desire to please God and do His will. He does not stop on one day each week to look to God. Every day is holier than the preceding as the believer presses toward the first resurrection.
The coming of the Kingdom of God was preached by John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus, and the Apostles of Christ. We pray in the Lord’s Prayer for the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.
Somehow the Gospel of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth has been changed into the going of the Church to Heaven. I do not know how this change occurred, but it is the opposite of God’s intention.
In the beginning there was a man and a woman in a garden. They were told to multiply and to govern the earth. God was with them.
It is something like this that God intends to restore. The difference will be that the people will be trained in righteousness and there will be a government, the Kingdom of God, to make certain that people love God with all their heart, and their neighbor as themselves.
Also, Satan no longer will have access to the restored Garden, the new world of righteousness.
The idea of mansions in Heaven is fanciful. It is man’s idea of what he would like. But it does not compare with the righteousness, love, peace, and joy that will fill the second Garden. However, the best part of the new world will be the Presence of God and Christ. God and Christ will be living in the members of the royal priesthood and will be readily available to all citizens of the new earth, the “sheep nations.”
The River of Life will flow from the Bride of the Lamb, the new Jerusalem, and the members of the Bride will be growing on the banks of the River of Life and will be a source of healing for the nations on the earth.
God will have expanded Himself. He then will be dwelling in Christ and in the members of the Body of Christ. Thus there will be one Presence of God in the new world — the Father and all those in whom He is dwelling.
It is the same Oneness that is present today in the Father and the Son. It is for this role that the saints are being prepared today. To attain to our role of being One in the Father and the Son is worthy of our best efforts.
We might say that in the future, Heaven is coming to the earth.
In the beginning of the program of redemption, we learn of the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Next we learn of the Spirit of God. In the day in which we are living, we are to learn of the Father. The Lord Jesus came to earth to tell us about the Father. Christ is the Way to the Father, not the way to Heaven as is maintained so frequently. Going to Heaven is not the same as going to the Father!
The expression “born again” is not fully understood today, I believe. We are using “born again” when we mean conversion to Christianity. Being born again is not a mental acceptance of the Gospel of Christ. Rather, it is the planting of the Divine Seed in us. When the Seed has come to maturity, we will be a son of God in the image of the Lord Jesus. It is our responsibility to nurture the Seed that has been planted in us by living as a fervent, diligent disciple of Jesus, reading our Bible, praying each day, and obeying Christ completely.
Every son of God, beginning with the Lord Jesus, is tempted in three ways. He or she is tempted to place ensuring his survival as the first priority of his life. He is tempted to worship pleasure. He is tempted to live by his own will instead of the will of God.
In the beginning God said to Cain, “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” (Genesis 4:7)
It is our responsibility when we are tempted to go to Jesus and ask Him to help us to master the sin. To believe that “Jesus did it all,” and there is nothing we are to do, may well be the most destructive doctrine ever to be introduced into Christian thinking.
There are two years in the Jewish calendar. The religious year begins with Passover. The business year begins in the seventh month of the religious year with the Blowing of Trumpets. We have come today to the spiritual fulfillment of the Blowing of Trumpets. The King, Jesus, is declaring war on His enemies, beginning with the members of His Church. It is because we are in the days when the spiritual fulfillment of the Blowing of Trumpets that renewed emphasis is being place on the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth. The Blowing of Trumpets heralds the coming of the solemn Day of Atonement, a week or so later.
Two goats were offered on the Jewish Day of Atonement. One goat was slain and its blood was sprinkled upon and before the Mercy Seat in the Most Holy Place. This was a goat of atonement for the people of Israel to forgive their sins. There was a second goat, also referred to as an atonement. This goat was not slain.
But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the Lord to be used for making atonement by sending it into the desert as a scapegoat. (Leviticus 16:10)
To make atonement (reconciliation to God), the scapegoat was sent into the wilderness.
When Aaron has finished making atonement for the Most Holy Place, the Tent of Meeting and the altar, he shall bring forward the live goat. He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites—all their sins—and put them on the goat’s head. He shall send the goat away into the desert in the care of a man appointed for the task. The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a solitary place; and the man shall release it in the desert. (Leviticus 16:20-22)
I suspect that of all the understanding I think God has given me, and I have written down for the Body of Christ, one of the most important surely is that of the two goats of the Day of Atonement.
- The first goat was slain, and represents the forgiveness we have through the Lord Jesus Christ. For two thousand years, the Christian churches have proclaimed faithfully the blood atonement made on the cross of Calvary. In the first goat, we have forgiveness of our sins through the blood of Christ.
- In the second goat, we have the symbol of the removal of our sins. This is based on the blood of the first goat, but is a separate and distinct act of atonement. It is my impression that the second goat is not preached as widely as the first, but its spiritual fulfillment probably is the more important half of the Divine redemption.
The second goat, so to speak, has begun today. God is requiring each of us Christians, as we become aware of our sins, to confess them and renounce them as fit only for the Lake of Fire. When we do this, our sins are removed from us, just as the scapegoat was sent away from the camp of Israel.
Without the removal of sin, the forgiveness of our guilt does not at all accomplish God’s purpose in the atonement. What good is it to God if our sins are forgiven? It is the removal of our sins that makes it possible for us to inherit God’s Kingdom.
We rejoice in forgiveness. God rejoices in forgiveness and then in deliverance—the removal of the sin from our personality.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9)
Do you want to be purified from the compulsions of sin? Of course you do. So do I. Let’s you and I be faithful to the advice of the Apostle John.
In conclusion, let me say that we must press forward to grasp that for which we have been grasped, which is to be filled with all the fullness of God as a member of the royal priesthood. If we do so, then when the Lord Jesus returns to earth, He will raise us from the dead, or change us into immortality if we are still living on the earth.
When we have been raised from the dead, we will experience never ending strength, never ending energy, never ending intelligence and awareness of who we are and our surroundings, and never ending memory, although the troubling memories will be removed.
These enablements will have been added to us because we have been faithful in obeying the Spirit of God.
But what about people who have not known Christ, or who have not been diligent in their Christian lives? When they die, it is my opinion that they will be conscious and have a will and some sort of recognizable form. If they have displeased Christ, they will be led into the Land of Darkness.
If they have not displeased Christ by their decisions and their behavior, they will enter a training institution in which they will be taught the ways of Heaven — in particular, strict obedience to the Lord Jesus, love for God with all their heart, and love for their neighbor as themselves. Then they will be released into communities where they will live normal lives and be taught still further. Their final destinies will be determined when the books are opened at the last judgment. Either they will be granted citizenship on the new earth or they will be cast into the Lake of Fire.
This is my understanding at the present hour, as I continue to do my best to walk with God.
(“Walking with God”, 3392-1, proofed 20211009)