MUSINGS, BOOK FOUR Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
The following short articles are thoughts that have occurred to me through the years. Perhaps they will be a help to younger Christians who are making their way through the wilderness of the present world.
Table of Contents
Perfecting the Messenger
Mastering the Scriptures
In All Your Ways
Following the Lamb
A Message to the Heavenlies
The True Goal
The Wonderful Hope
Have faith To Accept the Good
Groups and Individuals
Christ in Our Heart
We Will Come With Him
Who Is Sent to Hell?
Partaking of Christ After Death
Pleasure at the Expense of Others
God Answers Prayer
Living by the Life of God
Where I am
Degrees of Fruit-bearing
These Are All That Matter
A Suitable Support
Pressing Toward the Future
Truth Is a Person
Dynamic, Not Static
Fruit or Fire
Revelation 11 and 12
Salvation, and Victory Over Sin
The Removal of Physical Death
Heaven and Sin
All Whom the Father Gives Me
Created To Be Part of God
Your Body Belongs to God
Preached as a Testimony
What Is a Christian?
A God at Hand
The Preservation of People
Reserving Part of Ourselves
God Does Not Want Man To Prosper by Himself
Our Appearance in the Spirit Realm
He Who Has an Ear
Activity After We Die.
Conviction and Condemnation
That Which Is Perfect
Gods Will; Gods Word; Gods Character
I Know Your Works
Seeking Death and Not Finding It
What I Have Heard and Seen With the Lord
This Old House
The Dragon That Is in the Sea
The Blood Is Not an Excuse for Sinning
Jesus Christ Came Into the World To Set People Free
By Prayer Rather Than by Analysis
Gods Will and Gods Commandments
The Essential Reality
Why Will We Appear With Christ?
Kicking Against the Goads
Not Going but Coming
The Next Step
MUSINGS, BOOK FOUR
FearBeing afraid of what people can do to us, or of anything else, will prove to be a snare. If we are living in the wisdom and power of Jesus Christ we have no need to live in fear.
I wonder how many times the Lord said to people "Do not fear." It is clear the Lord Jesus does not want us to live in fear.
One of the first things Christ says to us is when we are praying about something we fear will happen is,"Do not fear."
There is no question but that life on earth is filled with fear dread, apprehension of all sorts. Fear cripples us, and sometimes has a bad effect on our mental health and sometimes our physical health.
Christ is our safety, our shield, our strong Rock of protection.
There is a prayer I have found helpful. Maybe it will be useful to you.
There are times when it seems like our whole house is filled with apprehension. There is apprehension when we wake up and apprehension when we lay down to go to sleep. It is a kind of nameless dread.
I have found that by going to the Lord and asking Him to cleanse our house of all spirits of fear and dread, that there usually is a lifting of the darkness.
In fact, there is a prayerful way to handle physical symptoms of one sort or another. Let us say we have a pain in our stomach. We imagine we have stomach cancer, or ulcers, or who knows what. And we worry about it.
The best thing to do is to forget what might be the source of the problem and deal with the pain itself. Ask the Lord to lift the pain. Also tell the Lord if there is something you are doing that is causing the pain, such as drinking too much coffee, or living under too much stress, to guide you to more healthful living.
Always ask the Lord if you should go to the doctor. If there really is cancer, or bleeding ulcers, or some other source of stomach pain, then watch the Lord closely and He will guide you. Even in this instance He will give you assurance, and the medical condition will work for your good in some manner.
When we are serving the Lord, all things are working together for our good.
The Lord does not want us to worry or fret about anything.
It is difficult in America at this time (March 14, 2003) to not worry or fret. It seems like our culture is in upheaval. Not only is there the prospect of war, but there are economic problems, and an abundance of crime and murder. Immorality is increasing on every hand.
We simply have to pray without ceasing that God will lift the worry and fretting from us.
We never are to fear what man can do to us.
Do you remember how afraid Jacob was when Esau was coming to meet him?
Jacob "prayed through." Do you know what it means to pray through? Have you had that experience?
Perhaps the younger generation has never heard of "praying through."
What you do is pray until you know God has heard you.
How do you know if God has heard you?
You will know. You just cant pray about that particular problem any more. There is no prayer there, maybe a praise, or song, or great peace. But the prayer is over and the burden has lifted
John said if we know He hears us we know we have the answer.
I have been praying for many years. I can tell when God has heard me. I have learned that once I know God has heard me, the answer is certain.
This is how you handle fear. You take it to the Lord as soon as possible. You pray until you know God has heard you. After you do this a few times, and see that the prayer always is answered, you will gain confidence.
Why dont you right now make a list of the things that are troubling you. Take them to the Lord one at a time and pray until you know God has heard you.
This is how we are to live. This is why Paul told us to pray without ceasing. We continually are to be lifting up to the Lord the problems that are troubling us.
I dont know about you, but there is hardly a day goes by that there is not some dread attacking my mind. I keep praying, praying, praying. One by one the path opens. The way is made clear. The problems are solved.
We handle fear by bringing out into the open what it is that is troubling us. You know, when we are serving the Lord, death itself holds not terror. If we are serving the Lord, to die is to enter a higher plane of living.
If we are living in Jesus we already have come to Mount Zion in the heavenlies. We have come to the innumerable company of angels and to the spirits of righteous men made perfect.
When we die our body will be left here to await the Day of Resurrection, but we will remain where we are nowin Mount Zion. This is what Jesus meant by saying "He who lives and believes in me shall never die."
As we keep pressing into Jesus our place in Mount Zion becomes more real to us. When we die we will continue in the life we already have in Christ. So what is there to fear?
Satan loves the dark. He loves to keep nameless fears in our subconscious so we never can enjoy the peace and assurance that we should be experiencing.
We handle this by bringing up these fears, looking at them, and then taking them to the Lord.
I had a fear once of going insane. I finally said to the Lord: "All right. So they are going to drag me out of the house in front of the neighbors in a straitjacket. Then I am going to be put in an institution and watch television all day with the other inmates.
"Fine. I can do this and praise the Lord. There is no problem here."
In other words, you look at the fear, whatever it is. Then you take it to the Lord and gain His peace and assurance that you will be fine.
Your biopsy comes out positive. Your child comes down with a dreadful disease. You lose your job. So many happenings can terrify us. Our once sunny environment becomes filled with grim forebodings.
Above the clouds, the Lord is still on the throne. It is but a brief trial of our faith. We can overcome the fear by praying about every fear, bringing each one to the Lord until we have peace.
There do come dark hours in our Christian discipleship. All of us are living in situations that are contrived so as to bring out what is in our character. We are not put into this world to have fun but to accomplish Gods will in our personality, in preparation for the true world of the future. The Lord always is in control of every detail.
We have to learn to endure hardness, and just keep pressing forward in the Lord. The testing will be completed soon enough.
In all of our Job-like trials there are many opportunities for fear to gain the upper hand over us. We must not give in to the fear. It is not coming from the Lord but from the enemy. Jesus is always giving us peace and assurance no matter what the situation is.
There is nothing people can do to harm us. They cannot take our peace unless we allow them to do so. Should we be subject to war, or even physical torture, the Lord will still be with us. He has brought His people through every kind of pain and disaster for thousands of years. They have survived and now are singing praises to the Lamb.
We also shall survive. One day we too will be singing praises to the Lamb in that glorious world where He brings those who are faithful to Him.
Fear and faith cannot dwell together in our heart. To permit fear to conquer us always leads us into a trap. What we fear finally happens to us. We bring defeat on ourselves because we are afraid of being defeated.
I dont know why the fearful are the first class of people in the Lake of Fire. Perhaps it is because when we are willing to live in a fearful manner we are testifying that God is unable to deliver us.
It is certain the Israelites were driven back into the wilderness to die there, just because they were afraid of the enemy. Instead of rejoicing in the promises of God, being confident that He was bringing them to joy and peace, they permitted fear to take hold of them. As a result they were grumbling and complaining instead of rejoicing in their always-victorious Lord.
Let us learn from the Israelites. Let us refuse to accept the darkness and the fear, for they may cause us to grumble and complain against the Lord. Satan continually endeavors to keep us in an uneasy, fearful state. We can overcome fear by praying without ceasing. In the meanwhile we are to fortify ourselves with the many promises in the Bible that guarantee protection in the day of trouble for those who are serving the Lord.
Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe. (Proverbs 29:25)
Perfecting the MessengerThe Christian Church throughout its history has placed much emphasis on the work of the ministry. I wouldnt be surprised if we learn some day that God is more interested in the maturing of His ministers, His witnesses, than He is in the work they accomplish.
I suppose it is only natural that we place more emphasis on what a Christian should be accomplishing than on what he himself is becoming. I think this attitude has been true throughout Church history, to a certain extent. It is easy for American believers to adopt this viewpoint, because as a nation we probably look at great accomplishments as justifying a lack of virtue in the doer of the deeds.
Since denominations usually want to grow in the number of their adherents, it is possible that the character of the workers, as well as the character of the proselytes they gain, is not viewed with the same interest as that of how many join the institution.
"Work! work! work!" Babylon cries.
You know, I dont think God looks at things this way.
As a so-called teacher of the deeper life, I sometimes have been criticized for not encouraging the people to "get out and do something."
Do you ever hear preachers rant about how the people are sitting in their pews, growing fat, and not going from door to door; or not taking to the street to protest abortions; or not becoming more active politically?
It can make us feel guilty, cant it? I have had to weather these storms.
When I go to the Lord, He reminds me that I am to be feeding His sheep. He doesnt say anything about commanding them to go forth and grow wool, or pull wagons, or rent themselves out as saddle horses.
Personally I think God is interested in His people, His witnesses, coming to maturity in Christ. It certainly is true that if they dont come to spiritual maturity they are going to lose part or all of their inheritance, no matter what they accomplish in religious work.
Religious work cannot take the place of growing to maturity in Jesus Christ.
The fact of the matter is this: We have a few brief years to do religious work. But after we die we will spend eternity in a role suited to our development in Christ.
I think God gives us these tasks of ministry to provide for us a chance to grow in Christ.
I have noticed in studying how God works, particularly in revivals, that God often will reach down and intervene. Suddenly multitudes of people are saved and filled with the Holy Spirit.
Now if God can do this once He can do it all the time. In other words, He is able to work apart from us.
The lesson we learn from this is to concentrate on finding Gods will for our life. If God can save anyone He wants to at any time that pleases Him, then our attention should be given to finding out what He wants us to do rather than focusing on how many people we are going to save.
When we go to God concerning what He wants us to do, He sometimes directs us toward the needs in our own life. Or He tells us to rest in Him. He just doesnt seem to be that anxious for us to start figuring out how we are supposed to be building the Kingdom of God.
My wife, Audrey, and I have been Christians since we were nineteen. We always have desired to work full-time in the ministry. But God did not lead us out of secular employment into full-time ministry until I was fifty years of age.
We have been in full-time ministry for over twenty-five years now. As I look back I can see how necessary it was for me to work in the public schools as preparation for the work of pastoring a church.
God knows what He is doing. And He is more interested in perfecting His messengers than He is in our rushing forth to try to build the Kingdom of God.
If God can bring us to spiritual maturity in this life, then He has a servant whom He can use for eternity. But if we preach to thousands of people, and then disqualify ourselves because of our spiritual immaturity, we leave a faulty testimony and are of no use to God during the ages to come.
I know of two incidents, one in our own extended family, where young couples were encouraged to go into full-time ministry. In both instances the Lord had mercy on them and they had to withdraw. I say the Lord had mercy on them because He knew they would have been harmed in some manner had they continued on the path they were following.
God is far, far more interested in what we are becoming than He is in what we are accomplishing?
We often hear Christians speak of "witnessing." It is my point of view that Gods creates His witnesses. He makes His own fishers of men. When the believer lives a life of solid dedication to the Lord, he or she becomes a witness; he or she becomes a fisher of men. The ability comes as a natural outgrowth of maturing in the Lord.
The point is to get people to press into Jesus! Then He will do the work of the Kingdom through them.
It is a good thing for the believer to seek the Lord for gifts and a ministry. It is profitable also for the believer to be available for work in his or her local assembly. Whatever he does he should do with all his heart. The Lord rewards diligence. When we are faithful in small matters, the Lord increases our responsibilities.
So I am not advocating laziness. I merely am pointing out that God is desirous that each one of us come to maturity as measured by the stature of the fullness of Christ. We have been predestined to be in the moral image of Christ that we might be one of His brothers. This moral transformation is always paramount in importance, whether or not God sees fit to use us in some corner of His Kingdom.
The forty-third chapter of the Book of Isaiah is a passage that I think shows Gods point of view toward His witnesses, His eternal servants. The following verses give us insight into what it means to be a witness of Christ.
But now, this is what the LORD sayshe who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze." (Isaiah 43:1,2)
First we need to understand God has chosen His witnesses from the beginning of the world. He creates them. He forms them. He redeems them. He calls them by name. They belong to Him in a manner not true of the remainder of the people in the world.
We need to cherish this sense of being chosen. I think both the Jews and the Christians are not always pleased with the idea of being a chosen people. The fact that we have been chosen should not make us proud. If it does, God will take care of that problem. Rather, it should make us desirous of pleasing Him who has chosen us.
Gods elect are a firstfruits of mankind. God accepts the remainder of mankind when His elect are offered to Him as a holy sacrifice. Our role is to lift holy hands in adoration to God at all times. Then God can accept the nations of the earth. This is the principle of the firstfruits.
Gods witnesses always pass through the waters and the fires. But God always is with us and delivers us. When we note that God always is with us and delivers us, then we are able to bear witness of the faithfulness and power of God. We cannot be a witness until we have seen and heard something. Isnt that true?
For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life. (Isaiah 43:3,4)
The above seems undemocratic, doesnt it? Whether we like it or not, God chooses whom He will. God shows His love to His elect by destroying their enemies.
The idea of God choosing one person over another is repugnant to us. This is because we do not understand God or His Kingdom. How can the American believers of today bear witness of God when they do not understand Him or His ways? This is ridiculous.
We need to get used to the idea that God is a great King and He always does what pleases Him. He does not have to answer to us as to the righteousness of His behavior. He has given His Son on the cross. That deed alone is enough to demonstrate Gods righteousness.
Before we can be a witness of God we must understand God has chosen us from the beginning of the world to be His witnesses. When we seek Him diligently He causes us to bear witnesswhether or not we realize we are bearing witness.
Bearing witness is not preaching. It is the act of revealing in ourselves the Person, will, way, and eternal purpose of God in Christ.
Recently a minister of the Gospel slandered the character of Mohammed, the founder of the religion of Islam. Did he suppose he was bearing witness of Jesus Christ? He certainly was not! We bear witness by good deeds. When we feed the hungry and clothe the naked of the Muslims, then we are bearing a true witness of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our light, our witness, is that of good works, not religious talk.
There assuredly is a time and place for preaching and teaching the Gospel. Some of us have been gifted so we are able to feed the Lords sheep. But this is not bearing witness. Bearing witness is showing by word and deed what we have learned as we have walked with the Lord. And we learn to be kind to people, not to scorn them because we think they are following false gods.
Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, "Give them up!" and to the south, "Do not hold them back." Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth(Isaiah 43:5,6)
Notice the sovereignty expressed here. God is going to bring His children home. Of course, this is speaking of physical Israel. But it reveals that we do not have to take it upon ourselves do Gods work for Him.
God speaks to people and they play the role that God has chosen for them in bringing the Jews home. And so it is true in all Kingdom work. Christ is building His own Church. We are not building it. Our job is to follow the Lord closely and to obey Him. When we do this we grow spiritually and we also are profitable in the work of the Kingdom.
Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made. Lead out those who have eyes but are blind, who have ears but are deaf. (Isaiah 43:7,8)
There are people whom the Lord has called, whom He has created for His glory, whom He has formed and made. They have eyes to see the Lord but are blind to the ways of the flesh. They have ear to hear the Lord but are not influenced by the media. What they see Jesus do, that is what they do.
All the nations gather together and the peoples assemble. Which of them foretold this and proclaimed to us the former things? Let them bring in their witnesses to prove they were right, so others may hear and say, "It is true." "You are my witnesses," declares the LORD, "and my servant whom I have chosen, so you may know and believe me and understand I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. (Isaiah 43:9,10)
There have been numerous philosophers and educators, scientists and sociologists, psychiatrists and psychologists, who have endeavored to lead us in the ways of peace and prosperity. But the Lord Jesus stated two thousand years ago that wars and rumors of wars would persist. Jesus has been correct. The professional people seem never to be able to come to the truth. Isnt it so?
Notice carefully the following:
"You are my witnesses," declares the LORD, "and my servant whom I have chosen, so you may know and believe me and understand I am he."
We are Gods chosen witnesses so we may know and believe God. The emphasis is not on knowing the needs of mankind but on knowing and believing God. It seems to me that when we get our eyes on the needs of mankind we lose sight of God. The point is to know and believe God. Then we will most effectively meets the needs of people.
In other words, the act of witnessing is the act of knowing God and believing God. When we do this, God can reveal through us Himself, His way, His will, and His eternal purpose in Christ.
The better we know God the better witness we are.
How different this is from doing religious work, or trying to go out and witness.
God will spend years perfecting His messenger. After the messenger has been tried in the fires of life on earth he then is ready to serve God for eternity.
When we present the Christian religion as an organized effort to persuade people to join our institution, and press upon people the need to go out and get busy convincing others that they ought to accept our beliefs, we may find ourselves losing the touch of the Lord. We have become just another group seeking members.
It appears American believers are either spiritually slothful, somewhat indifferent to the demands of discipleship, content with a casual church membership, or else they are busy in some religious activity.
I think what the Lord is asking of us in America is that we might pay more attention to coming to know Him personally, to finding out what He wants done at the present hour.
As nearly as I can tell, the Lord Jesus wants far more attention than we are giving Him. We can do religious work and still not give the Lord the attention He desires.
We should continue to work diligently at whatever is before us to do, but at the same time keep inviting the Lord into our life. From the moment we get up in the morning until we go to bed at night (and sometimes throughout the night) we should be asking the Lord about everything we are doing, seeking His guidance in the smallest detail.
We need to return to an emphasis on righteous, holy behavior. We must press upon ourselves and all who will listen to us the need for obeying Christ strictly. Ours is a day of renewal in the Kingdom of God, and we have to be following Christ closely to take advantage of it.
Do you not know in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. (I Corinthians 9:24-27)
Mastering the ScripturesMen may master the Scriptures but Christ masters men.
There appears to be an endless fascination in analyzing the Scriptures. Scholars dissect each word in the original languages in order to arrive at the precise meaning
The works that have been produced are a help to those of us who are responsible to feed the Lords sheep.
When I prepare a study guide I use three or four translations to try to arrive at the meaning of a passage. Usually the New International Version seems to have the best translation, except for a few passages.
I notice that some scholars use their knowledge of Greek grammar to cause the passage to read in a manner contrary to the ordinary sense of the text. This often is done with the sixth chapter of the Book of Hebrews, where the commentators absolutely refuse to let the plain sense of verses four through six lie undisturbed. They make heroic efforts to support the current Christian doctrine of "once saved always saved."
There is a trap into which exegetes can fall. Jesus mentioned this when He told the scholars that they were looking for eternal life in the Scriptures and would not come to Him, who Himself is eternal life.
There is no eternal life in the Scriptures. The role of the Scriptures is to bring us to Jesus.
The worship of the Scriptures is termed "Bibliolatry."
Some today are claiming that the Scriptures and Jesus are identical. If we speak a verse it is the same as Jesus speaking because the verse is Jesus. This is an extreme position, but it reveals the danger of worshiping the Bible.
Can you imagine Mary saying, "Where have they laid my Bible"?
Is the Church the wife of the Scriptures?
When I first was saved I was instilled with the concept that the Scriptures, from Genesis through Revelation, are the inerrant Word of God. This is my position today. In fact, it is my trust in the inerrancy of the Scriptures that has persuaded me the Christian teaching of today is incorrect in some vital areas.
But I do not worship the Scriptures. I go to the Lord in prayer and He guides me in understanding and applying of the Scriptures.
Do you know no interpretation of the Scriptures is valid if it comes about through human reasoning? Why is this? It is because the Scriptures were not written through human reasoning. The Scriptures came into existence as men were moved by the Holy Spirit, and for this reason they must be interpreted by the Holy Spirit.
This is why competent, devout scholars differ on their interpretation of the Book of Revelation, for example. They are using human reasoning instead of looking to the Lord for the Spirit of wisdom and revelation.
You know, one could exhume Beethoven and dissect his corpse into one- millimeter cubes. He would never find the Ninth Symphony or any of the sonatas. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
So it is true that one can analyze every word of the Bible, including the articles and conjunctions, and the. Each word can be examined as to its derivation, its employment in ancient prose and poetry. Syntax and lexicality can be examined.
This will bring us no closer to Jesus. Jesus is a Man. He hears and He can speak. He can give us guidance and understanding. The Scriptures bring us to the Man Himself, and this is where we find eternal Life.
So let us meditate in the Scriptures day and night. They are as an immovable rocktotally dependable in a time of chaos.
But we are not married to the Scriptures and we do not worship them. We are married to the Lamb and we worship Him.
You diligently study the Scriptures because you think by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, Yet you refuse to come to me to have life. (John 5;39,40)
Inner RuleWe cannot reign with Christ until Christ reigns in us.
That we are not qualified to rule until Christ rules in us probably makes a lot of sense and goes without saying. But I dont see that it is stressed very much in the churches. The believers are told we will "rule and reign with Christ" (we ought to pick either rule or reign), but I dont think they give a great deal of thought to what they are hearing.
One moment they speak of going to their mansion in Heaven. The next moment they are telling how they are going to rule with Christ. How do these ideas go together.
It is obvious they dont. We are just repeating our traditions.
When the Lord speaks of our governing the nations with Him, in the second chapter of the Book of Revelation, He mentions the "morning star." The morning star refers to the coming to maturity of Christ in us.
This is exactly it! It is not we who will rule the nations with a rod of iron, it is Jesus Christ Himself. He, and He alone, is the Ruler of the creation of God.
But He has chosen to govern through us. However, before He can govern through us He first must govern us. Does this make sense to you?
The Lord told us if we would overcome as He overcame, we would sit on the throne with Him. Just prior to this statement He said He was standing at the door and knocking. If any person would open the door He would enter and dine with that individual.
Then He said we would sit on the throne with Him.
I will tell you how I interpret this passage. The Lord is knocking at the door of the self-centered believers in Laodicea, desiring to enter and sit enthroned in their personality. I believe God sits enthroned in the Lord Jesus Christ. Because we are bound with the dimension of distance we cannot envision Gods Throne being up in Heaven and in Christ at the same time. But it is. As far as I can tell, there is no such thing as distance in the Spirit realm. Things exist without reference to time or distance.
God sits on His Throne in the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus sits there with Him. I think the Lord Jesus is speaking of what is true within Himself, as well as in Heaven.
To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. (Revelation 3;21)
Now, here is where we come in. If we are faithful in serving Christ, as He was faithful in serving the Father, the Father and the Son will come and sit in the throne room that is in our personality. Of course, we have to get off the throne of our life in order for Christ and the Father to install Their inner rule in us.
After our obedience has been established beyond doubt, then, I believe, we are permitted to sit on the throne of our own life along with the Father and the Son.
So yeswe will rule the nations with a rod of iron, just as the Lord promised. But it actually will be the Son ruling in us. And it actually is the Father ruling in the Son, for the Son does nothing whatever apart from the Father.
The holy city, the new Jerusalem, is the perfected, glorified Church. It is written concerning the holy city that the Throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it. This means the Throne of God and of the Lamb will be located for eternity in the glorified Christian Church.
When the inhabitants of the new earth pray to God, they will pray to Him in the new Jerusalem, not to God up in Heaven but God now on the earth. Isnt that a wonderful thought?
When will God establish His Throne in us? I believe we are being prepared for this now, and the work will be done at the time Antichrist is given authority over every tribe, people, language, and nations. Since the Antichrist will be given power to block the prayers of the people in the large cities of the earth, the Throne of God will be installed in the remnant hidden away in the wilderness so there will be a refuge for anyone who calls on the Lord for help.
That is the time, I think, when the Throne of God and of the Lamb will first enter the saints.
Because this remarkable event will take place in the coming days, if I am correct, the primary challenge to us is to surrender our own will to the Lord so He may reign supreme in our personality. This is not easy to do. It requires a positive, specific step on our part, just as in initial salvation, or the baptism with the Spirit. We have to ask God to come and make His Throne in us.
Jesus said we have to overcome as He overcame.
There are three ways in which we overcome the accuser.
First, through the blood of the Lamb. The blood of the Lamb is a sovereign gift of God to us.
Second, through the word of our testimony. The word of our testimony of the true Person, will, way, and eternal purpose of God in Christ is created as we cooperate with the Holy Spirit.
Third, through loving not our life to the death. This is a sovereign act on our part.
First, God. Then, God and us. Finally, us. We have to take that definite step of declaring ourselves deadcrucified with Christthat Christ and the Father may rule from within us.
What splendor is made available to mankind when a believer takes that final step of declaring himself or herself dead with Christ so Christ and the Father may express Their own lives!
By now means is any human being going to govern the nations until Christ and the Father are governing absolutely in that person. This why the Church is never, in the New Testament, referred to as a queen. Babylon, the institutional church, boasts that she sits as a queen. But the Wife of the Lamb is never referred to as a queen.
Do you know why this is? It is because a queen can exercise sovereignty apart from her husband, the king. But the Wife of the Lamb cannot exercise sovereignty of herself because she is not a separate person but an extension of the Lamb. The Lamb and His Wife are one. The Wife is not a queen, a separate person.
Until the inner rule is established beyond doubt, the outer rule is utterly impossible.
Yes, we are appointed to rule the nations with Christ. But this is possible only as we are willing to be crucified with Christ until He is our Life.
How does this sound to you?
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 potteryjust as I have received authority from my Father. I will also give him the morning star. (Revelation 2:26-28)
In All Your WaysInvite Jesus into every area of your life. He will accept the invitation.
The Bible advises us to acknowledge God in all our ways. We have so many opportunities each day to do just that.
In our assembly we have been stressing how utterly important it is for us, as we are facing war, to keep in very close contact with the Lord. The term "intimacy" has been stressed repeatedly. The Lord wants us to be intimate with Him.
The practical way to remain intimate with the Lord is to keep talking to Him about everything we are doing.
As we are going about our business in our house we keep asking the Lord to guide us as we make the bed, or wash dishes, or mop the floor.
As we are driving on the highway we talk to the Lord about our safety. There are drivers who are under the influence of alcohol. There are others who deliberately cause accidents so they can collect insurance. There are people who are doing drugs. So we keep asking the Lord to give His angels charge over us.
There are numerous opportunities to talk to the Lord when we are on our job. We need His wisdom if we are to be successful, whether we are operating a turret lathe or selling shoes.
In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.
Many believe there will be works of terrorism in our country as a result of the war with Iraq. We are wise if we ask the Lord about all that we are doing. If there is a direct danger we are not to rush about in panic. We are to keep on acknowledging our ways to the Lord.
I think sometimes believers feel the Lord does not want to be bothered with the details of our life. This is not at all the case. Jesus wants us to keep looking to Him. When we do not He sends problems so we will pray.
Some believers will not pray even when loaded down with problems. I suppose they think God wants them to be miserable. We suffer needless pain when we do not bring everything to God in prayer.
There is this about God: He likes to be asked. He told the Israelites when they went into battle to blow the trumpet so God would be reminded of their danger.
Doesnt that sound nonsensical? Didnt God know when they were in danger?
He certainly didin fact before they knew they were in danger.
Why, then, did He tell them to blow the trumpet to remind Him of their need?
I cant answer that. All I know is, Jesus likes to be asked.
If we are too proud to humble ourselves and tell God we need help, then we are going to have plenty of trouble.
There is no problem, no slight irritation, that is too small for Gods attention. After all, a day is as a thousand years. That is, God divides each day by a thousand years and pays attention to each tiny period of time. Detail by detail, thought by thought, nuance by nuance, the day progresses. It is up to us to keep talking to the Lord about all that is taking place. He will hear, provide wisdom, and solve our problems.
Is there something weighing on your spirit right now? Have you taken the time to pray it throughto press in prayer until you know God has heard?
If you havent, why dont you do that right now. God is a Bearer of burdens. If you will cast your burden on the Lord He will help you.
The Lord draws near to those who are poor in spirit, who repent continually, who always are calling on the Lord for help.
But the rich, those who feel no need for the Lord, He holds afar off.
Lets you and I be among those who come up out of the wilderness of this chaotic world, leaning heavily on our Beloved.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5,6)
RepentanceThe Book of Acts frequently refers to the idea of repentance. Repentance and receiving forgiveness through the blood atonement were part of one whole, in the message of the Apostles. It would have been unthinkable to not follow the acceptance of forgiveness with a change of behavior.
When the Apostles preached Christ they always stressed repentance. I have noticed the tremendous sickness, the spiritual blindness, that afflicts Christian scholars. They have turned the new covenant into a mystical, sovereign action of God by which the believer is accepted of God and goes to Heaven through what is termed "faith." Since the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews, the "faith" chapter, is a record of deeds rather than belief, we conclude that we are not defining "faith" correctly.
Because of this spiritual sickness, this blindness, the definition of "repentance" is called into question.
Precisely what is "repentance"?
Is repentance the same as sorrowwe feel badly about our sins?
I dont think it is limited to this, though sorrow may be included.
Is repentance a change of attitude such that we have affection toward God whereas before we did not?
I dont think repentance is limited to a change of attitude toward God, although such a change probably would be included.
Is repentance a change from another religion to Christianity?
I dont think so.
Is repentance another name for our assent to correct theological beliefs concerning Jesus Christ, His Deity, His atoning death, and His triumphant, bodily resurrection?
From reading the Book of Acts, I dont believe repentance is another name for the adoption of a belief system.
Does repentance mean we no longer approve of sinful behavior, we hate sinful behavior, and now we love righteous behavior?
I think every Christian would agree to this. I cant imagine any Christ not believing repentance means we now hate sinful and love righteous behavior.
So far so good. We approve of righteous behavior and disapprove of sinful behavior.
But what now?
Are we saying we approve of righteous behavior but cannot act this way?
This hardly is the Bible stance, because the Apostle Paul exhorted us to awake to righteousness and cease sinning.
I think the current position is, in spite of the warnings of the Apostle Paul, that we cannot stop sinning, but we are not to worry about this because we are saved by faith. This means we approve of righteous behavior and disapprove of unrighteous behavior (our agreed-upon meaning of repentance). Yes, the Apostle Paul warned us clearly that if we continue to yield to the sinful nature we will reap corruption. We cannot deny that Paul did write this.
So the current position is that we and God approve of righteous behavior, God has said through Paul that if we continue to yield to the sinful nature we will reap corruption. This we cannot deny. Nevertheless, although we continue to yield to the sinful nature we are accounted as righteous by our faith alone.
Now, precisely what does all this mean?
It means, apparently that because we believe in Gods plan of salvation, and because we approve of righteous behavior and disapprove of sinful behavior, we are righteous in Gods sight.
But suppose we hate our fellow saints. The Apostle John says we then are a murderer and no murderer has eternal life.
The current response is that if we hate our brother, we never were saved in the first place; we never were held to be righteous in Gods sight.
It is an observable fact that the Christian churches of our day are replete with hatred, bitterness, and unforgiveness. Not only that, but every expression of the sinful nature is rampant in the churches.
To deny that every expression of the sinful nature is rampant in the Christian churches is to enter further into fantasy land.
So far so good.
What are we to say about these believers who act according to their sinful nature? Are we to claim they never were saved in the first place? Are we saying the only reliable evidence of salvation is godly behavior?
If this is true, how can we maintain that we are saved by faith apart from godly behavior? Is this not inconsistent?
Let us return to the thought of repentance.
During the last few years there have been churches in America where the people have felt God is calling us to repentance. Do the people mean by this that God is asking the Christian people to assert their belief in correct doctrine? Or do they mean God wants them to change their behavior?
But then the opposition will say God wants them to change their behavior, but if they do not they are saved anyway by faith alone.
If this is true, why should people make what in America is a truly heroic effort to cease living in the sins of the flesh? If God holds them perfectly righteous because of their doctrinal position, what is to be gained by turning from the demands of their sinful behavior.
Are they going to turn because they appreciate what Christ has done for them?
Those of us who are over thirteen years of age know very well that people are not going to turn from the Siren call of the American sinful culture just because they think God will be pleased. After all, doesnt Gods grace shine more brightly when we debase ourselves in sin and He keeps forgiving us and viewing us as perfectly righteous? Doesnt this reveal His loving, merciful grace?
As Paul would say, I speak as a fool.
Most American believers will never make the desperate effort needed to overcome the lusts of the sinful nature until they are fully persuaded not doing so will result in harsh punishmentperhaps, as in the case of Esau, the total loss of inheritance.
Since current preaching will not emphasize the numerous New Testament warnings against continuing in sin, but will stress that we are held to be righteous because of our beliefs, the American Christians will continue in the sins of our culture. Our government will be weak morally. Gods judgment will fall on our land because we have not repented. It will be only Gods mercy if America is not finally defeated by China or by some coalition of countries.
We believers are to repent, and this means turn from our wicked ways.
Perhaps the following passage sums up what I think was in the minds of the Apostles when they preached repentance.
First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds. (Acts 26:20)
According to the above, repentance involves a turning to God. I dont believe anyone would disagree with that statement.
It is the next part that is at issue in our day.
Paul admonished people to prove their repentance by their deeds.
By their deeds!
What does it mean to prove our repentance by our deeds?
We notice first that repentance has to be proved. We prove our repentance by doing something.
What do we do? It think it would be obvious it means we cease doing the works of Satan and do the works of God. Would you agree with this?
Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds. A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power. (Acts 19:18-20)
My personal belief is that repentance must be proven. I dont believe it is possible to have true repentance apart from a change in overt behavior.
If I am correct, what we are preaching today is some kind of metaphysical gospel. It does not operate in the real world. We postulate that an individual can have a genuine faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and this faith will cause him to be righteous in Gods sight even though there is no change in his behavior.
He embraces the benefits of the atonement, He believes Jesus is Lord, He believes Jesus rose from the dead, and he believes Jesus is coming again. He is sorry that he has sinned against God.
He embraces these theological facts in his mind. He has faith in them. He believes he is forgiven.
He now is oriented correctly to the Divine salvation. But is this what repentance is? Is repentance a correct theological position? Is this what faith is? Is this what the Apostles preached?
Did the Apostles preach a Statement of Faith, such as we find in many denominations? The humorous part is that the demons subscribe totally to our statement of faith because they know Christ is the Son of God, was born of a virgin, died for our sins, and so forth. They know these things better than we do. Yet for some reason God does not account them as righteous. Isnt this strange?
No, the Apostles did not preach a statement of faith. They preached that we should turn from our wicked ways and serve God. This the demons do not do and cannot do. They are in the chains of immorality forever. There is no salvation from sin available to them.
If faith is a correct theological position, why then would the Apostle Paul tell us to prove our repentance by our deeds?
I think we have been massively deceived. Gods purpose in all His covenants is that man behave righteously, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. God never, never, never changes His goal for man. Man is to be made in the moral image of God.
But we have changed Gods goal. We have said man is to believe certain facts, and if he does he is counted as righteous even though he continues to live according to his sinful nature.
I cannot always follow the reasoning of todays Evangelical scholars. It is as though Gods principal desire for man is that he adopt a specific viewpoint toward the Lord Jesus Christ; and if he does this, God counts Him as righteous and will bring him to Glory when he dies.
In addition, it is believed generally that once an individual has genuinely adopted the correct theological viewpoint, is genuinely "saved," he never again can be removed from Gods favor.
I think this illusion has been developed by using certain New Testament verses as axioms and deducing a philosophy from them.
The present teaching assuredly does not agree with the robust teaching of the Apostles. Their preaching and teaching reveals their desire to turn men from the sinful nature so they reap eternal life instead of corruption.
The current illusion is a massive, massive error. When it is compared carefully with the New Testament text it vanishes. There simply is no intellectual substance present. This teaching evokes an image of some sort of salvation, but it is nebulous, a fantasy, a schizophrenic removal from the real world. It does not transform people morally but permits them to remain unchanged in the hope they have been made acceptable to God because of their theological orientation.
We are in contact with people who use our books to teach prisoners in various jails and prisons. The reaction of the prisoners is revealing. Many of those who have experience as church members reject our teaching as "legalism" and "works."
Those newly saved find our writing simple and logicaleasy to understand.
There have been instances where prisoners who were seasoned Christians accepted what we are teaching about righteous behavior because they realize if they had lived righteously they would not be in jail. These no longer have confidence in the "faith alone" position.
The prevailing teaching in the jails and prisons is "grace, rapture, Heaven." We teach the Kingdom of God and His righteousness"His righteousness" meaning the righteous behavior produced in us as Christ is formed in us.
This is a clear-cut issue in the jails, not a theological dispute. Salvation is primarily a belief system, or it is moral transformation that results from contact with the living Savior. Either Jesus is real, and as we walk with Him He leads us in paths of righteousness, or else our salvation resembles the Gnostic faith in that we are accounted righteous because of the things we believe.
I would suggest when the Apostles of the Lamb preached repentance they were indicating not only a belief system but a change of behavior that proved the people genuinely believed what they were being taught.
Notice how repentance and forgiveness of sins are related.
God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. (Acts 5:31)
Notice also that it is repentance, a change of attitude and behavior, that results in eternal life. This agrees with Pauls teaching in the sixth chapter of the Book of Romans that shows eternal life to be the product of slavery to God and holy behavior.
When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, "So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life." (Acts 11:18)
"Repentance unto life"!
I would submit that the following verse suggests a turning to God in behavior, not just a turning to God in belief. Turning to God is held to be related to faith but not the same as faith.
I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus. (Acts 20:21)
Turn to God in repentance. Have faith in our Lord Jesus. Two separate but related actions.
The following response of Peter would come across to the Jews as an exhortation to stop sinning and begin to live righteously. The first Christian church comprised 5,000 Jews devoutly keeping the Law of Moses. So they certainly did not view Peters exhortation as meaning they merely were to change their belief system.
Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38)
Water baptism dramatizes our sincere repentance, our recognition that our former way of life was not acceptable and we now are prepared to change our ways.
Water baptism is a sign that we are entering the crucifixion of Christ and are ready to walk in newness of life; that is, in changed behavior.
Again, I do not think the Apostle, by the following words, was speaking of receiving a new teaching. The ordinary person, if he was commanded to repent, would think immediately of a change in his behavior. We have removed the normal response of a person to an admonition to repent by persuading him it means only to have faith that Christ is what He claims to be.
In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. (Acts 17:30)
Repentance is an integral part of the program of salvation. John the Baptist began the message of repentance. The Jews, the rich and the poor, went down to hear John. He warned them about continuing in sin. John made clear what it means to repent.
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not think you can say to yourselves, We have Abraham as our father. I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. (Matthew 3;7-10)
The Jews did not have a mystical, metaphysical viewpoint concerning the meaning of John. They knew what "produce fruit in keeping with repentance" meant. They knew what John meant by "good fruit."
The Jews knew the Torah. They knew the Ten Commandments. They understood John to mean they should begin to keep the Law.
When the Apostles came to those who had been baptized to repentance with Johns baptism, they did not tell them they no longer had to live righteously. They told them about Christ Jesus and the promise of the Holy Spirit.
John preached repentance. Jesus preached repentance. The Apostles taught repentance. They all meant that people should turn from their wicked ways and serve God in uprightness and humility.
We are preaching a false gospel today. We have been blinded. We have been deceived. We have changed the original Gospel of the Kingdom of God and His righteousness into a fantasy, in which people are accepted by the Lord on the basis of their beliefs.
Yet the One whom we all call Lord said, "If you love Me, keep My commandments."
We say it is not necessary to keep His commandments. We are saved by believing in Him apart from keeping His commandments and those of His Apostles.
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (II Chronicles 7:14)
It is time now for us who are called by the name of the Lord to humble ourselves, to pray, to seek Gods face, to turn from our wicked ways, because our nation is in serious trouble.
"Humble ourselves. Pray. Seek Gods face."
"Turn from our wicked ways." Not just to think about Gods grace, but to actually turn from our wicked ways.
If America is to be saved from destruction, then the Christian people must cease from their worldliness, their lusts, their self-will, their lukewarmness, and begin to walk before the Lord God in iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to the Father.
Repent, then, and turn to God, so your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, (Acts 3:19)
Following the LambThere are some who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These are specially close to Christ. Why? Because they are obeying His will rather than their own.
In the fourteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation we read about those who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These are the firstfruits to God and the Lamb.
What are they the firstfruits of? They are the firstfruits of mankind.
What is so special about following the Lamb wherever He goes?
The "special" aspect is that very few people are willing to follow the Lamb wherever He goes.
Numerous believers claim to love the Lord. They enjoy church. They believe in the fundamentals of the Gospel. They may be active in ministry, or even go to foreign lands as missionaries.
But it is not always true that they are following the Lamb wherever He goes.
Stop and think about it. What does it mean to follow the Lamb wherever He goes.
It means to move from self-direction to being directed by the Lord.
But arent all denominations and missionary endeavors operated by people who are being directed by the Lord.
No, they are not. This is evident from the competition among them and the maneuvers so prominent in church politics.
My observation is that few Christians follow the Lamb wherever He goes.
Following the Lamb wherever He goes is an attitude of the heart. It means we have surrendered our life to the Lord that we might do His will in every detail.
It means we wait upon Him constantly. Even when we are working busily we are waiting on Him in our heart.
The moment we come to a point of decision we stop and ask the Lord to guide us. We do not push forward in our own wisdom to accomplish our own objectives even if they are religious objectives. We follow the Lamb.
You would think of the millions of believers who have expressed faith in Jesus Christ throughout the centuries there would be a great number who have followed or are now following the Lamb wherever He goes.
But it is not necessarily so. Christian membership and service are one thing. Following the Lamb wherever He goes is another matter altogether.
We Christians are like everyone else. We are filled with our own ways. They may be religious ways. We pray and hope the Lord will help us in our life, keep us safe and healthy, and enable us to achieve our goals. But the person with the attitude of watching the Lord and doing as He does, speaking when He speaks, is rare.
We can all be this way, but it means giving up our ideas of what should and should not be done. It requires faith to believe if we commit our way constantly to the Lord He will guide us in every detail of life.
But it is more than guiding us in every detail of life. It is following Him.
Did you ever notice that the Lord will have fellowship with us, but He never asks us what He should do. He invites us to pray concerning the burdens we have. But if we only knew it, He has put that burden there because of something He wants to accomplish.
There are many books in the Christian bookstores that tell us how to get the Lord to do what we want? Isnt this foolish, when you think about it? How do we know what is good and right? Only Jesus knows what will bring peace and joy. Why dont we just trust and follow, instead of trying to master spiritual principles?
The Lord Jesus is a mighty King. He has desires and plans that He receives from His Father. He always is busy doing His Fathers business. He is not helped when we try to force Him to do what we want. He is blessed when we willingly wait to find out what He wants and then act accordingly.
It is the easiest thing, and yet the hardest thing, to follow the Lamb wherever He goes. It is easy because it relieves us of having to follow our own way in life. It is difficult because following the Lamb wherever He goes requires faith that following Him will be the best course for us to take.
We all believe in praying "Not my will but Yours be done." Now, in the 21st century, it is time to live according to our prayer.
These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. (Revelation 14:4)
A Message to the HeavenliesPeople wonder why God permits wars and other disasters to plague the inhabitants of the earth. God does not cause the evil, the problem is sin. God is waiting for the final wickedness, which is that of individuals becoming their own gods, little satans. This drama is being played out for the benefit of the heavenly spectators.
Perhaps we do not realize it, but the history of mankind on the earth is a reaction to the rebellion of Satan and his angels.
We have little knowledge of what it was like in Heaven before Satan decided to usurp the will of God. (Every usurper who has lived on the earth, such as Absalom, has been a reflection of the original usurper.)
I think we forget sometimes that sin did not originate with Adam and Eve. Sin is not a normal part of the physical universe. Sin came down to us from Heaven, carried by the serpent. The wisdom of the ancient dragon is revealed in the way he was able to seduce Eve, and then Adam.
It seems, from the Scriptures, that numerous highly placed spiritual personages followed Satan. Apparently the heavenly creatures had to make a choice between the Father and Satan.
Pauls expression "the elect angels" suggests God chose some angels to remain with Him.
I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism. (I Timothy 5:21)
We know angels are interested in the conduct of the Christian churches.
For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head. (I Corinthians 11:10)
It is apparent, therefore, that the questions raised by the rebellion are still being answered.
The war between Satan and God, or Satan and the saints, is not a battle of power. God always retains all power. Rather it is a struggle over righteousness and truth.
God, instead of summarily putting Satan in the Lake of Fire, has permitted him to express his will in the earth.
When David sinned, God said it gave Gods enemies an opportunity to "show utter contempt."
But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the LORD show utter contempt, the son born to you will die. (II Samuel 12:14)
Be contemptuous of whom? Be contemptuous of the Lord and of His chosen servant, David.
This sort of accusation continues to this very day as the great red dragon accuses the saints before God, no doubt speaking contemptuously of them and causing the Lord to be ashamed.
As I said, God could have cast all the rebellious angels into the Lake of Fire and been done with it. But for reasons known only to God He has chosen to allow the wicked to show what they can do. When it has become obvious to the inhabitants of the heavens that the result of Satans advice is every conceivable disaster, then God will move in wrath.
God does this sometimes with us. He permits us to go our own way until it becomes obvious we do not know what will bring us peace and joy. This is taking place in the world today, isnt it? The world is choosing to benefit itself apart from the Lord Jesus. Just look at the results!
Why God is concerned about the opinion of the rulers of the heavens; why He has decided to reveal His superiority by allowing Satan to express himself; I cannot tell you. I could wish God would remove all sin from His creation. The Bible tells us He is going to do just that, but only after He has accomplished His goals.
One of Gods primary goals is to produce brothers of the Lord Jesus Christ who will overcome sin while living on the earth. This they do through the wisdom and strength of Christ. They will govern the creation throughout the ages to come.
I think the Christian people should be warned that a great shaking is at hand, and it will shake not only the earth but the heavens also. Every spirit, including Christians, will be tested in terms of his or her position in the Lord Jesus Christ. Only those spirits who have entered the death and resurrection of Christ will be permitted to remain with God, Christ, and the elect angels. All others will be cast down no matter how highly placed.
At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, "Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens." The words "once more" indicate the removing of what can be shakenthat is, created thingsso that what cannot be shaken may remain. (Hebrews 12:26,27)
What created things are there in the heavens that can be shaken? That I cannot answer. But I do know only those whose life Christ is will remain with God after the shaking.
It is one matter to "accept Christ," by the current formulas. It is another matter indeed to turn our life over to Christ, take up our cross, and follow Him. When God begins to exercise the sentence of judgment that is on all sinners, angels and people alike, the only ones who will stand with God are those who are part of the Lord Jesus Christ. I suppose the elect angels are part of Jesus Christ, although in a way different from us, because the Bible says God is going to sum up His entire Creation in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Can you see the picture? Instead of just pronouncing doom on the sinning lords of the heavens, God created man to serve as an illustration of what will be produced when a person chooses Christ, and what will be produced when a person chooses Satan. We are a graphic portrayal of the wisdom and righteousness of God.
How the heavens rejoice when we choose to obey Christ!
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down." (Revelation 12:10)
It is Gods purpose to make an end of sin in His creation. The angels who sinned are doomed. There is no forgiveness or release for them.
The blood of Jesus Christ has made an atonement for the sins of mankind. Those who choose Satan over God, who cling to their sins, will be thrown into the Lake of Fire with Satan, Antichrist, and the False Prophet.
The remainder will be brought over to the new heaven and earth reign of Christ.
The world of the future will be governed by those who lived in victory in Christ during their discipleship on the earth. They shall inherit all things, including the nations of saved people on the earth.
When God has finished, the inhabitants of the heavens will see the wisdom and righteousness of God.
And there will be no more rebellions. Gods son will see to that!
And to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, (Ephesians 3:9,10)
The True GoalMan in the complete image of God and in untroubled union with God, brought into this state by daily transformation, is the true goal of salvationthe goal that accomplishes Kingdom purposes. We are forgiven so we may be transformed.
Let us say that a company was formed to build houses. Their first step was to send out some people to buy up some promising sites to develop.
Their efforts were successful. They found land that had been overlooked by developers and they were able to buy it up at bargain prices.
Much encouraged by their success, they went searching in distant areas. Again they found building sites they were able to buy at a low cost.
Soon the whole company became interested in the acquiring of land that soon would be worth double or triple what they could buy it for now. So they decided to make money by investing in real estate and then selling it when the value of the land increased.
After several years they forgot their original plan to construct homes. They had found a better way to make money, buying and selling real estate.
I realize this is an incomplete analogy. It is intended to bring out only one point. The company had lost sight of its original goal and was happily pursuing another line of endeavor.
From my point of view, this is what has taken place with the Christian Church through the centuries. We have lost sight of the goal. We are buying increasing amounts of real estate without building houses.
Anyone who is interested in any kind of systems approach, whether in business, or education, or the military, knows that you always begin with your objective. The objective must be clearly defined. Every effort back alone the line must be conducted in terms of the system. The success of the system is always measured in terms of attainment to the clearly defined objective.
If the objective is ignored or changed, every activity back along the line is affected one way or another.
The New Testament has some clearly defined objectives:
That we be conformed to the image of Christ.
That we be one in Christ in God, resting in the center of Gods Person and will.
That we attain to the resurrection from the dead.
That we make disciples and exhort them to keep Christs commandments.
Have you ever heard these objectives mentioned even once while you were listening to a preacher or teacher?
It may be that you have never heard them taught.
Why is this?
It is because we have changed the goal of the system.
We have adopted the goal of being saved to go to Heaven to live forever.
The way of accomplishing the goal is to believe certain facts about Jesus Christ, and Gods grace does the rest.
A problem arise from this change of goal. Our new goal, by the way, has no foundation in the Old or New Testaments.
The procedures adopted to bring people to this goal do not accomplish the four scriptural objectives I mentioned above.
They do not cause people to be conformed to the image of Christ.
They do not bring people into untroubled rest in Gods Person and will.
They do not bring us to the knowledge of Christ such that we attain to the resurrectionwhich clearly was the goal of the Apostle Paul.
They do not make disciples and exhort them to keep the commands of Christ.
This is why the American Christians are so spiritually weak
Just think of how differently the churches would operate if we were pursuing the scriptural objectives.
We would be teaching the believers how to cooperate with the Holy Spirit so Christ could be formed in them. This is a strenuous process. It does not comes about as we blithely reminds ourselves how we are saved by faith alone.
We would be instructing the believers how to labor to enter into the rest that is Gods perfect will.
We would be informing the believers of the need to attain the inward resurrection as the necessary preparation for the resurrection unto life in the Day of Jesus Christ.
We would be telling the believers what it means to be a Christian, a disciple: that they have to deny themselves, take up their personal cross, and follow the Master.
We would be teaching the commandments of Christ and His Apostles over and over again, urging the believers to come boldly unto the Throne of Grace in order to obtain the strength and wisdom necessary to obey the directives found in the New Testament.
We would be exhorting the believers to patiently obey the Lord, knowing that the promises of God are brought to fulfillment in us only after long years of enduring the sufferings of Christ.
This is what we would be doing if we were stressing the scriptural goals.
But because we are emphasizing the non-scriptural goals of making our residence in Heaven when we die, we are ignoring the need to be conformed to the moral image of Christ. Being conformed to the moral image of Christ has nothing whatever to do with making our eternal home in Heaven.
We are ignoring the need to press into untroubled rest in the center of Gods Person and will. Such rest in Gods will has nothing whatever to do with sitting in a mansion in Heaven.
We are ignoring the need to attain to the resurrection from the dead. We have been taught that Christ is going to carry us to our eternal home in Heaven; thus there is no need for the resurrection of our body.
We are ignoring the need to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus. We are not seeking to be disciples of the Master. What does being a disciple have to do with being saved by grace so we can go to Heaven?
We are not urging believers to keep the commandments of Christ. We have been taught we are saved by grace; so while it may be desirable it is not absolutely necessary we keep the commandments given by Christ and from Christ through His Apostles.
The system is not effective. Why is it not effective? It is not effective because we have changed Gods goal.
We like large crowds of people in our church buildings. We have no quality control procedures. Quality control can operate only in terms of clearly defined objectives.
How can we measure attainment to change into the moral image of Christ when people are bent on being "raptured" to Heaven?
How can we measure the degree one has entered untroubled rest in Christ when the believer has never heard of such a thing?
How can we measure attainment to the resurrection from the dead when the believer has no knowledge that what he is doing today will directly affect what he receives in the Day of Resurrection?
How can we count the number of disciples made when the people have never been taught they must deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Jesus?
How can we judge how well we have taught people to keep the commandments of Christ when we have advised them they do not have to keep the commandments because they have been saved by grace?
Our preaching of a free trip to Heaven might be nice except for the fact this is not the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.
When I was involved in public-school work I became interested in a systems approach to instruction. This led me to an acute awareness of the importance of clearly-defined objectives.
This interest led in turn to a study of the way we were measuring achievement, in other words, our quality control department.
I noticed that the children were being given achievement tests in arithmetic, for example, but were not being drilled in the four operations of arithmetic. The emphasis in those days was on "discovery." The children were invited to discover the need for and the principles of arithmetic. They might, for example, pretend they were buying at a store and then count their change.
I thought to myself I would try a little experiment. So I drilled my fifth-grade class in the operations of arithmetic that I knew would be tested. I did not use actual examples from the test materials, only similar examples.
Would you like to guess how the children did on the annual test? Nearly every child scored at the 99th percentile.
One time two of us who were teaching separate sixth-grade classrooms decided to experiment in the annual growth of ability to do pull-ups on a horizontal bar.
The other teacher throughout the school year had his pupils do isometric exercises. My pupils practiced pull-ups.
At the end of the year there was no comparison. In fact, some of my students were able to perform thirty pull-ups. All the pupils of both classrooms had been tested at the beginning of the school year. His students made no gains in pull-ups. My students made extraordinary gains in pull-ups.
My doctoral dissertation was in transfer of training. The results showed clearly that the naive assumption that supplementary instruction, such as studying Latin to learn English, is not nearly as effective as studying English to learn English.
You might think this is obvious, but it is violated all the time in instructional programs.
The consensus of at least a thousand studies of transfer of training is that one should teach what he want students to learn.
Our public schools today do not do that. They teach (or at least they used to teach) whatever the teacher felt like presenting. Then year after year everyone is amazed when there has not been an improvement in test scores. There has not been an improvement in test scores because of the assumption that somehow there would be a transfer from what the teacher taught over into the items on the test instrument.
Oh well, I am not fretting over that any more.
But I do fret over the fact that a believer can sit in church for fifty years and not grow in Christ to any noticeable extent. They used to gossip and they still gossip. They used to be divisive and they still are divisive. They used to be bitter and they still are bitter.
Why is this? How do we account for such a poor showing?
It is because our objective has become numbers of people. We hope somehow this will transfer over into Christian growth. It does notnot at all.
One proponent of church growth was heard to say, "Keep on growing. Keep on growing. Never mind about spiritual growth, just keep on growing."
His goal is increased numbers of people. He is assuming that in some mystical manner strong Christians will arise. One or two will, but the remainder will be spiritual babies all their lives, being of no use to God for His Kingdom purposes.
For any sort of system to be effective there must be stated goals. These goals must come from an authoritative source. Our authoritative source is the Bible, not our assumptions or traditions.
Then our operation must be in terms of our goals. There must not be assumptions that while we are practicing A, somehow B will be learned. It does not happen. We learn what we practice.
If the pastor preaches take up your cross, the people will take up their cross.
If the pastor preaches that we are saved by grace and are about to be "raptured" into Heaven, then the people will occupy themselves with the cares of life and wait to be "raptured."
We are going to learn what we are being taught and what we practice.
I think it is time for Gods scholars and theologians to return again to the New Testament and identify the goals. Then these goals need to be stressed in the seminaries, and from there brought into the local churches.
I think such an act would bring revival, for the Holy Spirit always is given to those who obey God.
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, And so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10,11)
The Wonderful HopeIn Christ, nothing is too good to be true.
We start off in life believing in castles in the sky, in fairy wonderlands, in magic. Disneyland and similar enterprises evoke these subconscious images. Deep in our mind somewhere is the memory of the Garden of Eden, where remarkable trees grow and snakes talk.
Children enjoy fairy stories and they want to believe in Santa Claus.
C. S. Lewis speaks of the horns of Elfland. May they ever be heard! The Narnia stories are quite enjoyable to many of us, as is George MacDonalds Phantastes.
But you know, life beats the sense of wonder out of us, doesnt it.
When children grow up they scorn the idea of Santa Claus.
I remember reading what I think was the autobiography of William Allen White, a famous editor, that he actually saw the "little people," the leprechauns.
I myself, on one occasion when I was in Iceland, saw what I guess was an elf. He was of normal height with pointed ears. I was looking at his left profile. He was wearing a raincoat with the collar up so only the tips of his ears could be seen.
I asked Pastor Gislason about this. He told me that elves are common in Iceland.
I have seen angels on several occasions. But they never are female nor do they have wings. They are larger than we are, and the ones I have seen are always serious. They give me the impression of being warriors, although they are not arrayed in any kind of military garb.
I say the above to restore the sense of wonder to you!
This world is more than money and physical structures. It was made from invisible sources that are more real than the physical objects. Behind all of this there are castles and rainbows and marvels that surpass any fairyland we could imagine.
The Lord Jesus marveled at how the world has beaten the faith out of us. To Jesus it was as nothing to curse fig trees, or call up fish with money in their mouth, or walk on water, or raise the dead, or speak to a storm as though it were a person.
"O you of little faith!"
The writer of the Book of Hebrews speaks of the powers of the age to come.
Right now we are bound, bowed down to the earth with a multitude of problems and dreads. But above the clouds the sun is always shining. Have you ever been above the clouds in an airplane?
I see the homeless wandering in the streets of Escondido. I try to picture what they looked like as little boys and girls playing with their toys. Now they are stooped, in ragged clothed, unkempt, pushing their shopping carts with all their worldly goods.
Life is hard. Everyone is crucified. God is crucified. The saved are crucified. The unsaved are crucified.
While I am writing this (March 20, 2003) the war with Iraq has begun. Maybe it will be over in a short while. Maybe it wont. But there will be many adults, children, and animals who will suffer great pain. This is life on the earth.
We need to know just a heartbeat away there is a land that is fairer than day. There are angels. There is water in which one cannot drown. There are large animals and small animals that do not harm one another. There is endless joy, peace, and love. There is nothing that harms or bring sorrow or dread.
There indeed is such a world and it is more real and lasting than the present.
The present world is a contrived scenario designed to test our character and teach us about Gods character. It is here that we learn of the wisdom and goodness of God, and the foolishness and badness of those who go against God.
It well may be that now is the only time in all of eternity that we will have the opportunity to choose against incredible obstacles to have faith in Gods wisdom, righteousness, and faithfulness.
It would be so foolish of us to be as the dwarfs in "The Last Battle (C. S. Lewis) and refuse to see the joy that God is offering to us.
There are some who see only the mud of the earth, so bowed down are they.
There are others who look up and behold the splendor of God and Christ, the saints and holy angels, as they dance around the rainbow Throne in a palace that far outshines the fondest dreams of those who have ears to hear the horns of Elfland.
Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God." (Mark 10:27)
Have Faith To Accept the GoodIt is as destructive to refuse to believe God is giving you something good as it is destructive to believe God will never permit you to suffer.
After years of the Christian discipleship we begin to wonder if our problems will ever cease. We must certainly be sons, for we are chastened all the day.
The Bible says that God delights in His servants. We just have to decide this is a fact and hold steady in faith. He who endure to the end shall be saved.
If we are not careful, we get to the place where we have a difficult time believing God would give us anything we enjoy. This is an occupational hazard facing those who experience the sufferings of Christ.
Perhaps it is a form of self-pity. Maybe we have become angry with God without realizing it and want to be spiteful. Or some other reason.
But when God is ready to give us something wonderful we do not have the faith to receive it. We simply cannot believe the blessing of the Lord enriches us and He adds no sorrow with it.
Just think about Joseph. He was in prison for quite a while, but he never became a prisoner in his heart. The moment Pharaoh called for him he was ready to become second only to Pharaoh in authority over the land of Egypt.
From a cell to the highest office in one day.
So it is with us. We havent even begun to imagine the rewards that will be given to those who faithfully obey God throughout their dark hours on the earth.
Carrying our cross of self-denial shapes our character. I would imagine God will give us a period of time after we die to adjust to the fact that the load we have been carrying is no longer present.
But right now. Perhaps God has a treasure He wants to give you. Maybe it is something you have desired for a long time but have concluded you will never receiveat least not in the present world.
Keep your faith high. Maybe you have been deceived in the past and are very guarded. But keep your faith high. God has permitted you to be miserable for years perhaps. But your end is extraordinary joy if you remain faithful.
Numerous American Christians will have no idea what I am referring to. They do not know what it means to go for years with their most intense desires unsatisfied. God knows that if He gave them a heavy cross to bear they would turn away from God. They must have pleasure now or they wont play.
But to those whom the Lord has entrusted with many years of denial, I say, "Take heart. God wants to bring you to unsullied joy. Be ready for it. You may have been in Gods prison for many years. Dont become a prisoner in your heart. When God is satisfied with the development of obedience in your personality, He will bring you forth into the sunlight. Just dont quit. Your day will come."
Dont turn away from the Lord, like a spoiled child, pout, and refuse what He is offering.
One time I had displeased the Lord. I had repented thoroughly and was prepared to take my medicine.
I saw the army of the Lord on the white war stallions. A stallion without a rider stopped in front of me.
I was saying to the men as they passed by, "Go on to victory in the Lord."
I was cheering them on as they passed by with their lances.
But there was this riderless horse standing before me.
I knew I was to get on that horse. But you know what? Self-pity was holding me back. "I am not worthy," I was moaning.
But I knew I was to get on that horse.
It was difficult to push through that self-pity, I can tell you. But I knew if that horse went on without me I would never be in the Lords army.
So I threw off the self-pity and got on the stallion. The mental picture vanished.
For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. (Psalms 84:11)
Groups and IndividualsReligion tends to work with groups of people. God tends to work with individuals, teaching them how to relate to Himself and to other people. Religious forms and ceremonies do not benefit us unless God is working with us as an individual.
You know, the true Christian salvation is not actually a religion. Neither is true Judaism.
Well-intentioned people have constructed the religion of Judaism and the religion of Christianity. These are related to true Judaism and true Christianity but are not really the same.
You can see the great difference in the fact that the members of true Judaism and true Christianity are one new man in Christ. But the members of the religion of Judaism and the religion of Christianity are not one new man. They are members of separate religions.
Religion tends to work with groups of people. In fact, religious institutions often keep careful records of the number of their adherents. I am not certain of the reason for this fascination with statistics. The reason for the concern of secular institutions over their statistics is understandable, because their wealth, their influence, their political power, are indicated by their statistics showing the number of followers they have.
But this is not true of Judaism or Christianity. The importance of Judaism and Christianity does not reside in wealth, or influence, or political power, but in the fact that they have come from God. God does not need nor is He measured by wealth, or influence, or political power. God is God and possess all of everything. So the fascination of religion with membership is not reasonable, to my way of thinking.
One person with the Lord Jesus Christ is a majority. We know, dont we.
No, true Christianity is not an institution. It is a personal relationship of an individual with Jesus.
Religious institutions carry on numerous activities and programs. Of course they include prayer, hymns, and exhortations concerning the objectives of the organization. But all of this is kind of dry spiritually.
The real program of redemption operates in terms of a single person practicing the Presence of God.
Do you practice the Presence of God? This expression comes from a member of a monastery, as I remember. Brother something or other. I cant remember his name. You probably can. The point is, this person decided to practice the Presence of God in all he did during the day. As I remember, he worked in a kitchen in the monastery.
It is said numerous people were drawn to him because of Gods Presence.
Today we might say, "Lets try to practice the Presence of God to see if it will bring in more people."
I remember reading footnotes associated with the fifteenth chapter of the Gospel of John. What the author got out of the passage was that if we remained in Christ and Christ remained in us we could get whatever we wanted out of God.
I dont know what has happened to us in present-day America. I think we are so success oriented that we see salvation as a means of furthering our prosperity.
We are pretty near dead spiritually.
The purpose of abiding in Christ is not so we can get something out of God.
The purpose of practicing the Presence of God is not so we can get more people into our building.
We abide in Christ and practice the Presence of God because it is good to know God and to learn from Him and be with Him each day. It is good to be with God in and of itself, not because it accomplishes some objective we have.
Practicing the Presence of God is a simple matter. As we go about our business each day we keep inviting Jesus into what we are doing.
Right now I am working at my computer. I am aware of the Presence of Christ while I am doing this. Back in my mind I am looking to Him for His guidance and approval.
When I eat lunch I will ask the Lord to guide me and help me eat the right thing in the right amount.
I do not mean by this that I wait until I hear a voice, I just kind of keep up a running commentary in my mind to the Lord, knowing that He is answering my questions and guiding me.
The Lord does speak to me several times a day, especially when I ask for guidance. I realize Christ does not speak to everyone that way. But according to the Scriptures He does guide each one according to that individuals own personality. For the Bible directs us to acknowledge the Lord in all our ways.
We are to pray without ceasing, according to the Apostle Paul.
Does it seem difficult to you to pray continually? It really isnt difficult, you know. Your mind is always working on something or other. You can choose to keep on praising God, asking questions, seeking guidance, giving thanks, all the time. You can do this continually. It really is not all that difficult; it is a choice we make.
We keep on inviting the Lord to enter and dine with us, and we with Him. We talk to Him as soon as we awaken in the morning; throughout the day; at night when we go to bed; in the middle of the night if we are sleepless.
To pray all the time brings peace and assurance. I think sometimes people bear burdens day after day, never taking the time to get down and pray until they know God has provided the solution. How distressing to labor under fear and dread when you could just as well have the assurance of the Lord.
I read somewhere that a minister claimed if we look to the Lord about every little thing we are minimizing the importance of God speaking to us. It is as though God is too busy to attend to the small things, so we should just figure these out for ourselves.
Have you found that most big problems result from a number of "minor" problems?
It is a huge mistake to believe God is reduced in importance because we go to Him about every little detail. Christ covets our attention. He will cause problems for us if necessary to get our attention. No decision we face is ever too small for His attention.
Let me give you an example. I have made a practice of reading three pages of the Bible each day before I do much else. Lately I have found that I was racing through the pages so I could get to work on the computer.
I came to the Book of Proverbs. I began to realize the short paragraphs were not sinking in. They werent registering in my mind. Each proverb says something, and you have to think about it.
So I have asked the Lord for the last two days to tell me how many pages to read, instead of just reading three pages. You know what? I read one page, thinking about each proverb, letting it soak in. After one page I felt clearly that I had read enough. But what I did read registered in my understanding.
I make it a practice to read after I go to bed. But before I read, I look up to the Lord and ask Him if it is time to read. Sometimes I know I am supposed to read. On other occasions I know the Lord wants to speak to me before I read.
By the way, I usually dont read religious books. I like mystery stories. And I bring these to the Lords attention also.
Everything! Everything! Everything is held before the Lord for His guidance and approval.
Pray without ceasing! Pray continually! "What shall I pray for?" Pray about everything!
How wonderful to set the Lord before us always. Then we are not moved.
It is not all that difficult! We do not always have to get down on our knees, or say anything audibly, or keep repeating our "grocery list." It is a dance, a song, a way of controlling our thoughts so they are not running amok.
I hope my brief exhortation will encourage you to launch out on the ocean of the Presence of Jesus Christ. He will help you do that, if your desire is to follow the Lamb wherever He goes.
"You are my witnesses," declares the LORD, "and my servant whom I have chosen, so you may know and believe me and understand I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me." (Isaiah 43;10)
Reaping SparinglySome believers are careless with the things of Christ. It is certain they will reap sparingly.
The promises to the victorious saint are fabulous beyond belief. They are greater treasures than those possessed by the mightiest of the earthly monarchs of history.
In the Book of Revelation we find those who overcome, that is, who live victoriously over sin, will inherit all things. They will inherit the new world of righteousness as well as the nations that are part of the new heaven and earth reign of God and the Lamb.
Crowns, power, life, everlasting righteousness, coheirship with the Lord Jesus Christeverything you can imagine is promised to the victorious saints.
We should note carefully that the rewards are to be given to the overcomers, to those who live in victory over sin. It seems to me that most believers in the United States do not even believe it is possible to live in victory over sin. Yet they announce that they shall "rule and reign with Christ."
With such rewards held out before us you would think the American believer would be characterized by earnest, cross-carrying discipleship. This is not always the case. I have heard there are churches where the people wear earphones while the pastor is preaching so they can keep informed of the progress of a football or baseball game.
Generally speaking, believers in America take their religion seriously but not too seriously. They want to limit the time the pastor preaches so they can get home and go about their business.
Americans have numerous opportunities for work and play, and so it is a temptation to devote a minimum of time and energy to prayer, Bible reading, and fellowship with the saints.
Now, here is the point of this brief article. If we sow sparingly we are going to reap sparingly. I know there are denominations that teach since we are saved by grace and not by our works we all shall receive the same reward. This is not scriptural. Each individual is going to receive in the Day of Resurrection that which his or her work merits.
Being a pastor I sometimes am grieved when I notice that people are wasting their time on activities that are not going to profit them in the Kingdom of God. We all know the importance of working hard that we may support our families. I am not speaking of this. I am referring to time spent in ways that are not necessarily sinful but neither are they of profit in the Kingdom of God.
I am grieved because I know some are sowing sparingly and they are going to reap sparingly.
There are all sorts of ranks and roles in the Kingdom of God. These range all the way from the high thrones that govern the universe all the way down to citizenship in the new Jerusalem.
The Lord Jesus Christ has prayed to His Father that He might inherit the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth. We are coheirs with Him. The inheritance is people.
If we have kept our Christian involvement to the minimum, then, when we are appointed our place in the Kingdom, we will receive a minimum inheritance.
How are we going to feel when we see our fellow believers entering with Christ into the splendor of Gods creation, while we ourselves are on the outskirts viewing from afar the King rewarding those who have given their lives in His service?
Our remorse will be bitter indeed, when we realize splendor could have been ours. Instead we wasted our days playing with the toys of the world.
You know, God has established the world in just such a way that those who truly love God will have an opportunity to demonstrate that love, and those who just are not that interested can express their attitude with a casual response to the promises of God.
It grieves me when I see people wasting their time (and Gods time) when so much is being offered to them.
He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. (Revelation 21:7)
Christ in Our HeartIt may be true that the entrance of Christ into the personalities of the believers has been reserved for the last days.
How often do we hear the exhortation today: "Let Christ into your heart."
Did you ever think about this? Did you ever consider the fact that the Apostles did not preach this? They preached primarily about faith in Christ, repentance, and forgiveness. Search the Book of Act for yourself and note how many times you find the expression "Let Christ into your heart."
Years ago I decided that, as is so often the case nowadays, we had departed from the Bible. But as I have reflected how easy and naturally that expression comes from us today, it may be true that something is taking place that was not the case in the days of the Apostles of the Lamb.
I have written much about how the feast of Tabernacles follows Pentecost, signifying that the next move after Pentecost will be the coming of the Father and the Son to take up Their eternal abode in us.
Also, we have the following words written to the last of the seven churches:
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)
I dont believe it is happenstance that the above words were written to the last of the churches. Perhaps in our time the Lord is going to enter His people in a manner different from ever before.
Why would this be? It would be because of the tremendous authority that is going to be given to Antichrist as the Church Age draws to a close.
We have made up a flight to Heaven ("rapture") to save us from Antichrist and the Great Tribulation. But I believe the provision God has made for us is to enter us in such a manner that we are able to overcome Antichrist and continue in health and strength throughout the Great Tribulation.
It would be more in keeping with the way the Lord does things to give us the victory in the midst of trouble, rather than to whisk us away so we are not harmed. How does that strike you? Would you rather be removed from the earth, or have God enter you to such an extent you were able to stand in victory in Christ?
We know, from the last chapter of the Book of Revelation, that the Throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the new Jerusalem. The new Jerusalem is the glorified Christian Church. So at some point the Throne of God will move from its present location into the hearts of the saints. Perhaps that transition is close at hand, since we are becoming aware of it.
In between Pentecost and the feast of Tabernacles were two celebrations. The first was the Blowing of Trumpets. The second was the Day of Atonement.
The Blowing of Trumpets represents the Lord Jesus coming to His Church and declaring the coming of the Kingdom of God and war against His enemies.
The Day of Atonement portrays the removing of sin and self-will from Gods people.
Then comes the feast of Booths, or Tabernacles.
Getting back to the Blowing of Trumpets, the observance that occurs after the feast of Pentecost, my personal opinion is that we find it emphasized in the twenty-fourth Psalm.
We are learning today that it is not the purpose of God to bring His people to Heaven to live forever but to resurrect them so they can live once again on the earth.
"The earth is the Lords and the fullness thereof." This is how the twenty-fourth Psalm commences.
Then we note the stress on righteous behavior. "Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?" The answer is, of course, those who live righteously.
By the way, this condition has never changed. The enormous, error of the current teaching is that "grace" makes it possible for unrighteous people to ascend the hill of the Lord.
We ought to know better than this. We have been deceived. We have turned the grace of God into a license for ungodly behavior.
Then, in the twenty-fourth Psalm, we have the Lord Jesus Christ entering us as a Warrior in fulfillment of the Blowing of Trumpets.
"Lift up your heads, you eternal doors, and let the King of Glory come in, the Lord strong and mighty in battle."
Would you ever think of the twenty-fourth Psalm in connection with "If any man open the door I will come in to him"?
So we see that there may be a reason why we are saying to people, "Let Jesus into your heart," even though the Apostles did not give this invitation.
The Book of Daniel informs us that Antichrist will be given such authority that he can reach into the heavens and attack the heavenly host. Some of them will be torn down. Wherever there is disobedience, it will be removed from the Presence of God and Christ.
During these climactic events that are at hand, our only protection will be to have Christ living in us to a much greater extent than is true in the present hour.
The One who is in us is greater than Antichrist.
"The Lord, strong and mighty in battle." We are not accustomed to thinking of Jesus in terms of a Commander in Chief, are we? But God will be confronting Satan in the last days. There shall be a terrific battle. This war will rage between the heavens and the earth. How will we survive if we are not filled with the Commander in Chief and His authority and power?
We often have thought of Heaven as being a place of safety. Chapter and verse, please!
Isnt it true, rather, that the rebellion began in Heaven? In the closing days of the Church Age there shall be war in Heaven.
We are to make a great effort today to listen for the voice of Christ and open our personality to Him. He wants to live in us and have fellowship with us. It is an inner fellowship.
This means we will have to withdraw from intense involvement in the world culture, handling it lightly, and direct our attention to Christ and what He is saying to us personally.
In everything we are and do we are to place Jesus at the forefront We must become increasingly conscious of His Presence if we are to survive in the coming days and stand before Christ in victory.
Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is he, this King of glory? The LORD Almightyhe is the King of glory. Selah (Psalms 24:7-10)
We Will Come With HimWhen the Lord Jesus appears we shall appear with Him. "We" includes all the righteous dead from the time of Abel. A great host of people will invade the earth at that time.
I dont know if you have noticed it or not, but the fourth chapter of the Book of First Thessalonians, which tells of the return of Christ, speaks of God bringing with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him.
We believe Jesus died and rose again and so we believe God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. (I Thessalonians 4;14)
I would like to comment on two aspects of the statement "God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him."
First, I believe those who have fallen asleep in Christ refers to all the dead who are part of Jesus Christ. To my way of thinking, this includes all the dead saints from the time of the righteous Abel.
One might wonder how someone who lived and died before the time of Christ could be part of Christ. I think the problem here is we do not have a true vision of what kind of a world we go to when we die. I believe our concept of Heaven is largely mythologic.
Do you remember that Moses and Elijah were discussing with Jesus His departure?
Two men, Moses and Elijah, Appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. (Luke 9:30,32)
If they were discussing His departure, they were speaking of His death and resurrection. Obviously Moses and Elijah would want to know about the blood atonement.
It is my opinion that life goes on after we die. I think all of those who died prior to the death and resurrection of Jesus have had an opportunity to receive the benefits of the atonement, to be born again, to receive the Holy Spirit, and to be judged as we are. I think a great deal of instruction goes on in the next world.
If I am correct, all of the righteous dead, having received Christ as soon as they heard of Him, will be "in Christ" and will return with the Lord.
This will be a tremendous host of people, far, far outnumbering the relatively few believers who will be alive when the Lord returns.
It may be important to remember, because of current teaching, that this chapter in First Thessalonians is speaking of the coming of the Lord. Too often it is regarded as the going of the Church to Heaven. There is no indication that this passage has to do with the going of the Church to Heaven.
The second aspect of the statement "God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him" has to do with the expression "in Him." What does it mean to be "in Him"?
The current thought may be that everyone who makes a profession of Christ and attends church is "in Him." I dont think this is at all true.
Our standard of discipleship in the United States at the present time is so far below the standard of the Scripture that we have a warped idea of what it means to be "in Him."
To live in Christ and to die in Christ means to be fully aware of His Presence at all times. Whatever we do, we do with the consciousness that we are in Christ and part of Christ.
We are to be living, speaking, thinking, acting in Christ at all times. We are to live in Christ just as He lives in the Father.
To attend church is part of our religion. The purpose of church attendance is to bring us into a relationship with Christ, a relationship that is in full effect whether or not we are in church.
It may be customary for people, after they leave the Sunday morning service, to act differently. Now they are back in the world and going about their business as usual.
This is not the case with a true Christian. He is living in the Presence of Christ as fully after he leaves church as he is during the service.
God is raising the bar today. What was acceptable in time past no longer is sufficient for the horrors we are facing.
When the Lord returns, He will not be looking for believers who merely attend church but for those who are living by His body and blood. In fact, it is His body and blood in them that will join them to Himself when He appears.
Living in Christ means to be totally obedient to His will.
If Jesus Christ is to enter us and dine with us, then we must be totally obedient to the Father. Could the Lord dine at the table with someone who is disobedient to the Fathers will in the smallest particle? I dont think so!
To be in Christ, to abide in Christ, means we must make a clear statement that we no longer are living but have died in the Lord.
To be "in Christ" means, as Paul taught, we are living no longer. Christ is living in us.
When Christ who is our life appears, we shall appear with Him.
If Christ is not our life, then we shall not appear with Him.
This tells me that the casual American churchgoer of our day is not prepared to be raised from the dead when the trumpet sounds.
When the trumpet sounds, those who truly are of Jesus Christ will descend from Heaven with the Lord and pick up their bodies from wherever they have been interred. What a day of fellowship and rejoicing this will be?
This is the first resurrection, and it is for the blessed and holy priesthood of God. These are the Lords eternal witnesses.
The average, casual American churchgoers will not be raised from the dead at this time. They have not learned to live by the body and blood of Christ. And it is the body and blood of Christ that will call us forth in the Day of the Lord. We learn to live by His body and blood as we continually turn away from the passions and lusts of our adamic nature and draw Virtue from the Lord.
We are doing the American people a grave disservice by telling them all they have to do is make the correct doctrinal statement, and then they are going to go to Heaven by grace. We are leaving them unprepared for what they will face when they come before Christ and discover they are not accepted by Him. They have not taken up their cross and followed Him. They have not used their gifts, their talents, in His service. In fact, many of them do not even know what their gifts and ministries are. It is a sad state of affairs.
But for those who are living "in Jesus," looking to Him in every aspect of life, the coming age of physical and moral horrors holds no fears. For them to live is Christ and to die is gain. Should He appear while they yet are alive they shall be changed into immortality and joined together with those who have just returned with the Lord.
What a wonderful prospect the coming of the Lord is for those who are living in Jesus. But I am afraid for a great number of American Christians the coming of the Lord will be a very distressing event. They will be surprised and fearful to discover Jesus is not the gentle Savior they have been expecting. He is the Consuming Fire, and those who live unrighteously have no part in Him.
When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4)
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)
PoiseTo be abiding in Christ is to be poised. All of us are driven by various fears and desires. When these are expressing themselves through us we may have lost our poise.
The life of abiding in Christ is one of poise. We are in control of ourselves. Our emotions do not drive us.
Let us take anger, for example. We are being made in the image of God. Does God ever become angry? Indeed He does. Does Christ ever become angry, indeed He does: "Make not My Fathers house a den of thieves!"
How does God handle His anger? He keeps it absolutely under His righteous control.
For example, Gods wrath has been smoldering since Satan rebelled against Him. But the Day of Gods Wrath has not arrived as yet. The demons reminded the Lord Jesus of this.
Here is this unbelievable anger, and yet it has not been expressed all this time.
It is as though when God becomes angry He puts His anger in a drawer. When the appropriate time comes, He opens the drawer and uses the anger to fulfill His own purposes.
God is never driven by His own anger. God controls His anger.
The same is true of the Lord Jesus Christ, because Christ does only that which He sees His Father do.
This is the way God wants us to be. He wants us to remain perfectly poised, never being driven by anger, lust, pride, fear, ambition, jealousy, or any other emotion.
God is capable of anger. So are we.
There is no physical lust in God, but there is intense love.
God is humble of spirit, but He is aware of His awesome majesty.
God fears nothing. He is never moved by fear.
God has plans that He accomplishes, but His ambition is always under His righteous control.
We know God is capable of jealousy, from what the Bible says.
Being made in Gods image we are capable of anger and jealousy. In addition to these we are subject to a number of other emotions that have been inflamed by Satan until what at one time may have been legitimate is now uncontrollable.
The Lord has told us our strength will be in quietness and confidence. As His children and His image we are not to be driven by any emotion or passion. We are to be as He isin perfect rest at all times.
There is a time for anger. There is a time for jealousy. There is a time for pride. There is a time for ambition. There is a time for love. When we learn to abide in Christ we refuse to be driven to action by anger, or jealousy, or pride, or ambition, or love. We maintain our spiritual poise. Because we are always looking to Jesus in every situation, we become aware when an emotion seeks to move us.
Someone treats us unjustly or perversely. Anger arises in us and seeks to control our tongues or our attitude. Instead of giving in to the emotion we immediately seek the Lord to find out what our proper response should be.
Sometimes an angry response is in order. But it always must be expressed when we are in complete control and are conscious that this is the behavior Christ approves of.
We do not gain such poise, such control over ourselves, overnight. It takes considerable experience before we learn the quietness and confidence of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The adamic nature loves the excesses of the emotional nature. Shouting, screaming, swearing, acts of violence, lying, threatening, revenge, are dearly loved by the adamic personality. Such behavior composes a great part of television presentations. Have you noticed?
Contrast these actions with the poise of the Lord Jesus. You would not find Him shouting, screaming, swearing, acting violently, lying, threatening, seeking revenge. We are being made in His image.
If I am correct, God is raising the bar in our day. What used to be acceptable is acceptable no longer.
While I am writing (March 24, 2003) the United States is at war with Iraq. Many of the servicemen and their families are looking to God for help. Unless I am mistaken, the need for Gods help will increase in the future.
God wants us to invite Him into our heart so He can live in us and we in Him. This always has been true; but as the Bible says, "Many who are last shall be first." This expression tells me that Gods opportunities and demands change from time to time. We have to know what God wants today.
Well, if I am hearing the Lord correctly, God is looking for people like you and me to lay down our old life and walk in the newness of Kingdom life. Kingdom life is that of living entirely in the Presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, not just in church but during every moment of every day.
I enjoy this walk. I would far rather live in quietness and confidence than to be raging about, out of control, saying and doing things that are certain to bring harm to me sooner or later.
I enjoy green pastures and still water.
How about you?
This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. (Isaiah 30:15)
Who Is Sent to Hell?Recently children in a Christian school were taught that if a baby or even a miscarried fetus dies before being baptized it goes to Hell. What an unmitigated abomination such teaching is. And there were children in the class whose mothers had miscarried! Eternal life is found only in the Lord Jesus, not in such teaching.
There is a current teaching (perhaps it is historical) that any person who has not accepted Christ, even if he or she has never heard of Christ, will be cast into the Lake of Fire. I cannot agree with this teaching on the basis of Scripture or on the basis of justice.
Since such teachers, in some instances, are ready to throw babies into Hell because they have not "accepted Christ," they may, for all I know, maintain that an individual who lived prior to the time of Christ will also be thrown into the Lake of Fire because he has not "accepted Christ."
There is no doubt in my mind that religion destroys commons sense. The Christians have cast most of mankind into endless torment. The Muslims tell us God endorses using young people as suicide bombers. How many people in the world have been tortured and murdered in the name of God?
I love the Lord Jesus, but sometimes religion appears to be more of a hindrance than a help!
The Bible is very clear that the wicked are the ones who go into the fire. The Bible tells us who the wicked are.
But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liarstheir place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death. (Revelation 21:8)
Do you see anything in the above verse that speaks of "not accepting Christ"? Do you read anything in the New Testament that Christ came so the wicked will not go to Hell? No? Neither do I.
All people who refuse to be delivered from lying will be thrown into the Lake of Fire. Whether they are Christians or not makes no difference. Whether they are Muslims or not makes no difference. The Bible says the liars will be thrown into the Lake of Fire. Why is this? It is because lying is of Satan, and Satan is destined to be thrown into the Lake of Fire. The Lake of Fire was created for Satan and all who love his ways.
Why did Jesus come? What is grace? Jesus came to forgive us and then to give us strength so we can quit lying. It is as simple as that.
I know today it is taught that Jesus came so people can lie and still have fellowship with God on the basis of grace. We ought to know better than this. Grace does what the Law of Moses has no ability to do: grace furnishes us with the Virtue of Christ so we can stop lying.
The Lake of Fire has authority over all liars. This authority was given to the Lake of Fire by the Father. When we receive Christ we become aware lying is sin. Then we confess our sin, gain forgiveness, and also the power to stop lying. "Cleanse me from its guilt and power," as the old hymn says.
Now, here is the big question: "What about those who have never heard of Christ, who never have had the opportunity of being released from their sins?
In American jurisprudence it is stated that ignorance of the law is no excuse. However, in the Kingdom of God, ignorance is an excuse as far as condemnation is concerned. It is true that we suffer the effects of the sins we commit, but we are not condemned until the sin is brought to our attention. Adam and Eve had a clear conscience until they became aware they were naked.
Let me point out to you a few of the passages that tell us God does not condemn us until we understand we have broken His laws:
Jesus said, "If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains." (John 9:41)
Can you see that the Lord is telling us that when we are blind, not knowing His will, we are not guilty of sin?
If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates me hates my Father as well. If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. (John 15:22-24)
Think carefully about the above passage. This one statement of the Lords does away with the teaching that those who never heard of Jesus Christ shall be cast into the Lake of Fire at the last judgment.
"If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin."
What could be more clear than this? We are not guilty of rejecting Christ until we have heard of Christ. I do not mean by this that someone handed us a tract, or we were in a room where there was Gospel preaching.
I mean until we actually have "heard." Once we are clear concerning Gods will, and do not do it, we are under condemnation. This holds true for the Christian. If the Christian understands what God wants him to do, and does not do it, he comes under condemnation. This fact ought to be preached more than it is. We would have a revival in the churches if the Christians would begin to do what they know to be Gods will.
That servant who knows his masters will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. (Luke 12:47-48)
We preach just the opposite today. We say and believe God will treat the Christian with kindness but be harsh with the unsaved. The opposite is true. The Christian who understand what he is supposed to do, and does not do it, will be beaten with many lashes. The unsaved, ignorant, unbeliever who breaks Gods laws will be beaten with few lashes.
When we are speaking of many or few lashes we are not referring to the Lake of Fire. We are indicating those whom God finally will accept after they have been chastised. It does not make sense to whip a man and then cast him into eternal torment!
All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in Gods sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, Since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) This will take place on the day when God will judge mens secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares. (Romans 2:12-16)
Lets think carefully about these words of the Apostle Paul.
Notice first of all that we are judged according to whatever law we have been exposed to. It is not a uniform judgment.
"All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law."
All who sin while ignorant of the Law of Moses will perish apart from the Law of Moses.
All who sin while living under the Law of Moses will be judged by the Law of Moses.
Paul is saying when Gentiles, who do not have the Law of Moses, do by nature (by their conscience) the things required by the Law of Moses, they will be judged in terms of the law of their conscience, when God judges the secrets of men.
We might extrapolate from this that when people are ignorant of Christ they will be judged by their conscience in the Day of Judgment.
If people are acquainted with Christ, and know of His commandments and those of His Apostles, and disobey them, then they will be judged accordingly.
The great lie of today is that Christians are under no obligation to obey the commandments found in the New Testament. The truth is, they are so obligated and will be judged in those terms.
For before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. (Romans 5:13)
The above verse is powerful indeed. Adam and Eve were without sin even though they were naked. Yet nakedness is a shame. But God does not judge us according to arbitrary laws but according to what we understand. An action can be perfectly acceptable to God, but if we do not believe it is acceptable to God, and do it anyway, it is sin to us. Whatever is not of faith is sin.
Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. (Romans 7:9)
The knowledge of Gods will bring sin to life, when we are not doing Gods will. If we know we are supposed to receive Christ as our Savior, and do not do so, then we are guilty of sin. But if we have no idea we are supposed to receive Christ as our Savior, then we have not committed the sin of rejecting Christ; although the contrary is taught today, using a passage or two as axioms from which untruthful deductions are made.
Because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression. (Romans 4:15)
"Where there is no law there is no transgression." What could be plainer than this?
Can you imagine a child standing before the Great White Throne.
God looks as the child, perhaps a ten-year-old boy, and says, "Mathieu, why have you not accepted Christ as your Savior?"
Mathieu responds, "Sir, who is Christ that I may accept Him as my Savior?"
"Mathieu, I am a just and compassionate God. But it is too late for you, Mathieu. As a tree falls, so shall it lie. You have not accepted Christ as your Savior. Therefore you shall spend eternity in the Lake of Fire, the place prepared for all those who have not accepted My Son as their Savior."
Such is the current teaching. Do you believe God will throw people into the Lake of Fire because they never have heard of Christ?
But the Bible says there is no salvation, no eternal life apart from Christ. This precisely is true. If Christ has been presented to us in such as way that we know it is Gods will for us to accept His salvation, and we reject Christ under this condition, then there is no hope for us. We have rejected the only Source of eternal life.
So how do I reconcile the fact that God does not hold people guilty for transgressions of which they are ignorant, and the fact that only in Jesus Christ is their salvation and eternal life?
I use two passages to support my belief that people who have never heard of Christ will have an opportunity in the next life to receive Him.
Before I present the two passages, I would remind the reader that Abraham and all of the other saints of the Old Testament would have had to receive Christ and be born again when they were in the spirit realm. This is obvious. Else how could they enter the Kingdom of God? When would they receive the atonement for their sin if not after they have died?
The two passage I employ concerning the dealings of God with people who are deceased are as follows:
But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so they might be judged according to men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit. (I Peter 4:5,6)
Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:13)
The first passage speaks for itself. Christ is ready to judge all people, both the living and the dead. Obviously the deceased, who are to be judged the same as we, will experience that judgment while living in the spirit realm. This is what the passage declares.
The second passage also is clear, if we give it a little thought. If we Christians are to reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, and become mature as measured by the fullness of Christ, then we will have to be taught and have opportunity to grow after death. I say this because very few Christians attain to the stature of the fullness of Christ before they die. Yet the inerrant Scripture declares that the ministries and gifts of the Spirit of God will operate until all Christians attain maturity as gauged by the "whole measure of the fullness of Christ."
So there is hope for mankind. God has not created billions of people so they may be tormented for eternity in the Lake of Fire. This is madness!
Without doubt, most of mankind will be admitted to the new heaven and earth reign of the Lord Jesus Christ. All will not be part of the new Jerusalem, for the new Jerusalem is the glorified elect, the Church of Jesus Christ.
The remainder of saved mankind will enjoy the blessings of God forever, being governed by the saints who compose the holy city.
It is a simple model, easy to understandand certainly more in keeping with Gods righteous, compassionate nature than the idea (taught in some places) that fetuses and babies will be hurled into the Lake of Fire because they have not "accepted Christ."
How do you feel about this?
If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates me hates my Father as well. If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. (John 15:22-24)
Partaking of Christ After DeathIf there is no possibility of receiving Christ and growing in Christ after we die, then several passages of the Scriptures present difficulties of interpretation. Also, God will not have a satisfactory Kingdom if Christians cease to grow spiritually when they enter the next life.
There seems to be a common understanding of Christians that when we die we are sort of frozen in spiritual development. Also, the idea that an individual cannot receive Christ after he dies is, I think, almost a cardinal principle of Christian belief. I suspect the emphasis on not being able to receive Christ after one dies is to insure that someone wont put off into the next life what he or she must do now.
Before I proceed, let me issue a disclaimer.
I am not teaching "second chance," that is, that an individual can reject Christ now and then accept Christ after he dies. Neither am I teaching that everyone eventually will be saved or that Satan will be saved. None of this is scriptural.
There is a Lake of Fire, and Satan, Antichrist, the False Prophet, and all who refuse to accept the redemption provided by the Lord Jesus Christ, will be incarcerated therefor eternity, to the best of my knowledge.
We can see that after a thousand years of confinement, Satan will be released and immediately promote rebellion. So I definitely am not teaching that Satan will eventually be saved or the people who serve him will eventually be saved.
Having made this absolutely clear, let us proceed.
My point is, you have to do Gods will when it is made known to you; and whether you are alive in this world or in the next makes no difference. In fact, physical death is probably the least significant event of our entire life. Life continues in the next world, and we continue just as we are until God provides additional growth for us.
You cannot dodge around the instruction of the Lord. If a lesson is being presented to you now, you will not grow past this point until you master this lesson.
If you are not faithful in that which is being presented to you now, you would not be faithful in a greater opportunity; and a greater opportunity will not be given to you in this present world or the next.
But if you are faithful in that which is being presented to you now, you will be given greater opportunities, not only in this world but in the next. You will continue to grow into the image of God forever, as long as you do not balk at some point.
Now I am going to present some passages of Scriptures to provide a foundation for my belief that instruction continues in the next life, and also that a person who has never heard of Christ in this life may very well be given an opportunity to receive Christ and eternal life in the next world.
But before I present these passages I would like to stop and look at the big picture.
Consider this passage:
And to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5;27)
A church without stain or other blemish.
How long have you been around Christian churches? I am in my late seventies and I have been around many church people There are not too many Christians who are without stain or wrinkle or other blemish.
Now I want your honest opinion. Is it true that most believers are blemished until the day they die with gossip, slander, covetousness, lying, fear, anger, accusations, laziness, pride, divisiveness, and every other work of the flesh? Is this true of most church people?
All right, then. How about the statement by the Apostle Paul that Jesus Christ is going to present to Himself a church without spot or wrinkle?
If the Christian people are as immature as they are today, where does this perfect Church come from?
I will tell you what I believe. I believe the Christian people are going to be judged and then taught the ways of the Lord for many hundreds, maybe thousands, of years to come.
Who will teach them? I believe the victorious saints will do some teaching. Maybe the angels will teach them. I am not certain. But I know one thing: when the Bible states that the Church shall be perfect, then the Church shall be perfect.
And it is evident such perfection does not takes place in the present world.
To say the Church will be perfect by imputed, ascribed righteousness is unrealistic. What good to the Lamb is a wife who is bound by all the lusts of the flesh, who has never learned obedience to God, who continually is foolish, disobedient, and filled with self-will? Is it any help to the Lamb that righteousness has been ascribed to her?
How would you like a wife or husband whom God calls righteous but is mean to you, self-centered, proud, always insisting on his or her own way? How would you like that? Well, put yourself in the place of Jesus.
No, the Kingdom of God is not a kingdom of people who are righteous by imputation but by transformation.
We have looked at the big picture. We have seen that growth must take place in the next life, because if the church people do not grow past the spiritual development they have today, the Lord will never have an unblemished Church.
This is so evident I am going to proceed with some of the passages that cause me to believe growth continues in the next world; and also that people can receive Christ in the next world if they have never had a chance to accept Christ in the present world.
Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:13)
The above verse tells us that the ministries and gifts given by the ascended Christ will continue to operate until every member of the Christian Churchthink of it!has attained maturity as measured by the fullness of Christ.
Apparently the gifts we have now will continue to be used by the Lord to build up the members of the Body of Christ. What else can we deduce from the above verse?
And too, look at the next verse. It is part of the new covenant.
No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, "Know the Lord," because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. (Hebrews 8:11)
I would venture to say that many churchgoers are quite well versed in the ways of their denomination. They know the acceptable terms, the hymns, the folkways of their religious culture.
But if my observation is correct, they dont really know the Lord. They know all about the house of God, but do they know the God of the house of God?
It is my opinion that the new covenant will work in them as God writes His laws in their mind and heart, until finally they know the Lordevery one of them! This is why there is no church building, in the new Jerusalem. All who compose that city know the Lord and see His Facean unbelievable glory!
Something to look forward to, isnt it?
Here is an inspiring passage:
But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall. (Malachi 4:2)
Doesnt that sound like growth when the Lord comes? "Healing in its wings." Calves like to frisk around while they are coming to maturity.
He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young. (Isaiah 40:11)
"Those that have young." This tells me that some of the more mature saints will have the responsibility of helping the younger. Being a former grade-school teacher, I would enjoy teaching a class of children who for one reason or another did not live on the earth long enough to understand much about what goes on here.
I think these children, who have been raised in Heaven by the angels, are anxious to come to the earth when the Lord returns and sets up His kingdom. Wouldnt it be wonderful to be able to teach them geography, spelling, arithmetic, writing, spelling, and so forth?
"He gently leads those that have young."
I remember one time when I was principal of a public elementary school. There was construction work going on, and the second-grade teacher wanted to move her class to the multipurpose room because of the noise.
Because of the danger, I went to the classroom and walked with the teacher and the children from their room to the multipurpose room.
Remember, these were all children from non-Christian homes. There were many children from single-parent homes. It was this sort of neighborhood.
As we started to walk down the corridor leading to the multipurpose room, with the little second-graders holding their paper and pencils in their hands, I suddenly felt the Presence of God. I realize then how carefully God watches over children and how He loves them.
"He gently leads those that have young." I know what that is like. It is something wonderful for me personally to look forward to.
Sometimes as we strive to lead the victorious life we become scornful of the weaker Christians. God never is scornful toward His handicapped children but works with them more carefully, just as earthly parents do.
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)
It is a pastors great joy to see a weak believer, who has shown little growth for a number of years, suddenly break forth into spiritual life. We just have to be patient, never critical or irritated, always feeding the sheep peacefully, lovingly, and joyously. They wont eat as they should if their food is presented in a harsh manner. Have you ever noticed that? The man himself is the message.
And now we come to a more difficult question, perhaps. Is it possible for someone who never has heard the Gospel to receive Christ after death.
I think in one of his visions, Sundar Singh confirmed that a Hindu who never heard of Christ, was ready to receive Christ when Christ was presented to him.
This idea rings true to me, but I cant base my teaching on Sundar Singh, as much as I admire the Indian teacher.
Now consider: the Scripture teaches clearly that we are judged according to the knowledge we have.
If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates me hates my Father as well. If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. (John 15:22-24)
There are several such passages in the New Testament; but I believe the above will suffice.
Look carefully at what it states: "If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin."
Does this indicate if Jesus had not appeared before the Pharisees and worked miracles they would not have been guilty of sin? If it does, then we are saying God judges us by what we know, not by what we do not know.
Consider: of the billions of people who have descended from Adam and Eve, only a small fraction have ever heard of Jesus Christ. I was told, while I was in India, that in northern India there were people who had never heard of the Bible, Israel, or Christ.
Whether that is true or not, there have been unnumbered people born and lived on the earth who never have heard of Jesus Christ, including the people who lived and died before Christ was born.
Now, are we to say that all of them are destined to be thrown into the Lake of Fire?
If this were true it would be dreadful! It would be unjust. And it is unscriptural.
I want you to think carefully about the following:
For the nation or kingdom that will not serve you will perish; it will be utterly ruined. (Isaiah 60:12)
There are many such passages in Isaiah.
The context reveals that the above is taking place during the thousand-year Kingdom Age, or later. It is not speaking of historical Israel or present-day Israel.
The "you" is Israel, that is, all who are of the one Seed of Abraham. That includes all who are part of Jesus Christ, whether Jewish or Gentile by physical birth.
The question is, who compose the nations and kingdoms who are obligated to serve the one Seed of Abraham?
It is evident that we are not referring to people who are lost, who have been assigned to the Lake of Fire by the wrath of God.
So the nations and kingdoms required to serve Israel are saved, in the sense of not being destroyed in the Day of Wrath.
Will they have access to Jesus Christ in order to receive eternal life?
Of course they will. This is the promise of God, remember?
The Spirit and the Bride say, "Come and drink of the water of life."
Whom are the Spirit and the Bride addressing? They are addressing the nations of saved people whom God has judged worthy of the new heaven and earth reign of Jesus Christ.
People are judged in the spirit realm, just as they are during life on the earth.
But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so they might be judged according to men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit. (I Peter 4:5,6)
As is true of us, if the deceased repent and turn away from their wickedness, they will be ready for the new world of righteousness. If they refuse to be redeemed, they are facing a terrible future indeed!
What, then, has been going on over the past two thousand years?
The past two thousand years have been for the purpose of calling out the Church, the Body of Christ. These are Gods elect, called from the beginning of the world, as the Apostle Paul taught us. They are not of the world. They have been called out from the ranks of mankind.
Are they the only ones to be saved? Of course not! If that were the case, they, and the Lord Jesus Christ, would have no inheritance. Our inheritance consists of the people of the nations of the earth who are not members of Gods elect.
So of the billions of people who have been born on the earth, most of them, as far as I can see, will be brought into the new world. They will be judged, governed, and taught by the saints, for the saints compose the governing priesthood.
Most of these people will never have heard of Jesus Christ until they enter the next world. People will always have a choice to obey God or disobey God. They can serve Gods Israel and live, or refuse to serve Gods Israel and perish. This undoubtedly is an eternal fact of life.
Our Christian religion postulates a neat little scheme in which if one says the right words he will go to Heaven, and if he has never heard of these words, or refuses to say these words, he will be cast into the Lake of Fire. Isnt that cute!
This little scheme of ours is rather shortsighted. It ignores conscience as well as the great sweep of Gods working with mankind.
The truth is, all the wicked shall find their eternal home in the Lake of Fireincluding the wicked who view themselves as Christians.
Those whom God accepts will be given a chance, at some point in their existence, to receive Christ or reject Christjust as has been true of you and me.
If they accept Christ, in whatever circumstances, they will receive eternal life; for there is no other eternal life except in Jesus Christ.
If they refuse to receive the Life of Christ, they will come under the condemnation of God. They may come to a horrible, unthinkable end. Why? Because God knows what one adversary can do to His creation.
So I believe it is true that we will grow after we die, if we have been faithful with what has been given to us beforehand.
I believe it is true also that everyone, whether in this world or the next, will have his or her opportunity to receive the redemption that is found only in the Lord Jesus Christ. How can God judge a man who has never known what God is demanding of human beings?
If either one of the above two premises is incorrect, then there are passages in the Bible that simply do not yield to a straightforward interpretation.
Also, it may be noted, there is no passage in the Scriptures that denies either one of the premises.
The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. (Revelation 21;24)
The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life. (Revelation 22:17)
GraspingOne of the hardest tendencies to overcome is that of grasping what we want. The Lord would not have us grasp a relationship, a job, any material object. The Bible promises those who delight themselves in the Lord that He will give them the desires of their heart. This He certainly shall do, but He doesnt want us to hold tightly to anything except our trust in Him.
The Lord Jesus wants us free of people, of things, of positions. This does not mean we do not take our responsibilities seriously and fulfill our assigned tasks. If we are not faithful in the small things we will not be entrusted with the greater.
But the Lord would have us free. He will give us what we desire, at the appropriate time; but He does not want us to seize it and hold fast to it. This is not freedom, it is bondage.
Whatever we grasp and hold may be an idol. We can tell whether something or some person is an idol by imagining how we would feel if God were to remove the thing or the person from us. If we refuse to consider such a loss, believing we would not want to live any longer if we were to lose him, or her, or it, we have an idol.
The proper order of rulership is God, who is over Christ, who is over us, who are over all that God has created. God has created man to rule, not to be ruled by anything or anyone other than God and Christ.
It requires many years of diligently serving the Lord before every desire has been crucified. It is not that God does not want to give us the desires of our heart, it is that He does not want us governed by someone or something less than God.
The process of removing idols from us is painful. It is not just that we refuse to let them go, although sometimes that is the case. Rather it is that they are so embedded in us we do not recognize the hold they have over us. Because of these embedded idols, God has to bring us through hot fires in order to bring up the idol to the surface. God often, although not always, works until we are anxious for God to remove that which at one time had been part of our personality.
As soon as we are willing to count ourselves crucified with Christ, God is ready to bring us before the Judgment Seat of Christ so the enemies in our personality can be dealt with. God brings us through various circumstances that define the idols that are driving us. Sometimes there are "kings," as it were, that affect a number of lesser idols. It may take a while, and sometimes considerable embarrassment, before the "king" is forced from hiding.
The true King has come and has begun to wage war against His enemies in His people. It actually is a first stage of Armageddon. Before the Lord can appear with His soldier-saints and drive Satan from the earth, He first must drive Satan from His soldier-saints. Does this make sense to you?
For hundreds of years God has kept His people sealed by the Holy Spirit, the blood of the Lamb covering their sins. Now it is time for the sins to be uncovered and brought up for judgment. It is the beginning of the redemption of mankind and, of course, such judgment must take place first in the house of God.
Whenever we find ourselves anxiously clutching a relationship, or position, or material object, it is because there is an idol present. If we would have perfect peace we must ask the Lord to remove whatever it is, or whoever it is, that is disturbing our perfect rest in Him, our spiritual poise.
Our problem is, we do not know what it is that will bring us lasting love, joy, and peacethe most valuable of all treasures. But God does.
God is working with us until we can not only receive but also maintain, without bringing us into bondage, that which will bring us love, joy, and peace.
How we howl, or become depressed, when we are required to remain in "prison" for a season! We may be quite immature in this respect. But God deals patiently with us, knowing how glad we will be when we finally arrive at the paradise God is bringing us to.
Even in the world to come we are not to grasp anything. God will put desires in our heart; and if we are clinging to something or someone these idols will prevent us from receiving the true good that God has ordained for us.
It all boils down to faith in Gods trustworthiness, doesnt it? Satan challenged Eve with the thought that God is not to be trusted. Eve, not having come to know the Lord, succumbed to Satans slanderous comments about the Lord.
To entrust God with our love, joy, and peace requires faith.
Does God have enough power to bring us to love, joy, and peace?
Does God know what He is doing with us?
If God aware of the details of our life?
Does God really want to bring us to love, joy, and peace?
The Bible answers yes to these four questions. We have to make the decision whether or not the Bible speaks the truth.
What is your opinion of Gods Character? Is He faithful and loving?
Then do not clutch anything. Let God give you what He wants you to have. You will never act more wisely than this.
Everything is permissible for mebut not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible for mebut I will not be mastered by anything. (I Corinthians 6:12)
PainEveryone has some kind of pain. Those who accept the pain grow strong in their inner nature. Those who do not accept the pain, like the alcoholic who will not stop drinking, do not grow. They may be powerful on the inside but there is not enough steel on the inside. Its called carrying your cross. Those who do not carry their cross are not worthy of Christ.
It is natural for people to want to avoid pain. We would much rather be experiencing pleasure.
However, life is a painful experience. When we look back in time we often think how wonderful those days were. But this is an illusion. Those days were filled with worry, problems, pain of some sort, just like today.
King David referred to life on the earth as "the valley of the shadow of death.
Once we are released through physical death we will discover we were attempting to survive in an atmosphere filled with demons. If we go to the land of the righteous, we will find ourselves in a vastly superior environment.
God did not create the world as a place of pain. Adam and Eve were located in a marvelous environment. Pain, sickness, insanity, worry, torment, are all the result of sin. When sin has been removed from the creation of God, as we read in the last two chapters of the Book of Revelation, the curses that plague the earth will be no more.
People make a great mistake when they attempt to avoid necessary pain. By this I mean, they are in some kind of a prison in which their most intense desires are not possible of fulfillmentnot possible unless they are willing to break Gods laws.
If we will stay in our prison as long as the Lord indicates, we will receive the crown of life. If we break out of our prison, we may be sent back for a much longer term. Or we may perish in our lawlessness.
I notice that Satans emphasis to mankind over the past few hundred years is the concept that man is not to suffer. The right of the individual to enjoy every pleasure is held as the highest good.
Of course, this is an illusion. There is no way any human being can enjoy every pleasure for any length of timeunless he is willing to abandon his integrity.
The marriage contract is a good example of this. There is the attraction of flesh to flesh. Then two people are married, vowing to remain together until death.
What happens then? The novelty of physical attraction wears off and the couple discover each has a will of his or her own. The American woman does not often think of herself as a helper but as a partner. The man often is not mature enough to serve as the priest of the home. And so the two become irritated with each other.
Of course, God knew this would happen when their vows were taken at the altar. But God honored those vows and expects they will be kept.
But so much emphasis is placed on pleasure in our society that the man and woman cannot conceive of the idea they are supposed to be unhappy. They have irreconcilable differences, and this is grounds for a divorce.
But they took a vow to remain together!
That does not matter. They are not happy, and that is of paramount concern.
As a pastor I am well aware because of the self-centeredness of people today it often is true that one or the other of the couple makes married life impossible. In that case there should be a divorce. One of the partners has destroyed the marriage until the other person has to leave. I think I have the mind of the Lord in this.
But divorce is an extremely serious action in the sight of God, and should never be considered unless, as I have said, one of the two people is acting in such a manner that it is impossible for the other to survive physically or emotionally.
This happens in America. Five thousand women in the United States die in one year from spousal abuse, according to a recent statistic.
Every marriage is a source of tension and irritation, and, except for the extreme cases I have mentioned, is an excellent opportunity to grow in the Lord. There are some who believe God has designed marriage as a way of destroying our self-centeredness. This is not a very romantic manner in which to view marriage, but it certainly appears to be true.
From my point of view, the successful marriage is the one in which the two combatants emerge from the conflict as the best of friends. I think God is pleased with this.
The righteous suffer many kinds of pain in this world, numerous afflictions and problems. All of these serve to build character in us. One of the destructive mistakes we can make is to seek to avoid unpleasantness by breaking Gods laws.
We are to enjoy the good times, and we are to endure the difficult hours, if we are to finish our pilgrimage successfully.
There are fiery trials. This is because we have inherited a sinful nature, and God wages war against it in order to save us. So God sends suffering upon us to burn out that which displeases Him and keeps us in bondage. Kind of like the three Hebrews young men who emerged without harm from the fiery furnace. So it is true that we will emerge without harm from the fiercest of flames, although at the time we may have been certain our end had come.
We have the sentence of death in ourselves that we must not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead.
Affliction was sent to the Apostle Paul to weaken him so Gods power would be evident.
God chastens us so we may be partakers of His holiness.
We are never to seek to suffer but to enjoy the good things of life as much as we are able. To torment ourselves is never of the Lord. Those who deliberately torment themselves are approaching God in the wrong way. God has not required this of them, and it is not a wholesome, mentally healthy practice.
We rejoice always in the Lord. Whatever we do, we do with all our might, praising God all the while. This is pleasing to the Lord.
When we are put in the bed of affliction it is not always easy to praise the Lord. In fact, there are times when it is difficult just to keep trusting. But we must never give up and turn away from the Lord. At that point He is determining our future destiny. He wants to know if we will remain faithful and obedient under pressure.
I know we have been taught that we will never experience pressure once we "die and go to Heaven." We may not have been reminded of the colossal conflict that is ahead of us when the Lord returns, or the conflict that will arise at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age. God is preparing warrior-saints today who will follow Christ in the removal of all sources of sin from the earth.
No, we are not looking forward to pie in the sky but to the mightiest of all conflicts. So we must learn to endure hardness today.
Pain burns the sin and foolishness out of us. Pain burns the worldliness out of us. Pain burns the self-centeredness and personal ambition out of us. We see, therefore, that pain is one of the instruments God uses to save us.
We do not look for pain and suffering. We do not live in gloom and fear. We rejoice always in the Lord, for this is our strength.
But when we are called upon to suffer, we keep in mind that God knows what He is doing; and we will not experience one minute more of pain than is necessary for our perfect salvation in body, soul, and spirit.
We call on the Lord, and call on the Lord, and call on the Lord. We never take suffering for granted. We continually ask the Lord to deliver us. He will deliver us when the work has been accomplished. We might suffer needless pain if we do not pray continually!
Everyone is crucified in this world. God was crucified. The unsaved man was crucified. The saved man was crucified. That is the way the world is.
Because of the teaching of the "rights of man," many have gone berserk todayat least in the United States. People commit the most horrendous crimes without thinking about the pain they are causing other people. Why? Because they have been taught they have a "right" to be happy.
They may rape and murder someones little girl. Why? Because they have a right to be happy.
They may steal the toys that a charity has collected to give to poor children at Christmas time. Why? Because they have a right to be happy.
And it is not just America. I notice that overseas, thieves steal the food from warehouses that were established by the United Nations. The thieves give no thought to the children dying of starvation, just as long as the thieves can be happy.
I really believe God has made the world the way it is in order to discover who is worthy of the wonderful age to come. This is why the "grace" teaching of today is perverted. It does not stress the need for people to deny themselves and behave righteously. The emphasis is on belief in religious phrases rather than on actual change of behavior. It has been noted that in Christian churches there have been many instances of the molestation of children.
Why should people be denied pleasure when they are "saved by grace"?
The righteous can be at peace for one reason. All the secrets of people will be revealed in the Day of Christ. In that day there will be no successful appeal to "grace." The individual will be rewarded in terms of how he behaved, not in terms of "grace."
As I said previously, God has designed the world to determine who will be admitted to the new world of righteousness. To qualify, we must have received Christ and maintained our integrity. No self-seeking people who care little for the feelings of others will be allowed to destroy the love, joy, and peace of the wonderful world that is ahead for those who love God and His ways.
Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the LORD promised on oath to your forefathers. Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.
Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. (Revelation 22:15)
Pleasure at the Expense of OthersI believe God is looking to observe how we behave, to see if we are worthy of being a part of the new world of righteousness He is preparing. One type of person who does not belong in Gods new world is the individual who obtains pleasure at the expense of someone else.
There is a new world, a new age, just over the horizon. I believe it is true that the purpose of the present world is to determine eligibility for participation in the next, and also who is to be assigned the roles of nearness to God, and authority and service, that will be part of the Kingdom of God.
It may be true that one of the qualities that God is examining is our willingness to gain pleasure at the expense of other people. It is a common practice today to gain pleasure at the expense of other people. The idea is, "I will get what I can, and it is too bad if someone is in the way." This is the law of the jungle.
As the Apostle Peter said, there are some people who are like brute beasts, made to be caught and destroyed.
But these men blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like brute beasts, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like beasts they too will perish. (II Peter 2:12)
Our "civilized" society is becoming too "nice" to think such things about people. The people, in the meanwhile, are becoming worse!
It is common today in America for a husband or wife to desert his or her family in order to find pleasure with another person. The deserter does not seem to care about the grief he or she leaves behind, the anxious, fearful children, the betrayed mate now saddled with all kinds of financial and other problems.
"I am happy so is all that matters."
God sees this. Such an individual is unworthy of the Kingdom of God. Unless the person comes to a realization of how he has injured other people, does what he can to make amends, and bears as cheerfully as he can the chastening that God sends on him, he will not be permitted to live among decent people in the coming age.
I wish I could get into words the problem with current teaching. We have made Christian grace a means of subverting Gods intentions under the new covenant. Somehow we have twisted the New Testament to mean if we take the correct religious stance, God is forced to ignore the things we have done and to receive us into Paradise. It simply does not matter what kind of person we are. Just as long as we say "Jesus is Lord," we are qualified to have fellowship with Christ and the saints.
The demons understand better than we how much of a lord Jesus actually is!
We are putting a religious formula in place of godly behavior. It is wrong! wrong! wrong!
If God is examining our character to see where we belong in the coming age, why would He give us a plan of salvation that sidesteps the righteous behavior that will be required in the new world of righteousness? Is this the purpose of imputed righteousnessto count us righteous when we are not?
Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives As you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. II Peter 3:11-13)
"A new earth, the home of righteousness."
Am I saying we can be saved by ignoring Jesus Christ and living righteously?
I am not stating anything of the kind. I am saying Jesus Christ came into the world to turn the ungodly to righteous behavior, not so God will view the persistently ungodly as qualified by grace to become part of the new earth, the home of righteousness! What have we been thinking of? We surely have been terribly deceived?
Of late a man and his wife kidnapped a young girl. It was several months before he was caught with the girl. Can you imagine the anguish of the parents? This man, so typical in America, regarded his own pleasure of supreme importance. What did it matter to him if the mother and father were tormented all that time!
Unless this individual turns, and does works of repentance, he will never have a place among decent people in the home of righteousness.
Child molestation is a common practice in America at the present time. When the person who has been molested becomes an adult he or she is haunted by what happened to him or her. Sometimes the molested individual is unable to have a happy marriage.
The molester thinks only of his own pleasure. He doesnt care what happens to the child he molests. Sometimes the molester murders the child, casting the body aside as so much garbage.
Such a person is not worthy of the Kingdom of God.
"But," we say, "if he accepts Jesus Christ he will be forgiven."
Yes. I agree with you. The Bible says if we confess our sins God is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." The Bible says also that if the wicked forsakes his wickedness and begins to act righteously, his wickedness shall not be mentioned.
God has made abundant provisions for people to make amends.
The problem today is we have made entrance into the Kingdom too cheap.
First of all, repentance is a gift. Unless God leads a person to repentance, he or she is not going to repent.
Second, we receive back in this life the evil we have done. If I am not mistaken, this chastisement will continue into the next life.
There are lashes that are given to the Lords servants who have practiced wickedness.
I suppose where our thinking goes astray is that the coming world is not real to us. Perhaps we are under the impression somehow the people who have "accepted Christ" are magically different or will be magically different after they die and "go to Heaven."
I have been around church people enough to know we are not magically different. Many of us have made some improvement in our personality. Some have made no improvement at all and see no need to change. "After all, we are saved by faith alone!" (What a monstrous doctrine "faith alone" is! How utterly destructive of Gods intentions under the new covenant!)
It is not so. What we are, we are. Death does not change us.
Let us suppose there is a man who is an adulterer, a slanderer, a liar, a drunkard. He lives for his own pleasure.
Let us suppose further that toward the end of his life of debauchery God grants him the gift of repentance. Perhaps a saint has clung to God on behalf of this person.
What then? How will this man who lies and deceives by his nature, thinking only of himself, fit among the decent people of the new world?
The answer is, God will have to change him if he is to have fellowship with the righteous.
How will God change this corrupt individual?
By intense suffering. If I am correct, some of the suffering may take place in this world and some in the next.
How long would it take to burn the conniving nature out of an individual?
I am not certain. From what I have seen of people, as a former educator and now a pastor, I would say many years of suffering before the corruption is removed and the person is fit to live among peaceful, God-fearing people. You could put such an individual in a mortar and pound him with a pestle, and when you let him out the first thing he would do would be to attempt to deceive you.
This is the way Satan is, along with all his followers.
Do you remember how God instantly forgave King David? Do you remember the things that happened to David after that because of the single incident? And David was a righteous man who served God!
We read of the repenting of Ahab and Manasseh and how quickly God forgives. God knows how difficult life on earth is, and He is ready to help anyone who seeks help.
But our idea of grace today seems to ignore the reality of the coming world of righteousness. It is as though we can be a self-seeking person on the earth, leaving a trail of destruction as we harm other people in order to insure our own pleasure, and then say the right words about Christpresto! we are qualified to rule with Christ over the nations of the earth.
The truth is, profession or no profession, we are not qualified even to enter the Kingdom of Heaven as the lowest citizen until we are healed totally of the willingness to gain pleasure at the expense of someone else.
The Kingdom of God is the rule of the Father through Christ through the saints over the nations of the earth. After the thousand-year Kingdom Age, there will be a new world of righteousness. The people therein will be righteous, every one of them.
Then will all your people be righteous and they will possess the land forever. They are the shoot I have planted, the work of my hands, for the display of my splendor. (Isaiah 60:21)
The above does not mean they will be righteous by imputation, it means they will be righteous in character. People who think they are righteous by imputation but behave wickedly cannot display Gods splendor. Only good works on our part cause people to glorify God.
God sends many fiery trials upon those whom He has called. These fires are designed to burn the worldliness, lust, and self-will out of us. These fires are judgment, and by this judgment we are saved.
Gods goal for man has never changed. God wants people who behave righteously, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. God can have fellowship with such. God want His world filled with these kinds of people.
But we have perverted Gods Gospel until God is supposed to have fellowship with wicked, self-serving people who are perfectly willing to gain pleasure at the expense of other people.
Those who are willing to acquire pleasure at the expense of another individual are not fit for the new world of righteousness, not by grace, not by mercy, not by Gods love. They can profess Christ, but this makes no difference. Until they are willing to turn, make amends, and suffer patiently the fires necessary to drive this corruption from their personality, they do not belong with decent people.
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, (Luke 20:35)
"I tell you the truth," Jesus said to them, "no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God Will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life." (Luke 18:29,30)
All this is evidence that Gods judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. (II Thessalonians 1:5)
God Answers PrayerWhenever an individual, Christian or not, if he is not disobeying Gods will as he or she understands it, asks God for help, the Father hears this cry. He opens His hand and satisfies the desire of every living thing.
The Lord Jesus informed us that if we ask anything in His name, He will do it.
And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. (John 14:13,14)
The above is a remarkable statement. I suppose when we first come to Jesus we are persuaded it is absolutely true. But after the years have passed, and many of our prayers are not answered, we still believe it but we dont really expect it to work just like it says. Am I correct in this?
Since God said it, it is just as true as John 3:16. We are betting our lives that John 3:16 is true, so why shouldnt John 14:13 and 14 be just as true.
Well, are the two verses true or not? This is the question.
We know God cannot lie. Jesus said He would do whatever we asked in His name. He said further that we could ask anything in His name and He would do it.
Lets think about this a little bit.
We need to recognize that of late we have gotten away from asking Jesus. We have been trying to manipulate our environment with "words of faith." We look to faith instead of to the Person of Jesus. This is not Christian. It may be closer to occult religions than it is to Christianity.
We do not call on faith, we call on Jesus.
The Lord did not say how soon He would answer. I believe time is an important consideration. Is it true, perhaps, that some things you asked for in time past you are glad now you didnt get? Perhaps so. Then you can see the goodness of God in not answering your prayer, cant you?
Many times our prayers are not our true prayers. We may be praying for a new car. God may see that we dont really need a new car at this time, that we are desiring to impress other people or have some other unworthy motive.
The Apostle James said we do not have what we want because we do not ask God. And when we do ask God, our prayer, although uttered in Jesus name, is not righteous.
When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. (James 4:3)
The Lord told us in a parable that we have to ask, and keep on asking, and keep on knocking, and keep on seeking. I think the reason for this is God wants to know if we really mean what we are praying or if it is just a passing whim.
Sometimes God waits until time and experience modify our prayers so they are closer to what we truly desire.
Then too, I believe the moment we pray in Jesus name, and God sees the request is righteous and will accomplish what we desire, the great wheels of God begin to turn. Maybe many factors have to be put into place before our prayer can be answered. Maybe we ourselves have to be changed so we can properly receive and maintain the gift of God. Perhaps the answer will come in the next life.
My point is, that since Jesus said He would do whatever we asked, the answer will come sooner or later, if the prayer is worthy and truly what we desire, and will not change after a year or two.
Several years ago, as I was walking and praying one morning in Palo Alto, California, I asked the Lord to permit me to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom wherever people breathe the air. I was teaching fifth grade at the time.
This was before the invention of the personal computer and the Internet.
Now I am much closer to this being a reality. I am a full-time pastor. We have our web site, the weekly sermon on the Internet, Eddie Reiters discipleship class on the Internet, our daily E-mail essay, the thousands of books and booklets we send free of charge to third-world countries, the sermons in our own church and the preparation of disciples who understand the word of the Kingdom, the monthly mailers we send out free of charge, the books and booklets we sell, the audio tapes, and the video tapes.
We hear from people in distant lands. The printed word has the ability to reach more people than ever would be true of our physical presence.
So the prayer that was uttered one morning in Palo Alto, without any understanding of how such a thing could possibly come to pass, is being answered. I firmly believe God will grant to me the ability to bring the word of the Kingdom wherever people breathe the air, because I asked for this in the name of Jesus.
Also, while in Bible school as a young man I told the Lord that I would like to perform the greater works that He promised. I have not seen this yet or anything close to it. But I believe for it and I am not changing! The ball is in the Lords court concerning this matter of the greater works. I have put in my request in His name, and that is all I can do.
I believe, and I shall receive.
So God is in the business of answering prayer. He delights in giving us the desires of our heart. But first He has to change us so the answer will not destroy us. Does that make sense to you?
Dont think God wont answer you, or that your request is too trivial or too grandiose, or you are not worthy, or whatever else you can come up with to defeat yourself.
Consider the almightiness of God. God has told you that you can ask what you will and He will do it. Dont limit God. He can do anything. Make sure you are asking for what you truly desire. Always say, "Not my will but yours be done." After all, if the answer will harm you, you dont want to force God to give it to you.
Dance with the Lord. Lift up the parable of your prayer. Interact with the Spirit of God. Let God show you what you really desire, and then He will answer.
In the second Psalm, the Father asked the Son to pray for the nations and the uttermost parts of the earth.
The best prayers you will ever pray are those God invites you to pray.
Maybe you have gone through a long, dry, imprisonment. You are somewhat pessimistic about God answering your prayers. You have been denied, denied, denied. Maybe God is angry with you or has left you.
God is not angry with you He will never leave you. He delights in you. He has been chastening you that you might be a partaker of His holiness.
So cast aside your self-pity, if such is hindering you, and come boldly to the Throne of Grace. Do a little window shopping. Try to imagine the most wonderful gift you would want to receive. Then ask the Lord for it in Jesus name.
If it is good for you, and if it is truly what you want, you will receive in Gods time. If it is not quite the best, not truly what you want (although you dont realize this), keep praying. God hears what you really are praying and will keep encouraging you until the answer comes.
We have not because we dont ask, the Apostle wrote.
So begin asking that your joy may be full.
You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. (Psalms 145:16)
Living by the Life of GodThe highest calling of the saint is to be the dwelling place of God, an inseparable part of God. Little by little we become willing to forsake our first personality that we might live by the Life of God.
I realize I have written quite a bit about this topic. But then, these are musings that I am writing. So as the thoughts of the Lord come to me I am writing them down. Hopefully there will be something new for the reader.
My prayer is to be filled with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spiritwith the fullness of God. How about youis that your prayer also?
I am not interested at all in preserving my old life. I know the Lord will crucify and raise again all that is worthy of my old personality, and remove all that is wicked. This is my desire.
You know, this is why the Lord said he who is least in the Kingdom of God is greater than the prophets of Israel. It is because when we are in the Kingdom of God we no longer are mere human beings. We are living by the Life of God, which makes us a higher form of human being.
How wonderful to be an integral part of God! We were chosen from the beginning of the world for this role. We are not of this world, as the Lord said. We are in the world but not of the world. God has chosen us out of the world that we might be a living stone in His great living temple.
We will be Gods throne, Gods chariot, for eternity. I am perfectly content with this role and desire nothing else. I am sure this is true of you also.
In the Fathers house there are many dwelling places. The chief Cornerstone of Gods house is the Lord Jesus Christ. When we become part of Christ we automatically are a living stone in Gods House. We now are with Him where He eternally isin the very Center of Gods holy fire, Person, and will.
Gods house is Mount Zion, referred to so often in the Book of Psalms.
Now here is a point you may not have considered, although I have spoken of it before.
Our place in God, and God in us, is eternal. This means it is independent of whether we are alive on the earth at the present time; in the spirit realm after we die; or in a new glorified body in the Day of Resurrection.
Think about that! Once we are established as the dwelling place of God we are home, with all that word means.
This is what the Lord Jesus meant when He declared that if we live and believe in Him we will never die.
Why will we never die? Because our conscious existence in Christ in God will never change. If we die tomorrow we still are the house of God. We still are Gods chariot. We simply are not changed in any manner. As Jesus said, we never die.
I dont have any idea what it is like to die, where we go, who we will be with. Sometimes I think about lying on my back in a meadow (I love meadows) and just watching the clouds. I think God will grant me that when I die.
But this wont in any manner affect my conscious existence in Christ in God.
Let me explain. If it comes about that God will grant Audrey and me a little vacation, and we find ourselves somewhere where there is a meadow, we can pack a picnic lunch and just kick back and rest for awhile. But we still will have our conscious existence in Christ in God. Just because we are relaxing in a meadow does not mean we have changed our position in God.
Now lets say we die and God grants us a chance to lie back in a meadow in the spirit realm. (I sure hope there are meadows in the spirit world!) We still will have our conscious existence in Christ in God.
I know many saints have had near-death experiences and have seen mansions, park, rivers, and so forth. Even if these are true visions, and we are given a mansion, we still will have our conscious existence in Christ in God. Can you see that?
Now we come to the Day of Resurrection. Our flesh and bones are raised from their place of interment. Then our flesh and bones are clothed with a glorious robe from Heaven. We join in the cavalry charge of the Battle of Armageddon.
After the Antichrist and the False Prophet are thrown into the Lake of Fire, we go up to Jerusalem to see the coronation of Jesus Christ as king on the Throne of David.
Then the Lord sends us out to a tribe of people somewhere to govern them for a thousand years.
Our position in Christ in God will not have changed in the smallest detail.
Now we can see what the Lord meant when He said, "Whoever lives and believes in me will never die.
The Apostle John informed us that whoever does the will of God lives forever.
We can establish our eternal home today, if we so desire. We can decide to become the eternal dwelling place of God through Jesus Christ. If we follow through with this, then this is what we will become.
Whether we are alive on the earth, or in the spirit realm after death, or serving Christ in the coming age, we will always remain in God in Christ. The only change will be in our environment, which is not of the same importance as the fact that we are at home in Christ in God.
What a comforting thought!
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)
For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3)
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; And whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25,26)
MammonMammon is an Aramaic term for riches. Of all the gods of the Greeks and Romans, mammon is the only god singled out by the Lord Jesus as being the competitor of the true God. "You cannot serve both God and mammon."
Now, why would the Lord single out mammon, or money, as the competitor of God? Its an interesting question, isnt it?
Living in the United States we do not realize what a god money is. We suppose all people of all history have regarded money as we do. Although money has been enough of a problem in time past that Jesus commented on it, I think Americans, and some other nations of today, place the acquisition of money as the highest good in life.
Capitalism is a profoundly complex economic system and the intricacies of its operation is not understood by most of us. But we suppose capitalism is of God, associated somehow with Christianity, and ought to be adopted by every nation and tribe on the earth.
In any case, we Americans are extremely money conscious. Our life revolves around our cash flow. Without realizing it, money is our god. We worship money.
Now, what do I mean by that.
Our god is whoever or whatever we look to for security, survival, joy, achievement, and status in the world. Now suppose the economic system of the United States collapsed utterly.
Would we be secure? I think the Lord would take care of us if we were looking to Him for our necessities.
Would we survive? Yes we would, if we trust the Lord. At least the Bible tells us that God will provide for us in times of calamity.
How about joy. Can the Lord give us joy apart from money? I think so. I have not noticed that people with money have more joy than those who dont. I suppose the old law holds true: "He who gathers much has nothing over, and he who gathers little has no lack."
As far a achievement goes, accomplishing our goals, this is possible without money. Actually achievement is the result of hard work. A person can have much money and not achieve anything.
How about status in the world? You know something? The people who are worthy of our admiration are not impressed with how much money someone has; and as for the remainder of the people, it doesnt matter what they think.
But we are horribly bound with the love of money, in America. We are under the impression the things we need or desire can come only through money. It is a deception.
Many Christians, including missionaries, know of incidents where the Lord supplied miraculously. I heard one reputable account where the Lord created food in the stomachs of believers who were attempting to flee from Russia, back at the time of the revolution.
We look to money to supply that which God has promised to supply. The problem is, God is invisible and money is visible. If we do have a financial collapse in America, Christians will learn how true Gods promises actually are.
The Lord Jesus told us to seek first the Kingdom of God and all we need will be added to us. We American Christians sit in the seat of the scornful when it comes to that promise.
Take no thought for tomorrow. Ha!
We are in a cash-flow society, and it is difficult to think otherwise.
I started working when I was young. I got a job in a dairy, as an apprentice to an ice-cream maker, a German by the name of Rupert, early Monday morning after graduating from high school the day before. This was at Clarke Dairy in West Haven, Connecticut.
By the time I was seventeen I was working in a machine shop just outside of New Haven.
I have had many jobs since then. Right now I am pastoring a church and writing down my thoughts. I dont know if writing counts as actually working.
So I am not a dreamer. I know God expects us to work hard, to earn every dollar we receive.
I am not advocating not working. That is a trap some religious people get into, and it goes nowhere.
But none of this detracts whatever from the fact that we Christians in America are worshiping the dollar, and we need to ask Gods help to free us from this bondage and to look to the Lord. Then we wont panic if some sort of catastrophe falls on America.
A few years ago the so-called "faith and prosperity" messages took hold among Charismatic believers. How in the world could intelligent Christians fall into the trap of believing money is the sign of Gods blessing, after all the Apostle Paul told us!
And constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think godliness is a means to financial gain. (I Timothy 6;5)
People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (I Timothy 6:9,10)
Now read the above two passages and tell me Christians are supposed to be rich.
Am I advocating poverty? Not at all. If we love the Lord and are serving Him, He will supply our needs one way or another. The Bible promises this. If it is not true, neither is John 3:16)
I have seen Christians with a gift of making money. Everything they touch prospers. The Bible commands such to treat this gift as a ministry. They are not to hoard their money but to be liberal in giving. God will direct them if they present their body a living sacrifice.
If it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. (Romans 12:8)
The reason we hoard money is to protect us in case the promises of God fail. It is just as simple and direct as that.
In the American way of life it is every man for himself. But the Bible commands us to share if we see a brother or sister in need. When people are stingy with their money, God is stingy with them. They hoard their money in bags with holes in them.
When people are liberal and generous with their money, God is liberal and generous with them.
God loves a cheerful giver. He is a King. If we choose to give, we should give cheerfully as to a king. If we choose not to give, then that is our decision. But in no case should we be giving to God grudgingly; for He is a Monarch and He will not accept our gift. His royal status prevents His begging people for money.
Television evangelists and others have destroyed their testimony by their obvious covetousness, their pleading for money. They can preach all day, but there is no Divine testimony being given. They have ruined their testimony by begging for money. The American people are not fooled. They recognize cupidity when they see it.
We need to pray, each one of us, that God will deliver us from trusting in money. In the last analysis, every need and every desire that we have comes from God. If money is used in the transaction, there is no problem. The problem is when our love of money turns our eyes away from the Lord.
The Lord Jesus said, no individual can serve God and money. It is not unusual for a believer to be brought to a situation in which he has to choose between having a dependable income, and doing what he feels God would have him do.
I know of a man to whom the Lord spoke one year before he was to collect his retirement money, and told him to leave his job and go into the ministry. I cant remember whether the man obeyed the Lord or not, but I have never forgotten the situation the man found himself in.
When the Lord called me to full-time ministry, I had about five years to go in public education before collecting my retirement money. I did what God told me to do and lost the share that the State of California would have added.
Audrey and I quit everything and came to the San Diego area without the prospect of an adequate income. That was twenty-seven years ago. We have never asked anyone for a nickel, and have never lacked a necessity. I think I am just as well of now financially as I would have been had I taught those remaining five years.
When we obey the Lord He supplies all we need. We can count on that and take it to the bank.
We do not have to ask anyone for money, unless the Lord directs us to do so. It is a poor testimony.
As someone said, "What the Lord orders He pays for." I have found it so.
When our radio ministry began to dry up financially, we simply went off the air. I chose not to ask people for money, although the manager of the station suggested I do so. While we were on the air we spent all the time preaching the Gospel. No time was spent asking for money.
I remember how we went on the air. We had been thinking of it. One Sunday a lady who never had been in the church, and never came again, walked up to me and handed me five thousand dollars in gold coins. That started us on the air and we continued for about nine years, as I remember.
We borrowed four hundred thousand dollars to build a new sanctuary. The note was repaid in about four years, with no begging for money.
We are not to conduct our ministry or our lives for the purpose of acquiring money. We have to be sensible and work to earn our living, to support those who depend on us. But our goal is not the acquisition of money. Our goal is to gain the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.
No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You
cannot serve both God and Money. (Luke 16:13)
Where I AmWhat is it like to live with Jesus in the center of Gods Person and will?
The Lord told us He would return and take us to be with Him where He is.
When John, Chapter Fourteen speaks of the Fathers house, of mansions, of the Lord coming to take us to be with Him where He is, we ordinarily interpret this to mean Gods house is Heaven, the mansions are elaborate houses in Heaven, and the Lord Jesus will return to take us to be with Him where He is in Heaven.
Perhaps this passage has been a significant foundation for the current emphasis on being "raptured" to Heaven so we can be with the Lord and live in a fine home.
Sounds good, doesnt it? I for one would be very happy to be caught up to Heaven, have no more problems, live in a mansion, and be able to see Jesus every once in a while. It is not surprising that this idea is so popular. It is all our adamic nature could hope for.
However, I dont think Christians who enjoy a little sinning now and then, such as gossiping, or watching ungodliness on the television, would be completely happy living where there are no works of the flesh. How do you feel about this?
Well, enough of this musing about how nice it would be to get out of here.
One of the cardinal rules that must be applied when one is interpreting Scripture is that of agreement of context. We cannot yank a passage out of the surrounding text and make it mean whatever we want.
The fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John is speaking of a coming of the Lord to His disciples, not the historical return of the Lord to the earth when every eye shall see Him.
Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him. Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, "But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?" Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. (John 14:21-23)
According to the Book of Revelation, when the Lord returns, every eye shall see Him.
But in the case of the coming being spoken of in the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John, the world will not see Him, only those who obey His teaching.
So when the Lord said, in verse three of the fourteenth chapter, I will come back and take you to be with me, He is not speaking of His return to the world. Jesus tells us what He means, when He says, "My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him."
The word "home" is the same term translated "mansions," in the King James Version.
Also, you may notice in the fourteen chapter the Lords emphasis on the fact that God dwells in Him.
Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. (John 14:11)
In terms of the context, the Fathers house is the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the house of God, not Heaven, but Jesus Christ.
The "many mansions" refer to the fact that we are to become living stones in the great House of God, which is Christ. There is an abundance of New Testament support for the concept that we through Christ are being fashioned as the dwelling place of God.
When the Lord spoke of going to prepare a place for us, He was speaking of going first to Calvary. It is only through the blood atonement that we can be made the dwelling place of God. Then Christ went to Heaven and sprinkled His blood before the mercy seat there. In so doing He cleansed the defilement caused by the rebellion that had taken place in Heaven.
The perfect atonement has been made. Gods justice has been satisfied. Now Christ can come to us, stand at the door of our personality, and ask for entrance. When we open the door He can enter and dine with us. Since God is always in Christ, when Christ enters us it is the Father and the Son entering us and making Their "mansion" with us, we might say.
This is the meaning of the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John, and it agrees with the remainder of the New Testament writings.
Nowhere in the New Testament does the Lord Jesus speak of our making our home in Heaven, or of our living in an elaborate house there.
Rather the New Testament tells us that God is making us His eternal dwelling place.
In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (Ephesians 2:21,22)
As I said in the beginning, it would be nice if the Lord Jesus would return and carry us up to Heaven where we would have no problems.
The truth, however, is infinitely better. It is that the Lord is returning first to His Church, to those who keep His commandments, to make His eternal home in us. We then are the eternal House of God. What need do we have of mansions when we ourselves are the dwelling place of the Father and the Son? I feel certain you will agree with this.
The coming set forth in the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John is taking place now. Do you remember how Jesus said He would stand at the door and knock? Well, that was written to the last of the seven churches. It is today that Christ is standing at the door of His people and asking for entrance. We are going to need His inner Presence in a greater way if we are to stand in victory throughout the age of moral and physical horrors we are approaching.
When the Lord enter us He declares war on His enemies that are in us, just as He drove out the merchants from the Temple when He was here on earth.
It is the King of Glory cleansing His temple, our heart, so He and the Father can find rest in us.
Go to prayer and ask the Lord if I am correct. Tell Him that you want the Father and Him to dwell in you forever and to cleanse the sin from your personality.
If you do this, the Holy Spirit will begin to point out to you what is in your heart that is not pleasing to God. As soon as you become aware of an uncleanness, confess it as sin. Renounce it, saying you want nothing more to do with it. Denounce it as evil. Then draw near to God.
When you take these steps, you will be forgiven and the Holy Spirit will cleanse you and move you forward in the program of redemption.
The work of redemption from sin has begun in the day in which we are living. It will continue on throughout the Kingdom Age, and will be completed before the coming down to the new earth of the new Jerusalem.
It always is helpful to know what the Lord is doing at any particular time of history. The previous century was the "Pentecostal Century," as I view it.
Now we are in the twenty-first century, and God is moving on toward the time when the Kingdom of God will be installed in the earth. The task at hand is that of removing sin from the warrior-remnant who will return with the Lord and install the Kingdom of God on the earth.
What is it like to live with Jesus where He always is? It is to live in the very center of Gods holy fire, Person, and will. It is to live by the Life of God. It is to follow the Lamb wherever He goes. It is to always be aware of Christ in every aspect of our life.
Jesus lives in God. We are to live in Jesus just as Jesus lives in God.
What we have had to this point, basic salvation through the blood atonement, the baptism with the Holy Spirit, some of the gifts and ministries of the Spirit of God, have been preparatory works. They have brought us to the place where we can begin to enter the Kingdom of God. We enter the Kingdom of God as we learn to do His will in the earth as it is performed in Heaven.
What a wonderful day! What a dangerous day, because of the abundance of deception!
The purifying of the saints had to come sometime, because the believers are not ready to mount the white war-stallions and return with the Lord to set up the Kingdom of God, the doing of Gods will in the earth.
Matthew told us in the last days the Lord would remove all sin from His Kingdom.
It is characteristic of people to believe God did great things in the past and will do great things in the future. It is difficult for us to realize how momentous an hour we are living in.
Each of us must be supremely careful that he does not permit the turmoil in the world to distract him from the one important issue, which is that of finding Christs will for his individual life and performing it.
The Christian churches in America, to a great extent, are backslidden. The ministers spend their time assuring the people that God loves them and all is well. Consequently the people are casual, more concerned with football scores than they are with what the Holy Spirit is telling us.
The Spirit is telling us that all is not well, that God is judging America because it is a world leader in the practice and propagation of immorality. Already we see the judgment on our number one god, which is money. The states and the federal government are having financial difficulties. This always has been a sign of Gods displeasure.
Satan would keep us glued to the television so we can be occupied with the importance of heartburn, sore backs. and constipation. Heartburn, sore backs, and constipation are important to afflicted people, but not as important as the larger issues, such as what is God saying to America? What is God saying to us as an individual?
There have been people in this world who have missed the day of their visitation. Lets you and me make certain we are not counted in that group.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. (John 14:3NASB)
Living ForeverWhat is involved in living forever? Why would anyone want to live forever? Would we grow, and if so, in what manner? It would not be desirable to have a world in which people lived forever but were not growing in righteousness!.
Have you ever though about what it would be like to live forever and ever?
Kind of a staggering thought, isnt it?
I imagine there are people alive today who would like to live forever if they could maintain their youth, and others who would just as soon die and take their chances on the next life.
Think of what gifted people in the arts or sciences could accomplish if they were to live forever!
In the beginning there was the Tree of Life, which I believe was and is the Lord Jesus Christ.
And the LORD God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever." (Genesis 3:22)
To eat of the tree of live is to live forever. From my point of view, I think living forever had to do with the physical body. To live forever was immortality in the body.
The reason I think so is that most of us believe people live forever in the spirit realm after they die whether or not they eat from the Tree of Life. So God meant Adam would live forever in his body on the earth if he ate from the Tree of Life.
"Dust you are, and to the dust you shall return." It is remarkable that in so saying, God ignored the spiritual nature of man.
I think when Jesus spoke about God giving His Son so whoever believes in Him would not perish, He was speaking of immortality in the body and referring to those who would be raised to immortality in the Day of Resurrection.
I just am not certain about what is left over when the body dies. We say the soul and spirit go to Heaven, if the individual is saved. I suppose is true, but I dont have a lot of scriptural support for it.
I truly believe conscious life continues in the spirit realm after we die, whether we are in Paradise or in torment. I think also that when the Lord speaks of eternal life He is referring to something more than just conscious life, because it seems to me that conscious life continues forever in any case.
We speak of growth in Christ. Exactly what does that mean?
I think God meant for the adamic creation to be temporary. Perhaps this is why He drove Adam from the gardenso he wouldnt live forever as an adamic person, particularly after he sinned.
Growth in Christ must mean we grow in the image of Christ. We grow in the image of Christ because Christ has been conceived in us and now is growing in us. Also, we are learning about the Lord. The eternal moral law of God is being written in our heart and in our mind. We are learning the difference between what is good and what is evil, and we are being strengthened in the ability to reject the evil and embrace what is good.
If we actually are growing in Christ, in righteous behavior, then eternal life is being given to us. Eternal life always follows righteousness.
I can picture a person who is growing in Christ in this world, after death, and in the resurrection world, living forever. He is growing into the image of God continually. He is becoming like God in every way, and is in union with God through Christ.
I can picture this individual living forever and ever, always growing, always learning.
But let us take a purely adamic individual. He knows nothing of Christ. Christ has not been conceived in him.
Let us say he has much good in his personality: he is faithful, truthful, and honest.
Let us say he also has a sinful nature: he is short-tempered, covetous, and tends to be cruel and sadistic.
I have noticed that many people do not change. They are critical when they are twenty years of age, and critical when they are seventy years of age. In fact, they sometimes become worse as times goes by.
This is true of many Christians as well as of the unsaved.
What would he be like if such a person lived forever? From what I have seen of people, he would be totally miserable.
My conclusion is, living forever is not uniformly desirable or productive.
There is coming a new heaven and a new earth, governed by the Lord Jesus Christ and His saints. This new world will last forever.
What if there was a person living on the new earth who was short-tempered. He became angry quickly when he was young, and as he grew older his outbursts of rage became so violent his wife and children feared for their lives.
What is wrong with this picture? What is wrong is, we do not expect people in the new world of righteousness to be filled with rage and violence.
Would God let such a person live forever? This is the question I am raising in this article.
Would this individual really be happy? Would he even want to exist forever? If so, why? So he could become ever more angry and upset?
What if the person were a liar, and as he grew older the lying became more frequent? Would he want to live forever in this condition if people realized he was a liar and began to shun him?
My point is, living forever is not a good thing in and of itself. If all our bad features became increasingly manifest, would we want this to continue into eternity? More importantly, would God and Christ want us to continue like this for eternity/
It is evident, then, that living forever is desirable only as long as we have Christ in us and are growing in Christ.
The Lord does not want us to perish but have eternal life. We notice in the Book of Revelation that it is the overcomer, the victorious saint, who is permitted to eat from the Tree of Life.
If the Tree of Life is indeed the Lord Jesus Christ (and I dont know any other source of eternal life, do you?); and if we have to gain victory over our sinful nature in order to be allowed to eat of it; and if eating from this tree gives us immortality in the body; then God is saying we will not be permitted to live as immortals on the earth until we gain victory over our sinful nature.
This is sensible, isnt it?
Those who, through the Lord Jesus Christ, are growing in Christ, will be permitted to eat of the tree of immortality so they can grow endlessly in the Presence of God. All of the creation is theirs to enjoy for eternity. As it says in revelation, "He who overcomes will inherit all things, and God shall be his God.
So when we tell people that if they "accept Christ" they will be given eternal life, we need to be aware of what we are promising. The New Testament states that if we believe in Jesus Christ we will not perish but have everlasting life. This does not mean primarily that we will exist somewhere in a conscious state, it means rather that we will through Christ be able to learn to live by the Spirit of God so we can regain our body, live on the earth, and continue to grow in the image of God for eternity.
The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. (I John 2:17)
Degrees of Fruit-bearingHow can it be that some reap Christ thirtyfold, some sixtyfold, and some a hundredfold? How will this be manifest in the present world? In the spirit world after we die? In the new heaven and earth reign of the Lord?
The parable of the sower is a key parable because it shows us that the Kingdom of God is first an internal kingdom. The Christian religion of our day emphasizes an external Heaven. If we are "saved," when we die we go to Heaven. But this is not the message of the New Testament.
There is an external kingdom of God, the rule of God through Christ through the saints over the nations of the earth. But the external kingdom is a result of the establishing of the inner kingdom. God must rule in us before we can rule the world. Does that make sense to you?
The Kingdom of God is sown in the human heart as a Divine Seed. It actually is Christ, the living Word of God.
Sometimes the seed falls on hard ground and does not germinate.
Sometimes the seed germinates but there is not sufficient depth of soil and it perishes. Can the growth of the Divine Seed actually perish and bring forth no eternal fruit? According to the Bible this can take place.
Sometimes the seed germinates but the cares of life choke it out and it perishes, bearing no lasting fruit.
Sometimes the seed falls into an honest and good heart. Then the Kingdom of God, which is Christ, grows and brings forth fruit: some to a thirtyfold extent; some to a sixtyfold extent; some to a hundredfold extent.
Let me say at this point that if we wish to be someone who brings forth the Kingdom of God in a permanent manner, we must have an honest and good heart. We must have an honest and good adamic nature.
I dont think there is enough said about integrity today. If we do not have integrity as an adamic person, it is not possible to bring forth Christ to a lasting extent.
Why is this? It is because the adamic personality must choose to decrease. It must permit itself to be crucified that the new Life of Christ may be formed in the personality.
The adamic personality must work itself out of existence, so to speak. It must persevere in hardships until Christ is formed. It must contribute to its own demise.
The Kingdom of God cannot be formed in an individual in any manner other than through the crucifixion of the adamic nature. Since the adamic nature makes the choice whether or not it will submit to the program of crucifixion, integrity in the adamic nature is necessary if the Kingdom of God is to be established in the individual.
Now why should there be degrees of fruit-bearing, of the forming of Christ in us?
Perhaps there are two reasons why there are degrees of fruit-bearing, with one person bearing less of Christ than another.
The first reason would be election. We who live in a democracy are not fond of the idea that God would choose one person to be closer to Him than another. In America today the person chosen to be not as close might sue to gain equal access. But if we are going to be able to be at peace in the Kingdom of God we just have to accept the fact that God will appoint one person to glory, another to lesser glory, another to very little glory, and another to destruction.
God hardens hearts, and God gives gifts that cause us to desire His Presence. We may not think this is fair, but God is the Potter and He does what He will with the clay.
We can be assured that God indeed is fair; and if we knew all there is to know about Gods choices, I think we would discover God is fair.
The first reason for differences in fruit-bearing, then, is Divine election to one status or another.
The second reason is our degree of diligence. It is evident that some people seek Christ more diligently than do others. We might argue that it is God who puts into our heart the degree of diligence we apply to gaining Christ. I would not doubt for one moment that such is the case.
However, I like George MacDonalds position. He said, in so many words, that if you want to be elected, then act like it. I believe this to be precisely true. Instead of wondering if God has chosen you, act like you have been chosen for the highest throne in the Kingdom Seek God with all your strength night and day. Pray in Jesus name to be filled with the fullness of the Father, the fullness of the Son, and the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Do not let any consideration hold you back or dampen your zeal. Keep at it for your whole lifetime.
Dont talk yourself out of it, making sure you come short of Gods Glory.
Then see what God will do!
I think God in time past God has looked for someone to stand in the gap for Him so He would not destroy the land. He found none. I have determined, by Gods grace, as long as I am alive, this never will be the case. How about you? Are you totally determined while you are alive God can never say "I looked for someone to stand in the gap but I could not find such a person"?
I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none. (Ezekiel 22:30)
In the new world of righteousness, there will be some who have a portion of eternal life. There will be others who have more eternal life, more of Christ in them.
Finally there will be those who are filled with all the fullness of Christ. They follow the Lamb wherever He goes.
But how will the extent to which we have reaped Christ be manifest in the present world, in the spirit world after we die, and in the new heaven and earth reign of the Lord?
The kingdom that grows in us is revealed in what we are in personality and how we behave. It is eternal life, the very Life of God given to us through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Eternal life is observable in our personality today in the kind of person we are and how we behave.
What we are and how we behave will not be different after we die.
What we are and how we behave will be the same after we are raised from the dead.
It is eternal life. It is the treasure we are laying up in Heaven.
I think you and I can bear the fruit of Christ to a hundredfold extent, if that is what we desire above all else. This is my goal. How about you?
But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. (Luke 8:15)
But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. (Matthew 13:23)
These Are All That MatterMany of us spend a good part of our life collecting material things. Actually, our personal growth in Christ and our relationships are all that matter.
We Americans have a fondness for material things, material wealth. Perhaps this is true of all the people in the world. It probably is, although most of them do not have the opportunity to acquire money and things that we do.
But, as the Lord say, a mans life does not consist of the abundance of things he possesses.
Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a mans life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." (Luke 12:15)
If our life does not consist of material wealth, what then does it consist of?
I would say our life consists of loving relationships, particularly our relationship to God.
There is no doubt in my mind that the present world is a contrived environment to see what we will do when we are given the true riches of the world to come; to develop Christ-filled character in us; and to teach us about God. The eternal moral law of God, of which Christ is the Personification, is written in our character so it affects our behavior; and in our mind so we understand Gods Person, will, way, and eternal purpose in Jesus Christ.
If we choose to spend our time and strength pursuing material wealth, we may not be careful enough to devote sufficient attention to the development of Christ in us. If we do not cultivate the Life of Christ but concentrate on money and things, we will die spiritually. Nothing will kill spiritual life more quickly than devoting ones life to material wealth.
Life is not in things, it is in relationshipsparticularly our relationship with God.
Just imagine you have died. You are laid out in your coffin. You are entering the spirit world.
If you are like the rest of us, you would prefer to be prepared for where you are going. If you were going to Alaska you would want warm clothing. If you were going to Mexico you might want to learn some Spanish. Also, you would want to notify a hotel before you left the United States so you would have somewhere to go. Looking for a motel in a strange city after you have been traveling all day is not pleasant. Have you ever done that?
You certainly would want to take some money with you so you would be able to buy food and lodging.
In other words, we dont go to another place without making some kind of preparations. Well, death is an important journey.
Now, think. What kind of preparations should we make for our journey into the spirit world? We cant call up and reserve a motel room. We cant bring travelers checks. We cant bring clothing with us. We cant bring our important status with us. We cant bring a friend with us to support us.
We came into the world naked and we will go out the same way. But there are some things we can bring.
We can bring a clear conscience that we have pleased the Lord and done His will.
We can look forward to meeting people to whom we were faithfulperhaps some whom we guided into the paths of righteousness.
We can bring with us our position in Christ at the right hand of God; for that never changes.
We can bring with us the degree of eternal life, of Christ in us, we have gained in the present world.
We can bring with us the trust in the faithfulness of God we have learned in this world.
We can look forward to receiving a house from Heaven, a robe of righteousness that has been formed as we have submitted to the crucifixion of our first personality. This we will receive in the Day of the Lord.
We can look forward to resting, knowing we have served our generation by the will of God. We have no fear of the coming Day of Resurrection, because we have died while living in the Presence of Christ.
All these we can bring with us. These are all that matter. Let us not waste our life on that which does not matter.
But God said to him, "You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself? This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God. (Luke 12:20,21)
A Suitable SupportEve was created as a suitable support for Adam. It is interesting also that Eve was created from Adam. Why was this? It is not recorded in the Book of Genesis that the female of any animal was created from the male!
Have you ever thought about Adam and Eve?
According to the Bible, Eve was created to be a helper, a helper suitable for Adam.
I did some checking on that word "helper." After looking at the way the term is used in the Bible, I came to the conclusion that "helper" means "provider of support." Several times ayzer (Hebrew term) is used to refer to God protecting and strengthening someone in need.
I am saying this because it is clear Eve was created to be a suitable support for Adam. This is different from the idea that a woman is sort of an errand-girl to help with the details. She is to be a support and strength for her husband. Quite a different concept.
The man was created first, from the dust. The woman was created second, and not from the dust. Why not? If God created a man from the dust, why didnt He create a woman from the dust? What would be wrong with that?
If God created the woman separately, then Adam and Eve could have gotten together for the purpose of bringing forth children, and then could have gone their separate waysmuch like today.
In fact, Adam could take the little boy, and Eve could take the little girl, and live their own lives without being irritated and frustrated by the other person.
But this was not what God had in mind.
God created a man. Then God saw that the man needed a helper, someone to strengthen and support him as he bears the burden of life on the earth. A provider of support! I am accenting this point because I dont think the majority of American women who get married today picture themselves as being a mans source of strength and support, although I am sure many do.
A woman may be attracted to the man. Maybe he makes her feel good when she dreams about him. But I dont think the American woman, in many instances, is looking forward to helping the man carry his load. In fact, I wonder how many men are ready to carry the load of unpleasantness that must be borne by those who have integrity. How do you feel about this?
Perhaps a woman cannot find a man whom she deems worthy enough that she would be content to be a source of strength for him. In that case she could enlist as a combat marine. She has every right to go into battle and be killed, just as a man can.
In America a woman can be about anything she chooses. She can be the CEO of a mammoth corporation. She can be a defense attorney, a judge, a physician, a pastor. You name it, and if she has it in her she can attain to her desired roleat least in America. Perhaps not quite as easily as a man, but pretty nearly as easy.
Now why would any intelligent American woman want to spend her life serving as a provider of support for a man?
In fact, I am not certain many American men are worthy of having an intelligent, capable, well-educated woman devote her life to standing with him as he faces numerous problems and fears.
Well then, why did God say such things in the beginning? And why did God not honor the woman by creating her from the dust as an independent being? By creating her from Adam, God made her an integral part of Adam whether or not it pleased her.
When Eve awoke for the first time, here was this farmer looking at her. I wonder what she thought? Since she had no experience, she probably accepted her relationship to Adam as a matter of course, and also the names he gave her.
Eves sisters, 6,000 years later, have a choice in the matter. They can become one flesh with some very imperfect male, or they can become an attorney.
Why would any woman want to marry a man? Certainly not to become his helper. I think in our culture the woman expects the man to be such a source of strength that no matter how she behaves he will be kind and gentle. Is this often the case?
When men are tired and battered by life they have a difficult time being kind and gentle. Actually, this is a time when both the man and the woman have to pray together for strength to remain kind and loving.
And I think this is why the sacrament of marriage is in such turmoil in America. The woman does not understand her biblical role. For that matter, neither does the man understand her biblical role, or his either, as far as I can tell. It seems, at least in America, that the delusion of romance has confused the relationships involved in marriage until people enter into marriage for no reason other than that it feels good.
Of course, there are numerous exceptions to this.
But I truly believe the concept of a woman being a mans provider of support is not as popular as the Scriptures recommend.
As to Gods reason for creating the woman from the man, and not from the dust as an independent creature, I think it has to do with the Lamb and His Wife.
We are married to the Lamb by eating His flesh and drinking His blood. As we keep opening our personality to Him, Christ dines with us, giving us His blood to drink and His body to eat. He dines on our obedience and adoration.
We learn to live by Him as He lives by the Father. He becomes our life.
We are being created from Him, an integral part of Him, just as Eve was Adam in another body.
When the Lord returns, those who live by His body and blood will rise to be joined with the slain Lamb. Then He will be complete.
Adam was complete once Eve was created. Eve was necessary if Adam was to fulfill his position as the image of God.
God called their name, Adam.
What will God call us, once we are perfectly one with Christ?
Probably we will have a new name. So will Jesus Himself! Marvelous beyond all marvels!
The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." (Genesis 2:18)
She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. (Proverbs 31:12)
Pressing Toward the FutureWe can choose to dream of the past, or of the future. Considering the pit from which we are being dug, and the glory toward which the righteous are moving, it is more profitable to forget the things that are past and to dream of the future.
Should we remember the past or remember the future? I think we should hold the future before us.
It is so easy, as one grows older, to dream of the past as though it somehow was better than the present. Nostalgia sets in. We become sentimental.
The truth is, we were miserable then just as we are miserable now. Somehow time screens out the pressures and dreads that we were experiencing theneven as children. Perhaps this is not the case with you, but it think it is with most of us.
Life in this world is not easy for anyone, Christian or not. It is the valley of the shadow of death.
Do you recall how the Israelites forgot all about the hardships in Egypt and wished they were back with the leeks and garlic? What a delusion!
The Apostle Paul said he was forgetting the things of yesterday and straining toward that which is ahead. Perhaps he was thinking of the following verse:
Listen, O daughter, consider and give ear: Forget your people and your fathers house. (Psalms 45:10)
Whether Paul was remembering this verse, or just determined he was going to keep on moving forward, I dont know. But I do believe the spiritual person is always pushing forward in Christ.
To be nostalgic, sentimental about the past, is to live in a lie. It is typical adamic behavior.
We need to fix our eyes on the future. The purpose of the events of the past was to bring us to where we are nownothing more than this. Salvation is always "today." I truly believe the Presence of the Lord, and the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, are more in evidence than they ever have beenat least in my fifty-eight years as a Christian.
Revival is here now. Jesus is standing at the door of our heart, desiring to come in and feed us with resurrection life. Resurrection life is in His body and blood.
Many who are last shall be first. If I am correct, unprecedented opportunities are here now. But we have to forget the "good old days" and lay hold on that which now is available. He has kept the best wine until how.
Dont waste your time looking back. Press forward, because there are thrones of glory waiting to be occupied by those who care enough to fight for them.
Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13,14)
Truth Is a PersonTruth is a Person. Facts concerning the molecular properties, location in space, time and date of something are not truth but information. Truth reveals the meaning, the significance of a thing, relationship, or situation. Only Jesus Christ is Truth.
Our society places a great value on truth. Yet, because we do not fear God, we are always learning and never coming to the knowledge of the truth.
I think we are confused about what truth actually is. Science sets store by facts, such as what something looks like; how it functions; how much it weighs; what its color is; what its density is; and so forth. Science regards these facts as truth. They can be verified by our physical senses.
These facts are not truth. Truth does not tell us how something functions or how much it weighs. Truth tells us what something means in the eternal scheme of things, what its significance is.
Scientists realize in one sense of the word the world we see is an illusion. We do not see the atomic structure, only the properties of molecules. So eternal significance is not found by scientific observation and measurement.
We can go through life and experience most of the physical phenomena, and yet never understand why we are here living on the earth in the present hour. Isnt that true?
Truth is a Person. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Word of God, the Truth of God, made flesh. Christ answers the questions, "What does all this mean? Why am I here? Where am I going? What, if any, are the consequences of my actions?"
Am I correct in this? Which is more important: understanding the skeletal structure of a dinosaur, or understanding why you are here and the consequences of your actionswhat happens to you after you die? Is it more importance to land on Mars or to learn to be a decent person, free from lust, covetousness, and envy?
We Americans need to rethink our values, I believe.
I have considered the hypothesis of evolution, not with the idea of countering it with the idea of special creation, but merely in terms of the probability that it is a true account of the origin of animal and plant life.
I do not believe the scientists are unbiased. I think in their haste to relieve themselves of the burden of accountability for their actions, they are attempting to force an alternative to there being a knowledgeable God. They want to live their lives as they see fit without answering for their choices to a supreme Being.
The scientists reason that apes came down from the trees, and then learned to stand upright so they could see over the tall grass in case a dangerous animal was nearby. They amuse themselves with these kinds of conjectures. Professing themselves to be wise they become fools.
Do they think back to how a living cell began in the first place, what would have to have been involved? If somehow atoms formed into molecules, and molecules formed into cells, and cells into protozoa, and protozoa into animals and plants, how could the animals reproduce? They could not reproduce unless there was a branching into male and female.
Have you ever studied the female reproductive system? To say that the process of fertilizing an egg and bringing it to its place in the uterus is an unbelievably complex operation, is to woefully understate the actual situation. To then hypothesize that evolution produced the male system, and then branched into a female system, or vice versa, is to dabble in fantasy.
Ah, but we are speaking of billions of years. It does not matter if we are speaking of trillions of years. What is impossible is impossible!
It is said if there were repeated explosions in a print shop for billions of years, and enough type, one of those explosions would produce an encyclopedia.
This is not true. There could be an infinite number of explosions and there never would appear an encyclopedia.
So it is true, that if the universe were a trillion to the trillionth power in age, the plant and animal kingdoms we see today would never be produced by natural forces.
It is absolutely true that animals and plants adapt to their environment. It is absolutely true that when environments change, some species survive and some do not.
These facts do not signify that somehow the female reproductive system would result, anymore than an encyclopedia would result from an infinite number of explosions in a print shop.
Belief in such occurrences attributes to time a power that time does not have. We can look around us and see that the changes in people and social systems throughout recorded history change only in detail. There are no actual changes.
The language, thinking, and conduct of people as recorded in the Bible, going back several thousands years, reveal no genuine change in people. There are changes in knowledge, but not in wisdom.
The poetic quality in the Book of Job, for example, does not suggest the ability of people to express themselves was inferior to that of today. One might venture that poetic utterance was more highly developed in the ancients. This observable fact does not make a strong case for evolution.
The strongest proof to me of the invalidity of the hypothesis of evolution is that no animal I have ever seen reveals any awareness of God. Yet the most "backward" people one can find on the earth are very aware of God.
There are people who spend many years training chimpanzees. Try taking a chimpanzee to church. See if he or she responds to Gods Presence in any manner.
Can we train a chimpanzee to actually pray with sincerity, or to evince any desire to seek God? Thus the empirical data suggests there is an uncrossable gulf between the most intelligent animal and the least intelligent human being. There is no way in which an animal will evolve into an awareness of Godan awareness possessed by the most backward tribes, as we view backwardness.
I wish the scientists were less biased and more realistic in their pursuit of knowledge. They should adopt a null hypothesis, asking themselves whether history, anthropology, and geology suggest intelligent design, or whether observable physical phenomena suggest the operation of random forces.
I am not going to hold my breath waiting for scientists to adopt a null hypothesis. They are biased because they want to live their lives without answering to God.
Truth is a Person. That Person is the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no truth apart from Him.
I have had considerable experience with children, both in public-school settings and in church settings. There is no question in my mind but that the children in the church settings, taken as a whole, tend to excel in intellectual and creative brightness. This is because they are exposed to Him who created the physical world.
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)
Dynamic, Not StaticSeveral passages of the New Testament are being applied as though salvation were a one-time event. "Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life." It is true, rather, that we have eternal life only as long as we keep on hearing His Word and keep on believing God.
This is a renewed attempt to explain that salvation is not as set of words and beliefs we accept at some point in time, thereby gaining everlasting righteousness in the sight of God.
Ill tell you what started me on this renewed effort. A man wrote me, informing me the thesis of the Book of Hebrews is that righteousness is gained by belief in Christ rather than by the Law of Moses. I believe this man is a sincere, godly individual. However, the purpose of the arguments in the Book of Hebrews is to remind Christians of the dangers of settling back before they are fully in the rest of God. There are several verses that express this warning.
The Book of Hebrews is not like the Book of Galatiansa refutation of the demands of the Judaizers that Christians be circumcised and obey the Law of Moses.
The Book of Hebrews warns us of the danger of not pressing forward until we arrive at the rest of God, the center Gods Person and will.
Again, in this fine mans letter, I was coming up against the traditional error of salvation through words and beliefs. It reminds me of the scholar who wrote that the thesis of the Book of First John is the assurance of the believer. If American believers had any more assurance our nation would be in worse trouble than it is.
Actually, First John is a reaction to Gnosticism, emphasizing that whoever does what is sinful is of the devil. Quite a different conclusion, wouldnt you say?
The conventional view of the Christian salvation as a philosophy that we adopt, and once having adopted it we are assured that in the Day of Christ we will be enjoying a picnic lunch with the angels in Paradise, is incorrect. This is not what the Old Testament and the New Testament teach.
The truth is, salvation is a moment by moment interaction with the Lord Jesus Christ that keeps changing us from our natural, adamic state to a life-giving spirit made perfect in righteousness by the operation of the Spirit of God.
Can you see how dynamic this is? It is not a philosophy. It is not a ticket. It is not an orthodox theological position. It is not a mental assent to the truth concerning the Lord Jesus Christ and His redemption. It is a continual give and take, an interplay, a dance in which Christ does the leading and we do the following.
It is point and counterpoint. Christ acts, and we respond. Christ acts, and we respond. Christ acts, and we respond. It is death, and life. Death, and life. Death, and life.
We follow the Lamb everywhere He goes, carrying our personal cross of self-denial. From time to time we behold His Glory: in the Word; in the gifts and ministries of the Spirit; in the circumstances of life; in answers to prayer; in the personality of someone who has gone on before us.
As we behold, and then reflect, the Glory of God, we are transformed into the image we are beholding. It is a continual changing into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The process is totally dynamic. It is a learning curve moving straight up into eternity. There is no end to it. God is living and probably growing (if that is possible). In any case, we are eternally alive and eternally growing into the image of our Father.
The moment we stop pressing forward in Christ, decay sets in. This is because the pressure of evil is on us continually. The current moves us downward toward corruption. To cease to struggle, to swim, is to move back into the adamic, animal nature.
It is not an anxious struggle but one of rest in Christ. Yet, as Paul told us, it is a straining forward toward the goal of the resurrection unto life.
Satan and death surround us. We are in the valley of the shadow of death. But if we keep our eyes turned toward the Lord, He sets a table before us in the very presence of our enemies.
But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. (II Corinthians 3:18)NASB)
Continual transformation into His Glory!
We can see how opposed current teaching is to the actual program of redemption. The traditional viewpoint is that we are saved by expressing our consent to theological truth. The actual salvation, however, is one of a dynamic wrestling with God as He invites us to leave our old nature and enter Christ.
Christians speak often of imputed righteousness. This means the righteousness of Christ is ascribed to us on the basis of our belief in Him. Christian are using this to prove moral transformation is not an essential aspect of redemption.
The setting for this doctrine of the Apostle Paul, the doctrine of imputed righteousness, is that of turning from the Law of Moses to faith in Christ. The idea is that we turn from the scroll of the Law of Moses and place our faith in Jesus Christ as our source of righteousness.
Paul has been interpreted to mean if we believe Jesus is the Christ and died for our sins, we now have righteousness ascribed to us no matter how we behave.
This is a very incomplete understanding of Paul.
What Paul actually is saying is: we cannot gain righteousness by keeping the Law of Moses. The Lord Jesus Christ kept the Law of Moses perfectly. He is willing to assign to us the righteousness of One who kept the Law of Moses perfectly if we will cease living according to our sinful nature and obey the Spirit of God.
Imputed righteousness is conditional, keeping us righteous as long as we continue to live in the Spirit of God rather than in the sinful nature.
In order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. (John 5:24)
Can you see what a tremendous difference there is between what currently is being taught, and what the Apostle Paul taught us?
We preach today that if we profess belief in Jesus Christ, righteousness is ascribed to us independently of our behavior. We can continue as an adamic individual and be just as righteous as if we had kept the Law of Moses perfectly.
Paul taught, on the other hand, that if we will cease obeying our sinful nature and begin to follow the Spirit of God, the righteous requirements of the Law of Moses will be fully met in us.
The current doctrine is static, consisting of a belief in theological factsfacts the demons understand better than we do.
The actual new covenant is a day by day, step by step, walk in the Spirit of God. Walking in the Spirit of God means our adamic nature is being crucified and in its place is being created eternal, incorruptible resurrection life. This is a totally dynamic experience.
Here is something to ponder: Paul said he was crucified with Christ. He said he was living, nevertheless; but it was not he who was living but Christ who was living in him.
Then Paul stated he was living by faith in the Son of God.
This is what faith is. Faith is being crucified and living by the Life of Christ. Faith is not a profession of belief in theological facts.
The "Statement of Faith" of a denomination is nothing more than a recitation of theological factsfacts that, as I said previously, the demons understand better than we. Yet, the demons are not saved because there is no salvation in a recitation of theological facts.
Salvation is a Person. It is the Lord Jesus Christ. The Kingdom of God is a Person. It is the Lord Jesus Christ. The Resurrection is a Person. It is the Lord Jesus Christ. Eternal life is a Person. It is the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ Himself is the Way. Christ Himself is the Life. Christ Himself is the Truth. The Way, the Truth, and the Life, are a Person. That Person is the only Way to the Father.
I am afraid we of today have made salvation a philosophy to which we must subscribe if we are to go to Heaven when we die. The truth is, salvation is a Person with whom we must interact continually if we are to live in resurrection life.
He who is possessed by and possess the Lord Jesus Christ has everything of value in the creation of God. He how subscribes to the Christian Gospel as to a philosophy, not living in daily interaction with the Lord of Life, is dead spiritually. His knowledge is powerless to save him.
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; And whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25,26)
Fruit or FireThe end of that which does not bear fruit is the fire.
The fifteenth chapter of the Gospel of John has some important things to say to us.
This chapter tells of the importance of fruit. What is the fruit the Christian is to bear? The fruit is the moral image of the Lord Jesus Christ.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, Gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22,23)
Notice that these virtues are not the fruit of the Christian. The adamic nature at its best can reveal only the faintest outline of these nine aspects.
Love, joy, peace, and the rest proceed from the Spirit of God. They are of the Nature of the Lord Jesus.
The Holy Spirit of God is given to the Christian to accomplish two purposes. First, the Holy Spirit serves as a second nature to us. Second, to give us power to bear witness. These two objectives are closely related.
We can choose to live in our sinful nature, or we can choose to live in the Nature of the Holy Spirit. If we live in the Holy Spirit, then the Nature of Jesus Christ comes forth in our life as the attributes referred to as the fruit of the Spirit.
If we live in the sinful nature, then the opposite of the Nature of Christ is revealed in our life: hatred, misery, unrest, impatience, harshness, badness treachery, arrogance, and lack of self-control.
The heavenly Farmer, God, is seeking a crop of godly behavior. To this end He has sown the Lord Jesus Christ in the hearts of people. When the Nature of Christ begins to grow, the Farmer is pleased and cultivates, irrigates, and nourishes that new growth.
But when, after a period of time, the Nature of Christ does not come forth, then the Farmer cuts that branch off Christ and the branch is thrown into the fire and burned.
This reminds us of the parable of the sower. There were two classes of growth that finally died: the growth that had insufficient roots, and the growth that was crowded out by the cares of life. When plants wither and die, they are thrown into the fire and burned.
Every farmer does this. Ground is a valuable commodity. It is difficult for a farmer to make a profit from his land, and he does not waste space on plants that are not bearing fruit.
Unfortunately, we do not view our salvation as something that profits God. We are intent on going to Heaven where we can enjoy ourselves. Therefore we do not profit from Jesus words in the fifteenth chapter of the Gospel of John. We go on and on about unconditional love, and eternal security, and all the other devices we have invented to assure ourselves that whether or not we serve God, our eternal joy is guaranteed.
Our present gospel is little more than humanistic self-centeredness. We care little or nothing about Gods needs and desires. Our focus is on our own pleasure.
Because of the moral weakness of todays American churches we need to turn the focus back to Gods interests. God is a Farmer. He is looking for the fruit of the Nature of His Son to spring up around the world.
The Lord Jesus told us plainly that every branch in Himself that does not bear fruit will be cut off from the Vine, and then picked up and thrown into the fire.
I think we should start teaching and preaching about the need to live in the Holy Spirit. If we live in our sinful nature we will reap destruction, according to the Apostle Paul.
If we live in the Holy Spirit, overcoming sin and behaving righteously, we will reap eternal life in the Day of Resurrection.
It is a simple and straightforward as this!
If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. (John 15:6)
Revelation 11 and 12Revelation, Chapter 11 tells about our bearing witness in the last days. Revelation, Chapter 12 tells about what is happening in us while we are bearing witness.
I have written quite a bit about Revelation, Chapters Eleven and Twelve. These two chapters are important to us because they state what will take place in our day.
Chapter Eleven, the account of the two witnesses, is speaking, I believe, of Christ and His prepared saints going forth to every nation and bearing witness of the soon coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.
I dont believe the current vision of the coming of the Lord is quite accurate. There appears to be a feeling among Christians that the Day of the Lord will be a wonderful time of joy for all who profess faith in Christ.
I dont think the Scriptures support our vision of the return of Jesus Christ to the earth.
The Scriptures point toward a time of wrath and devastation that will cause everyone, saint and sinner, to tremble in terror.
Because the installing of the Kingdom of God on the earth will be such a terrifying event, God will prepare His people and the people of the world for the coming uproar.
The preparing of Gods people already has begun. The Lord Jesus is drawing close to us. Whoever will open his personality to Christ will discover the Lord Jesus will enter him in a greater way than before. He will feed us with His body and blood that we might be strengthened. Then He will begin to wage war against His enemies that are in us.
His enemies are the actions of our sinful nature, the behaviors that the Apostle Paul said would prevent our inheriting the Kingdom of God.
We are being prepared for His coming by learning to live close to Him and by confessing, denouncing, and renouncing the works of the sinful nature that we have been practicing. The only people who will be raised when the Lord comes, or transformed into eternal life should they be living on the earth at that time, will be those who have, through Christ, gained victory over the sins that have been shown to them, sin they are practicing.
Perhaps many will not agree with me, maintaining that all who profess faith in Christ will be raised and caught up when He appears. I think they are on dangerous ground and need to go to the Lord about this.
As I said, we are being prepared for the Day of the Lord, that time that made even Gods prophets tremble.
Something else is taking place. While we are being prepared by turning away from our sins, Christ is being formed in us. When Jesus returns, those whose Life He is will return with Him. Then He will be revealed in them and will take control of the governments of the earth. This is the manifestation of the sons of God, of which the Apostle Paul spoke. The male Son, the Ruler, is being formed in us now, if we are living in the Spirit of God.
As I said previously, God will prepare both His Church and the nations of the earth for His return.
The members of His Church will be prepared by turning away from their sins.
To prepare the world, God is going to provide a witness of unprecedented authority and power who will preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of God to every nation.
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)
The term "two witnesses" represents Jesus Christ, the Greatest of all witnesses of God, and also His saints. Christ and His prepared saints will bear witness to all nations, empowered by a double portion of the Spirit of God.
The witnesses will minister as in the first century, raising the dead, healing the sick, casting out devils, and proclaiming the coming of the Kingdom of God. In addition they will perform works of destruction. These destructive acts of Divine judgment will be necessary because of the hardness of mens hearts in the last days.
No nation will be closed to the witnesses of the last days. This will be a Divine intervention in the earth to prepare all people for the return of the Lord.
After a specified time, the authority and power will be lifted, as it is after every revival, so the work that has been performed may be sifted.
Vast multitudes will have made a profession of faith in Christ and been baptized because of the extraordinary power of the harvest rain of the Spirit.
After this time, sin will abound as never before. Antichrist will sit on the Lid of Atonement in the Temple of God (a restored temple in Jerusalem, if I am not mistaken) saying He is the true and only God. His ascribing divinity to himself will occasion the Great Tribulation.
Because of the abundance of wickedness during the rule of Antichrist, multitudes of those who had professed Christ during the harvest-rain revival will grow cold in their love for Christ.
During the time of the Great Tribulation numerous saints will be slain.
Then one of the elders asked me, "These in white robeswho are they, and where did they come from?" I answered, "Sir, you know."
And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Revelation 7:13,14)
Antichrist will overcome the witness (not the witnesses themselves; Christ and His saints cannot be separated from the love of God).
Finally "peace and safety" will be heralded throughout the earth. But this peace and safety will be short-lived. The slain witnesses will be raised from the dead and stand on their feet, to the utter terror of the wicked. After a time of rejoicing the witnesses will be caught up to the Lord.
Looking at the two chapters side by side we see that Revelation, Chapter Eleven speaks of the witness that will be given in the last days to prepare all the peoples of the earth for the coming of the Kingdom of God.
These witnesses must be prepared. They themselves must be judged in advance.
Chapter Twelve tells of what is happening within these same saints. Christ, the Ruler of the nations, is being formed in them. Christ is the Morning Star, mentioned in connection with the rule of the saints over the nations. The saints rule because the Ruler has been formed in them, as described in Revelation, Chapter Twelve.
Wonderful days are here. We are approaching the conflict of the ages, the ultimate battle between good and evil. Let each one of us be careful that he does not miss the day of his visitation.
And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth. (Revelation 11:3)
She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. (Revelation 12:5)
Salvation, and Victory Over SinWe do not achieve victory over sin in order to enter salvation. Rather, salvation works in us and gives us victory over sin.
I preach a lot about righteousness; not imputed righteousness, but righteous behavior. As such I often am accused of preaching works.
Can you imagine how backslidden we have become in America? Here is a person preaching that we should live righteously before the Lord, and he is accused of preaching legalism and works. This shows us the depth of the current error.
The denomination of which I am a member used to preach righteous, holy living. I hope it still does.
We know the Apostle Paul spent a good deal of his time arguing with those who insisted if people were to be saved they must keep the Law of Moses; they must do the works of the Law of Moses. Paul kept telling them that they cannot be saved by doing the works of the Law of Moses. They must place their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Along come we Gentiles. We say, "Oh! Now that we have accepted Christ as our Savior we can forget about living righteously." Can you imagine Paul somewhere wringing his hands over such an interpretation of his epistles!
We Christians are under no part of the Law of Moses; but we certainly are under the Law of the Holy Spirit, and the Law of the Holy Spirit directs us into righteous behavior.
Where do the new covenant of salvation through Christ, and righteous behavior, come together? How are they related?
Today the idea is that the new covenant is an alternative to righteous behavior. If we would read the writings of Paul and the other Apostles we could see that the new covenant is not an alternative to righteous behavior.
Can we save ourselves by behaving righteously? No, we cannot. We are saved through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Well then, where does righteous behavior fit in the plan of salvation?
Righteous behavior, holy behavior, obedience to God, are the result of being saved. If we do not become a new creation of holy, righteous, obedient behavior, we are not being saved.
How about people who make their peace with God on their deathbed? God will deal with them after they pass into the spirit realm. Christians often worry about a loved one who never accepted Christ and then died. If the individual has deliberately rejected Christ and led a wicked life, you had best forget about him. He is in trouble with God.
But this is not true of most people. Sometimes they never were confronted by Christ. They just led an ordinary life. Do what you can for them while they are alive; but dont worry about them after they die. Unless an individual is confronted by the Lord and rejects Him, God will judge him according to his behavior.
If he has been wicked he will go into torment. If Christ accepts him, Christ will deal with him until he is worthy of the new world of righteousness. Christ can forgive anyone He wants to, just as He forgave people while He walked the earth. He can still do this. So we need to quit worrying about our loved ones who have died, unless they have been truly wicked and have knowingly rejected Christ..
I said a minute ago that if we are not becoming a new creation of righteous behavior we are not being saved. The only proof of salvation is the new creation. If any man be in Christ there is a new creation. If there is no new creation, he is not in Christ. It is as straightforward as this.
The Lord Jesus Christ is our Savior. This means He saves us from sin. We teach that being saved means we go to Heaven when we die. This is not what being saved means. Being saved means we have been released from the power and presence of the Devil.
Christ came to save us from Satan. Satan has held us in the chains of sin. We need a deliverer. The One who delivers from Satan has come. His name is Jesus.
Jesus overcame the Devil, the Adversary. Now through Jesus we can overcome the Devil. This is what it means to be saved.
Numerous churchgoers of our day claim to be saved. But they show the personality of Satan in their lives instead of the Personality of Jesus Christ. How can they claim to be saved when they reveal the personality of Satan. Has Satan been saved? If he has, I dont know about it.
But this ridiculous state we are in in America is the result of preaching that accepting Christ is an alternative to righteous behavior. We do not understand the meaning of redemption or the plan of redemption, supposing salvation is a ticket to Heaven.
Christ came to make us righteous. We know, dont we?
Do we suppose Christ came to make us righteous by imputation, by ascribed righteousness?
What foolishness this is. What has been accomplished in the Kingdom of God; what good has God received; because we have been declared righteous by imputation?
Is the Bride of the Lamb perfect by imputation?
Are the sons of God mature by imputation?
Are the soldiers in the army of the Lord obedient by imputation?
We have been greatly deceived!
The purpose of imputed righteousness is not to call wicked people righteous, as we preach today. The purpose of imputed, ascribed righteousness by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is to free us from the guilt imposed by the Law of Moses so we can be free to follow the Holy Spirit into actual righteousness of behavior.
Can you grasp the difference between the way we are employing the concept of imputed righteousness today, and the way the Apostle Paul intended we should view imputed righteousness.
When Paul spoke of imputed righteousness, in the Book of Romans, he was telling Jewish people that they could turn from Moses and accept Christ. Then the righteousness they had hoped would come from observing the commandments of the Law would be ascribed to them.
We Gentiles are using the idea of imputed righteousness to mean when we accept Christ we are righteous in Gods sight no matter how we behave. Thus we have defeated Gods intention through Jesus Christ, which is to create people who live righteous, holy lives.
We are emphasizing imputation when we should be emphasizing transformation.
Christ did not come so wicked people could have fellowship with God but so wicked people could turn from their wickedness and live righteously. Then they can have fellowship with God.
True salvation leads is to victory over sin. We do not try to live righteously so we will be saved. Rather we keep drawing closer to Jesus. As we do, He leads us in paths of righteousness for His names sake. Isnt that so?
I have been accused of preaching "works." The inference is that I am telling people they can earn salvation by trying to do good.
This is not what I preach. I preach that if we have truly received the Lord Jesus Christ our behavior will begin to change. As we seek the Lord each day He points out to us the things in our life that displease Him. We then confess these as sin, denounce them as evil, renounce them, saying we want no more to do with them, and then we draw close to the Lord.
The question always arises: "I know we should draw close to the Lord, and when we do He will change our behavior. But what if we dont. Are we still saved?
This is a common question, and it is based on an incorrect definition of salvation.
The person asking this is defining "saved" as "go to Heaven when I die."
The correct definition of "saved" is: "released from slavery to sin."
When we do not draw near to Jesus, do not begin the program of moral transformation, we are not being saved, obviously. So the answer to the question "are we saved even though we are continuing in sin" is, " we are not being saved if we are continuing in known sin," unless we are confessing the sin and asking the Lord to remove it from us, vigorously denouncing and renouncing it.
Those who are careless about sin will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
We do not try to earn salvation by doing good works. But true salvation always results in righteous behavior. The Lord Jesus Christ did not appear primarily to forgive our sins but to destroy our sinful nature.
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 devils work. (I John 3:8)
The Removal of Physical DeathPhysical death came because man sinned. Physical death will not be removed until sin has been removed from man, not just the guilt of sin, but the very presence of sin.
I guess most of us take physical death for granted, as being a normal part of life. In a sense it is, at least for now. However, the Scripture refers to physical death as an enemy ("the last enemy to be destroyed is death").
We know physical death began when Adam and Eve disobeyed God.
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned(Romans 5:12)
I think it is customary for us to think of spiritual death, separation from God, when speaking of the death that began with Adam and Eve. However, the following passage shows that the Apostle Paul often meant physical death.
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)
Can you see that Paul from the above two verses that the Apostle Paul is referring to physical death? Christ was not made alive spiritually but physically. So shall we be when He comes.
You know, the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead is not emphasized in current teaching the way it should be. It really is the centerpiece of the Christian redemption.
Somehow the Christian Gospel has changed from the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth and the resurrection of the dead, to life in the spirit realm, including eternal residence in Heaven.
This is not the Christian Gospel that we are preaching. It is a religion borrowed from some of the other religions and philosophies of the world.
The Christian Gospel has to do with the return of Jesus Christ with His saints to set up the Kingdom of God, the doing of Gods will, in the earth. Accompanying this is the bringing back to physical life of all people, some to the enjoyment of eternal life in the new world; some to shame or fiery torment.
Physical death is often referred to as "sleep," because all bodies shall be awakened from the sleep of death, each person in his own order.
There are two very practical aspects of the doctrine of the resurrection.
One is that we will not receive the kind of body we are hoping for until our inward nature has been converted from adamic, sinful life to eternal Divine Life. God is not going to clothe an adamic personality with a body like that of the Lord Jesus.
The second practical aspect, and one that needs to be stressed today, is that we are going to receive in the Day of Resurrection that which we have practiced during our lifetime.
We can think of our present life as one of sowing seed. As Paul says, if we sow to our sinful nature we will reap destruction. He wrote this to Christians. If we have spent our life living according to our sinful nature, in the Day of Resurrection we will be clothed with the corruption that proceeds from our sinful nature.
If we have spent our life living in the Holy Spirit, in the Day of Resurrection we will be clothed with a body fashioned from eternal life. That body, or robe, is being created before the Throne of God as we keep turning away from sin and embracing Christ.
I dont really understand what is being preached today. It is as though if we make the correct statement concerning Jesus Christ we will be qualified to spend eternity in the spirit realm. Who wants to spend eternity in the spirit realm? Jesus Christ, His saints, and His holy angels are coming to the earth. The Lord is going to sit on the throne of David and govern the nations. Who wants to be living in the spirit realm when this takes place!
He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, And he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end. (Luke 1:32,33)
We have an unscriptural doctrine today. Imagine telling people they are going to make their eternal home in the spirit realm, when the Gospel of the Kingdom is about people being raised from the dead and returning to live joyously on an earth governed by the Lord Jesus Christ and His saints!
I suppose the Lord is coming to us today in the spirit realm and clarifying the Christian message. We know now that we are supposed to wash our robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb if we expect to be ready when the Lord appears. We wash our robes by confessing our sins, denouncing them as evil, turning away from them completely, and continually inviting the Lord into our personality. We are to pray without ceasing. We are to interact with the Lord Jesus continually, talking to Him and thinking about Him at all hours of the day and night.
The redemption of our physical body, the removal of it from the darkness of death, was the central hope of the Apostle Paul. He was groaning for the redemption of his body, knowing he then would be able to serve the Lord without having to battle against a sinful nature.
The Lord has kept the best wine until now. Now is the time to take the Kingdom. Now is the time to prepare ourselves for the bringing back to life of our mortal body. We prepare ourselves by following the Holy Spirit as He guides us in putting to death the actions prompted by our sinful nature.
For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. (I Corinthians 15:25,26)
RewardsPerhaps we dont think enough about the rewards promised to those who overcome sin. We should! The Holy Spirit has placed them in the New Testament to encourage us to seek the Lord with our whole heart.
It is written concerning the Lord Jesus that for the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the Throne of God.
If the Son of God was motivated by the joy set before Him, how much more do we need to have joy set before us that we might endure the cross.
Sometimes it is taught that since we are saved by grace, everyone receives the same reward. This is not true. The Bible teaches that the Lord Jesus, at His return, will recompense each one of us according to what we have done.
Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. (Revelation 22:12)
You know, the above verse ought to be emphasized more than it is, because Christians would act differently if they knew the Lord Jesus was going to give to everyone according to what he has done.
From the way church people behave, I think they dont really believe this.
We know from what the Lord said in the Gospel accounts about how He is going to reward those who have wasted their talents; those who have been mean to their fellow servants; those whom the Lord never knew because they behaved wickedly. I think we have set these warnings to one side, imagining because we have been "saved by grace" they do not apply to Christians.
But they do!
There is another concept that Christians need to grasp. There are certain kinds of people, mentioned in the Book of Revelation, who will be in the Lake of Fire. There are kinds of people who will be barred from entrance to the new Jerusalem.
The Christian teaching is that accepting Christ changes this. If we accept Christ we will not be in the Lake of Fire. If we accept Christ we will not be barred from entrance to the new Jerusalem, whether or not we are among those specified kinds of people.
This is not at all true. It would make the statements in the New Testament invalid.
The wicked will be in the Lake of Fire. The wicked will not be permitted to enter the Holy City. This is final. This is the authoritative Word of God.
But doesnt accepting Christ change this? By no means. Did Christ come so the wicked can enter Paradise and the holy places of God? Absolutely not.
Well, then, how is He our Savior?
Christ is our Savior in that if we permit Him to do so, He forgives our sin and teaches us to reject sinful behavior and embrace righteous behavior. When He does this, and we are behaving righteously, we no longer are under the authority of the Lake of Fire and we will be admitted to the new Jerusalem.
Christ does not save us in our sin but from our sin. This is why repentance accompanies forgiveness, as recorded in the Book of Acts.
The idea that Christ came to fill the holy places of God with sinful people is a tremendous error in Christian thinking. God never will have fellowship with darkness. The Bride of the Lamb will be unblemished in character and behavior.
I do not know why God has permitted this destructive error to continue. I know there is Divine wisdom in allowing such an error to remain in existence. I know also that righteous people behave righteously even though our doctrine tells them it is not necessary.
But God never, never, never will have fellowship with darkness. This is not the purpose of the blood atonement. The purpose of the blood atonement is to forgive us so God can hear our prayers and help us escape from the chains of sin.
On the other side of the coin, there are fabulous rewards assigned to those who gain the victory over sin.
I think we attain to some of these rewards now, in this present life. Others obviously are reserved for the coming of the Lord. My point of view is that these rewards are steps toward the first resurrection from the dead, the resurrection of the royal priesthood.
The rewards to the victorious saints begin with eating from the Tree of Life, and proceed to our being placed on the Throne of God with the Lord Jesus Christ. Finally, in Revelation, Chapter Twenty-one, verse seven, we discover whoever gains victory over sin will inherit all things. We really cannot add much to "all things."
But back to the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation, which compose the most concise list of the rewards reserved for the victorious saints. We really ought to pay attention to these. They are well worth making every effort to gain.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. (Revelation 1:7)
Part of the original penalty for disobedience was denial of access to the Tree of Life.
From my point of view, the account of the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden is an allegory. There is only one Tree that is the source of Gods Life, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ. In some manner Adam and Eve could have partaken of Christ. Had they done so they would still be living in their physical bodies.
Eternal life is the Life of God. To take it into our personality is to receive incorruptible, Divine Life in our spirit and soul; then, in the Day of Resurrection, in our body.
The Lord Jesus told us, in the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John, that His body and His blood are real food and real drink. They are real because, unlike physical food and drink, they give us Gods Divine Life in our spirit, soul, and, at the coming of the Lord, our body.
The Lord emphasized in the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John that if we choose to live in His Presence at all times, living by Him as He lives by the Father, continually dining on His body and blood, He will raise us up at the last day and issue immortality to our body.
It is interesting to note, in the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John, that when the Lord spoke concerning His body and blood, He emphasized raising our body from the dead. He did not speak of our going to Heaven but of His raising us up. This is the reversal of the penalty imposed because of the disobedience of Adam and Eve.
Historically Christian thinking has been drawn away from the importance of the resurrection of the body into an emphasis on our spiritual life, especially on our spiritual life going to Heaven upon physical death. This is not at all the teaching of the Scriptures or the Gospel of the Kingdom. The Scriptures, including the Gospel of the Kingdom, are directed toward the raising from the dead of the physical body.
Our body is not our own. It belongs to God and was created for His purposes, that He might have a dwelling place on the earth. Therefore the resurrection of our body is the centerpiece of the Christian redemption.
When we live continually in the Presence of Jesus, dining on His body and blood, we gain eternal life in our spirit and soul. We then are eligible for the issuing of Divine Life to our physical body in the Day of the Lord.
But if we do not dine continually on His body and blood, choosing instead to live in our own adamic life, then we will not have eternal life in our spirit and soul. Consequently, when the Lord appears, we will not be provided with immortality in our body.
The last enemy that shall be destroyed is physical death. This means we will not gain immortality in our body until every other enemy in our personality has been put under the feet of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We see, then, that there is a reward, a goal to press toward. That goal is immortality in our body. Immortality shall be given to everyone who, through Christ, gains victory over sin.
Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death. (Revelation 2:10,11)
The reward mentioned here is the crown of life, and also that of not being hurt at all by the second death.
God permits Satan to put some of us in one sort of prison or another. The purpose of the prison is to break the yoke of sin in our life, particularly that of self-will.
When we are in such a confining place it seems like our misery never will end. We never again will hear the joyful sound. If we are to survive, and not break out of our prison, we have to resign ourselves to remaining where God has placed us until we die. If we have any thought of breaking out, saying "I can put up with this for just so long," then you can be sure that at the end of that time period you still will be in your prison. God and Satan want to see if you are going to be sternly obedient to God.
There are good Christians who balk at the idea of imprisonment. Christ stands at the door of the prison and says, "I want you to go through this door and be imprisoned for a season." Some Christians will agree to this. Others will draw back.
Those who are willing to stay as long as God requires will receive the crown of life. The crown of life is the authority to govern the creation by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Also, those who are willing to stay in the prison cannot be hurt at all by the Lake of Fire. The sin and self-seeking are burned out of them. Though they were immersed in the Lake of Fire it would not harm them. They have become fireproof through being obedient during their time of suffering.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it. (Revelation 2:17)
The hidden manna, if my understanding is correct, is the body and blood of Jesus Christ. These are hidden to all except those who, through Christ, are gaining victory over sin.
The white stone means, as far as I can tell, that the victorious saint has passed from the ranks of the called to the ranks of the chosen. The white stone is a voting pebble signifying approval.
There is a new name because God calls us by what we are. We name our children arbitrarily, based on our preference. But God gives us a name that describes us.
As we gain victory over sin and self-will, our personality changes in Gods sight. As we dine on the body and blood of Christ we are married to the Lamb. We are a new creation of righteous behavior and an integral part of the Lamb. Thus God will give us a name that describes what we have become.
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 potteryjust as I have received authority from my Father. I will also give him the morning star. (Revelation 2:26-28)
Authority over the nations, and the morning star.
The Lord holds out the governing of people as a reward for gaining victory over sin. In the case of faithfulness with the use of our talents, it is ruling over cities.
We need to think about this. The traditional view of salvation is that when we die we will go to a mansion where we will have no responsibility. But governing people is a responsibility. Do you agree with this?
The Apostles were promised that they would eat and drink at Christs table in His Kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Does judging the twelve tribes of Israel sound to you like responsibility?
Apparently we do not understand why God has called us out of the world to be members of the royal priesthood.
As far as I can tell, the two thousand years of the Christian era has been for the purpose of calling out from the ranks of mankind people who will govern Gods creation. During this period it always has been possible for anyone to choose to believe and be baptized, thus obtaining deliverance from wrath in the Day of the Lord.
All that is necessary to be saved is to believe and be baptized.
But then we find a remarkably different message in the New Testament. It is that of running a race; fighting in a warfare; straining every nerve to attain the resurrection from the dead.
On the one hand we have merely believing and being baptized.
On the other hand we find running a race and enduring hardships.
Actually I think two different programs are operating.
One program is that of providing forgiveness of sins for those who choose to believe in the Lord and be baptized.
The second program is that of preparing rulers.
I think the second program is being emphasized today. Many who are last in time will be of first rank in the Kingdom of God.
Because of this calling to the highest throne, the standard has been raised until it requires all that we are to keep up with the Lord. God is seeking the very best that mankind can produce to be rulers in His Kingdom. They will inherit all things. God will be their God. They shall be Gods sons.
These victorious saints are as the first three of Davids mighty men. They are the firstfruits of the nations of the earth to God and the Lamb.
The people who are saved will be in ranks, beginning with the highest that we have just mentioned, descending to the least in the Kingdom.
Those who choose to gain victory over sin will govern the nations of the earth. They will rule with absolute authority, smashing all resistance to Christ.
I am not certain everyone who is saved would desire such responsibility. But those whom God has chosen to govern the nations will be pleased with this opportunity to serve God and people.
The morning star is Christ formed in us. The only Ruler of the nations is Jesus Christ. We shall rule only as Christ is formed in us. It is not given to man apart from Christ to govern the works of Gods hands.
God is not creating many christs, many rulers. There is only the one Lord Jesus Christ. As He is formed in us, and we learn to live by His Life, His body and blood, we can say with Paul, "It is Christ who is living in me." When this is true of us, then we are qualified to govern the nations.
Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. (Revelation 3:4,5)
To walk in the white robe of the royal priesthood. To not have our name blotted from the Book of Life. To have our name acknowledged before the Father and His angels.
Our task is to keep our robe clean. We do this by immediately confessing any sin when it comes to our attention, denouncing it vehemently as unworthy of the Kingdom of God, turning away from it with all our might, drawing closer to Jesus for His forgiveness and cleansing. By doing this we partake of His body and blood.
Because we are living in the valley of the shadow of death, this cleaning process must operate continually.
Of the Christian in Sardis, only a few have kept their robes clean.
The few who have kept their robes clean will walk with Jesus Christ in the white robe of the royal priesthood. The majority of the believers, those who have not kept their robes clean will not walk with Jesus Christ in the white robe of the royal priesthood. They have not been found worthy to be members of the heavenly priesthood.
The Christian preaching of today, because of the influence of Humanism, denies that any person, once having "accepted Christ," can ever be lost to the purposes of God. The idea that one could have his name in the Book of Life, and then have his name blotted out of the book, is not acceptable to us.
Thus we are perfectly willing to defy the Scriptures in order to please pleasure-loving, self-centered American believers.
But Gods Word shall be standing when the United States of America is nothing more than a chapter in the history books, just as firmly as it stood before America came into existence..
"You shall not surely die." This has been Satans advice since the creation of man. It was a lie then. It is a lie now.
The way to make sure our name is not blotted from the Book of Life is to keep cleansing our personality by confessing and turning away from our sins.
If we are to have our name acknowledged in the Presence of the Father and His angels we must do more than make a profession of belief in Christ. We must gain victory over sin. We must live as a victorious saint.
Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so no one will take your crown. Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. (Revelation 3:10-12)
Protection and guidance throughout the hour of testing; a pillar in the Temple of God; never leaving the Temple of God; having written on him the name of God, the new Jerusalem, and the new name of Jesus Christ.
There is coming to the earth, and it is approaching even now, a period of great wickedness. The availability of pornography on the Internet is one example of the moral depravity, along with child exploitation and prostitution.
The Lord Jesus promises those who are willing to patiently keep His Word that He will guard them from being seduced by the demonic influences of the closing days of the Church Age.
Those who gain victory over sin He will establish as pillars in the living Temple of God. They will never leave the right hand of God; yet, having the power of multiple presence, as does the Lord Jesus, they will be able to move throughout the creation wherever they desire.
The name of God will be written on the victorious saint, so the saved people of the world will realize he is the extension of Gods Person.
They will see the name "Jerusalem" written on him, showing that he is an extension of the holy city.
They will see the new name of Jesus Christ written on him, showing that he is an integral part of Christ. Christ will have a new name because the people who have been added to Him will change what he is, just as when a person is married it changes what they are, in that sense. Another person has become an inseparable part of him or her.
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. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. (Revelation 3:20,21)
As far as I am concerned, the two verses above are the emphasis of today.
We are in a Laodicean period. The rights of people are being emphasized over the rights of God and the rights of society as a whole. Self-centeredness, self-rule are the order of the day. This is the Antichrist spirit at work.
The Lord Jesus comes to the Christians in America, a center of the rights of people and self-rule. The Lord says, "I am waiting to see who will acknowledge that he does not belong to himself but to me.
The account of Adam and Eve is a forerunner of the marriage of the Lamb. Eve was created from Adam. We are being created from the Lamb by eating His flesh and drinking His blood.
We who have been called by the Lord have one purpose in life, and that is to be an integral part of the Lamb. This gives rise to the most important decision we will ever make: "Shall I accept the fact that I was created to be part of another Person; or shall I continue with my own life, preserving my right to be an individual person?
We have been forgiven by the blood atonement. We have received the Holy Spirit, the oil upon the blood.
Now God is revealing His highest purpose for usit is that we consent to be a helper for the Lamb, just as Eve was created from Adam to be a helper for Adam.
We must realize Gods Son has never been married before. The truth is, the entire history of the world has been for the purpose of providing a helper suitable for the Lamb, and for the purpose of creating people who will serve as an inheritance for the Lamb and His Wife.
Not all Christians, unfortunately are going to consent to forsake their own individuality in order to become an integral part of the Lamb. This does not mean, as far as I know, that they will be cast into the Lake of Fire. The Lake of Fire is for the wicked.
Rather, their refusal to forsake their individuality will mean an incomprehensible loss of reward. They will continue as individuals, not being part of the Glory that is the Lord Jesus Christ.
Perhaps they will be able to relate to Christ on some lesser level. I do not know. But I do now that when we choose to retain our right to be ourselves, rather than a part of Jesus Christ, we remain as an adamic individual. And the adamic race is a temporary, animal creation that is perishing while it is living.
"I stand at the door, and knock." If any person open the door..."
God will never open that door. We have to invite the Lord into our personality. When He enters, He sits on the throne of our personality. This is His rightful place.
We need to understand our body does not belong to us. It is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Our body was created for Gods purposes, that His Being might be enlarged through us.
Then the Lord says He dines with us and we with Him. This is a banqueting table prepared for the marriage of the Lamb.
We dine on His body and blood. He keeps feeding us with His body and blood so we might be created from Him, just as Eve was created from Adam.
When we dine on physical food and drink, we do so more than once each day. So it is when the Lord is dining with us. We do not dine just one time. We dine continually. It is how we live! We live by eating the flesh of Christ and drinking His blood.
It is His body and blood, by which we are living, that will raise us at His return.
He dines on our obedience and worship. We dine on His Life, His body and blood. Thus we become one with the Lamb, just as Eve was one with Adam.
The Father and He sit on the throne of our personality. When our obedience has been established to the Fathers satisfaction, we are permitted back on the throne of our own life. Now there are three on that throne: the Father, the Son, and ourselves.
This is Gods highest and bestthat we become one with God through Jesus Christ and one with each other through Jesus Christ.
Today the Lord is asking us to draw closer to Him. He continually is knocking on the door of our personality. We continually are to be opening to Him and dining with Him.
The Lord told us many who are last will be first. I believe this means many who are last in time will be of first rank in the Kingdom. I think this is why the Scriptures are unfolding to us and we see that we are to receive the Lord into ourselves day by day until it is a fact that He is our life. When Christ, who has become our life, shall appear, then we shall appear with Him as an integral part of Him.
Christ lives by the Father. This means Christ has no life separate from the Father. Whoever has the Father also has the Son. Whoever has the Son also has the Father. This is true because the Father and the Son share one Life.
It is to this Oneness that we have been called. We are to keep on opening our personality to Christ until we are sharing one Life with Him. We are to live by His Life until there is but one Life. That eternal Life is the Life of God. It is one God, one Life, one Christ, and we are being called to that Glory which is beyond all Glory.
The believer who chooses to retain his own life, his own right to make his own decisions, will suffer a loss that could not be described. There is not enough paper in the world to record the loss that will be experienced by the person who chooses to live his own life rather than Christs Life, once that choice has been brought to his attention and made available to him.
To live in the Fullness of God; to be with Jesus where He eternally isthere is nothing else in Heaven or upon the earth that compares with this in desirability.
The last of the seven feasts of the Lord reveals Gods intention for man. It is the feast of Booths, of Tabernacles. The Jews live in specially constructed shelters during the celebration of Tabernacles.
This is Gods way of telling us of His desire that we become His eternal dwelling place.
It is the Fathers house. It belongs to Him. The rooms of His house, which we are to become, belong to Him. All belongs to the Father.
Is this what you desireto become an integral part of God through Jesus Christ; to never, never, never leave His right hand, no not for eternity? Do you desire to be filled with the Fullness of God? These are my desires. I hope they are yours also.
He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. (Revelation 21:7)
Heaven and SinDying and going to Heaven does not insure we will not sin against God. Only the formation of Christ, the Wall, in our personality guarantees we never again will be guilty of sin and rebellion against the Father.
Part of our Christian mythology is that the sin question is settled by our dying. The idea is that we are bound with sin now, and this is regrettable. However, when we die and go to Heaven we will not sin any longer. We will live happily ever after in a place where there is no sin.
This is an interesting viewpoint, but it is supported neither by Scripture nor by logic.
It is not supported by Scripture in that there is no passage that tells us we will be delivered from sin by dying and going to Heaven.
It is not supported by logic in that sin began in Heaven around the Throne of God. Satan was one of the two cherubim who guarded the Throne. Satan decided to exert his own will rather than obey the will of God. This was the beginning of all sin.
There is no holier place in Heaven than the Throne of God. If sin began that close to the Throne of God, how can we teach that once we enter Heaven we cannot sin because there is no sin in Heaven?
Also, if it were impossible to sin in Heaven, why does the Lord place such importance on our gaining victory over sin during our discipleship on the earth? If sin ceases to be a problem when we die, it seems to be a waste of time and effort to devote so much attention to overcoming it now.
Since God has given us a will, it always will be possible for us to sin, now, in Heaven, after we are raised from the dead, and while living on the new earth. We always will be able to choose to disobey God, just as Satan did.
There are three operations that will help us with the problem of our sinning.
First, the Lord promised us, in the thirteenth chapter of the Book of Matthew, that in the last days the Lords angels will remove from His Kingdom all sin, and all who continue to practice sin, who refuse to be delivered.
Second, if we have followed the Lord faithfully, bearing our cross, when our flesh and bones are raised from the dead they will be clothed with a body that has no sinful nature in it.
Third, Christ is being formed in us. Christ is a wall against sin. Our new, born-again nature, if it is nourished and permitted to grow, will provide us with righteous desires, with a desire to do Gods will from our heart.
These three Divine interventions are Gods provision for us so we will not perish because of our sinning. But to die and go to Heaven does not solve our problem. What we are, we are, and will continue to be. Physical death does not change what we are in personality.
How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! (Isaiah 14:12)
JosephIf you have been called to be a deliverer you probably will pass through experiences similar to those of Joseph. Remember one thing: though you may languish in Gods prison, do not become a prisoner in your heart. Your vision finally will come true.
Josephs first mistake was to describe to other people the visions God gave him.
Joseph was too young to realize he would cause jealousy by telling of the great things God had said to him. Sometimes it is best not to tell what God has shown us until God impresses us that this is what He wishes us to do.
His first trial was that of being cast out by his loved ones. The world no longer wore the friendly face he had been accustomed to.
This can happen to us. Something may occur to cause us pain and fear. Perhaps we never before had experienced pain and fear. We were a happy Christian. All of a sudden there is a dark cloud on our life. Our environment no longer wears a happy face. There is dread on the horizon. In this case we have to endure hardness as a good soldier of Christ.
The next trial involved the lusts of the flesh. Satan used Potiphars wife to tempt Joseph to sin. This was a difficult test for a young unmarried man.
How many potential deliverers have succumbed to the pull of physical lust? A number of strong candidates have fallen. Adultery, fornication, yielding to the lure of pornography, have destroyed the moral strength and testimony of many otherwise excellent people. Lust is a vicious, powerful forcenot easily overcome.
Joseph, the deliverer, was sold into slavery by his brothers. Joseph, the deliverer, was handed the opportunity to satiate himself with lust.
These same situations may befall you on your way to becoming a member of the royal priesthood. Are you strong enough and determined enough to stand?
Josephs reward for behaving honorably was to be thrown into prison. This is a somewhat different kind of test.
Josephs imprisonment was exceedingly unjust. He had done nothing wrong. But the Word of the Lord was testing him in preparation for his future role as a deliverer.
Joseph very well could have become bitter: angry with his brothers; angry with Potiphar and his wife; angry with the willingness of the Egyptian officials to imprison him without hearing his side or believing him; angry with God.
How many Christians today are bitter because of injustices that have befallen them? I would say the number of bitter Christians is legion.
We simply cannot serve God satisfactorily while we are nursing bitterness.
What are we to do when we are treated unjustly? We are to go to the Lord until that dark spirit has been removed from our personality. We are not to stop praying until it is gone completely. If we are determined to be rid of bitterness, the Lord Jesus will remove it and give us His body and blood to build up our inward nature.
Joseph was in prison, but he never became a prisoner in spirit.
Just as soon as God was satisfied with Josephs response to continued unjust treatment, God put it in Pharaohs heart to elevate Joseph until he was in charge of Egypt.
From the prison cell to the throne in one moment.
So it will be true of us. God may have promised us great things, but we may not have seen these promises fulfilled. We may have suffered much injustice, becoming nothing of importance while others around us have prospered.
We may have grown old, waiting for the Christ, like Anna and Simeon.
Suddenly there He is. The One who promised is utterly faithful. The vision is fulfilled, and God has added no sorrow with it.
And he sent a man before themJoseph, sold as a slave. They bruised his feet with shackles, his neck was put in irons, Till what he foretold came to pass, till the word of the LORD proved him true. The king sent and released him, the ruler of peoples set him free. He made him master of his household, ruler over all he possessed, (Psalms 105:17-21)
All Whom the Father Gives MeThe Lord Jesus told us every person whom the Father gives to Him will come to Him. I believe this statement needs to become part of missionary thinking.
It appears there is a balance between human effort and Gods direction. God has commanded us to preach the Gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized shall be saved. This commandment was given to the Apostles, and those who believe and are baptized shall be spared in the Day of Gods Wrath.
Yet the Lord told us no one can come to Him unless the Father draws that person. Also, in the Book of Acts, we find verses that suggest there are specific people who are ordained to eternal life.
When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed. (Acts 13:48)
For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city. (Acts 18:10)
Since we have been commanded to preach the Gospel to every person, and yet God has specific people to whom He is ready to give eternal life, I guess we have to think of our preaching as though we were fishing. We are preaching to everyone; yet we know there are certain people who are going to respond.
I have thought for years that we need to have a greater sense of Gods timing. It appears to me that many well-intentioned evangelistic programs are planned and implemented without a certain knowledge that this is what God is saying to do. Have you ever felt like this?
When I was in Bible school we were taught that the heathen were dying and sliding into Hell, and we were to go forth and save as many as we could.
Being a conscientious person I was very concerned, very worried about the fact that I was not doing enough to save these Hell-bound people.
But when I went to the Lord I did not get the feeling such was the case at all. I was assured that God was fully in control and all I had to do was to obey Him. I still am getting the same message from the Lord.
My conclusion over the years has been that the fact that millions are dying without Christ is not the proper motivation for missionary work. The only proper motivation for any kind of Gospel work is obedience to the Lord. We are to wait on the Lord until He directs us.
The believer who decides to wait for the Lord until he hears what Christ is saying may come under criticism from those who tell us the Bible already commands us to "tell everyone about Christ," so what are we waiting for? I notice, however, that those who lay such burdens on us do not themselves follow their own advice.
I find rest in the Words of the Lord Jesus. "All whom the Father gives Me shall come to Me," one way or another. My task is to make certain I am doing Gods will every moment of the day and night. When I do that, the blood of sinners is not on my hands.
God is in control and is saving whom He will how He will. His responsibility is to save mankind. My responsibility is to be obedient and live in peace with Jesus.
All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. (John 6:37)
Created To Be Part of GodThe idea of giving up their own life in favor of being united with Gods life proves difficult for some believers. The choice we are required to make as an individual is whether to retain our right to be independent, or to let go of that right and become one with God through Jesus Christ.
The Apostle Paul said he was crucified with Christ, and now he was living no longer but Christ was living in him.
Probably many Christians know of this verse. But I wonder if they have thought of what is involved in such an experience. Paul was way ahead of us, wasnt he!
Sometimes Christians say they have given their heart to the Lord. I wonder if they have. I think they mean they have made a profession of belief in the Lord and in His blood atonement. But I am not certain they actually have given their heart to the Lord.
The Lord is looking for people today who will give up their own lives that they might be part of Gods Life. This is what the Lord means when He says He stands at the door and knocks, and if any person will permit Him to enter his personality the Lord will dine with him.
This is an awesome, awesome decision. It gets to the root of what we are as an individual person; our right to be ourselves. How many believers are ready and willing to surrender their right to be themselves in order to be part of Christ?
We truly are more foolish than any other creature on the face of Gods earth if we choose to maintain our individual life rather than to become part of Gods Life.
We can see how such a choice would benefit us. This is obvious.
But how does it look from Gods viewpoint? Why would He want to bring us into His Person to this extent?
To answer this question we must consider what God is doing.
The invisible God is making Himself visible. It is as simple as this.
The Lord Jesus Christ is referred to as the Incarnation of God. This means Christ is God revealed in physical flesh and bone.
Another way of saying the same thing is, Jesus is the Fathers House.
But, as the Lord stated, in the Fathers House, in the Incarnation of the Father, there are to be many rooms. This is where we come in. We are living stones designed to be part of the great structure that is the eternal House of the Father.
It pleases God to no longer be an invisible Spirit but to be revealed in flesh and bone.
If you can think of anything more astounding than this, please write and let me know. To me it is the supreme event of all historyof all eternity, for that matter.
The eternal God has chosen to reveal Himself in physical form.
Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory. (I Timothy 3:16)
I do not know how long the spirit realm was in existence prior to the creation of the physical universe. Perhaps that period could not be measured by earthly time.
We must remember there were great lords who apparently held high posts in Heaven. Satan was one of the two cherubim who guarded the Throne of God.
The Father created all these personages through the Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God.
Then God, for whatever reason, decided to make a physical realm inhabited by people made in His image.
So now we have a habitable planet, and millions of people, and God is invisible in Heaven. God is not pleased with this. He created all these people so He could have fellowship with them and they could love Him and worship Him. This is what God wants.
However, Gods desire cannot possibly be realized while He is invisible in Heaven and we are down here on the earth.
What is God going to do about His frustration? He is going to reveal Himself, give Himself a physical form, so He can have fellowship with the people He has made and they can see Him and love and worship Him.
A simple, practical solution.
The first Person to reveal God in physical form is the Lord Jesus Christ.
But in the Fathers house there are to be many rooms, many dwelling places. This is where you and I come in.
Can you see how much better it is for God to have millions of people through whom He can be revealed rather than just One?
All that remains is for each one of us to choose to be the revelation of God rather than a revelation of himself or herself.
I know the world would not profit very much by seeing the revelation of myself. But the world will profit enormously if I choose to set aside my own life that God might be revealed in me. Whom would you rather see, me or God?
But you wont see God until I am willing to surrender my individuality and become one with the Life of God.
The same is true of you. Through means of your own talents you might bring joy to a few people. But if you are willing to be the revelation of Christ your fruit will be incalculable.
How about it? I myself, and multitudes of others, are waiting to see God revealed in you. Are you willing to give us the opportunity to see the Lord and worship Him?
And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (Ephesians 2:22)
Your Body Belongs to GodThe human body plays a far greater role in our redemption than ordinarily is presented. We have made the goal of salvation eternal residence in Heaven. The Apostle Paul stated the goal of salvation as the redemption of his body. These goals are significantly different.
Did you know God created your body for Himself? Your body, if you follow the Lord Jesus Christ diligently, will be the dwelling place of God for eternity.
What is your role? Your role is to keep your body ready for use by the Lord. For this reason we must shun anything that would defile our body.
Dont you know you yourselves are Gods temple and that Gods Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys Gods temple, God will destroy him; for Gods temple is sacred, and you are that temple. (I Corinthians 3:16,17)
The members of our body are the members of Jesus Christ. This is why adultery, fornication, homosexual behavior, and other unscriptural uses of the body are to be shunned rigorously. Would we make Christ do these things?
Do you not know your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! (I Corinthians 3:15)
Historically and to the present day, Christian teaching places far too much emphasis on the inward nature of man and not nearly enough emphasis on the body. It is as though the Devil can take the body as long as our spiritual nature goes to Heaven.
I dont know where the Christian churches picked up this idea. My guess would be from other religions that speak of Paradise after death.
But the Bible is about the installing of the Kingdom of God on the earth. This includes the raising of the bodies of the dead so they can be judged and then assigned to whatever place their behavior on the earth indicates.
If we are willing to count ourselves dead now, and alive with Christ, we can pass through judgment now. We can turn away from our sins and self-will until we are ready for the resurrection of our body and the clothing of it with the robe of righteousness.
This was Pauls goal, you know. He was groaning for the redemption of his body. Why? So he could be free from the chains of the sinful nature.
God has created our body for His own use. We are as a custodian. We are to keep our body ready so at any time God can move through us.
My own opinion of the Holy Spirit, the new Jerusalem, is that it is the assemblage of the glorified bodies of the saints. Thus it is a living city. Since the saints who compose the new Jerusalem have the power of multiple presence, they can be installed on the earth as the Throne of God and the Lamb, and yet move throughout the creation as God directs them.
The peoples of the earth, when they see the name of God written on them, the name of the holy city, and the new name of Jesus Christ, they will recognize that they are Gods priests who rule the world under the Lord Jesus Christ.
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)
We understand, therefore, that since our future ministry will take place on the earth, it is specially important what we do in our body. Our body is the vehicle, the chariot, the house, the temple in which God will find rest and through which God will have fellowship with His creatures.
Our body at the present time contains a sinful nature. Paul tells us if we yield to that sinful nature, living in its appetites and desires, we will reap destruction. This means in the Day of the Lord we will be given the destructive lusts in which we have lived. We have chosen spiritual darkness and we shall be given spiritual darkness.
But if we turn aside from the sinful nature and follow the Holy Spirit, our flesh and bones shall be raised from their place of interment and then clothed with a body of incorruptible resurrection life. Then the Father, the Son, and we shall inhabit that body, that room in the Fathers house, for eternity.
What a joy it shall be to bring forth waters from the well of salvation that is in us, so the dead sea of mankind can live.
What a joy it shall be to bring the Fathers Presence and love to the peoples of the earth.
What a joy it shall be to bring the living God to nations of people who have been the slaves of a false religion; to see the people, old and young, dance with rejoicing when they discover the true Nature of God.
Everything depends on our being faithful in the use of the body we have at this time. We are going to be given back, in the Day of Resurrection, what we have practiced in our body.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (II Corinthians 5:10)
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)
Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) (Revelation 19:7,8)
Preached as a TestimonyI do believe we are not preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom as a testimony. The gospel we are preaching is manmade. It is the gospel of make a profession of belief in Jesus Christ so you will go to Heaven. Did John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus, and the early Apostles preach the gospel of making a profession of belief in Christ so we will make our eternal residence in Heaven when we die?
Whatever happened to the Good News of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth?
The Jews were waiting for the coming of the Kingdom of God.
So when they met together, they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6)
When John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus, and the Apostles preached concerning the Kingdom of God, the Jews understood them to be referring to the kingdom proclaimed by the Prophets of Israel. This belief would have been passed on to the Gentiles, for their first teachers of the Gentiles were Jews.
The Gospel is the Good News that the Kingdom of God is coming to the earth, the kingdom that will bring justice to the meek of the earth; the kingdom that will remove all that is sinful; the kingdom that will make the earth a safe place for little children.
How did the Gospel of the Kingdom get changed into a ritualized formula by which we are permitted to live forever in the spirit world?
The Lord Jesus told us the Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached as a testimony to all nations. When this has been accomplished, the end of the Church Age will be here.
We are not preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom as a testimony. We are preaching a gospel of how to get saved and go to Heaven when we die. This is not a testimony, it is a way of getting to Heaven.
The Divine testimony tells of the Person, will, way, and eternal purpose of God in Jesus Christ. Once these four truths have been made known, the testimony has been given. Maybe people received Christ. Maybe they did not. The testimony has been given. We have been successful.
If our gospel is that of teaching people how to get to Heaven, and no one receives Christ, then we have failed. So the effort to bear witness and the effort to make converts are different in kind.
When the Lord sent out His witnesses He told them to heal the sick, cast out demons, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, and tell the people the Kingdom of Heaven is near. Matthew uses the term "Kingdom of Heaven." A comparison of the expressions "the Kingdom of Heaven" and "the Kingdom of God," as used in the Gospel accounts, will demonstrate conclusively that they refer to the one Kingdom.
As you go, preach this message: "The kingdom of heaven is near." Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. (Matthew 10:7,8)
The Twelve were to bear witness concerning the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven to the earth.
The Lord Jesus, the Apostle Paul and the other apostles and evangelists preached the Kingdom of Heaven, of God.
After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. (Acts 1:3)
But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. (Acts 8:12)
Strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. "We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God," they said. (Acts 14:22)
Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. (Acts 19:8)
Now I know none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again. (Acts 20:25)
They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day, and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying. From morning till evening he explained and declared to them the kingdom of God and tried to convince them about Jesus from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. (Acts 28:23)
Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 28:31)
Now tell me: What did the early Apostles preach?
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, (Romans 14:17)
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, (Hebrews 12:28)
Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? (James 2:5)
Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, And you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (II Peter 1:10,11)
Do you see anywhere in the Gospel accounts, the Book of Acts, the Epistles, or the Book of Revelation, where the testimony of God has to do with our making our eternal home in Heaven? If you do not, and if there are several references to the Kingdom of God, then our teaching and preaching are unscriptural.
What are we going to do about it?
Here is why there is a practical difference between promising people if they will make the correct theological statement they will go to Heaven when they die, and preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom as a testimony to all nations.
We can present grace as an excuse for sin and tell people they need do nothing except believe the facts about Jesus Christ. This is a free trip to Heaven. It makes little or no demands on the believer. Consequently numerous Christians in the United States undergo virtually no moral transformation. Yet the Lord Jesus Christ came so we would be transformed morally and thus be made fit for the Kingdom of God.
If, however, we preach the Good News that the Kingdom of Heaven is soon to come and be installed on the earth, then people have to make themselves ready for that coming. It is not a case of floating off to never-never land in the sky. Rather we are thinking about the coming of Christ, His saints, and His holy angels to establish righteous behavior on the earth. Quite a difference!
He who believes and is baptized shall be saved. Saved from what? Saved from destruction when the Kingdom of God comes to the earth.
The Kingdom of God that is coming will bring in a new righteous world. First on the present earth. Later on a new earth.
All people who have lived on the earth will be judged sooner or later. Those who have chosen to live decently and honorably, receiving Christ if He has been presented to them, will be found worthy of life in the new world of righteousness.
Those who have chosen to live in the treachery and moral filth of the sinful nature, whether or not they profess Christ, will be assigned to an appropriate place with others of their kind. The truly wicked will be cast into fiery torment.
The Kingdom of God is a genuine kingdom, with a king, nobles, an army, and ranks and roles of many kinds.
The primary meaning of "saved" is to be permitted entrance into the Kingdom of God.
The secondary meaning of "saved" applies to the members of the royal priesthood. It means to be conformed to the moral image of Christ and to be brought into untroubled rest in the Center of the Fathers Person and will.
Everything is centered on the Kingdom of God. It is returning to earth with the Lord Jesus Christ and His saints.
We have been charged to bear witness of the coming of the Kingdom.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
We cannot bear witness through means of our own intelligence, wisdom, talents, and dedication. Only the Holy Spirit can bear witness of the Kingdom of God and of its coming to be installed for eternity on the earth.
The witness we bear has three dimensions. All three emerge from the Holy Spirit who dwells in us and who empowers us for service.
First, the Holy Spirit enables us to overcome sin and behave in a godly manner. This is the most important aspect of the Kingdom witness. When people see our good works they will know we have been with God and speak truth. They will glorify God.
No person no matter how gifted can bear witness of the Kingdom of God if he is not living a righteous, holy life. All the preaching and teaching in the world means nothing whatever apart from a godly life.
Second, the Holy Spirit gives us miraculous utterance. We have the Spirit of wisdom and revelation that we might declare the wonderful works of God, and the coming of the righteous Kingdom to the earth.
Third, the Holy Spirit enables us to perform works of miraculous power. When we are not performing miracles we are not presenting a full testimony of the coming of the Kingdom of God.
We overcome Satan as the Holy Spirit empowers us to overcome sin; as we declare with supernatural wisdom and power the coming of the Kingdom of God; and as we work miracles. This is the word of our testimony.
The Lord Jesus promised us that the Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations. It is a testimony of Jesus Christ and His Kingdom. We bear witness of God, His will, His way, and His eternal purpose in Jesus Christ.
The world of today is waiting to hear and see the true testimony of the Kingdom of God. There is a multitude of denominations. There are statements of faith. There are religious edifices. There is preaching and teaching. It is confusion, to a great extent. It is Babylon.
This is not to say there are not genuine works of God taking place throughout the earth. There are. But God has much greater things in mind.
Today God is using the Arab nations to chastise the Western nations. There is a cultural clash, but there need not be. The wars and terrorism exist because of the sinful ways of the Western nations, of which America is a prime example.
Our hearts should go out to the Arab people. The majority are not terrorists but kindly, affectionate people.
I pray for them that the God of Heaven will reveal the Lord Jesus Christ to them, not so they will join a denomination but so they will love and worship Jesus and be prepared to be part of His Kingdom.
I saw in a kind of vision one of the Afghan warlords. He had just been killed. He was standing in a dry land. I saw no grass, no trees. He was fiercely angry. He said, "I have been deceived."
I dont know about you but I have compassion for him. Certainly he has done harm in his life. But he had been deceived. Perhaps he had been deceived because the Christians did not bear a true testimony of the Kingdom of God. Perhaps the Muslims have cause to refer to America as the great Satan, considering the river of moral filth that pours from Hollywood, California.
Let us not be drawn into the endless political battles as self-serving, deceitful, ambitious politicians continue with their treacherous maneuvering. Our task is to patiently, joyously declare that a new world of righteousness is on the way. A Kingdom is coming from Heaven. The King and His princes are people of integrity, not moved by any force other than the will of the Father.
Can you imagine a world in which all the rulers are godly servants of the Lord Jesus Christ?
Well, this is the kingdom that soon is to come.
So we are bear testimony to the coming of the Kingdom of God to the world. It was at hand in the days of John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth because Jesus is the Kingdom and in Him is found all that is of the Kingdom of God.
The Lord told us before the outer kingdom would come to the earth, the inner kingdom must be developed in us. The seed of the Kingdom has been sown throughout the earth and has borne much fruit.
But in the days to come the mightiest anointing of all will fall on Gods saints and they will bear witness throughout the earth of the return of Jesus Christ and His saints to govern the world.
The denominations and church organizations will conduct their programs until finally they become Babylon the Great.
Meanwhile the true saints, those whom the Father has given to Jesus Christ, will obey the Spirit of God until the true witness of the Kingdom of God has gone to every nation. No power can prevent the Gospel of the Kingdom from going to every nation because the Father has declared that it shall happen. There is no power against the Father!
Let us rejoice and be glad. The highest hopes and most fantastic dreams are soon to be fulfilled. First there will be the fiercest of battles as the Father faces Satan; Christ faces Antichrist; and the Holy Spirit faces the False Prophet. These three shall be totally overcome. Then the heavens and the earth shall break forth into singing. All that the Prophets spoke shall be here. The Garden of Eden raised to the thousandth degree of loveliness and wonder shall fill the earth. God shall live among the people He has created.
The Spirit and the Bride say to all nations: "Come! Drink freely of the water of eternal life."
Eternal life shall flow from those in whom the Throne of God has been established.
This is the Kingdom of God, and it truly is at hand!
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)
The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever." (Revelation 11:15)
A SaintThe Apostle Paul does not refer to believers as Christians but as saints. While "Christians" is a Bible expression, it is apt to apply to members of a religion and not necessarily to cross-carrying disciples. The term "saint" means "holy one" and better describes a member of Gods elect.
To be a saint is the highest calling possible for a human being. It means God has chosen the person from the beginning of the world to be specially close to Him.
We can think of degrees of holiness as concentric circles radiating out from Gods Person. The smaller the circle the more holy the person is. For example: Aaron and his descendants were more holy than the Levites; the Levites were more holy than the rest of the Israelites; all of the Israelites were more holy than the remainder of mankind.
Holiness, therefore, speaks of closeness to God.
Righteousness, on the other hand, has to do with our relationships with people.
All people are commanded to be righteous or they will not be accepted by the Lord.
Holiness, however, is by Divine calling. Some people are more holy than others because God has chosen to draw them to Himself.
We have to be called to be a saint, a holy one. If we are called, we will come to Jesus. All whom the Father has given to Jesus will come to Him.
The Church is made up of saints. They compose a Kingdom, a royal priesthood. They eventually will be expressed in the form of the new Jerusalem. They will be surrounded by a massive wall because they are separate from the remainder of mankind.
The Church, the called-out ones, began when Abraham was called out of Ur.
The Lord Jesus told us pointedly that He shall give eternal life to those whom the Father has given Him. They are not of the world just as He is not of the world. Therefore the world hates them, just as Josephs brothers hated him because of the call of God on his life.
We Americans live in a democratic society. The concept is that all people should have equal opportunity to become whatever they wish to become.
The Kingdom of God is not like this. The Kingdom of God consists, as I said, of concentric circles radiating out from Gods Person.
We see this concept of ranks in the Kingdom in the arrangement of Davids warriors. There were the three; then the thirty; then the remainder of the soldiers in the army.
We see the three whom the Lord brought with Him to the Mount of Transfiguration; the remainder of the Twelve; the seventy; and then the rest of the disciples.
The fact that God would call some people to be closer to Himself than others may be distasteful to us Americans. But this is the way the Kingdom of God is.
Actually, no individual can be content until he has found himself in the role and rank appointed to him. We might desire to be higher or lower in rank, given more or less responsibility; required to live a stricter or less strict life. It doesnt matter what we desire. What matters is Gods will. If we will consent to abide in Gods will we shall be content. If we strive to be greater or lesser, we will be regarded as ambitious or lazy.
How wonderful to be in untroubled rest in Gods will, being neither ambitious nor lazy!
Yet, it is true that each one of us ought to be pressing forward with all his might that he might attain to that for which he has been called. It may be that God has a higher place for him than he had anticipated.
If God calls us to be a saint, then that is our calling in life. We may work as a salesman, an electrician, a clerk, or an architect. But our calling is that of saint, that of a holy one of God. Because of the importance of being called as a saint, we must give first place to this calling, making certain what we do to make a living does not interfere with our calling.
We may we at work, at play, at home resting. But we have been chosen by the Lord to offer sacrifices of praise to God at all times. We must never let other responsibilities or ambitions interfere with our primary calling.
To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 1:7)
What Is a Christian?We say, "If you would be a Christian, admit you are a sinner and ask Christ to forgive your sins." Christ says, "If you would be a Christian, deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Me."
There is something I do not understand. Maybe you have no problem with this apparent contradiction and can help me figure out what is going on.
In the Gospel of Mark, the Lord Jesus told us to be saved, all we have to do is believe the Good News of the coming of the Kingdom of God, and be baptized.
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. (Mark 16:16)
But in another place the Lord Jesus told us to be a disciple we have to hate our father and mother, wife and children, and our own life, carry our cross, and follow Him.
If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sistersyes, even his own lifehe cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26,27)
Now I ask you: Is there a difference between being saved, and being a disciple?
At Antioch, the disciples were called "Christians."
And when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. (Acts 11:26)
So it looks like a Christian is a disciple, doesnt it?
Is there, therefore, a difference between being saved and being a Christian?
This is not the first time I have pondered this question. One may notice in my other writings how I have maintained that there are two different messages in the New Testament. There is the simple belief and water baptism. Then there are tremendous challenges, like present your body a living sacrifice.
Well, what about it? Is being a Christian a simple matter of believing and being baptized? Or are we supposed to, as the Apostle Paul advocated, strain every nerve that we may attain to the resurrection from the dead?
Having been a Christian for 58 years I have had an opportunity to observe many people who attend church. I would say that very few of them are pressing toward Christ in the manner indicated by the Apostle Paul.
Then there are many people who are in churches not as fervent as those to which I am accustomed, and some who believe in Jesus who do not attend church at all.
Ill tell you the conclusion I have come to, and see what you think about it.
I believe we all have different callings. Some the Lord has appointed to basic salvation. Perhaps He will challenge them at a later time. For now all they know is they are to worship Jesus as the Son of God and their Savior and be baptized in water. This they do and go on their way rejoicing.
Then there are others who feel a stronger call than this. They realize they cannot smoke cigarettes and remain a true Christian. They become conscious of the Lords displeasure concerning X-rated movies. They are aware of the need for appropriate dress. They are willing to listen to holiness preaching. They attend church faithfully, support the church with their material goods, and find opportunities of service.
Then there is a third, smaller group of people. They cannot rest day or night until they know they are in Gods perfect will. Some of Pauls severe demands are nourishment for them. Also, they know what the Lord means when He commands us to place our relationship to Him above all other relationships.
There is no stopping them. When they stumble they get up and fight on. They are determined to be among those who inherit the fullness of God.
I suppose there have been a few like this in every generation. They follow the Lamb wherever He goes, being a firstfruits of mankind to the Lord.
If I am correct, then we see that the Lord has artfully composed the Bible so everyone of whatever calling can gain peace with God. God has made it simple for every person to be saved. Just believe and be baptized. Christ has done the rest on the cross.
God would not have anyone perish but that all be saved.
But God is creating a kingdom, and there are many different ranks and roles to be occupied. When the mother of James and John petitioned that her two sons be placed at the right and left hands of Christ in His Kingdom (evidencing faith on her part), the Lord Jesus spoke of a baptism of suffering. Christ also mentioned that such positions of splendor are determined by the Father.
And so it is. The higher the building the deeper the foundation. If we are to be among the Lords nobles, then we are going to be tested more than the average.
This all make sense to me and accounts for the two different sets of demands to be found in the New Testament. How does this sound to you?
"What is it you want?" he asked. She said, "Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom." "You dont know what you are asking," Jesus said to them. "Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?" "We can," they answered. (Matthew 20:21,22)
A God at HandIt seems to me that the Lord is drawing closer to us. Jesus promised, in the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John, that He would appear to His saints and not to the world. I understand the day will come when every eye shall see Him; but maybe the Lords statement in John is speaking of His coming to the disciples before He appears to the world.
I have written quite a bit about the feast of Tabernacles, and how the Lord will appear to His disciples before He is revealed to the world. This prior revelation is described in the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John.
Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him." Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, "But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?" (John 14:21,22)
I got to thinking this morning about how close the Lords presence is to us in these days. It must have been like that with the early Apostles. Of course, they had been with Jesus when He was in physical form. But I mean right after that, at the time of the Book of Acts and a few decades following.
But then something seems to have taken place. We all have seen the stylized representations in the Orthodox churches, the icons, the statues of Christ, the pictures of the Madonna and Child, the Sacred Heart. All of these make us think of an incomprehensible Being who is far, far above us. A great icon in Heaven, not an actual person.
At the present time, however, these stylized representations seem like part of some kind of religion that has nothing to do with the Lord Jesus. Christ is right here at hand, where we can speak to Him and have fellowship with Him as a Person.
I personally believe when His brothers grow up a little He will be able to talk with them; bounce ideas off them; share a joke or a sorrow or perplexity with them. At least, this is happening to me! and I am sure to many others.
We are talking a lot in our church about intimacy with Jesus. You know, I keep thinking it has something to do with Revelation 3:20, where the Lord says if we will open the door He will dine with us.
When you think of the great marble statues of Jesus, and compare this with someone sitting down at the table with you, it seems like two different religions.
Moses and Elijah spoke with the Lord on the Mount of Transfiguration. This is the way it should be, and is in some instances. We ought to be able to discuss matters with the Lord Jesus.
I guess it is the spirit of religion that creates a majestic edifice and then names it after a fisherman. I guess it is religion that presents the Lord Jesus Christ as an unapproachable Being who is seen best in statuary and the paintings of the masters.
Being a fisherman, Peter was probably a pretty earthy sort of person, as fishermen usually are. I wonder what he would think if he could see the religious art forms and ceremonies devoted to himself.
Why do we do this to God and the saints? What is there in us that seeks to create an idol we can reverence? Why do we prefer religious abstractions when we can have simple fellowship with the simple Jesus?
I am not going to worry about it. This who wish to adore statues and paintings are free to do so. As for me, I want to have close fellowship with the Lord Jesus. How about you?
We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. (I John 1:3)
WorshipIn the musical expression of romantic love, the beloved is presented as someones sun, moon, and stars, the supreme joy of existence. This is a description of the adoration that the Bride can apply only to the Lamb, and the Lamb can apply only to the Bride.
Human beings cannot meet the obligations imposed on a subject of worship. By this I mean, when we worship people we are worshiping dust like ourselves. No matter how marvelous they may appear, they still are intelligent dust in an animal body.
I guess man was made to worship, because we have this tendency. We want someone or something to idolize, that we can think about with great joy. It often is a person, but it may be a job, or money, or our children, or a talent we have. Some people, such as politicians worship power.
It often happens that when people get married it is in a setting of romantic love. The wife may worship her husband, or the husband his wife. This worship leads to pain and frustration.
Why is this? It is because the husband or wife, being a frail human, is not able to respond with the quality of support and affection that is expected, and sometimes demanded.
The only Person we can worship safely is God. God will provide the support and affection we desire and need. Only God can do this!
In the Song of Solomon we note expressions of adoration. This book of the Bible tells of the love of the Lamb for His Wife and His Wife for the Lamb.
The heart of the Bride of the Lamb can safely trust in Him and worship Him extravagantly. This is because the Lamb is wholly of God and is God. He is worthy of worship and can meet all the obligations imposed on a subject of worship. The Lamb in turn adores His wife. He can do this safely because she is of Him and filled with Him. She has been formed from His body and blood, which are Divine Substance.
The husband cannot give the wife what she requires from an object of worship, and the wife cannot give the husband what he requires from an object of worship. This is why marriage in America is subject to divorce. When the two were married there was a certain amount of worship taking place. After the honeymoon it is seen that there are two frail human beings who have wills of their own.
This marriage can be successful if each of the partners will recognize the frailties of the other and turn his or her worship toward God. Then they can act as friends and help each other with the numerous burdens and pains of life on the earth.
When the Lord Jesus Christ, and only He, is the focus of our need to worship, we gain peace and fulfillment. Such peace and fulfillment can be found nowhere else!
And God spoke all these words: "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. "You shall have no other gods before me. "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. (Exodus 20:1-4)
The Preservation of PeopleWhen a loved one dies we are filled with grief. This is because even as Christians we imagine he is gone forever, or has suffered some horrible fate. But he is not gone forever! He is with Jesus, and we ought to be looking forward to seeing him again, not grieving as though he has gone somewhere never to return.
Having a close relative or friend die is one of the more painful parts of life as a human being on the earth. The memories haunt us. Nostalgia is inherent in the adamic nature and can be overcome only by a resolute attempt not to give in to it.
They tell us today that grief is a normal and necessary part of healing the pain that results from the loss of a loved one. Undoubtedly this is true.
Yet, the Apostle Paul wrote that he did not want us to grieve like the rest of men.
How can this be?
Pauls advice is sound because of the hope we Christians have.
Think of how an unsaved person must regard physical death. It is extinction. It is as though the person never existed, for now he has vanished into nothingness.
This is not the case with those who fall asleep in Jesus. In fact, it is not the case with anybody. Conscious life persists, as we see in the case of the Lazarus in Abrahams bosom and the rich man in Hell.
The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abrahams side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, "Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire." (Luke 16:22-24)
The LORD will hand over both Israel and you to the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The LORD will also hand over the army of Israel to the Philistines. (I Samuel 28:19)
Each one of us, the righteous and the wicked, has a counterpart in the spirit world. We cannot see that part of our personality, but it is very real nevertheless.
When a loved one dies he is still a conscious person somewhere, and probably is not as far off as we might imagine.
If the loved one dies in Christ, he or she goes to be with Jesus. Thats not so bad, is it? So why are we grieving? Probably because we feel sorry for ourselves.
We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. (II Corinthians 5:8)
If the loved one does not die in Christ, then we know at least that he or she has not vanished into nothingness. The individual is somewhere. We know also that God is just, and the person has gone to a location suited to his or her personality.
We can be certain the wicked, like the selfish rich man, will go into torment. We know also that the servants of the Lord are with Him whether they are alive on the earth or in the spirit realm.
If the person is neither wicked nor a servant of the Lord, my opinion is that he or she will join the great sea of people who are waiting for the resurrection.
The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. (Revelation 20:13)
My personal viewpoint is that we have assigned too many people to Hell. I dont believe God has created billions of people in order to have them suffer torment for eternity. Does this make sense to you?
I prefer to think unless they have deliberately and persistently rejected Christ, or have demonstrated that they are an animal fit only to be destroyed, as Peter writes, they will have a place somewhere in the new world of righteousness. I know many would disagree with me, but this is my opinion.
So we need not grieve as though the individual has passed into nothingness, like a computer file that has been deleted. He or she is alive somewhere.
Will we recognize our loved one when we die? Of course. Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration were recognizable!
Two men, Moses and Elijah, Appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. (Luke 9:30,31)
For those of us who are living victorious lives in Christ, and a loved one dies who has fallen asleep in Jesus, we have a most marvelous hope. When the Lord returns He will bring that individual with Him.
Therefore to weep uncontrollably is not reasonable. Let us think of that person as alive and waiting to see us again, just as though he or she had gone on a journey. After all, the individual is safer than if he had gone on a trip somewhere on the earth, to another country for example.
Why dont we look ahead? Instead of giving place to the terrors of midnight nostalgia, why dont we make the effort to look ahead, realizing that the person we have lived with for so many years is well and very much alive. God knows where each person is. Lets place them in the hands of God and serve the Lord with all our might. God in His goodness will restore him to us in His time.
Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe Jesus died and rose again and so we believe God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. (I Thessalonians 4:13,14)
Reserving Part of OurselvesThe highest calling and goal any human being can have is to be filled with the fullness of God for eternity. But this means we have to let go of our right to be ourselves in every area of existence. When this realization sets in, we have to decide whether we wish to reserve part of ourselves for our own use, or whether we want to turn over our entire personality to the Lord.
Man was created male and female. I dont think any of the other creatures of God, such as the angels, were created male and female.
While there is a natural, physical aspect of gender, the idea of male and female may run far deeper than this.
I believe man was created to be the dwelling place of God, in this sense God being the Male and man being the female. We were created to be one with another Personality.
It may be true that most of us have a strong inner defense that guards the center of our self. We dont want even our closest friend to invade that center. The center is who we are, the source of our motivations.
There have been and yet are people who will permit spirits to possess them, to take over their lives. Witch doctors fall under this category. But most of us would not knowingly allow another personality to control who we are.
It is fashionable for new converts to Christianity to exclaim they have "given their heart to Jesus." And this is a worthy expression and desire. But it may be many years before the believer is willing to actually permit the Lord Jesus into the throne room of his or her heart.
Jesus said, "If any person will open the door I will enter and dine with him." I think this promise is being emphasized by the Spirit today, and we need to have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.
Who among us is willing to permit the Lord to actually enter his personality and feed him with His body and blood that he may live by His Life?
My own prayer is that I might be filled with the Fullness of God for eternity. I am desirous of letting go of my right to be myself that I might be part of the Person of God through Christ.
This is a truly awesome decision! Robert Thompson is no more. All we have now is the Lord Jesus Christ. (Believe me, I am not bragging. I know my own foolishness. I am telling you what I desire.)
The humorous part of this is, while I am deciding to let go entirely of my own personality that I might be part of Christ, you would marvel at me. You would say, "Of course we would rather that you be a revelation of Christ. We are not interested in you. We are interested in Christ. We would see Jesus."
Do you understand what I am saying? This puts it into perspective, doesnt it. You know of myself I have nothing of eternal worth to offer you. If I am to give you something of Kingdom worth, then I must choose to turn over my own personality to God so He might have another room in His house.
It is kind of like Adam and Eve, isnt it? Eve really was Adam in another form. She was an enlargement of Adams person. "He named them "Adam" when they were created. When we have been formed from the body and blood of Christ, the new name of Christ will be written on us because we have become an enlargement of Christ.
He created them male and female and blessed them. And when they were created, he called them "man" [lit., Adam] (Genesis 5:2)
God Does Not Want Man To Prosper by HimselfThe reason God divided the languages at the Tower of Babel is that God does not want man to prosper by himself. When man can succeed apart from the Lord he is a destructive influence upon himself and those around him.
Have you ever wondered why God, during the building of the Tower of Babel,. divided the one language of mankind into several different languages? God explained that He divided the one language into many languages because if people worked together nothing would be impossible for them to accomplish.
Now here is the negation of all the Antichrist world system would value. The world would say we all ought to work together so we could create something of value. But God makes this impossible.
It appears to me that the waging of war, one nation against another, is a direct result of the fact that nations speak different languages. What we are saying is, God created a situation in which wars would take place.
Why doesnt God want all people to live in peace with each other and cooperate in worthy endeavors, such as bringing assistance to the needy of the earth? The amount of money spent waging war and preparing to wage war would be enough to bring shelter, food, and clothing to every person on earth.
The answer to this question erects a wall between the worldly person and the individual who knows, serves, and loves the Lord. The man or woman of the world will never accept the reason for the division of languages.
Actually, the answer is simple. It easily is understood and accepted by the person who walks humbly with God. It is this: Any human being who prospers by himself without leaning on the Lord, without looking to God in prayer, without trusting in the Lord, without seeking direction from the Lord, is a potential disaster to himself and to those around him.
Now, why is this? It is because this individual is a will separate from the will of God.
There is only one legitimate will in the creation. It is the will of the Father. The Lord Jesus Christ is subject to that will. Every true Christian is subject to that will.
However, there is one who is not subject to that will;
You said in your heart, "I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High." (Isaiah 14:13,14)
Count the "I wills." How many do you find? Five "I wills."
These five "I wills" are the source of all sin in the universe. They are the source of every form of death, corruption, torment, disaster, frustration, sickness, suicide, dread, slander, destruction, and every other plague that affects mankind.
Satan came down from the heavens and entered the Garden of Eden. There he invited Eve to act outside of the will of the Father. The result has been six thousand years of insanity.
This is what happens when there is a will in the universe that is not subject to the will of the Father.
The world is of the spirit of Antichrist and never, never, never will accept the will of the Father as being the only valid will in the creation.
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood. (I John 4:4-6)
Every human being has only one truly significant decision to make in his or her entire lifetime: "Shall I obey my own will or shall I obey the will of God?"
There is no other decision, actually. We either choose to do Gods will or we choose to do our own will.
The Kingdom of God soon is to come to the earth. The Kingdom shall be installed by the Lord Jesus Christ and His saints, that is, by those who do the will of God utterly, completely, and finally.
The Kingdom is the doing of Gods will in the earth as it is performed in Heaven.
How vain our life is, how utterly foolish and destructive, when we are not doing Gods will. Before we know of Gods will, God permits us to wend our way through the snares of life. But the moment we become aware of the Lord Jesus Christ, of His atoning death and triumphant resurrection, and that He is to be our Lordfrom that moment we are to bring the Lord Jesus into every aspect of our life. We are to look to Him for every decision, every joy, every area of support. We are to present our body a living sacrifice that we may prove the will of God.
The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. (I John 2:17)
The Christian churches are at this point of decision today. Shall we persevere with our religious plans and programs and finally find ourselves as part of Babylon the Great?
Or shall we invite the Lord into our personality and seek His will in all that we do, whether in ministry or in some other endeavor. It is time now to seek the will of God, the doing of Gods will in the earth.
The Antichrist world system is constructed on the idea that man should look to the god who is within him. He should be in control of his own life. He should be the captain of his own soul. This is one of the major teachings of the Western nations of today. This is Antichrist, and to live in this delusion is to receive the mark of Antichrist in the hand and head.
It is time now for us to die in the Lord. The hour is coming when no man can work. The line will be drawn between those who are their own god and those who have let go of their own life that they might be one with Jesus Christ.
Then I heard a voice from heaven say, "Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Yes," says the Spirit, "they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them." (Revelation 14:13)
Those who let go of their own life that they might be part of Christ will do exploits in the days to come. They shall stand and bear witness as the works of religion (including the Christian religion) become increasingly impotent and influenced by demons. The Spirit and the Bride will withdraw from organized, man-driven religion. This will take place at the appropriate time under the supervision of the Spirit of God.
"Cease from man whose breath is in his nostrils." The flesh profits nothing. In that Day the Lord alone shall be exalted. This is why Paul esteemed all his accomplishments as garbage that he might live by the resurrection life of the Lord.
When hand joins in hand to accomplish some project, even a religious project, God may not bless the endeavor. God ordinarily works with one person, or a small group, who diligently look to Jesus to guide them in all they undertake.
In these closing days of the Church Age we need to listen carefully to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. What has sufficed in the past is as yesterdays manna. Sin is on the rise in the United States, and so is the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who look to Him instead of their own resources and talents will stand in the midst of spiritual darkness. But the works of well-intentioned humans will prove to be of little worth and eventually shall pass away.
No, God does not desire that we join hands and seek to build His Kingdom according to our own thoughts. Rather God is seeking that individual who looks to God for every detail of life. Christ is drawing close to His people today, and those who are willing He will take to Himself that they might be under His wings.
But those who choose to maintain their right to serve God on their own terms will find themselves fighting against the true work of God. Whoever is not for Christ is against Him.
The LORD said, "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. (Genesis 11:6)
Our Appearance in the Spirit RealmEach person has two appearances. One appearance is in the physical realm. The other appearance is in the spirit realm. The appearance in the spirit realm is the real person.
Have you ever thought about the fact that our true person is invisible to us and to the world? It is a fact. All that can be seen is our house, our animal body.
Of course, people can tell a lot about our invisible person by how we act and what we say.
It appears, from the account of the witch of Endor raising Samuel, the rich man and Lazarus, and Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration, that we are a person who can be seen in the spirit realm. Thus we are two persons simultaneously. There is the person who can be seen in this world, and then there is the person who can be seen in the spirit realm, and who still will be seen after we die physically.
I have thought a lot about how our getting saved, and then our progress in Christ, affect our man that can be seen in the spirit realm. Can the people and angels in the spirit realm notice any difference in our spiritual man when we receive Christ and as we grow in Christ?
When we receive Christ and grow in Christ, the people on earth can see a difference in our behavior but not in our appearance. It is my opinion, however, that in the spirit realm we change in appearance as well as in behavior.
Perhaps the Christian who persists in sin appears in the spirit realm as being clothed with a filthy garment.
Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him, "Take off his filthy clothes." Then he said to Joshua, "See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you." (Joshua 3:3,4)
We know we can wash away our sins in the blood of the Lamb. We Christians commence our discipleship with a clean robe. Then we must keep our robe clean by listening to the Holy Spirit. When we points out a sin to us we are to confess it as sin, denounce it as evil, and turn away from it diligently. The Lord will forgive us and help us do this. This is how we keep our robe clean in the blood of the Lamb.
I believe the people and angels in the spirit realm can notice the difference in our appearance when we walk close to the Lord. I believe they can see the purity and the righteousness that have been created in us by the Lord Jesus.
Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) (Revelation 19:7,8)
Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed. (Revelation 6:11)
While we are living on the earth people cannot see what we really are like, except, as I mentioned before, what is revealed in our words and our actions. I dont think this is true in the spirit realm, however. I believe we look like what we actually are.
If I am correct in this, the moment we receive Christ our appearance changes in the spirit realm. Also, according to Paul, we are hidden in Christ who is at the right hand of God. Such a change in our circumstances certainly must be apparent in the spirit realm.
The Lord Jesus told us we are to live by eating His flesh and drinking His blood. Our physical man, the one that can be seen on the earth, does not eat the flesh of the Lamb or drink His blood. It is our invisible man who is eating the flesh and drinking the blood. I think it is likely that taking into ourselves the Divine Life in this manner causes us to actually become larger and radiant in the spirit realm.
The remainder of deceased mankind, those who are not hidden with Christ in God, are wandering about in the spirit realm, waiting for the Day of Resurrection. No change is taking place in them as far as I know. On the other hand, who can tell what change is occurring in their lives?
My point in this article is to call to the attention of Christians that their true person and life are invisible to those of us who are living on the earth. But what they are is apparent in the spirit world, the true and eternal world. This thought should inspire us to press into the Lord Jesus so our invisible person is beginning to look like the Lord. Every mentally and socially healthy person cares about what he or she looks like to others!
When we die and our spiritual personality leaves our physical form and enters the spirit realm, we will look like what we actually have become through the Lord Jesus. I think sometimes Christians live a careless life, trusting that through "grace" everything will "come out in the wash," so to speak. Every individual will be walking on a street of gold, looking like everyone else.
Not so! Your progress in Christ, or lack of it, will be evident to the inhabitants of the eternal world. You will look like what you have become during your life on the earth.
Daniel said some people will be raised to shame and everlasting contempt. This means their appearance will be shameful and contemptible.
We have been taught that if we "accept Christ" we will appear as a glorious ruler of the nations. We ought to know better than this. Would the Lord Jesus go to so much trouble and take the time to labor over us, helping us to grow spiritually, if it is not going to make any difference? This is nonsensical, and you may have noticed that there is no nonsense about the Lord Jesus!
What we are cannot be seen now on the earth. But I think it can be seen in the spirit world, and that the angels take note of it.
One thing is certain: in the Day of Resurrection, what we have become through the Lord Jesus Christ will be seen clearly by everyone.
With this in mind, we should give careful thought to how diligently we are applying ourselves to our discipleship today. How do you feel about this?
One aspect of growing in eternal life in our invisible spirit-man has to do with our physical death. Do you remember that the Lord Jesus promised us that whoever lived and believed in Him would never die? He was speaking, I think, of our invisible spirit-man. Of course, if we have really served the Lord during this life, in the Day of Resurrection we will receive immortality in the body.
But if we apply "whoever lives and believes in me shall never die" to our spiritual personality, then we are saying whoever has grown to maturity in Christ does not have to fear physical death. When this corruptible house has ceased to breathe, the spiritual man, who already, while in the present world, is having fellowship with God and Christ, and is known to the angels of God, will walk away from the dead physical body and continue in the new world and new life that already are familiar to him. He will never die, in this sense.
Compare this to the death of the churchgoer who has lived in the sinful nature, who is not at home in the new world and new life. He has left the only existence he has ever known, the life of eating, sleeping, playing, working, and reproducing. He is an intelligent animal. However, his spiritual nature is impoverished. His spirit may be saved, but how does he appear in the real, invisible world?
Something to think about, wouldnt you say?
The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. (Romans 8:19)
He Who Has an EarSeven times in the Book of Revelation the Lord Jesus said: "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." I believe this admonition applies today as never before. The Spirit of God is speaking to the Christian churches today. Do we have ears to hear what He is saying?
Today there are probably as many Christians programs and plans to promote Gospel work as has ever been true in the history of the world. Every so often I receive a brochure telling how if this one comes to our church, or if I will go to their seminar, wonderful things will happen.
I am not certain all of these ventures are of the Lord. I do not doubt the sincerity of the individuals, but I am not sure they are hearing from the Lord Jesus.
I wonder who is hearing the Lord Jesus today. Exactly what is He saying?
When I began to seek the Lord, over fifty years ago, the Lord spoke to me about what would be next for His Church. At that time we were preaching the rapture, the great falling away, and that the Catholic Church is Babylon the Great. This seemed to be the burden of the preaching in those days.
But the Lord did not speak to me about the rapture, or the great falling away, or the Catholic Church. He told me two things: that judgment was going to come upon His churches, and that the spiritual emphasis of the coming days would be "Christ in you."
Then He pointed out to me the seven feasts of the Lord. At that time I had never heard anyone preach or teach about the seven feasts of the Lord, except Oliver Ellenwood who mentioned them in passing as he was lecturing on the Tabernacle of the Congregation.
I think Gods plan for the years, beginning around 1948, has been to emphasize the last three of the seven feasts of the Lord: the Blowing of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and, finally, the feast of Tabernacles.
I came to realize the Blowing of Trumpets signified that after Pentecost we would enter a period of spiritual warfare. The Day of Atonement means we Christians are to be reconciled to God in our personality and behavior, not just legally, as in the blood atonement. The feast of Tabernacles speaks of the Father and the Son making us Their place of rest.
The Lord impressed these things on me in 1948 while I was in Bible school. Now, in 2003, I can see that spiritual warfare, personal reconciliation to God, and the dwelling of God in us, are what the Spirit is speaking about today.
Of late, Revelation 3:20, where the Lord told us if we would open the door He would dine with us, has been in the forefront of my thinking. I have heard this passage applied to the unsaved, and perhaps it has application there also. But remember, this verse was written to the church of Laodicea.
And look at how the passage fits the last three feasts of the Lord.
When we open the door to the Lord, He enters and begins to wage war against His enemies in our personality. Isnt that a fact? I think this is what the twenty-fourth Psalm is referring to when it commands us to open the doors so the Lord, strong and mighty in battle, can enter.
As He does, our personality and behavior are reconciled to the personality and behavior of the Lord.
When our personality and behavior have been reconciled to the Lord, then God and Christ can settle down to rest in us; to make Their eternal abode in us.
"In my Fathers house there are many rooms," the Lord promised, referring to us when we have been made suitable as a dwelling place for God.
Today the Lord is coming to us and bringing us closer to Himself that we might be with Him where He isthat is, in the very Center of the Person and will of God.
Kind of all make sense, doesnt it.
The trick is to have an ear to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches. We dont have to guess at what God is doing today, we just need to listen to the Spirit of God.
And that is a lovely practice, isnt it?
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (Revelation 3:22)
Activity After We DieI dont know for certain what happens to us after we die. Do you? But I wonder if perhaps life continues, including Christian service, except for those activities that are confined to the physical body.
Paul tells us plainly, in the Book of Ephesians, that the gifts and ministries given to the Body of Christ will labor until we all reach the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. I would venture to say that not too many believers in the present world attain, before they die, to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. How do you feel about this?
Now, we know the Word of God cannot be changednot in the slightest manner. So it follows that all true members of the Body of Christ eventually will attain to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
This agrees with the new covenant that promises all shall know the Lord, from the least to the greatest.
If the Bible promises that the ministries will labor until we all attain to maturity, and many believers die before attaining to maturity, should we conclude that ministry and growth in Christ continue after we die?
Of course, this could mean after we are raised from the dead and enter the Kingdom Age, or even after that during the new heaven and earth reign of Christ, we are ministered to until we gain maturity. But I think the Lord is going to want some of the saints brought to maturity before He appears so they can appear with Him in Glory. This makes sense, doesnt it?
We seem to be left with one conclusion: ministry and growth to maturity take place after we die and before the Lord appears, at least for some people.
I dont know about you, but this sounds good to me. I would like to rest for awhile after I die, and the Lord told Daniel he would rest and then rise at the end of the days to receive his allotted inheritance. But knowing myself, unless I feel quite differently after I die, after I have rested for a while I would like to get busy contributing what I have to offer.
It seems to me that after we die we could do any work except that which involves the physical body. For example, we probably could not chop firewood. But I dont see why we could not make intercession (Jesus does continually), teach, preach, encourage, help people along.
I used to be a grade-school teacher. I wouldnt mind teaching children the arts and sciences of civilization, particularly those whose life was cut off prematurely and have been with Jesus and the angels all this time.
I always have had a passion for classical music. I have had to interrupt my progress in learning to play the classics on the piano so I would have time to write what God had put on my heart. But I do believe after I die I am going to have all the time I desire to master some of the classics. Ill bet there are some first-class teachers in the spirit world!
I must be getting old, since I am planning what I am going to do after I die.
But it is fun thinking about it, isnt it?
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, To prepare Gods people for works of service, so the body of Christ may be built up Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-13)
Conviction and CondemnationThere is a difference between conviction and condemnation. The Holy Spirit does not condemn us if we are serving the Lord faithfully; but He certainly convicts us of sin when we are behaving in an ungodly manner.
I preach a lot about getting rid of sin. I tell whoever will listen that we are to pay attention to the Holy Spirit. When He points out a part of our behavior that is not pleasing to the Lord we are to promptly confess it as sin. denounce it as evil, turn away from it with all the strength we have, and then draw near to the Lord for fellowship and grace.
As a result of my emphasis on righteousness and holiness I have been accused of preaching condemnation. Perhaps people do feel condemned, but they need to understand they are not condemned but convicted. God is not condemning them, He is inviting them to be partakers of His holiness. The altar in our church is always open. People can come up in the middle of the service if they so desire. I always give an altar call, and I tell the people that they must not leave the service feeling condemned but are to remain at the altar until they feel renewal from the Lord Jesus.
Grace has been preached until it is way out of balance. Gods people are not accustomed, I guess, to a preacher telling them that godly behavior is not an option. Grace is not Gods excuse for the sins of His people. Grace is not an alternative to righteousness of conduct.
Condemnation is not a good thing. Paul tells us that if we are following the Spirit of God we are not under condemnation. Condemnation leaves us with a feeling of guilt, and this weakens our ability to lead the victorious life in Christ.
Conviction, on the other hand, is desirable. It guides us as we escape the bondages of the world, of bodily appetites, emotions, and lusts, and self-will and personal ambition.
Sometimes when we decide that we are going to walk in open repentance and confess our sins, Satan takes advantage of this and accuses us of all sorts of things. We have to ask ourselves, "Am I really guilty of this or is this the voice of the accuser?" It requires experience as a Christian before we can distinguish between genuine conviction and the voice of the accuser. The elders of our church can help us with this if they are living a godly life.
The joy of the Lord is our strength. The victorious saint absolutely refuses to live in a state of condemnation, because he realizes the sense of guilt and depression is not coming from the Lord. But he embraces conviction of sin, knowing that the Holy Spirit is watching over him with a godly jealousy that He might present him as a pure spirit to the Lord Jesus.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, (Romans 8:1)
That Which Is PerfectThe ministries and gifts of the Spirit serve until perfection comes. The ministries and gifts are as temporary scaffolding which serve to bring us to the perfection of the love of Christ, which is eternal.
The Apostle Paul prayed for the saints in Ephesus that they would be filled with God. The following passage describes what is meant by "when perfection comes."
For this reason I kneel before the Father, From whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, May have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, And to know this love that surpasses knowledgethat you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:14-19)
The perfection God is seeking for each saint is Christ: Christ formed in us; Christ dwelling in us; Christ with us, guiding us in all that we do.
We are to stand in relation to Christ as He stands in relation to the Father. We are to live by Him as He lives by the Father. Just as Christ thought, did, and said nothing of Himself but only as the Father expressed Himself in Christ, so we are to think, do, and say nothing of ourselves but only as Christ expresses Himself in us and through us.
Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. (John 6:57)
The Apostle Paul told us about the gifts and ministries that the Spirit of God gives to each member of the Body of Christ. Then Paul told us about the fullness of Gods intention, which is that Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith; that we may be rooted and established in love; that we may grasp the depths of the love of Christ; that we may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
I think sometimes when we read "Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith" we conclude that we merely are to believe Christ dwells in our heart. This is not what Paul meant. Paul is saying as we press forward in faith, choosing to live in dependence on Christ instead of dependence on our own experience, talents, and strength, Christ is formed in us. Christ actually is formed in us; and the love of God which is in Christ is formed in us.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
Thus Paul pointed out that the gifts and ministries are temporary. They are scaffolding as the all-important love of God is formed in us. When the structure of love has been fully built in us, then we will have no more need of the gifts and ministries of the Spirit. They have fulfilled their purpose.
The love of which I am speaking is not human love, not the love that comes from our fallen, adamic nature. There is a lot of talk about "love" today, but the reference is to human love. Human love is not at all dependable. It easily can become the enemy of God and the voice of Satan, as the Lord pointed out when He rebuked Peter for what appeared to be a genuine concern of Peter that Jesus not be harmed in Jerusalem.
He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. "Get behind me, Satan!" he said. "You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." (Mark 8:31-33)
The love of God is not the self-seeking human emotion with which we are familiar. The love of God is Divine, pure, exceedingly powerful, utterly dependable and faithful. To attempt to mix Divine love and human love is comparable to attempting to mix oil and water. They forever are different in kind.
Sometimes God gives us of His love for people. They will feel it and respond to it and we are able to minister to them. But we must be exceedingly careful that human love or even lust does not see a door here through which it can enter and corrupt the purposes of God. This indeed can happen if we are not prayerful.
Gods love never, never, never behaves in a manner that is unscriptural or has even the appearance of evil.
A missionary may be given Gods love for a particular tribe or group of people. This love may be so powerful the missionary does not want to return to his home country on furlough. His heart is with the people God has given him as an inheritance.
When that which is perfect, the fullness of Christs love in us, has been formed in us, then all fear is removed from us. We then are not terrified by Gods judgment because we truly love God and keep His commandments; and His commandments are not grievous.
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (I John 4:16-18)
God is love. He who is filled with the fullness of God loves God and is found in Him at all times.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part, But when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. (I Corinthians 13:9,10)
Gods Will; Gods Word; Gods CharacterIn the very beginning Satan raised doubt about Gods Character. The implication was that God desired to withhold good from Eve by forbidding her to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. "Good cannot be trusted to bring you joy," Satan was inferring.
Satan from the very beginning of mankind raised doubts about Gods Character, and still does so with the people of the earthChristians included.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, You must not eat from any tree in the garden?" The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, But God did say, You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die." "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (Genesis 3:1-5)
Can you see what Satan was implying? The concept was: If you eat from the forbidden tree (and did God really say you were not to eat from the trees?) you will be like God. You will know what is good and what is evil. This is desirable, and God does not want you to have this pleasure.
Here is the fundamental question that faces every human being. Can I trust God to give me what is good for me, what will give me pleasure? Or do I have to fight and push myself ahead to get what I want and need?
This may seem like a shallow or "of course!" sort of issue, especially for Christian people. It assuredly is not. This question follows us from the time we are deciding whether we should look to the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation all the way through our Christian life until we are deciding whether we want to live like most members of the Christian religion, or whether we are willing to forsake our right to be an individual in favor of becoming a part of God through Christ.
Do we dare turn everything in our personality over to God? Is God actually this trustworthy?
Young Christians like to say they have given their heart to Jesus. But they will find later in life that there may be parts of their "heart" that they are afraid to yield to Jesus completely. The decision as to whom they are to marry, for example.
If we are to maintain a victorious life in the Lord Jesus Christ, there are some aspects of Gods Word, will, and Character that we must affirm continually:
God is all-powerful. There absolutely is no power or authority that can prevent God from doing as He will. The battle between God and evil is not one of power or authority, it is between truth and righteousness. When we are living in truth and righteousness, Satan cannot possibly harm us.
God knows every detail of our life, down to the number of hairs on our head. We are not interested enough in our body to count the hairs on our head, but God knows their total and their order.
We may wonder, "How can this be?" It is because when God views the physical world He can see the components of the nuclei of atoms, the building blocks of our hair. He does not see the world as we do.
God is bringing us to eternal joy. It is right at this point that we have to make our decision concerning God. Do we dare trust Him to bring us to joy?
You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Psalms 16:11)
The experienced Christian knows of the times he has been made aware we are living in the valley of the shadow of death. We pass through deep waters and fiery trials. It is at those times that we may begin to doubt Gods intentions concerning us.
The higher the rank you have been assigned in the Kingdom of God, the darker the night you are going to experience. You can count on this.
You also can count on the fact that God is in absolute control of your dreads and pains, just as God was in control when Satan afflicted Job.
God permits Satan to sift us, but Jesus Christ prays for us that our faith will not fail.
Do we dare trust God to bring us to perfect joy? Do we dare trust Him when our world comes crashing down around us?
All of us have much worldliness, many soulish passions, and stubborn self-will in our personality Many fires are required if these are to be burned out of us. The program of salvation is that of fiery trials that are saving us by burning the sin out of us. Even the righteous are saved with difficulty.
God chastises every son He receives so the son may be a partaker of Gods holy, righteous nature.
As for God, His Character is perfect. His will proceeds from His desire that each one of us come to total joy. His Word is absolutely impregnable, it cannot be damaged or changed in any manner. His faithfulness is eternal.
Satan always raises doubts about Gods Character, but Gods experienced sons know of the faithfulness and integrity of God.
God is making sons in His image. He desires that our character be unassailable; that our will be part of His own will; that our word be true and faithful.
Adam does not have this sort of character. His will and his word sometimes are trustworthy, some times are not. If we are to be in Gods image we have to be born again of the Divine Seed and then have Christ come to maturity in us.
The flesh profits nothing. The Word of our God shall stand forever!
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6)
I Know Your WorksWhen the Lord spoke to the seven churches of Asia He often said, "I know your works." Isnt this surprising? The common teaching today is that God does not know our works because we are saved "by grace."
There is no question but that the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation, the passages setting forth the rewards to the victorious saints, are about works:
Working hard and persevering.
Testing the apostles.
Persevering and enduring hardships.
Leaving our first love.
Hating the practices of the Nicolaitans.
Being faithful to the point of death.
Remaining true to the name of Jesus Christ.
Not renouncing our faith in Christ.
Eating food sacrificed to idols.
Love, faith, service, and perseverance.
Remembering what you have received and heard, obey it, and repent.
Keeping the Lord command to endure patiently.
Holding on to what we have.
Being neither hot nor cold.
Be earnest and repent.
In the light of this emphasis on behavior, how is it that we can teach and preach that we are saved by an unconditional grace independently of how we behave?
The rewards to the victorious saints, mentioned in these two chapters of the Book of Revelation, are those we normally associate with being saved. Yet they are promised to those who behave in a certain manner. This is clear, it seems to me!
The Lord knows our works. Our works will determine whether or not we receive the inheritance we suppose will be given to all who profess faith in Christ regardless of their behavior. At least this is what the Bible says!
Suppose we do not work hard and persevere. Do we eat from the Tree of Life in any case?
Suppose we do not test the apostles. Do we eat from the Tree of Life and gain eternal life and immortality in the body in any case?
Suppose we leave our first love. Are we still given access to the Tree of Life?
What about the remainder of the works mentioned. Can we forget about these two chapters and still gain the inheritance?
My opinion is that the entire Bible is the inerrant Word of God. I dont care if every Christian minister in our country claims we can forget about the works mentioned here and still receive the inheritance. I know they are incorrect.
I think it is time we got back to the Bible. How do you feel about this?
Todays emphasis on grace as an alternative to godly behavior is not coming from the Lord Jesus. Jesus told us in the last days false prophets will appear and deceive many people. The great deceptions of today are the attempted use of grace as an alternative to moral transformation, and the destructive doctrine of the pre-tribulation "rapture" of the believers to keep them from suffering. Many Christians have been deceived by these two errors.
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarmneither hot nor coldI am about to spit you out of my mouth. (Revelation 3:15,16)
The CrossIf your highest priority is immediate pleasure you never can make a success of the Christian discipleship. You must deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus.
Every true Christian is given a cross. The cross has two arms. One arm is that of being forced to continue in a situation we detest. The other arm is being denied something we fervently desire.
We see, therefore, that the cross is a prison in that we cannot enjoy ourselves as we desire.
Why does the Lord give each one of us a cross?
It is because the cross has as its purpose the destruction our old adamic, fallen nature. The adamic nature cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. Only that which is born in us, Christ, can inherit the Kingdom and in fact is the Kingdom.
Our adamic nature does everything in its power to hinder the growth of Christ in us. Yet, our adamic nature must hold steady while it is perishing and Christ is being formed.
The contradiction arises from the fact that our adamic nature has two dimensions in people of integrity. The first dimension has many good qualities, including the faithfulness required to submit to its own crucifixion.
The second dimension is of Satan. It is our sinful nature. It is thoroughly corrupt. It is this second dimension that resists the Spirit of God in all He directs us to do.
We must bear our personal cross until Christ has been formed in us and we are free to do Gods will.
In time past, particularly in the Catholic church perhaps, there were numerous godly people who sought to prepare themselves for Heaven by punishing their flesh. They might fast for several days. They might crawl on their knees for miles as part of a pilgrimage to a statue of Mary. In the Philippines at Easter there are some who literally submit to crucifixion. And there have been and yet are similar torturings of the flesh in order to quality for eternal residence in Heaven.
I can only admire people who are that determined to please God and gain Heaven.
However the Lord may be showing us some things today that appear to be superior to the old way of hurting ourselves in order to be admitted to Heaven.
Perhaps the most important change in our thinking is that we are not destined to live forever in Heaven but on the earth, after the Day of Resurrection. Mans eternal home is the earth, not Heaven.
The second change has to do with harming ourselves in order to gain Heaven. We do not have to do this. We do not have to do any type of penance, including the repetition of Bible passages, in order to please God. The Lord Jesus Christ by means of His suffering and death made a complete, final atonement for every man, woman, and child born on the earth. The atonement has been made. All we need do is accept it. I suppose this is what dawned in the mind of Martin Luther and the other Reformers.
If such be the case, if the atonement is complete and final, why, then, are we compelled to carry our personal cross throughout our discipleship? Why are we placed in prisons that do much to prevent our enjoying our life on earth.
Our cross is given to us in order to destroy our fallen nature. We learn obedience from the things we suffer; not suffering we have invented and applied to ourselves, but the suffering of denial through which Christ leads us.
The cross is not a punishment for our sins. When we sin we are punished that we might not be condemned with the world.
The cross is a purposeful destruction of our old nature. We might think of it as bitter medicine that we have to drink in order to be healed.
Because we Americans love pleasure we do not see many genuine Christians, many disciples of the Lord, in our country. There are professing Christians by the millions. But their leaders have not taught them that they must deny themselves and follow Christ.
Salvation has been presented to them as Gods gift, a gift that will make no demands on them. All they have to do is believe in Christ and they are on their way to Heaven. I think this sort of teaching has come about because people, including the pastors and teachers, are lovers of themselves rather than lovers of Christ..
What else can one surmise, when we think of those who have been tortured for the Gospel throughout the Christian era? How does todays "fun" gospel compare with Gods saints who have left bloody footprints in the snow?
We Americans are soft in many ways, and we Christians are the worst of the lot in some instances. We simply do not understand the rigors of the Christian discipleshipthat our faith in Jesus Christ may cost us everything we hold dear.
America has just won the war in Iraq. We appear to be on our way to becoming the leader of the world. Yet this is not what I think I am hearing from the Lord. I believe the Lord is telling me He is going to judge America because of the moral filth that proceeds from Hollywood, California and other sources. God is not pleased with the slaying of infants or with sexual perversions.
If the future in America holds the terrors I anticipate, we are going to have to toughen up to survive. Because American believers have been seduced with the "rapture" teaching, they are not prepared for what I believe is coming.
The cross is the answer. The cross toughens us up, helping us endure hardness as good soldiers of Christ. If each one of us will preach the personal cross and live the personal cross, we will see an army arising of disciplined, obedient people who will be able to stand and help others to stand in the coming days, and be ready to appear with Christ and install the Kingdom of God on the earth.
In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:33)
A DiscipleIf Christ has called you to be a disciple and you attempt to settle for merely being "saved," you will be judged as a lazy, wicked, disobedient servant.
I dont understand why so many believers seem to follow the Lord Jesus afar off. The Lord told us what it means to be a disciple. We have to put everything in our life in second place that we might wait on the Lord continually, faithfully bearing whatever cross He has given us.
Is it possible not all believers are called to be disciples? I dont know. The Book of Acts says the disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. It sounds to me as though the terms "Christian" and "disciple" are synonyms.
The Bible tells us some of the Lords servants are given ten talents, some five talents, and some one talent. Perhaps this is the explanationsome believers are given more responsibility than is true of others.
All I know is what I have seen in the churches over the past half-century. Of the mass of churchgoers, only a few are what we might term cross-carrying disciples. Maybe this is what the Lord meant when He said "you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes." But if this is the case, only a few of todays churchgoers will inherit the glorious promises designated for the victorious saints.
One problem we are facing is that the standard of what it means to be a genuine Christian has fallen in America far below the New Testament standard. We are in a deep apostasy and do not realize it. When we say that a true Christian is one who turns away from the world in order to follow Christ, denying himself, enduring hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ, we are as a voice crying in the wilderness. Also we are accused of not having "love." Isnt that ridiculous?
To whom much is given, of him shall much be required. If God has called us to be a disciple, then that is how we will be judged. We will not be excused because we are living among believers who are lukewarm in their love for the Lord. If we do not present our body a living sacrifice in order to prove the Lords will for our life, and do not attend with all diligence to the role He wishes us to play, then we will be judged as a wicked, lazy servant.
We will not be received "by grace," "unconditional love," "mercy," or any of the other devices Satan keep emphasizing, telling us "you will not surely die!" The truth is, if we do not serve Christ with all our heart, keeping ourselves holy like a Nazirite of old, we will be regarded as a wicked, lazy servant. We will be thrown into the outer darkness, not "raptured into Heaven," when Christ next appears.
A Christian is a disciple. A disciple is someone who follows Christ every day, setting aside his or her own ambitions in the world. If we have been called to be a disciple, then we will not be judged as though we have no more sense of God than the average churchgoer. We will be judged as a servant of the Lord who has been called to be a holy one.
That servant who knows his masters will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. (Luke 12:47,48)
Seeking Death and Not Finding ItThe Book of Revelation tells of people who will seek death and not be able to find it. This indeed will be a terrifying situation.
Ordinarily we dont think of physical death as a blessing. But it is a blessing, in fact, a great blessing. As long as we are housed in a body that is continually aging, and finally becomes too weak to function properly, physical death comes as a blessing.
Sometimes people have an incurable disease that leaves them in intense pain. In this case, death is a blessing.
There are people who lie in a coma for years. Death may come as a blessing, in this instance.
There are people, such as was true of the Apostle Paul, who was confined in a Roman prison. To die and go to be with Jesus is a blessing.
As it has been said, God does not take the old but the ripe.
Sometimes people take their own lives. This is not pleasing to God. God is the only one who lawfully can decide when an individuals course on the earth has been completed. We are on the earth, confined in an animal body, in order to accomplish certain things regarding our personality. Only God knows when it is time for us to be relieved of the pains of earthly life.
The righteous individual has nothing to fear from death. Unless the person has deliberately and knowingly refused the lordship of Jesus Christ, dying physically is one of the least significant and most wonderful events of his or her life. It is one of the least significant events because he will continue much as he was, only not hindered by the physical body. It is one of the most wonderful events because he will leave the pains and heartaches of life on earth and enter the spiritual Paradise.
When the Bible speaks of people seeking death and not being able to find it, it is telling us of an unbelievably horrible period of earths future history.
People suffering the intense agony caused by the locusts emerging from the smoke coming from the abyss will not be able to find relief in death.
People who have been mutilated in an accident will be unable to escape their pain and disfigurement by dying.
People who have been shot or stabbed in a crime of violence will have to continue living in their misery.
People who are experiencing unbearable spiritual or emotional suffering will not be able to find release in physical death.
People will not be able to commit suicide in those days. God will compel them to remain on the earth while He pours out judgment upon them.
When the Bible says "death will elude them" it is almost as though death is a person, just as we read that death was cast into the Lake of Fire. Death evidently is a spirit. When God so commands it, death will not have access to people under any set of conditions.
Our life on earth will endure as long as God and we are profiting from being here. When our probationary period has come to an end, we will pass into the authority of the spirit of death and our body will begin to decompose. Death has that power.
But our true personality, for which our physical body served as a house, will walk into the spirit realm joyously alive and free from the weight of the physical body. What we will do then I do not know. We will be waiting for the Day of Resurrection, and perhaps serving God in some fruitful manner.
So for us to live is Christ and to die is gain. But pity the poor sinner who is exposed to the fiery locusts that come from the Abyss, stinging people repeatedly with the venom of a scorpion. He clamors for the opportunity to die, but it is denied him. He must suffer his punishment.
Before the Lord Jesus returns, God is going to reveal His displeasure with the way people are destroying the marvelous gifts He has given them in His love. We are approaching these calamities. The only way we are going to survive is by dying in the Lord Jesus and living in Him, counting ourselves crucified with Christ and living with Christ at the right hand of God.
Dont let the coming judgments catch you unprepared!
During those days men will seek death, but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them. (Revelation 9:6)
What I Have Heard and Seen With the LordThe Lord called me to preach 57 years ago. Since that time the Lord has drawn increasingly close to me such that we talk together quite a bit Also, I think the Lord has given me some understanding of His Word.
I dont know about you, but I talk to the Lord continually during my waking hours. I am not certain every Christian has this experience of communicating with the Lord all the time, but I think it is something worth pursuing for each one of us.
How this continual interaction began is not clear to me. It seems to have been growing over the last decade or so. Today it is an integral part of my thinking.
I was in Bible school in 1948. At that time the Lord spoke to me that His next move, after Pentecost, would have to do with Christ in you, with the Temple of God. He also stressed that He was going to judge His people, and that this judgment would be the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Day of Atonement (which comes after the feast of Pentecost).
I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit with speaking in tongues, in 1948. One day while I was sitting in the chapel meditating in the Bible, I sensed a personage at my right hand. As I read, the Scriptures began to unfold.
I had been a Christian since 1944, and was called to preach (I had a miraculous experience) about a year later. So I was fairly well acquainted with traditional Evangelical teaching, including the idea of grace being a covering over us so we would be eligible for residence in Heaven even though we were unable to keep the commandments found in the Gospels and the Epistles. I was taught also the pre-tribulation "rapture" of believers into Heaven at the next appearing of the Lord.
As I said, I was sitting in the chapel of a small Assembly of God Bible school in San Diego, reading the Word. Suddenly I saw the Scriptures differently from what I had learned from fellow Christians during the previous four years. I then began to teach what I was coming to understand, and the local believers seemed to enjoy what I was teaching and felt it was of the Lord.
Audrey and I were married at that time, and began our life together teaching at the San Diego Christian Schools, started by J. O. Do-well, an Assembly of God pastor and pioneer in Christian school work.
I tried my hand at writing down some of the understanding I had received, but nothing much came of it.
We left the Christian school and I went to college in Tempe, Arizona. From there we went to New York, and I pursued an education curriculum and finally received the degree of Doctor of Education from the University of Rochester.
The subsequent years were spent in public education until Audrey and I both felt we were to enter full-time ministry. One thing led to another and we ended up pastoring a Foursquare church in Poway, California, where we have been to the present day. We have been here 27 years.
Before coming to Poway, while still teaching and serving as a principal in elementary education, I was impressed to begin to write what had been unfolding in my mind since Bible-school days. I have been writing now for more than thirty years.
Although my teaching and writing have covered many areas, such as the Servant of the Lord, the work of restoration, the army of the Lord, the first resurrection, the two witnesses, there have been some main topics that have emerged.
By the way, the pre-tribulation "rapture" has vanished from my thinking. From my point of view, the verses employed to support this destructive error can be shown to be invalid by a careful examination of the immediate contexts, plus relevant passages in other places in the Bible.
One of the major topics that has come to the front has been that of the third great work of grace, which is the coming of the Father and the Son to make Their eternal abode in us. First Christ must be formed in us. When Christ has been formed in us, then the Father and the Son will make us Their eternal resting place and throne.
Another major topic I have emphasized is that of the current work of judgment of the believers that is taken place. Prior to the present hour the sins of Christians have been regarded as "covered," one of the meanings of the term atonement.
Now, however, it is as though the sins are being brought to the light one at a time and we are being "reconciled" (another meaning of atonement ) to God in actuality, not just legally as in imputed righteousness. This current judgment is a major undertaking of the Holy Spirit, and is preparing us for the coming of the Father and the Son in fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Tabernacles.
To verify the truth of what I am saying, one need only go to prayer and ask the Lord Jesus if He is judging His people today.
Yet another major topic is that of actual righteousness of behavior. One would think from current teaching that imputed (legally ascribed) righteousness were the major righteousness taught in the New Testament. If you would like, go through the New Testament and compare the number of times imputed righteousness is mentioned, and then the number of times actual righteousness of behavior is mentioned. I think you will be surprised.
A little research will reveal that imputed, legally-assigned righteousness is not the Kingdom of God. Imputed righteousness is a device God uses to free us from the Law of Moses so we can turn our attention to the Holy Spirit. As soon as we turn our attention to the Holy Spirit He begins to lead us in paths of righteous behavior. "Walk in the Spirit," Paul declares, "and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.
The Holy Spirit makes known to us the actions of our sinful nature, and then enables us to put these actions to death so we no longer yield to them. This is the path to the resurrection of the body unto eternal life when the Lord appears.
Two things must be true of us if we are to be raised to life when the Lord appears. We must have put to death through the Spirit the works of our sinful nature; and we must have learned to live by eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Christ. We are given the flesh of Christ and the blood of Christ every time we choose to turn aside from our sinful behavior and do the will of God.
Perhaps it is true that of all the Lord has shown me, the most important is that He does not mean for His grace to be used as an alternative to righteous behavior. Apart from righteous behavior on the part of the saints, there is no Kingdom of God; there is no hope for the future.
The Lord Jesus Christ came into the world to set us free from Satan, not to forgive us and view us as righteous while we still are bound by the devil. Thats a simple thought, isnt it?
If there is no moral transformation of the believers, there is no testimony to the world; for it is our good works that are the light of the world and the evidence that Christ is in us. We know, dont we? But how often is it preached?
Another major issue, one that calls for a radical change in Christian thinking, is the commonly taught error that Heaven is the eternal home of the saints. There simply is no Bible foundation for this venerable tradition. If our eternal home were to be in the spirit realm, there would be no need for the resurrection of the body. We will not be raised from the dead so we can go to Heaven but so we can live once again on the earth. The believers find this last statement hard to understand, but that is because of previous teaching. It actually is a simple, straightforward idea.
The Kingdom of God is designed to be established on the earth, not in Heaven. The Kingdom of God is God in Christ in the saints governing the nations of the earth. "Your kingdom come. Your will be done on the earth as it is in heaven." We pray this prayer, but we dont think about what we are saying, nor do we believe the prayer will be answered. But it assuredly shall be answered!
Christ will govern this present earth when He next appears. I suppose most Christians believe this but somehow we become confused.
I am not certain where the idea originated that we are going to live forever in Heaven. I rather suspect it was derived from the philosophy of Gnosticism, which was prevalent in the first century.
As I said, Christ will govern the present earth when He next appears. Those believers who have pressed into Christ such that He has become their Life will appear with Him and help with the installing of the Kingdom of God on the earth.
Which brings me to the thought of the first resurrection. The resurrection that will take place when the Lord appears is only for the members of the royal priesthood. These are the ones who have lived as victorious saints, continually washing their robes in the blood of the Lamb. We wash our robes by confessing our sins and turning away from them resolutely. The victorious saints, and they alone, will be resurrected when the Lord appears.
We need to understand this. The believers in America are under the impression everyone who has ever professed Christ is going to fly up to Heaven in a secret "rapture," where they will do we know not what for the next billion years. This is nonsensical, an unscriptural myth that detracts from the scriptural concept of the Lord and His army of saints coming from Heaven to install the Kingdom of God on the earth.
Three ideas commonly held are without foundation in the Scripture:
Divine grace is an alternative to righteous behavior.
The goal of salvation is to make our eternal home in the spirit Heaven.
There will be a secret "rapture" that will remove from the earth all who have made a profession of faith in Christ so they will not be harmed by Antichrist and the Great Tribulation.
Now compare these three commonly held ideas with the truth of the Scripture:
Divine grace is the Presence of God in Christ that forgives people and transforms them into the image of Christ.
The goal of salvation is to be in the moral image of Christ and to enter untroubled rest in the Person of the Father through Christ.
When the Lord comes He will bring His saints with Him; raise them from the dead; transform the living saints; catch them all up to meet Him in the air; and then descend with them on the white war stallions to set up His kingdom on the earth.
Now, you tell me. Which of these two sets of three concepts is likely to result in the doing of Gods will on the earth as it is in Heaven?
Why other believers cannot perceive what is so crystal clear to me is beyond my understanding. Look through the New Testament and find one time where it says "go to Heaven" or implies that our goal is to live eternally in Heaven. See if it speaks of endless life in Heaven, or of the coming of the Lord to set up His Kingdom on the earth.
Another very important concept is that of the difference between the Church and the nations of saved people who will populate the new earth. Until the believer understands the concept of the saved nations, he will not understand what the Church is. Much of the Scriptures will make no sense to him.
The Church is a minority of mankind. Most individuals will be members of the nations of saved people who will be the citizens of the new world of righteousness.
The Church is composed of Gods elect, people called of God from the beginning of the world to be specially close to Him. God has elected them, justified them, and has slated them for glorification if they endure His program through to the end.
The Church is a governing priesthood whose role throughout eternity will be to represent Jesus Christ to the saved peoples who dwell on the earth.
The members of the Church are not of the world. They have been brought to Jesus Christ by the Father that He might give them eternal life. When the members of the Church have become one with each other and with God through Christ, then the people of the earth will believe and be saved.
This does not mean everyone finally will be saved, because some people will not accept the salvation that is in Christ. However, Christ died for the sins of the whole world that whoever believes in Him might regain what was lost in Eden, that is, eternal life in spirit, soul, and finallywhen He returnsin body.
The victorious saints will rule with Christ over the nations of this present earth. After a thousand years of this righteous reign, the earth and the heavens will flee from the face of Christ. Then there will come into being a new sky and a new earth. The new Jerusalem, which is the glorified church, will come down through the new sky to be installed forever on the new earth. The new earth will be inhabited by saved people drawn from the nations of the earth. The saints who compose the holy city will govern the saved people.
Thus there are two groups of "saved" people: the members of the Church, and the people of the nations who are the inheritance of Christ and His Church.
Another important topic is that of the Servant of the Lord, found in the Book of Isaiah. The Servant of the Lord is ChristHead and Body. The Servant of the Lord will come from Heaven and bring justice to the members of the nations.
The two witnesses of Revelation have been held to be two men from the Old Testament who will appear in the last days and give their testimony.
One time when I was praying in the basement of the Fremont Assembly of God, I had a sort of vision, or strong mental impression of the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation. It appeared to me that the "two witnesses" are Christ, the one Witness, and the members of His Body, the other witness. The two witnessesChrist, Head and Bodyshow in themselves the power of the Kingdom that soon is to come. Their task is to prepare the people of the world for this powerful Divine intervention of God in the affairs of mankind. The two olive trees represent a double portion of the Holy Spirit that will empower the witnesses.
When the witness has been completed, and every nation has heard the Gospel of the Kingdom, God will lift His anointing and Antichrist will receive authority to overcome the witness. Then the "dead bodies," the Christian institutions without the Spirit of God (much as we see the Christian edifices in Jerusalem today, the reminders of a past era), will remain in the cities of the world. Just before to the return of the Lord the witness will be revived and clothed with Divine Glory. Thus the Glory of the Lord will appear on earth and in the sky at the same time.
I remember one Sunday morning as I was on my way to church, driving over the Lake Hodges bridge, the Lord began to show me that prior to every major move of God He sends two witnesses. The witnesses reveal in themselves the coming of a new day, and the new day comes out from the witnesses. This was a pure revelation. I was so astonished I was afraid to preach on it that Sunday morning. But I have since.
The first two witnesses were Adam and Eve. The new day of mankind was revealed in them and came forth through them.
The second two witnesses were Abraham and Sarah. The new day of the Church, of those separated from the world, was revealed in them and came forth through them.
The third two witnesses were Moses and Aaron. The new day of the moral law of God was revealed in them and came forth through them.
The fourth two witnesses were the Father and the Son. The new day of spiritual understanding was revealed in Them and came forth through Them.
The fifth set of two witnesses was the Apostles and the Holy Spirit. The new day of eternal life was revealed in them and came forth through them.
The sixth set of two witnesses will be Christ and His saints. The new day of the Kingdom of God will be revealed in them and come forth through them.
The seventh set of two witnesses will be God and His Tabernacle. The new day of eternity will be revealed in Them and come forth through Them.
Can you imagine this? Here I was driving to church. In the space of ten or fifteen minutes this entire program came flooding into my mind.
Well, you can judge whether it makes sense and is scriptural.
There have been other topics that have crossed my mind, such as:
Being born of God. The expression "born again" is often used to mean we have professed faith in Christ or have been converted to the Christian religion. This is not what it means to be born again. To be born again is to have the Seed of God planted in our personality. This actually is a conception. Then there must be a forming of Christ until finally birth occurs.
We cannot see the Kingdom of God until we have been born again, because it is the Kingdom that is conceived and formed in us.
We first are born of the water, of woman. Then we are born of God. Now we are son of man and son of God. The central parable of the Gospels is the parable of the sower; for the Kingdom of God is a seed that is planted in the heart of man.
I often emphasize the Bride of the Lamb. Now that we are son of man and son of God we are like the Lamb and qualified to be married to Him. We are married to the Lamb by eating the Lamb. The marriage takes place today as we learn to live by His body and blood. We eat His flesh each day and we drink His blood as we turn aside from the impulses of our fallen nature and choose to do the will of the Spirit of God.
When the Lamb appears in the sky, blood will call to blood and we will be drawn up to the Lamb in the sky. Being raised to eternal life depends on our willingness to live by His body and blood, just as He lives by the Father.
In our day the Lord is standing at the door of the personalities of the believers. If we will cease from our own works, even religious works, and permit the Lord of Glory to enter, we will dine with Him on His body and blood. Then He will be seen as the Lord, strong and mighty in battle, who will drive the enemy from us.
There is nothing more important to the Christian people of our day than that of ceasing their own works and opening their hearts to the Lord. We must learn to live in very close, daily interaction with Him.
How wonderful to be a brother of the Lord Jesus Christ. Throughout the Christian Era the Lord has been a somewhat abstract carving in marble, in many instances. (The same fate has befallen the Apostles. You would think they never had been human beings!) Today Christ wants to walk with us. He wants us to grow up so He can speak to us as brothers. He always is our Lord, and He knows that we understand. Given that fact, He is free to talk with us about everything as friend to friend. He no longer is a God afar off.
The Lords coming will not be in any "secret rapture."
He is coming now to His saints to prepare them for His worldwide coming. He is bringing us close to Him where He is, in the bosom of the Father. This coming is described in the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John.
When the Lord finally does come to the world, every eye shall see Him. His Glory shall be as the lightning that shines from the east to the west. That is because His Glory will shine wherever His true saints are.
Speaking of the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John, the Fathers House is Jesus Christ, not Heaven. Christ, by going to the cross, has prepared a place for us in Himself. We are being made a living stone, a room in the Fathers House.
One fact that should prove to be a blessing to us is that our position in Christ at the right hand of God shall never changeno not for eternity (unless we permit Satan to draw us down from our high place in God). We are there now. We shall still be there after we die. We shall still be there when we descend with the Lord in the Battle of Armageddon, for we will have the power of multiple presence, just as the Lord does. We can be in God and on the earth at the same time.
We shall still be in Christ at the right hand of God throughout the thousand-year Kingdom Age. We shall still be in Christ at the right hand of God for eternity, when the new Jerusalem comes down on the new earth.
This is what the Lord meant when He said, "He who live and believes in me shall never die." We always and forever shall be alive where we are now, in the Lord Jesus Christ at the right hand of God. How utterly marvelous!
We do not go to a mansion in Heaven. The mansion comes to us in the form of a body from Heaven. We shall be at the right hand of God, clothed in a mansion fashioned from our own Christ-filled righteous deeds.
One point I have stressed over and over is that the way we behave today is affecting what will happen to us in the Day of Resurrection. We are going to reap precisely as we have sown. If we live victoriously today, gaining the upper hand over our fallen nature, we will be crowned with righteousness and life in the Day of Resurrection. But if we keep yielding to our sinful nature, we will experience corruption and destruction in the Day of Resurrection. This is true whether or not we believe in Christ.
To not believe this is to go against the clear words of the Apostle Paul.
Then too, we need to understand the continuity from the Old Testament to the New Testament. The teaching of Dispensationalism is a source of confusion. The Old Testament flows into the new. The new covenant is not a different dispensation, it is the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Hebrew Prophets.
Everything in the Old Testament applies to us, except for geographical statements and the statutes of the Law of Moses. What would we do without the twenty-third or the ninety-first Psalms? They all apply to Jesus Christ, and therefore to us who are an integral part of Christ.
We who belong to Christ are the one Seed of Abraham, which is Christ. We have been grafted into the one holy Olive Tree, which is Jesus Christ.
One badly needed emphasis, at least in America, is what it means to be a true Christian. A Christian by definition is a disciple of Jesus Christ. A disciple of Jesus Christ is that person who denies himself, takes up his personal cross, and follows the Master. As such he is vastly more than just an individual who attends a Christian churchmore even than one who subscribes to all the doctrines of the church.
Salvation is not found in a statement of faith. Salvation is found in daily interaction with the living Jesus. The righteous live by faith in Jesus, not by belief in a theological creed no matter how scriptural..
Salvation is not a ticket to Heaven. Salvation is a prolonged work of destroying the sinful nature in man. We are "saved" at a specific point in time when we first come to Jesus. Then we work out our salvation day by day. Finally we shall experience salvation, resurrection to eternal life, if we endure to the end of our probationary period on the earth. Salvation is past, present, and future. One of the dangers of the Christian life, as the Book of Hebrews points out vehemently, is that of starting out and then not continuing to the end.
You may notice that when you begin on the Christian way God carries you on eagles wings, as it were. But as time goes by He requires from time to time that you stand on your own feet.
There is this about abiding in Christ. It becomes more challenging each day of our discipleship. Each day He moves back and says, "Abide in Me here." Yesterdays manna breeds worms. Salvation is always today. You cannot say, and have it mean very much, "I was saved ten years ago." That would be comparable to saying "I was breathing ten years ago." The question is, "Are you breathing today? Are you saved today? Think about this.
What does the future hold for us in America.? If I am hearing from the Lord, our nation is going to be chastened severely because of the abortions, sexual perversions, and the moral filth that proceeds from Hollywood, California. We have several gods in America, such as physical lust, money, violence, drunkenness, witchcraft, and the love of entertainment. We worship freedom of speech, when the Bible tells us we must control our tongue.
Yet there will be unprecedented revival until God permits the witness to be overcome; for this Gospel of the Kingdom must be preached to every nation for a witness.
I personally am a patriotic American, having volunteered to serve in the United States Marine Corps during World War Two. But I believe our nation, because it is driving God from the land, will become, like England has become for the same reason, a nation of limited strength. If a more disciplined nation arises, one that stresses and even enforces morality, God will turn over to it the role of leadership that America would have had in the future had it turned to God.
The harvest rain will fall with great signs and wonders in the midst of trouble. God will watch over Jerusalem, and I believe the Temple will be rebuilt.
My hope is that God will pour out His Spirit on the Arabs and bring millions of them to Himself. Why should the Arab people destroy themselves under the false impression that God bring murderers to Paradise? Their common sense ought to tell them that the God of Heaven does not want them to kill people, even in the name of Allah.
The Arabs are a kindhearted, generous people. They need to learn from Jesus to live in brotherly love with all people, even with the Jews. And so must we all. God is love. Whoever dwells in love dwells in God, and God in Him. I think Arabs with good hearts understand this
The following passage tells me that one day Jesus Christ will be worshiped in Israel, Egypt, and in all the Arab nations. I pray God will grant this soon.
In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. The Assyrians will go to Egypt and the Egyptians to Assyria. The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together. In that day Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing on the earth. The LORD Almighty will bless them, saying, "Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance." (Isaiah 19:23-25)
I believe the Lord has shown me that eternal life is not a contract written in Heaven that we will exist forever. Rather, eternal life is a kind of life, just as biologic life is a kind of life. You can have eternal life in degrees. You can lose your eternal life, as we see in the parable of the sower.
Eternal life is the life of God. It does not dwell in us when we are walking in known sin. For example, no one who hates his brother has eternal life in him although he professes the name of Jesus all day long.
If we sow to eternal life now, we will reap eternal life in the Day of the Lord in the form of a wonderful body from Heaven fashioned from incorruptible, resurrection life.
Faith is not belief in doctrine. A "Statement of Faith" is nothing of the kind. It is a series of theological positions. Faith is our assessment of Gods Character, that God knows us, is bringing us to joy, and has the power to bring us to joy. Faith is always living, always dynamic, always being exercised right this minute. It is our contact with our Father through Jesus Christ.
The Jewish feast of Tabernacles, as I stated previously, comes after the feast of Pentecost. This means we who have been in Pentecost need to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Father and the Son to dwell in us for eternity.
How do you feel about losing your right to be an independent person in favor of becoming an integral part of God through Jesus Christ? It is the most important decision you will ever make.
In fact, the seven feasts of the Lord, outlined in the twenty-third chapter of the Book of Leviticus, are a useful set of seven pegs to hang our thinking on. They tell us salvation begins with the Passover blood and proceeds as a specific program until we are filled with all the fullness of God.
The three feasts that follow Pentecost are: the Blowing of Trumpets; the Day of Atonement; and the feast of Tabernacles. My understanding is that the Blowing of Trumpets speaks of the Lord Jesus coming to us as a Warrior to drive the enemy from us; the Day of Atonement has to do with Gods judgment on the spiritual darkness in us that it may be removed from us; and the feast of Tabernacles, as I said, portrays God settling down in us in His eternal rest.
The fact that there is a firstfruits of the Bride is not commonly taught, although I have been told that Watchman Nee alluded to it. I will not go into this important concept because I have provided the scriptural support in other writings.
It is clear the Church will be divided into a firstfruits, and then the remainder of the Church. The marriage of the firstfruits is announced in the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation. The remainder of the Church, including the firstfruits, is revealed in the twenty-first chapter of the Book of Revelation.
The second and third chapters of Revelation point out the two groups in the churches. There are the victorious saints, and then the remainder. No doubt the victorious saints will prove to be a remnant, a minority, as in the case of the church in Sardis.
The point is, it is well worth our effort to seek to live victoriously. It is the conquerors who will receive the inheritance usually thought to be the possession of everyone who names the name of Christ. There are many different ranks in the Kingdom of God, and our task is to make sure we grasp that for which we have been grasped by the Lord.
It has been made clear to me that there are four aspects of the original Divine decree concerning man. While these four have an immediate fulfillment in the adamic creation, there is an eternal, Kingdom fulfillment.
The first aspect, man being made in Gods image, refers to the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the first "Man" to fulfill the Divine edict. We are to be made in His image.
The second aspect, man being male and female, refers to the uniquely human potential for union with another person. "Male and female" is shown in our union with the Lord Jesus Christ, and also with one another in Christ.
The third aspect, fruitfulness, speaks of Christ being multiplied through us. As we abide in the Vine, we bear the fruit of Christs image in ourselves and in others.
The fourth aspect, dominion, results from fruitfulness. As Christ is multiplied in us, His authority and power are spread throughout all aspects of the creation.
I have noticed there are four major types of the plan of salvation: the seven feasts of the Lord; the seven furnishings of the Tabernacle of the Congregation; the journey of Israel from Egypt to Canaan; and the seven days of creation.
Each of these four types are arranged in seven parts, and each of the seven parts agrees across all four types. The types portray the Lord Jesus Christ; the program of our salvation; the development of the Church from a multitude of individuals; and, taken in reverse order, the installing of the Kingdom of God on the earth.
The four types are aids to our thinking as we seek to understand how God is working, and the goal of His efforts.
Our personal goal is to be changed into the moral image of the Lord Jesus Christ and to enter untroubled rest in Gods Person and will. Gods goal is to establish a Kingdom that will govern His creation for eternity in righteousness, peace, and joy. Obviously the accomplishment of Gods goal depends on the accomplishment of our goal.
Much of todays Christian teaching is based on Pauls declaration that we are saved by faith and not by works. There is a great misunderstanding here. When Paul said "works" he was not referring to righteous behavior. We know this because in several passages Paul warned us that if we Christians continue to yield to our sinful nature we will die spiritually. Paul never would have deliberately left us with the impression righteous behavior is not an integral aspect of our salvation.
Rather, by "works" Paul meant the works of the Law of Moses. The statutes of the Law of Moses are not an integral aspect of our salvation, but righteous behavior certainly is! Thus there is a significant difference between the statutes of the Law of Moses and what Gentiles would regard as righteous behavior.
Paul was addressing Jews and those who were influenced by the Jews. Paul was pointing out that we are not saved by obeying the commandments of the Law of Moses but by faith in Christ. By faith in Christ Paul did not mean subscription to a denominational "Statement of Faith." By "faith" Paul meant a continual interaction with Christ through the Holy Spirit. The result of our daily interacting with the living Lord Jesus always and of necessity results in a new creation of righteous behavior.
Thus to insist we are saved by faith and not by works, meaning we are made acceptable to God by believing the facts about Jesus rather than by behaving righteously, is completely irrelevant, misleading, and destructive. It accounts for todays deplorable spiritual and moral immaturity that exists among the Christian believers.
Image and union go together. God desires that we be in the moral image of Christ and that we enter untroubled rest in His will. But to try to be like Christ apart from resting in God in Christ is to follow the example of Satan. We are not to be partners of Christ but part of Christ. God is not seeking many christs but those who are willing to be grafted into the one true Vine. There is an uncrossable gap between the two positions.
I am of the opinion that the False Prophet, of the Book of Revelation, consists of those who want the power of Christ but at the same time intend to preserve their independence of thought and action. The Charismatic movement is dangerously close to this satanic error.
Speaking of "rest," it is first of all Gods rest, and then our rest in Gods rest. God rests in us when we are living in righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God.
The Book of Hebrews presents Gods rest as the goal of our salvation. To attain to Gods rest we must turn away from our own works and ambitions and seek to enter Gods Person and will. We are dwelling in Gods rest when we can say, like the Lord Jesus, "All that I do, the words I speak, are not mine but Christs who dwells in me." This indeed is a lofty goal, but it is to this rest that Christ has called us.
One question that often puzzles Gods people has to do with the relationship of the Christian Church to the land and people of Israel. The answer is simple and straightforward. It is the Spirit of prophecy, of God, that defines Israel. Wherever the anointing of the Spirit is, there is true Israel.
The Spirit of prophecy rested on Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the descendants of Jacob. These were true Israel, the Olive Tree.
After the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, the Spirit of God rested on those who belonged to Christ, both Jews and Gentiles. The first Christian Church was composed of 5,000 Jews. The Jews and Gentiles who were called of God to be part of Christ constituted true Israel.
As soon as the designated number of Gentiles have been added to the Olive Tree, the Spirit of God will return to the land and people of Israel. Thus the called of God, Jewish and Gentile by birth, constitute true Israel, the one Olive Tree. And so all Israel shall be saved, all who are of the promise of God.
God has given all authority of judgment to the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus shares this authority with the members of His Body, even to the point of forgiving and retaining sin (when we are living in the Spirit of God).
There are passages in both the Old and New Testaments that indicate the saints shall judge the world. It is my opinion that at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age it will be Christ and His saints who are seated on the white throne, judging the ranks of mankind.
In connection with this, it often is taught that the resurrection at the beginning of the thousand-year period, when the Lord returns, is for all who have made a profession of belief in Christ. The resurrection at the end of the thousand-year period is for all who are lost and are to be thrown into the Lake of Fire.
I do not see this in the Scriptures. I believe it is the blessed and holy members of the royal priesthood, a remnant of the Church, who will be raised when the Lord appears, at the beginning of the thousand-year Kingdom Age.
All other people, all who were not raised in the first resurrection, whether or not they have made a profession of belief in the Lord Jesus Christ, will be raised at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age.
Those whose behavior on the earth was such that their names are found written in the Book of Life will be brought into life on the new earth. Those whose behavior on the earth blotted out their name from the Book of Life, whether or not they professed belief in Christ, will be cast into the Lake of Fire.
The Lake of Fire retains authority over eight kinds of individuals. The authority is suspended when a person sets out to follow Christ. The authority is removed as each of the kinds of behavior is removed.
This is why the Apostle Paul warned us again and again that if we, as a Christian, continue to yield to the sinful nature, we will reap destruction. I understand todays teaching does not accept that a person can receive Christ and then have his or her name blotted from the Book of Life. But this is what the Bible states, and it is the truth regardless of the humanistic teaching that goes on today in the Christian churches.
God cannot be mocked. If we sow to righteousness we will reap eternal life. If we sow to sin we will reap corruption. This is the truth of God as written in the Bible, and it was written to Christians to warn them to turn away from sin and begin to walk in the Spirit of God.
As far as I can tell, modern Christian teaching in many instances is downplaying Pauls warning about the Judgment Seat of Christ.
The first error is the teaching that the Judgment Seat of Christ does not involve Christian. Why then did the Apostle Paul speak of the terror of the Judgment Seat of Christ and try to persuade the believers about its seriousness?
The second error, a widely accepted deduction from the contemporary misunderstanding of the application of Divine grace, is that no Christian will hear anything negative at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
Can you imagine? The Bible says we will receive the good we have done and the bad we have done. Yet some of the pastors and teachers are stating no Christian will receive the bad he has done.
I believe, based on the Apostle Peters writing, that judgment has begun already in the house of God. We know it is appointed to people to die and after this they are judged. When we count our life as over and have embarked on a new resurrected life at the right hand of God, we begin to pass through the Judgment Seat of Christ. When we confess our sins and turn away from them, our sins have been judged, the guilt is removed, and we are cleansed from all unrighteousness. Thus it is possible to pass through the Judgment Seat of Christ now, in preparation for our appearing with the Lord when He returns.
Peter suggests this same judgment is occurring among those Christians who have died and are in the spirit realm.
Whatever remains of darkness in us will be swept away when the Lord returns, provided we have been faithful in following the Spirit today. Then we shall receive a new body, a house from Heaven in which there is no sin.
I have written much about the Kingdom of God. It is a real kingdom, with a King, nobles, soldiers, and all else one would associate with a kingdom. It shall govern the world forever.
There is a verse that struck me the other day. It is familiar to all Christians who have ever heard Handels Christ.
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 Davids 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)
Imagine! All the years I have been preaching the Kingdom of God and never noticed what this familiar passage actually was stating:
The government will be on His shoulders!
The increase of His government!
He will reign on Davids throne and over His Kingdom!
I have preached many times that Christ will be crowned King on the throne of David. But somehow I never made the connection with this passage in Isaiah.
So the Christian salvation actually is about a kingdom that is coming to the earth, a kingdom that will drive out every trace of Satan and his works and establish justice and righteousness forever. Beyond all doubt, the throne of David is an earthly throne. "We shall reign on the earth" the saved of the nations exclaim, as recorded in the Book of Revelation.
The injustices of today among the nations is sickening! Come, Lord Jesus!
We are being prepared today to govern with Him. This is why the Spirit of God hovers over us with a godly jealousy, examining the smallest parts of our thoughts, words, and actions. We must be righteous, holy, and obedient if we are to govern with Christ. Does this make sense to you?
The Kingdom of God is God in Christ in the saints. It is in Heaven now because the King is there. It also is on the earth wherever there are people in whom Christ is dwelling and ruling.
The gospel of today is the gospel of grace as our ticket to eternal residence in the spirit Heaven.
The true Gospel is the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and of the righteous behavior that results from the exercise of that rulership. The Kingdom of God is destined to be installed for eternity on the earth. Gods Throne and the Throne of the Lamb will be found on the earth in the new Jerusalem, which is the glorified Christian Church.
Survival and security, worship, and achievement. These are the three elements of our life. Every son of God, beginning with the Lord Jesus Himself, is tested in these three areas. We must pass the tests if we are to become a mature son of God, a brother of Jesus Christ, a ruler of the nations of the earth.
Satan invited the Lord Jesus to take a shortcut to His inheritance, just as Satan will invite you and me to take a shortcut to our inheritance. Sin is a shortcut to the desires of our heart. The righteous path is that of patient waiting on the Lord though our hopes are deferred for many years.
Beware of the deceitfulness of money. Whoever would be rich in money pierces himself or herself with many sorrows. "You cannot serve God and money," Jesus pointed out, making money the archenemy of the true God.
When the Lord appears He will not be by Himself. He will be accompanied by saints who have managed, through Christ, to gain victory over Satan and his devices. The appearing of Christ and His saints is termed "the manifestation of the sons of God. The material creation awaits this revelation of Divine Glory because it will result in the release of the physical realm from the bondage to frustration and decay to which it has been submitted.
God is not making all new things, He is making all things new. We may think we want to go to Heaven where everything is different (we suppose). What we would like would be a glorified earth in which there are no sin, problems, pain, or death. This is what God has in mind. It shall be brought into being by the sons of God, Jesus Christ being the chief Son and Lord of all.
The "new covenant" is described in the Book of Hebrews. It is termed the "new" covenant in contrast to the "old" covenant, which is the Law of Moses.
The new covenant is the Christian covenant. There is no other prevailing Divine covenant.
Why do I stress that there is no other prevailing Divine covenant? Because what we are presenting today as the Christian salvation does not so much as resemble the new covenant described in the Book of Hebrews.
We present the Christian covenant as the forgiveness of our sins on the basis of the blood atonement made by the Lord on the cross of Calvary. We must be born again of the Spirit. We must confess Jesus as our resurrected Lord. On this basis we will be admitted to Heaven when we die. Am I pretty close? Is this what is preached today? Accept Christ and you will go to Heaven when you die?
But what does the Book of Hebrews present as the new covenant?
The new covenant is the writing of Gods eternal moral law in our mind and in our heart. Included is the forgiveness of our sins through the blood atonement.
There is nothing said in Hebrews about the writing of the law in our mind and heart as being the entrance into Heaven. It states, rather, that the new covenant was instituted because the Jews under the old covenant did not please God by their behavior. So God is taking the Law, removing it from the tables of stone, and writing it in our personalities in a greatly amplified form.
The point is, the new covenant, while it includes forgiveness, primarily is a covenant of moral transformation.
It is prophesied in the Old Testament that God would make a new covenant with the House of Israel. This means if we are to receive the benefit of the new covenant we must become part of Israel through the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Christian Jews whom the writer of Hebrews addressed were experienced believers. They were saved and filled with the Spirit, as we use the terms today. Yet the writer in several passages rebuked them severely and warned them that they would suffer Divine judgment if they did not press into the "rest of God." The rest of God is that place where we are abiding in Gods Person and will.
Compare the description in the Book of Hebrews with what is presented today as the Christian salvation.
We American Christians are apostate in behavior and quite limited in our understanding of the Scriptures. I think this is true.
I have preached quite a bit about being an overcomer. To be an overcomer is to be living in victory over the areas of behavior the Holy Spirit is pointing out to us. It is nothing more than this. And it is always "now." What you were yesterday does not count.
If you can honestly say that as far as you know you are doing Gods will, not ignoring areas of darkness the Holy Spirit has pointed out to you but have dealt with them successfully, then right now you are an overcomer and heir to all the promises designated for the overcomer.
I came to Christ while in the Marine Corps. When I got out I went to a Bible school in San Diego, There I was informed by the experienced Christians that it was not possible to do Gods perfect will; that the world was waiting for the person who would do Gods perfect will. They maintained that as long as we are in this world we will sin, and therefore we must be saved by grace.
I came to find out that this is all unscriptural nonsense. It is the voice of Satan.
The fact it, it is enjoined on every Christian to do Gods perfect will at all times. Whoever does not do Gods perfect will at all times is a rebel against God, a disobedient child.
And as far as having to sin while we are in this world, this is unscriptural. The New Testament informs us that sin shall not have dominion over us. Why is this? It is because the Holy Spirit points out to us the sin in our life, and then enables us to put the sin to death. The sin in our nature that has not been pointed out as yet, of which we are ignorant, is shielded by the blood of the cross.
No Christian at any time, under any circumstances, is to be living in known sin. When we are living in known sin we are under condemnation and a subject for Divine judgment. The power of Christ enables all who call on Him to gain victory over sin. If we continue to practice sin of which we are aware it is because we have chosen to do so. It is not because Christ is unable to give us perfect victory over that behavior. The Christian who continues in known sin is making himself or herself an adversary of God
If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, But only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. (Hebrews 10:26,27)
This is obvious to me. I cannot see why any believer would find a problem with it.
There is a right way to respond to the vision that God gives us, the hope He has set before us. We can attempt to seize the fulfillment of the vision "by faith." I am not confident of this approach. It is too close to presumption, like inviting the Lord Jesus to jump from the roof of the Temple.
The way of the patriarchs of the Bible, the heroes of faith, is that of patient waiting on the Lord, accepting all His dealings, until finally the desire is fulfilled. We do not know whether the vision is to be fulfilled tomorrow or forty years from now. Actually the saints are formed during the interval of time between the presenting of the vision and its fulfillment. It is patient endurance that gains the prize.
Another aspect of fulfilling the vision is we often do not understand what God means by the vision. The fulfillment may be quite different from what we imagine. For instance, from reading the Old Testament prophecies of the coming of Christ to sit on the throne of David, who would have pictured a carpenters Son put to death on a cross along with two criminals?
God is bound by His Word to give us the desires of our heart if we delight ourselves in Him. But as time goes on we may find that our desires change as God teaches us. How foolish we are to reach out and clutch something before Gods time, only to discover God was seeking to preserve us from trouble.
In any case, it is best not to clutch anything except the Lord Jesus.
Lord, deliver us from idolatry!
I have taught and written about the concept of restoration.
God cannot give us something once. If we are to appreciate it and keep it, we must receive it twice. This is the story of Adam and Eve, of Samson, of Israel, of the Church, of the prodigal son, of each Christian. It is the basic story of mankind. What is given to us quickly and easily is not appreciated, and we lose it. Like our health, for example.
It amazes me how far ahead of us the Apostle Paul was. His writings are still out ahead, such as his desire to attain to the resurrection; his living by the Life of Christ.
All this understanding and experience was given to the Apostles. But then it was lost with their death. God knew we could not hold it. Scholars began to write commentaries about what had been given so freely.
One can notice that a work of restoration began with the Protestant Reformers. Step by step the original doctrines have been restored. The twentieth century saw the restoration of the work of the Holy Spirit.
Now the Spirit is leading us into new waters. Yet these "new" waters were familiar to the Apostle Paul. It is up to us to follow the Spirit, even though every time the Spirit brings the believers forward there is considerable consternation on the part of the "established order." But this consternation is valuable in that it serves to separate the wheat from the chaff.
I suppose the doctrine of the resurrection will prove to be one of the more important parts of what I think God has shown me. This doctrine has been eclipsed because of the unscriptural emphasis on the spiritual dimension of salvation and the idea that our goal is Paradise in the spirit realm.
The truth is, the emphasis of the Christian salvation is on the redemption of the physical body. It was for this that Paul groaned.
God has given us flesh and bones that will endure, as we see in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. But if we sow our present body to the death of the cross, when the Lord comes He will clothe our resurrected flesh and bones with a wonderful house from Heaven fashioned from incorruptible, resurrection life.
The gold will come upon the wood, so to speak.
There may be no more important message to the American Christians of today than that of the relationship between our behavior today and what we shall experience in the Day of Resurrection. As we sow we shall reap. How we have lived in the body will determine the kind of resurrection we shall have.
Grace and mercy will not affect the operation of resurrection and glorification. The Kingdom law of sowing and reaping is immutable. Our resurrection will reflect the decisions we have made in life. We shall receive the good we have done and the bad we have done. The good and bad will be reflected in the kind of body we receive. The bad can be eliminated if we will confess our sins and turn away from them. In this case we will experience the bad now, but in the Day of Resurrection we will be free and clear.
You can take care of the negative dimension of your judgment now if you will go to the Lord and ask Him to help you make things right while you still are living on the earth.
"Search me, O God. Try my heart. See if there is any wicked way in me. Lead me in the way everlasting"!
It means something to be a member of the royal priesthood. Salvation from wrath is one issue. Membership in the royal priesthood may be another matter. God is willing that all be saved. But membership in the royal priesthood is by Divine election.
All we have to do to be saved is to believe in Christ and be baptized in water.
But membership in the royal priesthood requires the running of an arduous race; the fighting of a fierce battle of faith.
If God has called us to the royal priesthood we cannot settle for just being saved. We must strive with all our might to attain to the first resurrection from the dead, after the example of the Apostle Paul.
The Divine fire shall test every believers work. Work that was accomplished for our own glory will not stand the test. Only that which is sponsored by Christ and wrought by Christ will survive the fire of God.
Every believer shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit and also with fire. The Spirit enables us to bear witness of Christ and to lead a holy life. The fire tests our heart and our behavior to see what is of God and what is of the flesh and personal ambition.
Sometimes I think there is only one fire. It is the fire that comes from the mouth of God. It is possible that the same fire that tests our works is that which fills the Lake of Fire. If our works are wrought in Christ, then we can be exposed to the Lake of Fire and not be harmed. This is why is says in the second chapter of the Book of Revelation that if we live a victorious life in Christ we cannot be hurt by the second death, by the Lake of Fire.
The Lord Jesus Christ lives in the center of the Divine Fire. It is my desire to live there with Him. How about you? Do you want to be fireproof like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego?
The Scriptures are clear that after the Latter Rain testimony has been given, which is the testimony of the two witnesses as I understand it, God will lift the anointing from the saints. Antichrist will be given authority to shatter the power of the saints until there is no Christian testimony in the great cities of the earth. In fact, Antichrist will receive authority and power reach into the heavens and tear down some of the host. What a fearful thought!
It grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them. Daniel 8:10)
It will not be possible to be saved or to receive the Holy Spirit in the cities at that time. But there will be a remnant of Jews and Christians hidden away, and whoever goes out to them can obtain salvation. The Throne of God will be in the remnant.
God has made provision for His people during the rule of Antichrist, the rule that will cause the Great Tribulation. The provision is that we might die in the Lord. By this is meant that we might count ourselves crucified with Christ and living by the Life of Christ. To attain to the crucified-resurrected life requires a conscious decision on our part. We tell God this is what we want, and then we cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He makes our determination a reality.
The Lord told us the hour is coming when no man can work. I believe this to be the era of Antichrist and the Great Tribulation. During this period it will be beyond the strength of man to live righteously and serve the Lord.
But if we are willing to give our own life to the Lord and live by His Life, our works will follow us as light and heat follow the rising of the sun. We will be full of Gods wisdom and power. We will be indestructible because we are dead-living people.
Then I heard a voice from heaven say, "Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Yes," says the Spirit, "they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them." (Revelation 14:13)
The expression (above) "from now on" means when Antichrist is having his way in the earth. Antichrist is the personification of the spirit that is in the world today, particularly the worship of money as being the means of security and survival, and education as being the source of wisdom and knowledge.
When we as Christians look to money for our security and survival, and to secular education as our source of wisdom and knowledge, as the means of promotion in the world, then we have received the mark of the name of Antichrist. We then are of the world even though we profess faith in Jesus Christ.
I am not saying we should not attend a university. But I am alerting us to the atheistic spirit that abounds in such institutions so we are not amazed if our young people come back from college questioning our faith in Christ.
Perhaps we American Christians need to think more about the work and value of suffering in our salvation. Suffering burns the sin out of us. Suffering teaches us to obey the Lord. We cannot reign with Christ unless we share His sufferings. It is through much tribulation that we enter the Kingdom of God. The Prophets tell us of the sufferings of Christ and the Glory that follows such suffering.
I wonder if we realize God is building a house for Himself. Why is God not satisfied with His Temple in Heaven? One of the reasons is that by living within the walls of a temple, God is kept apart from His creatures.
God is not pleased with being kept apart from His creatures. You notice there is no temple in the new Jerusalem; the entire city is the Tabernacle, the dwelling place, of God. The saints shall be close to God and see His face.
The Christian Church is the eternal House of God. You and I are living stones in the House of God. Through us God can reach out to each one of His creatures.
This is why God deals so carefully with us. He wants His house, which we are, to be perfect. God, the Lamb, and we are to sit on the throne of our personality. But first we must be made perfect in righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God.
One day, if we persevere to the end, the name of God and His Tabernacle will be written on us, so the saved peoples on the earth will know what we are and whom we represent.
I do not refer to the thousand-year period, between the next coming of Christ and the creation of the new sky and earth, as the Millennium. This is because the term "Millennium" has come to signify a time of undisturbed peace.
In actuality, the peace that will prevail throughout the thousand years will occur because Christ and His victorious saints have smashed the resistance of the nations with a rod of iron. For this reason I prefer to call this period the "Kingdom Age."
I have observed that there are three basic platforms of redemption.
The first platform is that of basic salvation, of the recognition of Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
The second platform is that of the Holy Spirit. At this level we are to learn to live, move, and have our being in the Spirit of God.
The third platform, that into which we are entering at the present time, has to do with the fullness of God. We are to be filled with the Father and the Son. We are to be exceedingly fruitful and to gain victory over all our enemies. We are to enter our land or promise in which we dwell in the Person of God; live by the resurrection Life of the Lord Jesus; and inherit the earth and its peoples.
Entering the third platform of salvation is intensely challenging. We have to surrender out own life in favor of being filled with God in all we are and do. God Himself becomes our strength, our joy, our peace, our wisdom, our all in all.
We cross the Red Sea, so to speak, signifying death to the world. Then we pass by Mount Sinai, signifying death to sin. Finally we cross the Jordan River, signifying death to self. These three deaths bring us to the fullness of our inheritance.
There are waters to the ankles, waters to the knees, water to the thighs, and ultimately waters to swim in. Then we are ready to stand as a Tree of Life on the banks of the River of Life and bring eternal life to the dead sea of mankind.
The Lord Jesus said if we would overcome as He overcame we shall sit with Him on His throne as He sits with His Father on the Fathers throne. The Throne of God is in the Lamb. The Throne of the Lamb is in us. Our responsibility is to get off the throne of our own life and let God and the Lamb take Their lawful place there. Later, when we have been proven obedient without blemish, we will be permitted back on that throne. Now there will be three on the throne of our personalitythe Father, the Son, and ourselves.
I have contemplated the two beginnings of Christ. Have you?
The first beginning occurred when the Father through Christ created all the inhabitants of the heavens, including Satan. The second beginning occurred when the Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Thus Christ always is the Beginning of the creation of God.
It is my opinion that the Father knew from the very beginning all that would take place. I think He knew, before Christ created Satan, that Satan would rebel. I think He knew the Logos would become the slain Lamb. I think He knew all these things, and that they all would work for good for those who are to become the brothers of Jesus Christ.
I think He knew your name before He created the angels, and that one day you would be part of His living throne. I think Gods purpose in all of this is to create a wife for the Lamb, a counterpart of the Logossomeone the Logos could share His creation with. Gods wisdom and love are marvelous, arent they? It is not good for the Man to be alone!
There are, of course, two major kinds of righteousness. There is the righteousness which is imputed to us on the basis of our faith in Jesus Christ, and then there is actual righteousness of behavior. As I stated previously, the righteousness of the Kingdom of God is righteousness of behavior. Imputed righteousness is merely a device to get us started on the road to righteous behavior.
The destructive error of our day is making imputed righteousness the only kind of righteousness included in the Christian salvation. A horrific error in understanding!
Have you noticed the emphasis placed on the wall surrounding the new Jerusalem, and the embellishments on the foundations of the wall? This is the wall that separates the priesthood of God, the saints, from the nations of saved peoples who will inhabit the new earth.
The wall was erected when God called Abraham from Ur of the Chaldees. That was the beginning of the members of the elect, the royal priesthood. That wall shall stand for eternity. It will prevent sin from entering the Presence of God. The saints who compose the holy city will govern the works of Gods hands forever. Those of the nations who wish may come and find healing and eternal life. The Spirit and the Bride say, "Come!"
None of us likes war. Yet war is of the nature of things at the present time. This is because the rebellion against God is still working in Satan, his angels, the peoples of the world, and to a great extent in the members of the Christian churches. (Many churchgoers still are claiming "no one can do Gods perfect will"!)
The great spiritual fulfillment of the Day of Atonement has begun. The Lord Jesus Christ has come to purify the sons of Levi, so to speak. This work of Divine judgment is beginning with those who are kneeling at the Altar of Incense, to speak in a figure, crying out "Not my will but Yours be done."
There is a firstfruits of the earth to God and the Lamb.
The end of the rebellion began in Gethsemane. It is spreading to those believers who will obey God implicitly. They shall return with Jesus Christ and enforce obedience on the earth. This is the coming of the Kingdom of God.
The power of the Spirit of God will operate until every knee has bowed before Jesus Christ and every tongue has confessed that Jesus is Lord.
When God has brought all under subjection to Jesus Christ, then shall Jesus Christ be subject to God. This marks the utter end of the rebellion in the creation of God. The Day of Atonement, the Day of Reconciliation, has wrought its perfect work.
There shall be war in the spirit realm, and consequently on the earth, until the rebellion has been put down completely.
What does it mean to bear witness of God? It means to portray in our personality, our thoughts, our words, our actions, the Person, will, way, and eternal purpose of God in Christ.
Sometimes God bears witness through us by powerful miracles. Sometimes we tell of what we have heard and seen with Christ, as I am doing in this brief article.
But in every instance, what is to be communicated is the Person, will, way, and eternal purpose of God in Christ.
There is a great deal of Christian ministry in the United States at the present time, but the witness has been largely destroyed. This is because those who minister are not bearing witness accurately of the Person, will, way, and eternal purpose of God in Christ. In actuality they are seeking proselytes to their religion while their behavior is not above reproach.
By no means is this exclusively true. There are numerous true disciples who are laboring in various areas of the world, faithfully proclaiming the Gospel of Christ. But it is as I have stated: in the United States the populace has sometimes become cynical because of the behavior of so-called Christians.
Can you imagine what would happen if a Christian, defending himself in court, said, "I am telling the truth. I am a Christian"?
Everyone would chuckle. People in the jury would remember Christians who had misbehaved in one way or another.
"Well," we explain, "Christians are not perfect, just forgiven." The people of the world cannot see our forgiveness, only our behavior. If we are not showing forth the Nature of Jesus Christ, then people will not glorify God. We are not the light of the world. We are not bearing witness of God no matter how much we teach and preach the words of the Bible.
We were saved at a point in time. Today we are working out our salvation with fear and trembling. We shall be saved in the future if we endure to the end.
The standard of discipleship is too low today in our country. God is raising the bar. Lets you and I rise to the challenge and move forward with God.
Jesus has kept the best wine until now. Ours is the time of greatest sin and greatest Glory, if we will lay hold on it. Christ will dwell in us as never before, proving to be so powerful in truth and righteousness that Antichrist cannot stand before us.
Terrific darkness. Stupendous glory. Great danger. Unlimited opportunity. This is the hour in which we live. There are thrones that have been reserved for the present time. Many that are last shall be first.
It is time to take the Kingdom. This is what I am pressing forward toward. How about you?
I havent said much, in the preceding paragraphs, about the army of the Lord. The army of the Lord is mentioned in the second chapter of the Book of Joel, the third chapter of Habakkuk, the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation, and in other passages. It is implied when the Bible speaks of our returning with the Lord Jesus Christ.
The average American Christian is not prepared, in the present hour, to ride behind the Lord Jesus Christ in the Battle of Armageddon. The American believer has been taught that he is going to be carried up to Heaven while the Jews, Gods chosen race, are left on the earth to face Antichrist without the Holy Spirit.
The truth is, the Lord is forming an army of sternly obedient saints. Members of the army are being prepared today and will arise together with the witnesses of all ages when the Lord returns.
It is a great army, a powerful army. Nothing shall stand in its path. The soldiers shall overcome Antichrist and the False Prophet, who then shall be thrown alive into the Lake of Fire.
This is the Good News of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth. It is this army that will make possible the bringing of justice to all nations.
Those who will ride with the Lord are called, chosen, and then proven faithful as they are brought through fiery trials.
Our current vision of the Day of the Lord is not scriptural. The Day of the Lord will not be a time of high merriment for the believers. It will be the most solemn of all periods of the history of the world. The wicked will be horrified. The hypocrites in the churches will be terrified. The fair works of the flesh will be before them, and they will leave behind them a desolate wilderness.
Before them fire devours, behind them a flame blazes. Before them the land is like the garden of Eden, behind them, a desert wastenothing escapes them. (Joel 2:3)
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)
Sometimes structures have to be totally destroyed before they can be rebuilt.
If we would have a true vision of the coming of Christ we must think of the unleashing of Gods wrath that has been smoldering since Satan chose to exercise his own will against the will of the Father. Once God decides the hour has come, God will pick up mankind in His hand and reveal to all people the extent of His awesome majesty and power.
There will be no rebelling against Gods will in that Day, no arrogant talk about the rights of people or how man evolved from apes. The stoutest heart will become like water when the kings of righteousness come from the East, their lances sparkling with the Glory of God, the rampant Lion of Judah on their shields.
Men will throw their money in the streets and cry for the mountains and rocks to hide them from the face of the Lamb. The soldiers of Christ will move forward inexorably until all the forces of wickedness have been utterly destroyed.
Then quietness will fill the earth, because the destroyers have been destroyed. Little by little nature will come alive. The trees of the fields will clap their hands with rejoicing. The fiercest of animals will become tame so a little child can lead them. The lion and the bear will lie down together and the lion will eat straw like an ox.
The most fantastic wonderland the human imagination can conceive is ahead of us. But first the great and terrible army of the Lord must drive wickedness from the earth.
Now it is time for believers who are willing to dedicate themselves to the destruction of Satan, to the tearing down of him and his forces from the heavens. We do this by trusting in the blood of the Lamb; by testifying with our words and life of the Person of God, His will, His way, and His eternal purpose in Jesus Christ; and finally, and perhaps most importantly, by loving not our life to the point of death.
There shall be people who will go this whole way with God. They will bring the blessings of God to the heavens and the earth. You can be one of them, but you will have to set yourself to this one purpose and never turn back.
This I believe is a true vision of the present and the future. Let the prophets judge.
This is what I have heard and seen with the Lord Jesus over the last half-century. There have been a few brief appearances of angels at times when direction was needed, or danger or sickness threatened.
The great need today is for all of us to open our hearts to Christ that He may enter and make us His resting place. We must learn to live by dining continually on His body and blood. It is His body and blood that enable us to live by Him as He lives by the Father. It is His body and blood that will raise us to the slain Lamb when He appears in the sky above us.
I trust that this I believe the Lord has shown me will enlarge your thinking until you are filled with all the fullness of God, which also is my desire.
For this reason I kneel before the Father, From whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, May have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, And to know this love that surpasses knowledgethat you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21)
This Old HouseYou know, we pay a great deal of attention to this body of ours. When you think about it, our body is only a house for our actual person. We need to get control over our body. If we are successful in resisting its animal demands, we will get a much better house some day.
In America at least, you would think all there was to a person was his or her body. The media continually stresses the body. You would think there was not inward person.
The truth is, it is the inward person who is important. The body is only a house.
We (and by "we" I mean our eternal personality) has been placed in an animal body, created originally from the dust of the ground. Someone (I think it is Rotherham) refers to our body as "the body of our humbling." This is an apt expression, I believe. It reflects the fact that if we use our body correctly we shall, some day be given a body more in keeping with our position as a son of God.
What fools we make of ourselves in this ridiculous body of ours?
Our body is only a house, and we gain true perspective when we keep this in mind.
The best possible use of this house of ours is to present it to God as a living sacrifice. We permit the Holy Spirit to crucify its appetites and passions, thus sowing it, as it were to the death of the cross. If we do this it (our mortal body) will be raised in glory.
It is an application of the Kingdom principle: "If we are faithful in the lesser we shall be entrusted with the greater."
There is a real person, an eternal personality, hidden in the house of each individual. If we only had eyes to see people as they really are we would behave more wisely.
As far as I can tell, in the Day of Resurrection our present flesh and bones will be assembled and raised to stand once more on the earth. At that time a spiritual body that reflects our behavior on the earth will be placed over our resurrected flesh and bones as a robe, a house, a covering.
Now, here is a fact that must be presented to the churches: Grace and mercy will not modify the spiritual robe with which we will be clothed. The spiritual robe will reflect in itself the things we have done while living on the earth.
This is terribly just, you know. The robe is woven from our behavior. We reap what we have sown.
If this is the truth, then we can understand what Paul meant when he stated we will receive, at the Judgment Seat of Christ, the good and the bad we have done.
The best part of it all, as far as I can see, is that, unlike today, we will be able to see the eternal personality of the individual. It will be revealed in his or her body.
The giant of righteousness will appear as a giant of righteousness. The faithful person will appear as a faithful person. The honest person will look honest. The schemer will appear as a schemer. The individual without integrity will be shown for precisely what he is.
Will this be true for Christians as well as for the unsaved?
Of course. The Lord Jesus Christ did not come to earth so we will appear as something we are not. Rather the Lord came that we may be able and willing to change our behavior so in that Day we will be joyful rather than ashamed.
I cannot think of a better world than one in which people can be seen for what they truly are and are grouped with their own kind. Today the Christian churches contain some righteous disciples, and some wicked people who are able to conceal what they actually are. The Apostles Peter and Jude pointed this out in their epistles.
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 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 6:7,8)
The Dragon That Is in the SeaThe Bible speaks of the dragon that is in the sea. The dragon, of course, is Satan. The "sea" refers to the great mass of mankind that is driven by every wind.
The dragon who lives in the sea is Satan. The sea represents the people of the earth.
Gods original problem was rebellion. The rebellion began in Heaven around the Throne of God. From there it has spread to the earth.
The rebellion is against the will of God. I believe we can say safely that much of the heavens is in rebellion against the will of God; the peoples of the earth, the "sea," are in rebellion against God; and most of the Christian believers are in rebellion against God.
What do I mean by this? I mean Christians have accepted the Lords salvation by faith but they have not accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Lord.
Ask any Christian you want if he or she is doing Gods perfect will; if he or she is obeying the commandments in the New Testament, and also doing what God has spoken personally to him or her.
You will hear all sorts of answers to this simple, direct question:
No one is able to do Gods perfect will.
God does not expect us to do His perfect will and therefore He is saving us by His grace.
While we are in this world we have to sin.
I know what I should be doing but I cant, and so I am trusting God to save me by His grace and mercy.
We have Gods unconditional love and so we do not have to keep the commandments found in the New Testament.
God has called me to preach, but my family is against it.
God has called me to start a church. I will retire in four years and then I will have money enough to support me while I try to start a church.
If we dare to try to do Gods will we are Pharisees, legalists who are attempting to improve on the perfect righteousness of the grace of Christ.
We are not supposed to do anything. except believe in Christs salvation. The moment we attempt to do something to about our salvation we are sinning against God. (You might not believe any Christian would even imagine such a thing, but there are some teach this monstrosity. In fact, they proceed to say that if we attempt to do anything at all affecting our salvation we are committing the unpardonable sin.)
These familiar, traditional positions come from the dragon who lives in the sea of mankind.
Can you imagine how the public would react in America if some authoritative government figure said from now on every American has to do Gods will?
Even the Christian ministers would react, saying the government must not involve itself with anything of a religious nature.
The truth is, the only reason God has placed government on the earth is to enforce morality. The leaders bear the sword, as the Apostle Paul says, to reward the righteous and punish the ungodly.
Can you see how far America has drifted from God? We would not conceive even of all the Christians doing Gods will, keeping His commandments diligently, let alone the unsaved citizens.
Yet anything else is unthinkable, from the standpoint of Heaven. Gods will is to be done perfectly in the earth as it is in Heaven.
The wars that take place on the earth reflect the rebellion of the angels and of mankind. Until every human being is subject to the Lord Jesus Christ there shall be wars and rumors of wars. There shall be no lasting peace until every creature bows the knee to Christ and confesses Him to be King of all kings and Lord of all lords.
There is to be no compromise. All rebellion shall be removed from the earth when Christ and His saints appear.
In that day the Lord will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, With His fierce and great and mighty sword, Even Leviathan the twisted serpent; And He will kill the dragon who lives in the sea. (Isaiah 27:1NASB)
The Blood Is Not an Excuse for SinningIn many instances today Christian people are attempting to use the atoning blood of Christ as an excuse for their sinning. God did not give us the blood of the cross to serve as an alternative to keeping His commandments.
By the shedding of His blood on the cross of Calvary, the Lord Jesus Christ made an atonement for the sins of the whole world. He appeased the wrath of God toward mankind.
Every person who lives on the earth is welcome to come to the Lord and receive forgiveness of all his or her sins on the basis of the blood atonement made by the Lord Jesus. No one is excepted.
Some of us come to the Lord without much of a history of wicked practices. Others have performed heinous crimes and may be in prison at the time. It makes no difference. God has concluded all under sin that He might be able to give a fresh start to whoever will accept His salvation.
We refer to this righteousness we gain by faith in the atonement as "imputed" righteousness. This means we have done nothing to earn it or to justify our behavior. God has ascribed to us the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ.
As we have stated, imputed righteousness gives us a fresh start so we might come to the Lord with a clear conscience.
It is right at this point that contemporary American theology, in many instances, has gone astray. Because of some source of warped thinking, probably that of the theory of Dispensationalism, we have concluded that God has instituted a new way of relating to mankind. Instead of bringing to Himself a people who live righteously and love holiness and obedience to God, God has chosen to not see the behavior of His people. He counts them all perfectly righteous because they have placed their faith in the blood of the cross.
Any individual whether a Christ or not, whose mind has not been warped by Dispensational teaching, and who knows the Bible and the God of Heaven, can see instantly what a horrific error this is. It completely demolishes Gods intention in giving us the new covenant. It makes the blood of the Lamb an excuse for our sinning.
Also it demolishes the Kingdom of God. There is no Kingdom in this teaching. There is no doing of Gods will in the earth as it is in Heaven. Instead what we have is a mental acceptance of the fact that Christ has made an atonement for us, an acceptance that does not change our behavior.
This warping of Pauls teaching of salvation by faith creates an unreal world. It is as though when we lie, God does not see the lie. When we commit fornication, God does not see the fornication. When we slander someone, God does not see the slander.
Can you see what a travesty this is? Yet, it may well be the prevailing concept in America of what the Christian salvation is. Anyone who has any acquaintance with the New Testament knows this is not what it states.
My way of coping with this monstrous error is to present some passages of the New Testament and ask the deluded individual what the passage means. Of course, he cannot answer but will try to divert me into some sort of philosophical speculation. This I refuse to do. I insist on an answer to my question. What does this passage mean?
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices And have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. (Colossians 3:5-10)
What does it mean to "put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry."
Are we supposed to do this or not?
What does it mean to "rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips."
Are we supposed to obey this commandment, or are we to do nothing but believe?
There are many similar passages. Why is it that this destructive teaching of "faith alone" is permitted to continue? Cannot people read what the New Testament says? Is the New Testament the inerrant Word of God? If it is Gods inerrant Word, why dont we preach it instead of indulging in these philosophical speculations about how the believers can continue to sin and still be saved by grace?
The purpose of the blood of the cross is to give us a fresh start with God. After that the blood keeps us holy while we are following the Holy Spirit in putting to death the actions of our sinful nature.
The blood is never an excuse for sin. It is not a new dispensation, a way of being acceptable to God while we continue to obey our sinful nature.
The Christian people are going to reap what they are sowing. For this reason we are blowing the trumpet in Zion.
Why do you call me, Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say? I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete. (Luke 6:46-49)
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. (I John 1:7)
Jesus Christ Came Into the World To Set People FreeIt is commonly believed, even among people of the world, that Jesus Christ came to bring us to Heaven. Christ did not come to bring us to Heaven; He came to deliver us from the presence and power of the devil.
I suppose the most common belief in Christianity is that Jesus Christ came to bring us to Heaven. You would be hard pressed to find this doctrine in the Bible.
But didnt Christ come to forgive our sins? Yes, and no. It depends on what you mean by this question.
If you mean did Christ come to forgive our sins so we can go to Heaven? the answer is only partially yes.
Actually Christ came to forgive our sins so He then could proceed to set us free from sin. And the purpose of setting us free from sin is not so we can go to Heaven but so we can serve God satisfactorily wherever we are.
"Whoever sins is the slave of sin," the Lord told us. We may think when we are sinning we are doing of our own free will. We are not. We are the slave of that sin. Actually, according to the Bible, all sin proceeds ultimately from Satan. We are the slave of Satan when we sin. We are worshiping Satan when we sin.
The Lord Jesus does not want us to be the slave of Satan or of sin. Do you believe? Forgiveness does us no lasting good unless we are delivered from slavery to Satan, from worshiping Satan. Isnt that so? We only are going to sin again and again and again.
Sin is destructive. We may think we find joy in sin, but that kind of joy is frantic, destructive, and brings remorse if we have a conscience.
Man was created in the beginning as Gods son. God does not want His sons to be the slaves of any creature or of anything else whatever. The only rightful lord of man is the Lord Jesus Christ, who Himself is subject only to God Almighty.
The true meaning of the Passover is not the escape from the bondage of Egypt. The true meaning of the Passover has to do with the Lamb of God who removes the sin of the world. The Lamb sets us free, not so much from earthly servitude but from slavery to sin.
Slavery is slowly but surely being abolished throughout the world. The Western nations are free from the practice of slavery. But the people of the Western nations, for the most part, are slaves to the lusts of the flesh, covetousness, and other demonic expressions.
But there is One who has the authority and power to set us totally free from slavery to sin. His name is Jesus.
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 devils work. (I John 3:8)
By Prayer Rather Than by AnalysisOne can dissect the Bible until every word has been analyzed, including the definite and indefinite articles, and every preposition and conjunction, in every conceivable manner, and yet never understand what God is declaring. In order to know what is being said, particularly in the prophetic declarations, one must hear from the Writer. This is done through prayer.
One could exhume the body of Beethoven and dissect every inch of the corpse. But no sonata or symphony would be found. Why is this? It is because the his gift of composing came from a spiritual source and guided Beethovens inward, true person, not the house of dust in which his true personality resided.
It is true of the Bible also that no amount of dissecting will reveal the will of God to an individual. It is a fact that the scholars of the past and present have helped us in many ways, particularly with the careful translations that have come forth and also with commentaries, word studies, and other analyses.
All these painstaking efforts insure that we have the most accurate rendition of the original writings that is possible to make. Thank God for such diligent efforts.
But hearing from God is another matter. Knowing what God is saying at any particular point in time does not come from careful study alone, although I think we would be greatly helped in our day if we had more expository preaching and less repetitions of the current unscriptural traditions.
Also, the Prophets and the Book of Revelation cannot be understood by any degree of exegesis.
There is in addition the problem of when and how to apply the Scriptures. If someone sues us and wants ten thousand dollars, do we give him our house and car also? Probably not. Yet this is what Jesus taught.
The experienced Christian learns to read the Bible and then go to the Writer, the Holy Spirit, for wisdom in applying what he read. Isnt that the truth?
I dont guess any two writers have agreed on the configuration of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. Making a timeline to study the Book of Revelation leads one scholar in one direction and another scholar to a different conclusion.
Theologians have labored over Pauls Epistle to the Romans and have managed to destroy the moral strength of the Christian people by insisting that Paul meant we are saved by forgiveness alone and how we behave ourselves is not critically important in our redemption.
How many writers have made a considerable amount of money by predicting the time when the unscriptural "rapture" will take place?
It might be accurate to state Christian theology is divided into various schools of often contradictory thought. Yet the theologians are devout, intelligent scholars using the same Hebrew and Greek texts.
What is the explanation? It is simple and straightforward. Gods Word was written by holy men who were guided by the Holy Spirit. Gods Word can be interpreted and applied correctly only by holy people guided by the same Holy Spirit.
If all of us Christians would go to the Lord and ask Him for truth we would all be speaking the same thing.
Why dont we do that!
Above all, you must understand no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophets own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (II Peter 1:20,21)
Gods Will and Gods CommandmentsThere are many commandments in both the Old and New Testaments. The commandments set forth in the New Testament are to be kept, and the Holy Spirit helps us keep them. There also is the issue of Gods revealed will.
My food is to do the will of Him who sent me.
Here is a topic that may interest you. The topic is the difference between keeping Gods commandments, and obeying the personal guidance of the Lord. Both ways of serving the Lord are absolutely necessary if we are to please God.
There are many accounts in the Old Testament of personal guidance, and also of keeping Gods commandments.
Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and the Prophets of Israel are examples of personal guidance.
The account in the Book of Ezra is a good illustration of the importance of keeping Gods commandments.
The Law of Moses is based, not so much on personal guidance as on doing what is written. Yet the Law was given to Moses, as well as the directions for building the Tabernacle of the Congregation, by personal guidance.
How about under the new covenant?
Under the new covenant we have commandments that are to be kept, as set forth in the New Testament; and in the Book of Acts we have accounts of personal guidance.
How are these two ways of serving the Lord related? Is one superior to the other?
Personal guidance is superior. Keeping the commandments that are written is absolutely necessary until we are mature enough to be certain what the Lord is saying. Even then we have to be exceedingly cautious, because Satan is a master of deception and can imitate the Lords prompting until we hardly can tell the differenceeven after many years of living as a disciple.
Peter tells us that we are to pay attention to the Scriptures until the Day Star arises in our heart. This is to say we are to obey what the Bible says until Christ has come to maturity in us. When Christ comes to maturity in us we know what God desires, and we have the will and the strength to do Gods will.
Nothingabsolutely nothing in the universeis as important as doing Gods will, whether by obeying the commandments found in the New Testament, or by being led by the Spirit to do Gods will.
The Lord Jesus Christ does Gods will by nature because of what He is. He is the Word of God made flesh. As we obey God, we become the flesh being made the Word of God.
One of the greatest of the lies that Satan has been able to inject into Christian thinking is that we are not obligated to do what the New Testament commands. The promises that the Lord made to us, including that of the coming of the Father and the Son to make Their eternal abode in us, depend on our keeping His Word, especially what He taught us, and also the Word given to us personally.
I think one probably leads to the others. As we are faithful in doing what the Lord and His Apostles commanded, the day will come when we are certain of the Lords will. As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
However, if we adopt the current attitude that we are saved by grace and therefore whether or not we do what Christ and His Apostles commanded is not critically important in our salvation, we will most certainly lose the good fight of faith. We will never grow in eternal life, in the ability to distinguish between good and evil and have the willingness and strength to embrace the good and totally abhor and reject that which is evil. This is what it means to grow in Christ.
Jesus said: "I come to do Your will, of God. Yes, Your law is in My heart." When we can say this we are approaching maturity.
Let me repeat: there is nothingabsolutely nothing in the entire creationas important as stern obedience to the Father. Let us therefore be careful to obey the Words of Christ and His Apostles, and always be listening to the Holy Spirit so we can obey the immediate guidance of the Lord.
"My food," said Jesus, "is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work." (John 4:34)
The Essential RealityThere are at least two realities with which we deal. The most familiar is our physical life in the world. The other reality, the essential reality, is in the heavens and in Gods Word. The physical reality is perishing with the using. The essential reality is eternal.
People in poorer countries might think it is easy to serve God in the United States of America. They would be mistaken. It is easy to be a lukewarm believer in America. It is quite difficult to be a fervent disciple. Let me explain.
There are two worlds in which each of us lives. There is the physical realm, the material world in which we live in our physical body. Then there is the spirit realm.
The physical realm, including our bodies, is a temporary world. The spirit realm is the true world. Both worlds are realities, but it is the spirit world that is the essential reality.
The Apostle Paul commanded us to set our minds on the true, spirit world, in particular on the highest Heaven where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Paul exhorted us to not set our minds on earthly things, that is on the physical world that we can see.
In a poorer country this might be easier, I am not certain. But in America, where we are surrounded with material enticements, it is difficult to keep our attention focused on the invisible Heaven.
Being a pastor of a church in America, I continually exhort the people to be aware of what God is saying today. But when they leave the assembling they are buried under every kind of interesting thing you can imagine, all clamoring for their attention.
This past week I felt God wanted me to expound on the army of the Lord, on the end-time battle in which the saints will participate. I emphasized that if we expect to be raised from the dead and to ascend to meet the Lord when He appears in the air, we have to have lived such that He has become our life. This means at each point of decision we have turned aside from our sinful nature and received the Life of Christ in its place.
I read from the second chapter of the Book of Joel about the conflict that will result from the effort of the Lord and His saints to drive all sin from the earth and set up the Kingdom of God.
This was the sermon on Sunday morning, expanded on Sunday evening.
Now, put yourself in the place of the members of the congregation. They are typical Americans, busily occupied in the numerous activities of our culture. They come to church hoping to hear something that will give them assurance that they will be able to live in peace with their families.
But what do they hear? They are told how the soldiers of the Lords army will burn all the fair works of the flesh and leave behind them a barren land, that then must be rebuilt by the saints.
Can you see the credibility gap here? The people have been immersed in our colorful culture for six days of the week. They come to hear a helpful exhortation on Sunday morning, and possibly another on Sunday evening. Yet last Sunday they heard nothing, apparently, that will help them live successfully in our society.
This is where the concept of the two realities is helpful.
The reality in which the members of the congregation are living is largely illusory. It has the appearance of great significance, but actually it is vanishing in the using.
A young lady who had visited our church a few months ago, contracted a fatal disease. All the seemingly important events of her life proved to be nonessential, relatively speaking. She left what appeared to be an important reality to enter the essential reality.
We are housed in a physical body, living in a material world. The very best use we can make of our life is to keep mindful of the essential reality, and continue to stay focused on the heavenly realities as we turn aside from the clamor of our flesh and receive the Life of Jesus Christ.
When I portray to the people the coming Battle of Armageddon, in which they shall participate provided Christ has become their life, I am speaking of certainty. Whether the people will get home safely is not certain; but that the Lord Jesus will suddenly appear and call up to Himself His army is absolutely certain.
So it requires a certain amount of disciplined time-binding on our part, doesnt it. We have to discipline ourselves to live now in terms of the essential reality that one day will be the only reality.
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)
Why Will We Appear With Christ?When Jesus Christ appears to the world, those whose life He has become shall appear with Him. But why? We shall appear with the Lord at His coming because it is our responsibility to work together with Him in the task of installing the Kingdom of God on the earth.
The Apostle Paul states clearly that we shall be with Christ when He next appears, that is, if we have made Him our life. We make Christ our life by continually denying our sinful nature and choosing instead to ask the Lord Jesus to help us.
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)
All fine and good. But why? Why are we going to appear with Christ in glory?
If we answer this question correctly we will have a true vision of the future. Current tradition holds that when the Lord appears He is going to bring us up to Heaven, where we will have no responsibilities but will lay around in our mansion and enjoy small talk with our friends.
We think of the Lords coming like when as a child we used to think of Christmas morning. We looked forward to presents under the tree. What a wonderful prospect that was for children.
We will be caught up to Heaven. From then on we will have no problems, no responsibilities, no sorrow, no sickness, no pain, no death, no worries. How marvelous!
But this is not a true vision. I want you to think about the following statement: we do not go to Heaven by means of the Lord returning to carry us from the earth. We do not go to Heaven by being resurrected. Neither the Lords return nor our bodily resurrection are for the purpose of bringing us to Heaven.
How then do we go to Heaven?
We go to Heaven by dying.
The Lord doesnt have to return to bring us to Heaven. He doesnt have to raise our body from the dead to bring us to Heaven. All He has to do is let us die. As simple as that.
I say all this to point out that the coming of the Lord will not be as we picture. It will be, as the Hebrew Prophets pointed out, the most terrible time of destruction ever to occur in the history of the world. It is the Day of Wrath, the time of the driving of all sin from the earth. It is the Day of Vengeance of our God, the period when God avenges Him upon all who have defied His will and ways..
And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, "Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great." (Revelation 19:17,18)
Apparently there will be real birds eating the flesh of a multitude of corpses who have been slain by the Lord and His saints when they appear.
I know we have pictured nothing like this Many of us have been content with our dream of going to the great Sunday-school picnic in Heaven. But it is not to be.
The big question is, where will you and I be when this slaughter is taking place?
I realize it is not commonly taught, but the only people who will be raised from the dead and caught up to meet the Lord in the air are those saints of all ages who have been true witnesses of God. We have supposed that everyone who has made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ will be raised when He appears. Not so. Only those who have lived victorious lives in Jesus Christ.
What of the majority of believers, those who did not manage to gain victory over sin and self-will? I am not certain. The Bible states that if we believe and are baptized in water we shall be saved. I believe this means saved from being destroyed in some manner in the Day of Wrath.
There are many in the Christian churches who do not know the Lord. They slander their fellow believers. They are dishonest liars, covetous, immoral, unfaithful. They will suffer greatly when the Lord returns even though they regard themselves as Christians.
Who among us will be able to live with the Consuming Fire? Only those who are upright in character. It is not those who hear the Words of Jesus Christ but those who obey them, who are founded on the Rock. This means the majority of the American Christians of our day will suffer intensely when Jesus returns.
Who will appear with the Lord? Those rare believers who have submitted themselves to crucifixion so Christ might live in them. These and these alone shall be raised from the dead and caught up to meet the Lord in the air. As the Lord said to the believers in Sardis, only a minority will walk with Him in the white robes of the royal priesthood.
Why will those who have chosen to live by His Life appear with Him?
They shall appear with Him in order to work with Him in the task of destroying wickedness from the earth and installing the will of God among the nations of saved people.
The true vision of the Day of the Lord is that of a large, powerful army. These are Gods untouchables. They have been tested in every conceivable manner. They follow the Lamb wherever He goes. They are as terrifying as an army marching with its banners held high.
The wicked will not be able to stand before them.
Remember, the war against Satan cannot be waged with physical weapons or with the strength of human muscles. Satan can be defeated only by truth and righteousness.
God is looking in our day for commanders for His army. As it is written, many who are last shall be first. Such officers and leaders must be tested, tested, tested in truth and righteousness. They trust in the blood of the Lamb. Their testimony is true and faithful. They love not their lives to the point of death.
Ours is a day of the most marvelous opportunity to participate in the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth. But we have to turn aside from all that distracts us if we are going to appear with the Lord Jesus in that Day.
Why will we appear with Christ? So we can join with Him in judging the world and the angels. So we can drive Satan and everyone who serves Satan from the earth.
We shall rule the nations with a rod of iron alongside the Lord Jesus. Why the rod of iron? Why must the nations be smashed into pieces? Because rebellion against God has come to such maturity in mankind.
The sons of God shall go through the earth as a great army, destroying everything in their path. They shall leave behind them a smoking wilderness. But then they shall rebuild by the Spirit of God a wonderful world, free from the frustration and corruption that has characterized the earth throughout its history.
It is given to the saints to judge the world. It is given to the saints to rebuild the world after the works of the flesh have been burned away.
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)
You and I need to live today in terms of what certainly shall come to pass in the future, not in terms of our immediate problems and desires. Let us not be like the average American, living for the moment. Let us choose to follow the Spirit of God in the slaying of our sinful nature. Let us each day choose to set aside the impulses of our sinful nature that we might instead live by the Life of Jesus Christ. Only by doing this can we be confident of survival in the Day that will burn with the Fire of God.
They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power 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. (I Thessalonians 1:9,10)
Kicking Against the GoadsWhen Saul of Tarsus was apprehended by the Lord, the Lord asked him why he was kicking against the prodding of the Spirit (or perhaps of his conscience). How often do we push past the checks of the Spirit because we are not listening carefully each moment for the guidance of the Spirit!
Have you ever had the experience of what we call "running through the checks of the Lord"? This means when you were in the middle of an action you felt a prompting that something was wrong. But instead of stopping and going to prayer, you went ahead driven forward by your fleshly motivations.
I dont think this is a good idea, especially in the coming days in America. I believe there will be various dangers, and if we are not alert in prayer at all times we or a member of our family may be seriously harmed.
Sometimes people will move from one part of the country to another they believe to be less dangerous. Such a move is not always wise, unless the Lord directs you to do this. You may actually put yourself in a place of even greater danger.
There are times when the Lord tells us to flee. But these are rare. Usually the Lord will take care of us right where we are.
On some occasions we feel we ought to move for our childrens sake, because there is too much sinning going on where we are living. I think this would be a good idea in many instances. But again, we ought to get the mind of the Lord before we do anything.
It seems to me the Lord through the Holy Spirit is far more anxious to guide us than we are to be guidedespecially in America where we live in such a frenzy of activity. It is difficult for us to slow down enough to be always in a position to hear and obey the Lord. But it is absolutely necessary we do so.
I do not know what goads were prodding Saul of Tarsus as he was on the way to Damascus. He was behaving violently against the Jews who had been converted to the Lord Jesus. Either his conscience told him it was not right to harm people whose only crime was to take a religious position. Or it may have been true that the Holy Spirit had been "checking" him, and he knew there was something wrong but was not slowing down so he could hear from God.
C. S. Lewis tells how the Lord began speaking to him, how he held off and then was surprised by joy. Has it ever been true of you that you knew Christ was trying to get through to you, and you were resisting because you were afraid of what you thought you might hear?
You know something! In order to live as a victorious saint you have to tell the Lord you will obey Him in all matters, great and small. Then you have to remain alert for His guidance in response to your declaration of total obedience. As soon as you sense that He is speaking, you must go to prayer and be ready for anything.
If you are not ready for anything, if there is some idol in your life that you are afraid will be damaged or removed, then you do not trust Gods love and good intentions toward you. In this case Satan will always be able to defeat you by bringing up th issue that is so frightening to you.
In order to overcome the Accuser you have to love not your life to the point of death. This means no matter what God requires, you will obey as cheerfully as you can.
I wonder what Abraham thought when it began to dawn on him that God was asking him to offer Isaac as a burnt offering. He became a dead man at that moment but he plowed forward relentlessly without telling Sarah, apparently.
Abraham passed the test. Are you and I that willing to hear what the Spirit is saying to us?
We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads." (Acts 26:14)
Not Going but ComingThere will not be a "rapture" that has as its purpose the removal of the saints from the conflict of the ages. This concept is at enmity with the biblical truth of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.
I have written quite a bit about the erroneous teaching of the "rapture.
There has been considerable discussion about whether the rapture will occur before the Great Tribulation, in the middle of the Great Tribulation, or after the Great Tribulation.
Do you know what? It simply doesnt matter. This is because there will be no "rapture," as we interpret the term.
But wont there be a catching up of the saints at the coming of the Lord? Of course. This is what the inerrant Scripture states. But it is a catching up, not a "rapture, as we commonly use the word." The term "rapture" is from a Latin verb meaning "to seize." It is a fact that the Greek word means to catch up (with an implication of "against opposition")
While "rapture" does mean to carry away, we usually use the word to refer to an ecstatic emotion. "She went into rapture over her new hat." So to use the word in a special religious sense causes it to take on a life of its own, as it were.
We would do better to use the term "catching up." We understand this English expression. The "rapture" passage is referring to our being caught up to meet the Lord in the air so we can descend with Him to install the Kingdom of God on the earth.
The "rapture" teaching is a huge lie. It appeals to our fallen nature, the idea of escaping trouble. Also it prevents our taking seriously the biblical admonition to prepare ourselves for the day of trouble. It is as destructive a heresy as one could find.
If the reader will kindly look at the passage in the fourth chapter of the Book of First Thessalonians, he or she will discover the text is not emphasizing the catching up of the saints into Heaven but the coming of the Lord with His witnesses of all ages. It is about the coming of the Lord with His saints to establish the Kingdom of God on the earth.
The concept of the coming of the Lord with His saints to establish the Kingdom of God on the earth is found in both the Old and New Testaments. But in neither Testament, in any passage whatever, is there a mention of the Lord coming to catch up His saints into Heaven. In no passage whatevernot even in the fourth chapter of the Book of First Thessalonians.
All the biblical passages referring to the return of Jesus Christ to the earth speak of the gathering of His saints to Himself, and many such passages include the idea of Christ and His saints bringing judgment on the wicked at that time. No passage refers to Christ catching up His saints to Heaven so they can live in mansions and walk on golden streets.
The great company of witnesses who return with the Lord (in contrast to the tiny minority of saints living on the earth at that time) have been in Heaven alreadysome of them for thousands of years. Is the Lord going to raise their bodies from the dead and then bring them back to Heaven. Ill tell you, this would be a tremendous disappointment to them. They are looking forward to regaining their bodies and ruling with Christ over the nations of saved people on the earth. This is their inheritance!
You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth." (Revelation 5:10)
The concept of the "rapture," as it customarily is presented Sunday after deadly Sunday in the preponderance of Christian churches in America, is a destructive fabrication of deluded believers. The reason for its success is that it makes no demands on the believers. It is a comfortable gospel that appeals to comfortable Americans.
The true Gospel, that of denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and following Christ every day of our lives, makes total demands on us. Presenting our bodies a living sacrifice makes total demands on us. Reckoning ourselves dead with Christ and raised with Christ makes total demands on us. Trading our natural, adamic life for the Life of Christ makes total demands on us.
This is why we have a false gospel in America. It is because we are a pleasure-loving people. If one church tells us that we have to lay down our lives, take up our cross, and follow Jesus every day; and another church tells us that all we need do is make a profession of faith in Christ and then wait to be carried up to Heaven; which of these churches do you think the majority of American believers will attend?
It is as simple as this. We want teachers who will tickle our ears. We want to hear soft things, lovely things, words that will assure us that at any moment we will be free from all pain and sorrow. And there is nothing we need do except make a profession of belief in Christ. This is why we embrace a passage of the Bible (the fourth chapter of First Thessalonians) and interpret it in a manner that any scholar will tell us is indefensible.
The passage was written to comfort saints whose loved ones had died. It tells them not to grieve because their loved one will return with Jesus when He comes, and that they with their deceased and now resurrected loved ones will be caught up to meet Christ in the air when He descends from Heaven.
The passage is about the coming of the saints of all ages to receive their bodies from the earth so they can live once again on the earth. They are caught up to be with Jesus so they can descend together with Him.
There is no emphasis whatever on the lukewarm professors of Christ being carried up to Heaven so they can escape all their problems and be comfortable.
We believe Jesus died and rose again and so we believe God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. (I Thessalonians 4:14)
The Next StepThe emphasis of the twentieth century was on the baptism with the Holy Spirit. The emphasis of the twenty-first century will be on the maturing of Christ in the Church.
We have just finished a century (the twentieth) that has witnessed the restoration of speaking in tongues, similar spiritual gifts and ministries, to the Christian Church. Although speaking in tongues had appeared in previous revivals, it was in the twentieth century that it became a somewhat familiar aspect of Christian church life.
The gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit have been restored to the Christian Church, and they never will be lost again.
The problem is, what is next on the agenda?
I suppose Christians at every level of experience imagine there is nothing more of salvation than that which they already possess, and the next step is to go to Heaven to live forever.
This attitude has overtaken the Pentecostal people. We assume the baptism with the Holy Spirit is the capstone of redemption, and the next step is eternal residence in Heaven.
Because of our ignorance of what comes after Pentecost, several aberrations have arisen, such as the so-called "faith" and "prosperity" messages. Also there have been emotional displays of one kind or another. What is being emphasized where you are (beside the unscriptural "rapture," of course)?
The major types of the Scripture reveal that there are not two major works of redemption, but three. There is basic salvation through the blood atonement and the born-again experience; there is the baptism with the Holy Sprit; and finally a third and climactic experience which is described best as "Christ in you."
I know Pentecostal believers will protest that they already have Christ in them. And they do.
The people at the basic salvation level protest that they already have the Holy Spirit. And they do.
Salvation is not a ladder in which one goes from salvation, to the Holy Spirit, to the fullness of God. Rather every element of salvation is found in the Lord Jesus Christ. When we have Christ we have everything of God.
But people who have experienced a basic salvation church (for want of a better term) know the difference when they come to a Pentecostal church. The people may be no more godly, not better learned in the Scriptures. But there is a fluency of worship in Pentecostal churches that is not present in non-Pentecostal churches. We can argue all we want to. There is a difference!
The same is true of churches where the people are pressing into the work of salvation that occurs after Pentecost.
First of all, there is an accent on warfare, on the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth, rather than the eternal residence of the believers in Heaven.
Then there is a stress on righteousness of behavior. Associated with this is the confessing of our sins and deliverance from them.
Also there is an emphasis on dying to our self-will and obeying the Father sternly.
Speaking of the Father, it is becoming increasingly clear that while there are three Persons in the Godhead, and the Three are One in Substance and will, it is true nonetheless that Jesus is Jesus; the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit; and the Father is the Father. In the Gospels, Jesus spoke of revealing the Father to us.
Without being carried off into some doctrinal error, we might suggest in basic salvation, Jesus is emphasized. In the baptism with the Spirit, the Holy Spirit is emphasized. In the third area of salvation the Father is emphasized and becomes increasingly real to us.
I am aware whoever has the Son has the Father. In fact, whoever has the Son has the entire Godhead. Yet the text of the Gospel accounts will bear out that there is a difference between the Son and the Father that is not always recognized in Christian teaching.
Jesus said My Father is greater than I. Most of us know Jesus said, but we explain it away because our understanding of the Godhead is incorrect.
Truly, the Lord has kept the best wine until now. The Lord has come to His churches as the Lord, strong and mighty in battle. He is standing at the door. He is waiting for each one of us as an individual to open the door and permit Him to enter us and dine with us on His body and blood.
A fullness of God lies before us. The Scriptures are opening. There is no new revelation, it is an opening of the familiar Scriptures. The truth is, we have not had the Spirit of revelation that is available today.
Whoever wants to can move past Pentecost into the Fullness of God. We are at the Jordan River, so to speak, waiting to pass over into our land of promise. The Jordan River represents death to self. There is no way we can move past the Pentecostal experience until we are willing to surrender our right to be an individual in favor of becoming one with the Father and the Son.
In America, it is easy to miss thisthe day of our visitation. It is easy to miss what the Spirit is saying because of the abundance of seductive interests in our culture.
Not every believe will hear the Spirit, unfortunately. Maybe it has to do with election. Maybe it is because we are apathetic. But the age-old invitation stand as true today as ever: "He who has an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.
Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. (John 14:23)