PREPARING TO APPEAR WITH CHRIST

PREPARING TO APPEAR WITH CHRIST 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 Lord Jesus Christ is coming again. His purpose in coming is to bring justice to the nations. We shall appear with Him as His Body. We also shall bring justice to the nations, the nations who are His inheritance and our inheritance.

It is obvious that if we are to appear with Jesus Christ and bring justice to the nations, we must be prepared in personality so we are helping with the task and not being a hindrance. The Holy Spirit is working the necessary changes in us today if we are following the Lord closely.

PREPARING TO APPEAR WITH CHRIST

When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4—NIV)

The Lord Jesus Christ is coming again. His purpose in coming is to bring justice to the nations. We shall appear with Him as His Body. We also shall bring justice to the nations, the nations who are His inheritance and our inheritance.

It is obvious if we are to appear with Jesus Christ and bring justice to the nations, we must be prepared in personality so we are helping with the task and not being a hindrance. The Holy Spirit is working the necessary changes in us today if we are following the Lord closely.

Have you ever thought much about this, about your appearing with Christ? Have you ever wondered why you will appear with Christ, what purpose there would be in your appearing with Him?

Have you considered what preparations might be necessary if you are to appear with Christ?

Think about the following verse:

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—NIV)

"God will bring with Jesus."

Since the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews states that the heroes of faith of the Old Testament cannot be made perfect apart from us, I believe God will bring with Jesus every saint from the time of the righteous Abel to the last saint who died before the Lord returned. Do you believe this?

If such be the case, when the Lord comes He will bring with Him millions of people, who then will descend to the earth and be reunited with their resurrected bodies. After that, the living saints will be transformed and all will be caught up together to meet the Lord in the air so the entire army of the Lord may appear with Him to an astonished world.

Can you imagine what a mighty host of glorified saints will now be approaching planet earth? The wicked will be terrified—and rightly so!

They called to the mountains and the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?" (Revelation 6:16,17—NIV)

If all the dead in Christ are to be raised and transformed at His coming, and we then are to appear with Him to the world, we must ask ourselves: "For what purpose will Christ, Head and Body, appear to the earth; also, how are we to be prepared to appear with Him?"

The answer to both questions is found in the Prophets of Israel.

Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations. (Isaiah 42:1—NIV)

The Servant of the Lord is Christ—Head and Body. The Christian Church is the Body of Christ. To the Apostle Paul was given the revelation that Christ, Messiah, has a body. The main purpose for the two thousand years of Church history has been that of creating and bringing to maturity the Body of Christ. All the ministries and gifts given by the Holy Spirit have had as their objective bringing the Body of Christ to maturity as measured by the stature of the fullness of Christ.

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—NIV)

God upholds Jesus Christ and each member of His Body. Jesus Christ and each member of His Body have been chosen by the Father. God in Christ has chosen us to be part of the Servant of the Lord.

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. (John 15:16—NIV)

God delights in Christ and in each member of Christ’s Body, even though at times it appears God is angry with us and we go through fiery trials.

God has put His Spirit on us to make us members of the one Body of the Anointed One, the Lord Jesus Christ. The anointing of the Spirit signifies we are part of the royal priesthood that is to govern the nations of saved peoples of the earth.

Christ, Head and Body, will appear for the purpose of bringing justice to the nations of the earth.

As we consider the nations of the world today we can see the tremendous injustice that prevails. The stronger people oppress the weaker. Of the various forms of government, democratic, socialistic, totalitarian, feudal—all contain within themselves numerous instances of injustice. The stronger grow ever stronger. The rich grow ever richer. In democratic, communistic, and totalitarian societies the rulers ride around in limousines while the poor beg in the streets.

Think of the number of homeless people in America, one of the wealthiest nations on earth.

We can claim the homeless are in their condition because they will not work. This may be true. But the Bible teaches that the strong are to assist the weak.

In some instances in America the public schools in the inner cities are little more than prisons, where the wardens (teachers) keep the children confined for several hours a day. The children are so upset they cannot be taught. Because of their home situations, many of them are incorrigible and will be in prison when they are older. The antisocial actions and poor grades of the children are not a reflection of an educational problem but a social problem that the powerful of America do not care enough to fix.

Meanwhile the wealthy of the city attend the opera in their finery.

We know the horrors that are perpetrated in fascist and socialistic societies. In the Arab countries those of royal lineage ride about in expensive limousines while much of the population lives from hand to mouth.

In America today there is a great concern over the "rights" of the criminal while the screams of the victims tend to dim with the passing of time.

Babies are murdered to protect the "rights" of the mother.

From pole to pole the nations are filled with injustice.

But God loves the people of the world, especially but not only the poor.

God is going to change the present unjust conditions. The Lord Jesus Christ and His saints shall return and bring justice to the nations, and there is no authority or power in the heavens, on the earth, or in the dark regions beneath the surface of the earth that can prevent the bringing of justice to the meek. The meek yet shall inherit the earth. God cannot be mocked.

The forty-second chapter of the Book of Isaiah tells us the characteristics of the Servant of the Lord. Each of these characteristics without exception must be true of each member of the Body. When these characteristics are not true of us we are not qualified to return with Jesus Christ, to appear with Him.

When will these characteristics be true of us? When we are willing to cooperate with the Spirit as He transforms us into the image of Christ.

Are we transformed into Christ’s image automatically when we die? No. There is no passage of Scripture that presents physical death as the redeemer of the human personality. No change in us occurs because we have died physically.

Will we be transformed into the image of Christ when He appears? Only in our outward form. There is no passage of Scripture that tells us we will be transformed in our moral nature by the coming of the Lord. Rather it is true that what we have become during our discipleship will be revealed when the Lord appears.

The Lord’s servant that buried his talent was not made diligent by the coming of the Lord. Instead he was thrown into the outer darkness.

The only way in which we can be transformed into the image of the Lord is by cooperating with the Holy Spirit each day as He guides us into moral transformation.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2—NIV)

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (II Corinthians 3:18—NIV)

"Transformed into his likeness"!

This transformation takes place on the earth. Even the Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God from the beginning, learned obedience on the earth.

Perhaps the most important lesson we learn while on the earth is obedience to God. If we are to be part of the Body of Christ, the Servant of the Lord, and bring justice to the saved nations, we must be totally obedient to Christ.

When we return with Jesus we shall be kings. We shall have very great authority and power over the earth and its peoples. If there is any injustice in us we cannot possibly bring justice to the nations. At that time we shall see numerous opportunities to exalt ourselves, just as Satan did when he was an exalted cherub appointed to guard the Throne of God. If we are not totally obedient to Christ we will bring chaos into Paradise.

Our role as members of the royal priesthood will be to drive all that is of Satan from the earth, and then to bring to people all that is of Jesus Christ. If we ourselves are not totally faithful, totally obedient to Jesus Christ, we will bring chaos into Paradise! Can you see why this is true?

Therefore every characteristic of the Servant necessary for the performing of the tasks God has assigned must become true of us now. We will not be given the power now because we are not prepared to handle such awesome responsibility. But we must be made ready to receive the fullness of Divine authority and power so we can rule with Jesus Christ.

We must learn obedience. We must form the habit of looking to the Lord Jesus for every decision we make throughout the day. From the moment we arise in the morning we are to be calling on the Lord to help us in every choice set before us, from putting on our clothes, to what we eat, to the balance between stress and relaxation, to what time to go to bed at night. Absolutely nothing—absolutely nothing!—is to be left to chance. Little by little we must bring every aspect of our personality and every thought we think into obedience to Christ.

How many times we have condemned people, only to find out later we were mistaken in our judgment. If we had asked the Lord He would have enabled us to judge righteous judgment. And so in every area of life.

Every saint who appears with Jesus Christ will have learned to abide in Him, to obey Him in every detail. It is vain to speak of our appearing with Christ if He has not become our very life. It is not going to happen by grace, mercy, or God’s love. Either we are living in Christ or we are not. If He is not our life we will not appear with Him.

When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4—NIV)

It seems to me that the Spirit of God is placing great emphasis on preparing us for the Lord’s appearing, so His coming must be close at hand.

Are we just and upright ourselves? If not, how could we bring justice to the nations? Now is the time for us to come boldly to the Throne of Grace that we may obtain the wisdom and power necessary for transforming us into Christ’s image in the area of justice and uprightness of personality.

He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. (Isaiah 42;2—NIV)

When I first was saved I was advised that every Christian is to "burn out for Christ." We are to accost everyone and tell him or her about Jesus. God is waiting in Heaven to see if we will go out and rescue souls from Hell. I never found this exhortation in the New Testament, but this was what I was taught nevertheless.

Being a conscientious person I was much troubled by this. I could hardly eat my lunch thinking that I was wasting time while everyone was going to Hell.

At one point I told the Lord that I would do His will no matter what it was if He would give me the grace to do it. I did not want to live under the condemnation that I was not doing all I could to save souls from Hell.

I noticed that those who were advising me to burn out for Christ were living fairly comfortable lives. They were not crawling over the mountains in Thailand and collapsing in a rice paddy. But that didn’t matter. If what they were saying was correct, I was on my way to Tibet wearing only a sweater. I was determined to burn out for Christ.

Soon afterward a conviction began growing in my soul that God knew what He was doing and was able to do something about all these souls who were sliding down the chute into the flames of Hell. I began to ponder the heretical concept that if I just listened to the Lord He would tell me what to do, and if I did exactly what God told me to do, the responsibility for all these Hell-bound souls was on His shoulders, not on mine.

The church leaders were telling me that the responsibility was mine to just go forth and "do something for Christ."

My inner consciousness was advising me to rest in God and wait until I knew what He wanted me to do. I was really torn up about this, debating whether I should trust all these experienced Christians or my inner persuasion.

During this time I attended a missionary conference. At the end, when the call was given, I went forward determined to burn out for Christ. As I knelt at the altar I suddenly realized that the Lord was going to speak to me. I expected a lengthy exhortation to arise and go forth to save souls from Hell. Instead the Lord just said three words: "I love you."

Can you imagine the impact of that! No great commission to rescue souls from Hell. In fact, the Lord did not even seem to be in a rush. The King’s business was not requiring haste, apparently. No charge to save the world! No commission! No rebuke! No concern over the billions of people sliding into Hell!

Eventually I realized I was going to have to make a decision. Either I was going to rest in God and trust Him to lead me, or else I was going to labor under this feeling of guilt that I was not doing enough for Christ.

My wife’s sister used to take a long time eating. Her parents would say, "Alice, hurry up and finish your food." Alice would continue to eat just as slowly, but she would wiggle her foot. She would say, "I am hurrying."

This was the way I felt. I really wasn’t doing anything about saving souls from Hell, but I was hurrying nevertheless.

I knew I could not live by the opinions of others. So I decided to put the ball in God’s court. I said, "I will do Your will by Your grace when You show me what to do. The rest is up to You."

From that day to the present I have trusted that God knows what He is doing with everyone on the earth. What He has enabled me to do I have done. I have made many mistakes, but when I understood I was wrong, by God’s help I have gotten back on the track and kept doing what He said. This is true today.

When we first came down to Poway, according to the leading of the Lord, the Foursquare denomination handed us a church to pastor. This came about by a miracle, since I was not a pastor and had never set foot inside a Foursquare church. Audrey and I have been pastoring that church for twenty-eight years.

When we first came, the newspaper sent a reporter to interview the new pastors, as they always do. The reporter asked me, "What are your plans?"

To my astonishment, and hers, I said, "I have no plans."

The reporter exclaimed that pastors had always expressed their plans to her.

But we had become so accustomed to just following the Lord, trusting in Him, that we had no idea what the future would hold.

I say all this in commenting about Isaiah 42:2: "He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets." We know there were times when Jesus spoke in a loud voice. So this verse is not referring to our raising our voice on occasion, it is speaking of our attitude. The Servant of the Lord must not strive. His yoke is easy and His burden light.

It is Babylon that lashes her servants along, exhorting them to "build! build! build!" But she will not use one finger to help lift the load.

So it was when I was a young person that pastors would exhort me to fast and pray and then go out to win souls for Jesus. But they went to the finest restaurants with their families on Sunday afternoon, dining sumptuously while I was fasting and passing out tracts.

The pastors say: "We are the shepherds. You are the sheep so you are supposed to do the multiplying. Get out there and work! work! work!" This is the voice of Babylon.

No commander is worth his salt who does not lead his troops into battle.

The truth is, there is only one Shepherd. His name is Jesus. The rest of us who serve as pastors are only messenger boys.

When we are abiding in Christ we do not have to shout or cry out. We are to rest in Him. He is the Elephant. We are the mouse. Our job is to run about and chirp and keep Him company. His job is to haul the teak log to the river. He enjoys our company but He is the one with the power. Can you say "Amen"?

Christ does not strive. He rests in His Father at all times. We are not to strive. We are to rest in Christ at all times. If we are to bring justice to the nations we must understand thoroughly that we are not to set out to accomplish the Lord’s work according to our own wisdom and strength. We are to rest in Christ. He will show us what to do in His time, now and when He appears. If we are not content with this way of operating, we are not qualified to appear with Christ at His return.

A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; He will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his law the islands will put their hope. (Isaiah 42:3,4—NIV)

The bruised reed and the smoldering wick are people who have been injured spiritually or who have only a bit of life in them. When we are living in victory in Christ it is easy to despise those who are very weak in faith. But the Servant of the Lord, because he or she is resting in Christ and not vaunting himself or herself, is able to deal very gently with the least of the sheep.

All of us need to be gentle with every person; harshness has no place in a man or woman of God. But there are some people who have a special heart for the weak. Through them Christ reaches out and gently fans the flame of spiritual life until progress is apparent. Every pastor is gratified when he sees an individual who has never shown signs of spiritual life suddenly come forth in strength. We must have infinite patience with every individual.

One time when I was becoming disgusted and impatient with certain believers the Lord spoke to me. He said: "Never hinder anyone from coming and offering his sacrifice." I have never forgotten those words. No matter how perverse the believer appears to be, the Lord always encourages his slightest desire to serve God. After all, we do not know what is taking place in his heart. Isn’t that the truth?

The Lord cares about people who are spiritually weak just as the mother cares about her handicapped child.

"In faithfulness he will bring forth justice." If we are not a faithful person we are not qualified to appear with Him and attempt to bring forth justice among the peoples of the earth.

Faithfulness is our willingness to persevere in what we have committed ourselves to do, even though we experience pain in doing so. The unfaithful person flees when hardships are experienced.

Faithfulness is one of the major characteristics of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is God’s faithful witness. He is always faithful and true. If God and Christ were not faithful it would be well we never had been born.

To be in the image of the Lord we must be faithful. In America today, faithfulness is not held out as a supremely desirable virtue to cultivate. We see in our government the lack of faithfulness and truth among some of the highly placed leaders. The attitude that we should take whatever we can even though someone else has to suffer for it is common among the secular population and sometimes in the churches.

But God does not change. He always is faithful. He always keeps His Word. We are being made in His image. We are to keep God’s Word faithfully, faithfully, faithfully, never changing no matter what it costs.

We do not perceive matters as God does. We will live to see the day when people we have known are highly exalted in the Presence of Christ while we ourselves may be asked to take a lowly place. We may find this very difficult, almost impossible to bear with a good attitude.

Think about the Apostles of Christ after His resurrection when they found out that three of their number had talked with Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration. You can believe this was a terribly bitter pill to swallow. It must have been very difficult for them to maintain a good attitude toward Peter, James, and John.

There are ranks in the Kingdom of God. Some are destined to sit at the right hand of Christ when He comes in His Kingdom. What if someone you know who has been of little consequence in your church appears with Christ at His right hand while you are occupying a seemingly lowly place? Can you accept God’s judgment in this?

Suppose you are standing on the sidelines while the army of the Lord passes by—legions of shining warriors led by Christ in His chariot of honor. But you were not chosen to be seated on one of the war stallions. Instead your task was to clean the street after they passed by.

If you could not clean the street with a joyous heart, rejoicing over those whom Christ had chosen to ride with Him in the chariot of honor, your heart is not yet right with God. You are not ready as yet to appear with the Lord.

Some people will be raised as great mountains of fire and glory. Others are little flowers in the garden of God. We suppose God is impressed with the mighty who shine as the stars but overlooks the little flower. We are mistaken in this. God is not impressed by any of the works of His hands. He thinks no more of the general in Christ’s army than He does of the little flower whose only offering is its beauty it offers to the passerby.

There is, however, one characteristic that impresses God. It is the characteristic of faithfulness. God is equally impressed with the warrior who is faithful and the little flower who is faithful. God is faithful and requires faithfulness in everyone who would descend with Christ to drive Satan from the earth and bring the love, peace, and joy of God to the nations of saved people.

The reason that Christ, Head and Body, does not falter or become discouraged is that the saints are not working in their own strength. Bringing justice to self-centered, self-seeking mankind is going to require infinite patience, infinite faithfulness to God. We shall carry the rod of iron in our personalities, it is true. But we shall not be permitted to exercise our authority and power except as Christ works through us in love.

How can we falter or be discouraged? We are resting in Christ! We are doing His will! As our days are, so is our strength. Christ is always new, always young, always optimistic. So are we when we are abiding in Him.

It is the person who is working in his own strength who burns out, who falters, who becomes discouraged and frustrated, who grows bitter and angry because people and circumstances (and God) are not doing what he thinks should be done.

The creation is groaning and travailing in pain today. Each edition of the newspaper tells of some new tragedy, some new abomination, some new destruction of mankind and the environment. Will deliverance ever come? Yes, according to the unchanging Word of almighty God.

Deliverance will come to the material creation at the hand of the Son of God working through and with the sons of God. But first the Son had to be prepared. Now we who would appear with Him must be prepared.

We must be prepared by having the spirit of the present world driven from us.

We must be prepared by becoming strong enough in Christ to resist the temptations of Satan.

We must be prepared by submitting to the crucifixion of our adamic nature, our self-will, our natural mind, until we are abiding in Jesus Christ and living by His Life.

Only then are we qualified and competent to appear with the Lord Jesus Christ and restore Paradise to the earth.

Each new disaster that occurs in the world should motivate us to be ever more diligent in seeking Christ and doing His will. He cannot return until His Body has been prepared, for God has decreed that Christ and His coheirs shall inherit the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth. We cannot participate in the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth until we ourselves are doing God’s will in the earth as it is in Heaven.

When we consider the enormity of the task facing the Servant of the Lord, that of removing all sin from the earth, and then installing Paradise, we may begin to doubt if such will ever happen.

But remember, our Lord Jesus has been given all authority in Heaven and on the earth. It is the Father who has issued such authority to Him.

And how much power does the Father possess?

This is what God the LORD says—he who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it: (Isaiah 42:5—NIV)

God is the one who has called each member of the Servant of the Lord. But we cannot walk with God while we are continuing in sin, for God has called us in righteousness—first imputed, and then formed in us as a new creation.

"I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles," (Isaiah 42:6—NIV)

Our calling as members of the Body of Christ, the Body of the Messiah who is to come soon to the earth, is to release all who are willing to be released from the destructive chains of Satan.

To open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness. (Isaiah 42:7—NIV)

Therefore let us each day redeem the time, using every minute well, because evil is increasing. Christ and the world await your decision. What will it be?