IT IS TIME FOR A REFORMATION OF CHRISTIAN THINKING

(Trumpet Ministries, Inc. / Word of Righteousness)

IT IS TIME FOR A REFORMATION OF CHRISTIAN THINKING Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved

We are in an hour of spiritual lukewarmness. It is time for a reformation of Christian thinking and behavior. The bulk of today’s Christian teaching and preaching is taken from our traditions, not from the Word of God.

Such doctrines as salvation by belief alone, the pre-tribulation "rapture," the existence of a "Gentile Church," the continual emphasis on the goodness of God to the exclusion of the severity of God, the various "positive-thinking" positions, cannot be found in the Scriptures.

There are a number of major misunderstandings in Christian thinking. For example, we have been taught that righteousness and eternal life are perpetually assigned to us solely upon our acknowledgment of theological facts concerning Christ, that our behavior in the appetites of the flesh is unrelated to eternal life. Christian preachers and teachers because of their overemphasis on grace are destroying man’s normal association of righteous behavior with God’s favor. Can we be surprised, therefore, when there is little strength of righteousness in the Christian churches?

Practice follows doctrine. The people are being destroyed because a wrong vision is being presented. The Christian redemption does not consist principally of the forgiveness of men but of their transformation into new creatures in Christ. The role of forgiveness is to authorize us to commence the program of redemption, and then to keep our conscience clear before God while the Holy Spirit is purifying and changing us.

Table of Contents

Foreword—The Eternal Law of God Comment What Is Salvation? A Very Great Misunderstanding Two Israels? "Rapture" or Resurrection? Two Kingdoms? Mansions in Heaven? The Goal of the Church Two Second Comings? Not Retreat But Restoration! Who Is "He Who Now Restrains"? Scattering the Power of the Saints The Purpose of the Resurrection of the Priesthood The Symbolism of the "Two Witnesses" The Judgment Seat of Christ Is the Christian Salvation Conditional? Jesus—the Ticket or the Way? The Destruction of Righteousness The "White Throne" Judgment Diversity of Destinies The Judgment Seat of Christ Is in Session The True Israel De Jure and De Facto Salvation The Nature of Sin The Appearing of Christ Chosen to Rule Faithful Stewardship Without Sin Unto Salvation The Fire of God

ForewordThe Eternal Law of God

. The Lord God of Heaven shall be the first love of our heart, the first thought of our mind, the first priority of our devotion and energies.

2. We will not worship or be in bondage to any thing, relationship, or circumstance. We will serve Christ alone and God through Him.

3. We will use the name of Christ and of God only in the utmost sincerity—never loosely or to support our lie. We will not attempt to deceive others or ourselves by presenting our word and will as though they were God’s word and will. We will keep the name of God holy in our heart and mouth.

4. We will not spend our life creating our own heaven and earth but will cease from our own works and enter God’s rest, recognizing that all has been finished from the creation of the world. The Lord and His works shall be our continual delight. We will not seek our own pleasure or speak our own words but will seek the Lord’s pleasure and speak His words. Our goal in life will be to find God’s will and perform it. Our necessary food will be to finish the work God has given us to do, laying aside all concern for our own security, our own pleasure, and our own achievement.

5. We will honor our father and mother and all others who have been used of God to give us life, to nourish and guide us, and to bring us to maturity in Christ. We will respect authority.

6. We will not permit hatred or anger toward another person to abide in our heart but will commit our need for justice to the Lord. We will not strive to harm or remove those who are hindering us but will present our situation to the Lord for His wisdom.

7. We will not indulge in unlawful passions, in filthy imaginations, romantic lusts, in relationships God has not ordained.

8. We will not take what belongs to another person or seek to get what we want apart from God. We will never deprive another person in order to gain joy for ourselves.

9. We will not bear a false witness against another person, gossiping, criticizing, putting him or her in a bad light for our own advantage.

10. We will not desire for ourselves that which belongs to another. We will forsake envy, competitiveness, jealousy, personal ambition, self-importance.

The eternal law of the Lord God of Heaven never changes. It has existed from eons past. It abides today and will endure throughout the eons yet to come. It never shall change or pass away.

The eternal law of God is the expression of God’s moral Nature. The changing of one particle of God’s moral Nature would be the worst of all possible catastrophes.

An abridged, covenantal, negative form of the eternal law was given to Moses to pass on to Israel, and through Israel to all mankind. At that time the expression of the eternal law was hindered because of the limitations of our flesh. Now that we have been born again of Christ, and the Spirit of God is dwelling in us, we can begin to respond to the fullest implications of this holy law.

One may note that our interpretation of the Sabbath Day, the fourth commandment, is expanded to include our whole personality and state of existence and is not confined to one day of seven. We think the Lord Jesus desires that we view the Ten Commandments with enlarged perception.

Perhaps the greatest error in Christian thinking is that Christ’s grace brings us eternal life and fellowship with God apart from obedience to the eternal moral law. It is a misunderstanding of the Apostle Paul of enormous significance. This error has wrecked the work of the Kingdom of God in the earth.

Eternal life can exist only where there is righteousness—righteousness that comes from obedience to the eternal law of God.

The Lord Jesus Christ obeyed the letter and intent of the Law of Moses perfectly, and consequently of the eternal moral law, and then died for our sins. Now we can receive Christ by faith. As we do, the righteousness proceeding from the justifying authority of the blood of the righteous Jesus is imputed (ascribed) to us. God gives us eternal life.

It is after this initial state of redemption that the monumental error of Christian thinking begins its deadly work of undermining the Kingdom of God (the doing of God’s will in the earth). It never has been God’s intention that His grace should serve as an alternative to obedience to the moral law. Rather, the propitiating (appeasing) and remitting (forgiving and canceling) aspects of Divine grace serve while the dynamic aspects of that same grace are transforming us until we begin to keep the eternal moral law by nature. 

But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inner parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. (Jeremiah 31:33)

If such is not our understanding and our experience we may be turning the grace of God into an excuse for lawlessness. This is what is taking place today in many places where the Gospel of Christ is being taught.

The present apostasy has arisen in large measure from our lack of understanding of the Kingdom of God. We are picturing the Christian salvation as being one thing when in fact it is another.

The Kingdom of God, of Heaven, is more "down to earth" than we understand it to be.

The Kingdom of God consists of ordinary people like you and me. God calls us to Himself. If we respond by repenting of our old way of living, receiving Christ, and being baptized in water, God counts us as "saved."

Being "saved" means God is ready, through the Lord Jesus Christ, to make us fit to dwell in His new world, His world of resurrected humans—people who are given back their bodies and live in immortal life.

Being saved means we have been rescued from union with Satan and the image of Satan and are participating in the program that will have been completed when we are in perfect union with the Father through the Son, and are revealing in our thoughts, words, and actions the Personality of the Son. To view the new covenant as being primarily the forgiveness of our sins is to miss the main purpose, which is the bringing forth of a new creation in the image of the Lord Jesus Christ and in union with Christ.

The things that happen to us from the moment of receiving Christ are for the purpose of "saving" us. "Saving" us means removing from us the behaviors that God will not accept in His Presence (see Revelation 21:8 for eight behaviors over which spiritual death always has authority whether or not we have made a profession of Christ). To abide in God’s fiery Presence we must live according to the ten aspects of His eternal moral law we mentioned previously.

Our God is a consuming Fire and He always destroys that which violates His eternal law (Isaiah 33:14,15). We Christians must understand that Divine grace through Christ does not make it possible for God to dwell with the behaviors He rejects. Rather, Divine grace under the new covenant covers us while God changes our behavior, making us new creatures. Christ was revealed for the purpose of destroying the works of the devil, not to make it possible for God to dwell with the devil.

There are rewards of rulership, of power, of opportunities for service, for closeness to God, available to those who are willing to follow God through the perils and sufferings associated with gaining the Glory of God. It appears that predestination plays an important role, especially in the establishing of positions of rulership in the Kingdom.

The Kingdom of God is made up of the greatest and the least of members and all those in between. We are happiest when we allow God to prepare us for the particular role and place in His Kingdom for which He has created us.

In every instance the works of darkness must be removed from us. From the beginning of salvation forward, our actual position in the Kingdom depends on our individual calling and also on the diligence we apply to achieving the destiny for which we have been grasped by the Lord.

Our tradition presents our physical death, our "going to Heaven," as solving the problems both of the removal of the works of darkness from us and of achieving rewards and status in the Kingdom. This is a false doctrine without scriptural support of any kind.

What we are, we are until we work with the Holy Spirit in the transformation of our personality. Such transformation is the new covenant (II Corinthians 3:18).

When we die physically we remain unchanged except for the absence of the various frailties of our physical body. The inner spiritual life that motivates us remains unchanged. If we are a self-centered, argumentative person on the earth we probably will be a self-centered, argumentative person in the spirit realm. We will need stronger spirits to bring peace to our situation, as is true while we are on the earth (Psalms 84:5-7).

The creating of the Kingdom of God is a realistic, sensible, practical program. There are no wands waved at which time we become something we basically are not.

The Kingdom of Heaven is as a grain of mustard seed. No doubt that seed will grow in us forever as we are being created in the image of God. But whether we are alive on the earth now, or deceased and in the spirit realm, or living on the new earth, what we are, we are. We need to understand this because we may be wasting valuable time in the present hour—time given to us so we may be transformed into the image of the Lord Jesus.

The penalty for the sin in Eden was the loss of our physical bodies. It never was God’s intention that a person’s body be subject to decay. The process of corruption came about so God could separate our spiritual nature from our physical body for a season, with the end in view of creating in us a righteous spiritual nature. When we have been created in Christ’s moral image in our spiritual nature, our body will be returned to us.

We cannot receive back our body until, through the Lord Jesus Christ, we achieve victory over the forces of darkness and death to which mankind is subject. We cannot eat of the tree of life until we overcome the moral behaviors over which the second death has authority. We overcome these sins by choosing to obey God.

As soon as we make a firm commitment to the will of God, the Virtue and power of Christ are applied to us and we are enabled to conquer the behaviors that prevent our immortality (Philippians 3:8-12).

Only those who by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ overcome the enemies of God’s law will attain to the resurrection to righteousness, immortality and glory. We do not gain the resurrection to glory by grace, mercy, or any other act of God’s compassion. God’s compassion forgives our sins and gives us the authority and power to attain to the resurrection to glory.

The resurrection of the righteous must be attained . It cannot be imputed (ascribed) to us. The resurrection of the physical body to righteousness, immortality and glory, which is the central goal of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, the conquering of the last enemy, is an area of misunderstanding in the present hour.

God does all the fighting when we come out of Egypt. But when we cross over Jordan to resurrection ground, the fighting is done by us with the Lord’s guidance and help.

The program of "saving" us, making us fit for God’s Presence, requires our cooperation. If we insist on saving our life, retaining the behaviors that are comfortable and familiar but condemned by God’s Word (such as fearfulness, unbelief, fornication, covetousness), we run a risk, according to the written Word, of being rejected by the Lord. 

But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned. (Hebrews 6:8)

Some Christian teachers are explaining that salvation is an unconditional amnesty and no behavior on our part can place our salvation in jeopardy. From their point of view we are forgiven our sins past, present, and future whether or not we serve the Lord.

However, the Scriptures teach that the works of the flesh cannot enter the Kingdom of God. Satan is whispering, "Thou shalt not surely die."

Such teachers are picturing the goal of the Christian salvation as eternal residence in the spirit Paradise. "If God has forgiven us through grace, why can we not be admitted to live forever in the spirit Paradise?"

The goal of the Christian salvation is not to live forever in the spirit Paradise. The goal of the Christian salvation is the restoration of what was lost in the garden of Eden: eternal bodily life lived in a material Paradise in which God is present.

Even more glorious than this, God is seeking to dwell in us. This is the Kingdom of God—the eternal oneness of the Divine and the human, the holy spiritual and the holy material, the restoration of Paradise to the earth. We may discover that those who have died are longing for the Day of Resurrection—for the time when they gain back the material world. 

And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we will reign on the earth. (Revelation 5:10)

"On the earth"!

The role of Divine grace is not to bring unchanged people to Paradise, thus perpetuating the problem of Eden. Rather, the role of Divine grace is to forgive the sons of men, through the atonement made by Christ on the cross of Calvary, and then to impart Divine Life to them so they may cast off the chains of darkness and death and become fit once again to enjoy the Presence of God in the garden.

The father did not come to the prodigal son while he was sitting in the pigpen and say, "If you will accept my forgiveness I will make you lord over my household." He did not promise, "If you will just raise your hand as a token of acceptance you can continue with your drunkenness, your fornication, your gambling, your riotous living. By my grace you will rule over all I possess."

Yet, this is what sometimes presented as the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.

The story of the prodigal son has universal application. It is the story of every person born on the earth, of mankind as a whole, and of the Christian Church. God gives us His riches. We then squander them according to our lusts.

Finally we "come to ourselves." We realize that our Father’s house is of greater value than the world. We pick ourselves up and return to our Father. He is waiting for us because we are His children. His joy is very great as He celebrates our return from the dead.

We do not bring the pigs and the swill back home. We return chastened and repentant. We are ready to be a servant but God accepts us as a son. It is the angels that are the servants.

Our reception home does not mark the end of our salvation but the beginning. No doubt many years passed by before the prodigal was able to get the "pigs" out of his personality.

It is one matter to get the man out of the cesspool. It is another matter to get the cesspool out of the man. Getting the man out of the cesspool is repentance. Getting the cesspool out of the man is salvation.

This is what the Christian salvation is all about. First, God’s love, working through the atonement, pulls the man out of the garbage. God’s grace helps the individual to repent. Then God’s power and Divine Nature cast the garbage out of the man.

The Kingdom of God is practical and understandable. God is "saving" us so we will become like Him in nature, acceptable to Him in our personality and behavior. God accomplishes this by the new birth and then by growth in the Divine Nature of the Lord Jesus Christ. What we are, we are. Physical death does not change what we are. It is only as we partake of Christ that we are changed.

If we harden our heart, refusing to cooperate with the Holy Spirit, the Divine judgment comes upon us with the intent of making us partakers of God’s righteousness and holiness. If we harden our heart yet further we move to dangerous spiritual ground. We become an adversary of God (Hebrews 10:26,27). 

For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, (Hebrews 10:26)

God’s people must be warned in the present hour. It is a time for heartfelt repentance and for a reformation of Christian thinking.

Ours is a new day, the beginning of the Jubilee of deliverance. It is the beginning of the restoration of all that Adam and Eve forfeited. It is the fulfillment of the Word spoken by God’s prophets (Acts 3:19-21).

The Lord Jesus Christ stands ready to wash the members of His Body with a baptism of fire, breaking the power of sin in them. It is time to take the Kingdom. We are a firstfruits of mankind. The material creation awaits eagerly the unveiling of the sons of God. The nations cannot come forth from the prisons of slavery and corruption and receive eternal life until the saints are ready to minister Christ to them.

Spiritual oppression already weighs heavily on us. The tares are coming to maturity. The age of moral horrors is at hand. It is time to rise and shine for God’s greatest glory has been reserved for this day of battle. It is time to prepare ourselves to serve the Lord. 

Comment

Throughout history religion often has been used as a means of justifying unrighteous behavior. Today Paul’s doctrine of salvation by grace is being employed as a means of justifying the unrighteous behavior of the believers in Christ. The human heart and mind succeed in corrupting what is designed to promote uprightness, humility, and mercy into a cloak to cover deviousness, lust, covetousness, and pride.

The tendency toward corruption has taken a new twist in our day—or maybe it is not so new. The past few hundred years of history have witnessed the emergence of what Paul spoke when he prophesied that in the last days men would be "lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, . . . ." The philosophy of humanism has entered Christian thinking, producing a false model of the relationship between God and man.

The new, unscriptural model sets forth God as attempting to bring every sort of happiness and fulfillment to man while Satan, because of anger toward God and spite toward man, seeks always to destroy man’s happiness and prevent his achieving self-fulfillment. It appears that much Christian teaching assumes this to be a true model of the relationship between God and man.

Then too we have those who claim that the "Jehovah" of the Old Testament is the mean one while Satan is the source of joy and peace (if you can imagine!).

The true model of the Scriptures presents God as making Christ the center and circumference of all persons, things, and circumstances. Man is to be made in the image of Christ and filled with the Spirit of Christ. Satan, because he is desirous of worship and glorification, seeks always to prevent the worship and glorification of Christ.

The first model describes Satan as attacking man’s welfare, or, as we mentioned, seeking man's joy and fulfillment.

The second model describes Satan as attacking Christ’s welfare.

The first model can see the love and Glory of God only when man is happy.

The second model can see the love and Glory of God in all matters where His will is being performed.

The first model insists that God answer man’s prayer.

The second model views prayer as a means of bringing God’s will and man’s will into harmony.

The first model is man-centered.

The second model is Christ-centered.

But, one may answer, if man is made in the image of Christ and filled with Christ’s Spirit, he will be happy and fulfilled. This once again is to seek to make man’s welfare the center of all things.

If in the future we are to prevent the recurrence of today’s deplorable errors in thinking we must recognize that God’s love, purposes, and programs are centered in Christ, not in man.

The woman was made for the man, not the man for the woman. We were made for Christ, not Christ for us. Whenever we make the Lord Jesus a means of achieving man’s ends we will distort the Scriptures.

Man is a means to God’s ends. God never is to be made a means to man’s ends. 

That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: (Ephesians 1:10)

According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. (Philippians 1:20)

What Is Salvation?

The traditional understanding. The goal of salvation is to make our eternal residence in Heaven.

We attain to the goal by professing faith in Christ.

Divine grace is a legal state of amnesty, a continuing, unconditional pardon of the sins of the believer. Our behavior on the earth, while important, is not critical to our salvation.

The principal task of the Christian is to not forget he has been saved by grace and to bring as many other people as possible into this state of eligibility for Heaven.

The scriptural understanding. The program of redemption begins when we are in union with Satan and reveal Satan’s image in our thoughts, our words, and our actions. The program of redemption has been completed when we are in restful union with the Father through Christ and are revealing in our thoughts, words, and actions the image of Christ.

The Holy Spirit has given us four great types of redemption: the seven days of creation; the feasts of the Lord; the pilgrimage of Israel from Egypt to Canaan; and the seven furnishings of the Tabernacle of the Congregation.

Each of the four types may be broken into seven stages of salvation. They help us understand our progress from Satan to God.

One goal of salvation is the attainment to the resurrection from the dead (Philippians 3:11). attaining to the resurrection of the saints, which Paul held out as our objective, includes death to the world, to Satan, to the lusts of our flesh—to our entire old nature; and coming to know the power of Christ’s resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings. We are seeking total union with God through Christ.

Our salvation has to do with our relationship with Christ rather than with moving from earth to Heaven. We hope for the resurrection so we can resume our life on the earth.

We attain to the goal of inner resurrection (which will result in actual resurrection when the Lord appears) by receiving the Person of Christ. Receiving the Person of Christ and abiding in Him is a much more intimate and demanding experience than merely acknowledging that Christ is our Lord and Savior. It is an actual coming to Christ.

Divine grace is the Lord Jesus Himself. When we truly come to Him by faith He receives us. He assumes the responsibility for us and begins to cleanse us from sin and rebellion.

Although we may be very wicked when the Spirit leads us to Christ, the Lord forgives our sins. Then He begins the work of separating us completely from Satan, conforming us to His own death and resurrection and bringing us into perfect, complete union with Himself.

The work of moving us from Satan to God begins the moment we receive Christ, continues throughout our lifetime on the earth, and will be completed when the Lord returns from Heaven.

The principal tasks of the Christian are to cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He performs the work of moving him from Satan to Christ, to assist in the perfecting of the other members of the Body of Christ as the Spirit guides and enables, and to bear witness of Christ to all mankind—again, as the Spirit guides and enables.

There are errors in the traditional understanding of salvation—errors that have resulted in an immature, confused, divided Christian Church. A weak, ineffective testimony is being given to the world.

The concept of Divine grace as a continuing, unconditional pardon does not sufficiently take into account the Scriptures that teach if we do not bear fruit we will be cut out of the Vine, out of Christ (John 15:2; Hebrews 6:8); the numerous passages that make it clear God judges the sins of the believers (Galatians 5:21; I Peter 4:17); or the necessity for walking carefully in God’s will as a condition for receiving the continual cleansing of the blood of Christ (Romans 8:4; I John 1:7).

The traditional concept does not place nearly enough emphasis on the change of personality to be brought about by the new covenant (Romans 8:29; II Corinthians 3:18; 5:17,18).

The traditional concept assumes that our change into righteous behavior will take place in Heaven after we die. There is no scriptural support for this.

The limiting of grace to a legal state of amnesty makes the new covenant a covenant primarily of forgiveness rather than a covenant of transformation into righteous behavior. While the new covenant includes forgiveness of sins, as does the old covenant, the new covenant is superior in that it is an act of Divine transformation of our personality (Hebrews 8:10).

The concept of grace as an amnesty (a continuing, unconditional pardon of the believer) has created an invisible church. Since the world cannot see a state of amnesty the Church cannot serve as the light of the world. The good works are absent (Matthew 5:16).

The traditional understanding relegates true righteousness, fellowship with Jesus, and eternal life to another time (after we die) and another place (Heaven—the spirit realm). The futuristic emphasis invites the believer to absorb himself in the life of the world instead of attending with all diligence to the daily work of transformation taking place now.

The traditional understanding has left the believers vulnerable to the nineteenth century "revelation" of the catching up (rapture) to Heaven of the immature, divided, professors of belief in Christ, leaving the Kingdom of God to those who are Jewish by race.

The doctrine that the saved Jews inherit the earth while the saved Gentiles inherit the spirit realm is a travesty of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God preached by Christ and the Apostles of the Lamb. The Scriptures, both Old and New Testament, teach clearly that resurrection unto eternal life and an inheritance in the city of Jerusalem are the goals of all who are part of Christ whether Jew or Gentile by race.

We are in need of a reformation of Christian thinking.

("What Is Salvation" is taken from: Rebuilding the Wall , Copyright Š 2004 by Trumpet Ministries, Inc.) 

A Very Great Misunderstanding

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ, who walk not in the appetites of the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Romans 8:1)

The new covenant is superior to the old covenant.

Under the old covenant, God forgave the sins of people when they performed the appropriate animal sacrifice. 

And he shall offer the second for a burnt offering, according to the manner: and the priest shall make an atonement for him for his sin which he hath sinned, and it shall be forgiven him. (Leviticus 5:10)

And the priest shall make an atonement for him before the Lord: and it shall be forgiven him for any thing of all that he hath done in trespassing therein. (Leviticus 6:7)

However, the presence of sin in the Israelites was recognized on a regular basis by the daily sacrifices and by the annual Day of Atonement.

It was not possible for the blood of bulls and of goats to remove the presence of sin from the worshiper.

Through the Lord Jesus Christ the presence of sin can be removed from us. Through Christ the guilt, the coercive power, and the effects of sin can all be removed from us.

The marvel of the new covenant is that once we truly receive Christ, repenting of our sins, we find that the guilt of all the sins we ever have committed or ever will commit has been cast behind God’s back. By one offering Christ has perfected forever those who are sanctified—those who are abiding in His Presence and will (Hebrews 10:14).

We now are without condemnation in the sight of God.

The purpose of the grand pardon is that we may be able to cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He begins to remove the presence of sin from us and to heal the effects of Satan’s influence and presence. The Holy Spirit desires to cast out of us the lusts of our flesh and to remove King Self from the throne of our heart, installing Christ in his place.

If we did not possess the assurance of total forgiveness we could not endure the transforming processes of the new covenant as the Holy Spirit brings into existence the new creation, making all aspects of our personality new, conforming us to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ.

We always must keep in mind that this pardon is in effect only as long as we are following the Spirit of God in the program of sanctification, of transformation. The moment we go back to living in the flesh, according to the desires of our soul, flesh, and human mind, we come under the condemnation of the Law of Moses (Romans 7:1).

God never permits any creature to exist without law. Either we have been crucified with Christ and are being governed by the law of the Spirit of life in Christ or else we are being governed by the Law of Moses.

We have not been set free from the Law of Moses so we may behave as we please but so we may be married to Christ. There is a total difference between these two positions.

There is a misunderstanding in current Christian theology. How explicit this incorrect teaching has been made we do not know but it is apparent it is implicit among the believers. The misunderstanding is that people can walk in the flesh, not seeking to abide in the Person and way of Christ, and still remain under the pardon of Calvary by virtue of their profession of belief in Christ, in His atoning death and triumphant resurrection.

The Apostle Paul, whose teaching concerning "grace" is the basis for this misunderstanding, spoke clearly to the saints in Rome: "If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die" (Romans 8:13).

The Scriptures are eternal: if we live according to the lusts of our flesh, and according to the dictates of our self-love, self-will, and self-centeredness, not forsaking our life and following the Lord Jesus, we will die spiritually ; we will slay our resurrection unto life.

The person who teaches or who believes he can walk in the flesh and still remain without condemnation on the basis of his profession of belief in Christ, is bringing spiritual death on himself and on those who are following his teaching and example.

If any man, Christian or not, practices sin and rebellion against God’s will, he shall come under the judgment of God.

If any believer in Christ puts to death through the Holy Spirit the lusts of his flesh, he shall enter eternal life (Romans 8:13).

The purpose of the eternal pardon is that we may be able to enter the transformation into righteous behavior that is the new covenant (Hebrews 8:10). To walk in sin is to choose death (Romans 6:21). To walk in the Presence and will of Christ is to choose eternal life (Romans 6:22).

Let us choose to abide in Christ, laying hold on eternal life, so we may save ourselves and those who hear us (I Timothy 6:12;4:16).

("A Very Great Misunderstanding" is taken from: Fulfilling the Vision , Copyright Š 2002 by Trumpet Ministries, Inc.) 

Two Israels?

The scheme of biblical interpretation termed Dispensationalism chops into pieces God's dealing with men. The truth is, the entire Scriptures, the Old Testament and the New Testament, are one seamless robe of Christ. Christianity is based solidly on all that has gone before. By no means is the Christian Era a special parenthesis in God's dealings with mankind.

There are several aspects of the Dispensational model that are misleading, that prevent a coherent, straightforward interpretation of the Scriptures. One of the doctrines that proceeds from Dispensationalism maintains that during the great tribulation a special "Gentile Church" will be "raptured" into Heaven while the Jews preach the Gospel of the Kingdom. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine a teaching more removed from, more destructive of the scriptural concept of the Kingdom of God.

Are there two Israels of God? Two kingdoms of God? Two bodies of Christ? Two wives of the Lamb? Are there two called-out peoples, one Gentile and one Jewish? If so, to which body do Paul and Peter belong—the Jewish body or the Gentile body?

If, as is taught commonly, a "Gentile Church" (are there no Jews in it?) is "raptured" into Paradise, and the Holy Spirit has left the earth and gone into Paradise with it, how are the physical Jews to preach the Kingdom of God? They cannot be born again without the Holy Spirit, and no one can see the Kingdom until he is born again. 

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. (John 3:3)

How, then, can the Jews preach salvation and a spiritual kingdom without the Holy Spirit?

Or are the Jews part of an earthly kingdom, an earthly bride, an earthly body? If they are they have no part in the four Gospel accounts; for John the Baptist and Christ came preaching one Kingdom—a Kingdom born in the hearts of men. This is the Kingdom of which Daniel spoke, the Kingdom that will rule the nations of the earth forever.

The one Kingdom of God is the new Jerusalem, which is the glorified Church, the Body of Christ—God in Christ in the saints reigning over the nations of the earth. It is the Kingdom of which Isaiah prophesied. 

Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. (Isaiah 9:7)

The teaching of two different called-out peoples, one spiritual and one earthly, is not found in the writings of the Apostle Paul. Paul taught clearly and consistently that there is only one holy olive tree, Israel, and we Gentiles have been grafted on it.

There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:4-6)

In the last days the Jews by race will be joined once again to the one true Olive Tree, the true Vine, the one true Stock of Abraham, which is Christ. Thus there will be one Body, one fold, one Shepherd, one Israel, one holy nation of kings and priests. 

And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all. (Ezekiel 37:22)

And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. (John 10:16)

At one time we Gentiles were not part of Israel but now we have been made a part of the true Israel founded on the Apostles and Prophets. 

That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: (Ephesians 2:12)

Paul is stating here that at one time we Gentiles were not a part of Israel. The implication is we are now being added to Israel and to the covenant God has made with Israel. We are not a separate body of "Gentile Christians." 

For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken the middle wall of partition between us [between Jew and Gentile]; (Ephesians 2:14)

In Christ we Gentiles have been made one with the Jews. 

Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; (Ephesians 2:19)

The "saints" (above) refers to the Jewish saints, for the first Christians were Jews. The original Body of Christ was made up of Jews. It was difficult for the early Christians to accept the fact that God desired to add Gentiles to the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Today we Gentiles may find it difficult to accept the fact that God desires to add Jews to the Church of the Lord Jesus. But the truth is, it is we Gentiles who have been added to the Jewish saints, to the Jewish Christians, to the household of God. It is not true that Jewish believers are added to a Gentile Church.

The doctrine of a special Gentile Church is not included in the thinking and teaching of the Apostle Paul—himself a Jew. 

And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; (Ephesians 2:20)

Of which building is Christ the chief Cornerstone? He is the chief Cornerstone of the eternal Temple of God. Then who are the other stones of the Temple? The Jews who receive their Christ and we Gentiles who have been added to the one Body. 

In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:22)

There is but one Temple of God, one habitation of God. It is the Body of Christ, the Wife of the Lamb, the new Jerusalem. Every person who belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ is part of the eternal Tabernacle of God.

In the last days the Tabernacle of God will descend from the new heaven and be established forever on the new earth. The nations of saved peoples will walk in the light of it. 

My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And the heathen [nations] shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore. (Ezekiel 37:27,28)

And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. (Revelation 21:3)

We have stated that the Scriptures are one seamless robe of Christ. God's work is one from Adam and Eve to the coming down to earth of the new Jerusalem. From time to time God has increased His demands on men and also has given the means (grace) by which His demands can be met. Each new era is based on and flows out as a fruit from the previous era. The program of development will continue until the new Jerusalem governs the nations of the earth. 

"Rapture" or Resurrection?

The resurrection from the dead is one of the fundamental doctrines of the Christian Gospel—the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. The fifteenth chapter of the Book of First Corinthians is devoted to the topic of raising the bodies of the saints from the dead.

If our bodies are not going to be raised from the dead our faith in Christ is in vain. 

If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. (I Corinthians 15:19)

In fact, the Scripture does not consider we have been brought to life until our body has come forth from the grave. 

For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. (I Corinthians 15:22,23)

We shall have attained the fullness of victory when our mortal body has been made alive by the Spirit of God. This will take place at the coming of Christ. 

The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. (I Corinthians 15:26)

The resurrection from the dead, which is the final victory of the saint, must be attained.

 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection [Greek, out-resurrection] of the dead. (Philippians 3:11)

We attain to the resurrection by overcoming the world, the satanic lusts that dwell in our flesh, and our self-will. If we live in the appetites of the flesh we will die spiritually. If we, through the Holy Spirit of God, achieve victory over the world, sin, and self-will, we will attain to eternal life. 

For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify [put to death] the deeds of the body, ye shall live. (Romans 8:13)

Eternal life, immortality, that which Adam and Eve forfeited, has been lost to mankind from the time of the fall. Death has been working in our flesh and spirit since our physical birth. God has given Christians the gift of eternal life, that is, He has brought us into His Presence with a view to immortalizing all that we are—spirit, soul, and body.

The gift of eternal life must be grasped. Eternal life is a demanding gift. God has not given us the gift of life as one would make a present of money but as the opportunity to attain to life. There is a difference between these two concepts.

If we Christians choose to employ the grace of God in order to live righteously, we attain to eternal life; we attain to the resurrection out from among the dead. If we do not choose to serve righteousness, do not learn through Christ to behave righteously, we will not attain to eternal life (Romans, Chapter Six).

The return of the Lord Jesus Christ to the earth and the raising of the bodies of the saints have been the hope of the godly from the days of the Apostles of the Lamb and ought to be the hope of the believers of our time.

Instead, an unscriptural emphasis on the catching up ("rapture") of the saints has been inserted in place of the historical hope. According to Dr. Ladd of Fuller Theological Seminary, the doctrine of a pre-tribulation translation of the believers came into existence in the nineteenth century. It was not known before this time (George E. Ladd, The Blessed Hope , Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1956, p.19).

The emphasis on the catching up of the saints rather than their resurrection has destroyed the spiritual vitality of the Christian churches. The doctrine of the catching up, as it currently is presented, appeals to the unregenerate nature of man. The catching up is perceived as a means of escaping suffering, a doctrine with no scriptural support (see, for example, the fourth chapter of First Peter for the scriptural attitude toward the suffering of the believers).

The Old Testament speaks of the resurrection of the saints but never, to our knowledge, of their being caught up. The fifteenth chapter of I Corinthians is the "resurrection chapter" of the Scriptures; yet, this chapter does not mention the catching up of the saints. Paul was not seeking to attain to the catching up (Philippians 3:11).

Except for I Thessalonians 4:13-18, a passage written for the comfort of the bereaved believers but which is now regarded as a special, secret appearing of Christ, none of the epistles of the Apostles alludes to the catching up of the saints.

There is no indication in the fourth chapter of I Thessalonians, that Paul is referring to a flight to Heaven or a flight to escape suffering. These ideas have no basis in Scripture.

The fourth chapter of I Thessalonians, with its "shout," its "voice of the archangel," and its "trump of God" is speaking of raising from the dead the army of Christ in anticipation of the Battle of Armageddon (Ezekiel 37:10).

The Epistles emphasize the resurrection but not the catching up. The Book of Revelation emphasizes the return in Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ and speaks directly of the first and second resurrections from the dead. The catching up of the witnessing saints is mentioned in the Book of Revelation. 

And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. (Revelation 11:12)

If the catching up of the saints had one-tenth the importance being assigned to it today it would be discussed in several passages of the New Testament, as is true of the doctrine of righteousness, for example.

The Book of Revelation, which is the definitive unveiling of the future, does not reveal a withdrawing of the believers to Paradise for the purpose of escaping suffering or escaping the Antichrist. It is the resurrection, not the catching up, that is the victory. 

Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6)

Once we have been raised from the dead we have no need of being caught up to deliver us from suffering. We shall have immortal bodies. Therefore it is not logical to speak of the catching up as being for the purpose of escaping suffering or danger.

Rather, the catching up of the saints is for the purpose of arraying the army of Christ in battle formation under the Commander in Chief.

It is Christ’s resurrection, not His catching up, that saves us, that justifies us. We are being pressed into His crucifixion and His resurrection. The power of Christ’s resurrection is associated with the fellowship of His sufferings. Christ’s ascension, which took place forty days after His resurrection (as may prove to be true also in our own case), was not an act of redemption on a level with His resurrection. 

Redemption is the reclaiming of that which disobedient man forfeited to Satan. Man forfeited access to eternal life, not residence in Heaven.

To our knowledge there is no inkling of such an emphasis in the Old Testament, while the resurrection from the dead indeed is presented in the Old Testament— (Job 19:25,26; Isaiah 26:19; Ezekiel 37:12; Daniel 12:2).

Resurrection into eternal life in the Presence of the Lord Jesus is the great hope of the Christian Church. Ascension into the realm of spirits is no guarantee that we will not suffer. Indeed, there is much suffering in the spirit realm. The worst suffering anyone can experience is found in the spiritual Hell and the spiritual Lake of Fire. There is no release there by means of unconsciousness or death.

Numerous believers in Christ are facing stripes (or worse!) in the spirit realm because of their halfhearted, disinterested, disobedient walk in Jesus. The concept of a "rapture" to deliver them from suffering is not taught in the Scriptures. Indeed, it may be "out of the frying pan into the fire" for multitudes of the church-attenders of our day.

If the present generation of Christian "believers" were to be caught up into the Presence of Him whose eyes are a flame of fire there would be scenes of agony, remorse, wailing, terror, that no person could bear to watch

The believers have been taught that once they make a profession of Jesus as Christ they no longer need to fear the judgment of God. While such a concept can be derived from one or two passages, the bulk of the New Testament writings declare the opposite. 

And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 25:30)

But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned. (Hebrews 6:8)

And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. (Revelation 2:23)

None of the above passages is addressed to the unbelievers. 

Nowhere in the New Testament is there a suggestion that Christ will deliver the believers from tribulation by lifting them up to Heaven. Are we preaching and teaching that which is not taught clearly in the Scriptures?

A change in emphasis from the doctrine of the catching up of the immature believers to Heaven to avoid tribulation, to an emphasis on the pursuit of righteous and holy behavior such that the resurrection from the dead is attained to (which was the expressed hope of the Apostle Paul), will restore spiritual vitality to the Christian churches. 

Two Kingdoms?

The doctrine of the pre-tribulation catching up ("rapture") of the believers in Christ came as a "revelation" in the last century. In order to give this doctrine respectability (according to our understanding of what took place) it was included as part of a system of biblical interpretation termed "Dispensationalism." Dispensationalism is destructive of sound, defensible interpretation of the Scriptures and is one of the reasons for the spiritually impoverished condition of the Christian churches of our day.

Dispensationalism teaches that God, from time to time, changes His way of dealing with men. Our position is that God never changes nor does His eternal purpose vary. God always has desired that people please Him by faith, that they practice justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.

History has been witnessing a progressive unfolding of God's eternal plan in Christ, not a series of starts and stops, fits and jerks, due to God's inability to understand human nature. Christ was crucified, and we were chosen in Him, from the creation of the world. In the mind of God, and therefore in reality, all has been finished from the beginning. The new Jerusalem has been completed already.

Dispensationalism teaches that God's ways with the Christian Church are a special "mystery"; that God now is dealing with people differently from what has been true in the past. The God of the Hebrew Prophets no longer requires righteous, holy, obedient behavior—especially from Gentiles who profess belief in Christ. The Furnace of Israel has decided that people cannot obey His laws. Therefore He has issued a "dispensation of grace." The new dispensation of grace acts as an eternal amnesty for everyone who chooses to believe that God is willing to receive him into Paradise apart from a radical change in his personality and behavior. No new creation is necessary for entrance into the Kingdom of God.

Whether intentionally or not, Dispensationalism, as it is applied by numerous Christian teachers and preachers of our day, has given the impression that God does not require righteous living on the part of the Christian believers as He has of every previous generation of people.

It is said that Christians are exempt from the Kingdom principle of sowing and reaping. Belief in Christ is the Christian's "ticket to Heaven." As a result, the main business in life of the Christian is not to be growth in godly living but the persuasion of other people to accept the free ride to Paradise.

We are not implying that believers should not be sincerely interested in the salvation of the souls of men. We should be. However, the perpetual repetition of this obligation (that every believer is to persuade as many people as possible to accept the free ride to Paradise), in place of the feeding of God's sheep, is not always of God but may come from a human desire to gain members. When they are not continually fed the Word of God the believers do not grow in Christ, in the ability to distinguish between good and evil and to choose the good and resist the evil.

The teaching that God does not require a change in how the converts are living, but is asking only that they make a profession of Christ and attend church as the condition for eternal residence in Paradise, is incorrect. We are blind guides when we leave people with the idea that such is the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.

One could study carefully the New Testament writings and never find the doctrine (except in passages lifted out of their contexts) that God does not require righteous and holy living on the part of the believers in Christ, that righteous and holy living is not a critical aspect of eternal life.

Dispensationalism teaches that there are two kingdoms—a spiritual kingdom of Christians (primarily Gentile), and a natural kingdom made up of those who are Jewish by race. The idea seems to be that the kingdom of Gentile Christians does not require righteous living while the natural kingdom is composed of Jews by physical birth who are obligated to keep the Law of Moses.

However there are not two kingdoms, a spiritual Gentile kingdom and a natural Jewish kingdom. There is only the one Kingdom of God.

The Hebrew Prophets revealed the coming of but one Kingdom. John the Baptist, Christ, and the Apostles preached only one Kingdom. There is no scriptural basis for the teaching of two kingdoms.

Matthew uses the expression, "the kingdom of heaven." The other writers refer to the same kingdom as "the kingdom of God." That only one kingdom is meant is demonstrated by the fact that the parables Matthew applies to the Kingdom of Heaven, such as the sowing of the grain of mustard seed, are applied by Mark and Luke to the Kingdom of God.

There only is one Kingdom of God, of Heaven. It is the Kingdom announced by the Hebrew Prophets. The Prophets did not speak to physical Israel but to us, Jews and Gentiles, who have received Christ (I Peter 1:12). The Lord Jesus Christ is the only true Seed of Abraham. Physical Israel never did and never will inherit the Messianic promises—the promises pertaining to the one Kingdom of God.

When God turns again to the physical people and land of Israel, as the Scriptures declare He will, the physical people will be born again of the Spirit of God and inherit the one Kingdom of God. 

Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. (Galatians 3:19)

The Christian salvation is not a special "dispensation" of Divine favor to the Gentiles. In fact, no Gentile can come under the new covenant until he or she, by being joined spiritually to Christ, becomes a member of "the house of Israel" (Hebrews 8:10).

There is no such thing as a Gentile church, a Gentile kingdom, a Gentile bride. Upon marrying Joseph, Asenath, the daughter of Potipherah the Egyptian, became an Israelite. Asenath did not retain her identity as a Gentile. If she had, Manasseh and Ephraim would have been considered half Israelite and half Egyptian.

We lose our identity as Gentiles the moment we become part of Christ. In fact, we become part of the only true Seed of Abraham. There is neither Jew nor Gentile in Christ. 

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ. (Galatians 3:28)

When Christ came He came to the Jews. Salvation is of the Jews. The spiritual and only Kingdom of God, of Heaven, is of the Jews. Christ is the Son of David and will be crowned King on the throne of David in the city of Jerusalem.

Jesus Christ is Messiah, the King of the Kingdom of Israel, which is the Kingdom of God. There is no other Kingdom of God, no other Kingdom of Heaven—at least not according to the Scriptures.

In order for a physical Jew to become part of the one Seed of Abraham and thus enter God's Kingdom, he must be born again. There is no separate kingdom reserved for the Jew who has not been born again, who is not a part of the one Body of Christ, the one Kingdom of God, the one Vine, the one holy city, the one new Jerusalem, the one Wife of the Lamb. God's elect are one—one true Olive Tree.

The writers of the New Testament were Jews, with the exception of Luke. The Scriptures, Old Testament and New, are Jewish. Christ was raised in a Jewish household. Upon Christ are based all the fulfillments of the promises of God for Christ is the only promised Seed of Abraham. 

Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. (Galatians 3:16)

And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:29)

Will Christ, the Son of David, rule over a "Gentile Bride" in Heaven and an "Israelite Bride" on the earth in spite of all the Apostle Paul taught to the contrary? Given the convergence of the spiritual and physical realms in the Day of the Lord, given the fact that Heaven will come to earth in the new Jerusalem, how can anyone conceive of a future in which God has one kingdom in the spirit realm and another in the physical realm?

We Gentiles have become inflated with pride. We need to realize we have been grafted on the holy root of Israel. Indeed, we are not a special "spiritual kingdom" that is exempt from the laws of righteousness.

We have been added to Israel just as Asenath was added to Joseph. Now we no longer are Gentiles but an inseparable part of true Israel and heirs of the Messianic Kingdom, the Kingdom of God, the one true Kingdom that according to the Prophets is destined to rule the nations of the earth forever. This is the Kingdom from Heaven, the new Jerusalem.

If, as the Scripture teaches, the new Jerusalem is the Wife of the Lamb, the Christian Church, where is the so-called natural kingdom of Israel on the new earth? Why is it not described in the last two chapters of the Book of Revelation?

The promises in the Book of Isaiah concerning the glorification of Zion and Israel are speaking of the Glory of Christ in an Israel that has been born again in Christ.

It is written that after the full number of Gentiles has been received into the true Israel, God will turn again to physical Israel. When God turns again to the Jews, which may be beginning already, they finally will be born again. They will become members of the Body of Christ, which is the Kingdom of God. 

For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. (Romans 11:25-27)

The Kingdom of God is the rule of God in Christ in the saints over the nations of saved peoples of the earth. The saints (holy ones) are the members of the Body of Christ, the one true Israel of God. 

Mansions in Heaven?

The original "blessed hope" of the Christian Church was the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to the earth to set up His Kingdom. This is the teaching of the Hebrew Prophets and also of the writers of the New Testament.

Our traditions have changed the original, scriptural hope. We of today are looking for the Lord Jesus to come and carry His Church up to Heaven so the believers can live forever in mansions in the spirit realm. It may shock Christians for us to say so but our traditions in this regard are incorrect and misleading.

The teaching that the Lord Jesus Christ returned to Heaven in order to build mansions for the believers is based on only one verse of Scripture—John 14:2. There is no other verse in the entire Scriptures that so much as suggests that Christ is building mansions for us in Paradise. All experienced saints know we must not base any doctrine, much less a doctrine that establishes the goal of our salvation, on a single verse of Scripture.

John 14:2 is the only verse that appears to support the idea that Christ is building mansions for us in Heaven. In fact, a careful examination of John 14:2 will demonstrate that not even it is suggesting Christ is building mansions for us in Heaven.

In actuality there is not one verse in the Scriptures that states Christ is constructing mansions for the believers in Heaven and that one day He will appear and carry us up to our mansion. This belief may be one of our strongest traditions but it is unscriptural. Furthermore, it has eclipsed the true goal of the Christian redemption—the establishing of the Kingdom of God on the earth.

The view of a mansion in Heaven as the goal of salvation actually leads away from the redemptive purposes of God. It contributes to the spiritual immaturity we see all about us.

Let us examine John 14:2 from a contextual standpoint and then in terms of the word mansion .

The fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John has much to say about the new covenant fulfillment of the old covenant feast of Tabernacles. Christ is teaching that as the Father dwells in Him, the Father and He desire to dwell in us. In the Father’s House (Christ) there is room for us too. In Christ there are many places of abode, of rest, of refuge.

Christ is the House of God. He went to the cross, and then to the Father, in order to prepare a place for us in Himself.

This same idea is repeated in the invitation to abide in Christ (John 15:4-7) and is brought to a climax in the holy prayer of the Lord’s that we become an integral part of the Personality of Christ and God (John 17:21-23).

Notice in John, Chapters 14 through 17 that Christ never once speaks of His going to Heaven or of our going to Heaven. We say, no one goes to Heaven except through Christ. Christ says, no one comes to the Father except through Him. There is a difference between going to Heaven and coming to the Father (John 14:6).

Nowhere in the New Testament is it stated that Heaven is the Father’s house. But several passages refer to Christ and to us as the eternal Temple of God. 

Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? (I Corinthians 3:16)

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? (I Corinthians 6:19)

And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (II Corinthians 6:16)

Ye also, as lively [living] stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. (I Peter 2:5)

Nowhere is it stated that Christ is building fine houses for us in heaven. When Jesus said "I go to prepare a place for you" He was speaking of going to the cross, and then of the sprinkling of His blood in the Presence of God so we may be received into God and become an inseparable part of God and of Christ (Hebrews 9:23,24).

In John 14:3, Jesus promised, "I will come again, and receive you unto myself." This is not the coming of Christ in the clouds of heaven. John 14:18-23, which is part of the context of John 14:3, shows that the coming referred to here is the coming of the Father and Christ to make Their abode in the believers. This is the spiritual fulfillment of the Old Testament feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:39-43).

To claim that John 14:2 is referring to going to Paradise to live in a splendid house is to remove this verse from its context.

The Greek term translated mansion , in John 14:2, has nothing to do with a structure, whether splendid or dilapidated. The term indicates a place of remaining or abiding.

The Greek noun translated mansion is found but twice in the New Testament: in John 14:2, and again in John 14:23 where it is translated abode.

John 14:23 explains John 14:2. It is we who are the mansions, the chariots of God. It is we who are the places in which God in Christ may find His eternal rest (Psalms 68:18; Isaiah 66:1,2; Hebrews 4:1).

The verb related to the Greek noun we are discussing is employed in John 15:4-7 and John 14:10. It is translated abide .

If we are to be consistent with the use of the English word mansion as the translation of the Greek noun and its corresponding verb, we have the following:

"But the Father that mansions in me, he doeth the works" (John 14:10).

"We will come unto him, and make our mansion with him" (John 14:23).

"Mansion in me, and I in you" (John 15:4).

When we die we may, if we are among the saved, go to a beautiful home in Paradise. There is no doubt, according to the teaching of the Scriptures, that the rewards for obedient, faithful discipleship to the Lord Jesus will overwhelm the saint with joy and glory. God knows each of us well and He has prepared our rewards in terms of His personal knowledge of our deepest, strongest desires.

Our crowns and other rewards are tailored carefully to us as an individual. They will not be arbitrary riches bestowed on us apart from the intimate knowledge God has of the longings of our personality.

If we delight ourselves in the Lord He shall give us the desires of our heart.

No good thing will God withhold from the person who walks uprightly before Him.

Some trustworthy saints have, in their visions, beheld glorious mansions of light in Paradise. We do not doubt their revelations. Our point is not that there are no mansions in Heaven.

Our point is that we should not be preaching that the goal of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God is eternal residence in a mansion in Heaven. The thought of Christ building magnificent houses for us in Paradise has no foundation in the Scriptures, either Old Testament or New Testament.

However, the idea that God is building an eternal dwelling place for Himself, of which Christ is the chief Cornerstone and we are living stones, has support in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. 

And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. (Exodus 25:8)

In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:22)

The Father’s eternal House, His dwelling place, is the Lord Jesus Christ. We Christians are the many places of abode (mansions) of the one House. We are the members of the Body of Christ. 

The Goal of the Church

The traditional understanding of the goal of the Church, of the Christian discipleship, is eternal residence in Paradise. The truth is, no covenant of God, whether found in the Old Testament or the New Testament, has as its goal our eternal residence in Heaven. The most commonly-held hope in all Christendom is that the Lord Jesus is our "ticket" to Paradise. If we believe in Jesus and if we try to be good we will go to Heaven when we die, there to live forever with God.

It indeed is true that our goal is to live forever in the Presence of God. It is true that our life, our hopes, our treasures, our joy are in Heaven in the present hour. It is true that our citizenship is in Heaven, that the saints are in Heaven around the Throne of God, and that our redemption is coming down from Heaven.

The Kingdom of God is of Heaven and will come down from Heaven. The spiritual Jerusalem, the "Zion" to which we have come, is in Heaven in the present hour. Our life is hidden with Christ in God in Heaven.

But our goal is not to go to Heaven to live forever. Our goal is to learn to live in the Spirit that is from Heaven, from God, so when the Lord Jesus returns to earth we may return with Him in the fullness of the glory and power of Heaven.

The goal of the Christian redemption is not a place . Our goal is the eternal Life that Christ Is. Our goal is to dwell in God, in the glory and joy of His Presence. Our final destination is the earth, for the Kingdom of God will be established on the earth.

This is not to say that in the resurrection we shall be restricted to the earth. God alone knows the joys and opportunities that await us. Our emphasis is that the Scriptures, especially the writings of the Prophets, point toward the glory that will come to the earth with the return of Christ. We prosper when we adhere to the written Word.

Going to Heaven will not satisfy the deepest longing of our heart. The deepest longing of our heart is to be one with Christ and the saints in God. It is the beauty and joy of Heaven that we are seeking, and that beauty and joy proceed only from the Presence of God in Christ.

One day the same beauty and joy will proceed from us, as God in Christ in us brings the nations of saved peoples of the earth into the liberty of the glory of the children of God (Romans 8:21; Revelation 21:3,4).

To go to live forever in mansions in the spirit realm, there to have no responsibility, to perform no useful service, is not the goal of the holy Scriptures. The goal of mansions, and the accompanying idea that we achieve the goal by means of a one-time assent to the truth of Christ’s atoning death and triumphant resurrection, have resulted in confusion concerning the necessity for our conversion to godly behavior. They have produced a continuing state of spiritual immaturity on the part of the believers.

In any endeavor it is important to have a correct goal, or mark. It is impossible to run a race wholeheartedly if there is any confusion concerning the direction of the course and the location of the finish line. One cannot run to win when there is no clearly defined mark. But this is the condition prevailing in Christianity.

The scriptural goal of the Church is to become the eternal house of the Lord God of Heaven. 

In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:22)

The goal of Christianity is not where we go but what we become. The goal of our redemption is the forming in us of the eternal Tabernacle of God, the holy city, the Wife of the Lamb. The Christian salvation is God-centered, not man-centered. The Holy Spirit is building something for the pleasure and use of God. Our pleasure and benefit are secondary in importance.

We need to repeat often, in the twentieth century, the concept of God-centeredness. God was not created for man’s benefit; man was created for God’s benefit.

At the time of the Exodus, God revealed His intention to create a dwelling place for Himself: 

Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O Lord, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established. (Exodus 15:17)

And a little later: 

And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. (Exodus 25:8)

Again, in the New Testament: 

Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? (Acts 7:49)

The Lord God of Heaven desires a house, a place of rest. God already has a temple in Heaven and His will is being performed there (Isaiah 6:1). However, God’s intention is to live in the earth among the nations of people He has created.

In the beginning the Lord God walked on the earth, as described in the first few chapters of the Book of Genesis. In the last days His throne will come down from Heaven to rest on the earth for eternity as portrayed in the last two chapters of the Book of Revelation. God is creating a house in which He can dwell among people on the earth.

God loves the nations of people whom He has created. But the nations have no spiritual light. They have no access to the Presence and blessing of God.

God’s solution to this problem is the creation of a living house in which He can dwell forever on the earth and through which He can rule and bless the nations of saved peoples of the earth. This living house is being formed from living stones.

The living stones are people whom God has separated from the remainder of mankind for the purpose of serving as His royal priesthood. Some of the living stones were born Gentiles; but the character of the New Jerusalem, the eternal Tabernacle of God, is of Israel. It is the new Jerusalem and the elect Gentiles are an integral part of it.

God is creating a house for Himself. The living stones of which it is composed will serve for eternity as kings and priests of the nations of saved peoples of the earth. They are the Presence of God among mankind. 

. . . all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the Lord hath blessed. (Isaiah 61:9)

If the true Christian salvation is the extending of an amnesty to us so that our sins are overlooked, with the intent of bringing us to Paradise to live useless lives in an environment that presents no challenge to our characters, then the bringing forth of a new, godly creation in our personalities may be desirable but it is not essential.

If the true Christian salvation is the building of an eternal house for the God of Heaven, a tabernacle of glory that will serve for eternity as the light of the nations of saved peoples of the earth, then the bringing forth of a new, godly creation in our personalities is necessary for the gaining of our inheritance. Transforming grace must be added to pardoning grace.

Going to live forever in Heaven, and being changed into the image of Jesus, are two different goals. The first is not found in the Scriptures. The second is found in the Scriptures (Romans 8:29). 

And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. (Revelation 21:3)

And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. (Revelation 21:24)

Two Second Comings?

The Christian churches of our day are not prospering spiritually and therefore are not able to effect the moral reformation of our national governments. The reason is, we of the churches are not obeying the written Word of God (Joshua 1:8). The believers are hearing "rapture, rapture, rapture, prosperity, faith, you can have everything you desire." Since these are not scriptural emphases, the believers are not being fed the living Bread and the churches are dying spiritually.

Of all the errors of current Christian theology, one of the most weakening, in terms of the spiritual vigor of the believers, may be the teaching that there will be a special, secret coming of Christ prior to His actual, prophesied coming to establish His Kingdom on the earth.

It appears that the teaching of the secret "rapture" is a device intended to make the Christian redemption like the other religions of the world—an escape to Paradise in the spirit realm. The Gospel of the Kingdom of God is not an escape to Paradise in the spirit realm. It is the return of God and of Paradise to the earth, and the removal of sin and death, and the effects of sin and death, from the saved peoples of the nations.

In the twenty-fourth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus spoke concerning His return to the earth. Nowhere in the New Testament writings is there a reference to Christ's returns, or comings (plural). There is not one reference to two second comings. In Matthew, Jesus stated that His coming (singular) would not be a secret and would take place after the great tribulation (Matthew 24:29). 

Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (Matthew 24:29,30)

The return of the Lord Jesus Christ to the earth will coincide with the outpouring of God's wrath on the ungodly. 

And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: (II Thessalonians 1:7,8)

This is the time when one will be taken and the other left. 

Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. (Matthew 24:40,41)

Jesus' second coming will be preceded by the universal signs mentioned by the Prophet Joel. 

And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come. (Joel 2:30,31)

The trumpet of the Lord will sound and Christ's elect will be gathered together to Him. 

And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven [of the heavens] to the other. (Matthew 24:31)

Every eye shall behold Him, as stated in the Book of Revelation. 

Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. (Revelation 1:7)

Revelation 1:7 is the corner stone of the Book of Revelation. It is not to be changed in any manner.

This is the second coming of the Lord, the descent of Christ and His Body to the Mount of Olives as promised in Acts 1:11. Here is the "blessed hope" of the Christian Church, the hope of the godly until the nineteenth century.

In our day, a confusing and destructive idea has been introduced into Christian theology. Before the return of Christ to the earth, before the scriptural Day of Christ, Day of the Lord, there will be a special, secret appearing of Christ in order to withdraw the believers (in their immaturity) from the earth so they (the "Gentile part" of the Body of Christ) will not be required to suffer at the hands of Antichrist.

This in spite of the stern warning of the Scripture that careless, lukewarm believers will face an angry Christ.

This in spite of Jesus' warning concerning the spirit of deception that is to challenge the elect. This in spite of Jesus' statement that the wheat and the tares will come to maturity side by side.

This in spite of the fact that the history of the Christian Church has been one of suffering and persecution. This in spite of the fact that the wrath of God will fall the moment Christ summons His elect to Himself (following the type of Lot—Luke 17:29), not seven years later as is being taught.

This in spite of the fact that the Apostle Paul stated clearly that the Jews and Gentiles are one Body in Christ.

No doubt the current "faith-prosperity" doctrine, which is the voice of the False Prophet, is an offshoot of the unscriptural belief that God is not willing His saints should suffer.

The secret evacuation of the "Gentile Church" (the concept of a "Gentile Church" being an unscriptural doctrine of itself) is based on I Thessalonians 4:16- 5:3 plus an assortment of fleshly assumptions: ("God does not want His children to suffer"; there will be a special seven-year "awards ceremony" in which all believers, regardless of their sin and self-love, will hear "well done, good and faithful servant"; we are saved by "grace" alone whether or not we live a godly life; and all the rest of the satanic lies—lies calculated to leave the believers unprepared for the age of moral horrors that is at the door.

The truth is, I Thessalonians 4:16-5:3 fits exactly what Jesus prophesied in the twenty-fourth chapter of the Book of Matthew. The trumpet sounds. The elect are gathered to Christ. Sudden destruction falls on the ungodly. There is no difference whatever. The Greek term parousia is used in both passages for "coming."

For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. (I Thessalonians 4:16-5:3)

The description given of the Lord's return, in the fourth chapter of First Thessalonians, fits perfectly the scriptural (Old Testament and New Testament) prophecies of the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to the earth to establish His Kingdom. Christ will sit on the throne of David, His physical ancestor, in the city of Jerusalem.

Look carefully at these verses in First Thessalonians and you will see there is no suggestion that the saints on earth will disappear and return to Heaven with Christ at that time. There is no support for such an interpretation in the writings of the Hebrew Prophets or the new-covenant Apostles.

In this passage there is no indication that the purpose of the resurrection and catching up is to remove the saints from the deceptions of Antichrist or the dangers of the great tribulation.

The purpose of the words of Paul is to comfort the bereaved saints who believed that their deceased loved ones would not be present when the Kingdom of God came from Heaven. It is totally indefensible to use Paul's "funeral sermon" as a basis for a special unscriptural disappearing of a Gentile segment of the Christian Church!

Revelation 3:10 often is used to teach that the saints will be withdrawn from the earth in order to escape tribulation: 

Because thou hast kept [observed; guarded] the word of my patience, I also will keep [observe; guard] thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

The Greek language employed in Revelation 3:10 does not speak of a removal from the earth or even of a tribulation.

If we will guard the Word of Christ's patience Christ will guard us from the hour of temptation (not tribulation)—a time when sin will be so widespread it will be nearly impossible to resist its enticing attraction.

John 17:15, written by the same author, uses the same Greek verb for "keep" (observe; guard ). In this passage Jesus indicates that the Divine provision for keeping (guarding) us is not removal from the earth: 

I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep [guard] them from the evil. (John 17:15)

It is true that Christ will receive us to Himself before the wrath of God falls on the ungodly. The wrath of God is not the same thing as tribulation . Indeed, God has appointed His beloved to tribulations great and small. But God has not appointed His saints to wrath. 

Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. (Acts 14:22)

And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. (I Thessalonians 1:10)

There is no suggestion in I Thessalonians 4:16-5:3 that a secret appearing of Christ is being announced. As we have stated, the Greek term translated coming in I Thessalonians 4:15 is the same word (parousia ) employed in the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew and in the other principal descriptions of the Lord's coming. The term is not, as some have taught, an indication that this is a special coming or appearing. The New Testament usage of the word will not support this assertion.

How could this be a secret coming?

The Lord shall descend from Heaven!

There shall be a shout! This is a secret? Rather, this is the army of Christ shouting for the Battle of Armageddon!

The warrior archangel shall utter his voice!

The trumpet of God shall sound!

This is a defiant attack on Antichrist, not a secret evacuation of the saints from the scene of the conflict! 

Not Retreat but Restoration!

Some of the major religions of the world hold forth the hope of a blissful life after we die. If we observe the rules of the religion, if we are "good," we can look forward to a paradisiac environment when we leave the world. This is the belief of their followers.

The idea of the blissful environment after death has entered Christian thinking to such an extent it has become an integral part of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, of the general understanding of the redemption that is in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The erroneous doctrine of the pre-tribulation evacuation ("rapture") of the immature believers in Christ is a handmaid of the hope of transfer to the beautiful, carefree spirit realm. Jesus is coming to take us to Heaven. The interpretation of John 14:2 to mean Jesus is busy building houses for us in Heaven also is an important part of the understanding that the goal of the Christian salvation is eternal residence in Heaven.

The belief that eternal residence in Heaven is the goal of salvation is widely held in Christianity. However, such is not the emphasis of the Scriptures. It is our tradition and it has had an unfavorable influence on the spiritual maturity of the believers.

Why would it be necessary for us to grow spiritually when we will go to Heaven by "grace" in any case? Why is it absolutely essential that we grow in Christian character when our destiny is a place where it does not matter whether or not we are strong in the Lord and in the power of His might? Why should we be learning faith and patience amid much perplexity and suffering when neither of these virtues will be required where we are going?

The present writer looks forward to going to Heaven when he dies as he used to look forward to Christmas morning when he was a boy. We read avidly the visions of the saints and of those who have had an encounter with death. We believe Heaven above is a real and delightful place. Nevertheless, God has called us to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, and the Kingdom of God is the doing of God’s will in the earth.

The expression "go to Heaven" is not found in the New Testament writings, and going to Heaven when we die was not set forth as a hope by the Hebrew Prophets. Paul never once, in any passage of his epistles, spoke of grace as the means of our going to Heaven. The Lord Jesus Christ never is presented, in the Gospel accounts or elsewhere, as the way to Heaven.

One would suppose, from listening to current Christian preaching, that every book of the Scriptures is filled with references to going to Heaven when we die and to Divine grace as the means of getting us there. Instead of there being an abundance of incidences there is not one reference.

Why are we Christians, who profess allegiance to the holy Scriptures, preaching and teaching what is not taught in the Scriptures?

The entire Scriptures, Old Testament and New Testament, are one revelation of Christ and His Kingdom. They are one whole. They speak of restoration. They proclaim the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth. They portray the restoring to mankind of the Presence of God and the beauty of Paradise—of all that was lost in the beginning.

God walked on the earth in the beginning. God then withdrew into the heavens so we may learn thoroughly what a world without God is like. But God will return! He will restore! The Throne of God and of the Lamb will be installed forever on the new earth, as we read in the last two chapters of the Book of Revelation.

God left the earth because of our sin. The entire Scriptures are an explanation of what God has done, is doing, and will continue to do to make possible His return to the earth to live among the nations of people whom He has created.

The Christian redemption is not a transfer of saved people to Heaven. Rather, it is the enabling of us, through Divine grace, to overcome sin and death so we can live once again on the earth—an earth so filled with the Presence of God as to be Paradise.

This is the teaching of both the Old and New Testaments. 

They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:9)

And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. (Revelation 21:3)

In the above verse (Revelation 21:3) the "men" with whom God comes to dwell are the nations of saved peoples of the earth. The "tabernacle of God" is the Kingdom of God, the Church of Christ, the Seed of Abraham, the new Jerusalem, the Wife of the Lamb. Read the sixtieth chapter of the Book of Isaiah with this in mind and notice that the Old Testament portrays the same destiny for the Kingdom, the Israel of God.

The Lord Jesus will return to the earth. The Kingdom of God is at hand and soon will come down from Heaven and be installed forever on the earth. All the kingdoms of the world will be turned over to the Lord Jesus Christ and He in and with His victorious saints will rule forever.

This is the true Christian Gospel, the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. It is the doing of God’s will in the earth as it is in Heaven.

The manmade "gospel" that we are saved to make our eternal home in Heaven above is a gospel of defeat, of retreat, and Satan understands this. What Satan fears is the coming of the Kingdom of God, the rule of God, to the earth; for Satan, a usurping cherub, regards this earth and its people as his own possession. Satan believes his own will should be done in the earth.

What about you? Are you willing to give your inheritance in Christ, which is to serve as a king and priest of God over the nations of the saved, to a usurping cherub, a cherub who has no right to any part of the earth? Are you willing to flee to the spirit realm so Satan can inherit what the Father has promised to the Lord Jesus Christ (Psalms 2:8) and to you as a coheir?

Or would you prefer to return with the Lord Jesus and release the creation into the liberty of the glory of the children of God? (Romans 8:19-21).

Is Christ preparing you to sit and do nothing in your "mansion in Heaven" or is He preparing you to work with Him in the restoration of His inheritance, which is the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth?

Are you being trained as a king and priest of God or are you forfeiting your inheritance as a son of God by neglecting to press forward into full victory in Christ in every area of your life? (Hebrews 2:3).

Are you one of those who is turning to the Scriptures to see if these things are so, or are you willing to gamble your eternal inheritance in Christ on the unscriptural traditions of men? 

Who Is "He Who Now Restrains"?

For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth [restrains] will let, until he be taken out of the way. (II Thessalonians 2:7)

Many of the Christian churches, in accordance with the doctrine of the "pre-tribulation rapture" of the believers, understand "he who now restrains" to be the Holy Spirit. The "Gentile Bride" is to be lifted up to Heaven accompanied by the Holy Spirit. The removal of the Holy Spirit from the earth will permit the full revelation of the "man of sin." This is what is taught currently.

While we agree that the Holy Spirit in the saints is the Power who is restraining the open revelation of the man of sin, we do not believe that the Holy Spirit Himself will be removed from the earth during the great apostasy.

We have at least six reasons for not accepting the current position that II Thessalonians 2:7 means the Holy Spirit of God will be withdrawn into Heaven with the believers before the days of trouble come.

First of all, the doctrine of a special, secret translation of the saints to prevent their suffering cannot, as we see it, be defended by any straightforward interpretation of the Scriptures. The secret translation selects passages here and there and colors them with preconceptions. It is based on assumptions and reasoning. It is not derived from the careful exegesis of any passage of Scripture that we know of; neither does it come by revelation from the Lord.

We have been in churches where there have been many prophetic pronouncements. We have never heard one prophecy given by a believer that spoke of an any-moment "rapture" of the believers.

We exhort godly ministers to look once again to the Book to see if there will be a secret coming of the Lord Jesus before His glorious appearing in the clouds of the heaven.

Second, the serious student will note that II Thessalonians 2:7 does not speak of the restrainer being lifted up to Heaven nor does I Thessalonians 4:17 speaks of the saints being lifted up to Heaven. The idea of the Holy Spirit and the saints being lifted up to Heaven is the result of the "coloring" that occurs because of the teaching of the "rapture.

Third, Paul has just stated (II Thessalonians 2:3) that the Day of Christ, which beyond all question is the second coming of the Lord, will not occur until after the man of sin is revealed

Our fourth reason for disagreeing with the current Christian understanding is, there is no statement in either the Old Testament or the New Testament to the effect that the Holy Spirit will be removed from the earth prior to the great tribulation or at any other time.

Although there is no scriptural support for the teaching of the removal of the Holy Spirit from the earth, there is a scriptural explanation of II Thessalonians 2:7. It is that the anointing for witnessing that will characterize the last days, the "latter rain" outpouring of the Spirit, will be diminished greatly as soon as the worldwide witness has been given to God’s satisfaction.

The decrease of God’s Presence and power will result in the Christian witness being overcome by the lust of the flesh (Sodom), the lust of the eyes (Egypt), and the pride of life (Jerusalem) as well as by violent persecution. 

And their dead bodies shall let of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. (Revelation 11:8)

Because lawlessness will abound in the earth, the love of the majority of the believers, including some of the saints who were used by God during the last great revival, will grow cold (Revelation 11:7,8; Daniel 11:35); Matthew 24:12).

God will remove the power of the Holy Spirit that is restraining the Antichrist. God will give authority and power to Antichrist. The believers will be overcome by the power of darkness. Only those saints who have the Presence of God and Christ dwelling in them will be able to stand and serve the Lord during the last days.

The result of the decrease of the Presence of the Spirit of God will be the "falling away of" the believers (II Thessalonians 2:3).

You may recall that Jesus warned us concerning the doctrine of Balaam (Revelation 2:14). Balaam was unable to curse the Israelites because of the blessing that rested on them. Therefore Balaam in his wisdom counseled Balak, the king of Moab, to seduce the Israelite warriors to commit sin. Balaam knew that if the Israelites could be tempted to sin their Divine defense would depart from them and they could be overcome. Can you see this pattern in II Thessalonians 2:3? Can you see that it is the falling away that makes possible the rise of Antichrist?

Satan has learned through the centuries that the Christian Church cannot be conquered by any amount of threats, imprisonments, tortures, or slayings. Therefore Satan’s master plan for the last days is to conquer the Christian saints by means of ease, prosperity, peace, and an abundance of available sin. 

And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace [in their security; when they feel secure] shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand. (Daniel 8:24,25)

This is why Jesus promised us that if we would be careful to guard the Word of His patience, He would be careful to guard us during the hour of temptation (not tribulation) of the last days (Revelation 3:10).

The Christian churches of the wealthy nations of our day already have been conquered by Antichrist as they accept the teaching that God desires His people not suffer but rather that they be satisfied with an abundance of material goods and pleasures, with material "security." These churches no longer possess the spiritual power to restrain the secular governments. Life on earth has become too sweet for them to take a chance on losing their possessions by antagonizing the government.

The spirit of "the rights of the people" (another name for lawlessness ) is filling the democratic nations. The emphasis is on pleasing the people. In some instances this spirit is causing the systems of criminal justice to falter. Those in charge are unwilling to rule with sternness, fearing the criticism of lawyers, judges, pastors, psychologists, educators, the media, and others who are pleading "the rights of the people."

Perhaps the major Christian error, which is the interpreting of Paul’s doctrine of grace to mean no matter what we do, how we behave ourselves, God will receive us into Paradise, has resulted from the spirit of humanism. Men love themselves. Therefore God must set Himself the task of pleasing and taking care of people.

This is the spirit of Antichrist. Antichrist is the imitation of Christ. Antichrist resembles Christ in many ways but he will not lay aside his life, take up his cross, and follow Jesus.

Today we have a false Christianity. It has the voice of Jacob but the hands of Esau. The speech is godly but the actions are those of the world.

It sounds as though we are being godly when we stress the rights of people, the welfare of people. However, this spirit is not of God. It is of Antichrist. The true Christian Gospel points people toward death with Jesus on the cross. It does not encourage their love of themselves.

The False Prophet already has entered the Christian churches, especially, it seems, the "Charismatic" churches. Perhaps this is because the Charismatic churches may represent the greatest potential threat to Satan’s kingdom in that they have a little of the Life of the Holy Spirit. But in the Charismatic churches, Satan is speaking of the believer’s right to be happy and increased with goods, claiming that no Christian need have any fear of being punished at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

The Kingdom of God cannot come into being until the ruling Son (Christ in us—Revelation, Chapter 12) is born. The ruling Son cannot be born until the Church is willing to bow in the travail of death to the flesh and soul. Therefore the tactic of Antichrist is to persuade Christians to "live." Christ wants to make you happy. Christ wants to make you a success. You can do all things through Christ. This is the cry of the False Prophet.

The point of all this flattery is to persuade Christians to save their lives. Satan has no fear of Christians. His fear is of Christ. If he can persuade Christians to save their lives "through Christ" he then can prevent the bringing forth of Christ.

It is the cross that brings about the end of Satan’s kingdom. By persuading the believers to ignore their personal cross and concentrate on the "good things" they can get out of God through Christ, Satan hopes to set aside the maturing of the power of the Kingdom of God.

The tactic of destroying the power of the saints by gold rather than by guns is effective. It is the tactic of the last days and already has destroyed the Christian witness in the democratic nations.

Jesus did not come to make us comfortable and happy. Jesus came to bring into being the Kingdom of God. Bringing into being the Kingdom of God requires that we be crucified with Christ. The way to glory is through our personal cross. The way to rulership is through suffering. The way to the crown is through the cross. The church fathers knew this. The contemporary Christians are in deception.

The decrease of holy spiritual power in the last days will enable Antichrist to expand his influence in the world, forcing the remnant of true saints to flee from the centers of civilization. The Christian testimony will be "killed" for a season, permitting the setting in of the worldwide revolt against authority. 

. . . it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter [shatter] the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished. (Daniel 12:7)

The verses in Daniel concerning Antichrist provide the foundation for Paul’s teaching in II Thessalonians 2:3-8. Paul understood that God would diminish the power of the Spirit-inspired testimony, resulting in the weakening of the influence of the saints—the "mighty and the holy people"—and the revealing of the man of sin.

Notice also: 

And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. (Revelation 11:7)

The Antichrist will overcome the saints with "Sodom" (the lust of the flesh), "Egypt" (the lust of the eyes), and "Jerusalem" (the pride of life)—Revelation 11:8. Many believers who had been able to restrain themselves to a certain extent will find their resistance to sin is being overcome. They no longer have the strength to stand. Also, Antichrist will frighten the believers with economic penalties and in some cases with physical terror.

When the Christian churches of the earth have been overcome by the deceiving ability of Antichrist, are worshiping him, yielding to the evil that is in the world economic system, receiving the mark of his name, not having prepared themselves to stand in the evil day, the wicked of the earth will "rejoice over them, and make merry." Those who are evil will always rejoice over a fallen saint.

The Spirit-filled churches of the first half of the prophetic "week" had been a strong rebuke to the practices of the world. They had possessed the power of the Spirit of God to bring judgment on the wicked. Now it is obvious that they no longer are able to wield the power the wicked had come to fear.

All that is left is the "dead bodies" of the Christian institutions. The deceived Christians have joined the ranks of those who are seeking the welfare of people. These seduced believers will join with Antichrist in expelling the true saints, who are continuing to warn the churches and the world of what is taking place. The saints will seem as the most disgusting and unenlightened of people, not being willing to participate in the "wonderful" new age that has come to the earth.

How many Charismatic churches of today would tolerate someone who proclaimed to them that only those among them who had forsaken the world, had taken up their cross and were following Jesus, were the true Christians? How would they receive an individual who kept on warning them that the so-called "prosperity message" is coming from the False Prophet?

How would they treat a prophet if the President and the governors all were "Christians" and "deplored" the shortsightedness of this weird individual who kept on insisting that it is not of God that His saints be "successful" and at home in the present world; that the world is the enemy of the saint?

As is true today, the churches will have lost their separation from the world, like Samson of the Old Testament, and as a result their strength. Here is Laodicea—the church without the Spirit of God, the church of "the rights of people." Laodicea is "rich and increased with goods" because it is subsidized by Antichrist so that it may work with his government in the establishing of world peace.

The fiery testimony of the Holy Spirit no longer is present in these "Christian" institutions. They are dead! 

. . . I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. (Revelation 3:1)

"And art dead"!

Concerning Antichrist: 

And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. (Revelation 13:7)

Before the witnessing power was decreased the saints could not be harmed (Revelation 11:5). When God removes the Power that is hindering Antichrist, Antichrist then will be able to seduce many of the witnesses, and also their converts, and to bring the fullness of lawlessness into the lives of the inhabitants of the earth. There no longer will be any power that can restrain him.

Our fifth reason for not believing the Holy Spirit will be withdrawn from the earth (along with today’s crop of immature believers) is that the Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached through at least part of the tribulation period, and it is not possible to preach the Gospel of Christ apart from the anointing of the Holy Spirit of God.

And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days. (Daniel 11:33)

Daniel, as was true of all the Hebrew Prophets, was writing concerning the Christian saints, whether they are Jews or Gentiles by natural birth. It is we Christians who are the "saints," the "holy ones" of God. The term saint is used in the Christian Epistles to refer to God’s elect. Paul always wrote to the "saints," to the "holy ones" of God, not to the "Christians." The term Christian is employed only three times in the entire New Testament and never once by the Apostle Paul.

The present-day doctrine of God removing the Gentile part of His Church to Heaven, while the Jewish segment is left on the earth to face the wrath of Antichrist, is indeed contrary to the writings of the Apostle Paul. Hopefully the Jewish Christians will recognize the anti-Semitism in the doctrine of the division of the one Church and reject it, for the teaching is not of God. Christ still loves His chosen people.

As we have stated, it is not possible to teach or to understand the things of God apart from the Presence of the Holy Spirit. How could the saints of the tribulation period without the Spirit of God "instruct many" concerning the Kingdom of God, when one neither can see nor enter the Kingdom of God apart from being born again of the Spirit of God (John 3:3-5)?

Also, does it make sense that God would withdraw His Spirit from the earth along with the saved Gentiles so the Gentiles will not have to face Antichrist and tribulation, and then ask His chosen people, the Jews, to preach the Gospel in the face of Antichrist without the power or guidance of the Holy Spirit? Does this make any sense at all or is it not rather a delusion, the purpose of which is to lull the believing Gentiles into spiritual sleep and spiritual death?

We are not aware that God ever at any time has charged a human being to bear witness of His Person and will without the help of the Holy Spirit. In fact, it is impossible to bear witness of God’s Kingdom apart from the Presence of the Holy Spirit. How, then, can those who understand instruct many during the tribulation period when the Holy Spirit is not present to enlighten the heart and mind of the teacher and the student? Can the natural man teach and perceive the things of the Spirit of God (I Corinthians 2:14)?

Our sixth objection to the doctrine of the removal of the Spirit of God is, there are Old Testament passages that declare God will move in unprecedented power at the time of the greatest spiritual darkness

Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. (Isaiah 60:1,2)

Here we see that God will glorify the purified remnant of saints who will be on the earth in the hour of intense, worldwide spiritual darkness. Some of these saints will be Jewish and some Gentile. They will be one Body in Christ.

In the period immediately preceding the return of Christ the Lord will enter His people in the fullness of the power of His Spirit. 

The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining. The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the Lord will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel. (Joel 3:15,16)

We see, therefore, that the interpreting of II Thessalonians 2:7 to mean the Holy Spirit will be received back into Heaven before the Lord returns is not stated in the Scriptures. The belief is derived from this one verse of Scripture (because of the preconceived notion of the pre-tribulation evacuation of the believers), even though the verse itself does not make any such statement or suggestion.

In review:

The doctrine of a special, secret translation of the saints to prevent their suffering cannot be defended by any competent, straightforward interpretation of the Scriptures.

Second Thessalonians 2:7 does not speak of the restrainer being lifted up to Heaven.

The Day of Christ, which beyond all question is the second coming of the Lord, will not occur until after the man of sin is revealed.

There is no statement in either the Old Testament or the New Testament to the effect that the Holy Spirit will be removed from the earth prior to the great tribulation.

The Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached through at least part of the tribulation period.

There are Old Testament passages that declare God will move in unprecedented power at the time of the greatest spiritual darkness.

There is scriptural support for the idea that there will be in the last days a great latter-rain revival, as symbolized by the two witnesses of Revelation, Chapter Eleven (Joel 2:23; Hosea 6:3; Zechariah 10:1).

At the end of the revival God will permit Antichrist to overcome the Christian witness by deception and force and to drive the remnant of true saints into hiding, thus effectively silencing for a season in the cities of the earth the Divine testimony (Isaiah 4:6; 26:20; Revelation 12:14).

The silencing of the Christian testimony in the centers of civilization will remove the power of the Spirit that is hindering the revealing of the man of sin. Antichrist then will be able to express fully in the earth the person, will, and ways of Satan. 

Scattering the Power of the Saints

And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished. (Daniel 12:7)

According to our understanding, the "time, times, and an half" refers to the second half of the week of years (seven years) that is set forth in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation.

The "two witnesses" prophesy during the first half of the week (three and one-half years) and the man of sin, the Antichrist, is revealed during the second half of the week (three and one-half years). The second half of the week will be a time of great tribulation for all the peoples of the earth, including the true people of God—the elect Jews and Gentiles (Matthew 24:16; Zechariah 13:8,9).

The rule of Antichrist will produce mammoth desolation and destruction in the earth, as the rule of man apart from God always does. In spite of the ruin on every hand the inhabitants of the earth, including the deceived Christians, will cry, "Peace and safety!"

The "holy people" of Daniel 12:7 are God’s saints, His testimony in the earth. They have just preached the Gospel of the Kingdom for a witness to all nations, as symbolized by the two witnesses of Revelation, Chapter 11. That most powerful of all testimonies will be produced by the "latter rain" outpouring of God’s Spirit prophesied by Joel: 

And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: (Joel 2:28)

Again, speaking of the outpouring of glory that will make straight the way of the Lord: 

And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. (Isaiah 40:5)

The above prophecies never have come to pass in their fullness on the earth. But they will come to pass, as we note from their contexts, in the days immediately preceding the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to the earth.

The "power of the holy people" is the Holy Spirit. This is the Power who restrains the revealing of the man of sin. In order for Satan to elevate Antichrist in the earth he first must scatter the power of the saints. He must dissipate their ability to pray and act in the power of the Spirit of God.

The second lampstand of Revelation, Chapter Eleven (Christ being the first Lampstand) has been hammered into shape throughout the centuries of the Christian Era. The part of the second lampstand that is on the earth during the closing days of the Church Age will be filled with a double (Elisha) portion of God’s Spirit (symbolized by the two olive trees).

The latter-rain revival, an unprecedented downpour of God’s Spirit, the greatest revival of all history, is beginning now. It will increase in power and revelation until the Gospel of the Kingdom has been preached for a witness to every nation of people on the earth (Matthew 24:14).

When God’s witnesses, His saints, have "finished their testimony" (Revelation 11:7), the power of the extraordinary last-day anointing will be lifted. This marks the end of the Christian witness of the Church Age.

Then God will give Antichrist authority over all the nations of the earth. The numerous Christian believers on the earth, having been converted during the revival, and also the saints who have borne the end-time witnesses but who now do not have the enduement of power from on high to inspire and protect them, will be required to stand by faith in the written Word.

The Comforter, the Holy Spirit, will remain resident in them, but they will not be anointed for ministry as had been true during the first half of the "week." The spiritual oppression during that season will be greater than at any other time of earth’s history.

The remaining three and one-half years, the second half of the prophetic "week," is the period of the apostasy. This will be the "hour of temptation" of which Christ spoke (Revelation 3:10) and of very great tribulation for God’s true people (Jeremiah 30:7; Daniel 9:27; Matthew 24:21; Revelation 7:14). Antichrist will rule during this time.

During the second half of the week the love of the majority of Christians will grow cold. They will retain a form of godliness but possess no power of the Spirit. Some of the stronger saints will be deceived and fall. The true Church, the Wife of the Lamb, will be driven into hiding. The elect Jews have been warned by Christ to flee from Judea in that day (Matthew 24:16).

We think that during this time the Christian saints will receive the elect Jews and introduce them to Christ, fulfilling the type of Joseph and his brothers. Jacob was forced into the arms of Joseph by the famine in Canaan, and Jacob again will be forced into the arms of the heavenly "Joseph" by the tribulation that will result from the reign of Antichrist.

The saints in hiding, including the elect Jews who now have received Christ, will constitute a godly remnant. We believe that God will put His Throne in them. The Divine salvation will be available through them. It no longer will be possible to receive Christ or the Holy Spirit in the major cities of the earth. The power of the Spirit, which today restrains the revealing of the man of sin, will have been scattered as to its worldwide witness; but the Spirit will remain in the remnant as a "covert from storm and from rain" for the true Israel of God (Isaiah 4:6).

What means will Antichrist use to overcome the saints? How will he make war against them and overcome them? (Revelation 13:7).

Antichrist will employ three means to overcome the saints: Sodom, Egypt, and Jerusalem. 

And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. (Revelation 11:8)

Satan already has used these three means to scatter the spiritual power of the believers. The saints of the wealthy nations of today already have been conquered by deception and sin. This is why we Christians no longer are able to effect changes in our government and environment and are anxious to escape by fleeing to Paradise in a "rapture." 

Sodom is the lack of control of bodily appetites: fornication, adultery, perversion, drunkenness, reveling, gluttony. Antichrist is providing the Christians in large segments of the world’s population with access to the pleasures of fleshly and often immoral satisfactions. 

Egypt is the desire for the world. Egypt symbolizes the lust of the eyes. Antichrist is overcoming the saints by worldly prosperity and success. Antichrist is so competent in the art of deception that a number of Christian churches are preaching that the Gospel of the Kingdom of God is the good news that Christian believers are to be wealthy in material gain.

The "Spirit-filled" people are preaching the message of the False Prophet. They have been deceived. Antichrist has overcome the saints with the love of money even though the Scriptures contain several examples of people who have been destroyed by the love of money. Also, we have the explicit warning of the Apostle Paul (I Timothy 6:5-11).

There is an increasing emphasis on what is not obviously sinful but results, nevertheless, in our neglecting our salvation: buying and selling, marrying and giving in marriage, eating and drinking, and other ordinary pursuits that are not wrong in themselves but easily can destroy the fervor necessary for the conduct of the life of victory in Christ.

The ability of the Christians in wealthy areas to pray with spiritual power has been largely destroyed. In some countries the believers are more occupied with football or soccer than they are with prayer and the Word of God.

In certain instances the "worshipers" sit in the church services with earplugs from transistor radios in their ears so they will not miss some important sports event. The leaders of the assemblies are afraid to rebuke them out of fear they will lose their congregation. The leaders and the congregations already have been conquered by Antichrist. They pose little threat to the kingdom of Satan. 

Jerusalem is the pride of life. It is the desire of people for preeminence, particularly spiritual preeminence. The Pharisees murdered the Lord’s Christ because of their desire to be foremost in status among the Lord’s flock.

Jesus fled from those who would have made Him the king of Jerusalem (John 6:15).

Antichrist will invite some of God’s prophets to accept positions of high rank in his government. These saints will accept, believing they can help correct the evils they see in the world. They do not understand that our Kingdom is not of this world. They surely shall lose their anointing because, as we see in the example of Samson, the saint’s strength is based on his separation to God.

True prophets walk with God, not with the rulers of the present world system.

In addition to the destruction of the witness produced by the prevalence of temptation, Antichrist with the cooperation of the babylonish (manmade, man-centered, man-directed) church organization, will persecute the true saints, driving them from the cities of the earth. 

And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days. (Daniel 11:33)

The False Prophet, whom we believe to be Christians who are working miracles but living in the wisdom and power of their own souls rather than in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, will encourage the Antichrist government to do away with all Christians who are not willing to join in the worldwide effort to bring peace and safety to mankind.

Antichrist, ruling in terms of libertarian democracy, would far rather persuade the believers to work together with him to promote the new age of prosperity that he envisions than he would destroy them. But the true saints, and the Jews as well, always will be a thorn in his side.

Then his true nature will be revealed for all to see. The mask of loving kindness and concern for people will be removed and the burning fires of Hell will flare from his countenance, just as today the benevolent attitude of the American government disappears when Christian people attempt to resist the national drift toward immorality.

The true saints will be required, through Christ, to gain personal victory over the abundance of fleshly pleasure available in the closing days of the present age. Then they will be driven from the centers of civilization, being forced to live with their children in wilderness areas of the earth. There they will dwell with the elect Jews, under the Lord’s protection, until He appears in the clouds of the heaven and calls them up to their reward.

It is written that the power of the holy people will be scattered in the last days. Let us watch and pray that we may escape being harmed spiritually by the things that come to pass and are able to stand in victory before the Son of Man when He appears. 

The Purpose of the Resurrection of the Priesthood

Ye also, as lively [living] stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. (I Peter 2:5)

There will be a resurrection of the royal priesthood in advance of the remainder of the dead of the earth. 

Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6)

The bodies of the members of the royal priesthood will be raised from the dead at the coming of the Lord. Then their bodies will be filled with righteousness, immortality, and glory by the Holy Spirit who is dwelling in them. 

But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken [make alive] your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. (Romans 8:11)

The bodies of the righteous people who are not members of the priesthood will be raised at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age. They will enter eternal life in the Presence of the Lord. They are part of the inheritance of the royal priesthood. 

Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. (John 5:28,29)

The bodies of the wicked will be raised to judgment. Apparently the wicked will be cast into eternal fire in their bodies. The intersection of the material and spirit realms at this point, while not clearly understood by us, has enough support in Scripture to warrant our statement. 

And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases [bodies] of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh. (Isaiah 66:24)

"The bodies of the men that have transgressed"!

Both the judgment and the rewards or punishments have to do with our bodies—with the manner in which we have used our bodies while alive on the earth: 

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (II Corinthians 5:10)

In the current teaching of the "rapture," the impression is given that the purpose of the resurrection of the righteous is to bring us to Heaven. When the Lord Jesus returns He will carry us off to Heaven, it is believed.

A little reflection will reveal that this thinking not only has no scriptural support, it also is not logical. There is no need for our body to be raised from the dead in order for us to go to Heaven. We (the saints) go to Heaven when we die, not when we come to life again. Heaven is the abode of the departed, bodiless spirits, not of the resurrected, glorified saints.

When the Lord Jesus returns in the power of His Kingdom He will bring the deceased saints with Him, the members of the royal priesthood who are destined to govern the nations of saved peoples of the earth (I Thessalonians 4:14). Does it make sense they then should turn around and go back to Heaven? Have the saints descended from Heaven and received back their bodies from the ground so they may return to Heaven? What need is there for flesh and bones in Heaven?

Also, we must consider Paul’s purpose in writing I Thessalonians 4:13-5:4. The early apostles preached the coming of the Kingdom of God—the return of Christ to the earth to do away with sin and death and to bring in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit of God.

The believers in Thessalonica were concerned that their deceased loved ones might not partake of the glorious release and restoration.

Therefore Paul assured them that when Jesus returns, all true saints will enter the Kingdom together. Even those patriarchs and prophets of old (who without us cannot be made perfect) will enter the Kingdom of God at the time of the return of the Lord Jesus to the earth.

If the goal of salvation were to go to Heaven, Paul’s response would have been: "Do not worry. Your deceased loved ones, those who are ‘asleep,’ are now with Jesus and have their reward. When you fall asleep you too will go to be with them in glory. All will be reunited around the throne of the Lamb."

That is how we would answer today because we are in error concerning the nature of the Kingdom of God.

Paul comforted them with the fact that should Christ return in their lifetime He would bring the deceased with Him. All who are part of Christ would then be gathered together in the resurrection and caught up to meet the Lord in the air —at the level of the clouds just above the earth. The royal priesthood will occupy the thrones in the air that presently are the domain of the fallen lords of the heavens. The thrones in the air govern the spiritual environment of the earth.

The coming of the Kingdom of God is different from our tradition of going to Heaven. Therefore, to place our tradition of the spirit Paradise on a passage dealing with the reuniting of the saints in the Day of Resurrection, and their catching up to meet the Commander in Chief in the air immediately above the earth, is to confuse the "blessed hope" of the Christian Church.

The lack of a clear vision of the hope of the Gospel of Christ, which is the resurrection to eternal life (John 3:16), has produced chaos in the Christian churches. The saints are not pressing toward maturity in Christ, toward the rest of God, because they have been taught to put their trust in a secret translation to Paradise where they will not be held accountable for their conduct on the earth.

If the current tradition were correct, Paul would have spoken of our reconciliation to our loved ones when we die, not when Christ returns and our bodies are raised from the dead.

There is no need for a resurrection in order for us to go to Paradise to live forever.

The purpose of receiving back our bodies is that we may return from Heaven with Jesus and live once again on the earth. In the Scriptures, the resurrection has to do with life in our bodies, not with life in the realm of spirits (I Corinthians 15:22,23).

Ezekiel’s vision concerning the dry bones portrays the assembling of the royal priesthood in the last days and then the raising of the priesthood from the chains of physical death (Ezekiel 37:1-14). The resurrection of the saints is the summoning from the ground of an army, which is in keeping with the description of the first resurrection given by the Apostle Paul (I Thessalonians 4:16).

With a shout (for the battle)!

With the voice of the archangel!

With the trumpet of God!

Here is the onslaught of the Battle of Armageddon, not the sneaking away of the Christian saints for fear they may be harmed by Antichrist or by the tribulation. 

So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. (Ezekiel 37:10)

Notice that the dead saints are raised in order to bring them into the land of Israel, not up to Paradise: 

Therefore prophesy and say unto them, thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. (Ezekiel 37:12)

When Christ descends from Heaven we, His army, every member of the royal priesthood, will be raised from our graves and stand on our feet on the earth. Antichrist and the wicked nations will behold the army of Christ and terror will seize them. Then, to the dismay of the wicked, we shall be raised to meet the Commander in Chief in the air.

Next, we shall descend with the Lord Jesus Christ to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. The Battle of Armageddon will be fought. After that, Christ, the Son of David, will be crowned King on the Throne of David in Jerusalem and we shall be with Him. We always shall be with the Lord.

We shall be raised from the dead so we may live in Spirit-filled immortality and victory on the earth. Also, we shall have access to the heavenlies. We shall be as Jacob’s ladder which reaches from earth to Heaven. Here is the restoration of the immortality that was available to Adam and Eve prior to their rebellion against the Lord God. We shall have all the glory that had been available to Adam and Eve—and infinitely more.

The Christian conflict sometimes is viewed as fighting our way up to Heaven, Heaven being viewed as the spiritual fulfillment of Canaan—the land of promise.

Heaven, Paradise, is not the spiritual fulfillment of Canaan. Are there "Philistines" in Heaven? Shall we enter Heaven one city at a time, overcoming and destroying its inhabitants as we proceed?

It is the earth and its nations, not Heaven, that are the inheritance of Christ and His saints (Psalms 2:8). It is the earth and its peoples that are our land of promise, and we shall take possession of the earth by violence, as described by the Prophets (Joel 2:3; Habakkuk 3:16; Revelation 19:11-15).

We understand, therefore, that we are not fighting our way upward into Heaven but downward into the earth. When we entered Christ our new spiritual life was raised to the highest heaven—far above every evil power. Christ, who Himself is the Kingdom of God, has been born in us. He is at the right hand of God, in the present hour and we are there with Him and in Him, and He in us. 

Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us [hath made us alive] together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ: (Ephesians 2:5,6)

Now we are fighting our way downward from our spiritual position in Christ. We, through the Lord’s grace, are being enabled to bring God’s will to pass in the earth as it is performed in Heaven. This is the entering of the Kingdom of God into the earth, and it will take place in power and glory at the coming of the Lord.

The resurrection of the royal priesthood is the final victory. It is the overcoming of the last enemy—physical death. When we have been raised from the dead we shall be able to stand once again on the earth, this time in Spirit-filled glory. We shall possess the power, the rod of iron of the Spirit, to enforce God’s will on the nations and eventually to teach the saved people of God’s ways and to bring His Presence to them. 

The Symbolism of the "Two Witnesses"

And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. (Revelation 11:3)

It is believed commonly that the "two witnesses" are two men from ancient times who will descend from Heaven, or who will be raised from the dead, in order to bear witness of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth. This understanding is based in part on the resemblance of the deeds of the two witnesses to the deeds of former witnesses of God, such as Elijah and Moses.

There are some problems with this interpretation.

First, the text of the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation does not speak of two witnesses coming down from Heaven or being raised from the dead. The assumption in the passage is that they have been present but now are empowered to prophesy.

Second, Jesus declared that he who is least in the Kingdom of God is greater than any of the prophets. Also, the Book of Hebrews points out the superiority of the new covenant to the old covenant.

Why would the Lord Jesus, at this most critical period of earth’s history, resort to persons from an inferior covenant to bear the end-time witness of the soon coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth? The responsibility for bearing witness of the coming of the Kingdom of God belongs to the Christian Church.

Although the message of the two witnesses is not described it no doubt will be as follows: "Christ will return soon in the power and glory of His Kingdom to judge all men. Repent and be baptized so you may be saved in the Day of the Lord!" This was the message of the apostles and prophets of the early Church.

If Christ were to recall two men to bear this witness they probably would be Paul and Peter, or perhaps James and John. A possible combination might be Paul and Elijah. However, Jesus informed us that many who are last in time will be first in rank in the Kingdom of God. Therefore we feel certain there will be saints in the last days whom Christ will use to proclaim the soon coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.

A third reason for not accepting the common understanding is that nowhere in the Scriptures, Old Testament or New Testament, is the statement made that two prophets from former times will return to the earth and bear what well may be the most important witness of all history. There is no scriptural basis for the current teaching. It is conjecture.

Are the members of the Body of Christ so spiritually weak they cannot be trusted with such a tremendous work? Or are they so "precious" in God’s sight that God cannot bear to have them perform a dangerous task?

The fourth objection may be the most convincing. It is that there are statements in the Scriptures themselves that reveal the meaning of the two witnesses. In these passages, the two witnesses are not portrayed as two men who will come down from Heaven and preach on the earth. 

These [the two witnesses] are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks [lampstands] standing before the God of the earth. (Revelation 11:4)

Two olive trees and two lampstands.

The reference here is to the fourth chapter of the Book of Zechariah. 

And said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, And behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof: And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof. (Zechariah 4:2,3)

Zechariah asked the angel the meaning of the golden lampstand and the two attending olive trees.

Then the angel gave the meaning of the vision to Zechariah.

Notice carefully that the angel did not say, These are two prophets of God who will return to the earth in the latter days and announce the soon coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.

Rather, the angel declared: 

. . . This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts. (Zechariah 4:6)

The immediate application of the vision was to the rebuilding of the Temple of Solomon after the Babylonian captivity. The Lord was informing the builders that it was God’s Spirit who would accomplish the work of restoration.

The prophecies of Zechariah concern Christ and His Kingdom. Therefore we apply the above interpretation of the vision to the work of the Kingdom of God.

The meaning of Revelation 11:4 and Zechariah 4:2,3 is stated in the Scriptures. It is that the work of God, in particular the finishing of the work of building the house of God, will be accomplished by the Spirit of God and not by the efforts of men. This is the interpretation of the "two witnesses" of Revelation, Chapter Eleven.

The two witnesses of Revelation are clothed in sackcloth. God’s "witnesses" of today often are arrayed in the most expensive of clothing, drive the finest of automobiles, and attempt to live as wealthy people. If our understanding is correct, the day of the "big preacher" is drawing to a close. The massive "latter rain" revival at hand will utilize the humblest of people. The Lord alone shall be exalted in that Day!

The number two signifies the double portion of God’s power that will abide on the saints who bear the end-time witness of the soon return of Christ in His Kingdom. Two speaks of the validity of the witness: 

One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established. (Deuteronomy 19:15)

Also, of the power of God: 

God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God. (Psalms 62:11)

The latter-rain revival is the "second" prophecy (see Revelation 10:11), the first prophecy (former rain) being the revival of the Book of Acts.

The symbolism of the two witnesses is related to the two wave loaves of the feast of Pentecost (Leviticus 23:17), and also to the double portion that rested on the Prophet Elisha. The life of Elisha is strongly typical of the ministry of the two witnesses.

For example, there is the incident in which two bears (two witnesses) slew forty-two lads (II Kings 2:24). The number forty-two is symbolic of the forty-two months" during which the two witnesses will prophesy.

An "Elijah" portion of anointing rested on the saints of the first century—a "former" (planting) rain of the Spirit. An "Elisha" portion will abide on the saints of the last days—a "latter" (harvest) rain of the Spirit.

James 5:7 associates the "latter rain" with the "coming of the Lord." The latter-rain downpour of God’s Spirit, the outpouring of Joel 2:28, cannot be found in the Book of Revelation except for the two witnesses of the eleventh chapter.

The "two olive trees" are the two "anointed ones" who stand by the Lord of the whole earth (Zechariah 4:14). Only Elijah and Elisha used the expression, "the Lord God before whom I stand."

However, it is difficult for us to accept the idea that the two sons of oil are Elijah and Elisha from Heaven. These two prophets are not going to return to earth and preach the message assigned to the members of the Body of Christ. It is possible that God may place the spirit and power of Elijah and Elisha on the saints of the last days as He placed the spirit and power of Elijah on John the Baptist (Luke 1:17).

We find it more reasonable to believe that the anointed ones, while they may be two cherubim through whom the Holy Spirit continually anoints Christ—Head and Body, actually are a symbolic way of representing the power of the Holy Spirit to bear witness.

We believe this to be true because the golden Lampstand of the Tabernacle of the Congregation typifies the fullness of the manifestation of the Holy Spirit of God who abides on Christ.

It is not likely that Christ is anointed continually by Elijah and Elisha. More reasonably, Elijah and Elisha were a reflection on the earth of the Spirit of Christ in Heaven.

The golden Lampstand of the fourth chapter of the Book of Zechariah, and the lampstands of the first and eleventh chapters of the Book of Revelation, can symbolize only Christ, the Anointed One of God, and the churches that are an integral part of His Personality. A lampstand, being solid gold, cannot typify humanity. Gold always symbolizes the Person, the Substance, of Deity.

It is our point of view that the fact there is only one lampstand in the fourth chapter of Zechariah, but two lampstands in the eleventh chapter of Revelation, suggests that the second lampstand is the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ was not in existence at the time of Zechariah’s prophecy. There was only the one Lampstand, representing Christ Himself.

To those who may object that the Body of Christ is human and not Divine let us submit that the Body of Christ indeed is Divine. The Body has been fashioned from the body and blood of Christ, not from the fallen human nature of man. The testimony of God always is of God Himself even though it is borne by human beings.

To those who may object that Christ cannot be overcome and killed (Revelation 11:7), let us remind the reader that the eleventh chapter is a symbolic vision no matter what one’s interpretation may be. It is not that Christ Himself is overcome and killed or that a true member of His Church can be harmed spiritually by Antichrist (unless the saint is deceived and walks out from under the protection of God.)

The eleventh chapter of Revelation is speaking of the overcoming of the testimony, of the witnessing power of the majority of the believers, by means of the subtlety and viciousness of Antichrist. Christ Himself never can be harmed, but His followers indeed can be overcome (and indeed are being overcome in the present hour) by the world and the spirit of Antichrist. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament teach that the saints will be overcome in the last days. 

And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time. (Daniel 7:25)

And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. (Revelation 13:7)

What happens to the saint happens to Christ, according to the Scriptures. When the saints are in prison, Christ is in prison. When they are thirsty, He is thirsty. When they are sick, He is sick (Matthew 25:45).

If we are correct in our interpretation, the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation is describing a double portion of God’s witnessing power that will enable the saints of the last days to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom for a testimony to every nation on the earth. We saints are one witness. The Lord Jesus who works with us and confirms the Word with signs following is the second Witness. 

And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen. (Mark 16:20)

This is similar to the pattern of Jesus and the Father working together: 

I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me. (John 8:18)

The end-time witness will be borne, and when it is finished God will permit Antichrist to overcome the testimony for a season. The "bodies" of the witnesses lying in the "street of the great city" refer, we believe, to the Christian institutions, such as churches and schools, that Antichrist will subsidize but that will be void of the witnessing power of the Holy Spirit.

Only the strongest, most faithful of the saints will survive Antichrist’s season of temptation.

As soon as God determines that wickedness has come to the full He will enter His true remnant of saints in the sight of the wicked of the earth (including the worldly "Christians"). Now will come to pass that which is written: 

The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the Lord will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel. (Joel 3:16)

Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. (Isaiah 60:1,2)

After the testimony of the resurrection of the saints has been given, God will raise His witnesses from the earth until a cloud hides them from sight, just as the Lord Jesus was taken up until a "cloud received him out of their sight" (Acts 1:9; Revelation 11:12).

The wicked, beholding the awesome majesty of the Lord, will be terrified; but this is just the beginning of their torment.

Now will commence the Day of God’s wrath and the work of judging the dead. Now will the kingdoms of this world become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ. 

The Judgment Seat of Christ

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (II Corinthians 5:10)

Of the many errors in current Christian theology, the gravest, the most displeasing to the Lord, well may be the doctrine that no Christian will be punished at the Judgment Seat of Christ. How upsetting and frustrating it must be to God to see His Word being mutilated in this manner! How grievous an error it is that leaves multitudes of believers unprepared for what they will be facing in the Day of the Lord!

After the Apostle Paul spoke of the Judgment Seat of Christ he said, "Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men."

Men, including the Apostle Paul, are to be persuaded by the "terror of the Lord."

But the fear of God has been removed from Christ’s churches. The fear of the Judgment Seat has gone and in its place has been installed the false assurance that no matter how we neglect or abuse the things of Christ we shall be given a crown of glory ("by grace") at the Judgment Seat of Christ. We have nothing to fear.

Appearing before the Judgment Seat of Christ will prove to be a terrifying experience for all except those believers who are consecrated and obedient to God (and a sobering experience even for them although they have gained some degree of boldness).

The Spirit of God intends that the terror of the Judgment Seat be one of the motivations that cause the believers to serve Christ with diligence. The altering of the doctrine to mean Christians will receive only blessing at the Judgment Seat of Christ is a serious perversion of Divine truth.

The current doctrine invites an unfounded assurance that our present-day self-centeredness, spiritual laziness, and neglect of our great salvation will not result in any pain on our part; our lack of obedience to the Word of Christ will not receive its due consequences; we shall not reap what we are sowing.

Of the many misunderstandings that attend the "lawless grace" and "rapture" doctrines of our day, the idea that the Judgment Seat of Christ will be similar to a sports award banquet may be the most deadly as far as the destiny of the believer is concerned.

It is understood generally that the term beema , the Greek word for judgment seat , is used in the New Testament to indicate a platform of some sort where contestants in a contest receive their laurels.

To the contrary, the term beema , which is used twelve times in the New Testament according to our concordance, never refers to a place where trophies are awarded. A Beema was an elevated seat where a person accused of a crime was brought for judgment.

Can you imagine the chagrin, remorse, and terror of the modern Christian teachers and preachers when they stand with their followers before Him whose eyes are as furnaces of fire, and all their thoughts, words, and deeds are brought before them and measured against the written Word of God? Surely there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth!

The careless believers have only themselves to blame. The Scriptures are clear concerning the Kingdom law of sowing and reaping. Each human being, including each Christian, will pass before the white throne of Christ and be judged according to his or her works. The Father has given the authority and power of judgment to Christ (John 5:22,28,29; Acts 10:42; Revelation 20:12,13).

Where, then, does grace fit in? First of all, Divine grace is not an excuse for the sins of Christians. All mankind will be judged, will appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ. All of us will be judged according to our works. The Scriptures are clear on this point. 

And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. (Revelation 22:12)

And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you [believers] according to your works. (Revelation 2:23)

There is one statement the risen Lord Jesus Christ makes to each of His seven churches: "I know thy works"!

Consider carefully the Lord’s declaration concerning the resurrection of the dead: 

And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. (John 5:29)

"They that have done good, unto the resurrection of life"!

Have done good to the resurrection of life!

There is a relationship between good works and eternal life (Matthew 25:46; Romans 6:22).

It is not the purpose of Divine grace to provide an alternative to godly living. If the purpose of Divine grace were to provide a permanent alternative to godly living, the new covenant would be inferior to every past dealing of God with man.

God’s goal is sons who are in the image of the Lord Jesus Christ, who walk in righteousness and holiness before Him and perform His will sternly and diligently.

The purpose of Divine grace is not to bring sinning, self-willed people into Paradise, thus making Paradise a branch of Hell. Rather, Divine grace forgives our sins so we can approach God and receive the power and wisdom from Heaven that will enable us to live righteously.

Apart from such repentance and transformation into righteousness there is no redemption. We have received the grace of God in vain. The purpose of Divine grace is to bring many sons to glory, to righteousness, holiness, obedience, and everlasting power and glory, and to untroubled fellowship with the Father.

How terribly distorted is the doctrine that teaches we are given God’s grace in Christ so no matter how we live, God will receive us to everlasting joy when we die! A multitude of Christian believers are living in sin because of this doctrine.

In actuality, we are saved so we may show in our personalities the works of righteousness that are the light of the world. 

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)

Apart from such good works the grace of God becomes an excuse for wickedness.

The issue of the new covenant is not that of going to Paradise when we die. The issue is eternal life—life lived in the Presence and Person of God. It is the righteous who inherit eternal life, who inherit the Kingdom of God. The New Testament writings stress this fact (Galatians 5:21; Ephesians 5:5; Romans 2:7).

When we receive the Lord Jesus Christ, believing in Him for salvation, He gives us His Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit immediately begins to guide us in paths of righteousness. It is not true that salvation is an amnesty that forgives us whether or not we abide in Christ; whether or not we walk in the Spirit. 

But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. (Romans 6:22)

When we serve God we bear the fruit of holiness. The end of holiness is eternal life. The wages of sin is death whether or not we believe in Christ. 

To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: (Romans 2:7)

According to the Word of God (above), eternal life is the result of "patient continuance in well doing."

It is impossible for any human being by "well doing" to save himself from sin. The guilt of Adam’s sin passed on to him plus the guilt of his own sins prevent this. Also, no human being can serve God in his own strength. But Christians do save themselves by well doing through means of Christ’s grace. This is possible because God forgives their sins and the Holy Spirit teaches them to shun wickedness and practice righteousness, in accordance with the written Word of God. 

Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee. (I Timothy 4:16)

There is a forgiving grace and then there is a transforming grace. Both are essential to our redemption. True saints of God are not just forgiven, they are new creations.

We are free to leave the works of the Law of Moses and be "married" to Christ. When we confess that Jesus is Lord and Christ, believing that God has raised Him from the dead, God gives us His righteousness.

The error that has destroyed the churches of Christ is that God no longer judges our behavior. While such a perversion of truth can be gleaned from the reaction of the Protestant Reformers against religious works, coupled with a few passages of Scripture, the bulk of the exhortations of Scripture, Old Testament and New, inform us that neither God nor His Christ have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness—Christian or otherwise.

No individual pleases God except the one who fears God and walks in righteousness. 

But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. (Acts 10:35)

God gives us His righteousness when we confess Jesus and believe in His resurrection. But such confession and belief must be coupled with the most sincere repentance and followed with a life of sanctification and service.

If the confession of Jesus and belief in His resurrection are not coupled with repentance and followed with holiness and service, no salvation has taken place.

To be saved is to be delivered from Satan, our enemy. The person who does not pursue holiness and service is not being saved from Satan. He is not pleasing God. He is calling Jesus, Lord but not doing what Jesus commands. He is building his house on the sand. He shall fall in the day of judgment.

To maintain that Divine grace is no more than an eternal amnesty for immoral, rebellious people, that faith is mental assent to theological facts, that to be saved is merely to go to Paradise when we die, that the behavior of Christians is not judged, that once an individual has confessed the lordship of Jesus and has recognized that God indeed has raised Jesus from the dead God will reward him with Paradise regardless of his behavior, is to be in line with current doctrine.

It is also to misunderstand the doctrine of the Apostle Paul. It is to miss entirely the purpose of the new covenant, which is to produce righteous, God-fearing people.

Let us look once again at II Corinthians 5:10 and see if the Scriptures state that all believers will receive the full inheritance at the Judgment Seat of Christ: 

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

Is it clear that the above verse is stating that every Christian will receive the crown of glory? Is this how it appears to you?

"We all" includes each of us. The term "appear" does not mean stand. It is not that we all stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ. Rather it is that we all must be made manifest in the sight of God and Christ as to our thoughts, words, and deeds.

Keep in mind that the Greek term (beema ) translated judgment seat is used in the New Testament for an elevated throne where those accused of crimes are brought for judgment. Pilate sat upon a beema (judgment seat) when Jesus was brought before him for judgment. The outcome of that beema was crucifixion, not a laurel wreath.

It is the "things done in his body" that are at issue. It is according to the actions of the body that we are judged and it is in the body that we shall be rewarded or punished. The physical body is an important part of our redemption and our destiny. How we behave in the body is of the utmost significance.

If the current Christian understanding were correct, the final part of the verse would read, "so he may be rewarded for the works he has accomplished for Christ."

Thus the passage would read:

"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, so that he may be rewarded for the works which he hath accomplished for Christ."

The next verse would state:

"But he who hath done nothing for Christ, or who hath spent his days in fornication and drunkenness, hath no need to fear; because all who believe in Jesus shall enter with exceeding great joy into the Presence of Christ."

This is how the passage is being interpreted by many Christian teachers and preachers of today. They have added to and taken away from God’s Word without regard for the consequences to their hearers or to themselves.

The teachers and preachers claim they are giving "assurance" to some who have trouble placing their trust in Christ. The truth is, they are giving an assurance that is unfounded. It would be better to tell of the severity of God and then teach the believers how to stand in Christ.

The final part of II Corinthians 5:10 provides little comfort for the careless believer:

"According to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad."

Again, works are the issue.

Each of us shall receive the good he has practiced in his body.

Each of us shall receive the evil he has practiced in his body.

Every Christian shall receive the good he has practiced in his body.

Every Christian shall receive the evil he has practiced in his body.

But Satan whispers, "You shall not surely die!"

The next verse does not teach us that no Christian need have any fear of the Judgment Seat of Christ. Instead, it commences: "Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; . . . ." The term "terror" is currently being translated reverence . There is a very great difference between terror and reverence.

Well, which is it? One cannot speak with authority from the Greek term, for it could be translated terror or reverence—or so it is claimed. We must search out what the Lord Jesus and His apostles said concerning the believer who has practiced evil in his body. Using the passage concerning the man who buried his talent being forced into outer darkness, as one example of many such warnings, we conclude that the word "terror" is a much more accurate translation than "reverence."

Our conclusion is that in order for the fear of God to be returned to the churches, with an accompanying repentance and return to righteous, holy behavior, we must understand we all shall be revealed at the Judgment Seat of Christ that we may receive the good and the evil we have practiced in the world. Other passages inform us that if we already have repented of the evil and, with Christ’s help have turned away from us, it will not be mentioned to us at the Judgment Seat. 

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. (I John 1:7)

Is the Christian Salvation Conditional?

While reviewing the footnotes of a Christian edition of the Scriptures, an edition that would be accepted by those who are fundamental in their convictions, we came across two items of concern to us. They appear to contradict the express teachings of the Word of God.

These contradictions do not have to do with subtle points of theology, such as the threeness-oneness of the Godhead. If they did they would not cause us concern. No doubt some of the aspects of God will not be understood by us for many millennia to come.

Rather these are contradictions of basic teachings of the Scriptures. The topic we are considering is the conditional nature of salvation.

The first of these statements, from the footnotes explaining Ephesians 2:8, is, salvation is unconditional. The grace of God is unconditional.

The Lord Jesus said, "He that endureth to the end shall be saved" (Matthew 10:22). The footnotes of this popular Christian edition claim (if we are understanding them correctly) that we are not saved on the condition we endure to the end but by an abstract, unconditional, eternal "grace" of God. Here is a denial of the written Word of God.

Are the footnotes reflecting that a period of apostasy has crept in on us?

Christian teachers answer by claiming that the four Gospel accounts do not apply to Christians, only to the Jews. Do such teachers have any idea of the consequences of such a position? This would mean that the Sermon on the Mount, one of the historic possessions of the Christian Church, never has really applied to the Church. This would mean that the sayings of the Lord Jesus, which all true Christians treasure, are not for us but for the Jews.

Here is a grievous position. When the Lord said, "Abide in me," was He speaking to the Jews only? We personally could never accept that the Words of the Lord in the Gospels do not apply to Christian people.

It appears that the errors in theology prevalent today could be recognized easily by an alert high-school student. Since Christian scholars are intelligent and devout people, it must be true they are interpreting the Scriptures from an erroneous framework of understanding. They can perceive passages of Scripture only in terms of a manmade framework. They contradict the Scriptures and for some reason cannot see the discrepancies.

Let us consider the idea that salvation by grace is unconditional, meaning, as the writer explains, our behavior subsequent to our profession of faith in Christ cannot damage our relationship to God.

There are several passages of Scripture that proclaim the contrary. 

Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: . . . . (John 15:2)

The above passage is a clear statement that salvation, which has to do with our abiding in Jesus, depends on whether or not we bear fruit. Yet today’s scholars claim that salvation is unconditional. The Scriptures teach that salvation is conditional. The scholars state that salvation is unconditional. It is time for a reformation of our thinking.

A branch in Christ is a Christian.

Each Christian is permitted to remain in Christ on the condition he or she bear the fruit of righteous conduct. If he does not bear the fruit of Christ-likeness God shall remove him from the Vine, from Christ. This concept is reinforced by verse six of the fifteenth chapter of John.

It seems to us that an intelligent person, whose perception had not been colored by an outside framework of understanding would interpret John 15:2,6 to mean that Christians can remain in Christ on the condition that they bear fruit.

Again: 

But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. (Hebrews 3:6; and again in verse fourteen)

We are made partakers of Christ on the condition we hold fast to the hope of salvation or, as Jesus expressed it, if we "endure" to the end. Yet, our popular Christian edition claims in effect that this is not true.

The written Word of almighty God is not true?

Again: 

I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not. (Jude 1:5)

"Having saved the people . . . afterward destroyed them."

Does this biblical type apply to Christians? If not, why did Jude take the trouble to put us "in remembrance"? Would not an unbiased reader conclude the Word of God is warning us that we must endure to the end if we would accomplish the will of God in our life?

The errors being set forth today do not have to do with subtle points of theology, the domain of professors and scholars. They are errors concerning the basic facts of our redemption.

The second item is found in the footnotes that comment on Hebrews 6:4-8. The footnotes contend that this passage is not referring to Christians who have neglected their salvation (which is one of the main exhortations of the Book of Hebrews—2:3) but to religious professors of faith in Christ who never have possessed eternal life. They have been Christians in outward show only.

From what could such hypocrites (according to the writer of the footnotes) "fall away," seeing they never had possessed salvation?

Here are the scriptural statements describing the "religious professors" whose experience, according to the footnotes, went no deeper than the external trappings of religious forms: 

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, (Hebrews 6:4,5)

Let us examine carefully the criteria the writer of the footnotes must take into account when determining that these believers never have possessed eternal life but have been professors of religion whose Christianity consisted only of an outward show of formalities:

"Were once enlightened."

"Have tasted of the heavenly gift."

"Were made partakers of the Holy Ghost."

"Have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come."

These are the facts the commentator must consider when making his judgment that these backsliders never have possessed eternal life but have been Christians in external appearance only.

We would ask: What criteria does our commentator employ when deciding who is a genuine Christian? Is it some form of works? If it is righteous behavior that identifies a true believer, then our argument in the present article is shown to have merit.

Or is it a period of time? If so, how long must an individual partake of the Holy Spirit and taste the Word of God before he no longer is a mere professor?

If the criteria given in this passage are not an indication of true salvation, how, then, can any of us know if he is saved?

Why cannot an able scholar, as well as the devout readers of this edition, perceive the obvious discrepancy here? Is it because the framework of understanding Christians currently are employing will not permit the Word of God to mean what it says?

The reason we will not permit the Word of God to mean what it says is that the spirit of Satan is in us. Satan is determined that neither he nor anyone else has any reason to fear God; that a day of reckoning must never come no matter how badly anyone behaves.

Some of today’s theologians are misinterpreting the message of the Book of Hebrews. In their attempt to prove salvation is unconditional, that there is nothing a believer can do which will place his salvation in jeopardy, they are wrenching the Scriptures so they will mean what they want them to mean.

How many Christian believers are living careless lives, are not forsaking the world, not laying down their life, not taking up their cross, not following Jesus with their whole heart and mind, because there has been implanted in them the idea that no matter what they do they will go to Paradise when they die?

The number is legion. Through their sin and disobedience the Christians are destroying their own resurrection. The blame lies at the door of those who, in spite of the assertions of the New Testament, teach that salvation is unconditional.

It is our belief that the sinning believers and their teachers will stand together at the Judgment Seat of Christ. They will be rewarded together according to their conduct in the flesh. The watchmen did not sound the alarm. The blood of the guilty will be required at their hands.

Our salvation indeed is conditional. Both rewards and punishments shall be administered at the Judgment Seat of Christ, just as the Scriptures declare.

Contemporary Christianity is so weak in Kingdom righteousness and power it is unable to check the rush of civilization into the arms of Antichrist. The Christian answer to this lack of power appears to be, "Any moment now we all shall be caught away to a comfortable home in Paradise, so why should we be overly concerned about what takes place in the world?"

Christ taught that the saints are the light of the world , not of Heaven. When the Lord returns to earth we shall return with Him. Then the world will be our home. Our home is where Jesus is.

Each of us shall appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ so his behavior in the world may be revealed and evaluated. We will be saved if we put our trust in the Lord Jesus, looking continually to Him, enduring faithfully throughout the many tribulations and testings that come upon us during our pilgrimage. 

Jesus—the Ticket or the Way?

Two understandings of the Christian salvation. The Christian salvation is being presented in our day as an experience that an individual has at some point in time rather than as a way of life. We are to raise our hand and "accept Christ." What we are to do after that varies from group to group. The idea is, now "we are saved" and when we die we will not go to Hell but to Heaven.

It absolutely is true that we do not slide into salvation nor do we earn salvation by accumulating merit points by our good behavior. But neither is it true that salvation is a one-time experience, a ticket we get by making a profession of belief in the facts concerning the Lord Jesus, and after that we basically are waiting until we die and go to Heaven. The truth is, salvation is a lifelong fight of faith. We have been commanded to turn away from the world, to take up our cross, and to follow the Master. In so doing we have fellowship with God. If we do not turn away from the world, hating our own life, take up our personal cross and follow the Lord, we are not in the program of salvation. 

Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. (II Corinthians 6:17)

It is vain to point back at some period and claim we were saved at that time if we are not abiding in Christ today. It is today that is the day of salvation. Let us go on to explain.

There are several verses in the New Testament that are foundational in Christian thinking. From these verses the conclusion has been drawn that salvation is an experience we have at some point in time, and after that we are "saved" and waiting to go to Heaven when we die.

Two of the verses are as follow: 

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. (John 5:24)

For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. (Hebrews 10:14)

These two verses are sometimes employed as major premises from which a number of conclusions are drawn. The conclusions affect our interpretation of several passages of the New Testament—in fact, our general interpretation of the entire New Testament as regarding the salvation that is in Christ.

One of the principal reasons why the two verses are misunderstood is that they are interpreted according to an unscriptural understanding of the Christian salvation, an understanding which arose in part from the two verses themselves. When the two verses are used as major premises we have error reinforcing error.

Therefore we first shall examine our understanding of the Christian salvation and then take a closer look at the two verses in question.

The nature of the Christian salvation. We Christians speak of making a decision for Christ or accepting Christ. This terminology is not used in the Scriptures.

While it is always questionable to make unscriptural expressions a major part of our terminology, it is possible for unscriptural terminology to be used and yet scriptural truth be communicated. Is this the case with "making a decision for Christ" or "accepting Christ," neither expression being found in the New Testament? Are these phrases conveying truth even though they are not scriptural?

We think the expressions are incomplete and misleading.

To make a decision for Christ or to accept Christ implies that salvation is something that takes place when we make a statement concerning Christ and His atoning work. Added to this is the thought that we now have been "born again." Thirty years later we may look back at the time when we were "saved" and "born again."

To look back in time to a point when we were "saved" reflects an ignorance of the nature of the Christian salvation. While it is true that there is a definite point at which an individual passes from death to life on the basis of believing in Christ, it is not true that this is the complete meaning of what it means to be saved or born again.

We are placing far too much emphasis on our initial admission to the work of salvation. We are not giving nearly enough emphasis to the daily program of salvation and the future salvation that will come with the appearing of Christ.

Salvation always is in the present tense. Today is always the day of salvation. Ten years ago was "today" at that time and we were saved in that "today." Today is "today." Are we saved today? The future will be "today" when it comes. Will we be saved in the "today" of the future?

A few months ago the Lord spoke to me and said: "All there is, is now." I thought I was going to die immediately. After a month passed I realized that God was giving me an antidote for my stressful, anxious personality. He was saying, "Slow down. Live in the now. I am the I Am. There is only grace for today. Take no thought for tomorrow." This word came just before a heart attack. 

The goal of salvation. Living in the "now," and the concept of salvation being something we are experiencing now rather than a profession of faith made several years ago, may be clearer to us if we understand the goal of salvation.

Traditionally, being saved means getting our ticket so we will not go to Hell but to Heaven when we die. This is the "ticket" concept of salvation. But it is not the scriptural concept of salvation. Escape from Hell and admission to Paradise are the results of salvation, not salvation itself. The wicked always are in Hell. Believing in Christ does not change this fact unless the wicked, through faith in Christ, turn from their ways and begin to live in a righteous, holy manner. It is the living in a righteous, holy manner that is salvation and eternal life.

Scripturally speaking, to be saved is to be transformed into the moral image of Christ and to enter untroubled rest in the Father through Christ. This is eternal life. Christ came preaching eternal life, not escape from Hell or entrance into Paradise. Read the New Testament carefully and you will find few references to Hell (not even one reference in the writings of the Apostle Paul) and no reference to making our eternal residence in the spirit Paradise.

The Lord Jesus and His Apostles preached eternal life. To possess eternal life is to be transformed into the image of Christ (true righteousness and holiness always result in life) and especially to enter untroubled rest in the Father through Christ. 

But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. (Romans 6:22)

Can you see now, given this obviously scriptural definition of salvation and eternal life, why making a "decision for Christ" thirty years ago is an incomplete, misleading expression of one’s salvation? We should be concerned with what is true of the individual now—at the present time. Is the eternal life that was born in us when we were "born again" still living and growing? 

Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. (I Timothy 6:12)

Are we being made a new creation in Christ? Are we living in Christ as He lives in the Father? If so, we are abiding in Christ, abiding in salvation so to speak, and bearing the fruit of a righteous, holy personality. But if we are not being made a new righteous, holy creation, if we are not abiding in Christ, then it may be that such was true of us many years ago when we were "saved," so to speak, but it is not true of us now. We are not walking in the light of God. The blood of Christ is not cleansing us from all iniquity. We are not living in eternal life. We are not in the state of abiding in Christ termed "salvation." 

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another [with God], and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. (I John 1:7)

What will be true of us in the future depends on whether at that time we are being made a new creation in Christ and are dwelling in untroubled rest in the Father through Christ.

There is no salvation apart from living in Christ. Salvation is not a ticket to Heaven but a state in which the believer lives, moves, and has his being.

The Lord Jesus is not a ticket to Heaven but the Way to the Father, the Way to eternal life as well as the Life itself. Is Jesus your ticket or your way? 

John 5:24. Now that we have presented what we think is a scriptural understanding of salvation, and the goal of salvation, let us take a close look at John 5:24. John 5:24 often is employed to support the current teaching that making an initial profession of Christ qualifies one for a ticket. The ticket includes eternal life (understood to be eternal residence in the spirit Paradise) and eternal protection against Divine judgment, that is, an eternal amnesty that cannot be lifted no matter how the individual behaves.

We will show how the verse is sometimes interpreted and then how we think it should be interpreted. You can decide which of the two interpretations best fits the whole New Testament. 

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. (John 5:24)

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word."

The traditional understanding is that the person has heard that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, has died for our sins, and has rose again from the dead. Whoever will accept this salvation for himself or herself will escape Hell and go to Heaven when he or she dies.

We interpret the verse to mean the person who always is hearing the Word of the Lord, who is abiding in the Lord and living by every Word that proceeds from His mouth.

Do you remember the message to the churches of Asia—"He who has ears to hear, let him hear"? These words were addressed to the churches, to the believers. It was not enough that at one time they had heard the Word of the Lord. They must keep on hearing the Word of the Lord through the Spirit.

"And believeth on him that sent me."

Current understanding would be that the person believes there is a God, that God sent Jesus.

We would interpret the statement as someone who continually places his trust in God, who lives by reliance on God’s love, wisdom, and strength rather than on his own abilities.

"Hath everlasting life."

Currently, he will go to Heaven when he dies.

We would say, the individual now is living by the Presence of the Father and the Son who are dwelling in him. Instead of living merely by biologic life he continually is receiving wisdom and energy from Divine Life, from the body and blood of the Lord Jesus.

He is crucified with Christ. Nevertheless he is living. Yet it is not he who is living but Christ who is living in him.

"And shall not come into condemnation."

Traditionally, he shall never experience the judgment of God.

We would claim that he indeed will be judged—and judged continually as the Lord Jesus rebukes and chastens him. But as long as he abides faithfully in the Lord Jesus, seeking His face at all times, the blood of the Lord will prevent his being under the condemnation of God.

There is a vast difference between these two ideas. The first, the traditional, appears to have removed the fear of God from the churches. Many—perhaps most—Christians are under the impression that no matter how they behave they will not suffer punishment at the Judgment Seat of Christ. This would be to invalidate the written Word of God!

The truth is, Christians always are judged more strictly than other people. Jerusalem always receives double for her sins.

Truly, one of the greatest problems in Christian thinking at the present time concerns the role that our conduct plays in our salvation. Recently David Wilkerson of New York City spoke out concerning this issue. Godly Christian leaders can see the moral decline of the churches. They are crying for repentance. But the people are confused because they have been taught that no matter how behave they will be saved "by grace."

The interpretation of John 5:24 to mean "once we profess belief in Christ we can never be judged" is largely responsible for the present theological confusion.

There actually are three domains of judgment. There is the judgment that took place on the cross. Christ the innocent bore the penalty assigned to the guilty. The result is our sins are forgiven.

The second judgment has to do with the choices we have made during our lifetime. This judgment results in rewards or punishment. It is the Judgment Seat of Christ.

The third judgment is the Divine judgment on Satan. We are to get out of the middle and permit the Holy Spirit to destroy the works of Satan in our personality. We are delivered from the power of sin as God's judgment strikes His enemies in our personality. Christ must reign until every enemy in us has been put under His feet.

Judgment always begins in the house of God. The true saint always desires to be judged by the Lord. "Judge me, O God. Try me. See if there is any wicked way in me." This is the heartfelt cry of every true saint.

The true saint lives in open confession of sin. This means he always remains intently aware of what the Holy Spirit is saying to him. The moment the Spirit reproves him of some thought, word, or action, the saint instantly brings the behavior into the Presence of God. He goes behind the veil and receives forgiveness and cleansing from the Mercy Seat. The power of God forgives him, cleanses him, and empowers him to avoid such conduct in the future. This is what salvation is! This is what eternal life is!

"But is passed from death unto life."

The current interpretation would be, he no longer is a sinner on his way to Hell but a child of God on his way to Heaven.

We would maintain that the person’s physical body remains in the chains of sin and death, as Paul taught in Romans 8:10. But now the Spirit of Christ dwelling in the inward personality is life and righteousness. Because of this the believer no longer is obliged to live according to the appetites and lusts of the flesh, for if he does so he will slay the new Divine life that has been given to him (see Romans 8:13). If, however, he sows each day to the Spirit of God, the resurrection life that today is dwelling in him will make alive even his mortal body in the Day of Christ.

We see, then, the vast difference between viewing salvation as something that happened to us years ago instead of what salvation actually is—a new life of continual interaction with the living Lord Jesus, a new experience of living termed the "way of righteousness." 

For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. (II Peter 2:21)

With this new definition in mind we can see the danger of doctrines that teach "once saved always saved." Such a concept invites destruction because it implies that an individual can live apart from an intense interaction with the Lord Jesus in every area of life and still receive the Divine blessing when he dies.

Asking if one can sin and still be saved, still have eternal life, is like asking if one can remain sick and still be considered healthy. In view of what salvation actually is, a living, daily fellowship with God and the Lord Jesus, the question becomes, "Can I live in worldliness, lust, and self-will and still have a living daily fellowship with God and the Lord Jesus?"

If we do not know the answer to that we need to read ask God to reveal Christ to us we may be saved.

John 5:24 and other verses have given rise to the current idea of salvation as a one-time experience such that we can look back at our profession of belief and say we were saved because of that profession. This interpretation has fed back on the verse so that the verse continues to be regarded in this manner.

It is a major premise of Christian thinking. Therefore such verses as Matthew 10:22 and Hebrews 3:14 have become meaningless—certainly not applicable to Christians! 

And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. (Matthew 10:22)

For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; (Hebrews 3:14)

One destructive conclusion drawn from this premise is that the warnings of the Lord Jesus and the Apostles concerning the loss that will accrue to the sinning Christian can safely be ignored. We have heard and received the Gospel. We believe in God. We have passed from death to life. We cannot come under condemnation. Therefore the Lord Jesus must have been speaking to the Jews when He warned about being cut out of the vine. The Apostle Paul and the writer of Hebrews must have been addressing the unbelievers of Israel, Greece, and Italy when they claimed that if the readers lived in sin they would not inherit the Kingdom of God.

Hence the moral decline of today’s churches. How much more valid, how much more effective would be today’s cry for repentance if the believers understood that salvation is not a ticket to Heaven but a life lived in Christ in God?—if they realized that the expression "the just shall live by faith" is not speaking of our belief in doctrine but the manner in which the righteous live!

Hebrews 10:14. There is another verse that has served as a major premise from which conclusions are drawn. When the verse is interpreted incorrectly the conclusions are incorrect. If the conclusions are incorrect the Lord’s people are led astray. 

For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. (Hebrews 10:14)

The theme of the writer to the Hebrew believers is that there is a rest, the rest of God, into which Christians are to press. The rest of God, the goal of salvation, as we have stated previously, is full conformity to the moral image of Christ and also untroubled rest in Christ in the Father. The Hebrew Christians were "saved" and had experienced the Holy Spirit but they were not pressing on to the fullness of salvation.

As part of his thesis the writer of Hebrews compares the sacrifice of Christ on the cross with the animal sacrifices described in the opening chapters of the Book of Leviticus.

One of the major differences between the two offerings is that the sacrifice of Christ was once for all time while the animal sacrifices were repeated from year to year. The Old Testament worshiper realized sin was still a problem in his life. He knew that by the time the next Day of Atonement came around he would have committed many sins that would have to be repented of and forgiven by the blood of the sacrificed animals.

Not so with the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. God’s intention is that once we receive by faith the atonement made on the cross we should have no more consciousness of sin, should no longer be experiencing a sense of guilt or condemnation. The sin question has been settled completely and finally. We have been perfected forever as far as freedom from the guilt of sin is concerned. 

For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. (Hebrews 10:2)

Can you see how the statement "by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified" would give support to the concept that salvation is an experience we have at some point in time that provides a ticket for us that will be used when we die?

The point often is made that the sin question was settled once and for all when we "made a decision for Christ." Therefore the Judgment Seat of Christ will be concerned only with awards for our service.

A thoughtful look at II Corinthians 5:10 will demonstrate that the beema of Christ is no awards banquet. It is a court where our conduct is judged. 

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (II Corinthians 5:10)

Let us pretend we believe that no matter how we live while a Christian, the guilt of all of our sins was done away on the cross and at the Judgment Seat of Christ we will be faced only with awards for our conduct. How does one distinguish between sin and service (or lack of it)?

If we do not use our talents diligently and wisely we will be cast into outer darkness, according to the words of the Lord in the Gospels. 

And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 25:30)

We were a wicked and lazy slave. Is the wicked and lazy slave guilty of sin or only of a lack of service? It seems to me it doesn’t make any difference because he was cast into the outer darkness in any case. How do you feel about this?

II Corinthians 5:10 (above) speaks of the "bad" some have done. Can we truly say this is only an awards ceremony and no believer can possibly hear anything negative at his or her court appearance?

Well then, what does the verse in question mean? 

For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. (Hebrews 10:14)

Notice that it does not say those who are saved but those who are sanctified. The offering of Christ on the cross has perfected forever those who are sanctified.

We know this is not saying all believers have already been made perfect by virtue of their profession of Christ, because the Book of Hebrews includes very severe warnings to Christians who are not pressing into the rest of God.

What does it mean, "those who are sanctified"?

To be sanctified is to be set apart as holy to the Lord. It is the same as abiding in Christ.

The believer who, upon receiving Christ as his Lord and Savior, proceeds to take up his cross and follow the Master is sanctified. He and all that he does and possesses is set apart as holy to the Lord. The guilt of sin is no longer a problem. He is without condemnation. His conscience is clear. No further sacrifice is needed.

Will the Lord deal with him concerning the sins he commits? Of course He will. 

But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. (I Corinthians 11:32)

As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. (Revelation 3:19)

But when the sanctified one sins and is made aware of his sin he immediately confesses his sin to the Lord. The Lord is faithful and righteous to forgive his sin and to cleanse him from all unrighteousness.

So on he goes, marching along in the light of God’s perfect will, washed in the blood of the Lamb, free from all condemnation.

The key to understanding Hebrews 10:14 is the expression "those who are sanctified." Unfortunately those who in our day "make a decision for Christ,’ or "accept Christ," do not always choose to then abide in Him each day. They have been taught that they now are "saved," and even though they should try to behave properly to show their appreciation to the Lord for saving them, if they should choose to lead a worldly, sinful life they will go to Paradise when they die anyway because they have been "saved" by grace. 

Conclusion. We have seen, then, that these two verses, one in John and one in the Book of Hebrews, are being used as major premises. Conclusions drawn from them affect the manner in which we interpret the New Testament. We have defined salvation according to these and similar passages, such as Romans 10:9,10: 

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:10)

The above verse is not only an instantaneous experience, it is a way of living. We always are to be confessing with our mouth the Lord Jesus. We always are to be believing in our heart that God has raised him from the dead and are to be living by the power of that resurrection. We always are to be living in righteousness and salvation.

To view the above verses as a one-time, instantaneous experience of salvation, and after obeying them we remain "saved" even though we do not abide each day in Christ, will cause us to ignore most of the New Testament writings. Since the four Gospel accounts as well as the Epistles of the Apostles (and the Old Testament) have to do with the necessity for holy, righteous behavior on the part of Christian people, the teaching that salvation is only an instantaneous experience that takes place at some point in our life has caused a veil to cover the Scriptures. We cannot understand what is plainly stated. It is as though God has sent delusion upon us because we do not love the truth.

When Paul teaches that the believers in Galatia will not inherit the Kingdom if they persist in sinning, Satan is able to persuade us that "you shall not surely die!"

In the day in which we are living the Lord is lifting that veil. Now we can understand that God’s goal for mankind has never changed. The goal has remained the same throughout all covenants, although the demands on the worshiper have become increasingly comprehensive. 

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Micah 6:8)

The believer who lives in the "now" with Jesus, who continually is drawing on the body and blood of the Lord for his wisdom and strength, who prays without ceasing, who bears his cross after the Master, will find to his delight that he is beginning to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God. The family likeness is revealing itself in him. Instead of walking in pride in his own abilities he is living by faith in the living God. 

Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith. (Habakkuk 2:4)

Can you hear the Lord Jesus right now? Is your faith resting in the Father? Then right now you are living in eternal life and are without condemnation before God in Heaven. 

The Destruction of Righteousness

It is the intention of the Lord God of Heaven that righteousness and praise come to maturity in His Church so the nations of the earth may behold, in the saints, the Person, will, and ways of the God of Heaven. When the nations see the true testimony they will glorify God and walk in His ways. 

For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations. (Isaiah 61:11)

In order to bring into view the righteous behavior He desires, God has given us His only begotten Son so that through His blood we may be forgiven our sins, and through His triumphant life we may be delivered from our sins and commence practicing righteousness in the earth.

This is the new covenant of God with Israel and with all who are grafted on Israel, on Christ—the one true Olive Tree.

But the deceiver has entered the garden of God. He has distorted the purpose and plan of the Divine redemption.

Satan has convinced us that the purpose of Divine grace is to provide us with a pass into Heaven and that righteous works on the earth have little to do with redemption.

He has convinced us that no believer in Christ will be punished at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

He has convinced us that God loves us so much He stands ready to forgive us even when there has been no genuine repentance. The goodness of God is stressed but the severity and wrath of God are not emphasized.

Satan has convinced us that we are not to fear God or His Christ but merely are to reverence Them much as we would reverence the monument to a great statesman. We are quick to accept the change from fear to reverence because our pride and haughtiness will not allow us to fear God as we should.

Satan has convinced us that salvation is unconditional such that after we make a profession of belief in the Lord Jesus Christ, no matter how deeply we return to sin we never can be removed from Christ’s Presence and blessing. This is a clear departure from the Scripture. 

For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. (II Peter 2:20)

He has convinced us there will be a secret translation of the believers so they will not be exposed to the hardships of the great tribulation, using a passage intended by the Apostle Paul to comfort living saints concerning their deceased loved ones (I Thessalonians 4:13).

He has convinced us that the believers in Christ, especially the Gentile believers, are a "special dispensation" of God. They are not required to practice righteousness, to love mercy, or to walk humbly with God. They are to say the name of Jesus and wave the wand of "grace." Now they are exempt from the laws of righteousness that govern all other men. No matter how they behave they will proceed straight to Paradise when they die.

According to current Christian teaching, if a righteous individual in a heathen land dies without hearing the name of Jesus, he or she will be banished from God’s Presence and tormented in the Lake of Fire for eternity.

But if a person says the name of Jesus, stating that he accepts the facts of the atonement and the resurrection of Christ, and then leads a self-centered, immoral, covetous, spiritually lazy life, he will be crowned with glory and honor when he dies. Thus our traditions and ignorance of the Scriptures have made a mockery of God’s righteous, equitable Nature.

We of today are presenting "grace" as a legal maneuver by which God is able to set aside the Kingdom laws of righteousness and receive into fellowship people who have no heart for God and no desire to serve Him.

Who is more acceptable to God, an honest and upright person who never has heard the name of Jesus, or a sinning, self-seeking, rebellious individual who makes a profession of faith in Jesus but never has served Him (Romans 2:25,26)? If your answer is that the professing Christian is more acceptable to God, you do not understand God or the new covenant. You have been seduced by the spirit of error in Christian teaching.

We Christians say there is no person who is righteous unless he has "accepted Christ." This is not what the Scripture teaches.

There are numerous people found in the Scriptures, beginning with Noah, whom God declared to be righteous. This does not mean their righteousness fully met God’s standard, for that standard is found only in Christ and in those who are part of Him. Nevertheless the righteous people, such as Ezra and Cornelius, found in the Scriptures, were righteous in their generation. 

But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. (Acts 10:35)

The individual who fears God and practices righteousness is pleasing to God whether or not he is a Christian (unless he has heard and refused the Gospel). The individual who does not practice righteousness is not accepted of God, whether or not he is a Christian.

When a non-Christian hears the Gospel he must receive Jesus. If he does not, none of his righteous behavior will save him.

If a Christian does not behave righteously, his profession of faith will not save him.

The current teaching is that the unrighteous Christian will be received of God because of his profession of belief in Jesus, and the righteous individual who never has heard the Gospel will be tormented forever in the flames whether or not he has heard the Gospel. The current teaching is an affront to God’s righteous nature. It is an example of how religious man always twists the covenant of God to evade the Divine command that people practice justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.

Lately, the False Prophet, the spirit of religious delusion, has convinced Christians that Christ desires they be wealthy in this world, that through faith in Him they can acquire much money and material success.

None of the above doctrines resembles the Gospel of the Kingdom of God as preached by John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus, or the Apostle Paul.

Each of these deceptions has as its purpose the preventing of the doing of God’s will in the earth, the hindering of the entrance of the Kingdom of God into the earth. It is the doing of God’s will in the earth that signifies the overthrow of Satan’s Kingdom.

Satan’s goal is to prevent Christ and His righteousness from entering the earth. No doubt, imputed (ascribed) righteousness is of little concern to Satan. Satan’s concern is actual righteousness, through Christ, of thought, word, and deed.

The deceptions prevalent in current Christian thinking work against the producing of actual righteousness, of righteous works, in the peoples of the earth. Rather, Christian theology points toward Heaven, the spirit Paradise, as being the place where righteousness will be practiced.

Satan is not troubled concerning what we intend to do in Heaven; his worry is what Christ intends to do in and with the inhabitants of the earth.

Let us take a closer look at eight doctrines we believe Satan has influenced. It appears they represent the bulk of today’s Christian teaching and preaching:

The purpose of Divine grace is to provide us with a ticket to Heaven.

No believer in Christ will be punished at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

God’s love is to be emphasized but His wrath is not to be emphasized. The positive is to be stressed but the negative, the unpleasant, is not to be stressed. God’s goodness is to be pressed but His severity is not to be pressed. The sinner is to be invited warmly but not warned and rebuked with vigor.

We are to reverence God but not fear Him.

The validity of our salvation cannot be affected by our behavior.

The believers will be translated secretly for the purpose of avoiding suffering.

The Gentile believers are a special dispensation of God and are not required to obey the laws of righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God.

It is God’s will that Christians use their faith for material gain.

Is it your opinion that these doctrines will produce righteousness in the churches?

Do you hear the voice of Christ in them, or the sly persuasions of the enemy as he plays on the self-love of the Christians? Do you smell the holy incense coming from God in Heaven, or is the odor more like burning sulfur?

Will these humanistic doctrines bring forth righteousness and praise in the sight of the nations of the earth? Have they not, in fact, created such immorality, covetousness, and dishonesty in the Christians that the world, which knows that anyone who truly belongs to God will behave righteously, has little confidence in the Christian Gospel?

Take another look at the doctrines listed above. They are proceeding from the spirit or error in the churches. The Christian churches are preaching error and the error has produced a valley of dry bones instead of a rich harvest of righteousness, holiness, and obedience to the Lord.

The doctrines are not pardonable misunderstandings of theological details. They are of the spirit of deception. They come from the enemy. They are destroying the work of God in the earth.

True faith in the Lord Jesus Christ produces honor and integrity in the human personality. The maturing Christian learns to act righteously, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God.

We are not teaching that men can save themselves by good works. We indeed are teaching that Christianity apart from godly behavior is dead, worthless, fit only for the garbage dump. True salvation results in godliness of character but faith without works is dead.

The eight teachings we are discussing have destroyed the righteousness of the churches of the Lord Jesus Christ, and as a result of the nations of the earth. The nations are affected directly by the testimony of the churches.

Our lampstand has been removed from its place.

Humanism, a religion based on the supposed welfare of the individual, has entered Christian thinking and colored it so it has become man-centered. God is seen as existing for our needs and purposes. Christ suffered in the flesh so we do not have to suffer. Christ became poor in material goods so we can become wealthy in material goods. Christ is our bondservant, waiting to attend to our every desire.

The Gospel of the Kingdom has become a plan for self-improvement instead of deliverance from the wrath to come.

"God loves you," we gush to the sinners of the world and of the churches. This is not what the Apostles preached, as recorded in the Book of Acts.

The Scriptures are not man-centered, they are God-centered. The emphasis of the Scriptures is not on what we need or want, it is on what God needs and wants. It does not matter whether or not we get what we want when we want it but it is of supreme importance that the Lord God get what He wants when He wants it.

In current teaching, the Christian faith holds out only pleasure to him who assents verbally and mentally to the facts of the atonement and the resurrection. We are not hearing deny yourself, hate your own life, be faithful to death, endure to the end, carry your cross in obedience to the Lord Jesus.

What we are hearing is, no matter how you behave you will not be punished, or even rebuked, at the Judgment Seat of Christ. This is supposed to be the Word of God to us.

The bulk of today’s Christian teaching and preaching is manmade. It cannot be found in the Scriptures.

The Word of God has been made of none effect by our traditions.

The Kingdom of God is first, "righteousness." After that, the Kingdom is "peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." Our doctrines have destroyed actual righteousness, setting in its place an imputed righteousness, a righteousness ascribed to us because of Christ’s personal righteousness.

It never was God’s intention that the Christian salvation produce only an assigned (de jure ) righteousness. The end of the work of redemption is an actual (de facto ) righteousness of behavior—a new creation.

To prolong the state of assigned righteousness past its appointed hour in our life is to pervert its intent. Assigned righteousness is intended by the Lord to serve until His grace has had time and opportunity to transform us into righteous, obedient sons. The new covenant is not primarily a covenant of forgiveness but a covenant of transformation (II Corinthians 3:18).

We cannot enter the complete image of Christ, and union with Christ, in one leap. We must fight our way in "city by city." Meanwhile, the blood of Jesus keeps us in a righteous state before the God of Heaven. 

I will not drive them out from before thee in one year; lest the land become desolate, and the beast of the field multiply against thee. By little and little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased, and inherit the land. (Exodus 23:29,30)

De jure (assigned legally) righteousness is in force while the program of de facto (actual) righteousness is being carried forward. As soon as no progress is being made in de facto (actual) righteousness, the danger increases that the de jure righteousness will be lifted and God will begin to send severe chastening on the believer. If the believer still will not repent he may be removed from the Vine, from Christ.

The world cannot behold imputed (ascribed; de jure) righteousness. Therefore the world has no light to guide it until progress is made in actual righteousness of deed, word, and thought. It is the good works of the Christians that are the light of the world (Matthew 5:16), not the righteousness of Christ that has been assigned to them.

By "good works" we are not referring primarily to economic and medical assistance to the underprivileged, as necessary and praiseworthy as these efforts indeed are. Rather, we are speaking of an even higher priority in the purpose of God—the personal moral transformation of the individual, including the overcoming of worldliness, lust, and willful behavior and the bringing of the believer into untroubled, complete union with God through Christ.

Paul’s few statements concerning imputed righteousness have been emphasized far out of proportion while the greater part of his writings suffer neglect. Most of what Paul wrote has to do with serving the Lord in holiness and obedience to God, not with imputed righteousness.

Many Christian believers are ignorant of much of what God has said in His Word, knowing only of the blood atonement, the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and the born-again experience.

In fact, many believers do not understand even that the saints will be raised bodily, after the example of Christ. They cannot grasp the resurrection from the dead because the "rapture," the catching up to meet the Lord in the air that follows the first resurrection, is being stressed today (sometimes it is just about all that is preached!) as though it were the main point of emphasis of the new covenant.

How many times does the Scripture emphasize, or even mention, the catching up into Heaven of the believers in Christ? Count the passages for yourself. The truth is, there is no passage that refers to the lifting of the believers into Heaven, only into the air, into the "heaven" that is immediately above the earth.

The emphasis of all the Scriptures is the righteousness, or lack of it, of those with whom God is dealing. This especially is true of the New Testament. Apart from righteous living there is no Kingdom of God, no Presence and blessing of God.

God is interested in bringing into being sons who practice righteousness, who love mercy, and who walk humbly with God. This is the meaning of the expression found in both the Old Testament and the New Testament: "The righteous shall live by faith." Every covenant of God with man has had the life of righteous faith as its aim. The new covenant is the most demanding of all, in terms of righteous conduct, and it furnishes by far the most grace.

We have made the grace of God an excuse for wicked, immoral conduct. We have wrenched and twisted the writings of Paul until the gaining of entrance into the spiritual Heaven is the goal of redemption, and righteous behavior is not required for fellowship with God and Christ.

Is it possible the majority of the Christian preachers and teachers are destroying, with their traditions, man’s normal association of righteous behavior with God’s favor? Are we, with our teachings, working against the helpful warnings of conscience?

Is it a fact that the unsaved have a clearer idea of what it means to be approved of God than is true of the Christian people?

It is incredible (but not without precedent in Judaic-Christian history) that sincere believers in God could be so deceived, could be basing their soul’s salvation and life’s work on error.

Look at the fruit of our teaching! Immorality, covetousness, greed, competition, self-aggrandizement abound in the Christian churches. There is covetousness in the ministry to the point that such sins appear to be nearly at the point of acceptance. Christians steal from Christians.

The antics of the Christian television preacher with his vaudeville performances, his sophisticated "sell," his psychologically-expert "pull" for money, are an abomination to God.

Do we believe the world does not recognize its own? Today the media are mocking the "big" evangelists—and well they may.

Examine once again if you will the eight concepts we claim are destroying righteousness in the churches.

The purpose of Divine grace is to provide us with a ticket to Heaven.

No believer in Christ will be punished at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

God’s love is to be emphasized but His wrath is not to be emphasized. The positive is to be stressed but the negative, the unpleasant, is not to be stressed. God’s goodness is to be pressed but His severity is not to be pressed. The sinner is to be invited warmly but not warned and rebuked with vigor.

We are to reverence God but not fear Him.

The validity of our salvation cannot be affected by our behavior.

The believers will be translated secretly for the purpose of avoiding suffering.

The Gentile believers are a special dispensation of God and are not required to obey the laws of righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God.

It is God’s will that Christians use their faith for material gain.

Such beliefs can only weaken the determination of the Christians to perform God’s will in the earth. Experience demonstrates that they indeed do have a weakening effect. These errors are increasingly destructive because we are in an age when demonic pressure is mounting to unprecedented proportions!

Christians believe that the purpose of salvation is to bring us to the spirit Paradise where we will be made strong in the Lord. They believe that God forgives what we do in the present world because we are weak. Can we be surprised, therefore, when there is little strength of righteousness in the Christian churches? Practice follows doctrine. The people are being destroyed because a wrong vision is held.

The rapturists will protest, "we are able to frighten the believers into holiness by threatening them with the imminent appearing of Christ."

Frighten them with what, we may ask, if no believer will hear anything negative at the Judgment Seat of Christ (as they claim)?

Can’t the rapturists see that the technique of frightening people with an immediate rapture is not working? While the believers may assent temporarily to the Lord’s imminent return, and be moved at times of emotional appeal, the effect is not lasting. People are not able to base their conduct on the threat of Christ’s imminent return—especially after they have been Christians for a number of years.

The idea that people will not serve God unless they are afraid the Lord may return suddenly and catch them in their lukewarmness has little appeal for the true saint. It was the Lord Jesus who warned us to watch lest we be caught in sin when He appears. This warning is to the ungodly, not to the godly.

The godly serve Christ because they love Him. If they knew Christ would not return for a hundred years it would make no difference as to the intensity of their service. They are not as naughty children who run about the classroom until they think the teacher is returning.

The godly walk in the Light of God, and the Day of Christ will not overtake them as a thief in the night (I Thessalonians 5:4,5).

We cannot deceive God’s people forever with our manmade traditions, leaving them with the impression that "grace" is the Divine excuse for the sins of God’s followers, and then attempt to frighten them with the prospect of an imminent rapture. These two concepts are inconsistent. On what basis can we frighten people if God will not judge our behavior? If salvation is unconditional?

The device of frightening the believers is not working. The Lord’s people are living in the flesh while giving mental assent to an imminent rapture. Also, the doctrine of the imminent bodily return is not scriptural (II Thessalonians 2:2,3).

The true vision of God has been removed from the Christian churches and the people are being destroyed. Righteous conduct, that which God always emphasizes to man, is not being emphasized in today’s Gospel preaching.

Unless God turns His face toward us and gives us the ability to repent, to cast out these false doctrines from the house of God, to begin living for Jesus as though our eternal life depended on it, the present generation of believers will face an angry Christ when they pass from the earth.

No doubt God soon will visit the wealthy nations of the earth with severe judgments. They are wasting the resources of the earth on their sins and comforts while hundreds of millions are starving spiritually and physically.

Where are the Christian churches in this picture? They will receive the greater judgment because they have the Word of truth and eternal life and yet are not setting an example of godliness to the world. They are not bearing a true witness of the Person, will, ways, and eternal purpose of the God of Heaven. 

Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation [manner of life] honest among the Gentiles [nations]: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. (I Peter 2:11,12)

By stressing the grace of forgiveness at the expense of the grace of godly living (Titus 2:11,12) we have extinguished the light of the testimony, the light of the lampstand of God.

Instead of the light of "good works" we are guiding the nations with our self-love, covetousness, immorality, and our willingness to seek the assistance and approval of men rather than the assistance and approval of God. The nations understand this type of behavior and so they are not moved to "glorify God in the day of visitation."

Where are God’s prophets, His witnesses who cannot be bought with money, who care little for the assistance and approval of men but very much for the assistance and approval of God?

Where are the people who walk in prayer, who live in godly fear and brokenness of spirit before God? Where are those who know the joyful sound of the God of Israel? Where are God’s holy people? Where are the saints?

It is time for God to turn to His own people by race—the Jews. But what are we giving to the Jews? We are giving them Gentile fables in place of God’s plan of redemption, in place of the Kingdom of God. We are informing them that God will take the Gentiles to Paradise while the Jews without the Spirit of God face an enraged Antichrist.

The deductive reasoning being applied by most (apparently) of our leaders causes them to make statements having no foundation in the Scriptures. Their defenses are conjecture. Yet, these leaders say they believe in the Divine inspiration and authority of the Scriptures.

How have the mighty fallen! How has truth perished in our land!

Is our generation lost to Christ or is it possible to dig out the Scriptures from the rubble of tradition and teach them once again?

Adhering to the truth of God’s Word in a day when our institutions are teaching error will cause turmoil. There always have been consequences when people have chosen truth over popular error. It is our conviction that men and women of integrity do not waste time thinking about the consequences once they have been persuaded of truth.

Let each of us cast from himself as a filthy cloth the unscriptural traditions that have accumulated. Let us first assure ourselves that the traditions indeed are not scriptural, and then let us hurl them from us with boldness and the authority of the Word of God.

Any teaching that does not promote, as its first priority, righteous behavior, holiness of personality, and stern obedience to God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, is not of God. Recent teaching does not place righteous behavior, holiness of personality, and stern obedience to God through Christ as its first priority. Therefore recent teaching is not of God.

Modern preaching often does not even resemble God’s Person, His will, or His ways among men. It is not the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. It is a collection of fables, and these fables have resulted in the extinguishing of the light of the righteous conduct that should be proceeding from the believers in Christ.

Let us turn again to the Lord. Let us cease teaching and preaching lies. God is to be feared as well as loved. Christ is to be feared as well as loved. The righteous shall walk with God; they can stand in the Fire of His Presence. The unrighteous cannot stand in the Presence of God, in the Presence of Christ, in the Kingdom of God (Isaiah 33:14; Luke 13:27; 21:36; Galatians 5:19-21).

It is useless to call Christ "Lord" and then not do what He says. It is unprofitable.

True salvation exists in people who were sinners but who now, by God’s grace, are serving God. They are not yet perfect but they are becoming perfect as the Holy Spirit guides and empowers them. Their goal is not to flee from this world, although they rejoice at the thought of going home to be with the Lord. Rather, their goal is to do God’s will in the earth as it is done in Heaven.

The nations of the earth, beholding the true Christian, are guided, uplifted, enlarged—pointed toward the Day when they will be released into the liberty that accompanies the glory of the children of God. The true saint is the light of the world because Christ can be seen in him, and God in Christ.

All men want to behold God. Only the Christian people are the manifestation of God in the earth. If the righteous Person of Christ cannot be seen in the saints, the Person and blessing of God are not available to the nations (II Corinthians 4:6).

The Christian saint is called out of the world in order to be the light of the world, not to flee to Heaven while the wicked inherit the earth.

It is our conviction that God is displeased because we have perverted His truth until it no longer is recognizable. We are not warning the sinner of the consequences of his behavior. We have substituted our traditions for God’s unchanging Word.

The Christians no longer fear the Judgment Seat of Christ, and yet each of us will appear there and give a precise account to Christ for our behavior in the earth.

Let us who handle the Word of God now turn to God. Let us ask Him to purge from our minds the spirit and the letter of the structure of error men have constructed on the atoning death and bodily resurrection of Christ.

Let us remove from ourselves the deceiving darkness, such as the doctrines that the Christian Gentiles constitute one church and the Jews constitute another church, another bride of the Lamb; that the "Gentile Church" is a special parenthesis in God’s dealing with mankind and God does not require righteous behavior on the part of the Gentile Christians as He does of every other class of people on the earth.

We have been deceived. We now must ask God to give to His churches the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the fear and knowledge of God.

We shall know that the churches have returned to the preaching of God’s Word when we behold righteousness and praise springing up in the sight of the nations of the earth. 

The "White Throne" Judgment

And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. (Revelation 20:11,12)

Christians have termed the above event the "white-throne" judgment. However, the white-throne judgment is but one aspect of the Judgment Seat of Christ. It is not a separate judgment from the Judgment Seat of Christ of II Corinthians 5:10. The Judgment Seat of Christ is a white throne.

The Father judges no man. All judgment has been committed to the Son (John 5:22). It is true also that the overcomers will be seated on the white throne with the Lord, judging the nations. 

To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. (Revelation 3:21)

Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? (I Corinthians 6:2)

The common teaching that the Judgment Seat of Christ is for the saved and the "white-throne judgment" is for the lost is false. It is not true that every individual who is to be saved will rise to meet the Lord when He appears and will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ. Neither is it a fact that the great majority of mankind will be raised at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, stand before a different judgment seat (the white throne), and then automatically be hurled into the Lake that burns with fire and sulfur. This is the current teaching and it is in error.

The first resurrection, that which will take place at the beginning of the Kingdom Age, is for the ruling priesthood. The second resurrection will include the saved of mankind. Those who are saved at the time of the second resurrection will be brought over to eternal life in the new heaven and earth reign of the Lord Jesus. Those who are lost will be cast into the Lake of Fire, exactly as the Scripture states.

The first resurrection from the dead, to which the Apostle Paul was striving to attain to, is for God’s kings, judges, and priests. The first resurrection, which will take place at the appearing of Christ with His saints and the elect angels, is not the resurrection of salvation but the resurrection of the royal priesthood. 

Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6)

It is the second resurrection, that which will occur at the conclusion of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, that is the resurrection of the peoples of the earth to eternal life or eternal fire.

The current doctrine that stresses no individual will be saved at the second resurrection does not follow the express statements of the Scripture.

It is the exceptional individual who is cast into the Lake of Fire. Thank God for that! We Christians would have the whole race of mankind, except for our own club, cut off from its Creator and tormented forever—even those who never have heard the Gospel!

Think carefully about what is stated here: 

And whoever was not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the Lake of Fire. (Revelation 20:15)

Revelation 20:15 is one of the most important verses of all Scripture. The fate of being cast into the Lake of Fire is a destiny so frightful as to be far beyond our powers of comprehension. To think of being tormented with no hope for a billion years, with the prospect of a billion years yet to come! What if it were you?

Worse than this, the individual never again can be received into the Presence of His Creator. His prayers never again will be heard. God has cast him or her off forever as unworthy of joy, of peace, of love, of transformation into the image of Christ.

Never again will he see the light of the world. Never, never again will she hear the voice of children, or smell a flower, or hear someone say, "I love you."

The stench of burning sulfur and the ravings of fallen angels, demons, and lost human beings will be his home for an eternity of eternities.

The horrible truth is, there actually will be people in the Lake of Fire—the fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

What if you or I found ourselves some day in the Lake of Fire? Have you ever really thought about that? Yet, we Christians are ready to assign all but a handful of people to this terror of all terrors.

If God meant for us to interpret Revelation 20:12-15 to mean every individual who is not raised in the first resurrection as a priest of Christ will be cast into eternal torment, the passage should read approximately as follows: 

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the Book of Life.

And God said, "None of you is written in the Book of Life. To be written in the Book of Life you must receive Jesus as your Savior.

"Some of you behaved wickedly, and some tried to practice righteousness according to your conscience. most of you never have heard of Jesus. You never heard of Jesus because the Christian people were lazy and disobedient. Even though you might have accepted Him if you had heard, it does not make any difference. The lazy and disobedient Christians are in the Paradise of God by My grace, but all of you shall be cast into the Lake of Fire.

"I am a righteous God. I never want to see you or hear your voice again throughout the eternity of eternities."

And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and Hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to his works.

Since no man can be saved by works, every one of them was cast into the Lake of Fire.

And death and Hell were cast into the Lake of Fire. This is the second death. None of these was found written in the Book of Life; all were cast into the Lake of Fire. (Evang 1:1-5)

This is the type of logical, righteous reasoning that takes place among Christians.

Can the Spirit of God not communicate clearly? Would He say, "And whoever was not found written in the Book of Life," leaving us with the impression that it is the exception who is put into torment, if He actually meant all shall be cast into the fire?

We are not persuaded by recent attempts to alter the disciplined translation of the verse in order to fit Christian tradition. Let those who add to, or take away from, the plain language of the Book of Revelation take heed that they do not take away their own part from the Book of Life, coming under the curse contained in the last chapter of Revelation.

It would be impossible for our fanciful translation (above) to be a part of the Scriptures because it would contradict a principle of the Kingdom of God.

In Kingdom law, an individual is judged by the light he has. If he never has heard the Gospel of Christ he will not be judged by the Gospel of Christ (John 15:24; Romans 2:12). 

Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. (Romans 4:15)

If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin. (John 15:22)

If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. (John 15:24)

Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: (Romans 2:6,7)

For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. (Romans 7:9)

Men will be judged and rewarded in terms of the light they have been given. 

And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more. (Luke 12:47,48)

Why would Christian teachers stumble over the last judgment, attempting to make the Scripture mean what it does not state?

Perhaps the reason stems from Paul’s teaching concerning grace and works. Paul, a Jew, was entrusted by the Lord with the explanation of the transition from the works of the Law of Moses to the life lived under the discipline of the law of the Spirit of life in Christ.

The Holy Spirit Himself is the Law of the new covenant (II Corinthians 3:6). Some who know this have come to believe there is no law, we all are "free in the Spirit." Such do not know the Spirit of God!

Paul, who was reacting to the Jewish trust in the works of the Law, contended that we cannot be made righteous by works (of the Law) now that God has given Christ as our sin-bearer. We cannot mix the Law of Moses with the grace of God given us through Christ. If the works of the Law are added to Divine grace, grace no longer is grace, Paul emphasized.

We who are Christians have lifted Paul’s argument from its relationship to the Law of Moses and have applied it to godly behavior. We are interpreting Paul to mean that either we are hoping to be saved by grace apart from godly behavior, or else we are attempting futilely to attain righteousness by godly behavior. We have concluded that Paul was warning us not to mix grace with righteous behavior because one is the gift of God and the other is the hopeless works of man.

The concept that godly behavior is an alternate route that people might attempt to use in a vain effort to gain righteousness, and should not be mixed with the righteousness of God given us by grace, is then applied by today’s theologians to our life after we receive Christ.

This misapplication of Paul’s reasoning with the Jews leads to the current theory that our behavior as a Christian has little or no bearing on our entrance into Paradise when we die.

In actual fact, godly behavior, and not entrance into Paradise when we die, is the goal of the Christian redemption. Godly behavior indeed is the Christian salvation. It can be seen that we have confusion heaped on confusion in our understanding of salvation. This doctrinal confusion is revealed in the present spiritual immaturity of the believers, who are not very concerned with godliness of behavior—the one thing God is endeavoring to produce through Christ.

The reasoning proceeds to the point that salvation is understood to be unconditional, in that at the Day of Judgment God will not regard the behavior of the believer. If he has professed Christ he shall be saved even though there has been no transformation of his behavior. Yet, it is the transformation, the new creation, that is the new covenant, that is the Kingdom of God (Hebrews 8:10; II Corinthians 3:18; 5:17,18; Romans 14:17).

Then, Acts 4:12 is stirred into the poisonous soup: 

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)

The Christian reasoning is: (1) since righteous behavior has no bearing on eternal life; (2) no name other than that of Jesus brings salvation; and (3) the last judgment is based on the works of men—all of which are as filthy rags in God’s sight; therefore, every one of these human beings will be tormented forever in the lake of burning sulfur even though the majority of them never have heard of Jesus, Israel, or the Scriptures.

It is unfortunate that they never heard of Jesus (perhaps because the Christians were living in pleasure and spiritual carelessness), but this is the way the formula works. No matter how an individual behaves, the only ticket to Paradise is the profession of Jesus as Savior.

David said: 

They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one. (Psalms 14:3)

Paul repeated: 

As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: (Romans 3:10)

On this basis, the reasoning teaches that there has never been a righteous person in the history of mankind, so every individual at the last judgment will be cast into the Lake of Fire.

But such reasoning may have limited application.

Notice: 

And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. (Luke 1:6)

And the Lord said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation. (Genesis 7:1)

And we are teaching that there never has been a righteous individual on the earth? Do we believe the Scriptures? 

Keep thee far from a false matter; and the innocent and righteous slay thou not: for I will not justify the wicked. (Exodus 23:7)

Who can count the dust of Jacob, and the number of the fourth part of Israel? Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his! (Numbers 23:10)

If there be a controversy between men, and they come unto judgment, that the judges may judge them; then they shall justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked. (Deuteronomy 25:1)

The last passage reveals what will take place at the white-throne judgment of Christ. The righteous will be justified and given to drink of the waters of eternal life. The wicked will be led away into the fires of torment.

This is what will occur at the judgment of the nations, of Matthew, Chapter 25. The nations will not be judged on the basis of having made a profession of the lordship of Christ but on visiting Christ’s brothers in prison, nourishing them when they are sick, feeding the Lord’s witnesses—doing righteous works of this kind.

The righteous (sheep) nations will be brought into eternal life after they have stood before Christ , indicating they were not people who had been "saved" (as we employ the term) at some previous time. 

And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into eternal life [into the Kingdom of God]. (Matthew 25:46)

When the Lord Jesus appears it is the royal priesthood who will be raised. God’s holy priests already are filled with eternal life and have the keys of the Kingdom of God.

At the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age the remainder of the dead will be raised and stand before Christ. Among these will be many wicked and many righteous. The wicked will "go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal."

By wicked is meant those who practice wicked works.

By righteous is meant those who practice righteous works.

Notice also: 

And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. (John 5:29)

Who will render to every man according to his deeds: (Romans 2:6)

It is not true that all the saved will be raised when the Lord comes, and all the lost at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age.

The royal priesthood, the firstfruits of the Bride of the Lamb, having been purified until they are without spot or wrinkle, will be raised when the Lord appears. The remainder of mankind will be raised and judged equitably at the end of the thousand years. The righteous will enter eternal life. The wicked will go into punishment whether or not they have professed to be Christians.

Whatever any man sows he will reap.

The trumpet is sounding in Zion!

There is a current attempt to alter the translation from the Greek of Revelation 20:15, because the passage does not state (according to the King James translation) that all will be condemned at this judgment. The wording of the verse in the Authorized Version does not support Christian doctrine and so an effort is being made to somehow change the translation so it will correspond to current doctrine.

The Christian stance concerning the Divine redemption is unscriptural. It is the product of deductive reasoning. It goes against direct statements of the Scripture. It proceeds from the mind of man, not from the Spirit of God.

When we come to God through Christ, God saves us. He does not save us because we are righteous or unrighteous. God saves us on the condition of receiving by faith His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Then we are to be baptized in water, according to the commandment of God.

After we are saved the Good Shepherd begins to lead us in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. God saves us so we may practice righteous behavior and enter life. 

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)

If we do not begin to practice good works, salvation is not progressing in us. We are not entering life with God.

Apart from righteous, holy, and obedient behavior, there is no Kingdom of God.

Divine grace does not affect the final judgment of the individual. Divine grace operates at the point of accepting Christ, not at the time of our being revealed before the Judgment Seat of Christ. Search the Scriptures and see if grace will operate when we stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ.

It may be true that God will extend mercy to some individual at the Judgment Seat of Christ, but mercy and grace are two different Divine gifts. Divine grace is the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus is a Person but much more than a Person. The Lord Jesus is the Expression of God such that all that we need to change from Adam to Christ is contained in Him.

The Lord Jesus Christ Himself is our salvation, our righteousness, our holiness, our strength, our joy, our wisdom, our eternal life, our resurrection, our faith, our health. As we receive Him into our personality we receive all that God Is—all we ever shall need to be completely joyful and fulfilled throughout eternity. 

Mercy, on the other hand, is shown wholly at Christ’s discretion as He decides whom He will cast off and whom He will receive.

The problem is, we Christians are assuming that grace (which we conceive of only as forgiveness) will operate at the Judgment Seat of Christ so that all who profess belief in Jesus will be received into Paradise at physical death. This is not scriptural either in its means or its goal.

Divine grace (meaning forgiveness plus all of the Virtue of God required to totally transform us) operates now—today—in our life so we can approach God and learn to serve Him. Apart from the grace of God in Christ we could not pass though the veil, coming boldly before God’s throne in order to obtain mercy and grace to help us in our battle against sin (Hebrews 4:16).

At the Judgment Seat of Christ, all people—Christians and non-Christians alike—shall be judged and rewarded on the basis of their works. Mercy may be shown to some; but grace, in the sense of imputed (ascribed) righteousness, will not enter at this point.

The purpose of the grace of God is to create good works in our personality so we can be rewarded for these good works in the Day of Christ. The grace produces good works. The good works result in God’s blessing and eternal life. If we receive Christ but continue to sin we will reap death and not life in the Day of Christ.

For example: 

And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. (John 5:29)

Life or death is decided on the basis of what men do. The one expression Christ addressed to every one of the seven churches of Asia was, "I know thy works" (Revelation 2:2; and so forth).

Is Christ speaking of those who have received Him or those who have not received Him?

Let us look carefully at John 5:29 (above). "They that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation."

If Christ is speaking to those who have received Him, Christians will be judged according to their works. If He is speaking to those who have not received Him, He is stating that people can attain to the resurrection of life by means of good works.

If He is speaking to all men, our argument is upheld. All will be judged according to their works. It is not true, therefore, that because the white-throne judgment is a judgment of works (Revelation 20:12) all the defendants will be lost. This reasoning is not supported by the words of the Scripture.

John 5:29 alone is enough to cancel the reasoning that because the last judgment is a judgment of works, no person will be saved. There are many other passages that repeat the doctrine of John 5:29.

Consider the following: 

And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. (Matthew 25:46)

When we examine who will go into everlasting punishment and who will go into life eternal, we find that the judgment will be made on the basis of works (Matthew 25:35-44).

Christian teaching is correct when it states we cannot substitute righteous works for faith in Christ once Christ has been presented to us.

Christian teaching is incorrect when it states God does not recognize righteous behavior on the part of those who are not of His royal priesthood. The nations of the earth will be gathered together at the Lord’s coming, not to determine whether they had "accepted Christ as their personal Savior" but to recognize their willingness or unwillingness to come to the aid of the Lord’s brothers—the saints, the elect, the royal priesthood. 

But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. (Acts 10:35)

God does not divide mankind into Christian and non-Christian but into righteous and wicked, with Christians falling into one category or the other

Whoever believes that God excuses wickedness because an individual is a Christian is ignorant of the ways of God.

It may be noted that Jesus, when commenting on His return, spoke often of the judgment of the behavior of His servants, never of the judgment of their doctrine. The punishment of the unfaithful servant of the Lord is outer darkness. 

But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; (Matthew 24:48,49)

And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 25:30)

And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matthew 7:23)

The Word of God states in many passages that there is a direct relationship between righteous behavior and eternal life. 

But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. (Romans 6:22)

We have overemphasized and have applied too liberally Paul’s reasoning, in Romans, Chapters Three through Five, concerning the imputation (ascribing) of righteousness under the new covenant.

We believe, and rightly so, that no person can be justified by the works of the Law of Moses now that God has given His sacrifice for the sins of the world.

But to deduce from this that the Lord’s people can walk with Him in unrighteousness, or that God condemns people because they never have heard of Jesus, is to make the heartless error of the Pharisee. We master the points of the "law" (the schemes we have invented for "accepting Christ") and then apply them in a manner contrary to the mind and heart of God. We strain out gnats and swallow camels. We embrace the letter and cannot find the Spirit. We never will know God because our heart is not after God’s heart.

God gave the Law of Moses, and the Pharisees twisted it and misapplied it until they were able to continue in covetousness, thievery, murder, and self-seeking. God has given us grace through the Lord Jesus Christ and we are twisting it and misapplying it until we are able to continue in covetousness, thievery, murder, and self-seeking. We do always err in our heart.

Even that Christian favorite, the Judgment Seat of Christ, is a judgment of works, not of doctrinal position: 

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (II Corinthians 5:10)

If an individual had not become biased by being taught the Christian traditions, would he not understand the above verse to mean we will be judged according to our works? 

And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man [every man!] according as his work shall be. (Revelation 22:12)

. . . and I will give unto every one of you [believers] according to your works. (Revelation 2:23)

Does not the Scripture teach that every person shall be judged according to his or her works, that each shall be rewarded or punished according to his works?

The sinning Christian will receive more lashes than the sinning non-Christian because the sinning Christian has had more light entrusted to him (Luke 12:47,48).

The Apostle Paul summed it up: all men, the heathen, the Jews, and the Christians, will enter eternal life, or into indignation and wrath, depending on what each has done in his body. 

Who [God] will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons with God. (Romans 2:6-11)

This Scripture will stand true at the Judgment Seat of Christ, including the part of the Judgment Seat that will occur at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age.

God will judge all persons at that time except those who had been raised in the first resurrection (Revelation 20:4-6).

All people will be judged according to the light they have been given. Those who practice good will be raised to eternal life in the new heaven and earth reign of Christ and His saints. Those whom Christ judges to be unworthy of eternal life will be cast into the Lake of Fire. 

And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. (Matthew 25:46)

Diversity of Destinies

Christian teaching and preaching leave people with the impression that only two choices of destiny are available to mankind. An individual will be seated on the throne of Christ as one of God’s kings and priests or else he or she will spend eternity in the Lake of Fire.

There is at least one aspect of the plan of redemption that indeed is an either-or situation. It has to do with the destiny of the individual after the judgment that takes place at the conclusion of the thousand-year Kingdom Age (Revelation 20:11-15). At this judgment, either the person is brought forward to enjoy eternal life in the new heaven and earth reign of Christ or else he or she is cast into the Lake of Fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

When considering those who are brought forward to enjoy eternal life in the new world we see, in the Scriptures, that there will be saved people on the new earth who are not part of the Throne of Christ. The members of the Throne, of the new Jerusalem, the Wife of the Lamb, are one set of saved persons who will occupy the new earth. But in addition there will be nations of saved people dwelling on the new earth over whom the Lamb’s Wife will rule. 

And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. (Revelation 21:24)

The "it" of the above verse is the Wife of the Lamb. The "nations of them which are saved" are just that—the saved peoples of the earth. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament reveal to us that the saints of God will rule over the nations of saved people. 

For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted. (Isaiah 60:12)

And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 22:5)

As soon as we enter a discussion of our topic it becomes clear that salvation is not only a case of being saved or being lost. Instead of two we have three possible destinies: being a member of the ruling priesthood—the Wife of the Lamb; being a member of the nations of saved people of the new earth; or being a member of the family of Satan and his angels.

The primary meaning of the term saved is "delivered from the Lake of Fire, from spiritual death, and brought forward to eternal life." To be saved in a fuller sense is to be brought from the image of Satan and union with Satan all the way to the image of God and union with God.

In current usage we employ the word save to mean rescue , as in saving a person from drowning. We have no idea what kind of person he will become or what type of life he will lead after being saved from drowning. All we know is, he did not die. He was brought from death to life.

Every individual who is not, at the end, cast into the Lake of Fire, will be brought forward to the new heaven and earth reign of the Lord Jesus Christ. In this sense, salvation is an either-or arrangement. Either we are assigned to the Lake of Fire or else we are permitted to live eternally in the Presence and blessing of God.

The problem in Christian thinking is that we do not pay enough attention to the different destinies available to those whom God saves from destruction. For those who escape the Lake of Fire there exists a wide array of roles and opportunities for service. These range in authority and glory from being seated in the throne of Christ to being "saved; yet so as by fire" (I Corinthians 3:15). There are greatest and least in the Kingdom.

We must keep two facts in mind:

The eternal destiny of people, with the exception of the members of the royal priesthood, will not be decided until the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age.

The Scriptures in several passages speak of a variety of rewards and punishments.

The Scriptures say little about what happens to us when we die. The emphasis is on what will take place in the Day of Christ. A brief glance through the Epistles will demonstrate this fact. 

To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. (I Corinthians 5:5)

It is not true that if we are saved we therefore will inherit the fullness of the Glory of God’s kings and priests. It is not true that the destinies of all the saved are so similar there is not much point in examining the issue.

The doctrine that the destinies of the saved are similar has had at least two damaging effects on the believers:

The scriptural motive for running the victorious race, which is the gaining of the rewards of rulership and opportunities for eternal service, has been greatly weakened.

It confuses the simple, direct interpretation of passages of the Scriptures. 

Whoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:19)

"Shall be called the least in the kingdom." "Shall be called great in the kingdom."

The differences in the destinies of people as they pass from this earth may prove to be much greater than the differences in their characters and the roles they played on the earth.

It appears there is an assumption underlying the popular Christian doctrine of salvation. It is that physical death will change what we are, bringing us from the spiritual condition we are in at present to a state of glory and blessedness. As a natural consequence we shall receive, when the Lord comes, a body like that of the glorified Jesus.

It is taught that if we "accept Jesus" we will be made like Him when we die, and go to live for eternity in a land where there is no more opportunity for sin against God. The sin question is settled by physical death. Deliverance from the bondage of sin comes through physical death. The "last enemy," physical death, has become our redeemer.

Yet there is no evidence in the Scriptures that any spiritual improvement will take place in us as a consequence of, or at the time of, our physical death. The position of the Scripture is that every individual will be rewarded in the Day of Judgment according to his behavior on the earth. The Scriptures are almost silent concerning the period of time between our physical death and the appearing of Christ in the clouds.

The assumption is that what we are in personality we continue to be. There is no basis in Scripture for believing physical death will change what we are. When we awake in the Day of Judgment we will be unchanged in personality. In fact, what we have become during our lifetime on the earth will be revealed in that day.

The testimony of Christians who have been given insight into the spirit realm, into life after death, is that we experience no change when we die other than the relief of being shed of our earth-bound body.

Sin is a purely spiritual phenomenon. It is not at all physical. The flesh and blood of people have God-ordained appetites and affections. Left alone, man would still be in Paradise.

The war is in the spirit realm. God and His Christ, along with the elect angels, are righteous in personality and behavior. But there is an army of wicked, rebellious spirits and demons. These filthy spirits inflame and distort the natural appetites and affections of the flesh.

We can understand from this that physical death accomplishes nothing in the way of improving our righteousness. While we may go to an environment in the spirit realm that is above the area where the wicked express themselves, we ourselves are not transformed by this change of location.

Bringing a wicked spirit into Paradise will not transform the inward nature of the wicked. We do not go to Paradise to experience transformation. It takes place here as we walk with Christ.

Sundar Singh, a noted Christian visionary, testified that we go to the area of the spirit realm for which we are suited. Other Christian writers who have had visions of life after death confirm that we are placed according to our spiritual development, that the spiritual world is not divided only into the deepest Hell and the highest Heaven but into gradations of Heaven and gradations of Hell.

Given that the Scriptures do not speak to the contrary, given such grouping of people by spiritual development and calling takes place to a certain extent while we still are alive on the earth, and given such placement is reasonable and compassionate, it is our point of view that all persons—Christian by belief or not—will, when they die, pass into a realm suited to their spiritual development, there to await the Day of Judgment.

This is not to say that some are not lost to God by the time of physical death, or that the wicked will not go immediately into the flames of Hell, there to await the white-throne judgment. It appears evident from the Scriptures that such is the case. Our point is that there are others—a great "sea" of people—who will not be placed in the Presence of God and the Lamb at physical death, or cast into the burning flames, but will find themselves with people of similar development.

It is the writer’s point of view that the occasion of physical death does not result in the grouping of people into two uniform companies; rather, it results in the careful defining of each individual’s progress, or lack of it, in godly character. Let us hope that such is the case. 

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: (Hebrews 9:27)

There is salvation in the name and in the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. When we hear the Gospel of Christ we must receive Christ, be baptized in water, and serve Him with all our heart. If we do not receive Christ when He is presented to us we come under the condemnation of God. We must receive Christ when He is presented to us. God will not accept our refusal of His Son.

If we are a true saint, Christ is dwelling in us. The angels will take note of this when we pass into the spirit realm. However, even this wonderful provision does not automatically place us in the same rank in the Kingdom as the Apostle Paul. We will be placed where we fit, where we belong, where we have prepared ourselves to dwell, at the level of Divine Fire we can bear. Not all will sit on the right hand of Christ when He appears in glory. But some will!

We see this reality today. Some Christians seek God continually so they may dwell in His Presence. Others are not nearly as zealous when it comes to seeking the Presence of the Lord. They are quite content to dwell on the fringes of God’s grace, being concerned only that their routines are not upset. They are not at peace in a more fervent assembling of saints.

It is evident that Christians who have little desire to spend time in God’s Presence while they are living in this world will not, merely because they have professed faith in the atonement, be thrust into the center of the Divine Fire when they die physically. They would be dismayed at the thought of having to live in such an atmosphere here, and God certainly will not torment them with His Presence in Paradise.

Our present relationship to God and Christ will continue after we die. What we are, we are, and what we are will determine our placement after we die. This is the author’s point of view as well as the testimony of Christian visionaries.

In the Day of Christ, what we are will be made manifest. Then we shall be rewarded according to what we have practiced in our body. If we have been learning our spiritual lessons and growing in Christ, we then shall continue to learn and grow. If we have neglected or refused the Divine redemption there remains for us a fearful looking for of Divine wrath. There is an abundance of scriptural support for this. 

Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. (Matthew 25:28,29)

What a difference it would make in the lives of Christians if they understood that physical death will not change what they are but rather will reveal what they are!

Let us consider the doctrine of "stripes": 

And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more. (Luke 12:47,48)

One man is not judged by another man’s gifts. Each individual is held accountable for the light he or she has been given. Since no person can come to Christ unless the Father draws him, it becomes clear that it is God who decides how much light each person will be given. Therefore we ought not to be harsh in our judgment of people.

Let us notice, first of all, that Luke 12:47,48 is referring to the servants of the Lord. Verse 46 contrasts the Lord’s servants with the "unbelievers." 

The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. (Luke 12:46)

It is our point of view that "stripes" do not indicate the Lake of Fire. Stripes imply chastisement, punishment, not ultimate destruction. There may be many forms of punishment in the spirit realm. Assignment to the Lake of Fire is the supreme penalty. The Scriptures teach that the torment of the Lake of Fire goes on forever. The doctrine of "many" and "few" lashes signifies differences in number or duration , with the few terminating before the many; and possibly differences also in intensity .

The doctrine of "stripes" suggests correction, not banishment from God as in the case of the Lake of Fire.

If we are correct in assuming that the "many" and "few" lashes are not referring to the ultimate separation and torment of the Lake of Fire, to what are they referring? What will it mean to the careless—and yet saved—individual to be beaten with lashes in the Presence of his Lord?

The spirit realm may be thought of in terms of the natural realm for the two realms are more similar than dissimilar. We can study the manner in which the Lord punishes us in the natural realm in order to gain understanding of how He may punish us in the spirit realm.

The disobedient Christian may suffer sickness (or the sickness of a loved one), an accident of some kind, mental anguish from the loss of the Lord’s Presence, loss of strength in prayer, the loss of the joy of reading the holy Scriptures, or a whole array of assorted troubles, pains, and difficulties. The way of the transgressor is hard. The rebellious dwell in a dry land. Adam and Eve were driven from the garden of Eden and forced to live by hard work in a hostile environment.

We are suggesting that the counterparts of these afflictions and tribulations exist in the spirit realm. They do not cease necessarily when we die. What passage of Scripture states that when we die we no longer can be disciplined?

Our peace is in obedience to Christ, not in dying and passing into the spirit realm. Who knows what passing into the spirit realm holds for any one of us? The only guarantees we have are those found in the Scriptures. The remainder of our ideas are conjecture.

A backslider can testify to the years of agonizing effort he has endured, or is enduring, in the attempt to regain the Presence and joy of Christ in his or her life. To behold a backslider crying to God for mercy is a sobering experience.

To those who may protest that the Scriptures indicate the backslider is forgiven instantly and there is no need for him to suffer agony, let us answer by saying that the salvation that comes from the Lord is more tangible than this. It is something we can feel. Our salvation is more than belief in the text of the Scriptures.

To those who truly have known the Lord, His rebuke and the removal of His Presence are an agony. They know when they have lost their joy and when it has been restored. They may have to walk faithfully by the Scriptures in dryness of soul for many years before their assurance is returned to them. 

Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. (Psalms 51:12)

Fundamentalism is strong when it reminds us that the Scriptures are holy and eternally unchanging. Fundamentalism is weak when it teaches us to substitute a profession of belief in the text for a living experience with God.

The assertion that we possess something because the "Bible says so," can produce a "salvation" void of the Lord’s rich Presence. The Scriptures lead us to the living Jesus. Eternal life is in Him, not in the text of the Bible.

The spiritual dryness of the returning backslider is not to be confused with the dry deserts through which the Lord brings His Bride as He perfects her love, faith, and patience. We have to learn to walk in the cloud of blessing by day and according to the directions of the fire of His written Word by night.

Isn’t it possible that our earthly experiences can teach us what we may expect in the spirit realm if we have not responded to all the light given us?

Dr. Ritchie, in his inspiring book, Return from Tomorrow (Waco, Texas: Chosen Books, 1978), tells of the fate of suicides. Though in spiritual form, they are required to dwell in the presence of people whom they have harmed by the sin of taking their own lives. Their repeated cries of remorse cannot be heard by their loved ones. This may be the least part of their "hell," their "stripes."

In no manner do we intend to suggest that every time we become ill, or a loved one becomes ill, or it becomes difficult for us to pray or to study the Word of God, that we have been disobedient to God. On many occasions these are the normal tribulations every Christian experiences. Such testings are for our strengthening.

Afflictions teach us to pray and to stop our sinning (James 5:13; I Peter 4:1). After we have suffered sufficiently God will make us perfect, establish us, strengthen us, settle us (I Peter 5:10).

It is true also that the sinning, disobedient Christian often receives in this present life the consequences of his disobedience. The Scripture suggests that his chastening will continue in the spirit realm when he passes from this world to the next unless he repents thoroughly. 

Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after. (I Timothy 5:24)

There is no sin in the Kingdom of God. In the Day of Christ, men will receive the evil they have practiced (II Corinthians 5:10).

It appears that many believers die with serious problems in their behavior unresolved. What passage of Scripture states that their correction will not continue after they die? The implication of Jesus’ teaching is that they will continue to be chastened— especially in the Day of Christ.

We Christians have many traditions concerning what happens to us when we die, and concerning the nature of Heaven, that are based in part on the visions of the saints. The writer does not discredit these visions but regards them as inspiring.

We always must keep in mind, however, that the bulk of our traditions concerning Heaven and what happens to us after we die, stem from the unfortunate use of the term "mansions," in the King James translation of John 14:2—a usage that cannot be defended lexically, contextually, or by any other principle of Scripture interpretation. Our traditions concerning "dying and going to Heaven to live in a mansion" are not based solidly on the Scriptures.

The Apostle Paul speaks of some who are "saved; yet so as by fire" (I Corinthians 3:15).

Have we ever stopped to consider what it may mean to be saved, yet so as by fire? Saved by fire?

If this expression is referring to Lot being dragged out of Sodom, we are speaking here of a massive loss of inheritance. Lot, a wealthy man, entered Sodom with much livestock. He left a widower and a pauper.

The incestuous relationship of Lot’s two daughters with him produced Moab and Ammon. God said, "An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter the congregation of the Lord; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter the congregation of the Lord for ever" (Deuteronomy 23:3).

The Moabites and the Ammonites were a thorn in the side of the people of Israel. It was the king of Moab who hired Balaam to curse Israel and who seduced the Israelite warriors to sin.

Is this what we want, to be saved as was Lot with no inheritance, our fruit causing anger on the part of the Lord? Compare the inheritance of Lot with the inheritance of Abraham.

The reason so many Christians use the concept of being saved by fire as proof that once having professed Jesus they never can be lost, is that they do not understand the diversity of destinies possible in the Kingdom of God. Their assumption is that if they are "saved" their troubles are over. When the Lord comes they will be transformed into a spiritual giant, will sit in the throne with Jesus, and will govern the nations with a rod of iron.

If it is true, as we are maintaining, that being saved as by fire indicates the loss of our birthright as sons of God so that we enter blind, deaf, and naked into the spirit realm, there to await the scathing rebuke of the Lord in the Day of Judgment, then being saved as by fire is not such a blessed prospect.

The believers of today who expect a "rapture" to take place momentarily have no conception of what it would be like to be brought into the Presence of the Lord in their sins, foolishness, and disobedience to God.

The Lord Jesus warned us clearly in the Gospels that when He returns He will hold His servants to strict account for their behavior. This is the teaching of the Scripture and it ought to be emphasized.

Those who claim we can never be lost after once having professed Christ employ I Corinthians 3:15 to support their argument. Their idea of being saved as by fire seems to be that careless, disobedient believers will inherit a two-story mansion instead of a three-story mansion.

Have they never experienced a fiery trial from the Lord?

Do they think being saved as by fire will be a pleasant experience? Do they imagine that the "stripes" administered to the Lord’s disobedient servants will be mere slaps on the wrist?

Have they never considered the prolonged, fiery trials the most obedient of the Lord’s servants endure, and then deduced what will be true of the careless and disobedient Christians? Do they not understand that even the righteous are saved with difficulty? (I Peter 4:18).

Many of the Lord’s elect will be punished in this world for their sins and disobedience. If they still have not repented to the Lord’s satisfaction they will continue to be punished after they die. We base this understanding on the Lord’s Words in the Gospel accounts and we know of no Scripture to the contrary.

It is our point of view also that the "stripes" the saints suffer in the present world, and perhaps in the next as well, are for their salvation. Stripes are not the same sentence as that horror of all horrors—to be cast into the Lake of Fire without hope of release.

We assuredly do not believe that all people will be saved eventually. The Scriptures clearly teach the contrary, as we understand them. Neither are we suggesting the concept of a "second chance."

Some may study our arguments and reason that they can be disobedient to Christ in this life, suffer for a season in the next, and ultimately be brought into the Lord's Presence and rewarded with glory. Such do not understand that God takes the wise in their own craftiness (Job 5:13). God knows the reasonings of their hearts and will deal with them accordingly.

God may decide there is such wickedness and guile in their hearts their names should be blotted from the Book of Life—professed Christian or not! The Lord God cannot be mocked!

Our Lord Jesus is the great and terrible LORD, as well as the gentle Shepherd. If we are wise we will love Him and serve Him with all our heart.

Being saved by fire is a fearful prospect indeed. The operation may prove to be very, very prolonged and very painful.

The current Christian teaching is that only two destinies are available to people: the highest Heaven or the deepest Hell; to be a king and priest of God or to be tormented in the Lake of Fire for eternity.

It is true that we either shall be saved or lost. But in between the extremes of being one of God’s kings, or being tormented for eternity in the Lake of Fire, there are many diverse states to be considered.

One major problem with the current Christian teaching is that we add to the two-destinies doctrine the idea that once we make a formal profession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ our destiny will be to ascend the highest throne of glory after we die, and that we never shall experience pain, or even rebuke, in the spirit realm no matter how we behave ourselves in the present world. This concept is unscriptural. It tends to remove the Divinely ordained motivation for overcoming sin, which is the rewards and punishments held before the believers.

Many passages of the Scripture point out the diversity of destinies available to the believers in Christ. They are dramatically different destinies in glory, in opportunities for service, in degrees of eternal life, in the type of body with which we will be raised, in authority, in power, in relationships with God and with people.

These are not trivial difference in which all the saved receive approximately the same reward: one receives an acre of diamonds and the other receives two acres of diamonds. "We do not care because we do not need money in Heaven"; and this sort of fleshly reasoning.

The differences in destiny among the saved are substantial. The rewards the Scriptures hold out to us are desirable. They will be our possessions for eternity.

The fear of punishment and the hope of glory provide us with the strongest of motivations to serve the Lord with all our mind and strength.

If God did not desire that we be motivated in terms of punishment and rewards He would not have spoken so many times of these factors. When preachers and teachers dismiss such motives as being unworthy, or not factual, they are making themselves wiser than God. They are setting aside the Word and wisdom of God in favor of their humanistic teachings or because they have been deceived by the traditions of men.

When Christ’s followers asked Him concerning their rewards for following Him, He did not rebuke them. He answered them straightforwardly: 

And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, that ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Matthew 19:28)

. . . but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father. (Matthew 20:23)

It is not true that every saved person will sit on a throne judging the twelve tribes of Israel, or will sit on Christ’s right hand or His left hand in His Kingdom, or will have his name inscribed in the foundations of the wall of the new Jerusalem. Such incomprehensible glory will be the destiny of specific believers.

The true members of Israel, the holy martyrs and saints, both Jewish and Gentile, will be raised in the first resurrection. They will be seated on the highest thrones of the universe and will reign with Christ for a thousand years (Revelation 20:4-6). It is not true that all the saved will rule with Christ to this extent. Over whom would they rule? Over one another? Over the lost? Obviously there must be nations of saved people for us to rule.

Is it reasonable that an individual who believes in Christ but who never has gained victory over sin and self-will in this world will suddenly, by virtue of the fact of having died physically (perhaps prematurely as a result of sin—I Corinthians 11:30), be elevated to one of the spiritual thrones that govern the material creation? Is this scriptural—or even sensible?

Some of the saved are as the "bruised reed" and the "smoking flax" (Isaiah 42:3). They must be plucked from the burning (Jude 1: 23).

There are some who are immature but who are related to the Wife of the Lamb (Song of Solomon 8:8). There are numerous queens, concubines, and virgins. There is one whom the Lord loves above all (Psalms 45:10; Song of Solomon 6:9).

King David had his "mighty men," and even they were arranged in order of prowess (II Samuel, Chapter 23).

The Lord Jesus selected His three "mighty men" and brought them up to the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1).

There are thirtyfold, sixtyfold, and hundredfold Christians (Matthew 13:23).

The second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation hold out marvelous rewards to "him who overcomes," and warn the sinning believers of punishment. The rewards are not given to all the members of the churches but to a few (it appears) whom Christ judges to be worthy to walk with Him in white (Revelation 3:4). The rewards to the overcomer set forth in the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation have nothing to do with dying and going to Heaven, it may be observed, but with tremendous endowments of authority, life, nearness to God, and service to mankind. What must be made clear to today’s believers is that such rewards, which often are presented as the destiny of all who make a profession of faith in Christ, are promised to "him who overcomes." No careless, disobedient believer has any hope whatever of eating of the tree of life, becoming a pillar in the temple of God, or being seated in the supreme throne of the universe.

Should we conclude, therefore, that all the other believers will be cast into the Lake of Fire, there to be tormented without hope for eternity, never again to behold the Face of their Creator? Never again to have a prayer answered? Probably not!

There is a "firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb" (Revelation 14:4). The very term firstfruits implies there is more to be harvested.

Those who turn many to righteousness will shine "as the stars for ever and ever" (Daniel 12:3).

To our fellow Christians who would protest these differences apply only to the Jews, and all the saved Gentiles will receive the same reward in Heaven, our response is: such scripturally indefensible reasoning and assuming has all but destroyed the motivation toward growth in Christ of the members of the Christian churches.

One can look through the statement of faith of today’s Christian denominations and perhaps not find one use of the term "the Kingdom of God," or the doctrine that the Kingdom will be established on the earth when the Lord returns.

Yet the preaching of the Kingdom and of the rewards to be given to Christ’s faithful servants when the Kingdom comes is the primary message of the New Testament.

The main hope of the Christian salvation is the resurrection from the dead, which will take place on the earth, not in Heaven. When we are resurrected we shall stand before Christ. At that time we shall be rewarded according to the way we have behaved during our lifetime on the earth.

Grace will not enter at this point. The rewards we shall receive will include a "house," a robe of righteousness that will clothe our resurrected flesh and bones. In addition we shall be given authority and power in the realm of Divine Life, nearness to God, and the opportunity for eternal fruitfulness. Our rewards will be exactly in accordance with what we have done in the body.

The careless, lukewarm believer who has indulged himself during his time on earth will receive the exact consequences of his disobedience. His sudden awareness of opportunities forever lost will cause him to weep in an agony of remorse and terror.

Let us flee from the current teaching that so confounds the ability of the Christian people to make sense of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. Rather, let us follow the example of the honored men and women of the Scriptures and press forward toward God with all our might. The rewards for doing so will be unimaginably great. The penalties for neglecting our salvation will prove to be more painful than our worst nightmares. 

The Judgment Seat Of Christ Is In Session

One reason Christian theology has gotten as far off course as it has is that deductive reasoning is being employed without reference to the whole counsel of God.

A more effective technique for developing a theology is to study all that is said on a matter and then to allow the Holy Spirit to induce truth.

The deductive approach, selecting one verse as a "key verse" and then drawing conclusions from it, treating passages that state the opposite as less important or even suspect and to be avoided, is not a sound procedure to follow. This especially is true because of the several seeming contradictions in the Scriptures. The prevailing custom is to select the preferred leg of the contradiction and to cut off the other. As a result, truth stumps about wildly.

Some of the major seeming contradictions are as follows: Divine election, and "whosoever will"; Paul states we are justified by faith while James teaches we are justified by works; the Scripture declares that all we must do to be saved is to believe and be baptized, whereas Christ told us plainly that in order to be saved we must endure to the end.

The "leg" of the seeming contradiction chosen in our day is the one that leans toward human welfare. In time past the reverse may have been true. Men are becoming lovers of themselves.

Current Christian theology has been developed by means of selecting the preferred "leg" and cutting off the other. Thus we hear much preaching about being justified by faith, little to the effect that we are justified by works (James 2:21). Truth falls flat on its face, being unbalanced.

It is not unusual for the editors of study Bibles to underline the verses they are employing as "key verses." The student is to leap around in the Scriptures according to the scheme of deductive reasoning without paying attention to the line of thought of the writer of the particular book of the Bible or what he has written elsewhere.

This is why the believers of today may know certain "key verses" (verses removed from their contexts) but are ignorant of the line of thought the Spirit was developing, of which the key verse was a part.

An example of the fruit of this method of "study" is the application of Romans 6:23 and Hebrews 2:3 to the unconverted. These two verses are used today to warn the unconverted of the danger of not being "saved." In actual fact the two verses are addressed to Christian people concerning their sins and their lukewarmness toward Christ.

Indeed, all the Epistles are written to the "saints," as Paul terms the believers. Christian people, the saints, do not take these warnings to heart because they believe they are directed toward the unsaved.

One of the principal "key verses" of current Christian theology is John 5:24, a verse we have discussed previously. 

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death to life.

It is difficult to comprehend the amount of error caused by the employment of John 5:24 as a "key verse" from which conclusions are drawn. We may not be overstating the case to say that the principal doctrine of the Epistles, which is the necessity for our growth toward perfection in Christ, has been sapped of most of its strength by the excessive application of John 5:24 as a "key verse."

John 5:24 is one leg of a seeming contradiction. John 5:24 states that he who hears the word of Christ and believes in God shall not come under judgment. He has passed from death to life.

It may be an invitation to the humanist to conclude from John 5:24 that the Lord will not judge His people. But this is to create an unscriptural attitude toward the Christian redemption (I Corinthians 11:32, for example). It represents a departure from both the Old Testament and the New Testament.

John 5:24 is not referring to a one-time confession of Christ as Savior. We must have "ears to hear" the Word of Christ each day of our pilgrimage and continue to believe in God throughout our days on the earth.

Every day we pass from death to life as we walk in the Spirit of God. Every day of our Christian life, spiritual death and spiritual life struggle for mastery over us. Every day we "hear the Word of Christ," believe in God, and live without condemnation. The moment we cease abiding in Christ, John 5:24 ceases applying to us.

Here is a seeming contradiction: John 5:24 states that the believer shall not come under condemnation, or judgment but I Peter 4:17 states that the Divine judgment begins with the believers in Christ. In fact, the entire fourth chapter of I Peter reveals that our tribulations in this world are the judgment of God on us as Christians (also, II Thessalonians 1:5).

Which leg of the seeming contradiction should we stand on? Should we accept the popular view of John 5:24? John 5:24 is reinforced by Romans 8:1 which teaches there is no condemnation resting on those who are abiding in Christ.

Or should we receive I Peter 4:17? I Peter 4:17 is reinforced by II Thessalonians 1:5, which declares that our sufferings are a "manifest token" of God’s judgment which comes on us so we may be counted worthy of the Kingdom of God. We are suffering under God’s judgment so we may be found worthy of the Kingdom.

Which is the more important of these two verses? Which should we stress? Which of the two should we employ as a "key verse"? From which should we derive our understanding of the plan of salvation? Which should we use to guide and modify our interpretation of the other? Which of the two verses should we discard as being less inspired?

Obviously we can choose neither one as more important, more valid than the other. Both concepts have proceeded from the mouth of God.

From Genesis to Revelation the Scriptures are inspired by God. No truth of the Kingdom of God contradicts another truth. The seeming contradictions provide the balance of revealed truth. The reason one Scripture appears to contradict another is that we ourselves are lacking in wisdom, knowledge, and understanding.

We do not arrive at truth by employing favorite verses as "key verses." We arrive at truth by saying Amen to all of God’s Word and then waiting for the Holy Spirit to make plain to us the several aspects of the doctrine under consideration.

John 5:24 and I Peter 4:17 complement each other. John 5:24 states that the individual who is abiding in Christ, continuing to hear Him and to believe in God, is dwelling under the blood of the covenant. He is free from judgment—judgment in the sense of condemnation and death. John supports this concept. 

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. (I John 1:7)

In order to remain without condemnation we must be walking "in the light" of God’s will, as far as we know His will. Accepting Christ as our Savior is not a ticket to Heaven. Rather, it is the opening of the door to the "way of righteousness" (II Peter 2:21).

John 5:24 uses the term condemnation , or judgment , in the sense of Divine condemnation and wrath. I Peter 4:17 uses the term judgment in the sense of Divine discipline, of correction to righteousness.

The two ideas of discipline, and condemnation, are brought together in I Corinthians 11:32: 

But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.

Judged so we should not be condemned.

The disciplining judgment of God falls on us so we never will come under the condemning judgment of God.

In comparing John 5:24 and I Peter 4:17 we are not relying on any difference in usage of krisis and krima , the two Greek terms employed, but on the manner in which God’s judgment operates under the new covenant.

This present paper has to do with the Judgment Seat (Greek, beema ) of Christ. We have inserted this prelude concerning the deductive approach to theology and seeming contradictions because otherwise some of our readers who know John 5:24 may throw out our entire argument as being unscriptural and irrelevant.

As soon as we begin to discuss the scriptural doctrine of the judgment of the believers, and the necessity for de facto righteousness, some of the believers think we are doing away with the atonement made by Christ. Please rest assured we are not discarding the atonement. Rather, we are placing the atonement in perspective so it does not become an excuse for sin.

Let us turn now to the fourth chapter of I Peter for our study of the disciplining of the saints by the Lord Jesus. Our principal thesis, which is based on Chapter Four, is that the Judgment Seat (beema ) was established when the Lord rose from the dead and has been in session until the present day.

The beema of Christ will remain in session throughout the thousand-year Kingdom Age. It will not be adjourned until after the Judge, the Lord Jesus who is seated on His white throne, makes the final decision as to who is placed in the Lake of Fire and who is brought forward to eternal life in the new world. 

And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick [living] and dead. (Acts 10:42)

Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. (Acts 17:31)

The tribulations and sufferings we Christians experience are the judgment of Christ on us—a disciplining judgment leading to repentance and a holy life. 

Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; (I Peter 4:1)

The purpose of suffering is to sanctify us, to make us holy. The Christian who does not arm himself to suffer will be caught off guard when fiery trials come on him and may turn away from Christ.

The sufferings of the Christian, if he is following the Lord as he should, are God’s judgments on his life: not a judgment of condemnation and wrath but a judgment of discipline to salvation. We are saved by the judgment of discipline. Apart from Divine judgment we remain sinful, self-centered, and otherwise spiritually immature and subject to the authority of the Lake of Fire (Revelation 2:11; 20:6).

The Lord God of Heaven disciplines every son whom He receives and the discipline consists of fiery testings and tribulations. These are part of the normal Christian experience. They are decisions made at the Judgment Seat of Christ at which our personalities are being revealed.

The judgment has begun already and is abiding on the living and the dead. We are the living. After we are born again and filled with God’s Spirit, having died and been raised again in the spiritual sense, the work of judgment begins. We have been brought forth from the tomb, as was Lazarus, and now it is time for the unwrapping of the graveclothes. 

Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick [living] and the dead. (I Peter 4:5)

The pattern is for people to die and after this to be judged. But here we find that the Lord is ready to judge both the living and the dead. The idea seems to be that the Lord desires His saints get as much as possible of their judgment accomplished before they die physically so the way will be clear for the judging of the sinners among the Lord’s people and the wicked of the world.

Perhaps this is what Paul meant by striving to attain to the resurrection that is out from among the dead (Philippians 3:11). Perhaps Paul was seeking to draw near to Christ until every aspect of his personality had been cleansed by the flame of God’s Personality.

It appears from Paul’s statements in the fourth chapter of II Timothy (verses 7,8) that his warfare had been accomplished, his wickedness pardoned. He had been revealed at the Judgment Seat of Christ, and through the pardoning and transforming grace of Christ had been found not guilty. All that remains for the Apostle Paul is the resurrection to righteousness, bodily immortality, and glory.

It is our point of view that only the victorious saints will be raised in the first resurrection from the dead—that which will occur when the Lord returns. How could it be possible for an unjudged, undisciplined, rebellious believer (of which there are many) to be changed suddenly into immortality and rise to be ever with the Lord? The Spirit of God still is contending with him concerning his sins and self-will. How, then, can he be caught up to Christ as one of His kings and priests without first having these issues settled? (Revelation 20:4-6).

Perhaps a work of judgment is being accomplished now in both the spiritual and physical realms so that when Jesus appears all members of the true Israel, the Seed of Abraham, will be prepared to be ever with the Lord. One thing is certain: no individual will be brought into eternal life in his body until he has passed through the judgment of Christ.

No one can eat of the tree of life until he has overcome sin and rebellion. We cannot get past the cherubim guarding the tree of life or the flaming sword flashing back and forth until no sin is found in us.

The Prophets teach us clearly that when Christ comes He will purify us by fire so we will walk in de facto righteousness (actual righteousness of behavior). De jure (legal; imputed) righteousness is not at issue here. 

And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. (Malachi 3:3)

Christ has come and has begun to purify His Church by fire. 

Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. (Matthew 3:12)

Christ baptizes us with the Holy Spirit, and then with the fire of disciplining judgment. This is what Peter is describing.

Christ performs all the judging of people. The term beema , translated judgment seat , is used consistently in the New Testament to mean a raised throne where those accused of crimes are brought for judgment. Each human being is accused of sin, having been born of Adam and possessing a desperately wicked, profoundly deceitful personality.

Each of us was born dead in sin. We were doomed to hear only Guilty! at the Judgment Seat of Christ. But Christ has come from God to save us from our sins.

Christ saves us from our sins by washing us in His holy blood so we can be received of God. Then Christ, the Judge of Heaven, begins the work of separating us from our sins. He reveals our sins to us and then gives us the opportunity to confess them, repent of them, and overcome them through Divinely imparted grace.

The Judge is our Savior and our Savior is also our Judge. If we will allow the Judge to do so He will save us from the sins of which He accuses us. The Judge becomes our Savior.

If we refuse to allow the Savior to save us from our sins, our loving, tender, merciful Savior becomes the Judge who decides whether or not we are worthy of eternal life.

The Lord Jesus is as severe a Judge as He is a loving Savior. The believers of today do not understand the severity of the Lord because of the errors in Christian doctrine.

The Father, God, judges no one (John 5:22). The disciplining fire that comes on the saints proceeds from the white throne of Christ as He works to save us from our sins. We are not speaking of the guilt of our sin, for that was forgiven on the cross of Calvary. The problem now is the presence of sin; not the guilt, but the presence of the sin in us—the sin that dwells in us, as Paul says.

All disciplining of the Christian is performed according to the judgment of Christ. Christ judges that we need to be rebuked and chastened. When there is no more sin or rebellion in us, the chastening ceases (Revelation 3:19; I Peter 5:10).

The concept of Christ judging both the living and the dead raises another issue. There is a continuity between the physical realm and the spirit realm. The Lord does not regard our physical death as being spiritually significant. It appears that our disciplining and instruction take place whether we are physically alive or dead.

When Christ rose from the dead He began the work of purifying His elect by means of fiery tribulations and testings. The work of Divine judgment, according to our understanding, has been taking place ever since that time in history (He is ready to judge the living and the dead). It is our point of view that the judging of the saint is independent of whether the saint is in the spiritual or the physical realm.

We are not suggesting that the saints in the spirit realm are suffering fiery tribulations and testings. They experienced those while they were alive on the earth.

Nevertheless the patriarchs cannot be made perfect apart from us (Hebrews 11:40). This means Abraham and the other heroes of faith cannot be made perfect in righteousness apart from the other members of the Body of Christ. The whole Body is moving toward perfection, being built up by that which every part supplies.

The whole Body of Christ, the Church, the Wife of the Lamb, is moving toward perfection as one organism. It is not of significance whether the member of the Body of Christ is alive on the earth or living with God in the spirit realm.

We Christians always have believed that the members of the Body of Christ will be judged in the spirit realm. Isn’t it possible that we can also learn from Christ and grow in righteousness in the spirit realm? Certainly we do not believe spiritual growth is impossible in the spirit realm!

One of the immature concepts of Christian thinking, it seems to us, is the "freezing" of the Kingdom of God after we die physically. The idea is fostered that we can learn only in this world, and our change into the image of Christ is limited to only that which is accomplished during our lifetime on the earth.

Let us hasten to add that the Christian who postpones to life after death his growth in Christ and his service to Christ, hoping to obtain the best of both worlds, will face an angry Christ. He has not been faithful with that which is least—the opportunities given to him in this life. Let him be assured he will not be trusted with the true riches.

God cannot be mocked. When the unprofitable servant dies he will go to be with the other lazy, careless individuals who have neglected the part of the Kingdom work that was entrusted to them.

While a rough hewing takes place on the earth, much refining still will be required after we leave this arena of strife and tears. Our real life will commence with the new heaven and earth reign of the Lord Jesus, and we shall be being prepared for our new, real life from now throughout the thousand-year Kingdom Age.

We envision a growth in the image of Christ taking place in us throughout the eternities to come. "Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end" (Isaiah 9:7).

Being "saved" does not mean we have been given a ticket to a paradise in the sky. Being "saved" means God has given us the opportunity to escape the image and works of Satan and to lay hold on the image and works of Christ. The faith and diligence with which we respond to our opportunity will determine our eternal destiny. This is thesis of our book. A thorough reformation of Christian thinking is necessary if our thesis is to be established as a guiding principle of Christian doctrine and practice.

It is our understanding that both the physical and spirit realms are places of instruction for us. We believe also that God’s purpose in creating the physical realm is that through it He may reveal His will to all His creatures.

While the revelation of God’s Person takes place in us to a certain extent during our sojourn in the present era, it may require many millennia before the unique revelation of the Lord God that each of us is has begun to approach maturity.

Before we can participate in the program of revealing the invisible God we must be willing to die to all we are, to come forth as a naked spirit before the Judgment Seat of Christ, and through His judgment of us be brought into newness of life.

No witness, no revelation of God can come through the human personality but only through the new man who is the unique union of Christ and the individual. All of the first personality must be so burned by the Divine fire and infused with Christ as to constitute a new creation .

As it is true that the judgment of the saint can take place in either the physical realm or the spirit realm, so it is true that the wicked can be judged in either realm. The wheat and the tares are growing together, not only in the physical realm but also in the spiritual, as we understand it. Certainly Satan and his followers are maturing in evil.

Physical death does not change anything of significance, because human beings are eternal spirits, not fleshly animals that perish in the dust. We are alive somewhere, and the process of redemption through judgment continues, or else will continue in the Day of the Lord.

The Divine judgment will not have been concluded until the saints descend from Heaven as the gloriously perfected Wife of the Lamb, the nations of saved peoples of the earth are walking in the Light of God’s Presence shining in the saints, and the wicked have been thrown into the Lake of Fire. The Divine judgment, which began with the atoning death and triumphant resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, will continue until that time. 

For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit. (I Peter 4:6)

Christ entered the spiritual prison and brought the Gospel of the Kingdom to the spirits confined there. Those spirits then were required, as we are, to choose to receive Christ as both Lord and Savior. They were judged as we are, although they were not at that time alive on the earth. 

But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. (I Peter 4:7)

Was Peter incorrect in believing he was living at the end of the age? Not at all. When Christ died and rose again the end of the age had come. The Day of Judgment had arrived and it began with the saints.

God’s judgment began with Christ’s death on the cross. By associating themselves (not in theory only but in a daily embracing) with Christ’s death on the cross, the saints obtain deliverance from the wrath of God. The righteousness of the Law of Moses is imputed (ascribed) to them, having been fulfilled in Christ (Romans 8:4).

We still are in the same era, the same period of Christ’s judgment, as was true of Peter. Nothing has changed. The end of all things is at hand. The Judgment Seat of Christ is in session. The wheat and the tares, the righteous and the wicked, are being brought to maturity as part of the work of the Judgment Seat of Christ. 

Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. (I Peter 4:12,13)

What, then, is the significance of our fiery testings and tribulations? The fourth chapter of I Peter points out three areas of significance:

They motivate us to cease from our sinning.

They are a judging, a disciplining of us so we will not be condemned with the world.

They are a part of Christ’s sufferings, which we are to share.

Are these three areas parts of one whole? Yes, they are. They are three aspects of the one method of redemption God is employing to save us. We are being redeemed, being saved from the bondage of wickedness, by judgment. 

Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness. (Isaiah 1:27)

So great is the wickedness of man that even those of righteous character are saved with difficulty, requiring prolonged periods of tribulation for the perfecting of their spirits in the sight of God. 

To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just [righteous] men made perfect, (Hebrews 12:23)

To those who may claim we are changing the character of the Christian salvation from one of salvation by grace through faith to one of salvation by suffering, our answer is: read what Peter said and decide for yourselves. It does not matter what our traditions state or what we think must or should be true. It matters only what the Scriptures state.

The doctrine of the redemption of God’s elect by judgment may go against our traditions and ideas but it is found throughout the Scriptures. 

Which is [persecutions and tribulations] a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: (II Thessalonians 1:5)

It is being taught today that Christ suffered for us so we never shall be required to suffer. However, the Scripture teaches we are to enter the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings. We are to enter His death on the cross and be changed into that death in our daily living.

The teaching that Christians are not to suffer comes from the heart and mouth of Antichrist. Satan knows it is only through suffering that Christ can be formed in us. Satan prefers we Christians save our life—even our life of religious activities. The one thing Satan fears is that we Christians will die to our own life and Christ will come forth in us and destroy Satan’s kingdom in the earth (Mark 8:31-33).

Let us examine the purpose for our fiery trials.

Every human being is born guilty of sin. We are born dead. We bear the guilt of Adam’s sin. In addition we possess a human nature that is rebellious against its Creator. The human heart is deceitful and desperately wicked.

Every human being at some point in his existence must stand before the Judgment Seat (beema ) of Christ.

The term beema is employed twelve times in the New Testament. A beema , according to New Testament usage, is an elevated throne where people accused of crimes are brought for judgment. Pilate judged Christ at a beema. Paul stood before the beema of Festus and requested that he be brought before the beema of Caesar.

No individual is brought before a beema unless he is accused of a crime.

Every human being will be made manifest at the beema of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Christ was brought before the beema of Pilate; but one day Pilate will be revealed before the beema of Christ. How will Pilate feel when he stands before Jesus? What will he say? What will the judges of this world say when they stand before the saints whom they found guilty of the crime of being a Christian and then assigned to imprisonment, torture, and death?

Where does the atonement made by Christ fit into this picture? If Christ made an atonement, a reconciliation for us, why is it necessary for us to be saved by fiery judgment?

If any human being will choose to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior, the Lord will extend to him forgiveness—forgiveness made possible by the sacrificial death of Jesus. The full penalty for sin fell on Jesus, the Lamb of God. Jesus had not sinned. Therefore, according to God’s righteousness, Jesus can declare to be guiltless whomever He will.

If a person will repent of his sin, place his faith and hope in Christ, and be baptized in water as Christ has commanded, Christ will declare him to be righteous in God’s sight.

The substitutionary death of Christ has made us acceptable to God. We must confess with our mouth that Jesus is the Lord, the chosen One of God. We must believe in our heart that Jesus has been raised and is alive eternally—positive proof that whoever believes in Him is righteous in the sight of God.

After having received Christ as our Lord and Savior, our personality is divided into two parts. Our old personality, our original soulish nature and physical body, remains on the earth. Our new born-again spiritual nature is raised in the Spirit and is hidden with Christ in God.

We by faith, in obedience to the written Word of God, are to assign our entire first personality (the good and the bad of it—all that was born of our human parents) to the cross of Christ. Our new life in Christ has been raised with Christ to the right hand of God.

We attain to the first resurrection from among the dead by allowing the Spirit of God to press our earthly personality into the death of the cross. We learn to cultivate and nourish, and to live in, our new resurrection life in the Spirit of God. We are to look always to the Lord Jesus for guidance and consolation.

God does not just hand eternal life to us. Rather, God makes it possible for us to enter life. The atonement, the reconciliation, is not only a legal state we accept by faith. The atonement is an opportunity for us to bring down to death the enemy of God in us, and to enter eternal life by receiving Christ who Himself Is the Resurrection and the Life.

Meanwhile, the blood serves as the propitiation (appeasement of God’s wrath) for all of our sins—past, present, and future. The atonement is one whole. We cannot avail ourselves of the propitiation and then refuse to enter Christ’s death and resurrection. Yet that is the impression being left by current teaching. It is as though we could receive the forgiveness of sins apart from a sharing in the Life and sufferings of Christ, apart from experiencing Divine judgment on our personality.

We experience the power of Christ’s resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings. Death, and life! Death, and life! Death, and life! If we choose to save our soulish, fleshly life, our first personality, we will die spiritually. If we choose to walk in the Spirit we will attain to eternal life.

The cross is the place of Divine judgment. When we assign our fleshly nature to the cross we are handing it over to Divine judgment.

Our soulish personality, our "old man," hates and rejects the life of the Spirit. Therefore God subjects our old nature to the fiery trials of the cross of Christ. God casts down our whole first personality, the evil and the good of it, until we can say in truth, "I am crucified with Christ."

This is how the sufferings of the cross of Christ, which are the sufferings that proceed from the righteous judgment of God, save us from sin. It is necessary for Christians to suffer. We must suffer because we possess a human nature that is sinful, deceitful, and rebellious. The sufferings of the cross that we share in Christ slay our sinful nature. They purify our soul and spirit and teach us obedience to God.

We are exhorted to believe to the saving of our soul. We are required to endure to the end of our appointed tribulations and imprisonments. 

But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition [destruction]; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul. (Hebrews 10:39)

When we die, our soul passes into the spirit realm and appears before the Lord Jesus Christ. If we have walked on this earth in humility, obeying the Lord throughout the fiery testings that have been our portion, we are ready to walk with Him in white.

If we have not walked in stern obedience to the Father but have resisted the crosses and prisons He has sent for our perfecting, we will be disciplined at that time—perhaps being cast away from His Presence and assigned to the flames of Hades or to outer darkness.

Some may ask, might not God decide to accept us anyway, even though we have walked in disobedience?

Only Christ will decide on whom He will show mercy. Jesus has warned us clearly that he who disobeys God’s will shall receive lashes (Luke 12:47).

Our disobedience and self-love will have left their marks on our soul. Would we be happy in the Kingdom of God, living with people who love the Lord and who obeyed Him while on the earth to the point of martyrdom? Would we not be ashamed and miserable? We have not enjoyed the company of such while on the earth, why would we desire to be with them around the Throne of God?

Throughout history the people of God have suffered. They have been as sheep for the slaughter. Their tribulations are an evidence of the righteous judgment of God. The saints of God suffer so they may be deemed worthy of the righteous Kingdom that is coming from Heaven (II Thessalonians 1:5).

The sufferings of the cross strike down our human personality causing the new creation of God to be brought forth in us. Apart from such sufferings we cannot be made new creatures in Christ.

If we suffer the judgments of the cross we will rule with Christ. 

For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? (I Peter 4:17).

The beema (judgment seat) of Christ was instituted in the first century, according to the Apostle Peter. All human beings have been accused of sin because of Adam and therefore each must appear before the judgment seat.

God has devised a plan for the salvation of His elect and of all who will accept His provision. God has sent Christ as a sin-bearer so that whoever places his trust in Him may be saved.

God’s plan includes the forgiveness of sins that are past, through the atoning blood of the sin-bearer, and also Divine grace by which the believer, while he is continuing to be forgiven by the authority of the atoning blood, may work out his salvation. The believer works out his salvation by confessing his sins, as the Holy Spirit brings them before him, and then, through the Spirit’s help, by ceasing to practice them.

Thus the believer is revealed before the Judgment Seat of Christ. He names his sins and asks the Lord to forgive him (I John 1:7-9). Then, by the Lord’s help, he overcomes them.

This procedure is an eternal judgment of sin. When a Christian confesses his sin to God, God is faithful and righteous to forgive that sin and to cleanse the Christian from all unrighteousness.

If the saint, through God’s help, ceases to practice the sin he has confessed, he is freed from it—delivered from its guilt and power by the grace of God. He never will have to answer for the sin again. It has been revealed at the Judgment Seat of Christ and has been forgiven. Since, by God’s grace, he no longer is practicing it, it never will be mentioned to him again. 

But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live. (Ezekiel 18:21,22)

In this manner a believer may walk in confession and subsequent victory until he has been cleansed. He can complete, while on this earth, his court appearance concerning sin , or come close to completing it. All that remains in the way of judgment is for the Lord to evaluate the decisions he has made as a believer—his faithfulness in serving the Lord. He will be rewarded according to his faithfulness and diligence and the fruit he has borne.

The Christian who is not walking in the light of God’s Presence, who is not confessing and gaining victory over his sins and self-love, who is disobeying God’s will, who is neglecting his salvation (as is true of many Christians of our day), is facing a terrifying scene—either in this world, if God is merciful, or else when he dies and stands before the Lord Jesus Christ in Person.

 For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. (Hebrews 10:26,27)

The writer of the above passage is addressing lukewarm Christians.

The Judgment Seat of Christ has commenced with the judgment of the house of God. The nearer we are to God the stricter and more immediate is our judgment. Jerusalem always receives double for her sins (Isaiah 40:2). After the accounts of the righteous have been settled, Christ will turn His attention to the disobedient. 

And if the righteous scarcely be saved [is saved with difficulty], where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? (I Peter 4:18)

It requires the body and blood of Christ, the Spirit of God, the Word of God, much prayer, the fellowship of fervent saints, and prolonged fiery trials in order to save those of godly character. What will it be like when the ungodly and the sinners appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ?

The New Testament writings exhort us to live in the fear (not "reverence," as the modern translators would have it) of God. The holy fear of the Lord is a wise, wholesome attitude for each of us to maintain. The true saints fear and love the Lord Jesus and serve Him from both motivations.

We work out our own salvation with fear and trembling because of the countless snares and temptations that confront us each day. To overcome our fleshly lusts, our miserable self-centeredness, the world, Satan, Antichrist, and lukewarm believers, is no minor undertaking. We can overcome sin but we do so with the greatest difficulty. However, the rewards for conquering sin are great.

The Judgment Seat of Christ is in session. The first to be tried are God’s saints. When we suffer let us hold steady in the Lord, knowing that when we are tested we, through Christ’s own grace and Virtue, shall come forth as refined gold. Then we shall have no fear. Then we shall have perfect love.

Then we shall have boldness in the Day of Judgment. 

And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem: When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning. (Isaiah 4:3,4)

The True Israel

We believe that every member of true Israel is an eternal part of the new Jerusalem, the Kingdom of God. Although there is great diversity of ranks and roles among the saints, all are members of the one Body of Christ.

True Israel is the Kingdom of God, the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Wife of the Lamb, the Body of Christ, the new Jerusalem. Israel has been chosen by God from the creation of the world to be His royal priesthood. 

And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. (Exodus 19:6)

We Gentiles who have been grafted on the root of Abraham through the Lord Jesus Christ are an integral part of the "kingdom of priests," the "holy nation" of Israel. 

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people [people for God’s own possession]; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; (I Peter 2:9)

By "true Israel" we mean every member of the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ began as a purely Jewish institution. It will be concluded as a Jewish institution. Although in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, it remains true that the Kingdom of God is of Israel. We believing Gentiles have been grafted on Israel.

We shall be an inseparable part of Christ when He is crowned King on the Throne of David in Jerusalem.

This may come as a humbling shock to us Gentiles, for we regard Christianity as a Gentile institution. In actuality, Christianity is a Jewish institution. Let us not forget that. The Gospel of the Kingdom is to the Jew first, last, and always. We Gentiles have been added, by the will of God, to what is of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

There are many errors in Christian theology. None of them has done more to destroy straightforward biblical interpretation than the unscriptural doctrine that Jesus the Christ (Yeshua Hamashiach ), the Son of David, will reign over a spiritual Gentile kingdom in Heaven and a physical Jewish kingdom on the earth. Such deception has robbed the Lord’s people of their ability to understand the Prophets.

There are those who believe that the Messianic revelations and promises found in the Prophets apply only to physical Israel and not to the Church of Christ. A little reflection on the consequences of such a position should cause any serious Bible student to abandon it. (Do the Twenty-third Psalm and the Fifty-third chapter of Isaiah apply to the Christian saints?)

Recently a young college student approached an internationally known Bible teacher. She asked him, "How can you teach there are two churches, a Jewish church and a Gentile church when the Scriptures state there is only one body?"

His reply was incredible. Yet, it reveals the thinking of our foremost teachers and scholars.

He said, "In Paul’s day the Gentiles were grafted on the Jewish church. Today the Jews are being grafted on the Gentile church."

On what passage of the Scriptures could he have based such an answer? Are we seriously amiss in calling for a reformation of Christian thinking?

We will discuss the true Israel in five steps:

Not all Jews are part of true Israel.

The Body of Christ is true Israel.

There are ranks in true Israel.

True Israel shall be brought to purity and unity.

True Israel shall be raised as a powerful army to meet the Lord Jesus Christ in the air.

Not all Jews are part of true Israel If we would make any progress in understanding the Prophets of Israel we must acknowledge that every human being who is born of Jewish parents is not necessarily a member of true Israel, a part of the royal priesthood of God.

The Apostle Paul taught that being born of Jewish parents does not establish the person as a member of true Israel. Paul was a Jew by race and also a member of true Israel. 

Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. (Romans 9:6-8)

"For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel"! 

For this Agar [Hagar] is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. (Galatians 4:25)

The physical nation of Israel is not the seed of promise. It is the spiritual Jerusalem in the heavenlies, at the right hand of God, that is the true Zion. The Jerusalem above is the mother of every member of the Body of Christ, of the true Israel of God (Galatians 4:26). 

For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God. (Romans 2:28,29)

"For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly"!

The Jews claimed to be Abraham’s seed: 

They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? (John 8:33)

Jesus did not agree with them: 

Ye are of your father the devil, . . . (John 8:44)

No physical Jew is a member of Abraham’s Seed by virtue of being born to Jewish parents. The Messianic promises never were made to the physical Jews. All the Messianic promises, the promises of the Kingdom found in the Prophets of Israel, are directed only to the Lord Jesus and to those who belong to the Lord Jesus. 

Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. (Galatians 3:16)

Unto whom [the Hebrew Prophets] it was revealed, that not unto themselves [the physical Israelites], but unto us [the Christians—Jews and Gentiles] they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into. (I Peter 1:12).

The Christian salvation is not of the Gentiles and for the Gentiles. The Christian salvation is of the Jews and for the Jews. The first Christians were Jews and the last Christians will be Jews. There is no "Gentile Church." The Gentile Church does not exist.

In order for a Jew (or a Gentile) to receive any part of the Messianic promises, the blessing and inheritance of Abraham, he must be born again of the Spirit of God. Christ, the one Seed of Abraham, must be born in him. This is the only true Israel, the Body of Christ, the one Kingdom of God. 

The Body of Christ is true Israel

And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. (John 10:16)

"One fold, and one shepherd"! 

There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; (Ephesians 4:4)

We Gentiles have been called to be part of the true Jerusalem: 

But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, (Hebrews 12:22)

God has made us Gentiles one with the elect Jews through the broken body of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. 

And that he might reconcile both [Jews and Gentiles] unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: (Ephesians 2:16)

The Prophets agree to this: 

Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim and for all the house of Israel his companions: And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand. (Ezekiel 37:16,17)

It requires two sticks to make a cross.

In the symbol of the two sticks, Judah represents the Jews. Joseph, who married a Gentile wife, represents the elect who are drawn from the nations.

A careful study of the eleventh chapter of the Book of Romans will prove there is no "Gentile Church."

The root of the Christian Church, the Body of Christ, is Abraham. Abraham is the father of true Israel.

Adam and Eve stumbled because of a trivial temptation. Abraham stood true throughout a heartbreaking testing. Abraham’s staunch obedience and faithfulness to God is in contrast to Adam’s miserable disobedience. Abraham is the father of all who believe in Christ (Romans 4:11).

We believing Gentiles—Europeans, Scandinavians, Americans, Africans, Asians—were branches growing out from wild olive trees. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are a holy, cultivated olive tree, being chosen by the Lord God of Heaven who does all things according to the counsel of His own will.

According to God’s foreknowledge and election, some of us Gentiles were cut out of the wild olive trees and grafted on the holy olive tree.

The holy olive tree never has become a Gentile tree, a wild tree. The holy olive tree never has changed its character.

Christ is the holy Olive Tree. Even Abraham himself must be born again in Christ, must be grafted on God’s holy olive tree, which is true Israel.

Having been grafted on the holy olive tree we now are an integral part of Christ, of Abraham, of true Israel. Even the Jew must be grafted on Christ, on the one true Vine of God. For no mortal human being, including the Jew, ever can enter the one Kingdom of God (I Corinthians 15:50).

The Christian salvation is by promise, by faith, by election—never by the Law, by human works of righteousness, or by natural birth. God saves whom He will through the Lord Jesus Christ. God shows mercy to whomever He decides to show mercy.

Each of us is obligated to live as righteously as he can, being diligent to make his "calling and election sure" (II Peter 1:10). Even our desire and diligence to live righteously proceeds from Him who works all things according to His own pleasure, who works in us "both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).

When God turns again to the nation of Israel, as will take place in the closing days of the present age, the principles of election, of obedience, of faith, of being grafted on Christ, of being born again, will apply in the same manner as they do today. Christ does not change.

And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: (Romans 11:26)

Every member of true Israel will be redeemed in the same manner, according to the same principles of election and faith. The members of true Israel always are redeemed according to the principles of the new covenant. The new covenant can be made only with the house of Israel, never with a Gentile. We must become part of the one house of Israel before we can partake of the new covenant. 

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: (Hebrews 8:10)

We Gentiles are an integral part of God’s Israel. We are married to Christ; therefore we have become part of Israel.

When Asenath, the Egyptian, married Joseph she became an integral part of the nation of Israel. If she had not, Ephraim and Manasseh would have been part-Egyptian and part-Israelite. But Jacob claimed Ephraim and Manasseh as his own body and blood (Genesis 48:5). Asenath, and Ephraim and Manasseh, lost their identity as Egyptians.

Ephraim and Manasseh, born of an Egyptian mother, became an integral part of the twelve tribes of Israel.

The Body of Christ, the Christian Church, the Kingdom of God, the Wife of the Lamb, is true Israel. The Wife of the Lamb is the new Jerusalem, not the new Paris, or the new London, or the new New York. She is the new Jerusalem . The Wife of the Lamb is related nationally, politically, to Israel. 

And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:29)

The Church of Christ is the "Israel," the "Zion" spoken of by the Spirit in the Hebrew Prophets (I Peter 1:12; Hebrews 12:22).

There are ranks in true Israel.

 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, that ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Matthew 19:28)

The Apostles of the Lamb will judge the tribes of Israel.

It is God’s will that every member of true Israel be a king and priest before Him, ruling over the nations of saved peoples of the earth. 

And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles [nations], and their offspring among the people: all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the Lord hath blessed. (Isaiah 61:9)

Keep firmly in mind that the Prophets are speaking of the true anointed Israel, of Christ—Head and Body. If you do not maintain this concept you will misunderstand the plan of God for the world.

True Israel consists of God’s kings and priests, the royal priesthood. Physical Israel was a shadow, a type, an example that exists for the benefit of those who receive the Substance, which is Christ.

Every member of the Body of Christ is a king because Christ, the only true King, is reigning in him. He who is least in the Kingdom of God is greater than the greatest of the Hebrew Prophets, as they were while they were prophesying on the earth (Matthew 11:11).

Before God has finished working and dealing with His Israel, every member from the least to the greatest will know God. Such knowledge of God by every member of Israel is the end result of the new covenant.

 And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. (Hebrews 8:11)

Every member of true Israel, of the Body of Christ, of the Wife of the Lamb, of the new Jerusalem, will be exalted to a degree of glory incomprehensible to us in the present hour.

But, as we have stated, there is as great variety of roles and opportunities for service in the Kingdom of God as there is variety among the personalities of the members of true Israel, the saints, the called of God.

The better one knows the Scriptures the more easily he will be able to call to mind the diversity that exists among the personalities and attainments of God’s elect. The eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews describes some of the heroes of faith and we can notice the differences listed there.

Kings, prophets, patriarchs, mighty men, teachers, priests—all march across the canvas. The Kingdom of God is as varied as the members of mankind. No doubt that is why there are twelve (and not just one) gates of the new Jerusalem.

Every member of the Body of Christ is destined to be changed into the image of Christ and to enter complete, restful union with Christ. In addition, the uniqueness of each member will be developed to its fullest potential.

In Christ we lose our individuality (in the sense of being a person separate from God) but we retain our identity. It is paradoxical that as we lose our life in Christ to the extent it no longer is we who live but Christ who lives in us, our own personality is then brought into its God-ordained uniqueness.

We lose our individuality in that we become an inseparable part of Another, of Christ. Our personality, that which God had in mind when He created us, becomes many times more sharply defined.

Truly, if we seek to save our life we will lose it; but if we lose our life in Christ we will gain it. There is no disappointment in Jesus.

There are thirtyfold, sixtyfold, and a hundredfold in the Kingdom of God. Three out of twelve were chosen to stand on the Mount of Transfiguration.

There are many examples, in both the Old Testament and the New, of the variety existing in the Israel of God, in the Body of Christ.

Since the Wife of the Lamb appears in white raiment at the beginning of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, and then appears as the glorified holy city at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, it seems reasonable that one of the principal purposes of the Kingdom Age is the perfecting and glorifying of true Israel, the Body of Christ.

Jesus referred symbolically to the need to perfect the members of His Body by stating He would walk two days, referring, we believe, to the two thousand years of the Church Era, and then be perfected on the third day, the thousand-year Kingdom Age (Hosea 6:2; Luke 13:32).

When the Lord’s people die physically they pass into the spirit realm in widely varying states of maturity. Some, as the Apostle Paul, are spiritual giants. Paul is of the first rank. After that there are many levels of spiritual maturity down to those who had been given little time on the earth in which to come to know the Lord.

The Song of Solomon suggests the different stations occupied by the members of the household of God. One passage in particular points to the work of perfecting the immature members of the Church: 

We have a little sister, and she hath no breasts: what shall we do for our sister in the day when she shall be spoken for? If she be a wall, we will build upon her a palace of silver: and if she be a door, we will inclose her with boards of cedar. (Song of Solomon 8:8,9)

"We will build . . . we will inclose."

The immature members of Israel will be assisted by the stronger, we believe, until they attain their place and role in the Kingdom of God.

We must remember to be diligent to make our calling and election certain, for if we do not serve the Lord we will be cut off from the Israel of God (Romans 11:21,22).

True Israel shall be brought to purity and unity. The Scriptures, both Old Testament and New, speak clearly that in the last days judgment will begin and it will commence with the house of God.

True Israel will be purified by fire until a Bride emerges who is without spot, wrinkle, or any other blemish of any kind whatever. It seems impossible, considering the "dry bones" of today, that God could purify and unify His Church in the earth. But He can and He shall. However, the purity and unity will be accomplished by fire.

 And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion [in the Body of Christ—see Hebrews 12:22], and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem: When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning. (Isaiah 4:3,4)

We see that there will be a purifying of the Church of Christ until only the true Bride remains.

When Christ comes in judgment He will:

 . . . sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. (Malachi 3:3)

John the Baptist applies this prophecy to the Body of Christ: 

Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. (Matthew 3:12)

The Apostle Peter interprets the fiery testings and tribulations that fall on the Christian saints: 

For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? (I Peter 4:17)

The program of refining will continue until every member of true Israel is a "mighty man of valor." 

In that day shall the Lord defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the Lord before them. (Zechariah 12:8)

It is our understanding that the purifying and unifying of the Body of Christ, of true Israel, has begun. Also, we quickly are approaching the joining of elect Gentiles to the elect of the Jews. We are in the last days. The great tribulation is close at hand. But first there must come the "latter rain" revival, the last worldwide witness to the nations of the earth. Then all that the Prophets have spoken concerning the Kingdom of God will come to pass.

True Israel shall be raised as a large and powerful army to meet the Lord Jesus Christ in the air. The thirty-seventh chapter of the Book of Ezekiel describes the day in which we are living. Israel, both natural and spiritual, is scattered as dry bones over the face of the earth. There is no way possible in which the holy spiritual nation can be born. But God has promised to bring the spiritual Zion into travail. When He does, God’s nation, the Body of Christ, will be "born at once" (Isaiah 66:8).

The coming together and strengthening of spiritual Israel is proceeding in parallel with the coming together and strengthening of natural Israel.

God will bring together His elect with "sinews," strengthening them in unity. He will send His pastors to feed the flock until the sheep grow fat and strong and can break the yoke on their necks. Then the Lord will cover His Bride with the "skin" of the beauty of holiness.

After this, Christ will breathe into His army the breath of resurrection life. The saints will come forth from their graves and rise to meet their Commander in Chief in the air. He will descend with them to the Mount of Olives and they will overpower the wicked of the earth. Now will Christ and His saints reign triumphantly in Jerusalem. 

So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. (Ezekiel 37:10)

Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. (Ezekiel 37:12)

The second chapter of the Book of Joel describes the invasion of the earth by Christ and His army (compare the nineteenth chapter of Revelation): 

A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations. (Joel 2:2)

Christ’s saints will shout for the battle. The Archangel Michael will command his angels. The trumpet of God will sound. The Lord’s warriors will arise from their graves and stand in triumph on the earth.

Antichrist and the nations of the wicked will tremble with the fear of God. The light radiating from the resurrected saints will be as that which came from the garments of the Lord Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. Then Christ will call up His legions to Himself. Where the body of the slain Lamb is, there the "eagles" (those who live by His body and blood) will be gathered together.

Christ and His army will descend from the clouds until the Lord Jesus is standing on the spot from which He ascended. This event will mark the beginning of the judgment of the wicked at the hands of the saints of God. 

The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining: (Joel 2:10)

These are the historic signs of Christ’s return (Matthew 24:29). 

And the Lord shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it? (Joel 2:11)

When Christ calls up His Church from the earth it will be as Israel coming out of Egypt. There will be no Gentile identity associated with it. Also, when the Church descends to enter the earth as into its land of promise, the King who is leading His army will be the Son of David. He—Christ—will come and sit on the Throne of David in Jerusalem. 

He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. (Luke 1:32,33)

Again, there is no Gentile identity associated with the Kingdom of God.

The Lord Jesus sits on the throne of the hearts of His saints as far as the Church is concerned, but on the Throne of David in Jerusalem as far as the world is concerned.

Every true saint, whether a Jew or Gentile by race, is a member of true Israel, the Christian Church, the Body of Christ. He will be with the Lord Jesus Christ when the Lord takes His rightful place as King of the earth, reigning on the Throne of David in Jerusalem.

It is our understanding that the events of world history from the present hour forward will serve to bring about the events we have just described.

After the coming "latter rain" revival the Lord will turn His attention to His own people, the Jews. Then there will be days of great tribulation. The tribulation will force the elect Jews from Jerusalem, and the Lord’s true remnant of saints, both Jewish and Gentile by race, will be used by Jesus to bring the revelation of Himself and His salvation to the persecuted, afflicted Jewish nation. The future salvation of the nation of Israel was portrayed by the reunion of his brothers with Joseph—they having been forced out of Canaan by the famine.

If we who believe in the Lord in the present hour desire to be with the Lord as the extraordinary events of the last days come to pass, and not be a part of the spiritually-dead church of Babylon (man-directed Christianity), we must cease from our worldliness and sin and begin to cry out to the Lord with our whole heart.

The Christian churches are filled with deception, sin, self-seeking, covetousness, immorality, and every other evil work. It is time for judgment to begin in the house of God.

The days ahead will prove to be difficult for us. But every one of the fiery tests and tribulations will serve to purify us and make us one in Christ if we will look always to Jesus and obey Him with a perfect heart.

 De Jure and De Facto Salvation

And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21)

"From their sins"!

To be "saved" is to be delivered from our sins and our self-will and to be able to live in the Presence of God through the Lord Jesus Christ. Salvation is not only forgiveness of the guilt of our sins but actual deliverance from the presence of sin itself.

Salvation commonly is thought of as deliverance from punishment, from Hell. Salvation is more than deliverance from Hell. Among other things, salvation is deliverance from the need to be punished in Hell.

We may be desiring an amnesty but God is desiring a change in our behavior. Until we, through Christ, overcome the world, Satan, and our lusts and self-will, we remain subject to the authority of the Lake of Fire (Revelation 2:11;20:6). 

Sin is behavior that violates the laws of God. 

Self-will is our desire to exist and act independently of God.

Every human being is born with strong tendencies toward sin and self-will. We were born spiritually dead—cut off from the Presence of our Creator.

God gave His only begotten Son, Christ, to save us from our sins—not in our sins but from our sins. Christ saves us by what He Is and by what He does. Christ delivers us from our sins and our self-will. Christ separates the light of our reborn inner nature from the darkness that is in us.

When Christ has completed our salvation, our redemption from the hand of Satan and from the deadly self-will that causes us to destroy ourselves and those around us, we shall experience eternal life and the glorious freedom of the children of God. We no longer shall be urged to sin against God’s laws. We shall be at rest in the only lawful Will in the universe. Through Christ we are saved, rescued, delivered from all those things in us that result in death and torment.

In the Book of Romans, Paul tells us how to be saved, how to be delivered from our sins, thus becoming eligible for receiving eternal life in our mortal body when the Lord returns.

Let us look now at the Apostle Paul’s explanation of the Divine redemption as it is presented in the first half of the Book of Romans. We will consider Paul’s presentation in four parts:

Chapters Three through Five: the removal of condemnation.

Chapter Six: the gift of the opportunity to attain to life.

Chapter Seven: the presence of sin in our flesh.

Chapter Eight: how to attain to the resurrection to life.

The removal of condemnation. In Chapters Three through Five of the Book of Romans the Apostle Paul tells us of the provision God has made for the removal of the condemnation that rests on every human being.

God has given His Son as a sin-bearer, as One who has made it possible for the Divine condemnation, which came upon mankind because of the disobedience of Adam and Eve, to be lifted from us. When we put our faith in the atoning (reconciling) authority of the blood of Christ, God removes all condemnation from us. We now are guiltless in the eyes of God. 

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. (Romans 5:8,9)

This is the first step toward the goal of being made a new creation in Christ, a creation that does not, when it is finished, bring upon itself the judgment of God by what it is and does.

It is vain for any human being, after God has presented to him the slain Lamb, Jesus Christ, to seek to be made righteous in God’s sight by obeying the Law of Moses (or the principles of any other religion or moral code), or by obeying his conscience. God has given to the world His only Son as the sin-bearer, and God does not want us to attempt to circumvent His plan of salvation by attempting to make ourselves acceptable to Him by a plan of our own.

He who believes in the justifying blood of Christ has been forgiven his past sin and disobedience to God’s will.

This is de jure salvation—salvation by means of God’s legal provision for us. Through it we receive the authority to be children of God by virtue of God’s free gift of righteousness imputed (ascribed) to us. No actual deliverance from our sins has occurred but the important step of freedom from condemnation, from guilt, has taken place.

We have been delivered from the guilt of sin but not from the sin itself.

One could deduce, from Paul’s statements in Chapters Three through Five of the Book of Romans, that it no longer is necessary that we live a righteous life. We could assume that since God has decided to hold us guiltless on the basis of the substitutionary death of Jesus, and since Jesus lived a perfect life and His righteousness has been imputed to us who believe, it is not critically important how we behave.

The gift of the opportunity to attain to life. Therefore, in Chapter Six of Romans, Paul teaches us that this conclusion (it is permissible for us to sin, now that God has forgiven us) is incorrect. Eternal life in spirit, soul, and body, that which was lost in the garden of Eden, now becomes our goal, and in order to attain to life we must choose to serve righteousness.

God does not just hand eternal life to us as a gift on the basis of a de jure status. Eternal life must be gained, must be sown, must be brought about through our interaction with the body and blood of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the Word of God. There must be a true repentance on our part. We must follow the Holy Spirit on the road to complete deliverance from unrighteousness if we would attain to eternal life.

God gives to us through Christ the opportunity to attain to eternal life, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. 

If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection [Greek, out-resurrection] of the dead. (Philippians 3:11)

God gives to us the necessary authority and power so we may be able to lay hold on complete deliverance from the cause of death, which is unrighteousness.

There can be no permanent eternal life apart from actual (de facto ) righteousness. There can be no continuing Divine, eternal Life where sin and self-will are active, except as God is leading the believer toward deliverance from such behaviors. Imputed righteousness is a temporary provision.

Imputed righteousness is not the Kingdom of God but a provision God has made so faith-filled people may be able to press forward to the righteousness of behavior that is the Kingdom of God.

It is here in this concept of provisional, temporary righteousness that the nucleus of the error in current theology resides.

The error is as follows: imputed righteousness is an eternal blinding of God, an eternal negating of the Kingdom law of sowing and reaping, and we forever shall be sinners whose actual rebellion of personality is being overlooked through God’s mercy. Our sin and rebellion are being overlooked so we can abide in Paradise, in God’s Presence while we still are sinful and rebellious.

The truth is, the goal of our redemption is a de facto righteousness, a righteousness that governs our actions, our words, and our thoughts and imaginations. De jure (imputed) righteousness holds in full force only on the condition we are continuing in God’s will. God’s will always is bringing us toward complete freedom from sin and rebellion in spirit, soul, and body. It is only as we walk in the light of God’s will that the blood of the Lord Jesus cleanses us from all sin.

Christian scholars may understand in theory that de jure righteousness is a shield that protects us until God delivers us from sin. But the central doctrine of redemption, which is actual sanctification and change into the image of Christ, is not being presented clearly, practically, emphatically in our day. Our deliverance from sin and self-centeredness is being relegated to an undefined time, an undefined place, and an undefined method. There does not seem to be an understanding that the Kingdom of God exists in de facto righteousness.

The result is, the believers do not maintain a vigorous pressing forward toward de facto righteousness. They are taught that God loves them so much He is anxious to bring them into His Kingdom whether or not they are dressed for the occasion (Matthew 22:12).

Far too much stress is placed on being clothed in imputed righteousness, in Christ’s righteousness. Far too little emphasis is being placed on our pressing into Him so His power and Nature can deliver us from sin and self-centeredness.

In the New Testament writings Paul sets forth the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith. But the major emphasis of his writings, and the writings of the other authors of the New Testament, is on our behavior as Christians. This is true from the Gospels to the Book of Revelation. Receiving Christ is an act of repenting of our former way of life. Receiving Christ is the God-given means of producing godly behavior in human beings, not a substitute for godly behavior.

Unrighteous, unholy, disobedient behavior brings wrath and death upon us. Righteousness of behavior, holiness of personality, and obedience to God bring eternal life upon us. The relationship between our conduct and God’s acceptance of us has remained true throughout the record of the Scriptures. To teach otherwise is to rebel against God and to lead one’s hearers to destruction. 

Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. (II Corinthians 6:17,18)

Under no covenant does God just hand eternal life to us. God, through the living Virtue that Christ Is, creates righteousness in us. The new creation receives eternal life as its natural inheritance and blessing.

There are a number of major misunderstandings in Christian thinking. The greatest misunderstanding, no doubt, has to do with the point we are making. The Christian salvation is not de jure deliverance from sin that results in de jure eternal life and a de jure kingdom. The Christian salvation is de facto deliverance that results in de facto eternal life and a de facto Kingdom of God.

Deliverance from sin and eternal life, are real, eternal, Divine actions and substances. Eternal life is not the same as eternal existence. Eternal Life Is the Lord Jesus Christ. He Is the Resurrection and the Life, and the Grace of God.

It is Christ, eternal Life, in us who delivers us from eternal death, from sin and self-seeking. The more of Christ we possess the more de facto (actual) righteousness we have and the more eternal life we have.

A redemption that remains de jure (a legal but not necessarily actual fact) is, from the standpoint of the Kingdom of God, worthless apart from the development of de facto transformation of character.

What kind of a city would the new Jerusalem be if the inhabitants were sinning and striving to please themselves at the expense of everyone else? They were without condemnation but still bound by lust and self-centeredness?

Paul, in Chapter Six of Romans, exhorts us to give all diligence to serving righteousness. We must serve righteousness. The serving of righteousness leads to holiness, and the outcome of righteous and holy personality and behavior is eternal life. The outcome of serving sin, on the part of the believer, is spiritual death. 

Know ye not [saints in Rome], that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? (Romans 6:16)

Our answer to Paul is, "No, Paul, we of the twentieth century do not understand whom we Christians are to serve or that if we who are called to be saints practice sin we will die spiritually. Neither do we understand that true righteousness and eternal life come only to those who walk in obedience to God.

"We have been taught that righteousness and eternal life are given to us solely on the basis of a profession of belief in Christ and that our behavior in the flesh is unrelated to eternal life. We see little or no connection between eternal life and our behavior."

In this we are wresting Paul’s teachings to our destruction.

Again, Paul shows us the relationship between our behavior and the gaining of eternal life: 

But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. (Romans 6:22)

"You have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life." "And the end everlasting life." The end of holiness , not correct doctrine, not faith, not belief, not confession, but holiness, is everlasting life. The end of holiness!

Compare: 

Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (II Corinthians 7:1)

If we Christians, having been found without condemnation through faith in the blood of the cross, and having been baptized in water as a testimony that we have died to sin and the world and have risen with Christ to walk in newness of life, then continue to serve sin, we will die spiritually. We will not attain to the resurrection to eternal life. 

For the wages of sin [on the part of the believer in Christ, for that is the person to whom the text is addressed] is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

It is not the gift of life, as of an undemanding gift, but the gift of the opportunity to attain to life, according to the context of Romans, Chapter Six. The gift of the authority and power to attain to eternal life is not in the possession of the individual who is not part of Christ, so we conclude that the text is not addressed to the unbeliever . Therefore the warning concerning the wages of sin is addressed to the believer.

Eternal life was lost to Adam and Eve because of their disobedience. God has given man the opportunity to regain eternal life through Christ by obeying Christ, not merely by announcing that Christ is the Son of God, the sin-bearer, the Lord that has been raised from the dead. It is in obedience to Christ as He leads us away from sin that we reap eternal life.

Salvation is deliverance from sin—from its guilt, its power, and its effects. We begin the process of salvation by obtaining, through faith in Christ’s atoning blood, freedom from condemnation, from guilt.

After we have been set free from condemnation we must press forward in the program of redemption. If we do not we will die in our sins. In this instance we have obtained forgiveness through the atoning death of Christ and then have turned back into bondage. Therefore we have not been redeemed from the hand of the enemy. We still are bound by the chains of sin. We shall die in the wilderness, so to speak. 

I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not. (Jude 1:5)

"After having saved . . . afterward destroyed."

Many individuals who receive the Lord turn away from the Lord after a period of time. They enter salvation and then do not follow the Lord any longer. The New Testament Scriptures warn us of the danger of putting our hand to the plow and looking back, and the possible outcome of doing so. 

For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. (II Peter 2:20,21)

The Christian salvation is infinitely more than a de jure state of freedom from condemnation. It is "the way of righteousness"—a way of living and behaving. 

The presence of sin in our flesh. In Chapter Seven, of the Book of Romans, Paul explains that each of us—Jew, Christian, or heathen—has a compulsion to sin dwelling in our flesh. Truly, every human being is "shapen in iniquity" and conceived in sin (Psalms 51:5).

In Chapters Three through Five of the Book of Romans, Paul has shown us God’s plan for removing condemnation from us so we can be accepted of Him.

In Chapter Six, Paul explained to us that we must not interpret his teaching concerning freedom from condemnation to mean it no longer matters how we behave ourselves in this world. It is true we have been set free from condemnation. Now we must walk in newness of life in the Lord Jesus Christ.

If we continue to sin after having been washed in the blood of the cross we will die in our sins. The wages of sin is death whether we are a Jew, a Christian, or an unbeliever. If we do not allow the Nature and power of Christ to break the hold of sin on us, we will die. The wages of sin is death !

God has offered eternal life to us through Christ. We must diligently lay hold on this life. We must, through Christ, overcome Satan and our own perverted personality for they continually are striving to prevent our deliverance from sin and death (I Timothy 6:12; Revelation 2:7).

In Chapter Eight of the Book of Romans, Paul tells us how to press forward in the pursuit of life, how to win the race for the prize of salvation.

Can you see the pattern? First, freedom from condemnation. Second, we must not continue in sin if we hope to attain to life. Third, it is a fact there is sin dwelling in us (Chapter Seven).

Finally, in Chapter Eight, we are shown how to walk in Christ if we hope to achieve the redemption of our mortal body, if we would attain to the resurrection to life.

In Chapter Seven, Paul, who was reacting against the Judaizers (teachers who were attempting to combine Christianity and the Law of Moses), reminds the Jews of the inability of the Law of Moses to save us from our sins.

We have died to the Law of Moses, Paul proclaims, so legally we may be free to be married to Christ. The Law was not able to deliver us from our sins. Rather, the Law made our sins even more sinful. The Law emphasized our sin and in so doing brought condemnation and death to us.

It is stated today that if we have died to the Law of Moses we are free from the Law. We now are free .

The truth is, the kind of freedom we have is of a certain kind. We are not free to sin but only to be married to Christ.

We are free from the Law of Moses only if we truly have died to our first personality and life.

We are not just free . We are free to be married to Christ . There is a universe of difference between being free and being free to be married. There can be no fruit of righteousness brought forth until we are married to Christ.

In our minds we desire to serve God. We acknowledge that God’s Law is good and holy. But the sin that is in us insists on our sinning and disobeying God. Our mortal body is a body of sin and death. How can we be delivered from it?

Here is the question Paul raises in the seventh chapter of the Book of Romans: "How can I be delivered from the death that is in me, from the evil that is present with me? How can I attain to the immortality denied Adam and Eve because of their disobedience to God?

"I am in a battle. I am serving God with my mind but the law of sin is dwelling in my flesh. I desire to attain to eternal life but my body and human mind are waging war against me."

Such a conflict exists in many religious people whether they are Jews, or Christians, or the adherents of some other religion—even in the righteous individual who is striving to meet the demands of his conscience.

Paul was speaking directly to the Jews, showing them the dilemma of the righteous man or woman under the Law. He (or she) has a desire to please God but the flesh is in rebellion. The Law brings sin to life and emphasizes it. The Law cannot deliver us from sin.

Paul suggests, in the second chapter of Romans, that the Jews of his day, like the Christians of our day, had fallen into the trap of considering their knowledge of the Law as constituting a de jure (if not a de facto) righteousness, while their actual conduct was not up to the standard of the righteous Gentile who was behaving according to conscience (Romans 2:13).

The Scriptures almost always stress de facto righteousness.

The conflict of Chapter Seven exists in the true saint, but the eighth chapter points toward the resolution of it.

The Christian life is a prolonged (and successful if we will follow the rules) warfare against sin. The goal of our warfare is eternal life, the resurrection to life. Paul pressed the battle until he had finished his course (Philippians 3:8-14; II Timothy 4:7,8). 

I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. (Romans 7:25)

This is the condition of the Christian at the outset of his discipleship. He loves God in his inner man and seeks always to please Him. His flesh hates the ways of the Spirit of God. Satan and his demons strive day and night to provoke and deceive him into yielding to the appetites of his flesh.

Unlike the Jew under the Law, the Christian now has the Divine tools with which he can put to death the deeds of his body. Through Christ the bondages can be broken. Victory in every area does not come at once and so the blood of the cross covers those aspects of his personality that still are under the control of the enemy.

There indeed is victory in the area of immediate challenge if the saint walks in the Spirit, adhering to the rules of Christian conduct (praying, meditating in the Scriptures, worshiping with fervent believers, obeying the Lord, giving, serving).

If we, through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, continue to walk in the Spirit each day, not letting our hope and diligence weaken, going to God for help in our time of need, eventually we will overcome our flesh and Satan and will arrive at the resurrection to righteousness, immortality, and glory.

If we do not hold our confidence firmly to the end, do not continue to walk in the Spirit, do not adhere to the rules of Christian conduct, we will be overcome by our flesh and Satan and will await an uncertain future. The rewards go to the victorious saints. 

How to attain to the resurrection to life

. . . they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; . . . (John 5:29)

In the eighth chapter of the Book of Romans Paul shows us how to behave in order to attain to eternal life. He explains to us how to be saved from our sins, how to become able to dwell in the consuming Fire who is our holy God.

First, Paul reminds us we have been set free from condemnation. We always must keep this in mind or else we will succumb to despair during the fierce strife we are compelled to engage in throughout our warfare. God always is present to forgive us and help us provided we are continuing in His Spirit. 

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ, who walk not in the appetites of the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Romans 8:1)

Notice, in verse four of the eighth chapter, how de jure and de facto salvation work together to save us from our sins. Our freedom from condemnation (de jure status) holds true provided we follow the Spirit of God into actual (de facto ) righteous behavior. 

That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not in the appetites of the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Romans 8:4)

According to the above verse, the righteousness of the Law (of Moses) is not fulfilled in us who make an initial profession of Christ as Savior and then walk in the flesh, but in us who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.

The current Christian preaching often portrays our de jure status as a permanent, unconditional amnesty.

It certainly is not a permanent, unconditional amnesty according to numerous passages of Scripture.

If our imputed freedom from condemnation were a permanent, unconditional amnesty, holding true while we walked in the flesh in our self-will, the Kingdom of God would be a flimsy structure indeed.

In actual fact, the de jure freedom from condemnation is a legal device that the Judge of Heaven is employing in order to produce a new creation. When the new, actually righteous creation is not being created, the de jure freedom from condemnation is not achieving its intended purpose and will be withdrawn. We will be cut out of the Vine (John 15:2).

The Father stands waiting for the prodigal son to come home; but to come home a sadder, wiser young man, not a wild rebellious youth who will turn the family home into a den of uncleanness and confusion. Salvation has as its goal the creation of a holy city, not a hell to which God has assigned a de jure status of freedom from condemnation.

The condition on which we receive righteousness is in force when we walk not in the appetites of the flesh but after the Spirit.

God does not impute (ascribe) righteousness to believers who are walking in the ideas and lusts of the human personality. This is a clear statement of more than one passage of the New Testament. Yet, if we are hearing and reading correctly, the current Christian teaching is unashamedly to the contrary. "Salvation is unconditional," the leaders of the churches announce. They advance their philosophical proofs to support their statements. But the written Word of God authoritatively, steadfastly, and eternally denies their claim.

If we do not walk in the Spirit, in the Light of God’s Presence and will, the blood of Jesus does not continue to wash us from our sins. Continuing freedom from condemnation depends on our abiding in Christ, in God’s will for our life. 

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. (I John 1:7)

Paul makes it clear that it is the Spirit of God who possesses the wisdom and power necessary for breaking the yoke of the law of sin that dwells in our flesh: 

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2)

The law of the new covenant is "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus."

We are dead to the Law of Moses so we may be free legally to walk according to the law of the Spirit of life, not so we may continue in the appetites of the flesh without condemnation.

The authority for our deliverance comes from the blood of the cross. The wisdom and power necessary for our deliverance come from the Spirit of God.

As we pray each day, study the Scriptures, confess our sins to God and repent of them, meet with fervent Christians as we have opportunity, expose ourselves to and practice the ministries and gifts of the Body of Christ (again, as we have opportunity), and, in general, begin to cultivate the holy Seed of Christ that has been born in us, the Spirit of God leads us into victory over sin.

We do not gain victory in one day over all our sins. The process of redemption, which is the program of delivering us from the guilt, power, and effects of sin, is a protracted battle. We enter "Canaan" one city at a time.

We humans are profoundly corrupt, deeply rebellious against the Lord our Creator. Satan probes continually searching for the area of lust or self-will that will cause us to disobey God. Satan has not changed from the days of Adam and Eve.

It is important for us to keep in mind that while we are gaining the victory over sin and self-will, the blood of Christ keeps on maintaining our freedom from condemnation. The blood makes the difference so God can hear our prayers even though we, in our personality and behavior, are worthy of death.

The Spirit of God uses the two-edged sword of the Word of God to divide every area of our personality. Every detail of what we are and what we do comes under the intense scrutiny of Him who searches the hearts of all men to give to every man—saved and unsaved alike—according to his ways and according to the fruit of his doings (Jeremiah 17:10).

God has given us His Son, His Spirit, His Word, many and varied gifts and ministries, and every other grace and blessing so we may be changed into the image of His Son. God is seeking a transformation of us, a complete redemption, a perfect salvation. In order to obtain this He is making all things work together for our good.

Our part is to obey the Spirit of God and the Word of God, as Christ helps us. We can overcome Satan and our corrupt nature if we will take advantage each day of the forgiveness and other provisions God has given us for that day.

The Nature of Christ is being formed in us. When it has been made perfect in us, every element having been refined, the Father and the Son will make Their eternal dwelling in us. Such is the exceedingly high calling for which we have been chosen. We must not neglect it.

If Christ is dwelling in us and we are praying, meditating in the Scriptures, assembling with fervent Christians as we have the opportunity, confessing our sins and repenting of them, giving, serving, and waiting on the Lord for His will each day, then there is eternal life in our inner man because of the righteousness working in us. The blood is keeping us free from condemnation, and actual righteousness (the Substance and Nature of Christ) is being created in us. Also, the Holy Spirit is dwelling in us.

Our sin-filled body remains dead because of its sin but the blood of Jesus keeps on covering our spiritual nakedness in the sight of God. 

And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. (Romans 8:10)

It is our opinion that the word "spirit," in the above verse, should not be capitalized. It is referring to our reborn spiritual nature, as we understand it. The contrast is not between our physical body and the Holy Spirit but between our physical body and our new Spirit-filled nature. Our outer, physical man is dead because of sin but our inner, spiritual nature is alive because of the righteousness of Christ both imputed to us and formed and dwelling in us.

Our mortal body, our flesh, is dead in the sight of God because of the sinful lusts dwelling in it. However, there is eternal life in our inner spiritual nature because of the righteousness of Christ. The Divine Substance of Christ is being formed in us and Christ Himself through the Spirit of God is dwelling in the new inner man that is being created.

The righteousness of God, which is Christ, is being formed in us and the Spirit of God is dwelling in us. Therefore there is eternal life in our inner nature although our body remains separated from God (dead) because of its sinful tendencies.

The Jewish feast of Firstfruits, which occurs during Passover week, typifies the initial portion of eternal life given us when we come under the Passover blood. We receive the blood of the Lamb, repent of our sinful behavior, and are given the firstfruit of eternal life—the Presence of Christ in our personality. We are born again.

Because we have the firstfruit of life in us our whole personality is holy to the Lord. If we do not turn back into the ways of the world, the day will come when our entire personality has been harvested. In that day, even our dead physical body will be filled with eternal life.

If Christ is in us, is being formed in us, is dwelling in us, there is an actual (de facto ) righteousness, an actual eternal Life dwelling in us. Our righteousness no longer is only an assigned (de jure ) righteousness. There is an actual righteousness of personality and behavior dwelling in the new creation being formed in us.

If we keep on serving righteousness, tending carefully to the growth of the Divine Life in us, putting to death through the Spirit of God the impulses of our body and our fleshly, human, soulish, self-centered reasonings, we will live in God’s sight, being filled with God’s own Life.

The creating of eternal life in us is leading toward the hour when the inner salvation can be extended to include our mortal body. This is what is signified by deliverance from "the body of this death" (Romans 7:24). Paul was seeking the gift of eternal life—the redemption of his mortal body. 

But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken [make alive] your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. (Romans 8:11)

And not only they [the material creation], but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. (Romans 8:23)

The bringing of Divine Life into our flesh and bones is the climax of the Christian salvation. The redemption of the mortal body will take place when the Lord returns from Heaven. If we hope for the redemption of our body when the Lord returns we must follow the Holy Spirit in putting to death the sins of the flesh and allow the Spirit to crucify our self-life so Christ may reign freely in us.

The redemption of the mortal body shall not take place for those who have continued to walk in their lusts and self-will, even though they name the name of Christ.

Believers who continue to live according to the appetites and impulses of their soul and flesh shall experience a resurrection to contempt and corruption. 

De facto salvation includes the receiving of the fullness of eternal life in our spirit, in our soul, and in our body. It includes total deliverance from "the body of this death." This is resurrection to eternal life.

In order to be raised and revealed with Christ at His coming we must be judged and found worthy beforehand (Revelation 3:4). We must, through Christ’s grace, make ourselves ready by practicing righteousness (Revelation 19:7,8). There will be no time for preparation when the Lord comes (Matthew 25:10).

It may be noted that Divine grace and mercy will not, in the Day of Christ, do away with the Kingdom law of sowing and reaping; although current Christian teaching contends they will. Rather, grace works in this present life when the sinner comes to God and seeks His mercy and help.

The resurrection from the dead is a revealing of what we have done in the body. The Scriptures speak of this fact, in several passages. 

And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2)

And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. (John 5:29)

Paul addressed the "churches of Galatia" concerning the Kingdom law of sowing and reaping:

 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. (Galatians 6:7)

The context of Galatians 6:7 reveals clearly that Paul is testifying to the members of the Christian churches, warning them that they will reap what they have sown in this world.

The wise believer is not seeking merely to be raised from the dead, for all human beings will be raised from the dead. The wise believer is seeking to attain to eternal Life—the Life that is in Christ and is Christ. If he has not attained to life, but has been overcome by sin and self-will, to be raised from the dead will be to have his nakedness revealed.

 Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. (Revelation 16:15)

Christ came into the world so we may have abundant eternal life in spirit, in soul, and in body. First Christ frees us from condemnation. After that He leads us, through the Spirit of God, into the steps that enable us to be changed from our old personality into a new personality. It is the new personality that enters the Kingdom of God and is the Kingdom of God.

The new personality is filled with eternal life. Therefore God is able to extend the inner spiritual life into the dead flesh within which it was formed and cause the dead house to live!

Our mortal body will be made alive by God’s Spirit who already is dwelling in us (Romans 8:11).

If God’s Spirit is not dwelling in us, if there is no eternal life and righteousness in our inner man, how, then, can God extend His life into our flesh? It is not God’s intention to clothe an untransformed inner man with a body that is all Divine Life and power.

If we, after having received Christ as our Savior, walk in the thoughts and appetites of the flesh, we slay our own resurrection unto life (Romans 8:13). We have not attained to the inner spiritual resurrection that, in the Day of Christ, makes possible the physical resurrection.

Either we are attaining to the resurrection to life or else we are sowing to the flesh and will reap a harvest of death. If we live after the ways of the flesh we will die.

The redemption of the physical body is very important in the plan of salvation. The redemption of the body is Paul’s goal (Romans 8:23).

But as significant as it is, the redeeming and glorifying of the mortal body does not approach in importance and priority the perfecting of the spirits of God’s kings and priests. It is that group of perfected spirits that make up the heavenly Zion, the Kingdom of God (Hebrews 12:23).

The spiritually immature, self-centered believers who are waiting for a "rapture" are not in harmony with the laws of the Kingdom of God. The Lord Jesus has no intention of clothing fleshly believers, undeveloped, self-seeking spirits, with the power and life of the first resurrection from the dead.

It is not a case of our earning or our deserving the resurrection to life. The issue is one of our attaining to life (Philippians 3:11). God in His mercy has made it possible for us, through the Lord Jesus Christ, to overcome the cause of death and to regain what Adam and Eve forfeited through their immaturity and self-centeredness.

Modern Christian teaching is asking God to change what He Is. By hoping to gain the blessing of God apart from righteous living we are seeking to change God. It is not only mercy we are requesting, it is a changing of the Nature and standards of the heavenly, of the Divine.

Modern civilization is like that. As theory of democracy evolves in practice, people are able to overturn more of the laws that govern the conduct of men. Instead of bringing peace and joy to us, the result of removing laws is lawlessness and anarchy. By striving for personal freedom we are bringing ourselves into bondage. Some of the citizens of the wealthy democracies are destroying themselves (and others) by indulging the lusts of their flesh.

Only the slave of the Lord Jesus is truly free.

We should not want Heaven to change. We should not desire that the Lord adapt to our sinfulness and self-centeredness, as the governments of the world have changed their laws to accommodate the lusts and whims of people.

God has not provided us with modified laws by which we can continue in our sins and still receive the rewards the Scriptures promised to the righteous, to those who do the will of God. Rather, God has made it possible for us to overcome sin and thus gain access to the tree of life (Revelation 2:7). God has given us of His Life so through that Life we may gain more Life.

There is a gulf between the current Christian doctrine of permanently gaining eternal life by imputed righteousness, and the doctrine of permanently gaining eternal life by obedience. It is obvious that one of the two concepts is not scriptural. Initially we enter eternal life on the basis of imputed righteousness. The purpose of the initial portion of life is to enable us to then move forward to the full achievement of life in our personality.

The believer who trusts in perpetual freedom from condemnation independently of his conduct, who does not press through in Christ to the perfecting of his spiritual nature, to the new creation, is not a candidate for the resurrection to life. If he were, Paul would not have warned the Christians in Galatia that those who live in the lusts of the flesh will reap corruption.

We are given to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God, only as through the grace of God we overcome the forces of darkness that always are seeking to prevent our deliverance from their power.

It is as we overcome the forces of darkness that we gain joy, authority, peace, eternal life, union with Christ, and all the other blessings of the Kingdom of God (Revelation 21:7).

When we have been delivered from sin and self-seeking in spirit, in soul, and in body, and when we have been brought into restful union with God through Christ in spirit, in soul, and in body, then we have been completely redeemed from the hand of the enemy. This is what the fullness of salvation is.

The making alive of our mortal body is a consequence of, and part of, such salvation; not a gift given to us independently of what we are in personality and behavior.

This is the true God and eternal life, as John says (I John 5:20). "We know that whoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not" (I John 5:18).

The Christian salvation is infinitely more than a de jure redemption by which we are saved in our sins.

The new covenant is not primarily a covenant of forgiveness but of deliverance and transformation. The result is a new creation and the eternally indivisible union of Christ and the Christian.

There is the de jure aspect of salvation in which God sees us through Christ. Then there is the de facto aspect in which we are transformed into the image of Christ (Romans 8:3,4;29).

His name is Jesus, because He saves us from our sins. He saves us so we may dwell forever in the Presence of God and experience the perfect freedom of that Glory.

 The Nature of Sin

The Christian salvation includes the overcoming of sin through the Lord Jesus Christ.

The new covenant is not primarily a waiving of the consequences of sin. It is, rather, the God-given opportunity to climb out of the pit, to extricate ourselves through God’s grace from the chains of darkness.

All disobedience to God is sin.

God has commanded us to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. We are to live by faith, believing that if we choose each day to put God’s interests first, our daily needs will be provided. (We are not suggesting by this that Christians should cease working and move about in spiritual novelties.)

Satan, the world, and our own personality counsel us to provide for our security by acquiring as much money and as many material goods as we can.

Putting our material needs first, and the Kingdom of God second, is sin. Christ enables us to put God first in our lives, when we seek His wisdom and strength. Christ empowers us to overcome Satan, the world, and our own personality, and to do the will of God. This is salvation. This is the working out in us of the new covenant.

God has commanded us to resist the sins of the flesh. We are not to be practicing moral sins, such as adultery, fornication, lying, stealing, covetousness, drunkenness. We are to lead a clean, holy life in the sight of God. We are to be holy as He is holy.

Satan, the world, and our personality invite us to seek pleasure in immorality, in the uncleanness of the flesh and spirit.

Breaking the moral laws of God is sin. Christ enables us to keep the moral laws, as we seek His assistance. This is salvation from sin.

God has commanded us to become one with the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to set aside our individual ambitions and abide in restful union with Christ. We are to live in union with Him as He lives in union with the Father. We are to embrace God’s will as our own will.

Satan, the world, and our personality urge us to seek to use God for our purposes. They suggest we give Christ the keys to some of the rooms of our "house" but that we reserve the deepest springs of our being for the use of our self-love, self-centeredness, and self-will.

We are to make Christ our servant if we can. We are to seek "spiritual principles" that will enable us to manipulate God and Christ according to our pleasure and advantage.

Living our individual life apart from Christ is sin. Christ enables us to die to our first personality. He will come to us and take up His abode in us if we open the door for Him to do so. Christ will deliver us from that most terrible of fates—being independent of God.

There are three principles that govern living in eternal life:

Living by faith in God rather than by faith in what we can see and do.

Behaving according to the laws of righteousness and holiness.

Abiding in oneness with Christ rather than as a separate individual.

Satan, who is the author of sin and death, seeks always to prevent us from living according to these three laws of the Kingdom of God. His motive for seeking to prevent us is that he desires we worship him and be part of his kingdom.

Satan is a cherub who is in rebellion against God. He is attempting to build a kingdom in opposition to the Kingdom of God with himself as the center. Satan desires that his own will be done in the earth. Satan will do everything in his power to prevent us from attaining to eternal life in the Kingdom of God.

The current world situation reflects the personality of Satan and gives us some idea of the fruit of following his leadership.

Our own personality reflects the influence Satan was permitted, by the first people, to exercise in the garden of Eden. Our personality strives continually to prevent our living according to the three principles of eternal life. Our corrupt personality always seeks to obtain security, pleasure, and achievement, apart from God.

Because we desire to obtain security, pleasure, and achievement, apart from God, but wish to have eternal life also, we have invented doctrines that enable us to follow our corrupt personality and yet gain eternal life.

Current Christian doctrine is a manmade attempt to follow after security, pleasure, and achievement, apart from God, during our lifetime on the earth, and yet be qualified to receive the fullness of the Divine inheritance when we die.

The Christian salvation is the overcoming, through Christ, of Satan, the world, and our own personality so we can obey the three laws of the Kingdom of God, thus becoming eligible to receive eternal life and able also to participate in the other aspects of personal transformation set forth in the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation.

Current Christian doctrine, on the other hand, views the Christian salvation as a ticket to Paradise. Once we assent mentally and verbally to the facts of the atonement and resurrection of Christ we receive a "ticket" to Paradise that can never become void no matter how we behave.

It is taught that the laws of cause and effect, of sowing and reaping, are suspended when we accept Christ. Divine grace is viewed as a means of disobeying the three principles of life and not reaping death as a consequence.

The invariable truth is, living according to God’s will brings eternal life, health, joy, love, peace, and every other good and perfect gift. This is true in the present world (after we have suffered for a season) and also in the world to come (Isaiah 1:19; I Timothy 4:8; I John 2:17).

Living in disobedience to God’s will brings eternal death, sickness, misery, hatred, unrest, confusion, lack of harmony, and every other distressing condition. This is true in the present world and also in the world to come (Jeremiah 17:5,6; Galatians 6:8; Revelation 21:8).

Whoever teaches doctrine contrary to the Kingdom principle of sowing and reaping is bringing death and torment on himself and those who follow him.

All the humanistic doctrine in the world will not alter one bit the eternal principle of cause and effect. Christ did not come from Heaven in order to set aside the laws that proceed from and are an integral part of the Father’s very Personality. Rather, Christ came from Heaven so that through His atoning death and living Virtue we may be able to obey the laws that bring God’s Presence and blessing to us.

Sin, which is the transgression of the three laws of the Kingdom, always keeps us under the authority of the second death. We can be injured by the second death until we have overcome Satan and our own personality and are walking in Divine Fire and Life (Revelation 2:11; 20:6).

Practicing sin (attempting to live by bread alone without faith in God, breaking the moral laws, and living according to our own impulses instead of according to God’s Life in us) proceeds from a condition that brings down the wrath of God on us. That condition is neglect—the neglecting of God’s plan and purpose for mankind. 

How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; (Hebrews 2:3)

"How shall we escape, if we neglect . . . ?"

We may not view the neglecting of God’s plan as a grievous sin because we are apt to think only of the sins against the moral law, such as fornication and stealing.

It indeed is true that transgressions of the moral law are sin. But it is also true that God is displeased when we are engaged busily on the earth and are not looking constantly toward Him.

We may ask God, "What am I doing wrong?" God may ask us, "What are you doing right?"

Our minds turn to the Word of the Lord concerning the days of Noah and of Lot: 

They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; (Luke 17:27,28)

Eating, drinking, marrying, giving in marriage, buying, selling, planting, building—in themselves these are not sinful behaviors. The sin is in occupying ourselves with the business of the world and not with God. This is the sin of neglect. As always is true, those who neglect to seek God fervently, occupying themselves with eating, working, and playing, are soon engaged in wicked, immoral behavior.

The members of the nations will be cast into everlasting fire if they neglect to assist Christ’s brothers (Matthew 25:41).

The rich man was sent to the flames of Hades because he neglected to share his abundance with Lazarus (Luke 16:23).

A man was put into outer darkness because he had neglected to dress himself properly (Matthew 22:13).

The five foolish virgins were denied entrance to the marriage because they had neglected to provide oil for their lamps (Matthew 25:12).

The Lord’s servant was cast into outer darkness because he had neglected to use his talent diligently and wisely (Matthew 25:30).

It is obvious that it is a grievous sin to be so occupied with our security, our lusts, and our self-will that we neglect God’s purpose and plan concerning us.

There is no middle ground. Either we are seeking God with all our might or else we will begin to practice wickedness. 

The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts. (Psalms 10:4)

A true Christian is not one who merely assents mentally and verbally to the facts of Christ’s atonement and bodily resurrection. The demons do that! Mental and verbal assent to the atonement and bodily resurrection and belief in the existence of God are not what the Scripture means by faith .

The true Christian, he who lives by faith, is the one who presents his body a living sacrifice to God at all times and in every circumstance; who always is living in God’s Presence; who always is seeking first the Kingdom; who always is abiding consciously in Christ. God is in all his thoughts.

To not always be pressing toward God is to commit the sin of neglect.

What we have today is an ineffective and unacceptable manmade scheme that we are preaching and teaching in place of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. Hundreds of thousands of Christian believers are living in the delusion that they can say Jesus is Savior and Lord and then trust in money, commit sin, and follow their own heart. They think it does not matter how they behave in this world because "accepting Christ" is their ticket to another world.

Compatible with the viewing of grace as a substitute for godly living (which is an ancient heresy) is the modern "revelation" of the pre-tribulation rapture of the saints. The idea that any moment we will escape the tribulations of this world has destroyed the scriptural doctrine of the spiritual—and resulting physical—resurrection that results from pressing into Christ’s Life and sufferings. The Resurrection and the Life are Jesus, not belief about Jesus.

It is our conviction that the neglect of the vigorous pursuit of God coupled with belief in the unscriptural doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture of the believers have undermined the Christian testimony and destroyed the "light" of righteous works. 

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)

The Lord God of Heaven requires much more of His elect than commonly is being taught in the Christian churches. God has given us grace that never before, under any other covenant, has been available to mankind. In return He is asking for more than He ever before has asked of people. God is requiring that we present our body a living sacrifice, a whole burnt offering to Himself. God is seeking union with the center of our will and spirit, not just our belief and observance of the tenets of a law.

Through the Lord Jesus Christ we can make seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness the highest priority of our life. Through the Lord Jesus Christ we can resist the lusts of our flesh. Through the Lord Jesus Christ we can be delivered from self-centeredness and enter restful union with God.

If we, through Christ’s Person and grace, practice the three laws of life, we will not be found guilty of neglecting our salvation. We will inherit all things in this world and in the world that is to come.

If we choose to abide by the current Christian teachings, making a profession of Christ but remaining unchanged in what we are and do, trusting in the traditions that are popular today, we will reap what we have sown. We will reap corruption and death. This is true no matter how much of a profession of Christ we have made.

Each of us, each day, must choose eternal life or eternal death. Let us turn to Christ now so He can enable us to live in such a manner that God is pleased to be our God, and we are eligible to be God’s sons and to inherit all things (Revelation 21:7). 

The Appearing of Christ

Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we will be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we will be like him; for we will see him as he is. (I John 3:2)

The above verse often is used to mean every believer in Christ will be transformed in personality when Christ appears. It is our point of view that many Christians do not make a strong effort to practice righteous behavior in this world because they think that when Christ appears they instantly and effortlessly will become like Him in personality.

It is true that a perfection in righteousness we were not able to attain during our pilgrimage on the earth will be given us in the Day of the Lord, provided we have lived a victorious life during our discipleship. The perfection in righteousness will not be given, at the coming of the Lord, to believers who have neglected the present opportunities.

To those who look for Him, Christ will appear without sin unto salvation (Hebrews 9:28). (It is possible this verse is not referring to the Lord's appearing in the clouds but to His personal appearing and cleansing of His saints, as set forth in Malachi 3:1-3 and John 14:18-23).

In any case, it seems likely that most of the transformation that will take place in the Day of Christ will occur in our body, in our external appearance. We shall receive righteousness, immortality, and glory.

We shall be able to behold the glorified Christ as He is because we will be given spiritual strength in that hour.

The problem in the current thinking is, we do not always understand the role of the prior judgment and transformation of our spiritual nature. A prior judgment and transformation of our spiritual nature is necessary if we are to participate in the first resurrection—the resurrection from among the dead that will occur when Jesus appears. The Bride must make herself ready. The way of the Lord must be prepared .

The verse that follows I John 3:2 points toward a prerequisite judgment and transformation: 

And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. (I John 3:3)

We must, through God's grace, purify ourselves and our conduct. If we do not, it is not possible for us to participate in the first resurrection, in the revelation of Christ to the world.

Let us see why this is true.

When Jesus comes He will call forth from the grave those who belong to Him. He will cause them to stand on their feet in immortal life. His Glory will fill them causing great light to enter the darkness of the world (Isaiah 60: 1,2).

Christ then will call up His saints to Himself. Christ's own Glory will shine in them so that His coming will be as the lightning that shines from the east to the west. Christ will appear in and with His saints, being revealed in them. We shall be an integral part of His appearing. 

When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. (II Thessalonians 1:10)

"To be glorified in His saints." "To be admired in all them that believe."

Christ is coming in us and with us. 

When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4)

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. (I Thessalonians 4:14)

Christ is coming in and with His saints.

Christians who adhere to the Dispensational model of biblical interpretation believe in two different comings of the Lord: a first coming, in which He receives His Church; and then a separate coming to the world.

The claim is made that there will be a seven-year interval between the two comings during which Antichrist will reign on the earth, and the believers will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ and then be married to the Lamb.

There are at least three reasons why two different comings, separated by a seven-year interval during which Antichrist reigns and the believers are judged, are impossible:

The Scripture teaches plainly that the moment the saints are removed from the world the wrath of God will fall on the ungodly.

The saints will not stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ after they are glorified.

The Scripture teaches expressly that the coming of the Lord to be glorified in His saints, the coming that delivers them from their sufferings in this world, is the same coming that will destroy Antichrist and his followers.

The moment the saints are removed the wrath of God will fall. This is the teaching of the Scriptures and it was foreshadowed by the events of the days of Noah and Lot. There will be no interval of time after the saints are removed during which business will continue as usual on the earth. 

But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and sulfur from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. Remember Lot's wife. (Luke 17:29-32)

Here is a picture of the saints leaving the world just before destruction falls. Does this sound to you as though there will be a seven-year interval after the Church leaves during which Antichrist conducts his business in the earth?

Paul says the same thing: 

For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. (I Thessalonians 5:3)

Paul here is speaking of the coming of the Lord, the Day of the Lord, which he had described a few verses previously and which he portrays again in the first and second chapters of II Thessalonians.

Paul's teaching is, the Lord will descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God. This is Christ's appearing from Heaven. It will not come upon the saints as a thief because the saints are walking in the light. But it certainly shall catch the world and the worldly Christians by surprise just as Sodom was taken by surprise.

As in the days of Lot (who knew in advance of the coming destruction), the moment we leave "Sodom"—in that very moment—the wrath of God will fall on the world. It will not fall seven years after we leave. This is not scriptural.

The saints will not be judged after they are glorified. When Jesus appears we shall be like Him. We shall see Him as He is. His Glory will fill us. We shall be changed, immortalized, glorified—all in an instant. The brightness that glorifies the saints will destroy Antichrist and his followers. 

And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: (II Thessalonians 2:8)

We then shall be alive forever, being with the Lord as His Bride and royal priesthood.

There is no period of seven years after His coming during which we will be judged. We must be ready beforehand, as we note in the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew, Chapter 25).

There is no scriptural evidence, and it is not logical, that resurrected saints will be filled with the Glory of God, and after that stand and be judged, receiving the good and the evil they have practiced in their bodies (II Corinthians 5:10).

Adam and Eve were driven from the garden because they had sinned. The tree of life is not available to those who are filled with sin and rebellion. Before we are eligible to eat of the tree of life, to participate in the resurrection to eternal life, we first, through the grace of God, must overcome Satan, the world, and our own evil personality (Revelation 2:7). We first must obey God's commandments (Revelation 22:14).

The saints who are glorified in the resurrection that occurs when Jesus is revealed, who are like Him and who see Him as He is, will not be judged after their glorification. They already have attained to everlasting life, the resurrection from among the dead (Philippians 3:11). They are alive forever with the Lord, being an integral part of Christ's appearing. The second death no longer possesses any authority over them. 

Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6)

The order of events for the members of Christ's Body, the holy remnant of believers, as we understand it, is as follows:

Christ's judgment of all our sin and self-seeking, and the transformation of our personality by His body and blood and by the Holy Spirit of God.

The entrance of the Fullness of God into us while we yet are on the earth—just prior to the Lord's return.

The return of our spiritual form from Heaven with Christ.

The resurrection of our flesh and bones.

The clothing of our resurrected flesh and bones with our spiritual body of glory. Our spiritual body of glory, our "house from heaven," has been created in Heaven as the consequence and counterpart of the sowing of our physical body to the death of the cross, to the fellowship of Christ's sufferings.

There will be no judgment of us after we have attained to the first resurrection from among the dead. We now shall be forever with the Lord as an integral, eternally indivisible part of His Person.

The order of events for all other human beings is as follows:

The resurrection of their bodies from the grave.

The judgment of their works, of what they have practiced while alive on the earth.

Their entrance into eternal life, or into eternal fire, according to Christ's evaluation of their works.

It is possible that the judgment of the Lord's servants as to their use of their "talents," and the judgment of the peoples of the nations of the earth concerning their kindness (or lack of it) toward the Lord's "brothers" (as described in the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew), are referring to the judgment of unprepared believers, and of the peoples of the nations of the earth, who are alive on the earth when the Lord Jesus comes in His Kingdom.

Or, the two judgments (the talents and the cup of cold water) may be a description of what takes place in front of the "white throne," mentioned in Revelation, Chapter 20.

Neither the judgment of the talents nor the judgment of the cup of cold water is referring to the judgment of the victorious saints.

How could it be possible for a saint to be glorified in Christ's Presence, to "ever be with the Lord," and after that be judged for his use of Kingdom money or for his willingness to assist Christ's "brothers," and then be sent away into outer darkness or everlasting fire?

The first resurrection, in which we will be revealed in the splendor of Christ's majesty and caught up to meet Him in the air to be with Him forever, is a special resurrection of spiritual kings and priests.

The first resurrection is an integral part of Christ's own resurrection. It is not a part of the general resurrection of the dead of mankind. It is not the resurrection of the dead people but the resurrection out from among the dead of mankind: not of the dead but from the dead. The first resurrection from among the dead was Paul's stated goal—to which Paul was striving to attain (Philippians 3:7-21).

It is not possible we can be raised in glory, being like Christ and appearing with Christ, and after that stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ.

The next coming of the Lord is the appearing that will destroy Antichrist. Some are teaching that the next coming of the Lord will remove the saints from the earth, and after that Antichrist will reign on the earth while the believers are in Heaven standing before the Judgment Seat of Christ. This is contrary to the express teaching of the Scripture.

Notice carefully the first chapter of the Book of II Thessalonians. The saints of Thessalonica were suffering "persecutions and tribulations" (verse four).

Paul tells the saints that Christ at His coming will bring them rest from their troubles and sufferings (verse seven).

According to much current Christian teaching, the deliverance of the saints will come in the form of a "rapture" that will occur before they suffer persecution and tribulation.

It is evident in the first chapter of II Thessalonians that Paul is pointing toward the coming of the Lord to destroy Antichrist as the time and means of saving the Lord's flock from persecutions and tribulations.

The current teaching is that there will be a removal of the saints, while Antichrist continues to reign on the earth for seven years. But the Scripture indicates that our release from tribulation will come as a result of the destruction of Antichrist by the brightness of Christ's appearing.

Do you perceive the difference in the two concepts? 

Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. (II Thessalonians 1:6-10)

Paul understood that the Lord would come and rescue the Thessalonian believers by taking vengeance on those who were persecuting them. Paul qualifies the sense of urgency by showing them, in the second chapter, that a falling away from the faith and the revealing of the man of sin must take place before the Lord comes and saves them by the radiance of His Glory.

Paul held out to the saints in Thessalonica the hope that Christ would come and destroy their persecutors. Paul never once, anywhere at any time, suggested to the Christian saints that they would be lifted out of the world to prevent their being exposed to tribulation, and that after they were lifted from the earth the Antichrist would rule over the world for seven additional years.

A simple, unbiased, straightforward study of the first chapter of II Thessalonians will confirm what we are teaching. In order to derive another interpretation it is necessary for force the text to mean something other than what it states.

What appears to be an innocent disagreement of theologians concerning the events of the end-time is not nearly as harmless as it seems; for the manner in which the Christian addresses himself to his discipleship depends, at least in part, on his vision of the coming of the Lord.

If we believe that Christ will come and catch us away in our immaturity, and after that judge us at a sort of sports-awards banquet in which no believer is seriously rebuked or punished, we will not seek after our personal transformation and union with the Lord with the sincerity, integrity, and diligence necessary for its accomplishment.

We will not understand the purpose for our sufferings. We will trust that we shall see Him and be like Him because we have assented mentally and verbally to the facts of the atonement and resurrection of Christ. No prior preparation will seem to be necessary.

It is our opinion that the doctrine of the pre-tribulation disappearing of the saints is one of the main reasons why the practice of righteousness has been largely destroyed from the lives of many of the Christian believers.

If we truly believe, on the contrary, that Christ's coming will reveal what we are, and that the judgment and transformation of our personality and our union with the Lord must take place before Christ returns, we will begin to live righteously in the Presence and power of God.

Because it is true that there will not be a pre-advent coming of Christ, a secret translation of the saints followed by their judgment and their marriage to the Lamb, and because we shall be glorified and made like Him in outward form at His appearing and His Kingdom, it is necessary that we be judged and transformed before Christ returns.

The coming of the Lord will take place suddenly. Either we shall have made ourselves ready, having washed our robes in His blood so that we are practicing righteous behavior, or else we shall be caught unprepared. 

Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. (I John 3:7)

This is the meaning of the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-13). Each of the ten had "lamps," that is, they had the Word of God. They were Christian believers.

The "oil" represents the resurrection Life of Jesus Christ that is dwelling in those who actively are pressing forward in the pursuit of eternal life, who are coming to experience the power of Christ's resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings.

The interpretation of the parable of the ten virgins is that some of the believers will be prepared for Christ's appearing and some will not be prepared for His appearing. There will be no time for preparation when the Bridegroom comes. Those who have prepared themselves will go in with Christ to the marriage. The remainder of the Christians will be left behind to face what will come to pass on the earth.

Christ spoke to the church in Sardis: 

Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. (Revelation 3:4)

The remainder of the believers of the church in Sardis will not be part of Christ's glorious appearing. They will not walk with Him in white.

We are not stating nor do we believe that the remainder of believers necessarily will spend eternity in the Lake of Fire. There are rulers and then there are those of lesser maturity. It is our point of view that it is the rulers of the Kingdom who will appear with the Lord at His parousia (Revelation 20:6).

The Bride must make herself ready for her appearing by washing her robes in Christ's blood. This means she must put to death, through the authority of the blood of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, the deeds of the flesh and begin to practice the righteous works of Christ (Romans 8:13; I John 1:7-9). 

Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. (Revelation 19:7)

When Christ comes, His Bride will be clothed in her righteous works, the works that show forth in her because of her union with the Lord. What she is, after having been transformed through the grace of God under the new covenant (II Corinthians 3:18), will be revealed in glory when Christ appears. 

And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness [righteous acts] of saints. (Revelation 19:8)

We will not be clothed in the fine linen of righteous works, and after that be judged, and then married to Christ! Rather, the fine linen is the result of the spiritual clothing we receive as we press forward in the Lord each day, confessing and repenting of our sins, and coming to the Lord for His Virtue so we will not continue to practice sin. The fine linen is kept in Heaven for us and will be given to us when the Lord comes.

We now are being judged. We now are being cleansed if we are cooperating with the Holy Spirit. We now are being brought into restful union with God through Christ.

When the Lord comes the marriage will be perfected. God and Christ will enter us in Their Fullness through the Glory of the Holy Spirit. We shall shine as the stars as the white robe of Divine righteousness and Glory, the result of our patient sowing to the Spirit, is placed on us.

The Scripture states that the Judgment Seat of Christ began in the first century: 

For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? (I Peter 4:17)

Christ is judging the living and the dead—now. Our tribulations are part of the judgment of Christ on us (II Thessalonians 1:5).

Perhaps we can pass through the Judgment Seat of Christ while we yet are alive on the earth. This seems to have been true of Paul, who expects to receive a crown of righteousness when Christ appears (II Timothy 4:7,8).

It probably will be true for most of us that we shall be judged—at least in part—after we die physically.

 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: (Hebrews 9:27)

Thus the deceased saints of all ages are being judged in the spirit realm. The Judgment Seat began, according to Peter, in his day. It began with the living and the dead (I Peter 4:5,17).

Other passages point toward judgment in the future: 

Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God. (I Corinthians 4:5)

Perhaps it depends on the individual as to the time and place of his judgment.

The faithful and purified remnant of Christians who are alive on the earth when the Lord appears will not have the opportunity to be judged in the spirit realm, for they will be changed and glorified when the Lord appears. Therefore they will be required to complete their judgment while living in the flesh on the earth. They indeed shall be prepared while yet alive in the body, according to the Scriptures: 

And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem: When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning. (Isaiah 4:3,4)

If we Christians sow to our flesh instead of to the Spirit of God we will not be like the Lord, seeing Him as He is, when He appears in glory. It is not scriptural that our participation can take place by "grace," by imputation (ascribed righteousness), by the forgiveness of the Lord, by the application of de jure righteousness. 

For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. (Galatians 6:8)

The above was written to the "churches of Galatia," not to unbelievers.

The resurrection from the dead of the purified royal priesthood will be the greatest of the fulfillments of the Kingdom law of sowing and reaping. This is why Paul spoke of "attaining to" the resurrection from the dead.

The Christian believers of today are relying on "grace" to take care of all aspects of their resurrection and glorification. The believers are under the impression that they suddenly will be made like Jesus when He appears.

If they would read the entire Book of First John and learn how strictly John defines the true follower of Christ they might come to understand that one cannot lift "key" verses from their contexts, deduce theology from them, and discover the mind of God through this process.

If we would "attain to" the glory of Christ's appearing we must, through God's grace, serve the Lord in faith, in holiness, and in union with His Person and will. Eternal life is given to those who perform the will of God (I John 2:17).

Living a righteous, holy life by Christ's grace brings us into eternal life (Romans 6:22; 8:13).

Living in total consecration and in faith in God brings us into the power of the first resurrection (Philippians 3:7-14).

Eating Christ's flesh and drinking His blood, living always in union with Him as He lives in union with the Father, bring us to a state of eligibility and readiness for participation in the glory of His appearing (John 6:53-57).

The Lord Jesus Christ Is the Resurrection and the Life. It is as He is formed in us and dwells in us that we are prepared for His sudden manifestation to the world. Some believers will be taken to be glorified with the Lord. Others, less faithful, will be left to face the horrors of the Divine judgment on sin and rebellion. The Lord warned us clearly concerning this. 

How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; (Hebrews 2:3)

It is time for a reformation of Christian thinking. We actually are encouraging unrighteousness today in that we are leaving our hearers with the impression that Christ came to earth so men will not reap what they sow.

It is time for us to commence preaching and teaching God's holy Word.

We who teach and those whom we have taught will all stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ. If we have lived righteously and have taught God's way of righteousness and holiness, we and those who have followed us shall enter the Glory of Christ at His appearing and His Kingdom.

Who will render to every man according to his deeds: to them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: (Romans 2:6,7)

I understand the current teaching is that Romans 2:6,7 does not apply to the believer because he has been saved by "grace" and not by works; that the Christian does not need to continue patiently in well doing in order to attain to eternal life.

Our understanding is incorrect. Such doctrine makes Divine grace an alternative to godly behavior. This can never be the case.

If we have disobeyed the laws of life and have taught others to disobey the laws of life, we and they shall reap corruption in the Day of Christ. Christ does not know those who are wicked—even if they have performed many powerful works in His name.

But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, (Romans 2:8)

Numerous Christian believers are contentious. They do not live according to the commandments of Christ and His Apostles but in the lusts and passions of their flesh and soul. According to the unchanging Word of God they shall receive indignation and wrath at the appearing of Jesus Christ.

We are living in the greatest of all hours. This is the day in which many can become first in the Kingdom of God. It is possible for us to attain to the fullness of life and glory. Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily distracts us, and press forward to the full possession of the fullness of the eternal Life in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let us make certain we attain to the first resurrection (Revelation 20:4-6), becoming part of the appearing of the Lord Jesus.

 Chosen To Rule

For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be changed into the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:29)

This is one of the verses, like Ephesians 1:5 and 2:10, that speak of foreknowledge and the eternal purpose of God. We gain perspective from such passages—perspective that enables us to keep from becoming distressed and bowed down over the constant dealings of God with us.

If God has chosen us from the creation of the world to walk in good works He will carefully oversee our deeds, words, and motives. No area of our being or behavior will be left untouched by His Virtue and will.

There are additional verses that emphasize the role predestination plays and that present the concept of a "chosen few." 

(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) (Romans 9:11) 

For many are called, but few are chosen. (Matthew 22:14)

There have been, in time past, excesses in the doctrine that discusses the role of predestination in the Kingdom of God. But to cast out this scriptural doctrine because of the excesses is to view some concepts of the Scripture as invalid.

This never can be. All Scripture is to be accepted as God’s eternal Word even though there may appear at times to be contradictions or injustices. The contradictions resolve into harmony and justice as we grow in understanding.

Some people are born into the world for the purpose of being made rulers in the Kingdom of God. They were chosen to be of first rank in the plan of God before God framed the world.

As our minds go back through the record of the Scriptures and we think of Abraham, Moses, David, Elijah, Elisha, John the Baptist, we soon realize that those who have been preeminent in the Kingdom have been so because of the choice of God. They have not been men who were more able than their brothers necessarily but men who were called out and guided into areas of responsibility.

One of the pointed illustrations of the exercise of God’s sovereignty is the writing of the names of the twelve tribes of Israel on the twelve gates in the wall of the new Jerusalem. The sons of Jacob were not exemplary in behavior and went so far as to throw their own brother into a pit. Also, the history of the twelve tribes is one of continual rebellion against the Lord.

But the names of the sons of Jacob, the names of the tribes of Israel, were written on the gates of the new Jerusalem before God created the heavens and the earth. This is what Paul means by predestination, by election, by grace.

God’s rulers were (are) all known to Him from the foundation of the world. Each comes into the world at a specific point in time and through the circumstances of his life is molded into the chosen vessel of service.

The principle of the chosen rulership has become of even greater importance now that Christ has been raised from the dead and the spiritual Kingdom of God is being structured. Rulers of the worlds to come are being trained by means of the tribulations of the present age.

The supreme example of the chosen rulership is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Christ came into this world according to the eternal purpose of God. Christ was chosen before the creation of the world to govern all the works of God’s hands, in keeping with the mandate given to man (Hebrews 2:8).

Before He was born into the world Christ was the Word of God. He was the Creator of all things, according to the Scripture.

We are not certain that Christ was ruler of the creation before He was born of Mary. All things were made by Him from the beginning, it is true, but now He is ruler over all. 

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. (Matthew 28:18)

The prophecy concerning the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus came through the Hebrew Prophets: 

Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre [scepter of justice]. (Psalms 45:6)

We learn further that the authority of rulership will be given to man, through the Lord Jesus. 

Thou hast put all things in subjection under his [man’s] feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. (Hebrews 2:8)

And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: (Revelation 2:26)

Although it is inconceivable to us, the Lord Jesus was changed in this world. He learned obedience to God; He was touched with the feeling of our infirmities; He became qualified to be the Captain of our salvation.

Perhaps Paradise does not contain the elements of pain and pressure required for the formation of God’s rulers.

Christ was destined to be Lord of all, but He had to be made perfect in order to be capable of serving as Lord of all.

We are destined to be coheirs with Him, His very brothers. We must be transformed so we too will be capable of serving in the specific destiny prepared for us. We must lay hold on that for which we have been grasped (Philippians 3:12).

The Lord Jesus Christ had to overcome the pains, pressures, doubts, dreads, temptations, confusions, of this world. In so doing His Spirit and soul were formed into that which God deemed necessary—a spiritual Nature capable of governing the entire creation of God. 

For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. (Hebrews 2:10)

For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted. (Hebrews 2:18)

Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; (Hebrews 5:8,9)

The Lord Jesus Christ was made perfect through suffering.

He is able to help us in the hour of temptation because He Himself was tempted.

Christ learned obedience by the things He suffered.

Christ was made perfect and thereby entered His predestined inheritance.

Notice carefully the following concept: 

To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. (Revelation 3:21)

The Lord Jesus overcame and sits in the throne of the Father as a consequence of His overcoming.

We also, the predestined brothers of Jesus, must overcome. If we do we will sit with Jesus in His throne.

We were chosen to rule, but first we must be transformed in personality and filled with Christ.

Paul was seeking to attain to his predestined inheritance: 

Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ. (Philippians 3:12)

"If I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended"!

Paul had been chosen to be a ruler in the Kingdom of God, to be an integral part of the resurrection of Jesus. Now Paul was seeking to attain to that for which he had been chosen.

As we stated previously, it appears as though the elements of pain and pressure necessary for the forming of rulers, teachers, and other officers of the Kingdom are not present in Paradise.

Often the question is asked, "What about those who were saved and then died a short while later? Will they receive the rewards of the overcomer?"

It is our present point of view that the promises to the overcomer, as set forth in the second and third chapter of the Book of Revelation, are not, in a sense, merely "rewards." The term rewards suggests an external "prize." The various aspects and stages of glory of the Kingdom of God indeed are rewards, or prizes for running the race successfully, but not in the sense of external prizes that will be handed to us one day in Heaven as we stand in line for our rewards.

Rather, the promises to the overcomer are increments of personality. They are eternal transformations of our personality and actions which make it possible for us to fulfill our calling as kings and priests of God, to function in the infinitely varied positions of service and responsibility of the eternal Kingdom of God. As we wait patiently in God’s prison the ability to rule is formed in us, the courage, faithfulness, and willingness to wait before making a decision until we are certain what the Lord is saying.

Perhaps those who have not been given time on the earth to be changed have not been called to the roles that require the kind of personality that can be formed only by the tribulations of life on the earth. This is nothing more than speculation on our part.

However, it appears that if it were possible to form in Paradise the stern obedience to God, the patience, the humility of mind, the ability to rule in the Kingdom, it would not have been necessary for the Lord Jesus to be tempted as He was, to have had to overcome as He did.

We are not ignoring the fact Christ had to come and fulfill the Law of Moses so that the righteousness of the Law could be imputed (ascribed) to us. Neither are we unmindful of the fact that by being tempted in this manner He is better able to help us when we are tempted. We are speaking only of the Lord’s acquiring of His predestined inheritance (Revelation 3:21).

It is not that we cannot be tempted in Paradise. No doubt there will be times after we die and are in the spirit realm when we will have to exercise patience. We will have to be obedient to God whether we enjoy or do not enjoy that which we are called upon to do.

There will be no Satan to overcome. There will be no world nor the lusts of the flesh to resist. But we still will have to obey God in all matters even though we may have conflicting desires.

We understand that some kinds of temptations are possible in Paradise because Adam and Eve were in Paradise when they fell. Also, Satan and his followers fell from God’s Presence and blessing while they yet were in Paradise. But it does not seem likely that the setting that can produce trustworthy rulers can be found in the spirit Paradise, in Heaven.

Perhaps we can be tested concerning our willingness to hope in God for our security, our pleasure, and our ambitions when we are dwelling in the spirit Paradise. But there may not be the series of lessons accompanying the test that press the desired virtue into our character.

Let us consider for a moment the garden in Eden.

The temptation of Eden was (and is) that man cease trusting God for his betterment (in this instance to become wise, to know good and evil) and proceed to act on his own behalf apart from the Presence of the will of the Lord.

What temptation is it that God’s rulers must overcome? It is the temptation to take matters into our own hands; to act for our seeming betterment apart from the Presence and will of God.

What goes on throughout the world today? Men are taking matters into their own hands because they do not trust God for their betterment.

Dying and going to Paradise will not change the tendency in us to seek our own betterment, to solve our own problems apart from the Presence, will, and way of God. If there is a lack of obedience and trust, if we still cannot be trusted to rest in God’s will, then, in the resurrection, there always is the danger we will take matters into our own hands in order to "better" our condition just as Satan did.

Therefore God is perfecting rulers who will serve forever as guides and teachers, making sure that no creature of God ever at any time acts for his seeming betterment outside the will of God.

The wall of the new Jerusalem is of jasper. The twelve foundations of the wall are set with precious stones. The precious stones are the personalities of the victorious saints, the chosen rulers who have been formed under the heat and pressure of the tribulations of the world. They will serve forever to support the wall of resistance to rebellion that will surround the Throne of God and of the Lamb for eternity.

The rulers of the Kingdom must be perfected in the earth . It is here we learn patience. It is here the "pearl" in us is formed by the continual irritations of life. The pearl in us is a gate of the new Jerusalem, a gate through which people may enter and find God.

The "pearl," the gate, the entrance to the holy city, cannot be formed in Paradise because there are no irritations there. On earth we remain bound in ourselves, in our own interests, until the irritations of life in the material world form the pearl in us. Once the pearl has been formed in us we can serve as a door to God for other people.

To be a "gate" of the city is even more demanding than to be a "wall." It is one matter to have the hard, tough resistance to sin that the wall symbolizes formed in us. It is another matter to have, in addition to hardness against sin, the "humanity" in our personality that can serve to admit or deny people access to the Kingdom of God, to eternal life.

The victorious saints are the judges of the Kingdom. They will be given the most awesome responsibility of all—the authority to forgive sins or retain them, to admit a man or angel to Paradise or to deny entrance to the Kingdom of God. In order to exercise such tremendous authority the saint must be so wrought in the Divine crucible that there is an iron hardness against sin in his personality, and yet the ability to judge in an understanding and compassionate manner—to judge with the judgment of God Himself.

There is an actual city, we believe. But in addition, the new Jerusalem, as described in the twenty-first and twenty-second chapters of the Book of Revelation, reflects the personalities of the members of the Wife of the Lamb, whatever material fulfillment it may have.

The new Jerusalem is the ruling city and the precious stones are the nature of the rulers who make up the city. The victorious saints are the wall against sin, having been created so by the things they have suffered. It is those who have suffered who will reign with Christ (Romans 8:17; II Timothy 2:12).

It is the "barren," the believers who have borne their cross throughout years of self-denial, patiently exchanging their life for the Life of Christ, who will serve throughout eternity in all places where they are as the Glory of God. Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord. (Isaiah 54:1)

Again: 

O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires. (Isaiah 54:11)

Thus it is with Israel—especially the rulers, prophets, and priests of Israel.

The promises to the overcomer, of the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation, are not prizes that will be handed out to us as we wait in line in Heaven. While there may be an element of this in the rewards the Lord will bring with Him, the crucial aspect of the promises is the development of Divine Life in our personality including the formation of grace, power, compassion, understanding, wisdom, and authority, coupled with opportunities for responsibility and service.

The heavenly rewards are stages of glory and nearness to the Lord in His Kingdom that we attain to by our willingness to enter the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings. Some of the rewards are expressed in us now while the fullness of all of them is reserved for the coming of the Lord, as we understand it.

It is only as we are willing to be changed into the death of Jesus that God is able to create in us the new man, the life-giving spirit who is "the Lord from heaven." The first man is of the earth—earthy. The second man is the Lord from Heaven (I Corinthians 15:47).

It is the second man who inherits the glory of the Kingdom and is the Kingdom.

The promises to the overcomer are not rewards that will be given to the saved "first man" but are the natural endowments of the "second man." To neglect, or to be unwilling to participate in, the discipline of the victorious Christian life is to forfeit one’s birthright, one’s appointed place in the Kingdom.

To not overcome, to not participate in the required personality changes, is to prevent the individual from entering his prepared place. The Lord Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us in the house of God, in Himself, in the Body of Christ. It is not possible we can remain unchanged and then rule with God. God’s love and mercy are not the issue. It is our capability and eligibility that are in question.

Christ would not be Lord of all if He had not obeyed God, if He had not overcome the enemies and forces that came against Him. His being denied the rulership would have had nothing to do with God’s love for Him. It would have been an issue of His ability to rule over all the works of God’s hands without failing to do the Father’s perfect will in every instance.

The promises to the overcomer are not directed toward entering Heaven when we die. None of the promises to the overcomer have to do with mansions in Paradise. Rather, the promises are transformations of what we are in personality coupled with our ability to function in our designated position as a king, priest, prophet, teacher, witness, and servant of God.

To not have our lampstand removed from its place; to eat of the tree of life; to receive a crown of life; to not be injured by the second death; to eat of the hidden manna; to be given the white stone of Divine approval and marriage; to be given the new name, the name that describes what we have been chosen to be according to the eternal purpose of God; to rule the nations with a rod of iron; to be given the morning star, which is the dawning of the Day of the Lord in our personality, the emerging of the Person and rule of Christ in us—these have little to do with eternal residence in Paradise. They are the attainment to the kind of personality that will rule with God forever.

The righteous indeed shall live forever in God’s Paradise. But there are roles and opportunities in the Kingdom to consider.

Each saint has the opportunity to experience the personality change necessary for those who have been chosen to rule in the Kingdom of God. Here is the opportunity to suffer, to be denied our most fervent desires for long periods of times, to walk in paths we do not understand, to be denied what normally would be ours to do or possess, to be misunderstood—and sometimes cast out—by our fellow believers, to be pressed, pressed, pressed into Christ.

God has purposed that His entire creation will be filled with Christ and centered in Him. We are the firstfruits of this purpose. Therefore we are being required to die to what we are, to our most fervent loves, and to be raised again as part of Christ’s resurrection.

We have been chosen to be hammered on incessantly by the Holy Spirit, for the Divine gold in us is being fashioned into the Lampstand of God.

To not overcome may not (or may!) result in our being lost, although God will judge each individual according to the opportunities presented to him, according to his unique calling.

If we choose to not live a victorious life, to not exercise the diligence and patience to which we have been called, we will forfeit the change in our personality required for rulership in the Kingdom. To our knowledge there is no way in which this loss can be made up later.

Every act of the Divine redemption and grace is a window of opportunity. Whether or not it finds fulfillment depends on the response of the individual. The person must cooperate with the Spirit of God if redemption is to occur.

In the Kingdom of God there are opportunities that come to us. When they are gone they may be gone forever. We then must be content with our changed status in the Kingdom—if indeed we are permitted to remain in the Kingdom. Consider the changed status of Esau; of Reuben; of Eli the priest. 

Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears. (Hebrews 12:16,17)

Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel, (for he was the firstborn; but forasmuch as he defiled his father’s bed, his birthright was given unto the sons of Joseph the son of Israel: and the genealogy is not to be reckoned after the birthright. (I Chronicles 5:1)

Wherefore the Lord God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house [of Eli], and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the Lord saith, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed. (I Samuel 2:30)

The Scriptures are being unsealed today. We have the knowledge of what it means to overcome and the power to confess our sins and be delivered from them. While such knowledge and power always have been available to Christians they are being emphasized in the present hour.

It is entirely possible that our generation of saints has been chosen to be victorious, just as John the Baptist, apart from any works of righteousness on his part, was chosen to be the forerunner of Christ.

The twelfth chapter of the Book of Revelation describes the birth of the Son, the Ruler, and the casting of Satan and his angels into the earth.

The birth of the ruling Son portrays Christ being formed in the victorious saints. Also, it appears that Michael’s ability to cast Satan into the earth is related to the fact that "they" (referring to "our brethren") overcame the accuser. 

And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. (Revelation 12:10)

It may be true that we are the generation of which the Lord Jesus spoke when He stated that many who are last (in time?) will be first (in the Kingdom?—Matthew 19:30). 

This shall be written for the generation to come: and the people which shall be created shall praise the Lord. (Psalms 102:18)

We have been chosen to be alive in this hour so we may respond to God in the fullness of overcoming vigor. Such a response on our part will cause Satan to be cast out of the heavens, and the salvation and power, and the Kingdom of our God and the authority of God’s Christ, to be revealed.

How are we to overcome the accuser?

First, by the blood of the Lamb. We must learn to trust in the righteousness that is in the blood. Satan always is accusing us. We are not to respond to these accusations but to trust that the blood of Jesus is keeping us free from guilt in the sight of the Father. We trust in the blood for our righteousness and we will not submit to the accusations of the enemy. We overcome him by the blood of the Lamb.

Second, by the word of our testimony. The work of the Holy Spirit is to bring forth the Word of God in our ministry and in our personality. We always are being challenged by the Word of God. We are tempted at times to become discouraged, to believe that God cannot or will not bring to pass in our life all He has written.

We continue to minister to the Body of Christ by the power that the Spirit gives us and we continue to maintain faith in God’s Word. No matter what happens to us we proclaim faith in every promise in God’s Holy Word. We do not quit in discouragement, unbelief, or rebellion. We hold fast to what God has stated. We always justify God with our mouth.

What we are able to minister, what we become, and what we say, are all of the Holy Spirit. These aspects of the Divine testimony overcome the lies and accusations of Satan. 

And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth. (Revelation 11:10)

The Christian churches of today are not always tormenting those who dwell on the earth with their testimony. They are not always overcoming the accuser. The Spirit of prophecy is not always in them.

The wealthy democracies are filled with "Christian" ministries of all kinds. These ministries are accepted by the governments and are part of the national cultures. They sometimes are worthless to the Kingdom of God, and actually destructive because they claim to represent God’s will in the earth.

The Divine testimony is not always clearly borne by the Christian ministries.

In the dark hour that is ahead the Christian denominations will become part of the worldwide Babylon. The true saints, those in whom dwells the Spirit of prophecy, the testimony of Jesus, will be forced out of the cities of the earth.

Third, we overcome the accuser by loving not our life to the point of death. This means we obey God by remaining within the limitations He has placed on us—remaining to the end of our life if need be. To numerous believers of our day, especially in nations under Communist rule, obeying God has meant imprisonment, torture, and death.

When we obey God, not reaching out and taking what we want even though it is dangled before us, the enemy is overcome. It is not easy to love not our life to the death, to trust in God to the point of relinquishing what we covet intensely. But we have been called to rule the works of God’s hands. Therefore our obedience must be tested to the limit—the limit that is death to what we are and desire.

Our true desires will all be given us someday, but only after they have been slain, buried, and raised again by the Father. When our desires are raised they will be an eternally inseparable part of Christ and of us.

Canaan represents resurrection ground, while the River Jordan typifies death to our first personality.

The soldier of Christ cannot be killed because he already has been slain and now is alive by the Life of Christ. 

Neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one in his path: and when they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded. (Joel 2:8)

We have been chosen from the creation of the world to rule. Perhaps those of us who were selected to be alive in the present hour of history have a special opportunity to overcome and to enter the fullness of power and authority.

Other men and women of time past were chosen to work with Christ during specific stages of the development of the Kingdom of God. Peter, Paul, James, and John had opportunities that we do not have to lay the foundation of the Church and to have their names written in the foundations of the wall of the new Jerusalem.

Abraham, Moses, Jeremiah, John the Baptist, the Protestant Reformers, John Wesley, had specific opportunities to work with God in His eternal purpose. None of them was other than we are—ordinary human beings on whom the call of God abides.

No one is great in the Kingdom of God except as God has chosen him or her for the post. To sit on Jesus’ right hand and on His left will be given to those for whom such exalted glory has been prepared (Matthew 20:23).

God works all things according to His foreknowledge. He has prepared for each of us a specific glory in terms of the personality He has given us. Then He brings us into the world at the correct moment. Our life has been planned from the beginning. 

Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalms 139:16)

The writings of the Scriptures make it abundantly clear that we must exercise our will and our faith according to our calling. We must grasp that for which we have been grasped. It is only by doing this that we can validate and establish our destiny. If we do not respond correctly a different destiny will be ours. We had been called to the royal priesthood but the subsequent events of our life may have led us to a different end.

There sometimes is a false sense of security in the Christian churches and little fear of God among the people. They are not working out their salvation with fear and trembling. They do not realize that the battle must be pressed to the last moment of life. 

Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. (Matthew 25:28)

We must be diligent to make our calling and election certain. If we do not there is a possibility we may not be chosen after all. Many are called but few chosen. Even the righteous are saved with difficulty. 

And if the righteous scarcely be saved [is saved with difficulty], where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? (I Peter 4:18)

We do not know what is true of us until we respond. God knew our response from the beginning. God called us and gave us the opportunity to be His son, to inherit all things. Yet it still is up to us to respond appropriately.

Judas apparently was called to be one of the Apostles of the Lamb. A deeper knowledge of God’s plan revealed him to be the "son of perdition [destruction]." God knew what Judas would do but Judas made the decision. Judas had every opportunity to have his name engraved in the foundations of the wall of the new Jerusalem. But Judas chose to allow Satan to enter him.

We have been grafted on the good olive tree; but we can be removed from the tree, from Christ. Every aspect of salvation always is an opportunity! 

Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. (Romans 11:22)

"Thou also shalt be cut off." If only these words were preached regularly in every Christian assembling! How different the Christian witness would be! Instead we are assured repeatedly that we could never be cut off from Christ no matter what we do.

The Words of Christ to the members of the seven churches of Asia prevent any fatalism, any spirit of inevitability on our part concerning our eternal destiny. 

Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. (Revelation 2:5)

God has given us the opportunity and the grace to overcome, to be a member of the royal priesthood. It is up to us to cooperate with the Spirit of God in the fulfilling of our calling. The Day of Christ will reveal openly our secret choices. 

Faithful Stewardship

The following is a story about faithfulness in the administration of the riches of this present world, and also about the pressure that is on us to compromise the truth in order to provide security for ourselves. 

And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward. Then the steward said in himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed. I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses. So he called every one of his lord’s debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord? And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty. Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore. And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. (Luke 16:1-8)

The unjust steward was the administrator of the material wealth of a rich man. But the steward was lazy and incompetent. Instead of working diligently to see that wise investments were made, that the business was conducted so the accounts of the owner were showing an increase in value, the steward was allowing the wealth to slip through his fingers. No profit was being made. Bills were not being paid. The merchandise was deteriorating.

When the owner discovered the waste and inefficiency that was destroying his capital, he called the steward to him and asked for a report on the various accounts and the state of the business, notifying him that he was discharged from his position as chief administrator of the firm.

The steward was an important man in the city. He had spent so many years in luxurious living that he was in no physical condition to do manual labor. Also, he was too proud to consider begging money from those who always had been beneath him in social status.

He began to plan a means by which he would gain favor with the people with whom he had done business. He hoped by so doing to be welcomed into their homes when he was put out of his office and had no income and no place to go.

He summoned all those who owed money to his employer. When they came he brought out their bills. Then he counseled them to change the amounts on their bills so they would owe only a fraction of the true amount.

When the owner heard about this he no doubt was outraged. But he commended the steward for being shrewd enough to provide for his future by making friends of the debtors.

After telling this story, this parable, the Lord Jesus said: "And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations."

Then the Lord spoke of our need to be faithful "in the unrighteous mammon," saying that if we were not, the "true riches," the spiritual treasures of the Kingdom of God, would not be entrusted to us.

Jesus remarked that we must be faithful with the possessions of another man before we can expect to receive our own inheritance.

After that, Jesus commented that no servant can serve two masters. We cannot serve both God and money.

Let us think about each of the applications the Lord made of this parable.

"Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations."

"He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much."

If we have not been "faithful in the unrighteous mammon," no one will entrust to us the true riches.

If we have not been faithful in what belongs to someone else, no one will give us our own inheritance.

No servant can serve two masters. He will choose one over the other. We cannot serve both God and money.

Perhaps the key to the understanding of this story, this parable, is what Jesus meant by the phrase "the mammon of unrighteousness," or, "the unrighteous mammon."

The term cannot mean material wealth because material wealth is not unrighteous of itself. "The unrighteous mammon" must refer to the entire world system, the money of it, and the people who live by and for money.

The Antichrist system fundamentally is a system of money, of buying and selling. "666" symbolizes man making himself God—three symbolizing God and six symbolizing man. The penalty for not accepting the "mark" of the Beast is that one cannot buy or sell (Revelation 13:17,18). Man makes himself God by means of money.

Of all the gods of the Greeks and the Romans, the only god Jesus mentioned was money. Money is the god of the Antichrist world system. To have the mark, or name, of the Beast is to be living by money instead of by faith in the God of Heaven.

One of the important choices people make is either to trust in God or to trust in money. It is impossible to serve both God and money.

As we have stated, material wealth is not unrighteous of itself. Abraham was righteous and also a wealthy man.

Therefore the term "the unrighteous mammon" is not referring to material wealth but to the world system that lives by material wealth instead of by faith in the Lord God. The righteous live by faith in the Lord. The unrighteous live by faith in money. The issue is, God or money!

As we have pointed out, the Lord Jesus made five applications of His parable. We might sum up these five applications as follows:

If we are lazy and incompetent in our responsibilities we are wise if we make friends of the people of the world so when we lose our position of power they will receive us as one of themselves.

The faithful are faithful in small and great matters, while the unrighteous are unrighteous in small and great matters.

If we are not faithful in the business of the world system we will not be faithful in the business of the Kingdom of God.

God watches our behavior in the world to see if we are faithful in worldly responsibilities. If we are, He will consider entrusting us with the eternal riches of the Kingdom.

We will not be given our own inheritance if we have not been faithful in that which belongs to someone else.

It is impossible to serve both God and material wealth. We shall live by and depend on one or the other.

These five principles operate in the world. We do well to take heed to them because they are laws of profit and loss that God has established.

Of course, Jesus is not advocating that if we are lazy and incompetent we should add the falsifying of accounts to our sins. He is pointing out that if we are not willing to apply the faithfulness and diligence necessary to maintain a position of responsibility, we are wise to think ahead to the consequences of our negligence; for we surely will not be able to keep our position in the world if we are slothful.

But there is another application of the parable of the unrighteous steward. It has to do with the Christian ministry.

God gives to each Christian, especially to those whom He calls to labor in the Word, the responsibility of holding forth the testimony of God’s Person, will, way, and eternal purpose. Each Christian supports some aspect of the Word of Life.

The Word of Life places a debt, an obligation on everyone in the world. All men owe God their love, their worship, their loyal service. All men have the obligation to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.

The wise, industrious steward of the Kingdom of God keeps all the accounts in order. He administers his responsibilities faithfully and God stands with him and provides for all his needs.

If God’s servant grows lazy and slack in his ministry, God will remind him of his responsibility to God and man. If he does not repent and begin to serve God faithfully, the authority and power of God will begin to leave him.

What will he do? He has been a prominent figure in the Christian realm but now he is in danger of losing his position. He doesn’t feel competent to make a living in the world and he is ashamed to sink to a lowly place in the sight of people.

He begins to compromise.

He makes friends of his congregation, his listeners. He tells them God is love, God does not want them to suffer, God desires that they be rich and enjoy every pleasure and luxury in this present world.

What is his intention and motive? He is suing for peace. He is currying favor. He hopes to obtain security by making friends with the people. He does so by telling them God is not as demanding as they think.

This is what is taking place in Christianity today. In many instances the Christian leaders are currying favor with the people. They hold back what they feel will displease the people and tell them what they wish to hear. By so doing they gain support and thus are able to find a measure of economic security.

It has become fashionable, in Christian circles, to poll the people: "What kind of service would you like? What kind of music do you enjoy? Would you like a short or long service? How do you want the youth program to be conducted?"

This reminds us of, "Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty." You tell us how much you owe God; how we should minister the Gospel to you.

According to the Lord Jesus, such "pastors" are behaving wisely. God has discharged them from His service because they have not been faithful to him. By making friends of the people they are providing a home for themselves.

The spirit of compromise abounds among us.

How many ministers of the Gospel are willing to take the time to find what God wants said, and then to say it exactly as God gave it to them without regard to the opinions and desires of their listeners?

How many, on the other hand, are careful to neither say or do anything that could jeopardize the institution they represent, whether a church or a denomination?

We are not advocating foolish, insensitive speech or actions. We are pointing out that the pressure on the Christian leader to gain his income and status by organizing a large number of people is causing the Christian ministry to compromise the Word of God.

"Take your bill and write fifty."

Tell them what they want to hear. Don’t rock the boat. Be positive. Avoid the negative. Keep everyone smiling.

Don’t offend anyone. Make a good impression in the community. Use celebrities to bring in the crowds.

All of this, whether in a local church or an organizational headquarters, is an abomination to God.

Here is God’s response: "Go ahead. Put your trust in unrighteous riches, in the worldly people who are obligated morally to Me. Tell them their debt is only half of what it is. You are wise to become friends with them because you will live with them for eternity.

"You will not serve Me faithfully and so you no longer have a place with Me. You need to gain the friendship of someone so you will have a place to go when the results of your lack of faithfulness leave you impoverished."

Every man who is called by the Lord into His service must make up his mind whether he is on the Lord’s side or on man’s side. He must decide whether he will trust in the Lord to support him, to give him all the security, pleasure, and achievement he needs and desires, or whether he will trust in his fellow man to provide these things.

There is no middle ground here. In this parable the Lord Jesus was pointing out the weakness of the middle ground. Either be faithful to your master or else gain favor with your master’s debtors. You are foolish if you do not choose one course or the other.

It is time for men and women of God to come forth—men and women who are on the Lord’s side. There always is an adversary relationship in the Christian ministry. The people whom we serve are debtors to God. They will, without realizing it perhaps, bring pressure to bear on us, hoping we will minimize God’s demands on them.

They believe that if they can get us to say they are acceptable to God as they are, somehow it will prove to be true; if we change their account they actually will "owe less money."

The Lord’s debtors are holding us responsible (as indeed we should be held) to say to them precisely what God is saying to them. Yet, they will pressure us to relax the demands of God.

The minister of God who yields to this pressure, who attempts to gain security by seeking favor with the people, who misrepresents their debt to God, is worthless in the Kingdom of God. His life is meaningless. He is serving no function. He does well to ingratiate himself with the people because they alone will be his comfort throughout eternity.

Blessed is the man or woman who stands in the world as the oracle of God. He goes up to the mountain of prayer and hears what God is proclaiming. Then he comes down from the mountain and announces the Word of the Lord—every tiny bit of it.

The prophet does not depend on people for his security. He looks to God alone for all his needs. He is consumed with the desire to please the Lord, to be a faithful servant.

He is a faithful steward. His eye is single. His whole body is full of light. He will be fed in the days of famine. His waters are sure. He will be defended against his enemies. He will be lifted on high in the day of trouble because he has set his love on the Lord.

Those who trust in man, who make flesh their arm, are cursed of the Lord. They who put their trust in the Lord are blessed of Him.

When this world is rocked by calamity, those who trust in the Lord will stand. Love, joy, and peace will be their portion. They will lack no good thing. Their seed will inherit the earth. They will dance and sing in their joy. They are as Mount Zion that cannot be moved but abides forever.

Let us, brothers and sisters, serve the Lord in total faithfulness. He never will discharge us from His service but will provide for us throughout our lifetime on the earth, and then receive us to glory.

Those who are lazy and careless in serving the Lord should make friends with the people of this unrighteous world system so when their strength fails they may be received into the eternal homes.

There is no middle ground! 

Without Sin Unto Salvation

SCRIPTURE = So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. (Hebrews 9:28) 

A truth for our generation. The reader of our book (It Is Time for a Reformation of Christian Thinking ) may have noticed we are presenting one central truth. It is that the Christian redemption does not consist only of the forgiveness of men but includes their transformation into new creatures in Christ. Salvation is not directed toward forgiveness alone but toward forgiveness as part of our change into righteous behavior.

Forgiveness is an important aspect of the Divine redemption. 

Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a

Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. (Acts 5:31)  

Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: (Acts 13:38)

In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: (Colossians 1:14)

However, the Divine salvation in Christ is not primarily our being forgiven by the God of Heaven. It is, rather, our deliverance from the nature and works of spiritual darkness.

To forgive us is not to save us to the extent God desires. To forgive, deliver, and transform us totally is to save us, in the larger sense.

Today’s Christian has been saved in the sense of having been sealed to the day of salvation. But he has not as yet been redeemed from the hand of the enemy. Rather, he has been forgiven.

Our salvation will take place in the future. It is he who endures to the end who will be saved—saved meaning forgiven, delivered, and transformed. 

And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30)

The Day of Redemption, of salvation, is yet ahead of us. What we have now is forgiveness and a sealing.

When an individual receives Christ he is redeemed through the blood of Jesus. But he has not been fully redeemed until he has been released from the power of Satan, formed in the image of Christ, and brought into restful union with God.

Let us say a person comes to Christ for forgiveness. He has been and still is committing various kinds of sin of spirit, soul, mind, and body. The Lord Jesus forgives him. God forgives him. But he has not been saved from sin until the Lord releases him from the bondages of sin that are in his spirit, soul, mind, and body. Salvation includes deliverance .

Full salvation cannot take place until we are released from the power of Satan. Our redemption includes spiritual and eventually physical healing.

Beginning with the Protestant Reformers, God has restored many truths to the Church: the just shall live by faith, the priesthood of the believer, water baptism by immersion, the born-again experience, the second coming of the Lord, the necessity for living a holy life, the gifts of the Spirit, and the concept of the Body of Christ. One of the understandings being restored today concerns the nature of the salvation that is in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are beginning to see that salvation, while it includes forgiveness, is directed primarily toward deliverance from Satan and union with God.

The centuries of the Christian Era have been as Israel wandering in the wilderness. Many lessons are learned in the wilderness.

The Word of God that came to the Reformers marked the beginning of the preparation of the Church for the invasion of the land of promise, for the Day of the Lord, the Day of Redemption.

The Day of Redemption is the Day of Vengeance of our God—vengeance upon the spiritual enemies of God and man (Isaiah 61:1,2). As the Day of Vengeance draws near, God will bring into the consciousness of His people the concept of spiritual warfare, of judgment on the devil. The judgment and destruction of Satan is a major aspect of the Divine salvation. Forgiveness holds us intact until the Lord is ready to save us in the sense of delivering us from Satan.

God is ready to save us from our sins. God hears our prayers because of the holy blood of Christ. But the goal of salvation is not forgiveness. Forgiveness leaves us in prison. The Lord Jesus came to release us from prison, to destroy the works of the devil (I John 3:8).

We humans are sinful creatures. The Christian salvation is not the changing of God so He is willing to accept us as we are.

The Christian salvation changes us from being chariots of Satan to being chariots of Christ.

If God were to bring us to Paradise as we are by forgiving us and not transforming us, God then would be forgiving Satan—the part of Satan that is in us (Romans 6:6; 7:20,24). Such forgiveness never would result in the Kingdom of God, in the doing of God’s will in earth as it is in Heaven. We then would be forced to continue in our present miserable bondage.

Rather it is true that God through Christ is ready to judge us, discerning what is of Satan in us and destroying the wickedness out of us. This is salvation. This is redemption.

To forgive us and then to permit us to remain what we are, bringing us into the Presence of God, into Paradise, in our lusts and self-centeredness, would be to change what Paradise is, what God Himself Is. It would be to bring wickedness into the Presence of God.

Forgiveness is the means of bringing us to the procedures of salvation. Salvation includes our forgiveness and our deliverance from the person, works, and effects of Satan, and carries us all the way to the fullness of the image of Christ and total union with God through Christ.

 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9)

"And to cleanse us from all unrighteousness"!

The Christian salvation is not limited to forgiveness coupled with exhortations to holy living, although we have been forgiven and we must do what we can to live a holy life.

Our attempts to live in a righteous, holy manner are necessary if we are to continue on the path of redemption. Our efforts to live by the Word hold us steady while the program of salvation, which includes the forming of Christ in us, increases in our personality. The Divine salvation is not the reforming of what we are but is the creation of a new personality.

The new personality, that which is born of God, does not sin. The new personality cannot sin because it has been born of God (I John 3:9).

The Old Testament contains a picture of the Christian salvation.

God justified Abram by faith: 

And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness. (Genesis 15:6)

Then God began to teach Abram concerning redemption—the conquering of God’s enemies and the driving of them from the land of promise.

First, God informed Abram that one day he would receive the land of his wandering as an inheritance. Today God is showing us that one day we will receive the earth and its nations as our inheritance (Genesis 15:7; Psalms 2:8; Romans 8:17-21; Revelation 11:15).

Second, God commanded Abram to present his sacrifice. We are to present our body as a living sacrifice to God (Genesis 15:9,10; Romans 12:1).

Third, Abram maintained his sacrifice (Genesis 15:11; I Corinthians 9:27). Keeping the birds off the sacrifice represents our efforts toward holiness of behavior.

Our redemption does not consist of refraining from one behavior or practicing another. Such discipline on our part is a maintaining of our sacrifice until the Lord comes. Disciplined, scriptural behavior is a necessary part of the victorious Christian life. Otherwise the "birds of the air" will eat up our sacrifice while we are waiting for God.

Fourth, God revealed Himself to Abram in "an horror of great darkness" (Genesis 15:12; II Corinthians 5:11). The believers of our day do not know the terror of the Lord. They are imagining that God is some kind of "good old guy." Any person who claims we should not fear God has never himself been in the Presence of God.

Fifth, God spoke of the history of Abram’s seed for many centuries to come (Genesis 15:13). God knows the end from the beginning. God works in terms of foreknowledge, predestination, election, mercy, and grace. Salvation is not of the person who wills or the person who runs but of God who shows mercy (Romans 9:16). The Christian salvation has been planned carefully from the creation of the world.

Sixth, God spoke of bringing Israel as a weapon of judgment against the Canaanites as soon as the wickedness of the Canaanites had come to maturity (Genesis 15:16). So it is true that God will bring His people to battle readiness as the "tares" come to maturity. We Christian believers will be the hand of God’s judgment upon evil spirits (Psalms 149:5-9; Romans 16:20).

The Divine judgment, the separation of what is to be saved from what is condemned to destruction, begins in our personality. Such judgment and separation constitute the true salvation that is in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Seventh, God promised Abram that his seed indeed would inherit the land of promise (Genesis 15:18-21)—and this when Abram had no children! How marvelous are the ways of the Lord God of Heaven!

We Christians have been "sealed to the day of redemption." The Day of Redemption is that point in history when God judges what is of Satan in us and delivers us. Christ will appear to those who look for Him, without sin unto salvation. We who love and serve the Lord Jesus are first in line for the deliverance that can take place only as God judges His enemies.

We have been forgiven. Now the eternal purpose of God, which is our redemption from the hand of Satan and change into God’s image, is knocking at our door.

The Divinely ordained Word of Truth for our generation is that the salvation that is in Christ is not limited to a forgiveness of what we are. The Divine redemption is our release from bondage through means of God’s hand of judgment on unclean, rebellious spirits, destroying them out of our personality. 

Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy; (Psalms 107:2)

The Day of Vengeance is at hand. Let us prepare our hearts for spiritual warfare. God is ready to save us, to deliver us—and through us the material creation (Romans 8:21).

The physical warfare of Israel was a shadow of the true Kingdom warfare, which is the casting out of wicked spirits. There is no account in the Old Testament of judging and casting out an unclean spirit, except possibly in instances of physical healing at the hand of the prophets.

But casting out devils in the name of the Lord Jesus is the first sign to follow the believer (Mark 16:17). This is one of the most important differences between the old covenant and the new.

The Christian salvation is a transformation of what we are in spirit, in mind, in soul, and in body. The last enemy that will be destroyed is the spirit of death that claims our body (I Corinthians 15:26). The enemy that is in our spirit, our mind, our soul, and our body must be destroyed before we are ready for the destruction of the last enemy.

Because the first resurrection is near, the days of preparation for the destruction of the last enemy are upon us. All the other enemies must be destroyed before we will be ready for the destruction of the last enemy and the immortalizing of our body.

The following passage speaks of the redemption by judgment that is beginning now and that will reach its climax in the raising of our body into incorruptible resurrection life in Christ: 

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. (Hebrews 9:27,28)

Notice the parallels:

"Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many" is in parallel with "it is appointed unto men once to die."

"Shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation" is in parallel with "after this the judgment."

It is appointed to men once to die—Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many.

After this the judgment—shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

The offering of Christ to bear the sins of many has to do with the death that comes to all men because of sin. Christ died in our place. We are saved by entering Christ’s death and resurrection.

The appearing of Christ the second time will be without sin and will bring salvation. This redemption has to do with Divine judgment.

Every man who is born on the earth will die eventually. After he dies he will be judged in terms of his conduct while living on the earth. As every man sows, so shall he reap. 

Who will render to every man according to his deeds: (Romans 2:6)

This is true of the saved individual as well as of the unsaved. But the manner in which life, death, and judgment operate in the saved person, particularly in the victorious Christian, is somewhat different from what is true of the unsaved. 

The conscious "I." One aspect of our personality that must be defined if we are to understand our redemption, our transformation from a living soul to a life-giving spirit, is the aspect of the human personality referred to as I .

Let us give some examples of the complexity of the definition of "I" (or "you" or "he," depending on the structure of the sentence).

Precisely who is being addressed? 

And whoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? (John 11:26)

Obviously, Christians die physically. Therefore "whoever" is not referring to the physical body but to the conscious identity and will of the person. Christ is stating that the conscious identity of the person, the unique individual, never will be separated from the Presence of God.

Again: 

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

Precisely who is Paul now? Has Paul become Christ? Who has been crucified? Who is living in Paul’s flesh?

Again: 

For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. (Romans 7:19)

Notice the two separate wills, the two "men," living as one. First, there is the "I" who desires to do good. Then there is the "I" who is bent on evil.

Which one of these two wills is Paul? They both are Paul.

We understand, therefore, that the human being is a complex creation.

There is in each individual a conscious will, a unique identity. We do not know whether it is his spirit or soul or some combination of these. It appears that the conscious will of the person is not his brain or body. His spirit, or mind, seem to be the most likely candidates.

Whatever the conscious will of the person is, it is this that chooses to obey or disobey the Lord.

The human personality is part of the first creation, the adamic creation, and is assigned to the cross. It cannot be saved as it is. It must die and be resurrected as part of Christ before it can enter the Kingdom of God.

The first man is a living soul. He is of the earth. He cannot be

saved in the sense of being preserved. He drinks lawlessness like water.

The second man is a life-giving spirit (I Corinthians 15:45). He is of Heaven. He is eternal. He is of the Kingdom of God. He cannot sin because he has been born of God (I John 3:9).

The human personality comes into the world as a living soul. If the "I" chooses to receive Christ, the whole original personality is brought into death and then is raised again in Christ. The personality is transformed from a living soul into a life-giving spirit. This is the new covenant (Hebrews 8:10-12; II Corinthians 3:18). This is what it means to be "saved" in the fullest sense.

If the "I" chooses to reject Christ, the "I" finally is banished from the Presence of God along with the whole first personality. This is what it means to be "lost."

The Christian salvation, the Kingdom of God, is not the forgiving and reforming of the first personality. The Christian salvation is the changing of the individual from a living soul, which is hopelessly corrupt, to a life-giving spirit.

While it is necessary for us to hold our animal, earthly personality in check, such restraint is not the final result of the new covenant. The final result of the new covenant is another kind of creature—a life-giving spirit.

The judgment of the saint is based largely on the decisions the "I" has made throughout life on earth. Righteousness and holiness of behavior, or the lack of it, come only from God. But the decisions made by the "I," whether or not to serve God diligently in each incident, each issue, are our responsibility.

We cannot save ourselves. Only God can save us. It is the responsibility of our "I" to turn to God continually, calling on Him for every aspect of our personality and behavior. The Lord Jesus will judge the "I" for the decisions it has made. 

The eternal plan of God. When God placed Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden He understood they would sin. God was not taken by surprise. God did not cause them to sin, He permitted circumstances to take their natural course. God had prepared salvation in His Christ before Adam and Eve sinned.

From the beginning God has planned to change man from a living soul to a life-giving spirit. The first creation is nothing more than a scaffolding for the true Kingdom of God. From the moment of its conception the first creation was destined to be tossed aside as a used garment. 

And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail. (Hebrews 1:12)

Throughout history God has appeared to men and has spoken to them in various ways. At one point the giving of the Law of Moses was the greatest of all revelations of God’s Person and way.

Then God brought forth His Lamb, Christ. The Lamb of God was slain in order to forgive and remove the sins of the whole world. 

. . . God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing [ascribing] their trespasses unto them; . . . (II Corinthians 5:19)

. . . Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. (John 1:29)

We have been forgiven for eternity. Now let us begin the plan of redemption, of entering the Kingdom of God.

The current teaching is that the Christian salvation is the forgiveness of those who receive Christ with the intent of bringing them to Heaven to live forever in joy and peace.

This definition of salvation is partially correct but is so limited as to be misleading.

The Christian salvation is the transformation of the human being from a living soul into a life-giving spirit so he can glorify God and have fellowship with Him, and also serve in the various roles and tasks of the Kingdom of God.

The Christian salvation is not the forgiving of the living soul so the individual can go to another place.

The Christian salvation is the delivering of the individual from the bondage of sin. Salvation is not a change of place but of personality.

The sixth chapter of the Book of Romans is a description of the plan of redemption. The new covenant is summed up in the following words: 

Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. (Romans 6:6)

What is our "old man?" Our old man is our first personality, the living soul. Our old man is our natural mind, our soul, our physical body, and our spirit; for even our spirit is unclean (II Corinthians 7:1).

What is the "body of sin?" The body of sin is the sinful nature resident in our natural mind, our soul, our physical body, and our spirit.

What happens to our "old man?" Our old man is appointed to death. He is crucified with the Lord Jesus. The crucifixion of our old nature marks the end of the adamic creation.

What is the purpose of slaying the old man? The purpose of crucifying the old man is that the "body of sin" may be destroyed.

What is the purpose of destroying the body of sin? It is that "we should not serve sin."

There you have it. The Christian salvation is not a legal state in which God regards us as being something we are not. While the state of imputed (ascribed) righteousness is employed as a legal device to enable us to enter the processes of redemption, the actual redemption itself consists of a death and judgment of the entire first personality with the end in view of releasing it from the bondage of sin.

God will not save the first creation. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God (I Corinthians 15:50).

In the Christian redemption the conscious "I," the unique identity of the believer, passes from being in charge of a living soul (in which it often is bound and helpless) to being in charge of a life-giving spirit (in which it rejoices in the glorious liberty of the children of God).

Salvation comes through judgment. At the beginning of our discussion we mentioned the parallels contained in Hebrews 9:27,28. As men die, so Christ was once offered to bear our sins. As men are appointed to be judged after they die, so Christ will appear without sin unto salvation to those who look for Him. Salvation will come in the last days as a result of our being judged.

Salvation comes by means of judgment. The removal of sin, the destroying of the body of sin, is salvation. The removal of sin is accomplished by Divine judgment.

The conscious "I," the unique identity of the person, will not be condemned if it puts its trust in Jesus: 

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death to life. (John 5:24)

This verse (John 5:24) is a much used passage of Christian theology. It is being employed as a "key verse". The conclusion is being drawn that the believer will not be judged; in fact, will not even suffer. To this extent we do not understand the Christian redemption.

The fourth chapter of the Book of I Peter makes it clear that we Christians are judged, that the judgment is in the form of suffering, and that the end result of our judgment-suffering is our deliverance from sin (I Peter 4:2). How do we reconcile the fourth chapter of I Peter with John 5:24?

The seeming contradiction has to do in large part with who the "he" is, in "He that heareth my word". The "he," the central consciousness and will of the person, will not come into condemnation; will not experience the wrath of God. Christ’s death was for the purpose of saving the conscious "he."

The "old man" of the person, with its body of sin, indeed shall be judged. The old man, the living soul, is condemned to die on the cross with Christ. God repeatedly will send tribulation on our first personality. Such tribulation is Divine judgment on the old man with the intention of conforming him to the death of Christ on the cross so that our entire personality may be raised again as a life-giving spirit (Philippians 3:10,11).

We are saved by judgment, by a baptism of fire on our personality—spirit, soul, and body. This is why so many passages of the New Testament mention the sufferings we must experience, admonishing us to crucify our first personality. 

And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. (Galatians 5:24)

God has forgiven the world freely, asking only that people come to Christ for salvation. Those who reject Christ will be lost to God’s Presence and purpose, for there is salvation only in Christ.

When an individual comes to Christ he is received. The blanket forgiveness purchased on the cross is applied to him. Now he is without condemnation. He stands before Christ as a living soul, an adamic nature. But in him there lives a body of sin.

The Lord, perhaps after a season of blessing and joy, directs the believer to the cross of suffering. Whether or not he understands what is taking place, the believer begins to experience tribulation. The tribulation is Divine judgment on his first personality. He may not be suffering because of some specific disobedience but because of what he is in personality.

The first man, the living soul, has been appointed to death. The entire material creation, the first creation, has been appointed to death. God does not intend to save it and bring it to Paradise. God counts the first creation as crucified, as having died with Christ on the cross of Calvary.

The believer is made worthy of the Kingdom of God by the sufferings that come upon him. He does not punish himself so he may be worthy, he submits himself to Christ. Christ is the Judge. For us to punish ourselves is to take our salvation into our own hands. The result of self-punishment is the enlargement of our first personality in religious pride, not its crucifixion. We must allow God to do the chastening of us.

 Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: (II Thessalonians 1:5)

The journey of Israel from Egypt to Canaan is a type, an illustration of our change from the living soul to the life-giving spirit.

Egypt represents the living soul. Canaan represents the life-giving spirit. We are journeying from the slavery and misery of the living soul to the eternal joy of the life-giving spirit.

We leave the life of the world and wander about, for a season, in a wilderness of confusion and testing. If we do not throw away our confidence while in the wilderness we come at last to the border of Canaan, to the Jordan River. Now we are ready to enter resurrection life in Christ.

There is one problem: our land of promise is occupied by the enemy.

Judgment on the enemy. Israel was moving toward Canaan. The tribes were carrying with them the Ark of the Covenant in which were the tables of stone, the Ten Commandments. The moral law of God was moving toward the enemy.

So it is true of us. God is writing His moral law in our minds and hearts. We are at a place now where God is ready to judge His enemy, who is the devil. God’s judgment is not on us, not on the conscious "I." God’s judgment is on the unclean spirits.

As we begin to enter the Lord’s judgment on sin it is important that we realize God’s wrath is not directed toward us but toward the wicked, unclean spirits that tempt us, that urge us to sin. The unclean spirits dwell in our "land," our first personality, our "body of sin." God is ready to bring His judgment on the spirits that dwell in our body of sin, destroying out of us all that is displeasing to Himself. The Divine judgment will result in our release from bondage to sin.

Christ is appearing now to His Church as the Judge of all that is sinful in us. If we will cooperate with the Spirit of Christ, all that is evil in us will be judged and destroyed out of us. The Lord Jesus Christ is appearing without sin unto salvation.

The present-day appearing of Christ is not His appearing to the world in the clouds of glory. That will take place later. Rather, the present coming of Christ is the spiritual fulfillment of the Old Testament blowing of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and feast of Tabernacles.

The purpose of the current appearing is to bring us into the spiritual fulfillment of the Old Testament feast of Tabernacles. Only after these three feasts (Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles) have been fulfilled spiritually in the firstfruits of the Body of Christ will Jesus return in His parousia (coming; presence), shining in glory with and in His glorified saints. (Please see Leviticus, Chapter 23 for the seven feasts of the Lord. Also, the spiritual fulfillment of the Day of Atonement is set forth in Malachi 3:1-3.)

Before Jesus returns in the clouds of glory He first will come to His saints in the spiritual fulfillment of the last three of the seven Levitical feasts. This is the meaning of John 14:18-23. The Blowing of Trumpets is being fulfilled now as the trumpet of God is sounding in the churches, warning the saints of the spiritual coming of the Lord, the Judge, the King.

The Blowing of Trumpets announces the Day of Atonement, the judgment of God on His enemies, on unclean spirits, with the end in view of redeeming us from the hand of the enemy and reconciling us to Himself.

When we have been cleansed by the baptism of fire of God’s judgment we will be ready for the Father and the Son to take up Their abode in us in fulfillment of the Old Testament feast of Tabernacles (Matthew 3:10-12; John 14:23).

If you are an experienced Christian you may have noticed that the Spirit of God is dealing with you concerning your sins—something you may never have thought you would experience at this stage of your discipleship. The Day of Atonement comes at the climax of our redemption, not at the beginning.

At the beginning of our discipleship we would not have been able to pass joyfully and victoriously through the judgment of our sins, just as the Israelites were not strong enough to engage the Canaanites in war immediately upon making their departure from Egypt. God led them south by the way of Mount Sinai, not by the much shorter trade route bordering the Mediterranean Sea, because the Hebrews were not experienced in war. 

And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt: (Exodus 13:17)

Judgment is here. It has commenced in the house of God. Christ is ready to judge the living and the dead (I Peter 4:5). We, the living, must be ready to submit ourselves under the mighty hand of God, to confess our sins and repent of them, and to work diligently and willingly with the Holy Spirit in putting to death the deeds of our body (Romans 8:13).

We understand, therefore, that God is not saving our first personality. He is crucifying it so He may raise it again in newness of life in Christ.

The Christian Church will pass through intense fires in the days ahead of us. A baptism of fire will fall on us, the purpose of which is to purify the Church on the earth, preparing it to meet the Lord at His appearing.

Those who are to participate in the parousia , the appearing of Christ, must be judged beforehand. The deceased saints are being judged now, for Christ judges the dead as well as the living.

Since those who are alive on the earth when the Lord returns will not have the opportunity to be judged prior to their physical death, they must be judged while yet alive on the earth. The Scriptures teach that this will take place: 

And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem: When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning. (Isaiah 4:3,4)

Every person who is to be saved, whose personality is to be preserved in the Presence of God, must die and then be judged. His first personality, his adamic nature, must be judged, and all that is not of Christ must be destroyed out of him.

He must be changed into a second kind of person—a life-giving spirit. He must find his place in the new heaven and earth reign of Christ as a creature who reveals in himself the Life of Christ.

God has all eternity in which to bring every saved individual into such change. We of today, with whom God is dealing so rigorously, are a firstfruits of what one day will be true to some extent of every person brought forth to eternal life on the new earth (James 1:18).

The true saints choose to die in this life in obedience to Paul’s words in the sixth chapter of the Book of Romans. Our reckoning of ourselves dead is a real death. When we choose to die in Christ the work of judgment begins; for after death comes judgment. This is no mere play on words. It is an actual death and resurrection in the spirit realm.

Our present death on the cross with Jesus is as real as any death any person ever dies. After we by faith reckon ourselves to be dead, numerous dealings of the Holy Spirit transform our decision into living reality. The death of the cross is not a pleasant experience for our first personality. Our "old man" does not enjoy being changed into Christ’s death.

Please keep in mind that the judgment that falls on our first personality, on the living soul, is not a judgment on our conscious "I." It is not a judgment on "us." It is Divine judgment on God’s enemies, on the body of sin that dwells in our old man, in our first personality.

There are three domains of Divine judgment. The first is judgment on the guilt of our sins. This judgment took place on the cross of Calvary.

The second judgment has to do with the decisions we have made during our life on the earth. This is the realm of rewards and punishments. This is the Judgment Seat of Christ.

The third judgment is the topic of the present article, the judgment of God on His enemies. Our task is to get out of the way, so to speak, to confess our sins, the work of the enemy in us, and let the Lord strong and mighty war against them and bring them under His feet.

Two kinds of creatures. Let us think for a moment about the first man and the second man, the old nature, and then the new nature being created in us. 

The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. (I Corinthians 15:47)

Two men: the first man and the second man.

The doctrine of two men is central to our understanding of the redemption that is in the Lord Jesus Christ.

There is no more profound misunderstanding in all Christianity than the one limiting the salvation that is in Christ to the forgiveness and future bliss of the first man (and today bliss and material wealth are being extended to our first man in the present world by the preachers of the "gospel"!). The traditional concept is, redemption is the forgiving and reforming of the first man with the end in view of bringing him to Paradise to live forever.

However, the Divinely ordained salvation is not a plan for forgiving and reforming the first man, the descendant of Adam. We must be born a second time in order to enter the Kingdom of God—or even to see the Kingdom (John 3:3).

While the forgiving of the first personality is an initial stage of salvation, the actual, eternal purpose of God, which is the Kingdom of God, is directed toward the second man—the man from Heaven.

In the creation of the Kingdom of God, two separate races, or kinds of creatures, are involved:

The living soul.

The life-giving spirit. 

And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a living [life-giving] spirit. (I Corinthians 15:45)

The unsaved individual is an example of the first man—the living soul.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the supreme Example of the second man—the life-giving spirit.

Every human being who has been born again of Christ is somewhere between the two extremes, between a pure living soul and a pure life-giving spirit.

It is the second man, the life-giving spirit, who is the Kingdom of God, the Body of Christ.

The first man can be blessed by the Kingdom of God and can walk in the light of the Kingdom. The Kingdom of God can be born in the personality of the first man. But the first man, having in himself a "body of sin," never can be a part of the Kingdom of God. The first man is to go to the cross with Jesus, die there, and then be raised into newness of life.

Some believers reap the Kingdom of God thirtyfold, some sixtyfold, and some a hundredfold. The extent to which we reap the Kingdom of God depends on the diligence with which we approach God, and on our willingness to be pruned—our willingness to die to our first personality.

The most limited definition of the term "salvation" is, escape from residence in the Lake of Fire . The most comprehensive definition of the term is, the perfect, complete transition from a living soul to a life-giving spirit coupled with perfect rest in the Presence of God .

Thus, each true Christian is, to a lesser or greater degree, of Christ, of the Kingdom of God. The remainder of his personality is still of Adam, of the first creation.

The first creation, that to which the first man, the living soul belongs, was brought into existence to give initial form and substance to what God is seeking. The first creation serves as a beginning and a support while the second, eternal creation is being developed.

The first creation always must decrease while the second creation always must increase. Adam, the corruptible, animal creation, always must decrease while Christ, the incorruptible Spirit, always must increase. This is the coming of the Kingdom of God, the Divinely ordained salvation.

Notice once again that the entire first creation is destined to be abolished. It was finished when the Lord said on the cross, "It has been finished." It has been finished in the mind of God, and what we are witnessing is the bringing to pass of the completed Divine vision. 

And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail. (Hebrews 1:10-12)

Our religious customs and practices, which involve the first man, are serving as a scaffolding while Christ is creating the second man. As the second man is perfected the scaffolding is removed.

This does not mean we no longer attend the assembling of the saints because we think we have become "spiritual." The true Bride of the Lamb knows His voice and does not behave herself foolishly. 

The living soul. The first man is of the earth.

The first man is made up of a physical body, a mind, a soul, and a spirit. His conscience is the moral law of God written in him, and his spirit is able to reach out to God in prayer. His spirit, mind, and conscience make him different from the animals; but otherwise man is an animal creation.

Scientists speak of man as though he merely is an intelligent animal. People who are conducting their lives apart from God often behave like animals, and as they give place to demons they sometimes act in a manner that is worse than the wild beasts.

The animal creation is weak and corruptible. The physical body with its appetites and lusts often performs in ridiculous ways. We, who are created in the image of God, behave as ludicrous fools before the angels.

The six thousand years since Adam have witnessed an ever-increasing penetration of the human race by evil spirits. The spiritual environment has become thick with uncleanness. The natural man increasingly is becoming a reflection of the person and ways of Satan.

Our efforts toward salvation quickly become vain if they are directed only or primarily toward reforming the first man.

It is true that both the Old and New Testaments are addressed to a great extent to the first man, because the first man must be beaten down, held down, kept in line while Christ is creating the second man. 

But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. (I Corinthians 9:27)

And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections [passions] and lusts. (Galatians 5:24)

If we interpret such passages to mean that the Christian salvation is the forgiving and reforming of the natural man we miss the actual program of salvation. The beating down and crucifying of the first man is not for the purpose of saving him. It is for the purpose of holding him in line while the second man is being created. The second man is "the Lord from heaven."

The second man does not sin. He cannot sin because he has been born of God (I John 3:9). The second man is free to move throughout the creation of God. He is the word, the law of God given form and life as a life-giving spirit.

Much of our Christian effort has been directed toward the forgiving and reforming of the first man, the personality God has assigned to the cross. It is time now to consider the creation of the new man. The old personality is to pass away (already has passed away in God’s timeless vision). All things are to be made new and are to be of God through Christ (II Corinthians 5:17,18).

The new creation to which we are referring is not a new creation in which we remain largely unchanged while God, because of His mercy and grace, regards us as new creatures. The new creation is actually a new creation in which all things really are made new and are begotten of God.

We do not keep our body under control in order that God may consider our old personality as being a new personality but in order that Christ may make us literally new creatures. The death of the old man, while it begins as a state that we "reckon" to be a fact, becomes reality as God brings us into the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings, into the likeness of His death (Philippians 3:10).

The physical body and the soul dominate the first man. The mind operates to obtain security, pleasure, and achievement for the body and soul. The mind cannot see God through the human eye and puts its trust in what it can see.

As the mind is given information it becomes arrogant, supposing all that is of worth is what it can behold through the eye and define with its ability to reason. Soon we have the ridiculous spectacle of a human being strutting about on the skin of the earth like a peacock. Truly, it is the fool who has said in his heart, There is no God.

The first man is both willing and—to an extremely limited extent—able to function temporarily apart from God. (As long as he doesn’t swallow a gnat and choke to death.)

The Gospel of the Kingdom is presented to the first man because there is no second man at this point. The human being is confronted with the choice of living forever in Paradise or being hurled into fiery torment.

The first man upon hearing the Gospel may decide (since his eye cannot see much of what is being told him) that it is so much foolishness. He then turns away and pursues his animal existence of eating, sleeping, working, playing, and reproducing, searing his conscience in the meantime and making himself the prey of the demons.

Since he has disobeyed God he remains under condemnation. Because there is nothing of the Kingdom in him, and the first creation is destined to pass away, his future is bleak indeed. In addition, all that is evil in him must be judged and punished; for God has determined that Satan, his angels, and all their works shall be cast into the Lake of Fire—there to be tormented for eternity.

Or, the first man may decide to do what the witness of God is declaring and his conscience and the Holy Spirit are verifying. He may decide to ease the conviction that is weighing on him and secure his future by receiving Christ.

Let us say that the individual decides to receive Christ.

Now he, the first man, is "saved." At this point he is without condemnation in the sight of his Creator and has been pointed toward the new heaven and earth reign of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Our newly saved believer then sets out to attempt to do whatever it is Christians do to please God. He hopes to live forever after he dies in another place—perhaps on another planet, as he reasons—where there is love, joy, and peace.

It appears that such is the scope of understanding of the majority of Christian believers. They think of the Christian salvation as the forgiving of the human being, and hopefully some reforming of him so God will not be overly displeased with him, and then the transporting of him to Heaven when he dies.

However, the Christian salvation is not the forgiving and reforming of the first man. Salvation includes the forgiving of the first man. However, it is necessary, if the transition from the first man is to be conducted successfully, that the first man be held in check and finally crucified.

Salvation begins with the forgiving of the first man and requires that he repent of his former manner of living. These are preliminary steps of orientation to the Kingdom of God. However, the actual Kingdom is a new man: new in substance, in nature, in relationship to the Godhead, in motivation, in appearance, in authority, in abilities.

What does God intend to do with the first man? Will God save him? Preserve him? Is the Christian salvation the saving of us or the crucifying of us?

The Christian salvation begins with the hope of our first man that he will be brought to Heaven after he dies so he can be happy. But the parables of Jesus make it clear that the Kingdom is a seed planted in man, not a movement of the believers from the land of misery to the land of joy.

The truth is, the first man is destined to be broken, snared, and taken by the Lord as the Word of the Lord enters his personality and brings forth the second man. 

But the word of the Lord was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken. (Isaiah 28:13)

The Lord Jesus is the Word made flesh. We are the flesh being made the Word.

One may ask, Am I to be saved (preserved) or am I to be crucified? What will happen to me?

If you receive Christ as your Lord and Savior, being baptized in water according to His command, repenting of your former life of malice, worldliness, and self-seeking, your conscious identity as a unique person will be saved and brought into great joy. But your composition as the first man, the living soul, is to be crucified and raised again as a new creation, a life-giving spirit.

Obviously such a death and rebirth is undesirable from the standpoint of the first man who will continue to fight desperately and convincingly for his life. Your change from the first man to the second man will be attended by troubles, trials, distresses, small and great in which—if you really are determined to reap a hundredfold—your first man, especially your soul, will cry out in the agony of death.

Does being saved mean I am forgiven and ought to try to live a better life so I can go to Heaven when I die?

Yes, in the beginning. Receiving the blood atonement by faith and turning away from the evil of the world are necessary if one is to make a success of the Christian salvation.

However, being saved means that you , meaning your personality—spirit, soul, and body, will be pressed into the death of the cross so a new creature can be formed in you.

Your consciousness and will shall remain intact although your will repeatedly shall be brought into harmony with the will of almighty God through Christ. The kind of creature you are, in the universe of God, will be changed from a living soul to a life-giving spirit.

Will this happen to me so when I die I can be admitted into Heaven?

Not primarily. All this will happen to you so you may fulfill the particular destiny to which you have been called: such as, being an integral part of the eternal Temple of God, a member of the Body of Christ, of the Wife of the Lamb, God’s eternal servant, a witness, prophet, priest, and king throughout His universe, a judge of men and angels, and so forth.

God’s eternal purpose in the Church will be fulfilled in you according to the particular calling that rests on you—a calling established from the creation of the world by the Father.

Whether or not you attain to your predestined place in the Kingdom of God depends on your willingness to submit to the Spirit of God as He effects your transition from a living soul to a life-giving spirit. None of the eternal roles and tasks of the Kingdom of God can be accomplished by living souls. Flesh and blood cannot enter the Kingdom of God (I Corinthians 15:50).

The transition to the life-giving Spirit. Our transition from the first man to the second man cannot be accomplished by dying physically. One of the errors of present-day teaching and preaching is the belief that our necessary change from ungodliness to godliness will take place as a result of our physical death.

Both reason and the Scriptures will demonstrate that physical death cannot bring about any change from a living soul to a life-giving spirit.

Physical death merely separates our spirit and soul from our body and leaves the body to decay in the ground. No change takes place in our spirit and soul on the basis of their being separated from our body.

If change does occur in our spirit and soul on the basis of being separated from the body, such change is not mentioned in the Scriptures.

God will not resurrect our mortal body and clothe it with eternal incorruptible life until our spirit and soul have undergone the change from soulish, mortal life to resurrection life. First, the inner man attains to resurrection. After that, the outer man is redeemed. Otherwise, chaos would result as willful individuals, subject to the adamic temperament, flew about the universe in Divinely endowed bodies.

Can you imagine a self-willed, disobedient believer clothed with a body like that of the Lord Jesus!

This shall not happen. The believer must experience the inner transformation from the first man to the second man before it is wise—or even possible—for his personality to be housed in an immortal body of Divine capabilities. The new wineskins are for the new wine.

This is why Paul spoke of the need to "attain to" the resurrection from the dead (Philippians 3:11).

It is the second man, the life-giving spirit, who is the Kingdom of God. It is useless to speculate on the possibility of the first man entering the Kingdom.

The first man can be governed by the Kingdom and can walk in the light of the Kingdom. But this is a temporary condition. In God’s new world the Kingdom eventually must be created in the individual.

The Kingdom is made up of people who once were human beings, as we understand the term, but who now are a new kind of creature, a new form of humanity.

The human shape remains. The consciousness and the will (now submitted to God) also remain. But the individual has become a member of a new race. The new creation is a Divine humanity.

Unlike the first man, the second man does not consist of a natural body, a natural mind, a soul, and a spirit. The second man is not a personality apart from the Godhead. The second man is as unable to exist or function apart from the Godhead as the first man is unable to exist or function apart from air, water, and food.

We have stated that the Lord Jesus Christ is the supreme Example of the second man.

If the Lord Jesus is the perfect Example of the second man it can be seen that the body of the second man is spiritual, consisting of resurrected flesh and bones living and moving by the Spirit of God rather than by the processes of blood, air, and water.

The mind of the second man is so under the influence and guidance of God as to be a greatly glorified form of what we ordinarily think of as a mind. The second man walks in the Spirit of prophecy and revelation, directed and moved always by the Lord rather than by any wisdom or judgment of his own apart from the Lord.

It takes a long time before we are able to enter this kind of thinking and motivation. We learn to have the mind of Christ now—during our present trials. The mind of Christ will not be dumped on us against our will when we die physically or in the Day of Resurrection.

The soul of the second man is the throne of God. The fires of his life have been brought into union with the Godhead (John 14:23). He is one with the great eternal Fire that God Is.

The spirit of the second man is one with the Spirit of God (I Corinthians 6:17).

Consider the Lord Jesus Christ. His consciousness and will are unchanged from eternity to eternity, although He learned obedience through suffering during His stay on the earth. The Lord Jesus is a unique Individual as is true of each of us.

But the kind of Person Christ is has changed from the eternal Logos, to the Rabbi of Nazareth, to what He is today.

The body of Jesus consists of His resurrected flesh and bones in a glorified state (Luke 24:39; Revelation 1:13-16). If we overcome, as He overcame, we will have a body like His (Philippians 3:11,12,21).

The mind of the Lord Jesus always is under the inspiration of the Spirit of God.

The Soul of the Lord Jesus is the throne of the almighty God of Heaven. The Throne of God was established for eternity in the Soul of Christ when Christ endured the crucifixion of His will in the garden of Gethsemane: 

Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. (Matthew 26:38)

Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. (Luke 22:42)

And in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. (Luke 22:44)

The Spirit of Christ is One with God, and we have been called to the same Oneness. 

That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. (John 17:21)

Every born-again human being is at some point on a line between the first man and the second man. It is not that the Lord has called us to be an in-between man, or that the final result is part natural man and part life-giving spirit. It is true, rather, that we, if we are pressing forward in the plan of salvation, are changing constantly from a living soul into a life-giving spirit. It is a gradual transformation. 

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. (II Corinthians 3:18)

The body of the saint, if he is alive on the earth, is a natural body. If the saint is deceased he has at present, according to our understanding, a spiritual form but no body. We think the glorified body is the reward the Lord will bring with Him at His appearing.

The life of the believer while he is living on the earth is governed to a great extent by his bodily desires until he grows strong enough in the Lord to discipline his body and keep it under his control (I Corinthians 9:27).

The natural mind of the Christian disciple still is predominant, although he is attempting to discover the Lord’s will by processes other than human reasoning: 

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:2)

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:5,6)

The mind of the believer must be renewed in God as part of the transition from the first man to the second man.

The believers in Christ range from those who live entirely according to their natural body, soul, and brain all the way to those who are at rest in the Lord and are learning to look to Him for guidance in all areas.

Each day the true saints are more confirmed in their attitude of relying on the motivation and guidance of the Lord rather than on their mental understanding of what they should be doing. It is God who is working in them both to will and to do His good pleasure.

How wonderful it is to live in the Spirit of the Lord rather than in the appetites and lusts of the flesh!

The spirit of the believer reaches out to God in prayer on many occasions, seeking to gain assistance in coping with the difficulty of living on the earth. Life in this world is not always pleasant. Our never-ending tribulations cause us to turn to God for mercy and for grace to help in our hour of need.

The first man has a natural, animal body. The second man has a body constructed on his original flesh and bones but now filled with eternal, incorruptible resurrection life, plus the capabilities necessary for the role and tasks of the particular individual.

The first man has a natural mind. The second man has the ability to reason, but his thinking originates in the mind of Christ. His judgments are based on what God is speaking to him rather than on his own ability to analyze and judge.

The first man has a natural soul. The second man is the temple of the Father and the Son.

The unsaved man has a spirit that is not part of God’s Spirit. When he is forgiven, on the basis of the blood of the Lamb of God, his spirit becomes part of God’s Spirit. He who is joined to the Lord is one Spirit with Him (I Corinthians 6:17).

We can see at once that church activities and other religious work that are directed toward the forgiving and reforming of the first man, while they have value at the beginning of salvation, are not part of the eternal purpose of God. They are a temporary scaffolding erected so the true building can be constructed. When the building is finished the scaffolding will be removed. It is needed no longer.

This does not mean the scaffolding is not necessary or that it should be constructed carelessly. The scaffolding is necessary and is to be constructed with care. It is necessary that the first man be forgiven and that he be brought under the discipline of the Lord. If he is not forgiven or—as often is the case today—is not brought under the discipline of the Lord, the true building cannot be constructed.

If the adamic man does not have integrity, if he does not, with the help of the Spirit of God, obey the commandments of the Lord and His Apostles, the believer cannot make a success of the transition from the soulish man to the life-giving spirit.

We must be careful, however, not to confuse the temporary with the eternal. The Kingdom of God begins as the seed of a new man born in us. The heavenly seed will grow, if taken care of properly, until the second man has come to maturity.

The saints who participate in the first resurrection are a firstfruits (James 1:18; Revelation 14:4) of God’s elect. As we understand it, the firstfruits will assist the remainder of the elect until all have successfully made the transition from the first man to the second man. It may be true also that as the members of the Church, the Bride of the Lamb, minister to the nations of the saved, the nations also will become part of the process of change from the first man to the second man.

The Kingdom of God enters an individual when he is born again and will continue to grow throughout eternity until the person has attained to the destiny appointed to him or her by the Lord.

The Scripture asserts that some will be greatest and some will be least in the Kingdom of God (Matthew 5:19). Some will reap thirtyfold, some sixtyfold, and some a hundredfold. One star differs from another star in glory. However, he who is least in the Kingdom of God is greater than any of the prophets because the prophets were the natural man anointed by the Spirit of God.

The Kingdom of God is the Seed—Christ—that will grow until Christ is All in all, and God is All in all in Him: 

And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all. (I Corinthians 15:28)

That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: (Ephesians 1:10)

The growth of the Kingdom of God began when the Lord Jesus Christ ascended to the Father, will continue throughout the thousand-year Kingdom Age known as the Millennium, and then proceed throughout eternity. The Father promised Abraham that his Seed (Christ) would be as the stars of the heaven and as the sand on the shore. 

Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, . . . (Isaiah 9:7)

Christ Is the Kingdom of God. Christ will continue to be formed in people throughout eternity, as we understand it, making them the second man, the life-giving spirit. All those who are saved will continue to eat of the tree of life (as they turn away from sin and self-will) and will continue to grow in the image of the Lord.

One cannot jump instantly from the first man to the second man. The transition is made slowly, "one city at a time." 

And the Lord thy God will put out those nations before thee by little and little: thou mayest not consume them at once, lest the beasts of the field increase upon thee. (Deuteronomy 7:22)

Let us consider the program of orderly transition.

"Those nations" represent the evil in the world and in our first man. The Lord does not permit us to consume the evil "at once," while we are making the transition to the second man.

If God were to remove the first man at once, our personality would collapse. If God had slain all the Philistines before Israel had occupied their farms, the beasts of the field would have multiplied until Israel would not have been able to keep them under control.

So it is that our first personality, with its doubts, fears, dreads, sense of duty, arrogance, pride, courage, loyalty, and all its other traits, some detestable and some admirable, serves to keep our personality intact until Christ has grown to sufficient stature in us to insure our integrity and stability in God.

If God were to remove our first personality we would be as a swept room, an empty vessel. Evil spirits would inhabit our personality long before Christ had occupied those rooms. It requires time for Christ to be formed in us (Galatians 4:19).

God puts out those nations before us "by little and little." The transition is orderly so we will not falter along the way.

Spiritual growth that is too fast is as dangerous as spiritual growth that is too slow. Either excess causes a transition that is imperfect and faltering. There is a normal, wholesome transition from the natural man to the spiritual man that results in a mature son of God.

The Scriptures, the Holy Spirit, the body and blood of the Lord Jesus, the assembling of the saints, the gifts and ministries of the Spirit—all serve to build Christ in us.

The enticements of the world, the tribulations of the world, and even the temptations of Satan, play their role in enabling us to change from our first, natural character into the new spiritual character. Our first character is a mixture of noble, ordinary, and satanic traits—the particular mixture depending on the individual.

There is no possible way any aspect of our first personality can be preserved and brought into the Kingdom of God. The part of us that is of Satan must be judged as such by the Lord Jesus Christ and separated from us for eternity. It is an eternal judgment (Hebrews 6:2).

The part of us that is not sinful, such as a friendly nature or courage or loyalty, must die and be raised again in the Lord Jesus Christ. Such traits will break down or be warped when enough pressure is applied to them. They are good traits but not eternal traits. Only that which is of Christ can stand the Divine Fire.

Nothing of the first creation is to be saved as it is. All must be born again in Christ. All must die and be raised in His Divine, incorruptible resurrection Life, in this manner becoming new. The new creation is the eternal blend of the human and God. It is a Divine humanity. 

And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. (Revelation 21:5)

Until we pass through judgment we cannot enter the rest of God. Our spirit must become one with the Spirit of Christ. Our natural mind must become part of the Mind of Christ. Our soul dies the hardest death of all for it is the center of our will and judgment. To crucify the soul of man is to slay what the first man is. The first man dies a hard death. We cry out in agony as God kills the self-centeredness in us.

There cannot be two separate wills in the universe. There is only one legitimate will in the universe—the will of almighty God as it is expressed in the Lord Jesus Christ. The Kingdom of God is the doing of God’s will in earth as it is in Heaven. It is only as we die to our own choices and judgment that we are able to enter unity and harmony with God.

The judgment and death of our soul, our will, is by far the most difficult death we die—much more difficult than death to our lusts and passions. Are you willing to enter God to the point that you can say with all your being, "Not my will but Thine be done"?

If you cannot say this and mean it from the depths of your soul, your soul has not as yet become the Throne of God and of the Lamb. Your soul still is uncrucified.

When our spirit is at rest in God’s Spirit, our mind is of Christ, and our soul is content in the will of God, then we are ready for our body to be raised from the dead and glorified in Christ. The immortalizing of the physical body in Christ is the destruction of the last enemy, the other enemies of our personality having been dealt with first (I Corinthians 15:26).

Every spirit must bow the knee to Jesus as Lord. All that is in us that is of the adversary is destined for the Lake of Fire. The Divine judgment operates to deliver us from all bondage to Satan and all bondage to our self-will, self-centeredness, and self-love. The latter bondages are worse than the satanic lusts that dwell in us for they represent a continuation of original sin, of human rebellion against God.

Every member of the Kingdom of God obeys God perfectly in a spirit of love, joy, and peace. We must be set free by judgment before we can arrive at such a desirable state. "Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness" (Isaiah 1:27).

We can ruin the entire process by insisting on living in the flesh (Romans 8:13). Willful disobedience to God can result in severe chastening or even in our destruction (Hebrews 10:26,27).

The second man is as unique a creation as the first man. The second man is not a reformed or made-over first man. The second man is not half-natural and half-spiritual. The second man is truly and thoroughly man in that he is not an angel but a creature in the image of God; and truly of God in that he is born of God, in unity with the Godhead, and filled with the Godhead.

The second man is not a first man "trying to be like Jesus." The second man is of the Nature of Jesus and is filled with Jesus.

Our first personality is hopelessly corrupt, weak, and dishonorable (I Corinthians 15:42,43). Our flesh is full of sin. We must confess our sins and put them to death through the Spirit of God, as Christ directs us (Romans 8:13; I John 1:7-9).

If we do not confess our sins and repent of them they remain as part of our personality. 

But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell. (Numbers 33:55)

God may then have to judge us and bring us into suffering so we will be willing to repent of our sins (I Corinthians 11:29-32).The Scriptures serve as the second man is being brought to full stature. The second man serves God by nature. He is the flesh made the word.

Christ is the Day Star. We are to live by the Scriptures as Christ comes to maturity in us: 

We have also a more sure word of prophecy [the Scriptures]; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: (II Peter 1:19)

The Fire of God

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death. (Revelation 2:11)

Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power [authority], but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6)

And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. (Revelation 20:14)

Revelation 2:11 does not correspond to the way we usually think. This verse has to do with the Christian believers. Yet we seldom or never think of the believers as being in danger of the Lake of Fire. Obviously our thinking is incorrect.

Revelation 2:11 and 20:6 are worded peculiarly in terms of our customary viewpoint. We think of the second death as the casting of individuals into the Lake of Fire, there to be tormented forever. This is true and scriptural and cannot be changed.

But if this were all there is to the meaning, Revelation 2:11 should read:

"He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be cast into the lake of fire."

We can understand "shall not be cast into the lake of fire." We do not understand "shall not be hurt of [not be harmed by] the second death."

Another problem here is, the implication is strong that those believers who do not overcome the world, Satan, and their lusts and self-will shall be hurt by the second death. Numerous believers (probably the majority) are not leading a life of victory in Christ. Are they all doomed to be hurt by the Lake of Fire?

Think about the following verse: 

Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power [authority], but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6)

If our current understanding is correct, Revelation 20:6 should read: "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection. He shall not be cast into the lake of fire, but he shall be a priest of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years."

We can understand "shall not be cast into the lake of fire." But what is the meaning of "on such the second death hath no power [authority]"?

The problem is with the wording. We think of the second death as being the casting of an individual into the Lake of Fire. What we find is, "shall not be injured by the second death"; and, "over these the second death has no authority."

The phrasing does not fit our concept.

It is apparent that there is more involved in the second death than merely the wicked being cast into the Lake of Fire at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age. The wording suggests that the second death has authority over the believer until he, through Christ, gains victory over the works that God condemns.

It is as though the second death has authority over all sin and rebellion. As long as there is sin and rebellion in us the second death claims that part of us for itself. This doctrine fits perfectly Revelation 2:11 and Revelation 20:6. 

Death is separation. Physical death is the separation of the spirit and soul from the body. It is the writer’s point of view that the first death is not physical death but is the separation from God that all unsaved people experience, the death we live in until we receive Jesus.

Physical death sometimes is referred to as "sleep" and is not to be feared. 

And when he was come in, he saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth. (Mark 5:39)

Spiritual death is the separation of the spirit, soul, and body from God. We believe that the second death is similar to the spiritual death into which we were born, except that the second death is permanent and accompanied by torment.

The Lake of Fire is the place of abode of those who are spiritually dead—cut off from the Presence of their Maker.

What behaviors produce spiritual death? Over what works does the Lake of Fire have authority? 

But the fearful [cowardly], and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers [fornicators], and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone [sulfur]: which is the second death. (Revelation 21:8)

We may add here that the "everlasting fire" has been prepared for the devil and his angels, not for people (Matthew 25:41). But people shall be found there if they do not, through Christ, separate themselves from such deeds.

Notice that it is not those who have experienced fear, or who have expressed unbelief, or who have committed murder. If that were true, all of us would be condemned because we have practiced these sins in time past. Rather it is those who have not been willing to be delivered. They have become part of the nature of Satan.

It is not that they merely have experienced fear, or unbelief. It is that they have continued in these behaviors until they are cowardly, unbelieving, lying personalities.

We know that fearfulness, unbelief, abominations, murder, fornication, sorcery, idolatry, and lying have no part in the Kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19-21). These works of unrighteousness produce spiritual death—the second death. 

For if ye live in the appetites of the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify [put to death] the deeds of the body, ye shall live. (Romans 8:13)

All through the Scriptures, Old Testament and New, we find that sin is associated with death and righteousness is associated with life. God invites us to choose righteousness and live.

The second death, spiritual death, separation from God, exerts authority over us if fearfulness or unbelief or abominations or any of the other condemned practices abides in us. Spiritual death can hurt us and kill us until we achieve victory over these through the victory that is in Christ.

Notice the following peculiar (to our way of thinking) expression: 

And I will kill her children with death; . . . (Revelation 2:23)

Jesus is speaking here of spiritual death, the second death. As long as the works of darkness are dwelling in us we can be injured and killed by the second death.

Many of us who are Christians have problems with fearfulness, with unbelief, with abominations, with murder, with fornication, with various forms of sorcery and superstition, with idolatry (including covetousness), and with lying (including gossiping, which is a form of bearing false witness). How will God deal with us? God will deal with us by fire.

Our God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29).

Hebrews 12:29 was addressed to Jewish Christians who had made a strong start in Christ but who now were neglecting their salvation. It is our God, the Christians’ God, who is a consuming Fire.

What is it that God consumes?

Fearfulness, unbelief, abominations, murder, fornication, sorcery, idolatry, and lying—all forms of these. They are the works that the fire of God consumes.

It is because of the works of darkness dwelling in us that we suffer. Our tribulations and sufferings in this world are God’s fire on the works of our flesh. The purpose of the coming of the Divine fire upon us is to cause us to cease our sinning and self-seeking. 

. . . for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. (I Peter 4:1,2)

Our God is a consuming Fire. His fire comes upon us now and separates us from our sins. If we are not willing to be separated from our sins we run the risk of having the Lake of Fire claim us for its own. The second death, the Lake of Fire, has Divine authority over fearfulness, unbelief, abominations, murder, fornication, sorcery, idolatry, and lying. Until we are free from these the second death has authority over us.

Either the fire of God will set us free now, as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were set free by fire (Daniel 3:25), or else we will experience God’s fire for eternity. God’s fire is unquenchable and it will burn sinful bodies, souls, and spirits forever: 

And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases [dead bodies] of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh. (Isaiah 66:24)

We Christians understand that God forgives the repentant believer through Christ. What is not as clear is how God will deal with the Christian in whom is dwelling the works of darkness over which the second death has authority.

We know that no matter how fervently we trust in Christ, God cannot and will not have fellowship with the works of darkness. Until we overcome them through Christ the second death has authority over us.

Please read the following passage carefully in the light of what we have just stated: 

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion [sharing] hath light with darkness? And what concord [harmony] hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (II Corinthians 6:14-7:1)

Since the above was addressed to Christians, it is evident that mere belief in Christ does not bring us into the Presence of God to the extent we desire. God cannot rest in us when there is uncleanness in us. Light cannot have fellowship with darkness. It is only as we, through the Holy Spirit, cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God, that God is able to receive us.

The purpose of the Christian redemption is to change us so we are fit to dwell in Paradise—fit for the Presence of God. When we are changed in Christ we shall walk in Kingdom righteousness and life wherever we are. God desires to dwell in us and to walk in us so we may bring the righteousness, peace, and joy of the Spirit of God into every situation in which God places us. 

Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them [paths to God; the ways to Zion]. Who passing through the valley of Baca [weeping] make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools. They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God. (Psalms 84:5-7)

The purpose of the Christian redemption is not to bring us into the fire of God’s Presence as we are. That would be the cruelest thing God could do to us. We would be in absolute torment as His fire burned the darkness in us.

Rather, the purpose of the Christian redemption is to make us righteous and holy so we can abide in the Presence of the Consuming Fire forever.

To bring into Paradise an individual in whom the works of the second death are dwelling would create chaos. Such a person would bring confusion into Paradise and would himself be exceedingly miserable. God in His goodness places people where they belong, where they are fit to dwell.

We humans on earth gravitate toward those individuals who are walking on the same plane of holiness as ourselves (except that God may call us to minister to those of less growth than ourselves). So it is true in the spiritual world. We shall be placed with those of like spiritual maturity.

In no case will any individual in whom is dwelling the works over which the second death has authority remain in the Presence of God and the Lamb. He will not enjoy the close fellowship with God that he desires until there has been a cleansing of spirit, soul, and body.

We do enjoy fellowship with God through the covering of the blood of Christ. That fellowship continues as long as we are walking "in the light," that is, we are following the Holy Spirit in the work of making us righteous and holy. As we gain righteousness and holiness of word and deed our sharing with God becomes increasingly full and rewarding.

The prodigal son did not bring his fornication and drunkenness back to his father’s house. He returned as a chastened, repentant individual—a son who was ready to perform the role of a son.

Let us think for a moment about dwelling in the fire of God. Is this what we desire above all else? Do we look forward, after our physical death, to going to the very Center of the Divine Fire—there to abide forever? Is this our concept of "going to Heaven"? Is this what we really want? If so, we are one of those who long after God during our days on the earth. We are consumed with the desire to press as close to God as we can.

What are the conditions for dwelling with the consuming Fire—the Fire who consumes the works of darkness; the Fire who ravishes the righteous with joy and is a burning, fiery torment to the ungodly? 

The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? (Isaiah 33:14)

The day in which we are living will be a period of many changes. The pressures of demonic spirits and fallen angels will fill the earth. Soon it will become exceedingly difficult to resist sin.

Because of a misunderstanding of the work of the new covenant, many of God’s people continue to sin. They will be afraid and helpless when they see and experience the demonic nightmare that will be unleashed in the earth during the age of moral horrors. At first they will attempt to fight against the corruption of the world using fleshly weapons but they soon will be overcome. The only effective weapons are those that are spiritual.

Numerous believers are not prepared to stand in the fires of Divine judgment. The hypocrites—those whose hearts are not turned solidly toward Christ—will be terrified and shaken when they discover how little they actually know of the living God.

The issue of the Christian salvation is our coming to know God—our being able to live in the Divine Fire.

Who can live with the consuming Fire of Israel? Only those whom He has cleansed, not only from the guilt of sin but also from the practice of sin. 

He who walks righteously, and speaks with sincerity, He who rejects unjust gain, And shakes his hands so that they hold no bribe; He who stops his ears from hearing about bloodshed, And shuts his eyes from looking upon evil; (Isaiah 33:15—NASB)

Darkness cannot dwell with light. Filth cannot abide in the Holy Place of God. Lies cannot dwell with Truth. We cannot have fellowship with God and walk in darkness.

The second death, spiritual death, maintains its jurisdiction over all sin and rebellion against God’s eternal Law.

The true saint longs for God. He wants to be brought into the Bosom of God where the Lord Jesus abides. In order to do so, all that he is must be revealed before the fiery scrutiny of the Lord.

Who can live with God? He who walks righteously, who speaks uprightly, who despises the gain derived from oppressing people, who cannot be bribed, who will not compromise his integrity, who neither listens to wickedness nor gazes on it with fascination and interest. He flees from lawlessness and uncleanness.

The righteous will dwell in love, joy, and peace with their God, their Father.

The wicked will find themselves in a barren wasteland, separated from all that is of love and peace.

The confusion of our day is the representing of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ as the means whereby the wicked can dwell with God. Such never has been the case. Such never shall be the case.

Multitudes are in the valley of decision. The Day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. We must choose. We must decide what is truth and what is not.

Those who accept the way of cross-carrying obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ will be given the truth of God. Those who refuse God’s way of patience and lowliness will be deceived. They will be assured they are correct because God will send them strong delusion that they may believe a lie (II Thessalonians 2:11).

The climax of the ages is upon us. Each individual must make his or her choice now. The time will come when the filthy must remain filthy and the righteous must remain righteous, by edict of God. The way of the Lord must be made straight.

We are in an hour of great apostasy. It is time for a reformation of Christian thinking and behavior. Let us not be among those who are swept up in the deceptions and workings of Antichrist but those who carefully guard the Word of Christ’s patience.

Antichrist is here already. The darkness is here now !

Christ will give victory to each person who seeks Him today. The time soon will come when it will be very difficult to serve the Lord. We are "running with the footmen" now. Soon we will be "contending with horses." Will we be able to keep up?

The greatest revival of all time is here. Let us take full advantage of God’s Presence and salvation while it is day. The night when no man can work is not far off.