IT'S IN THE PAST
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
The highest place in God through Christ is where our desires, thoughts, words, and actions are in agreement with God’s will for us. This is the oneness with the Father that Jesus eternally enjoys and that can pass through Him to us. But what does it cost to enter such rest in God and God in us?
So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. (John 8:28)
In the Book of Hebrews we are exhorted to press into the rest of God.
Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:11)
The rest of God is the state in which our desires (including our will), thoughts, words, and actions are in agreement with God’s will for us. Notice above how the Lord Jesus said “I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.” This is the rest in which Jesus eternally lives and in which we eternally are to live.
Paul said much the same thing when he spoke of being crucified with Christ and now it is (I say “is” because Paul is alive in the spirit world) true that Christ is living in him.
It is God’s rest because God can dwell in us without having to struggle against our disobedience. It is our rest because we not longer have to strive to attain security and survival, pleasure, and achievement. God Himself is our security and survival, our pleasure, and our achievement.
I have written about the rest of God on many occasions. It is the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Tabernacles. The Kingdom of God is God in Christ in us bringing His will and Presence into every corner of His creation. Such is the role of the Church, the royal priesthood.
However, God’s will and Presence cannot possibly be brought into every area of His creation until His will and Presence first have been perfectly, completely established in us. I’m sure you can see the sense of this.
This present briefest of essays has been stimulated by the sermon given by Dr. Dianne McIntosh last Sunday evening (1/11/2004). Dianne spoke of moving from the place where we are working for Christ, to working with Christ, to worshiping Christ, to total union with God through Christ. Dianne emphasized the cost of attaining to this fourth level. She spoke of brokenness, the cost of placing everything on the altar so that God might have His unhindered way in us.
As I listened I realized that I myself am seeking total union with the Father through Christ, but I have no sense of brokenness, of suffering, of any cost. Every time something in my personality surfaces that is at odds with the Father’s will I rush to call down the fire of God on it that it might be destroyed out of me. I desire more than anything else to think, speak, and act along with God, in His will. At various times of each day I stop and ask God if I am thinking, speaking, and acting along with Him. There is no sense whatever of it “costing” me anything.
When I awakened this morning I intended to continue with my brief commentary on the Book of James. But then I had a flashback of memory. I remembered how years ago I struggled with the denial of fervent desires, how I felt like I was writhing on the cross. I remember looking at a picture of a crown of long, pointed thorns on the head of Christ. I thought, “There I am!”
As I begin to think back I remember that tormenting desires plagued me continually. This crucifixion continued for years. I thought, “If Christ were to lift this cross from my back I would fall apart emotionally.” I wondered what it would be like to not have this deferred desire haunting me.
“Perhaps it will continue after death,” I wondered. “Certainly there will be no letup during the present life. Just set your face like flint toward Jerusalem and keep putting down one foot after the other.”
I thought about how odd it sounded to hear Dianne speak about the cost of entering complete union with God. Yet, I can remember “Hope deferred makes the heart sick; but when the desire comes it is a tree of life.” There is Job for comfort, and the Book of Lamentations.
It suddenly dawned on me: this suffering is in the past! I am not experiencing this any longer. I had better set this down in writing, because there may be others who are in the midst of “counting the cost.”
I have daily battles, as do we all. The moment something troubles my peaceful place in God I ask God to remove it from me. Or if it is a doubtful action, word, or thought, I ask the Lord to burn it with His fire. I want nothing in me that is not His perfect will.
“I delight to do your will, O God. Yes, Your law is in my heart.”
Much to my amazement, and without knowing how it happened, that heavy cross has been lifted from my back. Perhaps I will be given another one in the future. I don’t really care. Just as long as it brings me yet further into the center of God’s Person and will in Christ.
As I listened to Dianne I remembered how I used to preach about the “death route.” I started on that topic in the 1950s, not really knowing what I was talking about. As the years went by I learned about the “death route.” I had known of it in theory, but then it had to be experienced.
How wonderful to be set free from youthful enthusiasms and from passions that tear at the soul. How marvelous to be content in the daily outflowing of the Person and will of God.
After Pentecost we have to pass through Yom Kippur, the Day of Reconciliation. This is a protracted struggle to be reconciled to God in every area of our personality, body, soul, and spirit. But after this comes peace and the tabernacling of God in us.
I encourage you to press into the Lord. You will break out into the light of His Presence, just don’t quit! No matter what mistakes you may make, get back up on your feet, confess your foolishness to God, and fight on. The only fatal mistake you can make is to quit.
God is building a great house for himself, an eternal temple. It is the new Jerusalem, the Body of Christ, the Wife of the Lamb. There is to be a firstfruits of the Wife of the Lamb. She is being called out from the churches now. If you can hear His voice, turn your attention to Jesus and find out what He has for you.
There is a firstfruits who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. There is an “only one of her mother.” There is a Gideon’s army. There is a militant remnant. There is no reason why you shouldn’t be one of the Lord’s “mighty men.” All of God’s power and authority are on your side if you choose to leave all and follow Christ. Nothing—absolutely nothing!—can prevent your attaining to the rest of God except your own unbelief and disobedience.
It is no picnic, no “walk in the park” as they say, to pass through the Day of Atonement. All that you are in personality will be called forth and tested to determine the level of obedience. Christ demands nothing less than our very best. He is a King and He is choosing those who will be close to Him for eternity.
If your heart sings at the thought of living with the Lamb where He lives, in the center of God’s Person and will, than do not waste a minute. Right now put this essay down and tell the Lord this is what you want. Invite Him into your life in a greater way. Tell Him that by His grace you will accept every demand He makes on you because you esteem union with the Father through Him more than anything else in the universe of God.
Do not doubt. God takes no pleasure in timidity. Stand up straight and tell the Lord that you want to enter God’s rest. From then on never, never, never turn back. Do not worry about failing. If you spend time worrying about failing you are sure to fail. Don’t defeat yourself before you even get started!
Christ is looking for warriors. This can be you, if this is what you desire more than anything else.
The suffering of which Dianne spoke, the counting of the cost, is in the past for me—at least for the present. What the future holds I do not know. I do know, however, that God has helped me through numerous problems in the past and I see no reason why He should behave differently now.
It will be in the past for you some day if you do not turn back.
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. (I Peter 5:10)
(“It’s in the Past”, 3466-1)