CROSSING THE JORDAN
CROSSING THE JORDANCopyright Š 2013 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved
("Crossing the Jordan" is taken from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson, copyright Š 2012 Robert B. Thompson, found in the Kindle Library)
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
Some passages of Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLEŽ, Copyright Š 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
The Lord's Prisons
Dying in the Lord
Holding Firmly to the End
Crossing the Jordan
The Lord's PrisonsYou have taken from me my closest friends and have made me repulsive to them. I am confined and cannot escape; (Psalms 88:8NASB)
The Lord's Prisons. One of the first sermons I preached when beginning to serve as a pastor of Mount Zion Fellowship had to do with following Christ patiently. I felt in my spirit that the Charismatic movement would be divided over the issue of waiting on the Lord; of choosing patient suffering rather than being used mightily or otherwise exalted.
The majority of the movement would seek the power of Christ, attempting to do "great things." The minority would cease from their own works and wait in the Lord's prison, patiently bearing their cross after Christ until Jesus saw fit to act. What I have seen over the last thirty years has confirmed my impression.
It may be true that the fundamental principle of the Kingdom of God is that life comes from death, not from life. We think of Christ's resurrection, of Aaron's rod that budded, of the Apostle Paul's seemingly endless suffering.
Isn't it true that Samson killed more in his death than he did in his life?
But life coming only from death is repugnant to the adamic nature. We see through Christian history that believers have sought to bear witness of Christ by building ornate cathedrals or developing their own plans to bring the Gospel to the ends of the earth. But this is not God's way.
The Apostle Paul said he had the sentence of death in himself that he would not trust in himself but in God who raises the dead. This is the only correct approach to Christian life and ministry.
For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. (II Corinthians 1:8,9NIV)
And as if that were not enough, God permitted Satan to send a physical handicap upon Paul to make doubly certain that Paul's ministry would not proceed from Paul's own abilities. Consequently Paul's writings continue to bring life and understanding to us to the present hour.
We can see, then, that the current American Christian emphasis on Christ helping us to live the "good life" is the exact opposite of the Gospel of the Kingdom. The American "good life" is that of health and wealth, fun at the beach playing volley ball, romantic adventures in Hawaii, and plenty of time for the pursuit of pleasure and entertainment.
The Gospel of the Kingdom is one of patient suffering of denial, meekness, hope, laying up our treasures in Heaven, willingness to endure every form of hardship without complaining. When the Apostle Paul commanded us to "rejoice always," he was in prison.
If I am not mistaken, severe Divine judgment is approaching America. Our worst sin is the murder of the unborn. God and his angels might laugh at the foolish antics of the sexually perverted before the deceived people destroy their personalities with indulgence in lust. But God will never laugh when a developing person is murdered to suit the whims of a woman or of the mother of a pregnant daughter.
Whatever plans our government has for the betterment of America will fail eventually while the practice of abortion-on-demand continues.
The coming trouble will be an excellent opportunity for Christian people to learn to have the sentence of death in themselves; to trust in God who raises the dead. No doubt numerous believers will take advantage of this opportunity, and the result will be a revival of unprecedented authority and power.
God will move when we come to the end of our strength and wisdom. Samson (the Body of Christ) will bow in death and the kingdom of Satan will come crashing down and never be seen again.
During modern times (I don't know when or where it started) a spirit has entered the Christian ministry. I am not sure what to call it, except that it is a false prophet. It seeks to use the power of Christ apart from the traditional cross-carrying obedience and patient waiting on the Lord that we usually associate with discipleship.
There is talk of binding the principalities over cities; putting on our administrative hat; stepping out in faith. I suppose the faith and prosperity errors are part of it. We have had the "laughing revival." There have been "revivals" in Canada and Florida that seem to be based more on enthusiasm than on the Spirit of God.
From my point of view, the concept that the Kingdom of God is here already and we now have the authority and power to demonstrate the powers of the age to come, is a delusion. This attitude does not agree with the idea of waiting patiently at Jesus' feet and obeying Him as He builds his Church.
Then we have "speaking the creative word." It is a fact that a member of the Body of Christ may be directed to speak a creative word, but only as Jesus directs, not because the believer thinks it is a good idea.
What we may not understand, we Christians, is that Jesus is the only lawful Administrator of the power of the Spirit. We are not to attempt to use the gifts of the Spirit without looking to the Lord for guidance. We are to keep looking to Christ so we will know what we are to exercise and when we are to exercise it.
If this simple fact were brought to the attention of God's people we might have real revival on our hands, not the kind of worked-up business we have been experiencing.
I believe it is time to think about this.
For myself, I don't know how much of the present commotion is of the Lord Jesus. Are some people genuinely converted to Christ? Is lasting fruit being borne? I think it is, in some cases.
The thirteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation tells us of the False Prophet who will assist Antichrist. Notice that the False Prophet has the two horns (power) of the lamb but speaks with the voice of the dragon. The voice of the dragon is that of self-will. "I will; I will; I will." It is easy to apply this description of what is taking place in some of the Charismatic ministries.
Will it be self-centered Christians who support the self-centered Antichrist world system? I think so.
The following passage is found in the second chapter of the Book of Revelation:
Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. (Revelation 2:10NASB)
God permits (or directs) Satan to put us in prison. But God always is in control. The length of time is determined in advance. The reward is the authority and power of endless, incorruptible Divine Life.
The imprisonment is that of our personal cross. Our personal cross takes two forms: we are not given what we so fervently desire at the time we desire it; or we have to live in a situation that we deplore, for an unknown period of imprisonment.
When Audrey and I first came to Mount Zion, we resolved to do only what the immediate situation called for, the practical actions any normal person would take. We resolved to avoid planning major programs until we knew what Christ was saying.
If you think waiting on the Lord like this is easy you possibly have never tried it. There are several forms of pressure that urge us to get out and do something: "Win souls for Christ." "Build a big church." "Compel them to come in." "Win your city for Christ." "Take dominion over the spiritual rulers of your community." In other words, come down from the cross.
So we have waited to see what Christ wanted. No word came. Younger ministers passed us up on their way to the "top." I already was fifty years old with an earned doctorate in education from the University of Rochester in New York. I am supposed to bring glory to my alma mater.
So here I am, waiting for Christ to do something, an old man on my way to the bottom, in a little church in Poway, California. Someone told me that "Poway" is an Indian term meaning "the end of the road." That does not help!
But you know what! I have determined to see this business through. If there is a God in Heaven, a Christ who said He would build his Church, let's find out. Kind of daring, I guess. Meanwhile some are saying we must go door to door and save souls. Oh well . . .!
I have stuck to my guns. It is thirty years later. The church is still less than a hundred in attendance. We have not made any effort to build the church. The Spirit of God always seems to bring in the people we need for what we are doing.
Meanwhile, our outreach is impressive, I believe, in books going out, television, our Internet sites, our daily essay on E-mail (over a thousand subscribers who read my rantings seven days a week). We still are not making any plans or trying to do anything.
In fact, you are reading these words right now and I don't even know who you are or where you live, maybe in Vietnam. We actually see Vietnam on our statistics page for the WOR site, as well as France, England, Italy, the United Arab Republics, and other places you might not think of.
I prayed years ago that God would grant to me to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom wherever people breathe the air. I think He is answering prayer.
Meanwhile I am in the Lord's prison. You know, resurrection power comes only from the cross, not from our religious efforts no matter how sincere or violent. We can try to twist God's arm, but all we get are manifestations that seem to be the Holy Spirit but leave a bad taste in our mouth.
When we think of Abraham offering Isaac, the numerous kinds of suffering the Apostle Paul endured, the privations of those heavenly witnesses mentioned in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews, we realize that God's way is to reduce us to nothing, to remove all our ability to do anything so his wisdom and power might prevail.
God sent away most of Gideon's army before the battle so the Israelites would not boast in their own strength.
Are you being denied what you want? Are you in a miserable situation? Pray earnestly that you will receive what you want. But do not force your way out of your prison! In order to escape you will have to break God's laws. The route to deception is to try to make our life on earth a pleasant experience. Accept the trials God sends, and the blessings also. They are equally important.
When the Lord Jesus told us to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow him, He knew what He was saying. The greatest enemy we have, even worse than our sinful nature, is our self-will; our personal ambition. Our personal ambition is slain in our prison, slain by our cross. This is the purpose for the imprisonment. It is to kill our self-will.
When a self-willed person enters the ministry, what we have is self-will in the ministry. This is what we often see today: an ambitious person attempting to make a name for himself or herself.
I guess being a minister of the Gospel must appeal to people. Maybe it is better than working. For myself, this is not my choice. There are many things I enjoy doing. I would not have picked out the ministry for a vocation. I am in the ministry because Christ called me in a supernatural experience while I was in the Marine Corps during World War Two. Yes, some of us veterans are still living. I am pastoring as a favor for my best Friend, the Lord Jesus. Otherwise I would be doing something more pleasurable.
But, like Moses I think it was, I am looking forward to the reward from a grateful King. So I will keep on pastoring until He says "enough."
I know, from reading the Bible, that theshall I say self-willed effortsthat go on today with all the hype and begging for money, probably is not Divine Life coming from the cross.
We have had several "revivals" in America in the last several years. But you know what? I am waiting for God to move. I have been in Pentecost for sixty years. I think I will know when I see the real thing. I haven't seen it yet, but I believe genuine revival, the harvest rain prophesied for the last days, is at hand.
When it comes, you will know it and I will know it. There will be no more "big" preachers. It will be a "sackcloth" revival: little people doing what the Lord has told them to do and then fading back into the woodwork. Such people refuse to take the Glory. They want Christ alone to be magnified in their bodies.
So I invite you to wait with me in your own prison. Don't try to be anyone special. Walk with the lowly of heart. Let's see what our Lord Jesus Christ will do if we keep our hands off the Ark, because the Ark certainly is coming down the road.
I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. (Revelation 1:9NASB)
Dying in the LordThere is coming a time of moral corruption and darkness. This situation can be seen already in the United States. The Apostle Paul warned of the coming darkness, saying, "People will be lovers of themselves." The Lord Jesus spoke concerning the darkness, warning that no man could work during this period. We need to prepare ourselves to stand and help others to stand during the days to come.
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of Godhaving a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. (II Timothy 3:1,2NIV)
Paul could not have described America any better if he were living here today.
The Book of Revelation has much to say about Antichrist, the False Prophet, Babylon, and Laodicea. We are entering such an hour at the present time.
Notice carefully these dark days:
A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: "If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand, they, too, will drink the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name." This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus. (Revelation 14:9-12NIV)
Now, notice the admonition directed toward the saints who are living at that time:
And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, "Write, 'Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!'" "Yes," says the Spirit, "so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them." (Revelation 14:13NASB)
Dying in the Lord has nothing to do with physical death. Physical death is the sleeping of the body. The inward nature still is dead or still is alive, depending on its state prior to physical sleep (death).
"From now on." From the time that wickedness comes to maturity in the earth, it is as the Lord said: "Night is coming when no one can work." But the Lord Himself can work in that day. Therefore, if we are to continue to do good deeds during the hour of darkness we must "die in the Lord."
What does it mean to "die" in the Lord. It means to give over our will to the Lord. This does not mean we become passive, or an "empty vessel," as some have said. Rather it means that at every point of decision during the day we keep looking to Jesus for his wisdom and enablement.
How is this a "death"? Try doing this, and you will find out. It means that instead of charging about according to our own desires and reasoning we look to Jesus. And we do this at all times and in every circumstance.
Another way of expressing this is we place all our treasures in Heaven. We may or may not see them before we pass into the spirit world.
This is the exhortation to God's people in the present hour. In light of what we are approaching we must cease living according to our own will. We must become subject in every aspect of our being and doing to the will of Christ. This is the kind of relationship Christ had and yet has with the Father in Heaven.
I admit, it takes a while before we become accustomed to looking to the Lord Jesus for all that we are and do. But it is the only condition that can survive the shaking that is coming. The heavens themselves shall be shaken, and all who are not living by the life of Christ shall be removed from their position.
All of our religious activities that have not been wrought in Christ will be brought down to the dust so we may start over in Christ.
The twelfth chapter of the Book of Revelation tells of the great rejoicing in Heaven when Satan and his angels are thrown down into the earth.
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. (Revelation 12:10,11NIV)
The inhabitants of Heaven are rejoicing because Satan had access to God and was accusing the saints day and night.
This situation is true today. It is time now for Satan to be hurled down from his access to God in Heaven. In order for Satan to be so weakened that he can be forced down, he must be overcome by God's saints.
You and I today must meet the qualifications required if we are to triumph over Satan, thus enabling Michael and his angels to prevail.
The qualifications are threefold: First, our faith must be anchored in the blood atonement made by the Lord Jesus on the cross of Calvary.
Second, our testimony of God, his Person, his will, his way, and his eternal purpose in Christ, must be true. Today we use the term "testify" to mean telling others what we know about Christ and His salvation. This can be fruitful, but it is not the fullness of the testimony that will triumph over Satan.
Remember, God is Truth. Satan is a lie. Only the truth of God is able to overthrow Satan.
In order to bear a true testimony of God, his Person, his will, his way, and his eternal purpose in Jesus Christ, we must spend our life coming to know God as He leads us through the fire and the water. All of our experiences bring us to a further knowledge of God if we continue in obedience, prayer, and Bible study.
There is a great deal of preaching in the United States. How much of it is bearing a true testimony of God? Certainly the current emphasis on Heaven, grace, and an unscriptural "pre-tribulation rapture" of every individual who professes to believe in Christ, is not the word of our testimony that is adequate to overcome Satan; to weaken him to the point that Michael and his angels are able to drive him from his position in Heaven.
What do people conclude about me and you after they come to know us? Are they seeing God, his Person, his will, his way, and his eternal purpose in Christ?
If we are to strengthen Michael and his angels to the point they can overcome Satan and his angels, we must have our faith anchored in the blood atonement, and we must be bearing a true witness of God.
If I am not mistaken, the emphasis today is on the third prerequisite: loving not our life to the point of death. Again, this is not the death of the body but the death of our willingness to pursue our own ideas and pleasures.
I believe there have been outstanding saints in time past who have pressed into this third realm with God. Certainly the faithful Abraham is an inspiration to all of us. Can you imagine how Abraham felt during that hike up to Mount Moriah with Isaac by his side, picturing in his mind what he could say to Sarah when he told her he had offered Isaac as a burnt offering to God? This is what it means to "die in the Lord." A physical death would be much easier, wouldn't it?
It is obedience that is the watchword in our day, an obedience that will enable Michael and his angels to prevail. Christ learned obedience through the things He suffered, and thus was made perfect. If the sufferings of Christ were required to bring Him to total obedience, when his nature, having been born of God, was not filled with rebellion as ours is, what will it take to perfect obedience in us?
Of course, Christ's agony in Gethsemane goes far beyond what Abraham suffered and what we shall suffer. Nevertheless, the principle remains the same.
So the Spirit of God is going through the Christian churches today to find out who is willing to take this final step with Godfinal after we have placed our faith in the atonement; have been born again; and have learned somewhat of the Life of the Spirit of God. Will we do it? Will we tell God with our mouth that He may use us as He will; when He will; how He will; where He will?
Every Christian who will make this consecration, and there may not be many who will, shall serve Christ in a maximum way. This opportunity for service most likely will never come again. Can you and I rise to this supreme challenge?
Let's do it. Then we will have all of eternity to realize that in the hour of supreme testing we chose to honor Christ and God with our life instead of serving our own needs and pleasures.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. (Matthew 6:19,20NIV)
Holding Firmly to the EndI may be incorrect in this, but I don't believe that in today's preaching there is enough insistence on working out our salvation with fear and trembling. Ever since I became a Christian I have heard the same emphasis: "We need to get people 'saved,'" meaning, make an initial profession of faith in Christ. The idea that we have to persevere through every sort of testing and temptation if we are finally to be "saved," is not mentioned very often.
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyednot only in my presence, but now much more in my absencecontinue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. (Philippians 2:12,13NIV)
It is as though making an initial profession of Christ is a pass out of Hell and an admission to a mansion in Heaven. The idea that the gate and the way to life are constricted and difficult to enter and pursue, and that few find it, is not emphasized very oftenat least not in my experience.
In fact, in over sixty years as a Christian I have never heard anyone preach on Matthew 7:14 ("only a few find the narrow road that leads to life"). I can understand why. It is because it does not fit our idea of someone gaining eternal life by making an initial profession of Christ. Actually the way to eternal life is a rugged road indeed!
At the present time we who are citizens of the United States are entering an era known as the "Hour of Testing." The Greek term employed in Revelation 3:10 means a period of intense pressure to sin; an extreme arousal of evil desires.
We see this as so many people, prominent in both the secular and religious realms, succumb to criminal sexual practices. How many Christian children have been molested by their parents or relatives?
Because of the increasing pressure to sin that surrounds us, we must become aware that our salvation has to be worked out at every moment. We must keep choosing life while death is pressing on us.
The journey of Israel from Egypt to Canaan lasted forty years. It was a very difficult period for the Jews. Were they "saved" when they left Egypt (a type of salvation often employed)? Yes, and no. They were saved out of Egypt but they were not at that time saved into Canaan, into the promised rest.
Do the writers of the New Testament tell us we are to consider the experience of the Israelites in the wilderness of Sinai an example of the Christian redemption? Indeed they do, and very clearly.
Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe. (Jude 1:5NASB)
The reason we are slow to grasp the fact that the Christian redemption is a process and not a ticket, is that we have been taught that eternal residence in the spirit Paradise, in Heaven, in an ornate mansion, is the goal of salvation.
If we make a profession of belief in Christ, there is nothing left to do but to wait to die and go to Heaven. This hardly fits the New Testament emphasis on enduring the rigors of the Christian discipleship.
For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end, (Hebrews 3:14NASB)
We might conclude the above verse means we remain confident we are saved by grace and there is nothing left to do. However, the context of the verse is referring to maintaining faith in God while enduring the numerous difficulties and privations of the pilgrimage through the Sinai desert.
Indeed, if we would be a disciple of the Lord Jesus we have to deny ourselves, take up our cross of deferred desire, and follow Christ at all times.
Sometimes we go through very deep waters and very hot fires. But we hold firmly the confidence we had at first.
We endure many years of boredom, during which nothing seems to be happening. But we hold firmly the confidence we had at first.
On occasion the Lord asks us to give up the idol nearest to our heart. But we hold firmly the confidence we had at first.
In the future in America, the way things are going, the day may come when we are persecuted viciously. Our children may be removed from us if we do not let them attend classes on how to be a homosexual. But we hold firmly the confidence we had at first.
It may cost us dearly to maintain our testimony as a Christian believer. But we hold firmly the confidence we had at first.
We may encounter difficulties among our family members. But we continue to hold firmly the confidence we had at first.
Of what are we confident? We are confident that Christ is with us and is leading us to change into his image; to untroubled rest in the center of the Father's Person and will; to eternal righteousness, love, peace, and joy; and to the unique inheritance planned for us as an individual from the beginning of the world.
Most of us American churchgoers are spiritually soft because of the teaching of the any-moment rapture, and unconditional grace. Many pastors make certain their members are comfortable and will keep coming and giving of their money. Such pastors are going to have to answer to Jesus Christ why they did not preach cross-carrying obedience to their listeners.
One major problem is the incorrect goal that is presented. Our goal is not to go to Heaven. It is to be conformed to the image of Christ, and to be dwelling in untroubled rest in the Center of God's Person and will.
The salvation which God has given us through our Lord Jesus Christ has as its purpose the making of man in God's image, and the directing of him to be sternly obedient to Christ in every situation. Obviously, the goal is not often preached today, at least not in America.
Because we have the wrong goal, we cannot understand why redemption should be a process. When we die we go to Heaven by grace, no matter whether we serve Christ or not, so what is the problem?
The paragraph above reflects the thinking of countless American Christians. Since this is the case, our political leaders appear to be leaving ethics behind in their desire for power. Therefore, God is removing his covering from our country.
The chaos approaching America is due to the lack of a clear testimony of Christian people because of the false teaching they have received.
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyednot only in my presence, but now much more in my absencecontinue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. (Philippians 2:12,13NIV)
God is ready to change every Christian into the image of Christ, and to bring him or her into complete rest in the center of his Person and will. But this is a process. Sometimes there are difficulties, and rigorous demands are made on us. This is why we have to continue to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.
Why do we work it out with fear and trembling? Because it is a dangerous path. There are many minefields, many traps. Every believer who thinks he is standing firmly in Christ needs always to be careful that he is not led astray.
In the days to come we are going to need strong elders, men and women who have considerable experience in Christ, to keep us from being led away into some sort of sin or deception. We do well to pray continually. When we rejoice it should be accompanied with a sober appraisal of our circumstances.
So the happy, jolly American way of life is coming to an end. I dare say in the not too distant future, America will join England as an erstwhile major power, while the leadership of the world passes to a nation that forces ethical behavior on its citizens.
If we are wise we will walk before Christ day and night, obeying him in every circumstance, giving a clear testimony of righteousness so those who are watching us can learn and follow Christ also. By so doing we can save ourselves and those who hear us.
Our government has not outlawed abortion: and for this reason, if for none other, the handwriting is on the wall. Our leadership shall be given to another nation that fears and serves God.
Babylon was a mighty nation, one that God helped against its enemies. This also has been true of America. But the king of Babylon was not careful to worship God.
Do you remember this instance in the life of Daniel? The handwriting on the wall was addressed to the trembling Belshazzar.
This is the inscription that was written: Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin.
This is what these words mean: Mene: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.
"Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.
Peres: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians." (Daniel 5:25-28NIV)
Has America been weighed in the balances? Is moral filth flowing out from California to televisions all over the world? Are babies being murdered every day? Are the late-night "comedians" mocking the Lord Jesus Christ?
We Christians had better look to our business!
Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people. (Proverbs 14:34NASB)
Crossing the JordanThere come times in the program of redemption when there is a Divine step forward. Our day is one such time. God is ready now to exercise eternal judgment on his enemies, beginning with his enemies in his Church.
Many Christian teachers, including myself, view the journey of Israel from Egypt to Canaan as being symbolic of our Christian redemption. The New Testament supports this interpretation. We begin as part of the world system, and then are called out to travel to a land of promise, referred to in the Book of Hebrews as the "rest."
With this symbolism in mind, we realize there will come a time when the Church is ready to cross over the "Jordan" and actually enter "Canaan," the land of promise.
Two events occurred as Israel was poised in the area east of the Jordan. First, the new generation was circumcised. Second, the manna ceased and the Israelites ate some of the locally grown grain and unleavened bread while they were at the camp in Gilgal. These two occurrences are of significance to those who pursue Bible symbolism. The believers of today have to renew their covenant with God (circumcision). The Father and the Son are being formed in us (locally-grown grain and unleavened bread).
They had to cross the Jordan River in order to enter their land of promise. The Jordan River symbolizes death to our self-will. We simply cannot enter our land of promise while we are living according to our own plans and desires. We have to die in the Lord that Christ may live in us.
The Book of Hebrews regards Canaan as an illustration of "God's rest" into which we are to press.
For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. (Hebrews 8:4-11NIV)
Notice carefully: "Anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his." The above passage is using Joshua and the land of Canaan as an illustration of our entering the promised rest. To enter the Kingdom of God we have to be born again. This fact means our first personality does not enter the Kingdom. It is the Life of Christ in us who enters the land of promise. We cease from our own work.
When the Scripture says, "rests from his own work," that includes religious work. It means we cease living according to our own wisdom, desires, and plans, and look carefully to the Lord Jesus for all we think, say, and do. While there have been outstanding saints of old who have entered God's rest, the Christian churches as a whole have not been confronted with this challenge. But it is the prime issue of our day, and is absolutely necessary if we are to move past the Pentecostal experience.
Now we come to an important question: What does Canaan symbolize? Actually what is our goal, our land of promise, our "rest"?
Traditionally, eternal residence in Heaven is viewed by Christian people as being our goal, the goal of our redemption, our salvation. But this is an error. Canaan was filled with natives who had to be overcome before Israel could find rest in their land of promise. Is Heaven filled with natives who have to be overcome before we can enter? Of course not. Also, the New Testament does not teach that eternal residence in Heaven is the goal of salvation.
What, then, is our goal, the goal of our salvation?
Our goal, our inheritance, is the same as that of the Lord Jesus. The second Psalm tells us that Jesus was to pray for the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth. We are coheirs with Christ. A major aspect of our inheritance is the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth.
In order to understand what is taking place we must realize that the Canaanites were worshipers of idols. They burned their children in the fires of the idol, Molech.
Israel was bringing into the midst of this playground of demons the holy Law, the Covenant, the Ten Commandments. The Law they were bringing utterly condemned the worship of Molech and the other idols.
Please keep in mind that the purpose of God in giving his Church the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth for their inheritance is that his elect might bring into the midst of today's playground of demons the Presence of God in Jesus Christ and his laws of behavior.
The Lord Jesus Christ has been our Moses and soon He will return as our Joshua. When Christ returns to establish his Kingdom on the earth, we cannot work with Him in accomplishing God's goal of destroying the presence and work of demons until four changes take place in our personality:
The four changes are as follows:
The presence and works of Satan must be completely removed from us:
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it. (I Thessalonians 5:23,24NIV)
We must be changed in character into the image of the Character of Christ.
For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; (Romans 8:29NASB)
We must be filled with all the fullness of God:
And to know this love that surpasses knowledgethat you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, (Ephesians 3:19,20NIV)
We must be living in untroubled rest in the center of God's Person and will:
As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. (John 6:57NASB)
It seems to me any thoughtful person would agree that redemption is a change in us, not a change in our location. We must be changed in personality if we are to accomplish God's purposes, his Kingdom, in the earth.
Before we can participate as we should in the roles and tasks of the Kingdom of God, we must have attained to the four changes just mentioned. Before we can be a coheir with the Lord Jesus of the nations and the earth we must have attained to these four changes. If one of them has not been attained to, we are neither qualified (by the Word) nor competent in personality to serve God as a coheir of the Lord Jesus Christ.
At this point I will focus on the first change, that is, the presence and works of Satan completely removed from us.
Perhaps we have not understood clearly that the work of redemption occurs in two phases. The first phase is the forgiveness of our sins. The second phase, based on the first, is the removal of our sins. Both the forgiveness and removal are acts of redemption, that is, of reconciliation to God.
There is a doctrine of eternal judgment. It may be new to many of us.
Of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. (Hebrews 6:2NASB)
The doctrine of eternal judgment has to do with the eternal removal of all spiritual uncleanness from God's people, and finally from the entire creation.
The Lord Jesus referred to a "day" in which God would avenge himself on his enemies.
To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, (Isaiah 61:2NASB)
As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. he who has ears, let him hear. (Matthew 13:40,43NIV)
I suppose the best news we ever could hear as Christians is that God has set out not only to forgive our sins but to remove all of the presence and works of Satan from us.
Notice that it is clear from the passages (above) that the removal of sin will take place at a specific time: "at the end of the age."
We are happy to announce that we have come today to the beginning of the Day of Vengeance of our God. This work of redemption will continue, according to our understanding, until the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age. It is the Day of the Lord, the sixth day of creation, the day when man is to be made in God's image.
In order for us to enter the "rest of God," our land of promise, our Canaan, we must, through the wisdom, authority, and power of Christ working through the Spirit of God, overcome each enemy we encounter. Remember, to cross the Jordan River we must be living in Christ, not in our adamic nature. We must "die in the Lord," as the Book of Revelation exhorts us.
Our enemies are found in three main areas in our life:
In our love of the world.
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the worldthe cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and doescomes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. (I John 2:15-17NIV)
In our sinful nature.
So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. (Galatians 5:16-18NIV)
In our self-will and self-seeking.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to Godthis is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will ishis good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1,2NIV)
Perhaps many Christians deplore the worldliness, the lusts and passions of their flesh, and their self-love that characterize their personality. The good news is that today, God is ready to give us total victory over these enemies in our land of promise.
God will give us perfect victory over our love of the world as we keep looking to Christ for help and resolutely give time each day to prayer and Bible reading. Jesus wants us to learn to listen to Him and obey him in every part of our life. Doing so is the best preparation there is for the Divine wrath that soon is to be poured out on the United States of America because of abortion-on-demand.
God is ready to enable us to drive out every sin that dwells in our flesh, whether it is of the nature of sexual immorality, hatred, lying, sorcery, pride, or whatever else it may be.
When the Spirit of God points out to us one of the sins set forth in Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, and other passages of the New Testament, we are to confess our action as sin; denounce it as worthy only of the Lake of Fire, and with all our strength renounce and reject it. We may find to our delight that power is present that the Christian churches may not have been aware of previously.
Today is God's time to judge the evil in his people.
As far as being delivered from self-will, if we will take up our cross and follow the Lord Jesus, God will see to it that Satan will throw us into one or more prisons. There we must remain in our miserable state until God sets us free. It is in these prisons of unpleasant circumstances that the self-will is burned out of us.
While we are in such a prison we are to pray continually that God will deliver us, but we must never attempt to break out, because we will have to break God's laws in order to break out of our prison.
Since we Christians in America are so spiritually weak, sinful, worldly, in love with our pleasures, it is doubtful that many will be able to cross over the Jordan. However, there may be a significant number of American Christians who will press through to God's Fullness, due possibly to the sufferings of the future.
This same program of redemption is at work in the spirit world among the deceased saints, as we read in the fourth chapter of the Book of First Peter. It may be true that multitudes of them have the spiritual strength necessary to enter the land of promise God has promised us.
When I speak of believers in the spirit world pressing ahead in the plan of redemption, I am not at all implying we have a second chance. Each individual in God's time for him or her is presented with Christ. Now here is the point. We absolutely must obey Christ when He is presented to us. We simply cannot say I will evade Christ now, but after I die I will pursue redemption in the spirit world.
The truth is, if you evade what Christ wants from you now, there will not be a chance later. In fact, when you are judged you will be condemned as a lazy, wicked servant. Your gifts will be given to another and you will be led away into the outer darkness.
Make no mistake! Redemption is a very serious work. We are undergoing severe testing. Real bullets, not blanks, are being fired at us.
I am persuaded that God's eternal plan always is being adjusted in terms of the obedience or lack of it of the believers. The believer who obeys God sternly and completely makes things possible that otherwise will not take place. In like fashion, the believer who has been assigned a role and neglects it will harm himself and those who would have benefitted from his ministry.
How loud will be the screams in the Rooms of the Tormented Consciences when people who have evaded the demands of Christ, choosing instead to live their own life the way they wanted it, are shown what could have been! What could have been true for them and for other people! Think of it! Calvary is no joke. The building of God's Kingdom is a deadly serious business!
No matter how spiritually weak we are in America, any one of us can choose to turn to Christ and seek the ability to escape the cloying hands of our fleshly "Christianity." We can be among those soldiers who lay aside their own lives and live at all times in Christ. The Spirit of God will enable such to drive out of their own personalities, and the personalities of those who follow them, the darkness and lies that fill the world at this time. They will receive their inheritance in the Lord in due time.
But we must choose to die to our own will and plans so that Christ may come to maturity in us and install His own Kingdom.
For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; (Hebrews 6:7NASB)
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. (I Corinthians 2:9NIV)