Copyright © 2013 by Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica. Used by permission.
But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. (II Peter 3:13)
He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." (Revelation 21:5)
There are four worlds to consider:
There is the mind, the conscious existence.
There is the world of flesh and blood.
There is the world of Christ.
There is the world of Satan.
Each of the four worlds contains creatures, authority, forces, and environment.
The world of conscious existence is present in the other three worlds. It is a noncorporeal world—there are no bodies in it. It is inhabited by all the dead since the beginning of time. The Authority is God who made all worlds. There are spiritual forces in it, the foremost of which is the Father of our Lord Jesus.
We know little of the environment of the world of conscious existence, since it is only alluded to in the Bible. I believe this is because God does not want a "place" to be our goal. In spite of this, we have made a place to be our goal. We call it "Heaven." But Jesus Christ is to be our goal, not Heaven!
The world of conscious existence is exceedingly vast. According to my understanding it is divided into the Land of Light and the Land of Darkness.
The people who inhabit the Land of Light are the decent people from the beginning of world history.
Whenever the Father presents Christ to an individual, that person must acknowledge Christ as Lord if he or she is to remain in the Land of Light.
Within the Land of Light is a much smaller area. This is the heavenly Jerusalem, the home of the Royal Priesthood. It is Mount Zion. It is what we picture when we think about "Heaven."
But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 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 men made perfect. (Hebrews 22,23)
When we first receive Christ we are lifted to the right hand of God in Christ. We now are in the heavenly Jerusalem. But in order to stay there we must keep on washing our robes in the blood of the Lamb. This is to say, our personality that still is on the earth, must keep being purified as the Spirit of God points out our sins and self-will.
If we do not keep on purifying ourselves, and continue in sin, we will be removed from our place in the heavenly Mount Zion. Our crown of life will be given to another. But if we keep ourselves in the Presence of Christ, the Glory that is Christ will keep transforming our spirit until it is perfect in God's sight.
And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (II Corinthians 3:18)
In addition to confessing and turning away from our sins, we must keep inviting Christ into every aspect of our life.
We might think of the "talents," of the twenty-fifth chapter of the Book of Matthew, as being a portion of God that He has given to us. From the moment we first receive God we are to be receiving Christ into our life. This is how we pass from thirtyfold to a hundredfold.
The "interest" God is hoping for is, first of all, our personal growth into someone who can reveal the Person of God and also work with Christ in the establishing of God's will in the earth.
The second part of the interest is the growth into God's image of the people who hear us and are influenced by us.
This double benefit is illustrated in Brother Lawrence, who sought to bring Christ into every aspect of his life. His personal growth in Christ has brought the blessing of God to uncounted numbers of Christian people.
If, however, after once having received Christ, we do not keep receiving Christ into our life, the Divine refreshing leaves and our personality becomes stagnant and repulsive, like yesterday's manna. We have seen this happen in longtime church members who become critical, self-centered, and quarrelsome. What once was of God is desirable no longer.
At one time they had been joyous Christians giving off the fragrance of Christ. But in its place, after many years of not receiving Christ, there only is an unpleasant odor.
You know what the decision of Christ is, don't you. "Throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
This worthless servant of Christ at one time had been a resident of the heavenly Jerusalem, being a member of the elect. Now he or she was cast out of the heavenly Jerusalem and assigned to the Land of Darkness.
The heavenly Jerusalem contains only a small part of the inhabitants of the Land of Light.
There was in the first century a Christian congregation which apparently was quite large. This was the church of Sardis.
Yet, in spite of its reputation for being alive, most of the people of the church of Sardis were not righteous and holy enough to be members of the Royal Priesthood.
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)
This means that of all those people in Sardis who professed faith in Christ, only a few would remain as part of Mount Zion, of the heavenly Jerusalem. There are numerous people who claim to be Christians, but it is only the few who have not defiled themselves with sinful conduct who shall govern for eternity the works of God's hands.
It is with this understanding in mind that we see the pernicious influence of the so-called "grace" message. The grace message leaves the believers with the idea that even though they have not received Christ to the point of overcoming their sinful behavior; even though they have neglected to grow in and use the Divine Life that has been given to them; they still will rule as a member of the Royal Priesthood.
Paul gave us the key to understanding the Royal Priesthood, the people who make up the holy city in the Land of Light:
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:28,29)
Exactly who are these who are called according to God's purpose; who are predestined to be conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ?
Every person born on the earth? I don't believe so! Every individual who makes a profession of belief in the Lord Jesus? I don't believe so.
Is every one who "accepts Christ" predestined to be the brother of the Lord? I kind of doubt it.
Do you know what the image of Christ is like?
And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. (Revelation 1:13-15)
The heavenly Jerusalem is the Tabernacle of God, the eternal Temple of God. There is no temple in the heavenly Mount Zion because the entire city is the Temple of God.
These are the righteous people made perfect. Such is the Royal Priesthood.
There were many Christians in the Church of Sardis. But only a few were found worthy to walk with Christ in white. Only a few are members of the Royal Priesthood.
We are to forget the things that are behind and keep pressing toward the fullness of resurrection life, until we can say, "I am living no more. Christ is living in me."
The Apostle Paul said we should place our attention in Heaven where Christ is seated on the right hand of God. The Book of Hebrews reminds us we already have come to Mount Zion, which actually is what we mean by Heaven.
But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly. (Hebrews 12:22)
As I stated previously, the spirits of righteous people in the heavenly Jerusalem are made perfect because the Glory of Christ continually is transforming them.
According to people who have had near-death experiences, the world of conscious existence is paradisiacal, with flowers, children, perfect climate, and so forth.
The world of conscious existence is filled with spirits of all sorts, including angels and demons. I refer to these "spirits" as "forces," because they move people in the world of flesh and blood to act in certain manners.
To repeat, God does not want a place to be our goal. The goal God has given us is Christ. It is useless for people to go to Paradise when the people themselves are not changed.
The second world I have mentioned is the world of flesh and blood. It is the world we know and can see with our eyes. It is filled with people. There are individuals in authority over us. There are the forces provided by flesh and blood, by machines, and by righteous and unclean spirits that move us according to their will.
Our earthly environment was created by the Lord. It indeed is wonderful, but it is being destroyed by people who are motivated by destructive spirits and by their own self-will.
The third of the four worlds is Christ Himself. We may not think of Him as a world, but He is. He invites us to abide in Him.
As a human being we are hindered by the rebellion that dwells in our physical personality; and helped by the Spirit of God, if we are seeking to make Christ our world.
The third world is inhabited by people who are dwelling in Christ and Christ in them. Christ is the highest Authority of the third world. The power of the Spirit of God is the force in this world, along with God's angels. The environment of the third world is Paradise.
The final two chapters of the Book of Revelation might be thought of as portraying the environment of the third world. It does not. While the elements set forth, such as the great wall and the Tabernacle of God, are part of the environment of the third world, they are expressed in symbolic form in the Book of Revelation.
The great wall is speaking of the resistance to sin that has been formed in the new world of righteousness.
The Trees of Life refer to Christ and those who are part of Him, out from whom flows the water of eternal life. The new sky and earth and the inhabitants are as recorded in the Book of Revelation, although much of the portrayal is in symbolic form.
The third world may properly be termed Christ, or the new world of righteousness, or the resurrection.
Then there is the fourth world. The fourth world is Satan himself. The fourth world is inhabited by every sort of unclean spirit; and influences all people until they are able to move into Christ.
The authority and power of the fourth world is Satan himself, and his demons and angels. But he always is under the control of Christ. The environment of the fourth world is Hell and eventually the Lake of Fire.
When Jesus Christ cried out, "It is finished," I believe He meant more than the atonement had been completed. He may have been stating that the adamic world of flesh and blood is no more. Of course the world of flesh and blood exists at the present time. But God has a way of speaking of future events as though they are present.
For example, when the Lord Jesus was still on the earth, He said, "I am no longer in this world." This act of binding the future is available today for any of us who care to spend enough time with God to work with Him in the planning of our own destiny.
If we are learning today to live by the Life of Jesus, looking to Him at all times for His will and attitude concerning our decisions and circumstances, we already are entering the new world of righteousness; the world in which God's will always is done perfectly; the world which is Christ Himself, the world of the resurrection.
Our goal in life ought always to be leaving the world of Satan and entering the world that is Christ.
In connection with our leaving the world of Satan and entering the new world of righteousness that is Christ, there is a continuity of thought in the fourth and fifth chapters of the Book of Second Corinthians that concerns the transition from the world of Satan to the world of Christ.
First, the Apostle Paul tells us how he continually is being brought down to death and continually is being raised up by the power of Christ.
For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. (II Corinthians 4:11)
Paul goes on to inform us that his death and life are creating great glory for him.
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (II Corinthians 4:17)
Continuing into the next chapter, Paul tells us what the "eternal glory" is. It is the robe that will clothe his resurrected flesh and bones in the Day of Resurrection.
For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. (II Corinthians 5:4)
As a side comment I would say that much more attention should be given today to the fact that our decisions during our discipleship directly affect the body that will clothe our resurrected flesh and bones in the Day of Resurrection.
But to return to the continuity of thought in Chapters Four and Five in the Book of Second Corinthians. We find that at the Judgment Seat of Christ we shall receive how we have behaved during our discipleship, which is to say, the robe that clothes our resurrection frame will contain within itself our decisions during our life---the things we have done.
God does not have in mind to punish us because we have a sinful nature. Having been born with a sinful nature was not our choice. But what we do about it, the decisions we make as God leads us along, will have their consequences in the Day of Resurrection. We shall receive what we have done!
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (II Corinthians 5:10)
I do not believe the above translation accurately describes what will take place in the Day of Resurrection. It is not that we will receive what is due us, as though it were a reward. Rather we shall receive the things themselves.
The faithful Christian will receive faithfulness in his or her new body. The liar will receive lying in his or her new body. The morally pure person will receive moral purity in his or her new body. The morally filthy individual will receive moral filth in the resurrection body. And so forth.
Here is the Scripture fulfilled: "Let the righteous and holy remain righteous and holy. Let the unrighteous and filthy remain unrighteous and filthy."
This is perfect justice, and God's love and grace do not at this point affect one iota of the Kingdom law of sowing and reaping.
But the continuity does not cease with Second Corinthians 5:10.
Paul goes on to tell us that there is a new creation in Christ. Paul says he does not know the Christ of the first world. Christ is the Firstborn of the new world of righteousness. He is the World whom Paul was seeking with all of his strength.
So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (II Corinthians 5:16,17)
The "new creation" is the new world of righteousness, the world that is Christ Himself, that itself is the resurrection and the life, the third of the four worlds we are presenting.
When we are baptized in water we are portraying that we have entered Christ's death on the cross. We also have entered His new resurrection Life. Thus we too are born into the new world of righteousness.
Paul would have nothing to do with the first world. He strove to forget all that was behind him and press into the new world of righteousness.
Part of the adamic nature is the affliction we term "nostalgia." The old man, after his wife dies, sings, "I wandered today to the hill, Maggie." Then he bathes himself in tears.
This is all such a maudlin waste. It does not help Maggie one whit.
The thing to do is to look forward to the day when we see Maggie again, and that for eternity.
There is a bright new world ahead of us to look forward to. Our loved ones will all be there in their prime, never to grow old again. This shall be true if they have been a decent person, and have received Christ when the Father has presented Christ to him or her.
When we die we enter the world of conscious existence. If we have received Christ we may be placed in the heavenly Zion.
Once we are in the world of conscious existence we may make some progress in entering the world that is Christ. While we are alive in the present world of flesh and blood we can begin the program of entering Christ. Then, after we die, we can continue to receive Christ and grow in Him.
Personally, I believe that in many instances, most of our progress in entering Christ will occur after we die and leave the physical world of flesh and blood.
For many of us, the past has been one headache, and maybe heartache, after another. I wouldn't go back one day, would you? I am pressing forward toward Christ Himself, toward the new world of righteousness. I believe you are also.
The great hope of our Christian salvation is that when we die we will enter the Land of Light. If we are a genuine disciple of the Lord Jesus, having entered His death and resurrection, we will be placed in the heavenly Jerusalem.
To be reunited with our loved ones, and to make new friends, is far more important to most of us than walking on a golden street.
God loves the world and all its people. He knows what it will mean for us to be restored to our loved ones.
I believe we will have the opportunity, after we die, to keep on pressing forward in Christ.
While we are alive in the present world, each Christian has two worlds in himself or herself. We can choose to nourish the old, adamic world, and live like any other sinner, even though we name the name of Christ.
Or we can choose to nourish the new world of righteousness, praying constantly, attending services with fervent believers, serving, giving of our means, and doing all else to demonstrate that this present world is not our home.
When the Spirit of God points out some area of sin or self-will in our life, we are to confess it clearly to Christ. Then we are to ask His help in turning from it resolutely. We have to be very firm in this if we expect to be delivered. Walking in open confession and repentance is key to the victorious life in Christ.
Our life must become one of continuing prayer because of the decisions that keep confronting us. The world in which we live is the valley of the shadow of death. It is an arena of wickedness. The truth is, it is one great lie.
But what does the Scripture state about those who follow the Lamb wherever He goes?
No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless. (Revelation 14:5)
Today it appears that only the hardiest of Christians make progress toward the new world of righteousness. So many who profess the name of Christ remain unchanged year after year, hoping to die and go to their mansion in Heaven! That they remain unchanged means they are not being saved; because to be saved means to be changed from the old world of the lie to the new world of righteousness and truthfulness.
It may be true that the hardy Christians who make substantial progress into the new world of righteousness will be the ones who will be raised to life and caught up to Christ when He appears. It does not seem at all reasonable or scriptural that the complacent "believers" of our day will be snatched out of the world so they are not troubled by the Great Tribulation or by Antichrist.
I do not teach people that they will be delivered by a rapture. Rather I teach them how to stand in Christ and help others during the coming trouble. Does that sound like the Lord to you?
Be ready for change. Several years ago, during a pastors' conference, the Lord spoke to me. He said, "Forget the old ways of doing things. I have new and surprising ways of working in your day."
I believe that it was the Lord who spoke to me. We know that where sin abounds, grace does much more abound. Well, the sins of today keep increasing. I am looking for Jesus to do something spectacular and unprecedented.
I am not referring just to people being "saved," as we use the term. I mean new works of power, double the first Pentecost, that will cause the believers to come out of the world and start serving the Lord.
It is time that miracles are restored to the Christian churches—miracles greater than at any other time of earth's history. The brazen arrogance of today's political leaders must be confronted with the power of our God. Maybe that is what the Lord meant at the pastors' meeting.
We are to devote ourselves to nourishing the new world of righteousness that is in us. We can enter today the new world of righteousness as our old adamic nature gives way before the Divine life of Christ being formed in us.
Our first personality finds its life in the world, its joy in the flesh, and follows its own mind instead of the Spirit of God.
The new personality finds its life in Christ, its joy in Christ and follows the Spirit of God rather than its own mind and will.
The reason we have so much trouble overcoming sin is that we pay too much attention to the first world in us and not enough attention to the new world of Christ. The Apostle John tells us that what is born of God does not sin and cannot sin because it is of God. This tells us that as Christ increases in us we will begin to get total victory over sin.
No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. (I John 3:9)