THE SEVEN FEASTS OF THE LORD

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THE SEVEN FEASTS OF THE LORDCopyright Š 2013 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved

("The Seven Feasts of the Lord" 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 Seven Feasts of the Lord

The Tabernacle of the Congregation

The Saved People of the Nations and the Tabernacle of God

The Divine Plan

The Seven Feasts of the Lord

I use four types of the Bible to present the seven primary aspects of redemption: the seven feasts of the Lord; the Tabernacle of the Congregation; the journey of Israel from Egypt to Canaan; and the seven days of creation. Of these four major types, I use the feasts of the Lord most frequently. They offer such a clear picture of our salvation. The seven feasts are found in Leviticus, Chapter Twenty-three and in other places in the Old Testament.

Please notice in the in the following text how I apply the seven celebrations to the work of salvation in the personality of the believer. It appears that not all Christian believers are aware that our salvation has a specific beginning, a specific process or program, and a conclusion, a fulfillment in Christ. When we do not understand this we may perceive our daily experiences as unrelated, perhaps unsupervised, random happenings.

The first of the seven feasts is the Passover (Leviticus 23:5). The Passover lamb was slain. The blood of the slain lamb was sprinkled on the doorposts of the Israelite dwellings. God did not speak about deliverance from sin at that time but about preservation when the destroying angel passed over Egypt. So it is at the beginning of our salvation. God covers us with the blood of Christ, not to remove our sins but to mark us as holy, separate from the world, belonging to God in a special way.

This is holiness by assignment. Holiness by actual deliverance comes later in the work of salvation.

The next observance is Unleavened Bread. This ceremony typifies water baptism. When we are baptized in water we are to put away our worldly practices. When we pray, God will show us what we must do to come out of the world and begin our sojourn in the Kingdom of God. The demands may be somewhat difference from one believer to another. This is not deliverance from sin, it is our determination to count ourselves dead with Christ and risen with Christ to the right hand of the Father.

The world of many American young people of today is that of electronic gadgets. The truly consecrated Christian young person will avoid participating in most of these and spend his or her time seeking the will of Christ for his or her life. Only the most devoted of our young people will be able to escape the influence of the electronic devices; and ever more fascinating toys are on the way.

I certainly do not mean by this that the young person is to spend all day praying and reading his Bible. Before and after school and work hours, and during holidays, there is time to look to the Lord for direction and to meditate in the Scriptures. At least a half hour a day. Then there are sports, reading, hobbies, and other pleasant and constructive things to do.

There is no question in my mind but that most of the electronic games and the social-networking sites are not only a waste of time, they are stressing values that are not Christian. And they seem to be getting worse. The young person who is attempting to be a disciple of Jesus is wise if he looks to Christ at all times to see what he should do, at the same time praying for guidance. The social-networking sites and the electronic games contain much that is evil.

The rapid increase of communication technology is resulting in fascinating devices. The sincere disciple will recognize this and keep away from electronic devices unless in some manner they are assisting him as he or she serves the Lord.

Our faith in Christ should be revealed in our lifestyle, reflecting new values and attitudes. This is repentance. The Book of Acts speaks about repentance, and I believe more should be said about repentance today by the Christian leadership. A true Christian thinks, speaks, and acts like a Christian. If the believer is not different in some manner at school or at work, he better ask the Lord if he really is serving Christ!

Virtual reality programs may present the greatest danger to the development of Christ in the believer. It is well if the young person learns right now to avoid "My Space," "You Tube," "Face Book," as well as the other social- networking programs, and the new cell phone programs. Then, when the attractions of virtual reality have increased he will have the strength to keep away from them. They are of the world. They are the leaven we are to remove from our life.

As I write, I am thinking about a convocation to be held in San Diego next Saturday. Thousands of Christians will gather to repent and seek the face of Christ for our nation. I believe they are doing the right thing and Christ will honor their dedication. But they are acting inconsistently if their doctrine teaches God sees their behavior through Christ. If such were the case, which it certainly is not, of what would they repent? Such confusion reigns today in Christian actions and beliefs! Indeed, it is time for a reformation of Christian thinking.

Assigned holiness and protection in the time of judgment; death and resurrection with Christ. What is next?

The third feast is firstfruits. This feast represents the born-again experience. A part of our personality is reaped and brought up to the right hand of God in Christ. The bulk of our personality remains on the earth.

When we place our faith in the blood of the cross, turn away from the world, consider ourselves crucified with Christ and risen with Christ, and are baptized in water to dramatize our crucifixion and resurrection, God will place a portion of his Divine Life within us.

Now we have two lives, that which is adamic and that which is Divine. How successful we are in the program of salvation depends on whether we spend our time and strength in pleasing our adamic nature, or whether we assign enough time and strength to our new, Divine Nature by praying, meditating in the Scriptures, and obeying Christ and his Apostles.

Our new Divine Life always lives in Christ at the right hand of God in Heaven. This is why the Apostle Paul exhorts us to place our heart on things above, not on earthly things.

The firstfruits of our personality, our born-again nature, is holy unto the Lord, and so our entire personality is holy. But our personality still may be filled with worldliness, the sinful nature, and self-will.

Assigned holiness, repentance, a new birth. What is next?

Now comes Pentecost and speaking in tongues. Speaking in tongues, whether known languages or unknown languages, is our entrance into the rest of God. We now are able to pray in the Spirit. From this point forward we are to learn to bring every thought, word, and action under the control of the Spirit of God.

Remember, our natural mind and intellect is the enemy of God. It does not understand God. But the Spirit knows the things of Christ and applies them to us. We choose each day to live in accordance with the Spirit of God or else according to our sinful mind. The mind of sinful man is death. The mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. Speaking in tongues has as its object to bring us to the mind controlled by the Spirit.

The Spirit of God guides us in the two great works of redemption: release from all that is of Satan; and change into Christ's image and rest in the center of God's Person and will. We must live in the Spirit; think in the Spirit; behave in the Spirit; speak in the Spirit. Little by little we are to bring our entire personality under the control of the Spirit of God.

This is the "rest," and we enter it each day as we pray, read our Bible, and obey the commands of Christ and his Apostles in the New Testament, and Christ's personal commands to us.

I would like to make a comment at this point. When an individual places his or her faith in the blood atonement, is baptized in water, and then is born again of the Spirit of God, that person has the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is eternal life and is in him or her.

What may be lacking is speaking in tongues. It is speaking in tongues that brings us into the rest of God, into life lived in the Spirit. If the individual is a genuine Christian having the Life of Christ in him, he does not have to pray to receive the Holy Spirit. What he may be led to do is to spend time in prayer until he is able to speak in tongues. Christ will assist Him to enter into this ability to express the Spirit of God, because it is the way we learn to cease from our own works and function in the Spirit of God.

So far we have come through four observances: our protection under the Passover blood; turning away from the world and entrance into the Kingdom of God; being born again by the Word that comes from God; and learning to live by the wisdom and power of the Spirit.

What's next?

From this point forward we begin to experience the work of the Kingdom as it approaches the earth.

The Blowing of Trumpets announces the coming of King Jesus to wage war against his enemies in his people. The trumpet blows in Zion. Little by little Christ puts his finger on the sins that dwell in us. Through the Spirit of God we confess and turn away from these sins. We put them to death through the Spirit. The sons of God are led by the Spirit to put to death the actions of their sinful nature.

The warfare against Satan and his accomplices has begun. It will continue until all sin has been driven from God's creatures. All sin! Prepare your heart for total victory. Christ will make you more than a conqueror over every sin in your personality.

The Lord is a Man of War. Open the gates of your heart and let the Commander-in Chief enter you. He will give you victory over every unclean spirit.

The Passover protection; coming out of the world; a firstfruits of our personality caught up to God's Throne; life in the Spirit; and war against the unclean spiritual forces in our personality.

What is next?

Next is the Day of Atonement, Day of Reconciliation. The Blowing of Trumpets prepares us for the Day of Atonement. During this aspect of redemption, which shall continue until the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, the Spirit of God, who yearns over us with a godly jealousy, will work with us until our whole personality has been entirely reconciled to God in every possible aspect.

The Spirit will bring us through enough suffering to cause us to no longer trust in the world for our survival, security, and well-being.

The Spirit will cast out of us the sins dwelling in our flesh.

The Spirit will put us in prison until the self-will is burned out of us.

The Spirit will feed us with the body and blood of Christ until Christ is formed in us.

The Spirit will guide us into perfect rest in the center of God's Person and will.

This is the Day of Reconciliation, the time when we can be brought to untroubled fellowship with the Father and with his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Day of Atonement is an extremely important observance of the Jews. It is equally important to us Christians, because it is the work of God's Kingdom in us that results in our total reconciliation with the Person, will, ways, and eternal purpose of God in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thus far we have traveled through the six preparatory works of redemption. We come now to the feast of Tabernacles, signifying the coming of the Father and the Son to dwell in us for eternity.

The spiritual fulfillment in us of the feast of Tabernacles is God's ultimate purpose. It is the "Omega" of salvation. It is the final goal of our redemption toward which we are to press. Because we have kept the commandments of Christ faithfully, the Father and the Son have settled down to rest in our personality for eternity. God's Throne has moved from Heaven into the hearts of the members of the Body of Christ.

Salvation has a specific beginning, a specific process or program, and a specific fulfillment in Christ. God has needs which are satisfied only as He can find rest in his elect, his Church.

In order to understand God's need and its fulfillment, the following must be clear to us.

There is the Church, the elect of God. Then there are the nations of the earth who are not of the Church, not called to belong to God in the special manner that is true of the members of the Church.

The Church is to become the eternal dwelling place of God through Christ. Christ is the chief Cornerstone of this eternal Tabernacle. We also are living stones of the structure.

In Chapter Twenty-one of the Book of Revelation we notice that the Church, the eternal Tabernacle of God, comes down from Heaven through the new sky and is located on a high mountain of the new earth. This is Emmanuel, God's Presence among mankind.

God through Christ through the members of the Church will abolish death, misery, sickness, sadness, crying, pain, and all else that affect people. Each member of the nations of saved people can come and drink of eternal life from the saints, who themselves have become trees of life along the banks of the Water of Life.

The eternal Tabernacle of God shall be placed among the peoples of the earth. This is God's ultimate plan. Every part of the work of redemption is designed to bring the house of God into reality on the earth.

We cannot comprehend the extent of the longing of God to make his Person approachable to the people of the world until He shares with us his love for his creatures. "God so loved the world." To experience that love in its fullness would paralyze all of our faculties. We could not bear such passion for more than a moment.

But God will give us just a small part of his love toward the people who are our inheritance that we may govern them the way their loving Father wants them governed. People are the greatest of all inheritances, except for our inheritance of God and Christ.

God is moving us past Pentecost today to the last three feasts of the Lord. Whoever chooses to do so may cease going around the Pentecostal mountain and move forward with God.

Those with courage and faith will leave what is familiar and comfortable and move forward with God. The casual American "Christians" will continue to entertain themselves with the television, motion pictures, and the Internet until the broom of destruction sweeps them into the spirit world.

What a terrible, wonderful day we live in. There are high thrones waiting to be occupied by whoever wishes to make the effort. There are inheritances of people to be gained. As I said, the inheritance of people is the greatest of all inheritances, barring the inheritance of God himself.

Who has the courage and faith to move forward with God's warriors? Do I? Do you?

The spiritual fulfillments of the feasts of the Lord make us think of the journey of Israel from Egypt to Canaan. It is clear that the Divine redemption is a process. It must be worked out with fear and trembling, because our Adversary is skillful and can deceive us until we are led away from Jesus. The path of the righteous is a minefield!

The feasts of the Lord present the seven dimensions of the one salvation, which always is of the Lord Jesus Christ. He himself is the Fullness of our redemption. He himself is the Kingdom of God. To know Him more each day is our goal.

So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. (II Peter 1:19—NASB)

A further discussion of the seven Feasts and how they apply to our salvation may be found in my book The Feasts of the Lord. This book can be read at URL: www.wor.org/booksmain.htm, and also in the Kindle Library.

The Tabernacle of the Congregation

I use four types of the Bible to present the seven primary aspects of redemption: the seven feasts of the Lord; the Tabernacle of the Congregation; the journey of Israel from Egypt to Canaan; and the seven days of creation. Of these four major types, I use the feasts of the Lord most frequently. They offer such a clear picture of our salvation.

Perhaps the other model that I use most often is the Tabernacle of the Congregation and its furnishings. The Tabernacle is described in Chapter Twenty-five of the Book of Exodus continuing through to the end of the book. The number of chapters devoted to the Tabernacle may be an indication of its importance to us. The articles and events of the Old Testament are a visible portrayal of the invisible aspects of the Christian redemption.

I realize there have been excellent portrayals of Christ as the antitype of the Tabernacle and its furnishings. I understand that the Tabernacle can represent Christ, the Christian Church, and the work of redemption in the believer. It portrays also the installing of the Kingdom of God on the earth, if the furnishings are viewed in reverse order.

The installing of the Kingdom begins with the Presence of God himself, portrayed by the Lid of Reconciliation, and progresses until the cross, the Altar of Burn Offering, has influenced every saved person on the earth.

I am surprised that I have not encountered any author who treats the Tabernacle as a portrayal of the process of redemption we experience. There may have been many books about the Tabernacle, but most authors seem to view Christ as the Antitype of the Tabernacle. And indeed He is!

But the Tabernacle's portrayal of our personal redemption seems to stand out to me, and so without diminishing the importance of the other interpretations, I will proceed with the explanation of our salvation from the standpoint of the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle and its furnishings really are a wonderful set of pegs, we might say, on which we can hang the several dimensions of the one redemption.

I will not go into much detail now; but you can examine further what I have to say, in my book: The Tabernacle of the Congregation.

The Tabernacle tent itself is a portrayal of the Church, the Body of Christ, the Bride of the Lamb, the new Jerusalem, with the Courtyard representing the citizens of the new world of righteousness who are not members of God's Royal Priesthood.

The tent was divided into a holy place and a most holy place. This division speaks of the temporary separation of the firstfruits of the Church from the main part of the Church. The Most Holy Place indicates those "blessed and holy" individuals who will receive back their bodies at the first resurrection of the dead. The larger part of the tent, the Holy Place, represents God's elect who did not participate in the first resurrection.

The first furnishing was the Altar of Burnt Offering. Here is the portrayal of the cross, revealing that all people, not just those of the Church or of the "tent" so to speak, will be drawn to Christ. The four horns of the Altar point in the four directions of the compass.

The second element was the bronze Laver. The Laver signifies the washing of water by the Word, that is, the purifying that we experience as we look in the "mirror" of the Word of God and see what part of our personality is unclean. Then we repent, confessing our sin and turning away from it by the power of the Lord.

The Laver was constructed from the bronze mirrors of the women who served at the entrance to the Tabernacle. So it is that the Laver tells us how God's Word helps us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit.

The third furnishing of the Tabernacle was inside the tent, meaning it is of special meaning to the Church. It was the Table of Showbread. This is the place where we Christians eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Lamb of God. The body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ are our eternal life, our resurrection from the dead.

The lambs offered twice daily shows us that all through the day and night we are to choose to follow Christ so He may nourish us with his body and blood. While the daily lambs were being offered, wine was poured out in the holy place of the tent next to the Table of Showbread.

The fourth article of the Tabernacle was in the tent, across from the Table of Showbread, to the left as one entered. It was the golden Lampstand, representing the Holy Spirit of God. The solid-gold Lampstand tells us that the Holy Spirit is responsible for building up the Body of Christ, for presenting to the Lamb of God a perfect counterpart, a perfect Bride.

Anything that is done in church work that is not accomplished through the Holy Spirit has little or no value in the Kingdom of God.

The next item, just this side of the Veil that conceals the Most Holy Place, and in the center, apparently, was the Altar of Incense. As we notice in the Book of Hebrews, the Altar of Incense was moved into the Most Holy Place. This change of location may have been due to the fact that the Ark had been removed and the Most Holy Place was empty. But the original location of the Altar of Incense was in the Holy Place.

When you entered the tent, the Table of Showbread was on your right. The Lampstand was on your left. Straight ahead, but still in the Holy Place, was the Altar of Incense, standing just this side of the heavy Veil.

From my point of view, numerous believers, in their journey toward the fullness of redemption, have arrived at the Altar of Incense. We have moved past the Lampstand, representing Pentecost, and now we are by the Altar of Incense deciding whether we are going to do God's will or our own will.

Christian people enjoy the fact that Jesus Christ is their Savior. I am not certain that the majority of Christian believers, in America at least, are anxious for Christ to become their Lord. They want to use the blood atonement and the Holy Spirit in whatever manner they desire. The idea of giving over their will to Christ so He can tell them what they can and cannot do may not be appealing to them. They are happy to receive Christ as their Savior, provided He does not make demands on them or try to direct the details of their lives.

Nevertheless, doing the will of God is the supreme issue of our time. Christ is looking for those who will do his will no matter what the consequences to themselves may be. They are prostrate before the Veil, crying out, "Not my will but yours be done!"

When the believer finally yields to Christ to do his will in every aspect of life, the ornate Veil is set aside. The believer now is able to enter the Most Holy Place.

The two final furnishings were in the Most Holy Place: the Ark of the Covenant, and the solid-gold Mercy Seat (Lid of Atonement).

Within the Ark, a chest made from acacia wood, were the three symbols of the victorious Christian life: Aaron's rod that budded; the memorial jar of manna; and finally, the Covenant, the Ten Commandments, from which the Ark derived its name.

Aaron's rod that budded states that the victorious saint does not act presumptuously in the things of God but remains "dead" until God brings life into whatever service God desires.

The memorial jar of Manna points out that the victorious saint lives day to day by the Divine Virtue that God provides for the day and night.

The Ten Commandments, the most important of the three items, inform us that God is righteous and holy and will not have fellowship with any sort of unrighteousness or uncleanness. It is true that God protects us from judgment with his Passover blood. But God cannot have fellowship with a believer who is living in spiritual uncleanness.

On top of the Ark, the wooden chest overlaid within and without with gold, was the solid-gold Mercy Seat, or Lid of Reconciliation. The Lid of Reconciliation was a cover on top of the wooden chest. The Mercy Seat, as it is termed frequently, portrays the Presence of God himself. Beaten from the gold of the Mercy Seat, and overshadowing the Mercy Seat, were two cherubim.

We begin the work of redemption at the Altar of Burnt Offering. This Altar represents Calvary. No human being can approach God unless he receives the blood of the atonement, the reconciliation to God, made by the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross.

Then, as we pray, read our Bible, and obey the commands of Christ and his Apostles, we come to the Laver of repentance; the Table of Showbread of the body and blood of Christ; the golden Lampstand of life lived in the Spirit of God; the acceptance of God's will at the Altar of Incense; the forming of our character into the image of Christ at the Ark of the Covenant; and finally untroubled rest in the center of the Presence and will of God.

There is only one plan of redemption. It all is in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The seven dimensions of redemption are not experienced as if we were going from one grade to another in an elementary school. Rather our progress occurs in a manner similar to going up a spiral staircase.

Say we experience the Laver. Then as we make progress in Christ, going up the circular staircase, we come again to the Laver, but now at a higher level and possess a greater appreciation of its meaning. Then further up in Christ on the circular staircase to a more profound Laver at a yet higher level. The same is true of the other six dimensions of the one redemption in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you. (Exodus 25:8,9—NIV)

A further discussion of the Tabernacle of the Congregation and its furnishings may be found in my book The Tabernacle of the Congregation. This book can be read at URL: www.wor.org/booksmain.htm, and also in the Kindle Library.

The Saved People of the Nations, and the Tabernacle of God

There is a concept basic to the Kingdom of God that is assumed in the Twenty-first and Twenty-second chapters of the Book of Revelation. This basic concept is that at the end of God's working there will be two classes of people on the new earth. The first class is that of the elect, the called-out, the Church, the Tabernacle of God.

The second class of people, the great majority, is that of the people of the nations of the earth whom God has saved to eternal life on the new earth.

Revelation, Chapter Twenty-one tells us that the Tabernacle of God is with men. The Tabernacle of God is the Christian Church, the Body of Christ, God's elect, his Israel, the Wife of the Lamb, the eternal Temple of God.

If the new Jerusalem is the Christian Church, who, then are the "men" with whom the Christian Church is dwelling on the huge new earth? Did you ever wonder about this?

The "men" whom the Church is with are people who have been saved from among the nations but who are not part of the Church. I find this simple statement causes bafflement and confusion when I present it, but it is set forth in the last two chapters of Revelation as clearly as can be.

Until the design that I have just presented is understood, much of the Bible remains unintelligible. Also, Gospel work can be ineffective if the workers are laboring in terms of a faulty concept. Actually, the correct design is simple and easy to understand. It becomes difficult to understand when we try to blend it with our traditions. Then there is confusion.

The end product of much of God's working is His Tabernacle. God intends to plant his Tabernacle among the nations of saved people on the earth so He can guide and bless them. That's all there is to it! Not so difficult, after all.

Contemporary Christian thinking is that there is only one class of people, namely the saved. They are the Church. They are destined to live forever in Heaven. This idea is not scriptural. It does not at all fit the last two chapters of the Book of Revelation, or much of the writings of the Prophets, particularly Isaiah.

Until we understand that God is creating a Church that He will use as a dwelling place, through which He can have fellowship with the people of the world and become their God, their Father, and their Helper, how can we interpret correctly what God is doing with Christian people?

And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (Ephesians 2:22—NIV)

God is coming to the new earth to live in his Church, his eternal Temple. Then the saved people on the earth can come up to God's House and be blessed. Can you think of anything more wonderful than that!

Today the emphasis is on getting as many people of the world "saved" as we can, meaning, they will go to Heaven and not Hell when they die. Because of this emphasis, numerous pastors preach nothing but basic salvation.

Perhaps every member of their congregation has been "saved" for fifty years. It doesn't matter. There always is the possibility that someone will enter the building who is not "saved." Therefore, every Sunday the Pastor preaches about the need to get "saved."

The remainder of the believers go without most of what is taught in the Bible. The result is churches filled with people who never have grown in the Lord. Tell me I am incorrect in this!

Because the people of the congregation are not being fed, they are filled with adultery, hatred, meanness, unforgiveness, a desire to be preeminent, gossip, covetousness, jealousy, hatred, divisiveness, selfishness, and the love of pleasure more than the love of Christ. They are starved spiritually.

Are such people "saved"? Saved from what? No, they are not saved. They are revealing Satan in their personality rather than the Lord Jesus. But they will go to Heaven when they die because they have "accepted Christ," won't they? They may have received Christ at some point in their life, but then they did not keep on receiving Christ each day.

Why not? Because they have not been taught this is what they are supposed to do. While the pastor is trying to get other people "saved," the flock under his supervision is not entering the Kingdom.

The 2000 years since the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ might be termed the "Church Age." It is not the Kingdom Age. It is not the age during which the people of the nations are to be saved. It is the "Church Age." The other ages will come later.

What is to be done during the Church Age? During the Church Age the Gospel is to be preached to every person. Those who believe shall be saved in the Day of Wrath.

Then what is to happen? God is to choose, from among the people who have been saved, those whom He wants for his Church, his Tabernacle.

God has given the Lord Jesus Christ absolute authority over all mankind. Then from among the people of mankind, God has given Jesus certain people that Jesus may give them eternal life. Christ does not pray for the world but for those whom God has given him.

You can notice the difference between simple salvation, and the determination of the Apostle Paul to attain to the resurrection. Paul had believed and been baptized in water. To what, then was he pressing toward? Have you ever thought about that?

Obviously there are people who believe in Christ for salvation; and then there are others, the members of the royal priesthood, who pursue a mighty struggle during their discipleship as they seek to obey what Christ is commanding of them.

These people with whom God deals so intensely are the elect, the Church. They will become the Body of Christ, the Bride of the Lamb, the eternal Tabernacle of God, if they submit to the work of the Holy Spirit. If they do not submit, they will be judged for not using the talents God has blessed them with.

God has given all kinds of gifts and offices that those whom God has called may be brought to maturity—maturity as measured by the Standard that Jesus Christ is.

Now, what is God's purpose in building up the members of the Body of Christ to the full stature of Christ? It is so that in the last days God can pour out his Glory on the mature saints. When He does, the nations will come running to the light. That which the Church hopes to achieve by its own money and efforts will be done quickly and easily once the members of the Body of Christ come to maturity.

Realizing this, would you say we ought to emphasize getting new converts, or should we emphasize building up the church members? I am not speaking of ignoring the need to gain converts, I am speaking of emphasis—the major application of time, money, and energy. This is not really a difficult question, I think.

There is one more point I wish to make. The Lord Jesus said when the people God has given Him from the nations of the world, the Church, his elect, have arrived at oneness in Christ in the Father, the world will believe that Christ is from God. With this in mind, should we be trying to get the world to believe, or emphasizing that the Christians become one in Christ? Instead, the denominations compete against one another.

Here is the critical issue: In order to become one in Christ in God, a believer must trade his right to be an individual, not his or her uniqueness as a person, in order that he or she may become an integral part of Christ. We find this difficult, don't we? We find it hard to live every moment saying, "Not my will but yours be done." But until we do, the world will never believe and come to God for his blessing.

Why is this? It is because God will not give his Glory to another person. God gives his Glory to Jesus Christ because Jesus Christ lives as part of God, not as a private individual. God will not give his Glory to another person, not even to the Lord Jesus if Jesus chooses to live as an individual apart from God.

Now it comes down to us. Are we willing to trade our right to be an individual (which "right" consists largely of our self-will) in order that we may become an integral part of the Lord Jesus Christ? We cannot have it both ways. We cannot do our religious dance from the vantage point of our individuality, telling God what we are willing to do to gain his favor.

I like the story of the woman who washed Jesus' feet with very expensive perfume. She did not sell the valuable perfume and give the money to the poor, thus serving God on her own terms. Instead she "wasted" it all on Jesus.

What a lesson this is for us, isn't it? Are we willing to "give up" as we realize we cannot make a success of life by our own efforts? Are we willing to give up and become part of Jesus; or are we going to say with Job, "Though He slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face"?

God is looking today for believers who will surrender all their hopes, ambitions, and plans to Jesus in order that the individual may be an eternal part of the Glory of Christ. Are you willing to give up trying to be someone important? Are you ready to be nothing that Christ may be everything?

I will tell you why Christian people do not abandon their own ways and walk humbly with God. It is because they don't understand this is what they are supposed to do.

Why don't the believers know this is what they are supposed to do? Because their pastors and teachers all too often neglect them so that they can "get more people saved" who in term are to go out and "get more people saved" who are to set forth and "get more people saved" etc. etc. etc.

This is why the believers do not come to maturity and then take their maturity and wash Jesus' feet with it. No one ever told them that this is what God wants.

Until we become one in Christ in God, the world will not believe.

I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:23—NIV)

Following are a few of the passages that point out the difference between the nations of saved people, and Israel—the Tabernacle of God:

For the nation or kingdom that will not serve you will perish; it will be utterly ruined. (Isaiah 60:12—NIV)

Then the King will say to those on his right, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world." (Matthew 25:34—NIV)

In the above instance, people from the nations are given the Kingdom of God because they ministered to Christ's brothers when they were in need.

You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (I Peter 2:5—NIV)

And you will be called priests of the LORD, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast. (Isaiah 61:6—NIV)

For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations. (Isaiah 61:11—NIV)

The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. (Revelation 21:26—NIV)

"It," in the above verse, is the Wife of the Lamb.

The Divine Plan

I think the Bible and the Christian salvation are not always understood. To listen to today's preaching, one might conclude that the Gospel of the Kingdom has to do with helping people get to Heaven. Although neither the Old Testament nor the New Testament talks about getting people to Heaven, nevertheless this impression persists.

Actually the theme of the Bible is the conflict between good and evil.

In the beginning of mankind, God pronounced His creation "very good."

Then evil entered. But the evil did not originate with the man and woman or the earth, but came from Heaven. Therefore making the central idea of the Bible that of bringing people from the earth to Heaven is not realistic.

The actual theme of the Bible is sin and rebellion, and what God is going to do about it.

God has a long-range plan. God's plan is to create a Kingdom in which His will is done and all sin and rebellion are removed for eternity. The Kingdom consists of human beings whom God has created in response to the rebellion of the angels.

The Kingdom is both internal and then external. The Kingdom of God is conceived and formed in human beings as Christ is conceived and formed in them. It's external dimension will be revealed when the Lord returns with the saints in whom the internal Kingdom has been formed.

Thus God is creating His will in people, so they can maintain Paradise on the earth once God restores it.

There are two classes of people in the Kingdom. First of all, there is the Royal Priesthood. This is the family of God and derives its name from the Father. The Royal Priesthood is the government of the Kingdom.

I refer to this second, much larger group, as the "sheep nations." I take this term from the twenty-fifth chapter of the Book of Matthew, where Jesus divided the nations of the earth into the sheep and the goats.

According to the Lord Jesus, the Kingdom is the inheritance of the sheep.

Then the King will say to those on his right, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world." (Matthew 25:34)

The goats are those people of the nations who did not provide assistance to Christ's brothers, the members of the Royal Priesthood, when they had need.

The Lord said to the "goats," "When you did not help My brothers when they had need, you did not help Me."

He then sent the "goats" into eternal punishment.

Measuring from the time that Satan rebelled, to the coming down to the new earth of the new world of righteousness, I would say we are about halfway through the program of putting an end to sin and rebellion.

The creation of the spirit world and its creatures was the first step.

The creation of the physical world, including people, was the second step. Both the spirit worlds and the physical worlds and their inhabitants were created by the Father through His Word, whom we know now as the Lord Jesus Christ.

Next is the 6,000 or so years of the history of mankind.

Next was the atonement made by Christ for the sins of the world.

Next will be the return of Christ, the raising of the victorious saints, the catching up of the victorious saints into the air, and then the descent of Christ and His called, chosen, and faithful saints to work together in the task of establishing the Kingdom of God, the rule of God, on the earth.

This will be followed by a thousand years, literally or symbolically, which I term the "Kingdom Age." During the Kingdom Age an army of saints, after the victory at Har Magedon, will go through the earth judging and removing all evil people and all the works of the Antichrist civilization. This army is portrayed, I believe, in the second chapter of the Book of Joel.

Then Christ and His saints will rule the nations of "sheep" living on the earth, those who were not removed from the earth by Joel's Army.

Satan will be in the Bottomless Pit. Antichrist and the False Prophet will be in the Lake of Fire.

Christ and His saints will govern the nations of sheep with the scepter of iron. The scepter of iron is the iron righteousness of the characters of Jesus Christ and the members of the Royal Priesthood.

I might mention that the nations of saved people are the inheritance of the Royal Priesthood. This can be seen clearly in the twenty-first chapter of the Book of Revelation:

The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. (Revelation 21:24)

"It's light" is referring, of course, to the new Jerusalem. The new Jerusalem is the city of the Royal Priesthood.

If my understanding is correct, throughout the thousand-year Kingdom Age the saints who are governing the earth will have ready access to the new Jerusalem, which yet will be in the spirit realm. They will minister to these less mature members of the Church, of the Bride of the Lamb, until they also come to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, as the Apostle Paul promised.

The less mature members of the family of God were not resurrected and caught up when Jesus appeared, prior to the Kingdom Age. They were not prepared to descend to the new earth and minister the Presence of God to the nations of "sheep."

If my understanding is correct, the spirits of the less mature members of the Church, who were neither qualified nor competent to be raised to life and caught up to meet the Lord in the air, will be sent to the heavenly Jerusalem when Joel's army cleanses the earth.

Those who were Christians in name only and who practiced the sins of the flesh will be treated as though they were sinful people of the nations. There is no eternal life in them.

One of the purposes for the thousand years between the return of Christ to the earth and the final judgment is to give the less mature members of the Church an opportunity to grow in Christ.

I am not suggesting that a Christian can live a careless life here and then be brought to perfection in the new Jerusalem.

We already, right now, have come to the new Jerusalem, which is in Heaven at this time. If we do not obey the commands of Christ and His Apostles, we will be removed from the city and be counted as an unsaved person.

But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. (Hebrews 12:22-24)

If we, as a professing Christian, continue to yield to the works of our sinful nature, we will lose our inheritance in the Kingdom. We will be removed from Mount Zion and continue our life just as any unsaved individual, while still professing to be a Christian.

At the final judgment we will be judged according to our works. If our name is found in the Book of Life, we will become a citizen of the new earth. If our name is not found in the Book of Life, we will be assigned to the Lake of Fire.

You know, because of the teachings of lawless-grace, the escape-by rapture, once saved always saved, the Christian people in many instances have lost the fear of God. We do not realize how dreadfully serious are the issues I am writing about.

Yes, you can leave the way of righteousness and return as a dog to its vomit, according to the Apostle Peter. There is nothing in the New Testament that remotely suggests we cannot lose our position at the right hand of God, except a few verses taken out of context, or a non-applicable analogy of some sort.

I tell you the truth, in Jesus' name. We have been deceived. We have been told we can lead an ungodly life and still "go to Heaven" by "grace."

According to the Apostle Paul, some can be saved by fire. This means a complete loss of inheritance, perhaps starting all over on the new earth as a small child. But Paul said also that if we persist in yielding to our sinful nature we are courting destruction and the loss of our inheritance in the Kingdom of God.

Even the Lord Jesus said if we do not bear fruit, which is the image of Christ in our personality, we will be cut out of the Vine; out of Christ.

What are people thinking of when they teach eternal security? We are secure in Christ until we leave Christ by our behavior!

After the thousand-year Kingdom Age concludes with the last judgment, there will be a new sky and a new earth. The Tabernacle of God, the new Jerusalem, will be present on the new earth. The new Jerusalem is the government of the Kingdom of God.

The saints of the new Jerusalem, the Royal Priesthood, will bring the Presence of God to the "sheep" who compose the nations resident on the new earth.

If I am not mistaken, it is the saints who with Christ are the trees of Life from whom the citizens of the earth can gain eternal life and healing. The River of Life will come from the Bride. This is why it is written, "The Spirit and the Bride say come and drink of the water of life."

Such is the Divine plan from the rebellion of Satan to the new world of righteousness. God thus will make an end of sin and rebellion.

I mentioned previously that in the present hour we are about halfway through God's plan to create a righteous Kingdom. I think it is true that the final battle between good and evil has commenced. Christ, who formerly was seated at the right hand of God, waiting until God made His enemies His footstool, is now standing on Mount Zion with His called, chosen, and faithful warriors.

Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads. (Revelation 14:1)

The next step in the Divine plan is the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish observance of the Blowing of Trumpets, and the Day of Atonement.

The Blowing of Trumpets is occurring as Christ, the King, is coming to His saints and announcing the beginning of the Day of the Lord, the time when the Lord alone shall be exalted. It is announcing also the time of judgment and reconciliation to God, the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur).

The Day of Atonement has begun and will last until the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age.

Christ is beginning with those who are listening to Him. He is telling them to confess their sins, as the Spirit points them out, and by His wisdom and power to renounce and turn away from them. This is an eternal judgment.

Judgment has begun in the household of God. Every sin must be confessed and renounced. Every bit of worldliness must be confessed and renounced. Every bit of self-will and disobedience to Christ must be confessed and renounced. All that is not of the image of God must be put to death by the Spirit of God.

With the present teaching of lawless grace, the "rapture," and eternal security, I wonder how many Christian people are going to be able to hear what the Spirit is saying! But if we do not hear the Spirit, and do not make an effort to hear the Spirit, we simply can forget about being a member of the Royal Priesthood; of being resurrected and caught up to meet Jesus in the air and to descend with Him in the work of establishing the Kingdom of God on the earth.

If you do not prepare yourself today, cleaving to Jesus with all your might, I do not know what will happen to you when the victorious saints go to meet Jesus. You will be left on the earth.

Perhaps when Joel's army cleanses the earth you will be sent to a place of preparation in the spirit world. Or you may be sent to the outer darkness because of not having used your Kingdom talent diligently.

Christian teachers, in their imagination, have presented the picture of the world continuing as usual after the unscriptural "rapture." The truth is, when the victorious saints are raised to life and then caught up to meet Christ in the air, the wrath of God will fall on the world.

After that, Christ and His saints and warrior angels will destroy the armies of Antichrist and take over the nations of the earth.

Have these teachers never read that when Lot and his two girls were removed from Sodom, sudden destruction fell on the helpless people? So it will be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.

I have said, we are about halfway through God's plan to remove wickedness from the creation. The Lord has His "mighty men" who will return with Him and exercise the Divine judgment on the people of the world.

Two armies will come with Christ. There will be the victorious saints. They will perform the judging of wicked spirit and wicked people. Then there will be the army of warrior angels. They will do the fighting at the direction of the saints.

Let the saints rejoice in this honor and sing for joy on their beds. May the praise of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword in their hands, to inflict vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, to bind their kings with fetters, their nobles with shackles of iron, to carry out the sentence written against them. (Psalms 149:5-9)

The saints wield the double-edged sword, the Word of God. The warrior angels carry out the sentence handed down by the saints. Thus there are two armies (mahanaim).

This is why we are exhorted to endure hardness as good soldiers of Christ. If we are to govern with Christ, iron righteousness must be formed in our personality. It has been given to us to drive all unrighteousness from the creation of God.

Today, in anticipation of the battles of the Day of the Lord, we are being prepared for the war against evil. The eternal moral law of God is being written in our mind and heart. Thus we are the flesh becoming the Word of God.

The purpose of the Gospel of the Kingdom is to prepare soldiers of Christ who can return with the Lord and bring everlasting righteousness, love, joy, and peace to the multitudes of people whom God has created. This is to bring Paradise back to the earth where it belongs.

It is Christ and His victorious saints who will restore to us the peace and joy of Paradise, and Christ and His victorious saints who will maintain Paradise on the earth for eternity.

Justice for the nations! Righteousness, love, joy, and peace for all!

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.

He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. (Isaiah 6:6,7)

I believe it can be seen clearly from what I have written that the contemporary lawless-grace and escape-by-rapture are entirely inappropriate and misleading.