WHAT I HAVE LEARNED FROM THE LORD
WHAT I HAVE LEARNED FROM THE LORDCopyright Š 2012 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
Like most Christians I suppose, I have made many mistakes during my pilgrimage. But I do what I advise others to do: when I realize I have been in error, I tell the Lord about it; ask for His forgiveness; make things right if I have hurt someone; and then press forward in Christ.
If we were perfect we would not need a redeemer, would we? God understands our weaknesses and that we are surrounded by all sorts of temptationstemptations to draw out of us the disfigurements that are in our personality. Such inner transformation comes about as we seek Christ during the time we are living in this world, an environment fabricated by the Lord to accomplish this very work of inward transformation.
You know, we were brought into the world in some kind of a body that does not portray our inward nature. Our inward nature is disfigured and somewhat chaotic.
During the time that we live, our body withers; but, if we are obeying Christ, our inward nature is being transformed into Christ's image. The complete transformation may extend far into the future.
When we die and pass into the spirit world we are given a body that reflects our inward nature, whether disfigured and chaotic, or transformed into God's image. Now we are a new creation, body, soul, and spirit.
I was not raised in a Christian home. I received Christ while serving in the United States Marine Corps. The Lord called me to preach the Gospel as I was praying one evening in a Japanese army barracks, after World War Two had been concluded. Accordingly, when I was discharged from the Corps, I enrolled in the Berean Bible Institute in San Diego, California.
While praying and reading my Bible in the chapel of Berean, I had another Divine visitation. I became aware of a Personage standing at my right hand. I continued reading the Bible, but suddenly I could understand it as I never had before. I began to perceive that the standard Evangelical doctrines I had learned from fellow Christians in the Marine Corps, and was being taught in the Bible school, were not altogether biblical.
The fundamentals, such as the blood atonement, the born-again experience, the Lordship of Jesus Christ, the prospect of His bodily return, and so forth, were intact. But this marked the beginning of what one might term a major overhaul of Christian doctrine in my mind.
One relatively minor understanding had to do with the parables of Jesus. The Berean teacher, actually a fine Christian lady, taught us that Jesus spoke in parables so that people would understand and remember the lesson. But the Bible says Jesus spoke in parables so we could not understand the message unless the meaning was given to us.
At that time a distinguished minister by the name of Elmer E. Fullerton of the Assemblies of God denomination came to Berean and spoke to the students during some of the chapel services. He had had quite a revelation from God. Brother Fullerton emphasized strongly that Christ wanted to dwell in us.
This thought really resonated with me. I proceeded to write a nineteen-page booklet titled "The Temple of God," a concept that has stayed in my mind ever since. There really is a big difference between Christ with us, as ordinarily presented, and Christ in us, which appears to remain largely a mystery.
Then another accomplished teacher by the name of Oliver Ellenwood came to the tent on the border of National City where we were worshiping, and taught us about the Tabernacle of the Congregation, and also about the Feasts of the Lord. I never had heard of either topic. But they lit a fire in me that has burned to the present hour.
From that time, let's say about 1950, to the present, understanding of the Kingdom of God has developed in my mind. I honestly believe the numerous concepts that have occurred to me have come from the Lord Jesus. I always stand ready to be corrected on the basis of the unchangeable Scriptures, but not on the basis of theological reasoning, for which I have little use.
I am deeply impressed with the full inspiration of the letter of the Received Texts, believing that they will endure unchanged for eternity. I have seen throughout my discipleship that the words of the Scriptures are true and faithful. There are no errors in them.
I notice that "I" is being overly used. The text just seems to be flowing that way during this Introduction. Hopefully the I's will abate as I proceed.
Before beginning a summary of the topics which I have presented to the Christian community over a period of years, perhaps I might mention a few of the major concepts so you may gain an idea of what I am setting forth in this book.
One of the most important concepts, one that has developed until it is rather clear to me, is the teaching of "grace."
Although it may not be the intention of the pastors and evangelists, grace is perceived by most if not all Christians as a substitute for righteous behavior. The exhortations to righteousness that abound in the New Testament have been rendered of no effect by the current teaching of "grace."
As one could predict, given such an unscriptural doctrine, the Christian people often are not living godly lives. They say, "I am not under the Law but under grace." While this is true in one sense, it fall far short of what actually is true. In truth, we still are under the Law of Moses until we "die in the Lord" and arise to follow the Spirit of God instead of our sinful nature.
Obviously there is a world of difference between these two points of view.
So the moral strength of the Christian churches has been largely destroyed by the idea that "grace" is the God-given substitute for moral transformation. It is commonly believed, although not always expresses clearly, that Divine grace is an alternative to new creations of righteous behavior.
If you think about it, this is an awesome misunderstanding.
When Paul maintained that we are saved by grace rather than works, Paul did not mean we are saved by grace rather than by transformation into righteous behavior, which is the purpose of salvation, but by grace rather than by the works of the Law of Moses. Divine grace replaces the Law of Moses, not change into the image of God. It is true rather that grace, if applied properly, results in our change into the image of God.
Such a simple misunderstanding but so dreadful in its results!
Another understanding that has come to me is that the goal of salvation is not eternal residence in a mansion in Heaven, but our change from Satan's image to Christ's image. There is no scriptural basis for the historic belief that eternal residence in Heaven is our goal.
Heaven is one part of the spirit world, as I have pointed out in my book, Godwill Castle. By "Heaven" we mean Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. Heaven is the home of the Royal Priesthood, not of every person who has died.
There is a Hell, which also is one part of the spirit world.
Heaven, or Mount Zion, is being prepared at the present time for its descent to the new earth as the government of the Kingdom of God. Heaven, the new Jerusalem, shall be installed upon the earth and will govern the people whom God has saved from the nations of the earth.
The difference between the destinies of God's elect and the people of the nations who are saved but are not of the elect, not of the Royal Priesthood, needs to be explained to the Lord's people. Otherwise they picture themselves going to Paradise when they die, reclining in their unscriptural "mansions," doing nothing of significance for eternity.
Still another major concept is that of the program of redemption. The seven feasts of the Lord, as taught to me by Oliver Ellenwood, give us pegs on which we can hang the seven major works of redemption.
The first of the observances, is the Passover. The Passover speaks to us of the blood of the Lamb which protects us when God judges the world.
The second of the feasts is Unleavened Bread. This observance reminds us that we have been commanded to "repent and be baptized." If we are to enter the Kingdom of God, we must put away our entanglements with the Antichrist world systems and walk in newness of life.
The third festival is Firstfruits. Here we have the born-again experience in which a firstfruits of our personality, our spiritual nature, is raised to the right hand of God in Christ. Our soul and body remain earthbound.
The fourth ceremony is Pentecost. Here we have the Holy Spirit baptizing us into the Body of Christ. The Holy Spirit is our Law in place of the Law of Moses.
In our day the Holy Spirit is desirous of bringing us into the final three celebrations: the Blowing of Trumpets; the Day of Atonement; and then the climactic observance for which the prior six are preparatorythe final ceremony, the feast of Tabernacles.
We have not been here before. These stages of redemption may be new to us. The Blowing of Trumpets is the coming of Christ to His people but not as yet to the world. Christ is sounding the alarm of war against all His enemies in us. The Spirit is making us aware of the spiritual darkness that resides in us, particularly in our flesh but also in our spirit.
The sixth of the observances is the Day of Atonement. The Day of Atonement has begun and will last all the way through to the end of the Kingdom Age and the final resurrection.
This is the time when we are reconciled to God, not just legally through the blood of the cross, but through the abolishing of our love for and trust in the world spirit; the putting to death and finally driving out of the dark behaviors of our sinful nature; and the conquering of our self-will so that in thought, word, and deed we reflect the thoughts, words, and deeds of the Lord Jesus.
The feast of Tabernacles is fulfilled in two stages. First, Christ is formed in our personality. Second, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit come and dwell in that which has been formed in us. Here we have the construction and occupation of the eternal Tabernacle of God that is destined to come down from Heaven and govern the nations of saved people.
All that I have described above, as well as additional perceptions, have been elaborated in over 800 books, booklets, and essays. These can be found at the following address: www.wor.org. Also all of them are in the Kindle Library, if you have a compatible electronic reader.
There is a lot said, in the New Testament, about the Kingdom of God. Very little is said about going to Heaven to live for eternity. The venerable hope of "mansions" is based on an obsolete translation of a Greek noun in John 14:2.
Because of the rebellion of the angels, God has determined to create a kingdom that will govern His creatures, so there will be no more rebellions against His will for eternity. We have been told to pray that God's Kingdom would come to the earth, and that His will would be done in the earth as it is in Heaven.
We cannot see or enter the Kingdom of God other than by being born again. The Kingdom of God is God in Christ in the saints governing the works of God's hands. Adam does not figure in the Kingdom. Christ Himself is the Kingdom. As He is being formed in us the Kingdom is being formed in us.
The Kingdom of God properly is the new Jerusalem that is to be installed on a high mountain of the new earth. This is the government of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God will govern the nations of saved people on the new earth. They are in the Kingdom and part of the Kingdom, but they are not the government of the Kingdom.
The saints (holy ones) will govern the peoples of the earth for eternity.
The earth and its surroundings were fabricated by the Lord to provide, among other things, a training ground for the rulers of the Kingdom. Those whom God has selected are tested in obedience again and again. If they are to fulfill their destiny, they must overcome all the forces and challenges that come against them.
When the Lord Jesus has the allotted number of rulers selected He will return, raise their bodies from the dead, clothe them with new bodies in accordance with their roles as priests and kings, and call them up to Himself. He will place them on white war stallions that have been waiting for them in the air. Then the mighty King of kings and Lord of lords will descend to the earth accompanied by His rulers and angels. They will install the Kingdom of God, the rule of God, on the earth.
When we view the Kingdom of God as our goal, instead of eternal residence in Heaven, some of our understandings change. For instance, a question often advanced in our day is: "Can I sin and still go to Heaven when I die?"
What if we change that question to, "Can I sin and inherit the Kingdom of God?" Right away we see the difference, and have the answer. The Apostle Paul stated that if we continue to live according to our sinful nature we will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
Another difference in Kingdom thinking has to do with the practical aspects of our daily life. If our goal is Heaven, we have to wait until we die to go there. If our goal is participation in the Kingdom of God, we are to press into the Kingdom right nowtoday.
We press into the Kingdom as we turn away from the attractions of the world; confess and renounce our sins; and abide patiently in the prisons in which we are placed. Their purpose is to destroy our self-will so we can live by Christ's will.
So there is a very practical reason why we need to be oriented toward entering into the Kingdom now, rather than waiting to go to Heaven when we die.
Another factor to be considered is that when Heaven is presented as our goal, and we get there by an undemanding grace, we have a deadly brew indeed. No more effective device could be created to destroy the work of God in the Gospel.
If Heaven is not our goal, then the unscriptural "rapture" to Heaven teaching appears to lose its strength.
In the twelfth chapter of the Book of First Corinthians, Paul implies that the Head and Body of Christ form one Person. We know that Jesus Christ is exalted beyond our comprehension, and so we are not detracting from that knowledge and saying that we are as great as the Lord Jesus.
But consider this: the term "Christ" is not Jesus' last name. "Christ" is speaking of being anointed with the oil of the Spirit of God so that the bearer of the anointing can deliver those who are bound. When we are baptized with the Spirit of God we become an integral part of "Christ," in that we are anointed with the same Spirit, although not to as great an extent.
It is interesting to read about the mission of the Servant of the Lord. The mission is to bring justice to the nations. Jesus' inheritance is the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth. We are co-heirs with Him, so our inheritance is the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth.
Now compare, the current teaching that our goal is to recline in our mansion in Paradise doing nothing of significance for eternity, with the thought of bringing justice to the downtrodden of the earth and inheriting some of those people to rule, judge, bless, and love.
I believe what we are presenting is more desirable than that of reclining in a mansion, doing nothing of significance for eternity. I wouldn't care for that destiny, would you?
In the sixty-first chapter of the Book of Isaiah we notice that the first task of those who are anointed with the Spirit of God is to build up those who are depressed in Zion; to make them "oaks of righteousness."
Then, when all of God's elect are oaks of righteousness, they will serve in the earth as priests of the Lord. While each member of God's elect shall forever remain at the right hand of Christ in God, they will have the power of multiple presence, as the Lord Jesus does, so they can minister in the earth as the Spirit of God leads and empowers them.
Here are Jesus Christ and all His brothers ministering to the people whom God has created. The brothers are in His image. They truly are His brothers in that they have been born of the same Father.
For myself, I cannot imagine anything more wonderful than having close fellowship with the Lord and serving under Him as a king and priest in the earth. Also, inheriting people! I have had somewhat of a revelation of what it will be like to bring water out of the wells of salvation; to share the love of Christ to the people whom He has given to me as my inheritance.
Indeed, He shall divide the spoil with the strong. Therefore let us press forward in Him, as members of His Body, that we may share the people He has received as His inheritance. He has inherited them because of His conquering, through His obedience and the blood of the cross, the enemy who has kept earth's people in the most horrible chains imaginable.
I have been railing for years about the difference between Jesus and the Christian religion. I don't think I have accomplished anything by my attitude, actually.
During the last several months I have preached repeatedly that we need to bring every decision we make before the Lord for His wisdom. The practice of asking Christ about everything results in His Presence being with us continually. This sort of consecration might be termed, "walking humbly with our God."
As I considered my own preaching, I realized how different looking to Jesus for everything is from religion of any kind. Religion by and large draws its practices from the idea that Christ is a historical figure who is coming back to earth some day. The emphasis certainly is on Christ with us rather than Christ in us.
Of late the concept I have been reaching for has finally crystalized. It is that we are to live by Christ's Life. I really am occupied with this thought, and it is markedly different from the ordinary practice of religion.
Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. (John 6:57NIV)
I am not at all pleased with the conjunction "because." What I am experiencing is not life because of Christ, but the very Life of Christ. I am endeavoring to live by the Life of Christ, to live as He is living, not because He is living.
The Greek term in question is "dia," translated "through" or "because." The King James has "by." I prefer that myself. "Will live by Me." Or, "will live through Me." Actually, "will live through Me" is kind of satisfying.
The highest point I have reached in this concept is that we are to think as Christ is thinking; to speak as Christ is speaking; to act as Christ is acting.
Come to think of it, "through" is not bad. And "through" is the preferred translation of "dia," I believe.
We are to live by the very Life of Christ at all times. The problem in my mind with "because" is that it lies too close to the current stress on identification with Christ. It is said that we are righteous by identification with the righteous Christ. In other words, we are not truly righteous. That is a destructive notion if there ever was one.
It is not at all true that we live because Christ is living; in other words, Christ is living therefore we are living. We are not actually living, but because Christ is living (by identification with Him, I suppose) we are living. That probably would be the modern take on "because."
Some are teaching that we who believe in Christ are all overcomers because we are identified with Christ who is The Overcomer. This means that we really are not an overcomer. What an empty gospel this is?
In another sense, if we truly are one with Christ, such that He is living in us and has become our Life, then, yes; we are living because He is living. Perhaps this is what is in the minds of the translators.
In any case, John 6:57 is one of the most meaningful of all passages of the Bible. His Life is to be our Life is to be His Life. Paul was stating this very thing when he claimed that he was crucified with Christ and Christ was living in him. Christ was and is today the Life of Paul, and this is to be our goal also.
I have been sensing this for a long time and I just now have been able to dredge it up to where I can express it clearly.
You can see why I maintain that living through Jesus, and all religions, including Christianity, hardly are related. In fact, the Christian leaders often have been the most vicious opponents of true Christians I am thinking right now of the Spanish Inquisitors.
The following incident is sort of humorous. I guess it was funny to the pilgrims who came to Bethlehem. This took place yesterday, or the day before.
The Greek Orthodox and Armenian priests and monks were sweeping up one of the holy places honored as the birthplace of Jesus. Because of a disagreement over who owned what part of the Church of the Nativity, they began to furiously attack each other with brooms.
If there could be a clearer dramatization of the difference between living by the Life of Christ, and the Christian religion, I do not know what it could be. But, of course, we have the Catholics and Protestants murdering each other in Ireland.
It has been like this throughout the Christian Era. It began with the Jewish worshipers murdering the followers of the Nazarene, Jesus. Then down through the following centuries the Christian religion has been, at times, characterized by strife and immorality. The Crusades, seeking to liberate the Holy Land from the Muslims, certainly were not proceeding from the Life of Jesus.
During the centuries of the Christian Era there have been countless examples of true saints and worthy works of charity, many of these sponsored by religious organizations.
I think we can see from the above that there is a huge gulf between being filled with the Life of Jesus, and being a member of a Christian religion.
I wonder why this is becoming so clear to us today. Perhaps it has been clear to former Christians, but I have not read much about it. I realize there have been believers such as the German Protestants, and then the English Separatists who came to America to escape organizational formalities, as I understand it. Also, there were George Fox and the Quakers.
It may be that as we come closer to the coming of the Lord, the oneness of true believers with Christ with God, of which Jesus spoke, may be in the very early stages. It seems, as we read of current events, that members are leaving the historic churches in search of something more meaningful to them.
Whether the current exodus from the churches is just a passing phenomenon or the actual beginning of the union of true disciples, which I believe will take place before the Lord appears, remains to be seen.
At least three stupendous events lie before us. The first is the Divine judgments and moral chaos that will result in the emergence of Antichrist as a person. The spirit of Antichrist already is prominent in the world. It is that of man making himself his own god.
Second is the promised harvest rain of the Spirit, that will bring the witness of the coming Kingdom to every nation on the earth.
Third is the bringing of the saints into perfect oneness with each other and with Christ and God. These believers will be living by the Life of Jesus. The Glory of God in the saints will increase until suddenly the last trumpet will sound and the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky.
Each of us is to prepare himself or herself for these three mighty events by learning to live by and through the Life of the Lord Jesus. We learn to do this by looking to Jesus in every aspect of our life such that we are thinking as He is thinking; speaking as He is speaking; and acting as He is acting. Then we are abiding in Christ and dwelling securely under the protection of the Almighty God of Heaven.
The type I use most frequently is that of the seven feasts of Israel. Another is the Tabernacle of the Congregation, sometimes referred to as the Tent of Meeting. A third is the journey of Israel from Egypt to Canaan; and the fourth consists of the seven days of creation.
It may be noted that each of the four types may be divided into seven parts: the seven feasts; the seven furnishings of the Tabernacle; the seven days of creation; the seven stages of the journey of Israel.
The journey of Israel may be viewed as the exodus from Egypt and the Passover; crossing the Red Sea; the journey through the wilderness; the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai; the organizing of the Israelites into an army; the war against the enemy in the Land of Promise; rest in Canaan.
We can compare the elements in each type. For example: we have the feast of Passover, the first of the seven feasts; the Altar of Burnt Offering of the Tabernacle of the Congregation; the shining of light on the darkness of the creation; the Passover celebrated in Egypt.
Can you see how I have taken the first element of each of the four types? The Passover blood; the Altar of Burnt Offering; the shining of light; the exodus from Egypt.
Think about these first elements of each of the four types and see if you can see some aspects of the beginning of redemption.
The feast of Passover, the first of the seven feasts, is obviously related to the beginning of our redemption.
The Altar of Burnt Offering, the first furnishing of the Tabernacle, again is obvious. It represents Calvary.
The shining of light on the dark creation reminds us that at the beginning of redemption we can start to see the Kingdom of God and how dark the world is.
The Passover celebration in Egypt reminds us that the blood of God's lamb is our protection as we prepare to leave the world and begin our march toward the Land of Promise.
The reader then is encouraged to take the second element of each of the four types, and then each succeeding element, until the climax, the promised rest of God, is attained to.
Let's take a look at the seventh element of each of the four types.
The feast of Tabernacles.
The Mercy Seat.
Dwelling in the Land of Promise.
As you think about each of these four stages it may be obvious that they portray the climax of our redemption. God and Christ are dwelling in our transformed inner nature. We have become the Tabernacle of God, as described in the twenty-first chapter of the Book of Revelation.
The Mercy Seat is the Throne of God. It may be referred to as the Lid of Reconciliation. The rebellion of the angels and mankind has been dealt with successfully. Through the work of the blood atonement and of the Spirit of God, God's creatures have been reconciled to God and God has been reconciled to His creatures.
God now is at rest in His saints and they are at rest in Him. This fulfills all that God envisioned when He was existing alone in the spirit world during a period incomprehensible to us. He has watched over His Word to perform it.
Canaan represents our inheritance. We have inherited God and Christ. We have inherited the saved people from the nations. We have inherited the farthest reaches of the earth. We have become life-giving spirits, having a transformed inward nature and a transformed body in which to enjoy the good things of the Lord.
Thus we see that the Divine program of redemption has been outlined in four major events described in the Old Testament. I have found these events helpful as pegs by which to help understand the various experiences we go through during our march in the wilderness of this world.
I would say at the present time we have come as far as Pentecost; as far as the Lampstand of the Tabernacle; as far as the creation of the sun, moon, and stars (Christ, the Church, and the victorious saints) that give light upon our path; as far as the giving of the Law of the Spirit.
Without doubt, the twentieth century was the century of Pentecost. Now, in the twenty-first century, the Spirit of God is inviting us to inherit the Kingdom of God, to cooperate with the Spirit of God in the work of the actual reconciliation of ourselves to God including the formation of Christ in us; and to press onward toward becoming a life-giving spirit and an eternal dwelling place for the Fullness of God.
This means that we must resolutely set aside our own life in favor of learning to live by the Life of Christ. Only those who do so are part of the eternal Kingdom. Flesh and blood life, adamic life, simply cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. The Life of the Kingdom is the Life of Christ, of the Spirit of God. All else is the deadness of the flesh.
God has made Jesus the Judge of all men and angels. There is no judgment seat apart from that of Christ, although, as Paul stated, it is given to the saints to judge the world and angels. But that is true only as our life has become in actuality the Life of Christ.
It is not that people merely come before the Judgment Seat of Christ. They are made manifest there. That is, all they have done during their lifetime on the earth is revealed, for good or for evil.
Sometimes it is taught that the Judgment Seat of Christ is a kind of awards banquet, in which Christians receive various prizes according to their works. This is not true. The Greek term for "judgment seat" (beema) refers to a criminal court. It is not an awards banquet. This mistranslation springs from the unscriptural "grace" teaching.
The true rendering is that we receive what we have done in the body. If we have done good, then we receive good as part of the makeup of our new body. If we have done evil, then we receive evil as part of the makeup of our new body.
This reminds us of the last chapter of the Book of Daniel, where some are raised to shame and everlasting contempt. The kind of person we have become as we have journeyed through life is revealed in our body when we are raised from the dead.
Right now we are working on our resurrection. We are building a house for God, as it were. If we follow Christ faithfully, resisting the devil, leading many people to righteous behavior, then we shall be, according to Daniel, stars that shine forever. But if we have done evil, we will not be suitable as a house for God. We shall reap in our body the evil we have done and it will be plain to everyone what we have become.
Right here is the problem with teaching that grace is a device by which we appear righteous in God's sight when we do not behave righteously. We are teaching people that they do not have to worry to much about their sinful behavior because they are "saved by grace." The truth is, it is not a question of a profession of faith in Christ. It is a matter of sowing and reaping.
Divine grace does not do away with the Kingdom principle of sowing and reaping. We shall reap what we are sowing. This is to say, it is not that we are rewarded if we do well and are punished if we do evil. Rather, our behavior, good or evil, is given back to us in the kind of body we are given in the Day of Resurrection.
If we, through the grace of Christ, have been a kind, generous person, kindness and generosity will be revealed in our new body. If however we have been a mean, selfish person, then meanness and selfishness will be revealed in our new body. We shall reap corruption, as Paul said.
It is evident at this point how terribly destructive the current teaching of "grace" is. Many of the believers are not aware of the Kingdom of God law of sowing and reaping.
It is as though someone gave us some unsightly weed to sow, and telling us beautiful flowers would come up "by grace." When the weeds came up we would be disappointed if not enraged. So it will be when Christian people who have not behaved according to the will of Christ are clothed in their own works in the Day of Resurrection. They will be ashamed when they are clothed in dirty rags when others are clothed with sparkling white robes.
What I have just written is scriptural, consistent, and logical. Some will be raised to eternal life, and some to judgment.
We ought to realize that if we please God by our life we will be blessed after we die, and if we live to please our sinful nature we will suffer after we die. This is in accordance with the dictates of our conscience and our common sense.
But I believe that common sense is not as common in religious beliefs and practices as one might desire. So it is with the teaching that if we profess belief in Christ, God will overlook our sinful behavior and after we die bring us to a beautiful mansion in Paradise. We ought to know better than this. Yet, it is a prevalent belief, being held by millions of deceived Christians of our day.
Hopefully, as the Divine judgment sweeps our land because of the incredible immorality that is increasing every day, the Christian people will begin to realize there will be no "rapture" to save them from the consequences of their sinful behavior. Then they may cry out to God to help them in the hour of spiritual darkness and chaos.
As I notice on the Internet the wild displays of flesh, the jungle-beat music, I realize that America is heading toward calamities as God shows His attitude toward the widespread licentiousness. It won't be long in coming, I'm afraid!
Also, the Apostle Paul told us that his goal in life is to attain to the resurrection, which one would assume to be the first resurrection since that is the resurrection of the blessed and holy Royal Priesthood.
I understand that many teachers hold that everyone who professes Christ will participate in the first resurrection, that is the resurrection that will take place when the Lord returns. And everyone who participates in the second resurrection, that which will take place at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age is lost and will be thrown into the Lake of Fire.
This point of view, which may be held by most Christians, simply is not in accord with the Scriptures. I would guess that it probably is another of the distortions that proceed from the teaching of lawless "grace."
Below are the passages in question. See if you agree the current teaching corresponds to the Scripture:
The first resurrection:
I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4-6)
The Second Resurrection:
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:11-15)
Now put on your thinking cap for just a moment. Compare the two passages above.
The current thinking is that the first passage describes the resurrection of all who profess belief in Christ.
The second passage describes the resurrection of all who did not profess belief in Christ, even if they never had heard of Christ.
Does that sound right to you?
My teaching is that the first passage is speaking of those who have attained to the first resurrection, just as Paul was seeking to attain to the resurrection, and will serve God as a governing priesthood.
The second passage tells me that each individual will be judged according to his or her behavior, "what he had done." Obviously, if the individual never had heard the Gospel he or she cannot be accused of rejecting Christ. But that which is obvious to most of us is not obvious to professors of theology. So they proceed to throw those who never heard the Gospel into the Lake of Fire because they did not "accept Christ."
And then you wonder why I take a dim view of religion!
The first of the two passages above by its language is obviously referring to an elite, to victorious Christians. I would think they would be the overcomers of the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation. No books are opened concerning them, because they passed through the Judgment Seat of Christ while still alive on the earth.
As for the second group, they are judged according to what they have done. I would take this to mean how they have behaved and what they have accomplished. Does that sound right to you? It does not state they all were condemned, does it? Yet that is what is preached today.
Now we come up against what I consider an error in Christian thinking. It is that God counts all of our deeds as filthy rags, holding that there never has been a righteous person on the earth.
This teaching, which is supposed to emphasize how necessary it is to "accept Christ," is manifestly unscriptural.
There are many passages of Scripture in the Old Testament that speak of righteous people. Such verses are found especially in Psalms and Proverbs.
Now, regarding the idea that all of our deeds are as filthy rags in God's sight, I might point to a passage I believe will show that the commonly believed teaching is not Scriptural.
Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right." (Acts 10:34,35)
"And do what is right." Does this sound to you like all of our works are filthy rags? The expression "do what is right" would by the average person be taken to mean that God views doing "what is right" the same as what we mean by "good works."
Thus we can see the unscriptural, extreme ideas that are perpetuated in current Christian teaching.
First, that there never has been a righteous personnot even Noah or Daniel.
Second, that God regards the actions of upright people (and there are many upright people who are not Christians) as filthy rags.
God "accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right." That is pretty plain and straightforward, isn't it?
As far as our conduct is concerned:
Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come outthose who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. (John 5:28,29)
Now examine the judgment at the second resurrection: "and each person was judged according to what he had done."
Now look again at John 5:29: "those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned."
But our modern teachers will claim this does not apply to those who are "saved by grace."
I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. (Revelation 2:23)
Our modern teachers will claim that even though the verse above is written to the church in Thyatira, it does not apply to those who are "saved by grace."
Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. (Revelation 22:12)
Our modern teachers will claim that even though the verse above is written to the servants of Christ, it does not apply to those who are "saved by grace."
Now we can understand why I yelled and carried on like that during my first twenty years as pastor of Mount Zion Fellowship. Modern theology is as incorrect as people who used to claim that the earth is flat.
Enough of that.
There is a first resurrection of the dead. It must be attained to. It is the resurrection that will take place when the Lord returns.
Not all who profess faith in Christ will participate in this first resurrection and ascend to meet the Lord in the air. Paul, in the third chapter of the Book of Philippians, speaks of the extreme nature of his consecration to Christcounting all as garbage that he might attain to the resurrection (by inference, the first resurrection).
There is a firstfruits to God and the Lamb. There are those who by virtue of their dedication to Christ are qualified and competent to serve as members of the Royal Priesthood who will govern the earth during the thousand-year Kingdom Age.
This is well worth our following Christ as closely as we can in these days, obeying Him strictly and promptly in all He requires of us. We want to be prepared to rise to meet Him when He next appears.
I know I sure do!
The man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, lifted his right hand and his left hand toward heaven, and I heard him swear by him who lives forever, saying, "It will be for a time, times and half a time. When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed." (Daniel 12:7)
It is my point of view that the Christian people of today take too much for granted concerning their salvation. They think they are under "grace," meaning no matter how they behave they will go to Heaven when they die and live in a mansion.
It absolutely is true if we make the effort to abide in Christ, there is no power that can tear us down from our position at the right hand of God in Christ. However, numerous American Christians are not abiding in Christ, I believe; they do not know what it means to abide in Christ; to live by the Life of Christ at all times in every circumstance.
It is the power of the "holy people" that will be broken. This is not speaking of all physical Jews. It is those, Jews and Gentiles, who are part of Christ who are the "saints," the "holy ones." Numerous Jews of today make no pretense of being "holy," as far as I can see. In fact, some of them are agnostics.
We are too sure of ourselves. How many of us obey the Apostle Paul and pray continually? It is not belief in Christ that saves us, it is obedience to Christ that saves us. There is great misunderstanding at this point.
Notice the following passages:
As I watched, this horn was waging war against the saints and defeating them, until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom. (Daniel 7:21,22)
"This horn was waging war against the saints and defeating them." How can Antichrist defeat the saints? Easily. He surrounds them with available sin, as in America today. Numerous Christians in our country spend their time in various forms of entertainment, practice adultery and fornication, and are casual in their approach to the program of redemption.
They have been defeated! They are not victorious saints or anywhere near being victorious saints.
Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them. (Revelation 11:7)
It is not a question of spiritual power. Jesus Christ has all power, the power of the Father. Rather, Antichrist overpowers the saints as in America today. He lulls them to sleep with ease and available sin.
Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, (Matthew 24:12)
And through his shrewdness He will cause deceit to succeed by his influence; And he will magnify himself in his heart, And he will destroy many while they are at ease. He will even oppose the Prince of princes, But he will be broken without human agency. (Daniel 8:25NASB)
Antichrist works by deception, not at first by power. How many of us on a regular basis pray that God will not lead us into temptation but will deliver us from Satan?
He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. (Daniel 13:7)
It is Christ who gives Antichrist power in order to accomplish Christ's will in the earth, particularly among the saints. In fact, we find in Daniel that Antichrist will be able to ascend into Heaven and tear down some of those who are at God's right hand.
It grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them. (Daniel 8:10)
The tail of the dragon draws a third of the stars of the heaven and casts them into the earth, according to the Book of Revelation.
What are we to conclude from all of this? It is that our salvation is not the neat little package that we thought. It is much more severe! Much more stern! Much more fraught with danger!
We may believe that once a person is in Christ at the right hand of God he or she cannot be torn down. This is not true. How many people of our day who at one time were in Christ have yielded to temptation and have fallen away from Christ!
The current teaching of "grace" is not of God. It is leaving the Christian people unprepared for the fierce battle that confronts every individual who would take a stand for the true Gospel of the Kingdom.
It appears to me from the way the American people are behaving that it will not be too long before Divine judgment falls on our land. Thinking of the world of entertainment, the vilest people are exalted. The media keep pushing the limits until the most obscene presentations will be available to young people, who easily are swayed by their glands.
Many religious leaders, I suppose in order to win the affection of their listeners, are preaching a gospel that is so watered down it does not bring to the people the blood of the cross or the need to deny themselves and follow Jesus along the cruel path that the saints of old have walked.
What do we in America know about persecution, about families torn apart, about believers being beheaded? Yet this is taking place in some parts of the world, while we are watching moral filth on the television and Internet.
Yes, Antichrist has overcome us with his lawless ways; and so we are having fun while members of the Body of Christ in other countries are being tortured and slain.
The true Gospel of the Kingdom must be preached to every nation, and after that the love of the majority will grow cold because of the increase of lawlessness. When the testimony has been overcome, then the person referred to as Antichrist, whose spirit already works in our culture, will be revealed.
Antichrist will cause his statue to be erected on the roof of the temple where Christ was tempted, that he might dramatize his guiding principle, which is that man is his own god. Meanwhile he will sit on the Mercy Seat in a restored Temple in Jerusalem.
All of this will take place before Christ returns.
We had best prepare ourselves to stand in the evil day by abiding in Christ to the fullest extent at all times. We must wrench ourselves away from the American foolishness so we and our loved ones will not be destroyed during the moral chaos that is at hand.
The water became a river through which a "man" was wading. The appearance of the man was like bronze, symbolizing judgment. The man, or angel, was moving "eastward," symbolizing the return of Christ, the beginning of the Day of the Lord.
As the man went eastward with a measuring line in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits and then led me through water that was ankle-deep. He measured off another thousand cubits and led me through water that was knee-deep. He measured off another thousand and led me through water that was up to the waist. He measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim ina river that no one could cross. He asked me, "Son of man, do you see this?" (Ezekiel 47:3-6)
To begin with, the man measured off a thousand cubits. This act of measuring refers to the Divine judgment in which we partake as we are baptized in water, turning away from the ways of the world.
At this time the water of the Spirit is ankle-deep in our life. We have a beginning measure of the Holy Spirit, while most of our personality is still of the first Adam.
Moving eastward, toward the coming of the Lord. we are judged again. This is the Pentecostal experience. The Spirit is knee-deep. The judgment is that against the sins that we practice because of our sinful nature.
Still moving eastward, we are judged again. Now the water is up to the waist, signifying the strength of our life. The judgment is upon our self-will, our insistence in following our own motivations and plans. This is the area of setting aside our own life that we might live by the Life of the Lord Jesus.
Now we come to water over our head. This is the Fullness of God which we receive when we are willing to live by the Life of Jesus at all times. The judgment is that of faithfulness to Christ, of forgetting about our own advantages and entering fully into the love of Christ as it reaches out to other people.
We now are a tree of life, living by the Life of the Tree of Life, the Lord Jesus. We are planted by the River of Life that flows from the Throne of God. We bring water out of the wells of salvation, that is, from the Throne of God that has been established in us. The Spirit and we say to whoever will respond, "Come and drink freely of the water of life."
By this means eternal life will flow into the dead sea of mankind, and multitudes will become part of the Kingdom of God, eligible for citizenship in the new world of righteousness.
When we first come to Christ we have a portion of the Spirit. As we keep overcoming the evil that comes against us, the temptations to sin and to pursue our own way rather than the will of Christ, we are given to eat of the Tree of Life, that is, of the body and blood of Christ.
As we continue to be strengthened in our inward nature, we press forward until we are filled with all the Fullness of God. Now we are able to bring eternal life and justice to those of mankind who will receive Christ by receiving us.
Such is the eternal destiny of every individual who will give himself or herself to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul mentions the change from the first Adam to the life-giving spirit. The life-giving spirit is a transcendent form of humanity. We always will be human beings, but in a different state of being. As we are now we are nothing more than intelligent animals created from the dust of the ground, until Christ is formed in us.
Notice that we are to become life-giving spirits, not just living spirits. Here we find God's ultimate plan. It is to create a Royal Priesthood who will be as trees of life planted by the River of Life. For eternity people will be able to come to us and partake of eternal life.
According to my understanding, not all people who are saved to the new world of righteousness will be trees of life. The trees of life will be part or all of God's Israel, that is, His elect who compose the new Jerusalem. The new Jerusalem is the Kingdom of God proper, the government destined to rule the people who have been saved from the nations of mankind.
It appears that the population of mankind will increase throughout eternity, The Scripture declares that of the increase of Christ's Kingdom there shall be no end. Since this is true, there always will be people who need to partake of the tree of life. In fact it may be true that the peoples of the new earth will need to be refreshed periodically by the trees of life.
You know, it is my impression that the saved people of the new world, not counting the elect who compose the holy city, will lead much more of the kind of life that we are accustomed to than we may have understood.
Look at the following passage from Isaiah. This is describes people who are living in the new world of righteousness. See if it fits what you believe will be true at that time:
They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat. For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the works of their hands. They will not toil in vain. (Isaiah 65:21-23)
We do not become a life-giving spirit overnight. We pass through many fires and many waters as eternal life if developed in us. The life-giving spirit is a new creation in Christ.
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledgethat you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:16-19)
I cannot emphasize too strongly that our adamic nature cannot enter the Kingdom of God or minister eternal life to people. We can tell other people about Jesus, but that is different from actually giving eternal life to them.
I am stressing this because of the current teaching of "grace," and especially of the totally unscriptural doctrine of the "rapture" to Heaven of Christian people so they will not be harmed by Antichrist or the Great Tribulation.
Some pastors have their congregations jump up and down in front of their pews to "prepare for the rapture." This is so utterly foolish! The people are being given the impression that any moment they will fly up through the roof of the church, pass through the sky, and enter Heaven in their adamic state.
This is preposterous! The people, most of them, are not life-giving spirits. They still are children of Adam having their sinful, self-willed personalities. They are not able to bring eternal life to the dead sea of mankind. They are not able to ride the white war stallions and install the will of God on the earth.
They still are bound in their sinful nature. Many of them are filled with bitterness and unforgiveness. Are they going to bring their sin and self-seeking into Paradise? If not, when will they be changed? When they are flying through the air? This picture is so ridiculous I marvel that any Christian can believe that such nonsense is going to take place.
The Bible says if we are in Christ we are a new creation, and that all things of us are of God. I think this is not true of many professed believers. Can you imagine the lukewarm believers of America being caught up to Heaven in a rapture? I do not believe this is either scriptural or realistic.
Well, God loves all His people and He will not let this delusion continue. We are facing very difficult times in America, and I think that when people see they were not raptured to Heaven to escape such trouble they may be open to the truth of the New Testament.
The idea of a transcendent humanity, of people living by the Life of the Lord Jesus, is so marvelous, that we are encouraged to keep on plowing ahead with this glorious goal in front of us. Let's be sure we keep on keeping on, because the rewards exceed by far any picture I am able to paint.
Then too, the opening sermon of the Church Age included the following words: "No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel" (Acts 2:16). To my mind, this sentence suggest that Joel's prophecy is of special importance to us Christians.
In some of my earlier writings I may have associated the second chapter of Joel with Revelation, Chapter Nineteen, supposing that Joel was speaking of the return of Christ with His armies of saints and angels.
However, as I was writing my book, Godwill Castle, it came to me that this is not the same event as that described in Revelation 19. Rather, it is speaking of the time after the vanquishing of Antichrist, the False Prophet, and Satan, when Christ and His saints will go through the earth, destroying the Antichrist institutions, judging the people and sending them to their appointed destinies either on the earth or in the spirit world, and sending the demons into their appropriate places of incarceration in the spirit world.
When you think about it, such a cleansing of the earth would be necessary after the victory at Har Magedon, as described in Revelation 19. First, the power of Satan must be destroyed. Then, the earth must be cleansed of the Antichrist institutions, wicked people, and the demons.
But let's take a look at the second chapter of Joel and see if this fits what I have suggested:
Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming. It is close at hand(Joel 2:1)
Now, picture that the wicked leaders and their armies have been destoyred at Har Magedon. What would it be like on the earth. No doubt, massive confusion among the Christian believers who were not carried up to Christ in the air and did not descend with Him. Massive confusion among the drug cartels and other wicked people.
Massive confusion among those in the entertainment field; massive confusion among the news people. Massive confusion in the business world. Massive confusion everywhere.
The Lord and His armies are stationed in Jerusalem. Now Jesus goes out at the head of His saints and angels to cleanse the institutions of Antichrist and all wicked people and spirits from the earth. This will take a considerable period of time, but is it absolutely necessary if the Lord is to assign His saints as heads of government at every locality on the earth.
There will be no more large governmental units, such as countries and large cities. It is impossible to lead large populations in the ways of righteousness. Only small towns and villages can be governed in righteousness by the Lord's trusted saints.
Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming. It is close at hand(Joel 2:1)
Zion is another name for Jerusalem, the city of the living God. Here the trumpet will sound. All the inhabitants of the earth will tremble in fear. The Day of the Lord is the time when the Lord alone is exalted. That Day is near at hand for the whole earth.
A day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness. Like dawn spreading across the mountains a large and mighty army comes, such as never was of old nor ever will be in ages to come. (Joel 2:2)
This is how the earth will appear to all those who were not resurrected and caught up to Christ when He returns. Especially to those of the Christian churches who pursued their careless lives instead of learning to live by the Life of the Lord Jesus.
It is the church people especially, already tormented by the fact that their leaders had misled them concerning grace-Heaven-rapture, who will be terrified beyond belief when they behold Christ on His huge white war stallion, followed by the saints also on white war stallions. Marching in front of Christ will be the giant Michael, followed by the angel trumpeters and drummers and then the legions of warrior angels. The earth will tremble from the tread of the feet of the ten-feet tall angels.
After the legions of angels will be the ranks of victorious saints on their white war stallions. Each of these warriors that been through fiery tests, and have remained faithful to Christ. It is given to them to judge the wicked.
They will examine the people, one at a time, and direct the angels as to the disposing of the people, whether to be sent to the land of darkness in the spirit world, or to go to safe habitations on the earth until the earth has been cleansed from sin.
These same saints, a thousand years later, will pass judgment on people and angels at the second resurrection.
This is a period in earth's history that is terrible beyond description.
All this is evidence that God's judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you. (II Thessalonians 1:5-10)
Before them fire devours, behind them a flame blazes. Before them the land is like the garden of Eden, behind them, a desert waste nothing escapes them. (Joel 2:3)
The Antichrist civilization appears to be as Eden. Remember, when they say "peace and safety," then sudden destruction. This will take place when spiritual darkness covers the earth, but the physical world will appear to be bright and promising.
It is like this today in America, where imposing works of human creativity can be seen. But those who have eyes to see and ears to hear what is true spiritually, the environment indeed is ghastly with the demonic exhibitions of lewdness on the part of the entertainers.
What will it be like in another ten years I would not venture to guess.
After the army of Christ passes through, that which had been so glamorous will be a wasteland. That is why it states in Isaiah that the saints will "renew the ruined cities."
They have the appearance of horses; they gallop along like cavalry. (Joel 2:4)
Christ and His saints will be mounted on their white war stallions at this time.
With a noise like that of chariots they leap over the mountaintops, like a crackling fire consuming stubble, like a mighty army drawn up for battle. (Joel 2:5)
There will be the tremendous noise of trumpets, the angel drummers, the hoof beats of the war stallions, the cry of Michael as he declares the coming of the Kingdom of God, the screams of the terrified people, the barking of dogs, the crying of children.
Please keep in mind that this scene will be taking place in all the cities of the earth where Antichrist's spirit has been operating. Christ, His saints, and His warrior angels have the power of multiple presence. They will be all over the earth at once.
I am under the impression that native villages, such as in Africa and the Amazon jungle will not be affected by this army.
There is no power in the heavens of on the earth that can in any manner stop the army of Christ. All the proud looks of the important people will be brought down in that Day. The Lord alone shall be exalted.
At the sight of them, nations are in anguish; every face turns pale. (Joel 2:6)
In our day most of the people are proud. The leading politicians make grand pronouncements. The scientists assure us that there is no God and so we can relax and eat, drink, and be merry. The godless reporters of the news scoff at and scorn anyone who places his or her trust in God.
But when Christ comes at the head of His army, the mouths of the politicians shall be shut. The scientists, even when they can see Christ and His army will deny their existence. The godless reporters will warp the news, saying this is a trick of some sort and the perpetrators soon will be found out.
Finally the people of the nations of the earth will be forced to confess that this actually is taking place. There is a God. There is a Christ. And now there is nothing anyone can do. The King of all kings and the Lord of all lords is on the earth with those despised Christians. Every other power can do nothing but tremble.
They charge like warriors; they scale walls like soldiers. They all march in line, not swerving from their course. (Joel 2:7)
Numerous believers in the churches in America are soft. They have not learned to bear up under hardships as good soldiers of Christ. But here and there is a believer who has been taught by the Holy Spirit. He or she has learned to endure hardness. In Christ they have surmounted what seem to be impossible obstacles. They stay on the path Christ has set for them and do not wander about in an undisciplined manner.
They know what God's will is for them, and they do not depart from it.
They do not jostle each other; each marches straight ahead. They plunge through defenses without breaking ranks. (Joel 2:8)
One of the major problems in our churches is that people "jostle" each other. They desire preeminence. They harbor unforgiveness and jealousy. They often are bitter. They push one another aside in order to gain an advantage. The gossip and criticize one another. As long as they do this they are not fit to march with Jesus Christ.
The soldiers in the army of the Lord do not permit suspicion or some other root of bitterness to spring up in their midst. If someone tries to start a circle of gossip going, they refuse to hear it. They do not break ranks. Each one seeks the welfare of the others.
This seems impossible, considering the churches of today. But only those who seek the welfare of their fellow members of the Body of Christ will be resurrected and caught up to meet the Lord in the air when He appears.
They rush upon the city; they run along the wall. They climb into the houses; like thieves they enter through the windows. (Joel 2:9):
The Lord and His hosts keep charging ahead. No wall can stop them. They can overcome gravity at will. They can vary their size at will, so that a saint, if he wishes to inspect the inhabitants of a house, can enter a house through a window, while still mounted. They and their stallion shrink in size according to the need at hand. Time, size, gravity, and distance are subject to them, just as these four powers are subject to Christwho created them in the first place.
Before them the earth shakes, the sky trembles, the sun and moon are darkened, and the stars no longer shine. (Joel 2:10)
These signs on earth and in the sky signify that the Day of the Lord is here.
Immediately after the distress of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken. (Matthew 24:29)
God's patience is amazing. From the time of Satan's rebellion in Heaven, God has waited. For six thousand years Satan has defiled the earth and its people. Still God has waited. But in the Day of Christ, God will reveal His attitude toward all the proud works of the flesh of man.
The LORD thunders at the head of his army; his forces are beyond number, and mighty are those who obey his command. The day of the LORD is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it? (Joel 2:11)
We can prepare ourselves today by learning to live by the Life of the Lord Jesus Christ.
One advertisement caught my eye. "Latter Rain Revival," it stated. The pastor was A. Earl Lee. The visiting evangelists were the Hawtin party from some city in Canada.
I said to Audrey, that sounds interesting. Let's go there tomorrow.
That was a wise decision. The glory of God was very present. There was good teaching from the Word. George and Ern Hawtin were there. I don't remember whether or not Brother Kirkpatrick was there.
When we came back to San Diego we told Pastor Dowell about what we had witnessed. He invited the Hawtins to come to San Diego. As I remember, we were holding a meeting in a mission in downtown San Diego.
Those were wonderful days. There was a great deal of laying on of hands and personal prophecy. This practice is common now, but back then the Assemblies of God regarded laying on of hands and personal prophecy as heresy and asked Stanley Howard Frodsham to leave the denomination.
So Brother Dowell invited Brother Frodsham and his wife to come to San Diego to minister to us. Dismissing Brother Frodsham from the Assemblies because of the "Latter Rain" was somewhat ridiculous, in that he was the long-time editor of the "Pentecostal Evangel" and the author of the definitive work, With Signs Following.
Every Pentecostal person should read this book. You can get it from the Gospel Publishing House, at Springfield, Missouri.
Brother Frodsham at that time was somewhat disgusted with his former denomination. He said, "The Latter Rain revival is what we had in the early days of Pentecost." At that time were worshiping in a large tent on the border of National City.
On the grounds there was a private concession that offered a ride on a small carousel. When he was with us in San Diego, Brother Frodsham pointed to the carousel as it whirled around in a circle and said, "That is the Assemblies of God!" He did not say this bitterly but regretfully. He knew that the doctrine and the laying on of hands and personal prophecy were not different from the early days of Pentecost at the beginning of the twentieth century.
My personal belief is that the Latter Rain began with the Protestant Reformation. The Early Rain is described in the Book of Acts.
If someone is bothered by the terms Early Rain and Latter Rain, just substitute the words Fall Rain and Spring Rain. They are the same thing with different titles.
What the Hawtin party brought to us was nothing more than a step forward in the working of the Divine redemption, a continuation of the Pentecostal revival The Pentecostal revival of modern times is the Latter Rain of the Spirit of God.
The concept of the Fall and Spring rains is tied to the agriculture of Israel. The Fall rains follow the dry summer season and moisten the baked ground so wheat and other crops can be planted. Let's say about the month of September.
The Fall rains are followed by sporadic winter rains. Then, beginning in January or February, the Spring downpours of rain bring the wheat to maturity. This must be followed by cessation of rain so the heads of wheat do not rot.
It is as simple as that. The Christian Church began with the giving of the Holy Spirit by the Lord Jesus so the Gospel seed could be planted throughout the world.
Then there were sporadic works of the Spirit during the Dark Ages. We can think of 500 to 1000 A.D. This was followed by the Renaissance period, during which time the Protestant Reformation began. To my thinking, the Latter, or Spring Rain began at that time with the fundamental knowledge that we cannot accomplish our salvation by abusing our flesh.
As we trace the restoration of Divine truth, that which had been lost immediately after the death of the Apostles, we can see from the time of the Protestant Reformer the increments of understanding of the Scriptures that have been gained, the setting of beams, doors, bolts, and bars to allude to the third chapter of Nehemiah.
By the way, the third chapter of Nehemiah contains excellent symbols of the restoration that has been ongoing since the sixteenth century. This is the Latter Rain of the Spirit of God.
I do not like to be critical of the Catholic Church, or of any other religious organization. But the history of the Catholic Church, with its Inquisitions and other acts of vindictiveness against Christians, and even its Crusades against the Muslims, have nothing whatever to do with the Lord Jesus Christ. They are the works of cruel, murderous religious men, however well intentioned.
Babylon the Great, in the Book of Revelation, stands for all religious organizations. Sooner or later they end up murdering the work of Christ by concealing the work of God's Spirit from the understanding of people, just as was true of the Assemblies of God when the Lord began to refresh His work in the earth.
The work of restoration has proceeded slowly, according to our time; swiftly, according to God's time; since its beginning in the 1700s. At the beginning of the twentieth century, speaking in tongues, prophecy, and other gifts of the Spirit were restored.
Just as described in the forty-seventh chapter of the Book of Ezekiel, the stream of water continues to enlarge, the depth increasing.
He measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim ina river that no one could cross. (Ezekiel 47:5)
Now, in the twenty-first century, the water is coming up to our waist. Previously, in the Pentecostal experience, the water has been up to our knees.
The waist represents our strength. Athletic theory holds that our strength has to do with the center of our body, that is, our waist.
And so it is true. Today we are called to share in the Divine strength that will be necessary in the future. That strength cannot possibly come from our adamic nature. We must set aside our own life and strength that the Life and strength of Jesus Christ can takes it place.
Deciding to live by the strength of Jesus Christ rather than by our own strength is a definite step forward in the "water," we might say. It is not something that we float into as we are relaxing. We have to tell God in no uncertain terms that we want it said of us that for us to live is Christ and to die is gain.
It is as definite a step as we took when we first were converted; and when we prayed through until we spoke in tongues.
But the fullness of the Latter Rain, the Spring Rain outpouring, has not as yet attained its climax. The climax is described in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation in the symbolism of the "Two Witnesses." The Two Witnesses tell us about the double portion, the Elisha portion, of the Spirit of God coming upon the tested and approved saints so they may preach the Gospel of the Kingdom to every nation on the earth.
Then the end of the Christian witness will be here and the evil spirit of the Antichrist will take control of the major cities of the earth.
After the water to the waist there are waters to swim in. If we would press on past the water to the waist we must declare resolutely that we are going to enter the fullness of Jesus Christ. We are going to think as He is thinking. We are going to speak as He is speaking. We are going to act as He is doing.
The idea of entering into the Life of Christ may sound neither attractive nor possible to us. Let me say it is both attractive and possible. The only power that stands between you and me and the Fullness of God in Christ is our own unbelief.
We do not enter such fullness by working ourselves up to it. Rather we pray and obey. The Fullness comes as we are strengthened in our inward nature and the riches of God's Glory are given to us. Our task is to believe and obey. All the rest of our entrance into the Fullness is God's responsibility, once we decide this is what we desire.
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledgethat you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:16-19)
Thus the Latter Rain shall continue to fall until it is a river that cannot be crossed over, waters to swim in. And the end is not yet. Our becoming a life-giving spirit is only the beginning of this eternal story.
Our Lord Jesus is a Life-giving Spirit. His brothers also have been made life-giving spirits. When the Lord Jesus next appears to the earth, He and His fellow life-giving spirits will be caught up to meet Him in the air. Then the whole enormous Tree of Life will descend on the white war stallions to bring eternal Life, the Life of Christ, to the nations of the earth.
He asked me, "Son of man, do you see this?"
Then he led me back to the bank of the river. When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. He said to me, "This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Sea. When it empties into the Sea, the water there becomes fresh. Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live." (Ezekiel 47:6-9)
If we are willing to press forward until we are a life-giving spirit, our role for eternity will be to serve as a tree of life for the people whom God makes inhabitants of His new world of righteousness.
So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. (I Corinthians 15:45)
Our greatest joy throughout the countless ages to come will be to give the Life of Christ to everyone who is thirsty.
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. (Isaiah 12:3)
The water of eternal Life proceeds only from the Throne of God. If we are to be a source of eternal life, then the Throne of God must be created in us. The creation of the Throne in us is not possible until we decide to be sternly obedient to God.
The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life. (Revelation 22:17)
The Bride says "Come!" The Church says "Come!" Every saint who has become a life-giving spirit says "Come!" to whoever is thirsty.
Would you like to be one of those who have become an integral part of the one great Tree of Life, the Lord Jesus Christ? Then you must give yourself wholly to Christ without reservation. Turn your back on all the mistakes of the past and let Christ Himself be your future. Be totally engrossed with Him!
It is no wonder that the Apostle Paul was so impressed with God's wisdom. As I reflect upon the two thousand years of the Christian Era, noting that they are but two "days" to God, I absolutely marvel at all that has gone before.
First, the fullness of the revelation was given to the Apostles, particularly to the Apostle Paul. Then there was a period of darkness, we might say, before the invention of the printing press, when the faithful monks copied by hand the Scriptures.
Now the Latter Rain began to fall, with the Protestant Reformers. How the Catholic Church fought the Spirit of God at that time!
In spite of all the mockery and scorn they suffered, and sometimes torture and death, God's true remnant pressed forward.
The was a good deal of scorn directed toward those who spoke in tongues, at the beginning of the twentieth century. They were the "holy rollers." But now, with the Charismatic renewal, it is fashionable to speak in tongues, as long as one practices this phenomenon in his or her home and not in the assembling.
How the mighty have fallen, as though their shields were not anointed with oil!
I think we now are in a time of further understanding of God's Word. It always has been true that the New Testament pointed toward our losing our life that Christ might live in us.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
The above says it all. There really is no revelation beyond this, and it came forth in the first century.
I have heard many sermons in my life. I do not remember ever hearing anyone, man or woman, preach Galatians 2:20. I suppose we all knew it was in the New Testament, but what it meant may have been a bit foggy.
Yet, Galatians points toward the fullness of redemption. My adamic nature has been crucified with Christ. I am not living any longer. Christ lives in me.
I live by faith in the Son of God. This signifies that I keep looking to the Son of God in faith so that I truly am living by His Life.
There is no higher work of redemption than this. This is our goal and the basis for the kind of role we shall play throughout eternity. We live through Christ as Christ lives through the Father.
So we see that the basic story of mankind is told again in the story of the redemption of mankind. It is the story of Adam and Eve; of Samson; of the prodigal son.
We are freely given something of great value. Then through carelessness and lack of experience we lose it. Then it is restored to us, a bar and bolt at a time, so to speak. Once we get it back we are not so careless and inexperienced.
It reminds me of Moses in a fit of anger breaking the tables of stone, and then having to chisel them out himself and carry them up the mountain.
Sometimes today people are careless about their health and have to lose it before they appreciate it and try to take care of it.
As I said, this is the basic story of mankind. We can learn from this to carefully guard what God gives to it. If we lose it, we might neverno, not for eternitybe able to get it back!
God told Adam and Eve that they were dust and would return to the dust. This is interesting because the modern viewpoint seems to be that the inward nature of man is of supreme importance. But God seemed to ignore their inward nature, because the inward nature was not created from dust!
People really are intelligent animals. So what forces are there that keep downplaying the importance of the body as though we are some kind of superior creature, of which the body is a nuisance that we drag around?
The Bible refers to the human body as the temple of the Spirit of God. That is a pretty important role, don't you think?
The irony of our discrediting the role of the body is, it is the body that occupies most of our thinking and worries. It is by the body that we identify people, not ordinarily by their inward nature.
God said, "If you eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil you shall die." Well, they ate from the tree. They did not die physically for nearly a thousand years. But in God's time, a thousand years is a day. The moment they ate they were cut off from God's Life, and those splendid creations, their bodies, began to wither.
You know, we are born with some kind of body. Then, as we press forward in Christ, our inward nature begins to increase in actual life, the Life of Christ. As the years go by, our body begins to wither because death is working in it. After we die we are in some sort of spiritual form. Then, in the Day of Resurrection, we are given a body that matches our transformed inner nature.
In the resurrection the righteous receive a body of eternal life. The wicked receive a body of corruption to match their inward nature. With this in mind, every one of us should be preparing for our resurrection today, because we shall be resurrected at some point in the future, and there is no power that can change that!
Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come outthose who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. (John 5:28,29)
The good will live. The wicked will be condemned. This is true, in the Day of Resurrection, whether or not there has been a religious affiliation or profession. If the Father draws someone to Christ, and the person refuses to receive Christ and His salvation, then that person is counted as wicked, although his or her moral behavior may be above reproach.
There is no salvation, no eternal life, and no citizenship in the new world of righteousness for the individual who will not receive Jesus Christ as the absolute Lord of his or her life.
As I asked previously, "What forces are there that stress that the body is unimportant and the inward nature is all that really counts?" It is the widespread assumption that our goal is to live eternally in Heaven, and we do not need a physical body to do that!
If you stop and think about it, Satan cares little about our inward nature. His interest in our body and what Satan can tempt it to do.
The religion of Gnosticism is another force that stresses the unimportance of the physical body. Gnosticism holds that spirit is good and matter is evil. I believe Christian thinking has been influenced heavily by Gnosticism.
The doctrine of the "rapture" of the believers to Heaven to live forever in a spirit Paradise reflects the current minor role assigned to the body. In fact, I do not know whether or not the proponents of the rapture believe that our body will be caught up to Heaven. It is certain that the resurrection of the body, the raising it from the dead, does not appear to be a main emphasis of the rapture teaching.
I think too that because of the universality of the teaching of the rapture, multitudes of God's people in the world do not know or care if there will or will not be a resurrection of their body. If, as they say, matter is evil and spirit is good, who cares whether or not the body is raised from the dead.
That is an interesting thought, isn't it? When Christ appears, He is going to bring with Him the elect of the dead from the time of Abel. All of these people have been accustomed to live in the spirit world, some of them for thousands of years.
Since this is a scriptural fact, and if the spirit world is so wonderful, why are they returning with Christ to pick up their bodies? Do they need a body in Heaven? They certainly do need a body if they are going to rule with Christ over the nations of the earth, because without a body they would be invisible.
Yes, they will return with the Lord and be resurrected before they are caught up to mount the white war stallions. This is the overcoming of the last enemy, the climax of redemption, as I stated previously.
We see, therefore, that the teaching of the "rapture" is a deadly error that has pushed aside the goal of redemption, which is the resurrection from the dead. Was the Apostle Paul pressing forward with all of his dedication to attain to the catching up, or to the resurrection?
Today we are able to conceal what kind of person we actually are. It will not be so in the Day of Resurrection. The kind of person we actually are will be revealed for all to see, because it will be revealed in the kind of body we are given.
Our body today is the temple of the Spirit of God. After the resurrection our body still will be the temple of the Spirit of God. The new Jerusalem itself is the assemblage of the resurrected bodies of the righteous. Daniel says the righteous shall shine like the stars forever. Daniel is not referring to those who are righteous by imputation but to those who are righteous in behavior.
For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. (I Corinthians 15:21-23)
The verse above really is food for thought. Notice that when the terms "dead" or "death" are used, they have nothing to do with our inward nature. This is important to emphasize, because the current teaching is that the death of the body is not important. Actually, we believe, the person is not truly dead because his or her inward nature is alive in Christ.
Adam died physically. Christ died physically. We die physically. Adam will be made alive in his body in the Day of Resurrection. Christ already has been made alive in His body. Those who belong to Christ will be made alive in their body in the Day of Resurrection.
Correct thus far?
The last enemy to be destroyed is death. (I Corinthians 15:26)
The program of redemption will continue until every enemy of Christ has been put under His feet. The last enemy to be put under His feet is physical death.
If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus for merely human reasons, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die." (I Corinthians 15:26)
We of today would not speak like the above verse. We might say that we should not live riotously because it might endanger our place in Heaven. (Actually we would not say that, because according to what we have been taught, "grace" would prevent our being in danger of not going to Heaven no matter how we live.)
But you seldom would hear anyone say that we should base our behavior on the fact that our body is going to be raised from the dead.
If I am correct in what I am saying, we are off course in our teaching and preaching.
So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. (I Corinthians 15:42-44)
We see from the above verses that the body that is raised from the dead comes from our present body, just a plant comes from the seed that is sown. However, at the time of the resurrection our resurrected body will be clothed with a body from Heaven.
As Paul tells us in the Book of Galatians, we will reap what we sow. We sow our body now, either to sin or to righteousness. If we sow to sin, then our body will be raised in sin. If however we sow to the Spirit of God, who always leads us in righteous behavior, our body will be raised in the eternal Life of the Spirit.
It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being" the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. (I Corinthians 15:44,45)
Notice once more the emphasis on the body instead of the inward nature. It absolutely is true that a body that is a life-giving spirit will never clothe an inward nature that is corrupt. First the inward nature must be transformed by being filled with Christ. Then God will clothe the transformed inward nature with a body that also is of the Life of Christ.
This is how the trees of life are formed that will descend with the great Tree of Life and bring justice and eternal life to those of mankind who will receive the Life of Christ.
The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven. (I Corinthians 15:47-49)
The first man was dust. Our original adamic person is dust. The Man from Heaven is a Life-giving Spirit. So it is true that those of us who follow Him each day and obey Him strictly will, in the Day of Resurrection, be a tree of life.
I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. (I Corinthians 15:50)
Paul is telling us here that people who still are in the original nature cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is inherited by people who have been made new in Christ.
By "new in Christ" I am not speaking of belief, or faith, or imputed righteousness, or identification with Christ. I means their inward nature has been transformed by the Presence of Christ in them, and they have been clothed with a compatible body. They have become new creationsrighteous personalities filled to the full with Divine Life.
Right here is revealed the destructive error of the doctrine of the "rapture of the believers." No one is going to be caught up to Heaven until that individual has become a new, righteous creation. This does not include, apparently, the majority of the professors of Christ at the present time.
The people are being taught a false, unrealistic, unscriptural hope. Accordingly, they are not preparing themselves for the evil day that is approaching the United States.
Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed(I Corinthians 15:51)
If I am not mistaken, numerous believers in Christ are basing their hope on the above verse, believing that on the way as they are caught up to Heaven they will be changed into a better personality.
This is not true. The chapter we are studying is speaking only of the body. If our whole personality would become godly in the twinkling of an eye, then there would be no sowing and reaping.
The great delusion of the "grace" teaching of our day is that if we profess belief in Christ, our redemption takes place instantly by faith and grace. It is a kind of magic, an illusion. There is no substance in it. The Kingdom of God becomes a vapor, a vision in God's mind. Nothing more.
The true saints knows the many painful years of coming to know Christ; of becoming a new creation in Christ. The "grace" teaching would have all of this happening by magic at the last trumpet.
It is a massive error, being taught throughout the world as the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. It is a triumph of satanic deception, insuring that there will be churches filled with people of good will who suppose that one day they will fulfill God's requirements.
Do we really believe that the Lamb wants a Bride who really is an untransformed son or daughter of Adam, who is pure and holy by assigned righteousness and holiness? Is the image of God going to be formed in us magically when the last trumpet sounds. Do you believe this? I don't!
How are we to prepare for the Divine judgment that is approaching America because of our sins? By pretending that we are prepared to be caught up to Heaven at any minute now? What are we going to do when cruel people abound in our country and we are faced with tragedies of every sort, just as is true in the present hour of members of the Body of Christ in other countries?
Most of us are soft, and ill prepared to face what soon will come to pass in America. Now is the time to press into Christ and ask Him for a report card, before we are confronted with intense suffering.
In keeping with the prominence of the "firstfruits" in God's thinking, there is a firstfruits of mankind who are especially close to the Lord Jesus. I don't believe I ever have heard the concept of the "firstfruits" preached. Have you?
Why is this topic not preached often. It really is important to Christian thinking. I think sometimes there is an effort to keep the believers as spiritual infants. I don't understand why this should be.
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)
Notice that it is the Lamb, not the Lion of Judah. This is because the Bride is not the bride of the Lion, or of Christ, but of the Lamb. She is married to Him by eating His flesh and drinking His blood.
It is true among us Christians that some of us really love the Lamb. But I suppose most of us want to escape Hell and go to some decent place after we die. As far as loving the Lamb enough to be part of the Firstfruits, I think such may be in a small minority.
Standing on Mount Zion indicates that they are ready to follow the Lamb into battle against the wickedness in the heavens and upon the earth. The Bride is "terrible as an army with banners." She is no simple-minded Eve. She is a warrior just like her Lord.
Since 144,000 is a multiple of twelve, it probably is a symbolic number. I can't say one way or another. I hope there are more believers than that, who love the Lamb fervently enough to be part of His firstfruits.
His name written on their forehead signifies that they belong to Him in a special way. Their mind is the mind of Christ. They always think, speak and act as He is thinking, speaking, and acting.
The Father's name written on their forehead indicates that doing the will of God is of first importance in their life. They will descend with Christ to install the Kingdom of God, the doing of God's will, in the earth.
And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. (Revelation 14:2)
Being a musician, I find it difficult to imagine a harp that sounded like rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. I would submit that there are two thoughts herebeauty and power.
In the Lamb's eyes, His Bride is exceedingly beautiful with the beauty of holiness. He has endued her with powerpower far greater than any force we can imagine. The Lamb did speak into being outer space and all of its galaxies of stars and planets. This is power quite beyond our comprehension. All the armies of the earth would be as nothing when compared with the power of the galactic Christ.
The Bride set forth as the firstfruits to God and the Lamb is the only one of her mother. There are numerous other people who form the universal Bride, the new Jerusalem. But those described here are special to God and the Lamb.
And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. (Revelation 14:3)
A new song. Music plays a major role in the life of Heaven. The people described here as so unique that a special song is composed for them. Who composed this song? This honor would not be given to an angel, I don't believe, but to a human being whom the Lamb had chosen.
The firstfruits sing their song before the Throne of God and of the Lamb. It is a royal invitation. The four cherubim of glory, and the elders who serve as councilors for the Lamb, are witnesses of the love for the Lamb of these intense disciples, and the Lamb's love for them.
It is so like God to provide music for this momentous occasion. Never before in the history of the creation has there been a gathering of those who love God's Lamb to this extent. It actually is the beginning of all that God has brought about in the earth, and gives us a glimpse of what is ahead for us throughout the countless ages of eternity.
I have commented in other writings about the various ranks in the Kingdom of God. We in America are not as class conscious as used to be true in the countries of Europe. Our idea is that all people are created equal, and no one is better than anyone else.
This is not true in the Kingdom of God. God chooses the role each person shall play. He is the Potter, and we who are the clay are in no position to judge God or try to tell Him what He can and cannot do.
We might object that every person has an opportunity to be a member of the firstfruits company. In a sense that is true, in that the Lamb will receive anyone who wants to be engrossed with Him. However, I tend to believe that this desire to be with Christ is given to certain people, and their destiny is planned accordingly. Of course, they must respond to this calling if it is to be fulfilled.
God will never stop anyone who wants to be close to the Lamb. But when we look about us we do not find many who love the Lamb as fervently as do the firstfruits.
In the final analysis, it is God who works in us to will and to do His good pleasure.
Only these followers of the Lamb can learn this special song. Why not? It is not created in the hearts of other people. This song to the Lamb simply is not in them, not now, and probably not for eternity.
These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. (Revelation 14:4)
They did not defile themselves with women but kept themselves pure. My personal opinion is that the above verse is not speaking of sexual relations with women. Notice the following passage:
Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. (Hebrews 13:4)
It is given to some people to marry and to others not to marry. I have not seen good come from the religious practice that emphasizes people should not marry. Unless God ordains that certain individuals should not marry, those who are compelled by their religion to refrain from marriage live in a state of repression that sometimes breaks out in undesirable or even illegal actions.
The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. (I Timothy 4:1-3)
Given the two passages above, I do not think a case can be made that Revelation 14:4 is suggesting that marriage is to be avoided because it somehow is unclean. Paul urges the young women to marry and bear children. Paul would never have said such a thing if marriage somehow is unclean. This forcing of abstinence is a doctrine of demons, and the fruit is not good.
I believe rather that "women" should be interpreted to mean anything that we "marry" and cling to. This can be a talent, a job, money, a position, or even a relationship with another person if it is not God's plan for us. Sometimes we hear people use the expression: "He is married to his job."
Whatever God calls for we must give to Him. Otherwise we have an idol that we are worshiping, perhaps without realizing it.
When we come before the Lamb there must not be any person or any thing whatever that we bring with us. We must worship Him, and Him alone. He will have no competitors for our affection!
"They follow the Lamb wherever He goes." This must be true of us todayright now. We must follow the Lamb at all times and obey Him joyously, completely, and promptly.
One of the errors in Christian thinking is that while we may be casual today, when we die or when the Lord comes we suddenly will begin to follow Him diligently. We ought to realize what foolishness such a hope is.
If we are not consumed with a desire to follow the Lamb right now, we will not gain such a desire by dying or by the Lord's return. Today, not tomorrow, is the Day of Salvation.
I suppose one of the great misunderstandings in Christian thinking is that dying will make us a better person. It assuredly will not. When we die we pass into the spirit world just as we are, with all of our doubts, fears, concerns, worries, ambitions, and other personal characteristics. Why should it be different? What would change us? We are living in a fantasy world if we imagine dying will make us a disciple of Christ!
If we do not want to be placed, when we die, with people who are like ourselves, then we are wise if we begin to change immediately into the kind of person we admire.
We follow the Lamb wherever he goes because we enjoy His Presence and want to be with Him. There are people like this. But it is not true of most church members, I believe.
"They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb." This gives us kind of a global picture, doesn't it. God looks down upon mankind and chooses this person and that person. They were purchased from among men and were offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb.
It reminds us of the person who found a treasure in a field, and in order to obtain it he had to buy the whole field.
He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. (I John 2:2)
The Lamb purchased the whole world in order to buy the firstfruits. This gives us some idea of how special they are to God.
No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless. (Revelation 14:5)
It appears that each of us human beings is a liar by nature. I guess we inherited a lying spirit as part of our sinful nature. Most people lie when they are under stress. There are others who, it seems, would rather lie than tell the truth.
We tend to be evasive. On many occasions we mask what we are thinking. We talk too much because we are trying to be persuasive, or else are afraid. Like Jacob, we are supplanters by nature.
It requires repeated immersions in a very hot furnace before the lie is burnt out of us and we can tell the truth in every situation. There is no lie in God, and if we are to be in His image there must be no lie in us.
If we have a good and helpful reason to lie, and our lie is not just some trickery we are employing to get what we want, then we can work this out with God.
There is no lie found in the mouth of the firstfruits. Because of this they are found blameless before God.
The first death is the death to the world that we proclaim in water baptism. The idea is that we, as dramatized by our immersion in water, are signifying that we desire to die with Christ on the cross. This might be thought of as death to the world.
When we come out of the water of baptism we are saying that we now have been resurrected with Christ and are beginning a new life that is shared with Him.
So it is death to the world and resurrection into Christ and His Kingdom. This is water to the ankles.
The second death is death to sin, the alien forces that inhabit our body and spirit. It is the task of the Holy Spirit to keep making these alien forces visible to us. The Spirit brings us into situations that cause these alien spirits to demonstrate their presence in our flesh.
These forces can be anger, pride, jealousy, lying, hatred, unforgiveness, bitterness, lust, and so forth.
When we become aware of the presence of an unclean spirit in us we are to confess the specific behavior that was manifest, telling Christ that we have sinned and will never do this again. Then we are to do what we have promised. Christ will help us with this.
We are to denounce the spirit as unworthy of the Kingdom of God. We are to renounce the spirit, asking the Lord Jesus to remove it from us. We must renounce the spirit with all the determination we can bring to bear on it. Then we are to ask the Lord to help us never to act in that manner again from this moment through eternity.
If we confess, denounce, and renounce the sin and ask Jesus to help us, we will find that the next time we are tempted to act in that particular sinful manner we now have the strength to resist ita strength we did not have before. It is water to the knees.
First, death to the world and resurrection into Christ and His Kingdom.
Next, death to the bondages of sin and resurrection into the life of victory in Christ and His Kingdom. Now we are learning to walk in the Spirit of God.
The third death and resurrection are difficult in which to participate. The third death is death to our own will. The third resurrection is into life lived in the joy and strength of the Life of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is water to the waist, to the source of our strength.
God gets at our self-will by putting us in one or more prisons. They are crosses that we bear. There are those things we desire so intensely. Year after year goes by and our desire is deferred. Or we may be forced to remain in a situation we detest. But this is how our self-will is slaughtered.
We are in water up to our waist and are approaching waters to swim in. We turn our back on the past and look forward to Christ. We begin to feel helpless and our prayer is, "Lord, carry me in Your water of life, free from concern and anxiety."
It is, as I have said, a transcendent humanity. Our outward nature is withering but our inward nature is becoming a life-giving spirit. We are becoming a new kind of person, a new creation.
How true it is that the life in Christ we desire always comes forth from our death. God is making all things in us new, and that requires the death of the old. May God hasten this change in us, because it is leading to joy unspeakable and full of glory.
These three stages of redemption are portrayed in the three observances of Israel: the feast of Passover; the feast of Weeks (Pentecost); and the feast of Tabernacles.
The feast of Passover is distinguished by the blood of the Lamb. The feast of Weeks portrays life lived in the Spirit of God. The feast of Tabernacles refers to the dwelling in us of the Fullness of God.
The blood; the Spirit; and then the rest of God. God rests in us and we rest in God.
Since I have not read of these three platforms in the writings of the saints of the past, although they clearly are scriptural, it must be that as we approach the coming of the Lord the Scriptures are opening to us. We would expect this as part of the Latter Rain outpouring of the Spirit.
Since the Glory is upon us, our task is to follow the Spirit of God carefully that we might not come short of the Glory. Many who are last in time shall be first in the Kingdom. Since this is coming to pass in us, we realize that the opportunities to know Christ are greater than ever; and the dangers of deception are greater than ever.
Satan knows he has but a short period of time to enjoy his playground in the earth before one of God's angels binds him and casts him into the Bottomless Pit. He is exceedingly angry and spiteful toward God's saints. So we have to be watchful always, because our enemy has had multiplied thousands of years of experience in leading the saints astray.
When you know there is a formidable enemy who always is seeking your downfall, you are foolish if you do not take every precaution. Pray, pray again, pray yet again, pray without ceasing! Ask God to keep you in all your ways. Ask this of God every day and night.
I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. (Revelation 3:11)
I am not certain why, but the passage above made a strong impression on me when I was in Bible School, in 1948. I guess it was the Lord, because I see no reason why the idea of being a pillar in the temple of God was so appealing to me. Come to think of it, I still like the idea.
Notice that this promise is preceded by the exhortation to hold on to what we already have. So much of the Christian discipleship is like that. We start at the right hand of God in Christ. So our battle is downward to the earth where our body and soul are. We have been given the highest position possible. Now the idea is to hold what we already have and establish it in our personality so we can be clothed with it in the Day of Resurrection.
We do not start out as a pillar in the Temple, however; in order to be a pillar we have to "overcome." What are we to overcome? Every temptation and pressure that would seek to turn us away from following Christ and doing His will at all time. I think our main problem is our self-will, our desire to plan and operate our life according to our desires. In other words, we want to become another god in the universe.
Honestly, how many believers that you know are ready to set aside their own life, assigning it to the cross with Christ, and position themselves such that they through prayer are attempting to gain the mind of Christ for them and walk in total obedience. This is a difficult consecration to make in America because of the number of attractions that compete for our attention and allegiance.
But conquering this desire to be our own god is crucial if we hope to be a pillar in the Temple of God. I did not realize this while I was in Bible school; I just knew I wanted to be a pillar in the Temple of God (whatever that meant). To be honest, I did tell the Lord while in Bible school that I would do His perfect will if He would show it to me and give me the grace to actually do it.
By the way, that consecration holds to the present day, as it ought to on the part of every believer in Christ. Anything short of doing God's perfect and complete will is disobedience and rebellion.
As we keep on gaining ground in the Lord we have to be careful to keep from being tricked by Satan. The close we get to the fullness of the indwelling of God, the more danger we become to the kingdom of Satan. The more he will try to trick us and get us off the track.
We may have noticed that some of the ministers who have been granted powerful gifts of the Spirit have been torn down from their high place in God because of the temptation of sexual lust, or money, or the desire to be preeminent. They may have lost their crown for eternity. We have to watch and pray; watch and pray; watch and pray that God will keep us from temptation and deliver us from Satan.
The fool and his position in Christ are soon parted!
The "temple of God" is the eternal Tabernacle of God mentioned in the twenty-first chapter of the Book of Revelation. There is no church as such in the new Jerusalem. Rather, there are the Father, Christ, and the Holy Spirit, and they are dwelling in the members of the Body of Christ.
We all have seen pillars, such as those supporting some of the temples in Greece. Pillars are part of the aesthetics of the structure. To remove one pillar would destroy the symmetry of the whole. Also, the removal of one pillar would weaken the temple. A pillar is of more than ordinary importance.
This leads me to believe that there are ranks in the Body of Christ, in the new Jerusalem. This stands to reason. There is a firstfruits of the Church, who will be resurrected before the main body of the elect. It is likely those who have overcome to the point of being part of God's Firstfruits will be distinguished for eternity. I would imagine that King David's "mighty men" always were distinguished, even though they were a part of the whole nation of Israel.
Who would take our crown? Satan? Another cherub or fallen angel? A spiritual principality? A human being who was more diligent than we? This reminds me of the man who had acquired interest on the talent he had been given. Jesus gave him the talent that the lazy steward had buried.
"Never again will he leave the temple." This used to bother me. Then I became aware that we will have the power of multiple presence, as the Lord Jesus does. We can be in many places at once. Also, the Temple of God is a living habitation. While the holy city will have been installed on a high mountain, yet it also is wherever one of the saints is. The saints are the city; so where they go, the city goes.
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)
Three names are written on the overcomer: the name of Jesus' God; the name of God's city, the new Jerusalem; and the new name of Christ.
Now, doesn't that strike you as strange? If a name is to be inscribed on a human being, why not just one name; why not just write "God" on him, as belonging to God, and be done with it. Obvious there is some good reason for writing the three names on each victorious saint..
Why the name of the Father? Because the new Jerusalem is the eternal House of the Father. "In My Father's house there are many dwelling places." Wherever the overcomer goes, there the will and Presence of God are; there the Kingdom of God is.
Why the name of the city of the Father? Because wherever one victorious saint is, there the city of God is. There the Tree of Life is. There the River of God is. There the Throne of God is.
Why the new name of Christ? I will venture it is because the city is the Wife of the Lamb. Therefore she has taken on His name. But why does Christ have a new name? It is because He now has become so greatly enlarged.
It was the custom of the American Indians to change an individual's name when he had accomplished a particular deed or something else had become true of him. At one point in his life he might be called, "Wolfkiller" if he had been successful in killing many wolves. If later he had gone on many journeys he might be named, "He who goes and comes back." There were tribes in Africa who also had this custom.
Thus it may be true that the new name of Christ signifies that He now has a company of people who have become an integral part of Himself.
I believe it is important to note that the new Jerusalem comes down from Heaven. It is not a great church that had been developed on the earth. Its perfection is being accomplished in Heaven. When it has been prepared it will come down to earth as "a bride beautifully dressed for her Husband."
It is my point of view that the Day of Atonement has begun, and it will last until the end of the Kingdom Age, that is, until the time of the final resurrection of the dead.
When you read the sixteenth chapter of Leviticus about the Day of Atonement you will notice that atonement was made by two goats. The reason is that we are not reconciled only by the blood of the one goat. For reconciliation to be complete, two goats must be involved.
The one goat made an atonement by the shedding of its blood. The other goat, that we sometimes refer to as the scapegoat, was led away into the wilderness after Aaron confessed the sins of the people.
He shall then slaughter the goat for the sin offering for the people and take its blood behind the curtain and do with it as he did with the bull's blood: He shall sprinkle it on the atonement cover and in front of it. (Leviticus 16:15)
He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelitesall their sinsand put them on the goat's head. He shall send the goat away into the desert in the care of a man appointed for the task. (Leviticus 16:21)
You can see at a glance the significance of this. We are reconciled to God by the shedding of the blood of the first goat. This is a legal reconciliation. But in order for us to be reconciled to God in actuality, our sins must be confessed and removed from us. This is the second goat.
Throughout the Church Age our redemption is considered to be an act that enables God to forgive our sins. This gives us access to God's righteousness. By believing in the blood atonement made by the Lord Jesus, we are considered righteous before God apart from obeying the Law of Moses. Divine grace has largely to do with release from the authority of the Law of Moses, as Paul preached it.
But the body of sin remains in us. We realize this and so we have fabricated the concept that God sees us through Christ. Some go so far as to say that throughout eternity God will not actually see our behavior but will view us "through Christ."
In other words, we will have a sinful nature forever. Kind of disheartening isn't to think that we will be putting up with the hatred and jealousy of our neighbors in Heaven just as we do on the earth, as well as with our own sinful, rebellious nature.
Well, we have not understood the two aspects of redemption: forgiveness and deliverance. I do not understand why this should be. I guess it just was not God's time for us to understand the complete fulfillment of the Day of Atonement.
When I was in Bible school in 1948 the Lord Jesus spoke to me and said that the Christian churches were about to be judged, in fulfillment of the Day of Atonement. Being a new Christian, I did not understand the meaning of this. I told our teacher, Oliver Ellenwood, what I believed God had spoken to me. As I remember he just listened, not saying yes or no.
This week, in January of 2012, Pat Robertson said God, after a week of prayer, told him that a time of stress is coming upon the United States, and that we had brought it upon ourselves. He said whoever is elected President at the next election will not be able to prevent the downhill plunge of our country. God said we are to pray, pray, and pray as hard as we can.
I have been preaching much the same thing for two or three years. However, I am not certain we are going to be able to prevent the coming economic collapse, but we certainly should pray. I think by doing so we will cause ourselves and our loved ones and friends to be able to stand during the coming chaos. The Prophet Jeremiah was able to stand when all around him the Babylonians were destroying Jerusalem.
The Jew, Ze'ev Jabotinsky, traveled through Europe urging the Jews to flee to Israel. This was just before the Holocaust. From what I read, most of the Jews, who had been in Europe for generations, ignored his warning. You know the rest.
I think it is just like that in America today. God's prophets are warning the believers to prepare themselves for chaotic times, a period different from any we have known. But they slumber on, filling the beaches during warm days, trusting in an unscriptural rapture to save them from any inconveniences.
Because they are not praying, and in many if not most cases living in their sinful nature because of the false preaching of grace-Heaven-rapture, they will not stand when their children are starving to death because of famine.
I think most of us Christians are not aware of how morally filthy some of the entertainment has become. The most hideous displays of abandoned flesh are presented along with the jungle-beat music. It truly is sickening. Yet, because of freedom of speech, these abominations are not shut down.
How many women slay their own offspring to prove that they have the right to do so. I don't think they consider the rights of the child they put to death.
I doubt there is any greater sin in the sight of God than that of unnecessary abortions. Yet, it appears that the President of our country condones this practice. It reminds us of the practice of offering children in the fire of the idol, Moloch. The United States is going to pay bitterly for slaughtering its own childrenchildren who were potential servants of God and fruit for the table of Christ.
There is also the acceptance of all sorts of gender manipulations, most driven by lust, it appears. Both the Old and New Testaments condemn the practice of homosexual behavior. Yet it is growing in the United States because the Christian people are not morally strong enough to prevent it.
So God looks down and witnesses the abortions, the lewd sexual practices, the adultery and fornication, the rapes and murders, the worship of money, the abundance of lying and other corrupt actions in our government. God is very patient, but history reveals that He finally acts against nations that turn their back on God.
The handwriting is on the wall for America, and the wise Christians will begin to put away their sins, in spite of the contemporary preaching, and spend as much time as possible seeking the Lord and meditating in the Scriptures.
We now are in the day of the second goat. It is time to follow the Spirit of God, confessing and renouncing our sins. If we are not certain what sins I am referring to, a careful reading of the epistles of Paul will tell us about the sins of the sinful nature of us humans.
But if we wish to stand and help others to stand during the coming period of financial and moral desolation in America, we must proceed past the deliverance from the actions of the sinful nature. We now are up to our ankles or knees in the River of God, and there are two more depths of the Spirit.
There remains the water to the waist, and then waters to swim in. These also are part of the Day of Reconciliation. Our goal is to keep looking to Jesus until we are being swept along in the River of Eternal Life, without concern or anxiety, until we are filled with all the fullness of God.
This is God's goal for each of us. Until we are living in the fullness of resurrection life, we are neither qualified nor competent to be resurrected from the dead and ascend to meet the Lord Jesus in the air when He next appears.
I really am sounding a warning to Christian people. We have been lulled to sleep by false teaching. We are hoping to be carried up to Heaven in our immature state in order to avoid Antichrist and the Great Tribulation.
Can you hear me? This is a false, unscriptural hope. For the present generation of American church-goers to be carried up to Heaven in their casual state would be the worst thing that could happen to Heaven and the worst thing that could happen to us. We may not know as yet how to walk in the consuming Fire.
How terrible it is that economic chaos is coming in the future, and we are not prepared to stand in Christ because we have been taught error.
The Day of Atonement is the Day of Reconciliation to God. We have been reconciled to God legally by the blood of the cross. But we still are practicing the sins of the flesh.
I will ask you three questions: first, does God have enough power to break the chains of the sins that bind us, and does He wish to do so?
Second, is it really necessary that we be delivered from sin in order for us to inherit the Kingdom of God? I say "inherit the Kingdom of God" rather than "go to Heaven when we die," because our goal is the Kingdom of God, not residence in Heaven.
Third, when and how are we to be delivered from the power of sin?
Does God have enough power to break the chains of the sins that bind us, and does He wish to do so? How do you feel about this? Have you ever seen any of the recent pictures of what the telescopes are showing us about the galaxies of stars and planets?
These heavenly bodies tells us about the Glory of God. Their sizes, their number, and the distances between them cannot be comprehended. Could you consider this display of power, and then say that God simply does not have enough power to deliver us from the bondages of sin?
You know, one of the factors that prevent us from thinking clearly about deliverance from sin is that the prevailing usage of "deliverance from sin" means deliverance from the guilt of sin. This usage is a source of enormous confusion.
Deliverance from the guilt of sin is forgiveness. Deliverance from the power of sin is deliverance from the compulsion that causes us from sin. Through Christ God forgives us of our sin; and through Christ, God will deliver us from sin so that we are in His image.
Do you see any difference between deliverance from guilt and deliverance from power? The Christian churches of our day have been delivered from the guilt of sin but not from the power of sin. And because they are not following Christ as they should, they are not delivered even from the guilt of sin!
When I was in Bible school I was taught that we cannot be delivered from sin. The idea was that we should not sin; but while we are in the world we will continue to sin. No one is perfect. When we get to Heaven we will not sin any longer. One would be hard put to defend this idea from the Scriptures.
Yes, God does have enough power to deliver you and me from sin. And yes, He desires to do so.
Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of GodI say this to your shame. (I Corinthians 15:34)
For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, (Romans 8:13)
What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obeywhether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? (Romans 6:15,16)
Do the three passages above sound to you like God is resigned to our continuing to sin?
Second, is it really necessary that we be delivered from sin in order for us to inherit the Kingdom of God?
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)
Paul did not say we would not go to Heaven if we sinned, because Paul preached the Kingdom of God and not about going to Heaven. The emphasis on going to Heaven is "another gospel." It is not the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.
Third, when and how are we to be delivered from the power of sin?
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 13:40-43)
Since God's family that bears His name is one in Heaven and upon the earth, I would suggest that the above passage will take place in Heaven and upon the earth at the same time. That "time" is the end of the age. The deliverance begins at the end of the Church Age, where we are now, I believe.
The term "angels" (above) merely means "messengers." It could refer to spirits or to human beings. In any case, at the end of the age Christ will send out His angels.
The purpose of the messengers is to "weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil." Here is the second goat of the Day of Atonement. As I stated before, I believe this weeding out has begun and will continue until the end of the Kingdom Age.
It begins at the end of the Church Age and concludes at the end of the Kingdom Age. Thus there is a thousand-year interval between the next appearing of Christ and the final resurrection of the dead. I believe the purpose for the thousand-year period we refer to as the "Millennium" is to complete the work of reconciliation. It is the great Day of Atonement.
"Everything that causes sin." This is not speaking of the guilt of sin but the compulsion of sin. The power of sin is to be removed from the Kingdom of God.
"All who do evil" will be removed from the Kingdom. As I see it, those who take advantage of the power of the grace of God to deliver us will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of God.
Those who refuse to be delivered will be thrown into the fiery furnace. There will be no sin whatever in the Kingdom of God. It is the rule of God, and it does not admit to the practice of sin.
I said previously that this deliverance and cleansing will take place in Heaven and upon the earth at the same time. It has to. How could it be restricted to one place or the other? It will take place wherever the members of the Kingdom are located.
But can someone be in Heaven and still be bound with sin? Why not? Sin began in Heaven. It was brought down to the earth but its origin is in Heaven.
We may not realize it but the redemption of human beings has many purposes. One of the purposes is to teach the "rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms" God's wisdom. What is taking place among us is God's response to the rebellion of the angels.
His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Ephesians 3:10,11)
The righteous cannot "shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father" until the work of the second goat has been accomplished. The Christian people cannot serve as the light of the world until they have been delivered from both the guilt and the power of sin.
It is important also that those people who refuse to be delivered be removed from the Kingdom. God does not like mixtures.
The churches of today are filled with people who profess to believe in Christ, but are not serving Him as they should. In many instances this is due to the fact that their pastors and evangelists are seeking to please them. They are not advising their listeners of the strictness and sternness of true discipleship.
Small is the gate and difficult is the way that leads to eternal life, and few people find it. It appears many American church-goers are traveling on the broad road that leads to destruction.
Atonement is made through the blood of the cross. Atonement is made also as the power of sin is removed from the camp.
But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the LORD to be used for making atonement by sending it into the desert as a scapegoat. (Leviticus 16:10)
The term "atonement" has many meanings. I think these several meanings are summed up in the word, "reconciliation."
We are reconciled to God and God to us through the blood of the cross.
We are reconciled to God and God to us by the purifying from us of all sin.
We cannot have fellowship with God while we are practicing sin.
"Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you." "I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." (II Corinthians 6:17,18)
Two goats. The goat of forgiveness. The goat of removal. Since the historical teaching of the Christian churches has emphasized that Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, and that by taking away the sin of the world means taking away the guilt of the sin of the world, it may be quite a while before Christian people understand that the Lamb of God takes away not only the guilt of the sin of the world but also the chains of sinful behavior that bind people.
Just think about it from God's standpoint. What good does it do God to limit Himself to forgiving our sin? The prodigal comes home, and proceeds to ruin the family household by his riotous living. Would the father not send him away in order to regain peace?
The difficulty we have in thinking clearly may be due to the notion that sin cannot take place in the spirit world. It is true that sin cannot take place in Heaven, because no one who sins is admitted through the gates into the holy city.
But the spirit world is a vast area of which Heaven is but one small part. Do we imagine that there is no sin in the spirit world, or that entering the spirit world will somehow deliver us from sinful bondages?
We know that the temptations and pressures to sin come from Satan and his demons. These all are spiritual creatures. They seek weak areas of our personality that will yield to unclean spirits.
In dying we leave our body behind. I doubt seriously that the sin that dwells in our flesh will remain in our flesh when we die. I do not think the unclean spirits would enjoy remaining in putrefying flesh. Do you?
Where then do they go? No doubt they are released to harass other people on the earth. Probably this is why the demon population seems to be increasing in America.
But speaking of Heaven, the new Jerusalem in the spirit world, what does the Scripture say about our chance of entering there?
Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. (Revelation 22:14)
To wash our robes is to confess our sins to Christ so that He may forgive us, and then to turn away from them, with His help. You know and I know that no person who yields to his or her desire to sin is going to be allowed to enter the Holy City and bring confusion there.
Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. (II Corinthians 7:1)
So I guess the basic question is, "Will God permit us to enter Heaven, the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, because the blood of Christ has been sprinkled on us, even though we never have overcome our sinning; or will only those who have gained victory be permitted to enter through the gates?"
Many of today's teachers will tell us that as long as we "accept Christ" we have our ticket to enter the new Jerusalem and dwell among those spirits who have been made perfect. But this attitude does not agree with the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation.
There are a minority of teachers, of whom I am one, who say that that position clearly is unscriptural and is holding out a false hope. When this false hope is preached, people will not prepare themselves for the horrors that are coming to America. Remember Ze'ev Jabotinsky!
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)
Do we believe that the spirits of righteous men were made perfect by imputed righteousness, or were they transformed in personality until they were made a new creation of righteous behavior? What do you think?
The spirit world is a vast area, of which Heaven is a small part. If we are not living so as to be in Heaven, Mount Zion, the new Jerusalem, we will enter the spirit world when we die. If we are a decent person we will be ministered to until we meet God's standard of righteousness and holiness.
If we are not a decent person, as judged by the conscience of the average person whose thinking has not been corrupted by a religion of some sort, we will go to the Land of Darkness to await sentencing during the final resurrection.
Let each one of us, therefore, serve Christ with all our heart. If we do, we will be able to stand and help others to stand during the moral horrors that are ahead for America. Also, when we die, we will be able to stand before Christ and give a good account of ourselves.
It is possible that the parable of the sower is the most important of the parables of the Kingdom. Notice what the Lord said:
Then Jesus said to them, "Don't you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable?" (Mark 4:13)
I think the parable of the sower is so important because it emphasizes the main aspect of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is not a religion. Rather it is a seed that is planted in the human heart. Religion can assist in planting this seed and attempt to support the growth of it. But in the final sense, the Kingdom of God is a transformation of the human personality rather than an adherence to the activities of a religion.
The mystery of the Gospel is Christ in us. First, Christ must be planted in us as a Seed from God. Then the Seed must grow into the image of Christ. Make no mistake! The Seed is Divine in nature. It does not partake of flesh and blood humanity. Rather, the adamic creature is a host that supports the developing organism as it grows toward maturity. The adamic nature that supported it is supplanted gradually by the Divine Nature.
Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God, because the Kingdom of God is Divine and not an overhaul of the adamic nature.
Every seed in nature grows until an organism in the image of the parent of the seed is brought forth. Since the Seed came from God it will bring forth a creature in the image of Godnot an imitation of God, but a son of God in truth; in reality.
The above may sound sacrilegious, but it is what the Bible teaches. No one can see or enter the Kingdom of God until he or she is born again of the Spirit of God. This is because our original nature is not a part of the Kingdom. The Kingdom of God consists of God's sons who have been born of God, not of Adam and Eve.
They partake of the Divine Nature as they are given the body and blood of Christ in the spirit realm. As they turn away from sin and embrace Christ they are given to eat and drink of Christ. Thus they gradually learn to live by Christ precisely as Christ lives by the Father.
Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. (John 6:57)
The body and blood of Jesus Christ are our resurrection Life. I do not know why we do not hear more of this from the pulpit, unless it is because as we approach the appearing of Christ the Scriptures now are opening to us.
I do not want to make too much of the fact that we are partaking of the Divine Nature, because some may treat this fact as something to be exploited. It should be treated rather in an "of course" manner, not sensationalized in any manner. The supernatural should become natural to us Christians.
Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. (II Peter 1:4)
We can understand from this that the parable of the sower, having to do with the birth and growth of Christ in us, is one of the most important, if not the most important, of the parables spoken by our Lord. In fact, we cannot understand any parable until the Divine Seed has begun to grow in our heart.
Then he told them many things in parables, saying: "A farmer went out to sow his seed." (Matthew 13:3)
When my niece was a little girl she belonged to a girls' club. One of their activities was that of planting a seed. Joan Marie came home and planted a seed.
The next morning she went out expecting to see a flower. Since there was no flower, she dug up the seed to see what the problem might be.
So it is with the Gospel of Christ. It is not a philosophy that we master. It is a seed. This is why the number of people who "accept Christ" is not a true index of a successful sermon.
Of the twenty people who came to the altar, none of them may become more than a church-attenderif that! However, there may be someone after the sermon who slipped out.
For five years there was no sign he ever had heard that message. Then he contracted an incurable disease. Knowing his end was near, he began to review his life. He remembered the sermon he had heard five years before.
He then prayed and asked Christ to receive him. After that, each day he prayed and read the Bible. Faith began to grow in his heart. Then he was brought to the intensive-care room of a hospital. He continued to pray and read the Bible.
One morning, while in the intensive-care ward he awoke feeling strong and healthy. He got out of bed and went to the closet to get his clothes. A nurse rushed over to him and asked him what he thought he was doing.
He said to the nurse, "I read in the Bible that Jesus heals people. So I asked Him to heal me. I think he did!"
Soon he was released from the hospital. He told his wife and two young children that the family was going to live on their savings while he went to Bible school.
After he graduated from Bible school he entered full-time ministry as an evangelist. It soon was revealed that he had a remarkable gift of healing, and was much sought after to hold evangelistic meetings.
This is the way it should be. We should not be counting the number of people who came to the altar and "accepted Christ" as being the measure of our success. The Word of the Kingdom is a seed. It does not always spring up overnight. Some who make a great show of "accepting Christ" soon fall away.
But there may be one, who heard us on a Sunday morning, or over the television, in whom the seed began to germinate and resulted in a fruitful life. And the preacher may never hear about it.
This is the way of the Gospel of the Kingdom.
We are to preach the Gospel to every creature. We are as a farmer sowing seed. God then will select those whom He wants for His Kingdom, and put faith in their hearts that God's will might be performed in them.
As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. (Matthew 13:4)
It never is our responsibility to "save people." Our task is to preach the Word as the Holy Spirit directs us. We must bear a true witness, and the rest is up to God.
Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. (Matthew 13:5,6)
I suppose that all of us Christians know of people who were demonstrative about having been saved and born again. But the seed did not go deep enough in them. Their "salvation" was all on the outside for people to see.
Then trouble of some kind came. They had never learned to keep plodding through the night, trusting the Lord. They began to doubt, complain, blame others for their troubles. They left the church, after causing some other people to become bitter. After a period of time had passed, one would never know they had once tasted eternal life.
Sometimes Bible teachers maintain we never can lose our salvation. After 65 years as a disciple, I can tell you that eternal Life is something you can "see" in a person. When they lose it, it is obvious. The Life has gone. The person has returned to living without any touch of Christ on his or her life.
Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. (Matthew 13:7)
Jesus explained the "thorns," as follows:
The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. (Matthew 13:22)
"The worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth." Here is the trap into which the American believer falls. Many of us are frantic because of this worry or that problem. The pursuit of more money than one actually needs accounts for a large portion of our time and energy.
What happens? We "accept Christ." But there is no time to get quiet before the Lord and listen to Him or to meditate in His Word. The Divine Seed simply cannot grow when it is competing against the cares of this world.
We have seen, then, that in one case the person hears the Word and does not understand it. Perhaps he or she has been involved in other religions or philosophies. Then Satan comes and snatches away the seed. The ground was hard and the seed never germinated.
In another case, the Word actually germinates, but it does not take root in the heart of the hearer. The plant is all on the outside.
In the third instance, The Word germinates but the plant is crowded out by additional concerns.
Now consider: in the second or third kinds of ground, the Life of Christ actually had begun to grow. But it was killed, because the person did not nourish it properly.
What did Jesus say? If we do not bear fruit, which is His image in our personality, we will be cut out of the Vine, out of Himself. I do not believe this means necessarily that the individual is sent to Hell. But it is certain he no longer will be a member of the Body of Christ; of the Bride of the Lamb; of the Royal Priesthood; of the Christian Church.
I realize Jesus said the dead branches would be burned in the fire. And so they shall. But it may prove to be a fire that burns away all of their inheritance, and they enter the new world of righteousness as a little child. They have been saved by fire.
However, they will not inherit the Kingdom of God as one of God's sons and heirs.
Who, then, are in the Lake of Fire? All those who will not obey the Lord Jesus Christ. These will go to be with Satan and his angels, and all truly wicked and rebellious people"Christian" or not!
Now we come to those who bring forth Christ permanently in their personality.
Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a cropa hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. He who has ears, let him hear. (Matthew 13:8)
Other passages refer to "an honest and good heart (KJV)," or a "noble" heart. So whether the Divine Seed bears lasting fruit depends on the kind of person who hears the Word.
I think typical Christian teaching does err when it states that there are no righteous people except those who "accept Christ." I know that the Apostle Paul, quoting from the Old Testament, said that there are no righteous people. However, the passage from the Old Testament is speaking of particular Israelites at a specific period of time.
In a universal sense, no human being truly is righteous by God's standard, except for the Lord Jesus. But there are numerous verses, particularly in the Book of Psalms, that refer to righteous people.
I say all this to point out that unless an individual has basic integrity, is fundamentally a truthful person, he or she will never make a success of the Christ life.
I realize that there are individuals who do wicked things, but then turn around and receive Christ. Sometimes such people are very fruitful. They always have had a good heart, but circumstances had made them behave sinfully.
I realize also that there are individuals who "accept Christ" and attend church all their life who are wicked and untrustworthy. When they die they will go to be with wicked and untrustworthy people, even though they profess belief in Christ.
Christian preaching is incorrect when it leaves the impression that a person, no matter how wicked, will go to Heaven and live in a mansion because at one time he or she "accepted Christ." I trust this error will be corrected in the future, because the result has been immoral, self-centered people who have borne a destructive testimony to the world.
It is no wonder the unsaved are cynical concerning Christianity!
We are told that the good ground, those who have truth and righteousness in their adamic nature, bear fruit to three different degrees. One bears thirty bushels to the acre, we might say. Another bears sixty bushels to the acre. Still another bears one hundred bushels to the acre.
Remember, we are speaking of the growth of Christ in the human personality.
How is it that there are three different levels of fruitbearing? I believe it is because of the diligence that the believer applies to nourishing his or her salvation.
I am a pastor of a church. On several occasions I have been concerned because some of the members are too casual about their salvation. If the weather is unusually fine on a Sunday they may go swimming rather than attend the service. And don't you know, it would be that Sunday that the Spirit had given me something that would have helped them.
Every time I went to the Lord about this, He would say, "He who sows sparingly will reap sparingly." When I hear this, I cease fretting. As the old proverb says, "You can bring a horse to water but you can't make it drink."
I know this is a very real situation. Those who sow diligently are going to reap a hundredfold. They are going to be filled with all the fullness of God and inherit all that God is making new in Christ. This is an extremely desirable destiny.
Then there will be those good Christians who are not quite as diligent. God loves them but they will not be among God's Firstfruits. I am not certain that they will be resurrected when Christ appears and ascend to meet Him in the air. This privilege may be restricted to the hundredfold. We may have to wait until the Lord comes to find out.
There also are those weak members who easily are distracted by Satan and the world. God loves them. I think, from the following passage, that such will be ministered to during the thousand-year Kingdom Age by the mature saints.
Such are doors, not walls that can hold off the enemy.
If she is a wall, we will build towers of silver on her. If she is a door, we will enclose her with panels of cedar. (Song of Solomon 8:9)
The "we" are the mature saints who strengthen the weak. It is interesting to observe that the walls of Solomon's Temple were "panels of cedar."
So within the Bride and her immature sisters there are three levels of fruitbearing. It is up to us to determine what level of Christ we attain to; or if we do not bear any permanent fruit and are saved by fire, all of our inheritance in Christ being burned away.
(from Three Parables of the Kingdom. Copyright Š 2012 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved)
"This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the Lord. " I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest."
"For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." By calling this covenant "new," he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear. (Hebrews 8:8-13)
I do not recall ever having heard any pastor or evangelist preach on the new covenant. Have you? Yet, there is no other covenant that applies to Christian people. What we have instead is the famous "four steps of salvation": All have sinned; we cannot save ourselves; Christ died to save us from the guilt of sin; if we accept Christ we will escape Hell and go to Heaven when we die.
Do you see any difference between the two covenants, the two programs of salvation?
Now let us think about the passage above.
First, the new covenant is made with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. God has made no covenant with Gentiles. There is only the one Olive Tree of salvation. A Gentile, if he desires to come under the new covenant, must become a part of Israel by becoming part of Jesus Christ.
God has made a new covenant that is different from the Law of Moses. The Law of Moses, especially the Ten Commandments, was the former covenant. The reason God made a new covenant, a different covenant, is that the people did not remain faithful to His covenant.
It is remarkable that we have invented a covenant of salvation that does not require faithfulness to the commands of the covenant, only that we believe that Christ died for our sins. This is not a better covenant, from God's point of view. It does little more than evade the issue of faithfulness to God.
Now notice carefully the nature of the new covenant: "I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts."
It is preached today that the only commandment is that of "love." This is fatuous indeed and accomplishes nothing whatever. It is nothing more than humanism.
What, then, are God's laws that He puts into our mind and writes on our heart? They are the eternal moral laws of Godthose which proceed from His own moral character. They are the transcendent form of the Ten Commandments. A part of them were uttered by Christ as recorded in the Book of Matthew, Chapters Five through Seven.
The Apostles of the Lamb, who themselves were the new covenant, the flesh being made the Word of God, gave many directive to us that reflect God's moral Nature. These too are the eternal moral law of God.
So the general proposition that we no longer are under law but under grace actually means we no longer are under the authority of the Ten Commandments, since we have been crucified with Christ. But we are under an exceedingly stricter law than the Ten Commandments. We have been commanded to present our body as a living sacrifice that we might prove God's will for us, particularly in the receiving and using of the gifts and ministries that are given to us by the Spirit of God.
The very highest form of application of God's new covenant occurs when we think as Christ is thinking in every circumstance. Speak as Christ is speaking. Act as Christ is acting. This is the eternal Sabbath, the Sabbath in which our Lord lives as He thinks, speaks, and acts in accordance with the thinking, speaking, and acting of His Father.
The new covenant includes the forgiveness of our wickedness, in that God no longer will remember our sins. But the forgiveness is only the beginning of the new covenant. The forgiveness makes it possible for God to commence putting His laws into our mind and writing them on our heart.
"They will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest." The gifts and ministries of the Body of Christ labor until we all come to the knowledge of the Son of God. It is more than theological knowledge; it is the knowledge that comes to us as Christ is formed in us.
The end result of the operation of the new covenant is people who have been transformed inwardly by interacting continually with Christ. When the inward nature has become a new creation of righteous behavior, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the Fullness of God, will come and dwell in the transformed inner nature.
This has been the plan of God from the beginningthe creation of a house for Himself in which He can find rest. God finds no rest at the present time because sin and rebellion abound in the creation. But as the new covenant operates, and people actually become the manifestation of the moral nature of God, then these transformed people themselves will be the new covenant.
The covenant operates as our listeners obey what we teach; then the Spirit of God will come forth from our personality and give them eternal life.
The new covenant is infinitely better than the Law of Moses. It is better, not because, as is commonly taught, we no longer have to obey Christ and His Apostles, but because the Spirit of God leads us to victory over all the sin resident in our personality.
Not only are we transformed, but we are filled with all the Fullness of God. We, because of what Christ does in us, are the light of the world. We are the Royal Priesthood who shall govern and bless mankind forever.
The Muslims are looking forward to dancing girls. With this in mind they commit suicide. For myself, I am not looking forward to dancing girls.
Christians look forward to Heaven, as their land of promise. The Scriptures do not present Heaven as our land of promise, although Heaven is spoken of in the Scriptures. Paul never mentioned wanting to go to Heaven, although Paul did speak of being absent from the body and present with the Lord.
Paul's hope was not to go to Heaven but to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Paul urged us all to have the same goal. Now, why is it we do not have the same goal? I will tell you why. The pastors and evangelists to a great extent are preaching the traditional grace-Heaven-rapture, which Paul did not preach.
So we are in a mess, theologically speaking. We don't even know what Paul was talking about. Paul! The Apostle! He tells us his goal, urges us to adopt it as our goal, and we don't even know what it is two thousand years after he wrote it!
The Jews knew what their land of promise was. It is still there today, but they have been unable to hold it. Canaan has been glorified in song as representing Heaven. When we cross Jordan (die) we will be in Heaven, in the land of promise.
Well, this all is Christian mythology. Canaan does not fit our concept of Heaven. Are our enemies established in Heaven such that we have to conquer them, one city at a time, in order to dwell in our land or promise? Do you want to fight your way into Heaven, and keep resisting the enemy after you get there? I do not believe this is the way you picture Heaven.
Also, of interest, is that nowhere does the Bible teach us that eternal residence in Heaven in a mansion is the goal of salvation. The Lord Jesus did not come to earth to bring us back to Heaven. Christ came to bring us to the Father. This is not the same thing at all.
We can come to the Father through Christ right nowtoday. We can't come to Heaven today. So going to the Father and going to Heaven are two different goals. Christ came to bring us to the Father. He is the Way to the Father.
Maybe we ought to think about what the New Testament points toward as our goal.
I already have mentioned attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Since every individual who has ever lived will be resurrected at one time or another, our goal is not just to attain to the resurrection but to the resurrection that is unto life and glory.
When we are resurrected in our body, we will be clothed with a body, or robe, from Heaven. That new clothing will reflect perfectly our inward nature. Because this is true, the wise Christian will press forward in Christ until Christ is formed in him or her. Then, in the Day of Resurrection, he or she will be given a body of eternal life that will match his or her transformed inner nature.
Our new robe of righteousness is an important part of our inheritance, our land of promise. This is the eternal life, spoken of in John 3:16.
The Father invited the Word to pray that He, Christ, might inherit the nations of the earth and the farthest reaches of the earth. Since we are co-heirs with Christ, our inheritance, our land of promise, includes the nations of the earth and the farthest reaches of the earth.
So now we have eternal, incorruptible, eternal life in our body, the nations of the earth, and the farthest reaches of the earth.
What else is part of our land of promise, that which we have to fight to possess?
The Book of Romans tells us that those who are called to God's purpose He will conform to the image of Christ. Therefore, change into the inward and outer image of Christ is part of our inheritance.
Jesus told us we are to be made one with one another in Him in the Father. So we are to be made a part of the enlargement of God. This is an important aspect of our land of promise.
Jesus told us if we would obey His Word, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit would make us Their resting place, Their Tabernacle for eternity. This also is part of our land of promise.
Peter speaks of our being members of the Royal Priesthood. This also is part of our land of promise.
The Book of Revelation promises us that we will govern the works of God's hands forever. This also is part of our land of promise.
We will be given the double crown of eternal life and righteousness. Such is part of our inheritance.
The Bible speaks of our being seated with Christ on His Throne. This is part of our inheritance, our land of promise.
The Bible speaks of our ruling the nations with a rod of iron. This is part of our Canaan, our inheritance.
The Bible speaks of our not being harmed by the second death. This is part of our inheritance.
We are told that we will be a pillar in the Temple of God. This is part of our inheritance.
We are given permission to eat from the Tree of Life, which is the Lord Jesus Christ. This is part of our land of promise.
We shall be given to eat of the hidden manna. This is part of our inheritance.
We shall be given a white stone with a new name written on it. This also is part of our land of promise.
We shall be brothers of Christ. This is part of our inheritance.
We shall be members of the Body of Christ. This is part of our land of promise.
We shall be part of the Wife of the Lamb. This is an aspect of our inheritance.
We shall see God. This is part of our land of promise.
We shall be named, "The Lord Our Righteousness." This also is our inheritance.
We shall live under the protection of the Most High God. This too is our goal.
We shall have great peace and nothing shall offend us. This is part of our Canaan.
God shall give us strength when we are weary and peace that passes understanding. This is our inheritance.
We will refute every tongue that accuses us. This is our inheritance.
No weapon that is forged against us will prosper. Such is our inheritance.
Christ will never leave us or forsake us. This is our land of promise.
Control of our own body is part of our land of promise.
I have just listed off the top of my head a few of the aspects of our eternal inheritance in the Lord Jesus Christ. I do not know about you, but this appears to me be a superior destiny than that of sitting in a mansion doing nothing for eternity.
We have to fight for the above treasures, because Satan and his helpers will resist us at every point. The promises are to the conqueror, the overcomer. I do not believe that the weaker believers will all be thrown into the Lake of Fire. But as sure as God's Word is true, he who overcomes will inherit all there things, and God will be his God, and he will be God's son.
I do not know what the non-overcomers will inherit, and I do not intend to live so as to find out. How about you?
We know what our present, temporary body is, and that we will get an improved version in the Day of Resurrection. This will be true if we have attained to the required inward transformation, through Christ having been formed in us,.
I think our soul is where our judgment, conscience, and will are located. Our soul will be saved if we obey God in all matters.
It may be true that when we are thinking about overcoming, or being defeated, our spirit plays an important role.
Consider carefully the following verses, and notice the word "spirit":
I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. (I Corinthians 5:5NASB)
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, (Hebrews 12:23)
Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. (II Corinthians 7:1)
I do not wish to get too detailed about the salvation of the spirit, but I think there are some general points that might be helpful to our thinking.
Notice that the Apostle Paul was concerned about the salvation of the spirit of the man in Corinth who had been sinning. This passage has bothered me through the years, since I think it should say, "that his soul may be saved."
I have found that when there is something unusual about a scriptural expression there usually is a good reason. And I do not like the way the NIV smooths out these wrinkles, although I do use the NIV most of the time. It is not a good idea to change the Greek text even though we think it might be more palatable or understandable to the reader.
What got me started on the subject of the salvation of our spirit was the question in my mind concerning the destiny of the believer who does not choose to overcome through Christ his or her sinful nature. Do they all go to Hell and later to the Lake of Fire, after they die? If this were the case, most of the American believers of today are going to end up in the fire.
And how about all the people who never have heard of Christ and who die while never having conquered their sinful nature? Are all they destined for the fire?
I know the current teaching is that if someone has not "accepted Christ," even if he or she has never heard of Christ, his or her destiny is the fire. As far as I am concerned, this teaching is neither scriptural, nor righteous, nor even sensible.
There are many people who have "accepted Christ" who are heading toward the fire because they basically are wicked!
So where are we? We know the destiny of the victorious Christian, but how about the remainder of mankind, including the Christian who has led a defeated life as far as sinful behavior is concerned? And we can't hide behind the current "grace" teaching. Grace is not a scriptural alternative to the victorious life.
Let's consider for just a moment the categories of sinful people. Remember, each of these is a category and includes many symptoms and branches:
But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liarstheir place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death. (Revelation 21:8)
Notice that it is the cowardly person, not just an individual who displayed cowardice on some occasion. The same is true for the other seven categories. These are believers (Revelation is written to believers) who did not overcome the spirit of cowardice living in their flesh. They yielded to the spirit of cowardice until their own spirit became cowardly.
Then, when they died, and the spirit of cowardice fled from their putrefying body, they themselves were now a cowardly person.
Their human body was part of their land of promise. The enemy "cowardice" was dwelling in their flesh. They neglected to conquer it, and so they themselves became cowardly.
The Father has given the Lake of Fire authority over all cowardly people, and "accepting Christ" does not change this unless accepting Christ causes us to gain victory over cowardice. Just as simple and straightforward as that.
There are believers who, through the power of the Kingdom of God, have overcome cowardice. But no cowardly individual remains in the Kingdom!
Let us say a believer has become a mean spirit, a mean person. Many believers act at times in a mean manner, whether there is a mean spirit dwelling in their flesh, or they have given way to it until they themselves are a mean spirit, a mean person.
A mean person comes under the category of "murderers." How many church people murder with their tongue and their actions? Pastors live in dread of their producing roots of bitterness that inflame many of their fellow believers.
What happens when the mean believer dies? He or she passes into the spirit world, not into Heaven. Heaven is Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem. Heaven is filled with righteous people whose spirits have been made perfect. There are no mean people in Heaven.
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, (Hebrews 12:23)
But can we enter the spirit world (not Heaven, of course) if we are mean but believe in Christ. Will we still be mean? Would being in the spirit world change us?
Think about Adam and Eve in Paradise on the earth. God was with them in the garden. There was no sin dwelling in their flesh. There were no demons in the atmosphere. This is how we think of Heaven, isn't it? Adam and Eve were free to choose sin or to choose righteousness while they were in Paradise.
Then Satan entered. Why did they sin, not having a sinful nature? They sinned because they were a blank slate, so to speak. They did not have a righteous nature. They had an innocent nature, but not a righteous, obedient nature.
When a mean Christian dies, the sins that dwell in his flesh will be left behind to find some other person on the earth to inhabit. But the newly deceased has a mean spirit. What then?
He assuredly will not enter Heaven, the heavenly Jerusalem. Rather he will be placed with mean spirits like himself. This much I know, because God does not like mixtures. "Let the filthy be filthy still."
What then? Perhaps he and his mean neighbors may be taught by saints or angels how to overcome meanness. I cannot say for certain; but if this is not true there are going to be a multitude of church-goers in Hell.
The Bible does not have much to say about what happens when we die. We have made up a mythologic land of mansions. But this is not scriptural. I think our experience after we die will be much like I am saying here.
It makes sense to me that a group of mean people could be given a chance to learn not to be mean, a better chance, perhaps than they were given on the earth. If one of them repents and learns to be kind, perhaps he of she will be given a chance to be with a group of kind people somewhere in the spirit world. I do not say he will be able at this point to enter the new Jerusalem.
I would imagine if the sinner is willing to be taught, then, in the Day of Resurrection, his name might be in the Book of Life. If it is, he will be granted citizenship in the new world of righteousness.
However, by no means will he ever be a part of the Royal Priesthood. All the promises of the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation, plus Revelation 21:7, are for the victorious saints only. This is why our present life is so important. This is our one opportunity to be part of the governing priesthood, or of that special part of the priesthood, the Firstfruits.
There may be some who read my words who interpret me to be saying we have a second chance. This is not true. We have to respond to Christ when He is presented to us, whether in the present world or in the spirit world after we die.
That redemption and spiritual growth continue in the spirit world after we die is evident, in that Paul said the ministries will continue until we all have come to the fullness of the stature of Christ. Also, how could there ever be a Church without spot or wrinkle if we do not grow in godliness after we die?
The point is, we have to respond to Christ when He is presented to us. If He comes to the mean person, while that person still is living on the earth, and that person absolutely refuses to change, then it is settled. His home is the Lake of Fire with the other murderers.
As far as the person who never has heard of Christ during his or her lifetime, which includes most people who have been born on the earth, Christ will deal with that individual in due time. We cannot reject Christ until He has been made plain to us. This is obvious.
At the last resurrection, people will be judged according to their works. Those who have obeyed their conscience and have lived a decent life, will be brought over to citizenship in the new world. The truly wicked will be thrown into the Lake of Fire, whether or not they claim to believe in Christ. Remember, the demons know all about the Holy One, and they never can be saved from the eternal flames.
All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) This will take place on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares. (Romans 2:12-16)
We understand from the passage above that God does not accept people because they know the Law of Moses or, by the same token, know and make a profession of belief in the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is a wonder how religion manages to bless people who conform to the ideas of the priests and leaders of the religion, and curse everyone else. We ought to know better than this. But religious leaders so often know nothing of the God of Heaven. They ascribe the most unjust actions to God, and then wonder why so many people are disgusted with their teachings and claims.
God is righteous. God is honorable. The Christian religion and the religion of Islam, as well as the other religions of the earth, speak of how righteous and holy God is, how compassionate. But their actions so often portray Satan himself.
From the passage above we see the true God, not the God of religion.
All who sin apart from the Law of Moses, or the Gospel of Christ, will perish apart from the Law or apart from the Gospel.
All who sin under the Law or the Gospel will be judged by the Law or the Gospel.
It is not those who hear the Law or the Gospel who are righteous in God's sight, but those who obey the Law or the Gospel who will be declared righteous.
When Gentiles who do not know the Law of the Gospel do by nature the things required by the Law or the Gospel, they are their own law. What the Law and the Gospels state is written in their conscience. Thus their thoughts accuse or defend them.
All the secrets of people will be judged by the Lord before the coming down of the new Jerusalem to rest upon the new earth.
Here is the true God, whom the religious leaders often ignore. But everyone who listens to the living Lord Jesus will understand God's Heart, and His will and ways are known to them.
We know that God wastes nothing. Why, then, did He place us on the earth, fill the earth with problems, and then command us to overcome them?
I think the answer goes back to the original rebellion of Satan and his angels. Satan brought rebellion and sin into God's Presence. Since God is displeased with rebellion and sin, He is taking steps to remove every form of spiritual darkness from His Presence for eternity. This is why there is a great wall surrounding the new Jerusalem.
God can cast all rebellious, sinful creatures from His Presence and confine them in spiritual prisons. Such removal can be accomplished easily and quickly. The problem is, what if such darkness is caused again by God's creatures?
I believe an eternal solution to the problem of rebellion and sin is part of the reason God created man. It is clear from the Scriptures that people, and not angels or other spiritual creatures, are to be in charge of the creation.
If human beings are to be the means of removing rebellion and sin from God's Presence, how must these people be prepared if they are to accomplish God's goal?
First, they, and the angels as well, must be taught of the consequences of rebellion and sin. So God devised the history of the earth as a portrayal of the consequences of rebellion and sin, and also obedience and righteousness. This portrayal has been seen by God's creatures.
Adam and Eve did not have the benefit of seeing this portrayal. They only had God's Word concerning the consequences of rebellion, and knew nothing about sin.
So now we all are acquainted with the consequences of rebellion and sin. What is next?
A law had to be given which would present in writing God's demands. The Ten Commandments were engraved in tablets of stone. Angels and people could now understand what was demanded of them.
We were provided with demands which people were unable to keep, because they had sinful impulses dwelling in them. I suppose angels are able to obey or disobey God's commands without the obstacles that we have to surmount.
Then God provided a sacrifice on Calvary so people could be forgiven and begin a program of redemption that would make it possible for them to serve God for eternity as a governing priesthood, judging people and angels as well.
Two aspects must be considered when the future rulers are to be qualified and competent to govern and judge. They themselves must be delivered completely from all rebellion and sin. Also, they must have within them a rod of iron that compels total obedience to God on all occasions, under every circumstance. They must love righteousness and hate unrighteousness with a fierce, unquenchable passion.
What provisions has God made that we may be delivered completely from all rebellion and sin, and experience a transformation of personality such that we love righteousness and hate unrighteousness with such fervency?
As far as deliverance from rebellion is concerned, God places us in various prisons in which our fervent desires are deferredsometimes for many years. Or we may be compelled to live in undesirable circumstances for long periods of time.
We cannot escape our prisons without breaking God's laws. We must, if we would assist in the removal of evil from the creation, remain faithfully in our prisons until God brings us forth. This is how God teaches us obedience, just as He taught His Firstborn Son obedience.
As far as deliverance from sin is concerned. as we follow the Holy Spirit, He brings us into situations which cause the sin that dwells in us to be revealed. When a sin is pointed out to us by the Spirit, we are to confess clearly to the Lord the specific behavior. Then we are to denounce it as evil, and cast it away from us with the help of Christ.
We are to continue this process of confessing and renouncing throughout our lifetime, for our personality is filled with much spiritual darkness.
As we pray and use our will to resist sin, it loses its ability to control us. This is how Christ enables us to conquer the compulsions of sin.
Now, how do we gain the inner strength that embraces righteous behavior and repulses unrighteous behavior?
We have to be born again of God. Christ, the righteous and obedient One, must be conceived in us. Then, we must pray every day and meditate in the Scriptures every day. If we do not have time or opportunity to pray, or do not have a copy of the Scriptures, then we must pray until we have both time, and the Scriptures to study.
Our prayer must be that God will lead us not into temptation but deliver us from Satan. Also, that day by day we will choose to life by the Life of Christ, as He reveals it to us, setting aside our own life. As we continue, year after year, to seek Christ with our whole being, God will create in us a fierce love for His will and for the practice of righteousness. God will be faithful to do this if we will deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Christ at all time.
To deny ourselves means that when we are confronted with a decision in which we can choose the way of pleasure or choose what is pleasing to the Lord, that we consistently choose what pleases the Lord without compromise of any sort.
We must endure hardness as soldiers of Christ if we are to live the victorious Christian life.
The life of victory in the Lord Jesus Christ is perfectly possible to all Christian believers. The wonderful promises of the Bible are to those who abide in Christ and do His will.
There is, however, a problem with the destiny of those who are not fervent disciples of the Lord Jesus. The Bible is not clear concerning their destiny, except to speak of lashes, loss of their talent, and assignment to the outer darkness.
The preaching and teaching in America is far too soft. The Bible and its plan of salvation is strict, demanding all the obedience, diligence, and attention that we can give to it. The average Gospel preaching in America at this time does not always set forth the rigors of discipleship; the suffering and denial, and sometimes martyrdom that are involved; the need to place every one and everything we love on the altar of God, assigning our treasures to Heaven. We may never see them again until we die.
So, as Paul said, for us to live and to die is gain. Unless we are willing to have the sentence of death in ourselves, as did the Apostle Paul, it is not possible that we can serve God in the removal of evil from the creation.
When believers are faced with the prospect of having to live a victorious life if they are to receive the Divine enablements that are the consequences of such consecration, they do not always realize God's stake in this. They may be considering only their own welfare, not understanding the cosmic magnitude of the struggle between good and evil.
They may not understand they are part of God's plan to rid the universe of evil; but they are! Our willingness to resist sin, and to set aside our own life that we may live according to Christ's thinking, speaking, and acting, is serving to destroy evil and bring in everlasting righteousness.
Every effort we make to overcome rebellion and sin is tremendously consequential in the eternal scheme. No matter how difficult it is for us, no matter what delayed gratification we experience, the effects of our willingness to share Christ's suffering reach far, far beyond our understanding.
We understand, then, why God has placed us in a situation in which there are numerous obstacles to our being obedient and righteous. Our life on earth is an obstacle course, a proving ground, on which God can select and train those who will drive spiritual darkness from God's creation.
I believe with this in mind, we may renew our efforts to please God and His Christ.
Seventy 'sevens' are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy. (Daniel 9:24)
In that day you will say: "I will praise you, O LORD. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me." (Isaiah 12:1)
"That day." That day is the Day of the Lord. You always can tell when That Day is here, because the Lord alone is exalted.
I think sometimes religion gets exalted. People refer to this religion and that religion. But religion is no more than people trying to figure out how to please God. But Jesus Christ is the Lord, and when we move from Pentecost into the Tabernacles experience we exalt the Lord!
"I will praise you, O Lord." Not matter what happens to us during our discipleship on the earth we are to keep praising God. We are to have faith that God loves us; that He is seeking our welfare; that He has the power to give us the desires of our heart, and He will do so if we delight ourselves in the Lord.
"Although you were angry with me." If you are following the Lord Jesus, and have made some progress in spiritual maturity, you are going to go through a period of God's anger. Everything will seem to go wrong. You pray, and pray, and pray, and your prayers seemingly are not answered.
You can remember when you sang the happy songs of Zion and you were on your way to Heaven. Now what has happened? You are not having fun any longer. You are confused. Your friends are not sure what has happened to you. There are problems upon problems.
Jeremiah experienced this anger, didn't he, as he complained about being born.
Is God angry with you, even though you are serving Him with all your heart? Yes, He is. What is He angry about? He is angry about you, yourself, your personality. You are filled with self-love, fear, jealousy, anger, the love of pleasure, hatred, meanness, unforgiveness, and anything else you can think of.
So now you are afraid, disappointed, and confused. You thought you were God's darling (and actually you are!) and now you do not know what to think. So what should you do, run away from God like Jonah? Or draw closer to God and take your scoldings as well as you can?
I am here to tell you that it is no fun going through a period of God's anger. But it has to be. Before we may have had faith. Now what is left is trust. While we have faith we have victory. But trust leaves us clinging to God. Like Jacob, we will not let go of God until He blesses us.
Is all this confusion and darkness necessary? Of course. God never does anything just to watch us suffer. He brings grief only when it is necessary. The grief that comes from God, if we bear with it patiently, leads to the knowledge of the Lord. Remember the end of Job.
"And you have comforted me." Now the sorrow is past and God is comforting us. Believe me, God knows how to comfort. And, as I said, we know the Lord as we never have before. Prior to this we were confident we knew God. What we knew was some facts of our religion.
Now we have moved past the house of God to God Himself, El Bethelthe God of the house of God. Now you know Him instead of just about Him.
"Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation." (Isaiah 12:2)
"Surely God is my salvation." Here. Right here is the heart of the matter. God has become your salvation. In another place it refers to "the Lord our righteousness."
There is a problem in current Christian thinking. The problem is one of "belief" and "identification." It is Christian schizophrenia.
We claim to be righteous because we are identified with Christ's righteousness. We are an overcomer because we believe in Christ, the Overcomer. We are not actually righteous nor does God see us as righteous. We are not actually an overcomer nor does God regard us as being an overcomer. We do not behave righteously nor are we living a victorious Christian life.
I get excited when I think about the fantasy land Christians live in. I begin to yell at the congregation. "You are not righteous unless you are behaving righteously! You are not an overcomer unless you are overcoming sin through Christ." My yelling does not accomplish anything except relieve my frustration somewhat.
Would you start yelling if everyone was smiling assuredly and stating that two plus two equals sixteen?
When the Bible says "surely God is my salvation," or refers to "the Lord our righteousness," it does not mean we are saved because we believe in God or we are righteous because we believe in Christ. It means God Himself is dwelling in us and directing our thinking, speaking, and acting. It means the Lord Jesus is living His Life in us with the result that we behave righteously. Yell. Yell. Yell.
It is the person who behaves righteously who is righteous, not the person who holds to his religious beliefs and then acts like the devil (which has happened enough times throughout history!).
"I will trust and not be afraid." Trust in the faithfulness of God is so very important! When all about us is confusion and chaos, we place our trust in God. We may not feel His Presence but we trust Him who said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." We just never quit trusting in the faithfulness and goodness of Jesus Christ!
"The Lord is my Strength and my Song." It is one matter for the Lord to give us strength and a song. It is another for the Lord Himself to be our Strength and our Song.
The change from our holding God's hand to God holding our hand is difficult to explain until we experience it, but it is real enough. When we are walking near a precipice it is better to have God holding our hand than for us to be holding God's hand.
I describe the change by saying that at first we are playing volley ball with God. We do this and God does that. Then we cross over until we are on the same side of the net.
Arriving at the place where we are part of God comes, I suppose, as we keep desiring the Fullness of God. My prayer, as I stated previously, is that I will think as the living Christ is thinking; I will speak as the living Christ is speaking; I will act as the living Christ is acting.
To be part of God rather than a partner of God is available to anyone who truly desires this transformation and prays earnestly for it.
"He has become my Salvation." At first God saves us by helping us escape the power of the world and of sin. Later He Himself becomes our salvation.
As I said, God Himself becoming our salvation is the very heart of the Tabernacles experience. He "becomes" our salvation as we press forward in Christ. I don't suppose one percent of the current Christian population has attained to such union with God. But it is available to the sincere seeker. Perhaps the coming chaos in America will drive numerous church-goers to the true union, the true salvation.
In that day you will say: "Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted." (Isaiah 12:4)
"In that day." The Lord Jesus spoke of "that day."
On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. (John 14:20)
The Lord alone shall be exalted in our life when we realize that Christ is in His Father, and we are in Christ, and Christ is in us. This is the Tabernacles experience. It is the ultimate goal of redemption toward which The Spirit of God is leading us.
In that Day we will say, "Give thanks to the Lord." It is important that we pray continually. Each time that God answers prayer we are to take a moment and thank God for that particular answer. God does like to be thanked for answering our prayers.
"Call on His name." We make a great mistake when we look to our spiritual formulas to gain our desires. I keep telling the congregation: "Call on the Lord. Call on the Lord. Call on the Lord!"
People keep coming up with new formulas: if you do such and such, God will heal you. If you need money, give the evangelist your purse and you will get back ten times the amount of money. Say you are healed when you still are waiting for healing. On and on the booklets, tapes, and CDs go with their advice.
If you want an answer to prayer, do not answer it yourself. Do not "put legs on your prayers" unless the Lord specifically tells you to do so. A prayer with legs is like an eagle wearing shoes.
Call on the Lord Jesus and keep calling on the Lord. He will direct you to the answer.
"Make known among the nations what He has done." God has called us to be His witnesses. A witness does not announce what he has concluded, he testifies what he has seen, heard, or experienced.
What we call witnessing today is not witnessing, it is preachingoften about our religion. God spends many years making one witness of Himself, like Elijah, Daniel, Jeremiah, or the Apostle Paul.
Personally I am sick to death of religion and its waysall religions. We have made evangelism, getting souls saved, the main goal of Christians. This is not scriptural. God is well able to get His Word out and to add people to the churches. What God wants us to concentrate on is getting the sin and rebellion out of our own life.
We have thousands of voices in the United States proclaiming the way of salvation (that is, the way of salvation we have invented). But how many witnesses of God are there? The public is disenchanted with the treacherous ways of much of the ministry.
It does little good to preach Christ until people can see Christ in us. When the Father is in Christ, and Christ is in us, and we are in Christ, then the world will believeand not until.
Christian leaders preach about our having a "passion for souls." This is so unreal! I do not see evidence that they have a passion for souls. The only passion they have is to get as many souls into their buildings as they can.
I myself have experienced a God-given love for people that God wants me to pray for or work with. But the only lasting passion I have is to do God's will perfectly and completely.
The expression "passion for souls" sounds phony to me. I think it is more of the useless, "Go forth and save a lost and dying world." If we "go forth" without hearing from Christ, we probably will get diarrhea instead of saving a lost and dying world.
We are to tell the nations what God has done, not what we think He should do or will do. We are to tell the world about God and His works, not about our religious ideas or plans. We are to lift up Jesus Christ to the world. He will draw all men to Himself.
Sing to the LORD, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. (Isaiah 12:5)
"Sing to the Lord." The Christian life is not to become a drudgery. The Lord Jesus scolded the angel of the church in Ephesus because the people had left their first love. What was their first love? Their first love was their love for Jesus. What had happened? They became immersed in Christian activities. That is enough to cause anyone to quit loving Jesus!
Our discipleship is to be first and foremost a love story. Oh, we go through some difficult experiences all right. "Many dangers, toils, and snares." It is easy to lose our love for the Lord if we do not pray continually. Not work continually, but pray continually.
I saw a cartoon recently in which a man was on his knees. The Lord was trying to speak to him. The man said, "Lord, can't you see I am busy praying?"
That is about it. After we have served the Lord for ten or fifteen years, and are involved in some sort of Christian work, it is easy to forget the Song of Solomon. We become a busy church-goer. After a while we are so tired of Babylon cracking the whip over us that we wish we could stop being a Christian for a while and enjoy ourselves.
Sing to the Lord before you try to work for the Lord. After all, Christ has all authority and power in Heaven and on the earth. He really doesn't need your help. It makes me think of a father giving his daughter some money so she can buy a Father's Day present for him.
God can do what He wishes without our help. He has chosen to use us to accomplish some goal of His so we can enter His joy. He shares the inheritance with us. He does not have to do this. He is the mighty Christ! But He wants us to share His joy.
So when you find yourself all worn out with your Christian duties, ask the Lord to give you His song. To show you how to dance with Him through your duties. Do not look to people for your reward or even thanks. Focus on Jesus, and your song and love will return to you. He will give you to eat from the Tree of Life, and you shall be renewed.
"For He has done glorious things." Everything the Lord Jesus does is glorious. It becomes glorious when He does it. If He uses you to accomplish something, then your work is glorious. Everything is glorious. The whole earth is filled with His Glory.
Many evil practices are taking place in America today, in the public schools and elsewhere. Do what you can to help, but only as Christ leads you. He is seeking to draw the Christian people back to Himself by permitting them to see that the world is not their friend. Throughout all of this, the whole world is filled with His Glory. The nations are to Christ as one drop is to a bucket of water.
Why should you be all bowed down. Christ spoke the galaxies of stars and planets into existence. Consider the heavens. They are telling you the Glory of God. Man is as nothing. His breath is in his nostrils; and without Christ he will return to the dust from which he came.
"Let this be known to all the world." Cease cursing people who do not think and act as you would like them to speak and act. When you have an opportunity to speak to people, do not tell them how terrible they are. Tell them rather what glorious things Christ has done, and will do for them if they will ask Him to.
Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you. (Isaiah 12:6)
"Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion." Are you doing this? Or are you worrying about the filthy practices of the world, or about something else? Did Paul in prison tell us to rejoice always and to think about that which is lovely and of good report?
Well if Paul did write that, then that is what we are supposed to do.
Why do we worry and live in dread? Because we are attempting to pursue our discipleship in our own strength. When God is our Strength; when God is our Joy, our Righteousness, our Peace, our Song, then we can shout aloud and sing for joy. For this reason we must press into the Tabernacles experience. Then we will stand throughout the coming days of Divine judgment in America. Also, we shall be able to help other to stand.
"For great is the Holy One of Israel among you." When we are pressed beyond our strength, then we are to, as Paul did, have the sentence of death in ourselves. We are to count we were crucified when Christ was crucified. Now we are alive in His resurrection Life. No power in the heavens or upon the earth can overcome the resurrection Life of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We who are living the Christian life can be overcome if we are pressed hard enough. But God cannot be overcome. When we are filled with God, in the Tabernacles experience, and living by the Life of the Lord Jesus Christ, remembering how great He is, we then can sing and dance in the heights of Zion.
I do not know why God does this, unless He wants the child to have special attention. But it was hard on the mother in those days, because not bearing children was a disgrace.
But consider the following!
"Sing, O barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband," says the LORD. (Isaiah 54:1)
God is speaking of a miracle, isn't He? Here was a woman who never has been in labor. Furthermore, she does not have a husband. Yet, she shall have many children.
This is so like the Lord. Most women are having one or more children. This poor soul has no husband. But God tells her to rejoice because she will have more children than married women who are fruitful.
It makes us think of Abraham, doesn't it. He was so desperate for a child he had a son by a slave woman. The child, Ishmael, brought forth the children of the desert. They were wild people. But when God's time came, the ancestor of Christ was born.
I wonder how many Christian people have a desire to bring forth some sort of fruit for Christ. Perhaps they have made abortive attempts to perform God's work. Other ministers seem to prosper right out of Bible school. They start great works and are famous in their denomination. But there are others who are just as faithful who can't seem to do much of "significance."
I would not be surprised if what I have just written is not a fairly common situation.
I can remember the story of one faithful minister who had a small work and a few young people whom he was endeavoring to bring up in the Lord. Not far from him another minister began a work which soon had a congregation of thousands, including many young people.
Well, young people like to be among a crowd of young people so they can look for a potential husband or wife. The inevitable happened. All except one of the young people of the small church left to go where there was more fun.
When a pastor desires a large church there are some things he can do to attract people. He can hire a magician, or an entertainer, or a sports figure. He can have many social events. People will come if there is food and a party atmosphere. He should avoid preaching anything negative, such as bearing our cross after Jesus. In America, he should tell people how Jesus will make them a better person and give them a better life.
He may indeed have a church of thousands and be well received by the Christian denominations and the world as well. He is not barren, having many spiritual children.
But God did not build this congregation. The pastor, being talented, became quite successful according to the measure commonly employed: he had many people. But is God pleased? Has a work of eternal value been accomplished?
Isaiah is telling us about an unmarried women who, of course, had no children. Perhaps he was speaking about Israel. The time was increasingly dismal for Israel, as they were threatened by the Assyrians and later the Babylonians. God tells them of their suffering Messiah and of a later restoration.
Suddenly God speaks to the barren woman: "Burst into song. Shout for joy. I am going to give you an abundance of children." This way of working, causing barrenness and then promising glory, is so like the Lord. God waits until we come to the end of ourselves. Then, when we are in a hopeless situation, God reveals His love and power.
Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. (Isaiah 54:2)
Maybe the reason God begins a great work by bringing the person He is going to use to a state of barrenness is that He may be glorified. Remember when God reduced the number of men in Gideon's army, He did so in order that it might be clear who it was that brought about victory.
One time I read where someone wrote that missionary work could proceed only according to how much money is available. I did not believe that when I read it and I still do not believe it. That is man's thinking, not God's thinking.
I have heard tell that a number of countries are closing their doors to the Gospel. This sounds to me like God is getting ready to move in those countries and is waiting until people have given up and gotten out of the way. How can any country close the door against the God of whose incomprehensible Glory the heavens declare?
Perhaps the doors of those countries are closed to religious man, but they certainly are not closed to God!
You might think I am being impractical or ignorant of the problems. This is not the case. Rather I have my eyes fixed on Christ who created the universe. I think the problem is we attempt to build the Kingdom of God before we hear from the Lord Jesus.
When God speaks to us to enlarge the place of our tent, then we are to do just that, not turn our eyes away from God and say there is no need to do this because we are so small.
Should we pray that God will enlarge us? Absolutely! I prayed one time, when teaching the fifth grade in Palo Alto, California, that God would enable me to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom wherever people breathe the air. This was impossible at the time.
But since then the personal computer and other electronic devices have been invented, and now it is entirely possible for me to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom wherever people breathe the airfrom Lapland to the Negev to Tierra del Fuego, and all parts of Africa as well as the Amazon jungle.
There is nothing wrong with being barren. But we must never let that barrenness develop in us a spirit of smallness so that we remove our eyes from the greatness of the Christ whom we serve.
Let's throw our net out over the world, as the Lord directs, and see what we catch.
For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities. (Isaiah 54:3)
What an incredible promise to the barren woman, Israel. Jesus told us we can ask what we will and it shall be done. That is the passage I had in mind when I asked God to enable me to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom wherever people preach the air. It appeared absolutely impossible at the time of that prayer. It is not impossible now but very probable!
Notice that the inheritance is people. The inheritance of Christ is people, and we are co-heirs with him. People talk about mansions and other strange inheritances. They do not know their own heart. The only inheritance worth having is God, and then people.
Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood. (Isaiah 54:4)
The picture is that of a woman who was rejected by her husband in her youth and had been a widow ever since. She was ashamed of her lowly condition. But God promises her that she no longer will experience disgrace and humiliation. God has decided to take up her cause, and He has something wonderful in store for her.
Perhaps you who are reading my words are in a similar situation. When you were younger you were happy and carefree. Then tragedy struck. Since than you have been a social outcast.
I notice that today in America the Christian people, who used to be honored, are little by little being set aside as those with other values are vaunting themselves. The curricula being developed for the elementary school children are disgusting. I listened today as a girl scout told how boys were joining the girl scouts, claiming they really were girls.
I have no doubt that many eighteen year old boys would really enjoy being considered a girl scout so they could go on the outings and live with the girls. How utterly stupid are the officials who are endorsing this as though it is some great advancement in mental health.
Since high officials in our government condone homosexuality, and abortion as well, America is on a decline morally that a hundred years ago would not have been believed possible. It is getting worse every day.
Some Christian people try to take action politically while other mourn, "How long, O Lord. How long!"
God is telling those who have ears to hear that He is at work and not to doubt. When God is through using this moral filth for His own ends, He will move. Then the righteous no longer will be humiliated and ashamed but will rejoice mightily because their Desire has come and righteousness has been restored.
God hears the cry of the righteous and will help them, to the utter dismay of the wicked.
For your Maker is your husbandthe LORD Almighty is his namethe Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth. (Isaiah 54:5)
The barren woman has been a widow for many years. Therefore God has proclaimed Himself her Husband and Redeemer. I realize there are numerous women in the world who are widows. The Lord Jesus would be glad to be their Husband, if they would look to Him and accept Him as such.
Notice how God proclaims His power to the barren one. He does not present Himself as the God of Heaven but as the "God of all the earth." He is telling her that while she does not have a human husband any longer, the Husband she has now is greater than all. The entire earth is in His power.
Sometimes we forget that God is the God of all the earth. The famous verse in the fourteenth chapter of the Book of John, that starts off, "In my Father's house," is often interpreted that the Father's house is Heaven. It is not. The Father's House is Christ, Head and Body. The Father is greater than all, and He is as much the God of the earth as He is the God of Heaven.
"The LORD will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirita wife who married young, only to be rejected," says your God. (Isaiah 12:6)
Now we see that her first husband did not die. He rejected her, gave her a Bill of Divorcement, and sent her awayand this when she was a young girl. It is no wonder she is distressed in spirit, scorned, humiliated, ashamed.
How often it is that an individual God is going to use in a mighty way goes through a period of suffering before the dawn comes. We think of Job, and how he came to know the Lord in a greater way. We think of Joseph, who one moment was in prison and next was a lord over Egypt.
I feel confident that there have been numerous people who were brought very low before God came on the scene. But that is the way He works. We do not start off in some grand manner. God must first, as He did with Job, cause us to see how small and helpless we actually are. Then when God raises us up we do not forget that it is God who is to be glorified, not us.
Job was restored and was given a new family. The Apostle Paul went from one suffering to the next. He did not live to see His name become a household word among Christians. Isaiah did not live to see how people thousands of years after his death would be reading his words and profiting from them.
But that is the way God works. Those who at first are highly esteemed by their fellows may shine for a season during their lifetime. Then there are others, most of whom we don't know, who lived in obscurity but whose prayer and obedience made possible the advancement of the Kingdom of God.
Their day of recognition in the earth may not have come as yet, but it shall one day, and they will have eternity to rejoice at the wealth of blessing their travail has accomplished.
Better to be brought low now and exalted later; than to begin in a burst of recognition, only to realize when we enter the spirit world at our death that Christ is not impressed and no one seems to notice us.
"For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back. In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you," says the LORD your Redeemer. (Isaiah 54:7,8)
I mentioned the abandonment when writing about "In That Day." All disciples who are pressing forward in Jesus come to their day of abandonment and Divine anger. Do not be surprised. You are in a tunnel, not a grave. You will come forth knowing the Lord better than you have previously.
The abandonment lasts but a short time, although to us it may appear unbearably long. God chastens His child, and then restores him or her with deep compassion and everlasting kindness. Do not believe for one moment that God actually has forsaken you. He is rebuking you that you may be a partaker of His holiness.
You will learn a lot about God and about yourself during the period of abandonment.
"To me this is like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth. So now I have sworn not to be angry with you, never to rebuke you again. Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the LORD, who has compassion on you. (Isaiah 54:9,10)
God was not pleased to have to drown so many people during the flood of Noah. He knew each of those terrified people by name. But their wickedness was such they were destroying themselves. It is interesting that Christ went and preached to those disobedient people while they languished in prison. I believe He told them about the atonement He had just made so they would have a chance to repent and be forgiven.
God was so moved by the suffering of these perhaps millions of people that He promised never to do that again, and put the rainbow in the sky as a reminder to ants and people that such destruction would not be repeated.
When we are in our time of abandonment it is so good to know that God has not forgotten His love for us. There may be tumult all around us but God's covenant of peace will never be broken. In actuality, the abandonment and anger are proof of His love. It is when God permits people to continue in sin and disobedience that they are in real trouble.
O afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will build you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with sapphires. I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of sparkling jewels, and all your walls of precious stones. (Isaiah 54:11,12)
Now we discover that the barren woman is the new Jerusalem. God has restored her and is building her up with precious jewels, the signs of His favor. This will be true of us also, if we will remain patiently in the prisons in which we are placed. We will receive the crown of life.
Melchizedec served as the priest of God by the power of an endless life. So it will be true of us that the aches and tiredness of human life will be no more. We shall live and serve God in that same power of Melchizedec, being gloriously alive, never needing a night in which to sleep because we are being renewed constantly by the resurrection Life of Christ.
Such is the crown of life that is given to the patient saints. Though during their lifetime they have experienced every kind of fear, dread, pain, terror, remorse, weakness, frustration, that day is over. They shall reign with Christ as priests of God over the saved people of the nations of the earth.
No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 22:3-5)
All your sons will be taught by the LORD, and great will be your children's peace. (Isaiah 54:13)
Here is another promise for those who remain faithful under God's chastening hand. Their children will be taught by the Lord and have peace. Sometimes Christian parents are about ready to despair. They can take refuge in this promise, but for it to take effect they themselves must be serving the Lord faithfully and patiently.
In righteousness you will be established: Tyranny will be far from you; you will have nothing to fear. Terror will be far removed; it will not come near you. (Isaiah 54:14)
There is no question that dangerous times are approaching the United States. Our government is not seeking God and giving glory to Him. The political leaders are boasting of their own ability to solve the mounting problems confronting us.
Because of abortion and gender confusion, the hand of Divine judgment is over America. The handwriting is on the wall. We already are experiencing a certain amount of tyranny as the federal and local governments are forcing curricula on elementary-school children that expose them to some of the modern ideas about sexual and gender perversion.
Such curricula has no place in the education of children. They are an utter abomination. They are sickening. Yet they are being forced on parents who are trusting the public schools to prepare their children for life. In this way our local and federal governments are tyrannical, permitting a small group of people with a radical agenda to force their ideas on children and young people.
America is going to pay bitterly for permitting this kind of satanic perversion to take place, as Satan seeks to destroy the image of God in people.
But God says such tyranny shall be far from us and we have nothing to fear. This tells me that in the midst of such an abominable culture, if we will ask God to cause us to think as Jesus is thinking; to speak as Jesus is speaking; to act as Jesus is acting; in other words, to live by the Life of Christ; we will survive spiritually and help others to survive throughout the moral chaos we are entering.
"Terror will be far removed," God promises the barren woman. It will not come near us. Do you remember how Jeremiah was taken care of when the Babylonians were destroying Jerusalem? One of the high-ranking Babylonian officials went to Jeremiah and protected him.
So it shall be in the future in America. If we arrive at the place where God's judgment is poured out and all about us is desolation, each of us who is dwelling in the shadow of God, who is abiding in Christ and living by His Life, will be protected along with his or her loved ones. God always protects His faithful saints, though He may have to bring them through difficult seasons to perfect their faith in Him.
If anyone does attack you, it will not be my doing; whoever attacks you will surrender to you. "See, it is I who created the blacksmith who fans the coals into flame and forges a weapon fit for its work. And it is I who have created the destroyer to work havoc; no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and this is their vindication from me," declares the LORD. (Isaiah 54:15-17)
The passage above is one of the most powerful promises in the entire Scriptures. Every soldier of Christ learns to lean on these words. Whoever attacks us will surrender to us. When we are preaching righteous behavior, we sometimes are attacked viciously. But if we just look to the Lord instead of trying to defend ourselves, God shall fight our battles for us.
Since most of us are not attacked by weapons of war, the idea that God has control over these instruments of destruction is not directly helpful to us. But sometimes we are attacked with the tongue, with accusations. If we keep looking to Jesus, we will be able to refute the arguments used against us. There is no need for us to panic and seek frantically to justify ourselves.
When we have borne patiently and faithfully the sore trials through which we sometimes are brought, then, when people accuse us of unrighteousness, God vindicates us. We are His servants, so He defends us as we are seeking His will.
Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. (Romans 8:33)
Satan always is seeking to condemn the followers of the Lord Jesus. He spreads rumors about us. But as long as we are serving Christ to the best of our knowledge, the accusations will come to nothing and we will overcome the accuser.
We may be barren now. But our time of rejoicing will come if we remain faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ.
One can understand an abortion in the case of rape, or to save the mother's life; but not to remove an inconvenience.
Aborting a fetus for no defensible reason is murder. I am certain that God is well aware of every instance of abortion-on-demand, and some person is going to answer for it before the Judgment Seat of Christ.
Another horrible circumstance is that of imposing on elementary-school children the idea that a person can determine whatever gender he or she is according to how he or she feels. This agenda is monstrous, and the marvel is that people, although they may not approve of it, submit to it rather than disturb their comfortable life. Gender confusion is being forced on the American people by tyrannical federal and state governments.
Well, the world never has been the friend of Christian people, although in America this hostility has not been as obvious as it has been in other countries. Today, it seems, Christians sometimes are being viewed as second-class citizens. Perhaps one of the reasons for this is Americans increasingly are able to indulge in excesses of the flesh, in behavior that the Bible condemns. As far as I know, the main resistance to homosexual behavior has been from the Christian churches.
Now, as we see the moral landslide, what do we do about it? Since we have freedom of speech and the opportunity for political activity, we can attempt to influence the government in terms of the values we believe the leaders of the government should proclaim. Such action is praiseworthy and may have done some good.
We Christians often take refuge in the following passage:
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (II Chronicles 7:14)
I would never for one moment suggest that people should not pray for their government, for this is scriptural.
But there is another factor that must be considered. When we consider these abominations, so contrary to the history of our country, before we take political action we should pray and ask God what we should do. I believe any Christian would maintain we should try to find out what God is saying about this debauchery before we take some kind of action.
As a fervent disciple of Jesus, we must not take anything for granted. We must endeavor to find out what the Master is saying. Would you agree to that?
When the Babylonians posed a threat, Jeremiah said the following to the King of Judah:
I gave the same message to Zedekiah king of Judah. I said, "Bow your neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon; serve him and his people, and you will live." (Jeremiah 28:12)
You can imagine how unpopular Jeremiah became by saying that.
When the Jews were in captivity there were prophets, such as Hananiah, who kept the Jews in Babylon in an uproar by telling them they soon would return to Jerusalem.
Within two years I will bring back to this place all the articles of the LORD's house that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon removed from here and took to Babylon. (Jeremiah 28:3)
During the time that the Jews were in captivity in Babylon their "prophets" were declaring that in a short time they would be released. But the Lord told Jeremiah this was not so, and that the Jews should settle down.
Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper. (Jeremiah 29:7)
I am not stating that we should lay back and do nothing when evil people are influencing the government and the schools. Rather I am saying that we are not to go by what seems to be true. We are not to take for granted that what we think ought to be done is necessarily God's will.
I am sure the Jews of that day could not believe that God was telling them to make Babylon their home for a season. But God was saying exactly that!
"Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile."
I have prayed that God would give us righteous government and godly public schools. But things keep getting worse. Also, the people who are seeking the presidency are attacking each other with such fervency and vitriol that I am not impressed with them.
Can we by democratic processes guarantee that we will elect a president who will respond to the desires of hard-working, decent people and not endorse or condone people with values which clearly are sinful from the standpoint of the Bible?
Whether we can or cannot, I have gone to the Lord about this problem of immorality in our country. What God seems to be telling me, and you be the judge of this, is that America has crossed over the line with our abortions and immoral behavior. Now He is going to punish the American people so they can see what they have given away.
I have not heard from the Lord that He is going to prosper us financially if we pray. I am hearing rather that things are going to become worse because our nation is pursuing pleasure rather than righteousness.
I believe God is telling me that our nation will not be saved from serious harm. Therefore it is up to us as individuals to seek Jesus for ourselves.
As far as the Divine redemption is concerned, we are moving toward the spiritual fulfillments of the last three of the seven Jewish observances. Without going into detail, these fulfillments can be summarized by saying Christ is coming in the Spirit to declare war on His enemies, beginning with His churches. We are to confess our sins, as the Spirit points them out to us, and renounce them, turning away from them with all our might, with the help of the Lord.
The God of Heaven is planning on making us His eternal dwelling place. This is what the Lord is telling me, I believe.
You can see how different this is from trying to persuade the secular government to establish laws against homosexuality and abortion. Our kingdom is not of this world, Jesus maintained.
Another consideration is that the sins of our nation are inspired by demons who cannot be overcome by politics. They can be overcome only as we Christians lead righteous lives and are sternly obedient to Christ. From what I see, I think the Christian people are more interested in getting out of here in a rapture than they are in leading a righteous life.
I know I may be regarded as unpatriotic, even though I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps at the age of seventeen, in the middle of World War Two. I would imagine Jeremiah also was considered unpatriotic. But this cannot be helped. A true man or woman of God will speak what God is saying, regardless of the consequences.
If we are to save ourselves and our loved ones we must press closer to Jesus. If the troubles on our nation are proceeding from Divine judgment, then we need to orient our thinking so as to conform to the will of Christ.
This brings us to the problem of "fretting."
The Bible commands us not to fret about the actions of evil people. We find this in the thirty-seventh and the seventy-third Psalms. When we fret about the conditions in our country or in the world, we are demonstrating our unbelief in the power and wisdom of God.
If we think about it, the Person who spoke the creation into existence has the power to put an end to evil people. Is that true or not? If He does, and He does nothing about the evil in the land, what does that tell us?
I realize that many would say it is up to us to put an end to evil. We certainly should if we could. But what if, as in the case of California in the present hour, laws are passed that will tend to lead little children into sexual attitudes and practices that are not biblical? How can the parents resist the law without having their children taken from them by the government?
Remember, secular parents may not be concerned enough to want to change the curriculum. In many cases they are content to just live with it. Maybe it is a good idea, they may think, to let a little boy decide to become a little girl. Therefore the secular parents may not assist the Christian parents in pressing for change in the schools. Fervent Christians are becoming a shrinking minority in our country.
At the present time there is a furor among the Girls Scouts USA. The girl scouts are accepting boys who think they are girls into their midst. This means a high-school boy can claim to be a girl, and then go camping with the girls. You can imagine the rest. It is an abomination, from a biblical standpoint. It destroys everything we admire about the Girl Scouts organization.
Just imagine the little eight year old girl campers sharing their thoughts with a boy in their midst. Truly, sin produces a lack of judgment.
Well, the United Nations as well as our own local and federal government are promoting this gender confusion. Certainly we should resist it in whatever manner we can. But what if this tide is irresistible because God is not preventing it but is allowing it because of our sin? I do believe this is what is happening?
If our nation is as far gone as I think it is, when I consider the entertainers who give obscene performances and are wildly popular, then I am not certain any political efforts on our part are going to do much goodespecially if God is not supporting us.
We can, of course, retreat in an orderly manner, protesting all the way. This, however, is not pleasing to me. I want to attack and win the war, not participate in an orderly retreat. How about you?
So I go to the Lord. He tells me to obey the Bible and stop fretting. He tells me to rejoice in the Lord always. He tells me to think about that which is of good report. I know this is the Lord speaking because it is what the Bible says.
Nowhere, as far as I know, does the Bible command me to force my values on the secular community. And the Lord never has told me to do that.
So I have a choice, don't I? Since I don't really have the power to change the course of the nation from its dive into the cesspool, I can do one of two things. I can fret myself continually, which is against the Scriptures. Or I can draw near to Christ and live by His Life. I can rejoice because I know Daniel tells us God is going to put an end to sin.
I am to make certain that I have confessed my own sins and turned away from them. I am going to wake up every morning telling Christ I want to think, speak, and do what He is thinking, speaking, and doing today. I want to live by His Life more each day.
If He leads me to take some kind of political or public action, I will do that, realizing that I will accomplish good. So far, Christ has told me clearly to keep writing the truths of the Kingdom as the Spirit enables me.
When the Lord called me to preach, while I was in prayer in a former Japanese barracks at the end of World War Two, waiting for the Bible study to begin, He called me to preach the Bible. That is what I have been doing ever since, and I am enjoying every day of it.
Do not fret yourself. It leads only to evil. Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say, rejoice!
The feast of Tabernacles includes three sub-feasts: the Blowing of Trumpets; the Day of Atonement; and the feast of Tabernacles itself.
The Blowing of Trumpets is taking place today, as Christ is coming in the Spirit of God to drive His enemies from the creation of God. He is beginning with those in the Church who are closest to Him. We are to confess our sins and turn away from them, with the Lord's help.
Such is our entrance into the spiritual fulfillment of the Day of Atonement, in which every aspect of our personality, including our wall, is to be reconciled to God. God helps us change from self-will to God's will by keeping us in prisons of frustration, delayed gratification of our fervent desires, weakness, and helplessness.
The preceding six fulfillments of the Jewish feasts bring us to the final celebration, the feast of Tabernacles. In the fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit make us Their eternal Tabernacle. We are filled with all the Fullness of God, which prepares us for the numerous roles and responsibilities of the Kingdom of God.
Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him." (John 14:23)
The Holy Spirit already is dwelling in us if we are faithfully obeying the Lord Jesus.
Some of the roles and responsibilities of the Kingdom of God, that we can fill as God dwells in us, are as follows:
To be a member of the Bride of the Lamb (Revelation 21:9)
To be part of the Temple of God (Ephesians 2:22)
To be a member of the Body of Christ (I Corinthians 12:12)
To be the light of the world (Matthew 5:14)
To be a part of the vehicle for the end-time revival (Isaiah 60:1,2)
To be a restorer of Paradise on earth (Romans 8:21)
To be a source of eternal life and healing for the nations (I Corinthians 15:45)
To be a member of the royal priesthood (I Peter 2:9)
To be a witness of God (Isaiah 43:10)
To be salt (Matthew 5:13)
To be a son of God (Revelation 21:7)
To be a brother of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29)
To be an overcomer of the accuser (Revelation 12:11)
To be a governor of the nations (Revelation 2:26,27)
To be a soldier in the army of the Lord (Joel 2:11)
To be a judge of men and angels (I Corinthians 6:2,3)
To be a wall of defense around the Glory of God (Revelation 21:14)
To be a part of the revelation of HimselfGod in Christ in the saints (Revelation 3:12)
It may be that God will use us even today in some of these roles and responsibilities. However, we are much better qualified to accomplish these responsibilities when God is dwelling in us in His Fullness.
The Apostle Paul spoke of our need to be filled with all the Fullness of God:
So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledgethat you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:17-19)
When we first receive Christ as our Lord and Savior, a Seed is planted in our personality. This Seed is of God's Person. It is Divine in Nature. It is not half-human and half-Divine.
Now our body contains the Spirit of God, the Life of Christ, and our own adamic nature.
We now have a choice. We can continue to live according to our adamic nature, which is largely sinful and rebellious, or we can live in obedience to the Spirit of God.
If we choose to live according to our adamic nature, the eternal Life that has been born in us will die.
For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, (Romans 8:13)
If we choose to live in obedience to the Spirit of God, that which has been planted in us will grow. The Nature of Christ will be formed in us.
When the Nature of Christ has been formed in us, the Father and the Son, will come and dwell in that which has been formed in us. God will come to dwell in our adamic, human nature.
It has been God's plan from the beginning to create an eternal Tabernacle for Himself in which He can find rest, and through which He can minister to the people He has created.
You will bring them in and plant them on the mountain of your inheritance the place, O LORD, you made for your dwelling, the sanctuary, O Lord, your hands established. (Exodus 15:17)
Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. (Exodus 25:8)
And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (Ephesians 2:22)
In Revelation, Chapter Twenty-one, we read that the dwelling of God is among men:
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God." (Revelation 21:3)
The "dwelling of God" is the Christian Church, the Wife of the Lamb. The glorified Church has come down from Heaven to be among the saved people from the nationsthey whose names have been found in the Book of Life at the last judgment.
This simple, clear design, that the Church has been called out from the nations of the earth to be the dwelling place of God, is not always made clear in Christian teaching. Yet, until we understand that the members of the Church are a minority drawn from the peoples of the earth so they can be prepared to bring God to the remainder of mankind, it is impossible to understand the Kingdom of God.
When God calls for something, or when we are afraid He may demand something of us, and we panic, then that person, or thing, or situation is an idol. We must not let anyone or anything become so important to us that we cannot let go of him, or her, or it when God asks for it. We must go to prayer instantly until we have peace about letting the idol go.
Right now, today, we should take an inventory of all that we desire. Divine judgment is approaching America because of our sinful behavior. Soon we will experience God's displeasure. If in that day there is anyone or anything we are clinging to, that we have not placed in Heaven so to speak, we are going to be miserable as we seek to clutch our treasure. We may rebel against God as we determine to force our will in the matter.
Sometimes anxiety is caused by our fear of losing a loved one or our present circumstances. That fear lingers in our subconscious mind. When we are experiencing anxiety we need to ask God precisely what we are afraid of. Once we recognize what we are clinging to, we can face it and tell the Lord we can be joyful in Him even though that which we dread happens to us.
Some of our grasping can be traced back to our fear of death. I have learned that there is no reason to be afraid of death. Unless we are a truly wicked person, causing pain and harm to people in order to satisfy our own desires, or have been presented with Christ and have knowingly and willfully rejected His salvation, there is no need to fear death.
We would not be afraid to place our treasures in Heaven if we were sure they will be there when we die, intact, in a better condition than they are now. If we realized we are going to families and friends, and there will be no more pain or tiredness, we might be able to die in peace.
Once in a while it comes time for an older person, or even a child, to die. Death may be approaching due to a terminal illness. Or the person may be suffering so much pain that they want to die, and the doctors give no hope. Then we should look to the Lord. If He says it is time for that person to come home, then we are being cruel and unbelieving if we plead with God to keep him or her from dying.
It is true in funeral services that we Christians weep and carry on as though some dreadful thing has happened. It must be that we have no faith that God is to be trusted to bring the person to a happier situation. Actually, in so many instances we are not weeping for the deceased but for ourselves because we will miss the person.
Sometimes I think about people on the other side of the world who are starving to death or approaching death for some other reason. It is possible they are better off dying. The ones who suffer are the living. In this case the grief of the living certainly is understandable. However it is not realistic, because the spirit world is far better than the present world, except for the truly wicked.
On occasion God may remove a person or thing from us, or cause something that seems to be unfortunate to happen to us. Then, if we are a faithful Christian, we will not complain, fret, and become angry with God. If we are serving Jesus as we should, we can be confident that the episode, while it may seem unfortunate or even tragic, is working for our good. If we do not turn away from God in our unbelief we will live to see God's wisdom and love toward us.
I truly believe that overcoming our tendency to grasp relationships, things, and circumstances is an important aspect of the life of victory in Christ.
The Tabernacle consisted of a tent in a courtyard surrounded by a linen fence. In the courtyard was placed the great Altar of Burnt Offering where the animal sacrifices were made. The tent was divided into the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place. Also in the courtyard was the bronze Laver.
Within the Holy Place were located the Table of Showbread; the golden Lampstand; and the Altar of Incense.
Within the Most Holy Place was placed the Ark of the Covenant. Serving as a lid on the Ark of the Covenant was the Mercy Seat, sometimes called the Lid of Propitiation.
If we look at the Tabernacle complex as being symbolic we might consider the white linen fence as marking the boundary of righteousness. All that was within the fenced area, the Courtyard, was acceptable to God. The Tent would represent the Church, the new Jerusalem.
The Altar of Burnt Offering in the Courtyard represents Calvary. Anyone who wished to be considered righteous must come to the blood of the cross for forgiveness. There were four horns on the Altar of Burnt Offering, pointing to the four corners of the earth, indicating that all who wish to do so may come to God for forgiveness through the blood of the cross.
The bronze laver, also in the Courtyard, speaks of water baptism. It was made from the polished bronze looking glasses of the women of Israel. It portrays the Scriptures. As we meditate in the Scriptures we see where we are dirty. Then we wash ourselves by repenting, looking to the blood of the Altar of Burnt offering for cleansing.
The bronze Laver tells us of water baptism. We repent of our sins, and they are forgiven because of the blood of the burnt offering.
It may be noted that the Tent itself and the six furnishings within were so holy that even the Levites were not permitted to look inside. This tells us that the Church is not of the world and should not attempt to obtain the help of the world. The churches are the prophets of God in the world, as symbolized by the seven golden lampstandsthe Lampstands speaking of the anointing of the Spirit of God.
Then we go through the Door of the Tent. Now we are in the realm of the Church. On our right is the Table of Showbread, representing the body and blood of Christ. Each morning and evening a lamb was offered outside the Tent. When it was offered, the priest inside the Holy Place poured out wine next to the Table of Showbread. Thus twice each day the body and blood of God's Lamb were celebrated.
If we would study the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John I think we would be surprised how important the body and blood of Christ are. I believe they are the hidden manna, mentioned in the second chapter of the Book of Revelation. They are hidden because they are available only to those who are choosing to confess and turn away from their sins.
By eating the body and drinking the blood of the Lamb we are married to the Lamb.
Also, the body and blood of the Lamb are our resurrection Life. When the Lord Jesus appears, those who live by the Life of the Lamb will be caught up to meet Him. Each time we overcome sin we are fed in the spirit world with the body and blood of the Lamb. There is no more important lesson for the Christian to learn than that of living by the Life of the Lamb.
On the left, as we enter the Tent, is the Lampstand. It was beaten into shape from a talent of pure gold. There are seven lamps that burn olive oil.
The Lampstand represents the anointing that abides on ChristHead and Body. Only the Christian activity that is anointed with the Spirit is of eternal significance in the Kingdom of God. There have been huge amounts of religious activity throughout the Church Era, as is true today. However, only that which anointed by the Spirit of God has lasting results.
The term "Christ" means the "Anointed One." When we are baptized with the Spirit of God we are baptized into the Body of the Anointed One. This is the royal priesthood, the new Jerusalem, that will govern the new world of righteousness.
Everything that is performed in the Kingdom of God must be done by the Spirit of God. So much of religion is carried on by ambitious flesh! It is worthless. More than that, religion often attacks that which is being wrought by the Spirit, just as the priests and scribes of Israel attacked their Messiah when He appeared.
God says, "Not by might nor by power but by My Spirit." All else is chaff and will be burned up by the fires of Divine judgment.
As one passes between the Table of Showbread and the Lampstand, directly ahead, but still this side of the Veil that separates the Most Holy Place from the Holy Place, is the Altar of Incense.
No atoning blood was offered on the Altar of Incense. Rather the holy incense was poured on the burning coals so that the aroma filled the Holy Place.
The Lampstand portrays the believers who have experienced Pentecost. If they would move forward to the Fullness of God, that which is behind the ornate Veil, they must go past the Altar of Incense.
The Altar of Incense symbolizes death to our self-will. It is here we cry out, "Not my will but Yours be done." We absolutely cannot enter past the Veil into the Most Holy Place until we set aside our own life that we may live by the Life of the Lord Jesus.
The Altar of Incense parallels in symbolism the River Jordan. Both tell us that to enter the inheritance we must die to self-will.
If we choose to count ourselves as dead with Christ on the cross, we can go past the heavy Veil. We are confronted now with the Ark of the Covenant, a chest made with acacia wood and covered without and within with pure gold.
The Ark represents our being conformed to the Character of the Lord Jesus. Within the Ark are the two tables of stone, the memorial jar of manna, and Aaron's rod. Each of these three are vital to the life of victory in Christ.
The memorial jar of manna tells us we are to live each moment by the strength that God provides. Experienced Christians discover that there is only enough grace for the day. Yesterday's grace soon becomes corrupt. We must keep pressing forward in Christ. We do not have grace for tomorrow as yet, so there is no need to worry about the future.
It is today that is the day of salvation. We only have grace for right now. That way we learn to trust in God. Those who hoard money do so in order that they may not have to trust God in the future. They are not as safe as the poor believer whose trust is in the Lord.
Aaron's rod tells us two things. First of all that rank in the Kingdom of God does not proceed from the ambitions of men. God selects His own ministers, and personal ambition has no place here.
Second, that the Life of the Kingdom of God proceeds from our death. Aaron's Rod was a dead stick, hardened in the fire. Yet overnight, buds, blossoms, and fruit appeared on it when it was laid up in the Most Holy Place. So it is that all lasting ministry comes from our death in Christ.
The Ark of the Covenant derived its name from the two tablets of stone on which were engraved the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments were God's covenant with Israel. By these commandments God was saying that if you observe these relationships with God and man, then I will bless you and you will have a long, prosperous life.
But the Ark is not the end of our discipleship. The end is portrayed by the solid gold Mercy Seat, the lid on the Ark of the Covenant. Here is the place of complete reconciliation between God and the saint.
There is no wood here, only gold, representing Divinity. Paul prayed that we might be filled with the Fullness of God. Here, in the Lid of Propitiation, or Lid of Reconciliation, IIS the place in which God and man become One.
It is God's will that we be conformed to the image of Christ, inwardly and outwardly.
It is God's will that we be filled with all the Fullness of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
It is God's will that God be in Christ be in us be in Christ be in God. It is the wheel in the middle of the wheel, as set forth in the Book of Ezekiel.
God will have nothing between us and Himself. God created us to this end.
God created man for a number of reasons. Chiefly for fellowship, and then to perform the roles and responsibilities I have mentioned in the previous essay.
One of the chief reasons for the creation of man is to prevent any future rebellion of the angels and other principalities in the heavens. Man is to serve as the judge of people and angels. Man is to reinstall Paradise on the earth, and then maintain it for eternity.
Never again will there be a Paradise that is not protected by the Lord's judges and warrior angels.
One of the main purposes of the history of the earth is that God, in the midst of this insanity and corruption, might select and train His future rulers, judges, and prieststhe Royal Priesthood.
Today we are at the beginning of the warfare between good and evil; between God and Satan; between Christ and Antichrist; between the Holy Spirit and the False Prophet.
Every time we as a Christian choose to obey Christ rather than the pleasures of disobedience to God, we are participating in this final battle. The war will not end until God has made an end of sin, confining all sin and sinners in the eternal prisons.
What a day we live in! As it is written, "many who are last shall be first." We are the last in time, and have an opportunity to gain one of the thrones that yet is unoccupied.
While today is one of great opportunity, it also is one of great danger. Satan has had thousands of years of experience in deceiving the saints. He knows he soon is to be hurled into the Bottomless Pit, and then into the Lake of Fire. So he is doing all he can to persuade the saints to sin so he can rebuke God for God's severity in assigning Satan and his angels to such a dreadful destiny.
So the conflict of the ages is hereright now. You and I have been chosen to serve Christ in the present hour. If we succeed with Christ's assistance in living victoriously, overcoming sin and self-will, we shall share the Master's joy.
But if we live the typical American half-hearted, lukewarm, casual church-going life, our loss will be far, far beyond my ability to describe.
Also, we are flirting with a destiny too horrible to contemplatewe will pass into the spirit world and be placed with people like ourselves.
He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time. (Daniel 7:25)
It grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them. (Daniel 8:10)
The man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, lifted his right hand and his left hand toward heaven, and I heard him swear by him who lives forever, saying, "It will be for a time, times and half a time. When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed." (Daniel 13:7)
Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them. (Revelation 11:7)
He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. (Revelation 13:7)
"The saints will be handed over to him."
"It threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them."
"When the power of the holy people has been finally broken."
"Will attack them, and overpower and kill them."
"To make war against the saints and to conquer them."
For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. (II Thessalonians 2:7)
When God permits the power of the testimony of Christ to be removed, then the Antichrist, the secret power of lawlessness, will be clearly revealed so all the world can understand what is of Satan and what is of God. The demons will be unveiled so people can perceive who is behind what is taking place in the world.
The difference between good and evil is not clear today, especially in America. The entertainers perform in a lewd manner and the American people cannot recognize that they are looking at the antics of demons.
The above are a needed warning to us at this time, because it is now that God's people are being overcome and the testimony of Christ destroyed. We can see this happening in our country, can't we.
There are three ways in which the Christian witness is overcome. They are the tree temptations of every son of God, including the Lord Himself.
The first temptation is that of bread. I believe this can be expanded to finding our survival and security in the world. I think we need to understand that the spirit of the world is of Antichrist, that is, against Christ. We are seeing this hostility to God increasing in our country every day.
England and America used to be friendly toward and respectful of Christians and their values. That era seems to be over.
One aspect of the world culture is that of electronic communication devices. While these can be used for good, they are bringing the values of the world, of Antichrist, into the living room of the American people.
The games and social networks that the children and young people are addicted to emphasize the values of Antichrist, particularly violence and witchcraft as well as immorality. Every day, it seems, the electronic devices are becoming more sophisticated.
The children in the public elementary schools are being indoctrinated in the beliefs of those who seem to be confused about gender. Since it requires both man and women together to compose the image of God, I believe Satan is using the gender confusion to attempt to destroy the image of God.
As far as abortion on demand is concerned, here is a worldly, Antichrist value that seeks to destroy people before they have an opportunity to live in the world. This is murder; and doubly unfortunate because God said many that are last in time shall be first in the Kingdom.
There are two primary gods in America at this time. One is sexual lust, pleasure, and entertainment. The other is money. Money is the only god that Jesus stated is served instead of the true God.
The people of the world find security, survival, and pleasure by striving to acquire more money than they need. Money is a substitute for trust in God. Yet "In God We Trust" is stamped on American money. Kind of ironic, isn't it?
I think the Christian churches need to be reminded that they are not of the world. The Tent of Meeting, of the Book of Exodus, represents the Christian churches. They are the Lampstands of God. Even the Levites, who were especially holy, were not permitted to see the inside of the Tent or any of the holy furnishings. This area and its articles were for the descendants of Aaron to utilize and were holy.
So it is true that the Christian churches are the prophets of God. They are to be anointed with the Holy Spirit, just as the Lampstand of the Tent of Meeting employed burning olive oil to provide light in the Holy Place.
The churches, and the Royal Priesthood who form the churches, are holy. They are not part of the world. They are not to look to the world for assistance. The Lord Jesus Christ is among the Lampstands. They are to be separate from the world and clean from all the filthiness of the flesh.
When Jesus was tempted with bread, He said, "Man shall not live by bread alone but by every Word of God." I have been busy the last few years endeavoring to learn how to live by every Word of God.
God always is speaking to each person. We are to keep looking to God to find out what He is saying to us as an individual right this minute. We are to commit all our ways to the Lord and keep looking to Him for wisdom and strength in all that we do. This is becoming increasingly easy for me to do as I grow older, because I do not have in myself the wisdom and strength I need for the daily tasks that confront me.
This reminds me of retirement. Retirement is a worldly value. It is true that God limited the years in which a Levite or Priest was to serve. This is because they represented God and were not to be young and foolish or old and lacking in mental prowess.
But in the Western nations the idea is to work hard and save money so when we are in our sixties we can relax in front of the TV or lying on the beach. We have a person in our church who has retired from her position and now is serving as our pageantry leader and performing other services, instead of traveling around the country in a vacation trailer doing nothing of value. I myself am in my eighties and am still pastoring and writing, as you can see.
The idea of working so that one day we can no nothing but pamper our flesh is not of the Lord Jesus Christ. Older people have a lot to give to those coming up. They are not to be off to some pleasure resort where they can play Bingo and gamble. This is the Antichrist spirit of the world and it is an abomination to God.
It is true that if Christian people do not keep pressing forward in Christ, when they grow old their faculties wither and they have nothing to give to the young Christians who need the benefit of their experience in Christ.
We are to live by every Word of God to us, as well as by eating food. God has something for us to learn and do every day of our life. There almost always is someone we can help, even members of our family if we are compelled by circumstances to live with them. But to lay around doing nothing of significance is to invite the decay of our faculties, mental and physical.
Still, this is the American Antichrist idealto lay around all day watching the television. Christ will hold us to account for wasting our talents, the Kingdom resources we have been given.
Fellowship with the world is one of the three ways in which Antichrist conquers the saints, just as they have been conquered in America and Europe today. The fervent adherents of the Muslim religion are entering the Western nations with the intention of supplanting our values with their own.
Because we Christians of America and Europe, largely because of false teaching, are not serving Christ as we should, not obeying Him day and night, the Muslims are able to enter the land that God has given us and spread their laws and customs.
We already have lost the power of our testimony. The Lampstand of our testimony has been removed. We are objects of scorn to the demons as they gratify their lusts through our bodies. Antichrist and his minions are being revealed.
When I see the antics of today's entertainers and witness their blasphemies, I can recognize that they are inspired by demons. So can you if you pray and listen to the Words of God to you right now.
A little slumber, a little folding of the hands, and America and England will be Muslim nations. Then we will discover too late the difference between Mohammed and Jesus of Nazareth. American women are not going to be happy being treated as a possession like a horse, or beaten with a stick. Young girls can be murdered by their relatives for being seen with a boy.
The second temptation is that of gaining power and influence in the world, so we can obtain whatever we desire. The Lord Jesus was offered the kingdoms of the world if He would worship Satan.
I believe in our day that some people actually worship Satan so they might prosper in their activities and gain prominence. Then they can enjoy their prostitutes and other opportunities that wealth and fame can gain for them.
Today we are the beginning of the political activities that will culminate in the election of someone to be President for the next four years. The money that is spent, the vitriol as the candidates accuse each other, the "dirty tricks," as one candidate named what goes on behind the warfare, reveals that people, men and women alike, have a tremendous hunger for power and the benefits that go with the office of the President.
People have a desire to govern other people and to use them for their own ends. The candidates for President speak great swelling words of how they will benefit the country. It may be true that one or two of them are sincere. The remainder will do whatever is necessary to gain power and remain in power, regardless of the impact on our nation.
The striving for power is as true in the realm of church activities as it is in the secular world. It may be noted that most, perhaps all, of the Christian denominations, began with apostles who were hearing from God.
The beginnings are fruitful, but soon the desire of man to organize what God is doing ("let us build three tents"!) provides the opportunity for people who want ecclesiastical power to promote themselves in the organization.
What once was a fiery, holy movement of the Spirit of God eventually becomes an organization in which there are advantages to be gained as one moves up the ladder of power and prestige. An examination of any of the major denominations of today will show how far the organization has drifted from the simple prayer and obedience of the founders.
I don't believe there is a single exception to this drift away from the immediacy of the Holy Spirit. The desire for power and prestige overcomes the good intentions of God's people.
And thus the Christian witness is overcome. Of course, the organizations speak of how we all are to go forth and "save a lost and dying world; how we all should have a passion for souls." But the organizational yearly reports record the number of members gained and the money that was raised.
Have you ever read an organizational report that recorded how many people forgave their enemies; how many have denied themselves, taken up their cross and followed Christ; how many were delivered from lying, or drunkenness, or adultery, or haughtiness? Neither have I.
Many aspects of Christian growth (except in numbers and giving money) would be difficult to record. But this is the true index of success, not how many members the organization gained or how much money was raised.
We cannot have fellowship with the Statement of Faith of an organization, only with God, the Holy Spirit, and the living Jesus.
Sometimes Christian organizations have served Satan. Certainly when the Catholic leaders conducted the Inquisitions they were doing the work of Satan, not of Jesus Christ.
But we can find the same spirit of Satan and of murder in a humble building in a village, where elders strive for preeminence by harming each other. Or where the Muslims, in the name of God, murder Christian worshipers.
Wherever Christian people strive for advantage over other people, the Christian testimony is destroyed and Antichrist is revealed.
The third temptation of Christ occurred when Satan brought Him to the roof of the Temple and suggested that He prove His Sonship by jumping offinto the garbage of the Kidron Valley, I guess. Satan quoted the Ninety-first Psalm about the angels keeping us from stumbling.
Every son of God is tempted in this manner. It is the invitation to presumption.
Jesus responded by reminding Satan that we are not to put God to the test.
How much of the two thousand years of Christian activity has been carried on by fleshly ambition rather than by obedience to Christ? Actually, I believe very little of what has been done, including the building of cathedrals, the killing of South American Indians so mission stations could be established, the intervention in politics in Europe, has anything to do with the Lord Jesus Christ.
How much Christian work is carried on by the ambition of religious people? The idea is that if we decide to build the Kingdom of God, God will assist us. Even though we have no idea what Jesus desires, we pray that God will assist us. This is presumption. Don't wait for God. Jump off the roof and God will save you.
I am of the belief that every Christian organization should shut down and pray until the people hear from God. I realize how impractical this would be in America, since I am the pastor of a denominational church. My point is not how practical or impractical would be, what I am saying is we may not know what we are doingwhether or not it is what God wants.
My personal consecration is to do nothing until I have heard from the Lord. As you can imagine, it requires years of mistakes before we are hearing correctly and not lapsing into passivity or ambition. I started out with this attitude toward major decisions, such as should we accept the pastorate of our present church. Now I am down to asking the Lord what I should eat each day.
You see, I am trying to live by every Word of God.
When I hear what the organizations are saying, when I see the plans to spread the Gospel, I am not gaining the impression that anyone actually is hearing from Jesus. I believe they are making assumptions.
One reason is this: Each organization is pressing for members, for proselytes. The emphasis is to obey the Great Commission and go forth and save souls.
The first problem is, the Great Commission is not about saving souls but about making disciples, teaching them to obey Christ's commands. But what happens is that the organization is intent on building churches and adding numbers of people. In addition, more often than not they are teaching people they do not have to obey Christ's commands because they are "saved by grace."
It seems to me that Christian organizations often do not adhere to the Scriptures. This obviously is true when the ministers preach grace-Heaven-rapture instead of deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Christ at all times.
Secondly, when we listen to the Holy Spirit today, He is not speaking about going forth and saving souls. He is exhorting Christian people to confess and turn away from their sins. Perhaps if we did this, as happened in the Book of Acts, the Lord would add daily to the churches such as should be saved.
I do not expect to live to see the day that any significant number of Christian churches turn their attention to building up the members to the full stature of Christ instead of pleading continually for more members. All of us understand that one believer who is sold out to God will accomplish more in the Kingdom than ten thousand church-goers milling around and complaining about one thing or another.
We all understand this is true but do not act like it.
A study of the Bible will reveal that the people usually were backslidden, whether under Moses or under the new covenant. But God chooses one here and one there, a Noah, a Moses, an Elijah, a Jeremiah, a Paul, a Watchman Nee, an Oswald Chambers, a Tozer, and does more through that individual than all the rest of the believers put together. Yet we keep on talking about more people and more people. It is presumption, moving ahead when God has not spoken.
How does this stress on numbers to the detriment of quality affect the testimony? It destroys the Christian testimony, preparing the way for the triumph of the Antichrist world spirit.
One may notice today that while the organizations still herald the need to gain more proselytes, the churches are declining in the number of congregants. If a believer were to be on the witness stand and say, "I am not lying, I am a Christian," you would hear sniggers throughout the courtroom. This has not always been true in America and England but it certainly is true in America today. The testimony has been destroyed.
People hear the television evangelist who is pleading for money so he can build his own kingdom. Their response is scorn. They sense he is not speaking from Jesus Christ. He is presumptuous. He is taking the Lord's name in vain.
I have no doubt many Christian churches of our day will support our present President (January, 2012). Yet our President condones abortion and homosexual behavior. Have we any idea what we are supporting? Do we not care anymore? Has the Antichrist world spirit overcome the testimony in America? It sure looks like it.
We understand, therefore, that we are living in a day in which Antichrist very skillfully is beginning to destroy the Christian witness.
It is my understanding that the great Spring Revival, symbolized by the two witnesses of the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation, will be given great power by the Lord and authorized to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom as a witness to every nation on earth.
When this refreshing takes place, and it certainly cannot be far off given the events of our time, it is my point of view that most of the people living on the earth will receive Christ as their Savior, if not their Lord.
But after that, the love of the majority will grow cold because of the abundance of lawlessness. Then the Christian witness will be destroyed and Antichrist will be revealed.
I read in some translation of the Book of Daniel that Antichrist will build a statue of himself standing on the gable of the Temple in Jerusalem where Christ was tempted, demonstrating that man is his own god. Also, I think Antichrist will sit on the Mercy Seat of a restored Temple in Jerusalem.
Antichrist will be a man (or woman) whose god is power. Although he will cause many to blaspheme, his end is certain. He will be thrown into the Lake of Fire when Christ next appears.
Let each one of us who truly loves the Lord Jesus Christ be wary of being too involved in the Antichrist world spirit. Let us avoid the lewd entertainment that is prevalent, keeping in mind that sexual lust is a powerful temptation.
Let us be careful with the use of electronic communication devices, that we use them to build the Kingdom and do not waste time with them. Paul exhorted us to redeem the time, to make every minute count for Christ.
Let us resolve, as much as possible, to look to the living Lord Jesus for all that we do throughout every day and night. There are great needs of all kinds in the world today. We cannot feed every starving child; we cannot heal every sick person. But we can make sure that we are doing every day with all our heart that which Christ is expecting of us.
If we do our best in Jesus each day, then the blood of earth's perishing will not be on our hands, and we will not be rebuked by the Lord Jesus for having wasted the resources He has given to us.
Note that it is the Gospel of the Kingdom that is to be preached. It appears that the Gospel of the Kingdom has not been preached since the first century. What we have now is the Gospel of Heaven.
Changing the Gospel to the gospel of Heaven may seem harmless. It is anything but that. When people view eternal residence in a mansion in Heaven with no responsibilities, combined with a doctrine of "grace" that teaches we need do nothing to go to Heaven except "believe in Christ," we have the worst possible approach to the redemption God has to mind.
God's plan of redemption has as its emphasis the changing of man into God's image. Believing that our goal is to go to Heaven by "grace" will not change anyone into God's image.
If, on the other hand, the Gospel of the Kingdom means we are to enter the Kingdom of God as our goal, then the New Testament writings all make sense. We enter the Kingdom as we are born again and then proceed to follow the Holy Spirit as He leads us to put to death the actions of our sinful nature; and as He forms Christ in us. Putting to death the actions of our sinful nature, and forming Christ in us, change us into God's image.
God's goal in all of this is to create an army that can descend with Christ and establish the Kingdom of God, the doing of God's will, on the earth.
Can you see now why I say that the gospel of Heaven is the worst possible approach to the Divine redemption? It is anything but harmless! It is of Satan who does not want man changed into God's moral image.
When the John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus, and the Apostle Paul preached, the idea was that the Kingdom of God was to come to earth shortly. From Paul's writings we could think he expected the Kingdom to come in his lifetime.
And give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. (II Thessalonians 1:7)
There is no evidence in the New Testament that people are saved to go to Heaven. Rather, they are to enter the Kingdom of God.
All of the parables of the Lord Jesus are about the Kingdom of God, which Matthew refers to as the Kingdom of Heaven. These two references are to the same kingdom, the Kingdom of God that will come from Heaven.
How Christian teachers ever switched from the Gospel of the Kingdom to the Gospel of Heaven I do not know. I rather suspect the origin of the change came from the Catholic Church as it sought to accommodate the beliefs of other religions.
It may be true that almost all other religions, or maybe all of them, teach about how we can have a better life in Heaven after death. As far as I know, only the Gospel of the Kingdom stresses the resurrection of the dead so we can live once more upon the earth.
The spirit world is an exceedingly vast area. Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, is but one small part of the spirit world. Only this relatively small area, where God and the saints are, is what we mean by Heaven.
The Kingdom of God is coming to the earth as soon as mankind is reconciled to God through Jesus Christ, that is, after the final resurrection of the dead. God's intention is to have a kingdom on the earth that will govern the people who have been saved from the nations.
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)
As I said, Heaven, Mount Zion, is in the spirit world. This is the home of the elect, the Royal Priesthood. It is located in what we might term the Land of Light. Also in the Land of Light are multitudes of people whom God loves but who are not members of the Royal Priesthood.
In addition, in the spirit world, is the Land of Darkness. The lowest part of the Land of Darkness is Hell, also in the spirit world. If I am not mistaken, the Lake of Fire is somewhere in the interior of the earth, although it is spiritual in nature.
Those whose spirits are in the heavenly Jerusalem at this time must press ahead in the program of redemption, insuring that no one takes their crown. These are members of God's elect and are destined to govern the new world of righteousness.
The other people in the Land of Light are pursuing their lives much as they did in our present physical world. Remember, our present world was created from the spirit world and is quite similar to the present world.
The inhabitants of the Land of Light who are not in the heavenly Jerusalem, that is to say, who are not of the Royal Priesthood, shall be ruled by the members of the Royal Priesthood. These people are awaiting the final resurrection. If their name is found in the Book of Life at that time, they will be located on the new earth when the present earth vanishes in a thunderous explosion.
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come (Matthew 24:14)
Notice that the Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a witness to all nations. This is a Divine edict. It shall come to pass. This will be a testimony of the Kingdom that soon is to come to the earth. Then God will permit Antichrist to overcome the testimony, and a period of darkness will follow, as portrayed in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation.
First will come the Spring, or Latter, rain. This massive refreshing, portrayed by the two witnesses, representing the double-portion of God's Spirit, will prepare the nations for the termination of the Church Age.
The period of darkness that will follow the overcoming of the testimony, resembles the cycle of nature. In the land of Israel, the spring rain, occurring in February, brings the heads of wheat to maturity. After this latter rain, there must be hot sun to ripen the heads of wheat, according to my understanding. Rain at that time would ruin the wheat harvest.
It appears that that most people on the earth will receive Jesus at the time of the spring rain, the double-portion of the Spirit of God. This will be followed by such an increase of sin and lawlessness that the love of the majority of those who gladly welcomed the Lord Jesus, during the latter-rain revival, will grow cold.
Then, when the sinful world is heralding "peace and safety," the Lord Jesus will come and install His Kingdom on the earth. This is the true Gospel of the Kingdom of God, and it shall be preached to every nation as a testimony of the future.
It is my point of view that the latter, or spring, rain began with the Protestant Reformers in the sixteenth century. We can note that from that time the doctrines taught originally by the early Apostles gradually are being restored to the Christian Church.
The rain of the Spirit is increasing in our day such that we can expect a mighty deluge of authority and power, an increase of understanding of the Scriptures, and the restoration of all the ministries and gifts of the Spirit, in the near future. Apparently this end-time testimony will occur during upheavals in the secular realm.
There is nothing that can prevent the coming revival. Those who will bear the witness are being prepared in the present hour. The main lesson we are learning is not to vaunt ourselves but to walk carefully and obediently after the Lord Jesus.
For those who are willing to set aside their own life and bear their cross behind the Lord Jesus, the power of the seven thunders, mentioned in the tenth chapter of the Book of Revelation, will be assigned to them.
I would not doubt that, as is true in the present hour, when this unprecedented power of Christ is present to bear witness, there will be numerous ministers who will seek to use the anointing to bring money and prestige to themselves. I do not believe God will permit this self-aggrandizement any longer, because it destroys the testimony of the coming of God's Kingdom, God's rule, to the earth.
The two witnesses are Christ in His saints, just as the Father in Christ were two witnesses. As I said, the main preparation for us is to learn to follow Christ carefully so He is exalted and not us.
The Lord alone shall be exalted in that Day, the Day of the Lord. The time for the exalting of religious leaders is coming to an end. They are Babylon and shall be destroyed by Antichrist and the secular rulers.
The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire. (Revelation 17:16)
Each one of us must learn in the present hour to live by the Life of the Lord Jesus. We must think, speak, and act in accordance with the Living Jesus Christ.
The events in the world and in our country are going to move swiftly from this time forth. If we are living by the Life of Jesus we will save ourselves and our loved ones, and possibly will be used by the Lord to help bring the end-time testimony.
But if we choose instead to live as a typical American church-goer in our casual, lukewarm manner, we will not be able to stand spiritually. We will be confused and panic-stricken in the tumultuous days ahead and will be of no help to anyone, including ourselves.
It may be noticed that there are two witnesses of every age.
The first age might be termed the "Age of Form." The Two Witnesses of the Age of Form were Adam and Eve. As is the case in each set of two witnesses, Adam and Eve reveal in themselves the form of what is to be. Each age continues for eternity, as far as I know.
The second age might be termed the "Age of Separation." The Two Witnesses of the Age of Separation were Abraham and Sarah. From that point forward, God's elect no longer are part of the world but have been called out to be of special service to God.
The third age might be termed the "Age of the Law." The Two Witnesses of the Age of Law were Moses and Aaron. Prior to this time, neither angels nor people understood the laws of righteousness and holiness. John the Baptist ministered at the end of this age.
The fourth age might be termed the "Age of Light." The Two Witnesses of the Age of Light were the Father and the Son. It is difficult for us to comprehend what a revelation this was, the understanding that God has a Son through whom He created all things.
In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two men is valid. I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me. (John 8:17,18)
There were allusions in the Old Testament about their being two Lords. "The Lord said unto My Lord," for example, but nothing to compare with what has been revealed to us in the Age of Light.
The fifth age might be termed the "Age of Life." During the Age of Life mankind received the knowledge of how to attain to resurrection life, the eternal Life of the Lord Jesus Christ. The two witnesses of the Age of Life were the Apostles and the Holy Spirit.
We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him. (Acts 5:32)
The sixth age might be termed the "Age of the Kingdom." The two witnesses of the Age of the Kingdom are the Lord Jesus Christ and those in whom He has been formed and is dwelling. As in the case of the fourth age, in which the Father was invisible, only one person can be seenthe witnessing saint.
These two witnesses are described in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation. As in the case of all seven sets of two witnesses, the two witnesses of Revelation, Chapter Eleven will portray what will be true during the thousand-year Kingdom Age. They will be given the authority and power of the seven thunders, mentioned in the tenth chapter of the Book of Revelation.
The reason the Christian churches have never been given the fullness of power of the seven thunders is that man has been in control of the Gospel rather than the Holy Spirit. Man has created the gospel of Heaven.
But now, in our day, the original Gospel of the Kingdom of God is being restored. Our Lord declared that the Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in every nation as a testimony, and then the end shall come.
It is the two witnesses of the Book of Revelation who shall preach the Gospel of the Kingdom as a witness to every nation. After this the power of the Christian testimony shall be overcome by Antichrist, and there will be a period of darkness in which man seeks to be his own god. At the middle of this terrible spiritual darkness, Jesus and His saints shall appear, bringing the thousand-year Kingdom Age with them.
The seventh age might be termed the "Age of Eternity." The two witnesses will be God and His Tabernacle, His Church. They will reveal in themselves what eternity will be like.
The remainder of this essay is adapted from The Kingdom of God Is at Hand, by Robert B. Thompson.
The Age of Form has found its fulfillment in the new heaven, the new earth, and the new creatures who dwell therein.
The Age of Separation has found its fulfillment in the wall of the holy city, the wall that separates God's elect from the remainder of mankind. The nations of saved peoples of the earth will live forever in the light of the new Jerusalemthe Wife of the Lamb.
The Age of the Law has found its fulfillment in the holy city and the rulership that goes forth from there. This is the city that has foundations.
The Age of Light has found its fulfillment in the Glory of God and the Lamb now residing in the Wife of the Lamb.
The Age of Life has found its fulfillment in the pure river of the Water of Life flowing from the Throne of God and of the Lamb.
The Age of the Kingdom has found its fulfillment in the fact that God is All in all His creation and the Lord Jesus is the Center and Circumference of all.
In the Age of Eternity, all the other days find their significance and fulfillment.
All that is worthy will die and be raised in Christ and brought into the new world. All the creation will reveal Christ, having been glorified and made new in Him.
This is the beginning of the eternal reign of the Kingdom of God.
And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. (Revelation 21:3-6)
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)
The gifts and ministries given to the Body of Christ are for the purpose of building the members to the fullness of Christ's image.
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-13)
But it appears today we are seeking to grow churches rather than to grow saints. Am I incorrect here?
The Lord spoke to the Eleven as follows:
Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen. He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned." (Mark 14-16)
Incidentally, the Good News is that the Kingdom of God is coming to the earth, not that when we die we go to Heaven to live in a mansion.
Now, what I wish to emphasize here is that Jesus was speaking to the eleven Apostles. The meaning of "apostle" is "one sent." It is akin to the term "missionary." Jesus was telling His Apostles to "go into all the world and preach the Gospel," that is, the Gospel of the Kingdom.
The passage above is used today, along with the Great Commission, to tell everyone who is saved that he or she is obligated to go forth and tell everyone in the creation that if he believes in Jesus, he will go to Heaven and not to Hell when he dies.
The Great Commission is as follows:
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:16-20)
In both cases, the charge was to the Eleven. In the Great Commission, the commission was to make disciples of the people of the nations.
Here is my point. In neither instance was the charge given to all the members of the Body of Christ, only to the eleven Apostles. Also, the commission in neither instance was the commission to build churches.
Today we are maintaining that every church member has been commissioned to go out and tell everyone about how to get saved, which assuredly is not the same task as that of making disciples.
There are thousands of Christian churches in the world whose members are not disciples of the Lord Jesus, although they probably do not realize this. They never have been told that to be a disciple they have to deny themselves, on occasion, of what they fervently desire; they have to take up their cross of personal denial and follow Christ wherever He may lead them.
To add to the unscriptural confusion, in many instances we are telling the new church members that they do not have to keep Christ's commands because they are saved by "grace." If they make the correct profession of faith and believe in Christ they will escape Hell and go to Heaven when they die.
The purpose of the Gospel of the Kingdom is to set our mind and energies today toward entering the Kingdom of God. The Gospel of the Kingdom has nothing whatever to do with going to Heaven when we die.
So we see that most of the Christian preaching of our day is unscriptural.
All members of the Body of Christ are not commissioned to go forth into all the world and preach the Gospel.
The original Apostles made disciples, not churchgoers.
Grace does not free us from the commands of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The goal of the plan of redemption is not to build churches but to build the believers into the image of Christ.
I believe we are missing the scriptural mark when we emphasize "going out and getting people saved." I know going forth and getting people saved is a saying so venerable that few would people would dare question it.
There is no emphasis in the New Testament of which I am aware that the Eleven stressed to the new believers that they were to serve as evangelists. Rather, the emphasis is on godly behavior, on spiritual growth into the image of God.
I was taught early on by members of the Navigators that we are to adhere strictly to the Bible. I do not see an emphasis in the New Testament to make world evangelism our goal. Rather, I believe our goal should be that of discovering and using our gifts faithfully in order to bring our fellow saints to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
I do not see in the writings of the Apostles any emphasis on "getting souls saved" or "telling the world about Christ." Even the Great Commission does not tell us to inform everyone of the Gospel. Rather, the Great Commission charged the Apostles, and only the Apostles, to make disciples from all nations.
It seems to me that the Apostles stressed the spiritual growth of those whom God had brought to Christ for salvation.
If the goal of the gifts and ministries is to bring each one of us to the fullness of the image of Christ, and if it is to this that we have been predestined, then it seems reasonable to me that this should be our goal, rather than increasing the number of churches.
Why, then, is the scriptural goal of forming believers into the image of Christ largely ignored, while all the leaders speak of how we should go forth and save a "lost and dying world"? I will tell you what I think. I believe it is because religious organizations are more concerned about their success than they are about finding out what Jesus wants; and in our day, success is measured by the number of people who make a profession of faith that is in line with the Statement of Faith of the organization.
What are people taught once they are persuaded to join an organization? They are taught to try to persuade other to join the organization. Does this make sense to you? Is this the scriptural emphasis? Is this approach going to bring each member to the fullness of the image of Christ?
It reminds one of the story of the Emperor's New Clothes. The Emperor was naked. But the onlookers were told he had new clothes, and they did not want to be singled out as being ignorant or stupid. So although the man was naked, everyone marveled at how well he was dressed.
Finally a child spoke up and said, "He has nothing on."
This tells me that in the day of Hans Christian Andersen people were as willing to be deluded as they are today.
Sunday after Sunday the word is preached that we are to forth until "everyone has heard." Only a few if any of each congregation have a genuine call to evangelize. Yet, evangelizing is supposed to be the first duty of each Christian, we are informed.
It assuredly is not. The first duty of every Christian is to pray until he understands what his ministry is in the Body of Christ. Then he is to perform faithfully that which has been assigned to him or her. Even this obligation is not to be assumed until the individual has had some chance to grow up in Christ.
But is there any harm in telling everyone that he is to go forth and fulfill the Great Commission? Indeed there is. First, the listeners become accustomed to being charged with a ministry for which they have no grace whereby to perform it; and those who survive this frustrating directive let it go in one ear and out the other.
They figure that this admonition is what the minister always says, so it must be true somewhere or somehow. An so they continue to doze throughout the service. It is interesting to note in how many instances the pastors do not do what they are commanding, taking refuge in the concept that it is the sheep, not the shepherd, who are to reproduce.
I remember one time as a young Bible student walking through a town, after having fasted for three days in obedience to the pastor, with the idea of doing the work of evangelism. Another young man was with me. We passed a restaurant. We could see through the restaurant window the pastor with his family eating lunch.
Jack and I promptly went into another nearby restaurant and ordered pie. (This was not wise, in that the pie was difficult to digest after not having eaten for three days.)
The second harm in telling all the believers they are to go out and "get souls saved" is that they are not charged to go to the Lord until they find out what they actually are supposed to be doing. Consequently there are not many congregations in which the people are paying full attention to building up each other to the fullness of the image of Christ.
Rather, they are waiting to die and go to Heaven to live in a mansion; or else to be raptured to Heaven at any moment now. Is it any wonder that American people are leaving the churches as being irrelevant?
One of the greatest needs in the Christian churches in our day is that the saints go to the Lord and find out what their gifts and ministries are. It is scriptural also that the believers ask for ministries and gifts that they might assist in bringing up their fellow worshipers in the image of Christ.
The image of Christ is a noble character of uprightness and integrity of behavior, a person who obeys God at all times. Also, the fruit of the Spirit begins to grow as we are encouraged to pursue and obey the Spirit of God at all times. Love, joy, and peace soon are evident when we are a true disciple.
You know, Jesus said that no man could come to Him unless the Father drew that person. Does that mean no one has the ministry of evangelism? Of course not. Ephesians speaks of a ministry of evangelism. It does mean, however, that the work of evangelism must be performed with a sensitivity to what God is saying, and not treated as though it always is what the Spirit is encouraging.
The task of the evangelist is to make known the Gospel of the Kingdom to each person or persons to whom the Spirit of God leads him or her. Once the person believes and is baptized, then he is to be brought to a fellowship of believers and to pastors and teachers who can help him grow into the image of Christ.
The building the believers meet in is not important. It can be someone's home, or a location under a tree, or a school building or other government building. As soon as an ornate church building is made available, the Gospel begins to lose its fire.
If my information is correct, there were no church buildings as such until the third century. People met in homes. I believe this is much to be preferred.
As soon as there is a large, ornate church building, and thousands of people in attendance, the task of the saints building up each other to the fullness of Christ becomes impossible.
I realize that churches seek to overcome this problem by having small group meetings. When this is true, it is in the small group meetings that the Lord's true Church is functioning, not in the main assembly.
Right now the Spirit of God is speaking to the members of the Body of Christ about confessing our sins and turning away from them. Also, we are to be drawing ever nearer to the Lord and obeying Him promptly and faithfully. As we read our Bible, pray, and press into Christ, we begin to grow in the image of Christ.
When the Lord wants us to minister to people who do not know Him, He easily can direct us to do that. It is not a case of making a proselyte of someone, but of letting the Spirit of God use us as He will. I have had this experience many times.
I tried, when I first was saved, to "testify to everyone you meet." It did not work for me and was an uncomfortable burden to say the least. When I put all that man-made pressure aside, and looked to Jesus, I found out that I was to teach about what the Spirit of God is to do after the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Pentecost had been established throughout the world.
So for more than sixty years I have been teaching about the last three of the Jewish feaststhe fulfillments of which are being emphasized by the Spirit at the present time. I guess it is a good thing I am obeying the Lord, because I do not know of anyone else who is explaining how the feasts are related to our redemption, although I feel certain there are others who have the same burden even though I have never heard of them.
The current call to repentance is part of the fulfillment of one of the last three celebrations; so ministers who are hearing the Lord are proclaiming what the Spirit is saying perhaps without understanding that they are emphasizing that which is symbolized by the last three of the Jewish observances.
The Bible is opening marvelously in our day. It is part of the spring-rain refreshing prophesied by Hosea. We are being given the understanding that we are supposed to be building up each other to the full stature of Christ. This is in preparation for receiving the Fullness of God, of which the Apostle Paul spoke in the Book of Ephesians.
It is time now to be formed inwardly in the image of Christ, so that in the Day of the Lord our transformed inward nature may be clothed upon with a glorious body of resurrection life.
By the same tokenand this needs to come to the attention of God's peoplethe body we are given in the Day of Resurrection will reflect our inward nature. This is what Paul meant when he said, in Second Corinthians, that we will receive what we have done in the body.
Also, in the Book of Galatians, Paul reminded us that if we as a Christian sow to our sinful nature we will reap corruption. This means that the body which we are assigned in the Day of Resurrection will be corrupt. As Daniel stated, we will be raised to shame and everlasting contempt.
The current "grace" teaching, in which we are made in the image of God by believing in Christ, is totally misleading; unless our belief in Christ causes us to become a new creation of righteous behavior.
It is God's will that we be in the image of the Lord Jesus, both inwardly and outwardly, and be His brothers. There is wisdom and power in the Spirit of God that is sufficient to enable us to accomplish this transformation, as we follow Christ in the program of redemption.
We will just have to wrench ourselves away from the false teaching of grace-Heaven-rapture, and begin to serve Christ in righteousness of behavior and holiness of personality. It is the way of the cross. We absolutely must deny our selves by doing what pleases God, instead of choosing the way of pleasure when God is leading otherwise.
We must remain faithfully in the prisons where God places us, meanwhile praying that God will give us joy and peace in our situation.
The true way of salvation has not changed since the days of the Apostles. However the current teaching of salvation and the emphasis on growing churches rather than growing saints do not resemble the writings of the Apostles.
Why is this? It is because being "converted" has to do with the individual's conversion to the Christian faith. Being born again is just what the term suggests. It has to do with another Life being conceived and then developed in us.
You may notice that the when the Apostles preached, as recorded in the Book of Act, they did not employ the term "born again." This is because people are converted by believing and being baptized, not by being born again. "He who believes and is baptized shall be saved," the Lord said; not "He who is born again shall be saved."
"Conversion" is a change in our mind. Being born again is a change in our personality.
It often is preached that if we desire to escape Hell and go to Heaven when we die, we must be born again. This is not a scriptural doctrine.
The expression is not used often in the New Testament, and certainly not in the Old Testament. However, the concept of the new birth lies at the heart of the new covenant.
Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, (I Peter 2:1,2)
Being born again has to do with the Kingdom of God, not with Heaven. Our Lord said if we would see and enter the Kingdom of God we must be born again.
Now, why is this? It is because the Kingdom of God is Christ Himself. Until Christ is conceived and developed in us, we are not aware of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom is not something you can see. It is the rule of God through Christ. How can someone see a rule? The effects of a rule, yes; but not the rule itself.
So it is when we are born again, Christ is conceived in us. Not the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, but His Divine Nature. "Who were born of God," the Bible says. From the moment of conception, the Divine Seed begins to grow in us if we pray, read our Bible, and obey the Spirit of God.
Although the Divine Nature may not be perceived by us, it is growing in us. As the new Nature begins to mature in us, we then become aware that Christ is in the Father and we are in Him and He is in us.
Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. (John 14:19,20)
Let me make a distinction at this point. There is the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ who dwells eternally at the right hand of the Father in Heaven. Then there is the Nature, the Substance of Christ, His body and blood, that are conceived and then developed in us.
When the Nature of Christ has been developed in us sufficiently, the Father and the Son will take up Their eternal residence in us through the Spirit of God. Then we will be filled with all the Fullness of God.
"If any man be in Christ he is a new creation." As the Divine Nature grows in us, it supplants the original adamic nature. We still are a human being, but increasingly transcendently so. It is a new form of humanity, but still human, just as the Lord Jesus still is Human.
The difficulty in perceiving correctly the meaning of "born again" is the incorrect idea that we are saved from Hell to "go to Heaven." This concept is unscriptural. We are not saved to go to Heaven. We are saved from the influence of Satan that we might have fellowship with God.
Fellowship with God is independent of where we are. We can have just as much fellowship with God here and now as we can when we pass into the spirit world. Being born again and loosed from the image of Satan enables us to have unobstructed fellowship with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
If we should pass into the spirit world, and still have pride and self-seeking in our spirit, which is entirely possible, we would not have fellowship with God. Pride and self-seeking are spiritual problems, and can exist readily in the spirit world. They existed in Satan.
So now we see why we must be born again of God. The new Life that has been conceived in us and is developing in us does not sin. Why not? Because it is of God.
No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. (I John 3:10)
The Christian churches of our day are filled with sinning members. Why is this? It is because they have not been born again. When we have been born again of God's Seed, we do not sin. The Divine Nature does not sin.
If any individual is living by the Life of Jesus Christ he is overcoming his sinful nature. The adamic nature wars continually against the Divine Nature that is being formed in us. It is up to us to choose to obey the Divine Nature. If we do we are counted as an overcomer, and the Divine roles and enablements described in Revelation accrue to us naturally.
So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. (Galatians 5:16)
It is up to us to choose to live by the Spirit of God. Living by the Spirit of God requires that we live in an attitude of prayer. We must keep our involvement in the world-Antichrist spirit to a minimum. We must avoid seeking preeminence. And we must never act presumptuously, stepping out "in faith," challenging God to do something.
Living quietly, meekly, hand in hand with God, keeping His commands, both in the New Testament and addressed to us personally, living by every Word of Godif we live like this we will not gratify the desires of our sinful nature.
There is nothing more radical than being born again. A new creation emerges that embraces righteousness and rejects and renounces wickedness.
The end of the born-again experience will not be seen until ages have passed. The transformation begins in the present world. Little by little, line upon line, command upon command, the transformation takes place. That which is born of God will bring forth Godnot God the Father, of course, but a new creation who is in the likeness of God both inwardly and outwardly.
Do not be staggered by this. We of today are in the first rough cut of what man is destined to be. We are sons of God Almighty and brothers of the Lord Jesus Christ. After ages have passed, we no longer will be recognizable as animals, but will be pillars of Divine Light and Glory.
It is possible that the first chapter of the Book of Ezekiel gives us some idea of how we will look in the endless ages ahead of us.
What is born of Adam is an intelligent animal with a spirit that can communicate with God. What is born of God is a Divine being whose final development will be nothing we can imagine at this time.
The Lord Jesus Christ walked the shores of the Lake of Galilee as an ordinary Rabbi. But He appears in the first chapter of the Book of Revelation as a Divine Personage.
When will we cease growing spiritually. A billion ages from now? A trillion ages from now? Never?
And this would not be an enviable future were it not that God has promised us fullness of joy.
We have been promised unending life in the fullness of joy. We do not know where God came from, if He came from anywhere. But we know that God is good and His intention is to bring His children to endless joy.
Let us therefore press forward in Christ at every available opportunity. He has kept the best wine until now. The future is glorious beyond belief for those who bear their cross faithfully, until God says, "Enough"!
From: Revelation: Chapters Twenty-One and Twenty-TwoCopyright Š 2012 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
There are at least nine treasures we can lay up in Heaven. Each of these nine treasures has a counterpart on the earth. It is impossible to pursue both the heavenly treasure and its earthly counterpart. We must choose whether to lay up our treasures in Heaven or whether to lay up their counterparts on earth.
Freedom from sin.
Opportunities for service.
Rest in Christ in God.
The treasures of Heaven will be given to each Christian according to his behavior in the body. They will be handed out when the Lord returns from Heaven, although it may happen that we receive them in a measure now. Here is the fulfillment of II Corinthians 5:10:
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
Eternal life is not only perpetual existence. Satan has perpetual existence but he does not possess one particle of eternal life. Eternal life is a quality of life. It is the Life that Christ is. It is eternal, incorruptible, resurrection life. It is energy to overcome sin and self-seeking, to thrust aside the world, Satan, and our own lusts and rebellion. It is life lived in the fullness of the Spirit, Substance, Presence, and knowledge of God in Christ. It is Divine power!
When first we receive Christ we receive eternal life. Then we use the strength from that portion of life to pursue more life. We "lay hold" on eternal life. We seek more abundant eternal resurrection life. We sow to the Spirit of God so that we will reap life everlasting in the Day of the Lord (Galatians 6:8).
As through the Spirit of God we overcome the world, Satan, and our lusts and self-will we are given to eat of the tree of life that is in the midst of the Paradise of God. If we are faithful to Christ to the point of death we will receive a crown of eternal, incorruptible lifethe authority and power to live and rule in eternal life.
Eternal life is the Shechinah, the Glory, the Presence, of God Almighty. Eternal life is the Consuming Fire of Israel.
The Glory on the Tabernacle and inside the Most Holy Place was eternal life.
Eternal life is given to the conqueror, God's warrior, in the form of "hidden manna" and he then is able to overcome every adversary, every obstacle, every sin, every aspect of his own rebellious, self-willed nature.
Eternal life created the earth, the other planets, the sun and moon, the stars.
Eternal life raised the Lord Jesus from the dead.
Eternal life is righteousness, joy, love, peace, the ability to perform one's will.
Satan and the demons have energy but it is not the energy of God. It is a dark, proud, lustful violence, devoid of righteousness, without joy, love, or peace.
Human beings have physical energy proceeding from the burning of oxygen. But physical energy is negligible compared to the energies in the spirit realm. All that physical energy accomplishes is to hold us upright, as it were, while we choose between Divine life and satanic life. Physical life is inconsequential and soon leaves the body, with the result that the body returns to the dust from which it was formed.
All we truly desire is found in the eternal Life of God.
The energy of sin corrupts every human being. When we receive the Lord Jesus He gives us of the Holy Spirit, not in abundance but as a guarantee of the future filling of our body with Divine Life.
The goal of redemption is to be filled with eternal life in our spirit, soul, and body.
The earthly counterpart of incorruptible resurrection life is the life of flesh and blood. Flesh and blood are our treasure on the earth. Life in the flesh consists of eating, sleeping, working, playing, and reproducing. This is the existence of an animal, such as a horse. Because of the pressure from unclean spirits these five actions of the flesh often are carried to excess in human beings.
We have a choice to make. If we live in our fleshly desires we will not grow in resurrection life. If we choose to allow the Spirit of God to crucify our fleshly life, if we present our body a living sacrifice to the Lord, then, at the coming of Christ from Heaven, we will receive a glorious body fashioned from eternal resurrection life.
We shall live forever in the immediate Presence of God and the Lamb. We shall possess love, strength, righteousness, peace, and joy that never will diminishnot throughout the ages of ages. We shall be wonderfully, marvelously, alive.
Freedom from sin.
The second of the nine heavenly treasures we will mention is freedom from sin.
. . . and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. (Hebrews 9:28)
We are commanded in this life to utilize every opportunity the Spirit gives us to put to death the deeds of our body. We are to put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for our flesh, to fulfill its lusts.
We are not debtors to our flesh that we are obligated to live according to the desires of the flesh. If we live in the desires of our flesh we will die spiritually. If we walk in the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Life, we will not spend our time and energy satisfying the lusts of our flesh.
Our physical body is dead to the Spirit of God because of the sin that dwells in it. Paul cried, "Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" referring to the bondages of sin in his flesh (Romans 7:24).
At the Lord's coming He will deliver us from the curse of sin, from the morally impure compulsions dwelling in our flesh. He will set us free provided we are putting to death the deeds of our body today.
And every man that hath this hope in him [the hope of being like the Lord at His appearing] purifieth himself, even as he is pure. (I John 3:3)
If we are not putting to death the deeds of our body today we will not be set free from sin when the Lord comes. If we live according to the lusts of our flesh we will reap corruption, not life and righteousness, in the Day of the Lord. We indeed will receive the things done in our body.
If we have been faithful in the little we will be entrusted with the greater. To him who already has achieved substantial freedom from sin will be given complete freedom when the Lord appears. From him who has not been diligent will be removed even the small amount of freedom he has.
Deliverance from the chains of sin always is the gift of God's grace. It is not something we can accomplish by our self-will, although we are commanded to exercise self-control in every situation to the extent we are able.
The counterpart of the heavenly gift of freedom from sin is bondage to our fleshly sins. Many who believe in Christ are unwilling to give up their fornication, smoking, drinking, profanity, filthiness, murderous rage, jealousy, envying, unforgiveness, bitterness, partying, and sorcery. These are their treasured possessions on the earth.
If we would gain the marvelous treasure of complete freedom from sin then we must, in the present hour, faithfully put to death through the Spirit the deeds of our body. It is certain that each of us will receive the things he has practiced in his body, whether they have been good or evil.
The third treasure is authority in the Kingdom of God. The Lord Jesus promises the overcomer authority of very great scope. The overcomer will govern the nations of the earth. The overcomer will be seated with Christ in His throne which, under God, is the supreme authority over the creation. The promises to the overcomer are staggering in their implications.
The counterpart of the heavenly treasure of Kingdom authority is the preservation of our "rights" on the earth and the seeking of authority to rule other people.
The individual who strives continually to control and manipulate other people is a spiritual infant. The highest level of maturity and spirituality is the place where we die to our own gain and prestige and find our life, our joy, our peace, our comfort, our reason for being, our hope, our motivation, our fruitfulness, our dominion, in the Lord. Then we are able to assist the unfolding and maturing of other people.
But if we are bound with the need to control and manipulate the people near us we continually will be anxious and bitter, and unfruitful in our dealings with others.
We Christians have many rights on the earth, for Christ has given all things to His Church. Christ, instead of encouraging us to seek authority over our neighbors, asks us if we are willing to lay down our rights as He did His.
The Lord Jesus did not clutch to Himself His equality with God. Rather He took on Himself the form of a servant. No human being who has ever lived on the earth has been treated more unjustly than Christespecially during His "trial" before Pontius Pilate.
In most instances, when two Christians are striving one against the other, the more spiritual must either give way or forfeit his testimony. The more carnal person is allowed to enforce his will in the matter. The manner in which Isaac surrendered his two wells is the type of behavior that is approved of God (Genesis 26:19-22). However, each believer must apply this principle as the Spirit gives wisdom for the particular incident.
The path to authority in the Kingdom of God leads downward through the valley of injustice, of not receiving the recognition, or money, or opportunities, or other things or situations of value that may be ours by right. God is pleased with us when we are willing to take the lowest place.
The Lord Jesus has been given a name that is above every other name because He gave up His rights and humbled Himself, becoming obedient to death. We cannot preserve our rights on the earth in every instance, making sure that everyone does what we desire, and then receive authority in the Kingdom of God.
A fourth treasure offered in the Scriptures is that of power. Power is the ability to enforce one's will. Christ exercised spiritual power while He was on the earth, healing the sick, casting out devils, raising the dead. Jesus has given us the power of the Holy Spirit so we can do the same works, and greater; but only as He directs us.
Our ability to behave righteously and to bring righteousness into our environment is an issue of power. We are wrestling, struggling against wicked spiritual princes who rule from the dark regions above the earth. The nations of the earth are destroying themselves in orgies of lust and violence, and we Christians do not at this time possess enough power to prevent the harm they are doing to themselves and others.
When Jesus returns He will exercise power that will crush the armies of the world and enforce God's will in the earth. If we are victorious saints we too will rule the nations with an iron rod. The iron rod is the irresistible might of the Spirit of God who will be abiding in the saints in the Day of Christ.
The earthly counterpart of Divine power is, first of all, money; and then the other devices that represent or exert power in the physical realm. Power can be gained by invoking the demons and Satan, and by the attempt to manipulate the physical realm through what may be termed "metaphysical faith," that is, "positive thinking" and mental "imaging."
Many Christians spend the major part of their imagination, time, and energy amassing money. They are seeking to build up power that will protect them and their loved ones during misfortune. Their money is their insurance that they will not suffer harm or change, and will be able to enjoy themselves, in the event that God proves to be unfaithful or nonexistent.
God and money represent two different gods, two different powers. This is why the love of money is the root of all evil: it is the worship of a god other than the Lord.
No person can serve both God and money.
The Kingdom of God does not (in spite of what is being taught today) conquer by money (Zechariah 4:6). None of the forms of human, demonic, or metaphysical power will avail anything at all in bringing the Kingdom to the fullness of maturity and perfection.
Many Christian churches act as though money is the means of the redemption of the world. However, it never is by human might, wealth, wisdom, or talent (except as the Spirit of God specifically directs) that the work of God is accomplished. The Divine temple will be constructed only by the Spirit of God.
As far as the invoking of demons and Satan is concerned, whoever seeks power through the occult is selling his soul to Satan. He will be fortunate indeed if he escapes eternal torment in the Lake of Fire.
The current emphasis on "positive thinking" and mental "imaging" can be observed in modern secular administrative techniques, and also in the efforts of many of today's preachers of the Gospel as they seek to gain money and popularity. It is the beginning of the False Prophetthe spirit destined in the last days to give religious respectability to the government of Antichrist (Revelation 13:11-15).
The spirit of religious delusion seeks the power (two horns) of the Lamb but it speaks with the voice of the dragon.
The way of the Kingdom is the way of weakness, of patience, of the cross. If we are willing to give up human, satanic, and metaphysical forms of power we will gain the power of the Spirit of God. If we lean on some form of earthly power, such as money, we never will gain the heavenly treasure of Divine power.
Status in the Kingdom of God is the fifth treasure we will mention. Jesus spoke of those who are greatest in the Kingdom and those who are least. Paul preached and lived as one who placed supreme importance on God's opinion of him and lesser importance on the way in which people regarded him. Paul sought the praise of God alone.
Those who turn many to righteousness will shine as the stars forever. They will sit at Jesus' table in the Kingdom of God. They are known to the elect angels. In the resurrection they will receive the "Well done!" of Christ, obtaining honor in the eyes of those present. As in any other kingdom, the Kingdom of God is made up of persons of high status and persons of lesser status.
The earthly counterpart of this heavenly treasure is status and fame in the world. Jesus, the very Son of God Almighty, made Himself of no reputation. He hung naked on the cross. He was beaten and spit upon. He was abused and tormented until He lay in the dust, unable to carry His cross any farther.
If we would gain the treasure of status in the Kingdom we must go outside the camp with Christ. We must accept the reproach that always falls on Him. We must stand for Jesus wherever we are, bearing cheerfully the shame and contempt that come upon the true saint.
Are we ashamed of Jesus while we are in this world? Are we ashamed of living the life of consecration when we are among the worldly Christians who fill our land? Or are we going forth with Jesus, willing to lose all status in the eyes of people? We are to beware when all men speak well of us. We cannot seek status in the world and status in the Kingdom of God at the same time.
He who is greatest in the Kingdom of God is the servant of all. The highest good, the highest form of spiritual development and achievement, has come to us when we are ready to lose our life and find our righteousness, peace, and joy in being close to the Lord.
Another heavenly treasure is that of abilities. We understand from Romans, Chapter 12, I Corinthians, Chapter 12, and Ephesians, Chapter Four that the Holy Spirit gives one or more abilities to each member of the Body of Christ. The abilities, such as wisdom, knowledge, discernment, the working of miracles, teaching, giving, helping, and so forth are the tools we are to use to complete and perfect the Body of Christ and the Kingdom of God. All of these talents are found in Christ, and He shares them with us and directs us in the use of them.
The conquering saints have been given the nations as their inheritance. The saints will rule, bless, judge, and teach the nations of the earth, as Christ guides and enables them. Think of the various abilities that will be needed as the whole earth is brought into subjection to Christ!
The Lord has given to each of us one or more talents. These talents are the "money" of the Kingdom of God. If we are faithful in what has been assigned to us we will receive more talents, more abilities, when the Lord returns from Heaven.
The earthly counterpart of spiritual abilities is human abilities. We have been born with various artistic, intellectual, mechanical, physical, and social skills. They are the abilities that are natural to us, that we learn to practice relatively easily and joyously.
We call such fleshly and soulish abilities talents after the "talents" of Matthew, Chapter 25. However there is no relationship between our earthly abilities and those given us by the Holy Spirit at the time of our baptism by the Spirit into the Body of Christ.
The Holy Spirit can anoint our natural abilities if He chooses to do so. Yet the fact remains that our natural abilities are of our adamic nature.
For example, the ability to perform music is of our adamic nature. The Holy Spirit may or may not anoint the music we perform. Music is not one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit listed in the New Testament.
Perhaps the majority of Christian churches lean heavily on music as part of the Divine service. While music is an incalculable good both in and out of the assembling of the saints, it must be kept in mind that music is a human ability and operates in the soul.
The workings of the Holy Spirit are found only among the holy servants of the Lord; but "Christian" music can be performed by any sinner. Music often is employed in the churches as a substitute for the Presence of the Holy Spirit.
We can choose to nurture our natural abilities, using them to provide security, pleasure, and achievement in this world. Meanwhile the Kingdom abilities that were given us by the Holy Spirit may lie dormant. We may not even know what our Kingdom abilities are, in numerous instances, if we are not presenting our body as a living sacrifice to the Lord.
If we use our Kingdom talents faithfully the Lord will add to them and we will have more ability with which to serve the Lord. Outer darkness is the destination of the Christian who does not put his Kingdom talents to use.
God may call any of us, as He did Moses, into a line of work unfamiliar to us, that is not natural to us, in which we are insecure. We now are in a position in which we no longer can rely on our proven abilities.
Moses felt he could not speak well enough to be God's spokesman, so God gave Aaron to Moses to bolster his confidence. In the end it was Moses who became the lawgiver of Israel, the spokesman of the Lord. Aaron, the eloquent, the fashioner of the golden calf, became the first high priest. God knows what He is doing.
We can choose to spend our life using the earthly treasure of our own abilities to obtain security and pleasure, or we can present our body a living sacrifice and prove God's will for our life, learning to use the abilities given us by the Holy Spirit. The latter are the "talents" for which we shall be held accountable by the Lord.
Opportunities for service.
Here is a seventh heavenly treasure. God has given to Christ the nations of the earth for His inheritance. The nations consist of people of every imaginable temperament, in every conceivable condition and situation.
When the Lord comes He will use us to restore what has been destroyed by the rule of self-seeking man, and what will be destroyed further during the days of tribulation and wrath. The sons of God will be faced with the task of rebuilding the "desolations of many generations" (Isaiah 61:4).
The members of Christ's Body will be the Presence of God in Christ, the hands of the Lord extended to the meek of the earth. There will be work for us to do from the moment the Lord returns, extending into a future that has no end.
In addition there will be the task of perfecting the Bride. The ministers whom Christ has given will serve "till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13).
Since the perfecting of the Wife of the Lamb has not been completed on the earth, it is possible that the ministries will continue during the thousand-year period until the new Jerusalem has become "a bride adorned for her husband" (Revelation 21:2).
The earthly counterpart of opportunities for service is the using of our days to serve ourselves, doing our own will instead of God's will. We can choose to allow the Lord to make us "bread" for other people, dying to our own life and abilities so others may live; or we can keep ourselves closed up in our own little world.
Each member of the Body of Christ has an area of Kingdom service in which he or she is to be faithful today, even if it is, in the present hour, limited to household tasks or secular employment.
If the Christian is faithful in his present tasks God will entrust greater responsibility to him. In the Day of the Lord he will be given a position of service in the Kingdom of God. Opportunities for service is a treasure the Lord Jesus will bring from Heaven with Him.
Throughout eternity the servants of God will stand before Him. They will see the Face of the Father, which is the greatest privilege of all. They will govern the creation forever.
This treasure and the one that follows are the two greatest treasures of Heaven. There is nothing in the universe, barring our untroubled rest in the Father's will, that comes close to relationships in importance. The Ten Commandments have to do with relationships; and the two laws of Jesus, to love God and one's neighbor, reveal to us the importance that God places on relationships.
The environment and things of the ages to come no doubt will be very desirable. Towering over them in importance and desirability are relationships that are immersed in the Divine love.
The Kingdom of God is very carefully designed according to relationships.
God is a Matrix, a Mold. The Lord Jesus Christ has come forth from the Matrix that God Is. God has placed His Life and Glory in the Lord Jesus. Everything that exists has been created by the Life and Glory in the Lord Jesus.
The Lord Jesus also is a Matrix, a Mold. The Church, the Bride of the Lamb, is being brought forth from the Matrix that Christ Is. The Lord Jesus desires to place His Life and Glory in the members of His Bride, and that she govern all things in the future (I Corinthians 3:22,23).
When the new Jerusalem descends it is referred to as "the bride, the Lamb's wife." The Lord Jesus is not immediately seen.
As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. (John 15:9)
A river of Life and Glory is flowing from God in Heaven through Christ. It will flow through the firstfruits of His Body and then through the rest of the Church. It will continue to flow until every saved person enters the process of being conformed to the image of God.
Every day we are influencing people either toward Christ or away from Christ. This fact is inescapable. Whoever is not gathering with the Lord is scattering from the Lord.
If we remain shut up in ourselves, not gathering people to the Lord, not giving ourselves to others as we should, not using our Kingdom talents, we will have a minimal (if any!) entrance into the Kingdom of God.
If we have assisted many in their struggle to enter Christ we will be welcomed by happy friends who will greet us with love when we pass into the spirit realm. We will have an abundant entrance into the Kingdom of God, being greeted joyfully by Christ and by those whom we have strengthened.
Great multitudes of people will be converted when the Light of God arises on the Body of Christ (Isaiah, Chapters 60 and 61). All these men, women, boys, and girls will come to us. Look at the family we shall have then! This is why the "barren" are to rejoice, "for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife" (Isaiah 54:1).
We will inherit people if we allow the Lord to make us "barren" in terms of our own rights, possessions, and opportunities in the present life.
If we walk carefully with the Lord Jesus we soon will find He puts us through a program that strips us of all we depend on. Every relationship we have with people, with circumstances, with things, must be brought down to death and then raised again in the newness of resurrection life. The adamic race, and all that is of the adamic race, is corruptible and temporary.
Nothing is eternally alive in the Presence of God, nothing can survive in the Kingdom of God, until it has died and been raised in Christ into eternal life.
Eternal fruit can come only from what has died in Christ and been raised again in Christ. Until a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies it remains by itself. Becoming willing to die to all that is treasured may prove to be the most difficult of the decisions the believer in Jesus is invited to make. But there is no other route to eternal life and eternal relationships.
Next to the Lord Himself, people are by far the greatest inheritance of all.
The earthly counterpart of this heavenly treasure is fleshly relationshipsmarriage to people, circumstances, and things.
Jesus informed us that those who do the will of God are His brothers and sisters. Our first loyalty is to God.
Again He exhorted, "Let the dead bury their dead."
We know it is God's will for us to be faithful in all our family relationships. We never will be able to enter the Kingdom of God if we are not a person of integrity and faithfulness to those who are dependent on us. However, it is true that unless we hate father and mother (in comparison with our love for Christ), and our own life as well, we cannot enter the Kingdom of God.
We can choose to spend our life engrossed in fleshly relationships, or we can set our heart on the Kingdom relationships that we have now and will have in abundance in the future, while at the same time fulfilling our role well in our present earthly relationships.
We can clutch to ourselves the people and things that please us, or we can submit to the death of the cross, allowing the Lord to remove from us what we have set our heart on and to give us the true, eternal relationships. Where our treasure is, there will our heart be also.
Rest in Christ in God.
Truly, the rest of God is one of the greatest of all treasures. The degree of rest in Christ we possess varies from believer to believer.
Some Christians have made a profession of faith in Christ but as yet are not aware of the wonderful entrance into Christ that is available even in the present life. Other Christians have been taught concerning the life of abiding in Christ and have exercised the faith, courage, trust, and diligence required for full entrance into the Father and the Son (Ephesians 3:19).
O to live as Jesus lived, as Paul lived, in the full flowing of the Life of God! What a battle, what a labor is necessary if we are to press past all fear and unbelief and enter the rest of God! What a state of glory we live in as God becomes our Salvation and we begin to draw water with joy from the wells of salvation!
When we die physically we cannot bring our material possessions or accomplishments with us into the spirit realm. However, we will bring the kind of personality we have become in this world, and we will bring the degree of rest in Christ in God we have obtained.
It appears likely the victorious saints will see the Lord Jesus face to face when they die. Some of these believers will have the Father and the Son living in them to a much greater extent than is true of the others.
Christ will meet all believers, when they die, as an external Person. In certain instances, however, the Life of Jesus that has been formed in the believer will answer to the external Jesus. No doubt such saints will be hurried to Christ's throne for they have become an eternally inseparable part of His very Life.
The earthly counterpart of God's rest is a life lived in our soulish self-centeredness and self-love. We believe in Christ but we must have Him on our own terms. In the deceit of our soul we (perhaps without realizing it) are attempting to manipulate Christ, as we do all other persons, to our advantage.
If we would escape the horrible dungeon of self-centeredness we must take up our cross. It is only as we are crucified with Christ that Christ can live in us.
If at any point in these nine areas we choose to cling to the earthly counterpart, our Christian personality will be influenced adversely. We will miss the fullness of the rewards promised to the overcomer and the full glory of rest in Christ in God.
Christ has commanded us, realizing what is at stake for us: "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on the earth but do lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven. Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."
If God says we are righteous and holy, then we actually are righteous and holy, whether or not an onlooker says that person is unrighteous and unclean.
For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. (I Corinthians 7:14)
In the fourth chapter of the Book of Romans, the Apostle Paul stresses that when we have faith in Christ, God credits us with righteousness. Paul based his teaching on an analogy to Abraham.
What does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." (Romans 4:3)
Paul said also in another place that when we have faith in Christ, God credits us with holiness.
It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from Godthat is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. (I Corinthians 1:30)
If God says we are righteous, we are righteous even though it is not evident that we behave righteously.
If God says we are holy, we are holy even though it is not evident that we are holy in thought, speech, or actions.
I think today's theologians in some instances may be confused about what Paul was teaching. They have seized upon the fourth chapter of the Book of Romans and are declaring that God has decided to bring us to Heaven by "grace," meaning that God now and forever deem us righteous and holy even though it does not appear to the onlooker that we indeed are righteous and holy.
It is a kind of de jure righteousness and holiness, in that God is regarding us legally as being righteous and holy although we are not demonstrably so.
One reason behind the above assumption by scholars is that they are interpreting Paul's reasoning with the Jews as contrasting faith and the works of righteous behavior. A closer look at the fourth chapter of the Book of Romans may reveal that Paul was contrasting faith and the Law of Moses, not faith and upright behavior.
Paul was comparing faith in Christ with obedience to the Law of Moses, in the fourth chapter of Romans. In many other places Paul insisted that if we Christians continue to yield to our sinful nature we will reap corruption rather than inherit the Kingdom of God.
Superficially, emphasizing faith in one place and righteous behavior in another appears to be inconsistent. It is not at all inconsistent, when we have the whole picture. But today's Bible teachers have grasped only the faith, or belief, emphasis while ignoring the numerous passages dealing with righteous behavior.
If I am not mistaken, Paul was emphasizing that if we would please God we must look to Him and obey Him rather than ignore God and attempt to obey the commands of the Law of Moses. In fact, the very heart of religion, and the reason it is such a murderer of Christ, is that religionists seek to please God by disciplining themselves to follow written regulations rather than to look up to God and determine what He is saying to them.
I think the battle here is due to man's desire to be in control. By following the words of a text, man can remain in control. And this where Satan enters religion. By looking to Christ constantly for how one should proceed, man puts God in control. The struggle between those who want to remain in control, and those who wish to put Christ in control, has continued for the two thousand years of the Church Era.
Certainly if the priests and elders of Israel had looked to God instead of to the Torah they would not have murdered Christ. If those who are of the faith of Islam would seek the face of God they would not murder Christians. If the officials of the Catholic Church had looked to God instead of to their religion there would have been no Inquisitions.
So Paul, who wrote much about the need for righteous behavior and holiness of personality was not, in the early chapters of Romans, saying there is no need for us to do good works that people can see because God regards us as righteous if we confess Christ.
Here is a question. Is the Kingdom of God, the rule of God, basically one of credited righteousness and holiness, or is it one of demonstrable righteousness and holinessthat is, a righteousness and holiness that people can see? What do you think?
According to the Apostle Paul, the Bride of the Lamb is to be perfect, without spot or wrinkle. Do you think this perfection would be credited to her, or would her perfection be something we can see?
Is the Kingdom of God one of credited righteousness, or a righteousness that can be observed? Is the Kingdom one in which people are righteous and holy only in the mind of God, or are they righteous and holy in behavior and a personality that people can observe? This is an important question in our day because of the stress on grace and unmerited favor.
The following is one of many in which Paul emphasizes demonstrable righteousness:
God "will give to each person according to what he has done." to those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism. (Romans 2:6-11)
Let's look at the passage above. Is Paul speaking here of credited righteousness based on faith in Christ, or is Paul speaking of demonstrable righteousness, the righteousness of righteous works? What is your opinion?
God "will give to each person according to what he has done." to those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. Will God give eternal life on the basis of persistence in doing good? What do you think? Or did Paul's argument in the next few chapters do away with what he wrote in the second chapter?
What does Paul say in Chapter Six of Romans?
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. (Romans 6:12,13)
Is Paul saying in the above passage that God will credit righteousness to us even if we permit sin to reign in our body?
What does Paul say in Chapter Eight of Romans?
For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (Romans 8:13,14)
Is Paul teaching us that the Spirit of God is leading us to put to death the misdeeds of our sinful nature so we will not die spiritually? What is your opinion?
If Paul is warning us Christians about sinning, why then would he go to such lengths in Romans, Chapter Four, to stress that God saves people apart from righteous behavior? This truly is the question that needs to be answered.
Let us put ourselves in Paul's position. He was attempting to prove to Jewish leaders that they can be righteous apart from the Law of Moses. If they turn to Christ and look to Him for salvation, God will count them as being righteous. Am I correct by saying this?
Now, if the Jews can be righteous by leaving the commands of the Law, and those commands were many and covered all aspects of life, and can receive righteousness by believing in Christ apart from the commands of Moses, does it follow that the Jews then are free to lie, steal, bear false witness, and so forth?
No, they are not free to live an immoral life. Why not? They have turned away from the Ten Commandments, circumcision, and the other bedrock principles of the Law of Moses? Why then are they not free to follow their sinful nature seeing that they have abandoned the Law?
The reason the Jew, upon leaving the Torah is not free to abandon himself to his sinful nature is that there is a law higher than the Torah. The higher law is what Paul terms "the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus."
So the Jew has turned away from the Law of Moses that he may embrace a higher law. It is the Law of the Spirit of God. It is of interest that the Spirit of God will lead the Jew to obey all the aspects of the moral law of the Torah, and enable him to keep these aspects on a much more complete level.
Let me give you two examples.
First: under the Law of Moses, the Jew who sinned, if he wished to be forgiven and regain fellowship with God, had to sacrifice an animal. Under the new covenant, the Jew has to offer his own body as a sacrifice to God in order to prove God's will in every detail of his life.
Second: regrading the Sabbath commandment. The thesis of the Book of Hebrews is the rest of God. The rest of God is that state of being in which we set aside our own life that we might live by the Life of Jesus. We are to think as the living Jesus is thinking. We are to speak as the living Jesus is speaking. We are to act as the living Jesus is acting. We are to learn to live by the Life of the Holy One of God just as He lives by the Life of the Father.
We see, then, how the Sabbath Commandment is brought to a much higher level, and how the Spirit of God enables us to fulfill it. The rest of God, commanded in the Book of Hebrews, is the eternal Sabbath, the Sabbath of the seventh day of creation, in which God rests. The seventh day has no evening or morning. It is eternal.
We have been warned to be careful not to come short of the eternal rest of God. It is God's purpose in redemption that we live by the Life of the Lord Jesus Christ for eternity.
The Apostle Paul knew of this rest and was living in it. Christ was living in Paul. Paul could not explain all this at once, so he began by telling the Jews that they can turn from the Law of Moses and receive the righteousness that Abraham received when he obeyed God.
It may be noted that later in the Book of Genesis, God commanded Abraham to walk before Him and be blameless. This obviously meant blameless in obedience to Goda faith that results in obedience.
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, "I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless." (Genesis 17:1)
If Abraham had said to God, "I do not have to walk blamelessly before You because I already have been declared eternally righteous due to the fact that I believed You concerning my forthcoming seed," how do you think God would have responded? Yet that is the position today of numerous believers in Christ.
Then the word of the LORD came to him: "This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir." He took him outside and said, "Look up at the heavens and count the starsif indeed you can count them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be." Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness. (Genesis 15:4-6)
Abraham was blameless apart from the Law of Moses. The Jew can be blameless apart from the Law of Moses, if he places his faith in Jesus Christ and is obedient to Him.
When there is a new covenant, as there has been since our Lord rose from the dead, we show our faith by obeying the new covenant. The new covenant is the placing of God's eternal moral laws in our mind and heart such that we become a new creation of righteous behavior and a personality that delights in the holy ways of Christ.
With all that I have stated kept in mind, we can see that the current interpretation of the Apostle Paul, that the new covenant provides a credited righteousness and holiness apart from any actual transformation of the believer, is as grievous and destructive error as possibly could be contrived.
It is my opinion that most Christian people believe we cannot have fellowship with God, or live in the Kingdom of God, if we are filled with lying, stealing, immorality, unforgiveness, hatred, anger, and so forth. Since numerous Christian people exhibit these traits, the solution offered is that God sees these aspects of our personality through Christ, with the result that we are blameless in His sight. Our demonstrably sinful behavior will in no manner hinder our entering Heaven when we die.
Because of our profession of belief in the Lord Jesus Christ, we permanently are credited with righteousness and holiness independently of our behavior. As questionable as such a position may appear, it seems to be the prevailing position of church-goers in our day.
When faced with the prospect of our fellowship with God and our residence in a mansion in Heaven, while we are exhibiting sinful behavior and an unholy attitude, the believers realize something is amiss.
So two resolutions of the problem have been offered. One, that when the Lord returns, we will be delivered immediately from all worldliness, our sinful nature, and our self-will and unbelief.
Two, that when we die and enter the spirit world we will be delivered immediately from all worldliness, our sinful nature, and our self will and unbelief.
These solutions sometimes are presented. Yet, there is no scriptural basis for either of these two suppositions.
The thirteenth chapter of the Book of Matthew tells of the removal of all sin and sinners from the Kingdom of God.
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 13:40-43)
The passage above tells us that there is coming a time when Christ sends out His messengers and removes all sin and sinful people from the Kingdom of God. We understand from this that credited righteousness and holiness will be superseded, as they must be, so that demonstrable righteousness and holiness prevail among saved people.
I wish to interject a thought here that may prove to be a bit confusing. No individual is righteous and holy in God's sight unless God views that individual as righteous and holy. Whether or not the individual is demonstrably righteous and holy, it always must be true that God views the individual as being righteous and holy.
Let me give an example. A person might assist someone in need. This is a righteous act. But whether or not God views it as righteous may depend on other factors. The individual may have rejected Christ and is seeking to win God's favor by acts of mercy. In this instance, his act is righteous from our point of view, but God does not view his act of mercy as righteous because his motive is wrong.
A person might give money to the church. But God may perceive that his purpose is to exalt himself in some manner, as was true of the Pharisees.
We conclude, then, that in the final sense it is God, who knows the heart, who alone can credit righteousness and holiness, whether or not the individual behaves righteously and holily by our standards.
It is my point of view that such removal of sin has begun and will continue until the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, terminating with the final resurrection of the dead.
Any doctrine that portrays an instantaneous transformation of worldly, sinful people into perfected saints is in error. We cannot be changed immediately. We can by faith receive credited righteousness and holiness immediately, but we simply cannot reveal demonstrable righteousness and holiness in our actions and personality by means of a sudden Divine intervention.
Perfection of character cannot be accomplished in a moment. The Bride of the Lamb cannot be made spotless by a sudden Divine action. Credited righteousness and holiness can be accomplished in a moment. But demonstrable righteousness and holiness cannot possibly be accomplished in a moment by the Lord's return, or by dying and entering the spirit world.
I have said that Matthew 13:40-43 has commenced and shall continue throughout the thousand-year Kingdom Age.
God deals with our worldliness over a period of time, on occasion by bringing us through painful experiences in the world, such as betrayal, lawsuits, or domestic problems. These devices will work provided we keep making the attempt to limit our involvement in the Antichrist world system.
God deals with the sins that dwells in us by pointing them out to us one at a time. Then we are obliged to turn away from them, renouncing them vigorously. Since there are many sins residing in our sinful nature, the cleansing of our personality requires a long period of time. If God removed them all at once we would collapse; for prior to Christ being formed in us, the passions of our flesh and spirit, as well as our worldliness and self-will, are the driving motivations of our life.
Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. (II Corinthians 7:1)
God deals with our self-will by placing us in a prison of frustration. We may be required to suffer for many years the deferring of our most ardent desires, or to remain in a situation we detest. We always should pray that God will give us the desires of our heart; but if we are to receive the crown of life, we must not force our way out of our prison.
We understand, therefore, that the removal of worldliness, sinful compulsions, and self-will from our personality, and the forming and final dwelling of Christ in us, cannot possibly be accomplished by a sudden Divine action. Time is required for the transformation, because God always works in conjunction with our will and desires.
Sometimes the questions is raised: are our salvation and sanctification sudden events, or are they wrought over a period of time?
The answer is, perfect, complete righteousness and holiness are credited to us the moment we place our faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
Demonstrable righteousness and holiness are wrought in us over a period of time as we turn away from our sinful nature, renouncing every aspect of it vehemently, and vigorously press forward in faith in Jesus Christ each day and night of our sojourn on the earth.
The perfect, complete righteousness and holiness that are credited to us serve as a protection while we are undergoing the program of redemption that is bringing us to demonstrable righteousness and holiness.
If we turn away from the program of redemption that is changing us into God's righteous, holy, image, then the protection of the credited righteousness and holiness is withdrawn and we come under Divine judgment.
It is this last statement of mine that may be vigorously contested by all sorts of reasoning and parallels. Satan to this day is shouting, "You shall not surely die!" Let the reader judge what I have written, remembering it is his or her eternal destiny that is at stake.
One of the significant understandings entrusted to me is that our behavior today is shaping the body that will be given to us in the Day of Resurrection. I may have mentioned this previously, but just in case I did not treat it fully enough I will make more comments at this point.
I do not remember ever hearing or reading a discussion of this tremendously important truth. I do not understand why such a critical issue is not being heralded from every pulpit; but that is God's business.
It may be true that the resurrection of our body is one of the central aspects of the Divine redemption. We have to fight for it. According to our Lord, all shall be raised. But the kind of resurrection we experience depends on the progress we have made in the program of redemption.
In our day, the destructive inference that salvation consists of a profession of faith we make, and then we are to wait until we die and go to Heaven to live eternally in a mansion, appears to pervade Christian thinking. In a sense, this concept is so far removed from the actual plan of salvation that it would be humorous if it were not so harmful.
Actually, our salvation, which has to do with the kind of resurrection we experience in the Day of Resurrection, is revealed in the clothing of our body with the body from Heaven. Instead of our going to a mansion in Heaven, our "mansion" shall come from Heaven and clothe our resurrected physical form.
For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. (II Corinthians 5:4)
One verse that has been meaningful to me is the following:
And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. (Romans 8:11)
Being in my eighties, I am impressed with the idea of my mortal body being raised from the dead and clothed with a body fashioned from the Spirit of God.
It is a fact that we begin life with some kind of physical body and a chaotic inward nature. Then, if we participate in the Divine program of redemption in Christ, we come to the time when our inward nature has been transformed and our physical body has withered.
In the Day of Resurrection, we shall receive a physical-spiritual body that portrays our transformed inward nature. One can understand readily how important it is that we do not view the Christian salvation as a one-time profession of belief in Christ, while the remainder of our life is that of waiting to go to Heaven.
Rather, every day we are on the earth we are to be cooperating with the Spirit of God as He fashions our inward nature in the image of Christ; for it is certain that in the Day of Resurrection we will portray that which has been wrought in our inward nature.
The Apostle Paul was set upon the redemption of his mortal body. I think Paul was looking forward to a body that is free from sinful compulsions. There is no evidence in the New Testament of which I am aware that Paul had set his goal as residence in Heaven, although he did express a desire to be with the Lord. Rather Paul's goal was to be free from the body of sin and death.
Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:23)
"The redemption of our bodies." Actually we are attaining to the resurrection now as we keep exchanging the death of our old life for Christ's Life in our inward nature. The further we advance in the program of death to life, the more glorious will be the body, or robe, that covers our resurrected frame in the Day of Christ.
So, as Paul stated, in the Book of Philippians, we attain to the resurrection from the dead.
A discussion of this movement from death to resurrection life is found in the fourth and fifth chapters of the Book of Second Corinthians. The discussion begins in Chapter Four, verse 7 and comes to a climax in Chapter Five, verse 10.
These twenty-one verses are central to the program of redemption. They are worth the careful consideration of all disciples of the Lord.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (II Corinthians 4:7)
The reason we inhabit such a frail physical body is that God may be glorified. The concept that God brings us to weakness appears in several passages of the Scriptures. It is a good thing too, because the moment we feel strong we begin to lose sight of the fact that we can do nothing apart from Christ.
As I stated in a previous essay, the followers of religion adhere to the text of the Scriptures, and their faith is centered there. The followers of Jesus understand that the Scriptures are the unshakeable Word of God, but they follow the Lord Jesus. Their faith is centered in Jesus. They realize they can do nothing at all apart from Christ, no matter what the Scripture states.
There is an eternal gulf between religion and the Lord Jesus. Religions are made by people. Jesus Christ is from God.
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. (II Corinthians 4:8,9)
It is not enough that we are in a frail physical body. We must be brought to helplessness by many ingenious Divine devices. Those of us who have followed Christ for a number of years know well how rapidly we get off the track when we are not surrounded with pressures of one sort or another. If God did not keep us in trouble His Glory would not be revealed in us. Instead, only the fleshly nature of the religious person would be seen.
We American Christians need the power of God as never before. Our beloved nation rapidly is being taken over by people who do not know the Lord. God will give us the power to enable us to stand and assist others to stand. But the assistance will not come out of our strength but out of our weakness.
When we are weak in the flesh, then we are strong in the Lord.
We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. (II Corinthians 4:10)
Paul was suffering frustrations and pain for Jesus' sake. It is the sufferings of the cross. The purpose is so that out from the frustrations and pain will emerge the resurrection Life of Jesus, revealed in Paul's body.
All true ministry, the fruit of which will endure throughout eternity, proceeds from the cross borne by the minister. This is why Paul's epistles are pondered to the present hour.
For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. (II Corinthians 4:11,12)
Notice in the above the importance of our physical body. It is in our present body that the Life of Jesus is revealed. So as we patiently submit to our afflictions, the Life of Christ works in those to whom we are ministering.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (II Corinthians 4:16-18)
Notice carefully: The process of suffering afflictions, which results in eternal Life working in those to whom we minister. results also in a renewal of our inward natures. An eternal glory is developing in our inward nature, that far outweighs in value our momentary afflictions. For this reason we keep considering what we do not see as yetthat which is not momentary but eternal.
We will pass now into Chapter Five, because it continues the thought and explains what is meant by an "eternal glory."
Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. (II Corinthians 5:1)
The verse above informs us what the eternal glory is. It is a house from Heaven that will clothe our resurrected flesh and bones. Our momentary afflictions, and our patient response to them, is achieving for us an eternal house.
The important thing to remember is that there is a relationship between what we are enduring now, and the body with which our renewed inward nature will be clothed in the Day of Christ.
If you are aware of the current emphasis on a "rapture" that will carry everyone who "accepts Christ" up to Heaven at any moment now, you can see how terribly misleading such teaching is. It is not our "accepting" of Christ that determines the nature of our resurrection, it is the renewal of our inward nature that occurs as we bear the suffering of Christ and convey resurrection Life to those to whom we minister.
The concept of an undemanding "rapture" that will carry up to Heaven casual church-attenders is popular today. That is because the Christian church-goers want to be told they can live their life as usual and still receive a wonderful glorified body, and in that renewed body sit in their mansion in Heaven doing nothing for eternity.
This notion is so preposterous, so unscriptural, that it is a marvel that people can be persuaded to believe it.
Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, (II Corinthians 5:2)
Did you ever hear of anyone groaning, longing to be clothed with their house from Heaven? Probably not. Why not? Because God's people are being taught that their goal is to be carried up to Heaven, either in a "rapture" or after they die. They know little about a "heavenly dwelling," except for an ornate mansion in Heaven. They have not been taught about a dwelling that will clothe them so they can live once again upon the earth.
Because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. (II Corinthians 5:3)
The casual, lukewarm, church-goer will be found naked in the Day of Christ. His or her inward nature has not been renewed. Consequently no house from Heaven has been prepared that would cover his resurrected flesh and bones in the Day of the Lord.
For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. (II Corinthians 5:4)
In some passages in the New Testament the Apostle Paul speaks of his desire to receive the redemption of his body; to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Most of us Christians do not long for the redemption of our body because we have been taught that our destiny is eternal existence in Heaven. Paul was not seeking Heaven, he was seeking righteous behavior. He was upset about his sin nature. Paul wanted a redeemed body so he could be without sin, whether in Heaven or upon the earth.
Since we have been taught that God does not observe our sinful behavior, only the righteous behavior of Christ, we do not see any urgent need for the redemption of our body. We are not going to need our body in Heaven, so why bother. Let's all go to Heaven where we can rest for eternity.
Our theology today is unscriptural. It does not lend itself to the creation of a new righteous person in the image of God.
God will swallow up our mortality with resurrection Life, provided we have been renewed in our inward nature. This is why Paul spoke of attaining to the resurrection from the dead, in the third chapter of Philippians.
Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (II Corinthians 5:5)
The verse above is of great significance. God has made us for the purpose of clothing us with eternal Life. You may recall that God gave His Son, not that we might go to Heaven but that we might have eternal Life. Apart from Divine Life we perish. Our body returns to dust. When our body is raised in the Day of Christ, there is no eternal Life to from Heaven to cause it to live. In this sense we are naked.
But has God actually made us for the purpose of clothing us with Life? If this is so, the resurrection and clothing of the body is central in the program of redemption. Apparently our original animal flesh and blood existence, since it cannot enter the Kingdom of God, according to Paul, is of no use for God's Kingdom purposes. All depends on our being resurrected to eternal life in a body fashioned by and from the Spirit of God.
The Holy Spirit we have been given at this time is a guarantee that the day will come when our entire personality is filled and clothed with the Spirit of God. This is why Paul told us that if we continue to behave according to our sinful nature, we will die. The Spirit of God will leave us. We will be found naked in the Day of Resurrection.
For all of us it behoveth to be manifested before the tribunal of the Christ, that each one may receive the things [done] through the body, in reference to the things that he did, whether good or evil; (II Corinthians 5:10Young's Literal Translation)
I have chosen to present the above verse in Young's Translation. I do not believe the New International Version, which I use customarily, quite does it justice.
The first thought is that we do not just appear before the Judgment Seat, we are manifested there.
Next, that we receive the things [done] through the body. Now this expression is of the greatest importance. It is not that we are handed what is due us for what we did in the body, rather we receive the things themselves.
If we have lied repeatedly, then lies will appear, in the Day of Resurrection as part of our personality.
If we have harmed people with our self-seeking, then self-seeking will appear in our body.
If we have given of ourselves for the benefit of others, then this spirit will be revealed in our resurrected body.
If we have helped others in their hour of need, then this will be revealed.
If we have obeyed Christ promptly and cheerfully, then this will be portrayed in our personalityprobably in our body somehow.
If we have been a mean, selfish person, we may appear as a shrunken dwarf. In fact, this may be where dwarfs came from.
Second Corinthians 5:10 has sometimes been presented as an awards banquet in which each person who has "accepted Christ" will be given some sort of award.
It hardly is that! The Greek noun refers to a tribunal where people are sentenced in terms of their behavior.
Notice the expression, "whether good or evil." This prevents the verse as indicating no Christian will be punishedperhaps suffer a loss of rewards, but nothing worse.
This is not what the Word of God states. The Word states each one of us will receive what he has done through his body; whether he has done good, or whether he has done evil.
If we are to receive the evil we have done, then it cannot be maintained that the worse that can happen to us in the time of judgment is loss of reward. The worse that can happen to us is to portray our sinful, self-centered inner nature so that people looking at us view us with shame and contempt.
Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2)
Our destiny after that may be the Lake of Fire. Consider the selfish rich man!
There can be no question in the mind of any thoughtful person but that today's preaching of the ancient Gospel of the Kingdom of God has departed from the Scriptures, perhaps with the intention of pleasing the listeners so they will fill the buildingwhich is the current index of success in Christian work.
I might add that God, I believe, has a special destiny in mind for the physical land and people of Israel. The callings of God are without repentance. Nevertheless the Messianic prophecies in the Scriptures are not to Israel after the flesh but to those who are of the promised Seed of Abraham. As Paul stated, "Not all Israel are of Israel; only the children of the prophetic promise."
It is not as though God's word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham's children. On the contrary, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." In other words, it is not the natural children who are God's children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham's offspring. (Romans 9:6-8)
The question is, what is the relationship of the true Israel, the Seed of Abraham, to the people of the nations of the world? It is this question that needs to be answered clearly if God's people are ever to understand the Kingdom of God.
The common perception is that everyone who "accepts Christ" goes to Heaven to live forever. There are various doctrines about the destiny of the "Jews," meaning all who are Jewish by race. I have not heard of too many teachers who divide the Jews into the prophetic Israel, that Paul described, and the physical land and people of Israel.
I guess the idea is that once a Jewish person receives Christ, he or she becomes a Gentile. Really, I am confused about what is taught. One prominent evangelical leader said that in the beginning a Gentile had to become a Jew to be saved, but now a Jew has to become a Gentile to be saved. I wonder what passage of Scripture he would use to support that notion!
The original Christian Church consisted of Jews, and they followed Jewish customs. Most, I guess, adhered to the Law of Moses. Perhaps it was the Apostle Paul who recognized that all who are of Christ are the true Seed of Abraham and the true Olive Tree.
You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:26-29)
True Israel are those who are of the Lord Jesus Christ, whether Jewish or Gentile by physical birth. When I use the term "Israel," I am not referring to the physical people and land of Israel, I am speaking of the one Seed of Abrahamthose who are of Christ.
Let me pose the question once more, for the answer is vital to our understanding of the Kingdom of God: What is the relationship of Israel, the Royal Priesthood, to the nations of the world?
Think of the world as being divided into just two sets of peoplethe Royal Priesthood, and the nations of the earth. What are the destinies of these two sets of people?
The purpose of Israel, the Royal Priesthood, is to govern and bring the Presence of God to those of the nations who are saved. The members of the nations are saved by believing in Christ and being baptized in water.
Please keep in mind by "saved" I am not referring to going to Heaven when one dies. "Heaven," as I have mentioned previously, is Mount Zion, a small part of the spirit world. The saved people from the nations do not go to Mount Zion. Only God's elect go to Mount Zion. There they are being prepared to descend to the new earth as the Royal Priesthood.
The "lost" are those who have absolutely refused to set Jesus Christ as the Lord of their life. Their destiny is to become the incarnation of evil, part of Satan. Thus they no longer are eligible to receive the gift of repentance from God.
The individuals from the nations pass into the spirit world when they die and are gathered to people like themselves; possibly family members, or acquaintances, or wherever they fit. There they are trained in the ways of Heaven, unless, being wicked, they are assigned to the Land of Darkness.
Being "saved" means they are saved from the Divine wrath. If their name is in the Book of Life at the time of the last resurrection and judgment, they will be carried over to life on the new earth. There they will have access to the new Jerusalem, which is Mount Zion, so they may partake of the water of eternal Life and of the Tree of Life.
But then they have to return to their community on the new earth. The new Jerusalem is the Tabernacle of God, the Wife of the Lamb, and it is composed of the Royal Priesthood, that is, God's elect, His Israel.
The saved people from the nations, as I said, will have access to the water of Life and the Tree of Life, for their renewal. But they never can become part of the elect. As our Lord said, "I pray not for the world for but for those whom You have given me."
The world is the world and the Church is the Church. The massive wall of the new Jerusalem is a symbol of the separation between the people of the world, whom God loves, and the Seed of Abraham. In fact, the saved people from the nations are the inheritance of the Royal Priesthood, and the priests of God shall govern them and bring the Presence of God to them.
To the saved from the nations, the Spirit of God and the Bride, the Royal Priesthood, say "Come. Drink of the water of Life without charge."
It really is a simple design: there is the Church, and then the nations of the earth. The government of the Kingdom of God is the Royal Priesthood. The saved people from the nations also are part of the Kingdom, but not part of the government. Just as in America, all citizens are part of America but all citizens are not part of the government.
So there is no reason for anyone to be confused about the role of Israel, God's elect, and their relationship to the remainder of the world.
As for the physical land and people of Israel, God deals with them in a special way because of the fathers of the race. But they are not part of the Royal Priesthood, the government of the new world of righteousness.
It may be noted in the New Testament that the demands placed on the Royal Priesthood are different from the demands placed on those from the nations who are to be saved.
All that is required of a member of the nations is that he or she believe in Christ and be baptized. Whereas the members of the priesthood, the elect of God, are dealt with day and night that they might be conformed to the image of Christ, and might enter untroubled rest in the center of God's Person and will.
However, every person who will live for eternity in the new world of righteousness must be obedient to Christ in every aspect of his or her personality. This is equally true of the elect who compose the new Jerusalem, and the saved people from the nations who walk in the light of the new Jerusalem.
Absolute obedience to Christ is required of all saved people. We can see why the thousand years of instruction are necessary, in that today neither the people of the world, nor most Christian people it appears, are willing to declare themselves ready to obey the Lord Jesus Christ completely and perfectly.
The essential aspect of the Royal Priesthood is the conception and forming of Christ in us. This is why we must be born again to see or enter the Kingdom of God. Jesus Christ Himself is the Government of the Kingdom, the absolute rule of God.
It is my understanding at this time that all persons who are to participate in the Kingdom of God, whether rulers or citizens, must have a portion of Christ in them. We realize, from the parable of the sower, that some reap Christ a hundredfold; some sixtyfold; and some thirtyfold.
It is true of everyone in the new world of righteousness, whether of the Royal Priesthood or of the citizens of the new earth, that it is the presence of Christ in them that causes them to delight to do God's will. The rule of the Kingdom is at first, external; and then becomes internal.
My guess, from the design of the Tent of Meeting, that those who reap Christ in their inward nature a hundredfold are God's Firstfruits. They follow the Lamb wherever He goesand my supposition is that this will be true throughout eternity. They are portrayed by the Most Holy Place of the Tent of Meeting.
Those who reap Christ to a sixtyfold extent, compose the remainder of the elect. The hundredfold and the sixtyfold together compose the holy city, the new Jerusalem, that shall govern the nations on the new earth.
The thirtyfold, then, would be the citizens of the new earth, the new world of righteousness.
It often is risky to make such neat, pat interpretations of the Scriptures. However, the above appears to make sense, and it does not violate the Scriptures in any manner that I know of.
Although I often present concepts that are not universally understood, my goal always is to exhort God's people to press into the Lord Jesus. By speaking of a Firstfruits, then a less holy group, and then the nations of saved people, I am teaching the believers that there are rewards for those who follow Christ diligently. Thus my goal of bringing people closer to the Lord Jesus is achieved. I have no time to spend on novelties that excite the mind and do not lead God's people closer to Himself.
There are several passages in the Book of Isaiah that point out how Israel will be seen in the future as priests of the Lord who restore that which was destroyed at the end of the Church Age. This role of the elect is seen also in the following passage:
The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life. (Revelation 21:24-27)
Here we see the people who have been saved from the nations bringing their wealth to the Royal Priesthood, as is mentioned also in the sixtieth chapter of the Book of Isaiah.
The verse above says "Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life." The reference is to the nations of people on the new earth who come to the Royal Priesthood to receive the refreshing of the water of the Spirit, and the Substance and healing Virtue of the Lord Jesus Christ, which are given through the members of the priesthood.
And as for the daily lives of the citizens of the new earth:
They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. (Isaiah 65:21)
Do you see from the above that life continues much as in our present day? We have a mythological concept of life after our death. Now Jesus is showing us that God intends to make all things new, not all new things. All of that which we are accustomed to, all that will bring love, joy, and peace, shall be made new in Christ. After all, that is what we really desire, isn't it?
To sum up: God in His infinite wisdom and power shall remove all sin from where people live. Sin shall be confined for eternity in the Lake of Fire.
God is preparing a priesthood, an elect, who will restore Paradise to the earth, and then maintain it. This is why we Christians, the Royal Priesthood, are dealt with so sternly. We have to be established in God's will so thoroughly that never again will there be a rebellion of angels or people.
The people of the nations of the earth, who are not called to be members of the Royal Priesthood, have only to believe in Christ and be baptized in water, signifying that they have set aside their old life and now are ready to serve the Lord Jesus.
This is a simple design, isn't it? It is the answer to our heart's desire for everlasting love, joy, and peace.
It is what God has planned from before the beginning of time, and there is no power on earth or in the heavens above that can in any manner prevent God's will from being performed.
The Scriptures also are clear that before the Lord appears in His worldwide coming, He shall come to His disciples, to those who are looking for Him. If my understanding is correct, this pre-advent appearing is taking place at the present time.
"After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence. Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth." (Hosea 6:2,3)
I think the "two days" may refer to the two thousand years of the Christian Era. Since we are approaching the end of that period, we notice that many nations are in an uproar. Also, there is talk about the end of the world. This sense of radical change is being experienced not only by church people but also by the man in the street.
"On the third day He will restore us." I hold the third day to be the thousand-year Kingdom Age that will take place after the Lord appears and before the final resurrection and the coming down from Heaven of the new Jerusalem.
As I see it, the purpose of the Kingdom Age is to give all people a chance to be reconciled to God. This is not to say that everyone eventually will be reconciled to God during that time, because the Scripture is clear that at the last resurrection and final judgment, those who names are not found in the Book of Life will be thrown into the Lake of Fire.
If we are willing to press on to acknowledge the Lord Jesus, we shall live in His Presence.
Now notice: He will come to us "like the spring rains that water the earth."
My understanding is that this means the Lord will come in the form of revival, as in the revival in Wales, for example. The "spring rains" bring the grain harvest to maturity. It is my point of view that the spring rains are upon us now, giving us increased understanding of the Scriptures.
The coming of the Lord in the spring rains has not climaxed as yet. As I see it, the two witnesses of the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation are a symbolic representation of Christ in His victorious saints bearing witness of the soon coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth, as mentioned in Matthew 24:14.
This pre-advent appearing of the Lord is spoken of as follows:
Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:27,28)
I do not believe the verse above is referring to the coming set forth in the following verse:
Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen. (Revelation 21:7)
It doesn't sound like the same coming, does it?
Before the Lord's advent, He will come to us as the spring rain, as a refreshing that will prepare us for His great advent.
Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. (James 5:7)
It may be true that the current "rapture" teaching is a recognition that there will be a coming of the Lord prior to His worldwide advent. However, the idea of a catching up to Heaven of the casual church-attenders of our day is far removed from what the Scriptures teach concerning the spring rain. It is one of the deceptions the Lord said would come forth at the time of His return.
Another passage that deals with the pre-advent appearing of the Lord is as follows:
"Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him." Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, "But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?" Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him." (John 14:21-23)
Can you see that the above passage, that describes the spring rain, is different from the popular "rapture" error? Christ comes to those who obey His commands, not those who have "accepted Christ" and then have continued in their fleshly pursuits while they wait to be carried up to Heaven.
Actually, Heaven is not the issue of this pre-advent appearing of Christ. Rather, this is the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Tabernacles. It is the coming of the Fullness of God to make the believer their eternal Tabernacle. This is the Tabernacle mentioned in the twenty-first chapter of the Book of Revelation, the Presence of God that will dwell among saved mankind for eternity.
The purpose of the Lord's coming in the spring rain is to prepare His remnant, His Firstfruits, for the installation of the Kingdom of God on the earth. We are not ready as yet to be resurrected and to ascend to meet Him that we may appear with Him at His worldwide advent.
We of today are bound with worldliness, the lusts of the body and spirit, and self-will. If we are to be reconciled to God sufficiently to work with Christ in the installation of the Kingdom of God on the earth, we must be released from these chains.
We cannot appear with Christ to the nations of the earth until we are filled inwardly and outwardly with the Spirit of God. The worldwide coming of Christ is no opportunity for the appearing of self-willed, worldly religious people.
We are to pray for the spring rain, that appearing of Christ to His saints to prepare them for His visible appearing to the earth.
Ask the LORD for rain in the springtime; it is the LORD who makes the storm clouds. He gives showers of rain to men, and plants of the field to everyone. (Zechariah 10:1)
Be glad, O people of Zion, rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given you the autumn rains in righteousness. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. (Joel 2:23)
I understand these two verses could be construed to refer only to physical rain. However, the passage in Hosea and James (above) seems to prevent the restricting of the verses to physical rain. It often is true in the Old Testament that Kingdom truth is concealed in the physical statements.
It is so important today that we have ears to hear the Spirit of God. Otherwise we may, as has happened so many times to people in the past, miss the day of our visitation.
Christ is coming to us today in the Spirit of God to prepare us for the chaotic events of the future. These events can turn our eyes away from Jesus. Or they can motivate us to follow the Spirit as He leads us in putting out of our life those thoughts, words, and actions that are not of the image of God.
The worldwide appearing of the Lord will occur. Then He shall raise from the dead the ones He has prepared and shall catch them up to Himself that they might mount the white war stallions and descend with Him to establish the Kingdom of God on the earth.
This appearing of the Lord and His saints will take place after the testimony symbolized by the two witnesses of Revelation, Chapter Eleven, has been overcome by Antichrist. There then will be a reign of spiritual darkness on the earth during a period of time symbolized by three and one-half years. At the darkest hour the Lord Jesus will appear in the sky.
At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. (Matthew 24:30,31)
The passage above does away with the "rapture" teaching. Can you see that Christ will appear in the sky, and then He will gather His elect? How can there be a secret "rapture" prior to the worldwide appearing of Christ and the gathering of the elect?
Obviously there is no catching up of the elect prior to this one. The passage above describes the worldwide appearing of the slain Lamb and the gathering to Him of His prepared elect.
Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, (II Thessalonians 2:1)
"Our being gathered to Him."
To maintain there is a secret "rapture" prior to the passages above appears to reveal a bias in the mind of the teacher; especially when the same Greek term for "coming" (parousia) is used in Matthew, Chapter Twenty-four and both First and Second Thessalonians.
I believe it is time to abolish the teaching of the "rapture," whether pre-tribulation, or mid-tribulation, or post-tribulation, from all sincere Christian people. It simply is not based in the Scriptures.
There will be no catching up to Heaven of believers to protect them from Antichrist or the Great Tribulation. Rather, the catching up of the elect is a gathering to the Lord Jesus of the Firstfruits of the Church that they may descend with Him and install the Kingdom of God on the earth.
What is to take place during that time? Why should there a thousand-year interval after Jesus and the saints appear, and the coming down from Heaven through the new sky of the new Jerusalem to be installed on the new earth?
I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4)
The saints who attained to the first resurrection (passage above) were raised from the dead and governed with Christ for a thousand years. We assume they shall govern the people on the present earth, although it does not say whom they shall rule.
But there is another verse that does:
You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth. (Revelation 5:10)
From Revelation 20:4 (above), we see that these kings and priests were victorious saints, having resisted the Antichrist, and had been martyred for their testimony.
I do not understand why this first resurrection is not preached more than it is, because it is well worth attaining to. It is my opinion that this is the resurrection the Apostle Paul was seeking.
The term "Millennium" often is used to depict a time of peace. The Bible does not wholly support this view. The thousand-year Kingdom Age is a rule with the rod of iron, because the people who are governed were accustomed to being their own god. Even after a thousand years of the rule of the saints, they were ready to rebel when Satan was let out of the Bottomless Pit.
What is the purpose for this thousand years? Christ and His Firstfruits are governing. Isaiah tells us about the knowledge of God filling the earth. Apparently the curse has been lifted. But why couldn't we skip this period of time and go straight to the new earth and the new world of righteousness?
The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper's nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. (Revelation 11:8,9)
The passage above takes place during the Kingdom Age, before the final resurrection of the dead. To spiritualize a bit here, I think this means the waters of the Spirit of God will cover the dead sea of mankind.
The Jewish people have seven major celebrations. The sixth of these is termed the Day of Atonement. The idea of "atonement" is that of "reconciliation."
During this celebration, atonement was made by the blood of a slain goat. Atonement was made also by removing from the camp of Israel and sending into the wilderness a living goat, after Aaron had confessed the sins of Israel over this goat.
He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelitesall their sinsand put them on the goat's head. He shall send the goat away into the desert in the care of a man appointed for the task. The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a solitary place; and the man shall release it in the desert. (Leviticus 16:21,22)
The first goat reconciled Israel to God by the sacrificial blood. The second goat reconciled Israel to God by the removal of sins. For two thousand years the Christian churches have proclaimed the work of the first goat.
But forgiving sins does not accomplish God's goal. God's goal in the work of redemption is to remove all sin, and all who refuse to have their sins removed, from the creation.
I am not speaking of the removal of the guilt of sin, but the removal of the compulsion and practice of sin. Forgiving an individual is a blessing to that person, but it does not accomplish God's goal of removing the practice of sin from His children.
It is my opinion that the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Day of Atonement has commenced now, and that it will continue until the end of the thousand-year period and is the reason for that period.
The Lord Jesus Christ has made an atonement for the sins of the whole world, referring to forgiveness, the removal of guilt. The removal of the guilt of sin is an accomplished fact, and everyone is free to accept it.
Now we have come to the time when God is ready to remove the practice of sin. The authority for this removal is the blood that was shed on Calvary. The shed blood of Christ is the legal basis for the removal of sin. But the removal of the sin itself must be accomplished by the power of the Spirit of God.
First the authority of the blood. Then the power of the Spirit of God.
So I view the thousand-year period as the Age of Reconciliation, the time when God removes the practice of sin from the entire creation.
This removal is mentioned in the Book of Matthew, as I have mentioned previously.
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 13:40-43)
It may be observed that the passage above is not speaking of the guilt of sin. It is speaking of the removing of sin itself from the Kingdom. Also, those who will not submit to the program of removal will themselves be removed from the Kingdom. I am of the opinion that this program has begun. I know it has begun in my life.
So here is the picture. We have a world full of people, some secular, some religious, who do not do the will of Christ. The will of Christ is the most important aspect of the Kingdom of God!
We have Christian churches. The spiritual nature of all true Christians is in Christ at the right hand of God. Yet, the Christian people themselves, for the most part it appears, do not live in obedience to Christ because they never have been taught such a life is possible while we are alive in the present world.
There are a few, here and there, who live in obedience to God. But most, it seems to me, believe that they never will be able to be free from the power of sin until they die and pass into the spirit world. Of course, there is no scriptural evidence that death is our redeemer from the power of sin.
For the past few hundred years the philosophy of Humanism has been gaining ground. The teaching of Humanism is that man is his own god, and the highest good is human happiness. This is why we have the current emphasis, at least in America, on the "rights of people."
The concept of man being his own god, and the happiness and rights of people being the highest possible good, is enlarging in the present hour. I have said before in other places that any government in which the pleasures of people are not placed in a high priority will not survive. We are moving toward the age of Antichrist, and Antichrist is the personification of man being his own god.
People at large have no intention of being reconciled to God and His righteousness. They may accept Jesus as their Savior, because that benefits them. But they will not accept Jesus as their personal Lord, whom they are to obey strictly in every issue of their life.
The Lord Jesus and His saints will appear to the world at the time of greatest spiritual darkness. People will declare "peace and safety," believing they have been able to remove every obstacle to human pleasure and satisfaction.
Then from the sky will descend Christ and His saints. Their attitude will be the opposite of the philosophy of Humanism. They will be seeking God's pleasure and will, not the pleasure and will of human beings. They themselves have learned obedience to God in the fires of suffering.
These invaders are not to be denied. A rod of iron righteousness has been created in their personalities. After they have cleansed the earth of the wicked spiritual forces, and have sent truly wicked people into the Land of Darkness in the spirit world, they will govern the people left on the earth.
You can imagine the resistance of people as they are told what they can do and what they cannot do. The rule of the saints will be loving, but very, very firm. Each governing saint, those described in Revelation 20, will be accompanied by powerful angels of great size. No rebellion of any kind whatever will be tolerated.
Thus we have a thousand years of reconciliation to God and Christ. The will of Christ, who will be stationed bodily in Jerusalem, will go out to His rulers. They in turn will govern their charges accordingly.
My guess would be that most people, after they realize they have no alternative but to obey, will be pleased with the peace that results. The few who stubbornly resist the will of Christ will be removed from the earth and sent into the spirit world for instruction, or if necessary, for punishment.
I have had quite a bit of experience teaching public-school children, particularly at the fifth-grade level. I have noticed that when one or two troublemakers are dealt with severely, and can no longer keep on disrupting the class, the rest of the pupils will settle down and happily do their work.
I expect the thousand years will be like that. The troublemakers will be removed. The remaining people, old and young, will be peaceful and content. The boys and girls will play in a happy, safe environment. The children will be able to make pets even of lions and tigers, who will eat straw instead of meat at that time. There will be nothing that hurts or destroys.
During this period, God will be giving every individual on earth and in the spirit world an opportunity to learn how to be reconciled to God. I am sure there will be some who absolutely will refuse to obey Christ. They shall be dealt with severely.
The angels and demons will never be given the gift of repentance. They cannot be redeemed. They are evil itself; therefore the evil cannot be removed from them. Since it appears spirits cannot be destroyed once they have been created, they will be incarcerated for eternity so they cannot destroy the work of God, just as they attempt to do today.
The same is true of human beings. They can resist the rule of Christ and His saints wilfully, realizing full well that they are being stubborn. If there is any way of saving them from themselves, God will do it.
But if in spite of all God's efforts such rebels stubbornly resist all attempts to reconcile them to God, they will be put in the Lake of Fire with the wicked spirits. These people have become evil itself, and so evil cannot be removed from them. They are enemies of God. Their destiny is to become part of Satan. This is what it means to be "lost."
If, like Satan, they were released after a thousand years of incarceration, they immediately would set out to bring confusion into the new world of righteousness. God will not permit this. God has promised His obedient children joy unspeakable and full of glory. God will not permit rebellious people to interfere with the love, joy, and peace He has promised His children who delight in obeying Him.
Here, then, is the answer to the question: "What is the purpose for the thousand-year period between the next appearing of Christ and the coming down of the New Jerusalem?"
The purpose is to reconcile all human beings to God, those who will accept such reconciliation to God and His righteous ways. These are the people whose names are in the Book of Life. They will be brought into the new world of righteousness, either as members of the Royal Priesthood, or else as citizens of the new world, being the inheritance of the Royal Priesthood.
A Firstfruits of the Royal Priesthood will be raised at the next appearing of Christ. They already, during their lifetimes, have been manifested at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Therefore no books are opened at their resurrection, the first resurrection of Revelation, Chapter Twenty.
The bodies of the remaining members of the Royal Priesthood, will be given to them at the end of the thousand-years. They have survived the great shaking of the heavens, and now have been prepared to join together with the Firstfruits as the entire Bride of the Lamb descends to the new earth as one Royal Priesthood.
From here on throughout eternity the new creation will be the playground for those who have chosen to be reconciled to God. Many will make their home on one of the multitude of stars, which no longer will give their light by nuclear fusion but by that same light that lighted the world during the first three days of creation.
Of the increase of Christ's government and of peace there shall be no end. God in His infinite wisdom has brought all rebellion to an end.
At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, "Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens." (Hebrews 12:26)
This is what the LORD Almighty says: "In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory," says the LORD Almighty. (Haggai 2:6,7)
Let me add a passage that I think is referring to the same event:
Out of one of them came another horn, which started small but grew in power to the south and to the east and toward the Beautiful Land. It grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them. It set itself up to be as great as the Prince of the host; it took away the daily sacrifice from him, and the place of his sanctuary was brought low. Because of rebellion, the host of the saints and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground. (Daniel 8:9-12)
It may be true that the first shaking refers to the giving of the Law on Sinai. There is going to be another shaking. At the present time, everyone who truly receives Christ is positioned in Him at the right hand of God. He already has come to Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, in the spirit world.
But I gather, from the passage immediately above, that some of them are going to be torn down from their heavenly position and be trampled on the earth by Antichrist.
Revelation, Chapter Twelve, says the same thing, I believe:
His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. (Revelation 12:4)
On what basis would some of the starry host be thrown down to the earth and trampled on?
"Because of rebellion, the host of the saints and the daily sacrifice were given over to it."
We Christians have had "assurance" preached to us until many are at ease in Zion. We have been taught that once we "accept Christ" we never can be lost to God's purposes. We have been taught this by pastors and evangelists who desire to curry favor with us, perhaps.
The Scriptures have warnings in them that we have discounted. For example:
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, (Philippians 2:12)
What is there to fear? The fear is that we might be deceived by Satan and removed from our place at God's right hand. There are prominent ministers in our day to whom this has happened.
I know there are numerous ministers of the Gospel who maintain we never can lose our place in Christ. They are not adhering to the Scriptures. They are announcing that in spite of the warnings of God's Word, "You shall not surely die!"
Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, (II Peter 1:10)
Is it possible for a Christian to fall? Evidently the Apostle Peter thought so. I know the prophets of our day will claim such people never were saved in the first place. If that were the case, how could any of us know that we are saved? I know our modern preachers mean will, but they are deceived.
I expect the palace prophets of the kings of Israel meant well, but they spoke our of their own spirit, just like the false prophets of our day who repeat assurance, assurance, assurance, until the fear of God has left the churches.
Very difficult times are ahead for us in America. Many Christian people are soft, having been lulled to sleep by preachers who are not preaching the whole Gospel. How many pastors are telling their congregations that if they do not deny themselves what God has frowned on, take up their cross of personal imprisonment, and follow Christ at every moment, they are not disciples? They are not Christians?
No, they will not tell the people that. Rather they will tell them that God loves them so much nothing bad could ever happen to them. Such preaching and teaching will continue, I guess, until there are no more groceries on the shelves in America. Will we ever wake up?
He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. (Revelation 3:5)
Are there any faithful pastors and evangelists in America who will warn the believers that it is possible for their name to be blotted from the Book of Life if they do not live a victorious life? To have our name blotted from the Book of Life means we will be thrown into the Lake of Fire at the last resurrection.
The teaching is such in America at the present hour that it may be possible very few church-goers would believe that our loving Jesus would ever throw a nice church-goer into the Lake of Fire, or spit a lukewarm believer from His mouth.
We have lost the fear of God in our country, and this is why the demons increasingly are being manifested; why children are murdering children; why stepfathers are torturing their babies to death.
We may imagine that once we are at God's right hand in the holy city that we never can be torn down. The Scripture says otherwise.
I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. (Revelation 3:11)
What would it mean for us to have our crown taken from us? It would mean that we no longer are part of the Royal Priesthood. We no longer are going to be raised when Jesus next appears and work alongside of Him at the task of installing the Kingdom of God on the earth.
If it were not possible for someone to take our crown from us, why would we be warned to hold on to what we have? Is this the Word of God to us? I think so. Unlike other books of the Bible, the Book of Revelation is bound with a curse. It is God's holy Word all right!
We see, therefore, that God has warned us in the Book of Hebrews that He is going to shake the heavens. Daniel adds that Antichrist will receive the authority and power to reach up to the host and to pull some of them down to the ground and trample on them.
In the days to come, lawlessness is going to abound. The love of the majority of Christians will grow cold.
Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. (Matthew 23:12,13)
We can assume the above means love for Christ. If the love for Christ grows cold, that indicates that at one time it was hot. So we are saying that in the closing days of the Church Age, the majority of the believers will lose their first love. Is this what it is saying?
What will it mean to the Christian whose love has grow cold? It will mean he or she no longer is part of Christ. No fruit is being borne. Such branches are burned up in the fire, according to our Lord.
The Book of Hebrews is a book of warning. It tells us that if we fall away it is impossible to be renewed to repentance. It tells us if we continue to sin wilfully, we will become the enemy of God. That means we will be fit only for the Lake of Fire. Enemies of God are not eligible for the gift of repentance.
Yet there are scholars who tell us that the Book of Hebrews does not mean exactly what it says. They prove this with complicated explanations from Greek grammar which most of us are unable to dispute; or else they say the Book of Hebrews was written to Jews and not to Christians.
Many of today's leading scholars, theologians, pastors, evangelists, Bible teachers, are putting God's people in danger. They are telling them that God loves them so much He would not dream of subjecting them to any sort of punishment. They are saved eternally that they may recline in their mansion in a glorified body and do nothing of significance for eternity.
Please hear me when I say that moral chaos, and the consequent destruction of everything we hold dear in America, is approaching us. I think our Christian children are going to face vicious persecution.
The love for Jesus of the majority of the believers will grow cold. The American believers are so soft in numerous instances they will not be able to stand in Jesus until their trials have been completed.
God shall shake the heavens. Everyone who is disobedient will be shaken out of the heavenly Jerusalem and be brought down to the earth.
The American Christians, for the most part, are disobedient to Christ. They are willing to receive Christ as their Savior, but not as their personal Lord.
Jesus is asking us today to set aside our own life that we may live by His Life. To not do this is disobedience to God. The pressures of the ages to come will be so intense that only those who are living by the Life of Jesus will be able to maintain their position at the right hand of God in Christ.
I expect that many who read my words will be discouraged, feeling that they no longer can be saved. This is not true. If you have a desire to be one of those who stand throughout the disasters and deceptions of the closing days of the Church Age, that desire is from God.
You and I do not have the wisdom or strength necessary to keep standing before Christ in these days. But we can tell God that this is what we desire. If we tell God in sincerity that we want to be a victorious Christian, and are willing to surrender all of our idols, not grasping anything, and are ready to obey Christ no matter what He says, then God's galactic power will reach down and enable us to serve Christ as we should.
But make no mistake. The situation facing us is every bit as serious as I have portrayed. Unless you are determined to please the Lord, and are willing to receive Him as your personal Lord whom you serve every moment of every day and night, you are not going to stand and your loved ones will go down with you.
These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! (I Corinthians 10:11,12)
Chapter Twelve of the Book of Revelation tells of the birth of the Son of God in the personalities of those who, along with the Lord, bore the witness to all nations. The world will not see the Lord, during the period of witnessing, but He will be in the saints, confirming the Word with sign following.
It would seem as though the Spirit should have placed Chapter Twelve before Chapter Eleven, leaving the impression that it was Christ in the saints who was doing the witnessing, which to a great extent is true.
However, the witnessing is not accomplished by the fact the Christ has been born in the saints; rather, the witnessing is a work of the Spirit of God, using the saints as a vehicle. The end-time witness is not a result of the fact that Christ has been born in the saints, but of a double-portion of the Spirit, the promised spring rain.
This was true also of the fall rain, as recorded in the Book of Acts. The miracles that occurred there did not come from the fact that Christ was in the Apostles, but because God was pouring out His Spirit to bring into being the Church Age.
It may seem like I am splitting hairs. But when we see a minister working miracles we need to understand it is not because he is spiritually mature but because the Holy Spirit is confirming the Word he is preaching.
It may be that the working of miracles that will occur in future ages may derive from the fact that Christ is dwelling in the saints. However, even that probably isn't the case. The term "Christ" means the One who is anointed with the Spirit to do God's work. This is different from the concept that because Christ has been formed in us we can work miracles.
If a believer desires to work miracles, then he or she should pray for that gift of the Spirit. The miracles will not occur just because the believer comes to maturity in Christ.
In fact, I preached this morning (January 22, 2012). about the need for the members of our congregation to get busy and ask the Lord for ministries and gifts so they can build up in Christ their fellow members. They do not have to wait until they are spiritually mature before they can be of service.
So I suppose that is why Chapter Twelve comes after, and not before Chapter Eleven. The anointing to witness is one matter. The fullness of the growth of Christ in us is a separate issue.
A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. (Revelation 12:1)
The woman is the Church. The Church always is in Heaven, in Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem.
The Church is clothed with the Sun, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The moon that is under the feet of the Church speaks of God's creation. This is true in God's vision for us, although we do not see as yet the Christian Church having such power over the creation.
The crown of twelve stars on the head of the woman represents the Prophets and Apostles whom God has given us.
She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. (Revelation 12:2)
The Scriptures point to the fact that Christ shall be brought forth in His saints in the last days. Many are feeling that travail today. We are not satisfied any longer with the customary church routines. There has to be more! And indeed there is more, for the believer who is willing to press forward in Christ during the time of the spring rain.
Who has ever heard of such a thing? Who has ever seen such things? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children. (Isaiah 66:8)
The greatest days of all are upon us now. Let each one of us make certain that we do not miss the day of our visitation.
Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. (Revelation 12:3)
While we are rejoicing over what God is doing in our day, we always must remain aware that the enormous Satan also is busy. He is not in Heaven with God and the saints and holy angels, Satan is in a lower heaven than that, but he certainly is watching carefully each one of us!
Satan has seven heads, meaning that Christ has given him perfect wisdom. Satan has ten horns, meaning that Christ has given him power in the world. Satan has seven crowns on his seven heads, indicating that Christ has given him authority to the extent that Antichrist can reach into the highest Heaven and pull down to the ground those who currently are positioned at the right hand of God, but are not perfect in obedience to God.
His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. (Revelation 12:4)
I have mentioned in a previous essay, "The Great Shaking," how Antichrist is able to pull down some of the host of the saints. I am very aware how unscriptural this will sound to those who have removed God's fear from us by preaching assurance, assurance, assurance, assurance.
Fortunately for all of us, these ministers are not speaking the Words of Jesus Christ. The Bible is largely a book of warning, not of assurance.
We are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, not with assurance and glee. We are so soft today that the pastors do not dare to tell us of what the Bible actually states, for fear half of their congregations will flee to another church that will tell them they have nothing to worry about.
Certainly Christ is able to keep us. But this fact does not negate the warning that he who thinks he stands needs to take heed lest he fall.
There are ministers in our day who at one time were at the right hand of God in Christ. Now they have fallen into the sins of the flesh and have lost their place with Christ. You might say, "This can't happen." It already has!
When you see a prominent minister of the Gospel fall into sin, you know it is the tail of the dragon that has swept him from the sky (literally the heavenouranou) and flung him to the earth.. We need to be careful that the same does not happen to us!
"The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth so that he might devour her child the moment it was born." This drama is being played out right now. Satan realizes that a small part of the Church is awakening to the fact that Christianity is more than a religion and is the vehicle through which Christ shall live.
Young people, in particular, are perceiving the Christian churches as being irrelevant. They see in their own homes that their parents are not living according to what is supposed to be true of Christians. They perceive that Jesus and religion are two different entities. Therefore they are leaving the churches in droves.
You know, Satan does not fear Christians. They are little more than a joke to him, with their programs and loud prayers. There are only three People Satan fears: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
When Christian people decide that the churches of today in many instances are irrelevant, and the people have no intention of presenting their body a living sacrifice or of praying for gifts so they may build the Body of Christ, some may be willing to set aside their own lives and seek Christ until He is living in them. This is the one thing, and the only thing, Satan fears.
We of America may believe we can save our nation by political action. We cannot. It is Satan who is behind the confusion. The only way in which Satan and his plans can be defeated is for the saints to turn from their own lives, even their church lives, and seek to live by the Life of the Lord Jesus.
There simply is no other manner in which Satan can be defeated. He understands that clearly, and this is why he is attempting of abort the Life of Christ before it ascends to the Father and assumes a position of rulership.
The multitude of needless abortions in our day parallel what Satan is seeking to do as the Church is being prepared to bring forth the male Child. If any of us decides to set aside his own life that Christ might live in him, he can expect a serious visit from the enormous read dragon. But he need have no fear. Christ is greater in wisdom and power.
But if we are not willing to live by the Life of Jesus, we certainly do have reason to fear the coming moral chaos. The demons love to torment hypocrites, and can hardly wait for them to die so they can drag them off to their lairseven while the careless Christians are crying, "Jesus, help me!"
If you think I am not telling the truth, then go ahead and live a casual, American, church-going life and see what happens when you die. I won't tell you I told you so!
She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. (Revelation 12:5)
It is interesting, isn't it, that the male Child who is born from the Church is a Ruler. But if you think about it, the problem of the world today is that the rulers are self-willed and end up fighting each other. What is needed is an all-powerful ruler who obeys God, who is absolutely just, and yet is compassionate. There is only One who fits that description, and His brothers are being formed in the believers.
The rulers of the governments of the world are mad with power. Like King Herod, they would kill Jesus Christ if they could. But they cannot kill Christ, and they cannot kill the rulers who are being born of Him.
It is given to the saints to rule the world. But this cannot take place as long as they are living by their own life. They first must set aside their own life and learn to live by the Life of Christ. Only then are they qualified and competent to govern the nations of the earth.
The moment Christ is born in us He is caught up to the Throne of God. The Apostle Paul informed us that we are dead and our life is hidden with Christ in God. This is true right now. We already have come to Mount Zion, the city of the living God.
It may not be true of everyone, but in my own case there have been many challenges. I have been able to overcome them so far by continued prayer. I gain the impression that we have to fight to gain and keep our position on the Throne of God.
In America today, there are very many distractions that can tear us down from our high place in God. We are bombarded continually as the electronic media holds out this interesting object and that allurement. We really have to remain before Christ to keep from being brought down to earth, so to speak.
The present distraction is the upcoming presidential election. We have a man in our church who is extremely concerned about the leaders of our government. I refer people to him if they are undecided about whom to vote for. As important as this next election may prove for America, I believe the Scripture teaches us that it is God who assigns rulers.
In America we have an opportunity to vote. This has not always been true for Christians throughout history. So I encourage everyone to vote who has a mind to do so. But I truly believe there is a spiritual battle taking place in America in the present hour, and I don't believe America will regain a Christian reputation by means of politics.
We Christians must keep our attention focused on the birth of the male Child. The Church may have been pregnant with Christ at past times in the Christian Era; but I think it especially is true today. If this is the case, each of us must keep looking to God at every moment so what God has purposed to do in us will not be aborted.
The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days. (Revelation 12:6)
I am not certain what is meant by the verse above. It may be that in the not too distant future, the godly remnant of Christians will have to flee from the Antichrist world system, as they did in the days of the Roman Empire.
While such a thought may seem difficult to believe in America in the present hour, there is evidence that such an exodus actually could take place. Our public schools are being filled with moral filth. At this time we are permitted to teach our own children at home.
But what if it became illegal to teach our children at home? This is not an impossibility. It would place Christian parents in a very difficult situation, given the present determination of school officials to encourage the idea that the practice of homosexuality is normal and completely acceptable to all of us.
The Scripture says that God will prepare a place for her in the desert, whether a physical desert of some sort of spiritual desert I do not know. But it does appear that after Christ has been brought forth through the travail of the Church, the Christian people will have to flee to God for protection.
And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. (Revelation 12:7)
We ordinarily do not think of Heaven as being a battleground. But the problems on the earth actually are a reflection of what is taking place in the spirit world. God's will can't be done in the earth until it is done in the realm of spirit.
How angels can fight against each other I can't even imagine. But there it is! Until righteousness prevails in the spirit world we are going to have problems in the earth. That is easy to understand, isn't it?
But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. (Revelation 12:8)
The passage above implies that previously Michael and his army of angels were not "strong enough" to drive Satan and his forces from the heavens. What must have happened to give additional strength to the forces of righteousness?
The great dragon was hurled downthat ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. (Revelation 12:9)
If you want a picture of Satan, think about the happenings in the world today. All peoples in the world are being led astray.
We know that little children make up imaginary worlds and play in them. I wonder sometimes if is not their world that is the real world, and our world the imaginary one. When you consider the constant struggle of power and money, there is something unreal about it.
I don't doubt that there are enough natural resources in the world, such as water and food, to nourish many times the present population of the world if the resources were managed correctly. But selfishness, greed, suspicion, envy, jealousy, and a lust for power prevent an equitable allocation of the resources.
What kind of a civilization could be constructed if the money spent on wars was assigned to worthwhile projects? There would be enough food, shelter, and clothing for everyone. But such an ideal situation will never be possible until God removes Satan and the demons from the world.
Mankind invited Satan into our world, and mankind will have to drive him back out. But we cannot do this in our own life and strength. We must have the Life of Jesus, His righteousness, wisdom, and strength, if the world is to be made right.
Meanwhile, little children enter the Kingdom.
Satan and his angels are to be hurled to the earth. What will life be like at that time? I have observed that multitudes of people will be glad to serve Satan, as today they flock to entertainers who obviously are possessed with demons.
The only answer is victory in the heavens!
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 Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down." (Revelation 12:10)
Can we see that salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of His Christ, cannot come to the world until Satan and his angels have been overcome in the heavens?
We always must keep this in mind, because we Christians have a tendency to attempt to overcome evil by using physical means. Our world is in a tremendous mess today, and we are tempted to fret and, in some cases, take action to clear up the dirt. And we should do what we can. But the problem is in the heavens. Until Satan is cast down, the corruption in the world shall continue.
Salvation has come! The power and the Kingdom of our God have come. The authority of God's Christ has come. This is what we are looking for, isn't it? These wonderful blessings shall indeed come when Satan and his angels are cast into the earth. The earth in those days will be a horrible place in which to attempt to exist. But the root of the problem has been killed, and Paradise eventually shall follow.
There is no solution to the problems of the world other than the casting down to earth of Satan and his angels. As long as they occupy the thrones in the air above us they can work their hideous will in the earth.
First, the Accuser must be hurled down so he no longer can accuse the saints before God. Then the blessing shall come.
They overcame 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 12:11)
Isn't it a remarkable thought that Michael and his angels do not have the strength to conquer Satan and his angels until the brothers of Christ, those conquerors born of the woman, first have overcome him?
Maybe what we are looking at here is a progressive activity in which the Church gives birth to brothers of Christ. Then Satan, realizing his danger, keeps accusing them before God, undermining the force of their prayers, seeking to prevent the Father from assigning the needed power to Michael and his angels.
This is an interesting development, depicting cooperation between the forces of righteousness on the earth and the forces of righteousness in the heavens.
However, the saints are victorious, the Father then gives the needed power to Michael and his angels, and Satan and his angels are cast down from their positions on the thrones in the air that govern conditions on the earth.
It was man who allowed Satan to spread rebellion in the earth. Now it is man, filled with Christ, born of the Church, who will overcome the accusations of Satan.
They overcame 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 12:11)
The blood of the Lamb is the supreme authority in the heavens and upon the earth. When the believers keep washing their robes in the blood of the Lamb, by continually confession and renouncing their sins as the Spirit of God reveals their sins to them, Satan has no legal grounds on which to accuse them. The blood prevails in court.
In order to overcome Satan, the believer must keep his testimony aligned with the written Word of God. No matter what he experiences or feels, the believer absolutely must bear a true witness of God, of God's Person, of God's will, of God's ways, and of God's eternal purpose in Christ.
These facts must be present in the believer's thoughts; in the believer's words; and in the believer's actions.
When a Christian believer bears a true testimony of God, Satan and his angels are overcome. But if the Christian believer does not bear a true testimony of God, as is happening today in America where God's Person, will, and way are not accurately portrayed, then Satan is not overcome.
The most difficult problem to overcome may be that of death to our self-centeredness. I believe this is the point of action in the present hour. If we are to overcome Satan we must put away our own life, plans, ambitions, lusts, idols, pleasures, and everything else belonging to our original personality, and bring Christ into every aspect of our life until we are living by His Life.
We cannot do this all at once. We have to follow the Spirit of God as He deals with each part of our personality in its turn. We absolutely must be living in the Presence of Jesus at all times. We do this by continually looking to Him for everything we do; every decision we make.
The Lord Jesus is more than willing that we bring Him into every detail of our life. No matter what He calls for, we give Him. This really is the best way in which to live, although we may go through some struggles as we turn away from those relationships, things, or circumstances that are so very important to us.
When we do not relent but insist that every part of our old personality yields to the Life of Christ, not shrinking back from any form of death to self, Satan loses his hold on us.
What can Satan say to the Father concerning us? We are clean through the blood atonement. We are bearing a true witness of God. We no longer are grasping any idol, counting our own body as a living sacrifice. Satan's accusations concerning us no longer have weight. The Father will not listen to any more accusations concerning us. The dust of the ground has obeyed God to the point of losing everything it holds valuable.
Satan will flee in the presence of such righteousness and obedience to God.
When the full number, as God determines, of victorious saints have overcome the accuser in each of these three areas, the Father will turn to Michael, who has been standing at attention for two thousand years.
The Father then will issue one Word of galactic authority and power: "Go!"
At this Word, Michael and his angels will march. The heavens will be cleansed of this nagging, whining voice that keeps on pointing up the shortcomings of the dust that God has fashioned into man. God will not listen to it any longer.
"Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short." (Revelation 12:12)
Now the heavens will be filled, from one end to the other, with anthems of praise. The angels will sing and dance with delight. The saints will be filled with worship, perhaps not realizing as yet the significance of what has taken place.
Every one of God's true saints has endured a lifetime of battle against angels and demons, as the wicked have employed time-honored strategies to outwit the believers and lead them to disobey God. To think that Satan now no longer can work from his throne in the sky and seek to destroy the image of God in people!
Too good to be true! And yet it is true. The victorious saints have overcome Satan with their faithfulness to God, a faithfulness proceeding from the Life of Jesus Christ that has been formed in them.
Triumphant shouts of joy in the heavens! But sadness, dread, and pain in the earth. Satan is furious. I think up to this point he has regarded us with scorn, laughing at our foolish antics. Now he is angry.
Weird sicknesses and other calamities are beginning to occur in America, as God withdraws His covering from us. And these calamities are taking place when Satan is laughing at us! Can you imagine what it will be like when he is angry, and fearful of the approaching Bottomless Pit and then the Lake of Fire?
Will there be people on the earth at that time? Yes. Will the believers in whom Christ had been formed be on the earth? Yes?
How will they survive? Just as they have learned to survive during the coming days of Divine judgment on the United States. They will give over their own life, their own hope of survival, and learn to live by the Life of Jesus. The Life of Jesus is resurrection power, and Satan can in no manner harm resurrection Life!
When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. (Revelation 12:13)
Satan is a typical wicked person. He will be filled with rage and seek to avenge himself on the women because those who overcame him came from her.
The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent's reach. (Revelation 12:14)
The passage above is symbolic, so we cannot give the exact meaning. What we can say is that Satan will seek to avenge himself on the woman, but God will give her a way of escape and take care of her.
The times, times, and half a time is the three and one-half years of Revelation, Chapter Eleven, the period after the killing of the witness. This number also appears as 1260 days.
Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. (Revelation 12:15,16)
Again, the passage is symbolic. We do understand, however, that the woman will be protected. It may be true that the earth helping the woman signifies that the world will defend the Christians in their hour of danger.
I think this is not at all unlikely. God does have a way of speaking to the ordinary people of the world so they do His will. Remember that the common people heard Jesus gladly. They were not the ones who sought His death. King Cyrus of Persia gave the command to rebuild Jerusalem.
Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspringthose who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus. (Revelation 12:17)
This reminds us of Mary, the mother of the Lord. After Jesus was born, Mary gave birth to His brothers and sisters.
It is of interest to note that the offspring of the woman were those who obey God's commands and have the testimony of Jesus. This passage is refreshing, because in our day it is being taught that people who have the testimony of Jesus are not required to keep God's commands.
I am not suggesting that Christian people are to go back under the Law of Moses. But Christ and His Apostles spoke of many behaviors we are to adopt, and it is not the intention of Divine Grace that we ignore these commands, claiming we are "saved by grace."
So many are claiming today that once we "accept Jesus" we no longer have to obey Him or God but can do as we please. It is a terrible heresy and has destroyed the spiritual strength of the Christian people.
I believe the great shaking that is at hand will take care of the unscriptural ideas that have entered Christian thinking.
There are a few characteristics we can be working on today.
And their wings touched one another. Each one went straight ahead; they did not turn as they moved. (Ezekiel 1:9)
The above is speaking of the four living creatures, the cherubim. They portray the Personality of God, so to speak. It is as though God reveals Himself in this external form.
The first lesson we gain from the cherubim is that they go straight ahead. They do not turn as they move.
If we would be in God's image we must behave in this manner. It speaks of righteous, straightforward behavior. We do not turn from the path God has set before us.
Their faces looked like this: Each of the four had the face of a man, and on the right side each had the face of a lion, and on the left the face of an ox; each also had the face of an eagle. (Ezekiel 1:10)
The above is the image of God and consequently the image of man. The face of a man speaks of the ability of God and man for union with another person. I doubt that any of the other creatures of God, including the cherubim, have the ability for union that is true of God and man.
The wings of the four cherubim touch each other, but that is not the kind of union that is true of God and those in His image. God and man have the ability for a deep union that produces oneness. Such is the face of man.
Each had the face of a lion. It is God's will that man, being made in the image of God, govern the creation, just as a lion is the king of the jungle. In order to rule with Christ we must have strength, majesty, and fierceness formed in us. The need for these characteristics to be formed in us accounts for many of the situations we encounter throughout our discipleship.
The present world has been designed to select and train kings. It is not an easy, pleasant process. I believe it was Saint Anthony to whom the Lord said, "The cup a king drinks from must be burnt in the fire."
I am concerned about us Christians in America. We are so soft! The pastors and evangelists who ought to be warning us about the hardships we can expect as soldiers of Jesus Christ are crying assurance, assurance, assurance, grace, rapture, Heaven.
Many of God's people simply will not tolerate any preaching that does not tell them how wonderful they are and that God is too kind to permit any sort of suffering to come to them. We are not prepared for the social chaos that is ahead of us, or the privations and sufferings that will accompany the Divine judgment on our worldliness, lusts, and self-centeredness.
The face of a lionthe image of God. Have you ever noticed the face of a male lion? He is a king and he brooks no foolishness. Woe unto those who displease him. Won't it take this kind of personality if we are to govern the self-centered nations with a rod of iron?
The face of an ox also is the face of God. The ox is a burden bearer. God is a burden bearer. The ox is accustomed to work. God is accustomed to work.
Each member of the Body of Christ is to be a burden bearer, and to be ready to work diligently and continually as Jesus leads him or her.
According to the Bible, The Spirit of God has given to each member of the Body of Christ a ministry and a gift or gifts. The churches are in such a state of confusion today that most members of most congregations, it appears, have no idea what their ministries and gifts are, and what part they are to play in the building up in Christ their fellow believers. Is that true?
In many instances we have settled into a priest (pastor)-people pattern. It is not often that we see many people in the church with the ministries and gifts outlined in Romans, Chapter Twelve; I Corinthians, Chapter Twelve, and Ephesians, Chapter Four.
We who are pastors need to bear down on this issue, I believe, if the people are to be prepared for the coming days; and if they are to find out what the Spirit is saying to the churches right now.
The balconies of Heaven are filled with gifts, as someone pointed out, just waiting for believers to pray for the ministries and giftsto keep praying until they receive. Sometimes we have to pray for quite a while before we receive. Maybe God wants to discover how sincere we are.
But God said: "Ask, and you shall receive. Seek, and you shall find. Knock, and it shall be opened." This, Jesus said, referring to our praying for the Holy Spirit that we might have bread for others.
The Word cannot be changed in any manner. We shall receive! We shall find! It shall be opened! We have not because we ask not.
There is a load for every "ox" (believer) to haul; a burden for every member of the Body of Christ to bear. I think many of the people are just waiting to go to Heaven. They have no idea there is something they are supposed to be doing to build up the Body of Christ.
I am not suggesting that we all are to go forth and save souls. Rather, I am crying out that God has something wonderful for each one of us to do; but we will never find out what it is until we pray, pray, pray until we receive; until we find out what our heart is desiring; until the door is opened before us.
It is a real war and the bullets are real. There is fruit for the Master's table ready to be picked. There is some for you and me to pick. If we neglect to seek out the work Christ has for us, He will give the inheritance that should have been ours to someone else. In that day we will hear, "Depart from Me into the outer darkness."
May this never happen to you or me.
Many of the believers picture their life in their mansion in Heaven to be one of ease, while they do nothing of significance. Where did we get that idea? From the Muslim religion? Assuredly not from the Bible.
The Kingdom of God is just thata kingdom. There are all kinds of roles, tasks, opportunities for service, that will continue throughout eternity. We humans each have something to give to the community in which we are placed in the spirit world. When we find out what Jesus wants us to do, we will discover it is as playlike Adam and Eve taking care of the trees in the Garden of Eden.
Heaven is no place for lazy people who expect to do nothing but sit around and admire the scenery. This is not God's way. We only grow as we keep active in Christ. There is so much to be done! As one little girl said recently as she prayed to the Father, "I promise I will do my very best." When I heard that I took a deep breath, straightened up, and proceeded to type out the things the Lord has been showing me for the past 65 years.
The man has been created to love God and his or her neighbor. The lion tells us of the majesty and strength we must have if we are to govern with our elder brother. The ox reminds us that of Christ's Kingdom and of peace there shall be no end; and during that time Jesus will gives us joyful tasks to accomplish; wonderful roles to fulfill.
But what about the face of the eagle? Is God like an eagle? Are we to be like an eagle?
The eagle is not at home on land. He has been created to fly in the heavens. So it is true of us. We have been created to fly in the heavens. The Apostle Paul exhorted us to set our mind on things above, not on things on the earth.
The Lord Jesus probably was the most heavenly minded Man ever to walk on this planet. But He did the most earthly good. What does that teach us? It teaches us that the more we dwell in heavenly places in Christ, the more help we will be to those in the earth who have problems.
Everything around us, in these days, appears to clamor that we must pay attention to this problem, or that mess. It is so depressing! But when we get alone with the Lord in prayer, we are lifted into the heavenlies. It is there that we gain the peace and the understanding that enable us to cope with the darkness of the earth that seeks to pull us down to despair.
Suicide is fairly common in our day. Why? Because people do not spend time in the heavenlies in prayer. As they look about them they see the death that always is working where people are not serving God. The horizon is grim and becoming ever darker. But when we soar in the heavenlies with the Lord Jesus we can remain above the satanic darkness of earth.
It is not God's will that we spend our days plodding through the mud. We have the authority and power through Jesus Christ to come to the Father any time we wish and gain the peace, the courage, the wisdom, the strength that we need to survive earth's horrors.
Our child dies, and instead of yielding to despair we pray until we know she is happy in Jesus' Playland. We are sued for more money than we have. We pray until God assures us that He will provide for us. We have a terminal illness. We pray until we begin to get a glimpse of a wonderful land filled with decent people who obey Christ.
It is Satan's business to fill us with worries; to turn our minds away from God and His promises. But while God is an Ox, who bears our daily burdens, He also is an Eagle. He soars in the heavens above the clouds of depression and worry. No one can cause God to worry. God wants to share with us His gladness of heart.
God has the face of a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle. As we press toward maturity in Christ we too shall find these characteristics in our personality.
Each one went straight ahead. Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, without turning as they went. (Ezekiel 1:12)
It is a sign of spiritual maturity when we can be led by the Spirit in such a complete manner. One of the main victories we need to gain is deliverance from grasping any relationship, any thing, or any circumstance. We are to be free to enjoy moment by moment whatever the Lord give to us. We have to pray vigorously for such freedom.
The appearance of the living creatures was like burning coals of fire or like torches. Fire moved back and forth among the creatures; it was bright, and lightning flashed out of it. (Ezekiel 1:13)
Our God is a consuming Fire. Those who are in His image also must be consuming fires. Each of us who is pressing forward in Christ passes through many fires. Their purpose is to burn out of us all that is flammable. When we have been judged sufficiently, then, wherever we go, Divine judgment will follow.
We are destined to judge the world, and the angels as well. We are neither competent nor qualified to join with our Lord in the judgment of the world and of angels until we ourselves have been judged thoroughly. In fact, if we are pressing forward in Christ, we are being revealed at the Judgment Seat of Christ right now. All that we grasp, all idols, every aspect of our personality, must be refined by fire until it suits God's Nature.
The creatures sped back and forth like flashes of lightning. (Ezekiel 1:14)
We must follow the Spirit of God as He teaches us to obey Christ, until all inertia is removed from us. Our adamic nature is subject to inertia. When it is at rest it wants to remain that way. When it is in motion it wants to continue at the same speed and in the same direction.
We cannot possible speed back and forth like flashes of lightning when our adamic nature is in control. But when we are living in the Spirit of God we can be free of grasping our desires and move quickly with God.
This was the appearance and structure of the wheels: They sparkled like chrysolite, and all four looked alike. Each appeared to be made like a wheel intersecting a wheel. (Ezekiel 1:16)
The wheel intersecting the wheel. God is in Christ, who is in us, who are in Christ, who is in God. This perfect union is to be true of us from now throughout eternity.
Their rims were high and awesome, and all four rims were full of eyes all around. (Ezekiel 1:18)
God sees everything as it truly is. He want us to see everything as it truly is. On how many occasions did the Lord Jesus accuse people of being blind? Our adamic nature is blind and cannot see the hand of God all around us. God wants us to have our eyes opened so we can see what God is doing at all times.
God's servants are blind to that which is superficial. The disciples pointed out to Jesus the splendor of Herod's Temple. But Jesus saw what was truethe Temple in shambles, having been destroyed by the Romans. May God give us eyes so we are not blinded by the glitter of the American culture, and see ourselves as God sees us.
Above the expanse over their heads was what looked like a throne of sapphire, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. (Ezekiel 1:26-28)
It does not seem possible that any of us would ever look like the man pictured here. But it actually is to this image that we have been called.
We who are fervent Christian are used to ordinary church life. We may have attended the same church for many years. During that time our idea of what being "saved" means may be somewhat short of what God has in mind.
By being "saved" we mean that we will escape Hell when we die and go to Heaven. What we are to do in Heaven throughout the endless ages of eternity we have no idea. We on earth are tired, worn out, worried, sometimes very ill, in some cases impoverished without enough to eat, we may be cold, we may be sweltering in the heat, we may be being harassed or tortured because of our beliefs, we may be at the point of death. There may be numerous problems in addition to these.
So the idea of going to Heaven and doing nothing for eternity, without any of the worries and pains of life, may be very appealing to us.
I believe eventually it will be true that we will be living in a world without such troubles as I have just mentioned. But unless I am incorrect, God did not make man to spend eternity lying in a mansion without responsibilities.
In the beginning God made man in God's image. The first chapter of the Book of Ezekiel portrays God's image; and, if you will notice the words, "the figure was like that of a man."
Has Jesus said that if we live a victorious life we shall sit with Him on His Throne? How do you picture that throne. Could it possibly resemble the throne described in Ezekiel?
The Apostle Paul said that one of our roles will be to judge the world and also the angels. How would we appear then? Would we appear as the man in the first chapter of Ezekiel?
We have been called to be co-heirs with the Lord. The Lord has inherited everything in Heaven and everything on the earth. How do you suppose we will look when we are governing the nations with the rod of iron?
How do you think the brothers of Christ will appear in their glory?
If we are to be filled with all the Fullness of God, how shall we appear?
What will a pillar in the Temple of God look like?
I am not endeavoring to get us all puffed up. I am pointing out that we have been accustomed to regarding our destiny as one of doing nothing. It is true rather that we shall be so filled with God that sleep no longer will be necessary. Can you picture that?
It has been given to the Apostles to judge the twelve tribes of Israel. Will they be doing that while they are resting in their mansion? It is my impression of Jewish people that they will not be easy to judge.
And then there is the army of Christ descending from Heaven to destroy Antichrist and the False Prophet. This climactic event would be difficult for us to participate in while we are at rest in our mansion.
In Revelation, the Twenty-second chapter, we notice that the saints will rule for eternity. Will they govern from their mansions?
There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 22:5)
When you think of all the roles of the believers I have just mentioned, then the idea that the first chapter of Ezekiel is portraying a son of God does not seem so fantastic after all.
Do you agree with that?
When we consider the divisions in the one Body of Christ, and the deadness of religion when compared with the living Lord Jesus, we ask ourselves, "Can these bones live?"
We know they shall, because the Lord Jesus prayed that the believers shall be one in Christ and the Father; and then the world will believe that Christ indeed came from God. The world never will believe that God sent Jesus while the denominations exist.
There shall come a day when we are one in Christ. Not just one in some sort of ecumenical activity, but genuinely one because Christ is being formed in each true member of His Body. There will be no need whatever to put these people in an organization. They will come together in the Spirit of God, and the ministries and gifts will create order and harmony.
All that ecumenical movements do is create another Babylonhuman efforts to promote the religion of Christianity. There always is spiritual death present in such efforts. They always are in a valley, and they always are dry bones.
Then he said to me, "Prophesy to these bones and say to them, 'Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD!" (Ezekiel 37:4)
It may be true that there are many today who see the deadness in the religious organizations. They may be tempted to attempt to start a new organization that will embody some of their ideas. However, they will never arrive at a solution by their own efforts.
God did not tell Ezekiel to go out and reattach the scattered bones and try to give them life. He told Ezekiel to "prophesy" to the dead bones.
Since Ezekiel was not a medical doctor, you can imagine what the result would look like if he tried to reattach the dry bones and give them life. So it is true that ecumenical efforts, attempting to bring God's people into unity, will produce a grotesque dance of death.
Our task today is to tell the dead Christian churches what God is going to do, not what we are going to try to do. It is time today to listen to the Lord Jesus. He has new and surprising adventures for us. We need to forget the former way of doing things and listen to Jesus, and obey Him strictly without adding our own ideas to what He says. In fact, the Lord spoke that to me during a pastors' meeting.
This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: "I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD." (Ezekiel 37:5,6)
God Himself is going to give the Life of Christ to the Christian bones. God is going to attach tendons and provide flesh and skin. During the midst of the social and religious upheavals of our day, God is going to revive us. It will be such a sovereign work that we will realize God has done this.
From the early days of the Christian Era, the believers have organized themselves into competing organizations. While much good has been done through the succeeding centuries, much wickedness also has occurred. Ambitious religious leaders have warred against believers who did not agree with them. Horrors such as the Inquisitions took place.
What an abomination such divisions are in the one seamless robe of Christ! We may attempt to justify them in terms of practicality or administrative efficiency. But these are not the true reasons for their existence. The divisions are caused by the fact that Christ is not in such religious workers; or if He is, He is so immature that it is ambitious flesh driving the program.
Do you believe that Jesus cares whether we are Pentecostal, or Baptist, or Greek Orthodox? Assuredly He does not! Rather, the Lord wants to know what kind of person we are, whether or not we love God with all our heart and our neighbor as ourselves.
We are going to discover when we die and enter the spirit world that there are no churches. Jesus will be present, along with the saints and angels. And many people who know nothing of any religion but are just good, decent folks. If such is the case, our efforts to train people up in our organization with our Statement of Faith is not a good preparation for what they will find after death.
All is not lost, however. God is speaking to us today that the prayer of Jesus that we be one in Him (not just one in an organization) is going to be answered in the sight of the world. In fact, when the world sees the Glory of God on God's true Israel, the people will come from everywhere to be blessed. People love God. It is the churches that they have a problem with.
So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them. (Ezekiel 37:7,8)
No one but God can enable a charnel house of bones to come together and live. No one but God can gather together the scattered members of the Body of Christ in the world. But Christ has prayed for such oneness, and it shall take place!
Then he said to me, "Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live." (Ezekiel 37:9)
The bones had come together, and then God breathed life into them. This seems to indicate that the members of the Body of Christ will be drawn together, just as God brought the animals to Noah's Ark without human assistance, and then the Life of Christ will come into them.
So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feeta vast army. (Ezekiel 37:10)
An army! Why did God assemble and give Life to the members of the Body of Christ? Because there is a colossal battle to be foughtrighteousness against wickedness.
First the armies of Christ will descend from Heaven and destroy Antichrist and the False Prophet. Then the warriors described in the second chapter of the Book of Joel will go through the earth, judging the inhabitants and removing all demonic activity. Only then can the Kingdom of God be formed in the earth, as we read in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Isaiah.
They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:9)
The knowledge of the Lord cannot fill the earth, and the children cannot play without danger, until every work of Satan has been driven from the earth. This victory shall take place, because God has proclaimed it.
Then he said to me: "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, 'Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.' Therefore prophesy and say to them: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: O my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel.'" (Ezekiel 37:11,12)
"The whole house of Israel." Precisely who composes the whole house of Israel? The Apostle Paul made it very clear that the one Seed of Abraham, that is, Israel, is the Lord Jesus Christ and all those who are part of Him, whether Jewish or Gentile by physical birth.
There is one new Man, Jesus Christ and those who are part of His Body. While it is true that God will return to the land and people of Israel after the "full number" of Gentiles have been added to the Olive Tree, the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament do not apply at first to the physical land and people of Israel They apply to Christ, Head and Body, the Servant of the Lord.
No person can see or enter the Kingdom of God until Christ has been born in him or her. Since the physical Jews have not been born again, unless they have received Christ, they can neither see nor enter the Kingdom of God. This problem shall be rectified in the future, as we shall see.
On this basis I say that the thirty-seventh chapter of the Book of Ezekiel, like so many other passages of the Prophets, is a mixture of the spiritual and the physical; the parts that apply to Christ and His Body are concealed in a message that addresses also the physical world.
When it states that "I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel," I believe this is speaking to those who are part of Christ. The headquarters of Christ and of those who, under Christ, will govern the nations, will be Jerusalem.
However, it also may be true that God will open the graves of Jews scattered throughout the world, raise them from the dead, and bring them back to the physical land of Israel.
So there is a convergence here of spiritual and physical Israel.
"I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it," declares the LORD. (Ezekiel 37:14)
The verse above appears to me to be directed toward the physical land and people of Israel. Notice what Paul stated:
And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins." (Romans 11:26,27)
I understand from the above passage that God is speaking of a time when He comes and sovereignly takes away the sins of the Jewish people. I believe He also will fill them with eternal life. Since this promise follows the statement that the Jews will be hardened until the fullness of the Gentiles have been grafted on the Olive Tree, I would not be surprised if "the deliverer" who brings salvation to physical Israel is the Lord Jesus and His saints.
This reminds us of Joseph bringing deliverance to his family.
I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. (Romans 11:25)
In the following passage we might think of Judah as representing the physical Jews, and Ephraim, the son of Joseph and an Egyptian woman, representing the Gentiles who have become part of Israel through the Lord Jesus.
The word of the LORD came to me: "Son of man, take a stick of wood and write on it, 'Belonging to Judah and the Israelites associated with him.' Then take another stick of wood, and write on it, 'Ephraim's stick, belonging to Joseph and all the house of Israel associated with him.' Join them together into one stick so that they will become one in your hand." (Ezekiel 37:15-17)
Here we have the Jews and the Gentiles made one new Man in Christ, the cross having destroyed the former hostility between us. as the Apostle Paul taught us.
I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms. (Ezekiel 37:22)
My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees (Ezekiel 37:24)
Now the following:
I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. (John 10:16)
It sounds like the Lord Jesus had read the Book of Ezekiel.
I hope we all derive from this brief study of the dry bones the understanding that the Kingdom of God is first for the Jews. It is not a Gentile Kingdom. The names of the twelve tribes are on the gates of the new Jerusalem, which is the glorified Christian Church, the royal priesthood.
Salvation began with the obedient Abraham. The program of redemption has proceeded throughout the centuries of years until the Seed came and shed His blood. Through that same blood the Jews and the Gentiles are reconciled to the Savior, the Son of God.
The two thousand years since have been dominated by Gentiles, as they have believed and been baptized; although this has been true of thousands of Jews also. In fact, the first Christian Church was composed of Jews, all keeping the Law.
Today there is one Body of Christ, a remnant spread throughout a multitude of denominations and sects. Many physical Jews are included among this remnant. Now the Spirit of God is calling to the remnant to set aside their own life and live by the Life of Christ. This is the beginning of that oneness prayed for by the Lord Jesus.
If my understanding is correct, as soon as the number of Gentiles God has decided on have been grafted into the Olive Tree, then these members of the Body of Christ will turn to the people of Israel. Through Christ and His Body, God will pour out His Spirit on the original chosen people and take away their sins. God will write His eternal moral law on their hearts and mind. Thus the original chosen people will live once again and rejoice in their God.
They will live in the land I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children's children will live there forever, and David [the Son of David] my servant will be their prince forever. I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever. My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. Then the nations will know that I the LORD make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever. (Ezekiel 37:25-28)
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)
We are not going to be able to stand in our own strength, no matter how firmly we believe in Christ. We must set aside our own abilities and live by the Life of Christ if we are to survive the problems that are ahead of us.
I love you, O LORD, my strength. (Psalms 18:1)
David truly loved the Lord. It is remarkable that back then, David had learned that his own strength was not sufficient to enable him to stand against all his enemies, especially King Saul, who was determined to destroy David.
The Lord Jesus was David's strength, although David did not know Him by that name. The Lord Jesus will be our strength to, if we keep looking to Him for all the problems that assail us.
The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. (Psalms 18:2)
The mighty Jesus is our Rock, our Fortress, our Deliverer, our Refuge, our Shield, the Power of our salvation, our Stronghold. How powerful is the Lord Jesus? He spoke the bodies in space into existence. Jesus has galactic power. No matter what forces Satan has with him, our Lord Jesus is wiser and stronger.
There is no telling what enemies, physical and spiritual, will confront us in the days to come, Jesus is greater. Jesus is wiser. Jesus will take care of everyone who calls upon Him, whether that individual is a Christian, a Muslim, a Hindu or any other religion, or an atheist.
When we see the powers in the earth seeking to overcome us, we must remember the awesome power of Christ. God, who holds all power in His hands, has given Jesus Christ all authority and power in the heavens and upon the earth. No matter what threats the enemies make, they cannot overcome Christ because they cannot overcome God the Father.
Also they cannot in any manner overcome an individual who is trusting in Christ to save him or her.
I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies. (Psalms 18:3)
The above is an extremely important lesson for us. David called on the Lord. Today we have numerous books and electronic devices that tell us of ways in which to find success in Christ. I think these instructions abound because people want to be in control. They do not enjoy the helplessness that comes when we seek to live by the Life of Christ.
But I am here to say that the way to obtain deliverance and success is to call to the Lord. We do not need fancy prayers. "Jesus, help me" is the best formula for deliverance and success. We are to pray this prayer over and over again until our problems are solved. In fact, it is a good idea to pray this prayer fifty times a day, until we get used to leaning on the Lord.
The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me. (Psalms 18:4,5)
When something bad happens to us, or we are in great danger of some kind or another, spiritual darkness attacks us. As if the misfortune were not enough, on top of this we are oppressed with dread and fear. Then we have to look to Jesus for strength and help.
In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. (Psalms 18:6)
A Christian friend showed me a book which purported to describe how any number of ailments could be cured by following certain spiritual rules. I simply do not trust this way of getting help. My way is to call to the Lord for help.
Notice that when David, who was sinking down in the spiritual darkness, called to God for help, God heard David's voice. David's cry came before God and into His ears.
I don't know about you, but when I am in serious trouble I want God to know about it. I remember somewhere in the Bible, God told the Israelites to sound the trumpet when they went into battle so God would remember them. We should not be taking for granted that God remembers us just because we are a Christian. We should let God know in no uncertain terms that we are in trouble!
Over the last several years several theories about "faith" have been advanced, the idea being that if we just have faith we will be spared all sorts of trouble and afflictions. Some go so far as to say if we pray that God will heal us, and then say "by faith" that we have been healed, we actually will be healed.
My opinion of that approach is, if you tell God you are healed before you are healed, God may take you at your word and leave you as you are.
No, we do not say we have an answered prayer until it has been answered; or until we have a clear assurance from Jesus that the answer is on the way.
What we are to do is to call to the Lord, and keep calling until we get the answer; or until we know God has heard us and the answer is on the way; or until God changes our prayer.
The earth trembled and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains shook; they trembled because he was angry. (Psalms 18:7)
Does God get angry? Apparently so. Why was God angry? Because the forces of wickedness had attacked His servant, David.
Smoke rose from his nostrils; consuming fire came from his mouth, burning coals blazed out of it. (Psalms 18:8)
Perhaps this is some sort of Hebrew imagery. For myself, I like to accept the Bible literally. If the Bible says smoke came from God's nostrils, and consuming fire came from His mouth, then I believe that is what took place.
While I am on the subject of "fire," I wonder sometimes if all the spiritual fires are not the same, all coming from God. Perhaps the consuming fire mentioned in the passage above is the same fire as the Lake of Fire. "Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire?" Isaiah asks. Maybe the only people who are harmed by the Fire of God are those who have sin in their personality.
He parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under his feet. (Psalms 18:9)
This is what takes place when we call on the Lord. It does not take place when we attempt to utilize a spiritual formula that someone has developed.
He mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind. (Psalms 18:10)
David had a great need. God did not waste time. He arrived in a hurry. Have you ever notice that God always is on time? We may wonder at the delay, but God always arrives at the critical moment.
He made darkness his covering, his canopy around himthe dark rain clouds of the sky. (Psalms 18:11)
He does this, doesn't He? Things can get very dark before the answer comes. But the Lord Jesus told us we can ask what we will, in His name, and it shall be done. There is no question about it. No matter how dark things get, it shall be done!
Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced, with hailstones and bolts of lightning. (Psalms 18:12)
God always is in the light, even though we cannot see Him at times. He comes against our enemies with hailstones and bolts of lightning. We do not have to avenge ourselves. We can afford to be kind to our enemies. If our cause is righteous, God will avenge us.
The LORD thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded. (Psalms 18:13)
You may not hear God's thunder, but you can be sure your enemies hear it. They hear the voice of God and are terrified. Keep that in mind, because trouble is approaching our land. No matter what forces come against us, if we will call upon the Lord continually, our enemies will hear His voice; and then they will cease their boasting.
He shot his arrows and scattered the enemies, great bolts of lightning and routed them. (Psalms 18:14)
He routed the enemies. God routed them because you called upon Him. God has the arrows and the great bolts of lighting. No enemy of ours can stand against God's weapons. They will flee, no matter how powerful they appear to be.
The valleys of the sea were exposed and the foundations of the earth laid bare at your rebuke, O LORD, at the blast of breath from your nostrils. (Psalms 18:15)
When you call on the Lord, He not only causes the enemy to retreat. God reveals to you the source of the problem. God exposes the "valleys of the sea," the deep places of the peoples of the world, and the "foundations of the earth." God reveals the foundation of every force that threatens you and rebukes it, because you called on Him for assistance.
He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. (Psalms 18:16)
You may be in deep waters. However, you do not have to swim to safety in your own strength. God will reach down from Heaven and take hold of you. No matter how dire your circumstances may be; no matter how impossible your situation; God will lift you to safety.
Your deliverance may seem to be so effortless and natural that you will be tempted to think that you did not need God's help after all. Well, if you want God to help you in your next disaster, you are wise if you remember to give vigorous thanks for your present deliverance.
He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. (Psalms 18:17)
I don't think it happens too often to Christian people, but sometimes we do come up against a powerful enemy who is too strong for us. In this case we are not to faint. We are to bring to mind the almighty power of Jesus Christ and call upon Him for help. Christ is greater and wiser than any enemy we ever will encounter.
They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the LORD was my support. (Psalms 18:18)
It seems like it never rains but it pours, so to speak. The minute you get in trouble, here come all sorts of additional troubles to harass you. Also, the spiritual atmosphere becomes foreboding. If you will not faint but call on the name of the Lord Jesus, He will be your supportand there is no support like that of Jesus!
He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. (Psalms 18:19)
"He rescued me because He delighted in me." Stop and think about this. David called to the Lord, and then the Lord moved powerfully on behalf of David because the Lord delighted in David. If you want to have your prayers answered with this kind of power, behave yourself in such a manner that the Lord Jesus delights in you.
Sometimes as I am listening to recorded Christian music, and hear the singer tell how wonderful the Lord is, I get disgusted. It is not that Christ is not worthy of more praises than we ever could possibly give Him, it is just that I wonder if the singer really is serving the Lord.
Actually, the best worship we can give Jesus is to present our body a living sacrifice and do His complete will cheerfully. This is better than complimenting the Lord with great swelling words of adoration. "Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?"
The LORD has dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me. (Psalms 18:20)
Ever since I was in Bible school, sixty years ago, I have heard the same song: "We are not worthy. No one can do God's will. We cannot get victory over sin until we die;" and so on ad nauseam. David did not talk like that. David said the Lord dealt with him according to his righteousness and the cleanness of his hands. This was not boasting, it was just a fact.
We have reduced the plan of salvation to "four steps." The four steps state "no one is righteous." The truth is, the Bible refers to several people as righteous and blameless, like the mother and father of John the Baptist. Being righteous does not mean we never are deceived or seduced. David claimed to be righteous, and he was. When he sinned he admitted it and took his punishment. Then he died in honor.
After the incident with Bathsheba, David did not then go out and do the same thing again with another woman.
When we sin we are to confess our sin, renounce it, turn away from it with the Lord's help, put it behind our back, and press forward in Christ. God does not expect us to already have been perfected. What God requires is for us to acknowledge that we have sinned, and then quit sinning. "Go and sin no more," Jesus said to the woman.
For us to whine and say we have to sin while we are in the world, and that no one is perfect, is displeasing to God. The victorious saints understand they have not been perfected as yet, so when they sin they acknowledge it, turn away from it, and press forward in Christ.
For I have kept the ways of the LORD; have not done evil by turning from my God. (Psalms 18:21)
Can I say that? Can you say that? We had better say it and mean it if we expect to receive the roles and enablements outlined in Revelation, Chapters Two and Three!
All his laws are before me; have not turned away from his decrees. (Psalms 18:22)
"Oh Brother Thompson, as long as we are in the world we have to sin." I guess King David did not feel that way, did he?
"But we are helpless and have to sin." King David did not turn away from God's laws, and he wasn't even born again!
We of today are a bunch of whiners. We better pull up our diapers and begin to serve the Lord. Hard times are coming, and we will have to endure them if we are to stand in Christ.
I have been blameless before him and have kept myself from sin. (Psalms 18:23)
I understand very well that no person can keep himself or herself from all spiritual bondages. We have to have help from the Lord. But it is true also that in many instances we can keep ourselves.
Sometimes there is a bondage, such as alcohol, cigarettes, fornication, that is just about impossible to break. In that case, the individual should go to the elders of the church and confess his or her need. They will pray and he or she shall be delivered. Otherwise, in the case of most sins, all we need to do is make up our mind and stop doing it. "Go and sin no more"!
The LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight. (Psalms 18:24)
Since the above verse repeats verse 20, we may assume that the Spirit of God regards it as especially important. God is saying that if we will live a righteous life, He will move quickly to answer our prayers.
To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless, to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the crooked you show yourself shrewd. (Psalms 18:25,26)
I think we Christians in America need to make a decision. Either the theory of Dispensationalism is correct, and such verses as those above have no bearing on us because we are saved by "grace" and our conduct is not a factor in the way God view us; or else the verses above apply to us.
Which is it, do you think?
I myself have come to believe that the Old Testament passages that bear on our behavior are still in effect. We can learn from what the Psalms teach. Of course we are not still under the Law of Moses, as the Apostle Paul taught us so clearly, but do the verses above apply to us or do they not?
I do not believe we can vacillate any longer. The moral strength of the churches in America has largely been destroyed. The fear of God is almost nonexistent. This lack of moral testimony of the churches has spilled over into the secular community. Honor has just about disappeared. A man's word no longer is his bond.
Our government, taking its cues from the populace, no longer is attempting to carry out the values of the New Testament. Whenever those who rule over people do not enforce God's moral principles, then that government shall be replaced. So we can expect that before too long there shall be radical changes in the American government and in our society as a whole.
To the faithful God will show Himself to be faithful. This means that if you expect God to be faithful toward you, you had better be a faithful person.
God shows Himself to be blameless to those who are blameless. So much for the teaching of "grace."
To the pure God will show himself to be pure. How then will God appear to the impure? A little different from how we ordinarily view the Lord, isn't it. Remember, David is saying that God has rewarded him according to the cleanness of his hands in God's sight.
To all those who are cooked and deceitful in their ways, God shows Himself to be shrewd, well able to outwit those who would attempt to use God for their own ends.
How different the above vision of God is from what is portrayed today. We are not bearing a true witness of God, His Person, His will, His ways, and His eternal purpose in Christ. Instead we have a benevolent grandfather in Heaven who will declare us to be perfect if we will only accept His forgiveness.
We Christians are leaving a false impression of God. Consequently America is turning itself into another Sodom. The comedians on television blaspheme Christ, and the audience roars with laughter. The nation that chooses to behave as Sodom behaved will be treated as Sodom was treated. We can count on this to take place in the near future. Enough is enough!
Paul commands us to endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ. This we must do. No matter what kind of Divine judgments fall on the United States because of our sin, God will make a way for us to stand if we, like King David, keep ourselves from sinning.
To stand in the coming days we are going to have to trade our life, our way of doing, our plans and desires, for the life, ways, plans, and desires of the Lord Jesus. This we can do by continually acknowledging Christ in all that we do.
When we thus have exchanged our life for His Life, then we can say along with King David: "I love you, O LORD, my strength. he LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold."
When we can proclaim the above from our heart we shall be able to stand in the evil days that are coming, and to help our loved ones and all who will listen to us to stand in the Lord Jesus, no matter what comes.
Let us remember to call on Jesus when we are in trouble, and not attempt to save ourselves with religious formulas.
Having been a student of the seven feasts of the Lord, I knew that the celebration after Pentecost is the Blowing of Trumpets. When I looked up what was true of this observance, I noticed that Trumpets is the Jewish New Year's holiday.
The Jews have two years, just as we in America do. We have a calendar year that commences on January 1. Then we have a business year that commences on July 1.
The Jewish religious year commences on Abib 1, the month of the Passover. Then there is a year of "kings and contracts" that begins on Tishri 1. It is Tishri 1 that is celebrated as New Year's day. Could we say that the observance of Trumpets means God is ready now to reveal that His intentions are in the earth? Our citizenship is in Heaven, but our inheritance is in the earth and earth's peoples.
I found this concept of two overlapping years to be significant. Since the seven feasts of Israel each have a spiritual fulfillment in God's program of redemption, the Blowing of Trumpets must mean that something of importance occurs in the program of redemption after the celebration of Pentecost.
The previous century, the twentieth, obviously was the Pentecostal century, in that speaking in tongues spread throughout the world. Now we are in the twenty-first century. Is God telling us something in the pattern of the seven feasts that has to do with a step forward in the program of redemption?
For the two thousand years of the Christian Era, the Gospel has been interpreted to mean that Jesus came to earth in order to save us by bringing us to Paradise rather than Hell when we die; to save us from earth to Heaven. How many millions of people have received Christ with the expectation of spending eternity in a mansion in Heaven after they die!
God, who never wastes anything, permitted the Gospel of Heaven to continue to be preached, because people were receiving Christ, and this is what God desired.
But now we are coming close to the return of the Lord. When the Lord appears with His victorious saints, they are going to install the Kingdom of God on the earth. This, of course, was the original Gospel, preached by John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus, and the Apostles of Christthe Gospel of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.
It is easy to understand how the original Gospel of the Kingdom of God coming to the earth was changed to the Gospel of Heaven. The religions at the time of the Apostles preached some kind of Heaven as the reward for following the teachings of the religion. The temptation was to ignore what the Apostles actually taught, and begin to emphasize eternity in Heaven as the goal of being "saved," so we could be like the other religions.
You may notice that the resurrection of the dead, other than the resurrection of Christ, is not emphasized in today's teaching. This is because people plan on going to Heaven, when they die, and remaining there forever. If this is the case, what is the purpose of a resurrection?
And so Bible teachers have invented a "rapture" that will bring us to Heaven to avoid Antichrist and the Great Tribulation. Meanwhile the resurrection of the believers so they can inherit the earth is largely ignored.
We understand, therefore, that for us to enter the spiritual fulfillment of the Blowing of Trumpets is of the greatest significance. This means that the Trumpet of the Lord soon shall blow and usher in the doing of God's will on the earth.
It is my point of view that Psalms 24 is directed especially toward the spiritual fulfillment of the Blowing of Trumpets.
The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; (Psalms 24:1)
The emphasis of the Spirit of God from now on will be the earth, and everything it, including the nations. The nations and the farthest reaches of the earth are the inheritance of the Lord Jesus. Since we are co-heirs with Christ, it follows that the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth, and not Heaven, are our inheritance also.
However, before we can inherit the nations and the earth, we must become part of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is an actual government. It will govern the earth and its peoples for eternity. In the last two chapters of the Book of Revelation, the Kingdom of God, that is, the government of the Kingdom, is shown as the new Jerusalem, the holy city.
The people of the nations who have been saved will be governed by the saints who compose the new Jerusalem, so they are part of the Kingdom in that sense.
To see or enter the Kingdom of God we must be born again. This is to say that Christ, the King, must be born in us. As I understand the Scriptures, everyone who lives on the new earth will have a portion of Christ, of the Kingdom of God, in him or her.
However, the saints, the Royal Priesthood, who compose the new Jerusalem, will have more of Christ in them than is true of the nations of saved people whom they govern.
The above is a simple, straightforward pattern; but it may take the reader some time to absorb it because it is a bit different from what has been our understanding to this point.
It is well for us to consider that the earth is the Lord's and all who dwell on it, because sometimes we of the Church regard ourselves as the only people God cares about. God is just as much the God of the whole earth as He is the God of Heaven. As I said previously, the earth and its peoples are our inheritance.
For he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters. (Psalms 24:2)
Everything with which we are familiar has been founded upon the seas. That is, it is unstable. That is why we are looking for a city that has foundations. The new Jerusalem is built upon Christ and His apostles. Christ is God's Rock, and never shall be removed.
The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. (Psalms 18:2)
All life outside of Christ is unstable. Everything can be shaken. Only that which is built upon Christ and is Christ, one might say, will be secure when God shakes the earth and the heavens, as He has promised to do.
At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, "Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens." (Hebrews 12:26)
Men will flee to caves in the rocks and to holes in the ground from dread of the LORD and the splendor of his majesty, when he rises to shake the earth. (Isaiah 2:19)
We of today have built our institutions. We have amassed money. We hope that what we have created will save us in the day of trouble. These things certainly will not protect us. Only the Lord Jesus Christ is the Rock on which we can stand in the day of trouble that is ahead.
Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false. He will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God his Savior. (Psalms 24:3-5)
In another place I already have brought up the following issue: Today's teaching claims that we can ascend the hill of the Lord and stand in His holy place by grace, and receive blessing and be declared righteous by the Lord by grace alone.
Is that true, or must we have clean hands, a pure heart, and not lift up our soul to an idol or take the Lord's name in vain if we are to ascend the hill of the Lord and stand in His holy place?
This is the basic question of our day. Has God given us grace such that our attitude and behavior do not matter, or is this teaching of grace a deception that has led the Christian people away from God?
It appears obvious that we are in the midst of a shaking of some sort. Our nation is not doing well at all. My personal opinion is that the old America, the way of life that we took for granted, will never return. We are being faced with new realities.
Our President declared to a foreign country that America is not a Christian nation. He himself never gives glory to God, as far as I know. We have never been in such a situation before.
The issue of grace versus the new creation has not been raised sufficiently, it seems to me. The traditions of our country, plus our common sense, have kept us Americans from serious breaches of God's eternal moral law, that which is written in our conscience.
But no longer is this true. The very worst kinds of sins are being practiced and are seeking respectability and acceptability. And it appears there is no strength to resist. Why is there no strength to resist? Because the leaders of the churches are preaching that the values of Psalms 24 no longer are applicable. We can stand in the Presence of God in our moral filthiness because we have been "saved by grace."
Now I am going to make a statement that I believe to be true: "Our country will never regain any kind of footing in the world until we declare that the 'grace' teaching is not scriptural, and that God requires righteousness and holiness of attitude and behavior if we are to have fellowship with Him."
We have been grievously deceived, as the spirit of humanism has developed a plan by which we can be accepted by the God of Heaven and still yield to our sinful nature. We should know better than this! An intelligent high-school student could prove from the New Testament that the grace teaching is not scriptural.
I cannot emphasize too strongly that we are in deception. The result of the grace teaching is silly believers who do not fear God; who are enjoying their church life because it does not make demands upon them. They do not fear God, believing that He loves them too much to permit them to suffer. One "Christian" lady was hear to say, "If I thought God would let me suffer I would not serve Him." This is what the current teaching is producing.
People still will maintain this unscriptural viewpoint when they are having severe medical and family problems, so powerful is the delusion of grace.
If the current "grace" teaching were true, we should tear Psalms 24 out of our Bible, because it is meaningless.
The Apostle Paul did preach "grace" as a means of coming out from under the restrictions of the Law of Moses. But Paul never preached grace as a substitute for the new creation of righteous behavior. Paul was a preacher of righteousness, not of a delusion whereby Christians can keep on with their worldly behavior and still be acceptable to God.
I hate to see the beloved traditions of America and England being overrun by sexual lust and other religions, but this is what is taking place. We are throwing away that which enabled us to prosper among the nations.
Do you see any other nation that has prospered as America has? Those of other religious persuasions are coming to our land, not we to theirs. Why is this? It is because God has blessed the Christian believers. But we in our ignorance and arrogance are throwing away what was earned by God-fearing people.
God is raising up people who wish to destroy America, and they may succeed. We may look to our military might, our money, our political leaders to save us. They cannot save us, because the forces coming against us are spiritual. God no longer will help us because we have turned our back on Him.
Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, O God of Jacob. Selah (Psalms 24:6)
Whether we like it or not, what I have just written is the truth. The next few years will bear it out. We Americans no longer are the generation of those who seek the Lord. We have our television comics who mock Christ.
We have our entertainers who, in their wild appearance and gyrations, demonstrate that they are demon possessed; and we who are supposed to be seeking the face of Christ are laughing as though the demons are funny.
There are afflictions that reveal the presence of demons coming upon people. We can see in the Bible the counterparts of these afflictions. Yet we are so well educated we know better than to attribute the symptoms to demonic interference. But the natives in the bush realize very well what is going on. It is ironic, isn't it, that we have been educated beyond our intelligence. But that fact does not help the sufferers.
Perhaps it is time for another Book of Lamentations, one bewailing the destruction that is coming upon America.
The first chapter of the Book of Isaiah is descriptive of Americadue largely, I believe, to the unscriptural use of Divine "grace" as an alternative to righteous behavior.
Now we come to the solution that God has provided for us, knowing what it would be like in the closing days of the Church Age.
Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. (Psalms 24:7)
It is time now for God to do business in the earth, in the spiritual fulfillment of the Blowing of Trumpets. What is God's answer to the demonic antics of the last days? It is to enter the believers who will open the door and permit Him to become their life.
Notice the following passage:
"Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." (Revelation 3:20-22)
When we open our personality to Jesus and let Him be our life, we overcome the world. When we overcome the world we are given the right to sit with Christ on His Throne. This is the answer to the Antichrist world system that currently is prevailing in the world.
It is not the gentle Shepherd of the twenty-third Psalm who enter us, it is the King of Glory. But who is this King of Glory who is knocking on the door of our heart today?
Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. (Psalms 24:8)
The King of Glory is the Lord mighty in battle. Such is the spiritual fulfillment of the Blowing of Trumpets. The Trumpets announce the Warrior-King who has come to destroy His enemies, beginning with His enemies in the believers who are closest to Him.
We are in the last great battle, and this is why there is so much evil in the world and in our country. God is facing Satan. Christ is facing Antichrist. The Holy Spirit is facing the False Prophet. Is it any wonder the spiritual darkness is increasing? We humans cannot stand against such spiritual Colossi except as Christ is living in us.
Again we are commanded:
Lift up your heads, O you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. (Psalms 24:9)
Christ is knocking firmly. He understands well that we are but dust and cannot possibly prevail against the rulers of the spiritual darkness. Christ never will open the door. We have to open it and ask Him to enter.
How often are we to do this? Every moment of every day and night for the remainder of our life. Only then will we be able to stand on Mount Zion and help others to stand. There is nothingabsolutely nothingthat we can accomplish in these days in our own wisdom and strength.
Who is he, this King of glory? The LORD Almighty he is the King of glory. (Psalms 24:10)
Maybe you have seen somewhere, perhaps in a Bible bookstore, a picture of the gentle Jesus teaching the children. He is clothed in His white robe and sandals. He has brown wavy hair to His shoulders. Perhaps there is a little boy or girl in His lap. It is certain that Jesus loves children.
Now change the picture in your mind. Imagine the fiercest face you have ever seen. His countenance is carved in granite. The Word of God is coming out of His mouth as a sword. He is riding a giant white war-stallion. His white robe is stained with His atoning blood, because of the anger of God.
This is the Day of Wrath, the thought of which makes Hell and its demons tremble. He is leading an army of saints, followed by an army of angels, that reaches from earth to Heaven. A company of angels sound their trumpets and the blast causes the earth to shake.
People are screaming in their terror. Some are shaking their fist in anger, as though they could prevent the King of Glory from entering the earth to establish God's will.
Such is the almighty Christ, the Son of God, possessing all authority and power in Heaven and upon the earth. The powerful leaders on the earth cannot frighten or bribe Him. He is supremely powerful, as the armies of Antichrist soon are to find out.
Even in that Day He will preserve those who gladly receive Him as the King who must be obeyed in all matters. But woe, woe, woe to those who choose to resist His rule in the earth. They shall be destroyed completely.
God's wrath has been stored up since Satan first decided to take the place of God. God has withheld the full expression of His wrath until now.
This is the Person who today is knocking on the door of your heart. Will you let Him in, or will you try to manage your own life, pursuing your own desires and goals.
To accept the absolute will of the Lord Jesus as being your own will is to live to be a citizen of the new world of righteousness. To refuse the absolute will of the Lord Jesus, and to maintain your "right" to manage your own life, is ultimately to become part of Satan until you are evil itself.
Once this takes place you can never be given the gift of repentance. The Lake of Fire has authority over you, even though you may claim to believe in Christ and be a Christian.
You are lost to the Presence of your Creator for eternity.