WATERS TO SWIM IN
WATERS TO SWIM IN Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
There are four platforms of salvation each member of the royal priesthood must experience. Ezekiel, Chapter 47 portrays these platforms as increasing levels of water. Each time we are judged by the Lord we increase in eternal life, in the state of oneness with Jesus in God. Every time we reach a new level in God we are returned to a place of service. The more we are conformed to the image of Jesus and brought into union with Him, the greater blessing we become to mankind.
WATERS TO SWIM IN
The first resurrection from the dead, which will take place when the Lord returns, is for the royal priesthood (Revelation 20:4-6).
The second resurrection, which will occur at the end of the thousand-year period, is for the remainder of mankind. Some will be raised to eternal life while others will be cast into the Lake of Fire, depending on their works (John 5:28,29; Revelation 20:1-15).
Those who are raised in the first resurrection are the firstfruits to God and the Lamb. They have been redeemed from among men (Revelation 14:4). They are trees of life. It is through them that the deliverance and glory of the Kingdom Age will come.
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18)
"The glory that shall be revealed in us."
The glory that is coming will be revealed in the saints. The purpose of the two thousand years of the Church Age has been, according to our understanding, to create the Person, will, and way of Christ in the members of His Body.
When Christ has been formed in His Body, Christ—Head and Body—will be revealed. Through this corporate Man, who is the Servant of the Lord, the creation will be delivered from the bondage of corruption and brought into the glorious liberty of the children of God (Romans 8:19-21).
Chapter 47 of the Book of Ezekiel describes the preparation and ministry of God’s trees of life, His overcomers.
Afterward he brought me again unto the door of the house; and, behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward: for the forefront of the house stood toward the east, and the waters came down from under from the right side of the house, at the south side of the altar. (Ezekiel 47:1)
The "house" is the eternal Temple of God, which is Christ—Head and Body, the Lamb and His Wife, the holy city, the new Jerusalem.
The "door" is the Lord Jesus Christ.
The "waters" refer to the Holy Spirit.
The "forefront of the house" is the location of the pillars. The overcomers are the pillars of the Temple of God (Revelation 3:12).
The emphasis on "east" and "eastward" indicates we are speaking of and looking toward the coming of the Lord, the rising of the Sun of the Day of Christ.
And when the man that had the line in his hand went forth eastward, he measured a thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the waters were to the ankles. (Ezekiel 47:3)
The "line in his hand" speaks of judgment. There are four platforms of redemption, of judgment, that each member of the royal priesthood must experience. There is no way by which one of God’s priests can bypass one of the platforms or avoid the accompanying judgments.
The first resurrection is not a resurrection to judgment as is true of the second resurrection. The participants in the second resurrection are judged at the time of the resurrection (at the end of the thousand-year period). But each member of the first resurrection of necessity is judged before the first resurrection.
In the first resurrection the members of the royal priesthood return from Heaven with the Lord Jesus. They descend to the earth and take up their earthly bodies. Then they ascend in a state of glory to be forever with the Lord.
This is the first resurrection from the dead. It is the bringing back to life of the witnesses, judges, kings, and priests of the Lord so through them Jesus may fill the whole earth with the knowledge of the Lord (Isaiah 11:9).
And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. (Revelation 5:10)
Obviously the persons speaking in Revelation 5:10 (above) already have been judged and their destiny decided.
The same is true of the Apostle Paul.
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also love his appearing. (II Timothy 4:8)
The purpose of the first resurrection is not to bring saved people to Heaven to enjoy Paradise but to give back their bodies to the victorious saints so they may serve as rulers and judges over the earth—not to go to Paradise but to govern!
And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: . . . and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4)
It is necessary, therefore, that the judgment of each member of the governing priesthood be accomplished perfectly and completely before the first resurrection or else he cannot participate in it. No person can be robed in immortality, be glorified and go to be forever with the Lord, or govern the nations of the saved of the earth, until he or she has been judged.
The first judgment brings us to the waters to the ankles. Waters to the ankles represents the beginning stage of the program of salvation. When we receive the Lord Jesus we are to "come out of Egypt." We are to repent of the manner in which we have behaved ourselves in the world, having practiced, lust, malice, covetousness, hatred, and the other aspects of the world spirit.
The first judgment is a judgment on the world, as was true of the Passover. The authority of the blood of Christ makes it possible for us to come out of the world and to enter the Kingdom of God. We receive a portion of the Spirit of God when we leave the world by faith, call on the name of the Lord, and are baptized in water.
People today in many instances are not leaving the world, not repenting of their behavior, when they receive Christ. They are "sitting in Egypt" claiming they are justified by faith. They are practicing a dead faith, a faith that does not have enough life to move them out of the world.
They misunderstand the Divine redemption that is in Christ. They name the name of the Lord but they still are living in the world spirit. They have "correct" doctrine in their head and mouth but there is no eternal life in them. They never have been born again of the Spirit of God.
It appears there is no greater misunderstanding in any area of human thought than is true concerning Paul’s teaching of the grace of God in Christ. Although Paul, as well as James, John, Peter, Jude, and the Lord Jesus Himself in the Gospels, made it clear that the Gospel of the Kingdom of God has to do with the creation of righteous conduct in people, there is an element in Paul’s teaching of justification that invites a doctrine of redemption foreign to the Scriptures.
Martin Luther, who was reacting against the Catholic Church, appears, in some instances, to have pressed the concept that we are saved by faith apart from a change in our behavior. The present-day emphasis on human rights and happiness has presented the idea of grace without law until the Gospel of the Kingdom has been perverted beyond recognition.
The result is moral passivity.
The element in Paul’s teaching of justification that is easy to misunderstand is found in the verses (particularly those of the early chapters of the Book of Romans) emphasizing that we, by identifying ourselves by faith with Christ, are given the righteousness of Christ as our possession. It is as though we have kept the Law of Moses perfectly in spite of the fact that our personality and behavior never have actually changed.
We now are clothed in Christ’s own righteousness.
This is true, but only under certain conditions. By ignoring the conditions we have created a destructive doctrine of grace. We seem to believe God forever will see us only in Jesus so our behavior is invisible to God. He beholds only His Son when He sees us.
Many passages of the New Testament do not correspond to the concept that God sees only the righteousness of Christ in our personality independently of our behavior.
For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. (I Corinthians 11:31,32)
What sense would the above passage make if God sees only the righteousness of Christ in us?
There are numerous verses in the New Testament that exhort us and warn us concerning the penalty for continuing in sin as a Christian. These warnings have been disregarded by many of the present generation of Christian preachers. If they do not turn and begin to warn God’s people that sinning Christians are facing God’s fire in this world and the next they will be punished as false prophets.
What about the inhabitants of the new world? Will we see one another as "God sees us in Christ" or will we see each other as we actually are? If we will see one another as we actually are, the new world will be no different from the present if no change has taken place in us.
In that case we still will love the world. We still will want to be part of the money system of Antichrist. We still will trust in secular education to deliver us from problems. We still will trust in people rather than God.
There is no Kingdom righteousness in the doctrine that states we can remain a part of the world ideas and activities and continue as part of Christ..
If we take the doctrine of righteousness by identification with Christ, and then cast away the conditions, we have a truly abominable gospel. We believe we are correct in maintaining that most Christians of today have embraced a "gospel" in which the believer may associate himself with Jesus while he "eats his own bread and wears his own clothes" (Isaiah 4:1).
The idea that we are righteous by identification and imputation (assigned righteousness) apart from the spiritual realities of the conditions has destroyed the Christian witness. The doctrine of lawless grace has permeated Christian thinking and goes hand in hand with such errors as the pre-tribulation rapture, the prosperity teaching, and the overemphasis on God’s love and mercy.
It is true indeed that when we receive the Lord Jesus we are clothed in His righteousness. We have been freed from the Law of Moses. But we have been freed from the Law of Moses so we may be married to Christ. Being married to Christ means every aspect of our personality and behavior must be brought into union with the living Lord Jesus.
The Christians of today maintain they have been freed from the Law of Moses by the righteousness of Christ. But it appears few believers are married to Jesus. They have not entered union with Jesus in every aspect of their personality and behavior. They are seeking a means by which they legally can be righteous apart from entering the Fountain of righteousness, Christ.
Given the complexity of the problem under discussion plus the present emphasis on human pleasure, it is easy to see how this distressing situation has come into existence. Nevertheless, God is not winking at it.
It always has been true, is true today, and shall continue to be true forever that everyone who is associated with Christ is to flee from wickedness. If the believer does not by God’s grace put away the evil from his life he shall be cut off as a branch.
It is time now for Christian people everywhere to repent. We have misunderstood Paul. We have believed that God will accept us in Christ even though we never have truly repented, even though we do not present our body a living sacrifice, even though we refuse to lay down our life, take up our cross, and follow Jesus. We have trusted in a false doctrine of redemption.
If we do not repent, if we do not come out of the world, if we do not present our body a living sacrifice, if we do not take up our cross and follow the Lord Jesus, it is foolish for us to consider the possibility of our being raised in the first resurrection. The first resurrection is for the overcomers, the priests of God and of Christ. There is no place here for people who are trusting they are clothed in the righteousness of Christ but who never have yielded themselves to God as those who have been delivered from the sin and death of Satan’s kingdom.
The first judgment is upon our manner of life in the world. If we truly repent, if we sweep all the leaven of sin out of our house, Christ will receive us. We will receive a portion of the eternal life of God. It is waters to the ankles.
The second judgment brings us to waters to the knees:
Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through the waters; the waters were to the knees. . . . (Ezekiel 47:4)
The first judgment is on the love of the world that is in us. The second judgment is on the satanic nature that dwells in our flesh.
The Holy Spirit works in the true saint to give him victory over sin. The believer is to put sin to death by the power of the Spirit of God. When we walk in the Spirit we do not fulfill the lusts of our flesh:
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16)
The first judgment commands us to trust in the blood of the Lamb and to leave Egypt (the world). We are not to sit in Egypt and talk about how God has promised us the land of milk and honey. We are to put the blood over our house, get up on our feet, and leave Egypt.
The second judgment works to destroy the sin nature from our personality. If we are faithful in leaving the world, taking up our cross, and following the Lord Jesus, then the Holy Spirit will begin the work of releasing us from the inherited and acquired bondages that reside in our personality.
Repentance from the wicked behavior found in the world is an action we can take as we pray and seek the Lord. The second judgment takes us a step further. By the power of the Holy Spirit we are able to put to death the actions of our body and to walk in the holiness of the Holy Spirit.
It is not until the third and fourth judgments, however, that we are able to gain complete deliverance from every evil aspect of our personality, including our self-will. The third and fourth judgments prepare us for the redemption of our mortal body and the donning of the body from Heaven so our entire personality, spirit, soul, and—at the coming of the Lord—our body, is totally free from every trace of sin and rebellion.
God is pouring out His Spirit today in Pentecostal power. There is much praise. Wherever there are the high praises of God there is also the two-edged sword. Wherever there are the waters of eternal life there is also the Man with the line of judgment in His hand.
Our day is one of rejoicing before the Lord. The Ark of the Covenant is on its way to Zion and there is singing and dancing among the Lord’s people. It is a time of worship and gladness of heart.
At the same time, the fire of God is coming upon the sins the Lord’s people are practicing. This is because the Law, the covenant, is in the Ark. The covenant is the moral law of God. The Presence of the Ark of the Covenant causes the enemies of the Lord to flee. The Ark brings the judgment of God against all the works of Satan.
When we come to Jesus He covers us with His righteousness. He removes from us the condemnation of the Law of Moses. But He does so in order that He may be free to deliver us by the power of His Holy Spirit. This He does—effectively and thoroughly. The Lord Jesus is delivering His Church today. We must confess the sins He shows us, repenting of them and resisting them through the wisdom and power of the Spirit.
All religions have their special buildings and furnishings, the mysteries of their faith, and a required code of conduct. Modern Christianity has its special buildings and furnishings, the mysteries of its faith, but it has discarded its required code of conduct in favor of an unscriptural "grace.". This is why America, England and other so-called "Christian nations" are spewing moral filth, violence, drunkenness, covetousness, lying, stealing, treachery, selfishness, and every other abomination into the world while other religions and cultures are attempting to preserve some semblance of morality.
The light of morality of the Muslims, in certain instances, is shining more brightly than that of the Christians. Yet the Muslim religion does not have the power to destroy sin from the human personality. But the Christian salvation does indeed contain the power to destroy sin from the human personality. It can destroy the body of sin found in the adamic personality.
Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. (Romans 6:6)
The purpose of the new covenant is to make an eternal end of sin. The bulk of the New Testament writings have to do with commandments which we are to keep, as the Spirit of God assists us, until Christ is formed in us. Christ formed in us and living in us is the new covenant.
In every and all instances, the goal of the Christian salvation is to change the behavior of people from sin to righteousness. Any Christian teaching that does not demand our change from sinful behavior to righteous behavior is not of God but is "another gospel."
God’s priesthood will be made holy, not by imputation (assigned righteousness) but by a fiery cleansing, a burning out of us of the wickedness of the flesh. It is God’s eternal judgment on the evil spirits that dwell in our flesh. The Lord’s priests are actually holy, not just holy by decree because they belong to Him.
The pathway to the first resurrection from the dead includes not only coming out from Egypt under the covering of the blood of the Lamb but also a fiery cleansing of us by the baptism of fire:
When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning. (Isaiah 4:4)
And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. (Malachi 3:3)
For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify [put to death] the deeds of the body, ye shall live. (Romans 8:13)
The waters to the ankles signifies our coming out of the world. Our feet no longer are planted in the world. The waters to the knees portrays our walking in the Spirit so we are not serving Satan—for all sin proceeds from Satan. He who commits sin is the slave of the devil. The Lord Jesus Christ came so the chains of slavery may be broken.
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. (Romans 6:12,13)
Sin is alien to man. An alien spirit entered the garden and brought man under bondage to itself. The Lord Jesus came so through His Virtue we may be able to break the chains of sin and death that are upon mankind and to drive even the memory of sin from the face of the earth.
Notice that each time we are judged we increase in eternal life. The waters become deeper. God’s priesthood always rules by the power of endless, incorruptible resurrection life, as typified by the waters.
The first judgment is upon the world. We are to leave the world. The second judgment is on sin. We are to cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He brings the moral bondages that are in us into judgment.
The third judgment is on our self-will.
. . . Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through; the waters were to the loins. (Ezekiel 47:4)
The "ankles" signify we no longer are standing in the world. The "knees" portray our walk in the Spirit of God. The "loins" speak of strength and reproduction, for man’s strength is in his loins. The judgment must reach the level of our strength and fruitfulness.
The authority of the blood of the cross accomplishes the first judgment.
The wisdom and power of the Spirit of God, working under the authority of the blood, accomplish the second judgment.
The patient, faithful bearing of our personal cross accomplishes the third judgment.
There are many people who have received the Lord Jesus and have come out of the world.
There is a smaller number of believers who are pressing forward in the Spirit to victory over sinful behavior.
There is an even smaller number who are bearing the cross of patience and obedience so their self-will may be replaced by the will of God.
The Lord must drive self-will from the throne of our personality.
Our personal cross accomplishes the third judgment. The third judgment is on our desire to retain our independence of thought and action apart from God’s will. Many Christians who have come out of the world and are leading a holy life find it difficult to surrender to God to the extent God requires.
There is but one legitimate will in the universe. That will is the will of God. All other wills must choose to become merged with the one Will. The only truly free individual is the man or woman whose will has become one with the will of God so he or she wills to do God’s will in every instance. All else comes short of the Glory of God. All else comes short of the first resurrection from the dead. The Kingdom of God is the doing of God’s will.
The personal cross consists of two dimensions: (1) the delaying of the possession of things, relationships, and circumstances we desire fervently; and (2) the bringing of us into situations in which things, relationships, or circumstances we abhor or are painful are part of our life.
How many believers have sought to escape from God’s prison because they were unable to trust God for deliverance in His time? Only a few persons of our day, it seems, are willing to trust God when their intense desires are not in the process of being realized, when they are being kept in situations painful and loathsome to them, when they do not understand what God is doing with them. Such never can move past Pentecost into the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles, into attainment to the first resurrection from among the dead.
It is only by loving not our life unto the death that we finally can bring down Satan from the heavenlies.
We overcome the accuser by the blood, by the word of our testimony, and by loving not our life unto the death.
The waters of life flow to the world only from the Throne of God, never from the throne of man. It is only as we become one with the will of God, which necessitates death to our own will, that the Throne of God and of the Lamb can be established in us for eternity, that we can enter the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles.
The creation is awaiting the revealing of the sons of God, the manifestation of the believers who have come out of the world; who, through the Spirit of God, have overcome sin; and who have borne with patience their Gethsemane experience. It is out from the saints that the knowledge of the Glory of the Lord will flow until it covers the earth as the waters cover the sea.
Passing through these three judgments, on the world, on sin, and on self-will, are quite distressing at times. It seems as though the Lord whom we love is always bringing us into pain and death. Yet, He keeps lifting us as we follow Him. He wounds and then He heals. There always is a higher level to attain. We dare not relax our guard for a moment because Satan stands ready to catch our feet in a snare.
We begin to conceive of the Christian redemption as one long struggle for victory in spirit, soul, and body, a struggle that will terminate only in our physical death—if then!
There is a fourth level of life:
Afterward he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not pass over: for the waters were risen, waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over. (Ezekiel 47:5)
This is the place of oneness with Jesus in God. The struggles are over. The sorrow of the travail is remembered no more because Christ has been born in us and is at rest in His Father. The memory of the judgments already is fading. Our warfare has been accomplished, our wickedness pardoned. God speaks comfortably to us.
It is not that we no longer have tribulations or temptations while we are in the world. We do. But the struggle we undergo as we cope with the constant dying and living of the change from the living soul to the life-giving spirit gives place to an ever-increasing awareness of a normal, restful life lived eternally in God through Christ.
But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. (I Peter 5:10)
We do not carry our cross forever. As soon as God is satisfied that His Presence in us has overcome the world, sin, and self-will, He is ready to receive us as His son in a state of normalcy we have not experienced since we began our discipleship.
We have died in the Lord, we rest from our labors, and our works follow us.
And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them. (Revelation 14:13)
Our death to the world, to sin, and to self-will, is in accordance with the four faces of the cherubim (Ezekiel 1:10).
We die first to the "lion," to the part of us that strives for security and mastery in the world. The young lions suffer hunger until they catch the prey. Jesus was tested with the invitation to use His Divine faith to make bread. God has promised to supply our needs.
Next we die to the "ox." The ox is our willingness to work and carry heavy loads. Being willing to work hard is a virtue, and some people have to carry more than their load because of the unwillingness of others to help with the burden. However, Christ's yoke is easy and His burden is light. On occasions too numerous to count God's people are bowed down with the cares of life more than they should be. They are grubbing in the earth so intensely they forget there are stars in the sky. We easily lose our first love by working when we should be worshiping, as in the case of Martha.
Then we die to the "eagle." The eagle represents our will to fly through the universe of God in the pursuit of our destiny. Jesus was invited to "fly" from the top of the Temple of Herod. It is only as we accept God’s creation, as we enter His rest, that we are saved from the curse of striving to manage our own destiny in the Kingdom.
Finally we die to the "man." All of that which is essentially true of our personality is brought down to death. Then we can be given the face of a true man, the eternal man that God has had in mind from the beginning.
We become a man, a son of God. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and God shall be his God, and he shall be God’s son. The Christian redemption and discipleship bring us to what God means by "man." It is man who has been given rulership over all the works of God’s hands (Hebrews, Chapter Two).
The descendants of Adam are not "man" according to the way in which God intends that the term be defined eventually. The only true Man who has ever appeared on the earth is Jesus. We are being made in His image, thus becoming "man."
The brothers of the Lord Jesus are the ones who will be raised in the first resurrection. They are God’s trees of righteousness. They are God’s trees of life. They are witnesses, judges, kings, deliverers, and priests of God and His Christ. They are the pillars of the Temple of God, the firstfruits of the new Jerusalem.
There is another judgment as we enter the fourth level of life—the waters to swim in (verse five). This judgment is not a death to the world, or to sin, or to self-seeking. Rather, it is an evaluation of how we have behaved ourselves, the choices we made while living in the world. Each person must give an account of himself to God:
So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. (Romans 14:12)
The rewards or punishments given us in the Day of Christ depend on this fourth judgment.
And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. (Revelation 22:12)
Our glory, our nearness to God, our opportunities for service, are based on the fourth judgment, on how we have conducted ourselves throughout our lifetime on the earth, whether brief or prolonged.
The fourth judgment is a review of the choices we have made, of the diligence with which we have responded to the light given to us.
The judgment on the ten virgins, and on those who had been given talents (see Matthew, Chapter 25), are two examples of the fourth judgment. The rewards and punishments issued in these cases were not addressed to coming out of the world, or sin, or self-will, but had to do with the response of the Lord’s servants to the opportunities they had been given.
The wisdom and power that are given us to come out of the world, to achieve victory over sin, and to break the shackles of self-will, are gifts of grace that lead to eternal life. Such deliverances are accomplished as we respond to the grace of God in Christ.
In fact, deliverance from the world, from sin, and from self-will, are themselves rewards for doing what God has commanded us. The greatest deliverance of all, the greatest reward of all, is the first resurrection. Those who participate in the first resurrection are the sons and heirs of God. They shall be given the thrones in the air that govern the earth, the result being that the knowledge of the glory of the Lord will fill the whole earth.
The basis for deliverance from the three bondages, and for the life and glory that result from our deliverance, is how we behave ourselves in the world—especially our response to the grace entrusted to us in Christ. As we pursue the Lord with all diligence, obeying Him in every detail, He increases the extent of deliverance we enjoy. Increased deliverance results in increased eternal life.
Every person will give an account of himself to God. His entire life will be played back before him. He then will be required to explain his actions to God, beginning with his earliest years.
No individual is exempt from this accounting. The more grace and deliverance that has been given to him, the more will be required of him in the way of increased obedience, increased service, increased diligence in the things of Christ.
God is a farmer. He is looking for fruit. God is a businessman. He requires an accounting of all that has been entrusted to us. He demands a return on His investment, or else He removes His capital from us and places it in charge of another who has been more diligent.
Although the evaluation of our response to the blessings that have been bestowed on us does not take place until we die physically, the rewards or punishments may reflect backward in time. Even though we have not as yet been judged concerning the decisions we made in this life, we may be entering already into eternal levels of life, status, and service, or of darkness, torment, and death, based on the manner in which we have behaved ourselves and will yet behave ourselves.
And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring on Abraham that which he hath spoken of him. (Genesis 18:17-19)
Does God know us? Is God certain we shall command our children and our household to keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment?
God knows the choices we have made and will continue to make, and rewards us accordingly even now. Yet our choices remain under our control and do, in fact, determine our destiny. God knows our heart but judges us according to what we do.
Eternal destinies are decided in kitchens and fields. Terrifying or fantastically glorious consequences result from decisions made in the most commonplace circumstances of life.
Consider the awesome consequences of Esau’s decision to buy lentils with his birthright after hunting in the fields on a sunny afternoon. Think about those who listened to the preaching of God in the flesh, and then turned back to their homes in Nazareth to take care of their immediate concerns. Or Simon Peter’s decision to follow the Rabbi!
As soon as we have attained the waters to swim in we are brought back to the bank of the river.
And he said unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen this? Then he brought me, and caused me to return to the brink of the river. (Ezekiel 47:6)
It seems every time we reach a new level in God we are returned to a place of service. Eventually we understand God has wrought these mighty changes in us because of the needs of mankind, not so we may be of high status in the Kingdom. The nations of the earth are to be blessed in us and this is why we must make the transition from son of Adam to life-giving spirit.
And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. (Genesis 22:18)
The more we are changed into the image of Jesus and brought into union with Him the greater blessing we become to mankind.
Christ is the one Seed of Abraham. We have been made the complement, the completion of Christ. We have been made in Christ’s image. We have been joined to Him in eternal marriage through the workings of the Holy Spirit of God. We have been approved of God. It now is time for our fruitfulness and dominion.
The sons of God, the brothers of Christ, have been chosen by Him and have been ordained to bear fruit through Him.
Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. (John 15:16)
Our fruit will be borne as we minister as priests to the nations of the saved of the earth. The nations are our inheritance because we are coheirs with Christ (Psalms 2:8).
We are the firstfruits to God and the Lamb from the race of mankind. We have within us the firstfruits of the Holy Spirit—the same Spirit of life that one day will bring the whole creation into the glorious liberty of the children of God. The eternal Life of God will flow from us to the world as soon as we have been made the Throne of God.
The third judgment, the judgment on our self-will, is of critical importance. As we press into the spiritual fulfillment of the Old Testament feast of Tabernacles we find the Kingdom of God is entering us.
In order to receive this new dimension of grace we must be willing to trust God in all matters. Our will, which is linked to our personal desires and mental understanding, must be crucified. We must make the transition from the rule of self to the rule of Christ.
The transition from self-rule to Christ-rule is more than an acceptance of theological facts. It involves a bearing up under severe prunings, an imposing of God’s will on us that leaves no room for our self-will and self-love.
The Lord God of Heaven enters every area of our personality, testing, probing, evaluating, rebuking, chastening, comforting. There is no other path to the first resurrection.
Finally we come up on the other side, as it were. We begin to embrace God’s will. We find ourselves coveting the imposing of God’s Presence on us in every detail of our personality and behavior. We crave the iron and fire of the Kingdom upon us and our loved ones so our life on earth is lived in Kingdom power and wisdom.
When we enter the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:34), thus becoming the Throne of God and of the Lamb, we begin to change from one kind of creature to another. We no longer are entirely "Adam." We are being made a life-giving spirit; not only a "living" spirit, but a "life-giving" spirit.
And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a living [life-giving] spirit. (I Corinthians 15:45)
We are being created a life-giving priest of God and Christ because God desires that His Life extend to the nations of the earth. The role of the members of the Church, which is Christ’s Body, is to serve as mediators between God and mankind.
Every believer who desires to participate in the first resurrection must pass through the first three platforms of salvation before the seventh trumpet sounds—the trumpet that announces the coming of Christ and the first resurrection from the dead.
Notice the order of events of the second resurrection. The second resurrection will take place at the end of the thousand-year period (compare Revelation 20:12-15):
The dead are raised and stand before God.
The books are opened and the dead are judged out of the things written in the books.
Those who are not found written in the Book of Life are cast into the Lake of Fire.
The order is: resurrection; judgment; execution of sentence.
What takes place at the sounding of the seventh trumpet, at the time of the first resurrection, at the beginning of the thousand-year period?
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. (I Corinthians 15:52-54)
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (I Thessalonians 4:16,17)
It can be seen that there is an important difference between the two resurrections.
The order of the second resurrection is: resurrection; judgment; execution of sentence. The sentence either is entrance into eternal life (John 5:29; Matthew 25:46) or else eternal punishment.
But in the first resurrection the participants are made immortal immediately at the sound of the trumpet.
The common teaching of today, which is based on the current perversion of grace, is that all who profess belief in Christ are raised in the first resurrection. They are made immortal and are caught up to be forever with the Lord. After they are clothed with immortality and ascend to be forever with the Lord Jesus they are brought before the Judgment Seat of Christ.
But Second Corinthians 5:10 states that each person who is made manifest before the Judgment Seat of Christ shall receive the good he has practiced or the bad he has practiced.
How can an individual who has become eternally alive, who has received a body like that of the Lord Jesus—a mountainous vehicle of transcendent light and glory—receive the bad he has practiced? How can an immortal, glorified judge be judged and then have sentence executed on him?
If eternal life is the sentence of the righteous, how can they receive the sentence before they have been judged? For in the current teaching, the trumpet sounds; the professors of belief in Jesus are clothed with immortality; and after that they are judged.
This cannot be the case. One cannot receive the sentence of the judgment of the righteous, which is immortality, and after that be judged. This is illogical as well as unscriptural. There is no scriptural basis for it. The only basis is the perverted understanding of grace that abounds today.
The royal priests attain life while in the world because their works please God to the extent He enables them to achieve victory over the world, over sin, and over self-will. There is no more bad in them to judge. All moral deliverance been taken care of during their lifetime on the earth. They are the overcomers, the conquerors, the pillars of the Temple of God.
Even though they will give an account of themselves to God, as is true of every individual, they already have been assured of the crown of life.
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also love his appearing. (II Timothy 4:8)
This is what it means to attain the first resurrection of the dead (Philippians 3:11).
The rule is, men must die and after this be judged. Since those who are alive and remain to the coming of the Lord never die in the ordinary sense, it seems likely they will have given an account of themselves previously, perhaps while hidden away with the Lord during the tribulation period. It appears highly improbable that God would clothe any person with a body like that of the Lord Jesus and after this review his behavior on the earth.
Those "Enochs" who will be alive on the earth when the Lord returns are a special group of saints in that they will not be required to die like other men. It is possible they will have experiences with the Lord that are not necessary for the other members of the royal priesthood.
The current teaching is that the Judgment Seat of Christ (the bema—the tribunal where accused criminals are brought for the decision of the judge, according to the New Testament usage of the word) is a token judgment. It has no teeth in it. It is held also the judgment at the second resurrection is a farce because all the participants already have been condemned to the Lake of Fire. Current Christian teaching has made a mockery of both judgments, neither one fitting Second Corinthians 5:10.
The truth is, the members of the royal priesthood pass before the bema during their lifetime on the earth. They receive the bad they have practiced and they suffer accordingly (II Thessalonians 1:5; I Peter 4:12-19). After their obedience has been perfected they are sentenced to become life-giving spirits and to be raised in the first resurrection.
This is the resurrection the Apostle Paul was seeking. It was his mark, his goal.
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection [Greek, out-resurrection] of the dead. (Philippians 3:10,11)
A little reflection will reveal the impossibility of conferring a body like that of the Lord Jesus on a believer, and after that giving to him the bad he has practiced. It is obvious Second Corinthians 5:10 cannot be administered to the saints after they are raised and ascend to be forever with Jesus.
The reason the dead in Christ become immortal at the sounding of the seventh trumpet is that their judgment has been accomplished previously. They are standing in the Kingdom and not in the world (waters to the ankles). They are walking in the Spirit and not fulfilling the lusts of the flesh (waters to the knees). They are dead to their own will and have become the Throne of God and of the Lamb (waters to the loins).
They are ready to swim in the fullness of resurrection life. Their warfare has been accomplished, their wickedness pardoned, and they now are living the life of simple faith and obedience in Christ in God.
All this has come to pass in them before the sounding of the seventh trumpet.
They will not be judged after they are raised. They are the judges of men and angels. They are not raised to enter eternal life. They are the trees of life, the sources of eternal life for the nations of the saved.
And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power [authority], but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4-6)
The fact that the second death has no authority over them signifies all the sins over which the Lake of Fire has authority are no longer part of them. Through the blood of the Lamb, through the word of their testimony, and by loving not their lives to the death they have overcome the accuser of the brothers. They are God’s conquerors, God’s sons (Revelation 21:7).
Those who are eligible to participate in the first resurrection receive back their bodies at the coming of the Lord. Their role is to flood the earth with deliverance and life during the thousand-year Kingdom Age. They are the Lord’s trees of life. Out from their bellies shall flow rivers of living water.
He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (John 7:38)
Jesus spoke these words on "the last day, that great day of the feast." This is the eighth day of the feast of Tabernacles. The rivers of life that will cover the earth during the thousand-year period flow from the Throne of God. When we experience the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles, the Throne of God is established for eternity in our heart.
As soon as we arrive at the waters to swim in, which is another way of saying we have attained the first resurrection from the dead, we return to the bank of the river. There we find many trees of life.
Now when I had returned, behold, at the bank of the river were very many trees on the one side and on the other. (Ezekiel 47:7)
The one Tree of Life, Christ, was in the garden of Eden. Now there are many trees of life who have grown out from the root of Christ.
The trees of life are the saints—those who have been raised at the coming of the Lord. Now they are the sources of the Life of God. That which had been created in them during their discipleship on the earth will flow to the dead creation.
Then said he unto me, These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed. (Ezekiel 47:8)
The rivers of eternal life will flow from Jerusalem.
And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be. (Zechariah 14:8)
Truly (as the Lord has declared on several occasions) the Glory of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. The waters of eternal life shall cover the dead sea of mankind. This is the restoration of all things, as proclaimed by the Hebrew Prophets. It is the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:9)
All that was lost to Adam and Eve will be restored under the ministry of the members of the Kingdom of God. Some of the saints will compose the army of the Lord. Their role is to destroy the wicked from the face of the earth. They wield the rod of iron and shall smash the resistance of the nations of the earth. Christ shall reign supreme (Micah 5:8,9)!
Other saints will serve as priests, as rulers, as teachers, as helpers, as bringers of joy and blessing to mankind. The waters of the "sea" (of earth’s multitudes) will be healed.
One of the greatest truths that can be learned by a human being is, God has planned everything from the beginning. God has prepared a place for each of us in His glorious Kingdom. After His work was finished, God rested.
Our task in life is to enter that rest, into that which has been finished from the beginning. We are to press into Christ until we come to the place prepared for us from the beginning of the world.
The concept that the only responsibility of an individual is to attain what already has been prepared for him, to grasp only that for which he has been grasped, sounds too easy, too good to be true. Nevertheless it is the case.
It is so difficult to surrender our entire personality and behavior to the will of God in Christ! Everything in us and in our environment protests that there is more to life than just allowing God to have His way with us. How blessed is the individual who comes to terms with the fact that God knows what He wants him to do, where He wants him to be, what He wants him to become and to achieve, and will bring all this about if the person is obedient to God.
The only real issue in all life is that of faith in God. Do we believe God knows the details of our life, that He has a plan for us, that He desires our joy and peace, that He does not sleep, that He cares whether or not we succeed?
Few human beings, it appears, ever arrive at a simple faith in God. We spend our entire lifetime "leaping" like the high hills of Psalms 68 in an effort to provide for our security, or to obtain joy, or to accomplish something, or to fulfill our expectations for ourselves or the expectations of others for us.
Our whole life is one long strain because we do not trust God. Eve did not trust that God knew what was best for her and desired what was best for her. She stretched forth her hand to obtain what she deemed desirable. The result was the same for her as for all creatures who do not rest in God—disaster.
To trust in God is so simple and straightforward, so blessed, so fruitful. Yet, how many of us are willing even to attempt to trust God and do His will?
We are not suggesting a passive attitude toward God and His will for us. We must present our body a living sacrifice to God if we hope to prove His will for our life. Presenting our body a living sacrifice requires all the faith and diligence any individual can apply to it.
We are not speaking of passivity but of continually seeking the Lord, constantly pressing into His immediate will for us. What a battle it is to enter the rest of God! We soon learn that faith and prayer are not devices by which we convince God to do what we desire. Rather, faith and prayer are the means of finding out what God desires and receiving the strength to do what God desires.
Only those who have learned obedience at the deepest level of consciousness will be trusted with immortal bodies. The remainder of righteous people will enjoy the spirit paradise until such time that the conquerors have established righteousness in the earth, and God is satisfied that the remainder can return to earth in their bodies without causing another rebellion against God.
And it shall come to pass, that the fishers shall stand upon it from Engedi even unto Eneglaim; they shall be a place to spread forth nets; their fish shall be according to their kinds, as the fish of the great sea, exceeding many. (Ezekiel 47:10)
This is speaking of the varieties of peoples of the nations of the saved, who are the inheritance of God’s conquerors. The saints will inherit these peoples. The nations of the saved will come from the farthest corners of the earth to be taught and blessed by the Lord’s trees of life:
Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles [nations] shall come unto thee. (Isaiah 60:5)
Next to inheriting the Presence of the Lord, the greatest inheritance one can obtain is people. As Christ’s love grows in us we understand this fact. The inheritance of Jesus is people. Our inheritance also is people. The overcomers will inherit the peoples of the earth as their possession.
But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever. (Daniel 7:18)
Unfortunately there shall be people on the earth who will not consent to receive Christ through the saints. They will dwell in a dry land. Upon them will rest the Divine curse.
But the miry places thereof and the marishes thereof shall not be healed; they shall be given to salt. (Ezekiel 47:11)
Those nations which are not willing to come up to Jerusalem to keep the feast of Tabernacles, to celebrate the Presence of God in Christ in the saints, will not be blessed by the Lord.
And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the Lord will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. (Zechariah 14:18)
The Lord’s trees of life will bring eternal life and healing to the nations of the saved, to those to whom it has been given to enter eternal life in the Kingdom of God.
And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed: it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine. (Ezekiel 47:12)
The river of eternal life is found only in the new Jerusalem, only in the Wife of the Lamb.
In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:2)
The curse will be lifted from the earth by the revealing of God through Christ through the saints in whom Christ dwells.
And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: (Revelation 22:3)
The righteous of the nations of the earth will be permitted to enter the new Jerusalem and eat of the tree of life (referred to as one tree because it always is Christ in the saints).
Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. (Revelation 22:14)
The Lord’s trees of life, the royal priests, the sons of God, the brothers of Christ, are being prepared today. We are being changed into His image.
As soon as we have been prepared perfectly and completely, the Lord Jesus will appear. We shall appear with Him. All the life and glory being created in us now will appear for the release and blessing of the nations of the earth.
For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. (Romans 8:19)
Let us not grow weary of attending on the Lord day and night, night and day. Let us accept the endless probings and testings, the trials and sufferings, realizing they are the only way in which we can become life-giving spirits. God never causes us to experience pain unless such pain is essential to the accomplishing of the destiny to which He has ordained us.
We must never compare what God is doing to us with the manner in which He deals with someone else. Each of us has a unique destiny. We never can come to God along with someone else. Although God uses other people to strengthen and bless us, each son of God must have a unique experience with the Lord.
There is an alarming tendency today for Christians to find more solace in one another than they do in God. This tendency of "togetherness" will lead to Laodicea, to Antichrist. The work of the Kingdom is not accomplished by people working together in love and harmony. The work of the Kingdom is accomplished only as God through Christ works through the individual.
Love and harmony are integral aspects of the Kingdom of God. They come into being as the result of the establishing of the Kingdom. The Kingdom does not come into being as the result of human love and harmony. The Kingdom comes first. The love and harmony follow.
One of the greatest needs of our day is for saints who are true prophets of God. By "prophets" we mean those persons whom God has brought into an intense relationship with Himself. The Lord’s true prophets love all the Lord’s creatures with a godly love, but they themselves are not part of a group, except as they participate in the necessary and wholesome aspects of church life. They do not approach God as part of a group but as someone with whom God has made a unique covenant.
The conquerors are God’s chariots. In many instances they know and love God much more than they know and love people. God chooses all their relationships and guards these persons who are expressions of His Life with the greatest jealousy and care.
After all has been said and done, after we have passed through the necessary judgments, the end result is a simple doing of the will of the Lord Jesus. Paradise was given to man originally, but no one can hold something given to him that easily. If we are to hold things of value we must become worthy of them and must truly appreciate them.
The glory and joy God has for each person who attains to what God has prepared for him is far beyond our ability to describe. There is one right way to the glorious end and a thousand false paths. How blessed is the individual whom God preserves from the snares of the wicked and brings at last into union with Himself through Jesus!
Eternal life in the Paradise of God awaits the true lovers of God. These who seek and follow God with a perfect heart obtain unspeakable joy and peace for themselves and are a source of life and blessing for the remainder of God’s creatures. By their diligence in serving the Lord they save themselves and those who hear them.
Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them. Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools. They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God. (Psalms 84:5-7)
There are waters to swim in for the believer who follows on to know the Lord.