REFLECTIONS

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REFLECTIONSCopyright 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.

Since it appears, from what is taking place in our country, there is going to be much bloodshed in the future, I would like to urge every Christian believer to press into Christ until he or she is living by the Life of the Lord Jesus. If we do that we will be able to survive the horrors that are ahead of us.

I read this morning about a tragedy that occurred in France. An unknown gunman chased a little girl, seized her by the hair and shot her in the head with a large-caliber pistol. In my book, there hardly is another crime as heinous as that.

The real tragedy is that her father, according to some accounts, had seen this murder take place. This was a life-changer for him. He never again will be the same. His heart, his little girl is now in Heaven with Jesus. His daughter, Myriam Monsonego, was seven years old.

How do I know his darling is in Heaven? It is my firm conviction that all little boys and girls go to Heaven when they die. Where else could they go in their innocence? When the children came to Jesus He did not ask them questions to see if their doctrine was sound. He gathered them to Himself just as His Father does.

I personally am appalled at this unspeakable act. It is one more reason I would like to leave this abominable world and go to be where Myriam is. She is happy playing with the other boys and girls. Her dad, the head teacher at Ozar Hatorah, will see her again if he is a good, decent man. I feel certain he is.

As I said, I would like to leave this present world. But as long as I am here, I would like to share some thoughts I have had over the past 67 years as a disciple of the Lord Jesus.

For some reason, Christ has made the spirit world real to me. Maybe it is because I soon am to be there. (Hallelujah!). I know from the Lord my loved ones will be well taken care of, so I have no worries in that direction.

During my life as a Christian I have been conscious of angels, especially at dramatic times, such as a serious illness, or when it was time to make a change in location or a similar important move. The angels always are men and taller than I am. I never saw one smile.

During the past five or so years, I have become more aware than ever of the spirit world. I do not see people and things such as we see them with our physical eyes, nor do I see them in a vision or dream. The best term I know to describe my experience is "awareness." I am aware of angels all the time. This used to be true just of my guardian angel. Now there seem to be four or five who always are with me.

I wonder if it is because I am seeking to put the axe to Dispensational theology, with its lawless-grace. There is no doubt in my mind that this is the most grievous, most destructive, error ever to enter Christian thinking.

Although it obviously is contrary to the Scriptures, which always teach that righteous behavior is necessary if we are to please God, Dispensational theology appears to have numerous adherents. The damage it has done to the moral strength of the Christian people in America is incalculable.

God does not move in dispensations but in covenants. Right now we are serving God under a new covenant, not a new dispensation. The new covenant is that of God writing His laws in our mind and heart. It certainly is not a new dispensation in which we can keep sinning as long as we believe in Christ.

If I were Satan, I would go after a man who was seeking to turn people to righteous, holy behavior. Perhaps this is why my angels have suddenly increased in number. Now I am becoming paranoid as well as conceited, and this will never do.

The Apostle Paul told us to set our heart on things that are above, not on things on the earth. The Lord Jesus commanded us to put our treasures in Heaven. So this is what we are supposed to do.

But it is difficult. Why is it difficult to keep our affections on things in the spirit world? It is because the spirit world is invisible to us. Then when a child is murdered, we think only of the circumstances that occurred on the earth. We do not perceive that the child is in a far better place. The spirit world is not real to us. Heaven is not real to us, so it is difficult to keep our attention focused there.

A few years ago one of my grandchildren flew off his motorcycle and was killed. His mother was in hysterics when she heard. Troy spoke to her from the spirit world and said, "Mom, I'm okay." Immediately she became peaceful.

How many instances have there been in which people from the spirit world assured their loved ones that they were fine. The number must be several thousand or more instances. Yet, at funerals we act as though the dead individual has been cast into a black hole somewhere, never to be seen again.

I remember once while I was lying on my back in bed, a woman I recognized passed over me, I could tell she was anxious about something. Come to find out she had just died, and before she died had expressed concern about her children.

I think we imagine that when people pass into the spirit world they suddenly know everything about God. I don't think so. Millions of people die believing in an unscriptural "rapture." Will they still believe that after they die, even though it is a false teaching? I think they will, unless someone teaches them differently.

In fact, I would conjecture that when an atheist dies and can see angels, and perhaps even Jesus, he still doesn't believe there is a God or a spirit world. I think faith is not a matter so much of what we actually see as it is what we want to see or don't want to see.

While I am on this subject, I believe that all revelation of God to the angels and people in the spirit world comes from saints on the earth. As soon as the saints receive understanding, and they preach or write what they have been shown, it comes to the attention of the believers in the spirit world. They without us cannot be made perfect.

For example, at this time we are entering the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Day of Atonement, Day of Reconciliation. This period of Divine working will continue until the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age.

During the Day of Atonement we are to confess and turn away from our sins and self-will. It is a time of our being reconciled to God and God being reconciled to us. If you will listen to the Spirit of God, He will guide you in this experience.

It is apparent that most of the members of the Bride of the Lamb are presently in the spirit world. They have died and now are among the great cloud of witnesses. If the Bride is to be without blemish, then they also will have to confess and turn away from their desire to sin and their self-will.

Yes, I believe so. After all, sin and self-will began around the Throne of God when Satan decided to usurp the role of the Father. If sin and self-will are possible in Heaven, then the work of the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) must be carried out there also.

All the members of the Body of Christ who have died and are in Heaven will have to pass through Divine judgment, the same as those of us on the earth. This is the doctrine of "eternal judgment" mentioned in the Book of Hebrews.

What I have "seen" in the spirit world over the last five years has made me realize how similar the two worlds are. We would expect this to be the case, since our world was created from the spirit world.

My wife, Audrey, and I live in Southern California. The scenery is gorgeous. The weather is idyllic. If one were to remove all sin and sinners from our area, one might not desire to live anywhere else—not even in Heaven!

Well, the Kingdom of God is at hand. When the Lord Jesus and His saints descend to earth on their white war stallions, they will remove all of the lords of wickedness and their demon accomplices from the earth, sending them into the spirit prisons. The only problem remaining will be the sin and self-will in the people of the nations.

The people of the nations will be governed very strictly by Christ and His saints. The work of the Day of Atonement will be continuing, so those who are willing to do so may renounce their sins and self-seeking. Then the world will be filled with the Spirit of God, and little children will be able to play safely with all the animals.

Imagine when your little boy has a lion for a pet; your little girl has a cobra for a pet! "They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain," says the Lord.

Wonderful days, seasons of love, peace, and joy beyond belief are at hand. Little by little God's will shall be done in the earth as it is done in Heaven. The very best that is of the spirit world will clothe itself with the very best of the physical world.

Little Myriam, perhaps a young lady by then, will be able to play once again with her Dad and Mom in a Paradise so marvelous that even the Garden in Eden would pale in comparison.

What hinders the clothing of the physical world with the spirit world? We do. Human beings do. As long as we are sinful and self-willed, Paradise on the earth is impossible. The new sky and new earth are impossible. It is God, Christ, and people who make Paradise corrupt or splendid.

A great error persists in the minds of God's people. It is that going to Heaven will change them. Not so. If they bring with them self-will and rebellion against Christ, then they will remain in this condition. There is nothing in the atmosphere of Heaven that will change them. As I said, sin began in Heaven with Satan and those angels who listened to him.

If this actually is true, and indeed it is, then people must be delivered from everything that has to do with Satan if we are to see our deceased loved ones again in a new world of righteousness. The war between good and evil has not as yet been waged successfully. There are battles yet to be fought.

Our Lord Jesus Christ won the initial battle, the battle that determined the destiny of the human race, when He said to God in the garden, "Not My will but Yours be done," and then died on the cross to make an atonement for our sins.

The beginning battle was won by the forces of Good, as exemplified by the Lord Jesus Christ. But the war will not be over until the destiny of every human and every angel has been decided. The good will enter the new world of righteousness that God is preparing. The evil will be contained in the spirit prisons, where they cannot corrupt the beautiful new world with their self-seeking and disobedience to Christ.

Now it comes down to you and me. Are we willing to permit God to make us the type of person that can install and maintain Paradise, or are we going to hold on to our own life?

Let us say we want to be on the side of good. What must we do right now?

First, we must recognize that the Lord Jesus Christ died to make an atonement for our sin, and accept that forgiveness.

Second, we must accept the Lordship of Christ. We must bring everything we think; everything we say; and everything we do; to Him for His approval.

I realize that this is a level of consecration that most of us are unfamiliar with. But when we are not living like this, we may be thinking, saying, and doing things that are destructive of the Kingdom of God. Is that possible do you think?

If we pray earnestly, sincerely, and continually to God in Jesus' name, God will bring to pass this level of total consecration in us.

We are to present our body to God as a living sacrifice that we may be able to prove His will in every matter.

We must confess our sins as they are pointed out to us by the Spirit of God; and then we are to turn away from them with all our might, seeking the help of Christ.

We must hold the world as lightly as possible.

We must remain as cheerful as we can in the various "prisons" in which God places us, until He sets us free. The purpose of these "crosses" is to slay our self-will.

In all of this we must continue to do our duty toward our family. We cannot ignore the needs of our family in the interests of serving God. God will not accept this offering. We must tend to the need of our family! They may not have the same calling that we do, and such obedience to Christ cannot be forced.

The most important aspect of the Kingdom of God is obedience to Christ. God will not accept anyone in His Kingdom who does not obey Christ. Just because we die and enter the spirit world does not mean we automatically will obey Christ. We have to make a determined effort at all times to be absolutely obedient to Christ, to do His will as it has been made known to us.

As for people to whom Christ has not been revealed, they will be judged according to their behavior---whether they have been good, decent people as judged by the conscience of the average person.

But those who are called to be members of the Royal Priesthood must press into Christ continually until they are living by His Life.

Eve was created from Adam. When Adam looked at Eve He was looking at himself. "She shall be called 'woman' because she was taken from man," Adam exclaimed. It doesn't seem to me that Adam was as impressed with Eve as he was with the idea that she had been taken from him and was part of him. "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh."

If we are learning to live by the body and blood of Christ, as we resist sin and embrace righteous behavior, then we are being created from Christ. That which originally was born from our father and mother is being replaced by Christ. What a marvelous thing this is!

When Adam looked at Eve he was looking at himself. When we come to maturity, when Christ looks at us He is looking at Himself. This is the plan, the goal.

Eve could not have married anyone else because it would have been Adam marrying that person. It is exceedingly important that we be delivered from all our idols, all that we are married to. Otherwise it would be as though Christ were marrying that person, thing, or situation.

The royal priesthood, the Body of Christ, is a called "Personage." God has elected and chosen her. She is the government of the Kingdom of God. Through her, Christ will govern the people from the nations whose names are found in the Book of Life.

I have spoken recently about the damage fretting can do to us. We must not fret, the Bible says. Fretting will tear us down from our high place in God and we will not be giving a good testimony to other people.

There always has been and always will be evil people in the world, until Jesus returns. Therefore we are not to marvel at their abominable doings but keep our minds on righteousness, love, joy, and peace. Then we can dwell joyously in Christ at the right hand of God while Satan does his dance in the earth.

God is laughing at the rebels, and we would do well to laugh along with God and rejoice in Christ Jesus.

We have a difficult time keeping our minds on things above because the Bible says so little about the next life. One author stated in her book about people who had died and were revived, that Heaven is found throughout the Bible---that there is this and that about Heaven.

As much as I enjoyed her book and profited from it, she is mistaken about Heaven being a main topic of the Scriptures. In actuality, very little is said about Heaven or about what we will experience when we get there. We imagine the Bible talks a lot about Heaven, but it doesn't.

We have a mythology about Heaven. Part of our mythology has to do with statements from the Book of Revelation. However, Revelation is largely symbolic. For example, we understand that stars are not going to fall from the sky. Many stars are much larger than the earth, so where are they going to fall to?

If the new Jerusalem has only one street and that made of gold, and there is no sea, it is not going to be a place where I would want to live!

All of the gold and precious stones of the new Jerusalem are useless in terms of value. Money is not used as an exchange for goods and services. None of these things appeal to me, and probably don't to you as you think about them. The only item of true importance is relationships.

The head teacher in the school where his seven-year-old daughter was shot to death could not care less about a street of gold. He would rather have his daughter back than ten thousand streets of gold. Am I correct?

So we haven't thought too clearly about where we are going after we die. The Bible doesn't tell us much about where we are going when we die, except that seven times in the Old Testament we find the expression: "he was gathered to his people."

The expression "go to Heaven" is not found in the Bible, to the best of my knowledge. The Apostles of Christ never taught about going to Heaven. Assuredly, going to Heaven is not what salvation is. Salvation has to do with people, not with a place where we go when we die.

What then is the Bible about? In addition to being a history of Israel, the Bible is about God, Christ, righteous behavior, holy character, and obedience to Christ---which is obedience to God since Christ always does God's will. Another major topic is immortality—eternal life.

If you have nothing else to do for several days, go through the New Testament and highlight the passages that have to do with our behavior.

And the exhortations to righteousness, holiness and obedience are never once presented as being the way to go to Heaven. Rather they have to do with fellowship with God and the kind of resurrection we will have.

The Apostle Paul was setting aside his own life that he might attain to the resurrection which is out from the dead, that is, the first resurrection. I have never heard a sermon that encouraged us to seek to attain to the first resurrection. Yet, the Apostle Paul said we are the have the same mind as he.

Since the Bible does not tell us much about what happens to us when we die, about where we go, about whether or not we will recognize people, how we will be dressed, what we will be doing for eternity, we must rely on what God shows us or else the testimonies of people who have died and then been revived.

There are several such testimonies in book form, and they can be found in Christian bookstores or by searching the Internet. However, many of these are not in accord with the Scriptures. Therefore they cannot be trusted.

As I said earlier, I have an awareness of the spirit world. People and situations are more like what we are familiar with than they are different. They are not "spooky." Remember, God said He is making all things new, not all new things. The supernatural is natural when we address it correctly.

I don't "see" people in white sheets unless they are on some kind of mission. They live in communities and work at jobs with which we are familiar. They eat and sleep just as we do in our present life.

God's royal priesthood, who live in the new Jerusalem, are dressed in white robes. Perhaps white robes are a sign of the priesthood. When Christ and His army descend from Heaven they will be wearing white robes.

Children go to school. Don't forget we will be living on the earth once again when the new earth comes down from Heaven, and so the type of education we are accustomed to will be necessary.

Most people, when they die, have to go to a school and be trained in the ways of Heaven. They must obey Christ strictly. They must learn to love God with all their heart and their neighbor as themselves.

People in Heaven are not permitted to sin. The angels make certain of that. The people in the new Jerusalem, that is, the members of God's Church, His witnesses, have to go through the operation of the Day of Atonement until they are reconciled totally to God. If my understanding is correct, those who attain to the first resurrection, when Jesus returns, will, as part of their responsibilities, visit the saints in the heavenly Jerusalem and teach the believers there who did not attain to the first resurrection.

The saved people from the nations, who are not of the Royal Priesthood, will have to go to school when they die, as I said. They will be governed by saints chosen for the task, who will have the help of God's angels. No person in Heaven is permitted to sin or to act independently of Christ.

As for those from the nations whose names are in the Book of Life and thus are permitted to enter life on the new earth, they will be governed by the saints.

So we are looking forward to a new world of righteousness in which there is no sin. Remember, Satan will be thrown into the Bottomless Pit when Jesus returns. Also, Antichrist and the False Prophet will be placed in the Lake of Fire.

Another important factor that will tend to minimize sin is that money will not be used to exchange goods and services. Could you imagine what a change there would be in the world today if money no longer had value?

Suppose each person received what he or she needed without charge, and each person contributed according to his or her ability without charging for his services or goods.

I understand that this was the goal of the Communist Revolution. But it did not work because of the sinfulness of people. It will work during the thousand-year Kingdom Age and during the new earth reign of Christ, because the angels will make it work. The pursuit and love of money is a tremendous hindrance to a peaceful, loving society.

Therefore there will be no crime, no wars, no need for jails or prisons. Whoever will not refrain from harming other people will be sent to live with Satan and his followers.

What I am writing may seem hopelessly idealistic. It is not. God has determined to make an end of sin; and what God has determined to do will be done. He has that kind of power.

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)

"An end to sin, and everlasting righteousness." May it happen quickly!

It will take a little while for sin to be eradicated from the earth, but it shall happen because God has declared it shall happen. If we can hear the voice of the Spirit of God, He already—even in this sin-cursed earth—is teaching and empowering us with the Virtue of Christ so we can put sin and disobedience behind us. We can join the army of judges who shall return with Christ and install the Kingdom of God upon the earth.

Satan would have us believe that God has to be contented with forgiving us; that there is no hope we can ever live on the earth without sin. But he is mistaken. God never intended that angels and people should disobey Him, but He knew they would. So He has put into motion a plan that will insure that never again will there be sin in God's creation.

God envisions a new world of righteousness is which the government of Christ and peace will endure forever. This shall take place. Since there will be no death, the population of people will increase forever. Soon it will be necessary to modify the stars so they are inhabitable. There will be no end of the growth of Christ's Kingdom.

But it had to begin on the cross of Calvary.

It seems that today there is a tremendous amount of injustice. Some people have more money than they can spend, while others do not have enough food to eat. Some have the very best of medical treatment, while others may have no access at all to medical treatment. Some live in fabulous mansions, while others are homeless.

Isaiah tells us that when Jesus returns with His saints, one of their first tasks will be that of establishing justice on the earth. I do not understand why this is not preached more than it is. To listen to today's preaching you would think that we come to Jesus so we might live forever in a mansion in Heaven and do nothing of significance for eternity.

If we are not going to return with Christ and bring the Presence of God to the peoples of the earth, why would God train and test us continually?

This brings to my mind the preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom. The Kingdom of God is coming from Heaven to the earth. This is the original Good News preached by Christ and His Apostles. If the Kingdom of God is coming to the earth, I don't believe most of us would want to remain in Heaven among the angels while God's Glory is filling the earth. It really is a better Gospel!

What will the earth be like when the Kingdom comes? First of all, God's will shall be done here. There shall be no more democratic or other kind of government that we are accustomed to. God through Christ and His saints shall govern the peoples of the earth.

Every aspect of life that is worthy shall be subject to Christ. All that is not worthy shall be removed.

The establishing of the Kingdom of God on the earth will be divided into two parts: The first part will occur when Christ and His saints return from Heaven. The second part will occur when God creates a new earth. Of course, the new earth will be filled with Divine Glory far surpassing what will be true on the present earth when Jesus and the saints come.

Why is this? Because the new Jerusalem will have come down from Heaven and will be located on a high mountain of the new earth. The Throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the new Jerusalem. The Tree of Life and the River of Life will be available to those who are qualified to go up to Mount Zion and partake of the Life of God, which is in the Lord Jesus Christ.

But our present earth, when Jesus returns with His saints, will be an infinitely better place in which to live. The eleventh chapter of the Book of Isaiah give us some idea of what life will be like on our present earth.

During this period of time, which I refer to as the "Kingdom Age," sometimes known as the "Millennium," Christ and His saints will govern the nations with the scepter of iron righteousness.

The Kingdom Age will be a wonderful time for children. They will have animals for pets that today are wild, such as lions, tigers, wolves, poisonous snakes, and so forth. The Glory of God will cover the "sea," that is, the people of the nations. They will have the opportunity to drink of the water of eternal life.

Please keep in mind the sequence of events. First, the thousand-year Kingdom Age. Next, the final resurrection and judgment. Finally, the emergence of the new sky and new earth. Right now we are discussing the thousand-year Kingdom Age, that will commence on the present earth when the Lord returns..

At the present time, we are approaching the end of the Church Age. There is coming a worldwide revival in which the Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached to all nations as a witness of the soon coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.

Then God will withdraw the power of the testimony and Antichrist will be revealed. This will usher in a period of terrible spiritual darkness. The love of the world (Egypt), the lusts of the flesh (Sodom), and spiritual presumption and self-will in religious matters (Jerusalem) will overcome the Christian testimony. The majority of those who were converted during the witness of Christ and His saints (the two witnesses) will lose their love for the Lord. Some will be tortured and killed for their faith. A remnant of victorious saints will go into hiding.

At the time of greatest spiritual darkness, the Glory of God will come upon the remnant of saints who had borne the witness. Christ shall appear from Heaven with His warrior angels. The power of Satan, Antichrist, and the False Prophet will be destroyed. People from all over the earth will be drawn to the Divine Light that rests upon the victorious saints.

After the breaking of the power of the lords of darkness, the victorious saints will march through the cities of the earth with Christ at their head. All the works of Satan will be destroyed. The wicked will be driven into the spirit world. This is Joel's army.

Now the Lord Jesus Christ, having established His headquarters in Jerusalem, will send out His saints to all parts of the earth. The saints will govern the nations with iron righteousness. Many of the larger countries, such as the United States, will be broken up into several smaller kingdoms, each kingdom having its own ruler.

Money no longer will be used as a medium of exchange for goods and services. Justice shall prevail throughout the earth. There will be no more wealthy, and no more impoverished, people. Everyone will provide their goods and services without charging for them. No one will be permitted to share in the economy unless he provides the resources for which God has created him or her.

There will be no crime, no wars, no fighting. The communities will be led by people of obvious merit as directed by the Lord, so local politicians will be a thing of the past, as will police stations and firehouses.

Whoever refuse to live productively and amicably with other people will be dealt with by the saints, who will be supported by warrior angels. All of the arts and sciences will flourish. Every talent possessed by human beings will have the opportunity to be exercised.

People will be playing instead of working. Since earning money no longer is an object, people will be doing what they enjoy. When I was an elementary-school teacher I enjoyed the children so much that I would not have desired to be paid money for what I was doing, except that I had to have money to support myself and my family.

Anyone who really enjoys the work they do knows what I mean by saying people will be playing instead of working.

The Kingdom of God is a realm of undeniable authority. Those who insist on doing what they desire without regard for the welfare of other people will be forced to do what is right. If they absolutely refuse, and are stubbornly unwilling to learn to love God, obey Christ, and love their neighbor, will be sent to live with Satan and his angels. After they are there for a while they will become part of Satan, just as righteous people will become part of Jesus eventually.

The reconciling work of the Day of Atonement will still be continuing. The Holy Spirit will guide each person in getting rid of sinful compulsions and self-will. The work of reconciling man to God and God to man will continue until the final resurrection.

After that, during the endless life on the new earth. those who chose to return to sin and self-will shall be dealt with by members of the army of judges. If they repent, they can be healed. If they do not repent they no longer will have access to the Tree of Life and the River of Life. Being denied the Life of Christ they will sicken and wither until it is obvious they no longer belong in the new world of righteousness.

They then will find their new home with the wicked in the Lake of Fire.

In the beginning God planted a garden in the land of Eden. This probably was in the Middle East. The man, Adam, was created, and Eve, his wife, was created from him. The whole earth was available for them and the animals to play in.

It was not possible for the two humans to maintain Paradise. Why not? Because they were not trained in righteousness, and there was no government to insure that they would not rebel against God.

Therefore, God lifted Paradise and the Tree of Life to Heaven, where it will remain until the new Jerusalem comes down to the new earth.

Adam and Eve were not trained in righteousness, and there was no government to keep them from rebelling against God.

So what is God doing now? God designed man to live in Paradise and have access to the Tree of Life and the River of Life, not in the Valley of the Shadow of Death where we attempt to survive and serve God today?

What God is doing now is training people in righteousness and forming a government, so human beings can successfully maintain Paradise on the earth. It is as simple as that!

You can understand from this how misplaced is a theology that does not insist on training in righteousness, as is true of Dispensational theology; and the setting of going to Heaven to live forever as the goal of salvation.

How is God going about training people in righteousness, and forming a government that eventually will remove all sin and self-seeking from God's Presence.

God first move is to call out a Church, a Royal Priesthood, from among the nations of the earth. The calling out began with the physical land and people of Israel; has continued with the adding of Gentiles to Israel; and will finish with a spiritual Israel, the Church, and a physical Israel who, while they are not part of the Church, are beloved by the patriarchs.

God's next move is to divide the Church, spiritual Israel, the Royal Priesthood, into a Firstfruits, and then the majority of Israel—all who are not part of the Firstfruits.

Christ is dealing severely with the Firstfruits. Every trace of worldliness, of the lust and passions of the flesh and spirit, of self-will, and all idolatry of any kind whatever must be eternally removed from them.

When Christ has obtained the full number of His Firstfruits, He will return with them and destroy Antichrist and the False Prophet. Satan shall be confined in the Bottomless Pit.

Then Christ and His Firstfruits will go through the cities of the earth and cleanse them from every vestige of the Antichrist civilization.

After this, Christ and His Firstfruits will govern the peoples of the earth. During this time the Firstfruits, in addition to governing the nations, will teach and nourish the remainder of spiritual Israel until they are ready to descend with Christ and the Firstfruits to the new earth, as the Tabernacle of God.

Now we have people trained in righteousness, and also a kingdom that will enforce righteousness for eternity. God has determined to make an end of sin, and He is in the process of doing just that! No matter what turmoil in the earth we may see in the future, know with certainty that all things are working together for the good of those who love God and have been called according to His eternal purpose in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4)

I believe it is going to be of special importance during the days to come in America that we make an effort to set our hearts on things above. We are going to have to take time out of our day to do this.

We can't set our mind on things above when we are watching the television or reading. We can however while we are going about our daily tasks, unless they require concentration. There are so many important things happening in the world today that it is difficult to step back, as it were, and think about our place in Christ at the right hand of God.

Satan will do everything he can to bring our minds down to his antics in the earth. This is particularly true at the present time as we are heading toward a presidential election. Since many of the leading politicians possess values different from ours, and we do not approve of their moral choices, it is easy to become enraged.

But this is not of Christ. We need to get our mind back on Him, realizing that He has enough authority and power to make the changes we desire. Our part, then, is to pray, not to become angry.

We now are dead, Paul says, having been crucified with Christ. Let us therefore strive to live by His Life. Christ is not dismayed and fearful because of the ambitions and actions of the politicians.

"When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory."I wonder how much thought we have given to the fact that we are destined to appear with Christ when He comes. There is a great deal of talk and emphasis on the unscriptural "rapture." But the emphasis of the Scripture is on our appearing with Christ.

What will we do when we appear with Him? We will work with Christ at the task of removing all the power of sin from the earth.

What do you think of the following passage? Can you place yourself in this picture? It is far more scriptural than any "rapture"!

The remnant of Jacob will be in the midst of many peoples like dew from the LORD, like showers on the grass, which do not wait for man or linger for mankind. The remnant of Jacob will be among the nations, in the midst of many peoples, like a lion among the beasts of the forest, like a young lion among flocks of sheep, which mauls and mangles as it goes, and no one can rescue. Your hand will be lifted up in triumph over your enemies, and all your foes will be destroyed. (Micah 5:7-9)

Would you rather be lying on a couch in your mansion while this is going on? If so, then you are not in harmony with God's will for His saints.

Here is another picture for you of what it will be like to appear with Christ:

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)

Are you ready now to appear with Christ, or would you rather fly away in a "rapture"?

The big event of the present hour is the travail of the saints to bring forth Christ in their personalities. The Scriptures indicate that this will take place in the closing days of the Church Age. Those who bring forth Christ in themselves in these days are God's Firstfruits, God's judges, who will work with Christ in the installing of the Kingdom of God on the earth.

"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times." Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor gives birth and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites. (Micah 5:2,3)

The short passage above has a lot to say to us today. After speaking about the Lord Jesus Christ, Micah says that Israel will be abandoned until she who is in labor gives birth.

Well, it appears today that Israel has been abandoned. The nation is relying on the United States instead of God, it appears.

"She who is in labor" is the Christian Church, as described in the twelfth chapter of the Book of Revelation. Today a remnant of the Church is travailing in birth to bring forth the brothers of Christ.

When the brothers have been brought forth, they will return to the physical land and people of Israel. The power of Christ working through them will remove the power of sin from the Jewish people. The Deliverer will come from Zion and all Israel will be saved.

I think Satan understands this, and for this reason moves on Bible teachers to create a division between a so-called Jewish Church and a so-called Gentile Church. The Bible teachers do not seem to understand that there only is one Olive Tree, who is Jesus Christ, and we Gentiles, who are part of Christ, are grafted into the Olive Tree.

The witnesses in the spirit world cannot be made perfect apart from us. There shall be one Church, one new Jerusalem, one Christ, one Israel, one elect of God, one Body of Christ, one Wife of the Lamb, one Kingdom of God.

Satan may work feverishly to keep this understanding from the saints, but he shall not succeed!

The Deliverer will come from Zion and all Israel will be saved. All of us who are members of the Body of Christ are part of Messiah, part of the Deliverer.

And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD's. (Obadiah 1:21)

And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob." (Romans 11:26)

Is "Zion" the Christian Church?

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)

There will be signs that warn us of the nearness of the coming of Christ and His saints:

I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. (Joel 2:30,31)

And notice the role the remnant, those who survive the chaos of the last days, shall play----even throughout the darkest of hours:

And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the LORD has said, among the survivors whom the LORD calls. (Joel 2:32)

Notice what the writer of the Book of Hebrews regards as "elementary teachings":

Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. (Hebrews 6:1,2)

I have mentioned previously the Day of Atonement—the judgment of sin and self-seeking that will operate from now until the end of the Kingdom Age. It is necessary that all sin and self-seeking be removed from the Royal Priesthood and from those whom God saves from among the nations, if such people are to be reconciled to God and God to them.

This is the doctrine of "eternal judgment." One does not hear too much about this doctrine, but the writer of Hebrews (above) refers to it as "elementary." We are to press past our experience of eternal judgment into the rest of God, into the place where we are living by the Life of Christ.

I have mentioned also God's "Firstfruits." They are a remnant, we might say, of the whole Christian Church. They will be raised from the dead, ascend to where Christ is in the air, mount the white war stallions, and then descend with Christ to establish justice on the earth.

All Christians are welcome to be part of the Lord's Firstfruits; but it requires on our part total consecration to Christ. In the present day God is calling out His Firstfruits in Heaven and upon the earth. We must respond by committing ourselves wholly to the Lord Jesus.

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. 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. 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. 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. No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless. (Revelation 14:1-5)

You can see from the above passage that there is such a group as the "Firstfruits," and that they are totally committed to the Lord Jesus. That they are not defiled with women means they are free from idolatry, from idolizing people, things, or circumstances. It is not referring to ordinary physical marriage, which the Bible tells us is honorable and undefiled.

Notice that the members of the Firstfruits follow the Lamb wherever He goes. They do not lie. They are blameless!

You can be a member of the Firstfruits if you will go to God and tell Him you would like this to be true of you. Christ is more anxious that you be part of His Firstfruits than you are, most likely. The opportunity is available now!

I have referred previously to the "first resurrection." Although the first resurrection is set forth clearly in the New Testament, it is not discussed by Christian people as often as we could wish. God's Firstfruits will participate in the first resurrection from among the dead.

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)

Paul had set as his goal attaining to the first resurrection, the resurrection of the Firstfruits. He did not claim to have attained to it, although he had set aside all else in his pursuit. To attain to the first resurrection means merely that we have cooperated with the Holy Spirit as He has pointed out to us the several aspects of our sinful, self-willed nature. We then through the Spirit proceed to put each of these aspects to death.

As we resist sin and self-will, we are fed with the "hidden manna," the body and blood of the Lord. The result is, the Character of Christ develops in us. We put sin and self-seeking to death, and nourish the new Life of Christ in us by obedience, prayer, and meditating in the Scriptures. We have fellowship on a regular basis with fellow saints, as possible. We serve the members of the Body of Christ as we have opportunity.

This is how we enter the resurrection Life of the Lord Jesus.

When Christ appears, we therefore will be qualified and competent to surrender (if we still are alive on the earth) our flesh and blood body that it might be clothed with a body from Heaven, thus making alive our carnal body. If we already had died and are in the spirit world, we have gone through the same process of judgment as those of us on the earth. We will return with the Lord Jesus; receive back our flesh and bone body from its grave; and be clothed upon with our body from Heaven.

The body that will clothe over our flesh and bone body will reveal in itself our inward personality—that which has been formed as we have gone through the process that has resulted in our living by the Life of Jesus.

On the earth we are able to conceal what we are. In the spirit world, especially after the resurrection, what we are will be seen clearly in our outer form. When you think about it, this is perfectly righteous, although not pleasing to those who wish to conceal their wickedness.

Referring back to the passage above:

"I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge." Those who are raised in the first resurrection are an army of judges who will, with Christ, judge God's creation---people and angels as well.

"And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God." This may be referring to actual decapitation. Another thought is that it may be referring to the process we go through as we set aside our own thoughts that we might have the mind of Christ. We cannot possibly enter the rest of God until we learn to ask Jesus about everything we think, say, and do.

Perhaps our fiercest battle as disciples is learning to surrender our will to the will of Christ. Our mind is an enemy of God. It may be that the "beheading" that takes places refers to our learning to live by the Life of Jesus.

"Because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God." The Bible says we overcome the accuser by the word of our testimony. To give a true testimony of Jesus means infinitely more than what we say about Christ, although what we say assuredly is important.

But religious preaching and teaching can be harsh, doctrinaire, not having the Presence of Christ in it. It is the Presence of Christ that is the testimony, not just our words.

What we are proclaiming in our testimony must conform to the Spirit of the Bible. There is a "grace" teaching today that claims to be the doctrine of the Apostle Paul. It certainly is not. The true testimony of Jesus, the true Word of God, does not tell us we can continue to sin and God will have fellowship with us because we say we have "accepted Christ."

"They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands." The mark of the Beast, of Antichrist, is man being his own god, rejecting the rule of Christ. When we worship self-will, as is true today in America, or money, which is the image of self-will, we are worshiping the Beast.

His mark on our forehead means we make our own decisions without regard to the Lord. His mark in our hands means we act according to our own will instead of doing God's will. This is the opposite of living by the Life of Jesus.

"They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years." Although they had been alive spiritually before this, they now had Spirit-filled bodies. The Bible does not count us as being fully alive until our body has been redeemed and is filled with the Life of the Spirit of God.

The thousand years, whether literal or symbolic, is the period of time between the next coming of Christ and the final resurrection. I refer to this period as the Kingdom Age, because during this age the Kingdom of God will govern the people living on the present earth.

After the Kingdom Age, God will create a new sky and a new earth. At that time the "Tabernacle of God," which is the perfected Christian Church, will be located on a high mountain of the new earth. This is the new Jerusalem, the Wife of the Lamb.

"(The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.)" We can understand why the Apostle Paul had set aside everything that he might attain to this resurrection Attaining to the first resurrection means that the believer already has passed through the eternal judgment and has no occasion to worry about the final judgment.

No books are opened at the first resurrection. The sentence placed upon those who attain to the first resurrection is to govern with the Lord Jesus for eternity. This resurrection is well worth pressing toward, as did the Apostle Paul.

"This is the first resurrection." Everyone else who has been born will be raised from the dead at the second resurrection. Each individual shall be judged according to what is written in the book that records his or her life, that is, according to what he or she has done.

Those whose name is in the Book of Life will be brought over to citizenship on the new earth. Those whose name is not in the Book of Life will be thrown into the Lake of Fire.

To be thrown into the Lake of Fire is to be lost. The individual no longer can be redeemed. Eventually the individual will become part of Satan, just as we who are in the Kingdom of God eventually will become part of Christ.

Sometimes people exclaim that God is too loving to condemn anyone to such a fate. But God deals endlessly with people before they are eternally condemned.

There are people who will not surrender their self-will no matter how lovingly God reproves them. If one such person were to be allowed into the Paradise of God, he or she soon would destroy the entire environment and bring the curse of God upon everyone, just as Adam and Eve have brought the Divine curse upon our environment, and upon all of us before the blood of Jesus redeems us.

"Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection." I do not think there is any doubt that the language here implies that those who participate in the first resurrection are more blessed and holy than other Christians. They are a firstfruits to God and the Lamb.

I realize that many will resent the idea that some believers are more blessed and holy that is true of other believers. The "grace" teaching denies that such distinctions are possible among Christians. Those who object will just have to get used to it, because it is what the Bible declares.

There are all sorts of ranks in the Kingdom of God, ranging all the way from elders who sit on thrones in the Presence of God all the way down to believers who have lost their inheritance through carelessness but have been permitted to enter the Kingdom as little children. They have been saved as by fire.

The Kingdom of God is not a democracy. God exalts one person according to God's will and puts down another, according to God's will. It is not our place to complain or be jealous. God knows exactly what He is doing. He is the Potter and we are the clay. If we are not content with being put in a lowly place, then the trouble is within us. We are ambitious, and that spirit is not of God, not in the image of God.

"The second death has no power over them." The Lake of Fire has authority over eight forms of behavior. Until through the Lord Jesus we overcome each of these eight, the Lake of Fire has authority over us. The Father has given such authority to the Lake of Fire.

"But they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years." These are the Firstfruits to God and the Lamb.

Therefore, having the stern warnings and wonderful promises of the Scriptures, what then are we to do?

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. (Colossians 3:5-10)

The Lord bless your richly as you press further into Christ. By so doing you will save yourself and your loved ones in the coming days of chaos.